By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
Let me tell you a story about what the state of Virginia looked like 110 years ago. The year is 1911. The population was 2,061,612 – Richmond (127,628), Norfolk (67,472), Roanoke (34,874), Danville (19,020), Alexandria (15,329), and my little hometown of Charlottesville (6,765) – Staunton was larger with 10,604. Total protestant church membership was 793,546 – 415,987 were Baptists, 200,771 Methodists, 28,487 Episcopalians, and the rest divided among the other denominations. The total indebtedness among all the churches in Virginia was $966,367. At my alma mater, the University of Virginia, there were 96 professors, 24 officials, and 784 students. The population of the world was 1.6 billion.
At the birth of Jesus of Nazareth the population of the world was 200 million. At the close of 2019 it was 7.7 billion. So, let me tell you a story about what life looks like in the rest of the world in this year. If we could shrink the earth population to a village of exactly 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, the world would look like this: 61 Asians, 13 Africans, 12 Europeans, 13 from the Americas and 1 from Oceana; 50 would be female and 50 male; 70 would be non-white and 30 would be white; 33 would be Christian, 21 Moslems, 13 Hindus, 6 Buddhists, 11 other religions, and 14 without religion or atheist. 70 will be malnourished or undernourished, 15 overweight – 6 people will own 59% of the world’s wealth (all from the U.S.); 73 will own 39%, 20 own all the remaining wealth 2%; 20 have no clean drinking water, 15 are illiterate, 1 has a college degree, and 7 have computers. Across the world in one year for every person who dies, two babies are born.
Now, let me tell you one more story. You, I and all who worship God are on a grand adventure together with Jesus Christ. Jesus knows how badly things in His world are out of balance. And He expects His church to address human needs and conditions on a global scale. Only God knows what wonderful challenges and adventures lay ahead for us in year 2020; what new faces will join our happy throng; what familiar faces will disappear from our earthly fellowship. Let us remember those who in 2019 passed from time-bound life to life eternal: Bruce Benson, Al Conlon, Len Holmberg, Gene Larkin, Karen Loss, Fred Martin, Shirley Paul, and Kathleen Race. We are all just passing through time. Each of us has only a limited time in which to address the world’s needs we have inherited from our previous generations. We can see the incredible changes that occurred in our state over the last 100 years. What if the entire world could experience such dramatic, life altering change? With full confidence that God knows where our journeys meet, let’s embrace one another and the global community with an esprit de corp and enthusiasm for mission and ministry together with Christ that continues proclaiming the greatest story being told.
Shalom / Jim