HOUSTON – Texas is home to 24 million people and some troubling statistics. But despite the challenges the state faces, Texas Baptists hold the key to meeting many of the dramatic needs, said President David Lowrie in his Monday address at the Annual Meeting of Texas Baptists.
“As I think about our Texas Baptist family, it’s my conviction that Jesus wants us to see Texas through His eyes and see what He sees when He looks into the hearts and minds of people,” Lowrie said, noting that the word compassion occurs over and over in scripture recording Jesus’ life and ministry. Specifically, Lowrie quoted Matthew 9:36: “When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Lowrie shared a string of statistics about the state to prove the urgency for Texas Baptists to act: one in six Texans lives in poverty; one in 10 children goes to bed hungry each night; and one in three are at risk of hunger because there is not enough food to go around at their home. Educational statistics are equally disturbing: only 65 percent of Texas boys and girls graduate from high school, dropping to 56 percent for Hispanic children and 53 percent for African American children.
While all this may bring a sense of hopelessness and a challenge too big to tackle, Lowrie said Texas Baptists have all the tools they need if they rely on prayer and trust God to help them work the fields – all with a sense of compassion shared with the Savior. Though the harvest is plentiful – nearly half of all Texans claim no church involvement – there is a solution.
“The word compassion means to have a feeling deep down in your gut, something that would cause you to cry and hurt and feel,” Lowrie said. “Jesus was moved by the people, but he did not use the word ‘hopeless.’ There is always hope. The hope of Texas is Jesus.”
Lowrie encouraged Texas Baptists to ask for God’s help in meeting the needs of the state, knowing that God may be calling them to do the work as well. The challenges may be too big for anyone individually, but as a collective body, there is power.
“The challenge will not simply be solved by getting on our knees but by getting off our knees and on our feet and getting to work,” Lowrie said. “If you’re waiting for someone else to step up, stop waiting. God has called us all to work together with him.”
By Teresa Young, Wayland Baptist University