By PHILIP TIMOTHY, Message Staff Writer
SHREVEPORT – Rod Masteller has listened closely and he’s encouraged by what he’s heard.
In the last year, Masteller, pastor of Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport, has attempted to meet with “as many pastors and directors of mission as possible,” in his official capacity as president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
His travels have kept him on the road and, at times, away from his church, but he said he believes it has been more than worth it.
[img_assist|nid=6139|title=Dr. Rod Masteller|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=61|height=100]“It has been a sort of tug of war trying to do both – be pastor and president,” Masteller said. “But I wanted to hear from these men, pray with them, and encourage them.
“I have tried my best to travel to as many parts of the state as I could and make as many associational meetings as my schedule would allow,” Masteller said. “At each stop, I brought a simple message of hope and encouragement – we serve the God of the universe and He wants our churches to be on fire for Him and doing things that bring Him honor and glory. All our plans without the power of God are useless.”
Elected in November 2009, Masteller is open to a second one-year term, if the convention so chooses, he said. He hit the ground running in his first term.
He began by canvassing the state with seven listening sessions in which he met with a number of pastors, while also being involved in numerous meetings – convention and association related. He also hosted a well-attended Aug. 9 prayer meeting at Summer Grove.
“What I found was a real hunger for God and that God is blessing our endeavors in the convention, in the state, in the country, and in the world. I discovered pastors were more than willing to get on their knees to seek God,” Masteller said. “And I sensed a true desire among them for the Holy Spirit to be a part of everything they did.”
This past year has also given him insight into the work of the Directors of Mission, the LBC, and Louisiana College.
“The DOMs I have met are truly godly men wanting desperately to bring pastors closer to Him so they can reach all the world,” Masteller said. “I felt something special happening with our pastors at many of the associational meetings I attended.
“The two DOM meetings in which Wayne Dubose and Roddy Connerly presided over were not just associational meetings, but something more,” Masteller said. “I sensed a great hunger for the Lord at both. I could tell God was doing something special. The Holy Spirit dominated both of those meetings and I left feeling touched by God.”
Having served as president of the Oklahoma and Louisiana Baptist Conventions, Masteller said he is a strong believer in the role of the state convention.
“I don’t know if I have ever been around a more dedicated group than here at the LBC, especially [Executive Director] David Hankins,” Masteller said. “He does such a wonderful job communicating how effective we can be in reaching our world if we do it together.
“The state convention does a tremendous job of linking the people in the pew with state, national and international Baptist work,” he said. “If we diminish the purpose of state conventions, we are going to damage a great link that is an established history of success.”
“We want to follow our national leaders,” Masteller continued. “But it is my prayer we can work through this without hurting one of those links. Because if we hurt one, we hurt all, and right now I believe we need our state conventions to help us reach the world more effectively.”
Masteller cited Louisiana’s disaster relief efforts in Haiti following a devastating earthquake, as well as efforts with the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as just two examples of Louisiana Southern Baptists working together to help make an impact.
“One of the things that has impressed me is our ability to come together in times of disaster,” Masteller said. “Our Disaster Relief efforts are second to none.”
Louisiana College, especially the formation of the Judge Paul Pressler Law School in Shreveport, also drew Masteller’s praise.
“It is very exciting what God is doing at Louisiana College,” Masteller said. “Enrollment is the largest in school history, and the new law school has been established here in Shreveport. It is a very exciting time in the college’s history. I am very proud of the job President Joe Aguillard and Mike Johnson, the law school’s new dean, did making this happen.
“You won’t find a finer leader than Mike Johnson to lead the law school,” Masteller continued. “He will make sure its graduates know God intimately; walk with God and who will return Christian values to our judicial system.”
The rapidly approaching annual meeting – set for Nov. 15-16 at the Riverfront Center in Alexandria – will not only give Masteller an opportunity to relay this, but much more, when he gives his report to the messengers. He said he also hopes the meeting will have the same type of spiritual revival he has felt this past year.
“I am hoping this can be a true spiritual meeting, not just a program meeting,” Masteller said. “I understand the need to take care of the practical things, but I also understand that state and church business as usual will not turn around the decaying morals and culture facing this country, our churches, or our lives today.
“The first thing that must happen is for pastors and people from across the state to come, unite, get on their knees and ask God to fill us with His Spirit,” Masteller said. “If we do this, if we surrender all to Him, I believe it will spark an awakening and revival across the state.”