GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–When I was 12 or 13 years old, usually before going to sleep at night, I began to wonder if I would ever know God.
I believed He existed, but I did not know how to meet Him. There was no one in my life who talked about knowing God. My mother and father didn’t, nor did the people in my neighborhood. No one ever tried to help me learn what the Bible says about how God would change my life.
It was a very hopeless feeling and it continued for seven or eight years.
When I was a young man, I happened to meet a pastor who asked me if I was a Christian. I told him I wasn’t, that I had heard people say that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, but I had never been told any reason to believe in Him.
But when I met the pastor that day and was open to him helping me, I learned that when Jesus was born, God came to earth and that Jesus died on the cross so that I could be forgiven of the sinful things I had done that had separated me from God. I learned that Jesus rose from the dead and will send His Holy Spirit into the heart of anyone who asks Him for forgiveness and asks Him to take control of their life as their Lord and Savior.
I prayed to receive Jesus that day.
Now, I know that God is in my heart, helping me to pray and to tell others about Him and to show His love to people. I know that He forgives me when I ask Him to forgive me for the times when I fail to do what is right, the times when I sin. And I know that I will be in heaven with Him when I die because God’s Holy Spirit will live in me forever.
That pastor was a Southern Baptist.
Yes, the Southern Baptist Convention is meeting this week in Greensboro, N.C., and yes, controversy over this doctrine or that policy may arise.
But there’s far more to the SBC than an annual meeting.
Countless people like myself across the country have heard the Gospel from a Southern Baptist pastor or church member; they have responded to the life-saving message of Jesus; and their lives have been lifted from sin and despair to hope, joy and fulfillment in the Savior.
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.