The fact that the Western Recorder has been in publication for over 195 years is truly impressive.
What inspires awe, however, is the countless stories of kingdom cooperation that continue to fill its pages. As we celebrate the role that the Western Recorder has played in Baptist life, may Kentucky Baptists be reminded that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. Our stories are just brief paragraphs in His eternal story of redemption.
God's story of redemption is not finished, and there is still much He wants to accomplish in and through Kentucky Baptists for His glory. Therefore, we are praying to see a historic mobilization in 2021 worthy of the Lord and our legacy of cooperation as Kentucky Baptists work together to get the Gospel to Every Home. What will it take for us to sow the gospel seed in as many of the 1,728,681 homes in the commonwealth as God allows by November?
A Renewed Burden for the Lost
In John 4:35, Jesus implores, "Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" The fields of Kentucky are as beautiful as anywhere in the world. Whether it be the horse farms of central Kentucky, the rolling fields of the east or the mammoth farms in the west, no matter where you look, there is a sight of beauty to behold. It is equally true that no matter where you go in Kentucky, there are a growing number of people who desperately need Jesus.
Our best research indicates that (pre-COVID) nearly 81 percent of Kentuckians were unchurched. That stat means on any given Sunday more than 3.6 million of our friends, relatives, associates or neighbors would not have been found in any kind of church anywhere. The most generous estimate possible indicates that more than 60 percent of Kentuckians are lost. The next time you drive to church or through your neighborhood, slow down. See the fields. Imagine that those living in six out of every 10 homes are lost and that as many as eight out of every 10 homes are unchurched. A renewed burden for the lost starts with truly seeing the fields.
A Renewed Gospel Urgency
Perhaps only the subtly of spiritual warfare can explain why God's people continually procrastinate and put off what we know to be the urgent task of sharing the gospel. However, we see this tendency in John 4:35: "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest?'" As church leaders we frequently convince ourselves that there will be a better time for evangelism. Once we can get "this" in place or figure "that" out, then we will be ready. Jesus is reminding us that the fields are already white! How many of those who have died from COVID-19 entered a Christless eternity?
Jesus affirms in v. 36, "Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together." This truth has been seen throughout the pandemic and celebrated in publications such as the Western Recorder as many have surrendered their live to Jesus and been baptized! The pandemic seems to have created a greater openness among our neighbors to have spiritual conversations. Sadly, the lost seem more willing to listen than Kentucky Baptists have been willing to share. Seeing the fields must move us to action!
A Renewed Commitment to Sowing Reaping is ultimately God's work. Even the most fruitful farmer fails to comprehend how the Lord makes the seed grow and multiply unto an abundant harvest. There is one fact that every farmer understands. Someone must sow before anyone can reap. In verses 37-38 Jesus says, "For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."
Ultimately, the Gospel to Every Home is a gospel saturation effort, Kentucky Baptists committing to sow the gospel seed in as many ways as possible in as many lives as possible trusting God for the harvest. The task is bigger than any one church. It will take all of us cooper- ating with God and with one another. Will you join us? You can learn more at www.kybaptist.org/gospel or by emailing email@example.com.
Rob Patterson is evangelism team leader for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.