PHOENIX – In a
hand-off complete with a race car pit stop, transition of Royal Ambassadors to
its 103-year-old parent organization is now under way.
Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Director/Treasure Wanda Lee accepted the “hand-off”
of Royal Ambassadors and Challengers from North American Mission Board
President Kevin Ezell in the June 13 morning session of WMU’s annual meeting
and missions celebration.
“We are excited,” Lee said. “We are in a new arena of partnership for missions
education. We love RAs. They were born from our hearts and we gave them
willingly to the Brotherhood Commission in 1954. We now gladly receive them
back. Thank you.”
RA, begun by WMU in 1908, is the Southern Baptist missions organization for
boys in grades 1 – 6. Challengers engages young men in grades 7 – 12 in
Ezell said he believes this is the right move at the right time.
“We have the assignment for missions education from the Southern Baptist
Convention, but we have always worked in partnership with the WMU. You are
experts in missions education and this makes great sense to me. Who does it
better than WMU?”
Unveiling a large RA race car cutout to laughter and applause, Ezell presented
Lee with the “small gift,” along with a framed logo with each of the missions
education organizations, symbolic of the transfer of the organizations’
copyrights to WMU. The frame came in a box marked one of 1,908.
“We have a lot of files to transfer to you; the semi will be rolling into Birmingham
soon,” Ezell joked. “We may not have exactly 1,908 boxes, but we wanted to
recognize your commitment to the organization you founded in 1908.”
Acteen Panelist Taylor Townsend, a member of First
in Jackson, Miss.,
and Challengers SBC Page David Ray, a member
of Bethel Baptist
Church in Greenville,
S.C., assisted M. Steve
Heartsill in unveiling the car on the platform.
Heartsill, a 10-year veteran at WMU and former pastor, will assume the managing
editor’s role for RA and Challengers resources July 1.
Lee noted Heartsill’s commitment to WMU and its resources.
“Leadership is critical in this transition and we are happy to announce Dr.
Heartsill’s acceptance of this role. He will lead a team of men at WMU to plan,
design and create resources for RAs and Challengers,” Lee said.
The car, used in pit stop events where RAs are timed on changing tires and “fueling
up” with water, is representative of the evangelistic outreach activities that
have been a large part of RAs and Challengers.
Lee recognized NAMB staff and missionaries in the audience as well as
missionary parents and children.
“You scared me for a minute with that box,” Lee said to laughter. “We have
always enjoyed a great partnership with NAMB. We look forward to working with
their team in this transition and to continuing to strengthen our partnership.”
Ezell thanked the audience for their support and prayer for missionaries and
thanked Lee for her help and pointers as he began his days at NAMB.
“Today is a special day for NAMB as we continue to bring focus to the entity
and expand our partnerships,” Ezell said. “With your support we want to put
more missionaries on the field. We want to take better care of our missionaries
who are on the field. I have visited with many of our missionaries who are
sacrificing to commit more resources to missions. We want to have a higher
quality of care for them.”
(EDITOR’S NTOE – Joe Conway is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)