‘Radical’ Pastor David Platt Elected New President of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board

David Platt, one of the most passionate and influential voices for missions among evangelicals, was elected president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board Aug. 27 by board trustees. IMB photo.
David Platt, one of the most passionate and influential voices for missions among evangelicals, was elected president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board Aug. 27 by board trustees. IMB photo.

David Platt was elected president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board today (Aug. 27) by board trustees, meeting at the IMB’s International Learning Center in Rockville, Va.

Platt, 36, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, a Southern Baptist congregation in Birmingham, Ala., will take office effective immediately as president of the 169-year-old organization, the largest denominational missionary-sending body among American evangelicals. More than 4,800 Southern Baptist international missionaries serve worldwide.

Platt succeeds former missionary, pastor and Southern Baptist Convention president Tom Elliff, 70, who has served as IMB president since March 2011. Elliff asked the agency’s trustees earlier this year to begin an active search for his successor. Elliff and his wife Jeannie plan to return to their home state, Oklahoma.

The author of the bestselling books “Radical” and “Follow Me,” among others, Platt has been pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, which counts about 4,500 members, since 2006. He also founded and leads Radical, a ministry that exists to serve the church in accomplishing the mission of Christ. Radical provides resources that support disciple-making in local churches worldwide, organizing events and facilitating opportunities through multiple avenues, all aimed at encouraging followers of Christ in God’s global purposes. Platt has traveled extensively to teach the Bible alongside church leaders and missionaries throughout the United States and around the world. He and his wife Heather have four children: Caleb, Joshua, Mara Ruth and Isaiah.

“We talk all the time at Brook Hills about laying down a blank check with our lives before God, with no strings attached, willing to go wherever He leads, give whatever He asks and do whatever He commands in order to make His glory known among the nations,” Platt said in a letter to his church, released Aug. 27. “Over these past months, God has made it abundantly clear to both Heather and me that He is filling in that blank check in our lives and family with a different assignment. Along the way, God has used the elders of our church to affirm His call, and today He used the leadership of the IMB to confirm it.”

In an interview, Platt said God had done a unique work in his life over the past 12 to 18 months — particularly since an overseas journey during which he saw a stark representation of just how many people have never heard the name of Jesus.

“This is not something I saw coming,” he said. “I love pastoring The Church at Brook Hills. I love shepherding this local church on mission for the glory of God among the nations and could picture myself doing that for decades to come. At the same time, God has been doing an unusual work in my heart and life. The only way I can describe it is that He’s been instilling in me a deeper, narrowing, Romans 15 kind of ambition, where [the Apostle] Paul said, ‘I want to see Christ preached where He has not been named.’ … He has given me a deeper desire to spend more of my time and energy and resources in the short life He has given me to seeing Christ preached where He’s not been named. The concept of unreached peoples — of nearly 2 billion people who have never heard the Gospel — is just totally intolerable.”

During a February trip to Nepal, Platt recounted, his team trekked for five days before they encountered a single follower of Christ. He also witnessed Hindu families burning the bodies of newly deceased loved ones and scattering their ashes over a sacred river in hopes that they would be reincarnated. Most if not all of them presumably had died without ever hearing of Christ.

“It just gripped me in a deeper way,” Platt said. “I came back with a desire to say, ‘How can my life more intentionally be used to get the Gospel to unreached peoples? Maybe I need to move overseas.’ Then the [trustee] search team contacted me and said, ‘Would you be willing to consider [becoming IMB president]?’ And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Why would I be willing to consider moving overseas, but not be willing to consider mobilizing thousands of people in a more intentional way to do that?’

“The Lord has made it so clear, clearer than just about anything else I’ve ever done in my life. I told my wife the only thing I can compare it to is asking her to marry me.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Erich Bridges

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