“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
Shortly after Jesus was resurrected He met with His followers and charged them to inform and influence others to become a part of His movement. These disciplined followers were to, in the words of Pastor Rick Warren, be purpose driven and encourage each other, edify each other, equip themselves for the work ahead, exalt and worship their Savior, and very importantly they were to evangelize….get the word out!
I’ve tried to get the word out in every arena the Lord has placed me, including the classroom. In a few weeks I will complete my 25th year as a professor of religion at St. Thomas University. I’ve had the opportunity to share the Gospel each year with my students. While I have introduced and exposed my students to many of the various religions of the world, I have with intentionality unapologetically highlighted my own faith.
A few years ago, one of my freshmen students, Ernie Fernandez, after attending my religion class changed his major from psychology to religion and is now completing his doctoral studies at Harvard University in comparative religions. But one of the most fulfilling experiences of my teaching career just occurred. One of my Chinese students came to St. Thomas unexposed to Christianity. In fact, he was raised not practicing any religion in his native home in China. Since his parents were born in Communist China, many people have been discouraged and some aspirant party members prohibited from belonging to any religion.
But in order for undergraduates to successfully complete their studies at St. Thomas, they must take and pass at least three courses in religion.
My Chinese student told me last week that because of me sharing my faith with him and the class, he had begun to visit a Chinese Christian church. Well, this past Sunday, which was Resurrection Day, he visited the same church, became a member, was given a Bible and is scheduled to be baptized after he completes his orientation.
After class yesterday, I gave that student a positive and affirming scripture: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). I told him that God has great expectations for him. Not only does God have the expectation that his life will turn out well, but He has already made plans to assist him in achieving the good life. I told him that God sees him as a prosperous, promising, prominent, and productive creature with a hopeful future!
That’s the message that must be shared with all people and all nations. God has all power to help us to do all things, and He will be with us always. We have been commissioned to go and tell others the good news of Jesus’ birth, death, burial, resurrection and soon return.
Lord, thank you for the power of Your resurrection, and the promise of Your return. We know you are with us through Your Spirit, in Your Word, by Your providential care, and Your divine presence. Thank you for the assurance and affirmation, “I am with you always.” Help each of us to take the Gospel to all people. We know that not all will be saved, but all deserve the opportunity to hear the Gospel. Amen!
Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com