First Person: Know your mission

By Barry Fields

Published: May 15, 2018

In the 1960s, after announcing an ambitious space program initiative, JFK stopped in Cape Canaveral and found a custodian mopping the floors. The president asked him what he did. "I'm helping put a man on the moon," the custodian replied. The man knew his mission. 

When we think of our cooperative work as Kentucky Baptists regarding our agencies and institutions, it is imperative that we remember our mission: advancing the kingdom of God through the gospel of God for the glory of God. Regardless of where we send people in this galaxy, we must prepare their hearts for eternity.

That means when 14,000 kids show up for summer camp, they're not there simply for fun and recreation, but so the counselors and volunteers can tell them about Jesus. When we send our children, grandchildren, and church members off to our Baptist educational institutions, whether through grade school or grad school, the most important thinking they can hope to achieve is not a limitless intellectual capacity, but to love the Lord their God with all their minds, soul, heart and strength.

And whether Lance Howerton is talking about water slides or Richard Carnes is talking about market slides, the mission remains the same: advancing the kingdom of God through the gospel of God for the glory of God.

Recently, someone asked if I would ever consider moving to another state for ministry. The answer that came out of my mouth was somewhat unexpected and surprised me. Usually that's a bad thing, but in this case it was a good thing: "I really like being a Kentucky Baptist," was my response. These are difficult times in which to live, but these are good days for our Commonwealth.

Here's why: Just a couple of weeks ago, I visited Centenary United Methodist Church in Danville with a good Methodist pastor friend of mine. We were attending The Way Forward Commission district listening session, in which the UMC is attempting to navigate the choppy waters of its 1972 Book of Discipline's affirmation of biblical marriage over and against the modern culture advancing unions outside of Scriptural norms and ordinations outside Apostolic mandates.

While I left the meeting disappointed at the church once heralded by John Wesley and once used of God to spark a mighty revival movement across this nation, I nevertheless left the parking lot encouraged, because just across the street sits the new Sunrise children's building. Out of the ashes just a few months ago has come a refuge of hope for children in desperate need of adoption and foster care.

I was reminded when that organization just a few years ago faced a similar dilemma, and rather than changing with the fickle winds of shifting culture, Sunrise held the course, and now is doing greater ministry than ever in its history, caring for thousands of the least of these across our Commonwealth. I thought to myself, God always blesses those who are faithful to His Word.

And so, brothers and sisters, I urge you, guard the deposit, preserve the mission, fight the good fight, and keep the faith. Because the work we do goes far beyond solar eclipses and lunar landings. Indeed, we are preparing those created in His image to meet the Maker of the stars, the one who flung them out into space, yet still knows us by name. That's a mission worth remembering.

Barry Fields is pastor of Hawesville Baptist Church.