July 24th, 2012 at 10:34 am
LEWISVILLE – The African American Fellowship celebrated its 20th annual conference by being inspired to be a transformational agent for Christ.
The gathering was a historic meeting for the group as it featured Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Ave. Baptist Church in New Orleans who recently was the first African American elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention and Neville Callam, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance.
During the James Culp Banquet, Callam described life as a journey during which Christians are commanded to make disciples for Christ. That means during the routine acts of life, Christ-followers are to look for ways to share the hope of Christ with family members, co-workers and people they meet.
“God has called us,” Callam said. “God has given us the Great Commission.”
At some point during the pilgrimage of life, hardships will come, Luter preached during the conference. They might be the loss of a job, divorce, children going or astray or depression.
The storms in Luter’s life were literal as Hurricane Katrina forced him to evacuate New Orleans for seven months. He saw his church and home underwater on television. He struggled to understand why God would let such things happen to people who tried to follow God, yet people who didn’t seem to care about the Lord continued partying on Bourbon Street. The pastor didn’t want to read his Bible, pray or preach.
During this time, Luter learned Christians must cling to Christ’s promises, remember His presence and rely on His power to carry them through difficult periods. In the Bible, Jesus’ disciples became afraid on the boat when a storm started. The disciples, fearing for their lives, woke Christ from His slumber. Jesus calmed the storm and rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith.
“When the storms of life are raging, you must remember the promises of Jesus,” Luter said.
Christ is a shepherd who protects and provides for His flock, the pastor said. No matter how difficult the situation, Christ is fighting for His people.
“Whatever you need him to be in the warfare, whatever you need him to be in the battle, He will be that and more,” Luter said to more than 800 people at the conference.
As Callam travelled the world, he met people who have encountered terrible storms and clung to Christ as Luter described. In the Ukraine, Callam met a 102-year-old man who spent 10 years exiled to Siberia. Rather than lament his time in there, the man thanked God for giving him the opportunity to share the gospel with people who needed to hear it.
In another part of the world, Callam met a young man who had sought to become a communist leader. One day, the man met an evangelist who shared the gospel with him. It altered his life. He changed his plans and headed to the closest seminary, which was in another country. He arrived with only the clothes on his back. The man enrolled in the seminary and looked forward to taking the gospel back to his home country.
In Azerbaijan, Callam met a man who was imprisoned for sharing the gospel. This, in Callam’s words, is what he said of the experience: “God sent me because there were many people there who needed to hear the gospel. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. One is getting baptized this weekend.”
“It doesn’t matter what you face,” Callam said. “It doesn’t matter the circumstances. Everyone experiences the goodness of God.”
In business, the fellowship elected Michael Evans, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield as president; Oscar Epps, pastor of Community Missionary Baptist Church in DeSoto, as vice president; Ponce Brown, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in El Paso, secretary; Glenn Samuels, pastor of New Millennium Baptist Church in Lubbock, as assistant secretary; Marvin Delaney, pastor of South Park Baptist Church in Houston, as treasurer; Elmo Johnson, pastor of Rose of Sharon Baptist Church in Houston, as assistant treasurer; and Joseph Parker, pastor of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Austin, as parliamentarian.
The fellowship also passed a resolution on marriage, holding that the Bible affirms marriage as being between a man and a woman. The resolution also noted “the Word of God consistently affirms that any sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage between a man and woman is both sinful and self destructive.”