Why I am a Miami Baptist?

 1. I live in Miami.    and    2. I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church

 First of all, God called me to live and minister in Miami, Florida.  I know many people who are only passing through this city.  They don’t like it, and they are trying to leave.  However, they are here, and it would seem to me that God has placed us all here for the time being.  So, why we are here, we should be His witnesses.  Jeremiah 29:7 states, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."

 Secondly, I chose to be a Southern Baptist.  I was not raised in any church.  It just so happened that I was saved in a little Southern Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee.  I was called to preach in a Southern Baptist Church.  I got out of the Navy, and went to a Southern Baptist college.  WOW!  I was shocked at the theology presented to me.  This was 1980, and I didn’t know what a liberal or a conservative was.  But I knew what I was being exposed to was not scriptural.  I left that school and went to Luther Rice Seminary when it was in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.  While I was a student at Luther Rice, I fell I love with Southern Baptists.  This was not a Southern Baptist school, and they received no Cooperative Program money.  However, each professor had to be an active SBC pastor and had to give account of his personal soul-winning.  It was during this time that I became committed to the SBC.  I firmly believe that the SBC has the right structure that is needed for God to use in our society. 

 Southern Baptists are fundamental in our faith.  That means that we believe the Bible is the Word of God.  We believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation.  Of course there are more doctrinal issues that can be discussed.  But these two things allow Southern Baptist a foundation to build upon.  We have a wide range of congregational worship from a charismatic type of excitement to a formal and even ritualistic type of service.  There are pastors who have not made it out of high school along with Ph.D.s.  It is our desire to see people saved that brings us together as Southern Baptists.  We contribute our monies toward that end, whether it is locally or internationally. 

 Baptist is not a bad word either.  I know there is a movement to take Baptist out of the names our church plants and new works.  However most of the time this is an English proposition.  Our international churches want Baptist in their name.  Baptist means something to people outside of the United States.  It says that we are not Catholic.  It says that we are evangelical and Bible believing.  It is a positive name to most people.

People in the United States that think Baptist is a bad name, usually refer to the negative connotations that we are narrow minded.  Somehow, there are groups in our country that think Baptists are non-loving.  They think that Baptists are synonymous with mean spirited, Bible in your face type of actions.  We know that this picture is true some of the time.  And somehow, these types of people make it on the evening news.  However, for most of us, the Baptist name refers to the ‘old time religion’.  That used to be a negative nomenclature.  But today, there is a resurgence of interest in the nice and historical evangelical fundamentalist.   

Certainly, in Miami, Baptist have a very good name.  Baptist Hospital and the entire Baptist Health System of South Florida has brought attention the Baptist family.  BHSFS is the largest, private employer in South Florida with 11,000 employees.  Plus, the quality of care and the excellent example of employment equates a superior product with the name Baptist.

 Beside the excellent medical name for Baptist, we have a great reputation with the Florida Baptist Children’s Home in Miami.  People recognize that the Baptist Children’s Home provides the best care for neglected children.  There are other children ministries in our area that are larger, but none compare to the service these kids get on the Kendall campus.  Our Good News Care Center in Florida City is awesome.  It is located on the premises of First Baptist Church.  Baptist is a household name to these folks, and there are over 12,000 patient visits each year.  The University of Miami recognizes the Baptist Collegiate Ministry on their campus.  We have our own building, and a group of ministers and chaplains that have been very effective for decades. 

 The Florida Baptist Convention is also a land owner in Miami-Dade.  They continue to make the Baptist name a positive word in our area.  There are more than 6 Convention people who live and minister in our county. Plus, the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has over 300 students in Hialeah.  They use the name Baptist Theological Seminary of the Americas.  Baptist is a very positive word to use in Miami-Dade County.


Gary  L.  Johnson

Director of Missions

Miami, Florida

7855 SW 104th Street, Suite 210 | Miami, FL 33156
t: 305-271-5600 | f: 305-271-3530

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