Unshaken Faith, Unshakable God
- February 15, 2022
by Jeff Smith
COVID. Inflation. Mental health crises. Rising crime. Political polarization. Moral and spiritual decline. Fear. Masking, social distancing, and an exhausting pandemic.
In the midst of a litany of weighty problems, Unshaken seemed like the ideal theme for Founder’s Week 2022. The largest and longest-running Bible conference in the US returned in person Tuesday, February 1 with a welcome jolt of energy after operating virtually in 2021.
And Tuesday night’s opening message from James T. Meeks brought the Founder’s Week theme from Psalm 112:7 distinctly to life.
Speaking in Torrey-Gray Auditorium on Moody Bible Institute’s Chicago campus, Pastor Meeks turned to King David and Psalm 3 for his address. David’s son Absalom and his powerful army were bent on overthrowing Israel and enthroning Absalom as the new king. But after initially wrestling with grave doubts, David placed his faith and future firmly in God’s protective, caring hands.
"There is always help for you in God," the founding pastor of Chicago's Salem Baptist Church reminded a diverse audience—some attending in person, listening on Moody Radio, watching on TLN, or viewing online across 25 countries. "I don't care what you've done or how you've messed up. I don't care how far short you've fallen off the mark with God. There is always help for you in God."
Pastor Meeks said the wisdom of Psalm 3 (“You, LORD, are a shield around me”) applies to even the worst of circumstances. He referenced the suicide of Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst, who tragically jumped to her death on Sunday from the 29th floor of her condominium building. He also alluded to the strains of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wish I could have been standing there with Miss America,” he said, “saying you don’t have to jump off this balcony because there is help for you in God. And when Jesus paid the price of abandonment by God so that you and I would never have to pay that price, it reminds us that there is always help for us in God.
“We’ve had two of the worst years that anybody’s seen recently, and guess what? We are here today because the Lord has sustained us. We should not be shaken because God is here for us and God is with us every day.”
Pastor Meeks practices what he preaches, leaning on our unshakable God throughout his 40-plus years of ministry. In 1985, he founded Salem Baptist with 193 members. Today, it is one of the largest churches in Illinois with more than 15,000 members, guiding countless adults and youth into a personal relationship with Christ.
The church has also ministered to a variety of critical needs in its surrounding communities. Salem Baptist distributed 30,000 free Bibles to residents in the church’s zip code and provided every prisoner in the state with the Bible on cassette in its early days as a congregation. The church also established a mentoring program that supports pregnant teens and young mothers, and Pastor Meeks spearheaded a mission to “dry up” the nearby community, resulting in the closing of 26 liquor stores.
“He and his church, through the power of God, have been a force of transformation for the gospel on the south side of Chicago,” Moody President Dr. Mark Jobe said in introducing Pastor Meeks. “Not just preaching but cleaning up the neighborhood, feeding people, shutting down bars, ministering to single mothers, being the hands and feet of Jesus while being gospel-centered and gospel-driven. He continues preaching Jesus and salvation in Christ and leading people to saving faith in Him.”