South African preacher Terry Rae illustrates every point with compelling stories from the deep reservoir of his experience living through apartheid and the convulsions of a nation shifting from minority white rule to majority black.
Rae again was the featured preacher during the Baptist Missions Conference “Living Stones” in Charlotte April 9-10, hosted at Hickory Grove Baptist Church.
Dana Hall was elected the new president of N.C. Baptist Men, who sponsor and organize the conference.
About 50 breakout sessions featured leaders from the many partnerships N.C. Baptist Men and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina sponsor, from New England and eastern Canada, to the Ukraine to the Appalachians to India.
While the theme was “living stones,” Rae preached on the opening night about stones to “get rid of.”
Each participant received a stone when he or she registered. At the end of his message in which Rae said Christians should lose the stones of fear, a hard heart and a critical spirit, he asked participants to come forward and drop their stone into one of several buckets at the altar.
He dropped four stones into a metal bucket at his feet and said the clang they made when they hit was “the sound of forgiveness.”
Rae leads Africa for Christ, which has started 1,068 churches in Africa. He related with shame the struggles of Christians to embrace each other across racial lines when South Africa was shedding apartheid.
He said black and white leaders gathered to get past the “picky things” that separated them and they wrote their grievances against each other on paper they taped to the walls.
The sheets eventually stretched down a hallway.
The next day they were still two separate groups and the facilitator simply left the room.
After sitting in awkward silence for 20 minutes, a member of the black contingent stood to ask forgiveness for speaking ill of a member of the white contingent.
That brave move opened a floodgate of forgiveness seeking that lasted five hours.
Later the sheets of grievances were folded and put under the communion table, never to be dug out again, because they were now “covered by the blood.”
High Point City Manager Strib Boynton thanked North Carolina Baptists for their response to the tornadoes that hit his city on Palm Sunday, damaging 649 homes or businesses, completely destroying about 40 of them.
He said N.C. Baptists were there first, had the largest crowd of volunteers and stayed until the end.
Scott Daughtry, onsite coordinator in Haiti, with his wife, Janet, said there were 380,000 orphans in Haiti before the earthquake and that number has grown dramatically since the Jan. 12 quake that killed an estimated quarter million people.
N.C. Baptist Men’s volunteer groups are leaving for Haiti every week.
Daughtry said Samaritan’s Purse has designed a simple wood frame shelter wrapped with a tarp and is asking Baptist Men volunteers to help assemble them in Haiti.
A team of three to four people can put together two or three in a day.
Samaritan’s Purse plans to erect 12,000 of the 12-by-12 shelters.
Participants who went to various breakout sessions traveled the world in mission possibility, hearing of the six people in an affluent Canadian church that’s dying, and the 1,200 in a new church in dirt poor Haiti, started since the earthquake.
It’s a “fluid situation” in Haiti, Daughtry said. Volunteers need to be flexible.
Biju Thomas, founder of Transformation India Movement (TIM), said the state of Bihar, once known as the graveyard of missions, is becoming the vineyard of missions as people respond to the gospel.
N.C. Baptists have contributed more than $600,000 to TIM since its partnership began with Baptist Men, digging 458 wells that have led to starting nearly 70 churches with many others in the works from the 183 church planters that have been trained.