FROM THE STATES: Ga., Mo. and Ariz. evangelism/missions news; Ga. team at Olympics believing 'God's Word never returns void'

Today's From the States features items from:

The Christian Index (Georgia)

The Pathway (Missouri)

Portraits (Arizona)

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Ga. Baptists share

Christ at Winter Olympics

By Joe Westbury

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (The Christian Index) -- It was a chilly 25 degrees the morning Marty Youngblood and Sid Hopkins walked past the train station on their way to get their credentials at Olympic park. But they didn't let the cold stop them from sharing the Gospel with more than a dozen folks from Team Canada.

"We are believing Isaiah 55:11 that God's Word never returns void," Youngblood, a Georgia state missionary, recounted as he and other members on the Georgia Baptist team prepared for up to two weeks of evangelism at the site of the 2018 Winter Games.

As believers stateside tune in to their NBC affiliate television station to watch the games, they can rest assured that the Gospel is being shared across multiple time zones and cultures in South Korea. Youngblood is heading up one of two teams currently on the ground there.

Georgia Baptist Women provided a 20-day prayer guide that can be viewed at https://gabaptist.egnyte.com/dl/y0NHIjfHtO. The ministry group also is encouraging individuals to view the competition schedule (https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/game-time/results/OWG2018/en/general/competition-schedule.htm) in order to pray for specific events.

Youngblood said the Georgia team is on site to train and lead pastors, churches and local volunteers to share their faith with the thousands of visitors and athletes who will be attending the games. The prayer guide will provide a valuable resource for those who will follow the event from the comfort of their arm chairs.

Some prayer guide entries include:

Day 9: Pray for the Olympians as the competitions begin today. Pray for everyone to compete at their highest level. Pray for the Olympians to look to God during the moments of pressure -- not to drugs or cheating.

Day 10: Pray for the hundreds of Christian volunteers who have traveled far and near to share the Gospel with athletes, coaches, families, media, etc.

Day 11: Pray for the Olympians to maintain unity among teammates and competitors from other nations.

Hopkins, who is ministering with Youngblood and other team members, is retired director of missions for Gwinnett Metro Baptist Association and a fixture at the games. His wears a vest, hat, coat and lanyard festooned with dozens of trading pins from around the world that serve as witnessing opportunities and is affectionately known as "The Pin Man."


This article appeared in The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index.

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Mo. Baptists bring

healing to Ghana

By Brian Koonce

YENDI, Ghana (The Pathway) -- The mission team from Franklin Baptist Association doesn't do anything halfway. They didn't bring a handful of people on their recent trip to Ghana; they took 53. They didn't set up a clinic to deal with minor illness and maladies; they set up a permanent intensive care unit at a local hospital.

Joe Nogalski, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in New Haven, Mo., has been going on the trips regularly since he was a student at Southern Seminary in 2001. It began with a partnership with Emmanuel Mustapha, a local church planter, then grew into medical missions before becoming the evangelistic partnership it is today.

Surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses from Mercy Hospital in Washington joined members of Memorial, Faith Baptist in Washington and various other churches in the January trip as they set up a brand-new intensive care unit at the Yendi hospital in northeast Ghana.

"It's about as rural as it can be, but the hospital still serves about 100,000 people, even some from neighboring Togo," Nogalski said. "They're so far north that medical resources usually don't make it to them."

Indeed, the need was great and so was the response. In just three days, the Missouri team performed more than 100 surgeries, hosted a maternal healthcare clinic, treated more than 1,600 people, and examined more than 3,000. The Missouri personnel were even able to set up an online link between the local and Missouri hospital, allowing for virtual consultation from across the ocean and 6,000 miles. But on top of that, the team was also able to share the real motivation behind their trip: the Gospel.

At least 11 people accepted Christ during the trip. But it's not just those who remain in Ghana who were changed eternally.

"God has worked in everyone who went on the trip," Nogalski said. "God allows them to do something miraculous, even just in putting it together and making the travel to Yendi happen, then seeing the way God is working through the Ghanaians."

One village in a predominantly Muslim area hosted a clinic with such great results that the Ghanaian partners have been invited to plant a church there.

"God uses the medical to allow the Gospel to be presented," Nogalski said. "They listen because you have compassion on them."


This article appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Brian Koonce is a staff writer for The Pathway.

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1-on-1 evangelism

adds up in Ariz.

By Lucy Oliver

MIAMI, Ariz. (Portraits) -- To some, First Southern Baptist Church of Miami, Ariz., and Morningside Baptist Church in Tucson might seem small in number, but they're large in evangelism effectiveness.

Don Holley, pastor of First Southern, Miami, for the past three years, cites Ecclesiastes 4:9 -- "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor" -- to remind his congregation, "There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian." First Southern Baptist is excitedly proving this verse to be undeniably true.

Born and raised in the Globe/Miami area, Holley knew when he became pastor that his immediate goals must be twofold: initiate vision meetings and establish training in personal evangelism.

"When someone is growing in their faith," Holley explains, "life is evangelism."

When the church family members grew in their zeal for the Word of God, sharing the Gospel one on one with neighbors and loved ones became a priority. As a result, their church family began to grow.

"I came here, and I was so loved and so welcome," says member Jerry Garlinghouse.

With a population of nearly 10,000 residents in the Globe/Miami area, the 100 active members of First Southern Baptist Church of Miami take seriously the mighty job they are entrusted to do for the Lord.

Holley is humbled and invigorated knowing that First Southern, Miami, had the 7th best ratio of baptisms per worship attendance (1 baptism for every 2.5 people in worship) and was 19th in total number of baptisms (22 baptisms) in Arizona Southern Baptist Convention rankings for 2016.

"God's doing something amazing in this church," Holley says. "He has brought about unity and fellowship. It's not about me -- I am here to point people to God's goodness."

Also a hometown boy returning to the church in the neighborhood of his younger years, pastor Dewayne Gamez similarly believes in reaching his community and fulfilling the role God has for the small and mighty Morningside Baptist Church in Tucson.

Gamez says he prayed as he walked his neighborhood and God spoke to his heart in Spanish.

"God told me to start a Spanish-speaking mission church and to seek a leader," he says. God provided Martin Lizarraga as pastor and grew Oasis de Salvación Church within the same building as Morningside.

"The church's job is to reproduce churches and send out new pastors," says Gamez. "Leading by example is important. So is one-on-one evangelism wherever you are -- a restaurant or store is a great place to share your story."

Morningside's baptism ratio of 1 baptism for every 4.09 people in worship (21st in the AZSBC) shows that church members are using their 3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide evangelism training, as well as group projects like VBS, Crafts for Christ (a two-day, winter mini-VBS), "Blessing Boxes to Mexico" and Trunk or Treat for evangelistic purposes.

At its first Trunk or Treat outreach event in October 2017, the 40-member congregation saw the positive results of their hard work to love their neighbors and share evangelistic information at the event.

"We expected 50-100 guests, and God brought in 200," Gamez says. "The best part was the family that came to church the next day. If one person is saved -- it was all worth it. After all, that is one more soul!"


This article appeared in Portraits (portraits.azsbc.org), newsmagazine of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. Lucy Oliver is a freelance writer in Tucson.

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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, security, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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