FROM THE STATES: Md., Mo., La. evangelism/missions news; 'If it ain't about Jesus, it ain't about nothing'

Today's From the States features items from:

BaptistLIFE (Maryland)

The Pathway (Missouri)

Baptist Message (Louisiana)

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Md. church sees 50 come to

Christ at Thanksgiving service

By Sharon Mager

BALTIMORE, Md. (BaptistLIFE) -- Christian Liberty Church (CLC) may be the catalyst that God uses to revive West Baltimore. The church had their fifth "O' Give Thanks" annual Thanksgiving worship service and dinner for their community on Nov. 18 at Frederick Douglas High School. Eighty missionaries helped, 53 people came forward to accept Christ as savior -- 23 of those people joined the church -- and 14 requested baptisms. Many others came forward for prayer for various needs.

In addition to a catered Thanksgiving meal to the more than 600 people who showed up, the church gave away 430 turkeys, of which 350 had baskets attached filled with Thanksgiving "fixins." An army of volunteers assembled the food and served guests.

"When we first did this, we gave away about 20 turkeys," Pastor Wayne Lee says. "Each year it has been doubling and doubling. We had a few left over after the service this year, and my wife, Pasche, Brother Terry Frieson, who is our missions director, myself and about four others went to Gilmore Homes on Pennsylvania Avenue and 'love bombed' people with turkeys. It was a glorious time."

The church had help -- much help for the dinner. Mission teams from six churches arrived to pray, evangelize and help prepare for the massive event. Churches that sent teams included Hephzibah Baptist Church Wendell, N.C.; The River Community Church, Fayetteville, N.C.; Center Baptist Church, Wade, N.C.; Bethlehem Baptist Church Knightdale, N.C.; Elizabeth Baptist Church, Roseboro, N.C.; and First Baptist Church of Longwood, Fla.

CLC has been partnering with many churches on the East Coast, helping to build up the body, through evangelism, and with disaster relief. Pastors and church leaders have shared pulpits, helped each other with missions and regularly pray for each other. They've built strong relationships. Lee says they've become family.

He especially experienced that over the Thanksgiving weekend. "When you have missionaries crying because they don't want to leave it means more than serving string beans and giving out turkey."

Lee acknowledged members of the CLC's "O' Give Thanks" Committee, who spent many hours in planning meetings, and he thanked the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, for the partnership and support.

In preparation for "O' Give Thanks," the church, with the mission volunteers, began evangelizing on Nov. 11, closing the doors to the church and sending everyone out on the streets to evangelize, and then again on Nov. 17, the day before the outreach. "We broke them into three teams, with 35 people each, going out, praying, leading people to Christ and inviting people to the Thanksgiving service," Lee says.

Reflecting on the events of the weekend, Lee praises God, and he knows He has much more in store for the church.

Lee referred to Bea Gaddy, a Baltimore city council member with a passion for helping the poor and homeless. She became well-known locally as the "Mother Teresa of Baltimore."

He says, "Every Thanksgiving, Ms. Gaddy would feed hundreds of hungry people. Christian Liberty Church envisions modeling her heart to feed people and carry out that feeding mission in West Baltimore."

CLC recently bought a building behind Coppin State College. "Part of that facility will be a distribution center, where people can get hot meals daily. That doesn't exist in West Baltimore," Lee explains.

Pointing to Matthew 25:35-36, "For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes, and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me,"

Lee says, "At the end of it all ... If it ain't about Jesus, it ain't about nothing. All that stuff leads to Jesus."

For more information about the church visit their Facebook page, @christianlibertychurch, or their website.


This article appeared in BaptistLIFE (baptistlife.com), newsmagazine of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Sharon Mager is communications specialist for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

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Mo. church uses music to

make gospel connections

By Ben Hawkins

FENTON, Mo. (The Pathway) -- One church plant's musical method for building relationships has struck a note for residents of this St. Louis suburb.

Connect Church, a Missouri Baptist affiliated church plant here that launched on Easter 2015, is making connections in Fenton by hosting a Guitar Club for area children. During Guitar Club, Connect Church's founding pastor Chris Perstrope -- also one of the Missouri Baptist Convention's newest multiplying churches missionaries -- helps children learn the basics not only of playing the guitar, but also sometimes of playing the piano or singing.

Occasionally, the church invites children in the Guitar Club to perform for them. The children are motivated, Perstrope said, by the thought of performing in front of a live rock band -- that is, Connect Church's worship band. The parents, many of whom are unbelievers, appreciate the opportunity for their kids to perform.

"I see music as a tool to share the Gospel," said Perstrope, a Southwest Baptist University graduate in music education who served as a worship leader at churches in Missouri, Florida and Indiana for 13 years before sensing God's call to plant a church.

But for Fenton and others at Connect Church, the Guitar Club is not ultimately about music. Rather it is a way to build relationships and, ultimately, to make disciples in St. Louis County -- statistically, one of Missouri's most unreached counties.

Nor is the Guitar Club the only way that Connect Church is reaching its community. Although the church met during its first two years at Uthoff Valley Elementary School, it bought a building in 2017 -- sold to them by Springdale Baptist Church, Fenton, which was closing its doors. Since that time, church members who'd invested primarily in set-up and tear-down at the school were now able to use other gifts to reach the community.

Partly, as a result, Connect Church now operates ministries on a daily basis: For example, the church offers Financial Peace University classes, Celebrate Recovery, American Sign Language training, and fitness programs. Connect Church also takes the Gospel into the nearby Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. As a result, some former inmates are now church members who lead in Celebrate Recovery and other ministries within the church.

"Our single goal," Perstrope said, "is to connect disconnected people to the Lord."

In his new role as a multiplying churches missionary for the MBC for northeast Missouri, Perstrope hopes to ensure that MBC church planters in the region remain connected with the MBC and its churches -- so that "they don't feel isolated, but they feel supported."

Perstrope is one of four MBC multiplying churches missionaries. His colleagues include: Brian Grout (northwest Missouri), lead pastor at the Church at Three Trains in Independence; Omar Segovia (multiethnic churches); and Adam Stoddard (southern Missouri). These MBC missionaries work as liaisons among churches, church planters, directors of missions, the North American Mission Board and the MBC to help train, mentor and prepare the next generation of church planters.


This article appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Ben Hawkins is associate editor of The Pathway.

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La. Baptists reach

church planting milestone

By Brian Blackwell

ALEXANDRIA, La. (Baptist Message) -- Louisiana Baptists celebrated a milestone -- planting a church in the 100th community since 2010.

On Dec. 2, First Baptist Church in Mer Rouge was replanted as Bonita Road Baptist Church Mer Rouge, becoming the second campus of Bonita Road Baptist in Bastrop.

James Jenkins, director of church planting for Louisiana Baptists, said reaching this benchmark is evidence of a Great Commission fulfillment to start new congregations throughout the state.

"It's a little bit of the early church found in the book Revelation played out right here in the Bayou state," he said.

The achievement marks a Southern Baptist presence in one-third of towns in the state, according to John Hebert, missions and ministries director for Louisiana Baptists. Also, the replant of First Baptist Mer Rouge is the 21st church planted in 2018 and the 231st church planted since 2010.

"We are excited about this accomplishment because it means that we retain a Southern Baptist presence in Mer Rouge," Hebert said. "But it is a reminder that we have a significant amount of work to do if we are to reach the other two-thirds of communities in Louisiana. We want a Southern Baptist witness in every town and the nearer we get to 2020, the closer we are to meeting that goal."

Hebert, who has served on staff with the LBC since 1999, said the success of the convention's 10-3-1 strategy is contributing to the healthy environment of church planting in the state.

This association planning strategy begins with a 10-year goal of assisting associations with research to determine how many churches should be started in that area. Then, a three-year strategy is developed as a guide for church planters and primary sponsor churches. This helps form a document used to determine funding levels for associations engaged in ministry projects and church planting.

Through 2020, the goal is to plant 300 new churches, with special attention given to New Orleans and south Louisiana. Since 2010, new church starts have reported 12,781 professions of faith, and 3,372 baptisms.

Planting healthy, biblically sound, multiplying churches in the state is one of four avenues used to engage two audiences -- the next generation and every people group -- that is part of a plan that came about as a result of the President's 2020 Commission. Appointed after the 2012 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in West Monroe, the President's 2020 Commission was tasked with developing and recommending a seven-year min strategy for maximizing the effectiveness of Louisiana Baptists in reaching the lost through the year 2020.

Hebert said replants represent a major component of Louisiana Baptists' strategy to meet its goal of planting 300 churches by 2020. He said around 10 Louisiana Baptist churches disband each year.

"One of the things we are committed to is taking these congregations that are shut down, repurposing them -- getting them a new vision -- and replanting the work," Hebert said. "Through church development, we help them reorganize to save the ministry of the church. We work with the association and local churches to revitalize a congregation by bringing in new leadership, casting a new vision, and motivating them to reach their community afresh."


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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