FROM THE STATES: Wash., Texas, Ariz. evangelism/missions news; '[G]oing where people already are and they're tripping over Jesus'
Today's From the States features items from:
Northwest Baptist Witness
Southern Baptist TEXAN
Wash. cowboy churches
reach horsemanship culture
By Sheila Allen
HAMILTON, Wash. (Northwest Baptist Witness) -- The rich landscape of the Skagit Valley captivates the spirit of the Northwest Washington residents who cherish wild coastlines, flourishing farmlands and immense forests. Many who call the rural, open valley home are immersed in a culture of horsemanship and trail riding, hidden from the metropolitan areas within easy driving distance.
"There are around 1,000 riding clubs west of the Cascades," said Tim Moore, who is staking a claim for the spiritual needs of those who are passionate about horses. "The riding clubs in the area represent 50,000 people, and many have arenas with nice facilities to meet together."
Moore developed a strategy to engage the people in riding clubs called C4 – Cross Country Cowboy Church -- a network of weeknight gatherings called "outposts" that include meals, music, worship and connecting that accommodates the lifestyles of weekend horsemanship.
"We had quick access to people by participating with riding clubs and volunteering to work on trails," Moore said. "They have open rides where anyone can come, with multiple events happening every week. Trail riding is huge here and other judged events happen regularly. My wife, Melissa, and I live a half mile from the rodeo in Sedro Woolley."
Several arena owners with facilities for up to 50 people have willingly stepped up to host Moore's outposts, eliminating the need for rented or permanent quarters. The Moores, who share a background in cowboy culture, have started three outposts since January and over 150 people have committed their lives to Jesus since that time.
"They live and breathe horses on the weekend," Moore noted. "It's all expensive and these folks invest a lot of their income and themselves to it. Having a meal makes it possible for working people and children are included in what we do. We partnered with local horse trainers to provide a three day 'horsey' camp and training for so the kids could work on their skills. Out of 10 kids that attended, seven prayed to receive Christ."
The ministry is currently being supported as a new church plant through the Northwest Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board. Moore supplements his income with work as a tile and stone mason, while Melissa works in family services, but their desire is give 100 percent of their time to the cowboy church effort.
"More people are asking us to do these outposts," Moore stated, "and it is more than we can handle. We need other missionaries to join us."
Coming alongside the couple is First Baptist Church of nearby Hamilton, Wash.
"We have one of our outposts that meet at their facility, and 10 people from that church are on our team to launch our next location," Moore said. "I can't express what a blessing they have been to us. Pastor Ron and Beth Edwards really caught the vision and are 110 percent behind us."
Moore boldly shares the gospel at outpost gatherings and gives an invitation to accept Christ. Some mature believers have joined the effort to help teach and lead, according to Moore. A discipleship program Moore also developed called "groundwork" is used to develop new believers.
"Gary Irby has given me help that has been invaluable," Moore said of the NWBC church planting director. "He was a mentor to me when I served in the Northwest before and we meet two times a month."
Melissa Moore coordinates the weekly dinners -- hearty, simple meals considered cowboy fare that include soups, dumplings and other one-pot meals.
"I do the shopping and prep work, and a few others join to help before meal time," Melissa said. "We ask people to bring dessert, something simple they can contribute."
Meanwhile, Moore is working and praying toward multiplication. He connected with Shawn Snyder, pastor of Living Hope Church in Medford, Ore., another region with an affinity for riding clubs and 'horse' people.
"They saw how they could use this as their multiplication effort," Moore said. "They already had people in their church that are part of riding clubs. Pastor Shawn described what we do as 'going where people already are and they're tripping over Jesus.' People like the casual atmosphere, and we need to tap into this vast sub-culture."
Contact Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information regarding cowboy church ministry.
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.
Texas Fields of Faith
events see rich harvest
By Jane Rodgers
EULESS, Texas (Southern Baptist TEXAN) -- "If you follow Jesus and the Holy Spirit lives inside you, you are the church now," Shane Pruitt, SBTC director of missions, told a crowd of 545 youth gathered Oct. 26 at the West Campus of First Baptist Euless for the 2016 Hurst-Euless-Bedford-area Fields of Faith event held in conjunction with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and area churches.
"You have a responsibility now.... You are a part of the kingdom of God now. Live it now," Pruitt challenged an audience used to hearing that they are the "future" of the church.
The Field at First Euless was one of 466 held nationally throughout October. In Texas, 105 Fields were held, most on Oct. 12. The Euless Field was originally scheduled for the HEB school district's Pennington stadium, but for financial and logistical reasons, was moved to The CITY, the student center at First Euless's Campus West, said Kent Wells, First Euless student pastor.
FCA provided food for a tailgate party and First Euless and First Baptist Church of Hurst contributed support, Wells said. Area churches brought students.
Pruitt described the evening as one of "high energy" music, interactive games, worship and testimonies by student athletes. It was Pruitt's second Field of Faith event this year.
First Euless has participated in Fields of Faith for the past six or seven years, Wells said, adding that this year, 20-25 of the more than 40 event counselors and volunteers came from his congregation. The event was part of a comprehensive strategy to reach students in their area. Many students walk from local Trinity High School to Wednesday afternoon and evening programs at The CITY. Wells serves as chaplain for Trinity's football team, and church members volunteer in a school-sponsored mentoring program.
Due to the broad diversity at Trinity, Wells said, "You can literally touch 72 different countries."
Local churches have begun following up with the 14 students who made professions of faith and dozens of rededications recorded at the Euless Fields of Faith.
The ninth annual Fields of Faith event held Oct. 12 at Gordon Wood Stadium in Brownwood, Texas, attracted a less diverse but larger crowd, as more than 3,000 students attended.
"In a city, students may have to travel in traffic, come long distances. It's easier to run a Field of Faith in a rural community," said Ricky Cavitt, youth pastor of Brownwood's Coggin Avenue Baptist Church.
The Brownwood Field featured the band Firetown, and Marcus Wasson, a local pastor, spoke of the tragic drowning of his grandson. Kevin Kirkland of San Angelo's PaulAnn Baptist Church was the main speaker. By the night's conclusion, 684 students had indicated decisions for Christ with 93 rededications.
"It was beyond our expectations," said Tony Daniel, FCA area director for Brownwood. Daniel attends Coggin Avenue BC and is grateful for their involvement and 85 other area congregations for bringing students and providing volunteers.
Of the 207 event volunteers, some 107 came from Coggin, Daniel said.
Cavitt echoed the importance of the church's partnership with FCA. "Our role as a church is to make disciples. Fields of Faith is a target event that helps us carry out the Great Commission. We know the gospel is going to be shared."
"We encourage our youth to be attenders and bring their friends. We spend time praying for the event. Our whole church gets behind it."
Follow-up began the day after the Brownwood Field as 10 area youth pastors met to divide the names of students who had professed faith and begin the process of contacting them.
"We invite them to follow-up meetings to take the next steps," Cavitt said "It's a process."
"We [must] make sure those decisions are reinforced and supported. If something happens later on, they may decide it was just an event. If we don't get them in church, we don't have that opportunity [to disciple them]," Daniel said, explaining the importance of local church involvement.
Daniel added that statistics for his region indicate that 80 percent of the students are unchurched.
"We've got a generation that doesn't know what God has done for us. I think our young people are hungry for truth and for the Lord, and if we would take seriously the Great Commission, the fields are ripe for the harvest."
For more information, see http://www.fieldsoffaith.com.
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.
Ariz. church reaches across
the valley, around the world
By Jean Bihn
PHOENIX (Portraits) -- Matthew 28:19-20 mandates Jesus' followers "make disciples of all nations," and serves as one of Arizona Southern Baptists' core values: "We value the mandate of making disciples of Jesus Christ as the ultimate purpose for our convention and denomination."
Two Valley churches are partnering to do exactly that in Phoenix and Surprise, as well as more than 8,000 miles away in Myanmar.
At Phoenix Falam Christian Church, Pastor Thang Moi moves from Burmese to English and back again as he speaks to his congregation. The smartly dressed young man hails from Myanmar, as Burma is now known. (Falam refers to the Burmese language.)
Smiling faces give no indication of the harrowing experiences many of the worshipers survived in their war-torn homeland. Fidgety, but happy, children move among the brightly-clothed church-goers, while babies peek out from the traditional fabric wraps that secure them to their mothers. Sparkling clean and well-pressed are the orders of the day for everyone in sight.
Sunday afternoons, Phoenix Falam Christian Church meets on Palm Vista Baptist Church's Phoenix campus near Union Hills Drive and 19th Avenue. Based in Surprise, Palm Vista adopted the Burmese church in 2013, providing the facility and financial support.
"We work with refugees at Phoenix Falam Church and use that platform to train our people to go to Myanmar," Palm Vista Pastor Jackie Allen says.
Allen and four Palm Vista members recently returned from Myanmar, where they spent a week sharing the gospel. Phoenix Falam and Palm Vista churches have planted more than a dozen churches in Myanmar.
Moi, who grew up in a Christian home, left the country to escape political and religious persecution, as did many members of Phoenix Falam Christian Church.
"It was wars year in and year out," he says. "There was no freedom of worship."
Following a military coup, Moi's wife, Jeje, a student, was mistaken for a protester near her university and jailed. Moi was forced to pay the military to ransom her. When the couple left Myanmar, as the boat they were in approached Malaysia, it began to sink. Many women and children were lost, he says.
From Malaysia, where their first child, Phoebe, was born, the family moved to Indianapolis, Ind., in 2009. But despite bachelor's degrees in both theology and mathematics, Moi says his education was not accepted in the United States.
Still, the industrious young man found a job as a problem solver for an online retailer and as a translator. Burmese and English are just two of the "six or seven" languages Moi speaks fluently. He then worked with refugee agencies and as a translator on his days off.
Part of his job in Indiana and, later, Missouri, was transporting refugees to job interviews.
"As I drove refugees, I talked about life ..." Moi says. "Some would ask me to pray for them in their homes."
Although it was prohibited on the job, once invited into their homes, he could speak freely and share Christ with the refugee family.
Now, Moi openly declares God's love and salvation through Jesus Christ from a pulpit in North Phoenix.
This article appeared in Portraits (portraits.azsbc.org), newsjournal of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. Jean Bihn, a freelance writer and photographer, is a member of Mountain Ridge Baptist Church, Glendale.
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.