FROM THE STATES: Ky., Fla., La. evangelism/missions news; '... [T]he need for counseling ... is dire'

Today's From the States features items from:

Western Recorder (Kentucky)

Florida Baptist Convention

The Baptist Message (Louisiana)

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Ky. Baptist assoc. addressing

mental health issues

By Todd Deaton

GLASGOW, Ky. (Western Recorder) -- Liberty Baptist Association's Director of Missions Lynn Traylor is inviting a local biblical counselor to address mental health issues through a quarterly column in the association's monthly newsletter.

His main motive behind featuring the column is for church members to become more alert to opportunities to help their fellow members, as well as for pastors to understand that it's OK to ask for help in dealing with their own mental health struggles, Traylor said.

"When we see stories that make the national news of a pastor who takes his life, we are reminded that there may be issues that pastors are facing which could have been resolved or helped if they had been able to reach out to a resource such as a trained counselor," he said.

Traylor chose Summer Watson, a licensed professional clinical counselor and director of Heart Cry for Hope, to write the column. She holds a bachelor's degree in human services and a master's degree in counseling and human development. A member of Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow, she has sensed God's calling to also be board certified as a biblical counselor.

"The Lord took me out of the community mental health setting and, over the course of a few years, really laid it on my heart to open a Christ-centered, counseling program," Watson said. Heart Cry for Hope offers marriage enrichment, family and individual counseling, crisis intervention, as well as grief, tragedy and loss counseling, she noted.

"The need is great,” she said. "Anxiety is at an all-time high in our society now," she assessed, adding that "the need for counseling, especially biblical counseling, is dire."

Watson's growing practice, which began five years ago and currently serves 16 counties across South Central Kentucky, has recently expanded to offer three counselors. Clients come from as far away as Monticello, a couple of hours toward the east, and Morgantown toward the west. She was appointed in 2016 to serve on the State Board of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors.

While Heart Cry for Hope is a not a non-profit organization, Watson said the center collaborates with area churches to provide services for people who cannot afford counseling. "We don't want to turn anyone away who is seeking Christian counseling," she said.

In her first column for Liberty Association, because the winter season is approaching, Watson will focus on Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a common type of depression that some people experience during wintertime.

Traylor, as a pastor for more than 30 years prior to becoming a director of missions, understands the challenges that some pastors have in facing situations that cause them to question their self-worth and perhaps even their calling.

"Often, pastors feel they cannot share their burdens with anyone in the church, lest they give someone an opening to be wounded further," Traylor said, "and they cannot share it with their families because they want to spare them the pain and anxiety they may be dealing with."

Through Watson's column, Traylor hopes churches will become more sensitive and understanding, not just to the needs of their pastors, but also to those of their fellow church members.


This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Todd Deaton is editor of the Western Recorder. Myriah Snyder is a news writer for the Western Recorder.

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Fla. churches move

toward racial unity

By Keila Diaz

PENSACOLA, Fla. (Florida Baptist Convention) -- Myrtle Grove Baptist Church in Pensacola is moving to break racial and cultural barriers in its community and bring believers together as one family in Christ.

On Sunday night Oct. 14 the church hosted a unity service attended by hundreds of people from various church families. Diversity was on display with a Vietnamese music team leading worship and preachers from multiple backgrounds bringing a biblical message.

"It was a wonderful celebration," said Ron Lentine, Myrtle Grove's pastor. "We leave our traditions at the door and we focus on the Gospel."

School board staff, state and local government representatives were also present as the service.

Myrtle Grove is located ten minutes away from Escambia High School which was the site of violent, racially motivated riots in the 1970s. Since then there have been racial tensions in the area and as pastor, Lentine has moved to break those tensions and unite his community under the Gospel.

"The only way to end racism and division in our country is with the Gospel."

Pastor James Miller of First Baptist Church in Warrington was one of the preachers that Sunday night. For him the service was a revelation of what Heaven is going to look like.

"At the end of the night we all sang Amazing Grace in our own language and I was next to some Korean brothers and sister and though I did not understand their words I knew we were in one spirit and it was wonderful to see," he said.

In the spring, Myrtle Grove organizes a unity march and rally that starts off at the church and culminates at Escambia High School. The intention is to make the site of such awful violence a place of reconciliation and Gospel unity.

"The vision is that what we're doing here will spark a spiritual move that will spread to other towns and cities and they will also do this in their context," said Lentine.

Miller added that he hopes this movement becomes "infectious." "We get so caught up in our differences that we don't realize how much more we have in common.

Lentine also hopes that the unity movement will open opportunities to share the Gospel with millennials and generation Z as statistics show that racial reconciliation is important to them. "We want to capture the hearts of millennials and generation Z so they too may want to be involved."

It is the Gospel alone, says Lentine, that will "reconcile brother to brother. We are stronger than we are separate."

Visit the link for a video story of the unity work Myrtle Grove and pastor Lentine are doing in their community. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Laooksyzm8&feature=youtu.be


This article appeared on the website of the Florida Baptist Convention (flbaptist.org). Keila Diaz writes for the Florida Baptist Convention.

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La. church embraces

mission to 'love the locals'

By Brian Blackwell

SIMSBORO (LBM) – The sounds of hammers pounding and electric saws buzzing were music to the ears of Pastor Jason Cole as he surveyed members of the First Baptist Church in Simsboro tirelessly refurbishing a home in their community.

Some installed shingles on a roof while others painted the siding and the porch on a home they have been remodeling for nearly four months. The members are there to renovate the house, he offered, but also to build a Christ-centered relationship with the homeowners through project Mission Simsboro.

"We do this because we want people to see doing missions is not just foreign, national or state," Cole said. "It's local and all of the above.

"We want people to be involved in missions as much as possible and have a chance to tell the good news of Jesus with those around us and encourage believers that we run into," he emphasized to the Baptist Message.

Since 2013, as many as 40 members from among the 90 persons who attend Sunday morning worship services have participated in various acts of kindness every fourth Sunday through Mission Simsboro, Cole said. They have hosted backyard Bible clubs, visited prospects and prayer walked neighborhoods, all of which have resulted in people repenting to turn their lives over to Christ.

"It's a way for us to put feet to missions, and try to reach our community as we're reaching our state, nation, and world," Cole emphasized. "This is more of letting people hear the Gospel, see the Gospel and give us a chance to live out the Gospel."

Mission Simsboro began out of a desire to minister closer to home, Cole explained. The members participated in mission trips throughout the state, nation and world, but felt they could do more to fulfill Christ's command to share about Him "in their Jerusalem."

Church member Ron Cathey said he was among those who sensed the Holy Spirit leading First Simsboro to focus more on local outreach.

"For years we did international missions, and one day we woke up and said let's do a mission trip to Simsboro," Cathey said. "We discover ways to minister by just taking the time to stop and notice those who really are in need.

"For me it's doing what Jesus told us to do," he continued. "It's an opportunity for us to serve someone else to meet their needs which opens door to share Gospel. And it's a practical way to do evangelism. When you come in and are able to sit down to get to know them, it provides a way to share Gospel."

The outreach also has sparked interest in expanding campus facilities to accommodate those who they reach in the community, Cole shared. In September the church began construction on a 10,000-sq.-ft. multi-purpose building, and has committed to finish the project debt free.

"The church in Simsboro believes," Cole offered, "that as God calls them to obediently follow Him, He will be glorified and the Gospel will be proclaimed."


This article appeared in the Baptist Message (baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Brian Blackwell is a staff writer for the Baptist Message.

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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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