FROM THE STATES: Ariz., N.M., Miss. evangelism/missions news; Churches 'come together and become an instant family ...'

Today's From the States features items from:

Portraits (Arizona)

Baptist New Mexican

Baptist Record (Mississippi)

**********

Ariz. churches

collaborate for VBS

By Jamie Mitchell

DEWEY, Ariz. (Portraits) -- Bryan and Jamie Powers strongly believe Vacation Bible School is one of the most effective ways to reach kids and, by extension, families in their community for Christ. But planting a church in an area largely comprised of retirees, their chances of being able to pull off a successful VBS on their own were pretty low.

iStock
The Powerses planted Dewey Fellowship Church in Dewey, Ariz., south of Prescott, about three years ago. A handful of churches came alongside to support them the first summer they held VBS. This past summer, even more churches (six to be exact) stepped up to help in various and vital ways.

"The best part of this whole experience has been to see this community of believers from different churches and locations come together and become an instant family, all for the same purpose," Bryan says.

Willow Hills Baptist Church in Prescott and Generation Church in Phoenix provided leader training and materials. The Ridge Church in Prescott sent a volunteer to lead music. First Southern Baptist Church of Wickenburg sent their entire youth leadership team to serve as volunteers for the week. Bryan and Jamie remember how their congregation quickly fell in love with all of the Wickenburg youth.

Since Dewey Fellowship currently meets in a gym for Sunday services, Mountain View Southern Baptist Church in Dewey graciously allowed them to use their facility for the VBS. Corona Baptist Church in Chandler gave them a trailer plus two SUVs full of decorations and materials.

Corona also equipped them, especially Jamie, with training and resources to execute VBS confidently and effectively.

"Being a first-time VBS director, I was really intimidated," Jamie says. "The fact that I knew I could reach out to so many people, and that so many were reaching out to us to offer their help, made me feel so supported."

These collaborative efforts paved the way for kids to learn about and respond to Jesus. The Powerses remember one girl who attended last year, a sixth grader at the time. In the Dewey area only for the summer to visit extended family, she came to VBS a little skeptical and reluctant. However, by the end of the week, God had opened her heart, and she surrendered her life to Christ.

Pursuing collaboration is not just so that we can feel good about working together. By God's grace, the way these seven churches collaborated around a single goal, providing an opportunity for kids in Dewey to hear the gospel, has made an eternal difference.

"Every denomination has its strengths and weaknesses," Bryan says. "But the more I've been a part of experiences like this, the more I believe Southern Baptist churches do collaboration really well. We need each other."

Just as individual members of a local church act as the body of Christ, so too can multiple churches partner to function as an even more robust and healthy body than they could apart. Where one church may be lacking in an area, another church, or multiple for that matter, can come alongside to fill the gaps.


This article appeared in Portraits, newsmagazine of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention (http://www.azsbc.org/). Jamie Mitchell is a writer in Phoenix.

**********

N.M. kids hear God's Word

and learn to share it

By Daniel Porter

ALBUQUERQUE (Baptist New Mexican) -- More than 500 children, sponsors and staff from 29 churches attended the Baptist Convention of New Mexico's children's evangelism conference, Young Lives Ablaze.

The spring conference accomplishes more than sharing the Gospel message with children. It also encourages children who are already Christians to share their own faith with their friends. The event helps children to grow in their faith as well and lets them see hundreds of other kids who are also learning about their relationship with Christ.

The YLA planning team chose the theme "Rooted," based on Jeremiah 17:7-8, to teach children how to become "rooted" in their faith. The event's logo reminded children that Jeremiah 17:7-8 explains how Christians bear fruit, have confidence, have no fear, have no worries and learn to trust God when they are rooted in Christ.

This year's YLA program started with a worship service, with music led by Joshua Alvarado of Colorado Springs. Alvarado is from Albuquerque and has served on the worship team of an Albuquerque church plant. Keith Coast, from Oklahoma, delivered the message. Coast and his family are children's evangelists who share the Gospel with children through humor and stories. Coast invited children to trust Jesus as their Savior. Six children and one adult made decisions to follow Christ.

After the opening session, leaders organized the children into two groups. Half of them stayed with their church groups for Bible study while the other half played outside on inflatables. After everyone ate a Chick-Fil-A lunch, the two groups switched activities.

The Bible study explored the event's theme using Jesus' parable about the sower (Matthew 13). It also revisited the Gospel and taught children a useful tool for sharing their faith with friends.

The afternoon session presented The Amazing Chemistry Show with Josh Denhart. Denhart, a former science teacher, used his ability to make things foam and explode to teach children about the truths of the Gospel. While enthralled at his science experiments, children received another chance to hear the Gospel message.

The day ended with a concert by Alvarado and his band.

Much research about children and salvation describes how most children have their worldview in place by the time they turn nine years old. That reality underscores the crucial importance of teaching children a Biblical worldview so they can understand their purpose and place in God's plan.

Krista Peterson, the BCNM's children's ministry specialist said, "I am always especially thankful to the churches and their sponsors that will give up a weekend to bring kids to this special event. Many churches will come on Friday, enjoy a day at the zoo or at a park, stay at a hotel and make the weekend something of a retreat for [the] children."

Peterson also thanked Eastern Hills Baptist Church, Albuquerque, and their children's staff for hosting the event: Joe Vivian, associate pastor of children and families, and Randi Davis, children's director.

The generous gifts of BCNM churches to the Cooperative Program made YLA possible. The 2020 conference is already scheduled on March 21st for children in grades 3-6.


This article appeared in the Baptist New Mexican (gobnm.com), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Daniel Porter is a media services assistant and staff writer for the Baptist New Mexican.

**********

Hurricane Barry sends missionaries

to William Carey University

By Suzanne Monk

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (Baptist Record) -- As Hurricane Barry approached the Louisiana coast, 24 college students serving as GenSend missionaries in New Orleans were evacuated on buses sent by Hardy Street Church in Hattiesburg.

The students spent the weekend in residence halls at William Carey University (WCU) in Hattiesburg and attended worship services at Hardy Street Church.

"William Carey University is so grateful for the assistance we received from others after the tornado, and we're pleased we were able to reach out to these students during their time of need," said WCU President Tommy King.

The university, which is affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, was hit by a tornado in January 2017 that was officially classified as an EF3 in intensity. Six buildings were destroyed outright or damaged so badly that they had to be demolished. Other buildings on campus required extensive repairs.

In the two years since, WCU has been steadily rebuilding and returning to normal.

The Hurricane Barry story began July 11, when Scott Hanberry, pastor of Hardy Street Church, received a telephone call from his friend George Ross, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) Send City missionary for New Orleans and assistant professor of church planting and evangelism at New Orleans Seminary.

Ross coordinates the GenSend program in New Orleans. According to the NAMB web site, GenSend is a program for Christians ages 19-25 designed to "immerse young adults into a context where they gain practical knowledge of the realities of missions and leadership."

With Barry rapidly approaching, Ross had a problem. Parts of New Orleans were already flooding, the storm's expected path and strength were in flux, and he needed to move a group of GenSend missionaries to higher ground as a precaution.

Hanberry called Brett Golson, chair of the WCU department of Christian ministries, director of bivocational ministries, and associate professor of religion.

"I told him William Carey University would be happy to put them up for the weekend," Golson said. "We had a plan by about 10 a.m. Hardy Street sent the buses while we finished working out the logistics on our end," Golson said.

By 5:30 p.m. on July 11, the students had arrived on campus.

On July 12, Bennie Crockett gave the students a tour of The Carey Center where the work of William Carey is highlighted.

Crockett is WCU's vice-president for institutional effectiveness and planning, professor of religion and philosophy, and co-director of the Carey Center.

William Carey, for whom the university is named, is known as the Father of Modern Missions for his extensive work during the 1800s as a missionary and linguist in India. The Carey Center's two main exhibits house artifacts from his time in both England and India.

WCU hosts took the students out to eat at The Midtowner restaurant, where they got a feel for downtown Hattiesburg. On July 14, Hardy Street Church picked them up for breakfast and worship services.

"Our congregation was thrilled to meet them," Hanberry said. "It's one thing to be part of the Southern Baptist family and support their work financially through the Cooperative Program, which funds missionary outreach, but being able to worship with them on Sunday was very special for us."

As the rain let up on the afternoon of July 14, the GenSend students boarded the buses one last time to return to their mission projects in inner city New Orleans.


This article appeared in the Baptist Record, newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention (mbcb.org). Suzanne Monk is coordinator of media relations and marketing for William Carey University.

**********

EDITOR'S NOTE: From the States, typically 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.

Download Story