I was just thinking about the fine leaders that God provided us in the early days of our state association. That prompted me to recall how blessed we have been to have found those faithful who have gone before us. I share some brief comments about some of those who certainly were trailblazers of the BMA of Arkansas:
• A.R. Reddin was such a trailblazer. He was my family’s pastor at Central Baptist Church in Ashdown when I was a toddler. My grandfather didn’t particularly like preachers, but he took a liking to Bro. Reddin. When I enrolled in Central Baptist College in 1964, Bro. Reddin was president of the “School with Christian Ideals.” He was definitely one of the finest leaders in the early days of our state association, but he also had an impact on our national work. For many years, he was the executive director of the Harvest Gleaner Hour, the broadcast ministry of the BMA of America which is known today as Lifeword. You were blessed if you were touched by the ministry of Bro. Reddin.
• C.C. Bishop was editor of the Baptist Trumpet during the 1960s. The paper had begun under the editorship of W. J. Burgess as the Temple Trumpet. Bro. Bishop’s office was in Old Main on the CBC campus. He had no filing cabinets, just eight ft. long tables located against the walls surrounding the office. But he had an amazing memory, so if a person requested a copy of a certain issue of the Trumpet, Bro. Bishop could immediately go to a table, fan through a stack of papers and come up with the requested issue. He loved the churches of the BMA of Arkansas and loved traveling to them each Sunday to promote the work of the paper you are now reading.
• Dr. Wassell Burgess faithfully served the churches of the state association for many years. He was dean of students at Central Baptist College when I was a student, and he was a true friend and mentor to many of the “preacher boys.” Later, Dr. Burgess became president of CBC, and under his leadership, the school continued to grow. As with all who served as leaders in the association, Dr. Burgess traveled the state garnering support for the college. But he was also much in demand as a speaker, teaching on eschatology and angels. After his retirement from CBC, he became a pastor and an example of a one who urged his church to support the ministries of the BMA of Arkansas.
• Elbert O’Steen was a mild manner man who was a diligent servant of the Lord. He served our association of churches as secretary of State Missions (now known as executive director of BMA of Arkansas Missions.) As with others mentioned, he traveled the state promoting the work of missions and was well-received everywhere due to his quiet and humble demeanor. He prayed for God’s guidance daily and, as a result, he was led to the right men who would become state missionaries and plant churches. Today, many of those churches are strong supporters of the BMA of Arkansas, and some have become sponsoring churches for new church plants in our state.
For this article, I have chosen to focus on the ministries of these four leaders. In the weeks ahead, I will share with you more of those who have gone before us, blazing the trail for our churches and ministries to be effective in carrying out the Great Commission. Those who have come before us were faithful!
May those who come behind us find us just as diligent and faithful in our ministries and our willingness to unite as an association to make disciples, baptize them and teach them what our Master taught. Please pray for our present Central Baptist College president, State Missions director, Baptist Trumpet editor, and State Youth Department director.
On a personal note, I am grateful to those who took the time to email or text me regarding the previous article on “The Problem of Plagiarism in the Pulpits.”Some were shocked to learn about the problem, while others expressed their concern about the occurrences. Again, pray for pastors. It is a great responsibility to stand in the pulpit week after week and feed the flocks of God.