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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (BP)–There was something different about the sermon in the Tuesday afternoon session of the California Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting: It was spoken in both English and Spanish.
Jim Wilson, associate director of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s doctor of ministry program, delivered the message in both languages. The bilingual address reflected both the diversity of California Southern Baptists and the student population of Golden Gate Seminary, which has a majority of non-white students.
Tom Stringfellow, president of the CSBC, said in introducing Wilson, “Jim Wilson finished his doctorate of ministry from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and then 10 years later went back to junior college to learn Spanish so he could minister to the people in his community. That is dedication and humility. So I have made a presidential requirement to Jim that he has to share his message today in both languages.”
Wilson, who assumed his position at Golden Gate in June, currently is putting together a bilingual Spanish D.Min. track, slated to be offered by the fall of 2008. The school already has a Korean language D.Min. track.
Wilson spoke from 1 Corinthians 3:9 in his message to the convention.
“It is an honor that we are God’s co-workers,” he said. “It is always an honor that anyone would listen to our sermons. I’m always amazed that someone would want to hear my sermon. Thirty minutes from now you may know why!”
It is also an honor to baptize even one person, Wilson said. “When Rick Warren baptized their 20,000th person in the history of Saddleback Church and was interviewed afterwards, he said it is ‘still a thrill’ to baptize one person. And it is!”
Wilson urged the messengers to remember that “the strong church is the church that learns how to work together, first with God and then with each other. The church that’s strong is working on God’s agenda, not on theirs….”
When churches and believers have problems working together, he said, it is because they are not working first with God and on His agenda.
“We miss it when we fail to understand that the enemy is not us,” he noted. “The enemy is Satan. When we’re working together with God, then and only then are we able to work together with one another.”
There is honor in the process, but also in the result, Wilson said. “When we’re working together, we are God’s masterpiece. The greatest honor of all, my friends, is that we are children of God, saved by the blood of Christ. There is no greater honor than to be a child of God.”
Wilson later explained that while his message was bilingual, it wasn’t exactly the same message spoken twice.
“There are all kinds of idioms unique to languages, and what makes sense in one makes no sense in another, so I have to adjust and use ones that are appropriate to my hearers,” he said.