September 2, 2014
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EMBRACE the ends of the earth
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NAMB to help planters engage people groups
EMBRACE: Asia people group draws church's responsiveness
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (BP) -- Because Mark met Mike, the Gospel is moving toward the "T" people in Southeast Asia. Mark Harrison, missions pastor at Old Town Baptist Church in North Carolina, met Mike*, a missionary in Southeast Asia, during an International Mission Board regional training conference. Harrison was stirred by Mike's work so much so that he subsequently visited the country where Mike is stationed to learn more about ministry needs in that part of the world.
Now, three years later, Old Town is working with Mike and his wife Beth* to engage a people group in Southeast Asia that the church identifies as the "T people." The T people have not been the focus of any known church-planting strategy and they have an evangelical presence less than 2 percent. About one year ago Old Town began their journey to engage the T people, and the church has affirmed God's leading in that direction. The missionary couple, who are stateside for several months, recently participated in a Sunday morning worship service at Old Town that focused on international missions -- and celebrated God calling the Winston-Salem church to Southeast Asia to share the Gospel with the T people. "There's a lot you can do. More than you can imagine," Mike said. He voiced appreciation for Old Town's commitment to "embrace" -- as the International Mission Board describes it -- an unengaged, unreached people group. "We [the IMB] can't get to all the people groups," Mike said. "We don't have the time or the resources." Volunteer teams are crucial because many missionaries serve in places where they can't risk too much public exposure that might cause the government to force them out of the country. "You can do things we can't do," Mike said. "You can help give our national workers an audience [among the T people]. Everyone wants to hear what the foreigner has come to say. "Volunteers are an essential part," he added. "We need you to come alongside us." Beth shared how God has allowed her to reach out and serve the women on their missionary team. Some of them spend many hours home alone, caring for children. She has helped them connect with one another and find ways to minister to those around them.
Encounters on the mountain with the unengaged, unreached
SOUTH AMERICA (BP) -- From the edge of the mountain, I can see another world. Behind us are the seven villages of an indigenous people in the forests of South America. Below, the sun is setting and lights are coming on across a modern city on the edge of the jungle.
Here, it is dirt tracks and homes of mud and wattle or simple block. There, it is paved roads, streetlights, concrete and steel. It has been a good day. My colleague Rich* and I were warned our journey might be difficult, even dangerous, that many indigenous tribes are not open to outsiders. Rich is doing research among 24 indigenous tribes along one river. They are among hundreds of unengaged, unreached people groups in South America. There was even uncertainty whether the tribes would allow us on their land. But our reception thus far has only been welcoming. Theo*, a medicine man for one village, greeted us warmly. He introduced us to his chief who was comfortable with Rich conducting research into the family structure, worldview and religion of the tribe and gave me permission to photograph in their village. We were welcomed in Theo's hut of mud and wattle. He invited friends to show us crafts and indigenous art. He painted his face. And he showed what kind of wood is best to make a bow and how to begin shaping it. Then he invited us to walk in the forest with him as he pointed out plants and their uses and talked of the animals found there. We had made a friend. As dusk begins, we make our leave. Theo invites us back in the morning. He will gather some friends. They will dance and sing. We will eat jaca -- a sweet, watermelon-sized fruit that grows on trees.
Embrace: 'fresh wind' for churches & UUPGs
CEDAR HILL, Texas (BP) -- Annie Falconer is an active 74-year-old who likes to stay busy. She is director of the Good News Clubs for children in her community. But after attending an Embrace conference, she knew there was more she could do.
"I may not be as active as I would like, due to health, but there are a lot of things I can sit and do," she said. Falconer and seven other members of Highland Terrace Baptist Church in Greenville, Texas, attended the IMB-sponsored Embrace event, a starting point for churches willing to explore the challenge of taking the Gospel to the world's 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups (UUPGs). "I need to do more than just one thing, and I was especially interested in the way IMB is reaching out in Central Asia to people from all of these countries who are our neighbors here in Texas, too," Falconer said. "... I still have a great desire to be involved in missions -- not only across the street but around the world." "The fact that you're here this morning tells us something radical could and, perhaps, is happening," IMB President Tom Elliff told the 320 Southern Baptists in attendance, representing 130 churches from 19 states, at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill, Texas. "It seems God has just breathed a fresh wind of his Spirit and is blessing what seems to be becoming a movement," Elliff said of the Embrace strategy by which churches "evangelize and disciple authentically through discipleship that produces reproducing churches." "We want to be careful to give Him honor and glory, with an understanding that God is sovereign and we're His bond slaves," Elliff said. "We serve Him and serve one another as well so that other people can hear this wonderful announcement that Jesus saves." Elliff and Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., issued a challenge at the annual SBC meeting this past June for Southern Baptist churches to commit to "embrace" 3,800 UUPGs by next year's annual meeting in New Orleans. An upcoming meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) will encourage Texas churches to embrace at least 1,000 of that number during a Nov. 15 missions focus in Irving. Wright shared how Johnson Ferry had been transformed as mission endeavors became "the most spiritually impactful ministry" in the past 20 years.
CP anchors church's readiness for Embrace
BOGALUSA, La. (BP) -- Since its start in 1957, Memorial Baptist Church in Bogalusa, La., has embraced the Cooperative Program. This year the church voted also to embrace an unengaged, unreached people group.
Dakota Baptists thank DR volunteers
N.C. Baptists look to 'embrace' 250 UUPGs
Cuba's unreached embraced by NOBTS
TRUSTEES: Spiritual awakening key to Great Commission, IMB's Elliff says
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP) -- Either beg God for spiritual awakening or sink into irrelevance -- that was the plea IMB President Tom Elliff voiced to
"If we had an awakening in our nation, then think what Southern Baptists could do in terms of global missions, not to mention right here in this nation."...
Tom Elliff, IMB
trustees at their Sept. 13-14 meeting in Orlando, Fla. "I see this as the critical issue facing us as Southern Baptists," Elliff said. "The truth of the matter is that if we don't experience spiritual awakening we will forfeit our capacity to effectively partner with others in carrying out the Great Commission.
FIRST-PERSON: Ready to pray anew for the unreached
Prayer leader recounts her enthusiasm over the call for Southern Baptist churches to embrace the world's remaining 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups.
Vanished tribe highlights Gospel urgency, Elliff says
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- A remote indigenous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon apparently has been destroyed following a possible assault by drug traffickers -- a development that emphasizes the urgency of taking the Gospel to those who have never heard, according to Southern Baptist missions leaders.
First revealed to the world in February through stunning aerial images, the tribe -- whose name is unknown -- was protected by a government guard post. Survival International, a nonprofit organization focused on protecting the rights of tribal peoples, reported Aug. 8, however, that the post had been "overrun by heavily armed men" suspected to be drug traffickers. Concern about the tribe's well-being grew when a search by the Brazilian government's Indian affairs department (FUNAI) revealed no trace of the tribe but discovered a broken arrow in a rucksack allegedly belonging to one of the traffickers. A FUNAI official said such arrows are "the identity card of uncontacted Indians" and described the incident as a catastrophe. The news emphasizes the urgency of the Great Commission and should spur Southern Baptists' missions efforts, said Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board. "This event is another very chilling reminder of the urgent nature of our mission endeavors," Elliff said. "We must reach out with the Gospel now, especially to the world's unengaged, unreached people groups. Our Lord's sobering reminder that 'night comes, when no man can work' is a call for faithfulness at a time when 'the fields are white unto harvest.'" Though the IMB had no work among this tribe (Brazilian law prohibits it), Southern Baptist missionaries are legally sharing the Gospel with indigenous peoples in some South American countries.
EMBRACE: Church 'embraces' tough decisions about unengaged peoples
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Choosing a people group to engage with the Gospel can feel like throwing a dart at a map, but it's not impossible, says a pastor leading his church to engage the unengaged.
$1M to embrace unreached voted by SBTC
GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)--The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention's Executive Board has granted $1 million from reserve funds to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and encouraged Southern Baptist churches in Texas to "embrace" 1,000 of the 3,800 unengaged people groups identified by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Korean Baptists on board for people group challenge
CARROLLTON, Texas (BP)--On a crowded street in Seoul, Korea, David Gill's life changed when a missionary from the United States did something he didn't expect -- the man spoke to him. Gill was one of nearly 400 participants at the annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America this summer at New Song Church in Carrollton, Texas. Of 190 churches represented at the gathering, 52 committed to accept the embrace challenge. Gill, then 16, had traveled from a poor, rural farming area -- about a day's journey from Seoul -- to live in the city and attend school. He was alone and needed a friend when the missionary reached out to him. He invited Gill into his home. He taught him English. He later helped lead Gill to follow Jesus as Savior. More than 40 years later, Gill -- now a pastor at Concord Korean Baptist Church in Martinez, Calif. -- remains thankful for the missionary's impact on his life, still marveling at how the man "found" him. "There were so many people in the street of Seoul, Korea," Gill said. "He talked to me. He loved me ... and through him I came to meet Jesus. I don't know where I'd be without this man. God found me through [him]." Southern Baptist Koreans must strengthen their outreach to those who likewise need to be found for Christ. Southern Baptists of different languages, ethnicities and cultures have been challenged to "embrace" approximately 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups -- those who live in places that are less than 2 percent evangelical and have no active church-planting strategy among them.
Deaf Baptists embrace unreached Deaf peoples
TOCCOA, Ga. (BP)--The Deaf should be in the multitude when, as the Book of Revelation depicts it, every language, people, tribe and nation will worship the Lamb around the throne, says Aric Randolph of New Life Deaf Fellowship in Fort Worth, Texas. But, the Deaf pastor asks, "How will the Deaf be there if they don't know Jesus? "Right now, there are about 35 million Deaf all over the world," Randolph notes. "Every day, 750 Deaf die without knowing Jesus. To be His hands, His heart and to tell His story, we must truly embrace the Deaf of the world." New Life Deaf Fellowship is planning a short-term mission trip -- possibly to the Deaf in a high-risk country. "We go to let them know about Jesus. We go so they can know Jesus as Savior. We go to let them know they, too, can be in heaven," Randolph said. More than 400 Deaf Southern Baptists gathered in Toccoa, Ga., July 16-21 for the Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf (SBCD) and to witness the commissioning of six International Mission Board missionaries to work with the Deaf. IMB President Tom Elliff shared his burden for the millions of Deaf around the world who have never "seen" the name Jesus, challenging Deaf Southern Baptists to embrace a specific Deaf people group from the more than 100 unengaged, unreached Deaf people groups around the world. Jim Dermon, the SBCD's president, echoed Elliff's sentiment. "If we are willing to learn more about Deaf people groups, to visit them, to learn their needs and desires, and to pray for them ... that will lead Deaf to accept the Lord Jesus Christ," Dermon said. "If we embrace the Deaf in other countries, it will affect what we do here in the U.S. and we will see a multiplication of Deaf churches throughout the world." Steven Nance, a Deaf member of Parkwood Baptist Church in Concord, N.C., talked about his short-term trip to the Dominican Republic to reach Deaf children there. Now praying that others also will go there, Nance reminded conference attendees to pray for missionaries who are serving throughout the world to reach the Deaf.

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