Multi-ethnic council reflects 'family of God'
ATLANTA (BP) -- Listening to the hubbub of voices of the Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council as they met in small groups, Frank S. Page, president OF the SBC Executive Committee, noted, "Hearing you talk and debate and quote Scripture in your various accents and your various perspectives [reminds me] how rich we are as a family of God to have all of you at the table."
Guided by chairman Timmy Chavis, pastor of Bear Swamp Baptist Church in Pembroke, N.C., the council reviewed the biblical basis of missions, evangelism and discipleship.
Members also considered questions about theological education, ethics and religious liberty, and the Cooperative Program posed by Ken Weathersby, EC vice president for convention advancement, who serves as the liaison to the group.
The council, representing numerous language, ethnic and racial fellowships within the SBC, explored how their churches can more fully participate in convention processes and reflected on ways the convention can better serve the needs of their respective churches, SBCLIFE reports in its current issue, released this month (May).
The council is tasked with helping Executive Committee and SBC entity leaders more fully understand and appreciate the perspectives ethnic churches and church leaders bring to the common task of reaching the nation and all nations with the Gospel.
Lennox Zamore, pastor of Ebenezer Memorial Baptist Church in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, identified seven passages group members used to underscore the biblical basis for missions and evangelism, with Matthew 28:18–20 as the dominant text.
"As a missions framework, we used the phrase, 'As you go, evangelize; as you evangelize, disciple; and as you disciple, baptize,'" Zamore said.
Ben Mishin, pastor of Life Way Baptist Church in Philadelphia, noted, "The biblical basis for evangelism is found in Acts 1:8 -- You will be My witnesses," he said.
"The most impressive rationale" for missions and evangelism "is the life and ministry of Jesus Christ," Mishin said. "He came into the world, so we should go out into the world. Jesus not only communicated with people; He served people and provided an example for people.
"The life of Jesus, His redeeming grace" is the heart of missions and evangelism, he said.
Zamore, speaking on behalf of one group, noted that a common missions problem is that "in our churches, we create a culture of people who stay, not go." We must "develop an evangelism lifestyle through discipling believers, so that discipleship is not a class," he said.
One possible strategy that was suggested would be the creation of a multi-lingual, multimedia evangelism website that is replicable, user-friendly and accessible on smart phones.
"The world today is using implements to foster the culture and we need to make this medium part of the Gospel," Zamore said. "If we could deploy youth and yoke them with seasoned disciplers in creating and managing the websites and the apps ... we [will] have a young work force in the Gospel" being mentored by those who have more experience in sharing their faith.
We must create a "Kennedy Kingdom mentality," he said, amidst laughter for his reference to former U.S. President John F. Kennedy's famous line, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
"We have too many people asking what the Kingdom can do for me," Zamore said. "We must change that around. What can I do for the Kingdom, not what can the Kingdom do for me."
Mishin said church leaders and members must practice "friendship evangelism." One powerful way to display the Gospel is to "practice acts of kindness, followed by an invitation to your home, which will involve personal testimony. ... We must regularly remind the church that many people walking in this world do not know Christ."
In addition to Chavis, Zamore and Mishin, other participants at the March 19–20 Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council meeting in Atlanta were Jerry Baker, intercultural church planting and missions specialist with the Georgia Baptist Convention; Jamal Bishara, pastor of First Arabic Baptist Church in Phoenix; Joseph Gaston, president of the Haitian Baptist Fellowship; Charles Locklear, pastor of Calvary Way Baptist Church in Pembroke, N.C.; Pierre A. Marc, pastor of First Haitian Baptist Church in Burlington, N.J.; Wilner Maxy, pastor of Emmanuel Haitian Baptist Church in Miami; Anatoly Moshkovshy, president of the All Ukrainian Baptist Fellowship and ethnic church planting team leader for the Pennsylvania/South Jersey Baptist Convention; Samuel Opoku, pastor of Abundant Life Baptist Church in Bronx, N.Y.; Rodney Webb, retired language missions strategist with the North American Mission Board; Portique Wilburn, pastor of multi-ethnic Rock Harbor Christian Fellowship Church in San Pablo, Calif.; and Ric Worshill, president of the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship.