Rachelle and I arrived in Albuquerque via Denver about 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time Sunday night. Our church's choir and orchestra have premiered two musicals at Glorietta week over the last ten years and Rachelle and I have stayed in Albuquerque both times at the Marriott off I-40 at Louisiana Drive. The IMB meeting is being held at the Sheraton Uptown, just up the road from the Marriott, and after we checked in at the hotel, we went to our favorite steak restaurant right next to the Marriott.
We enjoyed a great dinner together and as we were leaving I had the pleasure to introduce Rachelle to Johnny and Margie Nantz, the pastor and wife of First Baptist Church, Las Vegas, Nevada. Johnny has served on the IMB for the term limit of eight years and this is his last meeting. I have found Johnny to be a sincere, humble and very wise man. He is a person that I learned quickly to both appreciate and admire. With Johnny and Margie was fellow IMB trustee Paul Brown and his wife Ruth. The fellowship with these four was quite enjoyable and yet another confirmation to me that the SBC has some absolutely stellar people!
Johnny and Margie shared with us the story of their 31 year old missionary daughter in Africa. Three weeks ago she was kidnapped by Mulsim men at gunpoint and driven deep into the African jungle. The vivid details of the kidnapping, the near death of the Nantz's daughter and her remarkable display of courage and faith in the face of certain death, and the incredible providential events that led to her miraculous escape sent chills up my spine. It caused me to remember that everything we do at the IMB, and the ultimate goal of our Board is to be a lifeline and support team for those men and women God has called to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ on the front lines of spiritual darkness.
I left the steak house realizing that no matter the personal costs that may come my way for doing what I believe is right, it pales in comparison to anything 5,400 SBC missionaries do every day to serve our Savior. I know all the missionaries would say they enjoy their ministry and don't consider themselves paying any price at all, but the Nantz's story is simply a fresh reminder to me of what is really important about my service to the IMB --- protecting and supporting our missionaries. That support includes freeing and empowering them to fulfill completely the call of God upon their lives in the people group to whom He has brought them.
There are no public meetings of the IMB tomorrow. There is a closed door forum that I will be attending. The different IMB committees will also be meeting tomorrow night to work through business. The Executive Committee at the Chairman's discretion has removed me from all committees of the IMB until further notice, so I will only be attending the forum and the public sessions. More from Albuquerque tonight.
In His Grace,