Early in my time as president of our Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches, I began to see our Convention in a whole new way. All my life I had thought of us as a family of churches; a family that supported one another; a family that was nurtured by the resources in our Convention Office.
Perhaps my new perspective has been born of the recent church planting/church revitalization vision God has given us through our Executive Minister. Perhaps it has been born of my personal burden for the multitude of unreached professional families pouring into booming St. John’s. Perhaps my new perspective has been shaped by the fact that our Atlantic Canadian society is generally not drawn to our churches as the vibrant centers of our communities that they once were.
However it has come to me, this is my new perspective on our Convention: 461 Baptist Churches in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland/Labrador working together to reach Atlantic Canada for Christ.
But are we? Is this our goal? Do we really want God to use us for something so much greater than ourselves?
At our recent “Refresh” retreat for Ministry Wives, we studied the way God worked in and through Queen Esther. We saw how Mordecai urged Esther to go to the King and implore him to save her people. In Esther 4:14 we read Mordecai’s warning: “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place but you and your father’s house will perish.”
Our Convention has more Churches scattered throughout Atlantic Canada than any other denomination except the Roman Catholic Church. It has a rich history of evangelism and disciple-making and it has a vision for reaching people in our current culture. But God will work through whomever He chooses. A smaller denomination poised for renewal, fervent missionaries from someplace else, someone or something totally unexpected. God doesn’t need to use us.
But wouldn’t it be sad if we missed out because we weren’t willing?
When Esther was faced with the life threatening task of rescuing her people, she first had to decide that she was willing to work with God. Then she did something so fundamentally correct and sound that in our frenzied attempts to keep up with our rapidly changing world, we tend to overlook it. She went to God and she urged all of her people to do the same. See Esther 4:15 – “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”
Fasting, for the Jews, was synonymous with waiting on God in prayer. As Esther and her people waited on God in prayer, He not only answered their prayer to save His people, He poured out His Spirit on Esther and made her entirely useful for His purposes. He showed her what to do and what to say so that she was perfectly aligned with His perfect timing and His perfect plan. She could never have done this on her own.
It will be in our times of genuine surrender and helplessness before God that He will answer our prayers for our people here in Atlantic Canada, transform us by His Spirit, and show us what to do.
Mordecai warned Esther that if she wasn’t willing, God would use someone else to save her people. But then he said “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Has God spread us and our 461 churches around Atlantic Canada for such a time as this? Let’s go to God and find out.