AMARILLO—When Geoff Kolander found out Amarillo would be the site of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention this year, it wasn’t a coincidence in his mind. It was God’s way of bringing him full circle.
Kolander, an Austin attorney elected at last year’s SBTC annual meeting as convention vice president—an unusual choice; it usually goes to a minister—has lived in Austin for seven years but has a special place in his heart for Amarillo. His granddad had a long-tenured law practice there on Polk Street after moving down from Minnesota. Kolander started his law career in Amarillo after graduating from the University of Houston’s law school and soon fell in with a group of Christian men who would meet regularly to sharpen each other’s spiritual iron.
It was a sweet and fruitful time, Kolander said, with “marketplace men,” as Kolander calls those of varying occupations in the workplace within one’s sphere of influence, coming to saving faith and others pursuing spiritual maturity. The group was aggressive in their pursuit of men, praying for and sharing the gospel with guys who they knew needed Jesus, Kolander recalled.
“My heart has always been with the guys I left behind,” Kolander said in a phone interview.
He was in Chicago on a business trip when he was elected last year after nominator Paul Pressler, the retired Houston judge and Southern Baptist elder statesman, praised Kolander as a layman who loves Jesus and shares him regularly.
And it’s just that—sharing Jesus—that Kolander aims to do when the SBTC annual meeting and Bible Conference is held in Amarillo Oct. 27-29.
In fact, Kolander said three meetings a group of Amarillo businessmen are planning during that time in an effort called “Gripped by God” are motivated by a desire to see Amarillo experience “a mighty move of God that will be a catalyst for revival and awakening” among business people and spreading out across the region.
The group will meet in a space near his grandfather’s former law practice, 1015 Polk St., from 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 (Sunday), 6:30–8 a.m. Oct. 28 and 6:30–8:30 p.m. Oct. 30.
Kolander said the group tried to schedule its meetings around the events of the convention and Bible Conference, although he said he is not trying to attract the same crowd as the SBTC meetings.
Instead, Kolander said he plans to preach the gospel “to as many men as I can to initiate revival.”
He also is praying that Christian men would comprehend the depth of Galatians 2:20, where Paul says he has been “crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
“What would it be like if more men got that and lived that?” Kolander asked. “When we walk with Christ it changes us.”
Kolander said he saw God move dynamically on the Texas A&M campus as a student from 1994-98 as the Breakaway ministry begun by Greg Matte, now pastor at Houston’s First Baptist Church, grew from a few dozen people to more than 4,000 students attending weekly Bible studies.
“When you’ve been around a movement of God that’s real, it creates an expectation,” he said.
During the three meetings, Kolander said he plans to share the gospel message and then open it up for men to share their personal testimonies.
“This is a call for marketplace men to step up and call on other local men they know to come and hear about Jesus. We are praying that as lives are changed, men and families will pour back into the local churches and that cities are changed.”
Kolander said he is praying that churches are prepared and that the Sunday following the annual meeting, Amarillo-area churches will be full.
“Why not pray big? Why couldn’t the Sunday following look like Easter Sunday. Why not ask for that?”