Preaching the gospel should transcend all barriers, said Dr. Dwight McKissic, Sr., in his sermon to the Texas Baptists Family Gathering on Monday night.
“This man from Ethiopia, Luke doesn’t identify him by name but by his country. The idea is that God used a Greek man to reach an African man and change a nation,” said McKissic, senior pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington. “That means God wants those that know Christ to share with those that don’t know Christ without respect to their color or background.”
McKissic referred to the diverse crowd at Family Gathering as the source of great joy and drew from Acts 8:26-39 to paint a picture of the Ethiopian man who became a believer in Jesus after Philip was obedient to God’s call to take the desert road to Gaza, not knowing the mission God had in mind.
He pointed out the Ethiopian man was a descendant of Noah’s son Ham, one of several that appear “at major points in the Bible where redemption is on the line.” Though the encounter only occupies a few verses of Scripture, McKissic noted several worthy mentions about the man.
First, he was a sable man, or one of darker complexion. McKissic noted the Ethiopians did not give themselves that name but named themselves Cushites because they were descendants of Cush, which means dark. He also notes that because the Bible called him a eunuch, that meant he was a single man, likely by choice.
McKissic said the man was salient or prominent, due to his high position riding in a chariot, comparable in today’s culture of riding in a limousine. And since he was reading Isaiah, he would likely not have been driving the chariot but had a driver.
He was spiritual, on his way to worship, and scriptural, reading from the writings of Isaiah, but McKissic said he was not yet a believer in Jesus, though he was pursuing God.
“Philip asked if he understood what he was reading. He asked Philip to come up in the chariot and explain. Philip began to preach about Jesus, and he accepted Jesus,” McKissic said. “That’s when he became a saved man, hallelujah. He accepted the kingdom of God and changed the destiny of a nation.”
In closing, McKissic said the Ethiopian was a shouting man, moved to excitement after his conversion experience.
“He went on his way shouting and rejoicing, literally leaping for joy,” he said. “When I see the splendor and the glory of God in this place, I have been shouting and praising since I got here.”
The service also included an update from the Executive Director Search Committee, with member Pete Pawelek serving as spokesperson. After thanking the audience for their ongoing prayers and support for the process and the people who comprise the committee, which Pawelek noted is a diverse group.
Pawelek said the committee has been meeting regularly and utilized the listening guide feedback to identify qualified candidates. He noted each person nominated met qualifications and submitted themselves to the process humbly. After extensive meetings and dialogue, with a spirit of unity Pawelek said was crucial, the group said they are continuing with “a small handful of candidates.”
The committee hopes to have a single candidate chosen soon to present to the Executive Board.
“We celebrate the reality that Texas Baptists have so many great people … and the unity that is evident across our state and in our committee,” he said in closing.
The program also included an introduction of fellowship presidents, including Sergio Ramos, president of Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas; Dr. Henry Batson III, president of African American Fellowship; Joseph Huang, pastor of the Chinese Baptist Fellowship; John Nguyen, president of Vietnamese Fellowship of Texas; Dr. Dillard Fisher, president of the Texas Baptist Bivocational Fellowship; and Jesse Rincones, executive director of Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas.
Dr. Katie Fruge, director of Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission, led a prayer and encouraged giving to the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, which she described as “the major vehicle to meet needs” as ministries serve around the world. Attendees also participated in the Lord’s Supper as a family during the service.