Several years ago, one of the members of the church gave me a book entitled “This Day in Baptist History.” The book is a devotional which contains a story for each day of the year about some event that took place in the life of a Baptist believer. I would say that it is remarkable that many of the entries contain stories of persecution. However, if you know anything about Baptist history you know its pages are filled with long centuries of cruelties. A period of rest for our Baptist people such as we are experiencing now is actually quite uncommon. It may be that our period of relative ease is due to the sad compromise of doctrinal truths. The devil is most happy to accommodate us if we are no threat to his kingdom.
Berean Baptist has been blessed in these past few years to see the community grow up around this church. We started in a cornfield over forty years ago and now our location is one of the most prominent in the city. Our location makes us a place of curiosity for those looking for a church in this area, and we often have visitors that stop in just because they saw this church before seeing another. When people visit, most of them find something they are not expecting. We still have a traditional service; we sing mostly old time hymns, and we preach nothing other than the old time gospel from the same Bible our Baptist forefathers used. The most important part of Berean’s ministry is not our programs. We love children, we love fellowship, we love activities—but the most important ministry is always the preaching of God’s word.
We make no apologies that the preaching harkens back to the same doctrines that got our Baptist forefathers into so much trouble. Today, we enjoy the protection of a government that allows us to do this, but should conditions arise that are no longer favorable to preaching the truths of the word, we would without hesitation gladly join the ranks of those who have been persecuted and have even died defending what was taught by our Lord Jesus and the apostles. The apostle Paul said the world considers our preaching offensive and foolish. The cross has never been popular and when truth is spoken in the same straight forward manner it will be no more popular for us than it was for him.
Perhaps someday someone will write another volume of “This Day in Baptist History.” It may well contain a story about us and our determination not to give in to the popular social agendas that shape the cities around us. We pray that God will help us to continue with the same spirit that enabled our forefathers to stand the test of uncompromising faithfulness. The gospel is worth fighting for!
Pastor V. Mark Smith