African American Fellowship rally emphasizes foundation of faith


WACO—Churches that forget the importance of discipleship have committed “the great omission,” said Dr. Delvin Atchison, director of the Texas Baptists Great Commission Team.

Atchison preached Sunday night at the African American Fellowship worship rally, one of four rallies that took place throughout Waco to kick off the 2016 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting.

“Until a person knows who Jesus is, they can never share Him with anyone else,” Atchison said. “So I want to suggest to you that it is essential that the Church reclaim personal worship if we’re to do productive witnessing.”

Atchison’s sermon focused on Matthew 28:16-20.

The foundation of our personal worship is Jesus’ victory over death, he said. In Matthew 26, Jesus tells His disciples what’s coming next: that He will die, rise, and go before them into Galilee. Jesus keeps this incredible resurrection promise, and by doing so, gives us a strong foundation for faith.

Nothing in our lives — not bad news from the doctor, a pink slip at work or a disappointing election result — can negate Jesus’ promises to us or His presence with us, Atchison said. Jesus’ defeat of death means we have nothing to fear.

The early church was not all on the same page about what happened to Jesus, Atchison said. Many doubted whether he really rose from the grave. The big difference between those who believed and those who had doubts was their participation and proximity.

“The reason Thomas is called the doubter is because when Jesus showed up, Thomas wasn't at the meeting. And it’s hard to get folks to understand the agenda when they won’t show up at the meeting,” Atchison said. “To use a football analogy, you can’t get in the game if you only show up at the pep rally.”

Finally, he reminded the gathering not to “get caught up in the peripheral stuff we do.” The Salvation Army and Red Cross will always be able to clothe or feed more people than the Church, Atchison said, “but nobody can talk about Jesus like we do.”

“If we’re not careful, we’ll start to think church is all this other stuff, and we’ll get so caught up in good stuff that we forget God stuff,” he said.

Rev. Carlos Francis, youth minister at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield and director of Camp Exalted, gave an update on this year’s camp, reporting that 46 students made a profession of faith this past summer.

Francis shared the story of one teen who was saved during Camp Exalted and took her first communion that week. Francis said the girl went home and told her grandparents about her faith. Through her testimony, they also came to saving faith in Christ.

Also during the rally Texas Baptists honored Rev. R. L. Rogers for his 50 years of faithful service as pastor of Harvey Avenue Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth. Rogers was praised for being a trailblazer; his church was one of the first African-American Baptist churches in Tarrant county to seek fellowship with the convention in the 1960s.

Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church hosted this year’s African American Fellowship rally. The Waco Community Choir, led by Thomas Brooks, lent their voices in hymns and praise songs throughout the evening.

Lauren Sturdy is the prospect researcher for Buckner International and a freelance writer for the 131st Texas Baptists Annual Meeting.

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