It was a quiet Sunday morning, not unlike most others as I drive through a community to preach at one of our California Southern Baptist Convention churches. This was a neighborhood in the Los Angeles area; not particularly new, but the homes were well kept.
I got to the church as I usually do to meet the pastor or my host and visit with church members. When I arrived there was an elderly couple getting out of their vehicle. The wife was spry and on the move. However, her husband was much slower and even had a bit of difficulty getting from behind the steering wheel and out of the car. I spoke to them and he immediately said something to the effect of, "I know you. I see your picture and read your column in the newspaper each month." It's always good to be recognized and to know that people actually pay attention to what one writes!
I entered the building which was not overly spacious but was well appointed, clean and with newer pew chairs. Older senior adults were scattered throughout the sanctuary and I began making my way through the rows to speak to them. Each one had their own story. Many were dealing with difficult situations - estranged children, loss of a spouse, physical challenges and the like.
Even with the difficulties of their "golden years" these were the faithful of the congregation. They were there every Sunday morning, rain or shine. I thanked God for their faithfulness and their trust and obedience to Him through the years.
It was then that something caught my eye. Displayed on the wall in the sanctuary was a small certificate for "1 of 1,000" - the challenge for the last couple of years to 1,000 CSBC congregations to contribute at least $1,000 to the California Mission Offering in hopes of raising $1 million for California missions.
Again, I thanked God for this congregation and its faithful members. It is not large and its membership is aging, yet they care enough about those who don't know Christ that they would stretch themselves to raise at least $1,000 for California missions.
The certificate was from a year ago, but it is a reminder about California missions and the upcoming California Mission Offering emphasis. The prayer and offering emphasis are very important to our efforts to reach this state for Christ.
We continue to stress the enormity of the unsaved population. Estimates are that there are 33 million - about 90 percent of Californians - who don't know Jesus as Savior. That total - 33 million - is greater than the total population of 10 Western states.
Our theme this year is "Be Bold," based on the apostle's prayer in Acts chapter 4. I believe Christ has called California Southern Baptists to Be Bold in reaching our state for Christ. We can Be Bold individually and corporately. Praying for, giving to and being on mission in California are all important.
Let me encourage you to lead your congregation to observe the season of prayer and California Mission Offering this fall!
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