On June 1, 1968, Polla and I said, “I do.” On June 2, when we moved to Pratt, Kan., to take a summer job in the oil field, we said, “Oh, me!”
We found ourselves away from home for the first time and very alone. We immediately looked for a Southern Baptist church to help fill the void. We found a large Baptist church in town, but discovered it was not Southern Baptist. How strange! In Oklahoma, the largest church in town usually is Southern Baptist. In fact, due to our Southern Baptist creative church planting plan (fussin’ and splittin’) a person usually must choose among several churches. Not so in Kansas!
We discovered the Southern Baptist mission on a back street, meeting in a converted garage. Harold Morgan, a bivocational church planter, served as pastor. The mission and pastor were supported by the Home Mission Board (now called the North American Mission Board). It was a wonderful group of pioneering people. On our high attendance day, we would break the 20 barrier. But what a blessing this mission church was to a young couple far from home.
It was in this mission supported by the Home Mission Board that Polla and I gave our first tithe check as a couple. In this mission, Polla and I shared that we had surrendered to God’s call to vocational ministry.
In this little mission, Brother Morgan gave me the opportunity to be his pulpit supply, and I stammered through my first “official” sermon.
This mission was a direct result of the generous giving of Southern Baptists through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for Home Missions. My testimony is repeated multiple times by individuals across this country. Because you give, missions are planted, the Gospel is preached and lives are changed. Your generosity provides support for church planters to establish beachheads for the Gospel in the inner cities of the great metroplexes and in the small towns of this nation. Because you give, Easter will become a reality to people who live in some of the darkest places in the United States.
First Southern Baptist Church of Pratt, Kan., now has a beautiful church building on the main east-west highway into town. It provides a strong gospel witness to the community. It is there because Southern Baptists like you gave generously to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. There are thousands of communities all over North America waiting for generous Southern Baptists to give so a church planter can come to town and start a gospel preaching station. Their eternity depends on it.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.