FROM THE STATES: Okla., Calif., Ore. evangelism/missions news; 'God did what only He can do'
Today's From the States features items from:
Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
California Southern Baptist
Northwest Baptist Witness (Oregon)
Okla. church goes all in
during December revival
By Brian Hobbs
ALEX, Okla. (Baptist Messenger) -- Decembers are typically a busy time in church life. From Christmas music programs to special worship services to outreach efforts, most churches are not lacking for activities this month.
Yet one Oklahoma Baptist pastor felt led by the Lord to add one more major undertaking for his congregation in December 2018. That pastor is Tim Carr of Alex Southern Baptist Chapel, who believes God was urging him to hold a week of revival events.
The idea for the events, though, came to him almost a year before it came together while he was on an overseas mission trip with other pastors, including Jeremy Freeman of Newcastle, First.
Carr shared that God gave him a vision to hold revival events in the town of Alex, which has a population of approximately 550, and Freeman recommended that Carr call on his father Ken Freeman, a renowned Oklahoma revival preacher who has led countless evangelistic events, including ones targeted to youth.
From that conversation forward, God only expanded the vision and plans.
"I believe God was calling us to pray for and work toward revival events in Alex, which is a relatively small town," Carr said. "Because of God, what came together was much larger than what I could have ever envisioned. We ultimately had churches from Bridge Creek, Ninnekah, Maysville and other areas on board, as well as our director of missions, Tim Russell in Grady Association."
The congregation of Alex Southern Baptist Chapel, which runs about 100 people on an average Sunday, began praying and serving.
"We simply made some flyers," he said. " With the help of our youth, we distributed some 1,000 flyers door to door."
All of these efforts culminated in a half-week of events that began on Sunday morning, Dec. 9, at the Alex church. Ken Freeman preached, and there were 15 professions of faith in Christ that morning service alone. During the evening service, more came forward to make spiritual decisions.
Monday evening's event focused primarily on prayer and seeking a move of God.
On Tuesday, Caleb Freeman, the teenage son of Jeremy Freeman who miraculously survived an automobile accident in December 2017, spoke. Caleb shared how God saved his life and how the Lord has helped him on his difficult road to recovery. Seven people made professions of faith at that service.
The culminating event took place at Alex High School in the gymnasium. Thanks to local public school leaders who allowed the event to be hosted there, Carr, Freeman and all those involved had a place.
"The Alex School District has a new gym with a jumbo screen, really first class," Carr said. "I felt the Lord showing me that we could fill this gym with people and share the Gospel."
Churches and schools from the surrounding areas brought students, and more than 400 were in attendance.
Jarod Wagoner of First Baptist Church in Newcastle, Okla., led music, and then Ken Freeman spoke.
"Ken asked the students a powerful question. 'How many of you are from broken homes?' and how many were estranged from their parents," Carr said. "That's when many kids in the room raised their hands. These young people were crying. We know they need Christ, and we know these kids need the church to be what the church needs to be for them."
The event leaders embraced the brokenness as opportunity for the Gospel, and during the invitation that evening, many students came forward. "Out of the school event alone, we had 40 spiritual decisions; 29 of which were professions of faith," he said.
After people made decisions for Christ, Ken asked people to come down. They literally filled the basketball court, at least 100 people on the basketball floor praying.
Carr, who is a farmer as well as pastor, thanks God for the spiritual harvest.
"Our people got on board," he said. "Other people and communities helped in every way possible. We prayed, and God did what only He can do."
All told, the Alex revival events brought forth a harvest of 100 spiritual decisions. The churches will be doing follow-up with all those who made decisions.
"The main thing now is to disciple these new believers, especially the teenagers. That falls on the church," he said.
Carr believes the Lord can bring revival anywhere, if people will look to the Lord.
"Listen to the Lord," he said. "Don't think you're too small. Don't think your church is too small and that this cannot happen in your town.
"Our God holds everything. It's all His. Small church or big church has nothing to do with it. It's about how willing we are to get on our knees and seek Him," he added.
This article appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Brian Hobbs is editor of The Baptist Messenger.
Calif. students encouraged
to be 'made alive' in Christ
By Reagan Lee
ONTARIO, Calif. (California Southern Baptist) -- Nearly 1,000 students, leaders and volunteers gathered at the Ontario Convention Center Dec. 27 for the three-day event Ignition Student Conference. They engaged in worship, listened to speakers, helped with mission projects and enjoyed free time, all designed to bring them closer to Christ and to be "Made Alive" in Him, theme of the 2018 Ignition.
Many students and volunteers are veterans of the conference.
"For as long as I can remember my church has taken their youth group to Ignition and I very impatiently and eagerly waited for several years before I could go," said Aniston Kearney, a sophomore homeschooled student. "I desired to go because I heard how much fun my older siblings and their friends had on the trip.
"I quickly learned (Ignition) is a great opportunity to further my relationship with God -- the fun is just a bonus."
This year was Kearney's third. She would like to be a leader one day when she's old enough.
"Being able to see students experience Ignition like I have would be a tremendous blessing!" she said.
Audrey Ang, a junior kinesiology major at Fresno State University, has attended Ignition for five years. She began attending as a student in 2013 and became a behind-the-scenes volunteer in 2015.
"The biggest change I have seen in transitioning from being a student to being a leader is seeing all the work that is put in and how things work -- you gain a bit more of an appreciation for the event.
"I love seeing the magic happen!"
Ang plans to volunteer next year as well.
Sherann Kim, California Southern Baptist Convention student evangelism specialist and Ignition coordinator, also was once a student at the conference. She said it is humbling to go from being a student, when the conference was called Tsunami, to now running things.
"I believe in this conference because of my experience as a student. I've seen the changes it makes in kids' lives," Kim said.
All facets of Ignition encouraged students to be alive in Christ. Speakers included Shawn Beaty; Mike Solorio, pastor of El Encino Baptist Church in Fresno; and Propaganda, a spoken-word artist. Worship was led by the Joshua Chavez Band from Seventh Street Church in Long Beach, and contemporary Christian band Sanctus Real presented a concert.
Beaty, senior pastor of Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis, encouraged the students to find their identity and be Made Alive in Christ.
"You build your life on what you love," Beaty told the group.
Mission projects are always a big part of Ignition. This year students had the opportunity to visit residents at a local senior center, paint fencing at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Ontario, clean up the grounds at Fontana High School, or prayer-walking and door-to-door evangelism.
More than a dozen breakout sessions were offered for both students and leaders. Among the topics were, "Apologetics," "PLUM: A Theology for Sexual Purity," "Red Light, Green Light Evangelism" and "Technology & Ministry."
During a worship session the second day, students were given the opportunity to donate financially to a worthy cause.
Kim said one of her biggest surprises as Ignition coordinator is how generous students are.
"We've seen an increase in students seeing a need and being willing to sacrifice for a cause that is bigger than themselves," she explained.
This year was no exception, as students and their leaders banded together to give more than $4,000, which will be used for victims and disaster relief efforts in the wake of the Camp Fire in Northern California.
This article appeared in the California Baptist, newsjournal of the California Southern Baptist Convention (csbc.com). Reagan Lee is a photojournalism major at California Baptist University in Riverside.
Family grows Filipino
ministry in Northwest
By Vince Inzerillo
Editor's Note: The Northwest Baptist Historical Society recently recognized the late Lemuel Onggao, a longtime pastor and church planting missionary in the Northwest, as a recipient of its 2018 Heritage Award. Onggao died in June 2018. Following is the society's summary of his life and ministry.
PORTLAND, Ore. (Northwest Baptist Witness) -- Lemuel Onggao was literally a "Christmas gift" -- born to Vicente and Angeles Onggao on Dec. 25, 1947, in Davao City, Philippines.
The fourth of five children, he was talented and purposeful even as young child. Lemuel learned how to repair things with a sewing machine, and created toys out of seemingly useless items that were available.
Because of his parents' commitment to Jesus Christ and to missions, Lemuel and his siblings became followers of Christ at early ages. All of the siblings continue to serve in mission work here in the Northwest and overseas, simultaneously.
Lemuel's wife, Ina Onggao, currently serves as a Bible school director in the Philippines.
Their son, Jim Onggao, resides in Tacoma, Wash., where he continues to serve in the church his father initiated in 1993 at First Baptist Church, Parkland.
In the 1950s, due to the resurgence of Chinese nationalism, Southern Baptist Convention missionaries were forced to leave China. They were assigned temporarily to the Philippines while waiting a return to China.
Vicente Onggao, a new believer, heard about these missionaries on his island. He visited them and urged the missionaries work with Filipinos, since they were living on Philippine soil. After deliberating with the SBC's Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board), the missionaries agreed to work with Vicente. They established the first SBC-related church in the southern Philippine Islands. This initial work became the catalyst for more than 150 churches today.
Involvement in new work and serving Christ with his family from the beginning became part of Lemuel's character. Lemuel's priorities were three-pronged in starting churches and ministries: faith, family and frontiers. All three were intertwined.
Lemuel used his musical gifts for ministry. As a boy, he acquired a trumpet through one of the SBC missionaries and became proficient in playing it. He and his younger brother, Jerry, took lessons and played music at various venues. At one point they won a musical contest while serving in various mission locations.
Lemuel attended and graduated from Philippines Baptist Theological Seminary with a bachelor of divinity. During his years there, he was a top student in music and conducted the seminary choir. He expanded mission opportunities through singing, playing trumpet, conducting, teaching and preaching.
Lemuel met his wife Ina while serving the Lord. She was a medical doctor in the Philippines. Together, they used their gift-mix of medical missions and music to open new work in various parts of the Philippines. Lemuel spoke several dialects used throughout the Philippines, as well as Tagalog, the national language, and English. Lemuel and Ina continued with these ministries until 1988 when he moved to the United Stated to become pastor of the mission work his father initiated in Seattle with the help of Vince Inzerillo, then a language catalytic missionary. It came about through a Southern Baptist ministry strategy in the Puget Sound area in 1986.
Vince met Vicente Onggao, then 75 years old, while researching possibilities for starting a Filipino Church in the area. Vince knocked on his door, and explained his purpose for being there. Within minutes, although recovering from heart surgery, Mr. Onggao exclaimed, "Where have you been? I am ready to go!" When family members living in the Seattle area heard Southern Baptists were interested in launching a Filipino Baptist church, the entire the Onggao family marshaled into action -- each one talented, resourceful and committed to the gospel's advancement.
The mission congregation soon called Lemuel to be its pastor. He came preaching, teaching, singing and playing his trumpet, a humble one-man army with an incredible family team. The Seattle mission, begun with a home Bible study and kept growing. New growth required more moves, and eventually a merger was accomplished with Riverton Heights Baptist Church near Sea-Tac airport. Again, Lemuel was called as pastor. Lemuel and Ina also started a Christian school at Riverton Heights.
A second home Bible study was initiated by Lemuel's father in Tacoma and, eventually, Lemuel's younger brother, Jerry, became the pastor. Today, Jerry's son, Jansen, is the pastor. Jansen also pastors another church in Oak Harbor.
Meanwhile, Lemuel's ministry stretched from Tacoma to Canada and Alaska.
In fact, members of the Onggao family were involved in the start and continuation of every Filipino church that's part of the Northwest Baptist Convention's ministry.
One highlight of the family's ministry influence in Alaska:
Akutan Island is located toward the end of the Aleutian Islands. Many Filipinos work in a fish cannery in the one city on the rocky island. The president of the fishing company had wanted to provide a church for his hard-working Filipino workers. He had heard Lemuel play his trumpet and preach in the Seattle area and contacted Vince to get Lemuel's help. Vince and Lemuel traveled there to plan for starting a church. Today, a large facility and a functioning church stand as result of this mission endeavor.
In 2001, the Filipino leadership of various churches decided to cooperate in a training venture to provide church planter support, church development, and mission trips in the Northwest and beyond. The result was the Visions of Missions Cooperative Ministry (VMCM) with Jerry and Lemuel serving as its first and second presidents. As a result of this group's vision, partnerships with Oklahoma Baptist University and Gateway Seminary resulted in piplomas and provided more equipped church planters and workers. Mission plants were initiated in numerous locations throughout the NWBC.
This article appeared in the Northwest Baptist Witness (gonbw.org), newsjournal of the Northwest Baptist Conveniton. Vince Inzerillo is pastor emeritus of Hope International Church in Portland, Ore.
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.