FROM THE STATES: N.C., S.C., Mo. evangelism/missions news
Today's From the States features items from:
Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
The Baptist Courier (South Carolina)
The Pathway (Missouri)
N.C. churches, associations ready
to partner long-term in Toronto
By Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
CARY, N.C. (Biblical Recorder) -- One year after launching a partnership in Toronto, North Carolina Baptists are responding to the need to come alongside church planters and engage in long-term partnerships.
Yet, with a population less than 2.5 percent evangelical and only 40 Southern Baptist churches serving 5.5 million people, a lot more help is needed.
Through its Office of Great Commission Partnerships, the Baptist State Convention of N.C. (BSC) partnership with the Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC) is focused specifically on the Greater Toronto Area. The partnership encourages N.C. Baptist churches to plant a church in Toronto, or to join groups of N.C. churches in partnering with a specific Toronto church plant.
Dan Collison, director of Toronto Church Planting and southern Ontario lead church planting catalyst for CNBC and the North American Mission Board, has learned that building relationships and serving the community are the best ways to create opportunities to share the gospel.
"Canada has always been secular. No one gives a second thought to what the church may say about a particular topic or issue," he said.
"This forces us to begin understanding, on a much deeper level, how to be people of faith and how we communicate the gospel. You develop a stronger, practical understanding of how the church represents the gospel to the community."
Toronto church planters need partner churches in order to serve their community and reach people for Jesus Christ.
However, Collison urged potential partners to remember that church planting in Canada can be very different than in the United States.
"In Canada, it usually takes 8-10 years for a church plant to become fairly self-sustaining," he said.
"The American statistic is 3-5 years, at most.
This reality makes long-term partnerships all the more critical. If churches pull out too soon, after a couple of years, they leave the planter just as he really begins to hit his stride.
Collison said an effective mission team moves a church plant forward three to six months down the road.
"An effective mission team is a team that comes back," he said. "When mission teams come to a location only once, they drain more energy out of the field than they contribute."
The second year a team comes they help push momentum forward, by the third year things are falling into place, and after that "it's friends helping more than a project being accomplished," Collison said.
Churches are encouraged to help the church plant until it has planted a church of its own.
Effective mission teams are also teams that serve with the right "posture." "They come and fit themselves into the strategy of the church planter," Collison said.
Jason McGibbon is a Toronto church planter ready to partner with North Carolina churches. McGibbon grew up in Hamilton, near the western end of the Niagara Peninsula and Lake Ontario, and for the past year has been working with The Hamilton Fellowship's church plant.
About a quarter of the 550,000 people in Hamilton live below the poverty line. Hamilton includes many refugees and Muslim residents. Although once a "blue collar" town centered on steel mills, Hamilton now has a growing arts community and many young families and new residents.
Before serving as church planters in Hamilton, the McGibbons attended The Sanctuary Church in Oakville, which is about 30 minutes north of Hamilton.
When The Sanctuary decided to plant a church in Milton, the McGibbons went to Milton to help with the plant. And when that congregation knew God was leading them to plant a church, McGibbon knew God was calling him to be the church planter.
"We heard God clearly say, 'Who are you waiting for? If you're going to be a church that plants churches, what are you waiting for?'"
About 12-16 people meet in McGibbon's home every Tuesday. He is praying for more house fellowships to be established and for the church to love its community and engage it with the gospel.
McGibbon knows church planting requires sacrifice. "Our sending church could have used a children's minister five years ago. They gave up paychecks to keep church planting going," he said.
Now is the time
Just as McGibbon answered God's call to go, so are churches from Rowan Association. Director of Missions Ken Clark went to Toronto last year and again this year to learn how to help involve his association in Toronto church planting.
"Our plan as an association is to become a global impact network. We want to get to the point where we will have teams come up at least quarterly, so we have a constant presence there," Clark said.
"If I can help tie smaller churches with larger churches, they can make an impact as well. The excitement will then spread."
Through the Office of Great Commission Partnerships, global impact networks are being established across N.C. A local church or association that serves as a global impact network serves as a missional center, helping connect other local churches and associations with partnering churches.
Three churches in Rowan are already committed to partnering in Toronto with Scott Rourk and Rendezvous Church. Rourk is on his third church plant in Toronto, all in very different and diverse settings.
The Rendezvous church plant in midtown, in the Forest Hill neighborhood, is an area with affluent, working professionals who are mostly unchurched. The Rendezvous plant in the Parkdale neighborhood, however, will reach mostly immigrants of various religious backgrounds.
"Our goal as a church plant is not just to plant a church, but to reach a city. Our hope is to plant 10 Rendezvous churches within the next 10-15 years in Toronto. In order for us to do that we need church planters for each and every one of those church plants," Rourk said.
Clark is praying for partnerships to also lead to revitalization among North Carolina churches. "I have a lot of churches that think they are missional because they give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and support the Cooperative Program, and have a missions speaker. But they are not living missionally," he said.
"I'm hoping they will see the difference between talking about missions and giving to missions, and committing themselves physically to doing missions," Clark said. "And I hope that will make a difference in their own personal lives with Christ.
"We've got to get beyond waiting on someone else to do it. If God has impressed on you to do it, there's no reason to sit back.
Kershaw Association 'adopts'
unreached people group in Peru
CAMDEN, S.C. (The Baptist Courier) -- Sitting at a table at DeBruhl's Café in Camden, Jimmy Hanf launches into a spirited discussion of Kershaw Baptist Association's Peru Mission Adoption Partnership.
Kershaw Association director of missions Jimmy Hanf has led the churches of his mostly rural association to take the unusual step of adopting an unreached people group — villagers who live alongside the Rio Tigrillo River, a tributary of the Amazon.
A 24-page partnership booklet, a brochure and a CD of photographs serve as testimony to the excitement over God's work among the unreached Urarina people. The partnership extends through 2014.
"Our first team went down in August 2011 to understand the ministry potential and report back to the association," said Hanf, director of missions for Kershaw Association. "It was a unanimous decision by our association to enter this partnership."
The story began when Gloria Shull, ministry assistant in the South Carolina Baptist Convention's missions mobilization group, called Hanf.
"Gloria asked me to pray about going to Peru," said Hanf, who had been to Brazil as pastor of St. George Baptist Church in Orangeburg. "I had been to Chile," Hanf added. "I had experience going into the jungle."
Hanf agreed to go on the trip and found five other ministers willing to go with him. Among them was Steve Lee, pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Camden. Lee also had missions experience, having served five years in New Guinea. Pastors Terry and John Corder, Roy Broughman and Craig Blankenship rounded out the exploratory team.
It is not easy getting to a part of the world where the Amazon River diverges into the Maranon River, which then diverges into the Airico, Chambira, and Rio Tigrillo rivers. Missionaries from Florida and Texas have adopted Urarina villages along the Airico and Chambira. Kershaw Association has adopted villages along the Rio Tigrillo. The larger village of San Juan, strategically located on the Chabria, serves as the base for missional expeditions down the rivers.
"On that [first] trip," Hanf said, "we were able to connect with Jeremy Nelson, who at the time was a Southern Baptist missionary in the area. We were just building relationships with people, and Jeremy wanted us to meet the village leaders. We also taught Bible classes and had about 30 believers attend those classes."
In March 2012, Hanf and Lee returned for the association's second trip. By this time, missionary Nelson was no longer on the field, but Luis Rios had joined the team as its interpreter. With Luis' aid, Hanf and Lee were able to visit the village of Curuhinsi on the Airico River and visit five villages along Rio Tigrillo. Pastor Julian of Nuevo Union along the Espejo River went with the team.
"This area is very similar to a Native American reservation," Lee said. "The area is self-governed and self-protected. To enter safely, you must have a known person, and that was what Luis provided for us. As we approached a village, Luis was the first one off the boat to interact with the people. Some of the villages can be hostile, especially deep along the river."
Once they were allowed in the villages, Hanf said, the men were welcomed.
"We went in with the statement, 'We are here to help,' and the question, 'What do you need?' " Hanf said. "Many of these people have never seen a white person, and some refer to white people as face stealers. The women, especially, [wouldn't] look at us because they thought we would steal their faces."
Hanf and Lee spent nights in some of the villages and ate meals — mostly fish and rice — with villagers. That involvement, and Pastor Rafael's assistance, helped the team introduce 10 people to Jesus and see two other rededications during the trip.
Teams in September 2012 and January 2013 will return with medical supplies, fishing hooks and lines, and clothes, and each of the villages has been promised fishing nets. Terry Corder, pastor of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, Jefferson, and Craigan Blankenship, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church, Westville, will lead the September trip. John Corder, youth and children's pastor at Hillcrest Baptist Church, Elgin, will lead the trip in January 2013.
"We will have some women going as part of the September team," Hanf said. "Village women won't approach the men in our teams." Among the women going in September will be a nurse and a nurse technician. They will be "vital, almost crucial" to the success of the trip, Hanf said.
To save costs over the length of the partnership, the association is purchasing a river boat from Oklahoma Baptists, who have concluded their ministry in the region, at a cost of $12,000. Currently, the team is leasing a boat at a cost of about $2,400 per week, including daily rental and gasoline.
To ease travel to the area, the association is storing equipment and non-perishable supplies in San Juan, minimizing the need to pack and repack tents, stoves, and other camping gear.
Tim Rice, interim director of the SCBC's missions mobilization group, said it's not unusual for associations to have mission partnerships, but Kershaw is unique in that it has adopted an unreached people group. (The International Mission Board defines an unreached people group as a population where less than 2 percent of the people are evangelized.)
"When more than 2 percent of a population knows Jesus, studies show that people can begin to evangelize their own people," Rice said. "We want to share the gospel in places where it's not heard and help start reproducing churches."
Rice credits Hanf's vision with kindling enthusiasm among the churches in Kershaw Association.
"Jimmy led a team there and wanted to go back, doing whatever it takes to reach the Urarina people," Rice said. "We don't have many churches talking about adopting unreached people groups. This has come together around the power of a visionary leader who cast a vision to his churches, and they enthusiastically support it.
"It's a great story of taking Jesus to the edge of the world. I hope others will follow their lead, seeing that missions like this are possible."
Hanf said the trips are open to any believer interested in joining the association's work. Volunteers must be in good health, provide their own funding, be approved through the association and its team leadership, and be at least 18 years of age. -- SCBC
Church planter does his
part within larger outreach
By Allen Palmeri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (The Pathway)--Rich Casebolt loves people.
His heart is for Christ to reach them on Independence Avenue.
"If you look at what has died in the last 50 years, all these big (church) buildings, and you can talk all day about whether they were really reaching the neighborhood, but that was God's sovereignty and provision for this neighborhood to have the gospel," Casebolt said.
"Some of them maybe lost the gospel, and these are mostly empty shells. Certainly the gospel has all but disappeared, so you've got to think about what's going to replace all these empty shells. I believe it's going to be new plants that are gospel-centered."
Casebolt, 37, holds a Master of Divinity degree in collegiate ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City. His focus is on leadership development. His wife, Vicki, is behind him, and his three young children, Caleb, Kenan, and Chloe, are being raised in a somewhat undesirable neighborhood where a father must concern himself at times with the sound of gunfire.
"The inner city has high crime, high poverty, high unemployment, drug and alcohol ridden, prostitution," Casebolt said. "It's a calling to be a catalyst for the gospel, and that means being a catalyst for church planting."
Presenting the gospel through a new work is his heart. His calling is apostolic; he hopes that word will not scare Missouri Southern Baptists. Apostolic is a good word in the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) assessment process. In a nutshell, Casebolt is grateful that "apostolic" is not a charismatic cuss word.
"For me, that's the fulfillment of the Great Commission," he said.
His target is Centerpoint. Home now to a pair of missions, the Latino-led Center Church and the Vietnamese Baptist Church, the building is located at the corner of 7th Street and Beacon Avenue.
"It needs a church plant, because there's not really anyone reaching the average Joe and Jane English speaker," Casebolt said. "I'm praying about God raising up a team to plant a church there and prayerfully in several other neighborhoods."
A former church-sent missionary to Thailand, Casebolt is now part of the MBC's outreach to northeast Kansas City. His brand of southeast Asian evangelism extends from a Thai hub to ethnics out of Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, and Laos, among others, that may emerge at any time up and down the avenue.
His vision is tied to the Antioch School of Church Planting through the Biblical Institute of Leadership Development (BILD). The BILD philosophy is for local churches to train church leaders through discipleship and church planting.
"I am excited about starting this school because of the potential to initiate church planting movements across our city, state, country, and world," he said.
Casebolt also works to support his family of five in his mission field as a manager for Eleos Coffee.