These who have turned the world upside down …
May 17, 2005
It’s summer time! I love this time of the year. This week we stuck all sorts of plants and seeds in the ground of a garden and LOTS of small tomato plants. I can already taste a one-inch thick slice of garden ripe tomato on a BLT.
For a portion of the time 10-year-old Trenton and seven-year-old Tucker Ulveling, sons of Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Family Ministries Specialist Joe Ulveling, helped plant small seeds in this garden and we talked about how God would turn some of these seeds into fruit that would be 50, 100 or more times as much as we put in the ground. But the seed will not produce until it falls in the ground and dies to its present state.
Summer is also a time when many are making trips throughout the world to plant the seeds of the Gospel. Mission trips can be life-changing for both the sower and the soil. We have the promise of God in Isaiah 55:11 that tells us, “… my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Our responsibility is to faithfully sow the seed. God will turn some of our Gospel seed into 100-fold increases.
A few weeks ago, I was privileged to spend four days with Jerry Rankin, president of our convention’s International Mission Board. It was a genuine honor to represent Missouri Baptists at this meeting. There are incredibly exciting things taking place around the world. I was especially grateful for the reports we heard coming from the Muslim world.
In an area of Southern Asia, our work is seeing 7,000 Muslim people baptized into the Christian faith every month. And the numbers keep multiplying. There may be a time in the months ahead where there will be 80,000-90,000 baptisms per month.This is happening because these believers are practicing the biblical principle of multiplication as it is found in the book of Acts (see: Acts 1:15, 2:41, 47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:7, 8:4, 9:31, 16:5). This is a principle the Western church — including us — must rediscover.
Recently, a pastor told MBC Associate Executive Director Roy Spannagel, “You all really messed me up with that missions report on Tuesday night at the annual meeting.”
Roy asked, “How did we do that?”
The pastor replied, “I had already planned out what the next staff position in my church would be, and now God has clearly told me that the next position is a minister of Missions.”
Another pastor, Bro. Derek Grigg of First Baptist Church, Vandalia, returned from this same annual meeting mission night and told his church that God was clearly directing him to take his first mission trip this summer. He told his church family that he was to join the MBC in their partnership with Romania. After the morning service, 21 people came up to him and said, “Pastor, you are not going alone, I am going with you.”
I have been in First Baptist Vandalia and I want to tell you that the Holy Spirit of God has put an electric excitement about evangelism and missions in the heart of this church family.
We have had several Missouri Baptist teams that have already been in the Middle East this year taking the Gospel from person to person. These teams are ministering in the heart of the Muslim world.
Closer to home, I have learned that Pastor Carter Frey of First Baptist Church, Jackson, felt a call of God to have his church partner with a sister church in our Missouri/Colorado state convention partnership. He has made a trip to Mountain View Baptist Church, LaFayette, Colo., to develop strategies and their partnership. Mountain View sent their youth minister to Jackson May 15. Partnerships are good for all involved. First Baptist Jackson has taken a special challenge/matching gift offering to encourage their Colorado church partner as they begin their ministry together.
In a state of 4.4 million people, the Colorado convention is comprised of only around 325 churches. By comparison, the MBC has 2,075 churches in a state of 5.5 million people. Therefore, I have asked Mark Edlund, executive director of the Colorado Baptist Convention, to give us a “Decapolis” of cities; that is, a list of ten cities in Colorado, with NO Baptist church. I told him that I believed we could find either associations and/or churches in Missouri who would take on the challenge of planting a new work in these ten cities. He was thrilled with this proposal and told me he would soon be sending us his “Decapolis” list.
A lot of student mission work happens in the summer. Bob Caldwell, MBC’s director of evangelism, is organizing outreach ministry to the inner cities of Houston, St. Louis and Kansas City again this summer. I believe they had more than 850 students involved last summer. In the summer of 2006, he is adding Denver, Colo., to the inner city outreach ministry. The goal will be to involve more than 1,000 students. So, if a student sends you a letter asking for prayer and financial support, GIVE IT! Summer Missions will change their lives and our world.
Norm Howell, MBC partnership missions specialist, reported that there were more than 40,000 Missouri Baptists who participated in short-term missions last year. That is a fantastic number! I do know of many who have and are going this year. If someone sends you a letter asking you to pray for their trip, do it. Put their name on a card in the middle of your dining table and pray every day for them and the garden they are sowing seed in. I would also suggest that you “fertilize” their efforts with a generous monetary gift to encourage them and support them. I believe you will see lives changed.
Summer time is an intense time to sow the Gospel seed. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful testimony for people in these areas where you go to say, “These (Missouri Baptists) who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6). I can almost taste the fruit.
Now pass the mayonnaise, bacon and tomatoes!