By Philip Timothy, Message Staff Writer
[img_assist|nid=7711|title=Rod Masteller|desc=Pastor Rod Masteller says he prayerfully hopes he can get a ‘powerful spiritual movement’ to take place as he presides over his final Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=427]“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
No one believed it could happen, but it did. In the early 1800s, the Mississippi River – for a brief time – actually did flow backwards.
Early on Feb. 7, 1812, an 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit near New Madrid, Mo., located on a bend in the River. Trees were uprooted, buildings destroyed, the town’s elevation dropped 13 feet, and eyewitnesses reported the Mississippi River flowed backwards for a period of time after the quake.
Riverboat pilots reported the river had been altered to the point that it was barely navigable and unrecognizable.
Two hundred years later, Rod Masteller, outgoing president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, says he wants to see the Mississippi River flow backwards again. Only this time, instead of water, he wants to see a spiritual movement so great it will not be contained to only the Mississippi, but will spread to all corners of the nation.
“In the last two years, I have attempted to travel to as many places in Louisiana as possible,” said Masteller, pastor of Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport. “And during those travels, I have sensed a true desperation for God among those pastors and directors of missions … something I’ve never sensed before.
“It was very encouraging to me,” Masteller said. “And so, it seems apropos the theme of this year’s convention is ‘It’s Time,’ because God is doing great work here amongst Louisiana Baptists, and the time is right for a spiritual awakening.”
Masteller hopes it will begin Nov. 14 when there will be a Sacred Assembly during the evening session of the LBC’s Annual Meeting.
“The session will be different. It’s not about reports, but about what He has done and what He wants us to do. There will be three messages. LC President Joe Aguillard will describe how God has used Louisiana College to help further His Kingdom – ‘It’s Time .. To Remember.’
“David Hankins will speak about the theme – ‘It’s Time … To Awaken’ – and what it means,” Masteller said. “And I will wrap up the session a little differently. My message – ‘It’s Time … To Respond’ – will be a simple one. If we will just do what we can, God will do what we can’t. It will be a call to surrender. It is my prayer the Holy Spirit will grab people and people will fall on their face, praying to God, and God will begin to move.”
Masteller said he saw the need for the Sacred Assembly while at an association meeting in Rayville.
“What I saw that night was these pastors and DOMs were on their faces crying out to God,” Masteller said. “It made me realize how desperately, not only these men, but 500,000 people and 1,600 churches needed Him.
“It is my prayer, and I and the [Baptist] Building have tried to communicate this, that if people from across our state will take this one night to come together and communicate with God, His Spirit could move among us.
“I am 100 percent convinced that if we don’t have an awakening in this state, and this country, we won’t recognize this country we live in. I believe He is using ‘It is time’ to send a movement back up the Mississippi River and to spread throughout the land to bring the country back to Christ,” Masteller said.
[img_assist|nid=7712|title=Sacred Assembly|desc=During his 2-years as LBC President Rod Masteller routinely went to his knees to ask for God’s guidance and blessing.|link=none|align=left|width=640|height=427]“God is giving us this vehicle [Monday night’s session] in which to come together and humble ourselves before Him. Just imagine what would happen if more than 500,000 Louisiana Baptists decided to take this opportunity to humble themselves before the face of Almighty God if they had a shift in priority that puts His will above their own? The change that would take place here in Louisiana – and the world – would be unbelievable.”
At the completion of LBC’s 2011 annual meeting, the 66-year-old Masteller, who has served as president of both Louisiana and Oklahoma Baptist Conventions, will briefly return to Shreveport. There he will retire from Summer Grove Baptist Church Nov. 20, after serving at its senior pastor for the last 13 years.
“They are some of the most wonderful people on earth and it is a wonderful church,” said Masteller, now in his 42nd year of ministry. “I will miss them, but God is leading me to Louisiana College and the Caskey School of Divinity.
“While serving as LBC President, I got to know Joe Aguillard, Tim Johnson, Argile Smith, Chuck Quarles and Tim Searcy,” Masteller said. “And I am totally convinced God has his hand on the college in a most unique and powerful way. I am very much committed to the direction in which the school is going; the difference the school is making, and the lives it has and is touching.”
Holding doctoral degrees in divinity and in sacred theology, Masteller will not only work with the Caskey School of Divinity, but will also serve as the director of the Joseph Willis Institute for Great Awakening Studies, where he will work closely with Wayne Jenkins, LBC Evangelism and Church Growth Director, and Evangelist Sammy Tippit.
Masteller said he also is very committed to seeing the LC Judge Paul Pressler School of Law succeed.
“Michael Johnson is doing such a wonderful job, and we need to have more men and schools like this. We need to have Patriot pastors and lawyers who understand that our liberties are slowly being taken away. And we must equip these men to be able to battle this loss in the court and in the pulpit,” Masteller said.
Beginning after Jan. 3, Masteller will once again be traveling the state to associations and churches to promote all four LC endeavors.
“I will be traveling once again and visiting with pastors and DOMs while trying to help them understand the importance of LC, the Divinity school, the law school, and the institute, and what each has to offer,” Masteller said.
“I am here to tell everyone that God is doing great work here in Louisiana,” Masteller said. “As His humble servant, I just want to follow where He leads.”