FIRST-PERSON: Seriously soldiering
MIDWAY PARK, N.C. (BP)--From the main gate entrance into Camp Lejune Marine base for literally miles in both directions the chain-link fences are draped, plastered and covered with personalized, homemade heart-wrenching signs exclaiming “WELCOME HOME!”
At the “Everyone Can” rally hosted by Enon Chapel Baptist Church in Midway Park, N.C., just outside the Marine base the other night, pastor Jim Kelley along with other area pastors and the associational director of missions, Sandy Baine, called for prayer requests. “Pray for our family” was the response from one. “His unit was hit today in Iraq -– two Marines were killed and several were wounded.”
This was exactly the atmosphere I experienced three days earlier in Fayetteville, N.C., home of Ft. Bragg. It does not take you long to realize it when you are in a place where people are committed to seriously soldiering!
As I have gone around the world, crisscrossed America several times in the last 20 months and now into my first of eight weeks speaking several times each day all across North Carolina, I’m always asked this is one question: “How is it going with ‘Everyone Can’ and the effort to witness, win and baptize one million in one year?”
At this point there is no way to answer that inquiry numerically. However, it is overwhelmingly obvious that huge numbers of Southern Baptists are seriously soldiering for our Savior and souls when it comes to witnessing, winning and baptizing. Like the military bases, it does not take you long to realize that fact when you are in a place where Christians are deeply committed to carrying out the Great Commission.
MANY ARE SETTING RECORDS
A few weeks ago, one young pastor came up to me full of excitement and declared that his church had just set its all-time baptism record by baptizing three new believers. Then he laughed and said, “It’s our world record because we just started the church! But I promise you we’ll do better soon!”
Later a pastor from California gave me his thrilling account of their church baptizing 125 people in one baptism service. Then he want on to say, “I believe the Lord can top even that at our church before the year is over!”
A young pastor in Kentucky related that their church was already halfway to breaking their church’s baptism record of eight in one year. One thing that made this so significant was that the church had only baptized three in each of the two previous years.
ASSOCIATIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
All across America the pastors and people are joining each other and their associational director of missions to have public outdoor “Associational Baptism Rallies.” North Carolina’s Burnt Swamp Baptist Association is unifying with two adjacent associations to have an outdoor baptism rally.
At the Everyone Can rally in Wilson, N.C., the other night, the director of missions, Phil Frady, strongly urged their pastors and people toward their one-day baptism rally that would be conducted in eight different locations at the same time! Way to go South Roanoke Baptist Association!
All of those efforts are great steps along the path of unity of purpose for evangelism and a clear example of seriously soldiering.
Camp Lejune, Ft. Bragg and all other places where our beloved American soldiers train and then go off to war are always making deep, deep commitments to their expressed cause.
Our commitment to the cause of Christ for lost souls should drive all of us, not just a few, to an all-out extra effort in these next months just ahead of us. Six more months still remain for us in this year of one million baptisms. There is plenty of time and this is the perfect time for you to make a tremendous difference for all eternity!
If your church has baptized no one yet or if you’ve just come to a new church or whatever the case may be, it is entirely likely that with the Lord’s help you can change all eternity for many within the next few months. But it will require your immediate, personal commitment to seriously soldiering for the Savior and souls right now!
THANK YOU TO THOSE SERIOUSLY SOLDIERING
I expect all Southern Baptist would be pleased that at the military installations and the churches that minister to our military families I’ve attempted to give genuine, heartfelt thanks on behalf of all of us in the Southern Baptist Convention for their extraordinary commitment and sacrifice for us and our country.
Think about this: If we are willing to pray for, encourage and applaud our military and they go off to give the best of their lives for our freedom, are we not then obligated as Christians to exercise that freedom in sharing the Gospel as those committed to seriously soldiering for our Savior and souls?
This is the time to rise to the opportunity. Remember, “Everyone Can” and “I’m It!” and so are you!
Bobby Welch is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla. Resources to build involvement in the Everyone Can initiative can be accessed at http://www.everyonecan.net.