HOUSTON – “What if the Bible really is the Word of God?”
This question, posed by Randel Everett during his executive director’s address to the Texas Baptists gathered for their Annual Meeting, became a penetrating theme Everett used to develop his challenge to Texas Baptists to embrace the vision of Texas Hope 2010.
Texas Hope 2010 is an initiative of Texas Baptists to share the hope of Christ with every Texan by Easter Sunday, 2010. It’s three-pronged focus to reach out to the lost, hungry, and hurting of Texas by praying, sharing, and caring for them.
Stating his firm belief that Scripture is God-breathed and stands as authority over all of creation, Everett suggested that making such a claim should radically alter the life of the believer and the work of the church. “
If this is the Word of God, why don’t we let it fashion our values and our lives in all things?”
Everett continued by stating some of the major claims of the Bible, namely the nature and ministry of Jesus Christ. If Jesus really was the Son of God, and God really did raise Jesus from the dead, then why should Texas Baptists remain silent on this glorious truth?
“When we see Jesus on the cross, God in the flesh taking our place on the cross,” Everett reflected, “we say our sin must be horrible, and God’s live must be indescribable.”
This love must be the motivating factor that drives Texas Baptists to mission.
Everett then shared with those gathered the needs of the mission field in Texas.
“What if half of all Texans did not know Christ?” Everett asked. Over 40% of those in Texas claim to have no evidence of church affiliation, he said, nearly every other person in Texas.
“When we walk down the streets of Houston,” Everett said as a practical example, “every other person would be someone who did not know Jesus.”
“What if 3 million Texans go to bed hungry?” he continued. Among these 3 million hungry, many are children, those who have no ability to feed themselves. To drive the point home, one pastor told Everett that the average age of a homeless person in Houston is 8 years old.
Everett shared various stories of ways in which Texas Baptists already are reaching for this goal. At Dallas Baptist University, more than 500 international students come from around the world. One-third arrive already having accepted Jesus as Lord, and one-third become a Christian while attending the school.
“Over one hundred students at DBU are from China,” Everett stated, “imagine those who are now being sent back to China for Jesus Christ.”
At Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, chaplains led 900 individuals to the Lord over the past 3 years.
Next week, Baylor University’s School of Social Work will host a conference with leaders from around the nation coming to discuss ways in to address the problem of world hunger.
Hundreds of children every year are cared for by Texas Baptist children’s homes. These children, Everett stated, “would have been abandoned otherwise.”
In many ways, through Baptist Student Ministries on 120 college campuses, through 561 endorsed chaplains, through nine universities, through five hospital systems, and through numerous other institutional partners, the hope of Christ is being shared.
However, the charge to share the hope is not left to the institutions.
“What if every Texas Baptist church, our 5,600 churches around the state,” Everett asked, “said by God’s grace we are going to share the hope of Christ with everyone in Texas?”
Everett asked each church to set aside Jan. 31, 2010, as a Day of Prayer for hope in the state.
He continued by challenging each church to develop an Acts 1:8 Strategy, taking the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and into all the world.
He gave as an example of one Acts 1:8 Strategy the work of Baptists in El Paso. With a donation of $250,000 from a Texas Baptist, churches in El Paso are working to pass out Texas Hope 2010 CDs to every household in the city.
The Texas Hope 2010 CDs provides listeners with the Gospel of John, as well as testimonies from Texas Baptists and information on accepting salvation through Jesus Christ.
Moving beyond El Paso, the churches continued in their Acts 1:8 Strategy by reaching out to the city of Juarez, Mexico. Rampant violence in that city has led to the death of over 1,700 people in the city. Through the work of El Paso Baptists, Texas Hope 2010 CDs are being passed out by churches in Juarez.
“Pastors are using the CDs and inviting unchurched friends, sharing Christ with a world that is devastated, dark, dangerous, and lost,” Everett stated.
In closing, Everett reiterated the challenge of Texas Hope 2010, asking those gathered to take the charge of the Bible serious and to “Say yes to God’s Kingdom assignment.”