Thursday, April 20, 2006

Faith in the People Making the Decision

My staff kiddingly accuses me of being the eternal optomist, never seeing the bad side of anything. I plead guilty. I have such a high view of God's Providence and His Goodness that every event of our lives ultimately works for our good and God's glory.

The possible termination of the unnamed missionary couple is an example. I have a great deal of faith in the people who wil be making the decision of whether or not this issue should be brought before the BOT.

It is important to remember five things about this particular situation:

(1). The missionary couple has not made one public statement about their situation. They continue to work through the appropriate processes established by the Interntational Mission Board.

(2). Their pastor, Jason Helmbacher, of Immanuel Baptist Church, Sallisaw, Oklahoma is the one who made this situation public. For those of you who have never met Jason, you need to take the time to get to know him. He is sharp, passionate, gracious, Biblically sound, and the very kind of young leader our SBC needs. Frankly, this missionary couple needs to thank the Lord daily for their gifted shepherd.

(3). The motion to terminate can only be approved by the full board of trustees of the International Mission Board. I have deliberately chosen not to discuss or make public the specifics of this situation, though I have a copy of every pertinent piece of material that serves as the basis for this possible termination, simply to give my fellow trustees the opportunity to review the material first.

(4). There is a very real possiblity that this situation WILL NOT be brought as a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for approval. The administration of the IMB can stop this possible termination on appeal if it deems that course of action best for the IMB. Why? Simply because the issue may be a personnel and personality matter that necessitates reassignment of a missionary or a missionary couple and not necessarily a matter that ought to result in termination.

Please understand, if this is discovered to be a POLICY dispute, then the trustees will have to be involved. According to the bylaws and consititution of the IMB, trustees set official policy and interpret aproved policy. This responsibility to establish policy is given to the full board, not subgroups, and to terminate employees for violating policy is also the sole responsibility of the full Board. IMB officially approved policies include New Directions, the five levels of partnership, the definition of a church, etc . . .. It may be determined by administration that this issue is not a policy dispute. If so, then trustees DO NOT need to be involved in the day to day operations of the IMB including conflict resolution. That is the administration's job. But again, trustees should be involved in policy matters and the holding accountable of all employees to policy.

Everyone must give IMB administration the opportunity to determine if this is a policy issue or something else. That is their job and we trustees must not interfere.

(5). Finally, for all you missionaries around the world who are teaching the people about Jesus Christ --- keep your chin up! Some incredible things are happening within our convention and within the IMB. Stay strong. Remain faithful.

I believe, in the end, the right decision(s) will be made.

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...

We are praying for discernment of the Lord's direction for all involved! Thanks for the heads up, but also, we appreciate the judicious way you have chosen to fulfill your IMB BoT responsibilities! We are hopeful that all will be edified!

Todd said...


I had a conversation with a seeminary professor at seminary just outside Philly. He knows some missionaries who hail from another "conservative" denominational background. He began to talk about a couple of IMB missionaries who were facing termination. We kept talking and realized we were talking about the same couple to which you refer. This comment illustrated this appears to many to be consistent with the narrowing prameters of cooperation. The church plant in question is in a location where the issue is not a choice betweeen a SBC church plant and the plant in question but, the circumstances are it is the church plant in question or no church plant. If the real issue is, as abp noted, not being "baptist" enough - then we are right back to your original dilemma over the policy issues you referenced beginning in December.

This would be a sad day should the relayed information in fact be correct.

God's wisdom to you and the others on the BOT. You must realize the recent past creates a great deal of skepticism of a helpful resoultion.

Anonymous said...

Bob Terry, the editor of the Alabama Baptist newspaper has another good editorial in the April 20 issue. He reports on the NAMB directors decision to report the truth, good or bad. Southern Baptists deserve nothing less than the truth, good or bad, from our leadership. Claiming that isolation from other GCC groups is cooperation with them does not make it so. Report actions and news as it is, whether it is good or bad. Report that enrollment in so and so seminary is down. Including undergraduate enrollees is cheating by spinning at best, lying at worst.

Anonymous said...


I don't have your responsibilities, and I know sometimes I sound like a naive dreamer, (Hi, Rex Ray! :)) but you are 100% correct.

"All things work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose."

I have found that it is difficult for most folks to take the Word of God literally. We mix too much of our experience with the devil's tricks into it. Example: we are stunned and dismayed when we have a friend and fellow church member diagnosed with cancer and only given a short time to live. We fall into depression and call for prayer, but inside we have given up...he's going to die. That is praying without faith, because our flesh says he is going to die, and we believe the flesh above the Word. Go to the Great King in charge of all in the universe, Jesus Christ, according to His word and ask in faith for His glory through the raising up of the friend. You will be amazed at what happens when you view Christ like that and just ask. He may choose to heal the man (I have seen this happen), or He may choose to reach the lives of many through the faith and example of the brother in death. But the King is glorified. The promises of God are statements of already accomplished fact, not hoped for dreams.

Now, I'm no "charismatic". But I know a God who is in charge of all things, and Whose will is always done. Nothing is impossible for Him, and He will work all things for our good and His glory.

King Jesus does not come into a life (or denomination) to take sides, He comes in to take charge. Let's give Him Him to lead us the right way...and just watch what happens to His glory.



Jason Helmbacher said...


I emailed you privately; if you deem this appropriate, you may enter this comment. I hope you read it before you post it. I trust your judgment.

I want folks to know why I chose to make this public--circumventing any IMB processes. These missionaries brought me into the know of their situation for pastoral and prayful counsel. The reason this action was being leveled against them is and always has been on the basis of policy. As such, being that in my opinion it was inappropriate policy interpretation, I went to the trustees personally--the policy-makers. My church wanted some explanation to understand why our own partnership was about to end.

The WA committee of trustees I met with informed me that "we do not partner at the church planting level; we do not plant baptistic churches"--the two reasons given these missionaries for termination. Both of those statements, in my opinion, are contradictory to policy and New Directions (SD21).

I'm sure personality conflicts play a part in all this; however, the issue has always been policy--not only with the RL but also with certain trustees.

Is the RL acting on behalf of these trustees? Are these trustees interpreting policy correctly? I would be willing to apologize for everything made public if someone could just explain to me how in fact these missionaries have broken policy, and were allowed to do so for more than 4 years before being singled-out for termination.

The second reason I have made this public is that I'm not smart enough to see things but for what they seem to be. This thing seems to me to be the application of a continuing narrowing philosophy of Southern Baptist definition and missiology. I know every trustee loves the Lord, I'm not questioning that. So please forgive me when I say this appears to be politics concerning a Convention kingdom rather than a Kingdom convention.

Perhaps there are those who believe I've been a bit emotional and irrational in my publicity. Perhaps. I just believe that, had I not brought this out, this would have just passed under the radar. I'm not willing to allow this to just pass. My goal has been to make sure every trustee knew exactly what they were voting for when the approved this termination. You know as well as I do that that is not normally the case in plenary session. What the Regional Committee presents is just accepted with a blanket affirmation. These folks deserve more than that.

I appreciate your kind words on this morning's blog and your continuing coverage of appropriate facts.


Bob Cleveland said...

Silly me.

I daily forget that Jesus said HE would build HIS church and that not even the "gates of hell" (whatever that means) would be able to stop Him. Nor will us folks, be we just us, or the SBC, IMB, BoT, or whatever.

The only real question is: am I doing what God orders me to do, in the manner He prescribes? If I am, I can just watch Him at work, and marvel at how He has opened up wounds, exposed infection, and has Baptists all over talking about some stuff that has been (seemingly) neglected too long.

You go, God!!

Kevin Bussey said...

Wade 4 SBC PRES!!!! said...

Pastor JBacher,

I wish all missionaries had pastors who stood up for them the way you have for your members.

I hear you.

I hear you saying it is policy, not personality.

I am simply saying to you, "Until the trustees are told it is policy, I need to stay out of this. Once it comes before us in the form of interpretation of policy, I will do my job as a trustee. Until then it is in administration's hands."

Unlike me, however, you are free to deal with the issue as you see best.

Frankly, I think you are doing an honorable and admirable job standing up for your members.

I simply need to stay out of this until it becomes my turn.

In His Grace,

Wade said...

Former M,

I can't post your excellent comment because of some very personal comments with names of people included.

In addition, I must be careful about discussing Board approved actions on this site. I have only been a trustee for a little less than a year.

Rex Ray,

The same can be said of a couple of comments you have sent.

I want to model a willingness to let people blog who dissent with my views, who are critical of me personally, but I am trying to protect naming others.

Criticize me by name, but let's keep other criticism on the level of issues and not personalities.

wasde said...


I love history.

You have given me two great anecdotes.

Thanks a million.


Tim Sweatman said...


Thank you for making us aware of this situation. For the sake of the Kingdom, I pray that they will be allowed to return to the field and work with other GCC's to plant BIBLICAL churches.

Anonymous said...

As a missy in CEE (and who cooperates with other GCC's and at times with the one this couple is cooperating with)I must admit this situation has me concerned.
Where do we draw the line? How do I know for sure if I won't be next?

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,

Bless your optimism. But you need to be aware there is more than one way to fire a couple. As regional leader you can just talk to the other nine and suggest that no one take the couple if they try to transfer, and you can then make their life miserable if they try to stay in your region. Unfortunately there are many of us out there that have been pushed into resignation this way.

Still serving Him

Bro. Ray said...

Bro. Wade,
I appreciate the eternal optimism. My confidence in a Sovereign God leads me to believe He IS in control of all these matters. Pastor Jason is certainly a model for all pastors in standing up for those whom God calls and sends from HIS churches.

My great fear is that we forget that the IMB does not send out missionaries. Local churches send missionaries! Yes, the cooperative spirit of Southern Baptists allow us to cooperate together through the IMB as an administrative force, but it all begins with the local church. (Is that Landmark-ish?)

Thanks for passing along this need for prayer. I have challenged our folks to pray for this missionary couple and the BoT.

May God do a work among the "new" SBC, so that we are known for The Truth spoken in love with proper Biblical humilty. Do this and HE will lift us up! The opposite of this would be a post-resurgence arrogance that creates a multi-level system of power and control.

'Til Jesus Comes,