FROM THE STATES: La., Ark., N.M. evangelism/missions news; 'Numbers matter because they mean people'

Today's From the States features items from:

Baptist Message (Louisiana)

Arkansas Baptist News

Baptist New Mexican

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La. Baptists see

3,212 saved in Brazil

By Brian Blackwell

POUSO ALEGRE, Brazil (Baptist Message) -- A Louisiana Baptist-led mission team took the 2018 statewide Harvest emphasis international, resulting in 3,212 Brazilians repenting for salvation in July.

"Numbers matter because they mean people," said Deanne Denton, a trip coordinator and member of Highland Baptist Church in New Iberia. "Numbers mean changed lives. Numbers on this trip mean churches in that area can take those contacts of people who accepted Christ and follow up with the new believers through the year. That is always amazing to see because the people are very responsive."

Denton was among 130 men and women who were on mission in Pouso Alegre, Brazil, as a part of an evangelism outreach in the country July 6-17. Some remained in Brazil two additional days to see the country.

While there, the teams participated in street evangelism, Vacation Bible Schools, drama performances, sports clinics, cooking demonstrations, construction of churches and a school, and conducted medical, dental and eye clinics. The mission group included other volunteers from Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Denton said there were some ups and downs during the mission trip, but God was in control of it all.

On the one hand, a week before the trip only seven translators had been secured for the entire group, well short of the goal. However, an additional 20 translators were signed up just days before the team's arrival in Brazil.

On the other hand, the medical team had a surplus of volunteers, so a group of medical students scheduled to work in the clinics were redeployed.

"Some of those students found themselves not as busy, but they were flexible and chose to minister in a different way," Denton said. "The medical students went into the neighborhood and knocked on doors to win people to the Lord."

Yes to Jesus

Craig Beeman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winnsboro, said his first mission trip to Brazil reminded him that people need God in Louisiana and around the world. He witnessed the power of that concept first hand when he shared Christ with someone in a city park.

When Beeman first asked if he was a Christian, the young man said, "Yes." But he was contradicted by a buddy who told Beeman the fellow was not a believer and that he needed Jesus.

"I was shocked that his friend basically shared the young man had just lied to me," Beeman said. "So, I pressed him and asked if having Jesus in control of his life and having his sins forgiven was something he wanted to do. He said, 'Yes.' I then shared with him we have to somehow tell God that is what we want Him to do. I shared with him a prayer expressing that and asked again if that is what he wanted to do. Again, he said yes.

"There is nothing like hearing a 'Yes' to Jesus," Beeman said. "We prayed and his body language visibly changed when he raised his head. That is what sharing the Gospel is all about – people coming to Christ. The trip was so encouraging that I am planning to return next year. Oh, and in-between now and then, I'll not give up in sharing Jesus with those here in Louisiana. Seeing God at work in Brazil reminded me that He is the same God at work in Louisiana."

Seeds planted

When he found out that more than enough volunteers were serving with the medical clinic, Christian Oliver and a few other medical students ventured out into the community to visit patients in their homes. They also used the opportunity to present Jesus to them.

During one of the home visits, Oliver established a relationship with a young man named Mateus who came forward to profess his faith in Christ during a worship service led by the team at First Baptist Church in Campanha. Oliver, who is a student at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, had the privilege of walking with him down the aisle.

"It was rewarding to be a mouth for God," said Oliver, who attends Highland Baptist Church in New Iberia when he is not at Yale. "There was nothing I could have done to speak in the reach of my own power since there was a language barrier, but I knew God was the one who spoke to him."

Myrtle Patin and her husband, Joe, helped build a church and painted a school. The principal of the school was touched by the love expressed by team members, and she repented and turned her life over to Christ during the dedication of the new house of worship.

"It is always a joy to see someone come to Jesus, but to see a leader of young people change to a path that can affect all of the young people she will come into contact with, and have an influence on, really is exciting," said Myrtle Patin, a member of Lincecum Baptist Church in Pollock. "She was with our team all through the week as we painted her school free of charge. Many Brazilians came by and commented that no one there would have done that for free. So I think that selfless act showed that there was something special about Christians that she needed in her life too."

Holy Spirit driven

Brent Johns enjoyed serving in Brazil alongside his mother, Sue, son, Bradley, and daughter, Breanna. His mother, who attends the First Baptist Church in Graceville, Florida, served on the eye glass team while the rest of the family, who attend the First Baptist Church in Houma, helped with sports clinics.

"My wife and I have always wanted to do missions and evangelism with our children, and give them the opportunities at an early age to do that," he said. "We can tell them all day long how important it is, but doing it together helps them to see it's real."

During one of the sports clinics, six college-aged men watched from a distance as the team taught the youth in attendance how to improve their basketball skills. After the clinic was over, the Holy Spirit moved and brought five of the young men under conviction of their need for a Savior.

"They sat in the stands and when we shared the Gospel with the younger students, you could tell they thought it was silly," Johns said. "When they left, we played a game with them and when we were done, we shared with them. This time they listened intently. No one is ever a lost cause. God has a way of changing a heart."

Difficulties navigated

Wayne Jenkins, who led his 34th trip to Brazil, led several people to Christ throughout the week. But by the time he was scheduled to leave the country, Jenkins was unable to fly because of complications with cancer.

With the help of a Brazilian congressman whose wife accepted Christ after hearing Jenkins preach many years ago in the country, he was able to navigate through government red tape to arrive back in Louisiana a few days later.

"All those seeds planted those years ago God used, in His grace, in my Dad's life now," Denton said. "It was a blessing to know of the growth in faith of those to whom you have ministered. The congressman and his wife were a part of a church plant that began in their home. The blessing came full circle when the same people, into whom my father had spoken life, were able to minister to him in his time of need."

Though he faced challenges, Jenkins also experienced the blessing of receiving special recognition for his evangelistic work in Brazil.

Marcio Alexandre de Moraes Santos, executive director of the Minas Gerais State Baptist Convention, presented Jenkins and Texas pastor Dwight Lowrie with awards that recognized them as two of the top 100 influential persons in the area of evangelism in Brazil.

They were given medallions marking 100 years of Baptist work in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. Jenkins retired in early 2018 as evangelism and church growth director for Louisiana Baptists. Lowrie has helped coordinate the trip for many years and is pastor of Liberty-Eylau Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas.


This article appeared in the Baptist Message (baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Brian Blackwell is a staff writer for the Baptist Message.

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22 baptized at Ark.

church's campus launch

By Staff

JONESBORO, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) Twenty-two people were baptized, and an overflow room had to be utilized during the launch service of a new campus of Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Sunday, Aug. 12 at Greene County Tech High School in Paragould.

"This was our first Sunday. We were in an auditorium that seats 999 people, and we had 1,055 people there," said Breck Freeman, administrative pastor of Central Baptist Church and former associate missions team leader at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. "We had an overflow room. ... That was one of the most amazing things."

"We had 15 people scheduled for baptism, but seven people who had already been saved came forward to be baptized," said Freeman.

In addition to those counted during the worship service held in Greene County Tech's auditorium, 219 children and church workers brought the church launch's total attendance to 1,274.

Before launching its Paragould campus, Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, had two Jonesboro campuses and a Newport campus. In the works for more than a year, Central Baptist's Paragould campus was born out of the church's recognition that around 200 church members were commuting to its other campuses from Paragould, according to Freeman.

Eighty-seven people attended Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro's Paragould campus' first new members' class on the last Sunday of July. The next new members' class is set for the end of August.

With 44,000 people in Greene County, around 44 percent of the population has no church affiliation.

"I think Central Baptist Paragould will give people a place to go," said Freeman. "It's a multi-generational church. Children to senior adults were all present on the first day. It's a family atmosphere, but it's also a church where single people can come and find their place. It's where high school and college students can find their place."

Central Baptist's Paragould campus is already planning to add a second service to accommodate its first-ever service attendance.

According to Freeman, Central Baptist Church is currently seeking to purchase property for a church building in Paragould, a project they hope to begin within the next 18 months.


This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (http://www.arkansasbaptist.org/), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

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N.M. VBS hosts super

heroes 'of all abilities'

By James Trevillian

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (Baptist New Mexican) -- Paragon Church in Rio Rancho hosted "Super Hero Camp" on July 9-11 from 9 a.m. until noon each day. Nearly 100 children were enrolled with daily attendance averaging about 85. The program was run by 47 adult and teenage volunteers.

In keeping with Paragon's focus on reaching the special needs community, flyers for camp emphasized that children "of all abilities" were welcome. Program elements were structured around being more accessible to children with special needs. Several participants took advantage of that aspect of the program.

The all-abilities emphasis began at registration. Parents were encouraged to provide information about allergies and special needs leaders should know about. A list of allergies was provided to the snacks team to ensure that alternative food was available to those who needed it.

Even though groups were broken down by age and grade, leaders were flexible with assigning children to groups in order to accommodate the needs of children. Some siblings and relatives were assigned to the same group despite age differences. Each group had two or three "guides" who were tasked with moving groups through each rotation and getting to know their children. The guides were able to pay special attention to the needs of their group, seeking assistance or accommodation when necessary.

Some children with special needs are sensitive to noise, smells or crowds. A table with kinetic sand was made available for children during the lesson time to help children who needed a distraction or something to help them focus. A kiddie-pool filled with rice was stationed in the games area for the same reason.

The church partnered with Sparrow Dance Productions, its next-door-neighbor, to provide a quiet space in the event that children were overwhelmed by noise and people. The dance studio also provided a space for the drama rotation after the first day of camp proved to be a bit too crowded for the church building.

Security volunteers were also an integral part of the program. They watched over the movement of children between the two sides of the building (church and dance studio). They also kept an eye on the exterior doors of the building, watching for any children who wanted to leave and explore the parking lot.

Lessons and daily themes were planned by the VBS leadership team. The camp was based on 1 Timothy 1:7, emphasizing that in place of fear God has given us power, love and discipline. These "super hero" traits were tied into each part of the day, from crafts to drama to lessons. Children were also introduced to every day super heroes, such as an Air Force pilot and an Albuquerque police officer.

A daily missions segment was also hosted for 'Super Heroes in Training." Lessons instructed children in missions, emphasizing SBC ministries such as the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board. Children were also challenged to help raise funds during camp for a missions project taking place in Honduras.

The team from Paragon was raising additional funds to purchase food for the people in the village they were visiting. The children raised $456.11 to support "beans and rice and Jesus Christ" in Honduras.

Super Hero Camp closed with a block party for families on the evening of July 11. Participants enjoyed a bounce house, hot dogs and desserts provided by church members. Central Baptist Association lent Paragon a snow cone machine. Church members were able to interact one-on-one with visiting families during the block party.

Super Hero Camp marked several milestones for Paragon. This was the first time Paragon Church hosted VBS in its own facility, having moved to its current location in October 2017. Additionally, the church was able to support the VBS using volunteers from within the congregation. Previous VBS programs required the use of visiting mission teams from other churches to help bolster the number of volunteers. While such help is always welcome, VBS leaders remarked that this shows the church moving from being a "receiving church" to being a "sending church."

VBS Coordinator Miriam Trevillian expressed appreciation for the volunteers whose "enthusiasm, persistence, and sacrifice have blessed not only me, but also the church and the kids we served." She remarked how each volunteer served in areas matching their "particular strength." Several volunteers who were unavailable during the week of the event were able to participate by helping design promotional materials, purchasing supplies or preparing craft materials. A team spent Saturday morning prior to the event decorating the building. One group of volunteers spent time cutting out more than 100 capes for one craft.

Though no decisions were recorded during camp, the Gospel was clearly presented and spiritual conversations took place with many children. When asked to read a passage of Scripture, a fifth-grade student remarked that this was the first time she had ever read from the Bible. She was given a Bible of her own to take home and read. Several children also commented on how Super Hero Camp was the most fun event they had attended all summer.


This article appeared in the Baptist New Mexican (gobnm.com), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. James Trevillian is social media specialist and webmaster for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

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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 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. Except for minor style, security, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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