"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

When the Humble Become the Mighty

My current reading material includes an excellent biography of the history of Oklahoma Southern Baptists entitled "The Two Became One," written by Dr. Robert L. Ross. Most Southern Baptists, including Oklahomans, have little knowledge of the distinguished history of Southern Baptist mission work in our state.

In 1832 the President of the United States employed Isaac McCoy to be the official government surveyer of what was then called Indian Territory. The government promised the Indian tribes of the United States land in "Indian territory" in exchange for taking their land in states already a part of the union. McCoy made a number of trips into what is now northeastern Oklahoma to survey the land. In addition to his government job he also had a relationship with the American Indian Mission Association.

In the fall of 1832 McCoy arrived at a place called Ebenezer Station, located three miles north of the Arkansas River and eighteen miles west of Fort Gibson. Here McCoy met John Davis, a Creek Indian who was under appointment by the American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, the forerunner of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and of course, now called the International Mission Board. In 1832 Indian Territory was considered a foreign mission field and remained such until 1907 when Theodore Roosevelt declared Oklahoma the forty-six state of the
union. Okla is the Choctaw Indian word for "people" and humma is the Indian word for "red." Oklahoma means red people.

The Baptists of America placed their mission emphasis in the 1830's on the Indian territory I now call my home state. The great missionary Isaac McCoy, along with the Creek Indian John Davis, founded the first Baptist church in Oklahoma on September 9, 1832. That first church had six charter members. One Indian, two Caucasians and three Negros who were named Quash, Bob, and Ned, all three black slaves for the Creeks.

Within a month, this church grew to a membership of forty-five. On October 14, 1832, thirty-seven new converts were baptized. Ten were Creek Indians, the others were black slaves of the Creeks. On November 10, nine more were baptized.

Every time I pass by Fort Gibson I think of this first Baptist church in Oklahoma and its humble beginnings. Within seventy years this one Baptist church in Indian territory had turned into many Baptist churches and on November 9, 1906 the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma was born, one year before official statehood.

This fall 2006, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma will celebrate her one hundredth year anniversary. Since the first missionary efforts in Oklahoma in the 1830's, Oklahoma Baptists cooperating together have become the largest, most prominent evangelical movement in Oklahoma. Our headquarters are in a gleaming six story modern building on Interstate 44 in Oklahoma City and we are impacting the world for Christ through our missionary efforts.

The humble have become the mighty.

May God allow us as Baptists, whether it be Baptists from Oklahoma, Southern Baptists within the United States, or International Baptists through the mission efforts of the International Mission Board, to never forget our humble beginnings.

When the gospel becomes big business the gospel is ultimately compromised.

When the gospel remains the main thing, the world is ultimately transformed.

Let's keep our minds on the main thing and remain a humble people seeking to reach the world for Christ. It's tempting to forget our main mission when we get so powerful, but by God's grace, we will resist that temptation. When the humble become mighty it is always good for God to send trials to keep us humble. It helps us focus.

In His Grace,


Wade

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good encouraging stuff!
Steve from Australia

Jeff Noble said...

Found your blog today in a link over. Was thrilled to see your blog as an attempt at positive communication in the SBC world. I'm a recovering Southern Baptist myself. ;)

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Wade. Today's writing was very inspirational. Please keep a-blogging! I have learned so much and am being blessed daily.
Florence in KY

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that little breath of fresh air. It's encouraging to see where our humble beginnings lay. Just curious though, has the church that began so multi-ethnic remained that way? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
Your title: “When the humble become the mighty” is a good subject. (Luke 9:48 New Living) “Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”
Most translations use the word “least” which always made me wonder how a king or even Jesus could be the greatest.
Contemporary English Version: “Whichever one of you is the most humble is the greatest.” And old Living: “Your care for others is the measure of your greatness.”
For me, those two translations hit the nail on the head.
The book, “Trail of Blood”, says that in the early church, large churches started running over small churches. Is this true today?
Years ago at the SBC, the question was asked: why were preachers of large churches elected and never from small churches. The answer: “Young man, you’re out of order!”
Enemies of true Christianity are liberalism and legalism. One says anything you want to believe is OK, while the other makes so many rules, the rules become their god. Their rules are suppose to keep sin out, but make prisoners within.
I’m afraid with all the rejoicing of defeating liberals, the SBC has fallen in the other
ditch. For proof: what was good enough last year is not good enough this year.
Rex Ray

Chase said...

Well said, When the gospel becomes big business it ceases to be about the Kingdom of God and quickly turns into a kingdom of men.

Wade Burleson said...

Ebenezer church is no longer in existence, and we as Southern Baptists in Oklahoma, including my own church, need to look very hard at why we are not mutli-ethnic in our congregations. My wife teaches a large Sunday School class and she is teaching me some very practical things about relating to people that are different culturally, soio-economically, and ethnically. It is easy for a preacher to relate to all groups from a pulpit, but it is quite another thing for the love of different people to filter down into the congregration on a day to day practical basis.

Anonymous said...

The American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions was not the forerunner of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions was the organization that would not appoint slaveholders and therefore caused the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention. The American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions is the forerunner of the American Baptist Churches of the USA's Board of International Ministries.

And even though there are very few ABC-USA churches in Oklahoma, ABC-USA's National Ministries still supports ministries for Native Americans through Murrow Indian Children's Home and Bacone College both in Muskogee, OK.

Jerry Leeper
Dallas, Texas

Wade Burleson said...

Jerry,

I think it is semantics. This organization was the only one in existence prior to 1845, and you are correct from it a split arose that eventually led to the formation of the SBC.

Thanks for your comment

Anonymous said...

Wade,

The way you have phrased "...the American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, the forerunner of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention..." implies that IMB is the successor to ABBFM, yet the ABBFM still exists under different name and different organizational structure as the Board of International Ministries of the Amberican Baptist Churches USA.

The organziation that is now IMB may have been modeled on the American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, but any implication that IBM is a successor organization is simply untrue. Would you like it if I implied that CBF Global Missions is the successor to the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention?

Jerry Leeper
Dallas, TX

blampp@juno.com said...

Wade, I would agree with Brother Leeper.... and would suggest further, that "headquarters" in the tradition among folks who call themselves Baptists has always resided in the assembly of a congregation! Unless, of course, Oklahoman's have changed their Convention's approach to what I believe to be accepted Biblical polity! If so, I imagine you will begin to hear from the messengers.... Kinda like, the IMB Trustee's seem to be inviting.... unless, of course they avoid bringing their suggested course of action (previously suggested) to the SBC floor in S.C.?

..... Yeah, I know, you really didn't mean to make such implications in your "blog".... but, it was your written comment, and I thought the overall item was excellent information!

Well, planning to see you at CrossOver prior to the SBC in June! Blessings.... Barrett M. Lampp
Tallahassee, FL