Reccord: Looking forward to an ethnic NAMB president
ST. LOUIS (BP)--Casting a vision of people of every tribe, nation and tongue standing before God's throne as told in Revelation 7, North American Mission Board President Bob Reccord said he knows the great diversity talked about in Revelations is also reflected in the American population.
"If I'm going to spend my eternity [with others before the throne of God]," Reccord said, "I better be happy doing it now."
Standing before an audience of nearly 350 people, Reccord delivered the keynote speech at the fifth annual celebration of the Southern Baptist Convention's Hispanic Multiplying Church Network June 10, just prior to the June 11-12 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis.
Citing statistics and figures that show the unprecedented growth of Hispanics in the United States, Reccord said the latest figures indicate the Anglo population has virtually stopped growing during the past decade while the Hispanic population has grown by nearly 58 percent. The Hispanic population is projected to continue in a growth rate of 89 percent, while the rest of the U.S. population will remain steady with a 25 percent rate of growth, Reccord said.
In recognition of the contributions of Hispanics to the North American Mission Board, Reccord lauded NAMB for changing its "complexion and how it looks."
"For a long time, Southern Baptist entities have been white Anglo-Saxon southerners," Reccord said. "But if that's all that is there, it does not reflect who this country is becoming."
Reccord said he looks forward "to the day the president of NAMB is Hispanic, or African American, or something other than white."
"That's going to be exciting," he said.
Reading from Acts 8, Reccord described the racial conflicts and encounters of the church in Jerusalem and how the Lord spoke to Phillip even in the midst of a revival, instructing him to go to the desert to reach the people there.
The plan has not changed, though hundreds of years have passed, Reccord said. It's still "one person telling another how to find Jesus Christ."
"That's exactly what [God is] looking for from you and from me," Reccord continued. "When he speaks, he's not waiting for us to debate. When he speaks, he doesn't want us to dialogue. When he speaks, he just wants us to obey."
Challenging listeners to reach out to the "perplexed seekers" in their midst, Reccord said to be warmly welcoming when greeting newcomers to the church, invite them into worship and sit with them and then ask them to come along to share in a meal.
"They are not looking for just a worship experience, but for a relationship that will change their lives," Reccord said.
A tool to assist churches in maintaining relational records and having prototypes of birthday and other celebratory letters and information is a new element of the Hispanic church planter's kit developed by NAMB several years ago, Reccord said.
The banquet and celebration was sponsored by the North American Mission Board's Hispanic unit and organized by the manager of that unit, Bobby S. Sena to showcase the causes for celebration in the Hispanic Southern Baptist community.
"Let's Celebrate...!" based on Acts 15:30-31 is a culmination of years of calling attention to the urgent need for evangelization and church planting among Hispanic peoples, Sena said.
The celebration was designed to celebrate "joy" in having gathered for music, testimonies and presentations; the planting of 274 Hispanic churches just in the past year alone in North America and in Puerto Rico; the "diversity" of the Hispanic people who represent 23 different countries; and "America," a nation which despite suffering at the hands of "evildoers" continues to celebrate "liberty" and the freedom to hold home Bible studies and create new Sunday schools and churches.
To affirm and encourage unity and information among Hispanics, Sena said a colorful monthly newsletter will be sent to all Hispanic churches by NAMB's Hispanic unit. In addition, a Hispanic Church Planting Assist Team (HCPT) has been gathered as an extension of the Hispanic unit, Sena said. The group's purpose will be to find creative ways to help people plant churches across the country and will be made up of members of the National Fellowship of Hispanic Southern Baptist Churches and the new National Hispanic Advisory Council and an auxiliary to the fellowship.
Raul Vasquez, president of council, asked for prayers for the group.
"The job is a new one, never done before," Vasquez said. "Pray that there might be open ears and open hearts and that we will take advantage of this opportunity to reach Hispanic peoples."
The NHAC is comprised of about 40 state convention and entity leaders and Hispanic pastors and others who will focus on mobilizing and uniting Southern Baptists to reach Hispanics.
"Hispanics love Southern Baptists and are faithful to the Southern Baptist Convention at a time when other groups are splitting off from us," Vasquez said. "The Hispanic Advisory Council will work from within to [strategize]."
Mauricio Vargas, a consultant for Hispanic missions among Missouri Baptists, brought greetings from the state convention and thanked Southern Baptists for having a presence in St. Louis where, in the metropolitan area, there is only one Southern Baptist church for every 8,200 people.
Issuing an invitation to share the gospel, Vargas said recent statistics show that more than a half of the city's population did not go to church anywhere last year.
Also recognized was Rene Pereira from Puerto Rico who said the state is getting ready to launch its own convention. "First pray for our land, pray for our great awakening and pray that [God] will shake our land," Pereira said.
The evening's activities culminated with the presentation of awards. In establishing a new tradition, Sena presented three retired missionaries with nearly foot-high clear acrylic pyramid mementoes with a NAMB seal and their names etched in white. The retired missionaries honored were Victor Orta and Angel Murillo of Oklahoma and Miguel Soto of Puerto Rico.