Posted on : Monday December 10, 2012

By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent


Kevin Ezell, President of North American Mission Board

Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, noted how complacent Americans have become because there are so many churches. In Mississippi, in the most churched state in North America, there is one Southern Baptist church for every 1,385 people. In Maryland, there is one Southern Baptist church for every 10,800 people; in Delaware, one for every 27,000 people. Ezell said, “We’ve become very spoiled, and it’s time we must become very aggressive, and we cannot stop speaking about what the gospel does and can do; and how it can radically change someone’s life.”

Pointing to Acts 20, which Ezell calls a resignation letter from the Apostle Paul, Ezell explained how Paul, going to certain death in Jerusalem, was passionate about being obedient no matter the cost. Paul summed it up this way, “It’s not about me. It’s about the message, the ‘task of testifying to God’s grace,’” Ezell noted.

Ezell shared about his recent experience in Cuba where the government forced church groups to start new groups in an effort to dilute their power. The opposite occurred, similarly to what happened in Acts 8, when the church scattered in persecution, but preached the gospel everywhere they went.

“Think about it! God used a Communist leader to start a church-planting movement!” Ezell said. “God has called us to understand that it is not about us.”

He concluded, “We really can’t stop speaking—even if it is inconvenient. We can’t. He’s told us to complete the task He’s given us: the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace.”


Vaughn Walker, Senior Pastor of First Gethsemane Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.

Vaughn Walker, senior pastor of First Gethsemane Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., shared three reasons people are motivated to serve.

First, we are motivated to serve when we see others enthusiastically serving. “There ought to be a joy in your heart to have the opportunity to serve… and it becomes contagious,” he said. Secondly, we are motivated when we see others who are unlikely candidates who are enthusiastically serving. The third reason is that we must understand the urgency God has placed on us to serve because He is coming back.

Drawing from Luke 18-19, Walker shared how the tax collector, Zacchaeus, was an enthusiastic server. “What would make a man with money, power and prestige want to serve?” he asked, surmising what drew his interest was the healing and subsequent service of the once-blind Bartimaeus in the preceding chapter.

“You see, when you get enthusiastic about your service to God, it has a way of rubbing off on other people,” he said. “Some of you have been saved because you experienced the enthusiasm and passion of someone else, who had an encounter with the Lord, begin to serve and follow the Lord, and that is what drew you in to your salvation and your service.”


Dennis Kim, Pastor of Global Mission Church, Silver Spring, Md.

Dennis Kim, senior pastor of Global Mission Church, who hosted this year’s meeting, shared about missionary Robert Jermain Thomas, who was the first Protestant martyr in Korea. Against advice, the man returned to Korea in 1866 as an interpreter on the American trading ship, the General Sherman. Hostilities broke out, the ship was set on fire, and Thomas dived into the river, where angry civilians were waiting for him. The missionary tried to share his Chinese Bible, bowing in the sand and praying that those about to kill him would someday become Christians. Later, Chun-Gwon Park, Thomas’ executioner, was said to have read the Bible, become a Christian and planted a new church.

“I believe God answered the prayer of Robert Jermain Thomas,” Kim said. “We Korean Christians learned how to pray from Western missionaries. We follow the examples of their prayer. We received Bibles from them. And we came to know how Jesus prayed through them.”

Kim shared how his church members pray Monday through Saturday at 5:30 a.m., and on Sundays, they worship in five Korean and three English services “because Jesus is our Lord and because your ancestors spread the gospel through Far East Asia, including Korea.”

The church has intercessory prayer rooms where members spend one hour a week—day, evening or middle of the night—because they believe Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (NIV).

“We can’t stop praying because there are many people who need our prayers,” Kim said.


Ken Stalls, senior pastor of South End Baptist Church, Frederick, Md., and outgoing BCM/D president, shared about what happens when the church breaks silence. He said the world around us is not hearing enough about Jesus and His resurrection.

Ken Stalls, Pastor of South End Baptist Church, Frederick, Md.

“Right now, it happens so seldom, we think it is abnormal. We should never think that! It is certainly normal in the eyes of God when His people obtain boldness from Him and speak out with all the power that He gives us.”

Pointing to Acts 4, Stalls said, “Teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus flew in the face of the Jewish population and was a real threat to the status quo of their day.” It’s no different today, he said, pointing to the removal of the Ten Commandments from places and prayer from public schools, and the denial of Christian symbols (like the Nativity at Christmastime). In essence, the atheistic world is saying to Christians, “You can no longer speak in the name of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Like Peter and John, Christians must continue speaking in the face of opposition. “It is not politically correct. But it is biblically correct and divinely correct,” he said. “That great provocation of when they were willing to stand up for God allowed them to experience great power. I believe that’s what the church needs today.”

In a message entitled, “The Anonymity of Pursuit,” Chuck Lawless, dean of graduate studies at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, recalled the story of the woman, who had a discharge of blood for 12 years. She had “heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment,”and was healed (Mark 5:27 ESV).

Chuck Lawless, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Lawless referred to preceding chapters, which tell the stories of Jesus’ ministry, which the woman likely had heard. At every stage, several—John the Baptist, God the Father who spoke at Jesus’ baptism, and even demons, who confessed Jesus as the “Son of God” before being cast out—reported on who Jesus is.

Jesus “very clearly tells us to tell, but we don’t,” Lawless said, conjecturing that “we are not amazed enough” to tell others. “Because when Jesus rocks your world, you just can’t keep Him to yourself,” he said. “It may well be that we must pursue God again.”

Lawless continued, “If [the woman] heard the reports, what can we assume? That somebody said something about Jesus… Whoever this person was matters in this story because whoever this person was did what God calls all of us to do: Be amazed by Jesus and go tell [His] story.”