By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – Not to be self-serving but Robert Daniel is hoping a large crowd will be in attendance for his Oct. 29 retirement reception.
Not because he wants to bask in the compliments but to show his appreciation.
Daniel, the outgoing director of missions for three central Louisiana associations, wants to humbly thank the churches for allowing him to serve them for the last eight years and to thank them for helping him get through one of the most difficult periods in his life.
Four months after stepping into the role in August 2009, Daniel received devastating news his wife of 38 years, Trudy, had developed a treatment-related issue requiring her to undergo a stem cell transplant.
From that moment until her death on April 29, 2010, Daniel – who in December 2011 remarried – witnessed first-hand the love of Christ and the compassion of an association of Baptist churches. That outpouring of God’s love, even though it was difficult to experience, remains one of his most cherished memories during his time as DOM for Big Creek, Central Louisiana and North Rapides associations.
“If I could put all of the thoughts and feelings I have for central Louisiana Baptists, in the myriad ways they have shown God’s love to me during Trudy’s illness and death; and then the way they have embraced and shown love to Linda, I would simply but sincerely say I see Jesus in each of you,” Daniel said.
HARVEST OF SOULS
In addition to building relationships with pastors and lay people at the 92 associational churches, Daniel said he also has enjoyed seeing a harvest of souls during two Crossover events, held prior to the 2010 and 2013 Louisiana Baptist Convention annual meetings in Alexandria.
During each event which featured speakers, high-energy music and entertaining acts at venues in schools and sports venues, more than 200 students and others attending made decisions for Christ, including the 2010 Crossover which happened a few months after his first wife’s passing.
“I felt God was there with me … not only helping me be a DOM while also responding faithfully to the things that had happened with my wife’s death,” Daniel said. “To see the elementary, junior high and high school age students come to the assemblies and then turn out to the hear the gospel at the different venues away from school was thrilling beyond words.
“I was able to deal personally with my grieving by visiting several sites that hosted Crossover such as where my wife taught high school, where she attended college and the church where we were married. It was neat seeing how God connected all the dots that year and provided comfort in that way.”
Looking ahead, Daniel said he is excited about the upcoming Hope For You crusade in October 2018 at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria.
This multi-day event will feature inspiring speakers and music, along with evangelistic events held around the area leading up to the crusade that will involve churches not only from the association but other denominations in the area.
It will coincide with the Harvest Initiative, Louisiana Baptists’ campaign to “pray for every home and share Christ with every person” in the state.
If the goal of at least 700 churches is reached, it would be the most churches who have participated together at one time in a combined evangelism statewide effort.
“As my role as DOM is coming to this transition of retirement, we have embarked on a Harvest initiative that will exceed by many times those decisions by Crossover as we attempt for God an area wide crusade we are calling Hope For You,” he said. “It’s being so well received among evangelical Christians across central Louisiana. I’m going to be looking forward to October once again to experience the blessings of God as we see how sharing the Gospel bears fruit.”
PATH TO MINISTRY
A Christ follower since he made a decision to follow Jesus at the age of 11 during a revival, Daniel did not enter vocational ministry until 1989.
Before that, he was employed at companies in Alexandria, Shreveport and Oklahoma City, Okla., in the fields of sales, pharmaceuticals and construction.
While serving as a deacon and finance committee chair at Alpine First Baptist Church in 1989, Daniel sensed a call to ministry. After prayer and counsel from others, he accepted his first position – minister of education at Alpine. Daniel said the experience gained from prior secular careers, particularly in management and finances, helped equip him to serve in various ministerial roles.
In the years that followed, Daniel served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria and Bethel Baptist Church in Colfax. He also has served as director of the Seminary Extension of the Southern Baptist Seminaries since 1999 at the Baptist Mission Center.
Looking back on his eight years as director of missions, Daniel said he is grateful for the relationships built with the pastors throughout his tenure.
“Most of them pastor relatively small churches with just a staff member or two,” Daniel said. “I found I could help them talk through their circumstances and challenges and be a moderating voice in times of conflict. I felt like I had been uniquely prepared for this time by God because of my experiences in life and ministry to be a good listener and helper. That, plus serving, has been the greatest joy and I am so thankful God allowed me to do so for this time.”
A reception honoring Daniel will be held at the Baptist Mission Center, which is located at 2201 Melrose St. in Pineville, 2-4 p.m. Oct. 29.