Dear Pastor and Church Leaders,
Our American Baptistfamily has rich heritage as a caring, engaging and giving people. Since 1824,American Baptist Home Mission Societies has been proclaiming the gospel of ourLord in word and deed. We actively seek to equip and network “disciples”—followersof Jesus—so that together we can meet the spiritual and physical needs ofpeople in our churches and communities.
The America for Christ (AFC) Offering2012 theme is a call to be more Christlike. It is not enough to read the Word, hear the Word and meditate on the Word. Moreimportantly, we must obey and be doers of the Word (Luke 6:46). We must beready and willing to give testimony about the reason for the hope that iswithin us (1Peter 3:15). “Engaging Discipleship” denotes putting Jesus first inall things. In our materialistic and consumer-minded society, this goes againstthe grain. But the Word of our Lord encourages us to put off self-centerednessfor Christ- centeredness instead.
· To have open eyes is to see the suffering, the injustice and the need around us. Wecannot walk by and hope someone else will respond (James 2:14-17).
· To havean open heart is to feel and identify with the suffering of others, in short,to care and give our best in the name of Jesus (Matthew 25:37-40).
· To have openhands is to be ready and willing to come alongside a person in need and getinvolved in her or his life (Luke 10:27-37).
In our highlydigitized “cyber society,” where more and more people are connected via theInternet, we still hear of many who feel alienated and alone. An engaging,compassionate touch of hope in the name of Jesus Christ can make atransformational difference. As we seek to be faithful disciples of our Lord byopening our eyes, our hearts and our hands, we have an opportunity to becomethe caring church Jesus envisioned.
As Jesus followers, let us respond tothe AFC 2012 theme—Engaging Discipleship: Open My Eyes, My Heart, My Hands. Letus exemplify and inspire each other to be doers of good works. Let us see theneed with our eyes, feel the pain with our hearts and, with our hands, extendthe authentic hope and selfless love of Jesus Christ to our neighbors.
Together let us celebrate lives andcommunities energized and transformed by the incarnational love we share in thename of Jesus Christ. Let us continue to live out our American Baptist heritageand legacy as a church and a people whocare. Give generously, and get involved in the lives of your neighbors.
Thank you for your generous support of the America forChrist Offering 2012.
With Engaging Hope,
Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-riggins III
Executive Director, American Baptist Home Mission Societies
American Baptist Churches USA