FROM THE STATES: Ark., Ore., Texas evangelism/missions news; 'I've never wanted to keep God in a box ...'
Today's From the States features items from:
Arkansas Baptist News
Northwest Baptist Witness (Oregon)
Southern Baptist TEXAN
Ark. pastor sees
ministry vision met
By Rachel Gaddis
DERMOTT, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist State Convention) -- Ricky Lattimore loves helping others. As a pastor who has served in Dermott for more than 20 years, Lattimore has seen the needs in his community and the Delta. "I always desired that the church I pastored would grow in every area of ministry," he said.
Though Lattimore had a vision for Tabernacle Baptist Church in Dermott, he felt that together they had not made progress in ministry. "The church just flat-lined, and I flat-lined with it," Lattimore said. "I told the church, 'I don't know what else to do because I don't like people hurting, and I have a lot of people who aren't even members of the church depending on me.'"
Lattimore had been praying about attending seminary when the Delta Institute began holding classes once a week in McGehee. There, he met Willie Jacobs, a member of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) church planting team, and later heard about the ministries of Arkansas Baptists across the state. "I said, 'This is me, God. This is what You wanted me to do, and You brought it right through my front door,'" Lattimore recalled.
Tabernacle Baptist Church went through the process to become an Arkansas Baptist church. The partnership provided Tabernacle Baptist the opportunity to participate in Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering-supported ministries. Since then, Lattimore said, "Things have just gone higher and higher."
"I want to connect with everything that Arkansas Baptists have! Our church is now able to do that," Lattimore said.
In April of this year, more than 300 people attended a Delta Project block party in Dermott. During this event, 200-plus people were fed by Arkansas Baptist disaster relief volunteers, and more than 100 patients were seen by medical and dental clinic teams.
Not long after the block party, Arkansas disaster relief volunteers responded to flooding and a tornado in the area. Tabernacle Baptist hosted the team and ministered alongside team members.
"We posted on Facebook that Tabernacle was open to help people, and local news helped us get the word out," Lattimore said. "We were the first in the area to open, and people were coming in looking at our church because of what we were doing."
Tabernacle Baptist also has a food pantry that Lattimore said brings people from across the Delta, and Tabernacle delivers food to the elderly and mentally ill. When the food pantry began to run dry a few weeks ago, funds from Arkansas Baptists' hunger ministry replenished the pantry.
"I have never felt this much joy as a pastor, knowing that I can do ministry in every area," Lattimore said. "I'm learning I can do ministry in Jerusalem -- my hometown; in Judea -- my state of Arkansas; in Samaria -- outside the state; and to all the nations like Jesus said."
Tabernacle Baptist plans to attend and serve during the Acts 1:8 One-Day Mission Trip in Fort Smith Oct. 1, and church members are also going on an international mission trip to Thailand. Lattimore said he has dreamed of going on international mission trips, but people thought he was crazy for saying so. "I even thought I was crazy," he said, "but I've never wanted to keep God in a box, no matter our locale."
"We're in the Delta, and people are amazed that we built the kind of church we did," Lattimore added. "God was just working in everything. God brought people who wanted to follow the vision, and they are excited about going places and helping others. They aren't just coming for Sunday morning preaching or seeing hurting people and not doing anything about it."
"God has really moved in the area," Lattimore said. "I associate it first of all with God Himself. But God placed Arkansas Baptists in our lives for a purpose so I can effectively do the ministry He has called me and the church to do."
All of this was made possible by Arkansas Baptists' gifts to the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering. For more information visit absc.org.
This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Rachel Gaddis is publications director for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Ore. church 'On Mission'
By Sheila Allen
PORTLAND, Ore. (Northwest Baptist Witness) -- When Randy Brown became pastor of Portland's Holgate Baptist Church in 2014, he followed a long line of leaders committed to advancing the Gospel in the city. Now, a house owned by the church on adjacent property is another vehicle for the members of Holgate Baptist to continue that legacy.
Called "the white house" by church members, the home was used for various functions throughout the years -- from Sunday school space to church offices. Brown began praying about what God would have them do with the property, which needed significant repair.
"I sat next to Ken Harmon at an Interstate Baptist Association meeting, and a conversation began regarding the house," recalled Brown. "Ken said he thought he had a way to use the house for mission work for those coming to Portland to advance the kingdom here."
That conversation led to a partnership between Holgate Baptist and Interstate Baptist Association, with IBA contributing funds to finance necessary repairs and Holgate members supplying the labor.
"We started calling it the mission house, but I wanted something more," Brown said. "I wanted to honor the memory of someone dear who gave so much to Holgate Baptist Church and the Lord." The church renamed it the Frank and Joan Mackey Mission House in memory of a former pastor who came to Portland from Oklahoma.
The Mackeys came to Holgate Baptist in 1966 when the Northwest was considered "pioneer missions," said Sheila Mackey, one of six Mackey children. The family came as answer to the call of missions on Frank Mackey's life.
"Many sacrificed to prepare the home and our family is quite honored that you chose to name the house in this way," Mackey remarked at the dedication service. "My dad was a man after God's heart and he led the church into missions. He always loved Holgate and told people about Jesus everywhere he went. My mother was a very special lady who quietly supported dad, which required sacrifices on her part."
Repairs to the home occurred until the evening before the dedication, also the same day the first team arrived, according to John Otis, who managed the project.
"Every summer I am looking for housing for summer missionaries and semester missionaries," said Ken Harmon, Northwest Collegiate Ministries director for the Northwest Baptist Convention and Interstate Baptist Association. "This will be very strategic and a huge answer to prayer to have consistent housing for summer and semester missionaries over the next few years to reach students and young adults in our city and on our campuses with the Gospel.
"It's exciting to know that the association and local churches are working together to see God's kingdom advance in our region," Harmon added. "Already this has proven to be effective in that the mission team was very instrumental in a high school student coming to Christ last weekend."
Another mission-focused event occurred at Holgate Baptist in recent weeks when they hosted an English as a Second Language (ESL) training workshop, which included 11 hours of intensive training for students to become certified. Ten participants from Holgate and five others from area churches attended the conference.
In the Portland metro population of 2.6 million, there are approximately 150,000 residents who call SE Portland home, where Holgate Baptist is located. Ten percent of the population of SE Portland is Asian, with many other cultures represented.
"Pastor Randy Brown and several other HBC members started praying and planning to be equipped to teach, with the goal of serving the community while at the same time reaching out to the lost," said Jean Oates, a church member. Two members took an ESL training session offered by the Portland Literacy Council. Further research brought HBC in touch with the North American Mission Board's Claudean Boatman, a national literacy missions coordinator.
"She mentioned that our interest in ESL training for the West is an answer to years of prayer for this area," Oates added.
This article appeared in the Northwest Baptist Witness (nwbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Northwest Baptist Convention. Sheila Allen is managing editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness.
Ministry brings gospel
to Texas strip club
By Jane Rodgers
SAN ANGELO, Texas (Southern Baptist TEXAN) -- When Sent Church in San Angelo was founded three years ago with an emphasis on missional communities, pastor and church planter Josh Lilly never envisioned involvement in ministry to a local strip club.
But after meeting Judy James, founder of LACE Ministries (Ladies Achieving Christ's Excellence), Josh realized his church had a unique opportunity to reach women caught up in the industry.
LACE began as an outgrowth of James's master's level studies. A social worker with an undergraduate degree in criminology, a background in adult and juvenile probation and experience working at a rape crisis center, James researched an international network of strip club ministries and an anti-pornography ministry for graduate work in urban ministries.
"The more I found out, the more I knew I wanted to do something like that," she said. "I never expected it to take off like it has. … I know I am right where God wants me to be. I know that this has been his plan all along."
God's plan has taken James and a few volunteers into San Angelo's only strip club at least once a month since December 2015. Research indicated gaining entry to a club would be difficult, but this proved not to be the case for LACE.
"The first time we went, we didn't know if we would get in," she recalled. Carrying gift bags of cosmetics and sundries, James and a volunteer nervously approached the club's bouncer, who called the owner.
"The owner said, 'Go on back. You can go anyplace,'" James said. "We walked in and started passing out bags. Girls came off the stage and out of the dressing room to get a gift bag. … Not only did we get in, but we were given free rein to talk to anyone we wanted." James called such immediate access "unheard of" in strip club ministry.
LACE emphasizes developing friendships with the dancers. "We are meeting a basic human need. Some agencies provide food and clothing. We provide love and acceptance," she explained.
LACE volunteers' initial goal is "just to be their friend and tell them that Jesus loves them," James said. "They begin to ask questions like 'Why do you do this?' and it gives us an open door to share the Gospel with them."
In addition to monthly visits, LACE celebrates dancers' birthdays with cakes made by a volunteer. Gift bags may include devotionals, copies of the Gospel of Mark and T-shirts emblazoned with "Jesus Loves Strippers."
On Easter, LACE provided an entire Sunday dinner to the club. Dancers and employees enjoyed the meal and heard a brief Gospel presentation. "God was in the strip club," James said, adding that Sent Church paid for the dinner.
"I couldn't do this without Sent Church," she said. She approached Pastor Lilly early on with her fledgling idea and asked if a strip club ministry was "something that Sent Church would do."
"YES!!!" Lilly replied.
"I am loving what is going on right now with LACE," Lilly said. "Judy has a great passion for the marginalized and ostracized of our community, specifically as it relates to women in the sex industry."
"We do have a missional community set up to receive those people," Lilly continued, adding that only women accompany James to the club.
Sent Church members also provided funds to help one dancer exit the industry and return to her family in Dallas.
"We help where we can," Lilly said.
For Judy James, loving the ostracized also means fielding phone calls at 2 a.m. The dancers, a largely transient population, "know how to contact us," she said. And many do, reaching out for prayer and a person to talk to.
Prostitution is often associated with strip clubs, but the San Angelo club does not permit this, James said. However, with its highways and proximity to Mexico, San Angelo is a hub of human trafficking, she added. Thus LACE also focuses on education.
In all aspects of the ministry, the goal is to introduce women to the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
For more information on LACE Ministries, visit laceministries.org.
This article appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN (texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Jane Rodgers is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN.
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.