My faith journey took seed in the little country of Singapore.
I grew up in a culturally Buddhist family from Indonesia, and it was there as a teenager that I walked into an international Baptist church and was welcomed into the youth group led by Baptist missionaries.
I found community there where I heard the gospel stories of Jesus, who stood up bravely for people who were considered different, outcasts, thieves, sinners and those with little to no status.
I was drawn to the nature and character of Christ – his love, grace, mercy and compassion.
After several years, I made a commitment to follow Jesus. At that point, a loving Baptist missionary family took me under their wing to disciple me every week by welcoming me into their home and nurturing my young faith.
More important, they were the love and grace of Jesus in flesh that I could feel and experience.
Looking back at my journey, I am in awe of the way God found me.
And knowingly or not, I have been involved in the Baptist world since the day I said, “Yes,” to following Jesus. It is because of the Great Commission that my journey took the path it did.
This chapter of my story, as I serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) moderator, has challenged me, and I feel the weight of the responsibility, the tension and division of this time.
As a missionary-sending organization, the CBF’s priority to be faithful to the Great Commission reminds us of our responsibility as followers of Jesus to always be thinking of the world beyond our own – the world God so loved that he sent his only son to die for.
Needless to say, I would not be where I am today if it were not because of the faithful work of Baptist missionaries and those who support the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit.
In my Asian cultural context, I knew nothing about the topic of human sexuality or gender roles.
But if I had been presented with the good news along with all the baggage of the culture wars in the United States, I sincerely believe I would not have been able to understand how following Jesus meant all these other things that Christians in the U.S. are fighting about.
Many, many years later, as my faith grew and as God patiently worked in my life, I responded to God’s call for me to serve “the least of these” as a social worker.
I was in the last graduating class of the Carver School of Church Social Work at Southern Seminary. Diana Garland was my mentor throughout my seminary years.
Slowly, I began to have eyes to see powerful people abusing their power, the victimization that is caused by our society’s willingness to objectify or delegate some people as less valuable, and the church’s complicity in adopting cultures that breed inequality and violence.
It took a long time and the influence of many amazing Baptist mentors who did not judge me for initially having a traditional view of gender roles or sexuality.
They were patient and had faith in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in my life.
Today, I am able to live out my calling as the CEO of a nonprofit organization serving and advocating for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault because of the work of a patient God.
CBF matters to me because sound missiology is critical to how we “do” the Great Commission.
The core missional values that include developing beloved community, bearing witness to Jesus Christ and transformational development in the context of global migration, global poverty and the global church are life-giving.
They help prevent the kind of colonial attitudes and practices that do more harm than good.
CBF’s commitment to sustaining long-term presence of field personnel is so critical because the transformative love of Christ paves the way for faithful followers who will do justice and love mercy where they are. This process takes time and patience.
Those Baptist missionaries and Baptist mentors in my life sacrificed much to meet me where I am, just like Jesus did with us. I was the weaker vessel.
They did not impose any of their theologies or cultural values on me. They simply loved and nurtured me as Jesus would.
And then they stepped back and patiently allowed the power of the Holy Spirit to do what it does best: transform lives to bear the image of God.
My husband, Paul, shared a book with me recently that speaks to this idea of patience – “The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire” by Quaker author Alan Kreider.
Kreider summarizes that patience is rooted in God’s character: God is patient, is working inexorably across the centuries to accomplish his mission, and in the fullness of time has disclosed himself in Jesus Christ.
One of the most compelling points Kreider makes is that patient Christians live at the pace given by God, accepting incompleteness and waiting.
I resonate with this heavy burden of incompleteness and waiting as it relates to the life of our Fellowship; I have seen in my own life the fruits of the work of a patient God.
While I do not know what the future holds for CBF, I feel in the depths of my soul that the same God who has been at work in my life since I was a young teen halfway across the world is beckoning me to be patient and to entrust the future of our Fellowship confidently to him.
Shauw Chin Capps is the moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She has served since 2003 as executive director of Hope Haven, a children’s advocacy and rape crisis center in Beaufort, South Carolina. Capps is a member of The Baptist Church of Beaufort.
Shauw Chin Capps is president of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Foundation and chief legacy gifts officer for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Decatur, Georgia.