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Lifestyles of the Southern Baptist Rich and Famous: NAMB Leaders Splurge on Tithes

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Upon arrival, one is immediately enveloped in an aura of opulence and refinement. The entrance, adorned with lavish marble flooring and sparkling chandeliers, sets the tone for the sumptuous journey that lies ahead. The staff, dressed impeccably in crisp uniforms, greets you with a warm welcome and a sense of exclusivity and self-importance washes over you as you are led to your room.

The room, a sanctuary of luxury, boasts plush bedding, high thread count linens, and a balcony that offers a breathtaking vista of the bustling city below. One cannot help but pause for a moment to soak in the view, breathing in the crisp New Orleans air, and feeling a sense of grandeur washes over them.

As you explore the resort, you discover that it is a veritable museum of art and antiques, each piece adding to the overall feeling of indulgencewhile also boasting a full-service spa, where one can surrender to the expert touch of a masseuse and indulge in relaxation fit for a king.

Later that evening, you are treated to a culinary extravaganza at one of the hotel’s fine dining restaurants, where each dish is a masterpiece of flavors, extravagantly prepared and presented with an artist’s touch. The sommelier, a connoisseur of the grape, pairs each dish with the perfect wine, elevating the dining experience to a new level of refinement.

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After mingling with other guests of distinction, you retire to your room for the night where you simply cannot help but feel a sense of superiority and pomposity for the opportunity to experience such unbridled luxury on someone else’s dime.

Well, minus the “perfect wine” because they are Southern Baptists, this appears to be the perfect description of what North American Mission Board (NAMB) leaders are planning this summer.

NAMB, a Southern Baptist Cooperative Program-funded organization, is planning to hold its annual Crossover Conference in June at the luxurious Ritz Carlton in New Orleans, prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting. According to the NAMB Whistleblower, a watchdog group that allows NAMB insiders to expose the corruption within the organization, NAMB has booked a luxurious event at the Ritz Carlton.

Just look at the luxury in those photos.

This decision is highly concerning, as NAMB has a history of lavish spending and a lack of transparency in their financial practices. The organization’s leadership, particularly Kevin Ezell, has been criticized for their self-importance and disregard for good stewardship of the funds donated by Southern Baptist church members.

It is important to note that the money used to fund these types of luxury accommodations does not come from NAMB leaders’ personal wallets, but rather from the donations of church members who give sacrificially to support missions around the world. This raises the question of whether it is ethical or good stewardship to use these funds in such a lavish and opulent manner.

It is likely that if Southern Baptist church members were aware of the extent to which their donations were being used for these types of luxury expenses, they would not be pleased. Historically, there have been calls for reformation within NAMB from various Southern Baptist groups, but it seems that these efforts continue to fall on deaf ears, namely, because those with the power to do something about are typically the beneficiaries of it.

This isn’t the first time that NAMB has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar. NAMB, whose focus is supposed to be on church-planting in North America, has spent untold amounts of money on lavish retreats and vacations over the years. NAMB regularly sports these “Refresh” retreats which, according to its website, “ministry couples will have the opportunity to be rejuvenated as we emphasize their spiritual, emotional, physical and financial health” and “will return to your fields recharged and ready to glorify the Lord with hearts aligned toward His purposes.” As seen below, these retreats often result in high-class luxurious spending and stays at lavish hotels like the Ritz-Carlton.

Incidentally, the above NAMB retreat was led by by Southern Baptist megachurch pastor, Johnny Hunt, who was accused last year of pursuing entering the hotel of another woman who wasn’t his wife and pursuing a sexual relationship with her at another retreat.

It is important that Souathern Baptists take a hard look at the spending practices of these organizations that they fund and make a concerted effort to demand more transparency and responsibility with the funds entrusted to them by those who graciously and selflessly give of their money to support them. The fact that NAMB is known for its lavish spending and the choice of Ritz Carlton in New Orleans for the conference adds up to the concern about the use of funds, it is important that NAMB provides a clear and transparent account of how these funds are being used and if they are being used in an appropriate manner.

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