FROM THE STATES: Ark., Texas, Ala. evangelism/missions news
EDITOR'S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board's call to embrace the world's 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board's call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.
Today's From the States features items from:
Arkansas Baptist News
Southern Baptist Texan
The Alabama Baptist
Acts 1:8 One Day sees
more than 100 saved
FORREST CITY, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) -- More than 100 professions of faith -- as well as other decisions still being calculated – were reported as a result of the annual Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip, a Mississippi River Ministry Project, which took place Oct. 6.
More than 2,000 volunteers representing 150-plus churches across Arkansas converged on Forrest City and surrounding areas for the missions day, which is a ministry of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC).
Volunteers divided into groups and ministered at 118 ministry sites in area communities, which are served by Tri County Baptist Association. Among other things, projects ranged from nursing home visits and sports ministry to prayer walking, block parties and evangelism.
"The One Day Mission Trip was a great success, many lives were changed and the community was impacted," said Breck Freeman, ABSC missions ministries team member and Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip.
John Stipe, deacon at First Baptist Church, Forrest City, related stories he heard of how several people were impacted.
One such story was of a volunteer who met a husband and wife who were verbally fighting. The volunteer encountered the man as he was leaving the house and planning to get a divorce. Not only was the volunteer able to witness to the couple and convince them to be reconciled, but he led them both to Christ.
Stipe also shared the story of how a woman thanked a team leader for giving her leftover hot dogs, saying she would now have something to eat the following week.
"We will never know, this side of heaven, how much good was done Saturday (Oct. 6), but our own members that participated in the mission day were blessed, motivated and saw firsthand what can be done outside of our church walls," Stipe said.
"It was a humbling experience," said Ray Dean Davis, associational missionary for Tri County Baptist Association. "When we first started talking to Breck about hosting this God-ordained event and he started telling us what to expect, my wife, Sheila, said, 'I gotta see this.' Well, see it we did – 2,000 people, some driving as much as 5 hours to get there, to love on and minister to the folks in our communities. It was like seeing Jesus on earth again in the form of lawn mowers, weed eaters, pressure washers, paint brushes, hammers and nails, block party trailers, dental chairs and stethoscopes, surrounded by disciples of prayer walkers and evangelistic teams walking the streets."
He added the mayor of one area town said, "I just don't why you would come and do this for us." "Most of those from our association that participated have had their eyes opened to the needs around them and their hearts turned toward meeting those needs with compassion," Davis said.
He shared the story of one volunteer who chose to witness to people despite the rain.
"He called in from a sidewalk, standing in a cold, pouring rain, and said, 'I've got my phone in a chip bag, and I'm going to continue witnessing,'" Davis shared. "I've been informed that the following day, God blessed that young man's courageous efforts by allowing him to see his oldest son saved in his home church."
Becky Hardwick, member of Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock, and Arkansas Baptist News business manager, reflected on her experience as a volunteer at the mission trip.
"Forrest City may not sound like the 'ends of the earth' (Acts 1:8), but the people who needed to be told about Jesus were there. For them, it was the 'ends of the earth,' and Christians from all over Arkansas left the confines of their walls and went to them," she said.
"What did Jesus use to get people to stop from the busyness of their lives to hear what their lives needed most? Children doing craft projects, people watching us clean their yards, ... people being helped with health needs, youth playing and learning about sports, neighborhoods being visited by evangelism teams, people receiving much-needed food boxes," said Hardwick.
And this is not the first year Arkansas Baptists have gathered for ministry like this.
"This started 17 years ago as a Mississippi River Ministry Project being done every other year, but due to the impact, we began to make an annual event in 2010, not just to serve Mississippi ministry area, but the entire state," said Freeman.
In 2013, the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip will be held Oct. 5 in Harrison, which is served by North Arkansas Baptist Association.
This article first appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Church plant fills
void in Hill Country
By David Roach
COTTONWOOD SHORES, Texas (Southern Baptist Texan) -- How far would you have to go to find a town without a single church?
Until recently, the surprising answer was that you wouldn't even have to leave Texas. Nestled between the upscale communities of Horseshoe Bay and Marble Falls in the Hill Country, the small working-class town of Cottonwood Shores didn't have a single Christian congregation until Birth of Hope Baptist Church was planted last month under the leadership of church planter Shawn Condon.
"This was the first time for the townspeople of Cottonwood Shores to have the opportunity to come to a Southern Baptist service," Condon told the Southern Baptist TEXAN. "And that evening in our first service we had 26 Cottonwood Shores townspeople to come. When we gave the invitation, we had 11 people walk the aisle [to join the church]."
There was one church in Cottonwood Shores previously. But it was didn't grow and eventually disbanded, leaving town officials longing for another church to help solve the town's numerous social challenges.
Providentially, God was working at Buchanan West Baptist Church 26 miles away in Buchanan Dam. Led by Pastor John Taylor, the church was looking for a place to plant a new congregation. When Cottonwood Shores arose as a potential location, a delegation from Buchanan West visited the town's mayor and city developer late last year. Her response to the idea of a church made it clear that God was calling them there.
"We mentioned the word church," Taylor told the TEXAN, "and they said, 'That's what we were just sitting here thinking about. Our community needs a church that will help the community grow.' It was almost like a divine appointment from my perspective."
After that meeting, Buchanan West began taking surveys door-to-door in Cottonwood Shores, determining people's openness to the gospel. By February they were ready to start a 15-week Bible study on Christian doctrine, which met Monday evenings at the local library. At Easter, momentum built when they participated in a community egg hunt, allowing them to meet between 150 and 200 kids along with their parents.
As the Bible study drew to a close, Taylor and his team began talking with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention about securing a church planter to partner with them in Cottonwood Shores. They discovered Condon and he was an obvious fit.
Driving from his home in Granbury, he joined the team from Buchanan West at the community Bible study and, along with his wife, worked at a Cottonwood Shores Vacation Bible School in June with nearly 30 children in attendance.
"His heart just broke for these people," Taylor said.
After going through a church planter screening process with Condon and Buchanan West, the SBTC began a partnership to help fund the plant. The convention will provide some financial support for three years, with funds decreasing each year in an effort to help the church become financially independent. Condon is required to submit monthly reports and participate in periodic training activities.
At Birth of Hope's first service Aug. 5, Buchanan West members joined Cottonwood Shores residents, packing 60 people in a room at the library intended for about 40. The congregation's name reflected its vision for breathing new spiritual life into the town.
In the first few weeks, one more new member joined the 11 who responded to the invitation that first night, and through their outreach efforts the church is averaging 30 at Sunday worship. It also holds multiple Wednesday night Bible studies, and Condon spends as much time as he can meeting with prospects in the town.
"The town's acceptance of us really shows in our attendance and the ministries that we've started," said Condon, who works part-time at a hardware store.
Though the SBTC contributes the largest share of Birth of Hope's budget, the church also receives support from Buchanan West, the Burnet-Llano Baptist Association in Marble Falls and several other partners.
Barry Calhoun, SBTC church planting team leader, said Birth of Hope exemplifies the convention's vision for church plants.
"Shawn Condon is a great fit for the church in Cottonwood Shores, and we're already seeing his ministry bear fruit," Calhoun said. "Birth of Hope Baptist Church represents what we hope to do in dozens of locations across the state—plant contextually appropriate churches as part of a comprehensive evangelistic strategy."
Birth of Hope's goal for the future is ambitious: to build a multipurpose building that would serve as a community center and spiritual lighthouse for Cottonwood Shores. For Taylor, such a building would help the congregation live up to its name.
A building "would serve as a symbol of hope," he said. "That's what it would represent."
This article appeared in the Southern Baptist Texan (texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. David Roach is a freelancer for the Southern Baptist Texan.
Forest Park volunteer
helps Mixtec family
By Hannah Henderson
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist) -- Three years ago Donna McCullough, center director of Forest Park Ministry Center in Montgomery, Ala., was introduced to a family in a nearby neighborhood. The family was of Mixtec descent, a Native American race from the mountainous regions of southern Mexico and Guatemala. They are one of many such families living in the Montgomery area. They were experiencing difficulty in school because neither the parents nor the children possessed English reading or writing skills, leaving them unable to understand forms and homework sent from school.
It presented an excellent ministry opportunity for Forest Park, an outreach of Montgomery Baptist Association that provides material help and shares the gospel message with the poor.
"The director and volunteers at Forest Park provide compassion and care to every guest who comes through the doors of the center," said Lisa Rose, Montgomery Association director of church and community missions. "It is a vital part of the transformation of that community."
The volunteers began teaching conversational English to a small group of Mixtec women.
McCullough noted on the ministry center's blog that participation of many of the women in the class was sporadic, "as their duties at home took precedence over any outside activities."
But Joselina and her three youngest children were different. They attended faithfully. "Their two older siblings were learning English in school, but these children, especially 5-year-old Omar, knew only the Mixtec heard at home and were ill-prepared for the kindergarten class which he would enter
the following school year," McCullough said.
Sherry White, a volunteer who had been on multiple missions trips to Mexico, related well with the women and families — especially Joselina's — dedicating time and energy to nurturing the children. But despite the progress the family had made learning English, Raoul, Joselina's husband, was deported to Mexico. Knowing she would now be the sole provider for her family, Joselina learned the bus system and began working outside of the home.
However, the family missed Raoul and moved back to Mexico to be with him.
The center volunteers were disheartened to see them leave, so White promised that on her next missions trip she would locate them.
In July of this year an opportunity arose for White to travel to Mexico.
She corresponded with Oscar, a missionary friend there, and learned Joselina's children had been ill and their living conditions were poor.
'My heart was broken'
Arriving in Mexico, White met with the family and was shocked by their weight loss and seeming hopelessness.
"My heart was broken. God had plans for this family," White wrote on the ministry's blog. "I knew God had not brought me on this journey to find the family in this situation and not help, so I started trying to find out how much would it cost to pay for housing and utilities."
White and others partnered with a local church that helped them locate an inexpensive house. They offered the house to the family if Joselina and Raoul agreed to send their children to school, attend church and find employment. The family immediately agreed.
In September, White returned to visit the family for accountability, discipleship and mentoring. She found an employed Raoul and a family settling into their home and working toward assimilating into the community.
White feels that through learning about Joselina's family and helping them in their need, she has been taught an important lesson: Go where God leads.
'He is working'
"We feel that God has shown us that He is working, whether in our neighborhood or in another country, and we must be willing to surrender to the call to go — where He leads," White wrote on the ministry's blog.
"You never know — a simple trip into the neighborhood could lead you to the mountains of Mexico."
For more information about Forest Park Ministry Center, call 334-269-5726 or visit www.forestparkministry.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Hannah Henderson is a correspondent for The Alabama Baptist.