July 2015

The beauty of color in God’s Kingdom

July 28 2015 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

When I speak about creating a disciple-making culture in churches across our state, I often talk about the changing face of North Carolina.
While we have a mandate to go into all the world, we are also seeing the world come to us from places that we know have little or no gospel witness. In our research to find the greatest pockets of lostness in North Carolina, we continue to find people from other countries that the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) International Mission Board (IMB) classifies as unreached people groups. In His sovereignty, God has given us unprecedented opportunity to reach the world right now and right here in North Carolina. More than 300 different languages are being spoken in the homes of children who currently attend one of our N.C. public schools. Our churches must look like and reflect the diversity of our communities.
I give thanks to God and rejoice because I am observing an increase in the racial and ethnic diversity within the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), both in terms of messengers who attend the annual meeting and individuals who are serving in places of convention leadership. We have 566 ethnic churches and missions in our membership of 4,300 churches. This includes 140 African-American churches, 12 African churches, 115 Hispanic churches and 80 Native American churches.
This list goes on with multiple Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Nepali, Chinese Mandarin, Vietnamese, Hmong, Montagnard, Burmese, Pakistani, Russian, Nigerian, Indian, Cambodian, Romanian, Bangladeshi and other multiethnic churches. While significant progress has been made, much work remains to be done.
As our state continues to become more ethnically diverse, it is important that our churches and convention leadership also reflect that diversity.
God’s church on earth should look like the redeemed in heaven. I pray that the recent tragic murders of nine innocent people in a church in Charleston, S.C., will not be forgotten, but rather the Christ-like response of surviving members of that congregation will serve as a spark to ignite a new era in which we embrace racial equality and drastically improve relationships among all races of people. The Church of Jesus Christ should lead the way in this movement because He has called us to love one another.
One of the things that made our recent SBC meeting in Columbus, Ohio, especially moving was the beautiful display of unity that took place during the special prayer service on Tuesday evening as Southern Baptists of different racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds served as leaders during this service.
It was a thrilling experience and a beautiful sight as our diverse group of Baptists attending this service embraced one another, prayed together, shared testimonies together and worshipped our God together in a spirit of oneness in Christ.
As we continue to push back darkness and impact lostness through disciple-making, I pray that God will raise up even more pastors and laity who will join hands and hearts in unity to reach the nations for the Kingdom of God wherever these people are found.
After this I looked, and there before me was as great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb …” – Revelation 7:9

7/28/2015 10:35:45 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments

Culture needs salt and light, grace and truth

July 14 2015 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

North Carolina Baptists, as a whole, have always believed, and continue to affirm, God’s design for marriage as recorded in scripture. Marriage, as defined by God, is between one man and one woman.
While our culture, and now the U.S. Supreme Court, has interpreted marriage in ways that find acceptance with current social trends, we remain committed to a biblical view of marriage. We believe God’s Word is clear in what it says about marriage. Baptists have long been described as “a people of the Book,” and as the body of Christ, we stand together upon the Bible as God’s unchanging truth in changing times. Isaiah 40:8 states “the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.” No decision of any court in the land or any majority in any culture can change what God has declared in His Word.
There is no doubt that believers and churches will face many different types of challenges in the days ahead as a result of the recent Supreme Court ruling. There are many questions about what this ruling could mean for the religious freedom and liberty of individuals and institutions that uphold the biblical view of marriage. You can expect that those of us who base our belief system upon God’s Word will not feel the same cordial acceptance we have known throughout the history of these United States. No matter what challenges we are called upon to face, we are commissioned to obey God rather than man.
If ever there was a time for believers and the church to be salt and light in a dark world, that time is now. The Great Commission given to us by our Lord has not changed. We must continue to be about the business of making disciples.
God’s Word calls us to love all people, even those with whom we disagree. We have long known that there are those who disagree with us on the issue of marriage, just as there are those who disagree with us on other issues, as well.
John 1:14 reminds us that Jesus Christ was the full embodiment of grace and truth, and it is with this same spirit that we must love and serve others.
There is a noticeable tension between grace and truth, yet we see Jesus fully and completely expressing both throughout His earthly ministry.
While we affirm our love for everyone, we do not and will not affirm homosexuality or same-sex marriage. However, at the same time, we must also remember that everyone is made in the image of God, loved by God and no one living is beyond the grace of God. Therefore, we are to sincerely show Christ-like love to every person. Never forget that holy God hates sin, while at the same time, He loves the sinner and offers redemption.
We must continue to minister in a changing culture even though the road ahead will not be easy. Keep in mind that America is not the hope of the world. Our confident hope is in Jesus Christ demonstrating His power through His Church.
Join me in praying that more disciples of Jesus will be made. Ask God to help you be salt and light, and minister to others with grace and truth.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” – Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)

7/14/2015 11:17:57 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments