Shining the Light in a Dark World
Christians have been wrestling with difficult social and moral issues - matters of life and death, of hope and despair - for the past two thousand years, all the time seeking to impact the culture for good and for God.
He calls Christians to bring the light and the truth of Scripture into the darkness of society. History records the names of thousands upon thousands of men and women who were ordinary in stature, but extraordinary in their faith in accomplishing much for God.
There are Southern Baptists across our nation who selflessly refuse to turn their backs on a culture in disrepair. And in taking a stand, speaking the truth, and making a difference, they are part of a legacy of godly servants who have lived out the purifying and preserving power of God's Word as salt in a fallen world.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the agency of the Southern Baptist Convention responsible for addressing ethical, moral, and public policy issues, supports Southern Baptists in bringing the light and truth of Scripture to bear on critical cultural issues.
Consider Jane Neidenfeuhr, a home-schooling mother of two teenagers and member of Prestonwood Baptist Church, who in a visit to the Plano, Texas, public library two years ago observed some young boys looking at pornography via the Internet on a library computer. To her amazement, library employees told her there was nothing that could be done about it. Her persistent calls for protection prompted councilmen to change city policy in Plano. Now public computers in the library offer only filtered Internet service. This self-proclaimed "stay-at-home mom" brushes aside the "activist" label, insisting instead that she just cares about children.
Traveling down Orlando's South Orange Blossom Trail, you're less likely to see the glitz of the city's famed tourist attractions than you are a roadway littered with strip clubs, street-walkers, and seedy motels. But look carefully among the emblems of modern-day decadence and you may see First Baptist Church of Orlando member Peggy Ament. Where neon lights flash enticements of drink specials and adult entertainment, Peggy is the only real "light." And she isn't in the area by accident; God has called this grandmother to a life-changing ministry to "ladies of the night" who make their living in this area. "Most of these women know what they're doing is wrong," Peggy says, adding, "They need to hear ... that Jesus loves them."
Head far out west to a run-of-the-mill middle class home in Mesa, Ariz., and you'll find Van and Shirley Hughes and a house full of children. Not that long ago the couple was dreaming of "a cabin in the woods on a lake and dinners out;" now they're busy raising their second family. With two grown sons and four grandchildren, God placed a burden on their heart that turned their lives upside down for good. Van and Shirley, members of Calvary Southern Baptist Church, adopted ten siblings, ages 4 to 17, who had been abandoned in a ramshackle house in Phoenix. It's believed to be the largest group adoption ever in the U.S. No question about it, Van and Shirley are making a God-sized difference in the lives of Frank, Steven, Asucena, Veronica, Juan, Jose, Agustino, Teresa, Stephanie, and Doni.
Head back east to the Lone Star state and you'll find a common sight in Terrell, Texas - railroad tracks that cut through of the heart of this town of 14,000 people as a literal dividing line between the community's majority black and white neighborhoods. Yet for at least two men in Terrell, the tracks are now little more than bumps in the road on the way to a friendship across racial lines. Clarence Roberts, pastor of New Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, and Bob Price, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, purposed in their hearts to do more than preach about race relations; they decided to bridge the racial barriers that split the town. Today, sincere friendships have been fostered among many in this community with no regard to skin color.
History is full of similar accounts of men and women who determined to change the culture for good and for God. From early Baptists in England giving their lives for their faith to current-day Southern Baptists who venture into the world to reach out to modern day untouchables, these champions for the faith - from Florida to Texas to Arizona - are like thousands of other Southern Baptists who are addressing concerns about the moral and spiritual health of their family, their community, and their nation. These men and women could have easily looked the other way when faced with troubling issues in a troubled society, but instead they took a stand, spoke the truth, and made a difference.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission serves by educating, equipping, and encouraging Southern Baptists across our nation to be champions for the faith - ministering quietly but effectively in the name of Jesus Christ to those who are shackled by sin and who need to hear the liberating truths found in God's Word.
We salute and support Southern Baptists, who stand on Scripture and not on human convention or reason, in their tireless efforts to carry Christ's love to the unlovable and His healing power to the hurting.