While each 9/11 anniversary calls us to remember, I also gratefully think back to another September 11—this one in 1974. It was a Wednesday night. I was eight years old. Sitting in the balcony of that Baptist church in Kernersville, N.C., I was under conviction to go forward during the invitation—yet I never got out of my seat. On the way home from church, I told my mom what I had wanted to do. She said I didn’t have to be in church to be saved. When we got to the house she took out her Bible, walked me through the “Romans Road” and I placed my faith and trust in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I thank God that my mom had been trained in a Baptist church how to share her faith, and she was ready and able to lead me to the Lord.
The life changing events I remember every September 11 stir my heart to recall the words penned years ago by Fanny Crosby: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.”
Those words still issue a challenge to each of us today. The call to rescue the perishing has both spiritual and physical connotations. We are to be moved with compassion for those who are lost and those who are hurting. Additionally, those lyrics speak to us about our dual call to both the ministry of reconciliation (rescue the perishing, care for the dying), and the ministry of restoration (weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen).
I am thrilled with the renewed emphasis across our denomination focusing on the ministry of reconciliation—the burden to reach the lost and to plant new churches with that goal in mind. Fulfilling that mission is absolutely essential. And we must do more. And we must do better. Yet, let us not neglect the ministry of restoration.
In the church, we often do a poor job of ministering to our wounded. Our communities are littered with those who have been broken and bruised. Many of those afflicted used to worship with us. Many of those wounded used to minister alongside us. Yet they’ve fallen and cannot get up. They need a helping hand. They need a compassionate heart to love them back to Christ and to a place of health and service in the Kingdom of God.
I’m thankful for the fresh emphasis on evangelism and church growth. I am grateful that it is being coupled with a focus on ministry and church health. Outreach and in-reach both continue to be part of our calling—not one to the exclusion of the other.
My challenge to you is to plant churches; share your faith daily; partner with others to reach an unreached people group – but don’t forget to extend a hand to the one you can reach in your own backyard. Make a call; send a hand-written note; stop by for a visit; pray for those fallen and hurting around you.
The great commission/the great commandment. The ministry of reconciliation/the ministry of restoration. Inreach/outreach. There is much work to be done. Rescue the perishing … lift up the fallen.
For 19 years James Peoples has served as the senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Keystone Heights. He and his wife Jeannie are blessed with two beautiful teenage daughters, Emily and Dana. He also serves on the Florida Baptist State Convention State Board of Missions representing the New River Baptist Association.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.
|View All Articles by JAMES PEOPLES|
Subscribe to JAMES PEOPLES's RSS Feed