Early one Sunday morning, a solemn Southern Baptist pastor cuts through the freshly paved parking lot that surrounds his recently constructed church building. He slowly passes the new church building, which his church had named, “The Campus of the Martyrs,” in honor of those who had given their lives for the sake of the Gospel around the world. For a moment, he meditates on the plight of those around the world who do not share the freedom that he and his people do in America, and he laments that more cannot be done for the sake of the lost world. As he laments, he cuts through the wrong way of the deserted one-way street that separates the new building from old one, and finds that his solemnity is momentarily eased by the wonderful thought that because of the new building he now only has to preach one service on Sunday instead of two. “What a blessing!” he exclaims in his heart. “Now I have an extra hour on Sunday afternoons to spend with my family.”
His jubilation is interrupted as his eyes are cast down at the passenger seat of his Lincoln Navigator at a report from the International Mission Board that he has decided to share with his church that morning. He first heard the terrible report at a meeting that was held in the newly constructed foreign missions building at the Southern Baptist seminary that lies just few miles from his home. As he looked at the report, a plethora of images rushed through his mind as he recalled the announcement by the representative of the Board that no new missionaries would be sent out because of the lack of American giving. He recalls the huge, golden globe surrounded by fine mahogany that that acts as the centerpiece of the great building as a reminder of the world that has yet to hear Christ. He thinks upon the Great Commission passage from the Gospel of Matthew that is upon the wall across from the globe, that in gold-fashioned letters proclaims the heart of Southern Baptists to all who come in. And then he thinks upon the great number of flat-screen televisions that fill the whole of the building that incessantly flash the names of people groups in the world that have yet to hear the Gospel.
As he bears these images in his mind, he becomes enraged at those members in his church who he knows have not been faithful in giving their tithe. “It is because of them,” his heart murmurs as he pulls into his assigned parking spot outside of his office, “that the Board has had to stop sending out missionaries.” In a moment of holy rage, he jumps down from his Navigator and slams its door so hard that the chrome plate that frames the door handle loosens and falls to the ground. “American vehicles…” he murmurs under his breath, as he picks the plate off the ground and places it in his brief case alongside the report from the Board.
As he makes his way up to the building that houses his office–whose path had been recently elongated in the name of landscaping–he thoughtfully cycles through his keys looking for the one that will open the door to his office. As he reaches the door, he pauses for a moment and thinks about the task at hand, and wonders what words he can use to quicken the hard hearts of his congregation to be faithful and generous in their giving. He breathes a deep sigh and opens the door to the beeping of security. He pounds in the code to disarm the office’s security system, and he makes his way down the hallway to his office which overlooks the pond beside it. He throws his briefcase down upon his large, oak desk and sits down in the lush, leather chair that unmistakably bears the mold of his bottom.
The pastor loosens his tie, pulls up the chair to his desk, and places his elbows upon it. He looks down at his diamond-framed, gold watch one last time, folds his hands, and prays, “Here I am Lord, send me.”