Trustees to vote on third-generation missionary as new NAMB president

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--Missionary work has been part of Geoff Hammond’s life from his earliest days. He was born on the mission field to British parents who were serving in Nigeria. His father was born in China to missionary parents.

“Among my earliest memories are the times I accompanied my dad, traveling from village to village in Africa and listening to him preach the Gospel,” the 49-year-old Hammond said.

Later, he and wife Debbie served seven years with the International Mission Board as missionaries in Brazil. Upon returning to the United States in 1997, Hammond became a director of missions in Arkansas for two years before responding to a call from Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia to be a church planting strategist. He was appointed as a missionary with the North American Mission Board in the same year and has been the SBCV’s senior associate director since 2002.

“I’m a missiologist at heart,” Hammond said. “Cross-cultural evangelism and church planting are my heartbeat.”

It was that steady heartbeat that became a stronger and stronger magnet to members of the presidential search committee appointed by the trustees of the North American Mission Board. NAMB’s full board of trustees will vote on Hammond’s nomination March 21 in a special meeting in Alpharetta, Ga.

“NAMB is a missions agency in need of a strong leader with the mind of a missiologist,” said Greg Faulls, chairman of the search team that is unanimously recommending Hammond. Faulls said Hammond has “a vision to strategically mobilize an army of missionaries who will spread the Gospel and plant churches throughout an ethnically diverse North America.”

That growing diversity in North America is something Hammond seems uniquely suited to address. As a naturalized U.S. citizen, he represents a growing number of American citizens who were born in a foreign land.

“One of my great desires is to see us reaching ethnic groups and being more effective in that area. I’m really excited about the people group research NAMB is doing. I believe NAMB is positioning itself to make a great impact in this area,” Hammond said. “We have the skills in place; now we need a huge prayer movement to support us as we reach out to these different cultural groups that are a part of the U.S. and Canada. I’d like to see our younger leaders using electronic media to help ignite a movement of prayer.”

Hammond said Southern Baptists must start readying themselves now for the population boom heading our way.

“When I moved here 25 years ago, there were 235 million people in the United States. Today, that number has topped 300 million. That’s like adding another nation. It’s more than the population of France! But in another 36 years, we will be over 400 million and North America won’t look the way we look today.”

As for the prospect of being recommended to lead NAMB, Hammond said he wasn’t expecting it. He allowed his resume to be submitted by a friend but didn’t anticipate being in the final tier of candidates.

“In fact, Debbie and I just moved from one house to another right before Christmas,” Hammond said. “Not exactly the move of someone who is expecting to relocate in a few months!”

Hammond’s older son Timothy, 21, is a worship major at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and son Nicholas, 16, is a high school junior.

Hammond described church planting as one of his “core values” and said it will continue as a top priority at NAMB if trustees elect him. He remembers back to his father’s church planting efforts in Africa. Later, Hammond planted a mission church in the Dallas area, taught church planting and evangelism at a seminary in Brazil and was active in church planting in his state convention in Brazil.

“My family is currently part of a church plant in the Richmond area -- Parkway Baptist. And I’m happy to say our church, which is just over four years old, last year gave almost $70,000 to the Cooperative Program so we could help start more new churches.”

And while he hopes more SBC churches will increase their giving through the Cooperative Program, Hammond said NAMB has to learn how to better work with state convention partners to increase church planting capacity.

“We need to find ways to improve our skills, systems, equipping and mentoring so we can increase the number of churches being started in North America each year,” he said.

Hammond said he would take leading NAMB’s 5,000-plus missionaries as a very serious calling.

“Missionaries are not lists and numbers to me,” he said. “I want Southern Baptists to know them and pray for them and I want our missionaries to feel connected. We are going to tell their stories in a way that will help Southern Baptists fall in love with our missionaries all over again.”

And he will look to state Baptist conventions as key partners in the task of reaching North America for Christ.

“One of my priorities will be strengthening relationships with state conventions. I come from a state convention that has benefited greatly from its relationship with NAMB. NAMB has to understand the context of each convention and the challenges they face,” Hammond said.

He said he’s encouraged that a growing number of churches within the convention understand that North America is a mission field.

“We need to think like missionaries and see the people groups and population segments in our harvest fields. Not everybody around the church is like the people in the church! We need to be more cross-cultural in our evangelism and find ways to do effective, contextualized church planting.”

If elected, Hammond said he will be passionate about assisting Southern Baptist churches to fulfill the Great Commission through evangelism, church planting and sending missionaries. “That’s worth pouring your life into!”

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