Platt praises improved financial and organizational picture for IMB
May 11th, 2016 / By: Tammi Reed Ledbetter | Special Assignments Editor / comments
ROCKVILLE, Va.—A hopeful report anticipating higher giving to missions, a new slate of officers, and the recognition of Clyde and Elaine Meador for 41 years of ministry were among the highlights of the May 11 plenary session of the International Mission Board trustee meeting that was live-streamed from the International Learning Center outside of Richmond.
While the final tally of contributions to last year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has yet to be announced, IMB President David Platt said “things are looking better than ever,” expressing gratitude for progress toward exercising greater responsibility with short term finances and long term organization for the largest missionary-sending organization.
And yet, even if Southern Baptists receive “millions more,” Platt said the goal is not to send 100 or 200 more missionaries, but rather, thousands of new missionaries through “limitless pathways” involving students, retirees and professionals funded through their vocations in regions where IMB places fully funded personnel to lead those teams.
Platt said he wants to “open wide the doors for entire churches to get involved in taking the gospel to the nations,” while establishing a doctrinally strong foundation. Last year’s policy revisions set a high bar for character, Christlikeness and church engagement, Platt said of deployed personnel.
“We can’t just think like we always have as to who can go and how to get there. We’ve got to make a way for the churches to go to the nations.”
David Platt, IMB President
“We can’t just think like we always have as to who can go and how to get there,” he added. “We’ve got to make a way for the churches to go to the nations.” He announced that IMB leadership would be meeting with Southern Baptist pastors, seminary leaders and state convention leaders to brainstorm how those pathways will develop “if we really are serious about making the glory of God known” to the nations.
Citing the current refugee crisis in Syria and surrounding countries, Platt discouraged “looking at it through the lens of political punditry,” and instead should focus on accomplishing the Great Commission. “We need to see the world in which God has put us.”
The IMB president said he anticipates the day when such sin and suffering will be no more, reminding those present, “As long as we’re in this world, remember every one of us finds ourselves in a foreign land, seeking a homeland—a city where we’re migrants, multicultural citizenry of an other-worldly kingdom.”
Trustees elected a new slate of officers, including Scott Harris of Tennessee as chairman, Rick Dunbar of Mississippi as first vice-chairman, Tim Simpson of Maryland/Delaware as second vice-chairman and Cindy Sneed of Arizona as secretary. All were elected without opposition except for Simpson who was chosen over two other nominees, Susan Bryant of Kentucky and Andy Finch of Oklahoma.
IMB Senior Ambassador Gordon Fort directed trustees in praying for an unengaged unreached people group in need of missionaries to deliver the gospel. He asked the Holy Spirit to prepare the spiritual soil among the Muko-Muko for a spiritual harvest and agricultural assistance so that farms can be better managed and improve the standard of living.
The Board learned that three dozen fewer missionaries actually followed through with voluntary retirement after being allowed to change their minds from accepting a “Hand Raising Opportunity” earlier this year, reducing that count from 983 to 947.
Trustees also honored executive presidential advisor Clyde Meador, along with his wife, Elaine, for 41 years of ministry, including 15 years in stateside administration.
“When you look at Clyde’s and Elaine’s lives, it’s step-by-step obedience in the same direction towards the Father’s will for their lives.”
John Brady, vice president for Global Engagement
“When you look at Clyde’s and Elaine’s lives, it’s step-by-step obedience in the same direction towards the Father’s will for their lives,” said John Brady, vice president for Global Engagement, according to reporting by IMB.
Clyde has worked closely with three IMB presidents as a top advisor and vice president, and even as the mission organization’s interim president from August 2010 to March 2011. Appointed as missionaries to Indonesia, the Meadors served in a variety of roles involving church planting in Medan, training in Semarang and Purwokerto, and as administrator in Jakarta.
Former IMB President Tom Elliff told an IMB reporter, “It is the authentic nature of Clyde’s and Elaine’s hearts that stands out most clearly to me. You can trust they will do what they say they will do. If they say that they are going to pray for you, they will. When they say that you are their friend, you are their friend. They remember their commitments. They don’t take these things lightly.”
The Board also commended WMU President Wanda Lee upon her retirement and contributed $15,000 to the Foundation that supports the auxiliary she led. “There are IMB missionaries right now who are drinking clean water and have water filters in their homes because WMU provided them at no cost around the world,” Platt said. He also praised WMU for helping “Third Culture Kids” transition to college through a re-entry retreat after living overseas with missionary parents, as well as providing them scholarships.
Property sales in Taiwan and Brazil, as well as the transfer of two parcels to local churches were approved without discussion.
The Board will save over half a million dollars that can be reallocated for field ministry after moving this year’s appointment services and trustee meetings to the training facility.