African-American Fellowship emphasizes foundations of faith

Delvin Atchison, director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas' Great Commission Team, preached at an African-American rally prior to the BGCT annual meeting in Waco. (Photo / Jordan Parker)

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WACO—Churches that forget the importance of discipleship have committed “the great omission,” Delvin Atchison, director of Texas Baptists’ Great Commission Team, told an African-American Fellowship rally.

“Until a person knows who Jesus is, they can never share him with anyone else,”  Atchison said during the rally at Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Waco the evening before the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting. “So, I want to suggest to you that it is essential that the church reclaim personal worship if we’re to do productive witnessing.”

The foundation of an individual’s personal worship is Jesus’ victory over death, he said. In Matthew 26, Jesus tells his disciples what’s coming next—he will die, rise and go before them into Galilee. Jesus keeps this resurrection promise, and by doing so, gives a strong foundation for faith.

Nothing in life—not bad news from the doctor, a pink slip at work or a disappointing election result—can negate Jesus’ promises to his followers or his presence with them, Atchison said. Jesus’ defeat of death means his disciples have nothing to fear.

Not everyone in the early church was on the same page about what happened to Jesus, Atchison said. Many doubted whether he really rose from the grave. The big difference between those who believed and those who had doubts was their participation and proximity.

“The reason Thomas is called the doubter is because when Jesus showed up, Thomas wasn’t at the meeting. And it’s hard to get folks to understand the agenda when they won’t show up at the meeting,” Atchison said. “To use a football analogy, you can’t get in the game if you only show up at the pep rally.”

Finally, he reminded the gathering not to “get caught up in the peripheral stuff we do.” The American Red Cross always will be able to clothe or feed more people than the church, Atchison said, “but nobody can talk about Jesus like we do.”

“If we’re not careful, we’ll start to think church is all this other stuff, and we’ll get so caught up in good stuff that we forget God stuff,” he said.

Carlos Francis, youth minister at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield and director of Camp Exalted, presented an update on this year’s camp, reporting 46 students made professions of faith in Christ this past summer.

Francis told the story of one teen who was saved during Camp Exalted and took her first communion that week. The girl went home and told her grandparents about her newfound faith, Francis said. Through her testimony, they also came to saving faith in Christ.

Also during the rally, Texas Baptists honored R.L. Rogers for 50 years of service as pastor of Harvey Avenue Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth. Rogers was praised for being a trailblazer; his church was one of the first African-American Baptist congregations in Tarrant County to seek fellowship with the BGCT in the 1960s.

Lauren Sturdy works with Buckner International.

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