Change in Succession of Leadership at ABC

On Monday, March 24, 2008, Dr. Comfort announced to the student body that Alton Beal would become the president and Dwight Smith would become the vice-president of ABC in May of 2009. This change was agreed upon mutually by each person and the board of directors. An audio clip of Dr. Comfort’s announcement and explanation has been posted below, along with letters from Brother Beal and Brother Smith.

Dr. Comfort’s Announcement

Listen to a recording of Dr. Comfort’s announcement in chapel on Monday, March 24, 2008:

Brother Smith’s Letter

Dear ABC Alumni,

Thank you for praying for my family and me as we travel out on the road. This week there have been several decisions to trust Christ and to come back to the Lord. Your prayers on our behalf are a great encouragement to us!

Recently, Dr. Comfort, Alton, and I began discussing the coming transition of leadership. We spoke of our roles, our gifts, and our abilities. We evaluated where and how each of these could be best served at Ambassador, and all came to the conclusion that there should be a title change. This was brought before the board last week and was unanimously approved. Thus, in 2009, Brother Beal will be the president, and I will be the vice-president. I will still travel in evangelistic meetings, teach the Preacher Boys class, the Evangelist class, and the Evangelistic Preaching class, and serve in any way I am needed at ABC.

I am aware that this may be an unexpected change in the minds of many of the alumni. However, I want every alumnus to know that my family and I are 110% behind this decision. This conviction has only grown in my heart since last week. It would be unwise and unnecessary for anyone to assume, second-guess, or over-analyze this direction. I have embraced it as the will of God and I encourage you to do the same!

Some years ago a wise preacher named Dr. Childs told me something that is very apropos to this situation. He said, “Some of you are set on being directly called to a specific area of service. You say, ‘God has called me to be a pastor, a missionary, or an evangelist. God has called me to serve as a pastor’s wife, evangelist’s wife, or missionary’s wife.’ But you must know that Jesus Christ has above all, called you to Himself!” That is my conclusion in this matter. I am first called to the One with nail prints in His hands, and in reality, He has made this direction change. “Man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.”

My growing passion is that the cause of Christ would be advanced, that Ambassador Baptist College would be best served, and that our Lord and Saviour would be glorified. I trust that this is and will remain your passion as well. I remain…

Your servant,

Dwight Smith

Brother Beal’s Letter

Dear ABC Friends and Family:

When I came to Ambassador as a student in 1992, I had no idea that ABC would become such an important part of my life. During my first few days on campus, I met Dr. Ron Comfort and quickly saw his burden for evangelism and training men and women for the ministry. I also met a young man who would later become my best friend in the ministry, Dwight Smith. I never imagined that one day we would all get to serve the Lord together at ABC.

After graduating in May of 1996, I joined the college staff as a dormitory supervisor and began to learn what it means to pour your life into others. Two years later, I began traveling in evangelism, in addition to my duties in the Dean of Students Office. After serving as the Dean of Men for several years, I moved to the position of Administrative Assistant to assist Dr. Comfort in any way that I could, and to accommodate my increasing itinerary in evangelism.

In recent days, the Lord has made it obvious to Dr. Comfort, to Dwight, and to me, that a switch in positions between Dwight and me would best serve Ambassador and bring the most glory to God. The board of directors unanimously approved this decision on March 20, 2008. As a result, I will become the president in May 2009 and Dwight will become the vice-president. I encourage you to listen to Dr. Comfort’s announcement about this change here.

The prospect of leading this dear institution is overwhelming at times. J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, once said, “I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God. First, it is impossible. Then it is difficult; but then it is done.” These words have been a great help and encouragement to both Dwight and me over the past few months.

I love my Ambassador family, our alumni, and our friends scattered across the world, and ask that you pray for me and my family. Dwight and I have accepted this change of plans as from the Lord, and need your prayers and support to continue training ambassadors for Christ.

Under His Wings,

Alton Beal