FROM THE STATES: Tenn., Ky. and Ark. evangelism/missions news; 'God wants partnerships among the churches'
Today's From the States features items from:
Baptist and Reflector (Tennessee)
Western Recorder (Kentucky)
Arkansas Baptist News
Tenn. churches partner
By David Dawson
NASHVILLE (Baptist and Reflector) -- With hopes of harvesting the mission field that exists in their own backyard, the congregations from First Baptist Church, Joelton, and New Season Church recently joined together to host a community-wide gathering in which the two churches provided a free meal for those who live in the underprivileged neighborhood in north Nashville. The event -- called "Time for a change" -- was held on Aug. 27 on an open lawn on Buchanan Street.
"It was a very effective outreach," said David Royalty, the pastor of First Baptist. "We gave away clothes, shoes, and the meal. Anyone on Buchanan was invited to come and eat."
New Season, a church plant, is one of several "ministry partner churches" supported by FBC. Working together, the two churches are seeking ways to reach a community that is often besieged with crime.
"It's one of the poorest and most troubled areas in Nashville," said Royalty. "The (free-meal event) was a great opportunity for our two churches. You are within walking distance of hundreds of people."
The ministry was connected with a three-day tent revival that was being hosted on that same site by New Season Church. Dwayne Lewis, the pastor at New Season, said reaching the community with these types of ministries is his top priority.
"Outreach is what I love," Lewis said. "It is my passion. We are hoping to turn the (community meal) into an annual thing, and we want to include more churches in the years ahead and get them involved. God wants partnerships among the churches."
In addition to providing a ministry to the local area, the event also illustrated that churches with different backgrounds can come together for the unified purpose of showing Christ's love. (First Baptist Joelton's membership is mostly white, while the majority of the congregation at New Season is African-American).
Royalty said there was essentially "a 50-50 split" in terms of representatives from each of the two churches at the event, demonstrating the bond between the two congregations. Lewis said he was excited with the impact that the ministry had in the area.
"The community truly came out for it," said Lewis. "I'd say we had well over 350 people served. We gave away shoes, ties, Bibles. It was a great time."
The gathering was featured by WKRN on the station's nightly news in Nashville.
The ministry provided an avenue for members from both congregations to share the Gospel. "One of the guys from our church witnessed to a 16-year-old young man and led him to Christ," said Royalty.
Royalty said he was excited to see many young adults at the gathering. "We had a large number of college students," he said. "We have a strong student ministry at our church, and a lot of them were down there, helping out."
Lewis said he wants to see people from all walks of life -- regardless of race or age -- come to see Christ, and said he was pleased to see the two churches go the extra mile in terms of encouraging the community to come to the gathering.
"We got in the church van and rode down the streets, saying to people 'hey, do you want to eat?" he said. "And most importantly, we were able to share the Gospel with them."
New Season Church has also reached out to the community in other ways in recent days, including hosting a "fellowship at the park" event that featured corn hole, inflatable bounce houses, and food. The church also hosted a free, community-wide fish fry in which the church gave away fish sandwiches.
This article appeared in the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. David Dawson writes for the Baptist and Reflector.
'We've been waiting for
you' Swazis tell Ky. WMU
By Myriah Snyder
SWAZILAND (Western Recorder) -- Twelve Kentucky Woman's Missionary Union affiliated volunteers embarked Aug. 10 on a mission trip to Swaziland, delivering hospice buckets and sharing Christ's love. Joy Bolton, executive director of the Kentucky WMU, led the group along with Wayne Myers, an International Mission Board missionary.
"The sense of God's love for each person gripped the team as we discussed the visits," Bolton shared. "We each realized that not only did God love each one of these Swazi people so much He sent His Son Jesus, but God loved the ones visited so much that He would send a team from Kentucky to share the Gospel and bring a bucket of things to help their family care for them."
Bolton continued, "No visit was by coincidence. We were led by God to these individuals who needed to hear the Gospel or be encouraged that they had not been forgotten by God."
The teams spent their first Sunday in Swaziland teaching Sunday School and participating in worship services. They also brought Kentucky WMU "salvation dolls" to local pastors and their families as a Gospel spreading tool.
In each home that received a hospice bucket, the contents were carefully explained to the ill individual as well as their caregiver. The teams made a point to also share the gospel during each visit, in addition to singing and giving a gift of rice and beans.
Throughout the week, the WMU team assisted with a three-day children's camp. They were tasked with finding creative ways in which to share the creation story and engage the children. The goal was to share the story of scripture from creation to Christ. Their first day saw 54 students attend.
Jay Hatfield, Central Association director of missions, and Jerry Tracy preached for revival services. Melissa Logsdon-Young and Cheryl Hatfield shared their testimonies as well.
In addition, the team was also a part of a National WMU Training event for the Swazi National Women's Committee during their time in Swaziland. The week ended with a training for pastors as well.
Team members included: Susan Bryant and Connie Page, Graefenburg; Jay and Cheryl Hatfield, Willisburg; Melissa Logsdon-Young, Fern Creek; Benita Decker, Farmdale, Frankfort; Teresa Smith, Highland, Shelbyville; Vivian Overall, Clayvillage; Linda Devine, Bruner's Chapel, Harrodsburg; Jerry Tracy and Joy Bolton, Shelbyville First, and Wayne Myers, Frenchburg.
Not only were the people who the team ministered to lives touched, but team members themselves were impacted, they shared. "When I put the socks in the lap of one grandmother, she was overcome with emotion. She was barefoot and now had her own socks," Susan Bryant, Kentucky WMU president, shared.
"Several of the people who accepted Christ wept as they prayed," she said. "It was as if those who heard the gospel were relieved that someone came and gave them a last opportunity to be saved."
The group's time in Swaziland saw fruit in many ways, including four decisions made during one day of delivering hospice buckets and a teenager professing Christ during a revival service.
"We were very excited to learn that the buckets we delivered were from Kentucky. We were so blessed to see the generosity of Kentucky Baptists touch lives. If you packed a bucket, you were a part of this week of ministry," Bolton said.
"In the revival services there were decisions every night," she added. Several people said to the team, 'We've been waiting for you.'" (WR)
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Myriah Snyder is assistant editor for the Western Recorder.
Ark. join together
to 'Impact Fordyce'
By Jennifer Bryant
FORDYCE, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) -- On Aug. 19 in the small town of Fordyce, hammers were pounding. Lawn mowers were running. People were standing at the door of the laundromat handing customers quarters to pay for their laundry and helping fold their finished laundry. Families were receiving needed food from First Baptist Church of Fordyce's food pantry. There were basketball and football games going on while people were prayer walking through town. Children were eating snow cones and jumping in bouncy castles.
All of this ministry and fun was due to First Baptist Church and Fordyce Community Baptist Church partnering to Impact Fordyce by loving their community and showing God's love to community residents through these activities.
Volunteers from these churches as well as Carey Baptist Association teamed up to conquer all the tasks. Some volunteers scraped and painted an elderly woman's house, while others mowed several yards for people in need. The food pantry was open for business as well. Forty-one families were provided with a box of food staples and were given the opportunity to have someone pray with them. They could also look through donated clothes and shoes and take anything they needed. "I want my eyes to be open to see what God sees," said Susan Sisson, a member of First Baptist Church. "I felt like He wanted (our church) and me to serve by meeting the basic needs. Hopefully by showing God's love and meeting a need, we can build relationships to share Christ with others."
At a local laundromat volunteers greeted customers as they came to do laundry, helped them load the machines and provided the detergent and quarters to get the laundry washed and dried. Volunteers also helped fold laundry and visited with the customers while sharing Jesus' love for them. The main location of the day was the local armory where a carnival-type atmosphere was unfolding. Bouncy castles were set up alongside booths for face painting, snow cones and popcorn. Free hamburgers and hot dogs were given out as well as backpacks with school supplies. Flag football games were being played, and people were able to walk around and enjoy the day together. This event started as a means to introduce a new church start to the community, but it also served to bring the community together without concern for skin color or anything else. "One result of this event was racial unity," said Rusty Ross, pastor of First Baptist Church. "Our community was able to see our churches work together in a way that has never been seen before."
In light of recent national events and our current climate, this demonstration of racial unity was much needed," Ross added. "Others (in the country) were protesting; we were praying and serving our community."
Other goals for the day included sharing the Gospel message, meeting specific needs in the community and introducing Fordyce Community Baptist Church, a church plant pastored by Roderick Rogers, to the community.
"These goals were accomplished, and three souls were saved!" said Ross.
Groups of volunteers prayer walked throughout Fordyce both before and during the event. Dave Archer, a member of First Baptist Church, along with other volunteers, struck up a conversation with a couple of teenagers sitting on a porch.
They began talking to the young men about school and sports, just building relationships with them. By the end of the conversation, the young men prayed to receive Christ. "I have a burden for lost people and a burden for them to grow in Christ," shared Archer. "The joy that comes from sharing Jesus and seeing Him begin to work in lives is simply unparalleled. Once you experience Jesus, you want others to experience Jesus."
Throughout the day spontaneous prayer occurred in small groups, who gathered with arms around each other, bringing needs to the Lord.
Rogers immediately saw the fruit of the event the following Sunday as he picked up several youth on the bus who had never attended his church before. He also enjoyed seeing his community love each other. "There is only one race … the human race," shared Rogers during a praise/prayer time. "God is smiling down on us today." Other volunteers agreed. Cary Dunn, a member of First Baptist Church, explained that every job is important. He handed out cold bottled water, and with each bottle, he prayed "that this small drink would reach the one who needed to drink the water and never be thirsty again."
"I helped because by my small efforts, a greater ... cause (could possibly) make a change in one life," Dunn said.
This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptist.org) Jennifer Bryant is the southeast regional correspondent for the Arkansas Baptist News.
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. Except for minor style, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.