SOUTH ASIA (BP)–Loving the lost, as Christians should, begins with revival, Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page told a group of International Mission Board missionaries in southern Asia.
“In order for that revival to come, we have to be the people of God” and follow the instructions God gives Christians in 2 Chronicles 7:14, Page said.
“I believe you can serve the Lord the way you want to serve Him only when you’ve experienced the tears of regret and the action of repentance.” Then, Page said, tears of rejoicing and restoration of service will follow.
Page, elected as SBC president in June, is pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C. The South Carolina Baptist Convention has a three-year ministry partnership with the International Mission Board’s South Asia region, which includes India and six surrounding countries.
“Frank Page is a longtime friend of the International Mission Board and the Great Commission,” IMB regional leader David Garrison said. “That is why three years ago we invited him to come and share God’s Word with our missionaries and their families serving Christ in south Asia.”
As Garrison launched this year’s regional theme of “Loving the Lost” with a video presentation of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist and tribal faces, Page did not hold back his own tears in early July for southern Asia, which is home to about 1.4 billion non-Christians concentrated in an area less than half the size of the United States.
Thus, one of Page’s first acts as SBC president “was to weep for the lost of south Asia,” Marty Hunter,* strategy associate in the region, reflected.
“Anybody who weeps for the lost of south Asia –- our hearts are knit together.”
South Asia has 1,432 people groups, and 345 of those have more than 100,000 people. But they remain unengaged by any evangelical mission organization, Garrison said.
Together, they comprise almost half a billion people,” he said. “The remaining task is enormous.
“Frank Page has challenged, fed, counseled, renewed and equipped our missionaries to go back into the harvest fields of south Asia’s teeming millions.”
Page exhorted the missionaries to experience revival “so that we can become the people that we need to be, so that we can love the lost like we should,” he said. Drawing from 2 Chronicles 7:14, Page shared six messages to encourage the Asia workers to humble themselves, to pray and to turn from all that hinders their intimacy with the Lord.
The born-again believer’s salvation through Christ is secure, Page said, but true humility, concerted prayer and spiritual intimacy are things Christians can lose.
“You can lose your sweet, close fellowship. You can lose the joy of your salvation. And you can lose your influence,” the SBC president said. “When you are not right with Christ, you no longer can influence [nonbelievers] the way you need to.
“We daily need forgiveness. We must constantly seek the forgiveness that comes from the shedding of Christ’s blood. Let Christ create in you a new heart.
“That’s what it’s all about. Seek a new heart from God … so that you’ll be able to love the lost.”
Most of the south Asia workers were meeting Page for the first time, but some of them have known him previously as pastor, mentor and even as a Southern Baptist volunteer who came to serve alongside them on the mission field.
“Every time we’ve worked together on the mission field, he has shown me humility,” veteran missionary Tanner Coleman* said. “It was never about him. It was always about whatever needed to be accomplished.
“This week the Lord has revived in me the idea of unworthiness. After 17 years on the [mission] field, I have built this ‘I can do all things’ [attitude], and I’ve had a problem remembering to follow that up with ‘through Christ.’ We get sort of self-sufficient. I think [God] has recalled that to me, that I am not only unworthy to be His son but also to be His servant.”
Missionary Rawson Brinley*, who has been on the mission field less than a year, said the Lord spoke to him about the need to spend more time praying for the people group he is seeking to reach.
“I’ve been convicted about my personal prayer life,” he said. “Our theme is Loving the Lost, but we have to look at ourselves to see what I am doing that is holding me back or standing in the way of God using me.”
Brinley and his wife are one of four couples serving in south Asia who have been under Page’s pastoral leadership. Back in South Carolina, Page led the Brinleys in FAITH outreach utilizing LifeWay Christian Resources’ Sunday School-based evangelism initiative.
“He’s just a genuine person,” Brinley said. “He loves all people. He doesn’t treat you any better or worse because of your spiritual condition or your social or economic condition, and that has made a big impact on me.”
Royce and Lisbeth Allard*, who were members of Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga., when Page served as pastor there, said they appreciated the challenge Page gave them and their colleagues to maintain their focus on God.
“It’s not our plans that make the difference,” Royce Allard said. “It’s what God’s doing and how we align with Him that makes us an effective servant.”
Following Jesus helps believers love the lost, Page said. Jesus led the way. He is the pattern for the Christian life.
“The race that’s marked out for you, it’s winnable, and no one can take the prize from you because the prize is Jesus,” Page said. “He is the One who gives us the power to achieve the goal. He is the goal line.
“You keep your eyes on Jesus, or you will fall,” the SBC president said. “If you hear nothing I’ve said this week, you hear that.”
*Names changed for security reasons.