In 2000 I was teaching advertising as an adjunct professor in the journalism department at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Gratefully as public relations director at the Missouri Baptist Convention convention leadership thought it was a good idea for me to be involved in the community and teaching at a university was one way to do it.
Other ways were being a member of the Rotary Club of Jefferson City a group that included a number of state legislators and state government leaders as well the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
But as I stood before a group of about eight students gathered for advertising lab on a Friday afternoon I realized what had happened and what I had gotten myself into.
The class make-up at the public university was diverse so I was seen as an unusual instructor. While I was a veteran journalist with degrees and experience to back it up – all many of the students saw was that I worked for Missouri BAPTISTS.
Meeting on Friday afternoon is a challenge no matter what subject one is teaching. Our class objective was to be creative and come up with “big idea” advertising campaigns. It would require clear and alert thinking.
To make matters worse our campaigns were to compete against other classes for the best overall campaigns at the end of the semester. Our class of eight would be up against classes three times larger who met at “normal” times instead of the dreaded Friday afternoon.
It was my first year to teach the lab but veteran students already knew that we were up against tough competition. Then I got an idea.
It would be “us against the world” I told the students excitedly. If we put our minds and our hard work behind it we could come up with winning campaigns – in spite of the odds that seemed to be stacked against us.
We would call ourselves the “remnant.”
I told the class that remnant is defined as a leftover amount from a larger portion or piece such as food or material from which a garment is fashioned or even a group of people – like our advertising class. I explained that while remnants are often looked upon as worthless scraps we would be different much like how in the Bible God assigned high value to those of His people who He had set aside for His purposes.
They were students of high value and would deliver creative and awe-inspiring advertising campaigns! That would be our charge and they would deliver!
The students loved the analogy and embraced “us against the world” mentality. As their leader (teacher) over the course of the semester I had to tell myself over and over that the class would deliver according to their charge. It was almost as if I didn’t believe it myself … but I adamantly stuck to my remnant message.
To my surprise at the end of the semester the class had the top campaign among all the competing classes in spite of being the smallest in number. It was a proud day for the students and for me.
As I think back nearly 20 years later I can see parallels in the work that I do now through this Baptist newspaper.
While Baptist newspapers have changed dramatically over the years and may be pronounced by some to be a remnant of a by-gone era or worse unnecessary they still play a vital roll in the distribution of news and information that just isn’t available via the secular press – or for that matter through the official public relations channels of the various state conventions.
As editor I count it a privilege to give Arkansas Baptists a voice on matters of faith and society through letters and viewpoints that simply do not have an avenue anywhere else in Baptist life.
The team at the Arkansas Baptist News would like to thank readers who support and encourage us in our work which today continues to reach tens of thousands of people each and every week through print our website and through social media.
When Elijah despaired that he was the only one left in Israel who had not bowed down to idols God assured him that He had reserved a remnant of 7000 “whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:9-18).
My prayer is that Southern Baptists will continue for generations to come to understand the importance of supporting and lifting up their voices through a strong and vibrant state Baptist newspaper.
Tim Yarbrough is editor/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist News.