WACO - Friends and supporters of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation (TBMF) gathered together for the 2014 Texas Baptist Missions Foundation Awards Luncheon held in Waco, during the Annual Meeting of Texas Baptists. This year, TBMF presented three awards in recognition of work in missions in the state of Texas.
Bill Arnold, president of TBMF, welcomed those gathered at the luncheon and introduced Jay Abernathy, pastor of First Baptist Church of Palestine, to give the opening prayer.
Arnold then presented the 2014 Adventurer Award for Leadership in Missions to the Kyle Lake Foundation. The Adventurer Award is presented annually to an organization that has spent his or her life for the cause of missions through personal service, financial support and fund raising, and leadership in ministry opportunities.
Named in memory of the late Kyle Lake, former pastor of University Baptist Church who died tragically while baptizing a new believer one Sunday morning, the Kyle Lake Foundation seeks to help Christians and Christian churches to be better equipped for presenting the message of Christ in a real and meaningful way in today's culture.
Through grants and gifts to a variety of causes in East Texas and beyond, the foundation continues the legacy of Lake, who was known as a vibrant, magnetic, and dynamic preacher of the Gospel. The foundation was stated by Lake's parents, David and Shirley Lake, who are active members of First Baptist Church, Tyler.
Paul Powell, former dean of Truett Seminary, introduced the foundation and described the multitude of acts of service performed through the Lake Family. Reflecting on the challenge of whether God can entrust believers with the monumental tasks of ministry, Powell stated, "God found out, and already knew ahead of time, that He could trust David and Shirley Lake and members of their family, and He blessed them, and they, in turn, have been a blessing to others."
In accepting the award, David Lake turned his attention to the members of the board of directors of the foundation, and expressed to them his gratitude.
"Their dedicated service, hard work, wisdom, and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ makes the foundation possible," Lake stated.
The 2014 Innovator Award for Creativity in Missions was presented to Neighbors International, a ministry of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco. The Innovator Award is presented to an individual who models for others mission work that they can adopt. Ron Durham, pastor emeritus at Columbus Avenue, introduced the ministry and described their history and work over the years.
According to Durham, the ministry has been driven by a guiding question, "What do you do when the world comes to your city?" To answer this question, Neighbors International was founded in 1970 through the efforts of a former missionary to Nigeria, Ann Pittman, and has provided English classes, computer training classes, citizenship assistance, and a variety of other services to more than 2,300 internationals representing 101 countries.
Glenda Weldon, director of Neighbors International, accepted the award on behalf of the ministry. "Our work is not something that has been achieved by individuals," Weldon stated, "but is has been achieved through individuals with God working in their lives."
Bob Raus, former professor of church recreation at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, received this year's Pioneer Award for Service in Missions. The Pioneer Award is given for an individual whose lifetime of work as a leader in missions has made a lasting impact on Texas Baptist life.
After retiring from his work at the seminary, Raus took on a new role with Texas Baptists helping to lead the efforts in a new form of ministry that met people in various resort and leisure locations. Terance Levi, founder of Evangelism Worldwide, introduced Raus and shared his experiences with him working on a Beach Reach project for the past several years, describing him as a "fearless minister for the cause of Christ."
In accepting the award, Raus described his journey into recreation ministry and the new focus God gave him after retirement.
Raus stated, "There was a whole ministry out there where we don't try to create programs and bring people into the church, but we go where people are recreating and surprise them with God's love where they are."
At the conclusion of the luncheon, Arnold introduced Steve Vernon, associate executive director of Texas Baptists, who thanked those gathered and gave special recognition to the work of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation.
"They are our ministry enablers," Vernon stated. "They help to operate missions in our organization and other organizations as they truly seek to help further the cause of Christ throughout the state."
Arnold concluded the luncheon with a word of thanks to all those gathered, commenting on the 30th anniversary of the foundation. He also shared highlights of the work, describing how over the years the work of the foundation has been supported by more than 33,000 donors who have in turn helped support some 250 ministries.
He also took a special moment to thank all of those past and present recipients of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation awards.
"You have inspired us with your lives," Arnold stated. "You have challenged us to make a difference like you have done in the Kingdom right now."
Blake Killingsworth serves as Vice President of Communications for Dallas Baptist University.