Tennessee Baptists are about emptying mosques, not building them.
There are a few pseudo-news websites authored by bloggers who produce satirical “news” stories, and some of their recent stories state that the Southern Baptist Convention is building mosques.
Those stories have gained traction through social media and people are assuming their truth. At least one of those stories states the Tennessee Baptist Convention is also building a mosque. As my pastor back home would say, “That’s a lie born in the pits of hell!”
And I want to set the record straight about this slanderous gossip. (See also story by Baptist and Reflector editor Lonnie Wilkey.)
Neither the Southern Baptist Convention nor the Tennessee Baptist Convention has ever built a mosque, and will never build a mosque. However, let me emphatically state that my prayer is that the gospel of Jesus Christ would sweep through the Muslim community in Tennessee and around the world and empty every mosque because those dear people have had an encounter with the Living God. Would it be that every mosque would become a house of worship lifting up the name of Isa — Jesus in Arabic.
Brothers and sisters, if Southern Baptists are to be guilty of giving Muslims anything, may we be guilty of freely and frequently giving them the sin-forgiving, life-saving, soul-awaking, hope found exclusively in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is happening and we need more Tennessee Baptists embracing the opportunity that God is giving us to be gospel salt and eternal light to the nations coming to Tennessee. We have 145-plus people groups now living in our state. More than 40 of those are identified by the International Mission Board as among the most globally unreached, and most of those are Muslim. There is an increasing opportunity to reach Tennessee and to reach the nations for Christ and to change our world.
For instance, two weeks ago I preached in a church where I understood none of the worship songs and needed a translator to convey my message to the congregation. You may ask, “Where did you go on your missions trip?” Tennessee! Any way you slice it, Tennessee is a missions field. I was attending the worship service of the Swahili Baptist Church, your sister TBC congregation in the heart of Nashville. Pray that God will strengthen this church and increase its gospel influence.
The Arabic Baptist Church in Murfreesboro is a bright gospel lighthouse to the Muslim community and doing a great work. The church’s beloved founding pastor, Raouf Ghattas, died suddenly last year. It could have been a major setback, but God has raised leaders from among the men Raouf mentored who are carrying on that work. It is growing and Muslims of all ages are coming to the gospel. Pray for that church and its leaders.
Our Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCMs) that you support through the Cooperative Program and the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions are connecting with Muslim students and introducing them to Christ. We are hearing more stories every year about not just Muslims but students from all manner of tribes, tongues, and nations coming to Christ as a result of BCM campus outreach and you have a part in that. Pray for our BCM leaders and students as they prepare to start a new “missions” year in the fall.
Recently, six teenagers from Muslin backgrounds gave their lives to Christ during a Friday night worship service at a Tennessee Baptist Church. I guess you could say they’ve been radicalized — for Jesus! Pray for these young believers to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
All this to say, please, use wisdom to discern what you read on social media and weigh if what you are reading squares with the direction in which you see the Tennessee Baptist Convention moving. Yes, we are moving toward Muslims, but our desire is to see mosques emptied, not built.
That is the Great Commission mission to which Jesus has called us all.
It is a joy to be on this journey with you.