EDITORS’ NOTE: This is the first of a two-part series.
MOUNT NEBO, Jordan (BP)–Bobby Welch, Southern Baptist Convention president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dayton Beach, Fla., looks out over the Jordan Valley from Mount Nebo to where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land.
“All the Gospel can be seen from here,” Welch said.
Far below him, the Jordan River cuts a verdant swath through a dry, rock-strewn land. To the left is the Dead Sea. On the opposite rise is Jericho. On clear days, Jerusalem and Bethlehem can be seen in the distance, their lights glittering at night. To the northwest, just beyond the horizon, are Galilee and the Plain of Megiddo, the site of Armageddon. Nazareth, a city on a hill, sits above it.
Jesus was baptized in the river below. Moses climbed to this spot and watched the children of Israel cross into the Promised Land.
“I can just hear Joshua calling out,” said Welch, “Caleb echoing across the camp of millions, waiting for the climactic moment to step into their future: ‘Don’t stop now. Everyone can cross. Everyone can go further than we ever believed.’ ”
The river was at flood but receded once they began to cross. Ahead were hard times, difficult terrain, impossible battles and unimaginable suffering. Yet that crossing was significant. It was a step in the journey to where the people of God are today.
“That day, God was about to make a giant step toward Bethlehem and Calvary,” Welch said. “The day Moses stood here and they prepared to cross, everyone understood this was going to require great going forward and great sacrificial giving.”
Everyone had a part in it. Everyone had a place. It was something they did together.
“The word of the day was everyone can cross this river, everyone should cross this river. No one should stay behind. We’ve tried that before. It isn’t pleasing to God,” Welch said. “That should be our word today.”
Welch believes Southern Baptists stand at a similar moment in history.
“This is our time to go further than anyone believes we can go, do it in a way only God could do it and do it through the people God has called out.”
Looking out toward a world desperately in need of salvation, there are “souls on the road to hell in need of being turned toward the road to heaven,” Welch said. “We need to go boldly and give boldly, and we need to do it now.”
Like the Israelites, Southern Baptists need to be a people of journey, crossing into the future as a people, by giving more and going more, Welch said.
“I want to be more in the future than I ever have before,” the SBC president said, “for the glory of God and the sake of winning souls and expanding the Kingdom of God.”
Welch called for Southern Baptists to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
“When you do, missionaries in this region and across the world can go further in extending the Kingdom of God. When you give, God uses it for more people to go further.
“Going more and giving more, Moses on top of this mountain understood that. He had given and given, gone and gone. Now he looked out and there was the future.
“We need to do the same.”
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Mission supports more than 5,100 mission personnel across the globe. No funds received for the offering go for administrative expenses; all gifts are used to extend the Gospel on mission fields around the world.