Melber to lead new NAMB compassion ministry: Send Relief

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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 ministry area.

“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 Kentucky Baptists.

His heart for compassion ministry was shaped in his childhood. 

“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 needs.”

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 serve.

“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. 

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Date Created: 10/8/2015 3:53:35 PM

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NAMB trustees approve Send Relief, help to IMB missionaries

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By Mike Ebert 

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 to IMB.

In other business:

  • Trustees received a report showing that revenue for 2014-15 was 1.15 percent higher than the previous year and revenue exceeded spending for the year.
  • Trustees authorized several other position and structure changes in addition to Melber’s. Carlos Ferrer will serve as executive vice president; Kim Robinson, will serve as vice president of marketing and ministry support and Clark Logan will serve as chief financial officer. All three men have been promoted from other roles at NAMB.
  • Gary Frost shared with trustees that he has resigned from his role as vice president of the Midwest region to move to the role of national facilitator for prayer and compassion initiatives with Mission America.

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 worship attendance.

“There are church planters all over North America who, because of your leadership, are being taken care of better than they ever have.”

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.”

Mike Ebert writes for the North American Mission Board. 

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Melber to lead new NAMB compassion ministry: Send Relief 

Date Created: 10/8/2015 3:47:13 PM

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SBDR stages for long-term South Carolina flood response

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By Joe Conway 

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – With dams continuing to fail Oct. 7, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) leaders gathered by conference call to plan a multi-state, long-term response to historic flooding that overwhelmed South Carolina. Command centers have been established at the South Carolina Baptist Convention office in Columbia and in Charleston, where the Charleston Baptist Association is hosting a North American Mission Board (NAMB) mobile command unit.

SBDR responding to historic Carolina floods

Although Hurricane Joaquin did not make U.S. landfall, the weather pattern it created dumped feet of rain on South Carolina Oct. 3-5. The rains are blamed for 17 weather-related deaths in North and South Carolina. Flooding is widespread, and dam failures have become common. As of Oct. 7, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division reported 12 dam breaches, including one intentional break to alleviate upstream flooding. The South Carolina Department of Transportation reported 271 road closures and 143 bridge closures Wednesday morning.

South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) Disaster Relief Director Randy Creamer has placed all SCBC SBDR volunteers on alert for potential service, knowing many of these same volunteers are flood survivors themselves. Creamer said he expects to request assistance from his fellow SBDR Region II states, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. 

“We have had assessment teams serving the last two days,” said Creamer. “Some trained mud-out teams have already self-deployed to help their neighbors. We have had a mobile kitchen serving in Columbia supporting first responders and emergency management staff. We will have a second kitchen operating tomorrow. We have distributed 2,000 cases of water through four church locations.”

Creamer said shelters counts are low because survivors have moved in with family and friends. And while feeding of survivors may not be a large part of the response, the long-term recovery and mud out will be. “It may get worse before it gets better,” said Creamer.

North Carolina fared much better overall. North Carolina Disaster Relief Coordinator Gaylon Moss said they expect to serve up to 20 flood survivors in Brunswick County, N.C. Moss will lead SBDR efforts in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area.

Mickey Caison, interim executive director for the NAMB SBDR, is assisting by heading the mobile command center in Charleston. Caison and Creamer met with leaders of the Charleston Baptist Association and the Screven Baptist Association Wednesday.

“We started working assessments on Tuesday,” said Caison. “We are still days away from the crest from the rains and the water receding. Now we have to wait until the water is gone before we can get volunteers in to help.”

Additionally, NAMB SBDR coordinators Eddie Blackmon and Cathy Miller are are serving at the SCBC command center. A NAMB semi-truck with supplies is expected to arrive in Columbia on Thursday and Charleston, Friday. A second truck is on its way to Washington with ash out and recovery supplies to aid survivors of western wildfires. NAMB will also be deploying two shower trailers, two recovery units and a generator to South Carolina.

“Time and again, when disaster brings the worst, Southern Baptists respond with the best,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “We will serve alongside our partners, assist our fellow Southern Baptist volunteers and help survivors in every way we can. Our prayers are with the people of the Carolinas.”

Those wishing to donate to SBDR relief can contact the Baptist convention in their state or visit For phone donations, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”

NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state Disaster Relief ministries.

Southern Baptists have 65,000 trained volunteers—including chaplains—and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained Disaster Relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

Updates on the latest SBDR response are available at

Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. 

Date Created: 10/7/2015 4:59:43 PM

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