FROM THE STATES: Ala., Okla., Tenn. evangelism/missions news; 'It's amazing to see how God puts pieces of the puzzle together'
Today's From the States features items from:
The Alabama Baptist
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
Baptist and Reflector (Tennessee)
How one 'yes' changed
everything for Ala. pastor
By Grace Thornton
BOAZ, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist) -- Sometimes God weaves stories in ways you never would have guessed. Michael Goforth says he's seen it happen -- in his family and on a global scale.
It all started with giving an evangelist a ride to the airport back in the early 1990s when Goforth was pastor of First Baptist Church, Arley.
Sharing the vision
"We had hosted an evangelist from Texas in revival, and on my way to take him to the airport he invited me to go with him and a team from South Carolina to Romania," Goforth said.
The country had recently come out from underneath communism and the missions team just had a team member drop out — one spot had just opened up.
Goforth said yes.
And that one "yes" kicked off something he never dreamed. He kept going, started leading teams and after moving to Sardis Baptist Church, Boaz, in 1999, shared the vision with them too. Through the years in Romania, they carried out evangelism and helped 14 churches either construct buildings or add on.
Not only that -- Sardis Baptist expanded its mission to other places including the Dominican Republic, hurricane-hit Florida, Maine, Michigan, West Virginia, New York, Mississippi, Ohio and the Amazon Basin.
That last one is something special, Goforth said. Some Sardis Baptist members were so moved by the needs in the Amazon that they started a nonprofit organization called Amazon Hope, which boats teams in to areas unreached by the Gospel.
"We've been tied up in missions in Romania and other places for years and years and years -- the church has been very supportive of it," Goforth said.
Along the way as those relationships grew deep, he added a son-in-law -- Paul Marin, a young Romanian man who married his youngest daughter. They were married eight and a half years and had two children before Marin was killed in a car accident in Oneonta. Their third child was born two weeks after he died.
"Paul was a wonderful Christian young man and he became a deacon here at Sardis -- great husband and dad," Goforth said.
Goforth's daughter, Holly, has since remarried, and Amazon Hope's new boat bears Marin's name as it heads down the Amazon toward the unreached. More than 700 people professed faith in Christ this year as a result of teams boated in on the Paul Marin.
"Our lives are a big picture of God weaving our lives with both bad and good to bring Him glory," Goforth said. "It's amazing to see."
And in early June Goforth preached the 100th anniversary service of one of the churches at which Sardis Baptist worked -- Campia Turzii in northwest Romania. It was his 26th trip to the country.
"It's amazing to see how God puts pieces of the puzzle together," he said. "It's just spread."
This article appeared in the Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Grace Thornton writes for the Alabama Baptist Convention.
Okla. Indian Assembly
makes eternal impact
DAVIS, Okla. (Baptist Messenger) --Falls Creek Baptist Indian Assembly -- or "Indian Falls Creek" (IFC) as it is often called -- has become one of the most uniquely impactful events in the country, since the annual family camp gathering was established in Oklahoma in 1947.
The 2019 IFC, which took place July 28-Aug. 1 at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, was as impactful as ever, with more than 2,600 campers attending, who represented more than 25 tribes and more than 250 churches.
"Indian Falls Creek is a widely anticipated annual tradition for many churches and members," said Victor Cope, executive director of the IFC board of directors.
"Indian Falls Creek was established with a spiritual purpose," he added. "One of the founding documents reads, 'The objective of this assembly in its annual meeting shall be to foster and promote Christian training, inspiration, fellowship, evangelism and missionary zeal among the Indians in their Baptist church life.'"
According to Cope and IFC leaders, the 2019 encampment achieved those purposes and more, with activities ranging from recreation, crafts, teaching times, worship services, a blood drive, a health fair, Bible studies, as well as a camp VBS for children.
Each day offered unique moments for campers to engage with God and one another. There were morning classes to provide Bible study and discipleship training. There were afternoon activities designed to encourage fellowship and family fun, and all campers gathered for daily morning and evening worship services.
Serving as camp pastor was retired Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Executive Director-Treasurer Anthony Jordan, who preached in each of the evening worship services which took place in Falls Creek's RA Young Tabernacle. Jordan emphasized the importance of sharing "your testimony."
"Every Christ-follower has a story to share. There are people here this week that need the Gospel, that need to hear your testimony. God can use your story to help change a life," Jordan said.
On Monday evening, Jordan, preaching out of Philippians 4, proclaimed the peace we can have in Jesus Christ.
"We live in a world of conflict, both in our own hearts and homes as well as the world around us. The answer to the conflict that constantly surrounds us is Jesus," he said.
"Peace has a name, and it is Jesus," Jordan emphasized.
From the invitation times, 284 spiritual decisions were made. According to Cope, these decisions included 117 professions of faith in Christ. "I challenged each cabin to share the ABCs of Salvation with each member in their group," Cope said. "Bill Barnett (pastor of Seminole, Indian Nations) presented a skit, 'The Multiplication Process' -- one reaches one and then two reaches two more. Indian Falls Creek became the world, and we practiced fulfilling (the) challenges at camp this summer. The challenge is to go home and do what we did at Indian Falls Creek 2019."
Cope also reported the IFC blood drive received 140 units of blood donated.
Throughout the worship services, several special recognitions occurred. On Monday evening, the third annual Veterans Recognition took place, with an American flag presentation. On Wednesday evening, Emerson Falls, BGCO Native American specialist, was honored for his ministry and service.
A significant feature during the services was opportunities for tribes to sing worship songs in their native languages. These included the following: On Sunday, the Pawnee, Potawatomie, Navajo each sang; Monday, the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Choctaw/Chickasaw; Tuesday featured Comanche, Cherokee; Wednesday featured Muscogee Creek and Seminole; and Thursday was Wichita, Caddo, Osage.
From IFC's founding to today, the lasting impact on the lives of those who attend continues.
Jordan said on Twitter at the conclusion of the week, "Preaching Indian Falls Creek has been a wonderful experience. I love our Indian people. Long to see them saved and walking with Jesus as Lord. Many lives changed this week."
Cope said, "Indian Falls Creek is a family camp for the Nations. All of the prayer, planning and activities were used by God to make an eternal impact."
For more information about IFC, visit www.indianfallscreek.org.
This article appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Tenn. church 'Loving
God, Loving Others'
By David Dawson
SAVANNAH, Tenn. (Baptist and Reflector) -- Allen Guyer, pastor of Riverview Baptist Church in Savannah, Tenn., believes that a church should be more than just a "holy huddle" that gathers on Sundays.
The Riverview members obviously support that notion wholeheartedly.
The church recently hosted its second annual "Loving God, Loving Others Day" -- a ministry in which church members perform a series of service projects and other acts of kindness throughout the community.
The Riverview congregation fully embraced the project, with 140 people -- from the church's roughly 200 regular Sunday attendees -- participating in the ministry.
"For us to have an event where about 70 percent of the church participates is really exciting," said Guyer. "We are not a large church, necessarily, but our folks have really bought into the idea that if we love God, then it's going to flow out in expressions of love for others."
Sharing the Gospel is at the heart of each project, and the ministry resulted in six professions of faith this year.
"To God be the glory," said Guyer. "That's what we want this (ministry) to be about. We believe that this was our chance to get outside the walls of the church and let people know that we love them and that God loves them."
Guyer noted that the idea for the "Loving God, Loving Others" ministry started to take shape about three years ago when the church hosted an Emergency Personnel Appreciation Day to honor police, firemen, EMTs, dispatchers, and others. The church provided a meal for the emergency personnel and gave them a gift bag.
"Our people really got behind it, so we decided we wanted to springboard off that," said Guyer. "We started thinking about ways we could impact even more people, and we had the vision to expand on what we'd done with that."
Guyer said that around that same time, he heard a message from Steve Gaines, who was preaching from Jeremiah 29:7 about seeking "the peace and prosperity of the city." Guyer said he took the message to heart, and soon put together a leadership team -- chaired by Riverview member Jeanie Majors -- to coordinate the first "Loving God, Loving Others Day" in 2018. Associate pastor Brent Colley has played a key role in spearheading the project.
The church completed 12 service projects in the inaugural year of the ministry, and this year, the list increased to 14.
"One of the things that makes this so successful is that we try to provide a wide range of projects so that everyone can find something that suits their strengths," said Guyer. "It was wonderful to see our children, teenagers, young adults and senior adults participate in this. It was the whole gamut."
This year's list of projects included a partnership with the women's prison in the area. The church held a worship service for the inmates' children and caregivers, and provided a meal for them. The youth choir sang and Guyer presented the Gospel during the service -- and four people were saved. Also, the church provided Easter baskets for the inmates' children.
Other projects that were performed by the Riverview teams included:
-- Visiting nursing homes;
-- Prayerwalking the local schools, courthouse and city hall;
-- "Adopting" one of the elementary schools, where the team gave away gift bags to students and did landscaping;
-- Building a handicapped ramp at a senior adult home;
-- Passing out Bibles (the Gideons supplied New Testaments in support of the ministry);
-- Going door to door to distribute gift bags that included candy, a New Testament and an invitation to the Easter service at church;
-- Providing breakfast for students who were taking the ACT;
-- Providing blankets and snacks for patients at the Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center;
Guyer noted that the weather wasn't especially cooperative for this year's event but said that the members did not let the rain prevent them from working.
"We had a group that went to the senior adult home to build a handicap ramp, and it was just pouring rain," he said. "But that team stayed out there, in the rain and the mud, for seven or eight hours and did a terrific job."
Guyer also noted one of the teams went inside the retirement center and hosted games and provided lunch. Guyer came over during the visit and shared the Gospel, and two senior adults made professions of faith.
Guyer said the event enabled the church to connect to the community -- and vice versa -- in a unique way.
"We really try to approach this as a 'Super Bowl' event," he said. "We know that not everyone we minister to that day is going to come to Riverview Baptist Church, but we want them to know that God loves them."
This article appeared in Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. David Dawson writes for the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
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.