Parks retires after spanning globe
___By Robert O'Brien
___Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
___BIRMINGHAM (ABP)--Keith and Helen Jean Parks found "treasure" at the end of their "second rainbow" in an evening of laughter, tears, celebration and somber reflection with 1,300 friends at a June 21 banquet in Birmingham, Ala.
_One "treasure"--unearthed as Keith Parks retires at age 71 from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship--was a profuse expression of love, respect and admiration from Baptists around the world.
|MOMENTS OF LAUGHTER abounded at a retirement banquet for Keith and Helen Jean Parks. He retired as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's global missions coordinator June 30, after 45 years of foreign missions ministry. (Photo by Mark Sandlin)
___Another "treasure" was a Fellowship announcement of the "R. Keith Parks Global Scholarship Fund," now totaling $70,000. It will expand over the years to fund training for leaders in neglected and unreached parts of the globe that Parks has championed over the years.
___The Parks family's "first rainbow," Helen Jean Parks said, spanned their 38 years with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, where her husband took early retirement in 1992 after 12 years as president.
___The second "six-year rainbow," spanned 1993-99, which her husband spent as the Fellowship's first global missions coordinator, laying the groundwork for a missions program focusing on people who have not been reached by traditional methods of global missions.
___Keith Parks said his Fellowship tenure has shown him "a discernible moving of God's Spirit in a more powerful way than in any other six-year period" in his ministry.
___"But I didn't join CBF because of missions," he told the crowd. "I came because of a conviction that it's the way Baptist Christians have always worked and should work."
___Fellowship Coordinator Daniel Vestal said the organization's missions program has impact far beyond its age and size because of Parks and his priority to reach a lost world.
___Vestal said Parks, who retired June 30, will assist the CBF Foundation "to identify and develop financial resources" as the Parkses begin "a third rainbow" of service in their native Texas.
___"Contrary to popular opinion, you're not here to view the body," quipped Parks, who will move from Atlanta to Richardson and focus on writing, speaking and traveling. "We're still going to be kicking."
___Bryan Tours of Jackson, Miss., announced establishment of a travel fund, now totaling $10,000, for the Parkses. "We don't know how many countries we've sent you to over the years," Josephine Bryan said, "but we want you to travel wherever you wish for the rest of your life."
___Personal testimonies throughout the evening implemented a symphony of superlatives to describe Parks' 45 years of missions service.
___"Keith Parks has made a tremendous impact," declared former President Jimmy Carter, who said he called Parks in 1992 to urge him to join the Fellowship as global missions coordinator.
___"He has a passion for the lost and integrity under pressure," Carter said. "Keith's mission is missions. He has championed the cause of thousands. I want to thank him for what he's done to keep us in touch with the heart of Jesus Christ."
___Personal tributes from missionaries and the Parkses' four children were the most emotional parts of the evening.
___"You encouraged me as a woman (in ministry) to do what God led me to do, not respond to what people said," said daughter Eloise Parks, a chaplain at Parkland Hospital in Dallas who was recently endorsed by the Fellowship's council on endorsement for chaplains and pastoral counselors.
___"I've never heard you say anything from the pulpit that you haven't lived in your life."
___Sons Randall Parks, a former missionary, and Kent Parks and Stan Parks, both assigned as Fellowship international coordinators in Southeast Asia, also paid tribute to their father.
___"You taught me what it means to forgive others, even when slandered," said Kent Parks, who is missionary-in-residence at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene this coming school year. "You taught me that anything is possible with God."
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