The June 12-13 conference, held under the banner of "ASPIRE: Yearning to join God's Kingdom activity," was designed to help pastors see "the big picture of what God is doing in the world" and rise above preoccupations with temporary issues, Pastors' Conference President Vance Pitman, church planter and lead pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas, said at the time.
The event, held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Phoenix, focused on the need to plant churches in North America and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The offering was to be divided 75 percent to finish translating the "JESUS" film into the language of an unreached people group in the Arabian Peninsula and 25 percent to conduct overseas pastors' conferences using national leadership to assist church leaders in about 20 countries.
"Through the offering at ASPIRE, God provided just under $200,000," said Travis Ogle, teaching pastor at Hope Baptist Church. "When we were planning the event, we felt it would be a shame to see Southern Baptist pastors come together and Kingdom advance not come out of it. We wanted to celebrate God's activity and let the pastors know that something they were part of is going make a difference around the world."
Ogle said he had contacted Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board, to let him know a check for $150,000 is on its way to fund the movie translation. The $50,000 balance will be used by Hope Baptist Church to help finance pastor training in four locations in Africa, North Africa and Southeast Asia in conjunction with missionaries, Christian mission organizations and national Baptist groups.
"We have partners around the world, some in closed countries, who help us train pastors from dozens of countries each year," Ogle said. "These events reach between 2,500 and 3,000 national pastors, and for most of them this is the only form of theological and leadership training they receive all year."
As an encouragement to other pastors to make church planting commitments, video recordings of all Pastors' Conference sermons have been made available free of charge at the conference's website (www.sbcpc.net/media), Ogle said.
"Thanks to the North American Mission Board's sponsorship in this effort, the sermons from ASPIRE have been downloaded in more than 120 countries thus far," Ogle said. "We're praying God will continue to use these messages to touch the world with the Gospel."
Speakers at the conference included Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.; Ken Whitten of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla.; Afshin Ziafat of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas; Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta; Bob Roberts of Northwood Church in Keller, Texas; Peter Ndhlovu of Bible Gospel Church in Africa in Lusaka, Zambia; Paul Gotthardt of Life Baptist Church in Las Vegas; Darrin Patrick of The Journey Church in St. Louis; Gregg Matte of First Baptist Church in Houston; evangelist Bob Pitman of Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Johnny Hunt of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.; John Piper, preaching pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
In years past, the Pastors' Conference offering was used to recoup meeting expenses. To enable the offering to be used for mission causes this year, Pitman recruited sponsors to cover conference expenses. A list of those who contributed can be found at www.sbcpc.net/about/sponsors.
Mark Kelly is a senior writer and assistant editor for Baptist Press.
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