One of the most important events that we as Oklahoma Baptists have each year is the Oklahoma Pastors’ Conference. When I was elected last year to serve as the president of this year’s pastors’ conference, I was humbled. The challenge was great, and my desire was to develop a conference that would not only be enjoyable but a conference that would inspire our pastors to think about those things that we are called to do as pastors.
At the beginning of the 2018 Annual Meeting, Hance Dilbeck spoke to the issue of engaging brokenness in our communities with the Gospel. God began to stir my heart about the conference, and I was at peace with the direction that I felt the Lord was leading for the 2019 Pastors Conference. As Dr. Dilbeck continued to share, I felt impressed that Matt. 9:35-36 would be the foundation of the 2019 Pastors Conference.
In Matt. 9:35-36 we see Jesus going through all the cities and villages, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. I thought about Jesus doing what Jesus came to do: proclaim the Gospel wherever, whenever and however He could and, along the way, heal the sick and diseased.
Then in verse 36, it was as if the Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit and said, “Pay close attention here, Chris Fields. This is where something incredible is about to take place.” I continued to read, and there it was: “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus saw the people! This wasn’t just some casual glance. This was a look past the outward exterior. This was a deep penetrating look into the heart.
What Christ saw in the heart of the people was a hopelessness, weighed down with the difficulties of life. He saw within the heart of the people a desperate need for a touch from the Good Shepherd. This touch was one that only He could give because He was and is today the Good Shepherd.
Jesus knew that the only remedy to the condition of mankind was the life-changing power of His Gospel. So, what was Jesus’ response? He revealed to the disciples the potential harvest that awaits. He challenged the disciples to pray, asking the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers. While the times may have changed, the Harvest and the heart of mankind has not.
As Nick Atyia, Chris Gordon, and I met to begin planning the 2019 Pastors Conference, the theme became clear: “See the People.” This statement is not only the theme; it also provokes a question. The question that I am compelled to ask myself is simple: Do I see the people as Christ sees the people?
The question is the same for all of us. Do we see the people as Christ sees the people? As we began to pray for those whom we might ask to come and share with our pastors, God led us to some incredible men who are doing incredible work engaging the lost world with the unchanging message of hope, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My prayer for the 2019 Pastors’ Conference is simple, “Lord open my eyes, open my heart and open my life that I may see the brokenness of the people and embrace it to the extent that you have embraced me and my brokenness.”
Would you join me in praying for the 2019 Pastors’ Conference as well as praying that God would cultivate within each of us a vision to “See the People”? I pray that you will make every effort to be in attendance at the 2019 Pastors’ Conference. We will begin 9 a.m., Mon. Nov. 11 at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs.