Executive Secretary’s Report to the 2014 Annual Meeting

God inscribes in Hebrews 11, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. … By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command. …

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice.  …

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  …

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went. …

By faith Isaac …

By faith Jacob …

By faith Moses …

 So goes the names, which are found in the “Hall of Faith” until we read in Hebrews 11:39:

 These … were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  For God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

 And so it with those who are called to be members of God’s Household Hall of Faith.  And such are you.  You are a people of faith through whom God has planned something better for those who follow after you “so that only together with YOU would they be made perfect.”

It is most humbling for me to be in your presence today.  Your collective devotion as humble servants of God overwhelms me.  You, and others like you, are the very ones who have composed the remarkable 50-year history of the work of the member-churches of the IBC.

Without your selfless acts of service and generous financial sacrifices, which you and others like you have made, what we see in the life and ministry of today’s English-language, international churches would have been entirely different.  You did this, not for yourselves, but for the glory and honor of God because God had planned something better for those who have followed you.

Therefore, as brothers and sisters in Christ from among these unique churches you value highly the common bond of your shared experiences from the Lord.  This is the very reason you are present for today’s meeting.  No other group on planet earth has more vested interest in the future of these churches than you.

While the Sovereign Lord could have done any and all of these things with or without you, the fact is that He chose you to do it.  He chose you because He had planned something better for the people of faith who have followed you.

Other than the word “faith,” it is my observation that there is one word, which most accurately describes our 50-year history.  It is the word “change.”  It takes people of faith to work through such frequent changes.

In spite of these changes, the foundation, which was laid two-score and 10 years ago, is strong and secure in Christ with His followers who serve Him today around the world.  While today’s world-wide fragile geopolitical and socio-economic structures will continue to produce changes in the churches, changes which both delight and sadden our souls, we can only rejoice in the role that God has given us to be participants in His glorious history.  By faith we must trust God to work through today’s servants in these churches to help them walk by faith through a plethora of continual change.

One such embarkation of change took place in 1997 with the establishment of the International Baptist Church Ministries (IBCM) to benefit the churches and encourage generosity among US citizens, who are either current members of English-language international churches or they are friends and former members of such churches.

As a 501c3 non-profit corporation IBCM enables and encourages expatriates who live overseas and are members of English-language international churches to make U.S. tax-deductible designated grants to their overseas church.  Likewise those of us who are individual members of IBCM and live in the United States can also make both designated and undesignated gifts, which are used for grants to the churches.  In recent years $2,500,000.00 to $3,000,000.00 have been contributed annually.

IBCM is in need of a large endowment.  We believe that such funds will eventually come from members such as ourselves.

IBCM is chartered under the laws of the State of Texas.  IBCM is solely governed by a Board of Directors in accordance with its Bylaws.  Directors are elected from individuals who are members of IBCM.  Each director may serve up to two consecutive 3-year terms, and may serve again after a 1-year absence.

IBCM was founded under the extraordinary leadership of Dr. Charles McIlveene and four other founders:  Mrs. H.C. (Ruth) Bryson, Dr. Rudy Oswald, Mrs. Pam Oswald and Dr. Larry Jones.   Influential in its founding were such individuals as former IBC General Secretary, Dr. James Heflin; Texas attorney Cary Quillin, and CPA Randy Stevens.  All gave their time, energies and personal resources to bring this organization into existence.

With this particular Annual Meeting we acknowledge yet another change.  It was during the June meeting of the IBCM Board of Directors when I was asked me to serve as IBCM’s Executive Secretary, which, by the way, is principally an honorary position.  Therefore this is my first Annual report to this body.

The Board had thoughtfully and prayerfully considered this position for a lengthy period of time.   I was not surprised when asked to serve.  Like some of you, Linda and I have invested a considerable amount of time, energy and personal resources into the life and ministry of IBCM.  We believe in the values and goals of IBCM.

We believe that God has charged us

1)      to cast the vision, values and purposes of IBCM to the members and our prospective members;

2)      to provide oversight for all operations, which are associated with the organization and

3)      to facilitate good communication by every means which God provides.

We believe that it pleases God to expand our membership with a broader base of donors, because we see by our own experiential walk of faith that God uses mightily English language, international churches to win to Christ all kinds of people of every race, ethnicity and nationality.  We have seen first hand how many of these very people have become and are becoming church leaders, as well as world leaders, whom God is using in greater ways than any of us has ever thought possible.

It is important to fully realize that IBCM is no Sunday School class.  Neither is it a church.  It is not a fellowship, nor is it a convention or an association of churches.  IBCM is not a missionary-sending agency nor does it provide grants to individual missionaries.

Listen!

IBCM exists as a Great Commission organization to provide and facilitate the provision of financial support through designated and undesignated grants to English-language Baptist churches and similar ministries.  Our focus is upon the churches.  Most nearly all are affiliated with the International Baptist Convention (IBC).  In recent years this membership has expanded to Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and even the United States.

The key to the success or failure of this business enterprise rests upon our Board of Directors, and how well our Board and our individual members work together to fulfill God’s purpose for us corporately.  This Annual week-end is set aside not only for us to enjoy the special friendships that are ours, but also to strengthen our resolve to financially support these unique English-language international churches.

Our success or failure could determine the fate of many of these churches; in particular the churches, which have an ever decreasing influence from Americans, and an ever increasing influence of both believers and non-believers, whose background is third-world and emerging countries.

Someone might ask:  What difference does this decreasing influence from Americans and increasing influence from third-world and emerging countries make?

I submit to you that the difference is substantial.

In 1979 when God called me to serve as a pastor to an English-speaking congregation in Stuttgart, Germany, our church was exclusively an American congregation, comprised of US military personnel and their families, and one American scientist at the Max Plank Institute, and his family.  All were Americans.  In a short span of fourteen (14) years the church became an international congregation comprised of more than 40 different nationalities on any given Sunday.

After the fall of the wall in Berlin in 1989, this very model of change with a focus upon English-language international congregations became the standard model for most all of our churches.

In 1979 all of the 37 member-churches of the European Baptist Convention were served by America pastors.  Most were sent there by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Furthermore, all of our convention personnel were appointed by the International Mission Board.

Today none of the churches are served by appointment of anyone from the International Mission Board.  None of the staff of the IBC are served by anyone from the International Mission Board.  ALL pastors and all convention personnel serve as indigenous, independent missionaries who got there in a wide variety of ways by following their hearts after God.

My goodness, how things have changed!

Yes, “change” is the most consistent thing that can be said about these churches and their leaders.  Whether because of geo-politics, socio-economics, terrorism, persecution or war, the migration of diverse cultures, tribes, ethnicities and nationalities has caused the world map of the IBC to drastically change.

The focus of most of our churches has completely shifted from serving believers, who for the most part are US expatriates, to serving extraordinarily diverse peoples.  Many are refugees and immigrants from emerging and third-world countries.  A large number are non-believers whose religious background is incredibly diverse.  They are attending our churches.  They are Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Hindus, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics.  In surprisingly good numbers they are turning to Christ through the ministries of English-language international churches.

These are changes worth noting.  These are changes worth celebrating.

Needless to say these kinds of churches lack spiritual leaders and financial resources.  Such leaders and resources were found in abundance in the churches of yester-year..

Once our churches were led by such giants as C. W. Bess, Terry Carter, Tom Hill, Jim Leeper and Richard Page.  Along beside them were such gifted church leaders as Greg Green, Dennis Jackson, David Bolton, George Hayner, Rudy Oswald and Jerry Porter.

Listen to the names of some of our pastors today.  I will attempt to pronounce their names:  Roland Eskinazi, Rodrigo de Silva, Sylvester Peprah-Kwakye, Branislav Beocanin, Peter Oberhor, Nikolaus Seferiadis, Luigi Esposito, Richmond Ofori-Tawiah.

While these leaders are godly leaders, many have little formal biblical or theological education.  Many came from the emerging countries to which I referred earlier.  They need the tools, which are necessary to preach and teach the Word of God more effectively.  They need the training to shepherd the flock under their care with greater skill.

They lack the resources of deacons, elders, teachers, workers and financial contributors.  They carry the burden of being outnumbered by non-believers who drain them emotionally and financially.  These pastors and church leaders are serving at great sacrifice.  Such leaders and churches are radically different from the churches in which we of yesteryear are accustomed to serving in various places overseas.

The work and ministry of our General Secretary, Dr. Jimmy Martin, and his staff has never been more challenging.  The contributions of ministry, which are made by such gifted leaders as Dr. Terry Carter and George and Dorothy Hayner, at such places as Interlaken and the Spring Leadership Training Conference, as well as in individual IBC churches, has never been more important.  The financial gifts given from outside the churches have never been more needed.

We, who members of IBCM, are a key ingredient of hope for the future of particular churches in need, as well as our beloved IBC Convention.  We must enlarge our base of donors.  We must increase our own giving.  We must pray into existence resources which only God can provide.

We need to develop good communication among ourselves to inspire each other in generosity and personal sacrifice.  We need to cast our vision to expatriates in the present-day IBC churches before these expatriates return home.  We must learn how to communicate well the values and purposes of IBCM because our opportunity to be a Great Commission people and win this world to Christ has never been greater.

We are people of faith.  Therefore may we, who are members of today’s Hall of Faith, be found faithful for God has planned something better for those who come behind us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

 
 

Executive Secretary’s Report on IBC

The 50th Annual Meeting of the churches of the International Baptist Convention (IBC) convened historically at the International Baptist Church of Sofia, Bulgaria October 21-24, 2013.  It was the first such gathering of this convention in Eastern Europe.

Just imagine!  What began 50 years ago as a small association of churches in Germany became the European Baptist Convention and is now known around the world as the International Baptist Convention. It is a remarkable history.

Linda and I left Texas on Thursday morning and arrived in Sofia on Friday evening.  We needed Saturday to rest so that we would be “in our right mind” on Sunday.

IBC Sofia Pastor Scott Chadwich graciously allowed me to speak during the Sunday morning services.  I shared how God is using IBCM to benefit English-language international churches.  Dr. Jimmy Martin, IBC General Secretary, preached.

Jimmy Martin continues to serve the churches most effectively.  The churches face enormous challenges in today’s stressed economies. Geopolitical conflicts cause the integration of a wide array of mixed international cultures.  Local nationals rarely welcome them.  Change is perpetual in the churches. Only God could perform so well in such a setting.  He often uses Jimmy and his wife, Laurie, as the glue to hold churches together, especially when a church is pastorless.

On Monday it was my privilege to introduce IBCM during the New Pastors and Wives Orientation meeting.  They were pleased to hear that IBCM provides scholarships for Pastors and Wives of financially stressed churches to attend Interlaken and the Spring Training Retreat.

The Annual Meeting was officially kicked off by out-going IBC President, Scott Corwin, who serves as Pastor of IBC Berlin.

I brought greetings to IBC Sofia from founding Pastor James Duke and his wife, Audrey.  James would have given his eye-teeth to have hosted the annual convention in his church.  He and Audrey persevere remarkably well in Texas in spite of health issues.

I brought greetings to the convention from the Dukes, as well as from Elizabeth Merritt, Queen Emeritus of the IBC.  Elizabeth and John Merritt virtually founded the IBC.  John was the first General Secretary.

Former Pastor Ray and Charlene Smith were present.  So were George and Dorothy Hayner, who have served in a multitude of capacities in behalf of IBC Sofia as well as other IBC churches over a period of many years.  Dorothy has also served on IBCM’s Board of Directors.

Local Bulgarian pastor, Dr. Theo Angelov, brought an inspiring message about rebuilding walls in Eastern Europe, while he eluded to the story of Nehemiah, the great “wall-rebuilder.”

Dr. Angelov has a PhD in physics, but has given his life as a humble pastor in this former communist country.  During his pastoral leadership, he has also served as the President of the Bulgarian Baptist Convention, as well as General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation. He is an incredibly gifted individual.

Theo Angelov and John Merritt were dear friends.  After the collapse of communism in 1989, Theo and John inspired the effort to begin English language international church in Eastern Europe.

Tuesday (like Monday) was filled with many wonderful reports from IBC’s Ministry Teams, which are comprised of leaders from the churches.  Pastor Ion Miron from Muldova preached on the sovereignty of God.  He spoke of unwavering, godly servants, who endured great hardship for the cause of Christ.  The prosperity gospel does not exist in Muldova. Pastor Miron’s church has over 1,500 members.  Many more attend.

Newly elected IBC President Erik Nielson preached an outstanding expository sermon on “koinonia.”  This gentle, spiritual giant serves as the Pastor of IBC Copenhagen, Denmark.

The highlight for me on Wednesday was a message from Jimmy Martin. Jimmy’s heart overflowed with great empathy and genuine support for the pastors and other church leaders.  Our hearts continue to beat with our prayers for him and Laurie, whose daughters and sons-in-law have undergone difficult sufferings.

Dr. Bob Marsh, a perennial favorite, preached Wednesday evening.  This former pastor of Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia is one of the most gifted preachers on the planet.  He and his wife, Myra, are great encouragers.

Long-term missionaries to Bulgaria, Dr. Paul and Judy Ridgway, led the music throughout the convention.  They specialize in a ministry to children who are handicapped and live in orphanages.

A unique historical event occurred when the convention elected Paul Dreessen, Pastor of IBC San Jose, Costa Rica to serve as IBC’s 2nd Vice President.  Paul will be the first IBC Officer to live half-way around the world from the home office in Frankfurt, Germany.

Paul Dreessen has been influential, along with Dr. Thomas Hill, in starting new churches, strengthen existing churches, and creating the Fellowship of International Churches in Latin America (FICLA). IBCM is providing the primary resources to hold a meeting of FICLA in Lima, Peru in February 2014.  The purpose of the meeting is to lay the ground-work for starting an international church in Lima.

The most significant issue, which was handled during the convention’s business meetings, was the legal status of the IBC in Germany.  There have been many complications.  With the collapse of communism in 1989, the withdrawal of 100s of 1,000s of American troops (and their dependents), and the subsequent creation of the European Union, it has only become more complicated.  Without the partnership with the German Baptist Union (GBU), the IBC would have no legal status today. English-language churches would suffer greatly.  It appears that these legal issues are being resolved. The brethren at the GBU are indeed our friends.

Severe financial strain is normal to many English-language international churches.  This strain-pain is passed on to the IBC, which has found it necessary to shrink its budget once again.  These circumstances not only reflect the economic conditions of emerging countries, they also reflect the continued decrease of the presence of Americans, and the continued increase of people from seemingly every nation under the sun.  Large numbers are immigrants and refugees. The opportunity to reach the world for Christ has never been greater. The need for our financial support has never been more opportunistic..

Expatriates and former members of IBC churches can see how important their gifts, which are made through IBCM, are today.  It is my desire to cast this vision because expatriates and former members of churches know the great value of English language mission work in the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission directly.

Indeed there are still some strong, healthy churches in the IBC.  These include IBC Stuttgart, Faith Kaiserslautern, IBC Berlin, Ramstein Frontline Community,,IBC Saudi Arabia, and others, but these are the exception rather than the rule.

IBC Sofia hosted the convention graciously and sacrificially.  Led by host Pastor Scott and Sandy Chadwick, the small congregation marched the extra mile in behalf of all.

On Thursday two buses transported conventioneers to visit Philippi in Macedonia.  This is the very place where Paul and Barnabas witnessed to Lydia and her family.  They were baptized in the river there.  A  slave girl was also saved there.  So was the “Philippian Jailer” and his whole family. Our journey to Philippi was comparable to a one-day visit to the Holy Land.

In conclusion, our experiences in IBC Sofia, Bulgaria, the IBC convention, and the journey to Philippi enabled me and Linda to establish some stronger relationships with many leaders in IBC churches.  It was a special joy to encourage them during conversations at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We appreciated their concerns and listened to some heart-breaking set-backs.  We experienced coffee breaks together.  We visited in the hall ways and on the bus.  These missionaries are devoted supremely to their Lord and to the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission.  It was an incredible privilege to be with them.

In Christ’s name,

Dr. Larry J. Jones, Executive Secretary

International Baptist Church Ministries

P. S.  Hope to see you at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth on January 31st for the Annual International Reunion and on February 1st for the Annual IBCM Meeting.

I trust that you are a member of IBCM.  Annual Membership is only $25.00.  Lifelong Membership is available, too.  Applications can be downloaded here on our web site.  If you have any questions or concerns about IBCM, please feel free to contact me at 806-928-7205 or write to me at larryjones409@ntin.net.

 
 

Annual Meeting 2015

You are invited to the IBCM Annual Meeting on Saturday morning from 9am to noon March 8, 2015 and our Annual Reunion of friends and former member of IBC churches to be held on Friday evening from 6pm to 9pm March 7, 2015.  Both events are held at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the Riley Center in Room 250.  Southwestern Seminary is located in Fort Worth, Texas.

Room reservations can be made for Friday/Saturday night by calling the Riley Center at 817-921-8800.  Room rates start at $80.  Be sure to mention IBCM when you make the reservation.

Our Annual Dinner is Friday evening at 6pm in the Riley Center.  Enjoy time with your friends over a delicious meal and uniquely special atmosphere.  Stay posted for the menu and the price of the meal.  RSVP by January 10, 2015 at larryjones409@ntin.net.

 
 

A Word from our Former President – Terry Carter

Welcome to IBCM!  Our new president is Linda Bolton.  She and her husband, David, were members of IBC churches in Germany and England, and have been involved in international missions for many years.  She will write a formal greeting to you soon.

Prior to Linda’s election, I had the privilege of serving two terms as President of IBCM’s Board of Directors. I continue to support the very important ministry of international English speaking churches connected to the International Baptist Convention.  I began my relationship with this unique ministry when my wife, Kathy, and I were called to serve at Immanuel Baptist Church in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1984.  That experience changed our lives and introduced us to a worldwide need for churches like Immanuel where English is spoken by natives and expats alike.  Since then we have taken advantage of opportunities to serve short term in the German cities of Stuttgart, Oberusel, and Dusseldorf and in Waterloo, Belgium.  These churches and others like them are sharing the good news of Jesus using English language as the means.

In July 2014 Kathy and I will return to IBC’s incredible Interlaken experience in Switzerland.  Many of you have attended this conference, which last year celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary.  Once again I will lead two conferences related to Church History and International Missions.

The IBCM is an organization that thrives on the involvement of individuals and churches who share the vision and purpose of the organization.  We define that purpose as “presenting the Gospel to all persons with the goal of bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to form local congregations for the Christian nurture of those who respond.”  We fulfill our goal by aiding international Baptist churches around the world.   Please consider joining us in our endeavor.  We also invite international Baptist churches to partner with us allowing us more resources to churches with special needs.

Please pray for our organization and the churches we support that God will bless the work.  Please join us in our task!

 
 

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