Our association is conducting what is called a “Strategic Study” these days, under the direction of seminary professor Reggie Ogea, to make some crucial decisions about the future of our work in New Orleans. Lately, we’ve been hammering out vision and mission statements. A “vision statement,” we’re told, is a word picture of what you intend to become. The “mission statement” is how you plan to get there.

One of the candidates for judge in Jefferson Parish has drawn a reaction to her billboards. Underneath her name and picture are these words: “One Tough Judge.” Critics point out that she is not a judge, and that putting that phrase on her ads implies that she is. Since the public loves to re-elect officials doing a good job, the intent of the candidate seems to have been to mislead the voters into voting for her.

She pulled the ads and had her advertising people add one more phrase in smaller letters just above the disputed line. Now it reads: “will make a” and then under that, ONE TOUGH JUDGE.

I suppose we could say that “one tough judge” is her vision statement. Getting elected is her mission.

Monday and Tuesday of this week, a group of ministers will be flying into New Orleans to take part in our VISION TOUR. A team composed of representatives of the seminary, our association, the state Baptist convention, and the North American Mission Board have planned activities over this two-day period to acquaint our visitors with the local religious landscape, hoping to interest some or all in either starting a new church here or helping to sponsor new starts.

Most of our meetings will be at a hotel near the airport. Seminary students who work with Professor Jack Allen have done demographic studies of certain neighborhoods where new churches are needed, and will be making presentations. Tuesday morning, we will board a number of church vans and tour these areas. We plan to feed them some New Orleans cuisine and let them know how much we appreciate their coming this way.

“Come and see” is an invitation found all through Scripture, and a great answer to those questions about what goes on in your city, your church, or your spiritual faith. Don’t take my word for it; come check it out. See for yourself.

Bible students treasure the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, found in John 4. As she begins to realize the true identity of Jesus, she suddenly says, “Sir, would you stay right here! I have some friends who will want to meet you!” She ran back into the city and told everyone, “Come! See a man who told me everything I ever did! Is this not the Messiah?”

The little town of Sychar emptied as the citizens hurried the two miles, first to meet Jesus and then to bask in the glow of His teachings over the next two days. When the distinguished visitors left, some of the townspeople sought out the woman who had invited them. “At first,” they said, “we believed because of your testimony that ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ But now, we have met Him for ourselves and know for certain that He is indeed the Savior of the world.”

There’s nothing like first-hand information. See for yourself, experience it, thereafter speak of what you know, not what you heard.

It’s great that your mother told you about the Lord, or that you had a faithful pastor or teacher. But second-hand knowledge will not hold up under scrutiny, suffering, or testing. Meet Jesus for yourself. Let Him change you.

Thereafter, you will never be reporting hearsay when you speak of God. You will be witnessing to what you know.

After all, the person with an experience is never at the mercy of someone with an argument.

When the Apostle John wrote his first epistle, he began, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you….” (I John 1:1-3)

A couple of pages earlier, the Apostle Peter says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty…. And we ourselves heard this….” (II Peter 1:16-18)

I grew up singing an old gospel song that said, “I was there when it happened, so I guess I ought to know.”

Dr. Ed Steele is a professor at our seminary and the longtime minister of music at Metairie’s Parkview Baptist Church. Today, Sunday, that church was celebrating it’s 50th anniversary. Pastor Bill Day has been there 13 years, and is a seminary prof himself. Their lovely buildings were glistening, spruced out for the events of this weekend as members old and new filled the campus to rejoice and share memories.

To begin the service of celebration, Ed Steele, a former missionary, led the choir and congregation in “We’ll Change the World,” a work he wrote. I told him later I assumed the church had commissioned some famous composer for this. He smiled and said, “I work cheap.”

Here are parts of it. Sorry I can’t sing it for you.

“We’ll change the world by Christ within us;

We’ll change the world, we’ll follow Him.

This is our goal, this is our journey;

We’ll take our stand today to follow where He leads!

We do not care how great the cost,

Lord, help us see the countless loss,

Christ’s love compels us, we cannot help but share!

We’ll change the world, filled with the Spirit,

Our one desire, to follow Him!

We’ll stand together, side by side,

The Lord will be our shield and guide.

We dare not let fear now keep us from His ways.

We’ll change the world, filled with the Spirit,

Our one desire, to follow Him!

Some look at mirrors, some at doors,

Consumed with self and not the Lord.

We cannot sit here and let the world go by!

He’ll change the world, O give Him glory,

Our one desire, to follow Him!”

“Where there is no vision,” Proverbs 29:18 declares, “the people perish.”

God, give us eyes to see. Ears to hear. Hearts to feel. Lives to respond to Thee. Use us to change this world for Thy sake.


  1. Joe,

    As you know we came within the first week of Katrina and on November 4, 2007. We will be back for my 5th, and our Church’s, (Taylors First Baptist) number 10 to 15th trip to your city and the Gulf Coast. (Who really counts the numbers anyway?),

    This time we are bringing 20 souls to again work with operation NOAH.

    Your plea, to “come see for yourself”, is still timely. I see progress each time I return. But there is an overwhelming amount of work to be done over many years.


    Chaplain Jack Dorn

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