I hear folks speak of this being a nondenominational age. I have experienced the opposite of this the last two weeks. I have witnessed churches, associations and the Baptist General Convention of Texas working together in evangelism, prayer walks, health clinics and disaster relief.
Hurricane Ike, the flooding of Presidio and the launching of Texas Hope 2010 from the border have focused our attention and given us the opportunity to work together in projects greater than any one of us could accomplish alone.
Obviously, denominations must change. How can 5,600 congregations and 27 agencies and institutions work together to respond to opportunities that come and go quickly? How do we empower those doing the ministry and maintain accountability? How can churches work directly with other churches and still pool our resources in kingdom projects?
I’ve observed some possibilities during these last few weeks. Hurricane Ike brought devastation, but resources already were in place before the storm hit the coast. Texas Baptist Men had thousands trained and ready to deploy. Baptist Child & Family Services was assigned by the state to care for the special-needs evacuees. Churches were lined up to serve as feeding stations and housing centers. Equipment already was provided through Mary Hill Davis Offerings and generous contributions from churches and individuals.
As soon as Ike passed, meals were served, chainsaw teams went to work and the early stages of disaster recovery were in place. The loss of life, property and resources affected a significant portion of Texas. Recovery will be slow and costly.
It will take our entire Baptist family to provide for our brothers and sisters. Some churches have had considerable loss of offerings because their members have been dispersed and some may not return for months, if ever. Churches that were not affected must partner with those who were to help with cleanup, repair, finances and encouragement.
The kickoff for Texas Hope 2010 was taking place at the same time. A team of Texas Baptists began in El Paso Sept. 19 and will continue along the border until Sept. 28, when the Rio de Esperanza concludes in Brownsville.
In this effort along the Rio Grande, the BGCT has worked with directors of missions, pastors and volunteers to celebrate events that emphasize prayer, share and care. We have witnessed church starts, health clinics, prayer walks, and food and Scripture distribution. We also worshipped in wonderful churches of all sizes and styles. Videos are posted for each day’s activities on the BGCT website.
In two weeks, I have seen God work on our Baptist university campuses, in our churches and associations. Texas Baptists have been on the front line of disaster relief, care for the poor and evangelistic sharing of the hope of Christ.
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Texas Baptists’ gifts and passions are remarkable. Texas’ needs break our hearts. We can do little alone, but when we work together as a Texas Baptist family, by the grace of God, we can share the hope of Christ with every person in Texas.
Randel Everett is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board.