I have a particular affinity towards the apostle John. Who can't help but love the apostle who's main theme was the topic of love? Even Jesus called him the disciple He loved.
Church history records that even in the last days of John's life on earth, he encouraged believers to "love one another." For someone who saw God's love demonstrated on the cross and witnessed every other disciple martyred for their faith, John knew the cost of love. He also knew that true love was only an overflow of what God had done in the hearts of those who followed Him.
When our office talks about "echoing His heart", we are saying that love cannot be contained. It must be displayed in our actions. Whether its serving in our local church, giving to missions, or being light in our world, we must carry our love to those who do not have a relationship with Christ.
I have the privilege of helping our state learn how to carry the love of Christ through the Edna McMillan State Missions Offering. Each year, our office begins in January and we think about how we are going to encourage Oklahoma Baptists to give to state mission causes. This year, more than a million dollars will be given to share the love of Christ through 25 various ministries.
I'd like to give you a quick picture of some of the ways your dollars are at work in our state and why it is important to give.
1. We are a state that is seeing tremendous growth in our Hispanic population. Many of the Hispanics are first generation immigrants, which means their English is poor and their work ethic is high. But many of them do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. State Mission offering dollars provide several opportunities to strengthen this work. Ethnic evangelism events are an entry level opportunity for Hispanics to invite their lost friends and families. Church planting is the next step as there is a continuing need for more Hispanic congregations around the state. Finally, there is a need to equip Hispanic leaders for these new churches. The Robert Haskins School of Leadership offers tremendous educational opportunities for these new pastors and leaders.
2. Evangelism is at the forefront of everything our convention is about. The phrase "impacting lostness" is not just a cliche, but a strategic effort to help churches reach their community. In the coming year, the BGCO will be concentrating on a major evangelistic effort called "My 3:16". Part of your mission offering dollars will provide materials and media to spread the Gospel around the state of Oklahoma.
3. Did you know that some of your state mission offering dollars goes to encourage international missionaries with Oklahoma ties? Each year our office has the privilege of sending Christmas gifts to missionaries who are from our home state. While the amount is not much, it is one way to show them how much we appreciate their commitment to reach the nations for Christ.
That's just a few ways your state mission offering dollars are making a difference. Will you help Carry the Love of Christ to Oklahomans?
For more information, please visit the BGCO website at www.bgco.org/smo.