TAYLORS, S.C. (BP)–Many of us are familiar with the bold image of a watchman in Scripture.
In Ezekiel 33:7 the Lord speaks to the prophet, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me.” Ezekiel may not have realized how most watchmen are underappreciated. They operate from the position of “no news is good news.” When they must speak, the news solicits various responses and conjures up strong emotions. Yet they must speak when it involves the betterment of those around them.
When you consider the tenure of Frank Page as both pastor of First Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C., and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the picture of a faithful watchman stands as an accurate one.
As Dr. Page winds up his two terms as our denominational president, we reflect upon what God has allowed him to accomplish. The verdict is clear and decisive no matter what criteria you use to judge — “Well done.” The credit for this resounding victory lies with our Lord, as He is the One who brings the increase, and we are totally reliant upon Him for every blessed gift. Yet, diligent work must be recognized and sincere appreciation in this case is in order.
Dr. Page was nominated by the late Forrest Pollock, former pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., who in May tragically died with his son in a plane crash. During his nominating speech Pollock noted his reasoning behind recommending Page: The SBC needs leaders who model support for the Cooperative Program. “You know and I know our Cooperative Program is in trouble. Our convention is in trouble,” Pollock said. The messengers agreed, and Frank Page, although not having much national name recognition, was elected on the first ballot over two other nominees. The convention overwhelmingly recognized their need for a watchman and Frank Page was asked to be the man for the job.
Certainly some of Dr. Page’s quotes will be long remembered in Baptist life. Shortly after his election he reaffirmed his commitment to conservative principles but with this important addendum: “I’m an inerrantist -– I believe in the Word of God, I am just not angry about it. Too long Baptists have been known for what we are against. Please let us tell you what we are for.” Dr. Page kept this promise and all other promises as he traveled the world teaching of the glorious riches of Christ Jesus and how we must continue our mission of evangelism, no matter the cost.
Dr. Page visited almost every state and many foreign countries the past two years. His voice, calling out for repentance and evangelism, has remained constant. When called upon for comment to the various news items of our world, he represented us well while keeping his promise to “not back down, back up or back away” from the will of the Lord.
And all the while, Dr. Page has continued to lead First Baptist Church in Taylors to be a growing and vibrant church. His unwavering commitment to FBC Taylors has been remarkable. Even if it meant catching a red-eye flight to be present for a funeral or a meeting, or to fill the pulpit on Sunday morning, he has kept our church as his chief ministerial commitment. There is no doubt that Dr. Page’s constant strength in the face of an arduous schedule has been provided by the Lord and powered by the prayers of His people.
During the last two years I have been privileged to work as close with Dr. Page as anyone. I have seen him deal with both joy and heartache, including comforting his daughter as she was diagnosed, treated and finally cured of cancer. I, like most people who have followed him, perceive Dr. Page as being honest, forthright, humble and yet a man with amazing courage. I can testify that I know all of these things to be true. In regard to his humility the words of Paul are most fitting for Dr. Page’s service. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3). When considering all that God has allowed Dr. Page to do and see, his response still remains, “Why me?”
Dr. Page, your church family and your convention agree, “Well done our friend, well done indeed.”
Doug Mize is minister of discipleship and evangelism at First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.