I am so encouraged! Our churches are awakening to a new vision for missions and evangelism. Although a prairie fire has not broken out just yet, the embers are glowing. I see signs that give me great hope that Oklahoma Baptists are slowly, but surely, returning to the heart of sharing Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the Earth.
Just last Sunday at Elk River in Grove, I watched a video recounting the many mission projects accomplished by this church. They covered the map and were extremely creative. In addition, the church has increased its giving to the Cooperative Program and associational missions. Elk River is growing and baptizing people, and they are praying about opportunities to start churches and begin new projects to touch the lost.
A few weeks earlier, I was at Unity in Hugo. That church spent the whole month of January focused on missions. Guest speakers reported of the mighty things God has been doing around the world, and there were testimonies by church family members who had been on mission trips, sharing the Gospel.
These are just two recent examples. I could give multiplied more from all across our state where I have personally seen the commitment, excitement and blessings of churches that have determined it is not about “us,” but about the “lost sheep.”
Some observations are in order. In each case, I found churches that were filled with excitement. They had vision and had seen God do many wonderful things. Joy filled the worship times. People weren’t worried about the worship style; they were excited about serving Christ and for lost people coming to the Savior. Joy filled the house!
These churches have found the balance between giving, praying and going. Their commitment to the Cooperative Program and associational missions is clear. They understand we can do more together than alone. Cooperation in giving synergizes our efforts and allows us as Southern Baptists to impact the world 24/7, 365 days a year. The sun never sets on the ministries of these churches because of their giving cooperatively.
They also understand that the more they are on mission in the community, state, nation and world, the more they pray specifically for the advance of the Kingdom of God. They pray for specific individuals and for specific people groups. Churches that have prioritized missions and evangelism see the world around them differently. The forest becomes individual trees.
In each of these situations, the evangelistic and mission heart of the pastor has infected the people. At Elk River, I helped commission 24 people who were going to Honduras the next week to serve on mission for the Gospel’s sake. Some of them had been on mission trips previously, and many of them were new.
It saddens me that so many of our churches are in division and focused on non-essential issues.
I know this-I am seeing a growing group of churches that are tired of the old, selfish ways. They have seen the light in the darkness, and they are trading fussing for evangelism and missions that dispel the darkness. That sounds better than fussin’ any day! I am encouraged.