Calm in the storm
March 26th, 2019 / By: Jim Richards | Executive Director / comments
Most of you are familiar with the account of Jesus asleep in the boat when a storm arose (Mark 4:35-41). The disciples were fearful for their lives. To them, the situation was hopeless.
Tragedy seems to be sweeping across us like a tidal wave of evil. In the 24-hour news cycle there are constant reports of murders, injustice and hate. No halting of the march of heartbreak appears at hand.
Sexual abuse is one of the most horrific sins being revealed in our day. Too many victims have suffered in silence. A culture of cover-up was enforced with a wrong-headed thought that public disclosure would hurt the cause of Christ. Trying to save the reputation of the church often caused the church to lose its testimony. Worse, predators were turned loose on more unsuspecting victims.
MinistrySafe is a Texas company that provides child safety training for churches across the nation. Through the SBTC’s relationship with MinistrySafe over the last 10 years, hundreds of SBTC churches have received vital child sexual abuse prevention training. Our intent in this effort was to provide the basic assistance for a local church. The SBTC Executive Board has now set aside $250,000 of Cooperative Program gifts to provide training for five members from each of the first 1,000 SBTC churches requesting help at sbtexas.com/sexualabuseawareness. Five training events are being scheduled across Texas during 2019 as well. The first of these will be May 13 at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano and May 23 at High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin.
The executive committee of the executive board will take further steps to strengthen practices and policies of the convention. The SBTC will work with any affiliated church to improve its protection of the innocents. It is a local church’s responsibility to safeguard its congregation, but the SBTC will continue to be a prophetic voice and strongly encourage churches to take advantage of these resources. One other initiative is the legislation initiated by two SBTC pastors and endorsed by the Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee that would enable information about alleged-but-not-convicted abusers to be shared without civil liability.
On the other side of the world in New Zealand, the mass murder of Muslims at worship renders us speechless. No one should ever fear for their lives when they gather in a religious setting. Religious liberty is a hallmark of Baptists. While we may disagree with the teachings of other faiths, we as Baptists should always stand for their right to hold those beliefs. Finger pointing and blame shifting does not heal the hurt of the families that lost loved ones. Our voice should sound a clear call for religious liberty. This is also true in addressing the issue in nation-states that prohibit public expressions of Christianity. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are under harsh persecution in many places. While believers suffer, we mourn also with those who do not share our faith when they suffer violence.
In the United States, though to a lesser degree, we are seeing creeping evidence of the persecution of Christians. Acerbic rhetoric by politicians, the media and even some religious leaders creates a toxic environment. We grieve about the slaughter at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and our own First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs suffered at the hands of a hate-filled man. An anti-Christian culture may one day cause believers to pay a higher price for standing up for Jesus.
Remember Jesus and the disciples in the boat during the storm. The disciples thought that because Jesus was asleep in the boat he didn’t have control of the situation. All it takes is one word from our Lord and all is calm. The storm may rage around us but he is still Master of the sea. Let’s remain calm in the storm because our faith is in the sovereign Lord Jesus.