On April 12, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sat in a small, solitary jail cell in Birmingham, reading a newspaper article written by several white clergymen. Dr. King immediately began composing a response in the margins of the newspaper itself. And four days later, having gotten some paper from his lawyer, he finished and sent the now famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”
Our city doesn’t need more enormous, mono-ethnic churches. Our country doesn’t, either. What our neighbors need are churches who can show what it looks like when the gospel saves diverse people, brings them together, and unites them in a faith community.
Last year, after accepting the nomination for presidency of the SBC, I laid out my prayers for our Convention. One year in, as we prepare again for our annual meeting, I am just as excited to see God moving in every one of these areas.
Yesterday the Houston Chronicle published an article entitled, “Abuse of Faith: 20 Years, 700 Victims: Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse Spreads as Leaders Resist Reforms.” What can easily be lost in the size of these numbers, which are grievously large, is the tragic fact that they cannot be the whole story. If you have been victimized by a church leader, we are profoundly sorry. We, the church, have failed you.
In recent weeks there has been an increased awareness of the church’s need to be more skilled and more aware in how we care for marriages and dating relationships where abuse is present. I know that many public figures that have spoken out have been applauded for doing so. And doubtless there are many of us—in the SBC specifically—who feel like the proactive pieces that have been written in recent weeks (to which I contributed one) are groundbreaking.
William Carey once said that the future is always as bright as the promises of God. When I think of the future of the SBC, I believe that the Holy Spirit has great days ahead. If we believe Christ’s promises, heed the voice of the Holy Spirit, turn from our sin, and cast ourselves upon the mercy of his grace, the gates of hell will not stand a chance.