President’s Perspective: Who Will You Engage?

One early summer evening in Greenwood, my dad and I were grilling burgers in our backyard. Dark clouds filled the sky as lightning flashed in the distance and thunder rumbled softly. A heavy drizzle began to moisten our shoulders. My dad joked, “This may be the day we all go home to be with the Lord.”

My young heart failed to find the humor. I explained to my dad that my eternal destiny would not be the same as his. I knew the sin in my life had created a gulf between me and a right relationship with God. He encouraged me to trust Christ as the substitute for my sin. We knelt right there beside the Weber Kettle we’d been grilling on in the rain, as I confessed my faith in Jesus Christ as the only possible means of salvation and redemption. It was a glorious time, wet knees and all!

My dad had shared the Gospel with me many times and in that hour, as the Spirit drew my young heart, he was there to share in my confession of faith. A few weeks later, he participated in my public profession of faith, plunging me beneath the waters of believer’s baptism and proclaiming me “raised to newness of life!”

That’s not all my dad taught me about knowing Christ. He taught me great truths about finding abundance of life in a deep personal relationship with my Savior. He taught me about finding and understanding God’s call on my life, both generally and specifically. And he taught me that we’re better together. He diligently taught me about every aspect of Southern Baptist life.

There are so many South Carolina Baptist preachers in my family tree that Thanksgiving dinner often felt like an auxiliary meeting of the convention. I grew up hearing about the Cooperative Program, Bold Mission Thrust, and it seemed like Ms. Lottie, Ms. Annie, and Ms. Janie were my great aunts.

It’s true that I learned a lot about Baptist life from godly women, like Ms. Laura Boyle and Ms. Ossie Pollard, who taught me in Mission Friends and Sunday school. However, I learned to love the work of South Carolina Baptists from my dad. I would travel with him to associational pastors conferences, revivals, and all sorts of convention meetings. We regularly hosted missionaries in our church and in our home. I heard about the difference we were making in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and especially the nations! With all of this being said, the importance of state conventions is something I’ve never questioned.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. said, “A younger generation of Southern Baptists may well be unaware of the importance of the state conventions and their work. They would be well-advised to attend their local state convention and catch a vision of what the Baptist churches in their states are doing. There is a need for Baptist churches within every state to coordinate and combine their energies for the cause of the Great Commission and the task of reaching the communities in their own state and region. This does not weaken the Southern Baptist Convention — it makes us stronger.”

We desperately need to ENGAGE future generations for the purpose of reminding them that we’re better together! If we’re going to accomplish the task that lies before us, we must cooperate for the sake of the Gospel. Who will you ENGAGE with the stories of our missions efforts and other cooperative endeavors? The annual meeting in November would be a great time to invite someone who’s never been.

It would be a great time to come yourself if you’ve never been. Meet your extended family and find out for yourself that we’re better together!