Someday I want to write about the heroes of my faith. A favorite Bible passage of mine is Hebrews 11. I love to read each of the names listed in the chapter and their association/interaction with our great God.
Because each name is of a faithful member of the family of God, the writer of Hebrews, after listing the names, asks, "And what more can I say?"
Space is too short for me to list each of the heroes instrumental in my faith journey. I was inspired, encouraged and blessed by the lives of so many who came before me. Many were giants in ministry. An abbreviated list would include my pastor in Panama, David Morgan; Eugene Wolf in Los Angeles; Lloyd Corder, Gerald Palmer and especially Oscar I. Romo at the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board); as well as Ralph Longshore and E.J. Combs here at California Southern Baptist Convention.
Even listing these names is dangerous, because there are so many who have touched my life.
I suggest you take a moment and make your own personal list of the influencers in your life. You will find pure joy in the effort.
I continue to remember each one who made decisions that changed the face of Southern Baptist mission work. Those men and countless others crossed cultural and racial barriers to reach the lost and make disciples. Southern Baptists became the most multicultural and ethnically diverse denomination in the nation.
New concepts were created that changed the profile of our Convention. Who can remember "ethnic church growth," "laser penetration," "kaleidoscopic church growth," "catalytic missionaries," "refugee resettlement," etc? During those earlier years, there was such an excitement among us that enabled Southern Baptists across the nation to reach the lost and make disciples.
As I travel throughout California now, my heart is touched by the millions in the Golden State who still are without Christ. We use the tagline "Reaching the World in California." It's not a new concept for California Southern Baptists - we've been doing it for decades. CSBC has been a language missions leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, starting indigenous churches among ethnic and culture groups, because my predecessors always saw the need for a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural convention if we were going to be representative and mirror the population of our state.
Regardless of what others may do or how outside forces attempt to shape who we are, California Southern Baptists must remain true to our heritage as an inclusive, diverse group of churches. I trust we can continue to start and assimilate churches of all ethnic and culture groups.
Each week in California, the gospel is preached in 77 languages reaching at least 60 distinct ethnic groups.
Let us remain faithful to the mission, remembering and celebrating the lives of those who came before us, and rejoicing in the power of unity, as together by God's grace we reach out to every man, woman, boy and girl in California with the Gospel of Jesus Christ