April 22, 2003
JOPLIN – There are times when church members disappoint pastors. Other times, they make pastors proud.
Such was the case recently for Monte Shinkle, president of the Missouri Baptist Convention and pastor of Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City. The buttons were almost popping off Shinkle’s shirt as he shared with the church a newspaper column written by one of his members, Kristen Smith, a student at Missouri Southern State College, Joplin.
Smith, assistant sports editor for The Chart, the school newspaper, penned an editorial titled "God present during tragic, peaceful times."
"As of about four weeks ago, the world was brought together in a common bond. We are now living in a time of war and are faced with uncertainty about what lies in the future of our countries. Our mission to remove Saddam Hussein from power has hit home as it has taken many of our friends and loved ones away from us. We are now part of something big, and we have no assurance for tomorrow.
"During my 20 years I have watched tragedy after tragedy bring people together and start a wave of faith in God. When terrible things happen that shake up our country, we seem to miraculously turn our eyes to God, as if He is there only when tragedy strikes and we feel that we need Him.
"Because we live in a country whose foundations are based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we should be the first to understand that God is part of daily life and not just when life is too much for us to handle. Many of the men who formed our nation and created our constitution believed that you could not call yourself an American if you did not believe the Word of God. When exactly did we turn so far away from our foundations?
"If you haven’t caught on, I’m a Christian. My faith in God is who I am. He’s my passion. After college I’m not sure what God wants to do with my life or even if he wants me to start a career within my major. However, I do know that I will spend the rest of my life striving to be more like Jesus and telling people about him. He’s what I think about when I lay down at night and on my mind when I wake up in the morning. When terrible things hit home, I will still keep my eyes on Him.
"I’m not claiming to be a perfect Christian because there is no such thing. I screw up, say things that I shouldn’t and let God and other people down. I’m sorry that non-Christians have seen me screw up and it has been a reflection on my faith. What’s so cool about all of that is that He still loves me in spite of my stupidity.
"I firmly believe that we have no assurance for tomorrow, but we do have God’s promise that he will never leave us or forsake us. I, along with many of you, will continue to pray for our nation, our leaders and our soldiers. When this is all over, life will continue and I will continue to rely on God in all aspects of my life. My prayer will be that our country and each of you will not turn away from God once things seem to be back to "normal." There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t need God.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."