was expecting to tour a museum and instead had a
I love surprises, and on this day I needed one.
You see, I was on a mission of sorts myself. I had just flown from Alberta
and survived the white-knuckled, rush-hour drive from Atlantas airport to the
North American Mission Board in Alpharetta. I had heard that NAMB partners with
churches in my home country of Canada for the express purpose of reaching every
person who has never heard the gospel of Christa worthwhile but lofty goal,
I thought. Frankly, I was here to find out what NAMB really meant by
"Are you a first-time visitor?" asked Lee Head, receptionist, smiling
broadly. "If so, may I suggest you tour our Vision Centerits tremendous!"
I hope everyone here is this pleasant, I thought, pinning on my
visitors badge. It occurred to me that NAMB is made up of people, not steel and
I met Dr. Bob Reccord, NAMB president, who confirmed my suspicion that the
agency has its corporate heart in the right place. "People, not organizations,
bring others to Christ," he told me. "People in churches are planting churches,
and NAMB will do
whatever it can to assist those people, because NAMB is those people too. All
of us here are real people with families and car pools and mortgages and busy
schedules who take the call to evangelism seriously." Dr. Reccord sets the
example himself by being a soul winner and being accountable to colleagues for
personal evangelism. Staff meetings begin with the question: Whom have you
shared the gospel with since we last met?
He also encouraged me to tour the Vision Center, and so, later in my visit,
I boldly marched through its heavy wooden doors.
Immediately, I was overwhelmed. I had expected, oh, maybe some displays on
the wall, maybe a brochure or two. But no, this was a large, engaging, fun,
interactive environment depicting the redemptive work through Southern Baptists
in North America.
Recognizing that people remember far more of what they both see and hear,
NAMB has created a walk-through experience thats a microcosm of what the agency
is aboutcontinental mission strategies.
In Heritage Square I stepped back in time to historic Baltimore and Southern
Baptists missionary roots.
Next I wandered through an area that reinforced my concern about our
societys moral decline and desperate need for Christ. Rounding a corner into a
cityscape, I witnessed urban decay and lawlessness: "The 183 photographs in
this alley symbolize the Americans who will fall victim to violent crime during
the 10 minutes you are in this display area," "On the shelf are 10.5 dolls.
They represent the average number of abortions that occurred since you began
reading this plaque," and "There are 4,932 hairpins scattered on the floor of
the shop. Each one represents one American woman who will be assaulted by her
partner by the end of this day."
More displays tugged at my emotionssome, like the
interactive game show quiz, made me laugh right out loudand convinced me that,
yes, NAMB is focused on Canada and other special areas:
impacting cities, reaching the fast-growing populations of students and
ethnics, mobilizing volunteers.
But one display especially came alive, because I had met employee Barbara
Massey. Beautiful, distinguished, impeccably dressed, she looked like the last
person I would expect to wind up in prison. But thats exactly what happened
several years ago when she was an unwitting pawn in a drug sting.
Now I was in the Vision Center stepping into a cell like the one that served
as her home for nearly a year. I read the plaintive messages scrawled on the
wall as the prisoner described his radical change of heart after a chaplain led
him to the Lord and a life of service when he, like Barbara, was set free.
I felt what those prisoners felt: set freeto be on mission. I
recalled that other NAMB employees had impressed on me that every Christian is
called to be on mission, that NAMB exists to help people "plug in,"
that NAMB stands ready to help me and my church fulfill Jesus Acts 1:8
Connie Cavanaugh lives in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC