SAVANNAH — Georgia Baptist Executive Director J. Robert White may be an administrative genius and a compassionate pastor to pastors, but he also knows how to “shuck the corn” – a down-home expression for “good preachin”.
White addressed the Inspirational Rally on Sunday evening at Savannah’s Calvary Temple with his own message of missions’ inspiration.
Georgia Baptists’ executive director asked his audience to focus on three words: See, Send, and Seek. First, he urged the almost 900 in attendance to “see” the needs all around. He read from Matthew 9:36 where Jesus saw “the multitudes who fainted and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd.” He emphasized that we must not be blind to the needs of those who need Christ.
He had interviewed Jim and Teresa Flora, International Board Missionaries to Lesotho, Africa, on Life With Purpose radio. A video of their work in Lesotho accompanied the re-broadcast of the radio program.
‘I will never return to darkness’
Lesotho, with a population of two million people, is a landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa and slightly larger in land area than Massachusetts. The vast majority of people are illiterate and like many African countries the nation is severely affected by HIV/AIDS. The life expectancy in Lesotho is 42 years for both men and women.
Jim Flora told White that the people of Lesotho worship their ancestors, because they believe everyone goes to heaven when they die. He recounted the salvation of an 84-year-old woman who risked being ostracized by her peers for becoming a believer. He was curious as to how she would react to the death of a loved one, but she said, “I have seen the light; and I will never return to the darkness.”
White added, “That story makes me ask, ‘What am I doing for the cause of Christ?’ We must ‘see’ all around us the plight of those who are lost.”
Georgia Baptists’ denominational leader then read from Romans 10 and concluded his reading with verse 15, which says, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” He emphasized the word “Send”.
White said, “I love to go to church homecomings and anniversaries, because they generally have covered dish dinners. I went to one of those homecomings and when I got out of my truck a little boy called out to me from across the parking lot and said, ‘Hey, I’m Evan and I brought my wallet today. My birthday money is in there. I have two dollars and I am going to be seven-years old on Tuesday.’
“What are you going to do with the money?” White asked.
“I might give it to Jesus or I just might use it to buy something for myself,” the boy replied.
White countered, “Evan, if you give that money to Jesus you would be amazed at what Jesus could do with that money.”
White stated, “The service began and the hymns were sung. The offering was taken and I preached the sermon. After the service ended we all went to the fellowship hall for the covered dish meal.”
That is when Dr. White saw Evan’s mother and told her about his meeting with Evan before the worship service and about their conversation and admitted that he asked Evan what he was going to do with the money and his response.
Evan’s mom replied, “Well, he doesn’t have those two dollars any more. He gave it in the offering.”
White said, “Evan gave all of it. May we be as faithful so we can send those who need to go to wherever God needs them.”
A lesson in winning souls
The executive director’s final word was “Seek”. He alluded to the fact that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost and that we must seek out the lost as well. He explained, “One in every eight persons you see in Georgia is a Georgia Baptist; but unfortunately we have become a silent generation.”
White then related a story he heard Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Seminary, share at the last SBC Executive Committee meeting. He said Kelley was shocked when he arrived as president of the seminary and learned that the school did not have a practicum on soul winning. So, Kelley started a class on personal soul winning and went out into the streets of New Orleans with his students to share the Gospel.
There were a couple of students from the north who remonstrated with the president and argued that door-to-door soul winning would never work in the north, because the north is not like the south. Kelley argued that New Orleans is not like the rest of the south and decided to take those two students with him on his next night of reaching out to the lost in New Orleans.
The first three homes they visited had no one at home. Not willing to give up easily, he turned to the two reluctant students and said, “We are going to make a visit into someone’s home, so one of you pick a street and one of you pick a home and we will visit there.”
One picked a street and the other picked a home and Kelley pulled his car into the driveway. The first thing they saw was a sign that read “BEWARE OF THE DOG”. Not willing to be deterred by the sign Kelley got out of the car as the two students were cowering in the back seat. When it became apparent to them that there was no vicious dog poised to attack them they got out of the car and walked up to the house.
Within a few moments an elderly man opened the door and invited them inside. Kelley said, “I have three questions for you. First, has anyone shared with you how to have eternal life through Jesus Christ? Second, have you had a friend to invite you to church? Three, may we tell you how you may have eternal life?”
The man responded, “You don’t know how wonderful that would be. My wife is in intensive care at the hospital. Today we had a discussion about what happens to a person after they die. We would surely like to know.”
Kelley shared the Gospel and asked the man if he would give his life to Christ. The man said he wanted to do it, but he wanted to take the message to his wife in the hospital so they could make that commitment together.
Pick any house, any street
As the seminary president and the two students were leaving that home the students asked, “How did you know that man would be so receptive to the Gospel?”
Kelley replied, “I didn’t know. You picked the street and the house. How could I know? God is at work in the lives of people all over this city and all over the world.”
White concluded his missionary message of inspiration by saying, “Would you be inspired by the Floras, by Evan, by Chuck Kelley? Pick any street! Pick any house; and start sharing the Gospel.”