FROM THE STATES: Wash., Ga., Mo. evangelism/missions news; 'On more than one occasion, I was overcome with emotion ...'
Today's From the States features items from:
Northwest Baptist Witness (Washington, Oregon)
Christian Index (Georgia)
The Pathway (Missouri)
beat for East Asia
By Sheila Allen
VANCOUVER, Wash. (Northwest Baptist Witness) -- Northwest Baptists once again showed commitment to international missions as a crew of 48 people traveled to support Baptist workers in the East Asia region. The team comprised volunteers from 10 churches and included those from young teenagers to senior adults.
With a strong formal partnership formed in 2014 between Southern Baptists overseas and the Northwest Baptist Convention, volunteers remain committed to making a difference for the sake of the Gospel in that region of the world.
Northwest volunteers provided programming for 200 children from birth to 18 years old for a six-day conference that allowed leaders from the region to meet, plan, pray and be encouraged in their enormous task to spread the name of Jesus among multiple people groups in various nations.
Classroom teachers worked alongside fellow church members and those they hadn't previously met for fun-filled days of Bible teaching, crafts and recreation time.
Corina Morrissey traveled with her teammates Samantha Prewitt and Samuel Minten from Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore., to teach a large group of third-graders for the week.
"At ages 21, 16 and 17, our team was definitely the youngest ones there," said Morrissey. "Leading a team for the first time was scary and overwhelming for me, but I learned that anyone can do it. You just have to be willing to try. Other teams were quick to offer supplies and assistance and the hardest part for me was overcoming my own pride and accepting help.
"Being part of the larger team was an amazing experience of working with a group that was willing to step in to lend a hand and cover your gaps. It really brought home the concept of the different members of the body of Christ all working together to achieve a common goal, unified by the Spirit with Jesus as the head."
"I had an amazing time," said Minten. "This was a first for me out of country and even on a plane at all. I learned a lot and enjoyed every minute of it with the third graders, exploring and meeting new like-minded people."
A group of 11 volunteers traveled to the region from Westwood Baptist Church in Olympia, Wash., a larger congregation that has recently affiliated with the NWBC. Among them was recently retired school teacher Cheri Estep, who taught first graders while there, for which she was eminently prepared. But she was unprepared for the impact she would make on a local citizen who worked at the facility hosting the conference.
"A 16-year-old young lady was interning at the hotel and is keeping in touch with me through social media," said Estep. "… I was able to develop a relationship with her and she asked questions about what I was teaching. I shared with her the material we were using, and she made the decision to follow Christ. My prayer is that she meets other believers and reads the Bible, book and pamphlet of God's Plan for Me that I left with her."
That significant encounter is representative of the willingness of Northwest volunteers to be flexible and adjust to the needs presented, even if it deviates from the plan in place.
"On more than one occasion, I was overcome with emotion seeing my (daughter) caring for the kids whose parents are sharing the Gospel with people," stated Melanie Annes, who traveled from Beaverton, Ore., with her two children, Lydia and Samuel. "This is a great example of redemption and God's sovereignty. One parent brought his three-year-old the first day saying, 'He has never been apart from us,' and then the father said a quick prayer. I will always remember the dad handing over the child every day saying, 'I am praying for you right now.' I loved the feeling of partnership that went both ways."
Bonds continue to form among people from churches who would never know each other unless they stepped out of their comfort zone to make a difference.
"It was a joy to serve alongside and to create lasting relationships with so many amazing people from around the Northwest," added Jerod Foss, from Kennewick (Wash.) Baptist Church.
Another way Northwest churches blessed the efforts of Southern Baptists in the region was the decision to donate all Vacation Bible School teaching materials and other items used during the conference. Several took the useable products and will quickly turn them around for teaching opportunities in the countries they serve in.
"We are using many craft items, teaching materials, and decorations from the NWBC for our Game On VBS … this week," said Melva C.* "These materials will travel to other parts of [a specific country in the region] and then on to several other countries too. Together, with Him and all of you, we're best. Thanks again for sharing."
Another opportunity for Northwest Baptists is coming in July 2019, with an expected need of 130 Northwest volunteers to serve on a two-week mission adventure in the region. The bulk of the assignments will include age-graded teachers of preschool and elementary age students, but other volunteer options are plentiful and include medical personnel, computer technicians and hospitality providers, such as hair stylists, massage therapists and more.
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.
Ga. Baptists team up with
pastors in Dominican Republic
By Joe Westbury
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. (Christian Index) -- David Chancey enjoys making the members of McDonough Road Baptist Church uncomfortable. When it comes to missions experiences, that is.
For the better part of his nearly two decades at the church he has encouraged youths and adults alike to get out of their comfort zone and participate on a mission trip. The church has been involved both domestically and internationally and he feels it develops an individual spiritually anytime they place themselves in a situation they do not control.
Then he heard that the Georgia Baptist Mission Board might be exploring a connection with the Dominican Republic and thought he would give State Missionary Frank Nuckolls a call. The conversation between the Board and the Caribbean nation was in very early stages and Chancey wanted to know more.
Before long he and Nuckolls were strolling the streets of Santo Domingo and visiting with pastors, learning of the physical and spiritual needs. One area of concern that repeatedly surfaced is the void left behind when, in 2015, Southern Baptist missionaries redeployed to other fields.
"The pastors all reflected on how they had come to rely on the training and staff development provided by the missionaries," he observed.
Independently, Otto Sanchez -- president of the Dominican Baptist Convention and pastor of Iglesia Bautista Ozama -- echoed those same concerns.
"Brother Sanchez freely admitted that the biggest concern is the pastors. There is a tremendous need to train church leadership and strengthen the churches with a vision to reach their communities," he explained.
And that is the consensus of Nuckolls' and Chancey's joint trip to the island nation.
During the three-day August trip the two men met with nine pastors representing seven churches ranging from Santo Domingo -- a major port as well as the capital and largest city -- down to two smaller cities as far as 90 minutes into the countryside.
"... [W]e did not see any of the hurricane damage that resulted from Irma hitting the island, which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti. We know the devastation was very hard in Haiti and that many Baptists have ministered there this year but that was not our experience," Chancey said.
"From our limited time the DR, as many refer to it, was like most any tropical island in the Caribbean. Most of the churches in the convention are small; I believe there are a couple that may have a thousand members, but the state convention president's church had about 300 the day we visited and when I spoke. That included a special service where all Sunday School classes attended."
Chancey would like to ask Georgia Baptist churches who are currently involved in ministry in the Dominican Republic to contact Frank Nuckolls at firstname.lastname@example.org to share their experience. A database would be a valuable resource as the connection moves forward.
In addition, Nuckolls has compiled the first draft of a list of needs that Georgia Baptists could easily meet through short-term volunteers or mission trips.
He also believes the DR would be a great mission experience for those at McDonough Road or other churches.
"We try to have an Acts 1:8 focus and take at least one international mission trip a year to complement our domestic outreach. I have noticed that anytime someone steps out of their comfort zone they experience a spiritual growth spurt; they find themselves depending on the Lord in a way unlike they have ever experienced back home.
His message to those contemplating such an adventure: "If you want to jumpstart your spiritual life, take an international mission trip, especially when you do not speak the local language. You will never return the same again."
This article appeared in the Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index.
Mo. 'Save Our City'
revival draws thousands
By Ben Hawkins
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (The Pathway) -- Nearly a thousand people gathered on the campus of Baptist Bible College here for each evening of the "Save Our City" revival here, Sept. 13-15. The event was organized by Freeway Ministries, a ministry based out of Crossway Baptist Church here that reaches out to ex-cons, drug addicts, the homeless and other hard-to-reach people.
During the revival 11 professions of faith were recorded, although many also flooded the altar each night to repent and to pray. Alongside the crowd of nearly 1,000 that showed up on site each night, roughly 6,000 people from across the world live-streamed the event. Two reported having come to Christ while watching the live-stream.
John Stroup, co-founder of Freeway, was among the featured speakers at the revival. Stroup told The Pathway that revivals are a God-ordained method for reaching people for the gospel and for calling Christians to find spiritual renewal. During the revival, he made it clear that no one is too bad or broken to find God's love and mercy at the cross.
"Maybe you're here tonight, and you're the criminal on the cross," Stroup told the crowd gathered for the revival. "Maybe you're here tonight, and it's too late to do good deeds for Jesus.... But you just heard a story about the (criminal) on the cross. And he didn't have any way to work, and he didn't join the church, and he sure wasn't baptized. But, brothers and sisters, he heard about Jesus and, on that cross, he said, 'I believe.' And Jesus said, 'On that day, you'll be with me in paradise.'
"The only people that God saves are people who don't deserve it," Stroup added. "Everybody loves a comeback. Never be the person to say, somebody will never change. Never be the person to say somebody is beyond God's reach. God can change and transform anyone by His power and by His might."
Freeway Ministries is a bridge between hurting people and the local church, and it has been established in churches across Missouri, in Nebraska and in South Africa. The Missouri Baptist Convention's Executive Board has recommended that Missouri Baptist messengers take up a special offering to support the ministry during their annual meeting, Oct. 23.
This article appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Ben Hawkins is associate editor of The Pathway.
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.