You Can Make a Difference
by Rev. Warren Lathem
Thank you for the privilege of being here today. Thank you for the opportunity to share in this service. We enjoyed the earlier service, folks were so gracious, and we thank you for that. It’s good to see the work and ministry of Randy and Rachel as they’ve served so faithfully through the years. I thank God for their friendship and presence in church.
He is correct, the best thing about me and my ministry is my wife. We were driving up here yesterday and having a pretty serious conversation part of the time. Jane said, in the context of the conversation, fit in the conversation, she said, “I don’t ever want to be a liability to your ministry.” I stopped and I said, “No, no, wait a minute.” I said, “It’s not my ministry, it’s our ministry, it always has been.” We’ve always been in this together. I’ve been the one with the credentials of ordination, but she’s been the one with the pure heart before God. We’ve had a ministry together and I’m thankful for that, thankful to have her with me again here today.
There’s a verse of scripture that you know, Jesus said it in the Sermon on the Mountain in chapter five of Matthew verse 13. He said, “You’re the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under man.” I want you to keep that verse in your mind as I ask you this question, and that is, can you make a difference? Can you make a difference?
I want you think about salt for a minute, as we talked about that verse, as you keep that question now there as well. I want you to think about salt. What is salt used for? One of the most common uses for salt that we’re accustomed to is salt as a flavoring, something that adds a taste, that adds zest to the food. This morning at the hotel, I got my very healthy turkey sausage patty, sausage gravy and biscuit, and I set down, but I realized I didn’t have any salt or pepper. I went back to look for it, I saw the honey and I saw the sugar, but I couldn’t find any salt and pepper. I asked the lady who was serving there, “Where’s the salt and pepper?” She said it was on the table. Sure enough there on the table, two shakers, one for salt and one for pepper.
They were provided there. Why? To make the food taste better. If you don’t believe salt makes food taste better, leave it off your grits sometime. Grits without salt, there ought to be a law against that. I just can’t imagine. Yankees, I’m sorry, Yankees will put sugar on their grits, but that is illegal in Georgia. There’s a formal law that makes that illegal. Salt makes grits taste better, everything else too.
It’s not just something that makes things better, improves the quality, but salt also purifies. When I was a kid, get a sore throat, the first thing my mother would do was get some hot water, put some salt in it, and tell me to gargle with the salt water. Some of your mothers do the same thing, I see your heads doing that. I hated it. She knew that the salt would purify, would cure in some ways, the sickness that was in my throat. Salt has a purifying aspect to it.
Salt also has a preservative aspect. Before the days of refrigeration and all the additives that we put in stuff, people had to preserve meat with salt. Thank God for country ham, salt cured ham. It’s just one of the best things ever made. If it hadn’t been for that, meat would’ve gone bad before the farmers could eat it, and they would’ve been hungry through the winter. Here in the south, we grew up on that kind of meat because it was preserved with salt.
It adds flavor, it enhances, makes it better. It purifies and it preserves. Jesus said, “You,” this is to his followers, “You are the salt of the earth.” Notice he did not say, “I want you to become salt.” He didn’t say, “I want you to intend to be salt.” He didn’t say, “I want you to improve until you are salt.” What he said to them is, “You are the salt,” it’s your essence. It’s who you are. That’s your purpose, that’s your calling. That’s your nature, your salt.
Followers of Jesus are the salt of the earth. You’ve heard that before, haven’t you? That man over there, he’s the salt of the earth. That woman’s the salt of the earth. What does that mean? They’re the folks who make a difference in their world. The people who are salt make a difference in their world.
I grew up in Cherokee County, Georgia and I live there now, my family’s been there since the 1830s. We’ve known families for generations in that area. We live with folks that have lived in the same community for multiple generations. One of the things you know when you get to know a community like some of you know Manchester, is they’re just folks in the community who are the salt of the community. They make the difference. They’re often rare compared with most folks. You can name them, you know who they are. But there’s hundreds and maybe thousands of others who make no difference because they’re not the salt of the earth.
People, Jesus said, “You’re the salt of the earth.” Imagine for a moment, if for the last 150 years, that the Christians and Manchester, Tennessee didn’t exist, that none of the churches in Manchester existed, that there was no influence of the church in the schools and in the courts and in the hospitals and other places in Manchester today. Just imagine what this community would be like if you had removed the salt from this community 150 years ago, and no salt had been brought back in this community. This would be a hellhole. This would be one of the worst places on earth. This would be a place that nobody wanted to go to, unless it was participate in the kinds of things that destroy lives.
We’ve got some of those places in America, where the church has abandoned it and left it to evil. We were pastoring a church in north Georgia, and God brought to my office one day a Venezuelan by the name of Carlos Gonzales. He was about 21 years old, just had gotten married. He and Carol sold everything they had in Valencia, Venezuela and moved to the United States. He came to my office, he said, “Pastor, I want you to teach me how to be a pastor.” He’d had a little home church down in Venezuela and realized he didn’t know what to do, there was nowhere for him to go to school, so he came to America.
God really spoke to my heart. I said, “Carlos, if you will start a Latino service in my church, I’ll teach you how to be a pastor.” God did a miraculous work in my life through that in ways that I could never even begin to tell you.
The bishop of north Georgia got to know Carlos and the bishop of the Brazilian Methodist church got to know Carlos, and they invited him to go back to Venezuela after getting his education and start the United Methodist Work of Venezuela. In May of 1996, Carlos and our son, Ray, who was a good friend with Carlos at that time, and two other people from our church went to Venezuela to start meeting with pastors there. They were returning and were killed in the ValuJet crash on may the 11th in 1996 in Miami.
Our concern for Venezuela died that day as well, our hearts were broken. We didn’t have any particular interest in the nation of Venezuela, it was just another place on the map, like Kenya or Iran or some other place, just another place on the map, no passion for it in our lives. When our son was killed and Carlos was killed, we pretty much forgot about Venezuela.
Couple years later, the bishop of Costa Rica was in my house. He said, “I found a Methodist missionary that I want to send to Venezuela, will you pay for it?” I was at a big church, we average about 3000 in worship at that time. I said, “Yeah, we’ll pay for it.” We started paying for a missionary to go to Venezuela. A couple years later, he invited me to come down and preach an Evangelistic crusade. I’ve done Evangelistic crusades in the United States, city wide, county crusades in other places in the world. Yeah, I can go do that. It’s a great way for me to expand my ministry and have some other experiences in ministry.
I took off to Venezuela. I preached this crusade in a town called Acarigua. Acarigua’s hot, it’s hotter than Manchester. It’s hot. I preached it, and I got to know the pastor’s while I was there. Some of them, they were wonderful people, gracious people, but I realized they had very little education. I got to think about what we could do to help them with that. I left, a lot of folks came to know Christ that week and I left and got on the plane in Caracas, outside Caracas. When the plane took off, I looked out the window, and God broke my heart. Saw those little houses going up the hillside towards Caracas, and I began to weep. Uncontrollably.
Folks, I’ve got a doctorate. I’m ordained elder. I’ve been a district superintendent, even. Don’t tell anybody that, Randy. I was a fool. I wept like a fool. God broke my heart. I said, “Lord, if you’ll let me, I’ll do something for Venezuela. I don’t know what it’ll be.”
I went back to preaching other crusade at the invitation of the missionary. I met with the pastors again, and I said, “I noticed you need some training and we want to help you with that, and we’d like to offer a few seminars for free.” They said,” We don’t want that.” Being an American, I had all the answers, so I was a little bit offended they didn’t want what I was offering them for nothing. They said, “If you really care, if you want to help us, what we need is a theological seminary. We don’t have access to that here.”
I hadn’t planned to do that, but God spoke and said, “Do it.” In 2002, we started a seminary in Venezuela, an undergraduate program. We had to do it in weeklong intenses because of the economic and cultural situation there. We started that program and started ministering to pastors and their families and planning churches. God began to move.
Let me take you back to the Venezuela we got to know. The Venezuela we got to know was, in many ways, like Manchester would’ve been had you taken the church out of Manchester 100 years ago. Everybody thinks Latin America is Catholic, and it is culturally Catholic. In Venezuela, when we got there, there were 2% of the population that went to any Catholic church. You ask anybody, they would generally say they were Catholic, but they never went. They didn’t have any relationship with the church.
Venezuela was the most secular country in Latin America when we started going there. It had the highest crime rate, Caracas is still the murder capital of the world, had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in all of western hemisphere. This year, the inflation rate there will be between 700 and 1000%, that’s incomprehensible, but that’s what I’ll be. Venezuela sits on the largest oil deposit in the western hemisphere. Some say North America does, I don’t know which it is, but it’s a bunch. It used to be called the pearl of the Caribbean. It was a beautiful, wealthy country, but there was no salt.
Two percent of the population, when we started going there, went to the Catholic church, 2% of the population also identified as Protestant or even Evangelical in Latin America. They don’t use the word Protestant, they use the word Evangelical; 2% identified as Christian. That’s not a very big percent. You can go into any town in Venezuela and you can find where the witch doctor lived, but 40% of those communities in Venezuela had no church of any kind, not even a Catholic church. A far greater percentage of that had no Protestant church.
Take a nation of 30,000,000 and imagine no salt. Where was the Methodist church? The Methodist church didn’t exist in Venezuela. Where was it? It was abandoned to the forces of evil. Folks, Venezuela is the most corrupt nation in the western hemisphere today. Maybe other than Washington. (Laughing) No I didn’t say that. It’s a corrupt place. It’s a violent place. It’s a place in poverty. It’s worse that Haiti right now. The economy is worse than Haiti. No medicine, people are dying from a simple infection because no antibiotics. People are dying with cancer because there’s no chemotherapy. Children are dying without insulin who are diabetic because there’s no insulin to give the children.
The most basic things in life are missing in Venezuela, in the richest country in Latin America. Why? Because the salt was removed; it was never put there. I was happy as the pastor of a large Methodist church in north Georgia to let them stay the way they were. I would’ve left it that way, like everybody else in my denomination had, pretty much. There were a few exceptions, but almost everybody else, because they didn’t matter. But God broke my heart for Venezuela.
We started the seminar. Today in Venezuela, in the worst situation in our hemisphere, that’s half the world, folks. Worst situation in our hemisphere, the church in Venezuela has grown from 2% to over 15%, some statistics say 20% of the population. In the midst of the greatest economic disaster, in the midst of the greatest violence, in the midst of the greatest crime and corruption in our hemisphere, the church has exploded with growth. Some students in the seminary in 2007 came to me and said, “We want to be a Methodist church. We want to be a United Methodist Church. Will you help us do that?”
We worked with a bishop in Costa Rica. We worked with a bishop in north Georgia. We put it together and the students came together for the first conference, these pastors, with 12 churches, they formed the United Methodist Church of Venezuela. Twelve small churches, only two of those churches had a church building at that time, but they were a church in 2007. Today, there’s over 60 United Methodist Churches in Venezuela. In the last 12 months, they’ve planned a new church every month.
Why? Because salt has reentered the culture. It’s making a difference in the worst situation in the world.
Go with me if you will please to the restoration church in Barquisimeto. Pastor Carlos Pironez, the pastor there, Pastora Maria is the co-pastor, she’s also the medical doctor of the director of the Wesley Medical Center on the seminary campus. Carlos also serves as seminary president today. When I preached in their church in 2002, they were meeting one of the poorest sections of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, a city of about 2,000,000 people now. They had moved to the section to reach this poor neighborhood, they had a church that was in a place just a little bit bigger than this building. They had some wall around this piece of property, not completely walled in, and they had a little tin roof about the size of what’s under the organ pipes here where the pastor could stand in the shade to preach. The floor was gravel.
There were about 50 people that day when I preached. They were so very gracious. Pastor Carlos and Pastora Maria are two of the finest people I know in the world. He’s really the finest Christian leader I’ve ever known. Today if we went to their church, we would discover 700 or 800 people worshiping there in a completely finished two story structure in the worst economy in Latin America, Western Hemisphere.
You could go with me to visit the 16 other Methodist congregations they’ve birthed out of that congregation. You could go with me to the medical center, that’s the first Evangelical or Protestant medical center in Venezuela, it’s on the campus of the seminary. You could see there how they care for the poorest of the poor. It cost 50 cents to see a doctor there for a full diagnosis and treatment, 50 cents. You would see seven doctors working there and two psychologists, and you would also encounter their ministry called Una Esperanza, One Hope, with unwed mothers. I told you how the highest teenage pregnancy rate in all of Latin America, most of those teenagers are not married. Most of those are single parents. You’d see in the medical center a great ministry for these teenage girls.
All right, let’s go back to the church for a while. This past week, in a country where people are starving to death, I want you to hear that, four hours by plane from here, they’re starving to death … for corruption, but Thursday, the restoration church fed 775 people in their community. The government didn’t feed them. Schools didn’t feed them, they’re government schools, they couldn’t do that. The civic clubs didn’t feed them, and they have civic clubs there just like we do here. It was the church that fed them.
Do you know what else they did? They told them why. They shared with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. One day in the seminary, our associate dean came to me and he said, “I want to take my family to the beach for a day of vacation on Wednesday. Can I have the day off?” Having a day off is not a problem, and the beach was a couple hours away, this would be a good outing for his family, he worked very hard. I said, “Sure, y’all have fun.”
He went and came back and on Thursday, I saw him, and I said, “Jose, how did your vacation day go at the beach?” He said, “Vacation?” Please understand, my Spanish is terrible. I say, “Buenos Dias, y’all.” It’s just hard. I don’t communicate well in Spanish and he didn’t communicate at all in English. He said, “We didn’t go on vacation.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “We went to the beach,” but he said, “Our church went to the beach.” I said, “Your church went?” Church group. I’m thinking fun day at the beach. He said, “Yeah, we went to do Evangelism.” I said, “Oh, you did? What did you do?” He said, “We had some people who were preaching, we had some folks who were passing out water bottles and talking to people on the beach about their faith.” He said, “We had some other folks doing other things.”
I said, “How was it?” He said, “It was pretty good.” I said, “What do you mean it’s pretty good?” He said, “We recorded 867 professions of faith yesterday at the beach.” He said, “We wrote their names down and their contact information and we’re sending that to the pastors in the communities where they live, so they can follow up with them.” I thought, Randy, I don’t remember hearing that from a Methodist church here. Certainly not mine. Maybe yours, but not mine.
You see, the church in Venezuela understands it has to be salt, but if the culture there is going to have any life to it, have any good thing about it, it’s not going to come out of Caracas, it’s certainly not going to come out of the evil neighbor to the north. It’s going to come from the gospel of Jesus Christ that gets so implanted in the hearts of people that people must share their faith, and so they care for the homeless and the hungry, and the naked and the broken, and the addicted and the evil, because they understand the value of salt to make it better, to purify it, and to preserve it. They want to be salt. They’re being poured out on their nation.
The bishop down there, the Bishop Juvenal Pederez, is a character. He was in seminary, he and his wife, Haley. If it hadn’t have been for his wife, he’d have never gotten through seminary. He’s not a scholar; he’s an Evangelist. He did okay in class, but he didn’t do well, if Haley hadn’t cheated, I mean, helped him with his work, he wouldn’t have made it.
When they had their first conference, they were going to elect a bishop. I looked around, I told you there wasn’t but 12 churches so they didn’t have a lot of choices, but Juvenal was the last choice in my mind. Quiet, never spoke up in class hardly, Haley did all his work, almost. They started elections and on the third ballot, Juvenal Pederez was elected bishop. I couldn’t believe it. I was presiding, I couldn’t believe it, but that was their will. Okay. It’s what you want.
We ended the conference that night, the next morning, we began again and my wife and I went into the little room where we were meeting and rented space, we didn’t have a campus back then. Juvenal came in, nobody else was there. I said, “Juvenal, Obismo, how was your night?” He said, “I had a terrible night.” I said, “What do you mean you had a terrible night?” He said, “I couldn’t sleep. I prayed all night.” He said, “I didn’t want to be bishop.” He said, “I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t want it. I never thought at all that I would be bishop of a Methodist church.” He said, “I struggle with it all night and prayed.” He said, “But this morning, early in the morning, the Lord said, ‘This is what I’ve called you to, now do it.’”
This timid, quiet, humble man stood up to preside at the conference, again, only 30 or 40 people were there, but still it was a Methodist conference. He stood up and a bishop stood before us, a man with authority, spiritual authority and power, began to speak to us. It was a different man than I had known in class for the last six years, because he understood God had called him to a task and if God had called him to it, God provided what he needed to do it.
Juvenal’s one of the best Evangelist I know. He travels all over the nation preaching. He’s not a good administrator, he’ll never be able to pull together the most elaborate strategic plan for the church in Venezuela, but he’ll go to the places, he’ll preach in the streets, he’ll share the gospel because he understands the hope for his nation, the hope for his people, lies in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s no where else.
Let’s go back to Manchester for a minute. The church was not taken out of Manchester but has been here since the beginning. I suspect there was a Methodist circuit right here before there was a town hall or anything. Church has been here. Yet, together in Manchester, there are places that lack salt. In my hometown, a lay missionary that I helped developed, started working in a trailer park. I had driven by that trailer park my whole life … my whole driving life. I’m not sure when it opened, but it was open by the time I was driving at 16. I’d never noticed it. Had an entrance out on the highway, I never paid attention to it.
There were hundreds of trailers tucked back in the woods. This lay missionary began working in that community and he told me about it. He said, “The police won’t go in there with us, it’s too dangerous.” He said, “They’ll go in two cars at a time, but they won’t go in with us because they won’t take responsibility for us being in there. They can’t guarantee our safety, and they won’t tolerate us being in there. They won’t go with us. If we want to go, we go on our own.”
They go in there and minister to this community. It’s the most dangerous place in that county. This preacher didn’t know about it, and none of the other churches were doing anything in it, because it had no salt. In this town, there’s a trailer park like that or a community that the church has abandoned. It’s a place of evil and destruction because there’s no salt. You’re the salt of the earth. The responsibility falls right back on the church. There are children in this community who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. They’ve never heard the stories that these children that sit up here have heard.
You’re the salt. There are mothers here who have never had anybody say a kind word to them; their other person, their significant or un-significant other has only abused them, mistreated them. They’ve never heard they’re of any value, and you’re the salt. There’s prostitutes working your city, and you don’t even know it. Hopefully, most of you. You’re the salt.
I was working with a church one time that was not being very cooperative. I’m prone to being pretty plain spoken. They were not responding to me, so I stopped my presentation, Randy. Group of about 15 leaders in this Methodist church, and I stopped my presentation, I said, “Folks, I’ve got a little bit of an emergency. When I leave here, I’ve got to find some cocaine before I go back home.” I began to act kind of nervous. I said, “I really need to find some cocaine today before I leave this town and before I start driving back home. Can somebody here tell me where I can buy some cocaine in your town?” In a town about the size of Manchester.
I thought one lady was going to pass out. They didn’t know what to say. Their eyes got big. I kept pushing, I said, “Folks, there’s some place in your town I can buy cocaine. Somebody here tell me where I can buy cocaine.” One man had a smirk on his face, he said, “Preacher, if you really need some, you can go to such and such address, you can buy some cocaine.” I said, “Okay.” I said, “Folks, I’ve never seen cocaine, I’ve never bought cocaine, I’ve never used cocaine. I’m not going to buy any cocaine today, but,” I said, “Why is it the only person in the room that knew where you could buy cocaine is this man?”
I turned to him, and I said, “What do you do?” He said, “I’m in law enforcement.” No salt. In the First Methodist Church of …, in that community where the drug dealers were living and working. You see, it’s not just in the Venezuela, the mission exists. It’s in Manchester, Tennessee, in ball ground, Georgia. You’re the salt of the earth.
If the salt has lost its usefulness, it is good for nothing. Those are hard words, aren’t they? You’re the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its usefulness, it’s good for nothing but to be thrown out. Trampled under foot.
I’m going to tell you something. God’s raising up a church that’s salty. God is raising up a church that’s on fire. God’s raising up a church that will go against the greatest obstacles of this world, a church that will stand in the face of the greatest authorities and say, “This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. They’ll die for their faith.” A church that will spread the gospel at any cost.
We partner with Venezuela, I can’t tell you where it is, in northern Africa, doing mission there. We support his mission, because God has told him to go to that place where Americans can’t go and where he can’t go as a Christian, and he’s teaching English there. He’s a Venezuelan but he speaks English, so he’s teaching English there, that’s the way he got in. He’s teaching but he’s a missionary in a place where if they find out, they’ll kill him. He and his wife and baby know that, they’re all there together.
God’s raising up a church that will be the salt. Can God raise that up in Manchester, Tennessee? God can … if we’ll let him.
I’m supposed to ask you for money. I haven’t said anything about money for Venezuela yet. Boy, I tell you, I failed. That’s all I ever talk about, give me money. Everywhere I go, my hand is out like this. I don’t get any of it, by the way, it all goes to Venezuela. I’m going to give you two or three tips. $35 a month will pay for a doctor in Venezuela. $35 a month. 50 cents will pay for somebody to visit the doctor in Venezuela. $70 will buy 100 meals at the Methodist children’s home in Venezuela. $70 for 100, actually $67.??, something or other, but $70 for 100 meals. A seminary student can go to class for $25. He only pays $5, we pay the rest of it. $25 for a seminary class, about what you paid for candy probably, Randy.
I could go on and on. What you give to mission is multiplied many times over. Venezuela’s just one example. I read your list. You’ve given us $2000 this year, last year, I thank you for that. I’ve read where you’re putting money. I want to tell you it’s multiplied in ways we could never imagine. God’s using it. You’ve got a faith promise thing you’re supposed to do today. Let me talk about that for a minute, I know it’s past 12:00, but y’all hang on with me. I’m leaving, you can be mad at me, I’ll be gone. You can say, “That crazy Randy shouldn’t have invited him.”
Faith promise. You’re asked to make a commitment of your faith promise. I want to talk about faith for a minute. Faith means you cannot do it by yourself. I want you to hear this. A faith promise is not that I’m going to leave off a Coca Cola every day and give that money to the church for missions. I can leave off a Coca Cola every day. In fact, I can leave them off from now on, I don’t have to have them. I’ve learned, I can live without a Coca Cola, can you believe that? Boy from Georgia, I can live without it. I don’t have to have that, it’s not faith, it’s obedience and discipline.
It’s not faith to say, “We will not eat out one time a month like we normally do and we’ll give that $40 to the church for missions.” That’s not faith, that’s obedience and kindness. What’s faith? Faith is when you promise to do something you can’t do. You look and say, “God, what do you want me to do?” God says, “I want you to do something you’re not capable of doing.”
You see, when we started the seminary, I knew I wasn’t capable of doing that. My colleagues did too. I went to an annual conference a few years after I started the seminary, Randy, and one of my colleagues, you know how collegial we can be, came up to me, he said, “Latham, what do you know about running a seminary in Venezuela?” I said, “Not a thing, but I’m doing it. What are you doing?” I shouldn’t have said that, but it’s by faith. By faith.
A faith promise is you look out there and you say, “God, what do you want me to do that I can’t do?” You begin to visualize what God wants from you. Then you say, “Okay, God, if that’s what you want, by faith, I promise I’ll do it. You provide what I can’t do. You open the door that I can’t open. You bring the resources that I don’t have. By faith, I’ll take them and I’ll promise you I’ll give them permission.”
Most folks in the church will never understand this because we live by sight and not by faith. There are some people here this morning that understand what I’m talking about. You know what I’m talking about. God is inviting you to exercise your faith and envision something that’s so much bigger than you’re capable of doing and trusting He’ll provide it, that’s a faith promise. What will it be for you? That’s what you put on your card. That’s what you’ll turn in. Nobody’s going to call and collect. The bank’s not going to come take your house. This is a faith promise to God.
Is God able to do miraculous? Is God able to do the impossible? Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “ With God, all things are possible?”
I’ll close with this. When Dr. Maria shared with me her vision of having a Christian medical center in Venezuela, she was a student in my class. I was teaching a class on visioning. She said, “God’s given me a vision to have a medical center.” She had no resources. There was nowhere to build it. There was no money to build it with. There was no legal entity in Venezuela that would permit her to do it. Everything in the world said this is impossible. She said, “God’s given me this vision.” And today, hundreds and hundreds of children, young people and older adults are getting excellent medical care because God provides for God’s purpose. God’s vision.
If you can have faith, God will be faithful to you. Promise that. Put it on your card. Whatever it is, it’s way beyond your ability, and trust God for it and see what God does in your life and in this community over the next 12 months.
Let’s pray. Father, we thank You that You have given us the privilege of being the salt of the earth. Oh, what a high calling to be the ones who bring life, who bring purity, who preserve that which is of eternal value. Help us to be salt today in Manchester and in Tennessee and in North America and in Venezuela and all around the world as we make a promise by faith of what we’ll give for the sake of mission. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.