All ethnicities are called to world missions, International Mission Board (IMB) President David Platt told more than 600 black Southern Baptists gathered at Ridgecrest, N.C., acknowledging only 25 of the 4,700 IMB missionaries are African American.
“I don’t know all the reasons behind that [disparity]” he said during his July 23 sermon at the 2015 Black Church Leadership & Family Conference. “On behalf of the IMB I’m willing to take responsibility for it. And I long for that to change.”
More than 2 billion people have not heard the gospel worldwide, Platt said, urging Christians to fight all social injustices, not just those that appeal to us individually.
“This is not a white issue or a black issue, this is a multiethnic issue,” he said. “What is it going to take for the concept of unreached people to become totally intolerable to us in the church?’’
Platt spoke mainly from I Peter 4:12-5:12, incorporating the conference theme of “Stand” and conference scripture, I Peter 5:8-12.
He segued from encouraging listeners to stand for the truth of God’s Word, to challenging them to do their part to ensure every nation hears the Word.
“The theme of the conference is ‘Stand’ here and now, and that’s exactly what I want to call us to do tonight,” he said. “Stand here and now on the battle front where the war is raging, based on the Word of God in 1 Peter 4 and 5. I would call us tonight as individual followers of Christ and His church to stand firm in the grace of God, with the Word of God, for the glory of God, in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ.”
In both the culture and the church, Platt said, there is opposition to such ills including injustice, poverty, human trafficking, global starvation and slavery. He noted there also is passivity toward such evils as abortion and same-sex marriage.
“We pick and choose which social issues we are going to address, based on what’s least costly and most comfortable to us. And ladies and gentlemen we do not have that option,” Platt said. “The same gospel that compels us to draw back poverty compels us to defend marriage. The same gospel that compels us to war against sex trafficking compels us to war against sexual immorality in all of its forms.
“Brothers and sisters there are battles that are raging rapidly on the front lines of our culture, and we don’t have the option on deciding which battles we’re going to fight. … If we are going to be the church in our culture, we must engage the battles that are being fought.”
The greatest offense to Christianity is not homosexuality per se, Platt said, but it is most offensive to Christianity when we object God’s authority and His delineations between right and wrong.
“God is a righteous judge, before Whom we all must stand, and to Whom every single person in this room will give an account,” Platt said. “And this, brothers and sisters, is a biblical truth that is at the core of the cultural confrontation today.”
Not only has the U.S. Supreme Court taken on a role as the “arbiter of morality,” Platt said, but churches of various denominations are maligning and manipulating God’s Word.
“God is the faithful creator of the world, so we fight for the life around the world,” Platt said, encouraging Christians to fight such ills as human trafficking and abortion, and to care for orphans. While God has overcome sin and death, too many individuals around the world suffer and die without ever hearing that truth, he noted.
“I hope to see the day when every child, and every nation, and every tongue, and every language will gather around the throne of our King, and we will give Him the glory that’s due,” Platt said. “So I invite, I implore you, I urge you to stand for Christ [until] that day when we will gather around His throne, we’ll look at His face, we’ll see His face, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last … Stand firm until that day.”
Platt was among four pastors who preached during the evening worship services of the conference held July 20-24 in Spilman Auditorium at the Ridgecrest Conference Center. Other evening worship preachers were Herbert Lusk II, pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia; Frank I. Williams, treasurer of the National African American Fellowship and pastor of both the Bronx Baptist Church and Wake-Eden Baptist Church in New York, and Wayne Chaney, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Long Beach, Calif.
The conference, tailored for African Americans and sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources, IMB and others, offers training, education, preaching, inspiration, praise and worship, fellowship and recreation.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)