The recent meeting of Southern Baptists in Greensboro was an unapologetic emphasis upon missions. Sometimes the real message of our annual gathering is lost in the rhetoric of opinion making and the reporting of some news outlets. Southern Baptists as a people of the Book take seriously the Great Commission of our Lord in seeking to make disciples for Him.
Bobby Welch, our president these past two years, personified missions to the ultimate degree. He traveled extensively, including a return visit to Vietnam. This time he went as a man of the Word, not a man with a weapon. He was on scene with our hurricane related disaster relief efforts. Here in Alabama, Bobby came to assist our churches devastated by the arson initiated fires last February. His presence was so appreciated by Alabama Baptists and we will never forget his words of encouragement.
The International Mission Board report was outstanding. Southern Baptists, through our International Mission Board, are reaching people groups in some of the most remote parts of the world. The testimonies of our missionaries and their call for prayer support remind us of the difference being made by these strategic witnesses for Christ and by all of us in our going, giving and praying.
The North American Mission Board report to the convention was also most encouraging. Roy Fish has been named the interim president as the board searches for a new leader. The testimony of Aaron Coe, church planter in the SoHo district of Manhattan, was a thrilling reminder that God is at work in The Big Apple. Aaron challenged me personally with the comment, “There are no God-forsaken places, just church-forsaken ones”.
The Cooperative Program was reaffirmed throughout the annual meeting. I cannot remember a time when the unified giving channel so blessed by God and utilized by Southern Baptists enjoyed such positive exposure. This is good for the kingdom and good for Southern Baptists. In Alabama we would say “we have One Mission – the Great Commission and One Program – the Cooperative Program.” This is a language we can understand and wholeheartedly affirm.
Yes, we had concerns expressed through questions, motions and resolutions. This is the Baptist way and I like it, but the overall motif was missions. The reports from our mission boards and our other entities underscored this motif, and that is as it should be. Southern Baptists came to Greensboro to make a statement: “We are a missions people”. Southern Baptists left that city and went home to do missions work scripturally, sincerely and strategically. This was a historic meeting for us, and we should pause and thank God for the opportunity to be on mission with the Great Commission.