Recently, I went to Southeast Asia with some other leaders from across South Carolina. The night before I left, a friend of mine came by to pray with me. He used to serve as a missionary in one of the countries we were going to visit. He was excited that I would finally be in the country he loved so dearly.
In the middle of his prayer, this good friend really messed up my trip! He prayed these words: “Lord, as Keith travels through that country, remind him that nearly every person he sees does not have a relationship with You.” Those words lodged in my brain and in my heart.
Forty-eight hours later, I was in that country, touring a city of 32 million people. I looked at the people’s faces, and I heard my friend’s prayer echo in my mind. I was overwhelmed by the amount of lostness that I was seeing!
One of the missionaries there told me she invited a friend to a Bible study, and the young lady had to Google the word “Bible” because she had never heard that word before! As you and I go to church Sunday after Sunday, it is so easy to forget that the Bible we carry into church is foreign to most of the world.
In my final article as your state convention president, I would like to challenge you to do something about the overwhelming lostness in our world. You can’t take the gospel everywhere, but you can take the gospel somewhere. Start there.
For years, I have used an acronym of the word FOCUS to help me stay on track. Maybe it will help you, too, as you seek to take the gospel to your neighbors and to the nations.
F — Forward. The past can’t be changed. Look ahead to the new thing that God wants to do in your life and church.
O — Opportunities. Every obstacle you face is an opportunity to experience God at work.
C — Christ. Christ is the center of everything we do.
U — Unity. Work together with others so that you can have a greater kingdom impact.
S — Souls. This is the reason we are here! Focus on what Jesus focused on.
The more I travel to spiritually dark places, the more I realize that people who don’t know Jesus need someone who does! Pastor, I am praying for you and your church as you lead them to FOCUS on lostness. We have more than 2,100 Baptist churches in the state of South Carolina. Imagine the impact we could make if each church made an intentional effort to take the gospel somewhere!
This year, at our annual meeting in Columbia Nov. 7-8, we are going to encourage you to do just that. I hope you will also plan to be part of the Pastors’ Conference as well as our “One Day” of service to the city. It’s going to be great!
Thank you for the honor of serving as your president this past year.
— Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.