The following was written last week as I was preparing to travel back to Texas from my most recent trustee meeting with the International Mission Board. I encourage you to read this and pray for the Southern Baptist Convention. Exciting days are before us!
I write from a hotel room in Jacksonville, Florida, having just completed a trustee meeting with the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention. Over the last three days I have attended numerous committee meetings to discuss the on-going work of the IMB. This gathering has been like no other during my trustee tenure as Dr. Jerry Rankin, president of the IMB, announced his retirement to the board during the plenary session yesterday. The announcement should serve as an explicit call to prayer to all Southern Baptists for such a time as this. Why do I say this? Read on...
Who is the most important person living on planet earth at this time in world history? Some would say the president of the USA while others would declare the most important person on earth to be those who control the world's petroleum or financial markets. I beg to differ. In my humble opinion the most important person at this time in world history is the president of the largest mission sending agency on planet earth. Why would I make such a bold statement? Please consider that this man has the responsibility of mobilizing an aggressive force of missionaries to go into all the world declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has the responsibility of establishing a strategic vision for carrying out the Great Commission in countries like Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia where if you convert to Christianity and it is discovered, you are executed with about as much forethought as one would have when swatting a common house fly. He has the awesome responsibility of humbling himself before the Lord so that God will fully use him to lead over 5,000 full-time missionaries to take the ONLY eternal message to "every nation, tribe, people and language" so that the multitudes can stand "before the throne and worship the Lamb." (Rev. 7:9) If you believe that this Gospel we treasure must be preached around the world before the end will come, you must believe that this position is one of the most important - if not the most important - on planet earth.
With this understanding, we as Southern Baptists should hear a clear call to prayer for the search committee who will be responsible for recommending Dr. Rankin's successor. Only God knows who this person will be and Southern Baptists had better get it right as we discover God's will in this matter. To fail at this crucial time in history and place the wrong man in this position would do damage to the forward movement of the Gospel message for decades to come. Prayer is the most important safeguard to ensure this does not occur.
God bless you!