SAN ANTONIO - The breadth of Texas Baptists' ministry is wide, and its commitment to sharing the gospel is deep.
For all that they are doing, Texas Baptists' Executive Director David Hardage gives thanks. Because congregations are generous with their resources in their communities and through Texas Baptists, ministry is possible.
"You make a difference, Texas Baptists," he said. "On behalf of the lives you touched and the lives you helped, let me just say 'Thank you.'"
Speaking during the Baptist General Convention of Texas business session of the Family Gathering, Hardage shared glimpses of what Texas Baptists are doing throughout the state and the impact they are having.
On 118 college campuses, convention-supported ministries are nurturing the next generations of leaders, encouraging students in their faith and introducing others to the gospel.
"They are places of grace and points of light for students who are vulnerable and impressionable," he said.
In West, Texas Baptists quickly responded following a fertilizer plant explosion. The convention provided practical help to First Baptist Church as well as the community. More than 600 volunteers recently served there during the Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery's weeklong Loving West emphasis.
"Crisis chaplains showed up in West and made a difference in lives there," he said. "That's because of you."
In Austin, the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission has fought for the vulnerable, including the poor, hungry and unborn. Texas Baptist-affiliated human care institutions helped 2 million Texans.
"Texas Baptists love life," he said. "But our work for life does not stop when children are born."
Other ministry highlights included:
- Texas Baptists' Bible Study Team held 300 training events across the state.
- More than 21,000 people participated in training events produced by Texas Baptists' Evangelism Team.
- More than 1,750 professions of faith were made this year in organic Texas Baptist churches.
Despite these accomplishments, much work remains, Hardage said. The population of Texas is growing about 550,000 people a year, and Texas Baptist growth is not keeping pace. The state is increasingly lost.
"Forty-five percent of our fellows Texans, almost 12 million of our fellow Texans, have no connection to any faith group," Hardage said.
The executive director called Texas Baptists to a commit to a new spirit of generosity, giving of their time, talent and treasure in a way that makes an impact for God's kingdom.
"I'm asking that you pray and pray boldly that we take that message to our neighbors," Hardage said.