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FIRST-PERSON: We need your help!

DES MOINES, Iowa (BP)–I turned on the television set in the hotel room as I prepared to go to the convention center in Orlando, Fla., to attend the Southern Baptist Convention.

A flash flood was occurring in Oklahoma City and a television news helicopter was sending live video of a teenage girl being washed down a flooding creek. She was desperately trying to grab tree limbs as she was swept downstream. She grabbed a strong limb of a small tree and hung on. She still could not get to the bank and occasionally she would lose her grip and wash down to another tree. As the helicopter circled her, I prayed for her and asked God not to let this girl drown right before our eyes on national television!

At one point the camera zoomed in on the girl and she looked up and waved at them as if to say, “I know you are here.” The commentators were agonizing over her fate and they kept saying, “Hold on, help is coming.”

Within 45 minutes, CNN showed the girl being rescued by a boat launched by the fire department. They rescued her along with some other firefighters whose boat had swamped in the attempt to help her.

Later, at the convention, we deliberated on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report and I had mixed feelings about the report’s implications. I have been especially concerned about Component 4 and the phasing out of the cooperative agreements between the North American Mission Board and the state conventions. In the state convention where I serve, we depend heavily on North American Mission Board funding, and this will mean some considerable rearrangement of our work. If anything, we need more missionaries and not less.

I also reflected on GCRTF chairman Ronnie Floyd’s recent article, released just prior to the convention in which he said, “If the GCR recommendations are adopted, more resources are on the way to help reach those regions and states for Christ. If your church or association or state convention is about reaching lost people and planting Gospel churches, help is on the way!” (http://www.pray4gcr.com/2010/06/churches-and-state-conventions-outside-the-south-help-is-on-the-way/).

I wanted desperately to believe that even though the GCR report seemed to indicate missionaries and state convention staff jobs were at risk if this proposal were adopted, that the intent was to bring about a Great Commission resurgence. I was skeptical of some of the report’s recommendations, but we have been given assurance that “help is on the way.”

I was especially encouraged during the North American Mission Board report on the last evening of the convention when a messenger asked if there could be an emphasis placed on churches adopting churches in need of assistance. I think that is a great idea which should be encouraged and facilitated by the mission boards, the state conventions and local Baptist associations.

As I traveled home, I reflected on the 105 mostly smaller membership SBC churches across Iowa. I’m assisting some of them in their search to find a bivocational pastor, to hold Vacation Bible School, to staff and train their Sunday Schools. Many of them are struggling financially and numerically. We need help!

And it’s not only us. Many churches across the northern and western parts of the United States need help. For that matter, a lot of churches across the South are still in need of a resurgence in health and growth. We are a long way from “penetrating lostness” in our quest for a resurgence of the Great Commission.

I want to call on Southern Baptists from every part of the country to step up now. We need your help to reach the people in the “underserved” parts of the U.S. and Canada. We need your help to penetrate the great cities of North America. We need your help!

How about leading your church or association to partner with a smaller membership church to assist with special projects such as Vacation Bible Schools, revivals, evangelistic thrusts like God’s Plan for Sharing, building a church building or remodeling existing facilities. When churches and associations come alongside our churches, it encourages them and helps them accomplish more Great Commission work.

To get involved, do a little Web surfing on www.sbc.net and look for the state conventions directory on the SBCSearch link. There you will find contact information and website links for state conventions all across the U.S. and Canada. Get in touch with them and ask if there is a church that your church could adopt and assist. Another resource is the website http://thebridge.namb.net which lists projects and links to mission activities. Lead your church to provide some assistance for a church in need. It may be that you only need to look as far as the next community over or a church down the street. It may mean that you could lead your church to travel several hundred miles to help a church in an emerging region get established.

Christian contemporary singing group MercyMe has a song with the lyrics “Hold fast. Help is on the way.” I am trusting in that promise as I work with these churches in Iowa. We need your help. Let’s have a Great Commission resurgence!
Richard Nations is the church health team leader for the Baptist Convention of Iowa and publications editor for The Iowa Baptist.

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  • Richard Nations