Making sure we are getting, keeping focused
As I write this note to you, it is Monday night right after the first day of our Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) State Evangelism Conference (SEC) in Springfield. It has been a great day. Just two days earlier, ice still had its grip on southwest Missouri and thought was given to cancelling the event, primarily because of the numbers of families who had to leave their homes with no power and no heat for the shelter of hotel rooms. I know several of our pastors and people who gave up their reservations so no one with great need would be displaced. The hotels our team worked with even put some of our MBC folk in sister hotels in Branson at no expense. One hotel’s manager told me she wanted Missouri Baptists to come to Springfield for two reasons. First, because her city and state needs Jesus and the second reason was due to the testimony of our Disaster Relief Teams.
DISASTER RELIEF: The servants of our Disaster Relief feeding units worked very hard for many days. They are now closing up as power is more and more widely restored. Chain saw crews will be needed for much longer. These faithful servants, instantly recognized by their yellow shirts and caps, once more provide a wonderful testimony of Christ’s love in action.
STATE EVANGELISM CONFERENCE: The storm’s ice disappeared on Sunday afternoon, but even the early reports did not discourage many from the State Evangelism Conference. The attendance is remarkably strong. It says to me that there is a hunger across our state to see the power of God come to our churches.
In the evening service, all pastors and staff under the age of 40 years old were asked to come to the altar for a season of prayer over their lives. I am sure I am not underestimating that over one-third of the attendance at the SEC was under 40 years. What a blessing to see this great number. Richard Harris, vice president, church planting for our North American Mission Board, leaned over and told me that in all the state conferences he attends across America every year, he has never seen anyplace with this large a number of younger leaders involved. This speaks well of Missouri’s future.
NEW – CHILD EVANGELISM RESOURCE: A special children’s evangelism resource titled: “Bible Time with Bubba” which has been in development for over two years was introduced at the SEC. The average age when Christians surrender their lives to Christ has dramatically dropped to age 13. Therefore, it is more imperative now than ever that our children hear and understand a clear presentation of the gospel brought to them at their level of understanding. This is why so many of our churches have both Vacation Bible Schools and children’s church services. In an effort to equip our children’s workers with a number of very easily reproduced gospel presentations, a DVD had been prepared that not only shows over a dozen simple gospel sermons, it also shows the materials needed and how to make the presentation. A copy will be sent to every church. Additional copies may be purchased by calling the MBC evangelism office at 800-736-6227 ext #655. Are these effective? As this resource was filmed, it was done in front of a live audience of children. In this “studio environment”, children were saved. I believe God has blessed this.
Get this resource. Use this resource. Use it in children’s church, VBS, backyard Bible clubs, Sunday School. Grandparents, buy it and use it with your own grandchildren in your home.
EL SALVADOR PARTNERSHIP: Earlier this month we attended the annual meeting of the Association of Baptists of El Salvador (ABES). At this meeting, 44 of the 54 Salvadoran churches were represented to witness and participate in the final signing of the MBC’s partnership with them. It was indeed an historic occasion for everyone. Our MBC voted to establish this partnership last October in our annual meeting in Cape Girardeau. Two Salvadoran leaders signed for the ABES as did MBC’s president. The final “t” was crossed and “i” dotted in El Salvador this month.
As the official partnership term with Romania comes to a close this year, we are beginning this one with El Salvador. There are already four MBC churches that have established formal partnerships with El Salvadorian churches. One church, Southside in Jefferson City, had already begun. Pastor Jim Walker had a team of people from his church on the field in many different projects. One of their projects was to walk out into the sugar cane fields and speak to the cane cutters about Christ on their 15-minute break times. The result was over 40 professions of faith in Christ. Pastor Jeff Anderson and the people of Calvary, Hannibal, have also committed to a partnership. It seems we are off to a very good start.
Although the name of Jesus is everywhere in this country of six million souls, the evangelical population is less than three percent. The name of the country proclaims “The Savior.” But sadly, most only have an intellectual knowledge of Christ, not a personal relationship with him. This should prove to be another exciting adventure for Missouri Baptists. This will be a great partnership for first-timers on a foreign mission field. It is in the same time zone (no jet lag); they use United States currency (no currency exchange); and it is subtropical. We left warm 90 degree weather on the Pacific Ocean’s coast and arrived in an ice storm in Missouri. Yes, you will want to go to El Salvador to share Christ!
Let’s keep our eyes on JESUS. Let’s be about His work. Keep focused.