It was my privilege this morning to meet with several missionaries who are being appointed Wednesday night. Among those with whom I visited were several from Oklahoma including Miss Teri Blanton. Teri is the current Director of Adoption and Foster Care for the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. She is being appointed to overseas to the Central Asia region and will be working with a growing number of IMB personnel in that region. Teri is a delightful lady who epitomizes the quality kind of Christian people the International Mission Board appoints. I would like to encourage my fellow Oklahomans to ask the Lord to raise up a replacement for Teri in her position at the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. Teri needs to train her replacement before she heads to the mission field. Teri will be a wonderful missionary for the IMB.
I also had the privilege of eating lunch with fellow Oklahomans Jason and Rachelle H______ who are being appointed to a Security Three Zone in Central and Eastern Europe. Jason and Rachelle are really great, godly people who make me not only proud to be a Southern Baptist, I told Rick Thompson and Ben Cole that my conversations with them make me only wish to increase my Lottie Moon and Cooperative Program giving. Emmanuel Baptist Church has eight IMB missionary units (people) that are members of our church, but through Lottie Moon and the CP we support well over 5,000 missionaries in every region of the world.
In the lobby I had the special privilege of visiting with many other missionaries, including several IMB administrators and regional leaders. I can say without equivocation that every time I am around our missionary personnel at the IMB, I realize just exactly why I am a Southern Baptist by choice – it is the ability to partner with some of the classiest Christian people I have ever met as we seek to proclaim the gospel of Christ around the world.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
In the past year I have visited the Truman Presidential Library, the Clinton Presidential Library, the Carter Presidential Library and today, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library. As you can tell, I love history.
Hands down, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is the finest of its kind in the United States. I was moved to tears in the different exhibits that portrayed Abraham’s Lincoln leadership during a very difficult time in the history of our United States. The music, exhibits, and audio/visuals were second to none. What gripped me the most was reading the speeches of Lincoln, who was vilified during his entire tenure as President, but revered after his death. His words were always profound, usually succinct, and epitomized a leader’s firm resolve and gracious conviction in the midst of very difficult opposition.
This Christmas the sequel to the movie National Treasure, starring Nicolas Cage, will be about the assassination of President Lincoln, and several of the scenes in the upcoming movie were filmed a year ago in and around Springfield, Illinois, the hometown of President Lincoln. Even though I love Hollywood movies, and even though Nicolas Cage’s movies are some of my favorites, and even though National Treasure is one of my favorite adventure movies and I know I will love the sequel, my experience today at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library far surpasses anything Hollywood could ever represent on the big screen. If you are anywhere near Springfield, Illinois, run – don’t walk – to tour this true national treasure.
The Plenary Session of the International Mission Board
The trustees of the International Mission Board convened for our regularly scheduled public session on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Ball Room of the Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center.
After prayer and worship Dr. Jerry Rankin gave us his report. Once again, Dr. Rankin did a phenomenal job articulated the reasoning behind the Church Planting Movements (CPM’s) of the International Mission Board. He very clearly explained why planting indigenous churches that replicated themselves very quickly was the best method to taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world in need of the good news. Dr. Rankin’s passion, vision and leadership continue to set the pace for all of us Southern Baptists who are interested in cooperative missions.
After Dr. Rankin’s report the Budget Committee presented the 2008 International Mission Board budget. For the first time the IMB budget crosses the $300 million dollar mark at $304,800,000.00. Of this amount only 34.78% comes from Cooperative Program gifts and 54.13% from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the rest from investment income (6%) and various miscellaneous income streams (5%). To reach the goal of 8,000 SBC missionaries on the field Southern Baptists are going to have to give more through Lottie Moon and the Cooperative Program. I pledge to do my part in reaching this goal.
The Board was then called into Executive Session where it was announced three matters would be addressed. I cannot comment on what occurred in the closed door session but intend to post thoughts about the actions of the Board later today when the actions are reported during the Plenary Session (8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon) today.
I leave you with the words of former President Abraham Lincoln and will post again at 12:30 p.m. central time today.
The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.