|The Baptist association has been an important part of our history as Southern Baptists. It has been described as “the oldest cooperative unit in Baptist life tracing its existence back over 300 years.” Therefore, because of its long history, one could assume that the association must be effective in networking and helping churches in missions and ministry. But longevity of an organization doesn’t guarantee its relevance and value. |
I have participated in associations that were effective and viewed as important by member churches. However, I’ve also seen associations where the focus had subtly shifted from serving and assisting churches to maintaining the associational staff and budget. So, what determines the effectiveness of an association? While the answer to this question is in some part determined by the context of the association and its member churches, there are some basic principles that can be applied to any association of churches.
Several years ago, Hugh Townsend (North American Mission Board) and others presented a model for a 21st Century Association known as the Four F’s: Fast, Focused, Flexible, and Friendly. It’s something that I have referred Kentucky associations to on numerous occasions. I would suggest that the leadership of every Baptist association or network of churches evaluate their effectiveness through the lens of these four F’s. Consider building the association’s structure and documents around these as well.
Fast – How long does it take your association to make a decision to spend $1,000? If a church has a need to be met, or the association has a ministry opportunity for its churches that it is made aware of, how fast can you meet it? Can you do so within hours or days, or does it take weeks and months? Effective associations are able to minister effectively in a short period of time.
Focused – Priority-based core values, mission, vision. Focus on taking the association to the churches… and when they need it. Customize what you do. Is the association’s focus on serving the churches and assisting them in advancing the Gospel, or is there a mindset that the churches are there for the association? The focus of the association should be on assisting the churches in their mission of reaching the lost and discipling the saved.
Flexible – How do you respond to immediate or emerging opportunities and needs? Is your structure flexible enough to meet church needs and conduct mission and ministry opportunities as they arise, or is it necessary to wait three or more months until the next Executive Committee or Annual Meeting to get approval? An Administrative Team or other committee/team should have the ability to adapt and readily meet the needs of the churches and the community. The structure should be simple, effective, and welcoming to new pastors and churches as well as to existing ones.
Friendly –Do the churches find the association ready and able to provide assistance and resourcing at their point of need and in a timely fashion? Is your association staff and leadership pastor/church friendly, or are they more concerned about not being inconvenienced? Is it relatively easy and simple for a pastor/church leader to contact the person needed and access the info/material that is available, or is it difficult?
Based on the Four F’s, how effective is your association? If associations aren’t effective, they will cease to exist because they are no longer of value to local churches.
by Eric Allen, Leader, Missions Mobilization Team, Kentucky Baptist Convention, June 2019.
Linda Otterback’s ministry has taken a lot of different turns. In early 2001 she was scheduled for a mission trip to El Salvador. When the trip had to be cancelled, Linda received a phone call asking if she would like to go to Fleming-Neon instead. “What country is that in?” Linda asked.
Linda soon learned that Fleming-Neon is in Eastern Kentucky. She said “yes” to that mission trip, which began the Eastern Kentucky SONrise ministry that is still active today. Linda and her husband Larry poured their hearts into the Eastern Kentucky area, where they have led prayer meetings, women’s and men’s conferences, gathered much needed resources (clothing, diapers, household furniture, Christmas gifts), and led mission teams to the EKY area. They have also been such encouragers for many residents, as well as missionaries that serve in eastern Kentucky.
Larry and Linda were married 52 years, grew up in church together, and served together as North American Mission Board MSC Missionaries. Larry served in this position for 12 years until health issues forced him to step down. On September 30, 2016 Larry went to his heavenly home and Linda was left to serve alone.
After Larry went “home” Linda felt her life was over. “I couldn’t sleep or eat for almost a year,” she said. “I cried every night and much during the day. I put on a great face to others, but really had hit the bottom. My kids were concerned that they had lost me also. But, PTL for friends, family and God who didn’t let me stay there. I started reading the Psalms in detail after Larry passed. I believe God wrote them for me especially!! They hadn’t meant as much before, but now I see how HE spoke to me through my trials and valleys. I still miss my man so very much but have found that God has much yet for me to do.”
The summer before Larry passed, God spoke to Linda in a dream saying she would be doing a widow’s ministry. So, in the midst of her grief, God led Linda to use her experience and her role as a “widow” to begin a ministry to others who had lost their husbands. Thus, “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” was born.
Widows all across Kentucky have challenges and are in need of God, our churches, and each other to help them through this journey. “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” reaches out to them to share stories, encourage, minister, and give insight on how to navigate this season of life.
Linda, along with the “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” team, is available for church workshops, retreats, speaking engagements, luncheons and conferences. If you know a widow who is struggling, or if you feel led to begin a widow’s ministry in your church, please contact Linda at [email protected]. Visit their website (www.kybaptist.org/widows) to download resources, or connect with “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” on Facebook.
Praise be to the God… who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
Their smiles, colorful outfits, upbeat music, movements and songs had the crowd captivated. While the room was filled with likely 1500 guests, everyone’s attention as they filed toward their tables was on the children. The IMB hosted dinner at the SBC annual meeting began with the beautiful Swahili children’s choir singing in their heart language. We then saw the gospel in sign language and later prayed for soon appointed IMB missionaries. All these special treats represented the importance of numbers for the SBC.
Every year Southern Baptist churches compile internal stats in order to report for the Annual Church Profile (ACP). Each church sends these numbers to their state convention—numbers which cover multiple categories like membership, worship attendance, small group attendance, baptisms, mission participation, etc. These numbers intend to represent, for the most part, the health of the local church in a given year. Numbers represent health ultimately because they represent people. The SBC is ultimately about people—making disciples of all peoples (Matt 28:16-20).
While numbers do not tell the whole story, they do reveal an important part of the life of the church. To minimize numbers is to ignore the importance of numbers in the Bible. After all, a whole book in the Bible is called Numbers in order to number the people of Israel after their wilderness wondering. So, while we don’t place all our emphasis upon numbers, we dare not overlook the importance of numbers.
In fact, the Bible speaks of a great multitude (of people) so large that no one could count the number. John the revelator wrote in Revelation 7:9-10 of this “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb . . . crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”
John’s words in the last book of the Bible remind us that numbers matter, massive numbers at that. This great multitude gathers around the throne of God and the Lamb declaring that salvation belongs to our God and the Lamb. To be sure, these around the throne are around the throne because salvation brought them there, salvation from God through the Lamb.
Our new IMB president, Paul Chitwood, reminded us so well this week at our annual SBC meeting why we exist as a denomination (Rev 7:9). The work is still not complete. John did not promise an incalculable number from some nations nor a few tribes, peoples and languages, but all! Jesus will not be worshiped by some peoples of the world and praised by many languages on this planet. He will be praised and prized by all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages.
We exist for this reason as the Southern Baptist Convention. Under the “big tent” of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, though differences remain, our common doctrinal commitment allows us, rather compels us, to work together for Revelation 7:9.
Let’s not forget that numbers matter. Though not telling the whole story, numbers tell an important one. We aim for a number so large that no one can count. We long for people from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. To this work we set our sights because numbers matter.
When disasters strike, we must avoid the urge to throw out pat answers or offer flippant explanations. So how do we answer those struggling in the aftermath of disasters?
- We grieve with those who suffer. Suffering causes us to pause, to look at the hard questions, and should move us to weep with those who are weeping. Grieving hearts need someone to come alongside them. They do not need pat answers and simple explanations. Followers of Christ should be the first to respond with grace, love, and generous help. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are often among the first to respond in the aftermath of disasters, and seek to bring help, healing, and hope to those affected.
- We should be reminded of our many blessings. Life is a gift. Even the air that we breath is a gift from God. We should never trivialize the suffering, but we should also not forget all the goodness that we have been blessed with in life. God is good every day and even in the trying days, He has blessed us greatly.
- We must decide how we will respond to God. We can be angry with God or we can trust Him. We can question His goodness, or we can worship Him. Disasters remind us that tomorrow is uncertain, so we had better be prepared for eternity. The only way to be prepared for the uncertainty of life and for eternity is to know God in a personal relationship through Jesus Christ.
- We must rest our lives on a solid foundation. The Bible encourages us to build our lives on a foundation that cannot be shaken. Disasters remind us that this earth as we know it now will not go on forever. There is a time coming when time will cease, and this world will be gone in the twinkling of an eye. Tragedies teach us that the only sure hope is to know God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to have the assurance of the life that He alone can give. The uncertainties of disasters remind us to prepare for the certainties that are to come. The only sure foundation to build one’s life upon is to know God and to rest our lives in His truth.
2 Corinthians 6:2
” For He says: I heard you in an acceptable time, and I helped you in the day of salvation. Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.”
If you would like to know more about how you can become a disaster relief volunteer or how you can know Jesus Christ in a personal relationship, contact us at [email protected] .
The church was founded as a missionary sending organization. It was not intended to be a religious organization with missions as only a department within the organization. Its primary purpose was missionary and its members were to be involved in the spreading of the gospel.
Unfortunately, many local churches today are not engaged in missions. Oh, they may send an offering or even pray occasionally for missionaries, but their focus of attention and participation isn’t upon missions. Sadly, many local churches have gone from being the important participant who makes things happen in missions (like in the book of Acts) to being a gentle spectator.
How can the church once again, become the seedbed for mission involvement and engagement?
First of all, we can’t assume someone in the church will automatically lead this effort. If it’s everyone’s responsibility, it quickly becomes no one’s. It’s takes an intentional effort by a specific person or group, and not just the pastor. Having a team or group of people who are tasked with this responsibility is critical to ensuring that missions is focused upon and carried out by the congregation. So, form a team, committee or group of people who will help the church re-establish its rightful place in missions. It’s not important what you call them, but there is something effective about a group of people that work together on how they can engage and help the whole church to focus on missions.
Secondly, specific steps must be taken to restore the local church’s sense of participation and importance in missions. Determining how that will be done is responsibility of the “missions committee” or “Acts 1:8 team”. Here are some role recommendations that will guide this group in leading the church to once again, becoming a missions focused, engaged participant in reaching their community and the world for Christ:
Raise awareness and educate
The first and most basic task of the missions team should be raising awareness and educating the church family about missions. This includes arranging opportunities for members to learn more about the missionaries, the spiritual and physical needs of people living within a region, and how the missionaries are seeking to address those needs. It might be slides or videos in worship or an article in the newsletter, highlighting a missionary the church is partnering with. Consider a digest of missions efforts or missionaries supported by the church with data, pictures and testimonies, outlining ways members can be engaged.
Raise awareness through Sunday School classes, community groups, and children’s ministry. Teach and focus on missions year-round, inviting missionaries to speak or have them Skyped in during a worship service. While some churches feel that an annual missionary conference is enough, it seldom sustains the church for the whole year.
Lead out in prayer
The missions team must lead the way by getting church members involved in missions in practical ways. First, encourage them to pray for missionaries every day.
Show them how to use the monthly prayer guides published by the NAMB or IMB. Praying for one missionary or one locale every day is a great start. Few people can pray for “the whole world,” or “all the missionaries,” in any manageable way.
Highlight prayer for missionaries and missions projects during the worship service and in small groups. How can we expect people to give and go if we aren’t willing to set aside time to pray.
Every church receives many requests from people or organizations asking for money. They are many worthy causes, but no one church can help everyone.
Develop a strategy for how you will allocate funds and support various missionaries or ministries. A strategy will give direction and purpose to the missions committee’s task and to the church’s giving.
The missions team must decide one basic question: How does God want our church to be involved in missions? Consider developing a strategy that simultaneously involves the church in their local community, state, nation and world. This may sound overwhelming, but it is possible for even the smallest of churches to adopt this kind of Acts 1:8 strategy.
The KBC Missions Mobilization Team is equipped to help your missions team in the development of a strategy. They can also help the team to assess the church’s current level of missions engagement through MAP, Missions Assessment Profile. For assistance, contact www.kybaptist.org/missions, [email protected] or 502-489-3530.
Encourage missions giving
One way or another, if God’s missionary mandate is to be fulfilled, missionaries must be supported by local churches. The missions team’s role is crucial, whether the church determines an annual missions dollar amount that is divided between missionaries and projects, raises a challenge goal amount for each of the missions offerings, or takes on the personal support of a number of missionaries.
Ideally, financial support should be determined by the church’s missionary strategies. That strategy guides budget decisions by the church. Without some direction and purpose to the missions program, money is usually spent for the most persuasive speakers and causes. This leaves little opportunity for critical needs that may receive little attention. The committee must guard against this kind of imbalance.
The missions team must also shield the budget from “pet” causes, which often come from influencers within the church. Tough, sometimes unpopular decisions must be made. This is easier to do when the church has agreed on both its missions strategy and its budget in advance.
Provide missionary care
While I’m thankful for missions sending agencies like our IMB and NAMB, I’m afraid the church has relinquished its responsibilities to nurture missionaries who are sent and now serving. In full cooperation with mission boards, churches must take more responsibility for missionaries.
After a missionary begins serving, the missions team should work to ensure they are cared for. Specific suggestions include encouragement visits, communication with them (email, letters, Facetime, etc.) providing supplies and resources, sending care packages and mobilizing short-term teams to assist in the ministry.
Don’t forget to make caring for the children of missionaries part of your focus as well. The church should be aware of cultural adjustments, loneliness, and moral tests that MKs face.
Caring for missionaries while on stateside assignment (or home on furlough) gives the committee many chances to show care in meeting such needs as housing, cars, clothing, vacation retreats, administrative assistance, etc.
Call out the “called”
Many young people receive their “call” to missions in college organizations or at missions conferences. That’s great, but I am saddened that so few of our church’s passionately challenge those God has called to go and then actively send them.
In the book of Acts, the “call” of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13) came to them from the Holy Spirit through the church at Antioch. The missions team should look for people with cross cultural interest and ministry skills, and then challenge them to prayerfully consider serving in missions.
Be missions specialists
Don’t let the word specialist scare you and keep you from assuming this role. The missions team can become missions specialist by familiarizing themselves and learning from many different resources. Resources may be missions books, magazines, newsletters, special seminars, conferences or our mission sending agencies (IMB, NAMB).
Missions team members should specialize to more effectively accomplish their role. Subcommittees (or individual committee members) can be organized by the Acts 1:8 strategy, each having a responsibility for a specific area (local, state, nation and world). Another way to organize for specialization is to assign each subcommittee/individual one of the recommended roles discussed in this article (education, prayer, strategy development, giving, and missionary care).
In closing, a church that chooses to form a missions team that actively functions as outlined above will find itself right in the middle of what God is doing! It will be a seedbed for missions engagement and they will be impacting the world with the gospel as God intended. My prayer is that more of our churches will have a missions or Acts 1:8 team helping them to organize around missions, rather than religion.
When Mission Service Corps Missionary James McDonald hears people say, “I can’t believe they have taken the Bible out of school” his response is “the Bible has not been taken out of my school.” Through BREAK (Bible Release-time Education Association of Kentucky) James and John Lowder, along with several volunteers, teach the Bible once a month in the Corbin, Williamsburg and Whitley County school systems.
Released Time Bible Education gives public school children the opportunity to receive Bible based moral instruction as part of their education during the regular school day. Rolling up to the edge of the school property in their big blue and white BREAK bus/classroom, they welcome children for a time of Bible lessons, fun songs and activities, challenging Bible memory and a Christ-centered environment. BREAK is legal because children attend ONLY at the request of their parent(s) or guardian(s), classes are held off-campus (not on school property) and public schools do not provide any support for BREAK.
The Gospel is presented with every Bible Release-time lesson. However, children are not usually invited to accept Christ as Savior and Lord until near the end of the school year – after a foundation for their faith has been established. Leaders want to insure that children truly understand and believe the Gospel and are being convicted of their sin by the Holy Spirit before they invite Jesus to come into their life and forgive their sins and become their personal Savior and Lord. Even so, BREAK teachers always endeavor to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in case the LORD may be calling children to Himself before the end of the school year.
In April, with the end of 2018-2019 school year approaching, the leaders had a burden for the salvation of the children. They began praying together, asking the LORD to use BREAK to bring children to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. They asked the ten-plus churches that support them to pray likewise. They made decision cards with one side sharing the ABC’s of salvation and the other side being a response card – 1) I am already saved 2) I want to give my life to Jesus & be saved today 3) I am not yet ready to give my life to Jesus. They had their time of worship, shared the ABC’s of salvation and asked each child to mark his/her card. Almost 300 of the students expressed an interest in being saved.
While the other students had their game time, counselors talked individually with those that expressed an interest in being saved. Of the students they talked with, 201 seemed to genuinely understand the Gospel and their need of salvation and prayed asking Jesus to save them from their sins and become their personal Lord and Savior. Thirty-one others received assurance of their salvation. Follow-up has already begun, and four students have been baptized.
We praise God for these new believers in Christ and for leaders that are so faithful to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with students.
They ask that you join them in praying for the children that they would abide in the faith and bear much fruit for God’s glory. Also pray for the leaders as they face a daunting task of follow-up – trying to make sure the students get connected to a local church, get baptized, and grow in their new found faith and in the joy of the LORD.
The KBC approaches mission partnerships with the goal of helping churches develop gospel partnerships. Partnerships, in the past, were developed between the KBC and certain organizations/denominations. For example, the KBC had a partnership with the Kenya Baptist Convention in Africa or the New England Baptist Convention in the northeast. God used those, and we are grateful for those relationships.
However, in recent years, we have shifted the focus of partnerships away from the KBC and placed the emphasis of the partnership between local church and local church . The KBC exists to help churches form gospel partnerships for Great Commission impact.
Therefore, we desire to connect KBC churches to gospel partnerships in Kentucky, North America, and the nations. We want to resource, train, and introduce KBC churches to missionaries, church planters, established churches, and ministries in order to develop relationships that will further the gospel around the world through the local church.
There is no better way to develop strong gospel partnerships than by spending time together. The church and/or missionary you are prayerfully considering partnering with is best begun with an initial visit. As your church explores possible partnerships with other local churches or missionaries seeking to plant churches, how should you approach your time of discerning if this connection will make a good partnership? Make the most of your short your time while on an initial visit to the church and area. How might you do that?
- Be prayerful—With Paul, pray always. Be in prayer as you travel from point A to point B. Pray as you walk and talk. Pray as you hear from planters. Pray as you return to your room. The point…pray! Ask the Lord to lead you in how He would have you maximize your impact in this place.
- Be flexible—the time is short and filled with much to see and hear and experience. Be prepared to spend long days with potentially shifting schedules.
- Be attentive—take careful notes both on paper and in your head of missionaries/planters, stories, and situations that stand out to you. What might speak to you now might be forgotten if you do not write it down and make note of why it impacted you. Be observant of the area you are in (what is the community like, the people, the needs, etc.). Take whatever notes necessary, so that you can make a prayerfully discerning decision about partnerships later with your leadership team.
- Be interactive—this partnership is an experience, not a vacation. When able, talk with the planters or your hosts about the city, the needs, ways to be involved, etc. The point is to be engaged in the mission.
- Be willing—to partner as the Lord leads you. As David Platt suggests, bring a blank check (of your life) to the table and ask the Lord to fill in the amount.
In the end, the Great Commission is about the local church partnering with others for the advancement of the gospel.
Natural disasters continue to strike with little warning across the globe. In the aftermath of these tragic events, people often ask, “Where is God?”
Intellectual answers even when based on fact do not take away the pain or the loss of those affected by disasters. People need hope and grace amid the darkness, and I am absolutely convinced that only God can provide this healing of the heart. Yet this still does not answer the question, “Where is God?”
The Bible teaches that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, but the existence of evil and suffering in our world makes some wonder if God is good. The atheist says God must either be weak, sadistic, or non-existent as he looks at the suffering that exists on our planet. The unbeliever defies anyone to give an answer for such suffering after a disaster. Yet, the very question coming from an atheist is illegitimate and beyond reason. If one really believes that God does not exist, then one has no ability to question the events of life. If there is no God, then the very ideas of good and evil do not exist. Apart from God life has no meaning nor moral compass.
Men point to tragedy and question God’s goodness, but God points to the Cross of Calvary and declares here is the evidence of my love and goodness. Jesus Christ is the proof of both God’s goodness and the depths of His love for His created ones.
So, the real question is not where is God, but how can we know God’s hope in the brokenness? I offer these foundations:
Choose to follow Jesus Christ in a personal relationship. The only real answer for the brokenness of this world is know Jesus in a personal relationship. The assurance of our faith hinges on the one whom we have placed our faith. The only sure hope in life is to know Christ and the life that He has given.
Trust the promises of His Word. God does not reveal to us all the mysteries of life, but He does promise that He will love and care for all that have placed their faith in Him. The Bible reminds us again and again that God loves us and will not abandon us. Hear God’s promise in Isaiah 41:10, ” Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” In the present, we live in the trust of His promises not in explanations.
Remember, God has a plan. God and his purposes are more than any of us can understand. If God could be completely understood, then He would be like us. Thankfully, God is greater than us and beyond our complete understanding. We live in a fallen world, but we are promised that God has a plan. A day is coming when God will answer every injustice, all suffering will end for those who are His, and His glory will be revealed to every person. Blessed are those that trust God’s character when they are struggling to see His hand.
Where is God? God is ever-present, and offers His strength, grace, and hope to all who will open their hearts to Him. It is not a coincidence that those with a spiritual foundations cope with the stress and trauma of disasters in ways that strengthen recovery.
” God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.”
Disasters are part of living in a fallen world, and Jesus taught us, “He makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Disasters come without warning and are no respecter of position, status, age, economic status, or belief system. Disasters have an equalizing effect on those affected. Disaster survivors share the same overwhelming helplessness.
When disasters strike, we often seek to understand “why”. The Bible offers insight to these questions, but ultimately only God knows for certain why these catastrophic events occur in our world. We should always be cautious in speaking definitively on the question of “why”, but there are lessons that we can learn from disasters.
What are the lessons that God can teach each of us in the aftermath of a disaster:
- We learn what is important. Disasters have a way to separate the trivial from the vital. No one laments the loss of a big screen TV or a missed golf outing in the aftermath of a disaster, they mourn the loss of loved ones and despair over being homeless.
- We learn that we live in a world of both good and evil. We see the demonstration of sin and evil as looters and scam artists prey on the vulnerable. Yet we also see neighbors reaching to neighbors and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers serving meals, cleaning up flooded homes, cutting trees off homes, and putting tarps on damaged roofs in the aftermath of disasters. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief exists to bring practical help, a healing touch, and the hope of Christ during crisis.
- We learn about the frailty of life. Disasters reveal clearly that our time on earth is short and uncertain. None of us knows what tomorrow holds, and none of us are promised a single day on this Earth.
- We learn that our future is not in our hands. We do not control our own destinies. All that we possess, can be gone in an instant.
- We learn that knowing God and being prepared for eternity are the most vital concerns of life. Disasters remind us that that those who are prepared survive disasters better than those who are unprepared. And the most important preparation for life is to know the One who holds all life in His hands. It is easy to waste our one and only life in trivial pursuits and miss that which is most vital: a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Disasters remind us that death can and will come for all of us, so we had better be ready.
The only sure way to be prepared for disasters and death is to know Jesus Christ, the resurrected Lord, in a personal relationship. If you would like to know more about how to have a personal relationship with Christ that gives you an assurance of eternal life, or if you would like to know more about becoming a Kentucky Baptist disaster relief volunteer, contact us at [email protected] .
As pastor Wayne and his translator walked toward the homeless man in the street, the make-shift tents and people were everywhere. This is the part of town most people avoid because of crime, drug use and homelessness. No doubt for this KBC vision team to Brazil, the surroundings were a bit intimidating. Yet, the team was determined to forego their comfort and share the love of Jesus with those whom society had already abandoned.
The words out of Wayne’s mouth through the translator were simple, “We have come 3,000 miles from the United States to tell you that God loves you.” The homeless man stood still and began to weep. He then spoke to the translator in Portuguese. Shocked by the man’s response, Wayne asked for clarification with his translator. “What’s wrong?” Wayne asked.
As the translator began to explain, Wayne knew that the Lord was at work. “You see,” clarified the translator, “the man said, ‘I’m not worthy.’” By God’s grace, Wayne shared with this man abandoned by society and enslaved to sinful devices that God sent His Son in order to take our sin and bare our shame.
Indeed, Jesus is our substitute for sin as Isaiah the prophet foretold he would be, some 700 years before the Messiah is ever born. “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening of our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed…. But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
The truth is, none of us are worthy. Our unworthiness is why Jesus came. He is worthy and only a perfect sacrifice for sinners would “justify the many” because “He will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). After hearing about Jesus’ love for sinners and that He alone is worthy and could be the sacrifice for our sins (no matter what we have done), the man in that Brazilian street of the largest city in South America, with tears streaming down his face, trusted in the One who bore his griefs, sorrows, and sins.
Men and women all over Brazil, Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, Kentucky and everywhere in between need to hear of the only One worthy who was the sacrifice for sinners. People in high rises and low rises, addicted to drugs and addicted to money, on the “right side” of the tracks and the “wrong side” of the tracks all need to know that “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.”
Kentucky Baptists, we know that we are not worthy. That’s why Jesus came. But countless others have no idea that He came, let alone of what He did. By God’s grace, let’s lead our churches across the street and across the sea to say, “We have come to tell you that God loves you.” Perhaps we, too, will see tears stream down as the unworthy are made new.