ST. LOUIS – “Be bold” is the short version of the convention sermon of the 178th Annual Meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention delivered Oct. 30 here by Kenny Qualls.
The pastor of First Baptist Church in nearby Arnold called Missouri Baptists to “Level 3 Living.” It was reference to the highest security level of International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries serving in dangerous places where their safety while sharing the gospel cannot be guaranteed. Qualls likened living a Level 3 life to Stephen’s in Acts, who boldly stood for Christ even as he was being martyred in chapter 7.
“In the United States, we get two of the three types of persecution,” he said. “We understand social persecution and verbal persecution, but it’s that violent, physical persecution that we don’t understand.”
And yet, Qualls said 400 million Christians around the world have lost their basic human rights because of their faith and still follow their Lord. Around 170,000 die for their faith, Qualls said.
“The gospel is worth the danger,” he said. “Sixty-three percent of IMB personnel are at a Level 3 environment. You can’t say their name or location. But Level 3 living, attitude and passion should be in in our of our hearts. Level 3 living shouldn’t be based on our geographic location, but the location of the gospel in our hearts. All of us are missionaries, and every day is a mission trip. We may not all die a martyrs death, but we should all live a martyr’s Level 3 life.
“Our focus is not self-preservation, it’s gospel advancement,” Qualls said. “The gospel is worth the danger.”
Finally, Qualls brought out an actual casket on stage before the crowd.
“This is a missionary’s suitcase,” he said. “Nineteenth-century missionaries didn’t plan on coming back to retire; they packed all their belongings in a coffin and took it with them. Eighty percent of them going to tropical areas didn’t last more than two years due to disease, but they still went. We’re to deny our self, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. I struggle to live a Level 3 life because I love my own life more than I love His life.”
But like Stephen, Qualls said lives lost for the sake of the gospel are not in vain.
“Offering eternal life to others is more important than anything in this earthly life,” he said. “Even if we die, brothers and sisters, they can’t take our life. We’ve already given it to Jesus.”