FIRST-PERSON: Be Christ's hands & feet
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -- I believe what we do in North America impacts the church's global mission.
Historically, North America has sent great numbers of missionaries around the globe. Now we are becoming one of the most ethnically diverse areas on earth.
This is no accident. In fact, it's an unprecedented opportunity for Southern Baptists to impact the peoples of the world. But we must remain intentional.
The danger we face in North America -- despite its diversity -- is that familiarity can lull us into complacency.
Southern Baptists can't let this happen.
If your church is successfully reaching people in your community and beyond, you have probably had to shift your methodology and approach over the past two decades. Your community's culture has probably shifted some in ethnic makeup and size.
Multiply such changes by hundreds and thousands of communities in the United States and Canada that are experiencing an influx of new business, new immigrant populations and new belief systems. That is today's North American mission field.
These new complexities mean Christians have to be the hands and feet of Christ to our communities more than ever before. Our church planters are great examples of this. They leave the familiar to make Christ known in the tough places.
From inner city Miami to Canadian provinces, these missionaries are devoting themselves and their families to serve their communities through acts of love as they seek to reconcile people through Gospel truth.
Whether you're planting a church in inner city Boston or in the streets of Nairobi, the mission of a long-lasting Gospel community is the result of obedience to the Great Commission.
To make disciples of people and connect them with real hope, we first love them in genuine and tangible ways.
There should never be a distinction between planting a church and caring for a neglected neighbor, child or community. Biblical evangelism addresses the physical and the spiritual need. We can't make disciples and leave them to their suffering.
We take up our cross, the verse commands us, and we follow Christ where He leads, and all of our strategies and endeavors begin here. It's the same spot where our new lives began: at the cross of Christ.
Kevin Ezell is president of the North American Mission Board. Ezell wrote this column in conjunction with this season's Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention, centered on the theme of "BE His heart, His hands, His voice" from Matthew 16:24-25. Southern Baptists' gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and through the Cooperative Program help Southern Baptist missionaries around the world share the Gospel. Gifts for the offering are received at Southern Baptist churches across the country or can be made online at www.imb.org/offering where there are resources for church leaders to promote the offering. Download related videos at www.imb.org/lmcovideo.