Bivocational pastor is 'honored but humbled' to address SBC

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Anthony Williams never planned on standing in front of thousands of preachers and others at the Southern Baptist Convention, but when the opportunity arose, he said God immediately gave him a message.

Williams, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Durant, Okla., and owner of Durant Medical Supply and a local pharmacy, was asked by SBC President Bobby Welch to represent the thousands of bivocational pastors across the nation by preaching at the SBC's June 21-22 annual meeting.

"It is very humbling. I'm honored, but humbled, too," Williams told Baptist Press a few days before delivering his June 22 sermon. "This is a God thing. I just want to stay out of the way and let God do what He wants to do."

About the inspiration for his message, Williams said: "It was automatic. God gave me three points immediately and I haven't wavered from those. I know this will be my only chance in life to share before all of the convention, so I asked Him what He wanted me to say. The points that came to me were holiness, falling in love with Jesus and making disciples."

Williams said he hoped to get the message across to others that "it doesn't matter what size church you serve in or where you serve, God has mandated that we share our faith. The Great Commission leaves no doubt about that."

In his message, Williams stated that "a lifestyle of Christlikeness and being obedient and submissive to the Spirit of God is essential to God's anointing and power for witnessing."

"I believe with all of my heart if we are going to be effective in winning souls to Christ, we must spend quality time with the Master in Bible study," he said.

Williams then noted, "A fundamental requirement for any evangelism program is that we and our people are in love with Jesus.

"Saints, listen to me. We can guilt our people into joining the ranks of those who will go out and share ... but I guarantee you, if we don't love Jesus intimately, we will fall by the wayside."

And, in exhorting pastors to make disciples of their congregants, he said, "We are to attach ourselves to them and help them be conformed to the image of Christ. ... [W]e are to teach them by example and word so they will be prepared to share Christ as He opens up opportunities for them."

Williams was nominated to represent bivocational pastors by Alan Quigley, evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

"When Bobby Welch asked me if I knew anyone who was bivocational, evangelistic and making a difference in the community in which they lived," Quigley said, "Anthony came to my mind immediately. He's a community leader, leader of the [Bryan Baptist] Association's pastors' conference, and he ministers just to tons of people through his pharmacy."

Grace Baptist Church has a zeal for evangelism and "is always reaching out into the community," Quigley said. "He's a man who just humbles himself to work with others and show them the love of Christ. He has really impacted his community."

Williams' impact on the community is felt beyond the church walls to a local detention center where he does a weekly Bible study with the boys and girls there, Quigley said.

"I know fulltime pastors who don't give as much time to the ministry of the Gospel as he does," Quigley said. "I've had people in other churches there in Durant say Anthony is probably the most respected believer in the community for all he does through his pharmacy.

"He just loves to talk about Jesus. He wins people to Christ all the time. He's always there with the Gospel and always there loving on people. People come to him because they know he cares."

Grace Baptist Church has grown from three baptisms in 1999 to 18 in both 2003 and 2004. The church's Sunday School enrollment rose from 27 in 1999 to 67 in 2004, with worship attendance soaring from 45 to 100 during that same period.

Williams is a member of the International Association of Biblical Counselors, the Durant Kiwanis Club and the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

Williams and his wife, Joan, have been married 42 years. They have two daughters.

Speaking at the annual meeting is an honor, Williams said, but above all he wants God to get the glory.

"This is not about me; it is all about Him," Williams said. "He says we are not to share His glory with anyone. To God be the Glory. Great things He has done."


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