FROM THE STATES: Fla., Ark. & Tenn. evangelism/missions news; "Always ask, 'What's next?'"
Today's From the States features items from:
Florida Baptist Witness
Arkansas Baptist News
Baptist & Reflector (Tennessee)
Jacksonville church asks 'what's next' while
embracing ninth international partnership
By Carolyn Nichols
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Florida Baptist Witness) -- Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville recently raised more than $70,000 to adopt a village in southern India. It is the ninth international mission sponsored by the church that calls itself "a church for the unchurched here and around the world."
Pastor Stephen "Spike" Hogan said the church's commitment to missions stems from the genesis of the congregation. Fifteen years ago a group of men from another Jacksonville church planted Chets Creek Church after studying Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby.
"Ever since the beginning, we have been afraid to miss God's best by being satisfied," Hogan said.
Hogan, part of the church's founding team, said three principles have guided the church in missions: "1) You can't ask the people to tithe if the church doesn't. 2) What you do when you're small is what you will do when you are large. 3.) Always ask, 'What's next?'"
"It's not so much that we are figuring out where God wants us to go next, as much as it is just going through an open door," he said.
According to Pastor of Missions Chris Price, the congregation that numbers 2,000 on most Sundays "gets excited about being a church that goes beyond the walls."
Price was in college when Chets Creek Church started in 1998, and he served as the church's first youth minister. He returned six years ago to lead Chet's mission efforts in Jacksonville and on several continents. Currently, the church maintains mission partnerships in Thailand, China, Honduras, Brazil, Haiti, northern India, Guatemala and South Africa.
The 2013 annual mission fundraisers in March netted more than $70,000 for the church's efforts in southern India. The church will work in partnership with the India Gospel League, an indigenous Great Commission partner with the International Mission Board. IGL President Sam Stephens spoke of the needs of his homeland during the March missions banquet.
Chets Creek Church will support indigenous church planters in finding core groups of seekers in the predominately Hindu area. The IGL already owns property for a LifeCenter in the village, where the five-year plan includes teaching vocational skills, providing clean water and sanitation, developing a childcare program, and assisting in education of both children and adults.
A planned—and prayed for -- hub village church will grow out of Bible studies at the LifeCenter to house churches in nearby villages. Villages in India may number 600,000-700,000, and they are home to at least 10,000 residents, Price said.
In the "starter phases," Chets Creek Church plans to keep "Indians reaching Indians," since visiting Americans would draw unwanted attention, Price said.
The new partnership in southern India may develop to resemble the mission in South Africa.
Four years ago members of Chets Creek Church raised $45,000 in the annual mission banquet, golf tournament, and silent auction to begin work in South Africa. A team of two ladies from Chets Creek Church -- who had grown up in South Africa -- traveled the nation to seek a site for a LifeCenter. Working with Gonubie Baptist Church near New London, the American volunteers were directed to Mzamomble, a township of 40,000 beset by 85 percent unemployment and with 33 percent of the residents sick with HIV or tuberculosis. Most members of the township hold to animism, much like in Haiti, Price said.
"It was not where they expected to go, completely off the radar. It was through 'God things' that they landed there," he said.
Four years later, Chets Creek Church is the first franchise of Living Hope, a mission of King of Kings Baptist Church in Cape Town led by Pastor John Thomas. Chets Creek Church employs three members of the Xhosa people -- two who lead support groups for those with HIV and for young mothers, and a church planter who is "shepherd of the township church" that meets at the LifeCenter that is now a series of rented shacks. Eventually, the "hub village church" will plant churches in outlying villages, Price said.
"We call it a LifeCenter instead of a church, because people would not go to a church for help. We wanted to plant a church with no strings attached, to serve the community and then share the Gospel," he said.
Chets Creek Church's former Preschool Minister Beth Chin and her family moved to South Africa to serve as the branch director of Living Hope. They have made a multi-year commitment to the project. Currently Living Hope and Chets Creek Church are seeking property to buy or lease for a permanent LifeCenter site, an undertaking that is proving to be "quite a bear," Price said.
"We are waiting for permission from the municipality to build or lease on municipality-owned land that squatters can claim. Once they squat on it, they are not asked to move," he said.
Chets Creek Church volunteers travel to the township to operate annual medical clinics, to teach English and American culture, and to go visiting "shack to shack," Price said.
"We are taking stake in this. We are committed. We want people to have no excuse to not hear the Gospel," he said.
While efforts in India and South Africa continue, church leaders are exploring new partnerships in Canada, home to "some of the most lost cities in North America," Hogan said.
He visited church planters in several cities in Canada April 8-12 with fellow trustees of the North American Mission Board. Hogan listened to the church planters while sensitive to God's leading.
"We don't know what's next, but in the next 15 years I think God will move our church way beyond our comfort zone," he said.
This article appeared in the Florida Baptist Witness (gofbw.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention. Carolyn Nichols is a newswriter for the Florida Baptist Witness.
Churches reach 3,700,
share Christ at 'Impact'
By Jessica Vanderpool
LITTLE ROCK (Arkansas Baptist News) -- "It was the bestest day ever."
The little girls' gap-toothed grin left little to doubt as she held her snow cone in her hand and smiled for the camera.
She was one of more than 3,700 contacts made through the ministry of Arkansas Baptists during the first-ever Impact Little Rock event held April 20. More than 20 area churches spread throughout Little Rock and surrounding communities to minister at 10 sites.
As a result of the day, 41 known professions of faith were made and five churches saw an increase in visitors the following Sunday morning. In addition, four new community ministries will be started this year at two of the Impact Little Rock sites, which will possibly lead to two new church plants by the end of the year.
The pastor of missions and evangelism at Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock, shared how the event got started. He said he had a desire to commission 1,000 people "to go and impact our city in eternal, significant ways all in one day at the same time." The pastor asked that his name not be used for this article because of the mission work he does in other countries.
The pastor said in the midst of planning this endeavor, he met with Willie Jacobs, Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) missions ministries team member and urban strategist for Little Rock and Delta region, who had a similar desire. So they decided to join forces. Along the way, they teamed up with Patrick Henry, community life pastor for Geyer Springs First Baptist Church, Little Rock. The result was a combination of people and resource that were sent out to impact Little Rock for Christ.
"It is an amazing example of what happens when there's cooperation and communication among churches," said Robby Tingle, ABSC missions ministries team leader. "When Immanuel Baptist, Geyer Springs and the state convention came together – they made it greater than it could have been if any single church had done it alone, and it allowed churches from all over the state to come partner together."
Jacobs explained that Impact Little Rock was a "one-day event that provides an opportunity for churches to engage the city with the gospel through block parties, prayer walking, evangelism, dental clinic, light yard work, neighborhood cleanup, laundry mat ministry, etc."
"The idea came about as part of our urban strategy, a pilot for churches to get involved in local urban ministry to reach the underserved and underprivileged with the gospel of Jesus Christ," Jacobs explained, adding the goal was also "to assist new urban church planters in reaching their communities."
One of the ministry sites was located in Argenta, a neighborhood within North Little Rock. Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock, and Second Baptist Church, Little Rock, ministered by taking part in a block party deemed Argenta Neighborday 4/20.
Barbecue was smoked on site, and live music was provided by Preservation Theory, a band led by Scott Quimby, worship pastor at First Baptist Church, Stuttgart. Cliff Hutchison, worship pastor at The Church at Argenta, North Little Rock, also provided music during the event.
On the other side of the Arkansas River and some miles south, a similar block party was taking place at an apartment complex off Baseline Road in Little Rock. Children played on the playground and ate cotton candy and snow cones passed out by volunteers.
Henry explained Geyer Springs is beginning a ministry in the area and the block party was the first event for them to hold there.
"We were so excited to be a part of Impact Little Rock," said Jeff Williams, lead pastor at Geyer Springs. "What a great picture of the Body of Christ coming together to serve our community. It was an unbelievable day of seeing our church do missions, right here where we live, and allowing the community around us to see the Love of Christ through the church."
More than 800 volunteers from churches and associations across Arkansas came to minister through the Impact Little Rock event, and a number of those entities brought block party trailers filled with outhouses, snow cone machines, games and more.
"The events would not have happened without the missions heart of these churches and associations," Tingle said.
Jacobs requested prayers for Arkansas Baptists as they seek to impact urban communities for Christ.
"We truly do believe Job 24:12a, that 'the groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help,'" he said.
Jacobs explained that the hope for Impact Little Rock "is that the kingdom will be enlarged as a result of Christ being shared, people being discipled through the new church planter and more churches becoming involved in local urban missions and ministries."
He said they also want "to raise awareness that as a result of their gifts to Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering, they (Arkansas Baptists) are making an impact in the lives of people for eternity."
And though they may not be able to know the full eternal impact of April 20 immediately, the teams can know this – for one little girl with a snow cone, "it was the bestest day ever."
This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptistnews.squarespace.com/), newsjournal of the Arkasnas Baptist Convention. Jessica Vanderpool is assistant editor of the Arkansas Baptist News. Additional reporting by Caleb Yarbrough, staff writer.
Planning Underway in Argentina: Partnership with
Baptists in Buenos Aires to begin Jan. 1, 2014
By Lonnie Wilkey
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (Baptist & Reflector) -- Last November at the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Memphis, Tennessee Baptists approved without opposition a new partnership with International Mission Board missionaries serving in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Though the partnership officially does not begin until Jan. 1, 2014, preparations for the new venture are underway.
Late last year, David Acres, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief director traveled to Buenos Aires to explore renovating a floor of dormitory rooms at the Baptist seminary there to be used by volunteer teams.
Acres said plans are in the works to take a team to Buenos Aires later this summer to do the renovation project there.
In April a five-member team of Tennessee Baptists visited the country for further planning.
The team was comprised of Randy C. Davis, TBC executive director/treasurer; Gary Rickman, director of strategic relationships for the TBC; Dean Haun, TBC president and pastor, First Baptist Church, Morristown; Steve Best, director of missions, Knox County Baptist Association; and Paul Scott, community impact pastor, Hilldale Baptist Church, Clarksville, and former IMB missionary.
Rickman said the purpose of the trip was to visit with pastors in Buenos Aires. "We wanted to listen to their church stories and learn of their needs," Rickman said.
The Tennesseans also met with IMB missionaries in the city including Kevin and Laura Baggett, team leaders for the IMB in Buenos Aires.
Rickman was especially impressed with Baggett. "He is one of the sharpest, articulate, and dedicated missionaries that any one would want to meet," he observed.
"He has a pulse on the city where God has called him and his wife to serve. As he speaks you hear his heartbeat for the 13 million lost people in Buenos Aires," Rickman said.
Davis observed that the "partnership with Buenos Aires is filled with incredible opportunities for Tennessee Baptist churches to partner with the churches of Buenos Aires. After what I experienced and personally saw on a recent vision trip to Argentina, I believe this has the potential to become one of our most productive partnerships in the over three decades Tennessee Baptists have been involved with partnership missions.
"Churches that engage in international partnerships like the one we have with our missionaries in Buenos Aires almost always experience a heightened awareness, increased missions giving, and better equipped soul-winners in their own churches," Davis observed.
"By walking with the pastors I met while in Buenos Aires, Tennessee Baptists will not only equip and encourage those sister churches, but will learn and be equipped ourselves. This is a golden opportunity for global impact," he added.
Haun agreed. "Tennessee Baptists will have multiple opportunities to encourage and stand with our Baptist brothers and sisters in Buenos Aries," he said.
Haun noted construction teams, evangelism teams, sports teams, music teams, VBS teams, medical and dental teams, humanitarian teams, and more will be needed.
"Our IMB personnel, led by Kevin Baggett, are incredible and eager for us to join with them in helping reach this city of 13 million people for Christ," Haun added.
Best observed that "it is hard to describe the urban sprawl of 13 million people in Buenos Aires. It was endless miles of businesses, apartments, homes, and roadways. There are people absolutely everywhere you look that need the hope found in Jesus."
The Knox County DOM discovered "God is at work in the city of Buenos Aires. Tennessee Baptists have a great open door of opportunity to join Him there."
He also observed that it was an inspiration to meet pastors and missionaries that have a vision for their city.
"I am very excited to see how God is going to use Tennessee 'Volunteers' from our association in Knoxville to assist churches, church plants, the national convention, and the Argentina Baptist Seminary in beautiful Buenos Aires."
For more information about the partnership, contact Kim Margrave at the TBC firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 371-2021.
This article appeared in the Baptist & Reflector (tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist & Reflector.
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.