Jesus had a way of cutting to the chase. He was constantly challenging people to step to a higher plain. One of His most powerful and dynamic statements has great application for those of us who live in this great state and who are a part of the Baptist family. He said, “To whom much is given much is required.”
Modern-day Oklahoma Baptists are the recipients of a long and blessed history of investment by others of bringing the Gospel to our state. Baptist missionaries from the North first came here to share the Gospel with Native Americans. Pioneers who came to settle this state brought with them a passion to plant the seeds of the Gospel and start churches in every community.
In 1914 Oklahoma Baptists became singularly aligned with Southern Baptists. Home missionaries planted their lives in our state and helped to advance the Gospel. The state convention and the Home Mission Board united in an effort to plant churches in every town and city. Consequently, our towns, cities and countryside are dotted with Southern Baptist churches. The success of our forefathers was so pronounced that early in our state history, Baptists became the largest denomination in Oklahoma.
This same missional spirit continues today. Last year, in partnership with associations, churches, the North American Mission Board and the state convention, we planted 52 churches. For more than 10 years we have seen more than 50 new churches a year given birth. The record shows that more than 85 percent of them are still alive and well. New people groups are being reached with the Gospel because of these new churches.
We are a blessed people. Others loved us enough to sow our state with the Gospel by starting churches in every community. But that is not the case in many places across America. In the northern states, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, vast fields are unplanted and unharvested. Millions of Americans have no evangelical witness, and even fewer have a Baptist witness in their towns and cities. In fact, America is the fourth largest lost nation in the world.
Within the veil of darkness in America are some of the great cities of our nation. New York, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Salt Lake City are Gospel starved. Our North American Mission Board and struggling state conventions are at work, just as our forefathers, to plant the Gospel and churches. They cannot do it alone.
This is where the words of Jesus become pointed for those of us who have been so blessed. We have received much—now we must give back. We have an obligation to “pay it forward” so that the teeming masses of the North and West may have the opportunity to embrace Christ as Savior and Lord. These folks need the same privilege to have churches where they can worship and be developed as fully devoted followers of Christ.
So what are we to do? We who have been given much can give much to the Annie Armstrong Mission Offering for North America. During this month and April, your church will give you the privilege of contributing a generous offering so those in darkness can hear the Gospel and so that churches can be planted. We have been given much. Now much is required of us.