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TRUSTEES: 1.9% increase in offering, Ezell says, reflects ‘unmatched’ heart for missions

SAN DIEGO (BP) — North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell expressed gratitude to Southern Baptists whose giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering increased 1.9 percent in 2012.

The gain, Ezell said during NAMBs trustees’ Feb. 5-6 meeting in San Diego, will translate into greater effectiveness in reaching North America for Christ.

The offering totaled $57.2 million in 2012 — the second year in a row for an increase.

“It’s a humbling thing every day that we get to do what we do because of the sacrificial giving of Southern Baptists,” Ezell said. “Their heart for missions is unmatched.”

Trustees approved Gary Frost as vice president of NAMB’s Midwest Region and of prayer and spiritual awakening initiatives. Frost, who pastors Evergreen Baptist Church in New York City, is a former NAMB vice president. (See accompanying BP story). Steve Davis, who previously served as Midwest Region vice president, now serves as vice president of NAMB’s South Region.

The trustee meeting took place in San Diego to spend time with NAMB church planting missionaries and see their work firsthand during a tour the day before their business sessions. San Diego is one of 30 cities in NAMB’s Send North America strategy to connect established churches with church plants.

Steve Bass, NAMB’s West Region vice president, told trustees how important their visit was to church planters and to Southern Baptists.

“These planters will not soon forget,” Bass said at the outset of the visit. “I think you’re going to find out that you have some God-called and very sharp church planters who are proud to be a part of the Southern Baptist family.”

Church planter Ben Pilgreen of Epic Church shared a devotion from Ecclesiastes. Epic Church, although only two years old and located in the heart of San Francisco, gave more than $40,000 to missions in 2012. Epic is already on track to give more than $67,000 in 2013.

Also during the meeting:

— Trustees approved Al Gilbert as vice president of evangelism. He will continue to serve as executive director of LoveLoud, NAMB’s ministry evangelism initiative. Gilbert reported on NAMB’s Hurricane Sandy disaster relief activities as well as preparations for Crossover 2013, which will take place in Houston leading up to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in June.

— Carlos Ferrer, NAMB’s chief financial officer and vice president of mission support, reported to trustees that NAMB is in the “strongest position financially” as it has been in his 20 years of service.

— Trustees heard a report from NAMB’s chaplaincy group, which noted that Southern Baptist chaplain ministry resulted in 97,200 Gospel presentations in the last quarter of 2012, along with 22,047 professions of faith and 4,413 baptisms. All three categories saw gains over the previous year.

Ezell, in his address to trustees, again sounded a call for 15,000 new churches in the next 10 years so that Southern Baptists can begin to make gains on the SBC church-to-population deficit that developed over the last century. Ezell also noted that NAMB is partnering with state Baptist conventions to help revitalize churches that are plateaued, declining or near death.

If 15,000 churches are to be started in the next decade, Ezell said thousands of new missionaries will be needed. NAMB’s missionary “Farm System” is designed to intentionally discover new missionaries, develop them for service and deploy them to the field.

“We’re raising a generation of young missionaries who are bold and absolutely believe in missions and absolutely believe in church planting. They are intent on penetrating lostness,” Ezell said.

Concluding his remarks, Ezell challenged trustees and all Southern Baptists to adopt NAMB’s new “10:2” prayer thrust based on Luke 10:2. At 10:02 (a.m. or p.m.) each day, Ezell asked that Southern Baptists pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more workers into the field.

“We’re in desperate need and these are desperate times,” Ezell he said. “God has allowed us to focus and we need to make the most of it.” He then led trustees in prayer for current missionaries and the future missionaries God will be raising up for the North American mission field.
Adam Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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