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SBC DIGEST: SBC EC holds ‘solemn assembly’; Pandemic leads to Gospel opportunities in Panama

At ‘solemn assembly,’ Executive Committee to focus on God’s will, nothing else

DAVIS, Okla. (BP) – Approximately a quarter of SBC Executive Committee members are gathering at Falls Creek Conference Center today (Jan. 18) through noon Thursday with God’s business being the only kind receiving their attention, EC Chairman Rolland Slade said.

“About a month ago I sent out an invitation for us to join together to draw close to the Lord and hear from Him,” Slade said. “We have some major decisions in February and wanted to hear from God and follow His will.”

No business discussions will take place regarding those decisions, he asserted. It will be a time for prayer, reading Scripture and for members to talk with each other. EC members have big decisions ahead of them in their next regularly scheduled meeting Feb. 21-22, including the selection of an interim president for the SBC EC.

Author and speaker Claude King, who has facilitated numerous gatherings on prayer and seeking God’s will, will lead the group. Author Bill Elliff was set to join him but had to cancel due to a medical issue.

Slade, senior pastor of Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon, Calif., asked EC members at the time of the invitation not t0 publicize the event and for those medically capable to fast in preparation.

In addition, Slade also asked those attending to commit to arriving by noon today and not leaving before noon Thursday. To limit distractions, cell phones will be taken up before sessions, he told Baptist Press.

WEEK OF PRAYER UPDATE: Panamanian Christians see 42 new believers

By Caroline Anderson/IMB

The pandemic provided an opportunity for Panamanian believers to truly love their neighbors and show Christ’s love through their actions.

Tim Louderback, who serves in Panama with the International Mission Board, said Christians picked up medicine and bought groceries for their non-Christian neighbors who were fearful or unable to leave their homes. Their acts of service led to many inroads to share the Gospel.

Southern Baptist work in Panama through IMB missionaries Tim and Tina Louderback and Sean and Shelley Blacksten was highlighted during the 2021 Week of Prayer for International Missions. The two couples shared how U.S. churches were partnering in valuable ways on the ground, in addition to their prayer and financial support. Baptist Press also interviewed Louderback last month about the importance of short-term missions.

The most recent volunteer team from the U.S. came alongside believers from a Panamanian church plant. Louderback asked the Christians how the volunteers could serve with them. The Christians asked for help in scheduling appointments in the homes of their neighbors.

“People were open to it because they were really isolated and not leaving their homes – not going to the grocery stores themselves or picking up medicine – so we were able to have one-on-one meetings in homes,” Louderback said.

In one week alone, 42 people committed their lives to Christ.

“We’ve never had that happen before since we’ve been here,” Louderback said. “We are now discipling those individuals, baptizing those individuals.”

Louderback said the way believers showed love to their neighbors during the pandemic led to hearts opening.

In the first half of 2022, Louderback and his fellow IMB missionaries will host at least 20 churches on short-term trips.

Panamanian churches are also seeing opportunities for continued growth through English as a Second Language classes and hosting English clubs on university campuses.

Louderback asks Southern Baptists to join him and Panamanian Christians in praying for the 42 new believers as they grow in their faith. Pray more would follow in their footsteps.

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  • BP Staff