Our 2nd Vice President…

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.

10 thoughts on “Our 2nd Vice President…

  1. Ben,

    Wow. What a beautiful post of a misunderstood brother in Christ. You provided me with much needed perspective today.

    The next time someone says that Ben Crane has no heart, I will direct them to this post. ;>

    Thank you.


  2. Ben,

    I want to echo what you have said about Wiley. While most people know about Wiley because of his motions and resolutions at SBC Annual Meetings, the real Wiley Drake is all about loving and serving those whom most of us try to pretend do not exist. In the brief time I spent with him his humility and compassion stood out. I think the SBC could use a few more “gadflies.”

  3. Ben,,

    My heart goes out to the Down and Outs of this World. I worked with the homeless in the San Diego area years ago, before retiring and moving to Texas. And of course my Old Faviorite is The Sermon on The Mount. Dr. Tim Keller and his 8 or 9 Out Reach Churches in New York work with the Homeless. Yes we need more Wiley Drakes in the SBC, instead of all the Politicians we have.

    Ben, you didn’t post one of my comments on another of your Posts and I was wondering why, you can e-mail me, anytime.

    In His Time

    Wayne Smith

  4. Tell Wiley that there I saw some homeless people at Disney World.



    P.S. Les, I’ve known for a long time Ben Crane has a heart — now that other fellow named Ben Cole . . . well . . . let’s just say Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz has higher blood pressure than Dr. Cole. :)

  5. Ben,

    Blush…blush…Sorry. I’ve never seen Boston Legal so I’m not sure about that Ben Crane if there is one. I play golf and the Golf Channel is my favorite TV channel so I was thinking of PGA golfer Ben Crane who is a notoriously slow player. :)

    It’s hard getting old…Cole. Cole. Gotta remember Cole.


  6. Hmmm…. Let’s see, the Memphis Declaration was all about broadening the tent and here you go narrowing it!

    The SBC needs characters like Wiley who know how to be themselves, yet allow the grace of Christ to radiate through their lives. He reminds me of an event back in my early ministry. The inventor of the latest, greatest plan for revolutionary church growth was speaking at pastor’s conference in Memphis. He looked down at the pastor of the church and said, “Dr. Rogers. I was with Dr. Criswell yesterday and he sends his greetings”. One of our local characters immediately yelled from the back of the room, “He didn’t have any message for me?”

  7. Wow. I’m, humbled. I’d like to take the chance to call into question other convention leaders now who would never be caught staying in a place like that, but I can’t because I’m struck with the reality that my own pride would really struggle before I would stay in a place like that.

    God give us more men like Wiley Drake.

    Thanks for this one, Ben.

  8. Wiley Drake was once admirable for his willingness to live out his faith towards the homeless and the oppressed. I live in Buena Park and have been a supporter of Drake’s church, which is a model ministry in many respects. Unfortunately, Drake has become better known locally for his pernicious attitude towards the “enemies of God,” specifically by calling for imprecatory prayer upon those who impede Drake’s mission.

    Drake and the Buena Park city council have had numerous disagreements over local zoning/land use ordinances and their impact on the church’s outreach to bums. Rather than submit to Caesar (or utilise available legal mechanisms to change or challenge Caesar), Drake has declared holy war on the authorities, asking supporters to seek Heavenly vengeance against those who would thwart Drake’s progress.

    That doesn’t make Drake a “character,” in my assessment, it makes him a cultist — someone who believes that his own views are so authoritative that disagreeing with them is the same as disagreeing with God. There is no difference between Drake’s call for imprecatory prayer and the wish that famed cultist Benny Hinn once expressed for a “Holy Spirit machine gun” (with which Hinn could mow down those who disagreed with his “doctrine”).

    Responsible Baptists were once shocked and repulsed by Hinn’s position, as they should be now by Drake’s. What Wiley needs at this time is not admiration, but admonition.

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