I Could Have Been One of Them: An Adoption Story

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

I could have been one of them an adoption story
 
Paul Rohs, a first-time guest at Immanuel, shared this story with us on Sunday, December 1st. Sharing it here is intended to encourage your support for the sanctity of life, adoption, and foster care.
 
This is a very difficult story for me to think about, much less talk about. I deserve no attention for it. The story itself deserves consideration. However, I am so burdened to share it, here goes. 63 years ago, a certain woman was close to giving birth. However, for some reason, she had determined her pregnancy was “inconvenient.” 63 years ago last week, before abortion was legal and readily available, a baby boy was born and immediately shipped off to an orphanage.
 
Some 5 months later, a young couple was led to add me to their family. Perhaps it was my magnetic personality. Maybe I was just that cute. Well, most likely neither. I have no memory of my earliest days and know nothing about why I was put up for adoption so I render no judgment. I grew up only knowing my adopted life and family. This is my family. These are my parents. The life they gave me was steeped in the love of God and as good as anyone ever had. I thank God each and every day for merely surviving until birth, my biological mother for giving me up for adoption, and my true “parents” for adopting me.
 
Dad was a truck driver, tough as nails. The four of us kids, all adopted, grew up in small-town America on a family farm. We raised most of our meat and had a huge garden so I never learned the easy life. It was hard work and long days. We got one new pair of work boots a year and a new pair of jeans twice a year when the Outdoor Store had its sale. At age 13, I began working on our farm and at least one other. Life was hard work, honest, and right out in the open. There were things you did and things you just didn’t do. All this wrapped in a God-loving “in touch” family.
 
Now, after a wonderful 41-year marriage to my best friend, three daughters with their own families and lives, a career in the Air Force and a second career with other agencies, undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees, I am retired. As a little farm kid who always knew I was adopted but never knew where I came from, I realize I never cared about the where. Ever.
 
I have read many things about the benefits of adoption, but never written by us kids, who were adopted. Although I never boasted that my life on its merit or by my actions has been exceptional, I can attest to what I’d consider a positive impact—one that would make my parents proud. All resulting from an act a young, couple, my parents, were led to make many years ago.
Anyone reading this and contemplating adoption or knowing someone who is, let me encourage you to do so. You can be the parent of a child who for whatever reason, deserves to be saved. If abortion is being considered, someone today is looking for a little one to call their own. Only recently had it hit me that if abortion was legal and as readily available then as it is now, I most assuredly would have been one of them. That is a very tough realization.
 
Ever since murder by abortion was made legal, some 60 million of us, souls deemed inconvenient and unplanned, have had our lives ended in the blue barrel. If you have seen the movie “Unplanned” you will know what I mean. If you have not seen it, you should. With the expansion of abortion criteria, I cry at the thought. You must know that if a wall like the Vietnam Wall were built with the names of those babies inscribed on it, that wall would be more than 48 miles long. Yes, 48 miles. You can do the math—more than 1,000 times the total number of casualties of the entire Vietnam War.
 
I am not trivializing the trauma of an unplanned pregnancy. I can only consider it from my perspective and the Word of God. One hears about the guilt felt by those surviving battles while others did not. I live with that daily. Yes, daily. My life could easily have ended the same. I was deemed inconvenient before I was born. I thank God every day that I was adopted instead.
 
by Paul Rohs

Live Life Forward

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

2 Peter 3This Sunday Evening, we will hear from Dr. David Nelson with his sermon, Live Life Forward (2 Peter 3:14-18). Let’s learn a little more about Dr. Nelson and his history with Immanuel:

Dr David NelsonTell us your background and history with Immanuel.
I have been a part of IBC since the late ‘50s even before the church moved from Pine Street (read more of Immanuel’s history). Phyllis’ family became part of the church in the early ‘60s, so our families had grown up under Pastors Seume, Toussaint, and Fesmire. We count it a real blessing to have sat under godly preaching while growing during many years of Sunday school and very active youth groups! It was under Seume’s ministry that I began to feel the tug (call) to the pastorate which subsequently guided my life and education. Thankfully, Phyllis, quite separately from me, had felt that she’d like to serve God as a pastor’s wife. Though our families knew each other, we had not met before the late ‘70s. God brought us together at IBC and we were married in 1981. Phyllis has been a faithful, godly and indispensably wise companion throughout our life of ministry.  God blessed us with two children, Dave (37) and Rachel (husband-Jay Short) (36).
 
How have you served the Lord over the past 30 years?
Thirty-three years ago, our young family moved from Richmond to the Philadelphia area to attend seminary and serve as an intern at First Baptist Church of Newtown (now called Grace Point). One-third of my seminary degree came from that active internship where I served in many, and varied ways. Subsequently, in January 1992, God directed us to take the pastorate of The Baptist Church of Perry, in western New York State. Through many years of trial and blessing, we were able to see the church turn around from a generally legalistic church to become a gracious, relational body with love for Jesus Christ. Phyllis and I likewise grew in many ways, grounding our faith in the centrality of the glory of God over all things. John Piper’s saying encapsulates the heart of our ministry: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Along the way (late ‘90s) I had become burdened by the state of converted people. So many who claimed faith did not seem to live it. Where was the effectual change conversion was supposed to bring? Upon expressing this in a phone conversation with my former pastor, he urged me that if I were going to study the subject anyway, I would do well to get a degree in the process. This I did. It has been a profitable study that led to a doctorate from Gorden-Conwell Theological Seminary. It fine-tuned my faith in God and his Word and benefitted the church as well. Several years ago we began to feel that our work at BCP was nearing an end and that it would be profitable to the gospel for me to pass the baton to the next pastor. By God’s grace we were able to leave the church with a healthy unity in Christ and a good pastor to lead them further down the path we had begun.
 
What does semi-retirement mean for a pastor?
I can say only what it means for me. First. I don’t look at what I’m doing as retirement, but only that we resigned (affably) from one ministry in order to rest (for a short time) before returning to further ministry. Second. Without knowing exactly what is next (God always knows) our thought is that we would like to remain in some form of ministry though in a different place and perhaps at a different pace. In a real sense, one never “retires” from ministry altogether. Third. Rest, like labor, if done in a godly way, restores the soul and finds its grounding in faith that trusts God in quiet as well as in work. Lastly, I plan to do some writing.
 
What advice would you share with a church after a lifetime of ministry?
First. Ensure that the main thing IS the main thing! I know, that sounds so cliche! But it is not! It’s absolutely critical to a happy, God-fulfilling life. To glorify God BY enjoying him forever is the sine qua non of the Christian’s purpose. All things must emanate from this pursuit, whether it’s work or witness or worship. Second, Pray. Pray privately. Pray corporately. Be so intent on prayer that other things in life might suffer in order to give time to prayer! I often said something to the effect that “prayer is the engine that drives the church.” And if that is true, then how will the church move forward on the right basis unless they pray? Further, if prayer is essentially communion with God, then it is natural for us to enjoy the privilege of such a beautiful union. Third. God’s Word. Read it. Study it. Soak in it until it becomes who you are. Aim to become something of what Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, viz., that he knew the Bible so well, that his very blood ran bibline. Prick him anywhere and out flowed Bible! Many things happen in our lives and in our churches, so if we get these things right, all other things will fall into place. In sum, a lifetime of ministry has reinforced the basics, the ABC’s of Christianity!

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation (1789)

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

1798 Thanksgiving Declaration
 
Washington issued a proclamation on October 3, 1789, designating Thursday, November 26 as a national day of thanks. In his proclamation, Washington declared that the necessity for such a day sprung from the Almighty’s care of Americans prior to the Revolution, assistance to them in achieving independence, and help in establishing the constitutional government.
 
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks:
 
  • For his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation
  • For the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war
  • For the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed
  • For the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted
  • For the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed;
and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions:
 
  • To enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually
  • To render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed
  • To protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord
  • To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us
  • And generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Ears to Hear Podcasts

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Michael Wilburn favorite podcasts for the church

Whenever I see a person with earbuds I ask myself, “What are they listening to?” because what we hear shapes who we are in the long run. Often, podcasts fill that airspace. Podcasts offer free downloadable audio content to anyone with a computer, smartphone, or digital device. Some of the popular “podcatchers” are iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. In fact, you can subscribe to Immanuel’s podcast on Stitcher HERE.

Why Listen to Podcasts?

What you hear influences how you think. Your time and attention really matter, and your commute time is more than background noise. Proverbs 18:15 approves, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Podcasts are an excellent alternative to talk radio and music. They allow you to selectively hear profitable conversations for your mind, heart, and spirit.

In case you wonder what a pastor plays in the car, here are 13 podcasts on my iPhone right now:

  1. 5 Minutes in Church History
  2. 5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer
  3. 9Marks Pastors’ Talk
  4. Ask Pastor John
  5. Classic Tales Podcast
  6. Expositor with Steven J. Lawson
  7. HBR Ideacast
  8. Revitalize & Replant with Thom Rainer
  9. The Briefing with Albert Mohler
  10. The On Preaching Podcast with H. B. Charles, Jr.
  11. The Tolkien Professor 
  12. Thinking in Public with Albert Mohler
  13. United? We Pray

Make a Suggestion

What podcasts do you listen to? Follow the link to our Facebook page, Immanuel Baptist Richmond, and post a comment with your podcast recommendation.

Blessings,

Pastor Michael

Listen to Your Conscience

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

conscience

What is the conscience?
“The conscience is your consciousness of what you believe is right and wrong”
  1. Conscience produces different results for people based on different moral standards.
  2. Conscience can change.
  3. Conscience functions as a guide, monitor, witness, and judge.

Twenty Scripture Texts on the Conscience

  1. Acts 23:1
  2. Acts 24:16
  3. Romans 2:15
  4. Romans 9:1
  5. Romans 13:5
  6. 1 Corinthians 8:7, 20, 12
  7. 1 Corinthians 10:25, 27-29
  8. 2 Corinthians 1:12
  9. 2 Corinthians 4:2
  10. 2 Corinthians 5:11
  11. 1 Timothy 1:5, 19
  12. 1 Timothy 3:9
  13. 1 Timothy 4:2
  14. 2 Timothy 1:3
  15. Titus 1:15
  16. Hebrews 9:9, 14
  17. Hebrews 10:2, 22
  18. Hebrews 13:18
  19. 1 Peter 2:19
  20. 2 Peter 3:16, 21
A Prayer for Grace through the Conscience 
(found in Conscience by Andrew Naselli and J. D. Crowley)
 
Father, we are finite and sinful people, and for a complex of reasons that you know far better than we do, we disagree with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ on all sorts of disputable matters.
 
  1. Would you please give us grace to welcome those who disagree with us on various disputable issues?
  2. Would you please give us grace to not look down on those who are stricter than we are?
  3. Would you please give us grace to not be judgmental toward those who exercise more freedom than we do?
  4. Would you please give us grace to be fully convinced of our positions in our own consciences?
  5. Would you please give us grace to practice our freedoms and restrictions for your glory and to assume that other believers are doing the same?
  6. Would you please give us grace to keep disputable matters in perspective, knowing that we will all someday stand before your judgment seat?
  7. Would you please give us grace to not let our freedom destroy the faith of a professing Christian who is weaker on a particular disputable matter?
  8. Would you please give us grace to build each other up in righteousness, peace, and joy?
  9. Would you please give us grace to not flaunt our freedom or expect others to be as strict as we are?
  10. Would you please give us grace to live according to our conscience and experience your blessing?
  11. Would you please give us grace to follow the example of Christ, who put others first?
  12. Would you please give us grace to bring you glory by welcoming one another as Christ has welcomed us?
Lord, we are weak and selfish. We need so much endurance and encouragement to live with our brothers and sisters in this way of peace. You are the God of endurance and encouragement. Please grant us to live in such harmony with one another and in accord with Christ Jesus that together we may with one voice glorify you, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen.
 
Naselli, Andrew David and J. D. Crowley. Conscience: What it is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016.

 

Chinese Ministry – A Celebration of God’s Blessings

Geoffrey ChanChinese Ministry, Church Blog

Chinese Ministry
1890, the Chinese population in Richmond numbered less than 100 and Immanuel Baptist Church was a thriving congregation at Fifth and Leigh Streets.  That year, the church invited a group of Chinese people living in Richmond to attend a weekly Sunday School class and occasional worship services conducted by retired missionaries to China. This began Immanuel’s first official outreach to a people from another land – both at home and abroad.

At that time, the bulk of the Chinese population was centered in the heart of Richmond.  Immanuel’s central location at Fifth and Leigh Streets, and later at Pine and Grace Streets, was an ideal place for reaching out to Richmond’s Chinese population until the early 1940s.  As most of the Richmond Chinese population during this time had their roots in southern China, the Bible studies and worship services were conducted in Cantonese, the dialect of that region.

Moving forward 100 years from that first Sunday School class to the 1990s, much has changed.  Immanuel is now at Monument and Thompson and the Chinese population in Richmond has grown to several thousand.  Hundreds and thousands of Chinese students and visiting scholars are in the United States to pursue higher education.  Many have come to Virginia.  Not only China opened its door to the world, China has come to the United States, to Virginia and to Richmond.

During the 1992/93 academic year, I had the opportunity to go to the University of Virginia to lead Bible studies for a group of Chinese students. I met several visiting scholars and students from China and asked them the reason for their interest in studying the Bible. Their overwhelming answer was, “We had lost faith in a belief system that shaped our lives. Here in the US, we see the commitment of many Christians and we are impressed. We want to know what they believe in.” What a great opportunity to share the Word of God when hearts are hungry for the truth.

In June 1998, my wife, Eunice, and I joined a Chinese Bible Study on the VCU/MCV campus, witnessing to a group of graduate students from China.  That September, sensing the great opportunity to evangelize and enlarge God’s kingdom in Richmond, Pastor Sparky Pritchard encouraged me to pray about leading a ministry to the Chinese at Immanuel.  At the January 1999 Board of Elders meeting, the Board endorsed the idea, and Immanuel began to pray for God’s will for a new Chinese Ministry.

By the end of the summer, we were confident that God had answered our prayers, and the preparation for a Chinese worship service began in earnest.  Brother Enguang Zhao single-handedly scanned the entire phone book, picking out all the addresses of anyone whose last name sounded Chinese.  We sent out over 1000 letters to the greater Richmond area inviting the recipient to come to the Chinese worship service at Immanuel.  And on December 5, 1999 the first Chinese worship service conducted in Mandarin, the Chinese national dialect, was held at the Mizpah Room, with over fifty people attending.

I want to share with you one story from that day that will forever be etched in my memory.  On that December morning of the first service, at about 11 am, a Chinese couple and their little girl was walking down Thompson Street.  They had just arrived from Australia three days earlier. They were staying at a hotel on the 3200 block of Broad Street, and were on their way to Hanover Avenue to look at an apartment.  Because the sidewalk did not continue on their side of the street, they crossed Thompson at the corner of Monument and Thompson.  One of our security personnel thought they were looking for the Chinese service and approached them with a big smile and enthusiasm, and ushered them to the Mizpah Room.  It was already 15 minutes into the service, so they sat at the back, and because they had an appointment to keep, they left before the service ended.  No one knew who they were or where they lived, and no one knew if they would come back the next week.  But that following Sunday, they were the first ones to arrive for the Chinese service.  QL and LC, and their little girl WS accepted the Lord as their Savior later in the spring of 2000, and were baptized on April 30, 2000.  Surely we saw evidence that God is at work.

After the Sunday morning Chinese Worship Service was established, Immanuel also assumed the leadership of the Friday evening Chinese Bible Study at VCU in October 2000.  These two meetings became the hallmark of the Chinese Ministry.   Evangelism occurred on Friday evenings through seeker-friendly Bible studies, as well as home visits and one-on-one meetings, and Sunday mornings brought worship and instruction through expository preaching and in-depth Bible study.

Most newcomers and non-believers were introduced to the ministry through the Friday evening meetings. For many Chinese students and scholars, and their families, this was their first introduction to the Word of God.  Our meetings began with a Chinese supper together, our discussions were generally evangelistic, and the relaxed and informal atmosphere gave ample opportunity for people to ask questions or raise issues.  As their interest in the Bible grew, seekers would begin to attend the Sunday worship services and eventually, many would turn to God and become a follower of Jesus Christ.

From December 1999 to June 2017, God has blessed the ministry with more than 120 professions of faith and 112 baptisms.  As these new believers finished their studies in Richmond, they found employment and moved to other parts of the United States, and even Canada and Australia.  Some returned to China, and it is gratifying to hear that they are also walking with the Lord and active in their local churches.

None of these would have been possible but by the grace of God, and the faithfulness of many Immanuelites who labored both in front of and behind the scenes.  As I read through 18 annual reports, and the well over 100 names of people who served the Chinese Ministry, I am just amazed at the goodness of our great God and am thankful for the partnership of everyone involved.

Since my retirement in July 2017, Brothers Hemin Yang and Jianmin Zhao continue to lead the Friday night Chinese Bible Study.  While the demographics of the Chinese students/scholars population is very different from 20 years ago, opportunities to witness for Christ continue.  “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Geoffrey chan
        Soli Deo gloria,
        Geoffrey Chan

Are You Ready?

Matt LavenderChurch Blog

Are You Ready?

Oh how I enjoy old, acoustic guitar blues music particularly gospel blues and I would like to introduce you to one I have enjoyed learning recently.

Gospel blues is a form of music that has been around since before World War II. It’s earliest influences were “spirituals.” Spirituals were religious songs created by enslaved African Americans that combined biblical truths and stories with African rhythmical and sonic elements. Possibly the most famous spiritual would be “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” With the increased common use of the steel acoustic guitar in the 1920’s and 30’s, gospel blues became more popular. Spirituals and gospel blues were expressions of religious faith that looked forward to a time of future happiness or deliverance from present tribulation. Gospel blues often utilize repetition to get across simple yet universal truths of living in a fallen world. One particular musician who could convey these truths and emotions was Mississippi John Hurt. His version of “You’ve Got to Die” was recorded four months before his death in 1966. I would like share the link below of his version, as well as the lyrics, and some spiritual reflections.

“You’ve Got To Die” – Mississippi John Hurt (1893-1966)

“Well you just as well get ready, you’ve got to die
Oh you just as well get ready, you’ve got to die
You don’t know the minute or the hour
Just well to get ready, you’ve got to die

Yes I’m prayin to be ready, I’ve got to die
Well I’m prayin to be ready…..
Well I don’t know the minute or the hour
Prayin to be ready, I’ve got to die

Oh deacon get ready, you’ve got to die
Oh deacon get ready…..
You don’t know the minute or the hour
Deacon get ready, you’ve got to die

Oh preacher get ready, you’ve got to die, Uh oh!
Oh preacher get ready, you’ve got to die
Yes you don’t know the minute or the hour
Just well get ready, you’ve got to die”

Spiritual reflections:

  • The guitar playing has a way of lightening the mood of the lyrics, but the tone of the lyrics are somber. I am reminded that, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” – Ecclesiastes 7:2
  • The lyrics are simplistic yet convey important realities we should all meditate upon:
    • Death is personal & universal
      • “I’ve got to die” and “You’ve got to die”
      • All have sinned and the wages of our sin is death (Romans 3:23 & 6:23)
    • Death respects no one
      • “Oh Deacon, Oh Preacher you’ve got to die”
      • It is appointed for mankind to die regardless of status, great or small, and regardless of spiritual condition, saved or lost (Hebrews 9:27 & Revelation 20:12)
    • Death waits for no one
      • “You don’t know the minute or the hour”
      • Life is a vapor and we are not guaranteed tomorrow (James 4:14 & Luke 12:13-21)
    • We must be ready for when death comes
      • “Prayin to be ready”
      • Lord make me know my end and the measure of my days (Psalm 39:4 & 90:12)
      • We live to the Lord, We die to the Lord (Romans 14:8)
      • Being “ready” is ultimately defined as having a personal relationship with God and the forgiveness of our sins through the finished work of Jesus Christ who gives eternal life to all who ask (Romans 6:23 & 5:10-11 & 10:9-13)

May these important truths cause us to see how fleeting life is and how much God has for us to do. May we all be reminded that our journey comes to the same end, as long as the Lord tarries, and that we should strive to live a life pointing others to the one who provides eternal life. Let us all pray to be ready for when that minute or hour comes. Are you ready?

Matt Lavender
      Matt Lavender

Pray for our Government Leaders

David AndersenChurch Blog

capitol cookout and prayer walk

Click to view full flyer.

Nero had just burned the capital of the empire, Rome, and had just blamed the Christians, igniting the greatest worldwide persecution the Church had ever known. Evidence shows that this was likely the background for Paul, the former foremost persecutor but now the greatest missionary, writing God’s will and solution for the Church for all time:

“I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, be made for all men,  for kings and all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:1-4).

Thus, we are taught in the Scriptures to pray, even with thanksgiving, especially for our leaders, even if they may persecute us. As Jesus taught, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Thereby we alone imitate our Heavenly Father as we “overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). God’s Word makes it clear that prayer for our leaders is the means of our peace, (not only primarily public prayer in church [1Tim 3:15], but also private prayer as individuals). On the eve of the elections each year we gather to pray for all our leaders at our capitol and you are invited to join us on Monday, November 4 from 5:00 to 7:45 PM.

The covered parking under the Library of Virginia is free, as well as the delicious Brock’s BBQ for dinner. We will have the privilege of hearing from an outstanding statesman here in Virginia, the former Speaker of the House, Bill Howell. Please register by October 21 at www.capitolcom.org under “events.”

We look forward to seeing you there!

David Andersen

 

David Anderson
State Chaplain, Virginia
Capitol Commission
capitolcom.org

 

World Day of Prayer Event: Baptist Mid-Missions Celebrating 100 Years of Ministry!

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Baptist Mid Missions 100 years

This Tuesday, October 15th Baptist Mid-Missions will launch its 100th anniversary year with an international prayer event broadcast on Facebook Live. From the home office in Cleveland, Ohio, this event will be hosted by BMM President Vernon Rosenau and President Emeritus Gary Anderson. You can mark yourself as interested or going to this event HERE. The online event begins at 10:00 am ET.

Baptist Mid-Missions exists to strategically advance the building of Christ’s church, with his passion and for his glory in vital partnership with Baptist churches worldwide. The “Mid” in Mid-Missions refers to the Mission’s original focus reaching interior regions and countries left with little or no access to the church. William Haas, the founder of BMM, pioneered this strategy advancing the Gospel into the heart of Africa, which is now known as Central African Republic.

It has been my privilege to serve Baptist Mid-Missions as an Elected Council member since 2012. Working on financial and administrative governance allows me to support tangibly the missionaries I pray for regularly. My brother, John Wilburn serves as a career church-planting missionary with BMM on the island of St. Vincent. Missions agencies are vital for missionaries and churches because they provide crucial services for safe, ethical, and successful global missionary work.

Join BMM for the World Day of Prayer event on Tuesday, October 15th. Get to know this historic mission agency. Let it prepare our hearts for Immanuel’s international missions conference and remind us to pray for missionaries serving the Lord and representing us on the frontline of Gospel advance.

Like and Follow Baptist Mid-Missions:

Michael Wilburn

 

Blessings,
Pastor Michael Wilburn
mwilburn@ibcrichmond.org

What To Think About Kanye West

Michael WilburnChurch Blog

Kanye West Conversion
The news media recently reported Kanye West’s conversion to Christianity. West is a 42-year old rapper “who has long melded black gospel sounds with secular hip-hop” according to the New York Times. West has won 21 Grammy Awards, sold over 140 million albums, and has 29.2 million people following his Instagram account. He is perhaps best known for a controversial incident with Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, his marriage to Kim Kardashian, and his friendship with President Donald Trump. However, none of this is catching the media’s attention today.

Last week, West hosted a series of listening parties in Detroit, Chicago, and New York. The events, held in churches, showcased West’s new album, “Jesus is King.” The profanity-free album includes songs titled “God is,” “Baptized,” “Sunday,” and “Sweet Jesus.” Unbeknown to his audience, West invited a pastor to speak. In Detroit, Rev. Adam Tyson preached a 12-minute sermon from Isaiah 6. According to Christianity Today, he said, “I’m here to tell you that while our God is the judge over the universe, he’s also a God of mercy and he’s a God of love, and he sent his Son to die on a cross because he loves you.”

Tyson is the pastor of Placerita Bible Church in Santa Clarita, California and a graduate of The Master’s Seminary. West met Tyson after attending his church, which led to a Gospel conversation a week later. Describing his relationship with West, the pastor said, “I want to be faithful to a new brother in the faith, Kanye. I want to help him be connected to the Word of God. I told him, ‘As long as you’re exalting Christ, I’m 100% behind you.” Tyson continues to accompany West at performances but cautions that concerts don’t replace the church.

How Ought Christians to Think about Kanye West’s Conversion?

Christians may form quick opinions and react to a celebrity’s conversion story either dismissively or triumphantly. But before we hit retweet or delete, we need to sober our judgment with the soul’s worth and the Gospel’s power. How ought Christians to think about Kanye West’s conversion?

Be Hopeful, But Not Naive

First, the Gospel is powerful enough to transform anyone’s life. The Apostle Paul described himself as a chief of sinners, and he felt the cold shoulder of hesitant Christians unwilling to believe his conversion (Acts 9:26). Perhaps that is your reaction to Kanye West. A wait-and-see attitude with folded arms is quite different from a hopeful relationship started with an embrace. The Great Commission requires discipling when it says, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). This means that every profession of faith should be followed by faithfulness. You will know believers by their fruit (John 15:8).

Be Cautious, But Not Pessimistic 

Wisdom requires that Christians be cautious, and caution is a good virtue. Isn’t it good to be cautious when you drive through a traffic light? The answer is “yes” because caution equals safety. Salvation is an intersection of life and must be navigated with wisdom. Young believers need answers to questions, prayers for assurance, and good discipling before baptism. They need a church to love, teach, and protect them. Hostility, power, and fame are no match against the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God delights in rescuing sinners from the penalty of their sin and angels rejoice when a sinner repents.

Be Accepting, But Not Opportunistic 

As with every new Christian, fellow-believers must help, pray, and encourage their spiritual growth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 expects change, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” While all Christians can pray for Kanye West’s spiritual growth, Christians close to him should make it their aim to disciple him. A word of warning is necessary for Christians, pastors, and churches: we must never exploit fame for evangelism. Christianity never serves well as an adjective for celebrity. Christ needs no publicist. Our goal is not to make the Gospel popular, but to make it known.

Michael Wilburn

 

Blessings,
Pastor Michael Wilburn
mwilburn@ibcrichmond.org