IBC Says Farewell to the Martins
Saying “farewell” to the IBC family is for Laurie and me a farewell to friends who are also brothers and sisters. We have shared much together. I have visited all of our IBC churches, most of them numerous times. Pastors and wives and others in our churches have brought us many blessings along the way. I have experienced joys and victories with many of you and times of sorrow and challenge also. I have watched many pastors and leaders come and go in the IBC. The faces of IBC churches are constantly changing.
The IBC itself has changed. In 1993, Laurie and I and our three daughters — Angela, Leah and Karis, who were 9, 6, and 5 — arrived at Faith Baptist Church in Kaiserslautern, Germany. At that time the majority of our churches were still made up of mostly U.S. military members and their families, but that was changing rapidly as international churches were being planted and the U.S. military was drawing down. Today more than 2/3 of our churches are made up of mostly internationals.
Since I started as the General Secretary in 2003, much has changed in our family of churches. We have changed our name to reflect who we are. We have clarified our mission, vision, and values. We have streamlined our structure. We have set our sights on seeing healthy disciples, leaders, and congregations mobilized and multiplied.
But it is the people who have made the IBC what it is today, and it is the people who will shape the IBC of tomorrow. It has been our privilege to serve alongside some of God’s finest people — people of faith and vision and love and hope. We hope that we have in some way encouraged you in your life.
Whatever God has brought us through has been a prelude to what He has for the IBC in the future. You are the carriers of God’s message and His name. His reputation is at stake in every person and every church. Opportunities and challenges lie ahead for the IBC. With a continuing dependence on the Lord and a spirit of family cooperation, the IBC will continue on a good path. Our churches in the IBC have a lot in common, but we also are different. I think a key to our spirit of family as a convention has been to live with a core conviction that we belong to one another because we belong to Christ. We are sister churches in God’s family. Don’t let differences divide you; let Christ unite you as you serve Him together.
Laurie and I are eager to pursue the future God has for us. We look forward to seeing our children and grandchildren and other family members more often. We see this as a time not of retirement but of “refirement,” to use Ken Blanchard’s term. We are refiring for new adventures as followers of Christ. Following Him and leading others toward maturity in the faith is a never-ending journey. We fully expect to continue running the race of faith to the end.
We return to a country that is very different than it was 28 years ago. We also are different. Ministering in an international context has taught us that we are called to live as “aliens and strangers” on earth. Regardless of our location we want to belong to those people of faith who are looking for a better country, a heavenly one because we know God is preparing a city for those who know their real citizenship is in heaven.
We look forward to keeping in touch with many of you. Every time we hear of what God is doing in the IBC we will rejoice. We will carry you in our hearts, whatever we are doing and wherever we find ourselves. And we truly consider our time together as a partnership in the gospel. God is going to continue the good work He began among the churches of the IBC back in 1958. And we are confident He will continue the work He began in our lives many years ago.
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you,
and give you peace.
To see the complete retirement celebration, visit our YouTube channel.