FROM THE STATES: La., Tenn., N.C. evangelism/missions news; 'We ... give them the chance to make the most important decision in their lives'
Today's From the States features items from: Baptist Message (Louisiana); Baptist and Reflector (Tennessee); Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
La. church's 'beach' ministry more than kids' club
By Brian Blackwell
SULPHUR, La. (Baptist Message) -- Volunteers with an after-school outreach are finding Jesus saves in the halls of Sulphur's E.K. Key Elementary School.
Since 2016, members of the Houston River Baptist Church in Sulphur have spent their Thursday afternoons serving up snacks, leading small group spiritual discussions and participating in games with 100 third to fifth graders at KiDs Beach Club.
Every student who attends receives a Bible and t-shirt, and some even place their trust in Jesus. Four children have accepted Christ since the start of the school year last fall.
"It's very moving to see a child come to trust Jesus," said Houston River Baptist Pastor Lonnie Gothrup. "We just want children to have an opportunity to see the Gospel lived out and presented. All of our volunteers are laypeople who see an opportunity to love the kids," he continued. "We are not just going in there with a prayer. We are going to present them with the Gospel.
"This is an example of a church investing in the school children spiritually," he said. "Many parents see that and appreciate it. While we may not see every child come to Christ, we are doing all we can to show His love to kids who may not have any other opportunity to hear about Jesus."
Beach Club is "an innovative ministry established to mobilize the church to go outside its walls in order to take the message of Christ into the heart of its community," according to the organization's website.
Since 2003, more than 96,000 kids have been impacted by clubs, which include locations in Louisiana (Caddo, Calcasieu and East Baton Rouge parishes) and 10 other states. At least 8,576 of these students have professed Christ as Savior, including 280 this school year.
Beach Club provides a way to reach families in the neighborhood who otherwise would not come to the church campus, Gothrup said. Before, none of the students in the housing authority complex came to Houston River Baptist, only 2.5 miles away. But now that parents know the joy their children are experiencing in Beach Club, they allow a church van to pick up their children for Wednesday evening activities. Moreover, on Sunday mornings, 30-40 students from the development can be counted among the 300 worshipers.
Gothrup's dream is to plant a church in the housing project, and he sees the relationships that are being formed now will help lead to the manifestation of this goal one day.
"Most of them won't come to Houston River, so, we go to them," Gothrup said. "They need Jesus and many housing authorities are a place Satan has his ways. In Louisiana, schools are the front door to the families. If we can reach the children, we then will reach the parents and branch into the neighborhood to see change there."
Margaret Schreve, director of children's ministry at Houston River Baptist, has seen a 60 percent increase in children's ministry participation since the church began reaching out to the kids in the housing authority, growing from 15 to as high as 55 some Wednesday evenings.
"We've seen a broadening of acceptance among our members of those who are not like them," Schreve said. "I'm brought to tears when I see how they are praying for and loving on them. Our hearts are warmed to see an increase in compassion to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these kids."
Beach Club volunteer Tim Marcantel said he is thankful for the school's willingness to allow Houston River Baptist this opportunity.
"I know some of these kids don't go to church, and we are blessed to now give them the chance to make the most important decision in their lives. Christ gives them hope, no matter which situation they are in."
Volunteer Cathie Basden comes away energized after each session.
"To watch one little boy who was so bitter and angry and troubled come in here and then to be there when he makes Jesus his forever friend is a moment I never will forget," Basden said. "He brings his Bible in and feels love in this room. It's exciting to plant a seed and then see him and others accept Christ."
"I love loving on these kids that have very little," she continued. "It doesn't take much to make them smile and build a bond with them. It's a way to let them know we love them and that Jesus loves them and there is hope."
For information about starting a Beach Club, visit kidsbeachclub.org or contact Gothrup at (337) 527-5725.
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.
Tenn. 9-year-old has big heart for homeless
By Lonnie Wilkey
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (Baptist and Reflector) -- Last year Logan Reed was in the backseat of his parents' car when they stopped at a red light and saw a homeless person holding a sign.
He asked his dad about it and Scott Reed, pastor of Midland Heights Baptist Church, Shelbyville, responded the man did not have a home and needed money.
Reed recalled that his son told him, "Dad, we have to do something."
And, they did. Not only did the Scott family help that homeless man that day by going to a local fast food restaurant and buying him a meal, Logan took it on as a personal ministry to help the homeless and those less fortunate.
He began making "Blessing Bags." The bags contain gloves, socks, toiletries such as soap and toothpaste, granola bars and other snacks.
The bags are kept in his dad's truck and his mom's car so they are prepared when they see a homeless person.
And, it happens more often than you would expect in Bedford County and Shelbyville, his dad said.
"You don't realize how large the homeless population is until you start looking," he said.
The 9-year-old fourth grader said his desire is to help the people feel special and to know the love of Jesus.
When possible, Reed or his wife Stephanie pull to a safe location and walk with Logan up to the homeless person so Logan can personally give him or her the bag.
"They shake our hands and sometimes give us a pat on the back or a hug," Logan said. "It makes me feel happy to help people."
Actually, stopping to engage with the homeless is important, his dad said. "It's more personal when you can stop and talk," he said.
In addition, it provides an open door to talk about Jesus and His love for them.
As Logan's dad and his pastor, Reed is extremely proud of his son.
"Logan has a heart for people and ministry," said Scott Reed. "When he sees anybody less fortunate, he wants to help."
Reed noted his son has been an inspiration to the congregation at Midland Heights. When his wife put a notice on a Facebook page about Logan's ministry, church members responded by bringing items for Logan's "Blessing Bags."
In addition, Reed challenged church members to do the ministry themselves. At least one other person has been inspired to make similar bags, the pastor said.
They soon had more than they needed. After making about 70 bags, which are kept in both family vehicles, Logan and his dad took items to the local homeless shelter.
Logan's message is simple, Reed said. "See people's needs and meet them. That's what Jesus did."
This article appeared in the Baptist and Reflector (tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector.
N.C. Baptist on Mission helped by Broadway benefit
RALEIGH, N.C. (Biblical Recorder) -- Show N Tell Ministries presented a check for $40,000 to the N.C. Baptists on Mission (NCBM) Jan. 11 after organizing a Broadway benefit concert in Raleigh in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Broadway Sings for Florence was held in October at Meymandi Concert Hall at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
One hundred percent of ticket admissions and all donations at the event were given to N.C. Baptists on Mission.
"We're delighted to receive the donation," said Richard Brunson, right, NCBM executive director. "These funds will be used for our on-going operations in North Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Florence. The needs will be great for years."
Broadway veteran Craig Schulman led a group of five Broadway performers in the show. The cast had plenty of star power with Schulman (the star performer in Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Jekyll & Hyde); Tamra Hayden (Les Miserables, Phantom), Gary Mauer (Phantom, Showboat); Lawrence Clayton (The Civil War, The Color Purple) and Lana Gordon (The Color Purple, Chicago).
The North Carolina Symphony volunteered its services and the City of Raleigh provided the venue rent free.
"It was a great collaboration," said Tim Stevens, left, the president of Show N Tell.
This article appeared in the Biblical Recorder (brnow.org), newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
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.