ALPHARETTA, Ga.—In 2018 Southern Baptists stepped up their support of North American missions while helping thousands of disaster survivors who endured devastating hurricanes, fires and floods as well as a church in Texas after a tragedy that shocked the world.
Here is a look at some of the highlights from 2018 as the North American Mission Board had the privilege of partnering with Southern Baptist churches in these and numerous other ways.
Annie Offering surpasses $60 million for the first time
For the second straight year, Southern Baptists set a record for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering by breaking the $60 million mark for the first time. NAMB president Kevin Ezell shared the final tally of $61.1 million in October and thanked Southern Baptists for their faithful and sacrificial giving.
SBDR: Two major hurricanes strike the Southeast, fires in the West
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief experienced another busy hurricane season as Florence and Michael battered the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Volunteers with SBDR also responded to one of the worst wildfires ever in California.
In total, SBDR provided more than 2.2 million meals, assisted more than 6,900 homeowners and witnessed at least 549 professions of faith in response to disasters.
FBC Sutherland Springs restoration
Following the tragic attack that took the lives of 26 people at First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs, NAMB promised to guarantee the funds needed for a new church building. On behalf of Southern Baptists, NAMB came alongside the church so they could continue ministering to their community.
Hunt and Law to lead evangelism and pastoral leadership team
Johnny Hunt, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, in Georgia, and executive pastor Jim Law will serve, respectively, as senior vice president and executive director of NAMB's new evangelism and pastoral leadership group. Together, Hunt and Law will lead a strategy to promote evangelism among Southern Baptist churches, provide resources and equip pastors to lead their congregations to become more evangelistically active.
Send Puerto Rico emphasis unveiled
In February, NAMB revealed Send Puerto Rico as a new major area of ministry emphasis. More focus and resources have been designated for church planting and compassion ministry on the island.
A new Send Relief Ministry Center will be housed in Puerto Rico as well. Felix Cabrera, second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, also announced his plans to move to the island to start a church and catalyze church planting efforts.
Dhati Lewis named Send Network VP
Dhati Lewis succeeded Jeff Christopherson as vice president of the Send Network after Christopherson transitioned to a new role. Lewis planted Blueprint Church in one of Atlanta's urban centers, focusing his ministry on discipleship and engaging the Great Commission.
Undivided resource aids reconciliation in churches
"Undivided: Your Church and Racial Reconciliation" is a free resource from NAMB to help pastors and churches bridge the racial divide in their communities. The study acts as an aid for churches that see the need to engage difficult conversations during the process of racial reconciliation.
Missionaries, pastors are NAMB's focus for SBC 2018
At the SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas, NAMB partnered with local Southern Baptists for Crossover Dallas evangelistic events that resulted in more than 4,220 professions of faith. NAMB's presentation celebrated the work of missionaries and described new mission opportunities for churches. During its Send Luncheon, NAMB thanked and encouraged pastors for their efforts to serve their churches and communities.
Backpacks lead to gospel conversations
Send Relief underscored the value a backpack can bring to evangelism by hosting distribution events at its Ministry Centers in New Orleans and Clarkston, Ga. Churches were encouraged to use backpacks to minister to the needs in their communities and open doors for starting Gospel conversations.
Appalachia Ministry Center packs more than 100,000 meals
Send Relief, NAMB's compassion ministry arm, launched its Ministry Center in Appalachia. Led by Rob Allen, the Ministry Center helps combat poverty in the region by distributing food and other supplies to those in need. The Ministry Center helps engage the community and equip churches.
SBC Army chaplain cleared of discrimination charges
The U.S. Army dropped its investigation against Southern Baptist chaplain Jerry Scott Squires after a discrimination complaint was filed against him. His commander ruled that Squires had acted in accordance with Army policy.
Army base sees revival as hundreds come to faith
At Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, chaplains witnessed a major revival among soldiers that spanned several months. More than 1,400 came to faith in Christ, and hundreds are attending regular chapel services. (BP)