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FIRST PERSON: ‘Tell His Story’

RUTHER GLEN, Va. (BP)–“Tell His Story” is the theme for this year’s Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. This special offering is taken among Southern Baptists each year and supports the work of our North American Mission Board. So, what exactly is a NAMB missionary? There are more than 5,300 of them, and there are almost that many descriptions of what they do.

Many of these wonderful people are working with state conventions and associations that need the help but lack the resources. In other words, the missionary’s salary is often a combined effort of NAMB, a state convention and some other group. Many Southern Baptist “college ministers” are supported in some way by Southern Baptists through gifts to NAMB.

Regardless of what each missionary does, each is committed to the words of the precious hymn by Fanny J. Crosby: “Tell Me the Story of Jesus, Write on my heart ev’ry word; Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.” Naturally, the way the story is told changes greatly from the factory to the barracks, the prison, the schoolyard and the university, but it is the same story.

I have had a number of friends and associates who served as NAMB missionaries. One lady who worked at a Baptist association did a great job with disadvantaged children through an outreach center in the inner city. Yes, it would have been nice to have a local church where the outreach center was, but it hadn’t happened. Thanks to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, along with Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program channel for missions support, you were able to band together with believers you will not meet until you get to heaven in order to do a little of Jesus’ work around the corner.

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Another man I’m thinking of was a local church pastor and is serving again in that capacity. For a few years, though, he was able to serve a state convention as a valued worker and help a number of churches in a specialized area of ministry. Yes, it would have been wonderful for every local church in the state to have someone like him on their staff, but the churches who needed him couldn’t afford an extra staff position. Our gifts made it possible for him to serve many local churches at the same time.

I could go on, but you can get more information in less time by checking out the excellent missions resources available from NAMB. It is unfortunate that NAMB is getting a lot of attention now about leadership problems. It would be a shame, however, for any Southern Baptist to willfully punish our servant missionaries for the perceived or real faults of our servant leaders.

The story of Jesus is a story of life! But that life came only because He died in my place. When God made man, death was not supposed to be part of the human experience. We made it so by sinning. This is Adam and Eve’s story, as well as mine (Romans 7:9).

Jesus fixed the sin problem we caused when He rose from the grave. Because He rose from the grave never to die again, He can make good on His promise to give eternal life. This is part of the story of Jesus.

The only way for death to lose its sting for everybody is for everybody to come to faith in Jesus Christ. This might be the time to tell your story, explaining how you passed from the certainty of hell to the assurance of heaven. This is the only story that will continue being told long after heaven and earth are a distant memory. As hymn writer Katherine Hankey put it, “And when in scenes of glory, I sing a new, new song, ‘Twill be the old, old story That I have loved so long.”
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John Boquist is pastor of Cardinal Baptist Church in Ruther Glen, Va.