Belton – David Baker, pastor, First Baptist Church, Belton, will allow his name to be placed in nomination for president of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) at its annual meeting in St. Louis Oct. 29-31.
Baker said he made the decision following much prayer and encouragement from the Belton congregation after a group of MBC pastors and lay leaders approached him this spring, asking him to consider the possibility.
“I have been approached before about running, but after years of reluctance, I have agreed to let my name be placed in nomination this time,” said Baker, who has been pastor of First Baptist for 31 years.
During his tenure at First Belton, the church has baptized more than 2,500 new believers, started a Christian school that has led 1,800 to Christ, and has started an international student ministry, bringing students from all over the world to the Christian school. Altogether, the church has recorded more than 6,000 professions of faith under his leadership.
During his service to First Belton, Baker has led mission trips to England, Scotland, Croatia, and Romania. FBC Belton established sister church relationships with churches in Scotland and Romania. He presented a position paper at Oxford University in 2005, and is a member of the prestigious Oxford Union.
Baker has served on the MBC Executive Board and on the board of trustees for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He has also served as president of the Missouri Baptist Pastors’ Conference and as Pastors’ Advisor for the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools for 13 years.
Baker has been a strong advocate for the local church. During his years of service to Baptist life, he has worked to advocate for the small church pastors and work with denominational leaders to uphold conservative theological standards.
Today, Baker considers the international student program one of his church’s best mission programs.
“It really has become an amazing ministry,” he said. “Last year we had 16 students from Denmark, Germany, Italy, China, Korea, Thailand, and Austria.” These students go to a Christian school, they hear the gospel, and they become active in church. Many of them come to Christ.
“One of the amazing stories of the international ministry is Petra Malovic who came to the U.S. to attend the Christian school at First Belton,” said Baker. “Petra accepted Christ and returned home to her homeland of Croatia. She continued to practice her faith and married her husband Herjv. Today, Herjv and Petra are the Campus Crusade directors for their region in Croatia and are leading people to Christ in their home country. First Baptist Belton still gives an annual gift to fund their ministry. Another student leads a Bible Study for women in the First Baptist Church of Hanoi, Vietnam.
“It really is an innovative mission ministry,” he said. “Not every student accepts Christ when they come here. However, we have had many that do and it is amazing to see what they do back in their home country.”
In total, the Christian school has hosted 56 students over 26 years. In many cases the church paid the tuition for the international student to give them the opportunity.
First Baptist invested in starting a Christian School in 1984. It has been one of the main mission arms of the church.
“We are an open Christian School,” Baker said. “We let non-Christians attend our school … we don’t make families sign a faith agreement.” Baker is certified by the Association of Christian Schools International as a Superintendent of Schools, and he notes, “We are a Great Commission Christian school. We want every child to have the opportunity to hear the gospel and get a quality education.”
Amidst the cost of a Christian school and international ministry, First Baptist has remained faithful to giving to the Cooperative Program. Baker noted that in tough economic times the church focused on making sure teachers stayed employed and helped cover the tuition for some families in the Christian school so they didn’t have to leave the school. Yet, they made sure that they kept giving to the Cooperative Program.
“Our giving was impacted, but we have tried to remain faithful,” he commented.
Baker has long stated that he has been blessed, not with a mega-church, but a mega-ministry. “Our Sunday morning attendance is just a small part of what we do the other seven days a week,” he says. “The fact is that during some parts of the year, we are open seven days a week … all day with our buildings and rooms being used for school, sports, missions, or ministry.”
Baker’s vision for the Missouri Baptist Convention is to undertake the Great Commission call of Southern Baptists.