Sunday, March 19, 2006

Jamestown to Tampa Bay, Sunday, March 19, 2006

This morning I had the privilege of leading worship services in the exact spot that the first English speaking Christian service was conducted in America. On May 14, 1607, the men, women and children who had just spent four and a half months crossing the Atlantic in the ships Susan Constant, Discovery and Godspeed, hung an old sail between three tree trunks and held a worship service in on what is now known as Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America. Sixth graders from Emmanuel Christian School, Enid, Oklahoma, were concluding their ten day trip to Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C. and Williamsburg, Virginia, and it was my delight to spend the last week touring the east coast with my sixth grade son, his fellow classmates and their parents, and to speak to them this morning from Psalm 84, giving them a sense of our heritage of faith.

After the worship service I drove back to Reagan International Airport in Washington, D.C. and caught the 3:10 flight to Tampa Bay, Florida for the International Mission Board meeting which begins tomorrow. As the plane quickly banked on take-off to avoid the Traffic Restriction Zone over the White House and Capital, I looked out the window and reflected how far this country has come in four hundred years. The sprawling metropolis beneath me gave evidence of the achievements of Americans, but I wonder if the people of our day would have had the character and fortitude to endure the harsh elements and monumental obstacles of the 17th century, as our forefathers did, when they began establishing this new country. I also wonder if the Jamestown settlement learned more about their God through the sparce and primitive environment of the James River, as compared to us modern Americans who may have had our spiritual senses dulled by modern conveniences and comfort?

Upon arriving in Tampa Bay I checked into the Doubletree Hotel near the International Airport and went down to work out for about an hour. At 9:00 p.m. I met fellow trustee Ken Kuwahara for dinner in the hotel cafe. Several of you have asked that I tell you some good things about the work of the IMB in this blog, so tonight I would like to tell you one of the reasons I am excited about the future of the IMB -- it is because of trustees like Ken Kuwahara.

Trustee Ken Kuwahara from Oahu, Hawaii

I first met Ken last summer during IMB trustee orientation. Ken is an insurance salesman and a member of Mililani Baptist Church in Oahu, Hawaii. His church gives 20.5% to the Cooperative Program and Ken is sold out to mission work through the Southern Baptist Convention.

Ken is a Japanese American, one of ten children born to a Japanese shoemaker in Hawaii. Ken's family was devoutly Buddhist, but when Ken was in the ninth grade some local Southern Baptists invited Ken to join a basketball league and soon the gospel was shared with Ken and he came to faith in Christ, the first Christian in his entire family.

Ken eventually graduated from high school, attended college, and then went into the insurance business. At the age of 30 he married Yon, a Korean who lived in Hawaii, and they began their family which now includes a daughter at the University of Hawaii, an attorney son in Los Angeles working as a Hollywood screenwriter, and another son working toward taking over Ken's insurance business upon Ken's retirement. Ken's children all know the Lord and Ken and his wife, Yon, have had the privilege of leading all of Yon's Korean family to faith in Christ as well. It is because of Ken's gentle spirit, passion for missions, and evangelistic heart that I am excited about the future leadership of the IMB.

Ken is just one of a great group of trustees that began their service on the IMB last July. I am looking forward to working with these men and women in the years to come to continue to build our SBC missions program! I can assure you, with people like Ken Kuwahara, the International Mission Board will never be guilty of getting sidetracked and neglecting to put the emphasis on reaching the peoples of the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope you have a chance sometime to get to know Ken. I can assure you that if you find yourself in Hawaii on vacation it would be well worth your time to look Ken up.


I received an email from Micah Fries, a pastor from Missouri who is putting together a bulletin board about missions. Micah is a Southern Baptist pastor who really believes the best way to make missions work is to stay in constant communication. He is someone who has taken the initiative to see that there is a strong rope between the field and support at home.

His web site is MISSIONSCONNEXION. It is beautifully set up and I would love to see Southern Baptist missionaries and people get together on this bulletin board. Give it a visit and see about participating yourself.

Tomorrow's IMB Meeting

I will be having several meetings with individuals tomorrow and will be posting information tomorrow night, giving a report of the day's events.

God's blessings to you all.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Anonymous said...

Some words of advice from one who has collected these in the school of hard knocks:

Pray as much as you can about the whole situation, especially for wisdom for yourself in the midst of it. (It might seem nice to have an invisible lawyer by your side - remember the Holy Spirit has been called our advocate.)

Matthew 10:16 says be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. You’ve already blown the second part, at least in the eyes of some, so do your best with the first part. Whenever possible, be in the presence of impartial (or at least on your side) potential witnesses who have nothing to lose (may be harder to find than you could know - consider all the possibilities for harm) by reporting words or actions against you by others and your - we hope appropriate - response. Trusted friends can give good advice, and pray with and for you as well.

When possible, think and pray before you speak or act; taking a deep breath has been known to be helpful also. WWJD has become a cliche, but has validity; however, in some situations, you may have to realize you are not Him. Then just consider whether you want to become - or be - the kind of person who takes a particular path; remember that each step takes you in one direction or another, so be careful where the path is headed. Cursing is not the only way to take the name of the Lord in vain. Jesus said His followers would be known by their love, so what does it say when they become known for other things? The Bible tells us God will work all things for good, but we shouldn’t try to make it harder for Him.

By the way, I know none of this is easy, but then Jesus didn't tell us it would be easy, just that He would be with us. My prayers are with you and with the whole situation.


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid you are now closer to the site of the first Christian presence in North America than you were in Jamestown. Jamestown was the first English settlement, but Florida was site of the first documented European coastal exploration of "La Florida" by Juan Ponce de León in 1513. As would be natural for the Spanish and French, there would have been services in the various areas of their exploration throughout the nearly 100 years prior to the Jamestown settlement. By that time, there had been exploration and attempts at settling in Georgia, Tennessee, and California, as well.

Anonymous said...

Father, God, I pray that You grace Wade and those who share the vision You have have given them to enter the Board of Trustee's meeting in Tampa with Your Holy Spirit indwelling each of them in love, faith, hope, and peace. I pray that You shield, encourage, and comfort them in the effort of reconciling differences within the IMB BoT. Lord, grant the Trustees discernment between consensus on the essentials of the Christian faith and willingness to fully cooperate in spite of existing differences regarding secondary doctrinal issues. Enable each Trustee to be continually guided by the Holy Spirit and Your breathed Written Word in the vital work of international missions in reaching the world for Christ. Lord, thank you for calling workers to the mission field. Help each of us to better understand the significance of their calling, encourage them with our material support and prayers, while keeping our spiritual eyes on the One who is THE REASON for this great work...for it is in His Name, the Name of Christ Jesus, I pray. . . said...

Former M,

I probably should have made clear I was referring to the first ENGLISH speaking permanent settlement. Since we don't speak the language of Ponce de Leon, and since the English were the first to claim the colonies, Jamestown is marked by most as the beginning of colonial America. There were of course other people already present, explorers, pirates, adventurers, etc . . ., but Jamestown was the FIRST settlement (if you don't include the lost settlement of Roanoake which is without historical documentation). Thanks though for reminding us of the Spanish settlements in Florida.

Suzie, TD and Ken,

Thanks for the prayers and encouragement.

art rogers said...

We are praying for you, Wade. Integrity and kindness will mark you and your actions as a person to be trusted.

It also shows the accusations against you to be without basis. I know that you will do well as you take your stand for principles and in defense of your character - which is not really a defense at all. Your actions already speak for themselves.

I know that you said no apology was necessary for the BOT to retract the charges leveled against you. That is the kind and gracious spirit to which I referred in a previous comment a week or two ago. However, I think the BOT, to earn OUR trust, needs to apologize to you - taking responsibility for injudicious words. I am praying that they will take that step.

I look forward to more great reports like this one.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Burleson,

Welcome down/over to our neck of the woods! I'm praying that you might look into the beautiful sky here in Tampa this afternoon and be reminded of our Lord's handiwork. My prayer is that your heart would break out in spontaneous praise during your time here!! May the Lord give you and the BoT a peaceMAKING spirit and greater resolve to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations.

ps. I also hope to shake your hand.

for His renown.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Wade,

I've been on my knees praying for you and the rest of the IMB BOT this morning. I can honestly say that I have never even KNOWN about an IMB meeting before, much less PRAYED about it, so God has done much good already in this controversy, with much more good to come. It seems that when Satan attacks, God allows Satan's own momentum to accomplish God's work for Him!

I believe in the cause of the IMB's work, and in your cause of not letting it be hindered unnecessarily. I'll be praying for you all through the meetings.

Love in Christ,

Jeff said...


I read your blog regularly.

You have a keen intellect, impeccable logic, and above all, a passion for Christ.

Thanks for your ministry.


Anonymous said...

Jeff Richard Young, Jeff would you mind telling me how you think
satan is attacting? Seems to me the IBM is amply supplied with many men who hardly do things without prayer and Biblical understanding. Wade disagrees with the majority of the IBM but his decision is with prayer also. Personally I do not give Satan any part in this debate. Tell me how you do?

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Anonymous,

Satan need not have been given any place in this debate. Questions such as "Should a candidate who prays in tongues be considered?" and "Should a candidate immersed in a Freewill Baptist Church be considered?" are not inherently evil, but may just reflect honest differences of opinion among faithful Baptists.

Then some members of the IMB BOT accused Dr. Burleson of "gossip and slander" and voted to recommend his removal from the board. A majority of the BOT voted that these charges were true, and he indeed should be removed. The chairman announced the decision publicly, changing the language of the charges in the press release from what they had been in the BOT meeting.

So, then, if Dr. B WAS actually gossiping about and slandering his fellow board members, that was Satan's doing. If Dr. B was NOT gossiping and slandering, but was only falsely accused of such, then that was Satan's doing.

Three short months ago I would never have thought that Satan could gain any ground in the inner workings of the IMB BOT. I would have agreed with you, assuming that the BOT was not only amply supplied with the kind of men you describe, but was actually made up exclusively of men who would not act on any weighty matter except after much prayer and with a sound biblical basis for whatever they decided. After reading the new policies, the position papers behind them, the story of the vote on Dr. B's dismissal, and the always-changing story from the chairman, I am no longer so sure.

God, meanwhile, has used this controversy (over the gossip and slander accusation) to stir up interest in, prayer for, and support of the IMB BOT among young leaders all over the SBC. Who would have imagined a few short months ago that hundreds of under-40 Baptists would get up off their knees after praying for the BOT to read ravenously any news of the proceedings and results of the BOT meeting?

That's what I mean, sir. God has used Satan's own scheme against him, as He does so often.

Love in Christ,