FROM THE STATES: Calif., Ill., Ariz. evangelism/missions news; 'Whatever we can do to lead someone to Christ, we'll do it'

Today's From the States features items from:

California Southern Baptist Convention

Illinois Baptist

Portaits (Arizona)

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Bilingual discipleship leads to

bilingual ministry in Calif.

By Karen L. Willoughby

HOLTVILLE, Calif. (California Southern Baptist) -- Trinity Baptist Church in Holtville sits 10 miles from the Mexican border, but this story isn't about immigration, the need (or lack) of a wall or border ministry.

It's much bigger than that.

"We do a lot of discipleship both in English and Spanish," said Richard Moore, pastor since 1981 of the church that draws more than 250 people who worship in English and Spanish. He is pastor of both congregations.

"That's what Jesus told us to do," Moore added, referring to the discipleship that has grown the church from the 50 who attended 38 years ago, to two language-specific congregations that together have sent out members to minister in California, Tennessee, Mexico, South America, Haiti, Thailand, Uganda and Zambia.

Trinity allocates about 40 percent of its budget to missions, which includes contributing 6 percent of undesignated receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program.

Among the church's major endeavors: Grace and Truth Ministries in Mexico, Trinity Baptist Restoration Center in Holtville, the Center for Christian Missions in Zambia, Disciple Thailand in that Southeast Asian country; and for Holtville children, Awana and the Noah's Ark Preschool and Daycare.

The church also serves as a starting point for other congregations that want to be involved in missions south of the U.S./Mexico border. These churches join with Trinity and the parachurch partnerships it has formed over the years.

Moore and his wife moved from Tennessee to Holtville thinking they'd learn Spanish and then move to Central America.

"But God had a better plan," he said. "Because of all these open doors, we decided to stay here in Holtville."

The Imperial Valley city has a population of about 6,000, at least 75 percent of whom are Hispanic.

Moore, who taught himself Spanish, said he never asks people about their legal status, but rather about their spiritual status.

"I know Jesus is the answer for all their needs, not the USA," Moore said.

As Trinity sees opportunities, members do what they can to help, which leads to evangelism and then discipleship.

"We want to reach out to our community, but also to plant and strengthen other churches and to keep making disciples," Moore said.

In July the church helped start its fourth Hispanic congregation in Tennessee. In August they're taking 20 men to Peru to work with a church in Lima that is planting a new church in Cerro Azul. The men will do construction work in the mornings and evangelism and discipleship in the evenings.

Trinity 10 years ago started and continues to provide for an orphanage called Casa Hogar Gracia y Verdad, where about 20 children live in the border town of Mexicali. It also has built orphanages elsewhere in Mexico, and in Guatemala and Haiti.

"Down through the years we've done ministries in a small way, but now in a bigger way because people have become discipled and are doing the work of Jesus," Moore explained. "It's beautiful to see both languages working together to do Kingdom work."

The church's website -- holtvillebaptist.com -- delineates the multiple ministries manned by its disciples.

Grace and Truth Ministries, Trinity's primary outreach avenue in Mexico and Latin America, includes church planting, evangelism, discipleship, radio programs, medical/dental missions, construction, hunger relief, orphanages, children's ministries and pastoral training, often in partnership with other churches, ministries and individuals.

A major area of ministry is the Mexican state of Oaxaca, near Guatemala, where Grace and Truth Ministries started going five years ago, in both January and in June. Often they do medical missions with around 50 medical professionals and their translators.

"We now work with government officials down there," Moore said. "They help pay our expenses and give us complete freedom to share the gospel.

"Whatever we can do -- we've done outreaches with veterinarians, with a NASA engineer who spoke about the space program; he was able to share his testimony on television -- whatever we can do to lead someone to Christ, we'll do it. If it's not sinful, of course."

Evangelism is just the starting point, Moore said. The key is discipleship. He uses material from Robby Gallaty's Replicate.org and Herb Hodges' Spiritual Life Ministries.

"Also, we have a Bible institute here in Spanish for three hours on Tuesday nights," Moore said. "It's about practical topics: how to evangelize, plant churches, teach the Word, preach, how to disciple someone.

"Because we've done the discipleship, we've got 12 men in English and another 12 in Spanish who are pretty good preachers," Moore continued. "It (their discipleship) has opened up this Kingdom opportunity. They're busy, active, and God provides the funding. A lot of times that means just going across the border."

On the other hand, it costs about $700 for one person to travel the 1,800 miles and stay for a week in Oaxaca.

The church has sent entire families to start churches in the Imperial Valley, in Tennessee and elsewhere, and they minister weekly to about 30 people at the Blossom Valley assisted living center, and lead a Sunday evening service for about 30 residents of Living Free Ministries and others in the community.

"We're kind of isolated down here on the border," Moore said. "These are ways we speak encouragement into people's lives."

Moore has ministered in at least 20 of Mexico's 31 states, working through the Mexican Baptist Convention, with Dios con Nosotros (God with Us), the Mexican Baptist association across the border from Holtville, and the International Mission Board.

"There are hundreds of little villages without a gospel witness," Moore said about Mexico. "Our goal is that there is an evangelical, hopefully Baptist, church in every one of those communities.

"We don't want people just in church, but people who are actively involved in making disciples, reaching people with the gospel so we can reproduce," the pastor continued.

"It's multiplication we're after."


This article appeared in the California Southern Baptist, newsjournal of the California Southern Baptist Convention (csbc.com). Karen L. Willoughby is a writer in Utah.

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Prayerwalking leads

to Ill. church plant

By Andrew Woodrow

PINGREE GROVE, Ill. (Illinois Baptist) -- "Pingree Grove," Tim Bailey said, "is a small town in desperate need of a church."

Situated in the far western suburbs of Chicago, just west of Elgin, Pingree Grove was once a small farming community with less than 200 residents. The markers were a tiny white clapboard church that would close, and a cemetery. That was in the year 2000. Now, this rapidly developing city is expected to grow to over 15,000 people by 2020. The residents live in neighborhoods sprawling across what were once cornfields and they commute to work in the suburbs and the City.

But this burgeoning bedroom community had no church.

"During a visit to Pingree Grove, I recognized there was nothing of a spiritual nature there," said Bailey, an IBSA Church Planting catalyst in Northern Illinois. "But as I prayerwalked in that community, I recognized that there was something special there—something that God wanted to do."

Bailey was praying and walking the area last summer when he had an idea. Several groups of teens from all over Illinois were coming to Chicagoland for a week in July to assist church planters. Calling on Ken Wilson, his IBSA counterpart from Southern Illinois, Bailey put forth his plan.

"He said, 'I want to plant a church in four days, and they say that we can't do that,'" Wilson recalled. "And the last thing you want to tell a southern Illinois redneck is that you can't do something. So, I wanted to be part of something that only God can do."

"For the first time we decided instead of going and helping a church planter," Bailey said of the usual summer project teams teens and planters in Chicagoland, "we were going to attempt to plant a church with just eleven people in four days."

The eleven people included several teens from First Baptist Church in far south Metropolis, led by associate pastor Cliff Easter, and the students from Clarksville Baptist Church in central Illinois with their youth leader, Leslie Propst.

The group divided into groups of two and prayerwalked Pingree Grove, knocking on more than 650 doors in those four days. They prayed for the people in the community, asking the Lord to save the lost, connect them with people looking for a church, and to help develop friendships in Jesus' name. And they invited the people to a Bible study on Thursday night.

As Church Planting Catalysts, Wilson and Bailey are part of a partnership between IBSA and the North American Mission Board. Gifts to the Mission Illinois Offering help provide support services for these church planting missionaries, allowing them to recruit and train men who will plant and pastor new churches in some of the 200 places in Illinois where IBSA has identified the need for new congregations. With Mission Illinois as both a goal and a calling, IBSA seeks to establish evangelistic, gospel-teaching churches within easy reach of every lost person in Illinois.

"The Lord granted us immense favor," Wilson said. "We met many people interested in knowing more about a church plant possibility and a few more who even recommitted their lives to Christ." The superintendent of a local school gave them permission to have a meeting there. Four families attended, Bailey said, that was the start of a church.

But we need a leader

"We were far from finished," Wilson said, "We prayed for Pingree Grove, that God would send a church planter to lead where we began." Little did they know, God had begun his work in Pingree Grove three years earlier.

R. T. Maldaner and his family of eight had moved to Illinois from Idaho. Maldaner was serving in church staff position in Elgin, but he sensed the Lord leading him to plant a church. "But we really didn't know where," Maldaner said.

Maldaner's desire for church planting was encouraged by a mentor who told him that he had the DNA of a church planter. "He told me of IBSA's need for solid gospel-centered men to plant solid gospel-centered churches," Maldaner said, "and he then connected me with a gentleman from IBSA by the name of Tim Bailey."

In January, six months after that summer outreach, the two met at Starbucks in South Elgin. "Tim and I were sitting down drinking coffee," Maldaner said, "talking about my desire to church plant when he asks me his final question for the interview: 'Where do you live?'"

When Maldaner said, "Pingree Grove," Bailey pounded the table and yelled, "Praise the Lord!"

"R.T.," Bailey told him, "we have been walking around Pingree Grove, and driving around Pingree Grove, and praying around Pingree Grove for a year that God would send us a church planter for Pingree Grove."

One month later, Maldaner started a gathering. Since that Sunday, 150 people have attended faithfully, Bailey said, "and we have yet to begin the major push in encouraging people to come."

Maldaner recognizes that the "Lord has orchestrated a miraculous thing….Knowing that our church isn't a church plant in isolation, knowing that we have IBSA and a plethora of other brothers standing alongside us and helping us is a very liberating feeling."

The church, called City of Joy, is set to launch officially on September 9.

"It is nothing we did," Bailey insists, "It was only because of prayer, and more prayer, and even more prayer, that God decided to open the door to this church."

Wilson remains invorated by the experience of prayerwalking for a church plant. "I see God wanting to do this in multiple places, even rural areas across Illinois…Because He wants to touch Illinois (even more) than we want to reach it."

A call to prayer

Please encourage your church to pray for state missions during the Mission Illinois Offering & Week of Prayer, September 9-16. Pray especially for church planting across the state, to reach more than 8 million people here who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior. Pray for Church Planting Catalysts Tim Bailey, Ken Wilson, and other members of the IBSA Church Planting Team. And pray for R.T. Maldaner as he leads the new City of Joy Church in Pingree Grove.


This article appeared in the Illinois Baptist (illinoisbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Andrew Woodrow writes for the Illinois Baptist.

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Ariz. church on

revitalization 'journey'

By Lori Pruit

ARIZONA CITY, Ariz. (Portraits) -- It has been said that patience will release a marathon runner from the pressure of the clock and allow focus on the journey. One Arizona church experiencing revitalization could surely follow this same thought.

Founded in 1962 with 27 people attending Sunday School, First Baptist Church of Arizona City was full of hope for the future. But as often happens, after the passing of 51 years, the church found itself in need of revitalization.

Stability was fleeting due to common factors still occurring in many churches today. Short tenure of pastors and lack of trust led members and clergy to make poor judgment calls, resulting in a gradual, but inevitable decline.

Keith Durham, called as pastor of First Baptist five years ago, is leading the church on a revitalization "journey." Durham began by stressing patience in the process, as they re-examined their hearts, seeking God's expectations for the body of believers.

"During the first two to three years of revitalization, a church will very often need to focus their efforts internally ... asking themselves the hard questions, once again developing hope in God's ability," says Durham, who also serves as Arizona Southern Baptists' church revitalization specialist.

This retrospective period also included partnerships with fellow Southern Baptists, filling the "gaps" with the loan of musicians, construction and remodeling volunteers, as well as prayerful helpers for community functions and outreach ministries.

"We intentionally tried to build partners ... faithful leaders and laypeople to join alongside us. I believe this was one of the greatest assets as we rebuilt the church," Durham says.

Presently, five years from the beginning of the revitalization process, First Baptist finds itself on the second leg of their journey, seeking to use their developed strengths to reach out to the community.

Realizing one of their strengths has been within their reach for years, members began to reinvent the church's playground/park for ministry and community outreach. With great diligence, this dream has been realized as the church works to host multiple events to share the gospel of Christ holistically.

When asked about the time frame for a church to be revitalized, Durham says it can take a number of years to start and keep the revitalization process in a forward-moving direction.

"I think the best way I can explain is using an analogy," he says. "It is like a runner in a race. You put one foot in front of the other, understanding there are good days, bad days, brick walls, barriers to jump ... but you have to keep going! It is not a sprint, but a marathon. Not quick ... but a long haul."

And when you look at the present vitality of First Baptist Church, Arizona City, you will quickly notice the effort was worth running for the prize ... a healthy, strong church bringing others to Christ.


This article appeared in Portraits (portraits.azsbc.org), newsmagazine of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. Lori Pruit is a writer in Arizona.

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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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