PERSPECTIVE: Doors open wide
Recently, I had the privilege of representing Oklahoma Baptists at the Guerrero Baptist Convention in Acapulco, Mexico. It is always a joy to preach at this gathering. The worship is powerful and our fellow Baptists love to hear the Word of God. My heart is encouraged and challenged by being among these men and women of faith serving in a dark and difficult place.
“Planting Great Churches” was the theme of the convention. The Guerrero Convention has set a goal of planting 15 new churches in Acapulco by the year 2015. These new churches are to come alongside the 14 existing Baptist churches in this city, which has a population equal to that of the entire state of Oklahoma. Consider that they have 14 churches and we have 1,800 churches for approximately the same number of residents.
I pledged to our Baptist brothers and sisters in Acapulco that Oklahoma Baptists will come together with them in this endeavor and that we can help reach that goal sooner than 2015. The lostness there rivals that in some of the most spiritually dark places on Earth. We are looking for 15 Oklahoma churches or groups of churches to partner with churches of the Guerrero Baptist Convention in planting these churches. They need financial support. They need people to come and witness, disciple, train, lead children and youth events, lead sports events, etc. The needs will be unique to the particular church plant. Will your church join this effort?
Jim and Jani Blackwell are an amazing couple about whom I have written before. We call Jim the “Moses of Mexico.” He served for many years on the faculty of the seminary in Guerrero. Since retiring, he has helped plant two churches in Acapulco in the last four years. Oh, did I tell you? He is more than 80 years old.
Two years ago during a visit to preach and teach in his church, Jim took me to a new subdivision that was under construction. On my last visit, he told me that he has already rented a place in that area to start a church. He has done so on faith that a church in Oklahoma will come alongside to help plant this new church where thousands will live.
The new men’s dorm at the seminary in Acapulco is almost ready for occupation. Oklahoma Baptists have helped to build married student apartments and the men’s dorm. This seminary is producing men and women with a passionate heart for church planting. During the convention, Jim proudly identified former students who are now leaders of the convention. Our investment in this seminary is already having great kingdom impact.
Another very exciting door opened during this visit. Representatives of the Oklahoma Jail and Prison Ministry were given the opportunity to present a plan for a chaplaincy program in the state prison in Acapulco. We were privileged to unite the leaders of both the convention and the local prison, which holds 2,500 inmates, along with the head of the correctional system for the whole state of Guerrero.
After the presentation, the leader of the local prison offered an open door of ministry. The leader of the state correctional system extended a Macedonian call for ministry in the prison. The Oklahoma Jail and Prison Ministry model uses a chaplain and volunteers to do one-on-one spiritual ministry to impact the inmates. In addition, the vision is for the chaplain to plant a church inside the prison. Special Bible study materials are utilized to disciple believers. The results of this ministry have been phenomenal in Oklahoma, and the potential in Guerrero is incredible.
The doors for fruitful ministry are open wide. We need churches and leaders to walk through those doors as God provides and leads. I am confident Oklahoma Baptists will rise to the challenge.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.