NAMB’s Send Luncheon highlights fostering and adoptive families, encourages pastors’ families

INDIANAPOLIS — Marriage, family, generosity and hope were the central themes of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send Luncheon on Monday, June 10, in Indianapolis as Southern Baptists blessed a family and provided support for adopting and fostering families.

“I love this luncheon for a lot of reasons because, one, it’s just fun,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell said during the event. “That’s the whole purpose of it, but you know one of the most fun things about it is getting to bless people.”

This year, the Clifton family were blessed after their husband and father, Clint, died in a tragic plane crash roughly 18 months ago as a donor paid for daughter Ruthe Clifton’s upcoming wedding and honeymoon as well as providing gifts to the other family members.

“All the time, I talk to people about Clint’s church planting legacy, but when I think about his legacy, I think of this family,” said Colby Garman, pastor of Pillar Church in Dumfries, Va. “Family just meant everything to him. He did everything [with his family], and guys, I think you know this, but your dad would be so proud of the way you guys have leaned into the Lord over the last year and a half.”

Illusionist and entertainer Dustin Tavella, who won America’s Got Talent in 2021, then used his magic tricks act to honor the adopting and foster care families in the audience, which is a key part of Send Relief’s compassion ministry focus.

Tavella was fostered as a child, and he and his wife adopted two boys before going on the famous talent show.

The show concluded with an illusion that spelled out the word “hope.”

“Hope is at the center of every adoption story. Redemption is at the center of every adoption story,” Tavella said at the conclusion of his show. “We keep Jesus at the center of all these things, and we’re able to see hope rise in situations when it doesn’t even make sense.”

Ezell and International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood invited families to the stage who were currently in the process of adopting, and Tavella prayed over them in their journey before they went backstage.

“What these couples don’t know, we’re taking down their information…and we’re going to help each one of them pay for their adoption,” Ezell announced.

The luncheon’s program opened with Ted Cunningham, a pastor and comedian on the Date Night Comedy Tour, who shared jokes and anecdotes about the ironies and realities of marriage and family life.

He told a funny story about one of his kids repeating the punchline to one of his dad jokes.

“My question for you today: do you have a marriage worth repeating?” Cunningham asked. “Do you have a marriage you want your children and grandchildren to have? Because here’s what we know about our kids. They’re watching, they’re listening, remembering and repeating.”

Cunningham concluded by using an analogy of singers performing a duet and told the pastors in the audience, “Every marriage is a duet in need of great backup singers. As you are singing backup over the duets in your church, don’t forget about your own duet.”

Ezell also welcomed Chitwood, GuideStone President Hance Dilbeck and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) President Jeff Iorg to the platform. The entity heads good naturedly ribbed one another as they introduced Iorg during the luncheon, who’s served just under a month on the job.

“Seriously, we want to be here to support you, love you and pray for you,” Ezell said to Iorg. “And we could not be more thankful that God placed you in the position you’re in.”

A “Where Are They Now” video featured individuals and families who had been blessed at past Send Luncheon events and shared how they were now using those blessings to help others.

While gifts given at the luncheon are paid for by private donors, Ezell shared the ways that Southern Baptist generosity, through the Cooperative Program (CP) and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, allows NAMB to be generous to their missionaries, and he opened the Send Luncheon by thanking the attendees.

“Today is about saying, ‘Thank you.’ We’re able to do what we do and bless our missionaries as we do because of you, pastors,” Ezell said. “We’re aware of that. Because of your faithful giving to the CP and because of your faithful giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, we’re able to bless our missionaries. So, today is about saying, ‘Thank you.’”

(EDITOR’S NOTES — Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.)

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