I am flying to Gainesville, Florida from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Will Rogers World Airport this morning, Monday, January 28, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. It looks like my flight does not land in Gainseville in time to attend the trustee forum, but I will be attending the International Mission Board trustee meetings Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. I will listen carefully to all business before us and will register my votes on recommendations made during the public sessions and shall keep you informed regarding the approved actions of the board during those plenary sessions.
John Parton, one of the seventy men appointed by the US Navy to be on the original Seal Team One in the 1960's will be accompanying me to Gainesville. I had the privilege of leading John to a relationship with Jesus Christ a while back and he is a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma. When John came home to his native California after Vietnam, he had to overcome the emotional baggage of spending several months behind enemy lines fulfilling covert missions. By John's personal estimates he killed over 1,000 people during the war with either his bare hands or his government issued knife and has lived with great guilt because of his actions. My desire for John is for him to one day accompany me back to East Asia to personally participate in leading as many people as possible to faith in Jesus Christ. This trip to Florida will enable John to understand how missions works for the Southern Baptist Convention. Fair warning: John is still a little gruff around the edges. First time he ever heard me preach a while back, he came to the front of the auditorium where I was surrounded by several of our older Women on Mission ladies. John declared quite loudly and boldly, "Man, that was one one hell of a talk." You should have seen the look on the faces of those ladies. The neat thing for me is to be able to see how God has worked in John's life over the last several months and the desire that is building in him to see people all over the world come 'to know his Lord.'
John and I have most of Tuesday free. If you are in or near Gainseville, Florida on Tuesday, January 29th, come to the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center where the IMB meeting will be held and have a cup of coffee with us in the lobby. Or, we'd love to have you join us for lunch on Tuesday. We will be in the lobby from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, lunch at 12:00 noon, and then we will be back in the lobby from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. We would love to visit with any pastors or missionaries who can make it to the Hilton. John and I will also be participating in the appointment service on Wednesday night at Westside Baptist Church at 7:30.
For those of you who cannot be in Gainseville, I will do my best to let you know what is happening at the IMB meeting. May the Lord continue to bless the work of the IMB and the SBC.
In His Grace,