Kentucky Baptist Men on Mission Director Coy Webb recently shared these powerful thoughts on greatcommissionkentucky.com:
I spent some time today thinking about new opportunities for engagement and ministry through Disaster Relief, and I am excited about new possibilities for Kingdom work as we contemplate restructuring the Kentucky Baptist Convention for this new day. Setting a new and strategic direction for our Convention is a right and necessary action if we are to move forward in fulfilling the Great Commission given to us by our Lord. It is a critical hour, and we must reshape ourselves for this new day and the challenges before us. I am on board to do what it takes to move forward in impacting our world for the sake of Christ.
But, I must confess, my excitement was clouded by the reality of our present situation. My eager view of an exciting new day was suddenly blocked by the vision of throngs of people gathered before us…my heart became strangely heavy as I began to contemplate what has forced this need for massive restructuring. Though the restructuring is timely and strategic, the reality is that we just do not have the funds to do all we once did.
As I contemplated all of this, God reminded me of a true story found in Mark 6. It was an exciting time of ministry for Jesus and the Twelve. The Twelve had just returned from their first mission for the Gospel. They had driven out demons, healed the sick, and preached God’s truth…they had attracted clamoring crowds of people to Jesus. When they had tried to get away for some debriefing, the crowds ran ahead to meet them. The Bible says, “Jesus had compassion on them,” and began to teach them about God’s Kingdom. He taught until the hour grew late, and the disciples approached Him to send the crowds away so they could find food.
Jesus replied to His disciples, “You give them something to eat.”
They responded by telling the Lord that if we had a year’s wages, we could not feed all these people. Times are tough. They might have added, “Do You not remember that You just sent us out with instructions to take neither bread nor money.”
Jesus’s reply to their evaluation of the present reality was to question, “How many loaves do you have?”
That is what troubles me. It is not about losing programs or departments or offices. What troubles me is that I fear, we are clamoring for the Lord to send these people away because we just do not have the money to take care of them. Servants of God will be leaving ministry posts where they have served with passion and faithfulness. I know a year’s wages cannot save these cuts. But, these are not the only ones being sent away. I fear that we may send widows and orphans, the hungry and broken, the young and the old, the lost and unreached away as well. As we count our coins as Kentucky Baptists, I fear that we have come to a day that missions and ministry may have to be cut. The heart of missions and ministry is not programs, but people. It troubles me to think that there could be a day when the hungry will have no meal after a disaster, or that a college student will not hear of Jesus for a lack of campus ministry…a day when a hispanic neighbor will be unable to hear the Gospel, or an unwed mother will have no place to go as she struggles to make a life or death decision…an Aids orphan in Africa will have no chance for an education, or a villager in a forgotten corner of Suriname will have no one to bring him the Good News.
I know that times are tough…poor economy, unemployment, shrinking dollars. I know that our churches are feeling the crunch. But, how can I say this delicately…what continues to trouble me is that despite all this, we are still the richest generation of Believers in history. I am struggling because as our gifts to the Cooperative Program are shrinking for Missions, we all seem to have the latest iPhone, Kindle Fire, and big screen television. We have no extra money in our churches to give to the World Hunger Fund, but our Upward Programs have record numbers in our Family Life Centers. Please do not hear this as a criticism of Family Life Centers or Upward Programs or iPhones. There is nothing wrong with any of these, and Upward can be a great way to impact children and families for the Gospel. It’s just sometimes, we sound a lot like the disciples as we look on the throngs of hungry, hurting, unreached peoples before us. Lord, what can we do?
What difference would an extra three dollars make in the offering plate as we look at all this need?
What difference would it make to the Great Commission if our church gives an extra 1/2 percent to the Cooperative Program?
What difference would it make if each of us would give to World Hunger as much as we spend eating out in a typical week?
“Lord, there is just too much need and what can we do? If I gave a year’s wages, it would not make any difference. What is that Jesus?”
“How many loaves do you have?”
I wonder, just wonder…if we, as Kentucky Baptists, would just give what is in our hands to Jesus for the sake of the multitudes. I cannot help but wonder if we would not discover again that Jesus has taken what is in our hands and multiplied it to feed the hungry, mend the broken, and touch the unreached. And there would even be some left over for another day.