“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD shines over you. For look, darkness covers the earth, and total darkness the peoples; but the LORD will shine over you, and His glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your radiance.”
Baptist Press has run a story about Evan and Lauren Parker, two recent college grads from Georgia, who have moved to Prague for six months as part of an IMB program called “Hands On,” which is designed to give college students and young adults missions experience alongside experienced IMB personnel. I assume we will see similar stories leading up to our Lottie Moon Week of Prayer for International Missions, December 1-8. Let me encourage you with three quick points of emphasis:
1) Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory,” (Hebrews 1:3), the light that Isaiah promised that would shine in the darkness, that would serve as a magnet for the nations. We live in an era in which the light shines brightly. Around the globe there are places of unimaginable spiritual darkness, places perhaps like Prague, which is considered by some to be “the world capital of atheism.” But no darkness is impenetrable, not when we possess the light of the glory of God in the person of Christ Jesus. Isaiah promised that He would come, and He is here.
2) Jesus commanded us to shine our light among men, so that they would see our good deeds and glorify God (Matthew 5:16). Evan and Lauren Parker have waded into the darkness with the light of Christ, and even in a difficult place they are finding that the Holy Spirit is at work. Let me challenge you to live today with the conviction that the penetrating light of Christ can shine through your words and actions—changing even the hardest of hearts.
3) This is an important season for us as Southern Baptist churches. The opportunities around the globe are as great as they have ever been, and our churches can be part of the effort to bring the light of the gospel into places of immense need. But our churches need our leadership. Let me urge you, as pastors and lay leaders, to persistently remind your people to pray. The week of prayer is coming up in a few weeks. Make sure the prayer guides are distributed. Remind people to use them. God answers when His people pray. Also, urge those in your fellowship to give to the Lottie Moon offering. If we are to be “Totally His,” as the campaign emphasizes, we must surrender our prayers and our offerings. God will use the resources to equip people already trained and on the ground all over the world, and to send new folks as well.
May God bless you as you spread the light of the gospel this Christmas season!