By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA, Md.— Robert Anderson, Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network President and Pastor of Colonial Baptist Church, Randallstown, delivered the president’s address to the General Mission Board (GMB) on September 9 at the Baptist Network Center in Columbia. In his opening remarks, he shared about his experiences on an East African mission trip he took with his church over the summer.
Anderson said upon arrival in the country, team members drove close to seven hours into the mountains, then rode motorcycles up a hill to the middle of nowhere. “When I asked ‘How many of you have ever heard the name ‘Jesus’ only one or two raised their hands. All the rest had never heard. Do you know how thrilling that is?” Anderson cheered.
Anderson read from Luke 11: 1-3 where Jesus’ disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
It wasn’t that they didn’t know how to pray. The average Hebrew learned many said prayers, at meals and temple, Anderson explained. “They were memorized to a T.” But what Jesus taught and practiced was different from what they were brought up with, Anderson explained.
“Jesus told them, When you pray, the first thing to say is ‘Father.’ What a concept that was! You won’t find where God is addressed as ‘Father’ in the Old Testament. You are in a relationship with the living God. Call him Father. The heart of what Jesus is getting at is teaching about relationship. When you are on your knees, I think it’s okay to say, ‘Daddy, who art in heaven.’ He is the God of the universe, sitting high and looking low, and he sees relationship. He’s not ‘the man upstairs’ or ‘the supreme being.’ He is our father,” Anderson said.
Referring to Luke 11:5-13, Anderson recalls the story of a man who goes to his friend at night requesting bread for visitors. The friend answers no; he is already in bed with his family. But because of the man’s perseverance, the friend gets out of bed and gives the man bread.
“God does not sleep, nor does He slumber. This comparison is a contrast showing the love of God and that He comes to me anytime,” he said.
Anderson said God has to give us continual trials so we will continue to seek and ask. We pray more when the water is deeper, and the soul is in the desert. “Thank God for challenges that drive us to our knees to talk to ‘Daddy.’ Sometimes He says, ‘Yes, My child,’ sometimes He says, ‘Not now,’ and sometimes He says, ‘No.’ What do you do while you wait? You serve Him, you love Him.”
He concluded in prayer, “Father God, we need encouragement. We need for You to remind us that we are not alone.”