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By Mike Ebert
SALT LAKE CITY – David Melber was approved as vice president
of Send Relief by North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees at their Oct. 7
meeting here. At the same meeting, trustees also approved funding for the new
“I know David’s passion, experience and his heart for people
make him a great fit for this new role,” NAMB president Kevin Ezell said.
“Southern Baptists want to help people who are hurting and with David’s
leadership, Send Relief is going to greatly expand the opportunities for
churches and individuals to serve.”
Melber said ministries like Send Relief can help Christians
reach a culture that has become suspicious or indifferent toward Christianity.
“It let’s people see there is something to this gospel,”
Melber said. “It’s more than just a message.”
Melber comes to NAMB after 12 years as president and CEO of
Crossings Camp in Kentucky, and a lifetime of ministry service. Under Melber’s
leadership attendance at Crossings grew from 1,800 in 2003 to a record 13,000
this year. In that time campers have given more than $1.3 million to missions
offerings. Crossings is funded in part through Cooperative Program gifts from
His heart for compassion ministry was shaped in his
“From early on my parents were big on volunteering and
service work,” Melber said. “Then I gained more skills in business, in seminary
and at camps—seeing what students could do if they were presented with tangible
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist
Convention, said Melber’s ministry in Kentucky has prepared him well for a
larger platform at NAMB.
"God has used David in miraculous
ways to transform Crossings Ministries into one of the most successful Christian
camp ministries in the world,” Chitwood said. Under Melber’s leadership,
Chitwood said, Crossings launched a successful children’s ministry as well as a
worldwide missions strategy that is helping campers and churches share Christ
among the nations.
“I believe the skills and experiences
David has sharpened as president of Crossings have prepared him for the
opportunity God is setting before him with NAMB," Chitwood said.
Ezell told NAMB trustees details of the
Send Relief ministry still must be developed. It will include ministries such
has hunger and poverty relief, foster care and adoption, ministry to victims of
human trafficking, and construction projects in low income, inner city areas.
NAMB’s national coordination responsibilities with Southern Baptist Disaster
Relief will come under the Send Relief umbrella, serving state conventions and
other ministry partners as it always has.
“Young people want to serve,” Ezell said. “People are
retiring with 10 or 20 or more years of good health left. They want meaningful
ways to use their skills and serve. Send Relief will do that.”
Melber said Send Relief won’t focus on building its own
ministries but will find people who are already demonstrating leadership and
success and give them a larger platform to expand their ministry.
“I don’t think I’ve got the greatest idea on how to address
human trafficking, but God has no doubt burdened people with that. They are
already doing great things and they need to be given some encouragement and
resources to see those ministries expanded,” Melber said.
Melber said Southern Baptists have a great reputation for
serving in times of disaster and he wants to built on that inclination to
“The reality is there are plenty of human conditions that
need relief without hurricanes or tornados,” Melber said. “Jesus went to where
the people were. These ministries will help us do that. Ultimately this will be
for proclaiming the gospel and helping to start new churches. I don’t want to
say it’s the best thing going at NAMB, but I’m pretty excited about it.”
Melber and his wife, Tera, are the parents of six children,
including one who is adopted from the Philippines and two from Ethiopia.
Mike Ebert writes for
the North American Mission Board.
NAMB trustees approve Send Relief, help to IMB missionaries
Date Created: 10/8/2015 3:53:35 PM
SALT LAKE CITY – Trustees of the North American Mission
Board (NAMB) approved the establishment of Send Relief, a new compassion
ministry that will offer Southern Baptists opportunities to meet physical needs
and serve underprivileged communities.
“Imagine 40,000 Southern Baptist churches engaged to meet
needs in their communities and across North America,” said NAMB president Kevin
Ezell shortly after trustees closed their meeting. “Send Relief will give
churches hands-on opportunities to alleviate suffering and transform lives.”
Send Relief will launch in 2016 and include compassion
ministries to combat hunger,
poverty, serve children through foster care and adoption, combat human
trafficking, minister to migrants through international learning centers and
meet inner city needs with construction and medical teams.
NAMB trustees approved David Melber as vice president
of Send Relief. Melber has led Crossings ministries in Kentucky since 2003.
“Send Relief is going to be an ideal way for us as Southern
Baptists to meet a real need—not only for the physical side but to proclaim the
gospel, see people come to Christ and help be part of the church planting
effort,” Melber said. (See related story: “Melber to lead new NAMB compassion
ministry: Send Relief”) NAMB’s Disaster Relief team will reside within Send
Relief and continue to have its own director. NAMB will continue to serve as
coordinator of national disaster relief responses.
Trustees also approved a $4 million reduction in NAMB’s
2015-2016 fiscal year budget so the entity can send funds to assist
International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries. Ezell requested the action in
response to recent news that IMB will be reducing personnel by up to 15 percent
in order to address ongoing revenue shortfalls.
“This is a kingdom vote,” declared NAMB trustee chairman
Chuck Herring, senior pastor of Collierville First Baptist Church near Memphis,
after NAMB trustees unanimously passed the resolution. Next, the SBC Executive
Committee must approve the proposed assistance before NAMB can transfer funds
In other business:
Ezell’s address to trustees included a brief look back at
his first five years at the entity. Among the sharpest contrasts, in 2010 NAMB’s
annual summer meeting had 300 attendees and NAMB paid them to attend. In 2015,
the Send North America Conference in Nashville had more than 13,000 attendees
and all but a few paid their own way.
He also pointed to downsizing that has allowed more
resources to the field, better counting and tracking of Southern Baptist church
plants and a tripling of resources NAMB sends to Canada.
“You are changing lives,” Ezell told trustees. As examples
he mentioned a church plant in Detroit that recently had 250 at a preview
service. Another in Augusta, Maine, is now averaging more than 700 a week in
“There are church planters all over North America who,
because of your leadership, are being taken care of better than they ever
Ezell closed by thanking trustees for their affirmation of
Send Relief and shared his excitement about its potential.
“People are very excited about compassion ministry,” Ezell
said. “We believe Send Relief is a way to help thousands of churches take their
first missions step.”
Melber to lead new NAMB compassion ministry: Send Relief
Date Created: 10/8/2015 3:47:13 PM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2015 North American Mission Board, SBC