Texas Hope 2010 must be our compulsion. By Resurrection Sunday 2010, every person in Texas needs to have had the opportunity to respond to the hope of Christ within their own language and context. Through prayer, share and care, we must make sure everyone hears the hope of Christ and everyone has a nutritional meal every day.
Church members may ask why they should support the Cooperative Program through the BGCT when money could go further if given directly to international ministries. But the big picture of Texas Baptists reminds us of the great heritage and promising future when our churches work together in kingdom opportunities.
The resources God has entrusted to Texas Baptists may be unprecedented. We have about 5,600 churches, with more than 2 million members. On an average Sunday, about a million people worship in our congregations. The BGCT family includes nine universities with more than 35,000 students. About 4,500 of them are considering vocational Christian ministry. We have around 120 Baptist Student Ministry workers serving on almost every college campus in Texas.
The five BGCT hospitals/healthcare systems offer more than $1 million per day in charity care. Our human care institutions provide for hundreds of thousands of children, single moms, mentally handicapped and elderly every year.
Texas Baptist Men responds to every disaster in our state and others throughout our nation and world. They were present at the recent hurricanes that struck Texas, floods in the Midwest and the earthquake in China. They were serving meals and providing showers, washers and dryers for the children who were brought out of the polygamist compound in Eldorado.
The BGCT does not own any of these institutions. In many cases, the money channeled through them is a small part of their total budget. However, the BGCT is the only denomination providing financial support and the only one that elects representatives to their governing boards. Many of the students and donors of these institutions are from our Texas Baptist churches, and additional money is raised for them through the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation.
Hundreds of churches are started in dozens of languages and locations throughout our state. The exciting and fast-growing western heritage church movement was born and sustained significantly with the help of the BGCT and the Texas Fellowship of Cowboy Churches.
But we have only begun to touch the needs of Texas. Two of the four poorest counties and 12 of the 25 poorest counties in the country are in our state. Almost 4 million Texans live below the poverty level; 2.6 million experience shortages of food; 1 million face hunger.
In the year 2000, 11.3 million folks in Texas were listed as unchurched. Only one in five attends church on an average Sunday. When we have been given so much, how can there be this many who do not know Christ or so many who have too little to eat? I challenge each of our churches to commit to Texas Hope 2010. Let’s begin by praying every day at noon for the hungry and lost in Texas.
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Randel Everett is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board.