Proclaim Easter's message all year long

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--Christ is risen!

It's the greatest lead sentence to the greatest news story ever communicated. I could say it in English or I could say it in the Portuguese language that I learned to speak while serving as an International Mission Board missionary in Brazil. Whatever the language, the power behind the phrase is the same. "Christ is risen!" -- it's been spoken billions of times in hundreds of languages for thousands of years. "Christ is risen!" -- it points our attention to the miracle of Easter.

For those of us who follow the risen Savior, Easter is a reminder: First and foremost, it's a reminder of who Jesus Christ is and the great lengths He went through to offer us the gift of salvation. It's a reminder that Jesus Christ is no longer on the cross and He's no longer in the grave. Ultimately, it's a reminder that Jesus is alive. Christ is risen, indeed!

But if we were to take a look around us this time of year, we'd most likely also be reminded of more sobering truths. If we were to say "Christ is risen!" and then take an honest look at our world, we'd probably notice how North America is slipping farther and farther away from the things of Christ. Sometimes it's discouraging to see the direction in which our culture is headed. This is, after all, the season when "Christ is risen!" And to see that powerful message ignored or rejected by those we work with, live among and care about should break our hearts.

The first Easter began with broken hearts as well. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary woke up that Sunday morning to a world that seemed lost. Christ was dead and buried. The disciples were scattered. The enemy had won. Or so it seemed.

But for Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the Easter experience became one of hope, joy and purpose when an angel delivered the most important news in history. The report they heard is the same one we've been charged to deliver to the world today -- "Christ is the risen Savior!"

For a world that is searching for meaning, there is not a more encouraging and inviting message. And that's the message your North American Southern Baptist missionaries are helping you share with a continent in need.

"Christ is risen!" It's the message Jon and Mindy Jamison are taking to young people in Des Moines, Iowa. Many of the teens they work with live in a world of violence, gangs and drugs.

"Christ is risen!" It's what missionary Melanie Lawler is sharing with young children in Nevada through her Kids Club apartment complex ministry.

Throughout North America more than 5,000 of your Southern Baptist missionaries are looking for and finding lost people who need to take to heart the Easter message, "Christ is risen!"

It's what drives Daniel Caceres, a missionary who helps start Hispanic churches all over Oklahoma. Daniel escaped from his home in El Salvador when communist guerillas tried to kill him. Today, he's introducing Hispanics in North America to the One who can take them from death to life.

"Christ is risen!" It's also the driving force behind missionaries David and Shirley Proffitt in Virginia. They're starting churches near college campuses, often working in communities openly hostile to Christianity.

In a very real way, your Southern Baptist missionaries in North America celebrate Easter all year long by consistently proclaiming the message of the season, "Christ is risen!" But ultimately, the responsibility that God has given our North American missionaries is not just theirs -- it is also ours.

You and your church are partners in the task of reaching North America and there are many ways you can be a part of that work. You can pray for your missionaries, that they would earnestly seek God's heart. You can help others understand the depth of the need in North America. You can give through your church through the Cooperative Program and to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. And you can join our mission force through short-term, long-term or career mission opportunities.

Finally, it is my prayer that you and your church will see this Easter season as an opportunity to reach out to the lost in your community who need Christ. Remember, there are still millions around us who need to hear and understand the most powerful message of all -- the message of Easter.

Christ is risen!


Geoff Hammond is president of the North American Mission Board, on the Web at www.namb.net.

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