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2,500 NAMB Chaplains At Work For 'Such A Critical Time As This'

( [email protected] ) Jun 17, 2004 11:07 AM EDT

Addressing NAMB's chaplain evangelism luncheon June 14, North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Robert E. Reccord said nearly 2,500 Southern Baptist-endorsed chaplains sharing the Gospel in prisons as well as military, corporate and healthcare institutions are serving under divine assignment by God "for such a critical time as this.

Last year, nearly 14,000 people made professions of faith in Christ through Southern Baptist chaplain ministries. "You [chaplains] are the church going out where the church needs to be," said John Yarbrough, vice president of evangelism at NAMB.

During the luncheon at the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis chaplains serving in the military, healthcare, and law enforcement fields also shared testimonies of God's work.

Michael Merrill, an Army chaplain reservist, who recently served six months in Kuwait, said he knew of more than 400 soldiers who made professions of faith in Christ and nearly 200 who were baptized. Merrill said as many as 600 soldiers attended the worship service he led each week.

"The prayer of a righteous man or woman does avail much," he said.

Sherry Blankenship, a chaplain with the Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, shared how God prepared her for healthcare chaplaincy through her young daughter's death from Leukemia in 1996.

Through her daughter's illness, Blankenship, her daughter, Anna Joy, and husband, Dwight, helped lead an oncologist, nurse and technician to place their faith in Christ before her death.

Blankenship said her greatest calling in life is to be a wife and mother, but she described herself as humbled and amazed to be used by God to help people -- heart attack survivors, for example, and hospital patients in their 80s -- discover eternal life in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Larry Wynn, pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, Ga., and a volunteer chaplain with the local police department, said his ministry to the law enforcement community has resulted in numerous professions of faith.

"God always opens the door to share Christ at one time or another," Wynn said. "I believe the church has to make a connection with the community."

During the luncheon, Reccord also said he disagrees with Christians who advocate abandoning public schools because of their increasingly anti-Christian climate. He described public school campuses as "one of the most significant mission fields in the world" and shared his vision for a day when chaplains minister regularly on public school campuses.

"I know there's a movement or possibly a stand by Southern Baptists to take their kids out of public schools, but how does that view reconcile with the biblical mandate to be salt and light?" Reccord asked.