LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–If Christians are to reach America with the gospel they must be prepared to face persecution and ostracism for their faith, a North American Mission Board official said April 19 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Randy Singer, executive vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, said Christians should be emboldened by biblical models of evangelism and the persecution it can bring. Preaching from Acts 8, Singer said evangelists will face certain ostracism if they exhibit a bold witness.
“If we want to speak about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, if we want to speak about the inerrancy of Scripture, if we want to stand up to the tyranny of tolerance that is taking over this country, and if we are going to resist the pressures of political correctness, then we will face criticism and we will face persecution and we had better be ready for it,” he said.
Singer, a former attorney, pointed to court cases in the United States where Christians are trying to defend their religious liberties. One such case before the Supreme Court pits a high school Bible club against a school system in upstate New York. School officials forbade the Bible club from meeting in school facilities.
Said Singer, “[The school] basically said, ‘If you are going to come into our school facilities and you are going to pray and are going to have worship time, then you are no longer welcome to use our school facilities because that violates the First Amendment establishment of religion.’ The federal district court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the school and it’s being considered by the Supreme Court.”
Singer said American Christians should not ignore their own country when it comes to missions work. After all, the apostles remained in Jerusalem and ministered there when other church members were suffering intense persecution by a still unconverted Saul.
“I think what was happening was that the apostles stood firm in Jerusalem,” Singer said, “… even in the face of persecution as an example to all the believers and to hold down the mother church and to show that Satan can send his forces against the church, but the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
In recent years, the Southern Baptist Convention experienced persecution in Chicago when it named the Windy City as its Strategic Focus City for missions and evangelism. Singer, who is also a street preacher, spent a week there preaching the gospel in the open air. The first two times Singer set up his sound equipment — once in a public park and another time in front of a shop — law enforcement forced him to move.
The third time he set up was near a museum which was home to an area bustling with foot traffic due to a nearby bus stop. The move was providential, Singer said.
“What I believed happened was that God knew where we needed to be in the city of Chicago,” he said. “And he used some people to chase us around to put us where the action would be the most intense, where more people would hear the gospel than any other place.
“And that’s what he did with the disciples. My question to us, if we are going to reach Samaria, do we have the courage to face the criticism and the persecution? Remember, the critics didn’t call you, God called you. And until he revokes that call, then all the criticism in the world can’t take it away.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: RANDY SINGER.