I love having options. Options give color to my day and add flair and excitement to otherwise mundane activities. Decisions like where to eat dinner, what mode of transportation I’ll use to get there, and what I can wear to dinner all make a simple dining experience a unique adventure (even if I do usually choose to “Have it (my) way” at Burger King.) This is just the American way: choosing options. Within the Christian world there are also options. God instilled within us a spirit of free will, allowing us to choose the church we wish to attend, the seminars we want to attend to learn more about Christ, and even how committed we are to Christ. However, when we make the decision to follow Christ, there are some core Christian beliefs that cease to be options and become obligations. The Bible, the inspired, inerrant Word of God, outlines these core beliefs. These obligations distinguish us as His people. As believers, we are to shove aside our own desires and carry out these obligations. One of these obligations is the continual promotion of Christ’s Great Commission. In Matthew 28:19, Christ directed us to “go forth and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” As I frequently remind my congregation, this core belief is not an option; it is a directive that must be obeyed. We are commanded to bring people to Christ! The Great Commission is something the first church in Acts understood well. In Acts 2, the church’s pursuit of the Great Commission resulted in daily additions. Shortly thereafter, their numbers began multiplying (Acts 6:1), and then their congregations were described as “. . .a great number [that] believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21). This urgency resulted in churches being strengthened in the faith (Acts 16:5). Obviously, the church in the book of Acts knew the importance of Christ’s command and worked feverishly for its success. They recognized that the more people that heard the gospel, the more people would accept Christ. This passion paid off, as is evidenced by the church’s exponential growth. As General Baptists we are likewise committed to the continual pursuit of the Great Commission. Our denomi-
national missions are of paramount importance in spreading the gospel of Christ and furthering the Great Commission. Our National and International Mission programs are blessed with ordinary people who have extraordinary gifts and burdens for the lost. They provide an opportunity for personal contact between the financial and/or prayer supporter and the missionary. Not only does this partnership enable joint celebrations for mission field successes, it also provides encouragement and burden-sharing for obstacles encountered. Our mission departments are staffed with General Baptist men and women who have made a commitment to uphold our missionaries in prayer and who believe in the vision of General Baptist Missions and the urgency for its advancement. Each personnel and financial decision of our ministry departments is closely monitored to insure the highest level of accountability of supporter’s dollars. General Baptist mission programs are making a difference in our country and the world! I believe in our General Baptist Mission programs. I believe they are the key to exponential growth not only for General Baptists, but ultimately for Christ’s kingdom. As General Baptists, we cannot and will not scale back our missions programs for the sake of saving a few dollars. More missionaries must be sent. More money must be raised. More churches need to be strengthened. There is no room to play it safe with evangelism. There is not enough time left for us to shift our programs into neutral. The clock is ticking on every life, but salvation is available to all people. Communities still need to be impacted with the Good News. There are still countries whose inhabitants need to accept Christ, grow in His word, and reach their fellow countrymen. Are you convinced of the direct correlation between those who hear the gospel and those who accept the gospel? I am! Would you like to see exponential growth for the Kingdom like the church in Acts? I do! We must stay focused and committed to increasing the numbers in heaven and decreasing the number of occupants in hell. The advancement of the Great Commission is not an option – it is an obligation. I pray you will join me in executing this Christ-given obligation and impacting our world for Christ through missions!
General Baptist have always been missionary in spirit. It is part of our theology of a general atonement. Since we believe that “Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man” we regularly engage in evangelism and missions to share that good news. In the early years of our movement missions simply meant reaching the western frontier of the United States by planting churches and engaging in camp meetings. Shortly after our national organization was formed in 1870, a strategy was developed to establish a mission board to oversee further efforts to plant churches in the United States. Across the years this effort resulted in the organization of a National Missions Department as one aspect of the larger ministry of General Baptists. By 1911 General Baptists had organized a Foreign Mission Society to support work overseas. The Logans were sent to Guam to establish work that eventually expanded to Saipan and The Philippines. To further garner support for these overseas efforts a Women’s Missionary Society was organized. These early efforts resulted in the organization of a Department of International Missions as one aspect of the larger work of General Baptist Ministries. Women’s Missionary Society now functions in a support role as Women’s Ministries. To expand and enhance missionary outreach General Baptist leaders organized the cooperative ministry of Unified Giving in the 1960s. To give a single voice to our missionary agencies denominational restructuring in the 1990s resulted in a re-organization that combined previously independent organizations into General Baptist Ministries. In this expanded special feature, the philosophy that supports each department’s missionary efforts is followed by descriptions and testimonies to the effectiveness of those missionary causes. You will find a variety of missionary stories and challenging mission options that provide room for full participation.
Our missionary cause lies embedded in one of our most popular slogans: We do together what we cannot do alone.
...doing together what we cannot do alone. 7
Why We Plant Churches
By Donald Key, Director of National Missions Why do we plant new churches? There are several reasons why General Baptists develop new leaders for the purpose of planting new churches. We plant new churches because people need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. In many areas of the world there is no local expression of the church. Even in America only about 20% of people attend church weekly (David T. Olson, The American Church in Crisis). In some areas of the country the percentage of people who are connected to a healthy Christian church is even lower. We plant new churches because we believe everyone needs to hear and should have the opportunity to hear about Jesus. We plant new churches because 85% of people who attend a church plant are unchurched and spiritually disenfranchised. They’ve had a bad experience, been judged because of their past or the church just hasn’t seemed relevant to them. In many cases, established churches have not been interested in reaching the unchurched, therefore, these unchurched, spiritually disenfranchised people have not been received and welcomed. We plant new churches committed to tearing down the barriers that keep people at arm’s length.
We plant new churches that discover ways to reach the unchurched and clearly communicate the gospel. We plant new churches because Jesus said, “Go”. When He said, “Go” He spoke to Christ followers. The Great Commission is not a suggestion; rather it contains marching orders for the Body of Christ. God’s plan for reaching the world is the church. There is no plan B. If the church doesn’t go, then who will? If the church doesn’t go now, then when will we go? If the church doesn’t go here, in our own land, then where will we go? We plant new churches because we want to be obedient to Jesus. We plant new churches because of our faith. We believe in Jesus and we want others to believe in Him. We believe He is God’s only means of salvation for a world of sinners. We believe the love of God makes a difference in a person’s life. We want everyone to experience that love. We believe that God loves everyone and that every life is important; we express that belief through church planting. We plant new churches because we want everyone to experience the joy of a relationship with Jesus. We plant new churches because we want others to know Him, experience Him, and join us in reaching our world for Christ. We plant new churches because church planting has been shown to be “the most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven” (Peter Wagner). Through church planting we bring the hope of Jesus Christ to men, women, and children whose lives have been destroyed or damaged by sin. We offer them the good news of Jesus and the fellowship of a loving church family. Through church planting we are obedient to the Great Commission. By planting new churches we share our faith collectively in ways and places we cannot do alone.
1. The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects. 2. Cooperative interaction among groups, especially among the acquired subsidiaries or merged parts of a corporation, that creates an enhanced combined effect. [From Greek sunergi , cooperation, from sunergos, working together; see synergism.] Within the framework of National Missions the SYNERGY program/process brings together likeminded churches and ministries for the purposes of planting new churches. SYNERGY places the accountability for a new work back into the hands of those who partner in its sponsorship. SYNERGY introduces a three way partnership between National Missions, the church planter and the local/regional sponsors of the new church plant. This partnership provides more local
ownership and involvement in the new church plant. In many ways it is a further extension of the REAP program started years ago. The REAP program planned for permanent partnerships between and among associations to accomplish church planting. SYNERGY plans for specific partnership in a particular church plant. This allows energetic support of a project without the sometimes tedious work of maintaining a formal, on-going organization. In practice SYNERGY often requires the church planter to actively recruit sponsors in a matching grant type of agreement with National Missions. The specifics of each SYNERGY project are spelled out in a Ministry Agreement with each church planter. This advance work by the church planter hones his skills in leadership and vision casting. With cooperation from local churches, associations and mission boards additional SYNERGY projects can be developed to plant more churches and see more people saved.
The Church Planting Process I. Initial Contact â€“ usually this is initiated by the prospective church planter and consists of a phone interview II. Application/ Pre-Assessment Process - Application Submitted - Church Planting Self-Assessment Completed - Awareness of Church Planting Demonstrated III. Assessment Center Evaluation Scheduled and Completed IV.
Training and Evaluation Process - One-week intensive - One-year internship
V. Community Assessment Process VI. An Agreement Process results in a formal Ministry Agreement that includes
- - - - - - - - - -
A basic ministry description A strategic ministry plan A financial prospectus Benchmarks for evaluation A funding plan and timeline Expectations for church plant Conflict and grievance management procedures Continuing education expectations Associational and denominational requirements Coaching agreement
When We Plant Churches We Change Lives The authorâ€™s name has been withheld to respect her privacy.
A real story of life change from the ministries of Genesis Church, West Plains, Missouri.
EASTER REPORTS 2013 God is doing some amazing things among our recently planted churches. The following reports demonstrate that Christ is still in the business of reaching the lost and changing lives. Pastor Brandon Petty of Generation Church, Portland, TN reports having 1,300 in five services with 95 people coming to Christ. Pastor Carl Nichols of Relevant Church, Locust Grove, GA reports having 6,000 people on campus during their Egg Drop, 800 in service on Sunday AM with 35 people coming to Christ. Pastor Kris Freeman of Revolution Church, Whitehouse, TN reports having 518 in worship attendance, 3 saved, 17 recommitments, largest offering of the year. Gave 10% of Easter offering to sponsoring church. Pastor Vince Daniel of Real Life Church, Mountain Home, AR reports 609 in attendance, 20 people coming to Christ, many new volunteers. Pastor Terrell Somerville of Freedom Church, Gallatin, TN reports having 2,200 in attendance, 94 persons coming to Christ. Pastor Gary Baldus of New Walk Church, Zephyrhills, FL reports 240 people coming to Christ during their weekend of Easter services. The total attendance over the weekend was over 4,550 people! 11
“All this time, God has been preparing me to return home to the Highlands of Tennessee, and for Refuge Church, a safe place for people to find Jesus. In October, 2013 we will begin the next phase of planting that church by relocating to Cookeville, Tennessee. In this Tennessee town of 65,000 directly between Nashville and Knoxville on Interstate 40 we will live out the dream. So many of our General Baptist pastors have shared this dream all the way back to the 1820s and the days of our founder Benoni Stinson. Our dream is to share the gospel with people who have yet to hear that Jesus died for all so that all might be saved. We dream for a safe place, a Refuge...” Even though there are 116 churches in Cookeville, studies show that 70% of the population are either unchurched or dechurched. This fact
alone broke the heart of Dustin and Melissa Thompson when they were praying about where God would send them to plant a new church. In the fall of 2013, Dustin and Melissa will move to Cookeville to begin the work of establishing a new General Baptist Church. It will be the only General Baptist Church in Cookeville and the only General Baptist Church in Tennessee east of Lafayette. Dustin and Melissa are looking for partners in this exciting and groundbreaking church plant. They need people to commit to pray for them as they launch out by faith to plant Refuge Church. They understand that without God’s blessings their efforts will be in vain. They also understand the importance of having God’s people support them in their work. They are also looking for financial partners. Starting a new
church is very expensive. In addition, Dustin and Melissa are given the task of raising personal funds for this church plant. This makes them partners with National Missions in more ways than just being church planters. Dustin and Melissa are looking for those special people who feel like that God is calling them to move with them to Cookeville. These are “home” missionaries, people who are courageous enough to launch out into the deep and cast the net to reap a harvest for Jesus Christ. Finally, the Thompsons are looking for churches that would like to get involved by sending outreach teams to work in the Cookeville area. These are short-term missionaries who come on the scene, help with the work and then return home. They don’t forget the mission, but they are not permanent residents.
About Cookville, Tennessee Cookeville is a city in Putnam County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 23,923 at the 2000 census. The 2010 Census of Cookeville’s population was 30,435, and the combined total of those living in Cookeville’s zip codes in 2010 was 65,014. It is recognized as one of the country’s micropolitan areas, smaller cities which nevertheless function as significant economic hubs. Of the twenty micropolitan areas in Tennessee, Cookeville is the largest; the Cookeville micropolitan area’s 2010 Census 12
students. Tennessee Tech is ranked among the Top Public Schools in the South.
population was 106,042. Cookeville is home to Tennessee Technological University and its 12,158
You can help! National Missions would like to encourage you and your church to get behind this church planting couple and support them with your prayers, finances and even your presence. If you have any questions you can contact National Missions at (573) 714-7700, don.key@ generalbaptist.com or Pastor Dustin at (417) 505-9416.
Church Planting Coordinator, Gerardo Antivero teaching at Iglesia Torre Fuerte.
Deacon Jimmy Vargas translating for Bro. Donald Key at Iglesia Torre Fuerte
glesias Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower Church) has just completed their applica tion for incorporation with the state of North Carolina. Pastor Nicholas Chavez leads the congregation. They are currently meeting in a donated space provided by a local Christian businessman but have plans to move to a larger facility. This requires architectural drawings and bids from local tradesmen for the work to be performed. They anticipate they will be in their new facility by the end of July. Current worship attendance is around one hundred. This church will become a hub for training leaders to plant new churches in the North and South Carolina region. Gerardo Antivero, a member of the church, who is serving as Church Planting Coordinator for National Missions, will provide leadership and discipleship training while watching for potential church planters within the Hispanic community in the Hickory-Newton North Carolina area. He has previously planted churches in South Dakota and North Carolina. Iglesias Torre Fuerteâ€™s congregation is made up of people from Venezuela, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Uruguay, El Salvador and the United States. It is truly an international church whose members are bound together by language and by their love for Christ and others. In just a few months they have grown in number and vision. They have had community events that have included marriage seminars. This has brought new people to the congregation with more opportunities to reach out to the Hispanic community. Pastor Chavez and CPC Gerardo Antivero will be with us at this yearâ€™s Summit in Florida. When you see them make them welcome.
By Donald Key, Director of National Missions
erriam-Webster defines an intern as â€œan ad vanced student or graduate usually in a professional field (as medicine or teaching) gaining supervised practical experience (as in a hospital or classroom)â€?. In the case of church planting an intern is a church planting candidate who serves under the supervision of an experienced church planter for the purpose of gaining practical knowledge in planting a new church. Those who complete a church planting internship have a greater chance of being successful than those who launch churches with no training at all.
with how to lead and respond to the many challenges church planters face while launching and leading a new church.
Internship is a process of hands on training. During this time of training the intern learns how to set up and tear-down each week in preparation for weekend worship services. The intern also learns how to cast vision and lead a group of volunteers to plant a church. Other ministry related training consists of developing and implementing childrenâ€™s and youth ministries along
General Baptist National Missions also offers a longer internship program that usually lasts for one year. During this time the intern actually becomes part of the staff of an existing church plant. Responsibilities are many and varied. However, during this time the intern learns how to lead, how to develop a ministry plan, how to
General Baptist National Missions has two programs of internship. One consists of an intensive weeklong program of training. During this time a seasoned, successful church planter leads the churchplanting candidate. The intern spends his time in the company of and observing the lead pastor as he goes about the daily task of leading a church plant. National Missions usually funds week-long intensives.
develop a budget, and other essentials related to church planting. The one-year internship is a partnership between the intern, the host church, and National Missions. Typically, a ministry agreement will be developed and approved, stating that the intern will raise one-third of his salary, the church will pay one- third and National Missions will pay one-third. This insures everyone is invested in the process. This gives the church an extra staff person for one year at a reduced cost. This gives the intern a great education and this gives National Missions a future church planter who has been assessed and trained for church planting. National Missions and Relevant Church has entered into an internship agreement with Irv Ryder. Irv has pastored in Tennessee and Georgia and is looking to plant somewhere between Nashville, TN and North Georgia.
Irv Ryder Family
1911: “The first organized women’s work of
General Baptist met on June 30, 1911, approximately two months before Rev. Arthur and Mrs. Edith Logan sailed for Guam as the first General Baptist missionaries.”(Duck, p i) The motto of that first session was: “The Women to the Front in Concentrated, Consecrated Effort for Missions” (Dossett and Gann, p 103).
The General Baptist Women’s Board released $3000 in property funds specifically set aside for building expansion to the work of Reverend A.L. Luttrell on Guam (Carr, p 66).
(following the retaking of Guam from Japanese occupation during WW II): “Through the “Gifts For Guam” committee, organized by a former governor of Guam, the General Baptist Women’s Missionary Societies were able to send seventy-two large boxes of clothing and shoes to Guam. The boxes were delivered by the Navy before mail service to the island was resumed. To Rev. Sablan and his people the boxes meant far more than just the much needed clothing. The boxes represented justification of their faith and confidence in the General Baptist people in the states upon whom they were so dependent for mission support” (Dossett and Gann, p 100).
1953: At the Women’s Conference that year
the newly published book, General Baptist at Work in the Pacific by the Women’s Mission Board, was presented for sale. The Mite Box offering that year was $13,440.
1989: The 1980’s were another era of great
progress and growth in the women’s work. The women became Key Donors to the Headquarters Campaign Fund giving $5000 to the project. Over the ten-year period Foreign Missions received $590,271 and Home Missions received $489,250. Other allocations for specific projects or areas were also given (Duncan and Runyon, p 395).
The World Missions Endowment was developed during that year. The goal of the endowment then, as now, was $1,000,000, with the interest from the endowment helping to fund the expenses of the Executive Office (Duncan and Runyon, p 397). In 1997, the Bylaws of the Women’s Missionary Conference were revised and the name of the organization was changed to Women’s Ministries, Inc. (Duncan and Runyon, p 401).
Throughout this decade the Women’s Ministries groups across the denomination have remained true to the original motivation behind the creation of Women’s Ministries: support for General Baptist ministries. Gifts to International Missions, National Missions, General Baptist Bible College, Compassionate Care, and Oakland City University have all received much needed monetary support from Women’s Ministries. Looking back at our earliest beginnings we could use the slogan of an old, old cigarette commercial, “You’ve come a long way, Baby.” Looking ahead to our next 100 years, we do not know where God will lead us or what doors He will open for Women’s Ministries, or what He might ask us to do, but one thing is certain: there is an excitement in anticipating the journey. This abbreviated history was compiled by Linda Jenkins for our 100 year celebration at the 2011 Mission & Ministry Summit. I came across it while looking for another document, and found myself absorbed in its content. I am in awe of the accomplishments of General Baptist women over the years, and find it incredibly encouraging to be reminded of our “chutzpah”! I get many questions about changes in Women’s Ministries. Yes, we have changed; and no, we have not. The way we communicate, work, and dream changes with our culture. WHAT we communicate never does. WM is no longer the primary group linking senders with goers. Websites, social media, e-letters, and efficient International and National Missions offices covers that. We ARE vital as conduits of hope. • Hope for missionaries struggling with day to day battles. • Hope for church planters stepping into the scary world of faith-living. • Hope for international sisters and ministries. • Hope for women across the world or across the pews scarred by divorce, disappointment, abuse, and self loathing. Last November, women clearly stated their opinions. Summarized briefly they said, “Don’t quit”! Dr. Murray must have been whispering in their ears.
We still exist to carry out the job we are on this earth to do. We. Carry. Hope. That, my sweet friends, is missions.
Across the state or across the globe, families called to the mission field face unique struggles. One of the ways Women’s Ministries “plugs” into missions is by supporting missionary families. Read the accounts of these two extraordinary women who have followed their husbands to lead extraordinary lives.
A Journal of the Heart
Melissa Thompson (called with her husband, Dustin, and daughter, Ava, to plant a church in Cookeville, TN) October 2010: The Dream My husband just challenged my world. I had just arrived in Georgia to help our teens assist Relevant Church with their launch. I arrived rather late, but Dustin waited up for me. I sensed his heart was heavy the moment as I saw him. He took me to the side and asked me to pray for him because he felt God leading him to do something big. I panicked a bit at what this big thing might be. I knew, but I didn’t want to admit that I knew. I had a feeling our little family was about to take a huge leap of faith. Dustin looked at me and said, “God wants us to plant a church, and I believe he has given me a vision for it. It will be named Refuge.” He went on to show me in Scripture where God had revealed the plan to him. I was scared and excited at the same time. How could God use us in that big of a way? We are just Dustin and Melissa. Weeks have passed and I am still trying to wrap my head around what this journey will be like. I feel blessed to have the support we have from Terrell Somerville and our church; they are excited for us on this journey as well! I am a little anxious to see what the assessors say about us when we meet with them. They will either confirm our calling, or let us know that we should be moving in a different direction.
May 2011: The Assessment The week long assessment process has finally come and gone. This was one of the hardest weeks I have ever experienced, but I am grateful. For a week we were scrutinized. We were judged for every word we said or move we made. We were challenged about our past, present, and future. We were tested and pushed until all of our walls were down. It was in those moments Dustin and I could see who we really are; we are a great team! I am so honored to be on this journey with my husband. We received a “green light” to plant a church! Now, the reality begins. I knew we were called to do this, but part of me thought that maybe we would be told we were wrong. But God was using this time to prepare my heart. There is no turning back now! August 2011: The Move Wow, we have a huge opportunity! Jeff Smith, pastor of Genesis Church in West Plains, has offered to put us on staff, allowing us a two year internship to learn as much as we can about church planting. I am anxious about moving for two years. Ava is so young, and we are leaving our family. This is going to be hard, but I know that it is the right step to take. This kind of handson training will be a great way to prepare us for what we will be going through. Starting from scratch will be the hardest part. I am struggling with insecurity. What if they don’t like how we lead? What if they love Dustin, but hate me? God, I just pray that you walk with us on this journey.
October 2012: This Is Real We have been here in West Plains for about a year. We are starting to get calls to come and present our vision for Refuge at different churches, and we are raising money so that we can plant in the fall of 2014. I should be more excited, but I am kind of scared. Our pastor and his wife have just recently experienced persecution by some media venues here, and I know our family should be prepared for the same. This was the first time I witnessed such slander up close and personal, and my heart is broken. I know that Jesus suffered persecution and yet He continued His journey to the cross! I know that God has brought us to this, and He will bring us through it. April 2013: Preparing for The Big Move Alright! Here we are. We are just months away from the end of our two year internship, and we have learned much. As we prepare to relocate again, I am feeling apprehensive. This dream that we have followed is just about to come true! Have you ever wanted something so badly, but when it was almost in reach, you had doubts? Am I qualified? Am I ready? This move will be especially hard because Ava has grown and she loves everyone here. She has her own friends now. She is her own little person with her own life, and as far as she can remember, it has been here in West Plains. This move will be harder on her than the previous one, and it will be harder for me than I thought too. I am leaving family again. I just keep telling myself that God is preparing us to be that kind of church for someone else. We are going to be family to the lost! We will be that safe place where people can meet Jesus. We will be their Refuge!
People often ask how they can bless missionary & pastoral families. There are the obvious answers, of course: contribute monetarily and pray. But what if we kept a storehouse of gifts that could be showered on them to help them through transitional times? Consider joining Womenâ€™s Ministries in building a bank of gift cards that can be distributed to international missionary and national church planting families when they embark on a new journey or return to an old one. Buy gift cards (find them in any grocery/department store) for online shopping sites or commonly found department stores. For a small fee (around $5 usually) a loaded credit/debit card allows flexibility. They can be used anywhere credit cards are acceptedâ€Ślike in airports and grocery stores! Send them to Womenâ€™s Ministries, 100 Stinson Drive, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901; or bring them to Summit 2013!
Thee and Me and Three in Tow Patricia Hammond (called with her husband and three children to Davao City, Philippines)
“...where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16, 17 ESV). This is the verse I prayed over my future husband long before Josh came into the picture. Little did I know how literally God would play that out in my life! I prayed that he would be a missionary, but the “where”, I was just thinking “China”, but He showed me the world. Other than China, we’ve been in Saipan, Hong Kong, and now the Philippines. The longer we worked overseas, the more we realized what a hindrance it was to hold a Chinese passport. In the past seven years or so, we always had to make a trip back to the States every year in order to keep my US Green Card status. It was time consuming and expensive. As of February 22, 2013, after years of “battle” with US Immigration, I finally became a citizen of the United States of America, one nation under God. It has so far made it much easier travel wise as I am allowed to enter countries like The Philippines for a certain amount of time without a visa. “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7 ESV). 20
We started serving in Hong Kong in 2008,
and I always thought it would be the place we called “home”. We loved the city, the culture and the church. We invested in the lives of many people, we had great friends there, and my family was close. Then Josh “had to” go to The Philippines. He came home and shared the exciting experiences with me, and then he asked, “What do you think about moving to the Philippines?” My answer was “No!” I listed all the reasons, but he wasn’t convinced, so I went to God. My main concern/ worry was the safety of my children. Even our Filipino friends in Hong Kong said they would not go back to a place that’s known for kidnapping and terrorism. I was reading the Bible and praying one day, hoping God would show me a verse to show my husband that He was not calling us to the Philippines. What stood out to me, however, was “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him”(Proverbs 16:7 ESV). I had no more words but trust and follow His lead. “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:9 ESV). It was easy for me to say I will go wherever God calls me until my three kids came along. We’ve been here in the Philippines since March 28. We flew on four airplanes, moved from one city to another, transferred from hotel to hotel and even slept on the floor. My two toddlers have had numerous inconsolable melt downs at “home” and in public, and it does cause me to ask, am I making the right choice for my kids? Then I am always
brought back to the verse a missionary wife shared with me who had lived in a foreign land for over 30 years. “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise”(Hebrews 11:9 ESV). My children shall be with us where God has called us as Abraham had his son live in the land where he dwelled. “For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike” (1 Samuel 30:24 ESV). This people group called General Baptist has been a tremendous blessing to me and my family. I remember the tent making days when I only had the equivalent of one U.S. dollar to spend each day. God brought Josh and the General Baptist brothers and sisters into my life and I was able to do full-time ministry. I know many of you have been supporting us from the very beginning. We would not have been able to do what we did without your obedient and faithful giving toward our ministry. It’s not easy for an introvert like me to stand in front of people raising funds, but I’m grateful that many of you were so kind and welcoming to us. I know it must have been for the sake of our three cute little kiddos! We have now embarked on a new journey in missions and we do so knowing there are brothers and sisters like you beside us as we go.
Just try building a castle out of Legos using only a basic set of these iconic plastic blocks. It will never work. Not only will you fail, but you may need to visit an anger management expert before you’re done. Imagine, if you will, hundreds of small groups gathered together. Each group is assigned a project to complete and a small box of plastic blocks with which to build. Every group has at least one creative genius. You know the type. They see a grander structure than can possibly be assembled using one measly box of blocks. Then they realize that the small group behind them is trying to do the same thing. They discover that they can create something closer to what they had originally envisioned if they throw all their blocks in the same pile and start there. Then another group joins in, and another and another until the pieces form a beautiful castle complete with landscaping! Think of your Women’s Ministries Board as the creative types that want to create a Kingdom-worthy castle. We see ministry possibilities that multiply faster than a church planter’s family (sorry, guys…couldn’t resist.) We NEED a castle if we are going to resource and work the Acts 1:8 challenge of going into all the world with His hope. If you attend the 2013 Mission & Ministry Summit in Tampa, Florida, you will be handed a connection card and building block from Women’s Ministries. Bring your block to the WM display area and add it to the others. While you’re doing that, return your card with contact information so that we can connect with you, answer questions about Women’s Ministries you have wanted to ask, and /or add you to the mailing list for Elevate (the WM weekly e-letter). Then, join us for the Women’s Ministries workshop session at Summit. Patti Thornton and Women’s Ministries Board members will facilitate The Woman Connection as we launch a “building program” for this national organization of women connecting as leaders, mentors, missionaries, and learners. You could be the crucial block we need! Not going? Just visit us on Facebook http://tinyurl. com/GBWomen, email email@example.com, or watch for our new blog site! We are building something new on a sturdy, proven foundation. Be part of the re-construction! 21
Last year while on a trip overseas, I found myself in the middle a very interesting conversation with a dear friend of mine, one of our national leaders (you know who you are). We were discussing the challenges of denominational and local church ministry, the frustrations of leadership, and the feelings of not being equipped appropriately to succeed. I assured him he was not alone in his feelings….. In fact, I would imagine most of us have had times in ministry when our weaknesses became glaringly obvious and the need for training and equipping were never more evident! I have found that at such moments, we either find a way forward to the information and experiences we need to be a better servant and person, or we start to develop a feeling of being trapped and limited, victims of our environment. Ultimately, if we are not equipped correctly for ministry, we have a low level of satisfaction and we will dry up, burn out, or at best plateau. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
How would you feel in ministry if you had more confidence? How would you feel if you had a more comprehensive game plan for the direction of your church? How would it impact things if you had a better grasp on communication skills or how to build biblically sound relationships? How would you feel if you had more tools in your management tool belt as it related to ministry, the pastorate, or the mission field? What if you had a developed theology of dealing with pain in ministry? If you had a grasp on these things I believe you would have much more satisfaction. You would run the race a little faster. You would not be as discouraged, since discouragement is the occupational hazard of ministry. All in all, you would feel like you are living up to more of your potential in Christ. AMEN? And who doesn’t want to do this?
By Sean Warren, Director of General Baptist International Ministries
So how does this relate to General Baptist International Missions? We believe it is hard being church leaders and pastors…and missionaries too. In the past we have had an unhealthy turnover in missionaries. Although there is always turnover there are some things we can do to limit them. Here are a few things we have been doing over the last couple of years.
1. 2. 3. 4.
Significant assessments before placement by trained professionals. Realistic expectations of the ministry and life overseas. Pre-field training program at the Center for Intercultural Training. Ministry Development for our missionaries on the field by attending the Leadership Matters Course (LMC).
We believe this dramatically helps us get and keep the right people for the ministry. Ministry is hard and whatever we can do to better equip our missionaries is what we are committed to do.
Not Just Missionaries, BUT Training Opportunities for YOU! I would like to highlight the type of training we are giving our missionaries now through the Leadership Matters Course. And we want you to know, this training is available for the local pastor, elders/deacons, or any leader in the church. That means YOU!
In our strategic partnership with LMC, we now can offer the following areas of skill development training to our missionaries:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Communication Management Relational Motivational Devotional Life Management Training Public Relations Leadership
For more specifics on the curriculum you can visit http://www.lmccourse. org/curriculum.html. Becky Coomer, Jason Warren, Dr. Prakash, Sam Ramdial, Joyce Porcadilla, Kenneth Muputol, Josh Hammond, Jan Mercado, Keith Bowers, Kris Yeomans and I have found this training extremely transformational . It allows us to be on the same page, and equips us with a new set of skills to tackle the ministry ahead of us. But this training is also for you! If you are interested, you can go the website http://www. lmccourse.org/index.html and register for the course. Training takes place all over the world in small groups ranging between 30-36 people. The training is highly interactive with a mixture of organizations and cultures represented. If you are a pastor or leader of one of our General Baptist churches and you think you need to expand your leadership skills, please contact us and let us know. We can even see if we can find some scholarship money for you! Thanks for believing in your missionaries, and supporting them as they build their leadership skills! 25
n 1947 young Ed Stevens came to the Island of Saipan with his fam ily. Reverend Stevens had a vision and that vision was to see that all the people of the island would come to hear the Gospel, the Good News! He worked for several years to see that vision come to fruition, including planting a church, until God decided to take him home, much too early by our earthly standards, before he was 40 years old. Even though Reverend Stevens’ time on the earth ended, the ministry on Saipan did not end. Over the last 66 years other ministers have come and gone doing their parts to further the cause of Christ on this tiny island in the Pacific. In that time a school was launched to help facilitate a quality education to the children of the island. That school’s name is Saipan Community School. As you can see, the vision Ed Stevens cast continues to this day. I have had the privilege over the past school year to be the fourth grade teacher at Saipan Community School. My understanding of that ministry and how it impacts the island for future generations has grown by leaps and bounds. These children literally are from all over the world. Every day, in a classroom setting, I am allowed to see differing cultures 26
interacting and coming together as one. It truly has been a blessing! Also for this past school year my family and I have had the opportunity to be a part of Saipan Community Church and learn about the people, the cultures, and the background of this unique family of God. It also has been an amazing blessing. We have been touched by their generosity and willingness to accept us as one of their own in such a short time period. The beauty of a multi-cultural church is something that cannot simply be described. The closest I believe I can get is that it is a small glimpse of Heaven to see many “tribes and tongues” professing the name of our Lord under one roof. It is an exciting time on our island as many things are happening for the better and many people are catching a glimpse of what could be. One of the exciting things happening here on the island of Saipan, is actually happening right here in our own church. In February it was announced that I will assume the Lead Pastor role of Saipan Community Church on June1st of 2013. The role serves a dual function, since the Lead Pastor is also the Director of Saipan Community School. I will tell you the same thing that I have told the congregation: I am assuming the mantle of leadership of this church that started with the Reverend Ed Stevens so many years ago; it now falls to me. This position is something I do not take lightly, in fact it scares me some, and that is a good thing. If I felt that I could handle it all alone, then what room is there for faith?
Saipan Community Church
Vesper Service Ministry Update By Roger Abe Filipino Congregation Pastor, Saipan Community Church
Faith that allows God to do the things that only He can do. I am well aware I cannot do this without His intervention and without the help of those who are part of God’s ever growing family. I am reminded of a quote by a man named Powlison, “It is curiously comforting to know that we are called beyond our capability.” With these unfolding events there is an excitement, as well as a building anticipation, for two more members of the team who will be joining us on this mission. Reverend Phil Warren and family along with Robbie Myers and family will be working alongside Pastor Roger Abe, our associate pastor and leader of the large Filipino congregation, and me by the end of July 2013. The implementation of this four-man team has excitement written all over it! We all have spoken about our vision to expand the church here in Saipan, to raise up new leaders, to disciple new believers, and to send out church planters. Team Saipan is looking forward to what God has in store for each of us personally, the church, the island, and the world! This mission field here in Saipan is one of the longest standing foreign ministries of General Baptists. We are looking forward to what God has planned for its future. Please pray for each of us as we strive to do our parts in ministering to the people of Saipan who are truly from all over the world. In fact that is part of our vision, “Reaching an Island to Touch the World.” Will you join us?
The Vesper Service of Saipan Community Church, a Filipino service, was organized in 1978. It has over 100 members in attendance. Aside from regular worship every Sunday, 13 Cell Groups meet weekly for Bible Study. These include 30 youth who gather for spiritual nurture and training every Saturday. God has blessed us with the rare privilege to celebrate our Silver Anniversary February 17, 2013 with our Theme: Pressing on Higher Grounds. As an initial salvo to our celebration, we baptized 11 members (7 youth and 4 adults) on February 16 with Pastors Jason and Greg assisting. We invited the former Pastor Rev. Ernie Pinzon from Canada to be our guest speaker. His coming was a miracle in itself since we didn’t have money to pay for his fare. God used two former members of the Vesper Service to cover his airfare. On the day of the celebration each cell group, including our Sunday school kids and young people, took turns in giving special presentations depicting God’s faithfulness using dance and song interpretations. More than 225 people came to celebrate with us. All of them were treated to a special meal at the end of the service. During the program Pastor Greg and Sandy Dickerman said their parting words as they were heading back to the U.S. for good. We were also treated to an impromptu rendition of Great is Thy Faithfulness by all the pastors present. Praise God, the celebration turned out to be a great success, and all members are taking the challenge to walk with God to Higher Grounds. With the installation of 20 ministry team members we are confident in the Lord that we shall meet our key objectives in 2013. Please pray that all our members will obtain proper immigration status so they can continue working in Saipan. Intercede also for growth of all our ministries and that all members remain highly motivated to serve God and expand His Kingdom here in Saipan and beyond.
By Robbie Myers Missionary to Saipan, Outreach & Small Group Ministry Coordinator
Robbie Myers Family
y whole life I have attended a General Baptist church. For the past 40 years I have been a part of Fellowship General Baptist Church in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Being in the same community as our denomination’s headquarters, I had the opportunity to go to church with several denominational leaders through the years. Dr. Ken Kennedy, who had served as executive secretary, led me to Christ at an altar call. Rev. Riley Mathias, who headed up the Christian Education department, baptized me. Brenda Kennedy, former director of Women’s Ministries, was my best friend’s mother and was like my second mom. Rev. Dwight Chapman, former executive director, and I flew together to the Promise Keepers event held in the Mall in Washington, D.C. Other headquarters staff had family mem-
bers who led my youth group, taught me in school or were classmates. Even with all these connections interwoven in my life; I had never expected to be called to ministry. I definitely never anticipated that I would be called overseas. Last year however, God suddenly called me to serve as a missionary in Saipan. Through prayer my wife Lori and I knew immediately that this was the path He intended for our family. My career experience has been focused in public service. My experience includes serving at the local, regional, state, and federal levels. I have had the opportunity to serve in various leadership positions and be an asset to my community. The skill sets I have developed will be beneficial to our team’s ministry to the people of Saipan. In our vision trip last summer we met people from 16 different nations. The ministry conducted in Saipan helps reach people from all over Asia. I look forward to implementing community outreach programs on the island and working to expand ministry on the neighboring island of Guam. We plan to start small groups for Bible study and discipleship. Lori, our 14-year old son, Reagan, and I are scheduled to leave to begin our two-year commitment in July shortly after The Mission & Ministry Summit. We would love to share with you more about our ministry at The Summit, your church, or your home. We are extremely grateful for the partners who have committed to support us. We ask that you pray for our ministry and consider partnering with us as together we can obey the Great Commission by spreading the Gospel in the Asia Pacific. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or donate online to any of our General Baptist missionaries at http://www. gbimissions.org/#/giving.
Phil Warren, former Congregational Ministries Director
of General Baptist Ministries and Pastor of Liberty Hill General Baptist Church in Aid, MO, sat down with General Baptist International Missions to answer some questions about the connection between the local church and global missions. GBIM: Phil, how long have you been a General Baptist? Phil: I have been a General Baptist all my life. Our family has served with the General Baptist for six generations. GBIM: When did you first receive your call into ministry? Phil: I think that I have always sensed that God was calling me into ministry. My parents taught us that the greatest thing we could do with our lives is to fully serve Christ. However, I was about 27 when I knew beyond a doubt that His Spirit was leading me to prepare myself for full-time ministry. GBIM: What was God’s greatest accomplishment through you as a pastor? Phil: That is a difficult question to answer because I am not sure how God measures our accomplishments and the end results are hard to quantify. Of course the greatest joys for me have been to walk with people through life; the joys and sorrows, the faith and the fears. Pastoring is about relationships and developing friendships and not just about preaching and leading which I enjoy doing. I think about the teams I have helped send on short-term mission trips and then hearing the excitement in their voices as they tell the God-stories from their experiences. Perhaps my greatest accomplishment is seeing my kids love and serve Jesus.
support those who were sent. I poured my heart into developing and leading churches who had an Acts 1:8 heart. Then on our way to The Summit last year my wife asked if God was leading us to go. I said no, but then I met Dave and his wife from one of GBIM’s strategic partnerships and there was a spiritual switch that got flipped on, and then God just poured it on. GBIM: Why Saipan? Phil: I didn’t really expect to go to Saipan and was ready to go to China when I was asked to consider going to Saipan. I was confused because I really sensed that God was calling us to China so I called a former missionary to Saipan who I had followed at my first pastorate for advice. He said, “Phil you have always been a leader but why don’t you trust that the Holy Spirit is speaking to your leader.” That was a freeing moment and now I can see that this will probably be a much better use of our gifts and experiences. GBIM: What excites you the most about serving in Saipan? Phil: Working as a team is the fuel that excites me most and being able to do more together than what one missionary could do alone. We have to maximize our op-
GBIM: When did you get the calling to move your family to serve God overseas? Phil: I have wondered for many years if God would allow me the privilege to serve on the greater global mission field but always felt that we needed strong churches to 29
portunities and I think that the Lord is taking a diverse group of people who can serve in community to reach a community, an island and even a region.
is to fill heaven with worshippers then we all play a part. As John Piper has said, “We either go, we send or we disobey.”
GBIM: What causes you the most apprehension?
GBIM: How can General Baptist people stateside help missionaries during the deputation process and in the transition to cross-culture ministry?
Phil: I have always been motivated by challenges so the challenge of ministering in a cross-cultural environment doesn’t bother me. I think it is the typical anxiety of leaving family and friends behind and not being there to do life with them. GBIM: What has been the greatest accomplishment during this deputation process?
Phil: Of course missionaries need the financial partnerships….they can’t do this without God’s people being willing to give and even sacrifice. But encouragement is much needed as well. I hope that people will pray and then when the Holy Spirit shines a light of understanding and insight, share that with us as well.
Phil: Just getting into the local church and sharing our story. It is a privilege to meet old friends, make new ones and then hopefully motivate people to share the Kingdom with the two billion people who have never heard about Jesus. GBIM: What has been the greatest struggle during the deputation process? Phil: The biggest struggle is being tired from the travel and trying to divest ourselves of our American dream for a greater dream. GBIM: If you could share one thing with General Baptist pastors and lay people alike, what would it be? Phil: What we are doing should be the norm in Christianity and not limited to just a few. If our greatest desire
By Phil Warren, Director of Leadership Development & Church Planting, Northern Mariana Islands As we have been involved with raising our support for the last few months I have developed a whole new appreciation for missionaries. As a pastor I have always tried to give missionaries the opportunity to come and share, but I am not sure that I gave them the full support they needed. This is a faith journey, as all of the Christian life is, but often we are glad to see others answer the call and think that God has let us off the hook instead of seeing that we are the body who must have each other to bring God glory. We have seen God do some amazing things along this faith journey. We have learned that we never know whom God will speak to and how they will respond, and we should never judge the response based upon the size of the church or the bank account of the individual. One small association of about eight churches in Arkansas gave us a large gift, and during the same meeting a man gave them back the same amount they gave us. A single dad who felt that God wanted him to give us $200.00 a month humbled me. I have been encouraged by all of the Women’s Missions groups who have supported us, and they have always been used by God to expand the Kingdom; where would General Baptist be without them? We will still have to sell our home, but we believe that God will take care of that shortly. In June we are in North Carolina for cross-cultural training, and then we are home for a week; a week later we will be leaving for Saipan. I am excited to see what God is going to do and believe that the One who calls will be faithful to provide according to His riches in glory. 30
By Heather Lee English Teacher, Southeast Asia hroughout my life I have been blessed to visit many parts of the world. I have had the opportunity to serve in Honduras multiple times in the past six years. This is where my heart was broken for God’s people. Two years ago, while interning in Honduras, I knew I was being called to serve overseas long-term, but Asia was not what I had in mind. God, however, had other plans. This past year, while at The Summit, I was introduced to a partner organization and the need to teach English in Asia. This decision to teach English in Asia for a year was difficult and needed a lot of time in prayer. It was difficult because I was being asked to step out of my comfort zone. This meant facing personal fears, leaving family and friends, and struggling to know if this was really God’s idea. Through some amazing people God has guided, confirmed, and encouraged me in this decision. Through one person specifically I was reminded how blessed I am and should take this opportunity and share Hope. This world is aching for Hope. I have found a Hope that will not disappoint, and I desire to share that Hope with the world. Since the time of stepping out and saying “Yes, I know this is what You are calling me to do,” God has been teaching me endurance and trust in His timing, not mine. As I struggle to raise the support, at times I get discouraged especially when friends and family tell me that what I am doing is crazy and I will never raise that kind of money. That’s when I hear God’s voice saying they are right, you can’t raise that money, but I can; I am the One who created it all. So as I continue on this new journey I remember that courage is not about knowing the path, it’s about taking the first step and saying YES. Where He leads I will follow!
ince 1981 we have been placing passion ately committed people in teaching roles across Asia, who primarily serve through the medium of English instruction. We accomplish this through recruiting, training and sending men and women from the USA, Canada and other countries, to meet the ever-growing demand for quality English education in Asia. The comprehensive graduate-level training provided to our new teachers has raised the bar significantly in the countries where we serve. Ongoing professional development opportunities for our teachers include earning Master’s Degrees, graduate certificate programs, and two Ph. D. options. We have vibrant programs for college students, graduates, singles, couples, families and second-career adults. Our present countries of service include China, Mongolia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. In most cases we maintain both year-long and summer programs. While we are focused primarily on university campuses and teacher training, we teach in a variety of other settings designed to best serve our host countries and government entities. We are committed to working with our host countries and government agencies to design teaching programs to best meet their ever-changing needs. Increasingly this includes supplying key industry experts from the West to engage with their Asian counterparts through lectures and roundtable discussions. In the coming year we are excited to be adding new teaching programs in both Mongolia and Laos. In China, we are for the first time sending Spanish language teachers to complement our English language teams on university campuses. Additional information and program options for ELIC can be discovered on their website www.elic.org. General Baptist Ministries maintains a partnership relationship with ELIC. For more information contact General Baptist Ministries 573-785-7746 or www.generalbaptist.com. 31
By Jessey Vemula, Missionary to South India
alvary Baptist Church was established in India in 1984 by Rev. Charles Vemula who was born and brought up in a Hindu family. He got saved in 1981 and went to his parents to tell them the good news. However, they rejected it and told him if he did not convert back to Hinduism he would be cast out of the family and not receive his inheritance. Rev. Charles knew that this was going to happen but never gave up his faith in Jesus. He continued to grow in faith and spirituality. When God called Rev. Charles to full-time ministry he left his job and started serving the Lord.
God has put a burden in Rev. Charles’ life to reach the outcasts, isolated groups, and tribes of Andhra Pradesh by planting churches and sharing the Gospel among them. He has already faced opposition from his neighbors because he has Sunday worship services in his house. He was stopped from preaching the Gospel, conducting open air crusades, visiting new believers and praying for the sick. He was threatened and even persecuted several times. Also, he was imprisoned twice but never gave up his calling. The tools he used to reach people and proclaim the good news were personal evangelism, gospel tracts, open air crusades, Jesus Film ministry, medical camps, street evangelism with gospel skits, and singing songs with traditional dance. Over the course of serving the Lord for 29 years in remote areas of south India, Charles Vemula established 42 churches, raised 27 missionaries/church planters, constructed three church buildings, and established an orphanage for 23 abandoned kids. His lifetime goal is to plant 200 churches and raise 100 missionaries. Rev. Charles Vemula says, “It is possible for anyone to accomplish things for God with humility and the grace of God, and I am determined to do God’s will and expand the kingdom of God.” Galatians 6:14 - ‘May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.’
By Jessey Vemula, Missionary to South India Brother Ashirvadam is a Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Narsapur India. He belongs to a caste called Oddilu, which does earthen work like digging holes and water wells. He heard the Gospel and accepted Christ as his personal savior in 1995. Through him his family came to know Jesus Christ and was baptized. Later the same year he was called to ministry. He said “I’m called to a special ministry that is among prostitutes.” India has a high rate of human trafficking, and there is a great need for evangelism. Unfortunately, in the Indian context it is not easy to get acquainted with such people. When he started visiting them, all he could do was sing gospel songs for them because he is illiterate. In his community people never 32
appreciated him and misunderstood him by saying he was going there for the wrong reasons. Several times Bro. Ashirvadam was threatened and beaten by the pimps. In fact, rather than being afraid for his life, his faith was strengthened. Among many women he found one who was interested in what he was saying but she never said anything openly. More than a year later she got saved and was the only believer in that community at the time. After that one lady was saved and stopped doing the business the community became closed off to Bro. Ashirvadam. It was then harder for him to meet and evangelize these people. He decided to marry this aforementioned lady and stay there to do his
ministry. After struggling for almost three years Bro. Ashirvadam has planted a church within that community through his wife. At present, 22 women have accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord and have been baptized. He was recently gifted a bicycle for his ministry by General Baptist International Missions.
By Brittany Vemula, Missionary to South India eing a missionary never crossed my mind until a couple years ago. At that point in my life I was work ing as a Medical Laboratory Technician. I was an active member of First General Baptist Church in Bloomfield, MO, singing in choir and teaching a Sunday school class. After meeting my future husband everything changed. When my husband and I met we talked a lot about the ministry he and his father had in India. He told me about the orphanage and a need for a women’s ministry that caught my interest. After meeting and talking more I decided to pray about this important decision. I asked God to show me a sign that Jessey was the right person for me and that I needed to go to India. God answered me at church the next Sunday through a sermon on Romans 8:28, “all things work together for good for those who are in Christ.” At the end of that service I dedicated my life and service to Christ and His calling for me.
I am very excited for the things that God has in store for me when I go to India. One priority of mine is to build a new orphanage for all 23 kids to stay in and to get these children adopted into good Christian families. Next, I would like to teach English and promote education for lower caste adults and their children. A burden that weighs heavily on my heart is female infanticide and human trafficking. Female infanticides are mainly caused by the dowry system. What I would like to do is form a charity where mothers could come and get supplies (diapers, formula, etc.) or offer to put their baby up for adoption. I also want to raise awareness of human trafficking by educating people and teaching self-employment. With less than 10% of the population being Christian, there is a great need for mission work in India. It says in the Great Commission we are to go into the world and make disciples. Please pray for our ministry and pray for God’s will to be done in your life.
Jessey and Brittany Vemula 33
by Joshua, Patricia, Josh, Judah and Jerusha Hammond, Missionaries to the Philippines
The Hammond Family
fter three days of plane rides, taxis, busses, and hotels the plane landed at our final destination and the terror began. Traveling anywhere with three small children can be an epic adventure even more so when moving to the other side of the world. For months during our time in the US my oldest son, three-year-old Josh, was telling us he wanted to go to the Philippines “right now.” When we landed in Davao City, on the Southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines, the reality of what he had been saying hit him hard. When the door of the plane opened he was crying and screaming; he wanted to go back home. I literally had to pry his little hands from each seat we passed as I carried him off the plane. By the time we made it out of the airport, where a small crowd of friends came to greet us, all three children were in total meltdown. It was quite a humbling experience. Before we left for the Philippines several people, with good intentions, politely suggested that we remain in the US for a few years so our kids could put down some roots to help lessen the trauma of another new land and culture. Standing there outside the airport with three inconsolably terrified screaming children that didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
There was, however, something else I couldn’t stop contemplating. Every day 70,000 unreached people die without ever hearing the gospel. They don’t have the luxury of waiting until it’s more convenient for us, who are called, to go. Saying goodbye to those you dearly love to step into the unknown where God is calling is not easy. It’s a sacrifice, but I heard a powerful truth recently that sacrifice is giving up something you love for something else you love more. We love our families and our comfort, but we love Christ more. We love to see Christ glorified when the lost hear the gospel and run to grace. We love to see mature believers and churches from the first world to the third world rise up to take the gospel to those who’ve never heard. These last few weeks have brought challenges, but they’ve also brought a renewed vision of how God is mobilizing a new generation of Christ followers who are willing to sacrifice for Christ’s call. I was asked to speak at the graduation ceremony at General Baptist Bible College in Davao City. As
I looked in the faces of those graduates I saw people empowered and emboldened by the gospel. I saw people ready to change the world. I am convinced that God has not only called us to STAND with them as they go into dark places, but that we also must be willing to GO with them, “Doing Together What We Cannot Do Alone.”
Josh Hammond and graduates. 35
By Keith & Carrie Bowers Missionaries to the Philippines s we look back over the past year or so, it is amazing to see what God has brought us through. We start ed our deputation journey in early 2012. During this time, we have shared at about 50 churches, met many wonderful people, and been blessed in more ways than we ever thought possible. Our most memorable trip was the weekend of March 9-11, 2013. We traveled to Missouri to share at Pleasant View Church (Risco, MO) and Sunnyvale Church (Malden, MO). That Monday morning at the hotel, our oldest son Jason (age 8) accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Keith had the privilege to baptize Jason the following Sunday at our home church of Center Point in Hendersonville, TN. Words cannot express what an experience that was! During the month of February, we moved to Union Mills, NC to attend Center for Intercultural Training (CIT). Although the classes were intense and the homework left us exhausted, we truly enjoyed this experience. We met so many wonderful people who were also preparing to leave their homes and begin a new journey as missionaries. We loved hearing their testimonies and their callings. The fa36
cilitators at CIT were all former missionaries who had a wealth of knowledge and life experience. The boys even went through their own missions training class. They had the most wonderful teachers who spent time teaching them about other cultures and also preparing them for the transitions ahead. It was truly an awesome experience! On April 14, 2013, our home church, association, and General Baptist International Ministries commissioned us as missionaries to the Philippines. We were extremely humbled and grateful at the number of people who came to share this special time with us. It was also a wonderful way for us to say good-bye to so many people who hold a very special place in our hearts. On April 20, 2013, we ended this chapter of our journey and began a new one in the Philippines. We joined Josh and Patricia Hammond and their family as we began working together with our Filipino brothers and sisters in Christ. God has amazing plans for the Philippines and we are honored to get to be a part of it. We are so very thankful for everyoneâ€™s continued prayers and support!
By Becky Coomer, serving in Southeast Asia Did you know that more women come to Islam each year than men? Did you know that many of those women convert in less than a month? Did you know that it is not uncommon to find women converting to Islam in pursuit of marriage? Did you know that it is even more common to see lonely women finding friendly Muslims and thinking finally- someone who will accept me? I attend a lot of Islamic outreach events. The sweet Muslim ladies now call me by name, “oh you are back!” they say with a smile. Don’t worry- I’m not converting. Tragically, these genuinely nice ladies have no idea of the deeper beliefs of Islam. One of the speakers at the convention I attended kept asking group questions like, “How many of you can recite the Quran?” Most raised their hands. When he asked, “How many of you know Arabic?” very few raised their hands. The speaker claimed that this is the transformational value of the Quran. This means they don’t have to know what it says; if they can recite it in a non-understood language it just transforms them as they recite it in song. Many psychologists believe that singing soothes. Listening to someone chant the Quran allows you to see the same relaxation that happens in chanting rituals in religions around the world. By their own admission, however, the listeners have no idea what they are saying. In another open forum where questions were being asked, I asked what a specific Quranic text meant, and the leader replied, “Oh, Muslim scholars have studied that text for generations and not fully understood the meaning.” That was the answer before swiftly switching to other items that make Islam sound better. I’m writing this post Boston Marathon bombings and my heart aches. My heart aches for my country. My heart aches for a 19 year old who was born into a faith and most likely dragged into an act of terror. My heart aches at reading horrible Facebook posts by Christians against Muslims. The young man messed up. I am not denying that. He most likely did it in the name of his faith. I need you to realize, however, that there are millions of Muslims throughout the world who aren’t participating in acts of terror in the name of their faith. They need you to educate yourself. By that I mean learn about Islam. Learn how to have dialogues about faith with Muslims. Most Muslims are willing to talk about faith issues. Often they have studied the Bible more than the Christians have. To share our faith with everyone, we must understand why they believe what they believe and then use that knowledge to LEAD them to Christ.
By A.J Ford, Child Sponsorship Coordinator, Faith Home, Honduras During the month of February Faith Home hosted a medical team that held daily clinics in the small squatter village of Nueva Plan. The team served 1,330 patients with medical treatment, prescription glasses, medicine prescriptions, hygiene packs, along with other things. Most importantly 62 people accepted Christ as savior and 401 Bibles were handed to people. With such an amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a church was planted within the community. Services are being held there on Sunday evenings. A small construction team built a shelter to serve as a temporary meeting place. Construction was done with the help of the church members and a couple of local General Baptist pastors. On one of our visits I decided to walk farther on up into the community to see what it was like. Several houses up from the construction site I spotted an older man sitting on the stoop of his little mud shack reading aloud. I walked past him a couple of houses up the road before deciding to return. As I was walking back I decided to stop and talk to the man, just to make small talk. I asked him how he was doing, and he said he was doing well; he was studying. He lifted up the book that he was reading and I quickly recognized that it was one of the 401 Bibles the medical team had passed out in the community. He quickly informed me he was reading John 3. Before I could say anything else he quickly started sharing with me the verses he was studying. He read to me the first 18 verses of John before quickly saying Amen enthusiastically. We discussed the verses for a few minutes before I continued back to the worksite. We can bless the people of Honduras with much needed items, but One Thing Remains, the love of Christ and the knowledge that salvation is attainable. The writers of the song One Thing Remains wrote, “Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me.” That man and the people of the community who have been reached now have a constant in their lives that will never leave them.
By Ryan & Amanda Stead, Missionaries to Honduras We, Ryan, Amanda, Thomas, Emily, and Sam Stead are excited to become part of the vision established so many years ago in Honduras – a vision to reach Honduras through the ministry of Faith Home. God has placed the children of Faith Home into the loving hands of so many who have previously served, and now He has granted us a shared passion to disciple and prepare those students to live in the purpose for which God has set them aside. We believe that God wants to use these loved ones to change Honduras for Christ. Something struck me as profound the other day when in Bible class with my children. The teacher mentioned that a potter doesn’t throw away his clay. He never chucks it in the trash. I wasn’t sure, so I researched it and found all sorts of recommendations for storing it or reclaiming it. I did not find anything other than sparing it and saving it for a more opportune time. I am so grateful that my Potter never threw me away. I guess this fact has really made an impression upon our hearts during the past few months. The Word tells us in Isaiah 64:8 that God is the Potter and we are His clay, His workmanship. We are created for good works in Christ. He doesn’t throw away clay, and even though in the grand scheme of life clay really isn’t worth much — in the potter’s hands it becomes something precious. In the world’s caste system, some people are valued and some people are not. Scripture specifically tells us to remember these forgotten ones — the physically and spiritually poor. What we love about missions, specifically Faith Home, is that clearly Christ is taking the broken and discarded of this world and is setting them aside, protecting them, preparing them, and enabling them to enter the world as effective ministers for His Kingdom. We are so excited to have the opportunity to become part of this ministry! Ecclesiastes 11:6 says, “In the morning, sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” It is time to step out and sow the seed that God has given all of us. Would you pray about the role God would have you play in supporting us as we move forward in faith to serve His people in Honduras? 38
one to ask for help. I started to see that God had a purpose for my life. I accepted Christ into my heart and am trying hard to become the man God created me to be. I am so thankful that God brought me to Faith Home. One of my favorite things to do is read my Bible and pray with my Tio. He helps me to understand more about God. I love to go to churches out in the communities with Pastor Miguel. I hope to someday be able to help my sister and brothers. My dream for the future is to lead, preach the gospel to all nations, be saved, and go heaven to be with God in the Holy City. grew up in a small, poor community in Honduras with abusive parents who hardly ever had enough food to feed us. One of my earliest memories is of helping my father move some firewood. For a short moment I felt happy and peaceful. But when we returned, my father got angry with my mother for not having any food, and he hit her and then left for the river. My mother got angry and ran over my foot with the bicycle and broke it. My mom became a prostitute and brought many men to our house in front of me and my sister and brothers. When I was 11, I lived alone in the streets for almost a year. I swept courtyards, worked with cows, and cut bananas at a farm in order to get food. I was determined to do whatever was necessary to survive and find a way to help my sister and brothers. I met many people while I lived in the streets and loved to listen to them talk about their lives and homes. I prayed that someday I would have a home and a family and feel safe. One day, an amazing lady, Maria, told me about a wonderful place called Faith Home. She said that it was safe and full of love and would be the perfect place for me. Maria took care of everything and told me it was time to go to my new home. When we rounded the curve, through the fence I saw what looked like a paradise in the middle of the mountains: beautiful buildings, green grass, and a playground with children running and playing. I thought I was dreaming. THIS is my new home! God really heard my prayers. Suddenly, I was surrounded by children and introduced to the people who would take care of me. I was a little rough around the edges when I first came and knew that I needed to clean up my language. As I listened to the morning devotionals and the messages at church service, I started to see God as more than just some39
I am often asked, â€œHow was your trip?â€? Let me try to explain. Twelve plus years ago, while on my very first Honduran medical team, I was told of a vision that General Baptists had for their partnership in bringing salvation to many lost, impoverished, and forgotten souls who did not know or understand the Gospel. The vision was two-fold. Faith Home Orphanage was created not to seek adoptions for the children but rather to nurture those children by giving them a wonderful place to live while being raised as educated Christian young adults who would be equipped to impact and evangelize their own people and nation upon reaching adulthood. Additionally, the medical teams were to be used to reach out beyond the walls of Faith Home to bring the Church to the Honduran people with healthcare as the incentive for them to attend a church service and hear a Gospel message. Those who became believers would be followed-up by a pastor for discipleship, and per40
haps, someday, even a building of worship might be built, if the numbers could support one. I believed then, as I do now, that this was what God would want and expect of His people. I was impressed with the General Baptist commitment to the Great Commission and their zeal to see it be fruitful. I also recognized that if He were for it, then surely the enemy would be against it. Many times it was apparent that this project faced spiritual attack, but General Baptists would not turn back. However, several times in recent years I began to wonder if the enemy was perhaps gaining ground and that maybe the focus was shifting to just raising beautiful children while abandoning the most important task His Church has been given...that of evangelizing. I knew that the medical teams were continuing to see salvation results, but I felt support for that too might diminish. I questioned why so many teams could come to Faith Home only to care for the physical and not be participating,
in some part, in the greatest thrill any believer could have...that of planting and sowing, not to mention, the opportunity to work with and involve the local populace. Would Hondurans ever be able and equipped to evangelize their own? Over the last couple years the medical teams grew and several churches were planted, but was this just a fluke and would there be any momentum to sustain them? Could we ever regain the original vision? Then it happened, the accelerating loss of missionaries in and out of Faith Home. Would it be possible to do much more than just patch it together? Many loving and concerned long-time participants were becoming dissatisfied and factions were developing. Did Satan have us where he wanted us? Thursday March 7th, when I got off the plane, I had a sense that God had already begun to answer my questions. Christina and I were driving to the airport to pick up the second group of arrivals. She said, “I hope you will have an opportunity to see what God is doing while you are here.” I told her that I already had affirmation enough and could sense what He might be doing. My expectations were way too small! I knew there was something different. Faith Home had a superintendent who loved the children, but she had spent all her previous time outside the gates and had a heart for saving the lost. At the same time a most competent assistant was on board to help handle the necessary administrative tasks of Faith Home. The following Friday afternoon I was privileged to attend the dedication of a new church just constructed that week by one of our construction teams along with the help of our pastors, the local community and some of our young people from the orphanage. This church was built on the very land where 18 months ago we held our medical clinics. As I watched the proceedings I could not help but cry tears of joy. The circle was completed. That vision I had so eagerly embraced had come to fruition. We were no longer separate teams and goals but now parts of one body unified in God’s greatest calling: winning hearts for Him! That Sunday there was even more to come. Christina had previously asked me what I thought if instead of going to one of our existing churches for a service, we held one
on the site where we would be working the next four days (Nueva Plan)? It seemed a great idea to me, and then it hit her “what if when we pass out the clinic invitations we also ask them to attend the Sunday service?” We had no idea what to expect. We would put up the tents, our pastors would arrange the service, and they had several Faith Home youth provide the music and singing. When we drove up to the service we were all overwhelmed by the huge waiting crowd. It was a powerful time of worship and nine people gave their lives to Christ. The music was by Hondurans, the vocals sung were by Hondurans, the message preached was by Hondurans and it was nine Hondurans who were saved! We held clinics there the next four days and another 53 adults received salvation. Helping with the clinics were several of our own Faith Home young adults who were eager and prepared to preach a message to others their age. That following Saturday afternoon our pastors conducted their first church service for the new believers. It was held under a leaking tarp in pouring down rain, but some came anyway and our pastors made a commitment to them that they would be there to conduct a service three times every week. The next church was now planted! It is not our church; it is theirs. Perhaps we can help facilitate building a structure using all our entities and theirs to achieve that common objective of advancing and multiplying the Kingdom of our Lord. His people, young and old, planters and builders, Honduran and American, pastors and laity, working handin-hand with one mind to bring salvation to the lost. That’s what I saw and what a glorious sight it was! Because He is, and He is worthy.
I can still vividly remember the sadness which filled our hearts in the team house in August of 2012 at Faith Home after we first met Maria Isabel Quintanilla. Not a dry eye could be found, and we felt totally helpless as we earnestly sought God in prayer. Three year old Maria Isabel came to our medical clinic held lovingly in her mother’s arms in the poverty-stricken village of El Banano, Honduras. Maria’s precious little fingers and lips were turning blue from a life-threatening heart condition we were not equipped to treat. We could do nothing more than pray for her. Mere words directed Heavenward, when what Maria needed was a dangerous heart operation, seemed much too little to offer and did very little to comfort any of us at the time. We desperately willed ourselves to trust in God and believe in the power of prayer telling ourselves over and over again, “With God all things are possible.” The Bible tells us that God hears our prayers and cares enough to answer them. Skeptics find this idea to be rather ludicrous and demand proof before they dare to subscribe to believing in such a thing as power in prayer. They think we Christians are fools for believing what they say cannot be physically proven, but they are sadly mistaken. For those who demand proof, just consider this one example. My name is Jim Jenkins. I am a life-long Christian with a longing to serve God, a union carpenter and an aspir42
ing Christian-fiction author and motivational speaker. In August of 2012, my beautiful wife, Sherry, and I were part of an amazing team of individuals from around the United States each eagerly looking forward to going on a Christian Medical Mission trip to an orphanage called “Faith Home” in Honduras. Led by a man of God, Scott (Buck) Strouse, we could only dream of the life-changing possibilities that would occur. Many of us on the team had never met and knew nothing more of one another beyond the fact that we shared several things in common: we all felt called by God to go to Honduras, serve the endearing people of Honduras, share the love of Jesus, and minister to those who did not yet know Him. We were all anxious to act as the hands and feet of Christ and we prayed. We each asked God to bless and use us in amazing ways while at the same time revealing Himself to us and those we were going to serve through miracles, acts of love and the undeniable feeling of His presence. God answered those prayers a hundred times over in so many ways that I would have to write a book to reveal them all to you. The story of Maria Isabel is perhaps our team’s favorite example. We had no idea when we set out in the General Baptist bus that hot September day that a precious, dark-eyed, three-year-old was going to steal our hearts and break them at the same time. She was a fatally ill little princess dearly loved by Jesus, her family and friends and instantly by all of us as well. After examining Maria, our team made arrangements for her to see a doctor at a medical facility in a nearby town. No one could believe that she had made it this long in her physical condition. They said that she didn’t have long to live and that her only chance of survival was an operation with a 50% chance of success. Members of our team fought back tears as they returned Maria Isabel and her mother to their modest home with our meager gifts of food, vitamins, hygiene items, a Spanish Bible, a family photograph, prayers, hugs and smiles. When our teammates returned to the clinic site at El Banano and told us the devastating news, it was difficult to bear and hot tears filled our eyes. Despite the glories God revealed to us throughout the rest of the day, real joy eluded us. Each of us prayed for Maria every chance we got. God heard those prayers and every prayer offered up since then, and let me tell you, from Maria’s family to Faith Home, from Honduras to the United States and through Facebook, emails and social media, those prayers have been many. After our team returned to the States we learned that arrangements had been made for Maria Isabel to receive the
heart operation she needed from a team of specialists who go on their own mission trips to Honduras. Several times a date was set for the operation, but for various reasons it could not be accomplished. As frustrating as it was, however, we believed that the set-backs did not diminish the love or power of God and everyone continued to pray. Sherry and I answered a calling God placed on our hearts and were blessed to return to Honduras once again in February of 2013. The story I yearned and prayed for came true. Maria received her operation while we were in Honduras in February and her whole situation was bathed in love and prayer. The morning of the surgery we were in the field at Nueva Plan when we received a call to pray for Maria. After we explained what was going on, the villagers we were serving joined us in praying Honduran style. It was a busy day with the Lord working glories all around us, but everyone’s thoughts were on Maria and it was a rather emotional time. That afternoon we received the glorious news that the operation was a success, taking a much shorter amount of time than anticipated, and that Maria never even had to be put on a ventilator. The next twenty-four hours were still critical so we continued to pray. We were torn between great joy and a still present fear of the unknown future. The next day we rejoiced learning that
Maria was already up and walking and her fingers and lips were now a perfectly normal shade of pink. We had great cause to praise God once again when we learned that Maria was released from the hospital a few days later, just after most of our team returned to the States. Maria and her mother returned to Faith Home where she could heal with minimal risk of infection and be cared for by several people who love her dearly. Recently through emails and Facebook, we shouted prayers of thanksgiving when we learned that Maria has returned home to her family. God is going to bless her with that long, happy and healthy life we all so desperately prayed for. My wife and I feel God leading us to return to Honduras in September. We eagerly look forward to the blessing He has planned for this trip. It will be great to see dear friends from our previous trips, the awesome children at Faith Home and to act as the hands and feet of Jesus once more. Whether or not we will get the chance to see Maria again is unknown, but the trip will most definitely bestow us with new testimonies of the love and power of God. New challenges will arise and our faith will be tried, but faith and prayer will overcome every obstacle. All we have to do is what I challenge everyone to do, “Dare to Believe!”
“Over 100 people gathered in a circle today around Maria Isabel to pray, as well as thousands in the United States. What an amazing moment! I could feel her mother trembling beside me as the Spanish & English voices all went up in unison. Wow!” – Christina Massey, Director, Faith Home Ministries 43
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15
By Franklin R. Dumond, Director of Congregational Ministries n the aftermath of all these pages about missions and missionaries, I’ve been thinking about a simple question. What is missions? Every church will have its mission, its pur pose that defines its local existence. Mission, however, differs from missions. That is to say: everything a church does is not missions. It has been my experience in the local church that four expressions of legitimate ministry are often misstated as missions. Benevolence, those acts of kindness extending to others, is often confused with missions. Benevolence is an important ministry of the church. It is mandated by the Lord Jesus in his catalog of noble activity in Matthew 23. The Golden Rule guides our benevolence but the Great Commission mandates missions. Local evangelism, the intentional sharing of faith and witness in our community, is often confused with missions. Local evangelism is an essential ministry of each local church. Without evangelistic efforts any local church will become a single generation church that soon disappears. The first statement of the Great Commission governs local evangelism; the remainder of it defines missions. Social justice, advocating on behalf of those who have no other advocate, is often confused with missions. The socially active church often engages in legislative battles in an attempt to right social wrongs. Social justice often motivates well-intentioned ministry to mitigate the plight of those who are homeless, impacted by addiction or marginalized by the larger society. Jesus’ ministry provides a pattern for social justice but his mandate of a Great Commission drives us to missions. Church extension, developing and adapting local programming, is often confused with missions. Even churches that carry the Simple Church model to its extreme must have some level of organizational detail and structured programming. The infant church in the Book of Acts found that levels of organization were essential to their ministry (see Acts 6) but they also saw a broader need of missions (see Acts 13). Missions is an organized effort to propagate the Christian faith beyond the spheres of local influence. This organized effort shows clearly in Acts 13 when the leaders of the Antioch Church understood the missionary mandate to set apart Barnabas and Paul for the first missionary journey. In 1786 the precursor to the modern missionary movement began when William Carey raised the question of whether it was the duty of all Christians to spread the Gospel throughout the world. J. R. Ryland, is said to have retorted: “Young man, sit down; when God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine.” Maybe a practical definition best answers the question. What is missions? Missions is that organized effort to win the world for Jesus Christ. I saw it printed on a T-shirt once. “Our mission is missions.”
My Hope America with Billy Graham is a nationwide effort to reach people across the United States with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Following a simple biblical model, My Hope America with Billy Graham combines the impact of video programs with the power of personal relationships. Under the guidance of their local pastors, Christians across America will open their hopes to share the Gospel message with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors using videos featuring Billy Graham, dynamic music, and testimonials.
neighbors who donâ€™t
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receive Jesus Christ as
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