By Craig Beeman, Pastor First Baptist Winnsboro
As we participate in the Annie Armstrong Mission Offering, one of our three major missions offerings in which we participate as Louisiana Baptists, many thoughts come to mind. “How much will we raise?” “Will we give sacrificially this year?” “It sure is nice we can sit in a padded pew and reach out to the rest of the world through someone else who is called as a full-time missionary.” Ouch.
I’m afraid that that has been one of our problems as Southern Baptists. We sometime seem content to just fund the largest mission sending agency in the United States. There is nothing wrong with being part of the funding, but what are we, as individuals and churches, doing to share the gospel?
Sending missionaries should not be all we do. We are Baptist Christians who have “a story to tell to the nations.” We hold in our hearts the message which gives people hope, the love of God and freedom from the eternal effects of sin. This message changes lives, or does it?
If the gospel changes lives, then it ought to be visible to others. What God has done inside of you ought to come out of you when others encounter you.
When I served in the Natchitoches Baptist Association I always rejoiced when the Clara Springs Camp Manager would give his report and tell us how many children and youth accepted Christ the past summer. I always love hearing what God has done. But again, that was what God was doing through money which my church gave cooperatively through my local association. What am I doing, what is my church doing to share the message locally?
For us to leave the entire responsibility of sharing of the gospel to 10,525 missionaries, locally and internationally, is similar to outsourcing a company to another country because we don’t want to pay what it takes to use local help. You and I are the locals and we can’t afford to not be involved in the sharing of the gospel where we are.
There are approximately 16 million Southern Baptists. Take 10,525 of those out of that figure and the rest of those are the Southern Baptist missionaries to each city, town and village in the U. S. No one has enough money to hire enough missionaries to live in each city of our state and nation. The local responsibility of sharing the gospel is up to you and me.
Do you realize Korea sends missionaries to the U.S? At first I was offended when I heard this. After thinking about it, I was pleased and disappointed. I was pleased because they have the love of Christ in them which causes them to care about us. However, I was disappointed because the need to share with us was so obvious to them they felt they needed to do something about it.
Where are we on “doing something about it?” Why do they feel the need to send missionaries to the States? Is it because we’ve sat idly by and not told our own neighbors and friends about Christ?
Time is short and none of us are getting any younger. Each day that passes we have an opportunity to reach out to others with the love of Christ.
Each year that passes we are that much closer to Heaven. People matter to God and they should matter to us. Each day we have an opportunity to share the gospel. The question is, “