American church in jeopardy over missions, Patterson says
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--The American church will suffer if it doesn’t begin directing more of its resources to fulfilling the Great Commission, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson said during a live broadcast from the seminary’s Fort Worth, Texas, campus May 11.
Patterson told KCBI Christian Radio host Johanna Fisher during the one-hour program that the American church had fulfilled the Great Commission “splendidly” but at the same time had been “tragically awful.”
About 100 people were on hand for the live broadcast from the seminary’s Ralph M. Smith Leadership Development Complex on the topic of "Dying for the faith: Is the Great Commission in jeopardy?"
“The church has been very generous and great numbers of people have gone ... but it is always wrong and will never be right that 95 percent of the world’s resources are spent on 5 percent of the world’s population,” Patterson said. The church’s failure to expend the appropriate resources on international evangelism is “something for which God will judge us,” Patterson said.
Fisher asked Patterson if many Christians were not fulfilling the Great Commission because of what had happened to “new millennium martyrs” like the seven Southern Baptist personnel killed in Yemen, Iraq and the Philippines.
“God doesn’t make any wimps,” Patterson replied. “The worst thing that can happen is for a Christian to be engulfed by fear. Fear is the work of the devil. Of the many ways to die, I can’t think of any better way to die than to give one’s life for Christ.”
One caller to the program asked if parents should be concerned about sending their children on international mission trips. Parents who have such fears should not allow their children to drive on freeways or visit the nation’s capital, Patterson said, noting that Washington, D.C., has one of the highest murder rates in the country.
“It is safer in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Patterson said. “The most dangerous thing in the world is to be out of God’s will.” The Lord provides a “double protection” for those who serve in dangerous places overseas, he said.
“There is no higher calling than to go to people who have not heard the Gospel,” Patterson said. Christians make an investment in eternity by going, he said.
Patterson addressed the climate of anti-Americanism in foreign countries today. He described a visit to the Philippines where hundreds were protesting outside of the U.S. Embassy. He said that many of the people protesting were awaiting visas to come to America.
Patterson told some of the people in line that he was “a citizen of two countries.” In one of the countries, he said, he would never die. He then presented the Gospel to a protestor. “I won’t change his mind about America, but if I can change his mind about Jesus he will change the way he looks at other people.”
Another caller to the KCBI program asked Patterson if it is appropriate for Christians to smuggle Bibles into foreign countries and preach where Christianity is forbidden.
“I hope Bible smuggling is not unethical. I’ve done enough of it,” Patterson said. As for preaching, Patterson said Christians must join with the apostles and decide whether it is better to obey God or man. “Any law that legislates against religious liberty is an unjust law,” Patterson said, adding that Christians are not bound to obey laws that prohibit the proclamation of the Gospel.
In such cases, however, Christians must be prepared to suffer the consequences “even if it costs us our lives,” Patterson said.
Patterson said he was motivated to practice missions and evangelism by the Great Commission, but also because he does not want the blood of the lost on his hands on the day of judgment. “I want to be able to say that I had given my all to share the Gospel of Christ with them,” he said.
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