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Column by Kevin Ezell

Hope for the hopeless
Any believer who has lived here long enough knows there are plenty of places in North America where hope seems in small supply. There might be places in your own community where hopelessness seems epidemic.

At the same time, you have probably been greatly encouraged by the transformation that has taken place in some areas—places where there’s a growing sense of purpose, vitality and unity.

When it comes right down to it, our real purpose as mission-minded Southern Baptists is to bring hope to communities that have lost it. We know that the only hope anyone has is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is why every meal served to a hungry person, every Disaster Relief response and every church plant we help facilitate is done so with the purpose of pointing people to the Savior. If our efforts don’t introduce people to a relationship with Christ, get them involved in discipleship in a local body of believers and produce fruit, then we really haven’t done what we’re supposed to do.

As pastor of Highview Baptist Church, if I had helped grow a congregation in Louisville and that was all I did, I would have failed my calling. But God has used Highview to radiate hope throughout that community through church planting and through very intentional involvement in ministries like pregnancy care, foster care and adoption.

Built into Highview’s DNA is a drive to see communities, and ultimately the world, transformed by Christ. This same DNA is built into many Southern Baptist congregations, and that is why NAMB’s LoveLoud ministries are designed to identify and multiply those existing efforts. This is why the LoveLoud ministries NAMB is facilitating resonate so deeply with people in our denomination. We are actively compassionate people. I am so encouraged by how many hours and days and weeks Southern Baptists spend every year sharing hope through work, sweat, tears and the truth of the gospel.

This is why Christ came. To create hope. To give us a hope-filled, abundant life. And this is what He’s still doing through us.

Words are not enough. The life of obedience to Christ is not a life lived in lip service to Him. As Christ works in us, He also works through us both to speak life-giving words and to live a life of giving to others. In our post-Christian culture, we may not get a chance to offer truth until we’ve first offered our time and sacrifice to hurting people. This describes the missionaries and churches you’ve read about in this issue, and I hope it describes my life and yours as we seek to give ourselves away in Jesus’ name and for His glory.

Kevin Ezell

48 Summer 2012 •

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