SALT LAKE CITY (BP) — David Melber was approved as vice president of Send Relief by North American Mission Board trustees at their Oct. 7 meeting in Salt Lake City. NAMB’s trustees also approved funding for the new ministry area.
“I know David’s passion, experience and his heart for people make him a great fit for this new role,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell said. “Southern Baptists want to help people who are hurting, and with David’s leadership, Send Relief is going to greatly expand the opportunities for churches and individuals to serve.”
Melber said ministries like Send Relief can help Christians reach a culture that has become suspicious or indifferent toward Christianity.
“It lets people see there is something to this Gospel,” Melber said. “It’s more than just a message.”
Melber comes to NAMB after 12 years as president and CEO of Crossings camp outreach in Kentucky and a lifetime of ministry service. Under Melber’s leadership, attendance at Crossings Ministries has grown from 1,800 in 2003 to a record 13,000 this year. Campers have given more than $1.3 million to missions offerings in that time. Crossings is funded in part through Cooperative Program gifts from Kentucky Baptists.
Melber’s heart for compassion ministry was shaped in his childhood.
“From early on my parents were big on volunteering and service work,” he said. “Then I gained more skills in business, in seminary and at camps seeing what students could do if they were presented with tangible needs.”
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said Melber’s ministry in Kentucky has prepared him well for a larger platform at NAMB.
“God has used David in miraculous ways to transform Crossings Ministries into one of the most successful Christian camp ministries in the world,” Chitwood said. Under Melber’s leadership, Chitwood said, Crossings launched a successful children’s ministry as well as a worldwide missions strategy that is helping campers and churches share Christ among the nations.
“I believe the skills and experiences David has sharpened as president of Crossings have prepared him for the opportunity God is setting before him with NAMB,” Chitwood said.
Ezell told NAMB trustees details of the Send Relief ministry still must be developed. It will include ministries such has hunger and poverty relief, foster care and adoption, ministry to victims of human trafficking, and construction projects in low-income inner-city areas. NAMB’s national coordination responsibilities with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief will come under the Send Relief umbrella, serving state conventions and other ministry partners as it always has.
“Young people want to serve,” Ezell said. “People are retiring with 10 or 20 or more years of good health left. They want meaningful ways to use their skills and serve. Send Relief will do that.”
Melber said Send Relief won’t focus on building its own ministries but will find people who are already demonstrating leadership and success and give them a larger platform to expand their ministry.
“I don’t think I’ve got the greatest idea on how to address human trafficking but God has no doubt burdened people with that. They are already doing great things and they need to be given some encouragement and resources to see those ministries expanded,” he said.
Melber said Southern Baptists have a great reputation for serving in times of disaster and he wants to build on that inclination to serve.
“The reality is there are plenty of human conditions that need relief without hurricanes or tornados,” Melber said. “Jesus went to where the people were. These ministries will help us do that. Ultimately this will be for proclaiming the Gospel and helping to start new churches. I don’t want to say it’s the best thing going at NAMB, but I’m pretty excited about it.”
Melber and his wife Tera are the parents of six children, including two who are adopted from Ethiopia and one from the Philippines.