In one of his sermons, Billy Graham told the story of a patrolman on night duty in a town in northern England. As he walked the streets, he heard a quivering sob. Shining his flashlight into the darkness, he saw a little boy in the shadows sitting on a door step and tears were running down his cheek. The child said, “I’m lost. Please take me home.” The patrolman began naming street after street, trying to help the boy remember where he lived. He named the shops and the hotels in the area but the little boy could give him no clue. Then he remembered that at the center of the town there was a church with a large white cross that towered above the rest of the city. The policeman pointed to the cross and said, “Do you live anywhere near that place?” The little boy’s face immediately brightened up. He said, “Yes sir. Take me to the cross and I can find my way home.”
Following a recent morning worship service, a precious young mother asked to talk to me. She expressed her great fear of death and wanted me to pray for her. I shared the Gospel with her, especially emphasizing Christ’s death on the cross. I asked, “Do you realize, if you were the only person born in the whole world, Jesus Christ would have come to die just for you? He gladly gave up His place in Heaven so that you could have your place in Heaven. He wants you to spend eternity with Him.” Within a few minutes we were on our knees together and she prayed to receive the Christ of Calvary as her own Lord and Savior.
Raising the Cross Across Missouri is the theme of our four State Evangelism Conferences in 2010. Every church should have received the conferences brochure recently. If not, you can preview the conferences as well as pre-register for the one of your choice, by logging on to the MBC website, www.mobaptist.org., and clicking on Raising the Cross Across Missouri.
The statewide conference will be Jan. 25-26, FBC Branson. The regional conferences will be held as follows: Feb. 9, Frederick Boulevard Baptist, St. Joseph; Feb. 23, Calvary Baptist, Hannibal; March 9, Miner Baptist, Sikeston. We are conducting four Evangelism Conferences because 2010 is the launch year for the decade-long Evangelism Initiative, God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) Across Missouri. The four conferences are strategically located around Missouri, so that no Missouri Baptist should be more than a two- to two-and-one-half-hour drive from an Evangelism Conference.
We are praying for the worship experiences to be anointed, for God’s favor to rest upon each speaker and singer. Some of God’s choicest servants will be leading us. However, some of the most lasting spiritual fruit may come from the breakout sessions Tuesday mornings at each of the conferences. For instance, each of the breakout sessions will include training for prayer walking. You will be given resources for prayer walking, and certified to return to your church and association enabled to teach others to prayer walk. Remember, March 6 and 13 we are seeking to prayer walk our entire state. Another lasting evangelistic tool presented during breakout sessions at each of the four conferences is telephone encourager and church covenant training. Since training to be certified as a telephone encourager (TE) requires two hours, TE training will only be offered once, for two hours, at each conference. Here, too, you will be trained, certified and given resources to join a growing phone bank where the Gospel can be presented from your home to seekers who call. We believe the huge media campaign to be conducted in March and April will result in many calls coming in from inquirers seeking Christ. Missouri Baptists can be taking many of those calls, and covenant churches need to be readied to follow up on the decisions made over the phone. Plus, the plastic bags we will be hanging on every door will contain the Gospel, and the 888-JESUS2010 number people can call for telephone encouragers to share with them about Christ. Additionally, other practical ingredients of GPS Across Missouri will be presented in the breakout sessions. Every church could have members attending various breakouts to be prepared to return home with information and strategy to touch their community with the Gospel during the initial GPS target months, March – May.
I learned recently that diplomats in the U.K. have brought up proposals restricting the display of the cross in public places. Specifically, they have requested the Red Cross to change its symbol to a Red Crystal, insisting the cross is an offensive symbol. Sounds to me like they are setting our world back 2000 years. Those same criticisms of the cross were made in the first Christian Century (I Cor. 1:18-25, Gal. 5:11). It remains for you and me to be Raising the Cross Across Missouri. If we do not, who will?
Please join me in fervent prayer for the upcoming evangelism conferences. Attend one most convenient to you. Inform your church and avail yourself of the inspiration, as well as the practical applications of the conferences. Three out of four in Missouri are without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. One out of five (that’s 60 million) Missourians say they would welcome a conversation with a Christian about their relationship with Christ. Truly, take them to the Cross and they will find their way home! Now is the time, Missouri Baptists, to be Raising the Cross Across Missouri! (Gary Taylor is the Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism.)