Late yesterday afternoon, I received a phonecall from the 2nd Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Wiley Drake and I have been distant friends for several years, but in the past two years we have enjoyed greater fellowship.
Wiley is a character. Of that there is little doubt. He’s the only person other than ERLC President Richard Land who walks around the convention hall year after year wearing a radio headset, holding a microphone, and doing live broadcasts for his own talk show. One day several weeks ago I decided to call in to Wiley’s show, completely ignorant of the day’s topic. Wiley was doing a show that day on the problems of gluttony in Christian churches, and he was spending a good bit of time sharing his reviews of various diets that had helped him start to get control of his own weight.
Most people know Wiley because of his resolutions, or microphone antics, or his flag-waving, Minute-Men supporting, Clinton-bashing, Disney-boycotting ways. For ten years, that is how I knew him.
But I’ve come to know him differently.
I first decided to get to know Wiley more personally when I read about all that he had done to help the homeless and hungry of Los Angeles, CA. They say a prophet is without honor in his own hometown, but Wiley seems to have bucked the trend. He’s ridiculed by many elites across the convention, but around Los Angeles, the dopers and drunks and hookers and homeless love him. Wiley is a true friend of sinners. He feeds them when they’re hungry. He clothes them when they’re naked. He gives them a place to rest when the burdens of the world have weighed them down heavy-laden.
When Wiley Drake discovered that a prominent denominational executive had experienced a recent tragedy in his family, he did not hesitate. He picked up his phone and called the man to express his sympathy and promise his prayers. When Wiley hears about a strung-out crack addict lying on the curb outside his church, he takes out the door with a blanket and lifts them up and helps them come down. He is not intimidated by kings, and he is not affronted by paupers.
This week, our 2nd Vice President is visiting San Antonio, Texas, the site of next year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. He’s there to prayer walk the city and meet fellow pastors. He’s there to spend some time at a crisis pregnancy center, and tell boys and girls in afterschool programs about Jesus. All of this Wiley is doing at his own expense, simply because he believes God has called him to serve.
When Wiley finished telling me about his flight delays and travel frustrations getting there, I asked him where he was staying.
A homeless shelter, he tells me.
So while we are blogging and caucusing and converging and declaring on and on about the problems in the Southern Baptist Convention — while we are posturing and politicking and pontificating about ways to solve them — one man is sleeping in a Salvation Army shelter with the kind of people Jesus came to save.
I think the SBC would be better off if there were more Wiley Drakes and fewer of the rest of us.