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Faithful readers of The Ambassador are already aware that the 2008–2009 academic year is a year of transition for Ambassador Baptist College. When I began Ambassador in 1989, I immediately began to pray that God would lead me to the man that He would choose as my successor. You, like I, have witnessed the demise of many wonderful local churches and Christian institutions because no plan was made for succession. I honestly believe that “a person is not a success if he does not have a successor.”
Moses trained Joshua, but Joshua did not plan for the future, so you have the period of the judges. David trained Solomon, but Solomon did not train anyone and the divided kingdom resulted. Paul’s admonition to Timothy was that he ought to train others to take his place, so that they can then train others also.
As I had for years prayed about my successor, the topic came up in conversation with Dr. Charles Keen on one of his many visits to our campus. He advised me that scripturally, he felt that the successor should come from within. A leader from within would know far better the foundation of the institution and be more alert to protect its moorings. His statement to me changed my vision and my praying regarding the situation.
Lord willing, in 2009, Alton Beal will be named the next president of Ambassador Baptist College. Upon his arrival as a freshmen in the early 1990’s, Alton had no idea that God was at work preparing him for this place of leadership.
Alton was saved as a “bus kid” in a fundamental Baptist church in Yadkinville, North Carolina. When he was fifteen years old, his father died, making Alton the “man of the house.” He learned responsibility at an early age, just as Joseph did. Upon graduation from high school, he came to Ambassador as a bashful freshman, scared to death. He became involved in the music ministry of the school and his music philosophy was totally transformed because of the faithful, patient mentoring of Dr. Don Scovill. Alton traveled with many college teams and singing groups, including the twenty-voice ensemble. For several years he preached for the college teams as they traveled throughout the summers.
While working his way through college, Alton became a manager at a local McDonald’s restaurant. His leadership skills became obvious. For two years he was a resident assistant in the men’s dormitory, and then was named dormitory supervisor. Within a short time, he was named Dean of Men.
Several years ago, several of the former mayors and council members of Lattimore called asking me to urge Alton Beal to run for mayor of the town. His involvement in community affairs and his service and leadership in the town had already endeared the townspeople to him. He is presently serving his second term as mayor of the township.
There are those who would say that Mr. Beal has not had practical ministry experience because he has been at the college for many years. However, though he has resided in Lattimore, he has been active in evangelism. We have endeavored to coordinate our meetings so that either I, Mr. Beal, or Mr. Smith is always on campus. Thus, he has been preaching twenty or more evangelistic meetings a year, and with very obvious blessing of God on his ministry. For the past ten years, his evangelistic ministry has been structured basically the same as mine in balancing evangelistic meetings with campus responsibilities. He is well known across the country, not only because of his personal meetings, but also because he has preached for summer teams for many years.
Three years ago when I realized that he would become one of the key people in leadership in the college in the future, I asked him to become my Administrative Assistant. For these succeeding years, he has shadowed me to learn and observe my philosophy. I have not one shred of apprehension about his changing the foundation stones of the college. As Jesus told his disciples, “Greater works than these shall ye do…” It is my prayer and firm belief that the greatest days of Ambassador Baptist College are still ahead.
I have repeatedly been asked what my role in the college in the future will be following the 2009 Commencement when Alton Beal is handed the mantle of leadership. At the annual Board of Directors Meeting in March 2009, Alton will be placed as president of the college, and I will become the chancellor, effective on Graduation Day. I will be available to the new president to serve in whatever capacity he deems beneficial to the college. My duties will include some preaching in chapel and an occasional classroom assignment, as well as preaching some of the revival services and for Bible Conference.
In addition to these opportunities, I will remain as Chairman of the Board of Directors for a time to assist in the transition of leadership. I will be representing the college and promoting its ministry as I preach at least two revival meetings each month, as well as preaching weekends in the churches of many of our graduates. I feel a tremendous responsibility to those who have been trained at Ambassador to be an encouragement and help to them. My wife and I want to be available to our graduates. Another of my personal goals will be to revise and reprint some of the books that I have published in the past. Several topics have been burning within me for some time, and by God’s grace I will put these burdens on paper to help the next generation. The test of my life is what I leave to the next generation. It is my desire to occupy and be busy until Jesus comes.
Dr. Ron Comfort