FROM THE STATES: Ark., Ala., N.C. evangelism/missions news; 'The most pressing need we have is for focused and intense prayer'
Today's From the States features items from:
Arkansas Baptist News
The Alabama Baptist
Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
'Call to prayer'
issued by ABSC
By Jessica Vanderpool
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) -- A two-day intensive prayer event titled "A Call to Pray for Revival & Awakening: A Gathering for Pastors and All Ministers" is scheduled for April 21-22 at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church, Little Rock. The prayer gathering is set for 6 to 10 p.m. Monday, April 21, and from 8:30 a.m. to noon the following day.
The prayer event is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) and is hosted by the ABSC Task Force for Prayer, Revival and Spiritual Awakening, which is part of the church revitalization process.
Ronnie Floyd, task force member and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, will facilitate the event, with Julio Arriola, global worship pastor at Cross Church, and his worship team leading worship.
The goal of the event is to have a time for serious prayer for revival in the Church and awakening in the nation.
"I'm convinced that probably the most pressing need we have is for focused and intense prayer," said J.D. "Sonny" Tucker, ABSC executive director. "And there seems to be a prayer movement that is awakening in the Southern Baptist Convention and in Arkansas, and we just want to do all we can to enhance that."
The April prayer event is specifically targeted toward ministers – such as pastors, retired pastors, church staff members, ministry students, associational missionaries, itinerate ministers and the staff of ABSC agencies and institutions.
Floyd played an integral role in similar events that were recently held on a national level in Dallas and Atlanta. Tucker said a couple of ABSC team leaders attended one of the events and returned saying it was one of the most powerful events they had experienced.
Tucker expects the Arkansas event in April – inspired by the Dallas and Atlanta meetings – to serve as a kickoff to similar events throughout the state.
"We do want this to set a pattern, a precedent for the state," said Tucker. "We do want to model this intense prayer meeting. We envision this going to associations, clusters of churches and to the church level."
Tucker emphasized that the April meeting is a focused time for serious prayer.
"This is not a seminar about prayer – this is a guided 8-hour prayer meeting where we do a lot of intense praying," he said.
During the event, a number of speakers from around the state will speak on certain aspects of prayer for about 10 minutes each, Tucker said. Prayer will follow and the process will be repeated – with worship taking place during the event as well.
"Also we're asking this not be a come-and-go (event). This is 'come and stay,'" Tucker said. "And we've asked people not to plan on lingering in the halls to fellowship. This is for hard-core praying folks. There'll be other events that will be more conducive to fellowship. This is 'come and stay and come and pray.'"
Tucker shared about his heart for seeing revival in the Natural State.
"We've got some of the most unbelievably wonderful folks in the state, and I see pockets of revival happening," he said.
"We've got some churches that are just in stages of incredible revival, but I would like to see us as a whole state learn to pay the price in prayer, seeking God, and experience His power moving like never before."
Other members of the ABSC Task Force for Prayer, Revival and Spiritual Awakening Task Force include: Manley Beasley Jr., pastor of Hot Springs Baptist Church, Hot Springs; Diane Blackwood, Arkansas Woman's Missionary Union president and senior adult minister at Family Fellowship Baptist Church, Jonesboro; Bill Elliff, pastor of The Summit Church, North Little Rock; Don Moore, retired ABSC executive director; Ron Owens, Arkansas Baptist evangelist; Ken Shaddox, pastor of Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock; Lowell Snow, Arkansas Baptist evangelist; Larry W. White, pastor of First Baptist Church, Cherokee Village, and Dennis Wilkins, retired Arkansas Baptist pastor.
To register for the prayer gathering, visit www.prayarkansas.com, call 501-376-4791, ext. 5103, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Jessica Vanderpool at email@example.com.
This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptistnews.squarespace.com/), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. Jessica Vanderpool is assistant editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.
Volunteers help family
plant Miami church
By Doug Rogers
MIAMI (The Alabama Baptist) -- Derek Allen remembers exactly when God called him to be a church planter.
He was executive pastor of Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Warrior, in North Jefferson Baptist Association. He and his wife, Lindsay, attended a conference in April 2012 on the topic of starting a church from scratch. They were hoping to get some ideas to incorporate into their own church, when "out of nowhere God said, 'This is what I want you to do. I want you to plant a church,'" Allen said. "I just knew immediately. One moment I wasn't a church planter, the next moment I was a church planter."
And in God's providence, He called Lindsay at the same time in another room at the conference.
What followed was a yearlong process of praying, vision casting, raising support and consulting with the North American Mission Board — a process that ultimately led the Allens to Miami, Fla., to plant Christ Centered Church.
Beginning in July 2012, they traveled to Miami monthly to scout venues, meet people and make connections in the community. Then on May 29, 2013, the family — which includes three children who were then ages 4, 2 and 2 months — pulled up stakes and moved to their new city where 123 languages are spoken in the school system.
When they first arrived, they were overwhelmed with the need they saw. "We realized there was a huge need for evangelism, a huge need for churches and a huge need for discipleship," Allen said. But they also saw huge opportunities.
"We've found from the very beginning that the missions field here is wide open," Lindsay Allen added. "People are so open to the gospel, and they are so open to conversations.
"One thing we really love about Miami is the fact that because there are so many different cultures and countries and ethnicities represented here, you really have this unique opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission in one spot," she said.
But they realized they couldn't do it alone. Beginning in July 2013, a steady stream of Alabama Baptist volunteer teams made the trek to Miami to work alongside the Allens, including volunteers from Hepzibah Baptist Church, McCalla; Kyuka Baptist Church, Attalla; Riddles Bend Baptist Church, Rainbow City; and Twelfth Street Baptist Church and Macedonia Baptist Church, both in Gadsden. Allen estimates that these teams made more than 15,000 contacts in the community prior to the church's first worship service Feb. 9.
That service attracted 169 people, and the church has averaged around 100 in attendance since, with at least one profession of faith almost each week. They meet on the Biscayne Bay Campus of Florida International University (FIU) every Sunday at 11 a.m. and also have small group Bible studies during the week in homes, restaurants and other gathering places. Allen also has brought on two staff members and several short-term volunteers from Alabama, helping to make the church an oasis of southern hospitality in a city in need of Christ's love.
During March, two Baptist Campus Ministries student teams — one from the University of South Alabama, the other from Etowah Baptist Association — traveled to Miami to assist with getting the word out about upcoming Easter services. The teams handed out water bottles and invitations in parks, at busy intersections and on FIU's Biscayne Bay campus. They also canvassed neighborhoods with door hangers.
With deep roots in Alabama, particularly Etowah Association — Derek was born in Attalla and served several Etowah Association churches as youth minister or pastor — the Allens are grateful for the spirit of partnership. They firmly believe the church wouldn't be where it is today without the work of missions teams from Alabama.
The Allens also are grateful for the support of Alabama Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
"The Cooperative Program is the way God has kept us in the city," Derek Allen said. "It's easy to talk to people and easy to strike up conversations about the gospel. What's hard about Miami is staying in the city (because of the high cost of living), so the support given through the Cooperative Program is really invaluable to us."
Reggie Quimby, director of global missions for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM), said, "The Allens serve as a great example of what the SBOM's missions partnership strategy Alabama Acts 1:8 Connections is all about as they have networked and continue to network with churches and associations to bring volunteer teams to help them in their missions strategy."
Allen noted, "When I think about Alabama Acts 1:8 Connections and Alabama Baptist churches partnering with us, the word that comes to my mind is encouragement, because this is a tough city. Just knowing that we're not alone, there's a whole group of people, there's an entire state full of churches behind us and supporting what we're doing is so important."
To learn more about Christ Centered Church, visit www.christcenteredchurch.net.To learn more about Alabama Acts 1:8 Connections, visit www.alsbom.org/a18c.
This article appeared in The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Doug Rogers is communications coordinator for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
Coats for the city helping
reach nations for Christ
By Mike Creswell
SUMMERFIELD, N.C. (Biblical Recorder) -- Mention New York City and you get Richard Odom's full attention.
The pastor of 1,325-member First Baptist Church, Summerfield, N.C., has felt a special burden for America's most populous city since his members first sent coats there three years ago.
That first year the coats went just to Queens, one of New York's five boroughs. In December of 2013 the effort was expanded to all five boroughs. Coats for the City was set up to both get warm coats to needy people and, by having pastors and church planters lead in distribution, provide a way for new churches to meet local residents and share the gospel.
North Carolina Baptists have an on-going partnership with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association that has focused on church planting but includes other efforts as well. Thousands of North Carolina Baptists have served in New York over recent years.
Some other American cities encompass more land area, but New York's eight million plus population is twice that of Los Angeles, the nation's second most populous city. Further, more than 500 language/culture groups live in New York, making it one of America's most diverse cities.
Sadly, seen through Christian eyes, New York also leads in lostness. It is estimated that only about three New Yorkers in every 100 have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Coats for the City is one many partnership efforts set up by North Carolina Baptists through their state convention, association and local churches to impact lostness in New York.
Last December Odom took a team of church members who set up tables under falling snow and handed out coats, working in the Richmond Hill area of Queens on Saturday. Then they worked with missionary church planter Boto Joseph in the Jackson Heights area on Sunday. Odom was so stirred by the results of that trip that he gave a report to the Baptist State Convention's Executive Committee during its January at Caraway.
"We took 250 coats, plus the ladies in the church got together and knit 100 sets of scarves, gloves and hats. They were so excited to be helping like this," he said, adding that the need for coats was very evident.
As they set up tables on icy sidewalks on Saturday afternoon, he said, "It was extremely cold and snowing." People started lining up for coats two hours before the distribution started.
While the Summerfield volunteers met hundreds of needy people, Odom said he was most moved by his conversation in Richmond Hill with a family recently arrived from Guatemala. "They were much too lightly dressed for the snow," he said.
The man said he, his wife and their five children live with 20 other people in a two-room apartment that has no furniture. "We have nothing," he told Odom.
All seven family members left with a coat and they were put in touch with a Spanish-speaking church in the area. "As far as I'm concerned it made every effort by North Carolina Baptists worth it to see that. North Carolina Baptists had an impact on that family. How can we say it's not worth our time or our effort? I understand that some people in North Carolina need coats, but through this program we are able to go to the nations, to be able to literally connect with the world in New York City," he said.
"When you stand in Jackson Heights, you can walk less than a mile in any direction and go to any country in the world you want to go to. Boto is from India himself, and he's reaching Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs," he said.
The coats project made a very positive impression on local people of other faiths, Odom said.
When they began setting up, a Muslim shopkeeper loaned them shovels to clear the sidewalk. Another Muslim shopkeeper even provided them a platform to stand on as they preached the gospel on the sidewalk. A third Muslim shopkeeper brought them hot coffee as they set up.
That evening Odom and some of the volunteers joined Boto Joseph and a local Muslim shopkeeper for dinner. "The man, not a believer in Jesus Christ, thanked me and North Carolina Baptists for coming and caring about his people," Odom said.
Many of the people Baptists will reach for Christ in New York will return to their home countries after a couple of years, and many of these countries are ones closed to missionaries. "But we'll have these new believers as missionaries there in those places we cannot get into," Odom said.
Odom was also delighted with the effect the New York trip had on his members. "Some were fearful of going overseas, but going to New York is much like going to a foreign country. The signs were not English, the language spoken was not English and the people did not look like them. Yet they found out there was nothing to be afraid of, they're people just like us," he said. After going to New York, more First Baptist members are willing to sign on for overseas missions trips his church arranges every year.
"I just want you to know it's a great program. It's a wonderful way to plug people into missions and yet it's easy to get people to New York," he said.
This article appeared in the Biblical Recorder (brnow.org), newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Mike Creswell is a senior consultant for the convention.
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.