By Dr. Stan Smith, Associate Executive Director
Why should we give attention to missions in Pennsylvania/South Jersey? I often hear the discussion about the tension between the needs here and the needs in other places–Jerusalem versus the “uttermost.” Certainly the staggering needs for the gospel among thousands of unreached people groups should get our priority attention. Yet, here is a statistic that may surprise you: Pennsylvania and Cuba have similar population—a little over 12 million people. Nine percent (9%) of the population in Cuba consider themselves evangelical, but in Pennsylvania that number is only six percent (6%)! The lostness and the need for churches engaging their culture with the gospel is critical in our convention area.
One of the ways that we support mission work in Pennsylvania/South Jersey is through our annual focus on State Missions in September. Through the years I have seen what we have done together to help churches, such as when a boiler blew up and the furnace stopped working, a church roof caved in due to snow accumulation, or flooding damaged a church building structure. Likewise, we have also helped in more personal ways; we’ve covered medical insurance/bills when a pastor’s family encountered a catastrophic situation, helped with expenses when a pastor had a death in his immediate family, or helped a church provide moving expenses for their new pastor/church planter.
We truly are family. We have ministered together as the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey for 45 years. Through State Missions we care for one another, but more importantly we link together to care for the lost and broken among the 15.5 million who live among us in these regions. This September I hope that you and your church will set aside some focused time to consider, discuss, pray for and engage in new ways the missions opportunity we have in Pennsylvania/South Jersey!