International Mission Board President David Platt reiterated his desire that the 173-year-old missions agency stay on course for taking the gospel to the darkest, hardest-to-reach places while trustees begin the search for his successor, he told the group during their Feb. 28-March 1 board meeting near Richmond, Virginia.
To that end, the IMB trustees approved the appointment of 20 new full-time, fully funded missionaries who will serve around the world. Also during the meeting, trustee chairman Rick Dunbar named a 16-person committee to find Platt’s replacement.
Two Kentucky Baptists are among those named to the committee: David Sills, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, president of Reaching & Teaching International Ministries and a member of Ninth & O Baptist Church in Louisville; and Susan Bryant, Kentucky WMU president and a member of Graefenburg Baptist Church in Waddy.
The presidential search committee will be led by Chuck Pourciau, senior pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., committee chair; and Andy Davis, senior pastor/elder of First Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina, committee vice-chair.
In prayer, Pourciau thanked God for His grace—how that grace has worked through Platt to reach more people in the nations and to position the IMB to reach more people in the nations.
Platt called for IMB trustee officers to begin the search for his successor Feb. 12. He informed IMB field leaders, missionaries and staff of his decision that morning via WebEx call, email and in person during staff meetings in the Monument Avenue office and at the agency’s training facility in Rockville.
The search committee is receiving names for consideration at email@example.com.
What matters most
“Trustees have started a search for my successor,” Platt said. “Together, we’ve discussed continual improvements that we are making in the foundations, systems and structures of the IMB. But the IMB is not ultimately about systems and structures.
“The IMB is ultimately about the gospel of Jesus Christ and a coalition of over 47,000 churches working together to support thousands of missionaries right now who are working for the spread of that gospel around the world. The IMB is about a new group of missionaries last night who will leave soon for the spread of this gospel, and I pray thousands more Southern Baptists who will join them in the days ahead.”
“Spreading the gospel among people who have never heard it is what the IMB—and I would argue, the SBC—is all about,” Platt added. “It is incumbent upon us never to lose this perspective because this is what matters most. This is what has mattered most in the IMB in the past, this is what matters most in the present, and this is what will matter most for all of eternity.”
In his report to trustees, Platt recognized, with names and photos, the lives of 75 emeritus missionaries and 10 retired staff who died during the past year. The field personnel’s lives totaled 2,176 years of service through the IMB, with an average age of 88 and an average of 27 years of service.
“Every year, during our first trustee meeting of the calendar year, we always look back and remember brothers and sisters who have gone before us and who have now gone to be with the Lord,” Platt said. “IMB missionaries sent out from Southern Baptist churches who have worked for the spread of the gospel around the world. Their lives—and their deaths—remind us what matters most.”
He gave the example of Betty Butcher, the visionary founder of Thai Country Trim, a ministry for battered women to hear the gospel of God’s grace while receiving emotional and financial support that they need. Today, hundreds of such women work in Thai Country Trim centers around Thailand, because of God’s grace in Betty Butcher.
“That’s just a small glimpse into the effect of one life, and we’re about to remember 75 such lives,” Platt said. “So as I read off each of these names and you see their pictures, just let your heart rise in praise to God for how His grace in these brothers and sisters has resounded to His glory around the world in ways that only heaven can measure.”
During the plenary session, Kristy Carr, senior manager for National Woman’s Missionary Union, presented a check for $19,752.50 from the WMU Foundation for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® for international missions, the MK Educational Endowment and the MK Spiritual Endowment funds. WMU partners with IMB in a multitude of ways, including fostering missions education, promoting the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, helping missionary kids as they transition to the United States for college, and providing water filters for all overseas personnel.
The next IMB trustee meeting is June 10-11, 2018, in Dallas, Texas, to be conducted in conjunction with the SBC Annual Meeting. (IMB)