BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) -- Ronnie Floyd celebrated Tuesday the "amazing things" God is doing in Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries as messengers gathered here.
"God loves refugees and so do we," Floyd said in his first annual meeting report as SBC Executive Committee president and CEO. "We need to be about telling and celebrating what God is doing."
Floyd highlighted trauma healing for abused women in South Asia, International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood's work in Uganda, and a children's ministry initiative led by 10-year-old messenger Zak McCullar.
Healing in South Asia
Rachel*, an IMB worker, described a "big worship time" that was underway in South Asia when she moved there.
"I read about a grandmother who had sacrificed her own granddaughter to a goddess in my city," Rachel said after Floyd invited her to the stage. "Those stories are not uncommon where I live.
"Cycles of abuse and addiction were in that area," she told messengers, "and I wanted to take my counseling background and my own personal story to help people in those areas."
Rachel worked with other IMB personnel to create victim resources and enrolled in trauma healing training in her community. She helped create Scripture storying sets relating how God covered Eve's shame, how He cared for Hagar, and how He loves the unloved such as Leah.
"And so we're looking to use the things that we're learning and the things that we're cooperating together with," she said, "to reach women and children and those who are trapped in those cycles of abuse."
She thanked Southern Baptists for prayers and for financial gifts to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supporting missions.
"I know that one day Jesus is coming again and that one day He's going to make all things right," she said. "I just want to encourage us as a convention to move forward in unity around that goal, that we would abide deeply in the Father's love, that we would love one another with a fervent spirit, and that we would speak our truth in love and that we would also season our speech with salt. And in all that we're moving toward the goal of every tribe, tongue and nation around the world."
Floyd shared a one-minute video conveying his inspiration from Chitwood's spring trip to Uganda.
"When I think about refugee camps, I think about men and women, young children, young families who are fleeing horrific conditions, genocide and other types of persecution," Floyd said. "These people are traumatized by their culture, they are desperate and they have nowhere to turn."
In Uganda, Southern Baptist missionaries are ministering to more than 1.5 million refugees, Floyd said, noting a Baptist Press story of Chitwood visiting a single mother who lives with her two children in a home Southern Baptists built.
"Yes, we build homes, yes, we build water wells, yes, we meet physical needs and yes, we provide trauma healing," Floyd said. "Many refugees are learning to overcome their psychological pain through understanding and accepting the love of Jesus Christ.
"Now here is a really great thing: You, me and other Southern Baptists are a part of this story because our prayers and our sacrificial giving through the Cooperative Program make us partners with the missionaries on the field," Floyd said. "Jesus loves refugees, and so do we."
Floyd asked Chitwood to share a quick message from the missionaries to Southern Baptists.
"There are 3,698 living, breathing Gospel agents sharing the hope of Jesus on your behalf and on our behalf," Chitwood said of missionaries, adding thanks for Floyd's emphasis on getting the Gospel to the nations.
"That's what brought Southern Baptists together," Chitwood said. "It's what will keep us together, and we are thankful to be serving with you."
Floyd described it as an epic moment. At the 2018 SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas, a then 9-year-old Zak McCullar from First Baptist Church, Carbon Hill, Ala., introduced a motion at microphone 7A.
"I make a motion to request the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to consider a children's ministry emphasis Sunday to be added to the SBC calendar of activities," McCullar said.
A year later, the EC is recommending to messengers in Birmingham the addition of Children's Ministry Day to the SBC calendar the third Sunday in July through 2023.
"Zak, think about it," Floyd said as he invited McCullar to the stage. "We're about to possibly have a Children's Day, and it was your heart and your vision that did that. Now I want you to tell us why you wanted to have a Children's Day."
McCullar told Floyd, "Well, I thought that children do a lot sharing the Gospel, and that children had to learn this from children's ministry workers. So I checked the SBC calendar of activities, and there wasn't a day to recognize children or the workers."
Floyd commended McCullar, the homeschooled, sixth-grade son of Scott and Suzanne McCullar.
"We want you to know that there will be children and families coming to Jesus Christ because of your heart, your vision. Thank you for being a world changer, Zak," Floyd said as messengers applauded.
"I'm so thankful," Zak responded, "that the Lord has used me to do His works. And I feel blown away that 9,000 or more complete strangers would be so friendly and agree with my motion," he said of the 2018 Dallas vote.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.