Senior adults from around state gather, worship at FBC Pelhamcomment (0)
May 17, 2012
By Julie Payne
Toe-tapping, hand-clapping and rounds of “amens” were all part of the 2012 Senior Adult Evangelism Conference on May 7. The day’s excitement was felt in large part due to the lineup of talented speakers and performers that included evangelists Junior Hill and H. Bailey Stone, Charles Roesel and music trio Paid In Full.
The host campus, First Baptist Church, Pelham, was filled with senior adult groups from across Alabama who came to be challenged and encouraged by the conference messages. Organized by the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) office of evangelism, the event kicked off at 9:30 a.m. with a warm welcome and prayer by Mike Shaw, pastor of First, Pelham, and president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.
Before the first guest speaker stepped on stage, Mississippi-based trio Paid In Full performed its first of three song sets in pitch-perfect harmony.
“There are many … gifted musicians around the country,” said Sammy Gilbreath, director of the office of evangelism for SBOM, in his introduction of Paid In Full. “But there are few gifted musicians with the sweet spirit that these men have.”
The three singers — lead Lance Moore, baritone Bradley Littlejohn and tenor Jeff Crews, a founding member of the group who filled in for absentee member Brock White — had the audience clapping along at the beginning of their first song.
Roesel, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, Leesburg, Fla., and leader of the Charles L. Roesel Ministry Evangelism Training Center, followed as the morning’s first speaker.
“I am convinced the number one problem of the churches in America is that our understanding of God is far too small,” he shared with the audience. Delivering a message which focused primarily on the truths in John 3:16, Roesel spoke of God’s love in a hurting world.
He touched on several of the more than 70 ministries he was instrumental in beginning with a declaration that God loves hurting people. “We have forgotten how much God loves [them],” he remarked.
A rousing portion of Roesel’s message that produced an energetic response from many in the audience was his stance on “political correctness” in relation to the Christian faith. “I don’t care about being politically correct. I want to be theologically sound,” he stated emphatically.
Roesel ended his message with a touching true story and a gospel invitation. He noted that every Christian should take time to mentally go back to the cross and look in the face of the Savior, recognizing the love He demonstrated to all.
Following Roesel’s conclusion, a video segment highlighted the Evangelism Response Center (ERC), a ministry of the North American Mission Board. The ERC connects believers over the phone with someone who wants to hear the Good News.
Gilbreath personally encouraged the audience to volunteer in the ministry of the ERC.
Stone, retired evangelism director for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, began his message by referencing the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City, Okla., bombing when 168 people died.
“It was a tragedy of tragedies,” Stone said, adding life was considered “cheap” to the terrorists.
He went on to address various verses in Romans and shared that in Romans 1:14, Paul talked of being a debtor with an obligation to all mankind.
“Paul says, ‘I’m held by obligation and bound by duty to share the message of Jesus with a world that’s so desperately lost,’” Stone said.
“I think evangelism is one beggar taking another beggar to the bread that he or she has found — I think that’s the responsibility that all of us have,” he added later in his message.
Annette Martin, a member of South Shelby Baptist Church who sat near the stage during the event, remarked that she was amazed at Stone’s ability to quote God’s Word without any notes or Scripture references in front of him.
She then looked around from her pew’s vantage point, surveying the approximately 900 people in attendance. “It’s exciting to see these buses that come from all over the state [to be here],” she added.
Hill was also encouraged by the attendance. “The senior adults seem to be very attentive and have a passion for the things of the Lord,” he said prior to his slot on the program
“Being a senior adult myself, sometimes senior adults think, ‘I’m older — I can’t do much.’ But that’s not right. Some of the best days we have can be in our elder years.”
When asked what he wanted attendees to take from his message, Hill shared he hoped they would be reminded they are God’s children and they are not forsaken. “And even in bad and difficult times, the Lord is with us and will provide for our needs,” he said.
Paid In Full kicked off the afternoon session with more worship music and sang a favorite of Gilbreath’s — “Our First Day in Heaven.”
With his charisma and sense of humor, Hill delivered the day’s final message “Good News for Bad Times.” He caused the room to erupt in fits of laughter one moment and fall into serious contemplation the next.
Using Psalm 37:1–4, Hill relayed several points to govern believers in difficult times: refrain from fretting, rely on God’s faithfulness (He supplies what you don’t have, will sustain what you already have and satisfies you regardless of what you cannot have) and rejoice in His faithfulness.
Gilbreath said the Senior Adult Evangelism Conference has become one of his “favorite conferences.” “We will start working immediately … for next year’s conference,” he shared.
“We will look around this country and find whom we believe to be the most outstanding senior adult speakers in the country [and] the best music.”
Gilbreath added that the conference is made possible by gifts through the Cooperative Program (CP). “This is … giving back to Alabama Baptists because they’ve given through the CP to make this possible,” he explained. “We don’t take up an offering here … we’re able to do that because of their gifts. It’s a great partnership.
“[Many of the individuals attending] are pillars of our churches — they’ve carried us financially, they’ve carried us in leadership,” he said. “I want them to be loved on and go back to their church excited about the years they have remaining — give the best they have. [We have] a wealth of leadership sitting right here.”