The quote from the banner hanging in the stairwell said it best:
“My purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God which I believe comes through knowing Christ.”
As I climbed the stairs toward our meeting room in Southeast Asia, I saw this banner for the first time. The picture on the banner was of a young Billy Graham. At some point in the past, Graham had said those words, no doubt with his usual fervor. I am convinced that he believed those words and lived by those words.
I recently returned from a two week mission in Southeast Asia. As mission strategist for the KBC, my purpose in going was to help KY churches reach Southeast Asia for Christ. The lostness of this region in our world is staggering. Religion abounds. Yet, millions follow down a path of religion that leads to a dead end. Like driving down an unfamiliar road that ends abruptly, scores of people are following after a religion that in the end will not lead them to God.
As one Muslim we encountered testified, “I am not like other Muslims! I pray five times a day!” Part of his passionate plea to us was an indictment on the other 20 or so Muslim men standing around as we talked. He, in effect, was scolding the other Muslim men for being…well, nominal Muslims. This young Muslim man does not realize that the path that he believes will lead him to God is actually a dead end.
Graham was right. A personal relationship with God comes only through Jesus. The Psalmist understood this truth as he called the earth to rejoice and the many islands to be glad (Ps 97:1). He would go on to tell us that God alone is far above all gods (Ps 97:9). We certainly know because of the New Testament that Jesus is the source of our true happiness and satisfaction. We know God through His Son, not through our attempts at religion.
Whether one is a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist or Secularist, the man-made road always leads to a dead end. Only in Jesus do we find the path of life and pleasures for evermore (Ps 16:11). So, what has Southeast Asia taught me? It’s simple. All attempts to travel the pathway to God result in dead ends. Only the path to God through His Son leads to life (Matt 7:13-14; John 14:6).
So, where does this leave us as a convention of Baptist churches? Well, if the many islands are called to be glad in God (through His Son, Jesus), then we must send our troops to the islands. We must march to these lands (or in many cases fly or sail) and take the only good news that countless people need to hear desperately—our God saves all who will call upon Him through His Son, Jesus (Rom 10:9-10, 13). Right now, untold numbers are heading down a path that leads nowhere. Actually, it is a path that leads to death and hell (Matt 7:13)—a dead end, if you will.
As Kentucky Baptists, let’s think creatively and intentionally about ways to reach the many islands and inlands with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s do this before the dead end ends. May your church’s purpose be to help people find a relationship with God through Christ regardless if it’s across the street, throughout the country or around the world.