FROM THE STATES: La., Fla., S.C. evangelism/missions news
EDITOR'S NOTE: From the States, 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 3,800 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. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.
Today's From the States features items from:
Florida Baptist Witness
The Baptist Courier (South Carolina)
Baptist Message (Louisiana)
'Discovery' group goes to Delhi
By Don Kirkland
GREENVILLE, S.C. (The Baptist Courier) -- Recently a band of Baptist pastors and laity from South Carolina introduced themselves to national pastors and other Christian workers in Delhi, India, on a "discovery" visit to that nation's capital city, which is home to 30 million people.
The introductions were preliminary to finding "partners" with whom South Carolina Baptists could work on future projects in Delhi.
Leading the South Carolina group was Jim Austin, executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, who said he was "encouraged with the number of churches who have agreed to participate in such a significant city in South Asia."
"I pray," he told the Courier, "that more will seek the Lord regarding their participation in the unreached, but accessible, people groups who are in the city."
Tim Rice, interim director of the missions mobilization group of the SCBC, told the Courier, "There are more unreached, unengaged people groups in India than in any other country.
"By linking up with national pastors and church planters in Delhi, our churches will have an incredible opportunity to reach the unengaged people groups there," he added.
Names of the South Carolina participants in the "discovery" trip are not given for security purposes, according to IMB policy, but one told the Courier, "I have so many thoughts about our trip, it's hard to put into words. The trip has changed me. The people of India are on my mind every day. When praying, I now can visualize who I pray for, and for some of their daily needs — and, more importantly, for their salvation."
Another termed the trip a "truly incredible experience, and one which has changed who I am as a person, pastor and follower of Jesus."
He continued, "I feel the most important truth the Lord impressed upon my heart was to see people as he sees people. I learned that as different as the culture was, and as diverse as the people were, that God is the God of that city. He loves those people with an unfailing love and desires for all of them to come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.
"He taught me," this pastor continued, "that every person has a name and a story and has value to the Lord. The time I spent in Delhi, although short, has set off a ripple effect in my life on how to handle the Lord's calling on my life to follow after him."
For another, it was "quite an experience" because she had never traveled outside the country before. "I learned so much about the people of India and their culture — and I also learned a lot about myself."
She told of going to a house church for worship and found that "everyone there was glad to have us with them," adding, "I gave my testimony and all the women shook my hand and spoke to me, even though I could not understand everything they said. One woman took my hands and put them on her head for me to pray for her."
She told of prayerwalking in an area where girls and women are enslaved in the human trafficking sex trade and "prayed for God's light to penetrate the darkness."
Another recalled the feelings of being in a minority, "but people everywhere are part of God's creation and in need of salvation." During a prayerwalk with a national pastor, he "began to pray that God would soften some hearts," and afterward he witnessed to several young men who accepted Christ as Savior.
The recent "discovery" visit to Delhi was the first of three projects set for that city in 2012. A second "discovery" trip is scheduled Sept. 13-21. Participants will learn strategies for reaching the city, teaching in house churches, and meeting church planters and national pastors.
Four to six volunteers are needed for a "sharing and distribution" project in Delhi Oct. 17-28. The purpose will be to share the love of Jesus with Muslims during a sacrifice festival in which animals are offered up in memory of Abraham.
Volunteers for the October project must be college age or older, experienced in sharing the gospel and their personal testimony in boldness and love as empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The trio of Delhi trips are a part of a five-year endeavor under the banner of "South Carolina Baptists: A Witness to the World."
This effort began in 2010 with 10 "kingdom connections" to involve South Carolina Baptist churches. Three of these are in South Carolina, three in other parts of North America, and four international partnerships.
As for the international projects, Rice told the Courier, "If every project we organized through the IMB required that their personnel plan, transport and arrange all the logistics, we would be limited in the number of projects we could carry out in a year. By taking our pastors and laity to the international sites so that they can begin to form their own partnerships with national pastors and other Christian leaders, we can multiply the impact we have overseas."
Information on the partnership is available at www.scbaptist.org/missions.
Don Kirkland is editor of The Baptist Courier (www.baptistcourier.com) of South Carolina.
North Oak Baptist commits to
church start in South Dakota
By Carolyn Nichols
CITRUS SPRINGS, Fla. (FBW) -- North Oak Baptist Church in Citrus Springs is working in partnership with a church in Rapid City, S.D., to start a new church in nearby Box Elder. The Florida church is "fully committed" to the church start, according to Pastor Stan Stewart.
Stewart first saw the town of Box Elder in 2009 when he helped North Oak church members Jim and Kristie Meyer move to the area. Stewart saw no active churches in the growing town.
"God grabbed my heart and said, 'You need to take a look,'" Stewart said.
When Stewart first presented his vision of starting, or re-starting, a church in a town 2,100 miles away, North Oak members were "wary at first, because it is a long way from here," he said.
In early 2010, the first group of volunteers from central Florida travelled to the South Dakota Black Hills to survey the town of Box Elder, located 11 miles from Rapid City.
The group worked with Temple Baptist Church in Box Elder in an attempt to re-invigorate the struggling church. The church, at one time thriving, saw most members move away when military cutbacks affected nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base, Stewart said.
The city is now growing again and the population is up to 10,000, including Ellsworth. The area's median age is 30, Stewart said, with "tons" of kids and young adults.
Paradigm Baptist Church, the name of the new church, will most likely receive the Temple Baptist Church property and its members, he said. In the meantime preview events have been held at Douglas High School in Box Elder. A block party at the school March 24 drew more than 300.
Volunteers from Hills of Grace Fellowship in Rapid City manned bounce houses, children's games and food tables, while others provided music. Hills of Grace is a two-year-old mission, and "one of the most successful church plants" in the area, Stewart said.
Pastor Justin Dancer formed the church with the understanding that it would help plant other churches, Stewart said. "He has a church planter's heart, and he has an insurmountable store of ideas to reach people."
On April 1, 60 attended the first preview church service at the high school. While adults and youth met for worship in the school auditorium, children's church and a "full nursery" cared for young worshippers, Stewart said. Of the 60 attendees, 20 were "new faces, definitely prospects," and others were members of the Hills of Grace launch team, some who live in Box Elder and have committed to attend the new church start one year.
In July, 52 Floridians will ride a charter bus from Citrus Springs to Box Elder where they will conduct Backyard Bible Clubs and host neighborhood block parties. The church drama team, Heirborne, will perform at Hills Alive, an annual Christian rock concert in Rapid City attended by upwards of 50,000, and in Main Street Square, also in Rapid City.
"We see the July trip as a real impetus in building interest in the church there," Stewart said. "It is part of our Kingdom ministry. God has called us to go through every door He opens for us."
In addition to sending mission volunteers, North Oak is contributing two percent of its undesignated gifts to the church start. It also is sending Stewart to Box Elder for two weeks bi-monthly to help with the project. When he travels north, he also is mentoring the pastor of New Beginnings Church in Rapid City, whose building North Oak volunteers re-roofed and painted last summer. The church is in a transitioning community, and its membership largely Native American, Stewart said.
Stewart said he and his wife, Kathy, hope to spend more time in South Dakota after he retires in a few years.
"I want to be used there wherever they can use me," he said.
Meanwhile, the preview services in Box Elder continue monthly until Oct. 7, the target date for beginning weekly services.
Carolyn Nichols is a newswriter for the Florida Baptist Witness (www.gofbw.com).
Tullos First Baptist reaches out
to community with compassion
By Morgan Tarpley
TULLOS, La. (Baptist Message) -- Over the last few months, the congregation of First Baptist Church in Tullos has performed quite a lineup of service to the community. The congregation's latest outreach was on March 24 when there were donations given out of household items, shoes, clothing, tools, toys and other items.
More than 30 families were assisted through the ministry's giveaway day.
"Tullos First Baptist reaches out to the community with compasssion for those in need," church member Joan Martin said. "The response was overwhelming [on March 24]. Around seventy women and men attended the function."
Martin said during Christmas, the church and the surrounding community donated money to purchase Christmas gifts for children in the community.
"One boy was asked what he wanted for Christmas and his response was 'a pair of tennis shoes'," Martin said. "That really touched our hearts. He received a great pair of tennis shoes plus more."
Martin said some of the items donated were a stove and a water heater, which filled desperate needs for elderly women in the community.
Martin said she and the church congregation extend thanks to Chuck's Convenience Store in Tullos for their help and also to Carrie Long for her assistance.
The Ladies Sunday School class called "Mixed Blessings" has a burden for helping women and children in the area.
A number of local women came to the giveaway. She said the congregation was able to minister to them and find out exactly what they needed – whether certain items or prayer for their emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
"The church will do its best to provide for these ladies," Martin said. "We look to God to provide us to help those in need."
Martin said the church as always looked for ways to serve the community, but in the past few years there has been even more of an emphasis and church-wide involvement.
"God has given us so much. We love helping others!" Martin said. "This has been an awesome ministry already in its second year to reach out to those that are lost and in need."
Martin said the church will hold another Give-Away this fall and extend the invitation to the community.
"We look forward to seeing you," Martin said. "If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ to Him be the Glory and the Power for ever and ever!"
Reprinted with permission from the Jena Times. Morgan Tarpley is a contributing writer for the Baptist Message.