FROM THE STATES: Ala., Ark., Okla. evangelism/missions news; 'God really astonished us through His power and presence each night'
Today's From the States features items from:
The Alabama Baptist
Arkansas Baptist News
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
Ala. crusade reaches
across denominational lines
By Maggie Walsh
MONROEVILLE, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist) -- June 4 may have been just another Saturday for most Alabama Baptists, but for those in Monroe County the day was a reminder of what God has done.
That night, Christians from various denominations gathered together for a final celebration service under a massive tent in a Monroeville field and remembered how God had moved just a couple months prior.
And it all began with one man.
A visitor to Monroeville was meeting with Pilots for Christ, a nonprofit organization that provides air transportation for critical patients and their families, to learn more about the ministry when he requested to meet with area pastors, explained John Marks, director of missions for Bethlehem and Pine Barren Baptist associations. The visitor had a vision, a tent and the financial means to supply the tent with chairs and sound and lighting equipment.
His vision? To have a revival of souls the size of which the area's never seen.
And that's exactly what happened April 10–16 -- there was a "Fire in the Field" in an open tract of land in the middle of Monroeville.
The Fire in the Field Crusade attracted more than 1,600 participants its first night, almost hitting the tent's seating capacity.
"The first night it was electric, really," Marks said. "The atmosphere was just awesome. God poured His Spirit out on that meeting. It's just hard to describe."
James Henry, pastor of Little River Baptist Church, Uriah, who served as prayer chairman on the 10-person steering committee for the crusade, agreed, saying, "God really astonished us through His power and presence each night."
Led in music and message by Gerald Simmons, worship leader at Northside Baptist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, and evangelist Frank Shelton, the crusade also featured a counseling tent with 80–85 counselors for anyone who accepted Christ or needed prayer following the nightly services. John Bush, of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, also was on hand to assist counselors.
Ministering in schools
During the weekdays, Shelton spoke to students in area schools.
Henry said, "[Shelton] has a way with kids. The whole time he was talking the kids were hanging on his every word. I've never seen anybody be able to hold a crowd of teenagers like that."
At Wilcox Academy, a private Christian school in Camden, 102 students prayed to receive Christ after one of Shelton's assemblies. From the assemblies and crusade altogether, 355 people accepted Christ or rededicated their lives and it's a spark that Henry believes will be fanned into a much larger flame.
"I really believe that God is starting something right now in our state and in our country and I believe that it's going to happen in our youth -- those are the bulk of the people that got saved through the crusade and assemblies," he said.
"It was definitely an amazing thing to see God just working through us to fulfill what we believe was His will through Monroe County."
The crusade also was a unifying force for churches across denominational lines.
"It wasn't a Baptist thing," Henry said. "We had all different denominations come together for one sole purpose and that was to see people come to know Christ.
"To come together like that for an event like this is crucially important for Monroe County because it kind of breaks all the barriers down. None of this would have happened had we not bathed this in prayer and asked God to bless it and unite us as one people, and that's exactly what happened when we got under this tent.
"It wasn't about one specific church. It was about people's souls."
This article appeared in The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Maggie Walsh is a news writer for The Alabama Baptist.
Student revival erupts
in Walnut Ridge, Ark.
By Caleb Yarbrough
WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) -- Revival and awakening have been breaking out in northeast Arkansas as a result of the faith obedience of a handful of Southern Baptist youth.
"This has been going on for a few years, and it is growing now to the point where they are having Bible studies in a basement, they are having Bible studies on campus and they are having Bible studies in Hoxie and Imboden. Students are getting saved," said Mike McCoy, associational missionary for Black River Baptist Association.
"This may have the potential of leading to a church plant," said McCoy. "We have a building that was Calvary Baptist Church that isn't being used at all, and there is the possibility of it being used for their group to meet in on Thursday nights."
McCoy added, "Whenever I think about and read about spiritual awakenings, they come from the ground up not the top down, and this is coming from the students. This is beginning to explode. It is beginning to have some significant numbers, and it is coming from them. It is not something that somebody has organized. So that makes it very exciting for me."
Jake Guenrich, pastor of First Baptist Church, Walnut Ridge, told the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN) that students from his church, along with some of their friends, are among those students who have been reaching their schools with the Gospel through Bible studies and personal testimony.
"There are four students at Walnut Ridge High School (Kenzie Flippo, Will Weir, Jeremy Gore and Tristan Hoffman) who have been reaching out to their fellow students and leading Bible studies," said Guenrich. "They've got one that happens on Thursdays during their lunch hour. A teacher lets them meet in their classroom, and they probably have about 40 kids that meet in there just to do a Bible study. Gore and Hoffman have been leading that for the last couple years."
Last February First Baptist showed the Christian movie, "War Room," during a Valentine's Day event. Some members of the church invited the members of the Walnut Ridge High basketball team to come. Little did they know that the outreach would lead to two of the team's members becoming involved in the area-wide student-led revival that had already been taking place.
"They fed them pizza up here at the church, and the whole team came. Some of them brought their girlfriends; others brought their friends from school, and they watched the movie with us," said Guenrich. "Then that next Wednesday night Flippo and Weir (both members of the team) … went over to a worship service at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro. While they were there that night, the Lord got a'hold of their hearts. They came forward during the invitation of the service, rededicated their lives to Christ and were baptized I think the next Sunday or the Sunday after that at Central Baptist in Jonesboro."
Gore, the son of Williams Baptist College professor and ABN columnist Ken Gore, is a member of First Baptist. According to Guenrich, Hoffman is a member of a church in Portia.
"Flippo and Weir decided to start coming to Hoffman and Gore's Bible study that is happening at the school on Thursdays at noon. They said, 'This is awesome. We want to keep this going. We want to start a Bible study of our own outside of school time.'"
Guenrich said Flippo and Weir later started a Bible study at the home of First Baptist church members.
"They met on a Monday ... I think they were going to start at 6:30 or something. At 6:25 nobody was there except the two of them and two of their other buddies. About 5 minutes later the driveway and the street flooded with cars, and they had about 25 or 30 students show up that night," said Guenrich. "They talked to their friends about what God had done in their life and how to experience Christ. The Lord just began to start moving. They did their Bible study the next week at that church member's home, and they had about 50 students come to study the Bible and pray that night. And they have continued to do this ever since then. A few of the nights during their Bible studies they have had people saved and people rededicate their lives to the Lord."
Response by students continues to be nothing short of phenomenal, Guenrich said.
"There was one night in particular about four weeks ago when these two students were leading the Bible study and 20 of their classmates gave their lives to Christ. They have been sending them back to their home churches if their family goes to church anywhere. If not, they have been trying to get them plugged in up here at First Baptist in Walnut Ridge, or Flippo and Weir have been taking them to Central with them when they go on Sunday mornings," he said.
Guenrich added that other students in Imboden and Hoxie, who heard about what was going on in Walnut Ridge through their friends, have now started Bible studies in their schools and surrounding areas.
One student who attends Sloan-Hendrix High School in Imboden got involved with the Bible studies in Walnut Ridge by playing guitar and leading worship, eventually deciding to start a Bible study at his own school.
"He realized he could be doing the same thing with students at Sloan-Hendrix ... so he started a Bible study up there," said Guenrich. "They have about 40 students coming to that Bible study."
"Then down at Hoxie High School there is a Bible study called Teens Living for Christ; we shorten it to 'T.L.C.,'" said Guenrich.
"There is a teacher there named Melodie Murray; she is a member of a non-denominational church up there in Pocahontas. About six years ago when I was serving as the youth pastor here at First Baptist … she asked if they had a Bible study in her room if I'd be willing to come and be a support person, just do whatever I could to help them out and I said, 'Sure,'" he said. "So that's been going on for five or six years, and we would have at the most probably 25 or 30 students coming to that on Fridays. But over the last three or four months we've seen that number grow from 25 or 30 to probably 50 every week."
Guenrich said, the "Lord has been moving" in Walnut Ridge. He said that First Baptist baptized 13 people on May 1, only five of whom were youth.
"People ask what's going on. … Really all I can tell them is that God is moving. I'm not doing a whole lot of this directly. We just have a lot of people in our community who have been praying for revival and awakening in the schools and in our churches and the Lord is just doing that," said Guenrich.
"I don't really know who else to attribute it to but Him."
This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (http://www.arkansasbaptist.org/), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Caleb Yarbrough is assistant editor at the Arkansas Baptist News.
leaders gather in Okla.
OKLAHOMA CITY (The Baptist Messenger) –- Approximately 40 Asian-American pastors and ministry leaders gathered at Oklahoma City, Northwest April 29-30 for the Third annual Oklahoma Asian Fellowship and Leadership Conference. The event featured multiple keynote speakers and sessions.
Offering keynote messages and presentations were Paul Kim, Asian-American relations consultant for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Mark McClellan, dean of the Robert Haskins School of Leadership (RHSL) for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) and as BGCO ethnic evangelism specialist.
McClellan underscored the educational and equipping opportunities available for pastors and ministry leaders through the Haskins School.
"The RHSL is an excellent way to be equipped to serve, and we want to continue to tailor the program to meet your needs as you serve," said McClellan.
Ted Lam, pastor of Tulsa, International, said, "While a seminary education is great, many of our pastors or ministers are not in a good place to invest the years it takes to get a seminary degree. The Haskins school allows you to keep serving in your setting, while getting a practical education."
McClellan said that by offering virtual meetings and video education, the RHSL program will become even more user-friendly and available.
"The BGCO is excited to serve the Asian-American Baptist churches of Oklahoma in events such as this pastor's and leaders conference. It was a privilege to have Kim to speak and challenge all of us. At the heart of the conference was evangelism, church planting, and pastoral ministry.
"We are grateful so many pastors attended the conference. We are also grateful for the host church, Northwest, and its Missions pastor, Kirk Goss. Northwest has a history of a very effective Asian-American ministry."
Lam, who previously served as a BGCO specialist, helped organize the conference. Other topics covered at the event included "The Importance of Updating Your Church Constitution," "The Future of Asian Fellowship," and "Crossing Cultures with the Gospel." Other speakers on the program included Bo Holland, Hang Za Tung and Kirk Goss.
"I'm so encouraged to see this conference come together," said Kim. "This is a great opportunity for congregations and pastors to connect."
Guoliang Fan, professor of engineering at Oklahoma State University, and leader in the Chinese church in Stillwater, said, "The conference was very informative and helpful, a meaningful event."
There are approximately 60 Asian-American church congregations in Oklahoma, according to Lam, and therefore the opportunities for advancing the Gospel are strong.
The theme verse for the event was Rev. 7:9, "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands."
Through prayer and God's favor, Lam and others fully expect God to add many more who are reached by Asian-American pastors and leaders, to those who will be standing before the throne of God in Heaven.
This article appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Brian Hobbs is editor of The Baptist Messenger.
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 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.