One year ago, Hurricane Harvey had yet to appear on radar. One year ago, very few people had heard of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
“A lot can happen in a year” was the theme of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) 2018 Send Luncheon. Held during the SBC Pastors’ Conference, NAMB aimed to bless pastors with stories of faith, hope and redemption — and a dose of humor.
The capacity-crowd event overflowed from the main room into a live simulcast location as NAMB President Kevin Ezell hosted the luncheon and turned the crowd’s attention to everyday Southern Baptist pastors faithfully serving their congregations and communities.
Pastor David Fleming of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston explained how he led his church to serve the community in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey — even when his own home was flooded and in need of repair. While noting the importance of local ministry and national partnerships, Fleming thanked the SBC family.
“The church really is on the front lines of ministry in any community,” Fleming said. “We don’t expect our national partners or even our state partners to be there on day one. That’s the church’s role, and that’s the church’s opportunity. We stepped into that gap first. But to know you guys were coming — to see the resources and the equipment and the organization — to have Southern Baptists come from literally all over the country to help us help our community was such an encouragement. I just want to say thanks on behalf of our church.” He also reported, “Almost 2,500, people mudded out 600 homes in just the first week after Hurricane Harvey…. We saw God use that in our community.”
Church planter Justin Haynes of the Refuge Church in New Orleans, La., shared at last year’s Send Luncheon how important the prayers of fellow Southern Baptist churches had been in his battle against cancer. This year, he stood and shared with the crowd of 4,000 that he is now cancer free.
“I have my hair back,” Haynes joked. “We greatly appreciate everyone in the convention and the North American Mission Board,” he added with tears in his eyes. “I still think about how you all blessed us.”
In a somber yet hopeful tribute to the ministry of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, pastor Frank Pomeroy, who was met with a standing ovation from the assembled pastors, celebrated the beauty God is making from the ashes in the wake of the Nov. 5, 2017 shooting at the church.
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Source: Baptist Press