by Roger S. Oldham
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is part of the call to prayer issued by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, to pray for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world.
Nashville (BP) — From the earliest days of the so-called “culture war” between proponents of life and promoters of death, those who advocate for elective abortions have routinely accused those of us who value life of only caring for the infant in the womb. In fact, Baptists around the world have been caring for children of every age and in every generation. Southern Baptists are part of this caring tradition.
What follows is a “Top Ten” list of ways individual Southern Baptists invest themselves in life.
1) Beginning in 1973, and escalating since 1980, Southern Baptists have used the power of relentless influence to encourage elected officials to defend and promote life. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) continues to take the initiative in keeping this topic ever before us; but the entity does not stand alone. Across the nation, millions of individual Baptists consistently vote their convictions and advocate for life in the congressional districts in which they live.
Let us pray our diligence will not flag.
2) Countless Southern Baptists in thousands of communities provide financial and volunteer support for pregnancy care centers. There is no way to quantify how many Southern Baptists serve as volunteers in these centers, but evidence points to a sizable army of men and women who give of their time, talents and financial resources each week to promote life.
Let us pray that their numbers will increase.
3) While the age of the orphanage has largely passed, many children are “orphans” by divorce, dysfunction or despair. Baptists continue to step forward to minister to children of every age through a network of homes for those who need a safe haven. These state-convention ministries offer residential care, promote adoption, and work to place children in loving foster-care environments.
Pray for house parents, adoptive parents and foster parents alike to provide Christian nurture to these at-risk children.
4) A throng of Southern Baptists — whose names will never be emblazoned on a marquee, but whose impact in individual lives is noted in heaven — have chosen helping careers as a vocation. They work in social services, children’s health and services organizations, juvenile justice, law enforcement, fire protection, emergency rescue, health care, independent and faith-based adoption agencies, and other areas.
Pray for these unsung heroes and look for ways to affirm them in their selfless service.
5) A multitude of Southern Baptists directly impact and influence children through public and private education in our nation’s schools. These educators radiate the joy of the Lord and the fruit of the Spirit daily in some of the most difficult surroundings imaginable. Given the strictures against actively testifying of the grace and goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ in public schools, these educators nevertheless daily demonstrate life-changing compassion and life-giving grace.
Pray for an educator by name today. If you have children in school, pray for your child’s teachers by name.
6) In addition, countless Southern Baptist churches provide education services for families, including affordable daycare, mothers’ day out, and Christian schools. Many of these church employees work at great financial sacrifice, performing daily acts of service as investments of love and worship, actively seeking to influence the next generation for Christ.
Remember them in prayer and give them a word of encouragement.
7) One of the greatest evangelistic tools ever promoted by Southern Baptists is Vacation Bible School. VBS could not exist were it not for the willing volunteers that prepare lessons, teach crafts, provide refreshments, drive buses and vans, ferry neighbor’s children, lead worship, and organize recreational activities. To look at a VBS volunteer is to see an individual who values the life of each child! Churches are already planning for this summer’s VBS.
Pray for volunteers and for a fruitful ministry of outreach and growth.
8) Nursery care in the church setting is perhaps the most unsung ministry the local church offers. What church would not come to a screeching halt if nursery volunteers rose up and said, “I will no longer serve”? A long-time pastor observed that many parents take advantage of the nursery service as an entitlement.
Pray for your faithful nursery workers who willingly give of themselves to watch over and care for children who are not their own; and that these workers’ numbers will increase!
9) It never ceases to amaze me how some homes are “kid magnets.” What a wonderful blessing to provide a stable home setting where your children’s friends want to congregate! Parents who intentionally create this kind of environment demonstrate the love of Christ and their desire to protect children throughout life.
Pray about ways your home can be a Kingdom hub for children in your community.
10) What church doesn’t have an active age-graded ministry of some kind? In the smaller church, youth and children’s ministries may overlap and be led by volunteers. In larger churches, directors with specialized training in preschool, childhood, middle and high school ministries provide oversight and guidance. But even in larger congregations, the ministries would end overnight if volunteers did not make serving kids a priority of their time and commitment.
Pray for these paid leaders and volunteer servants of the Lord.
The list could continue, but the point is made. Simply put, Southern Baptists are involved in the lives of children of all ages. Southern Baptists care about children — from the womb and beyond!
We rejoice over the strong and successful. We receive the fallen, seeking to restore them with gentleness and love. And we grieve over the molested and abused. In fact, the Southern Baptist Convention lists resources to help protect the innocent from sexual molestation and abuse (see http://www.sbc.net/churchresources/sexabuseprevention.asp.
As we approach the 42nd anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, let us recommit ourselves to promote life; protect the innocent and unborn; provide ministries that give each child opportunities to see, hear and receive Christ; and pray, pray, pray.
The ethic of life is a lifetime commitment of pointing people to the One who said, I am come to give them life; and to give it more abundantly (John 10:10).
Roger S. “Sing” Oldham is vice president for convention communications and relations with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. This Call to Prayer is adapted from “Southern Baptists— Promoting, Protecting, and Providing for Life”, an article that first appeared in SBC LIFE, January 2009.
Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com).
Baptist Press (BP) is the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention and provides news to the 42 state Baptist papers. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.