NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- The new blue and silver Honda 360 motorcycle was mangled junk. A young Fred Luter Jr. lay in a hospital bed, his left leg broken in several places, a hole in his head.
Louis Beloney, then-senior deacon at Greater Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, gave the 21-year-old Luter sage advice: "Obedience is better than sacrifice." That is, Luter would have done better to obey his mother Viola, who told him just a month earlier not to buy the bike, rather than nearly sacrifice his life in the May 1977 accident when he struck a car on Paris Avenue in New Orleans.
Video story on Dr. Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La. © 2012 Baptist Press
"And he said, 'You better get your life right with God.' It challenged me and started making me really consider my relationship with God, to the point that I started reading my Bible every day, on a daily basis, morning and evening," Luter recalls 35 years later. "I called the accident my Damascus Road experience."
Leaving the hospital three months later in a full-leg cast he would wear until the next year, his head mostly healed, he soon walked on crutches down the aisle of Greater Mt. Carmel and committed himself to the Lord.
"I immediately started a street ministry because ... I was so shocked by my relationship with Christ, I wanted everybody in my neighborhood, all my partners ... to know the God that I knew," Luter said. "So every Saturday at 12 noon I'd be preaching on different streets of the Lower Ninth Ward and sharing Christ. And that's how, as they say, that's how it all began."
The first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention is amazed at how God has blessed his ministry, opening doors previously closed to those from Luter's side of town.
"I've been with Southern Baptists for 25 years as pastor," he said, "and I have a really, really good relationship with a lot of pastors across the convention, a lot of the directors of missions across the country, a lot of state execs, evangelism directors. I've preached for most of them, if not all of them."
Luter was unopposed for the SBC presidency. A trailblazer in the SBC, the pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church ... Read More