April 24, 2014
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2013: Lottie Moon Christmas Offering
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WEEK OF PRAYER: Our journey to the Bedia
CENTERTON, Ark. (BP) -- He was so small, so quiet and so humble. He didn't even come up to my shoulder. And yet to me, Sahaji* was larger than life.
      "Here he is!" IMB representative Clifton Melek* exclaimed, patting Sahaji on the back. "Here is the first baptized believer since you began praying for the Bedia five years ago."
WEEK OF PRAYER: Church sees unreached 20 miles away
SAN PABLO TIJALTEPEC, Mexico (BP) -- Renan, a 10-year-old boy in southern Mexico, isn't an orphan. But in many ways, he might as well be.
It's been more than three years since Renan's parents, bound for the United States, left him in the care of his uncle in Mexico. It likely will be months or even years before he sees them again.
Renan and his family are from the Tijaltepec Mixteco people group in the isolated community of San Pablo Tijaltepec, nestled among the jagged mountains of southern Mexico. Most residents are subsistence farmers, growing the food that their families eat. Because jobs are scarce, many of these Mixtecos leave home to seek work in the U.S. But not everyone can make the journey, and families like Renan's often end up split between the two countries for years at a time. Until recently, the Tijaltepec Mixteco were a people group yet to be exposed to the Gospel. But not anymore. In 2011, Valley Baptist Church of Bakersfield, Calif., selected the Tijaltepec Mixteco people to "embrace," accepting the long-term responsibility of reaching them with the Gospel. Since then, the project has transcended the boundaries of culture and country, linking the Mexican mountainside and the Californian Central Valley in ways the church never imagined. The starting place Valley Baptist faced the initial challenge of choosing from among more than 3,000 unengaged, unreached people groups (UUPGs) in the world. UUPGs are people groups that have no continual access to the Gospel through any evangelical church planting efforts (unengaged) and those in which less than 2 percent of its population is evangelical Christian (unreached). Church members researched people groups via gettingthere.imbresources.org an IMB website that charts UUPGs and their locations using dots on a map. "And the first thing that struck me was how many were clustered in southern Mexico," co-pastor Phil Neighbors recalls. "I mean, I was thinking that we were going to be going to some far-flung corner of the world. I couldn't believe that right here in our hemisphere there was this huge cluster of unreached people groups." To find out more about the people groups, Neighbors contacted Chris Ammons, an IMB missionary in Mexico that Neighbors had known since they attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at the same time. ...
WEEK OF PRAYER: Glasgow's troubles stir missionary's heart
GLASGOW, Scotland (BP) -- If you listen to Gena Wilson imitate the Scottish brogue, you'll think she was born in Glasgow. After 17 years, the woman from Beaufort, S.C., can speak in a Scottish accent that even the locals mistake as their own. She used to stick out as "the American" who for some inexplicable reason chose to live in one of the city's poorest areas. Now, she's just known to them as Gena -- a friend, a mentor, a follower of Jesus.
She's led assemblies at the local high school, but most teenagers there have gotten to know her over a basketball or volleyball game, hamburgers at a café or Bible study in her apartment.
WEEK OF PRAYER: Quichua farmer tithes his life to God
SOUTH ASIA (BP) -- There was little in life to predict that Cebrián Bolívar* would one day become a missionary in one of South Asia's most populated cities. He grew up on a farm high in South America's Andes Mountains where his parents and siblings still scratch out a living from the soil. But that was before he met Sam Cordell.* Cordell was a Southern Baptist missionary with a plan. In less than a decade he trained a cadre of 200 Quichua Indian believers to plant churches among the scattered mountain villages of their people. And Bolívar was one of the best; he planted 26.
WEEK OF PRAYER: Hearing church reaches Deaf Malagasy
ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (BP) -- Mason Barrett sits wide-eyed in a tiny, crowded living room in Madagascar's capital city, trying desperately to understand what anyone around him is saying. Hands fly in a flurry of conversation, mostly get-to-know-you type questions: What's your name? Are you married? Were you born deaf? That last question might sound strange if this wasn't one of the thousands of Deaf communities that Barrett has come to serve. The real estate agent is part of a team from Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga., that's traveled more than 9,000 miles for a single purpose: sharing Jesus with the Deaf Malagasy.
WEEK OF PRAYER: Missionary helps European students connect to God
BRAUNSCHWEIG, Germany (BP) -- Martha Moore doesn't waste time dreaming small. The Southern Baptist missionary has learned to look to God for something miraculous.
WEEK OF PRAYER: Biology student in Spain finds connection to God
SEVILLE, Spain (BP) -- Abraham Rios, age 29, has a full day ahead of him. He has a discipleship meeting to plan,
along with an English conversation club and a Bible study. In between these events, he is studying for a final exam to receive an advanced biology degree.
WEEK OF PRAYER: A 'lesson in miracles'
ASUNCION, Paraguay (BP) -- Inside a small Buddhist temple in Shiojiri, Japan, 23-year-old missionary Steven Kunkel -- who hails from Paraguay -- sits at a grand piano, playing one of his original compositions called "Creation." Seated on the floor nearby, a Buddhist woman listens to the music, enthralled.
WORLD AIDS DAY: An urgent mission
ZAMBIA (BP) -- As I go out and see the people that are lAying on the mats, that are sick, a couple of things strike me: One is the most urgent people group to reach are those who are about to enter eternity, those who are about to close their eyes in death.
'Right here in Huntingdon,' she teaches & exemplifies missions
HUNTINGDON, Tenn. (BP) -- "I believe God has me right here in Huntingdon, Tenn., because He has a purpose for me here," Marge Tucker says. "He's never let me be without something special to do."
Although Tucker's involvement in both church and community runs deep, for more than 40 years she has focused her time and teaching on the young people of First Baptist Church, specifically seventh- and eighth-grade girls. When Tucker talks about young people, her tone is earnest. "There are a lot more things out there for them to be involved with than when I first started working with them. But I still think all they need is loving, someone to share with, and somebody to help direct their lives." Teaching the Bible is central in her relationship with her classes. Although there are many good resources available, she says teaching from the Bible is most important. "I want them to know how important God's Word is. They can't find His will if they don't stay in His Word." Tucker emphasized her thoughts by quoting Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths." Remembering the influence of a teacher in her own life, Tucker mentions growing up in the west Tennessee area of Cedar Grove. She attended high school in Trezevant, where one teacher made a lasting impression. "She never talked about going to church, but she talked about things that let me know how much she loved God and how much she loved us." "All my life, from the time I can remember, I wanted to teach in school, but I didn't have the means to do so," Tucker says. "I believe God opened up the opportunity to teach in church to fulfill that desire in my life." Fred Ward, pastor of First Baptist Church in Huntingdon, says of Tucker, "She has set a godly example throughout the church community, the business community and in her family life." Ward adds, "The countless lives she has touched for His Kingdom is immeasurable. " A central theme in Tucker's life and teaching is missions. "I believe missions is important because that's our purpose for being here. We are to share Jesus Christ, starting with our neighbors, extending to our community, and then, if God call us, to go around the world." Missions, she says, is "how we tell about Jesus. That's what we're supposed to do every day." When Tucker talks about the seventh-grade girls' Sunday School class she currently is teaching, her words are full of excitement and hope, "God may be beginning to speak to them about what they're going to do with the rest of their lives. We talk about this a lot, and there is a possibility that God may want to use them somewhere in missions." Jimmy Furr, director of missions for the Carroll-Benton Baptist Association, says, "Throughout the years I've known Marge, she has always promoted missions in her church and throughout our association." Furr describes Tucker as "a unique person with an amazing capacity to love and encourage people, and that translates through her love for the Lord Jesus." At this time of the year, Tucker emphasizes in her classes the importance of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. She explains how the offering is used to help share Jesus Christ around the world, and that this is a way they can be involved.
Church impacts Africa's Kisi people from 10,000 miles away
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- For an outsider looking in at Sequoia Heights Baptist Church in Manteca, Calif., it would be hard not to ask the question, "Who are the Kisi?"
Friends partner to reach African people group
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Two friends, both pastors, attended an Embrace conference hosted by the International Mission Board. One felt called to "embrace" a people group in sub-Saharan Africa, the other wasn't ready to make that commitment.
In Prague, college grads form real-life networks
PRAGUE, Czech Republic (BP) -- When Evan and Lauren Parker decided to venture overseas for six months after college graduation, their friends thought they were crazy.       But, as Evan put it, "We shouldn't let what the world is telling us to do get in the way of what God is calling us to do."
      The Parkers are in Prague -- the Czech Republic city known as the atheist capital of Europe -- serving in the semester-long Hands On program of the International Mission Board, which gives college students and young adults an opportunity to serve Christ alongside missionary mentors.
Filipino family of 6 count Baptist aid as ray of hope from typhoon
BANGON, Philippines (BP) -- A Baptist pastor found Jesusa and Michael Booc with their four children in the ruins of a destroyed chapel, sheltered under a table covered by a tarp. The chapel's walls were blown off during Typhoon Haiyan and lay in a stack on the side of the battered structure. The face of the Booc's one-month-old baby, Ella Mae, was sunburned from prolonged sun exposure since Friday, Nov. 8, when the typhoon's furor swept across Cebu and other islands in the Philippines. The Boocs' home now sits in a crumpled heap. All of northern Cebu looks as if a rampaging giant had visited. Thousands upon thousands of banana trees -- the source of income for many villagers –- were crushed. Electricity poles lay on their sides, the wires twisted and lying in roadways. A brand-new gymnasium's roof looked like the giant had sat on it. A house was left completely upside down. Hundreds of houses were smashed as if they'd gone through a trash compactor. Still others lay on their sides. The Booc family soon realized the strength of Typhoon Haiyan as it bore down on Cebu. Their bamboo thatch house shook violently and they knew they could not stay. They ran in the midst of the typhoon's fury with their children to take cover in a chapel with a concrete foundation. During their flight a banana tree fell, miraculously missing them. They had to dodge flying sheets of tin that were blown off of roofs. The walls of the chapel were not built to withstand the winds. The family then ran to Michael's mother's house, which also was proving to be an unsafe structure. All of the homes in the area are made of lightweight materials such as bamboo while the roofs are corrugated tin. When their third place of refuge lost its roof as the eye of the typhoon hovered over their village, the family decided to make a run for the high school that was nearly two miles away. Jesusa said they thought Typhoon Haiyan would be the end of them. The family held hands. Jesusa reflected, "[If] we just wait, we will die." She, Michael and their four children made it to the school. After the storm, the Boocs returned to take shelter in the chapel but realized it was too hot, especially for their baby. The sunburn on Jesusa's baby's face started to peel when IMB missionaries visited. The village of 61 households had not yet received aid from the government as of Thursday (Nov. 14), six days after the typhoon's onslaught. The government is providing families with several pieces of tin for their roofs and two kilos of rice. Two kilos of rice does not last long in the Philippines. Rice is the staple meal for most families, and for a family of four, it barely lasts a few days. A family normally eats around 10 kilos of rice in a week. The community gathered together and shared what food and supplies remained in their village. Their village name, Bangon, means, "rise up" in the Cebuano language. The villagers say they are people who indeed rise up from catastrophes. "That is what we are," Wilma Booc, Michael's mother, says. "Our name gives us hope." They will rise up, they say. They are asking for help to lighten their burden and load. They know they cannot do it alone. "We pray God will hear our prayers and help will come," Wilma says. For having gone through such trauma and tragedy, the Booc family and their community seem positive and hopeful. Villages throughout northern Cebu share this positive attitude, according to various reports. Baptist Global Response teams have now assessed the village's needs, and relief funds donated by Southern Baptists will help provide food in the coming days. Every dollar given toward Philippines disaster relief through the International Mission Board goes directly to meet needs, since IMB personnel are supported through churches' gifts ...
'Ordinary Christians' ready to pay the price for the world's unreached, IMB trustees told
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP) -- He stood at the podium, almost too emotional to speak. Drew Carson*, an IMB strategist, shared the story of missionaries willing to pay the ultimate price -- their own lives -- for the Gospel in a report to IMB trustees during their Nov. 7-8 meeting in Charlotte, N.C.

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