August 31, 2014


GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP) -- Church planting was not in Josh Howeth's plans. While his seminary peers were eager to jump into church planting, Howeth looked to a future serving and revitalizing existing churches. Only a couple of years into serving as worship and family pastor at Grant Avenue Baptist Church in Corvallis, Ore., those plans changed.

"Our leadership at Grant Avenue desired to reach the students on the Oregon State campus," Howeth said during a North American Mission Board commissioning service in conjunction with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina's 182nd annual meeting in November.

Church planting was "an area of ministry that just hadn't clicked yet" when some of Grant Avenue's leaders approached him with the vision to plant a church on the campus.

Initially resistant to the idea, Howeth and his wife Elizabeth committed to praying about the opportunity and, within the year, their hearts were changed.

"What started as the burden of our church and our convention for these college students slowly became the burden of our hearts too," Howeth said.

Along with a core group of about 30 others, the Howeths planted The Branch on the campus of Oregon State University this year. Only a couple of months into weekly Sunday meetings, they are working to build and disciple a community of believers amid the 26,000 students on campus.

"These kids live in a very secular culture in a very unchurched state," Howeth said. "It's our vision to be accessible as a church not just to the students but to the surrounding community."

As Howeth and his team at The Branch work diligently to begin putting down Gospel roots on the Oregon State campus, he values now more than ever the support of the North American Mission Board and the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole.

"I'm very proud to be a NAMB missionary," Howeth said. "To feel the support from our convention and to know they really are behind what we're doing here in Oregon means everything to us. It excites me to keep moving forward and see more churches planted to reach more people for Christ."

Following the commissioning of 20 missionary units at the Greensboro Coliseum, NAMB President Kevin Ezell preached the convention sermon from Luke 10:2. Ezell also outlined NAMB's desire to revitalize churches and increase the number of missionaries and church plants.

"Missionaries, when I see you and I see the sacrifices you make, the tremendous sacrifice, I think of Acts chapter 20 and Paul's farewell to the church at Ephesus," Ezell said. "Paul said, 'I consider my life worth nothing to me but that I might complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me.' I want you to always remember that verse.

"It is not about my conveniences or my preferences. It is about being obedient," Ezell said. "And remember the power of one. When the response is slow and you feel all alone ... remember the power of one person in obedience to our Lord."

Milton Hollifield, executive director of the North Carolina convention, challenged the missionaries to pray.

"Even though we are involved in doing the things of God, we should never say we are too busy to pray," Hollifield said. ... Read More

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