WACO—The Texas Baptist Missions Foundation presented three awards at their annual luncheon held at the Baylor Club at McLane Stadium during the 2019 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting.
Bill Arnold, president of the TBMF, welcomed the guests, provided brief remarks for each award recipient, and asked Tim Randolph, director of the Waco Regional Baptist Association, to provide the opening prayer.
The 2019 Adventurer Award for Leadership in Missions went to Lee and Ruthie Baggett of Amarillo. Don Sewell, director of Faith In Action Initiatives at Baylor Scott White described the various ways the couple led in missions work, especially recently through the Manos Hermanas ministry in Mexico.
“The impact of what Lee and Ruthie Baggett have done has been tremendous,” Sewell said.
The Baggetts had a heart for missions in college, and at the time, Lee Baggett sensed a call to preaching. As Lee described it, soon he began to sense a call to the medical field.
“I told God, ‘I’m a preacher, I can’t study to be a doctor,’” Baggett recalled. “God said, ‘Who does the calling?’”
Baggett surrendered to this new direction and pursued a medical degree that he and Ruthie utilized for nearly 30 years through the Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board. Upon retirement in 2002, the couple began working with Hands in Service Ministries, establishing the Manos Hermanas network in Mexico that meets medical and nutritional needs for impoverished areas.
The Innovator Award for Creativity in Missions was presented to Baylor Scott & White for their Faith In Action program. Randy Wood, professor of curriculum and instruction at Baylor University, provided the introduction.
The Faith In Action program was started by former Baylor Scott & White CEO Joel Allison and COO John McWhorter. It serves as a type of clearinghouse for unused quality medical supplies and volunteer medical personal to be used by other hospitals and medical missions around the world, and is the only work of its kind in the country. This past year alone, the initiative sent more than $7 million in equipment and supplies around the world, deployed 185 registered nurses and 35 physicians for international medical mission opportunities, and had some 50 volunteers per month sort and inventory various supplies.
Accepting on behalf of the program was Don Sewell, who recognized those who began the program and explained the vision for their work. “We are starting out to save a bunch of material for usage in another situation,” Sewell explained. “We are reclaiming that material and redeeming that material and sending it out. We are talking about missions. Just as the souls are changed, likewise we have this wonderful opportunity to have such an impacting difference.”
The Pioneer Award for Service in Missions went to Mission Waco and Mission World, a ministry founded by Jimmy and Janet Dorrell that works among the poor in North Waco. Ferrell Foster, director of ethics and justice for the Christian Life Commission, introduced the ministry and the Dorrells and shared how Jimmy and his wife stress that the most important thing is to be “faithful to Christ and the biblical testimony of what Jesus expects from his disciples.”
Mission Waco and Mission World grew out of an early experience in the ministry of the Dorrells as they worked to renovate a house in a poor area of Waco. Attempting to live an incarnational life among their neighbors, the couple sought to preach the Good News through relationship building and helping to meet the needs of the neighborhood.
In 1991, after several years in urban ministry, the couple began Mission Waco as a means to empower individuals in poverty through relationship-based, holistic programs; mobilize middle-class Christians to become involved through hands-on experiences; and address systemic issues that disempower the poor. Currently, the organization has 18 ministries and 80 staff who are serving the poor, many of whom are living in the same neighborhood.
“Through the years, our ministry was to love our friends,” Dorrell explained. “Not to go down and try to fix everybody, but to love them well and to listen.”
Bill Arnold, TBMF president, provided final words for the luncheon, recognizing again the award recipients and thanking everyone present for their continual help with the TBMF. This past year, according to Arnold, the Foundation provided 39 grants totaling $518,000, all thanks to the support of generous donors.
The event was closed by Wayne Stevenson, chair of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation Council, who shared a brief word and provided the benediction.