In his first official appearance as the North American Mission Board's new president, Geoff Hammond told trustees he believes the board stands at an historic moment and that "God has shown favor on us."
Hammond delivered opening remarks to the forty-four board members at the May 9 meeting, using 1 Samuel 14 — the story of how Saul was outnumbered by the Philistines — as his scriptural theme.
Hammond reminded the trustees of how Saul's band of six hundred was outnumbered and out-armed by thousands of Philistines and that Saul was so overwhelmed that all he thought he could do was gather his troops under some pomegranate trees and wait — not knowing what to do next.
Continuing with the Scripture passage, Hammond noted that Saul's son, Jonathan, stepped out in faith and proceeded to defeat the Philistines even as Saul sat under the pomegranate trees with his soldiers.
"You know what God does in impossible situations, He calls leaders to step up, step out, and lead," Hammond said. "God is calling us at the North American Mission Board to step up and step out and lead. God is calling us to seize the divine moment, not to stay under the pomegranate trees and wait."
Hammond said NAMB has "a moment in time to impact the world by assisting Southern Baptists in sharing Christ, starting churches, and sending missionaries throughout North America."
Hammond said he is proud of how NAMB partnered with Blacksburg, Virginia-area Southern Baptist churches, Baptist associations, and state conventions to step into an impossible situation on the campus of Virginia Tech in April in the wake of the tragic shooting of thirty-two students and staff members.
"We were able to work with our state partners," Hammond recounted. "Disaster relief trailers were brought to the site and food was given to emergency workers and state police. President Bush's Secret Service detail asked us to help provide food."
The trustees of the North American Mission Board unanimously elected Geoff Hammond as president of the North American Mission Board in March.
Hammond, the son and grandson of missionaries, had been serving as a NAMB church planting missionary with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) convention. He also had been serving as senior associate director of the SBCV.
"I am a missionary," Hammond said at the time. "I want NAMB to be a missionary agency in all we do. I want us to be missionary-minded in all we do. I want us to think like missionaries. I want us to have a missionary culture in this building. I pray that when you walk in this building, you will feel like this is a missionary place."
Hammond was born on the mission field to British parents who were serving in Nigeria. His father was born in China to missionary parents.
"Among my earliest memories are the times I accompanied my dad, traveling from village to village in Africa and listening to him preach the Gospel," the forty-nine-year-old Hammond said following his election.
Later, he and wife, Debbie, served seven years with the International Mission Board as missionaries in Brazil. Upon returning to the United States in 1997, Hammond became a director of missions in Arkansas for two years before responding to a call from Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia to be a church planting strategist. He was appointed as a missionary with the North American Mission Board in the same year and had been the SBCV's senior associate director since 2002.
"I'm a missiologist at heart," Hammond said. "Cross-cultural evangelism and church planting are my heartbeat."
"One of my great desires is to see us reaching ethnic groups and being more effective in that area. I'm really excited about the people group research NAMB is doing. I believe NAMB is positioning itself to make a great impact in this area," Hammond said. "We have the skills in place; now we need a huge prayer movement to support us as we reach out to these different cultural groups that are a part of the U.S. and Canada. I'd like to see our younger leaders using electronic media to help ignite a movement of prayer."
Hammond said he would take leading NAMB's five thousand-plus missionaries as a very serious calling.
"Missionaries are not lists and numbers to me," he said. "I want Southern Baptists to know them and pray for them and I want our missionaries to feel connected. We are going to tell their stories in a way that will help Southern Baptists fall in love with our missionaries all over again."
And he will look to state Baptist conventions as key partners in the task of reaching North America for Christ.
"One of my priorities will be strengthening relationships with state conventions. I come from a state convention that has benefited greatly from its relationship with NAMB. NAMB has to understand the context of each convention and the challenges they face," Hammond said.
He said he's encouraged that a growing number of churches within the Convention understand that North America is a mission field.
"We need to think like missionaries and see the people groups and population segments in our harvest fields. Not everybody around the church is like the people in the church! We need to be more cross-cultural in our evangelism and find ways to do effective, contextualized church planting."
Hammond said he will be passionate about assisting Southern Baptist churches to fulfill the Great Commission through evangelism, church planting, and sending missionaries. "That's worth pouring your life into!"