I was a 17-year-old freshman eating lunch at Ashland Community College's Baptist Student Union (BCM) when I first experienced the amazing collaborative work of Southern Baptists. I watched as our Greenup Baptist Association organized local churches to take turns providing free meals for the college students. It was the Kentucky Baptist Convention that would then provide a campus minister to spiritually guide the group, present the gospel weekly and disciple believers.
I grew exponentially during that formative year. I would later be elected president of Ashland Community College's BSU and called into the ministry. I have since graduated from a number of institutions, but God used those weekly lunch meetings in my early years to direct my spiritual path. It was a unified effort that helped connect students like me with the unchanging truth from God's Word. Thinking back on those special days gives me hope for the future.
1. Biblically. The early church is our guide in being unified. We read in Acts 2:44 that the believers were "together" and the Lord added to their number daily. A healthy church is constantly adding to their congregation. I am surprised at the energy many people take at trimming the membership rolls rather than being focused on adding to the ranks of the redeemed.
Being a faithful witness during this COVID-19 season will take courage. Charles Stanley said, "Opportunities are always lost when we let fear overrule our faith." Walk by faith. Pray that God will allow your path to be a blessing to another and demonstrate the strength of togetherness.
I believe this is a critical moment for the church to demonstrate how essential Jesus is in our world.
2. Practically. I have traveled all over the commonwealth and have heard a simple but powerful statement repeated many times, "We can do more in the Lord's work when are all pulling in the same direction." I certainly agree.
As an example, I served as the men's director for the 2002 Billy Graham Cincinnati Evangelistic Crusade. The goal was to rally all people around the cross. What joy it was to witness the Lord bringing together people of all ethnicities, backgrounds and cultures in order for the gospel to be preached. As a result, thousands gave their lives to Christ.
Billy Graham spoke about the importance of unity when he said, "The cross shows the seriousness of sin but also the immeasurable love of God." Let's be unified around the cross and His gospel and not allow our differences to be a hindrance in bringing people to Him.
3. Graciously. As followers of Christ, we acknowledge His grace and respond by sharing our lives. Romans 12:1 says, "I beseech you, therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you are to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." I would encourage all Kentucky Baptist Convention church members to express their love to God by offering tithes and offerings through the church.
Adrian Rogers said, "God doesn't need us to give Him our money. He owns everything. Tithing is God's way to grow Christians." Additionally, if you are a tither, you should consider giving at least a 10th of your estate to the Lord's work.
In making that decision, please allow the Kentucky Baptist Foundation to assist you in your planning.
Recently, I called upon one pastor and gave him some wonderful news — "A member left part of his estate to the church." He was tearful in his response.
I encourage you to leave a lasting legacy that will continue to build His kingdom until He returns. The foundation is part of the Kentucky Baptist Convention family and is here to serve in the area of stewardship, charitable giving and estate planning.
French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.