PERSPECTIVE: Missions at home
When you think of missions, where does your mind turn? I would guess that it goes immediately to a foreign land. You are not alone. For most of us, missions is about “over there.” I don’t think that is all bad. The world is large, and the number of Christian workers is far smaller in foreign lands. Without question, we should continue to push for greater dollars and more people to reach the nations. However, it would be unbiblical for us to think that missions takes place only across the ocean.
Acts 1:8 starts close to home and moves to the ends of the Earth. In Matthew 28:18-20, the word “nations” refers not to geography but people groups. We must reach “people groups” wherever they are found—and in Oklahoma, there are large populations of people from all around the world. We must take seriously our responsibility to reach the world that has come to our state.
The fastest growing people group in Oklahoma is Hispanic. God has brought these wonderful, hard-working people to our doorstep. They come with their families, and in many cases without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some have a form of religion without the life-changing experience of the new birth in Christ.
We must continue to develop creative means to engage and share the Gospel with the Hispanic people of our state. While we now have more than 100 Hispanic missions and churches, we are far short of the number needed to reach this population group. Existing churches and those that will be planted in the future are in great need of trained leaders. The Oklahoma State Missions Offering addresses these needs.
First, the offering provides dollars for Hispanic festivals across the state. These festivals gather large numbers of Hispanic people for food, music and fun. Our Hispanic church leaders use these events to identify prospects for the church. They also share the Gospel, and doors are opened for people to express faith in Christ.
Second, more than 50 percent of the new churches started in Oklahoma each year are Hispanic. The State Missions Offering provides nearly half the dollars for church starts in Oklahoma. So as you give to this offering, you are a part of each church start among the Hispanic people.
Third, through the Robert Haskins School of Leadership, our goal is to help Hispanic leaders attain quality seminary training here in Oklahoma. We are ensuring that the Hispanic churches of tomorrow will have pastors who are grounded in the Word of God and have skills to lead their people into the future.
If one reads the Great Commission properly, missions begins at home and moves simultaneously to the ends of the Earth. Your gifts to the Oklahoma State Missions Offering provide needed resources to reach and congregationalize the fastest growing people group in our state. Our churches take this offering every fall. I hope you will give generously through your local church and be a part of the cooperative effort of Oklahoma Baptists to reach our state’s Hispanic population. God has brought them to our doorstep, and now we must share the Gospel.