New International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood on God’s Calling

During the International Mission Board’s presidential search process, Paul Chitwood knew departing from his role as executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention would be difficult. But he couldn’t get away from Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29 about leaving “house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children” for “the sake of the gospel.”

It came up so much, “I would not open my Bible to” it “because I didn’t want to see that again,” Chitwood said Nov. 15 following his election as IMB president at the board’s International Learning Center near Richmond, Va. “And then the pastor would preach from it.”

“I finally had to say, ‘OK Lord, I hear You.'”

Those were among the details of God’s leading to the IMB that Chitwood recounted during a press conference with Baptist journalists. Chitwood said the ways God prepared him and called him to the IMB led naturally to his vision for the board’s future.

One confirmation of God’s direction, Chitwood said, came the night before his nomination was announced Nov. 6.

Despite God’s leading to continue talking with the IMB’s presidential search committee, it still wasn’t clear a move to Richmond would be possible. Chitwood and his wife Michelle are in the process of adopting their 6-year-old foster daughter, and the state of Kentucky had said she would not be allowed to move to Virginia as long as she remained a ward of the state. But as Chitwood sat in his car preparing for a speaking engagement in Bowling Green, Ky., Nov. 5, the phone rang. When he answered, his attorney said the adoption would be finalized Dec. 6 and the Chitwoods would be free to move.

“It was just a powerful way the Lord confirmed to us all the details were taken care of,” he said.

‘God moved on our hearts’

At the same time God was working in Chitwood’s heart, He also appeared to be working on the IMB presidential search committee, chairman Chuck Pourciau said at the press conference.

“The search was not a straight line. It went down a lot of roads and had to stop and back up,” said Pourciau, pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., adding that multiple “fantastic candidates” were involved in the process.

Eventually, the 15-member search committee began fasting and praying each Tuesday. One Tuesday, “God moved on our hearts as a committee,” Pourciau said. “And by the end of that Wednesday, we came together as one and said, ‘We need to pursue Paul.'”

Chitwood was among multiple candidates who already had interviewed with the committee. But following a second interview in September, Pourciau said, Chitwood became the only candidate with the support of the entire committee. “And that’s how we ended up where we did.”

Final confirmation of God’s direction, Chitwood said, was the full trustee board’s vote to elect him.

Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press