Editor's Note: The following is a letter to the editor. The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of its author, and may or may not reflect the views of the Baptist New Mexican.
I was a regional team leader for the North American Mission Board during the years of healthy partnership (before 2010) between NAMB and the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. It was a joy to serve New Mexico by working with the BCNM to facilitate funding, missionaries and church planters and jointly participate in the Great Commission. But, when Kevin Ezell became NAMB’s president, he set in place an agenda to dismantle state conventions and withdraw funding from each cooperative budget.
Ezell’s agenda was to remove all the funding from western state conventions. He stated that the state conventions “were ineffective and unnecessary.” To that end, in 2011, he required regional team leaders to inform the state conventions that by 2020 cooperative agreements would be a thing of the past, and NAMB would be in control of church planting.
In March 2011, 120 missionaries serving in western states were told they were no longer needed. Since 2011, I have seen lives destroyed - caused by the toxic environment at NAMB. Physical decline, mental illness and at least one death happened because servants of God could not reconcile God’s call on their lives with the ungodly rejection by NAMB (i.e., Kevin Ezell).
The loss of the Great Commission, declining baptisms, weak sharing of the Gospel and a diminished cooperative spirit are the price Southern Baptists have paid over these last ten years. The failure to be on God’s mission to the world and the destruction of countless lives have been the cost of Ezell’s direction and leadership of NAMB. It is impossible to understand how the NAMB Board of Trustees can affirm and celebrate Ezell and his failure to deliver on his promises.
Men who believe they know best what New Mexico and the western conventions need, but who are not part of those conventions, have sacrificed the future of the greatest missionary organization in America. They are unwilling to listen, learn and cooperate. And, unless they repent, Southern Baptists will continue to lose the battle in living out the Great Commission.
Dr. Frank W. Shope, Jr.