Randy Davis talks about some of the big things that happened in 2019, including the “I Stand for Life” initiative.
Chris Turner: Hello and welcome in to this edition of Radio B&R. I’m your host, Chris Turner, director of communications here at the Tennessee Baptist mission board. And today we’re talking with Randy Davis, our executive director for the Tennessee Baptist mission board. Randy, welcome in. Thank you Chris. Well, we wanted to take just a few minutes before we get too far into 2020 and we wanted to take a look back at 2019 because it really was a milestone year in many ways. And Randy, you’ve been talking about this in our staff meeting and some other places and just some of the big things that have happened in 2019 possibly one of the biggest things that happened was the I Stand for Life initiative.
Randy Davis: Well, thank you Chris and by the way, I really think it’s important that we pause every now and then look back and see what God has done and, and enter his presence with Thanksgiving. And that’s exactly what we’re doing today. Absolutely. You know, the I Stand for Life thing really came to the forefront. Uh, last, uh, winter in I think it was February when the New York legislature passed, uh, the most brutal abortion laws, um, promoting pro, uh, facilitating abortion up to the time of birth that caught our attention. And, uh, there was a bill introduced in the house of representatives here in Tennessee that, uh, was called a heartbeat bill that attempted to say once a heartbeat is detected, then an abortion cannot happen. And, uh, when it got to the Senate, it was revised to say, no, we’re going to approach this in a different way.
Randy Davis: And the Senate version came out to say, life begins at conception. I’m much more comfortable with that, but it’s not only the, the law itself identifying life beginning at conception, which is really a biblical matter, but it’s also a, um, a different kind of approach to attacking Roe V Wade in the Supreme court. It focuses on the, um, amendment that gives person that recognizes personhood. And I really think we have a chance at least to get it through the court system after it becomes law in Tennessee because it will be challenged immediately. Now. It’s not law in Tennessee yet. It’s got to get out of the Senate. It is before the Senate to this spring. And understand there may be some more revisions, uh, to the bill. Uh, but it’s very important now that we contact our senators. I was blown away that in three weeks or less, we had 22,000 Tennessee Baptists sign.
Randy Davis: The I Stand for Life petition. That was powerful when we testified before the committee in the Senate, we had 16 of those signatures in the days of 16,000 of those signatures in the days following, we went over 22,000. And uh, that just tells me this is a very important issue with Tennessee Baptist. And, um, my, my hope is that we can do something really, uh, radical that we can get this bill through. It is not a slam dunk dunk. It is. I’m gonna take some work and it may take a miracle, but I appreciate Tennessee Baptists standing for life.
Chris Turner: Well, and you had said back when this initiative really hit home to you and saw where the legislation was and it was in danger of kind of fading away, but then it was sent to the, uh, the, the Senate special committee. Um, and then, you know, we had the opportunity to do that. And then you were given the opportunity to testify. You had said that the thing that really made the impression on you was the celebration that when governor Cuomo in New York signed that legislation, which really was one of the most, if not the most sweeping abortion legislation ever. The, the cheering and the impact that that made. And here in Tennessee really seeing as this is an opportunity for Tennessee Baptist and, and Bible-believing life loving Tennesseans, uh, whether they’re Baptist or not to make a stand that we’re not gonna do that in Tennessee. We’re not going to celebrate the death of unborn children.
Randy Davis: Yeah. And no matter what happens beyond Tennessee, it is an opportunity for our lawmakers to clearly state a something that is in the DNA of Tennessee. And by and large you’ve got so many in this culture that, uh, that would, uh, uh, more lean toward the laws of New York. But in Tennessee, I think we are, we have a different heart in a different mind about life.
Chris Turner: Well, the legislature convenes for its spring session on Tuesday, January 14th. So, uh, we do have information on the www.IStandForLife.org website. There’s more, uh, information about what’s transpired and then there’s a list that will enable Tennessee Baptist to call their Senator and not just the Senator in their district. Feel free to call all of the senators across the state and let them know that you stand for life as you listen to this and that you would like for them to stand for life as well. Well, one of the other big stories that we had this past year really has to do with, um, life and eternal life that, uh, we see taking place in Tennessee through various ministries. And it’s a, a lot of that coming through the support for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions. And what a big year that for us.
Randy Davis: Well, it really was Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions focuses on church revitalization, church planning, compassion ministries, um, and leadership development. And it is a great, great offering. Every single penny of it is used for ministry. And it is. This past year we had a record offering, uh, approaching $2 million. And that offering has grown over the last five or six years by something like 30%. It’s been pretty remarkable. And, and Tennessee Baptist are beginning to see Tennessee is a mission field any way you slice it. And I am very thankful for that.
Chris Turner: Yeah, it’s been amazing to see that offering grow. And I think what’s been awesome is to see how it’s been applied to the ministries across the state and the benefit that that’s reaping, certainly through other ministries that are supported by, uh, the, the Golden Offering such as the backpack ministry that’s really grown this year. Well, when we talk about all of that, one of the big, big events that we have in Tennessee beyond our annual convention meeting, the Summit is the youth evangelism conference. And this year, past year saw some transitions with that, with Jay Barbier, a beginning to take more responsibility in our youth ministry here at the, uh, Tennessee Baptist mission board. But, uh, with 780, um, uh, salvation decisions. Um, just talk a little bit about how important it is that we continue to do YEC and how important it is that we reach this generation of teenagers.
Randy Davis: Well, I think some of the most important people that are involved in missions and ministries in our state are our youth pastors, student pastors, children’s ministry workers. Um, we’ve seen a decline generationally. If people come to know the Lord, every generation is decline more and more, uh, the millennial generation, uh, something like 90%, uh, of that generation does not have a relationship. Lord Jesus Christ and the, the generation coming behind them. Gen Z years, it is going to be less than one out of every 10. I believe with the millennials it’s something like 14, 16%. But with the this next generation, it is really a generation that is post-Christian and um, Southern Baptist have always pitched their tent toward students and children and uh, things like YEC are extremely important. To see nearly 800 students coming to know the Lord in a 24 hour period, less than a 24 hour period is pretty remarkable. But you didn’t have just kids coming to the Lord. You had a lot of them, uh, surrendering their lives to the Lordship of Christ. A lot of them, uh, filling called into ministry. And on top of that you’ve got a lot of youth workers and you’ve got a lot of student ministers that are encouraged by everything that happens at YEC.
Chris Turner: Yeah, it’s a big league event. And we had, you know, a little more than 6,000 there this past year. And so, especially for a smaller churches across the state, really looking for an opportunity for them to get their students out in involved in something that really is exceptional and big league and Jay has some great, uh, things on the horizon for this year. And as he continues to develop that, a great opportunity for, for churches to get involved with the Youth Evangelism Conference will be in Nashville again, and you can check the website for the dates on that, but registration needs to be wrapped up soon. So don’t waste any time getting with that. Well, what are one or two other things that you saw from, from 2019 that you really see as one of those celebration highlights that as we look back and remember what the Lord has done, we can look back at, at a particular thing in 2019?
Randy Davis: Well, there are a couple of things. One is that, um, I, I had the opportunity to visit about 21 cities occur around Tennessee. Um, back in late July, August, early September. And I just had listening sessions and I sat down with, uh, over 600 pastors and ministry leaders in layman and I said, what challenges are you facing? What opportunities do you see? What tools do you need? Uh, we didn’t go with anything to promote anything to sell anything really to say from our standpoint. We wanted to listen. And that’s really all we did was listen. Since that time we’ve gleamed several things that are vitally important. Like, uh, our ministry leaders, our pastors are craving practical tools in the area of evangelism and discipleship. And, and one particularly, how do you speak into a culture that is antichrist? How do you speak into a culture that is redefining marriage and sexual relationships?
Randy Davis: How do you maintain biblical conviction and a prophetic kind of voice in that culture and yet do so with the compassion of Christ? Um, and, and all of those areas we have people working on, um, practical tools to give to our churches and our pastors in those areas. Um, last spring we introduced a task force on sexual abuse prevention and response. They are nearing the completion of their work, and so within weeks we’ll be able to get into the hands of our churches some tools that’ll help them protect their children and respond appropriately. When evil has happened in their church. Um, I really believe that’s very important, but it’s nothing new to Tennessee Baptist far over 20 years. The Tennessee Baptist mission board has been supplying tools that are very effective to our churches and helping them ensure that their churches and their ministries and their activities are safe, for children of all ages.
Randy Davis: I thank God for the hundreds of thousands of people in Tennessee that are working with our children in the name of Christ that are pure hearted and pure minded and eternally focused. But every now and then there is a wolf that comes through the front door. And we just need to be on guard to protect, do everything we can to protect our children and deal with all of these subject matters above board and in the light of day. So I thank God for that. And one last thing is this, um, you know, Tennessee Baptist mission board since the Tennessee Baptist convention since its first convention since it was founded, uh, almost 150 years ago where been around more than 145 now. But from the very beginning, they’ve been about Christian education missions and benevolent compassion ministries and we’ve had long, long relationships with Union University, Carson Newman, the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, the Adult Homes, the Foundation, uh, Harrison Chilhowee Academy and it was very thrilling when Carson Newman University called Dr. Charles Fowler as president.
Randy Davis: Charles, um, is very familiar with Tennessee Baptist life. He is a Mississippi guy, but he served on staff at union university. Pastor in West Tennessee was pastoring at Germantown Baptist church, uh, when God redeployed him to, uh, an educational institution. And the excitement and God’s favor on Carson-Newman has been so evident since this summer when Dr. Fowler was called as president. And I am absolutely thrilled at what God is doing there.
Chris Turner: Well, we have seen a lot of pieces that have, have moved into place in 2019. A lot of great work that’s been done and we’ve seen a lot of, uh, harvest from seeds that were sown. But it really does position us for this next year that we’re currently in 2020. Um, what, what’s a challenge that you might offer to Tennessee Baptists and, and for our churches just to stay the course and be faithful?
Randy Davis: Well, here’s the biggest thing. Um, last Sunday, Jeannie and I attended the grand opening of the church and Nolan’s Phil and I’m their pastor. Wade Owen preached a message from the old Testament, um, about when Elijah was asked by the Kings who had their armies out in the desert about to do war. They had ran out of water and that they were blaming God and they asked a Ligeia, inquired of him about it. And Elijah went to the Lord and came back and said, I’ve got a word for you, a dig ditches, dig ditches. This was an army. This was not a labor force. They had no shovels. They of course had no backhoes. They had swords and Spears and Scheels. And yet they were obedient and with no rain, no water inside because they had a word from God. They started digging and they’d dug ditches because they had a promise from God.
Randy Davis: It was dry. It was in the desert, but they had a word from God and my encouraging word for churches all over this state. You know, we recognize churches that have baptized hundreds of people and we celebrate those baptisms, but there are hardworking, godly men and women that are, uh, serving as pastors and laymen in our churches, in areas where they haven’t seen anyone come to the Lord. Maybe in years, my encouragement to them would be keep digging. You’ve got a promise from God. His word is not going to come back void, so you just keep digging. God’s going to send the water. God’s going to send the harvest, and God’s called us to be faithful and that’s what I would encourage our Tennessee Baptist as we enter into 2020. I’m excited that the rain’s coming in one day, the ditches were digging are going to be full and overflowing with God’s blessing.
Chris Turner: That might even make a great theme for the summit this year to keep digging. So. Well Randy, we do appreciate that update. 2019 was a monumental year. It’s easy to get distracted and look at a lot of the things that were in the news that were negative, but uh, it is important to come back and revisit just evidence of God at work in Tennessee through Tennessee Baptist in through Tennessee Baptist churches. Thanks so much for giving us an update and we’ll look forward to days and weeks ahead as we, uh, More to report. Thank you so much.
Randy Davis: Thank you so much, Chris.