I love Tennessee.
It is my adopted home and home to all of my immediate family. I believe our state is the most beautiful and unique of the 50 states. From the Smoky Mountains to the majestic and mighty Mississippi River, I stand in awe that the providential hand of God led me here decades ago to invest the best — and rest — of my life to serve Him in saturating Tennessee with the gospel.
And it is that last statement that fuels my drive. As much as I love the geographic diversity of Tennessee, I especially love the demographic diversity. Tennessee is home to more than 145 global people groups. Those red, yellow, black, and white who are precious in Jesus’ sight, we have them by the thousands.
But that is what also breaks my heart. Even though they are all so precious to Jesus, more than half our state’s population has no relationship with Him. Any way you slice it, our state is spiritually broken and desperately needs to hear the gospel. People are suffering from poverty, malnourishment, drug addiction, human trafficking, and so many of other life burdens.
They need a missionary.
Is that you and your church? Do you see the missions field just outside your doors? Think about it. A missions field is anyplace that desperately needs to hear the gospel and a missionary is anybody who shares the good news.
I mentioned those 145 different people groups. Did you know that accounts for approximately one million people here from other countries?
And then there are the youngest among us. A statistic that breaks my heart the most is that unless something changes, 90 percent of our children born after 9/11 will grow to adulthood and have no relationship with Jesus.
The spiritual lostness and physical desperation can be overwhelming, but I’ve got some great news. In the midst of it all, God is moving across our state, and using Tennessee Baptists to see lives changed in so many ways.
For instance, internationals are being reached through various ministries that range from church planting to English as a Second Language. Churches are being planted all over the state. Boys incarcerated for crimes they’ve committed are being spiritually set free through the preaching of the Word. College students are becoming equipped to be missionaries in whatever vocational field they find themselves, and people are receiving bread through compassion ministries to sustain them while also receiving the Bread of Life that will eternally satisfy them.
Tennessee Baptists giving through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions have had a hand in every one of these stories. The Golden Offering is to Tennessee what the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is to the International Mission Board and what the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is to the North American Mission Board. In the last year alone, 184 TBC churches gave through the Golden Offering that didn’t give the year before, and over the last three years Tennessee Baptists have increased their missions giving through the Golden Offering by an astounding 15 percent (five percent average per year). Every dollar Tennessee Baptists give to the Golden Offering stays right here in Tennessee for the purpose of advancing the gospel, and I’d encourage you to generously give.
Tennessee Baptists, thank you for your generosity. But please, we need you to pray.
September 11-18 is set aside as the Week of Prayer for Tennessee Missions. Prayer guides and other materials are available to help you pray strategically for the people and needs of Tennessee. God responds when His people pray, so let’s pray expecting God to spiritually transform our state.
Finally, let me ask, do you want your life to matter? Do you want your life to have an impact that lasts for eternity? That opportunity is waiting just beyond your door. One person really can have a part in changing the world around them when missions gets personal.
So, do you see your missions field? It’s just beyond your door.
It is a joy to be on this journey with you.