North American Mission Board Celebrates Missionary Work, Highlights Racial Reconciliation and Church Planting in Communities

North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Kevin Ezell, left, Dhati Lewis, lead pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta and executive director of community restoration for NAMB and J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., and newly elected president of the SBC, discussed the resource “Undivided: Your Church and Racial Reconciliation” June 12 at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
Photo by Hayley Catt

“We are here for you,” Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, said in opening his presentation to messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention. “We are grateful for you. We are eager to partner with you to push back lostness in North America.”

NAMB celebrated the work of missionaries and shared new mission opportunities at the SBC annual meeting in Dallas on Tuesday afternoon (June 12). Ezell provided updates about collegiate church planting and a new resource NAMB has created to help churches foster racial reconciliation in their communities, then closed by speaking about military chaplaincy.

“We are about sharing the hope of the Gospel, sharing that hope of blessed assurance,” Ezell said of NAMB’s mission to equip churches to share their faith. “You are helping to send the hope of the Gospel to North America.”

The presentation opened with a celebration of the work God has been doing in Toronto by tracing the roots of a 2013 church plant back to Collierville, Tenn., just outside of Memphis. First Baptist Collierville sent Matt Hess to Toronto as a church planting missionary, and Hess partnered with a core team to plant Fellowship Pickering.

A few years later, Fellowship Pickering would plant Fellowship Church Rogue Park, sending out Kesavan Balasingham as the lead church planter. After sharing a video telling Balasingham’s story of coming to faith, Ezell transitioned to discuss collegiate church planting.

Ezell invited Tom Nesbitt, retired pastor of Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Ames, Iowa, and Jack Owens, a member of a collegiate church planting team in Lawrence, Kan., to the stage to discuss the recent boom of new churches in college communities.

“God was so gracious to give my wife and me three children,” Nesbitt said. “He put His hand of leadership on our youngest boy, Troy, and Troy got a vision for God and for ministry and emerged as a leader under Jack’s leadership at the Grand Avenue Baptist Church.”

Troy Nesbitt now leads the Salt Network in planting collegiate churches throughout the Midwest. Owens, a retired campus minister who began serving the Baptist Student Union at Iowa State University in 1972, will be moving to Lawrence to serve a Salt Network church plant.

“I talked to my wife about moving out of Ames after being there for 46 years,” Owens said. “I thought at first that they wouldn’t want any old people there [at the church plant], but they, I found out, had been praying for elders. I said, ‘I will be an elder for your church.’ So, we are moving there next month.”

Ezell said of Nesbitt and Owens, “They saw beyond themselves and had a vision of what God could do right in Ames, Iowa.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Pres, Brandon Elrod