Matt Daniels said there’s a lot to celebrate at the University of North Alabama, where he serves as Baptist campus minister.
One of the most recent examples is this — a student who approached him and his wife, Morgan, a few weeks ago and said she was struggling.
“We met with her, and she began to pour out doubts of her salvation,” Daniels said. “Through that conversation, Morgan and I began to realize she needed Jesus, and we began to walk with her down that path. At Baptist Campus Ministries that day, she surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus.”
That’s worth celebrating, and so is the domino effect it created, he said. The student immediately began sharing her story, and another student heard it and “became broken and realized the lostness in her life” and accepted Christ. Another student did the same thing.
“That’s all happened in the last two weeks,” Daniels said. “We’ve had six salvations this semester [because of] students sharing the good news of Christ.”
Celebrating how God is at work through Alabama Baptists around the state was the theme of the Tuesday, Nov. 15, evening gathering of the Alabama Baptist State Convention at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham.
In addition to Daniels, other state missionaries, church planters, Disaster Relief volunteers, a Deaf ministry catalyst and an intercultural ministry team member shared testimonies of needs met, the gospel shared and lives changed.
Those stories were followed by a message from Robert Smith Jr., professor of Christian preaching and Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School.
Preaching from Psalm 116 and focusing on verse 12, Smith spoke on the convention theme “Celebrating What God is Doing Through His People.”
“To God, who owns everything and owes nothing, we as believers — who own nothing and owe everything — must render to Him, in the Spirit of Christ, thanksgiving for all of His benefits,” he said.
The Bible is dripping with passages about the vastness of God and all that He is, has and does, Smith said. “God is trying through His word to stretch our mind and deepen our heart so that we appreciate God more and love God more and celebrate more authentically about what He has done and who He is.”
He challenged Alabama Baptists to give their whole life in gratitude to God, asking, “Is anything too much to give?”
Smith recited lines from the hymn “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” noting that the focus of the song is that children of God can never have enough gratitude and praise to match what God has done for them.
“In other words, I wish I could give more. If I just had a thousand tongues to sing,” he said. “Brothers and sisters, we don’t have a thousand, but we must use the one we have because what God has done demands a response.”
‘By his Spirit’
Smith told Alabama Baptists they have much to celebrate and recounted some of the dates of the founding of Baptist colleges and ministries over the past 199 years.
“The fact that you’ve been faithful to God, you’ve been generous in giving and you’ve been loyal to the cause — you ought to celebrate,” he said.
“You’re not the biggest convention, you’re not the largest churches, but you led the Southern Baptist Convention over the last decade in missions and missions giving,” he noted. “You ought to celebrate because it’s not by numbers, it’s not by might, it’s not by power, but it’s by His Spirit.”