ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -- With the new year at hand, the North American Mission Board looks back on 2011 as it shifted priorities and launched strategic new initiatives to more effectively share the Gospel and plant new evangelistic churches throughout North America -- all made possible by Southern Baptists' generous donations to the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
As you reflect on the stories below and recall the events of the past year, pray for the work God will accomplish through Southern Baptists in 2012. Pray that Southern Baptist churches will mobilize to plant churches to reach all people. Consider how you might join in the work of our Southern Baptist missionaries and do whatever it takes to lead those who need Jesus into His presence.
10 OF NAMB'S KEY NEWS & FEATURE STORIES FOR 2011
-- Drugs, murder loom on couple's mission field
Among the hundreds of places North American Mission Board church planting missionaries work and minister, none is more dangerous than Laredo in south Texas, where Chuy and Maria Avila live and serve.
-- Alabama church meets in ruined sanctuary
Days after killer tornadoes ripped through the South, church members gather at Mamre Baptist Church in Glencoe, Ala.
-- Joplin devastation leaves them 'stunned,' 'speechless'
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers help the devastated residents of Joplin, Mo., after an EF-5 tornado leveled the city.
-- Ezell: new day for church planting
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, introduces NAMB's "big picture strategy" for church planting, called Send North America, to messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, noting, "We must put more missionaries and more new churches in North America's least-reached areas."
-- Send North America shared with pastors
North American Mission Board Kevin Ezell rolled out NAMB's overarching Send North America church planting strategy during a Pastors' Conference luncheon of 1,000 in Phoenix. The new strategy will partner existing churches with church planters in 29 metro areas across North America.
-- 9/11 took disaster relief to new level
The Sept. 11 terrorist assaults on the United States changed more than the lower Manhattan skyline in 2001. The unprecedented attacks also forever changed the face of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. In the decade following 9/11, tens of thousands of Southern Baptists became trained disaster relief volunteers; relationships were forged and deepened with faith-based groups, law enforcement and government entities; and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief gained recognition and influence.
-- 9/11 fueled New York's rise in church planting
In the decade that followed the 9/11S attack on New York City, a church planting renaissance has replaced the ashes. "When you see how evangelical adherence has grown in the city and you see how 40 percent of the churches in Manhattan have been started since , we can thank God that Southern Baptists had a part in that," said Steve Allen, NAMB's lead catalyst for the New York City Tri-State Church Planting Team. "That's satisfying and exciting."
-- NAMB launches Send North America: New York City
Send North America: New York City is NAMB's response to the growing need for solid evangelical churches and Christian community in the city. "New York City is arguably the most strategic city on the planet," said Aaron Coe, NAMB's vice president of mobilization. "It makes sense that Southern Baptists would have a significant presence in this city for the advancement of the Gospel."
-- 55,901 SBC congregations by 2020 envisioned by Ezell
"This should be the golden age of church planting in the Southern Baptist Convention," said North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell in envisioning a goal of starting 5,112 SBC congregations in less than a decade -- more gained than in any decade since 1900. Reaching the goal would require nearly a doubling of the SBC church birth rate by the end of the 10-year period.
NOTE: The 2012 Week of Prayer for North American Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering will be March 4-11, with the theme of "Whatever It Takes" drawn from Mark 2:1-5. This year, five missionaries representing thousands of missionaries serving throughout the United States, Canada and their territories will be featured, along with a focus on ways Southern Baptists are reaching the lost in North America. For more information about the Week of Prayer and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering go to
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