Our generation has never known hard times for the most part. We have been the most fed, spoiled, pampered and protected species of humanity that has ever ridden the conveyor belt of history together in all of the 6,000 years since the dawn of creation. But just maybe our time has come. They tried to tell us right after 911. They said that things would never be the same again. Maybe someone knew more than we thought they knew.
I was born in 1932. It was the throes of what they call the Great Depression. Obviously I knew nothing about it because of my age, but I remember the end of it in the late thirties, and I remember the oldsters talking about it. I do remember attending the Wichita Baptist Tabernacle when it only had a dirt floor in the late thirties and open rafters.
I also know that for the churches there was no depression. The churches during those years kept on doing what churches were supposed to do. They kept meeting Sunday morning for Sunday School, and for morning service and then they came back for an evangelistic service that night. The faithful folks always came back for prayer meeting on Wednesday night. They usually had at least one Revival meeting each year and many times a tent meeting in the summer. They built church buildings during the depression and sent out missionaries and young men went off to Bible College. God’s work continued right on.
One of the most moving stories from the life of Adoniram Judson is told by David L. Cummins in This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. When he returned home for the first time after being in Burma for 33 years and he had been chosen as a messenger to the Triennial Convention. It was a dark day on November 19, 1845 when the Convention met and it was revealed that the Baptists of the South had withdrawn. It was apparent that a reduction in the budget would be necessary. Dr. Solomon Peck, the foreign secretary, made the suggestion that they abandon the Arakan mission. The Convention was being asked to sound “retreat!”
You can imagine what must have gone through the old warrior’s mind. Having become a Baptist by conviction upon leaving his Congregational Denomination, laboring for seven years before baptizing his first convert Moung Nau, having buried his seven month old son, spending a total of 17 months in filthy prisons, losing his beloved wife Ann to death while he was there and then losing his precious daughter Maria to the grave later, and now he is hearing the word “retreat”?
He must have thought of the day that he dug his own grave and sat by it and prayed to die; and then that day when he became determined to nail his will to the cross and go on for God, and continued his work of translating the scriptures. He must have thought of those eight lonely years that he worked with no one by his side until God gave him his lovely Sarah, only to lay her to rest on the Island of St. Helena.
Judson’s doctor had forbidden him to speak above a whisper because of throat problems, but upon hearing those words from Dr. Peck, the lion arose and shouted out loud, “Though forbidden of the doctors to speak in public, I must protest against the abandonment of the Arakan mission.” It was all he could say, but it was enough. The Convention unanimously resolved not to abandon any mission work.
In spite of the financial meltdown and economic problems, the price of gasoline and other things that we could mention, we are happy to report that the Indianapolis Baptist Temple is not blowing the Trumpet of retreat. They just finished their Faith Promise Missions Conference and increased their commitments over last year. This is not the time for any of us to sound retreat -- it’s the time for all of us to charge forward for Christ to reach the lost at home and abroad.