Over 300 members of the Baptist Mid-Missions Family came together July 8–11, 2019, for four days of rest and refreshment at our annual Family Conference, held at First Baptist Church of Elyria, Ohio.
Speakers Jason Ormiston and Michael Wilburn
The conference truly was a BMM Family event. Two members of our governing council, Dr. Jason Ormiston and Dr. Michael Wilburn, presented 10 messages in the morning and evening sessions. The speakers’ lives have long been interwoven with Baptist Mid-Missions. Jason is the son of BMM Council member Lee Ormiston, and his sister, Hannah Scott, serves with us in Thailand. Likewise, Michael is the son of BMM Council member Howard Wilburn, and his brother, John Wilburn, serves with us in St. Vincent.
Jason’s and Michael’s missions connections uniquely tuned their hearts to our missionaries’ needs and challenges. Their insights permeated Jason’s messages from the Psalms that illuminated our relationship with God and Michael’s on the missionary ministries of Paul and Timothy in 2 Corinthians. Jason commented on the invaluable experience of seeing and talking informally with missionaries: “It is causing my ministry as a Council member to be even more relational and less institutional.” Likewise, Michael has long enjoyed Family Conference as a way to soak in relevant messages and interact with missionaries.
Honoring faithful longevity
At Tuesday evening’s session, we honored missionaries and staff who reached milestones of service, beginning with 20 years. More than 60 people were recognized, culminating with Jacqueline Eaton, who received a 55-year pin for service in North America and at Bibles International.
Wednesday is always packed with special events. Adults had their choice of outings: nature hike, golf, or a visit to the Stan Hywet mansion in Akron, Ohio. The rest and refreshment needs of BMM MKs were met through outings to the Cleveland Zoo and Swings-n-Things amusement park. BMM kids of all ages enjoyed their own conference sessions and activities led by Josh and Amy Butler (youth pastor at First Baptist Elyria) and Ben and April Hobbes (youth pastor of Berea Baptist Church, Berea, Ohio). Dennis and Renee Owen, members of the host church, gave of their time and energy to lead nursery care for our littlest ones.
William C. Haas Lifetime Service Award
In the evening, emeritus missionary Beulah Hager was honored with our William C. Haas Lifetime Service award. In 1951, God called Beulah from a teaching position in the US to serve in the Dominican Republic. She helped start the first Christian school on the eastern half of the island, a school that has impacted multiple generations. Her service in Puerto Rico and Greenville, South Carolina, shaped even more Christian leaders. The gentleman who now directs the DR school, José Abel Severino, and his family presented Beulah with a plaque on behalf of the school. Beulah’s ministry contributed to the salvation of José’s extended family. Dr. Vernon Rosenau commented, “This is what it’s about—our missionaries raising up Timothys.” View Beulah’s video at https://vimeo.com/344379384
Building up the Family
On Thursday, the final day of conference, we welcomed 12 incoming missionaries who are the much-prayed-for newest members of the BMM Family. The 12 came for the final night of conference prior to completing BMM’s Candidate Seminar July 12–19. We closed with a BMM tradition dating back many decades: the Inner Circle. Gathering all missionaries returning to their fields after furlough, the remaining attendees surrounded them in a circle that lined the perimeter of the church sanctuary. As we sang “He Will Hold Me Fast,” we prayed over the inner circle of missionaries, lifting them into God’s care and strengthening for the battle until we meet again.