Dear Immanuel family,
Our focus for this year’s Missions Conference is “Reaching Richmond.” The Missions Council chose this theme to challenge us to the mission field that is all around us. The key verse for the week will be Jeremiah 29:7, “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in its peace shall you have peace.” Our keynote speaker, Dr. Jason Ormiston, will be encouraging us with messages on how to engage in our community, to win the right to be heard, to break down the hostility and to multiply our impact in the community.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela said, “Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day-dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.” Sound familiar? It’s as if he got his idea from the Book of James that says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” One man who took this verse seriously was William Wilberforce. Born in 1759 in Great Britain, he rose to prominence when he was elected to the British Parliament. Through a time of intense sorrow, God called him to himself. Although he continued in politics, he abhorred the socializing that went along with this position and was driven by a spiritual passion to change his world.
He became absorbed in the travesty of the British slave trade. Each year English traders raided the African coast on the Gulf of Guinea, and captured between 35,000 and 50,000 Africans a year shipping them across the Atlantic and selling them into slavery. So engrained was this trade that one publicist wrote, “The impossibility of doing without slaves in the West Indies will always prevent this traffic from being dropped.” However, in 1789 he and a fellow supporter managed to get 12 resolutions against the slave trade introduced only to see them defeated. So fierce was the opposition that a friend feared that Wilberforce would be “ carbonated (broiled) by West Indies planters, or barbequed by African merchants….”
Wilberforce relentlessly fought to abolish slavery and his efforts finally bore fruit in 1807: Parliament abolished the slave trade in the British Empire. He then worked to make sure that the new laws were enforced. He heard three days before he died that the final passage of the emancipation bill was ensured in committee. What an example Mr. Wilberforce’s life is to us. What is God calling us to do as a church, you as a family or an individual. It seems to me that Satan would like no more than to confine Christians to the four walls of their churches. Let’s put our faith into action, okay?