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The Open Door


The Georgia Baptist Convention annual meeting time has arrived. Many Georgia Baptists from across this great state will be gathering in Columbus to transact Kingdom business, to sing, to pray, and to worship. I trust that when we return to our homes following the meeting we will do so rejoicing over the great way God spoke to our hearts during these days.

One of the great matters before the convention this year is a recommendation to extend our mission partnership with the Baptists of New York. As you know, for several years we have been in a partnership with two fine cities in New York - Rochester and Buffalo. New York Baptists are asking, "Will you now extend the partnership to include our entire state?"

Our Partnership Missions department and our Executive Committee have responded with an enthusiastic "Yes!" The Baptist Convention of New York has asked specifically that we focus upon the I-90 corridor. This includes, among others, such cities as Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. Further, the intent of the partnership is to focus efforts on New York City in a special emphasis, which the North American Mission Board has named "New Hope, New York."

I want to encourage our churches and associations to begin planning now on ways that they can get involved in ministry in New York. We have already been blessed greatly by our relationships with Rochester and Buffalo. I can't imagine how wonderful it will be to engage the entire state in ministry. Already we have made efforts to respond to the need for an interim associational missionary for the association in the Adirondack area.

The needs are many and God has uniquely blessed Georgia Baptists. We must respond enthusiastically.

A few years ago when the floodwaters swelled out of the banks of the Flint River here in Georgia, I joined our Disaster Relief folks in Albany cleaning the mud and filth out of houses that had been flooded. I'll never forget how dirty I felt that evening as I went to the Hampton Inn in Albany to check in. I gave the young lady at the desk my name and she looked for my reservation, but after a few minutes told me that I didn't have a reservation.

I went back out to my truck where I had my materials containing my confirmation number. When I gave her the confirmation number she entered it into the computer and in a few moments she said, "You do have a reservation, sir. It's at the Hampton Inn in Albany, New York."

She had no more rooms at the Hampton in Albany, Georgia, so I had to drive back to Cordele before I could find a place to check in and get a much needed shower. The funny thing that happened was when I turned to walk back out to my truck, I took a few steps and she said, "Sir." I thought, "Maybe she has found a room for me." Unfortunately that was not the case. She said, "Sir, would you like for me to cancel your room in Albany, New York?"

Perhaps at some time during this partnership with New York I will have the opportunity to stay at the Hampton Inn in Albany, New York. That hotel holds a very dear place in my heart!

I encourage you to be in prayer for the President of our Convention, Wayne Robertson, as he prepares to lead us during the annual meeting. It is a tremendous responsibility. Let's do all we can to give him the support that he needs.

It's easy, I think, to be distracted from the primary focus of our meeting. We gather in Columbus to do Kingdom business and to praise the Lord for his miraculous work among Georgia Baptists. Let's enjoy one another and make great plans for the year ahead.

I'll see you in Columbus!