The year was 1976, and Ed Bullock had just been appointed as the executive director of a newly formed auxiliary of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) – a ministry called N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM). Now, 40 years later, N.C. Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission, has a legacy to celebrate.
With 17 ministries to its name that span from agricultural missions to sports and recreation ministries, NCBM has been able to serve in a variety of different fields. Since 1997, NCBM has distributed more than 6.2 million meals and treated more than 58,000 patients on its medical/dental buses. NCBM and its ministries are possible because of the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) – 41 percent of the funds received in the offering go toward NCBM. NCBM is funded almost entirely by the NCMO, and NCMO support helps the ministry share God’s love with hurting people through word and deed.
Lynn Tharrington has worked for NCBM since 1971 – a time when the office was still the BSC’s Brotherhood department, existing to do mostly missions education for North Carolina Baptist churches. Tharrington has served alongside all three of the auxiliary’s directors, allowing her to see firsthand the effect that acts of service can have on the lives of others over the course of her 45-year career with NCBM.
She recalled a time when NCBM was embarking on its first disaster relief mission – helping with cleanup after tornados ripped through Red Springs, N.C., in 1984.
“At that time, nobody had ever heard of disaster relief,” Tharrington said. “But God did have that vision. He knew what He was preparing us for.”
Jim Burchette, a volunteer with NCBM since it was the BSC’s Brotherhood department, said that before the tornado devastated Red Springs, no one saw a reason for disaster relief missions. At that time, NCBM was operating its new disaster relief program out of a trailer.
“People would see the trailer and say, ‘What’s that for?’” Burchette said. “They would say, ‘We don’t have disasters here, we don’t need that.’ And then the tornado came, and they saw that they did need it.”
Since then, Burchette has seen NCBM expand. Though he never worked in disaster relief himself – he volunteered with disaster relief training and international missions – he has seen God’s hand at work through the disaster relief teams as NCBM continues to grow.
Today, the disaster relief ministry – far from its beginnings in a trailer – now possesses an entire fleet of relief units. This fleet includes field kitchen units, recovery units, shower units, laundry units and many more.
Richard Brunson, the current executive director of NCBM, said that it’s been a blessing to see God expanding NCBM since he began working in his position in 1992. Though the ministry has developed, he said the focus of NCBM remains the same.
“Our job is to help churches involve their members in missions,” Brunson said. “We want to challenge all men, women and students to be involved in missions.”
Brunson said a large part of NCBM’s growth over the years had to do with helping Baptists understand that they can be missionaries in their day-to-day lives. Many people give to missions and pray for missions, but they often don’t see themselves as missionaries, Brunson said. NCBM helps change that mindset.
“We wanted to change the story from missions education to missions involvement, with every Christian being a missionary,” Brunson said. “All Christians are called, gifted and sent.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – N.C. Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission receives a major portion of its funding from the North Carolina Missions Offering, ncmissionsoffering.org, which makes the disaster relief ministry and others like it possible.)