When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
The world around us is changing. Texas is changing. And, in fact, your neighborhood has changed. The faces around you don’t look the same. Your neighbors’ cultures are different from yours. They speak different languages. And they may not have your same values.
Here is the population picture of Texas’ race/ethnicity, using data from the Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey: Anglo, 11,708,178 residents (43 percent of the total); Hispanic or Latino, 10,408,238 (39 percent); Black/African-American, 3,150,560 (12 percent); Asian, 1,151,731 (4 percent); other race/multiple races, 458,521 (2 percent); American Indian/Alaska native, 62,460 (less than 1 percent); native Hawaiian/Pacific islander, 17,270 (less than 1 percent). Total: 26,956,958.
I love this week’s Scripture text, because it says, “When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them.” He saw the crowd of people and looked beyond their social status, their geographic background, their culture and their language. He saw them and showedgreat concern and pity.
What a great responsibility and task we have as Texas Baptists to see the crowd and care for them, to care for our neighbors because they are harassed and helpless, lost and without hope. We have been called to love one another as Jesus has loved us. “By this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35).
The world is changing, but the message we have to share hasnot—“for God so loved the world.” How will we as Texas Baptists show compassion to these crowds, these cultures, these immigrants and refugees, your neighbors?
God has provided everything we need—the tools and the resources to care for these crowds. Now is the time to embrace the change and to go into the fields. The fields are ripe for Texas Baptists to show compassion and do the work. We must stop letting division and obstacles stand in our way. We must pray, prepare and take action to share Christ across our state. This is the Christ who came to bring a new kingdom and to bring change.
I believe in Texas Baptists. I believe in the work Jesus has given Texas Baptists. And I want to ask you to join me in prayer for our work and for our state. Ask God to reignite our hearts of compassion. We must be agents of change by going into our neighborhoods and making disciples.
Texas Baptists, go out your front doors. There is a crowd gathering. Let’s go and bring change.
René Maciel is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and president of Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio.