FROM THE STATES: Va., Wis., N.M. evangelism/missions news; 'We know this is from God's power alone ...'
Today's From the States features items from:
The Proclaimer (Virginia)
Baptist New Mexican
Embracing West Africans
By Trey Hensley
The Camp Adopts a West African People Group
STEPHENS CITY, Va. (The Proclaimer) -- It all began with a simple prayer, "Lord, show us where You want us to go. Who do you want us to reach?" This prayer would eventually hurl The Camp of Faith Church in Stephens City, VA across the Atlantic to a dusty village in West Africa.
"We prayed for some time for clear direction about our cross-cultural missions task," said Pastor Trey Hensley. "We knew our responsibility to Stephens City and we are continually taking the Gospel there, but we also knew that we had a responsibility to Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world." The Lord answered that prayer and, with the help of the IMB, The Camp was soon connected to a lost Islamic people group in Guinea-Bissau. This unreached, unengaged people group (UUPG) had no IMB presence, so The Camp itself was tasked with being the missionary to them.
"The mission is an indigenous church planting movement among our UUPG," said church member Martha Stayer, who was part of the first team to go. "We know this is from God's power alone, but we must be obedient servants. We pray with a dangerous faith, walk in radical obedience, and rely on the power of our God and the guidance of His Spirit. Our church makes at least 3–4 trips a year to our UUPG, where we share the truth of God's Word through storying and spend time with them in the villages doing whatever we can to build relationships."
The Camp Goes to West Africa
AFRICA TEAM #1 -- The Camp sent Pastor Trey and Jesse and Martha Stayer as its first team to Africa this past January 31–February 10. "This was a bit like a scouting mission," said Pastor Trey. They were looking for two receptive villages in which to begin work, and they found them! "We were well-received by chiefs and even imams. Crowds from the villages came out to hear the stories of Jesus. After hearing the stories, the villagers said things like, 'This story gives me hope,' and 'I will share this story with others.'" At the end of the trip, Trey, Jesse, and Martha had shared Jesus stories, the Gospel message, and their own personal testimonies with more than 230 in this people group.
AFRICA TEAM #2 -- Jesse Stayer and Steve and Mollie Brannon were sent to the same villages again May 7–17. "God is working among our UUPG," Jesse explained. "During the trip, we were able to share the Gospel clearly and discuss differences between Islam and following Jesus. We should have been kicked out of the villages for our discussions with them that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is the only way to heaven, but we weren't. Instead, Muslim men were welcoming us to stay in their villages with an open invitation to return. The men told us they want to get to know us before accepting the truth of God's Word over Islam. How awesome is that! God is softening their hearts, and this is just the beginning!" The Camp cannot wait to get back to its UUPG after the rainy season is over this fall. Until then, they will praise God for all He has done and will "do" and pray hard.
The people of The Camp of Faith's UUPG were not the only ones to be touched by this mission. The Camp itself is not the same. Pastor Trey recalled, "Each time we send a team, The Camp goes into red-alert prayer mode and begins to pray around the clock for our teams." Church members commit to pray for one hour at a time each day while the team is in Africa. This prayer has empowered and affected not only their mission to Africa, but their entire church life. "I've never experienced the 'present in Spirit' that Paul talks about in Colossians 2:5 like I did while I was sitting across from the village chief," said Pastor Trey. "The Camp was there with me in full prayer power. We saw so many answers to prayer. The day I returned last February, I was driving back into the church lot and a church member slowed down her car and rolled down the window. She said, 'I was with you.'" The entire Camp is on mission.
The Camp Goes to Washington, D.C.
With help from the SBCV and NAMB, The Camp church is also now on mission in Washington, D.C. helping to support the work of reaching West Africans there. They consider D.C. their Samaria, and they have found good friends at Favor House Ministries in Alexandria, VA, a West African church plant led by Pastor Joseph Nti. The Camp even hopes to one day find individuals from their West African people group living in D.C.
Is your church willing to pray, "Lord, show us where You want us to go. Who do you want us to reach?" You will be amazed at what God will do!
This article appeared in The Proclaimer (http://www.sbcv.org/articles/category/proclaimer), newsmagazine of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. Trey Hensley is pastor of The Camp of Faith Church in Stephens City, Va.
Reaching Native Americans: Reservations
open to church plants after vision tour
APPLETON, Wis. (The Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist) -- A June vision tour of Wisconsin revealed open doors in seven Native American reservations according to Dennis Hansen, church planting catalyst for Bay Lakes Baptist Association.
With Hansen on the trip were Native American pastors Don Tiger and Ben Little along with Randy Carruth, a Louisiana pastor who Baptist Press says is "at the center of the new momentum among Southern Baptists in reaching Native peoples in North America."
As the four men traveled, praying for a person of peace on each of the 11 reservations in Wisconsin, they found four reservation headquarters were not open and they will need to return to them, Hansen said. But the other seven were not only open but receptive to their visits.
"In each of these reservations we went to the tribal headquarters and asked to speak to a key leader who could tell us if we could come back and do acts of kindness, block parties, Bible studies and other events," Hansen said. In most cases they were able to meet with either the chief or the chairperson of the tribe. "In the seven we were able to visit, each one invited us back
and wanted us to begin ministries working toward a church plant."
Hansen said he hopes to soon have in place three new Native American church planters, each serving as a "circuit rider" pastor for more than one reservation.
One of the open doors the group found was especially encouraging, Hansen said, because it was a reversal of an earlier rejection.
"I had gone many years ago to the Menominee Nation on a prayer drive and was stopped by the tribal police and ... escorted off the reservation," he said. "Then a few years later the Lord gave me a family to begin a Bible study. Opposition from the tribe seemed to keep the group from growing. I discontinued the Bible study about a year ago."
On this trip, however, the response was more positive. When they asked for a meeting, the chairwoman granted them ten minutes. The meeting ended up lasting 20 minutes with the chairwoman telling them they were "men of God who answered her prayers."
The men also drove through Michigan's Upper Peninsula and met with some leaders in reservations there.
"This has opened my heart to do the same type of vision tour in Michigan and Minnesota," Hansen said.
This article appeared in the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist (http://www.mwbc.org/index2.php?page=paper), newsjournal of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention.
supports Muslim ministry
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Baptist New Mexican) -- Most Muslims come from a culture where socializing together is very important. They love spending time with friends and family, and enjoy being together. When most Muslims come to the United States, their social lives change drastically. There are many factors that contribute to this:
They have just moved to a new country. They are usually away from their family and friend structure. They are often learning a new language, and it is difficult to communicate. The U.S. lifestyle is very different; people don't just "drop by" and visit together.
Because of this, the major complaint of many Muslim immigrants in the U.S. is that they are very bored and very lonely. They long to have friends to talk with and share with. Many become depressed after they arrive in what they felt would be "the promised land."
The goal of the Muslim ministry team is to build relationships with Muslims here in New Mexico. By becoming their friends and sharing in their lives, we gain the right to talk with them about spiritual things. The team seeks out Muslims throughout the state and engages with them socially. By helping them with English and inviting them to come to "American" activities—such as holidays, celebrations and even just fun pastimes like bowling, skating, hiking or picnics—we are able to build friendships with the people and then have opportunities to share with them.
Anna* came to New Mexico two years ago from a country in Central Asia. She and her husband travel each week around the state, and she had never had the opportunity to settle in, make friends and improve in English. She was very lonely and depressed. A member of the Muslim ministry team befriended Anna and began helping her practice English. While they were doing this, they also were able to go on outings, visit a school and also a church here in the state. It was through these times together that a friendship was built and the team member has been able to have several deep spiritual conversations with Anna about Christianity and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Tammy* is from the Middle East and is the wife of a student at a university here in the state. She was very lonely, didn't know English and wanted some company. A team member from the Muslim ministry was able to work with her on English and spent time with her each week. From that, they were able to talk about spiritual matters. Tammy is expecting a child soon, and the Muslim team hopes to try and have a baby shower for her.
On holidays, the Muslim ministry team is able to reach out to Muslims here. They are able to invite people over to share in Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions. For many Muslims, this is the first time they have experienced these holidays. While they are able to enjoy good food and company, the team is also able to share the reason we celebrate these holidays, and gospel seeds are planted.
Please pray for the more than 6,000 Muslims living here in New Mexico. Pray that as they come to a new land, they would have opportunities to meet Christian people and build friendships with them. Pray that they will have opportunities to hear the gospel message.
Pray for Anna and Tammy, pray that they would be drawn to Christ and God would continue speaking in their lives.
Pray for the Muslim ministries team. Pray they would have opportunities to meet Muslims throughout the state, share with them as friends and also be able to share spiritual truths with them.
The Muslim ministry team would like to sincerely thank New Mexico Baptists for their generous support of the Mission New Mexico Offering. It is because of this offering that the team is able to continue to reach out to Muslims around the state with friendship and the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
* Names changed.
This article appeared in the Baptist New Mexican, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico (bcnm.com). PJ is the Baptist Convention of New Mexico's missionary to Muslims in New Mexico.
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.