New partnership missions specialist adds zeal to evangelism-minded MBC
By Allen Palmeri
January 20, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – A veteran foreign missionary has been named partnership missions specialist with the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
The hiring of Norm Howell, 46, to the strategic position comes just as MBC partnerships with Romania and Iraq are gaining momentum. Six short-term mission trips are scheduled for Romania and at least two to Iraq are scheduled for 2004.
“Just as the Apostle Paul has said, there’s been an effectual door opened up, and the opportunity to go through these doors is now," Howell said. “Possibly in a few years we may not have that opportunity as Missouri Baptists to do that. So we have to act when the doors are open in obedience to what the Lord wants. We have a window of opportunity now.
“I believe it’s a great challenge for us as Missouri Baptists, a great way for us to be connected with our International Mission Board and really seeing how the Cooperative Program functions. It can be first-hand experience for pastors and laymen in our state to see what God can do overseas. As they bring that excitement back here, the excitement that will come from within their own churches I think will have a tremendous impact over our state."
Howell’s goal is to go to Iraq and Romania by April.
“I would feel inadequate trying to lead groups of people into an area that I’d not been to myself," he said.
He comes to the MBC having spent nine years ministering in Papua, New Guinea, with New Tribes Mission. In that capacity he took the Gospel to tribal people and helped his team plant churches, train believers, translate the Scriptures and spur indigenous leaders to reach out to neighboring tribes. More than 3,000 New Tribes missionaries are on the field.
“I’m familiar with mission work and church planting, but this is a little bit different," Howell said. “I’m thinking for the first quarter, I’d like to just be a learner."
Howell served as pastor of two churches in Illinois as well as one in Missouri. He spent four years at Hoosier Prairie Baptist Church in Louisville, Ill., and 6½ years at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Bolivar. He comes to Jefferson City by way of his latest Illinois pastorate, at Belle River Baptist Church. He said he has always felt connected to Missouri Baptist life having graduated from Southwest Baptist University.
Helping Missouri Baptists participate in the Great Commission is not going to hinge on what he does from his office in the Baptist Building, Howell said.
“It’s not going to be based on me, but it will be teamwork with Missouri Baptists," he said. “Pastors and laymen here in the state will be taught and trained to lead teams over, so it’s not like someone from the Missouri Baptist Convention is always there. We’re partnering with our churches to do the work of the ministry."
The opportunity of being able to satisfy his passion for mission work once again on a full-time basis was too rich for Howell to refuse.
“The thought of being able to connect a church here in the United States with a church over there to start a new church is a tremendous blessing," he said.