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FIRST-PERSON: Spiritual relief for a spiritual disaster

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The past 12 months have been some of the most costly in world history because of natural disaster. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast here in the United States, and it is hard to believe it was almost 12 months ago that the tsunami devastated parts of Southern Asia. So much destruction, so much loss of life.

“Creation was subjected to futility … in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children” (Romans 8:20-21, HCSB). The Apostle Paul called it, didn’t he? Creation was made to have a relationship with its Creator, but it is separated because of sin. It yearns to be set free.

So, too, the souls of men. More than 225,000 souls were swept into eternity by the tsunami, and only some had ever even heard the name of Jesus Christ. Most will spend eternity separated from God. Even more tragic, however, is that a tsunami of lostness sweeps across South Asia each week of the year. Almost as many people die every week never having heard the name of Jesus or His salvation. Their souls are separated from a relationship with their Creator, and they yearn to be set free.

Southern Baptists always seem to respond when the need is urgent. We ran to the disaster areas days after the tsunami to relieve human suffering, expressing the love of Christ to the peoples of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

But let us not forget that weekly tsunami of lostness. We must run to South Asia and other parts of the world and we must go NOW. The need is urgent. There is a spiritual darkness that is much more oppressive than the darkness that comes from loss of electricity. Only the light that comes from one who carries the message of the Light of the World will penetrate it. Contemplate the destiny that awaits those blanketed by this darkness. Every moment we wait to respond to their need for Jesus means thousands will never have the opportunity to have eternal life.

Television can numb our senses. We have 24-hour access to disaster scenes, and, after a while, it’s like watching a movie. It all seems surreal. Guard your spiritual senses. Do not allow them to become numb. Spiritual numbness leads to inaction. Inaction is disobedience. By failing to act, we diminish the meaning of lostness and shirk our responsibility to Jesus’ command to go into all the world, sharing the good news of His salvation.

Southern Baptists, we have risen to the occasion before, and we must do so now. There are more than 3.5 billion people who have not had an adequate opportunity to hear the Gospel. There is an urgent need, and we must pray for their souls. We need to go, both as volunteers and as full-time missionaries. But we must also give our money through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to support those who go to tell them about Jesus. God has richly blessed us to be a blessing, and this is a tangible way for us to participate in the Great Commission.

A spiritual disaster calls for spiritual relief. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can calm the tsunami of lostness that washes across our world. He’s calling. How will we respond to His disaster relief plan?
Draper is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • James T. Draper Jr.