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Baptisms on the rise in Indian churches

a9a9ad0a52d2bcdf40851ceb1fa6c4a8While Oklahoma Southern Baptist churches in general have seen a downward spiral in baptisms the past few years, baptisms in ethnic churches in the state are on the increase.

Those attending the Indian Evangelism Conference March 5-7 at Oklahoma City, Glorieta heard that in reports from 100 churches, there were 514 baptisms in Native American churches in 2008, compared with only 387 in 2007.

However, even with the increased numbers, participants were told there is much remaining to be done because there are still a lot of lost people.

“We haven’t touched the hem of the garment with our native people,” said Indian evangelist Ernest Best. “We are lagging in native pastors among our people. We are standing at a crossroad. We need to get people saved and on the rock.”

Best said when he was young and went to church,

he heard preaching against sin.

“Baptist churches better get back to preaching about sin,” he declared. “If there isn’t a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun, I’ll go back to Eufaula and plant flowers. There are souls hanging in the balance who are going to hell if someone doesn’t tell them about Jesus.

Best commented that if most Christians were examined, all they would have on is the helmet of salvation.

“Who is going to do evangelism?” he asked.

Featured speaker Rob Zinn, pastor of Immanuel Church in Highland, Calif., said he believes there is one great revival coming before Jesus returns.

“I’m not sure that what we’ve seen in our country the last few months and what’s coming down the pike isn’t God-sent,” he said. “Clean out your churches, because as people lose money and become desperate, they’ll come back to God.”

Zinn noted we are living in an age that says “y’all come.”

“That is not scriptural,” he observed. “My Bible says ‘y’all go.'”

He said there are three things that cannot be changed in the New Testament church—the man, the message and the mission.

“The only man we preach is Jesus Christ, the message is the Gospel, and the mission is to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth,” he acknowledged.

But, he said, some things have to change, such as the mindset and the methodology.

“There are too many churches stuck in the 1950s,” he said. “The methods are many, but the principles are few. We need to find methods that will reach people.

Zinn emphasized that we need an attitude change in our churches.

“We have to get back in the game,” he declared. “We’ve bought into ‘they know where the church is, if they want to come, they’ll come.”

But, Zinn said, we have to take the Great Commission seriously, personally, prayerfully and with enthusiasm.

“The Father takes the Great Commission seriously, and Satan takes it seriously,” Zinn emphasized. “God wants you out there in the highways and byways. It takes 44 Southern Baptists an entire year to win one person to Christ.”

He said Acts 1:8 cannot be interpreted pastor, staff member, Sunday School teacher or deacon.

“All are called to be soul winners,” he declared. “Eighty-three percent of people in a survey said they would go to church if someone invited them. You have to be involved.”

Zinn added that no church ever rises above its pastor.

“Too many preachers think they are soul winners because they preach evangelistically,” he noted.

He reported that the least attended event at church is a prayer meeting.

“We’d do a lot more evangelism if we spent more time talking to God about people than talking to people about God,” he said. “Salvation doesn’t start in your heart, but in the heart of God. It’s God who wins them—you just get to be in on it.”

Willie Doyeto, pastor of Lawton, Memorial Indian, preached on the transformation of Judah, how he changed from the time he and his brothers sold Joseph into slavery and when he stood before Joseph in Egypt.

“The brothers were lacking in love, but as they saw the years of grief on their father, they began to transform,” Doyeto explained. “They spoke of their father 19 times, and they mentioned their younger brother, Benjamin, 20 times. No longer did they think of themselves.

“We need to think more of our brothers and our father. How can we enjoy our salvation while so many are perishing? As Judah died to himself, he began to live for God. May we have the attitude of Judah and have that much concern for our brother.”

Jimmy Kenner, pastor of Red Rock, Otoe, preaching on “The Jesus Diet,” said there is an urgency to reach people for Jesus because Hell is real.

“Our nutrition is the word of God and the will of God,” he said. “We are not feeding on the thing that’s going to nourish the church, and that’s the will of God. Our churches are full of people who want to be served rather than going out and serve.”

Kenner noted the exercise part of the diet is to go to the fields.

“We don’t know how long we have to tell others about Jesus,” he declared. “Satan knows he has a short time, but the church hasn’t figured that out yet. We need to see that the world wants something, and that is Jesus Christ. We have that message.”

Ledtkey McIntosh, former national missionary with the North American Mission Board, said people like to avoid the subject of death.

“A lot of people want to live after their own way, yet want to be with Jesus when they die,” he noted. “But when you live your life without Jesus, you will die without Jesus.”

Repeating the biblical story of Lazarus and the rich man in hell, McIntosh observed that death is no respecter of persons—the rich and the poor die, and everyone has an appointment with death.

“Lazarus and the rich man learned when they died, they were still alive,” he said. “They survived death. A lot of people wish death were the end.”

But, he said, there is a constant reminder of the opportunities they had to deal with their sin and accept the offer of Jesus.

“The rich man wanted to become a soul-winner when he got to Hell, but it was too late,” McIntosh revealed. “If we’re going to share the Gospel, we need to do it now, while they are alive.”

Brad Hawkins, pastor of Okeene, First, said since the U.S. Congress passed the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, 19 million immigrants, mostly from Asia, have flooded the shores of America.

“They came and brought their customs and religions,” he said. “Our country is now face-to-face with people from a different culture, race and religious background. Do we see the world in front of us as one that needs to be evangelized, or do we share the message with only certain people?”

He said Peter had this problem, limiting those he saw as needing the Gospel, but God radically changed Peter when he was sent to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile.

“It’s good to go on a mission trip, but it’s better to look out our front door and see the world before us,” he said.

Dana Williamson

Author: Dana Williamson

Dana Williamson is a Special Correspondent for the Baptist Messenger

View more articles by Dana Williamson.

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