Passion for the privileged
November 21 2001 by Chris Turner , Baptist Press

Passion for the privileged | Wednesday, Nov 21, 2001

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2001

Passion for the privileged

By Chris Turner Baptist Press PANAMA CITY, Panama - Harold Finch concentrates on the face of the Argentine businessman sitting in front of him. He listens to the man describe his frustrated life and the emptiness he found after gaining material success. Tears drop from the businessman's cheeks to the lapels of his dark-blue sport coat. "I was once a sailor so I know what it means to be a ship with no rudder.

"I am that ship."

In just a few moments, the man's life sets a new course, plotted with meaning and purpose, guided by Jesus as his Savior.

"I never get tired of that," Finch said. "It happens at nearly every seminar."

Finch leads seminars on success for business professionals. During the past 18 months, more than 10,000 people attending the seminars in Latin America have accepted Christ, according to the IMB. Finch's evangelistic seminars are financially supported by the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

During the 2001 International Missions Emphasis, Dec. 2-9, Southern Baptist congregations across the United States are focusing on the cause of extending God's kingdom to every people group.

This year's theme - "The Unfinished Task: Planting with Passion" - emphasizes the passion for planting churches that comes when Christians understand God's heart for the lost nations.

The goal for this year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is $120 million - every penny of which will go to support missionaries and their ministries.

The International Mission Board draws 36 percent of its income from the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists' unified budget. The Lottie Moon offering provides 46 percent.

People flock to Finch's seminar "Discovering the Secrets of Great Success" because he is the embodiment of success.

At age 28, he was a project director for the Apollo space program. He pioneered the computer system that protected astronauts and lunar vehicles from the extremes of space.

He then earned a doctorate in education and founded Johnson County Community College in Kansas, one of the top community colleges in the United States.

Later, he developed two businesses recognized as among the top 500 in the country.

"God has used everything in my life to prepare me for what we are doing now," Finch said.

His travel itinerary reads like a Latin American geography quiz. In the past 12 months, he's spoken 135 times to 25,000 professionals, hosting seminars in Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

His calendar is almost full for 2002, and appointments are beginning to fill 2004.

Why the demand?

"Dr. Finch's visit opened many doors for us in the professional community," said Manuel Sosa, an International Mission Board missionary working in Ecuador.

"His resume is very impressive, and it attracts people of the highest social, economic and professional status."

He draws professionals looking for an edge.

While he shares leadership principles to help them become more effective, he also shares the key to eternal success.

"He finished by explaining professional success is meaningless without eternal success," said Karen Bradley, an IMB missionary serving in Argentina. "He explains how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and then prays with them."

A 10-week course that is both practical and spiritual follows the seminars. Productivity increased in one plant more than 60 percent after workers completed the course.

But more significant to Finch are the thousands throughout Latin America who have committed their lives to Christ.

"Mass evangelism can be so impersonal," he said. "That is why we put a heavy emphasis on immediate follow-up even before we commit to doing a seminar.

"We depend on local believers and missionaries to work with the people after we are gone."

The seminars have been so successful that Finch believes that more are needed.

"We could use at least five more people out here doing what I'm doing," he says.

"All they need is a Great Commission interest and a willingness to share with other professionals from their position of leadership," he said.

"There is such a great need. Surely God already has those people in mind."

(EDITOR'S NOTE -Chris Turner is an overseas correspondent for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, based in Panama City, Panama.)

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11/21/2001 12:00:00 AM by Chris Turner , Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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