There are two main reasons why I am Southern Baptist: biblical doctrine and the Cooperative Program. There are other denominations and church groups that are doctrinally sound. Yet there is no other church or group of churches that offers a more comprehensive means for every church to participate in work focused on the King’s mandate to reach the whole world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This past year I had the opportunity to be a part of the Quest program. Quest is a leadership development program for high school juniors that provides opportunities to grow in faith, leadership skills, service and team building in order to better equip us as godly leaders in our churches and communities. The culmination of this advantageous program is an overseas mission trip. Students were sent to four different locations: South Africa, Hawaii, Scotland and the Dominican Republic. I was chosen along with eleven other students to go to the Dominican Republic. When I was told who would be on my team I have to say I was slightly confused. Everyone on my team seemingly had extremely different personalities and interests, and I was under the impression that none of us had anything in common.
When I was growing up in the church, I viewed mission trips as the work of the varsity team—something reserved for the spiritually elite delta force. Consequently, every time a mission opportunity presented itself, I gave every reason why it wasn’t for me. And even when I did put myself out there to serve, I only did so after laboring over the decision for weeks through prayer, internal debate, and counsel.
"…. But in the future he will bring honor to the way of the sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:1b-2, 6
When this scripture was written, the nation of Israel was at war -- and the war was not going well. In the midst of that time of anguish and despair, Isaiah prophesied that one day a baby would be born. That baby would be the promised Jewish Messiah, the Prince of Peace. We know Him by the name of Jesus, and the story of His birth is what makes the Christmas season so special to us all. But as is often true in Old Testaments prophecies, there is a second prophecy hidden within the first one.