The 2015 Mission Awards Luncheon sponsored by the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation took place during the Annual Meeting of Texas Baptists in Frisco on Nov. 9.
Greeting those who had gathered for the luncheon held at ParkwayHills Baptist Church, Bill Arnold, president of TBMF, thanked those who had supported the Foundation through the years and recognized past award recipients. He also welcomed to the microphone Sam Dennis, senior pastor of ParkwayHills, who provided a welcome from the church and the opening prayer.
"Your being here is serendipitous for us as a church because we were a product of missions work and the monies that people have given through the years," stated Rev. Dennis. "We love Texas Baptists, and it is our desire to see this kind of work continue, and we know that God is going to bless it."
Following the opening prayer, Bill Arnold welcomed to the podium Vince Smith to introduce this year's Adventurer Award for Leadership in Missions recipient–First Baptist Church of McKinney. The Adventurer Award seeks to recognize organizations or individuals who advance missions through leadership in ministry opportunities or exemplary financial support.
Smith, who serves as the executive director of the Collin Baptist Association, described the dramatic growth that has taken place in Collin County over the past three decades, going from some 200,000 residents in 1989 to more than 900,000 in 2015. This population explosion provides a unique opportunity for so many individuals who need to hear the gospel message, Smith stated. FBC McKinney has sought to find creative ways to accomplish this goal. Through Adopt-A-School, Pray 4 Every Home programs, field days, sports programs, health fairs and food pantry services, as well as church planting throughout the United States and around the world, First Baptist McKinney has garnered a reputation for creativity in fulfilling their vision to be a Great Commission and Great Commandment church.
"I am so proud to see this Adventurer Award go to First Baptist McKinney," Smith stated, "because this is their heartbeat, to see lives touched with a winning witness in word and deed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Richard Mark Lee, lead pastor of FBC McKinney, accepted the award, stating, "On behalf of our church planters and our missionaries around the world from our church as well as those who are living for mission in the business fields and the market place at home we want to say thank you. We need to continue to point people to Jesus and make every moment count until he calls us home, so thank you for our investment in what we do and for partnering with us as well."
The 2015 Innovator Award for Creativity in Missions was presented to William R. O'Brien, former missionary and executive vice president of the SBC Foreign Mission Board. Each year, the Innovator Award is presented to an individual or organization whose model for missions is an inspiration for others to adopt.
Prior to his appointment on the mission field, Bill O'Brien served as the first full-time minister of music at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. In 1962, he headed to Indonesia to become the first missionary to that region with a focus on music and the arts, teaching at the Baptist seminary in the region and directing the radio and television work for Indonesian Baptists. He returned to the United States and for 15 years he served with the Foreign Mission Board, nine of which as executive vice-president. Following his time with the FMB, he became the founding director of the Global Center at Samford University and currently serves as the executive director of the Gaston Christian Center in Dallas.
Paul Basden, senior pastor of Preston Trail Community Church and son-in-law to William O'Brien, introduced O'Brien at the luncheon.
"Effective missions always begins with following the indigenous principle," he began. Basden explained how this principle shaped the way in which the message of Christ entered into new languages and cultures, always in creative ways, as best described in the Apostle Paul's desire to become all things to all people to win some for Christ. As Basden said, "Bill O'Brien has spent a lifetime wherever he has lived trying to follow this principle."
Upon presenting the award to O'Brien, Bill Arnold also provided a challenge gift from the TBMF of $30,000 to O'Brien for the Gaston Christian Center.
In accepting the award and the check, O'Brien stated, "I am grateful for Baptist people who have made a difference in my life, beginning with my parents and family, and my friends and co-workers, and to the Mission Foundation, thank you for this honor."
The Pioneer Award for Service in Missions Award was presented to Keith Parks, former head of the Foreign Mission Board and former missions coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The Pioneer Award seeks to honor those individuals or churches who have been a longtime leader in beginning mission work that has impacted Texas Baptist life.
A pioneer in the field of missions, Parks spent time on the mission field, including serving as president of the Indonesia Baptist Seminary, and was eventually named head of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, a position he held from 1980 through 1992. Throughout his time at the FMB, he led the charge into mission work and developed strategic partnerships among other global missionary organizations. In 1993, he was named the missions coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He officially retired in 1999, but remains active as an advocate for sharing the message of Christ to all the nations.
S. Kent Parks, Keith Parks' son and head of Act Beyond, a multi-national and multi-denominational global missions agency who focuses on unreached people, introduced his father and spoke of his pioneering spirit.
"He brought a focus on what came to be known as unreached peoples before it became a well-known term, and he encouraged new efforts into places where the Gospel had never been," Parks explained. "We need to renew our work to the 2.1 billion [people] who have never heard, and Keith has helped to do that and led that effort and still prays for that to this day."
In accepting the award, Keith Parks shared how Texas Baptist work had shaped his life through the years. Recalling his appointment as head the FMB, he told the story of his first interview, which was conducted by Toby Druin of The Baptist Standard.
Druin asked Parks to describe himself, and Parks simply explained, "I am a missionary."
"Today," Parks told the group, "I want to add a lot of who I am is because of Texas Baptists and what you provided for me and many, many others. So I am indebted to you for whatever God has done in my life, and I want to thank you for that."
At the conclusion of the luncheon, Bill Arnold described the various work of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation, including raising some $2 million for the renovation of a Baptist Student Ministries building on the campus of the University of North Texas at a location where more than 17,000 students pass every day. He also reminded the group of other needs and activities of the Foundation and ended with a moment in prayer.
Blake Killingsworth serves as Vice President for Communications at Dallas Baptist University.