David Lee, BCM/D Executive Director
There are very few times in life that the average person stands in a position to alter the course of something substantial. Oh, there are individual choices and one-on-one encounters that happen every day, many of which are interwoven with opportunities to significantly influence change in our lives or the lives of those we touch. But most of us never get invited to a movement . . . unless, of course, you are a child of God who lives in Maryland or Delaware.
Maryland/Delaware Baptists face such a moment in time to position ourselves on the catalytic side of a potential movement with far-reaching implications.
We have been in conversation about penetrating lostness in our area. We have discovered that the largest geographical pockets of lostness reside in our cities: both large population cities and smaller population cities. We have focused on the people group that may represent the spearhead of lostness in Maryland and Delaware—those who are poor and often neglected. And to penetrate lostness in this people group, we must address the issue of racial reconciliation. The love of Christ demands it. Scripture teaches that we must. A group of leaders within the BCM/D have been meeting and praying and working on ways to begin the journey toward healing and health. We seek a New Day in Race Relations in Maryland/Delaware. We are starting the journey by addressing the historical black/white challenge that we know exists.
What we learn as we move forward can help us lay the foundation for addressing other issues of race that divide us and remove barriers that stand in the way of reaching people with the gospel.
We are in a unique position to become catalysts in this movement. Our convention is diverse. More than 40 percent of Maryland/Delaware churches are predominantly language, ethnic, or African-American congregations. Among the remaining 60 percent, most are multi-cultural. We are actively involved with one another. There is a significant nucleus of leaders who care about this issue. Here we can come to the table and talk openly, candidly and respectfully. And if we can find ways to love one another and work together at a deeper level, our model for change can become an example for other conventions who wrestle with similar issues in race relations.
Watch what is happening with Baptist Family and Children’s Services, an agency of our convention, as they move past racial barriers to help poor and hurting families in the name of Jesus. Call Bob Gerstmyer, the director, and ask him to tell you about some of the breakthrough ministries in which they are engaged. Do what you can to support this strategic ministry.
Call Bill Simpson, director of the Open Door Community Development Corporation, and ask how Open Door, a friend of our convention, is making a difference in the very heart of some of the toughest neighborhoods in Baltimore City. It is our belief that what Bill and his ministry team are doing may hold the key to literally transforming whole communities and opening the door for the Gospel to penetrate lostness. Consider your support of this ministry.
I want to also applaud our church planters and our existing church pastors who have begun to target these pockets of lostness as well. Already we are seeing movement by some of our strong suburban churches and church plants laying the groundwork for new churches in the seat of poverty and lostness. I challenge all of us to join hands and resources with them.
We are just beginning. What we are learning is going to enable us to make a difference throughout the entire multi-state region. All of us live just a few steps or a short drive from people who need our help, people who desperately need the gospel we understand.
Everyone knows that we are facing challenging times. What we are envisioning will be hard and costly. Yet, this may be recorded as our finest hour. If we will listen to our Lord, follow His example, remain obedient, and take advantage of the doors He is opening for us, we may find ourselves on the front end of a major movement of the Holy Spirit, akin to what we read in the Book of Acts!
What a wonderful time to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and a Maryland/Delaware Baptist!