Your Voice: Persecuted believers need missionaries, prayers, support

bucket of spices
Ibadan Market, Oyo State, Nigeria.
Unsplash photo

Your Voice: Persecuted believers need missionaries, prayers, support

By Jeff Iorg
President, Gateway Seminary

A few years ago Nigerian Baptist leaders welcomed me at the airport with these words: “Thank you for sending Thomas Jefferson Bowen to bring us the gospel.”

The Nigerian Baptist Convention, the fourth largest Baptist denomination in the world with more than 8 million members, traces its founding to Bowen — a missionary sent by Southern Baptists who arrived in Nigeria in 1850.

Southern Baptists and Nigerian Baptists have a deep connection because of this shared history.

That’s one reason persecution of Christians — including Baptists in Nigeria — strikes a dissonant chord with Southern Baptists.

Brothers and sisters are suffering, and we ache for them. Sadly, while recent news reports summarize new attacks, they were not isolated or unusual incidents.

A person who worked in Nigeria among tribal people helped me develop a broader perspective on the situation.

‘Everyday life’

Tribal warfare, terrorist activity and paramilitary attacks are part of the everyday life of many Nigerians. The reasons for the conflicts are convoluted — tribal allegiances, economic depravity, criminal activity, religious differences — all of which combine in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of attacks and counterattacks. The situation makes sorting out solutions extremely difficult.

Christians caught up in these conflicts suffer — some for their faith and others because of additional factors coinciding with their religious identity.

Persecution has been happening somewhere in the world in an unbroken line since the first century.

We are fortunate the American church is not being persecuted, and we embarrass ourselves when we claim we are.

Believers in other parts of the world are dying for their faith, and we should be humbled by their example and motivated to help them — not claiming we are experiencing something similar.

What can we do for Nigerian Christians and other persecuted believers?

Pray for them. Send financial gifts through organizations working among them. Elect government leaders who will insist on aid policies conditioned on protections for religious freedom.

Mostly, we can send more Bowens! We need to send more people with the message of the gospel to encourage believers and reach more around the world.

A few years ago, I asked a Christian government worker in Africa, “Don’t you think the gospel is the ultimate solution to the problems you are trying to solve?” He replied, “Of course, but you people are just too slow. Until you pick up the pace, we will just keep doing the best we can to manage the symptoms.”

What an indictment!

We are just too slow. We need to strip away frivolous distractions and get much more serious about sending more gospel workers around the world. People who have never heard the gospel deserve the opportunity to receive it.

Believers struggling to sustain their faith need the encouragement of leaders who will buttress them against persecution. We can do more, and we must.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was originally published at

Cooperative Program: Future of SBC missions

I believe strongly that the Cooperative Program is the future of missions in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Here are three facts that, in my opinion, are undeniable:

  • The Great Commission is the calling of every Christian until the end of time on this earth. Therefore, until Jesus returns, the Great Commission is the future.
  • Southern Baptists are, and I believe always will be, missional people. Missions is part of the DNA of Southern Baptist church members and of Southern Baptist churches.
  • For nearly 100 years, the Cooperative Program has proven to be the unquestioned best method among all churches and denominations of doing missions. I’ve spoken with enough leaders in other denominations to know that they recognize the necessity and power of cooperation, especially for missions. …

We need to remain strong in our commitment to cooperating in our missions efforts. …

As Southern Baptists, we undeniably can do more together than we can alone. We serve a mighty King — Jesus! We have a righteous and lifelong call to the Great Commission as well as the Great Commandment.

Let us look to the future with an eye toward greater partnerships and not fewer. Toward greater going and not less. Toward magnifying the name of Jesus — together!

Jay Stewart, director
Cooperative Program and church financial resources
Alabama Baptist SBOM

While God can restore anyone in any manner He chooses, many times He is simply waiting for us to “come to our senses” and return to Him, such as the prodigal son.

If you are waiting for God to return to your life before you make changes, then you have it backward. God is intentional with you, and you need to be intentional with Him.

Intentional with the time you spend in His Word. Intentional in your prayer time. Intentional in your worship. Intentional in your service. Intentional in your tithe.

Bill Brewster, author
“Revival: It’s Time to Live Again”

“When a church exists to serve the Kingdom of God, it is powerful,” said Jeff Christopherson, author of  “Once You See: Seven Temptations of the Western Church.” “When a church exists to serve itself, it becomes idolatrous and powerless.”

While we’re in this broken world, we can hold on to the truth of God’s Word and the hope of perfect peace and love we will one day experience in heaven.

Amy Hacker
“Visions of heaven”


EDITOR’S NOTE — The past few months have brought changes to Twitter, resulting in many people, including many Baptists and other faith leaders, choosing to leave the platform. With those changes, we are retiring the Twitterverse column you would normally find here so we can provide comments from a variety of social media sites. Twitter will still be included as well.

Why Chitchat? The word suggests informal banter, the kind of small talk one might engage in at a conference or social event.

Chitchat is friendly, surface-level engagement with others, but it has the potential to develop into more substantial conversations.

We’d like to hear from you. Where are you focusing your time on social media these days? Who are you following? Send us your favorites so we can follow too.

And while you’re scrolling, be sure to follow TAB Media on all our channels as well (see column at right). We love to engage with our readers. Let’s chat soon!


If you want to know God, you’ve got to learn His ways.



Joy is contagious! Joy gives us strength to endure; Joy gives us energy to love; Joy is an oasis in a desert land; Joy is the Velcro that makes relationships stick! #wordforyoutoday


Seeing so many solid people graduating … from SBC (seminaries) bolsters my faith that the future is bright for the SBC. Our missionaries, pastors, denominational servants and business people are all the products of our seminaries. Have faith, y’all.

Life without God will leave you bitter when you don’t get what you want and empty when you do get what you want.

Kevin Sanders
via Facebook

If you say you want justice but you reject all standards of objective truth, you are left with no basis for justice. Only in Jesus do we find truth that both establishes the foundation for justice and empowers us to do justice.

Jake Brown
via Facebook


I am fully convinced of this: a lost world needs Southern Baptists to remain committed to working together to share God’s solution — the gospel — to the world’s greatest problem, lostness. Are we the world’s last and only hope? No, but we know the One who is.


I don’t always agree with other Southern Baptists. I don’t always agree with SBC entity heads. I don’t always agree with decisions, hires or philosophy. But I always lead my church to joyfully give through the Cooperative Program for the sake of the gospel despite those differences.