Pastor Joe’s Vision

Pastor Joe Samuels passed from this earth on December 24, 2013.

When Pastor Joe began his year as Conference President in August 1989, we decided to run his Conference theme introduction as two President Pages that fall. I present them here as a testament to Joe’s heart and vision for all Seventh Day Baptists.

The Preamble To a Vision

Seventh Day Baptists, I think we have a real opportunity here. In a society that is fraught with racial disunity, with moral and spiritual bankruptcy, with materialistic and atheistic bigotry, let us hold high the torch of ecclesiastical freedom and justice.

Let us rise to the challenge and demonstrate true agape love to all men and women, boys and girls who are washed in Jesus’ blood and are saved by his marvelous grace. If God has accepted us all into His royal family, then we must embrace each other as sisters and brothers, whatever may be our social, cultural, or ethnic background.

The time has come for us to cast aside the meaningless rhetoric and begin to seriously and actively practice genuine acceptance and fellowship with one another in our churches, in our homes, in our community, and throughout the Conference.

We can do it, and by God’s grace we will. The trickle of true agape fellowship might have begun some time ago. Now it begins to gush forth like a mighty rushing stream.

As your President, I come to you with a Vision of what I believe Almighty God wants for Seventh Day Baptists to accomplish in the not too distant months and years ahead. It is a Vision of all Seventh Day Baptists—whatever shade or color, rank or station, learned or unlearned, rich or poor—working together in unity of purpose and spirit.

When this begins to happen, Seventh Day Baptists all across this nation will then experience an unprecedented outpouring of the Spirit of God in our midst, resulting in a great spiritual revival like we have never known before. Was not our unity the very desire and heartbeat of Jesus, expressed in that agonizing prayer just prior to his going to the cross? I quote from John 17:21: “that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”

A cry on his dying bed, so to speak, for a genuine unity of his disciples. Jesus did not regard disunity as a distinctive of which to be proud. It was a concern heavy on his heart up to his dying hour.

Disunity in our ranks is lethal to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom here on earth. It is counterproductive to effective evangelism. Note if you please the last part of verse 21: “That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” For what purpose was Jesus sent to the world? “That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” For what purpose was Jesus sent to the world? “I am come that they may have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Do you now understand that unity among God’s people is an imperative to revival and church growth? Could this be a significant reason for the lack of numerical and spiritual growth we so desire?

I am deeply convicted of the urgency for Seventh Day Baptists in my generation to respond to Jesus’ heartcry for unity and togetherness. I have a longing and yearning for an unprecedented expansion of our denomination. I bring you this Vision.

Needless to say, if the future of our denomination is to reflect a vastly higher degree of success in reaching our generation for Christ, and the observance of the Sabbath, it is going to take at least three things on our part according to his Vision. What are they?

 

1) Our collective sharing of this Vision of togetherness.

2) A determined effort on the part of most, if not all of us, to prayerfully repent of our self-worship, and make the goal of Jesus Christ—the salvation of the world—our goal, too.

3) We must make a conscious commitment to cooperate with each other, as leaders and executives, as boards and agencies, churches and associations, and as members of the family of God.

 

This Vision I bring to you is one to stir your pure minds. It is one that requires some very hard things to be said, and extremely painful to listen to; but even much harder to listen to positively, indeed, it may even be considered impossible by some. But we must not forget that our God is a God of the impossible! The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ”—and so can we.

 

The Vision

I ask myself that very important and humiliating question, “Who am I?” The Lord replied, “Just a voice I picked up from the gutter of Kingston, Jamaica, washed it clean in the precious blood of My dear Son, sanctified it that I may send it to My people, Seventh Day Baptists, with a Vision of My will for them in the closing decade of this 2000 years.”

Seventh Day Baptists, that’s my only credential; no rank, no station, just a voice in these closing years; a voice with a Vision from the Lord to you. Believe me, that is all the credentials I really need. We can respond to the challenge of the Vision, or we can ignore it and continue our perennial wanderings in the wilderness of frustration and despair.

 

I firmly believe that by the grace of God we can respond positively to the challenge of this Vision. Therefore, I have chosen as our Conference theme: “All One In Christ—Let’s Practice It” from Galatians 3:28.

I think as we enter the year of “MORE 2000,” it is fitting that we be challenged to join together in what could very well be the last leg of the “Gospel Race,” and our final opportunity to bring in the harvest of souls that the Lord has so patiently reserved for Seventh Day Baptists over the past decades.

As we develop this theme through the year, I hope to share with you in much greater detail the areas in which we need to more actively demonstrate our togetherness as a people of God.

The following is an outline of my Vision of Unity and Togetherness. In our—

 

1. Relationships among people

a) Between multiracial and multicultural fellowships

b) Between denominational boards and agencies

c) Between our administrators and executives

 

2. Resources with which God has blessed us for ministry

a) Resource materials: In Christian Ed.; video; literature and music; Sabbath School materials

b) Men/Women who have valuable skills in experience, professions and leadership

c) Money with which to support joint projects (national and local); ministry for outreach; greater visibility

d) Our love (agape love) especially among our SDB family

 

3. Recognition and Utilization of gifts for Ministry

in this video age, we need to make available to the public:

a) Messages on various topics by SDB Ministers

b) Doctrinal Bible studies by SDB Ministers and others

c) SDB worship services

d) Seminar Presentations for:

–Sabbath School officers (Church or Association level)

–Church officers

–Women’s Society

–Youth Fellowships

[None of the above presentations or views will necessarily reflect the complete views and beliefs of all SDBs. But it will be the views and beliefs of a Seventh Day Baptist who is recognized to be gifted of God in a particular area of ministry, and who is currently engaged or was once engaged in that area of ministry for Seventh Day Baptists.]

 

4. Response and cooperation as encouragement/appreciation

a) In significant SDB programs and projects

b) The use of resource materials

c) In constructive criticisms and suggestions

 

We as individuals in the churches must provide constructive feedback—to our leaders, our workers, our heads of boards and agencies—of our approval or disapproval of, our satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the resource materials they produce for us, or the projects and policies they ask us to support.

They truly need our response which shows our appreciation or our concerns. Two-way communication is very vital in the development of a climate of unity and togetherness.

I am looking forward to being in your churches, at your Association meetings and in your homes. God bless you all. And please remember, we are “All One In Christ—Let’s Practice It!!”

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