May 19, 2003
For her birthday, Texas-born
missionary got a pink slip from the IMB
___By Mark Wingfield
___As missionary Susie Dixon celebrated her birthday in Spain May 7, trustees of the International Mission Board were wrapping an unusual present for her--a termination notice.
___Dixon and her husband, David, were fired by the IMB on Mrs. Dixon's birthday because they refused to sign an affirmation of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message as mandated by IMB President Jerry Rankin.
___Mrs. Dixon saw the ironic timing as a blessing rather than a curse, however, her husband said. "For her, the fact that the termination vote came on her birthday just meant that there were lots of faithful supporters praying especially for her, enabling her to have a wonderful day in the Lord in spite of what else was happening."
___Southern Baptist missionaries' birthdays are listed on prayer calendars circulated worldwide.
___The Dixons both are native Texans. He is from Greggton Baptist Church in Longview, and she is from First Baptist Church of Midland. They previously served at Iglesia Bautista Central and Primera Iglesia Bautista, both in Fort Worth. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas in Denton. She is a graduate of Texas Tech. Both are graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
___In Madrid, he is academic dean and professor of Greek, New Testament and theology at the Spanish Baptist Seminary. She
teaches in Christian education and discipleship.
___In an electronic newsletter to friends dated May 7, the Dixons said they are confident God will carry them through the trial of termination. While IMB trustees declared them not to be working "in accordance with and not contrary to" the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message, "we continue to affirm ... that the Lord is sovereign and we are his servants, eager to conduct our lives and ministry in accordance with and not contrary to his word," they wrote.
___After 15 years of service through the IMB, the Dixons will return to Texas in July for two months of "terminal leave" as provided by IMB policy.
___By fall, they hope to return to Spain with different financial support.
___Before they leave the field, however, the Dixons will host two Texas Baptist volunteer groups in Madrid. The Wayland Baptist University choir and orchestra will arrive May 25, and a team of women from the Baptist General Convention of Texas evangelism office will arrive in June to lead a Women on Mission retreat.
___Despite their current circumstance, the Dixons urged Texas Baptists to continue praying for the Christian witness in Spain, considered one of the most secular of the European nations.
___The Dixons were among 31 Southern Baptist missionaries given a May 5 deadline by Rankin to either sign the faith statement or resign. Rankin told them they must sign to be "accountable" to the SBC.
___But the Dixons questioned whether signing that piece of paper was a true measure of accountability.
___"We have to ask whether such accountability should focus solely on those Southern Baptists in attendance at the 2000 convention which approved the current Baptist Faith & Message as the 'official' expression of 'our common faith," the Dixons wrote in an April 24 letter to Rankin. "We personally know many Southern Baptists who help send and support us on the mission field who do not consider the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message to be an adequate expression of their beliefs. Entire state conventions could be cited as examples. Does their voice no longer matter in the Southern Baptist Convention?"
___The Dixons said they chose to be fired rather than resign "for the sake of" those Southern Baptists whose dissent over the Baptist Faith & Message has not been heard. "When you terminate our service with the IMB, are you not sending a message of alienation to these faithful Baptist people to whom we also feel accountable?" they asked Rankin.
___The Dixons detailed in their letter numerous ways in which they believe they have been "accountable" to Southern Baptists, including a thorough theological examination upon appointment in 1988, regular reports from the field and interaction with hundreds of volunteers from various states.
___Like most other missionaries who refused to sign Rankin's required statement, the Dixons cited an aversion to signing a creed.
___"By asking us to submit our ministry to any document other than Scripture, you are turning a corner that Baptists have historically not been willing to turn," they wrote.
___They added: "Southern Baptists have never needed a 'papal' committee to bring about conformity to one sole interpretation of biblical doctrines. ... In Spain, our Roman Catholic friends and neighbors have a pope to tell them what the Bible means and how they should interpret it. As Baptists (we) cannot and will not affirm a document that seems to take us in that same authoritarian direction."
___Not even the Holy Spirit always conducts himself "in accordance with and not contrary to the current Baptist Faith & Message," the Dixons asserted. "We need only witness events in China to discover that he does not: women serving as pastors, evangelists, church planters. They demonstrate that when it comes to winning the lost and gathering them into the kingdom, God uses any instrument available to do his bidding."
___As they return to Texas to regroup, the Dixons asked that Baptists pray not only for them but for their children--Daniel, 19; Joel, 16; and Michael, 10.
___Dixon also lost his father to a stroke in April, and he asks prayer for his 90-year-old mother, who is facing several major adjustments.
___But most of all, they urge Texas Baptists to pray for the people of Spain, particularly the immigrant population in Spain with whom they have been working closely.
___"We'll celebrate our final immigrant meeting of the season on May 24," they wrote, "and ask that you'd pray with urgency that we'll be able to communicate the Lord's vision to this precious group."
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