I remember well my wife teaching our children that they should speak with an “inside” voice when indoors, but outdoors they could use their “outside” voices. Her point was that they did not need to speak loudly in order to be heard inside the house. However, when outdoors, they could speak louder and sometimes even yell so that they might be heard. The bigger the area, the louder their voices needed to be.
Considering the spiritual landscape of Oklahoma, it is clear that Oklahoma Baptists need to use our outside voices. Places where the Gospel is lacking demand a volume that will reach into areas where it is hard to hear the voice of God. In fact, the needs are so great that there must be a collective shout so all may hear of the mighty deeds of God.
This is the reason the MY316 evangelism focus is one of the main emphases in our ministry. Our goal is to lead our churches and members to speak the Gospel in life’s normal traffic patterns. MY316 challenges us to link our testimony of God’s grace in our lives with His testimony in John 3:16, which offers salvation to all who will believe. Our desire is to fill Oklahoma with the voices of God’s people testifying and sharing the simple truth of John 3:16. All the training materials and tools for this effort are provided free to our churches because of the funding made available through the Oklahoma State Missions Offering.
Perhaps the loudest voice available to us in penetrating areas of our state that need a Gospel witness is through planting new churches. Church planting is the collective use of our outside voices not only to plant the Gospel in the hearts of unbelievers but to provide a permanent witness for Christ. Church planting gives us opportunity to speak into places where the volume has been very low. Today, churches are being planted in livestock sale barns and rodeo arenas, skate parks, coffee shops and even in prisons. I am confident that nothing speaks the Gospel louder or provides greater opportunity for Kingdom advance than planting new churches.
Few things we do collectively as a people of God have more impact or shout the Good News more powerfully than Disaster Relief. Today, Oklahoma has a trained volunteer force of close to 5,000 people, who are ready to face any disaster on a moment’s notice. The devastation brought by tornados, floods and fire is a constant reminder of how important this ministry is to those dealing with life-altering trauma. But our volunteers go far beyond the borders of our state to serve around the world. Haiti has been a major focus in 2010 and will remain so in the months ahead. Our disaster relief workers have used the dollars given through the State Missions Offering along with special gifts from churches and individuals to provide amazing relief to people left with nothing. Lovingly, they have represented you through providing pumps for water wells, housing for those living under tarps and medical help to the suffering. Every act of kindness speaks loudly into lives of the unreached that Jesus loves them.
The Oklahoma State Missions Offering provides a broad array of needed ministry that allows us to speak collectively with a loud voice the love and grace of Jesus. Your gifts will mean a world of difference to those without Christ. I ask you to join Polla and me in giving generously to the Oklahoma State Missions Offering. No more inside voices. We need outside voice volume. Let’s shout the Gospel louder than ever before by funding ministry that will penetrate lostness in our state.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.