February 25th, 2010 at 2:27 pm
DALLAS – In the midst of meetings filled with policy and financial discussions and decisions, more than 100 Texas Baptists Executive Board members paused for an evening to celebrate the missions and ministry of Texas Baptists.
Staff from Texas Baptists and from partnering organizations shared videos and testimonies about how God is using the cooperative efforts of Baptists throughout the state to impact various people groups and types of people living within the state’s borders.
“We are pioneering a celebration,” said Steve Vernon, Texas Baptists associate executive director who guided the event. “Last meeting, we heavily talked about responsibilities and didn’t leave much time to celebrate ministry, so that is what we are going to do tonight.”
As the celebration commenced, board members learned about God using several hundred college student missionaries who served last year on summer and semester projects through Go Now Missions, more than 150 cowboy churches that are reaching people who typically won’t dawn the door of a traditional church building and the tattooed and motorcycle-riding brothers and sisters in Christ at Broken Chains Freedom Church in Wichita Falls to share the gospel with the many varieties of people in the state.
Other Texas Baptist ministry endeavors through the South Texas Children’s Home in Beeville, the Hendrick Equine Rehabilitation Opportunities program in Abilene, the Hispanic Evangelism Conference held in Houston and San Antonio and one of many Texas Baptists World Hunger Offering efforts at Villa Milagro in Peru also were highlighted.
“As Texas Baptists, we are literally engaging our state and world with the gospel,” Vernon said. “And that is a big core of what we are sharing.”
Most of these efforts showed Baptists active in sharing the gospel in ways where it connects with people in the many different cultural contexts that exist within the state so that people can understand and accept the hope of Christ where they are right now.
Leo Smith, executive director of Texas Baptist Men, shared how the hope of Christ is being taken the earthquake victims of Haiti as TBM teams delivered more than 5,000 water filters that provide clean water for a family of four for six months. Another 5,000 filters are being delivered to the country in the next few weeks.
“It’s not only about giving life through water but giving living water to them through Christ,” Smith said. “God is at work in Haiti and I really believe He is going to use this tragedy to open Haiti to the gospel…. We go there to help physical needs in the midst of a disaster but we also go to share the hope of the gospel.”
Board members became involved with the Haiti relief efforts that night through assembling Buckets of Hope, 32-gallon buckets filled with beans, rice and other nutritious non-perishable food that will be delivered to those in need in Haiti. Churches all over the nation are assembling Buckets of Hope through the Southern Baptist Convention North American Mission Board efforts, and the buckets will be delivered to earthquake victims later in March. For information about assembling a Bucket of Hope, visit www.texasbaptists.org and click on the Bucket of Hope icon.
David Lowrie, president of Texas Baptists and pastor of First Baptist Church in Canyon, also recognized what God is doing through Texas Hope 2010 and encouraged believers to continue praying for the lost, caring for the hurting and hungry and sharing the gospel with all Texans in the remaining few days until Easter Sunday.
“As you know, Easter Sunday is coming and the dream of the Texas Baptist family that was shared not so long ago to see the gospel shared so that every Texan can respond in their own language and way by Easter 2010,” Lowrie said. “Only the Lord knows if we will accomplish that, but I do know that there are still people in my community and yours who need to hear the gospel… In the next 41 days, let’s make sure that we have done what we can do so others can meet the Jesus who has radically changed our lives. And from my concern, that is most important thing in our lives.”
The board also recognized three Texas Baptists employees who have dedicated many years of service to the organization. Ellen Battles and Bill Arnold were honored for 30 years of service, and Chris Liebrum was honored for 35 years.
At the end of the celebration, many board members asked for copies of the videos and presentations shown, energized and ready to go back home and share the story of how God is using Texas Baptists efforts to share the hope of Christ in the state.
“I was excited to see what we were doing in the state,” said Darrell Miles, a board member from Field Street Baptist Church in Cleburne. “Our job now is to take this back home. We as board members can go back to our local churches to share what God is doing. And all of us can take a great deal of pride in what is going on in our state.”
Randel Everett, Texas Baptists executive director, said during a board session the following day that he believes that ministries reported and celebrated were possible only because of the cooperative efforts of Baptists around the state.
“People say we are in a post-denominational age, but last night was evidence that people are still working together,” Everett said. “All the ministries we heard about are because of the Cooperative Program. Only because we work together are these ministries happening.”
“The things we saw last night are primarily things that are happening right now. We saw some of our unique churches last night. But there are also our First Baptist Churches and churches like them that have been ministering for 100-150 years, faithfully serving. And we are so thankful for that.”