Bella Vista Church of Christ



Jeremiah Tatum


Thinking About Our Purpose


  Something over sixty years ago Thomas Wedel wrote about a life-saving station: “On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a small life-saving station. The building was primitive, just one boat, but the members were committed and kept a constant watch over the sea. When a ship went down, they unselfishly went out day or night, regardless of the weather, to save the lost. Because so many lives were saved, the station became famous. Consequently, many people wanted to give their time, talent, and money to support its important work. New boats were bought, new crews recruited, formal training sessions were offered. As the membership grew, some became unhappy that the building was so primitive and that the equipment so outdated. They wanted a better place to welcome the survivors pulled from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots with beds, put in better furniture, enlarged and decorated the building.


  "The life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members. They met regularly and when they did, it was apparent how they loved one another. They greeted each other, hugged each other, and shared with one another the events that had been going on in their lives. But fewer members were interested in going to sea on life-saving missions; so they hired lifeboat crews to do this for them.


  "Sometime later, a large ship was wrecked off of the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, dirty, sick, and half-drowned people. Some of them had black skin, some yellow. Some could speak English well, and some could hardly speak it at all. Some were first-class cabin passengers, others were the deck hands. The once beautiful meeting place became a place of chaos. The carpet got dirty. Exquisite furniture became scratched. So the property committee immediately had a shower built outside where the victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before they were brought inside.


  "Then there was rift in the membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities, they were unpleasant and a real hindrance to the normal fellowship activities. Others insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all those various kinds of people who would be shipwrecked, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. And do you know, that's what they did.


  "As years passed, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a place to meet regularly for fellowship, for committee meetings, and for special training sessions, but few were interested in saving drowning people. History continued to repeat itself. And if you visit that seacoast today, you'll find a number of adequate meeting places with ample parking and plush carpeting. Even though shipwrecks are frequent, most people drown.”


  We understand this was written so we would take a long hard look at our church. Have we forgotten our purpose? Do we have a heart for souls? Will we answer every S.O.S.? Are we going into the highways and the hedges, bringing in people for the feast the Lord has provided? Are we still a life-saving station? Are we personally into evangelism? Have we forgotten why the church exists?


  God expects the church to be a lighthouse – a life-saving station declaring the message of that cross to a lost and dying world. He expects us to seek and save the lost. Amen?


—Adapted from an article by Jeremiah Tatum

    Submitted by Harold Akridge