By Lonnie Wilkey
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee Baptists attending the All Nations Worship Celebration received a glimpse of what heaven will look like.
About 700 people representing 60 ethnic groups gathered at Black Oak Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville Nov. 17 for a night of worship. It was the third All Nations Worship Celebration held in conjunction with the opening night of Summit, but the first one held in Knoxville, said William Burton, ethnic church planting and evangelism specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Burton was pleased with the turnout in East Tennessee. “I didn’t know what to expect. The largest concentration of ethnic groups is in Nashville and Middle Tennessee,” he observed.
The large crowd is a confirmation that “Tennessee is a missions field from Mountain City to Memphis,” he affirmed.
“God has brought the nations to Tennessee in order to reach them and to change the state and the world,” Burton added.
Host pastor Todd Stinnett told the gathering that his church was excited to host the event. “This is like a little taste of heaven,” he noted.
The celebration included a parade of flags representing 45 nations, singing and prayers in different languages along with a challenge from Burton to share the good news of the gospel with others.
Basing is message on II Kings 7, Burton noted the situation in Samaria was desperate, similar to what the world is today. “Everywhere we look, we see the results of sin gone wild,” he said. But there is hope, Burton continued.
“God’s great deliverance is coming. The God of the universe is still in control today,” Burton said. “And you, the church, are a part of God’s plan to redeem the world. The best is yet to come,” he challenged.
Burton noted the four lepers in the passage were the first to discover God’s deliverance and they were hesitant to share that news at first. They were more concerned about themselves at first but “divine conviction” took over, Burton shared. “They realized it was not right to keep the good news to themselves and they went back to Samaria and told the good news of what God had done”
The same holds true today, Burton challenged. “All over Tennessee, people are dying and are hungry for a word of hope and we are not telling the good news of Jesus Christ.
“If God has saved you, you ought to tell it,” he exhorted.
Burton reminded those in attendance that just outside the doors of Black Oak Heights Baptist and outside the doors of their own churches that there are hurting people (prostitutes, drug addicts, the lonely, the hungry) who “will listen if we tell it.”
The TBMB specialist discounted the theory that America is a post-Christian nation. “If that is true, why bother doing what we’re doing. I look at America as pre-Christian. The best is yet to come.”
The people are out there who need the gospel, Burton challenged. “Will you tell it? It’s not right to not tell it.” B&R