by Michael McEwen
Commencing his discussion with a joke to hook the crowd, Dr. David Allen Black––after the laughter––then transitioned to the question, “How can we come alongside foreign churches to help them in furthering the ministry of Christ?” The question was posed with purpose. Allowing the question to linger in the minds of his hearers, Dr. Black began telling about his missional involvement with the people of Ethiopia.
About thirteen years ago, the Lord took Dr. and Mrs. Black from California to the rural parts of southern Virginia. The Black’s farm, christened as the Rosewood Farm, encompasses 123 acres, and it supports the Black family in myriads of ways. Dr. Black’s eldest son, Nathan, designed Bradford Hall––the home of the Blacks––and it functions as the nucleus for Rosewood Farm. Mrs. Black, in the office of Bradford Hall, labors over the computer hours out of the day with the purpose of organizing their future travels to Ethiopia, while in the fields of Rosewood Farm, Dr. Black and his son Nathan harvest their main crop––square-baled hay. Projecting a picture onto the screen of their Sheltie nursing her newborn puppies, Dr. Black said that even their pets function as a means of self-supporting missions.
About seven years ago, Dr. Black was on sabbatical, and Becky asked David, “Would you like to see where I’m from?” Speaking of her raising in Ethiopia, she said, “I want you to see where I grew up, just to visit where I was as a kid in order to understand me even better.”
After the second night in Ethiopia and laying his head down for the night, Dr. Black said to Becky, “I love these people so much it hurts, and looking back,” he said during the story, “God placed the Ethiopian people on our hearts.
“Becky and I are able-bodied, self-supporting, obedient followers of Christ who use every cent to sustain our missional activities wherever we go,” said Black. “There’s a misunderstanding today in missional-talk that you have to be paid from an outside source to be a missionary. Every New Testament believer is a full-time missionary, shouldn’t we be also?
“Yes, we support Lottie Moon and many other organizations financially, but we must stop being so quick in outsourcing missions and be willing to take on God’s mission ourselves.” And it is for this reason that for the past seven years, Dr. and Mrs. Black visit Ethiopia for two to three months at a time.
During one initial visit to Ethiopia, Dr. Black spoke to a number of Muslim prisoners. While there, Dr. Black preached the gospel to all of the prisoners, emphasizing the love of God for each and every one of them despite their wrongs. As they went each year, Dr. and Mrs. Black took clothes and necessities to Mohammed, a prisoner because of murder. Mohammed was deeply moved by the Blacks’ sacrificial love, and he received Christ after a few years of Dr. and Mrs. Black’s visits. Expected to serve a life sentence in prison, Mohammed’s sentence was suspended due to good behavior, “and now our son in the Lord is ‘Mohammed the murderer,’” said Dr. Black. Presently, Mohammed continues to do evangelistic work alongside the Blacks during their journeys across the Ethiopian landscape.
Concluding his discussion about self-supporting missions and church-to-church missional strategies, Dr. Black said, “Our goal is not to connect individuals with Ethiopian churches, but to connect personal representatives, that is, apostles, with local churches in Ethiopia. So, our ultimate goal is to connect churches with churches.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.