Lessons from Crisis


Disasters are part of living in a fallen world, and Jesus taught us, “He makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Disasters come without warning and are no respecter of position, status, age, economic status, or belief system. Disasters have an equalizing effect on those affected. Disaster survivors share the same overwhelming helplessness.

When disasters strike, we often seek to understand “why”. The Bible offers insight to these questions, but ultimately only God knows for certain why these catastrophic events occur in our world. We should always be cautious in speaking definitively on the question of “why”, but there are lessons that we can learn from disasters.

What are the lessons that God can teach each of us in the aftermath of a disaster:

  • We learn what is important. Disasters have a way to separate the trivial from the vital. No one laments the loss of a big screen TV or a missed golf outing in the aftermath of a disaster, they mourn the loss of loved ones and despair over being homeless.
  • We learn that we live in a world of both good and evil. We see the demonstration of sin and evil as looters and scam artists prey on the vulnerable. Yet we also see neighbors reaching to neighbors and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers serving meals, cleaning up flooded homes, cutting trees off homes, and putting tarps on damaged roofs in the aftermath of disasters. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief exists to bring practical help, a healing touch, and the hope of Christ during crisis.
  • We learn about the frailty of life. Disasters reveal clearly that our time on earth is short and uncertain. None of us knows what tomorrow holds, and none of us are promised a single day on this Earth.
  • We learn that our future is not in our hands. We do not control our own destinies. All we that we possess, can be gone in an instant.
  • We learn that knowing God and being prepared for eternity are the most vital concerns of life. Disasters remind us that that those who are prepared survive disasters better than those who are unprepared. And the most important preparation for life is to know the One who holds all life in His hands. It is easy to waste our one and only life in trivial pursuits and miss that which is most vital: a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Disasters remind us that death can and will come for all of us, so we had better be ready.

The only sure way to be prepared for disasters and death is to know Jesus Christ, the resurrected Lord, in a personal relationship. If you would like to know more about how to have a personal relationship with Christ that gives you an assurance of eternal life, or if you would like to know more about becoming a Kentucky Baptist disaster relief volunteer, contact us at [email protected] .

“I’m Not Worthy!”

As pastor Wayne and his translator walked toward the homeless man in the street, the make-shift tents and people were everywhere.  This is the part of town most people avoid because of crime, drug use and homelessness.  No doubt for this KBC vision team to Brazil, the surroundings were a bit intimidating.  Yet, the team was determined to forego their comfort and share the love of Jesus with those whom society had already abandoned. 

The words out of Wayne’s mouth through the translator were simple, “We have come 3,000 miles from the United States to tell you that God loves you.”  The homeless man stood still and began to weep. He then spoke to the translator in Portuguese.  Shocked by the man’s response, Wayne asked for clarification with his translator.  “What’s wrong?” Wayne asked.

As the translator began to explain, Wayne knew that the Lord was at work.  “You see,” clarified the translator, “the man said, ‘I’m not worthy.’”  By God’s grace, Wayne shared with this man abandoned by society and enslaved to sinful devices that God sent His Son in order to take our sin and bare our shame. 

Indeed, Jesus is our substitute for sin as Isaiah the prophet foretold he would be, some 700 years before the Messiah is ever born.  “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening of our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed…. But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:4-6). 

The truth is, none of us are worthy.  Our unworthiness is why Jesus came.  He is worthy and only a perfect sacrifice for sinners would “justify the many” because “He will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).  After hearing about Jesus’ love for sinners and that He alone is worthy and could be the sacrifice for our sins (no matter what we have done), the man in that Brazilian street of the largest city in South America, with tears streaming down his face, trusted in the One who bore his griefs, sorrows, and sins.   

Men and women all over Brazil, Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, Kentucky and everywhere in between need to hear of the only One worthy who was the sacrifice for sinners.  People in high rises and low rises, addicted to drugs and addicted to money, on the “right side” of the tracks and the “wrong side” of the tracks all need to know that “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.” 

Kentucky Baptists, we know that we are not worthy.  That’s why Jesus came.  But countless others have no idea that He came, let alone of what He did.  By God’s grace, let’s lead our churches across the street and across the sea to say, “We have come to tell you that God loves you.” Perhaps we, too, will see tears stream down as the unworthy are made new.     

Introducing the 2019 Kentucky Missionary of the Year

As a child, Shirley Barlow attended World Missions Conferences with her parents.  Her mother would invite the missionaries to their house for dinner and, as Shirley sat and listened to their stories, she recalls praying, “Please, God, let me have this opportunity.”  However, Shirley says she never did hear the total call to be a missionary.

In 1955, after marrying and moving to Pennsylvania, Shirley was broken over the fact that there was little Southern Baptist work there.  She got connected with a local Pennsylvania Baptist Association and did pioneer work in that area for ten years. 

Shirley and her husband Tom moved back to Paducah, KY and in 1988 she became involved with River City Mission, a homeless shelter in Paducah that helps individuals overcome addictions, secure work, and get back on their feet so they can go back into society and resurrect their family situation.  Most importantly they hear the Gospel and are encouraged to commit or recommit their lives to Christ. 

Although working at the Mission for several years, it was not until 2013 that Ms. Shirley heard about Mission Service Corps and how her work fit the qualifications of a Kentucky MSC missionary. Shirley applied to serve as a Kentucky missionary and was approved in February 2013.  Her dream of becoming a missionary had become reality.  

Although River City Mission provides housing and food for the homeless, to Shirley it is more than just a shelter.  She helps the residents in all areas of their lives, showing respect for them as individuals, while also being firm.  She recently shared about going to the hospital to sit with one of the men through his surgery so that he would not be alone. 

On Friday evening, April 5th, during the KY-WMU Annual Meeting at First Baptist Church, Bowling Green, Ms. Shirley was recognized as the 2019 Kentucky Missionary of the Year.  This award is given annually to the missionary that demonstrates:

  • Commitment to and effectiveness in evangelism, church planting, or ministry.
  • Demonstration of “going the second mile”.
  • Outstanding performance in achieving assigned tasks.
  • Tenure.
  • Unusual commitment to our Lord’s service.
  • Positive representation of Kentucky Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board.
  • True reflection of being an “On Mission Christian”.

Ms. Shirley certainly meets these qualifications.  Her whole life has been On Mission with Christ.  And, in her 80s, Ms. Shirley continues to serve God faithfully.  She has been a member of First Baptist Church Paducah for 22 years, where she sings in the church choir, serves as WMU director and on the Missions Committee.   

CONGRATULATIONS, Ms. Shirley.  You are most deserving.  And, God has certainly allowed you to have “this opportunity.”

Orphan Care and the Local Church

Every year in our country, more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children. On average, 4 to 7 children die every day because of abuse and neglect. On any given day, there are well over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. Given the number of kids in and out of the system over the course of a year, far more children now require protection from the state. For example, in 2015, over 670,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.

What does any of that have to do with your church?

The psalmist wrote, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3)

Mark records that Jesus “took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me’” (Mark 9:36).

Matthew quotes Jesus as saying about children who were in his presence, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

James stated, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” (James 1:27).

As Kentucky Baptists seek to live out the teachings of Scripture, we recognize that we have an obligation to acknowledge, welcome, and do all we can to protect children, especially those who are vulnerable or have already been victimized. We have been called to care for orphans of dead parents and orphans of the living, kids whose family has been declared unfit, even a severe risk to the child. One of the ways we meet that obligation is through our financial support of the ministry of our Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, known today as Sunrise Children’s Services. Every church giving through the Cooperative Program and/or through the special Thanksgiving Offering, supports Sunrise.

What more can we do?

  • Raise our awareness to signs of abuse and neglect and being proactive about reporting anything that looks suspicious is a good place to start.
  • With 8,700 victimized kids in the state system in Kentucky, let’s consider adopting a child or training to be a foster parent.
  • Most of us could provide respite care for a foster family, which means you keep a child overnight or over the weekend.
  • Any of us could become a mentor and visit a girl or boy who lives in an institution without anyone in their lives who ever interacts with them except those who are paid to do so.
  • We could serve as a CASA volunteer—a “Court Appointed Special Advocate” who has volunteered to be assigned to kids in the court system to help them navigate the bureaucracy and trauma.
  • Maybe you could start an orphan care ministry in your church.

These are just some of the many ways we can help protect at risk children and seek to heal the hurts of those who have become victims.

Written by Dr. Paul Chitwood, President, International Mission Board

Meet Our New 2019 Kentucky Missionaries

Spring has officially arrived, the dogwoods and redbuds are blooming, and everything is pointing to new life.  What an exciting time of year.  It’s time once again for our annual missionary orientation and commissioning of the new missionaries serving in Kentucky.  The orientation is a time for the missionaries to learn about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, Eliza Broadus State Missions and many resources and support available to them.  This time of networking is most valuable.

Sixteen men and women that have sensed God’s call to serve in ministries across our state will be commissioned at the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration on Friday, April 5th, at First Baptist Church, Bowling Green.

These new missionaries are:

  • Chris & Becky Baird, Director and Secretary/Treasurer for the Ohio County Food Pantry in Hartford.
  • Jill Boddy, Office Administrator with HR Ministries in Princeton.
  • Gail Boling, Serving at the Daviess-McLean Association’s Baptist Center in Owensboro.
  • Dean & Melissa Branscum, Directors of Living Water Clothes Closet in Eubank.
  • Tim & Joyce Burdon, Chaplain with Retriever Hunt Test Ministry and Women’s Ministry Leader in Marion.
  • Sheila Cobb, Serving at Daviess-McLean Association’s Baptist Center in Bowling Green .
  • Hilton & Barbara Duncan, Directors of Integrated Community Ministries in Stearns.
  • Annette Robinson, Food Coordinator for Blood River Association’s Bags of Hope Food Pantry and Clothes Closet in Hardin.
  • Lee Rust, Women’s Evangelist & Prison Ministry for Female Inmates with Freedom Forever Ministries in Paducah.
  • David Thomas, Serving with Mission Hope for Kids in Elizabethtown.
  • Daniel & Alice Tarnagda, Directors of Refuge Bowling Green.

We want to extend a special invitation for you to join us for this special commissioning service where you can meet the missionaries and pledge your support for them. 

The 2019 Kentucky Missionary of the Year will also be recognized at the service.

For more information, and to register for the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration go to http://www.kywmu.org/annualmeeting

We hope to see you there.

Evangelize the Unreached

Acts is a book about the advancement of the gospel (through the birthing of churches) as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the lives of Jesus followers. In fact, the Holy Spirit takes would-be cowards and transforms them into lion-hearted witnesses for Jesus. For example, Peter preaches his second sermon at the temple area in Acts 3.  Chapter 4 describes Peter and John being arrested for preaching the gospel.  Peter and John make it clear to the religious leaders who had arrested them that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12).  In the midst of hostility, Peter and John demonstrate gospel boldness.

The religious leaders are surprised by the confidence of Peter and John because they were uneducated men.  They further recognize that these two men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).  In order to squelch the boldness of Peter and John, the religious leaders threaten them to speak no more about Jesus (Acts 4:17).  You can imagine them being told that if they continue with their message, then they will do to them what was done to Jesus.  

Instead of cowering to the threat, Peter and John reply that they cannot help but speak about what they have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).  In other words, we cannot keep silent; we must not keep silent.  They are threatened again and released.

Peter and John gather back with the church and report all that had happened (Acts 4:23).  Peter’s and John’s gospel boldness comes through their confidence in a sovereign God (Acts 4:27-28).  Just as God was in sovereign control over the death of Jesus, He is also in charge of their lives.  Thus, gospel boldness is rooted not in ourselves, but in someone else.   

They pray, not for deliverance per say, but for boldness to proclaim the gospel more (Acts 4:29).  While we might think that their prayer would revolve around asking for a way out, they actually pray for boldness in the midst of hostility.  The gospel spreads from Jerusalem and beyond as the church prays, the Spirit fills, and the believers are emboldened. 

Why such a change from chapter 1 where the disciples are locked up in an upper room?  Well, it’s really quite simple.  Jesus was dead, but now He is alive . . . and they knew it.  Jesus left them in order that He might send another Comforter who would fill them with power (John 14; Acts 1:8).  Still yet, the disciples really believed that Jesus is the only way to be saved.  That means any other way besides through Jesus alone is no way at all.  They were gripped by this truth!  They lived, breathed, slept and ate this truth.  Men and women, boys and girls are eternally lost without Jesus.  Whether as an individual in a remote tribe in Indonesia who mixes animism with Islam or a cultural Christian in suburban Kentucky or a postmodern living in a mega city, all are lost who do not forsake their sin and trust in Jesus alone for salvation.

Ultimately, to be unreached is to not know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Peter and John were gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves.  They lived their lives seeking to make Him know, even if it cost them theirs.  May we, too, be gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves and pray for gospel boldness to reach the unreached.        

How Can the Church Help Disaster Survivors?

Hurricanes

Floods

Wildfires

Earthquakes

Tornadoes

The year 2018 witnessed Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael,  the California Wildfires, the Indonesia Earthquake and Tsunami, the Guatemala Mount Fuego Eruption,  and Super Typhoon Manghut along with countless other smaller disaster events.  Each of these events caused significant loss that left people and communities reeling in the aftermath of these natural disasters.

What can we do as the church to help those suffering in times of disaster?

Here are the ten best ways to help survivors of disasters:

  1. Do not just show up to volunteer.  Spontaneous, untrained volunteers often make response more difficult for responders.  Disaster areas are often short on housing and food.  Those who just show up often rob these resources from those affected by the disaster, and often create issues that slow down rescue and recovery efforts.
  2. Get trained as a disaster relief volunteer.  Training enables you to respond at the right time and in the right way so that you provide real and effective help to survivors of disaster.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief provides effective and positive ways to connect as a volunteer to help in times of disaster.  Learn more and register for a training at http://www.kybaptist.org/dr .
  3. Avoid the temptation to load up a tractor trailer with donated supplies unless you are connected with someone on the ground and meeting a specific request.  Disasters often become a receptacle for “guilt” giving or “make-myself-feel-good” giving.  It does not help communities devasted by disasters to barrage their communities with unwanted items or to ship them our junk.  Collecting stuff often causes further damage to communities by creating debris piles and the cost of disposing unwanted, unneeded truckloads of stuff.
  4. In most cases, monetary donations to reputable organizations are the best way to help those affected by disasters.  Monetary donations enable organizations to meet real needs in the best and most efficient way.  Ministering to disaster victims should be about meeting the needs of those affected, not making myself feel good.
  5. Avoid charity fraud.  Give to reputable organizations with a proven track record.  Donations through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, Baptist Global Response, and Send Relief with the North American Mission Board are some of the best ways to offer help and hope to disaster survivors.
  6. Donate blood.
  7. Pray for those affected.  Prayer is always a right thing to do for hurting people.
  8. If the disaster is in the church’s community, the church can offer compassion by just reaching out to support our neighbors.  Listening to them and being with them in their pain and confusion brings God’s healing comfort.
  9. Meet practical needs.  Offer the church as a shelter.  Prepare meals or allow a Southern Baptist mobile kitchen to be set up at your church to provide meals.  Collect and reach out to families affected with Home Depot, Lowes, or Walmart gift cards.
  10. Plan and organize a community memorial service or worship event that allows families a safe place to find healing and comfort in their loss.

“Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”

(1 John 3:18).

Sewing Seeds of Kindness Ministry Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

This week I had the privilege of participating in the 10-Year Anniversary of “Sewing Seeds of Kindness” ministry.  One morning in 2009 I received a call from then Appalachian Regional Ministry Director Bill Barker that he was leaving the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, GA and headed through Kentucky.  He had a van load of clothes and 2 boxes of homemade witnessing dolls for a ministry in Appalachia and was looking for a place that could use them.  I met Bill in Corbin, KY and we unloaded the clothes and dolls to Mission Service Corps Missionary Robin Reeves, with Christians by Choice Ministry.  Little did Robin, Bill or I know what God was about to do through something as simple as a homemade doll.

Mission Service Corps Missionary Robin Reeves

When Robin’s friend saw the dolls she wanted to take them on an upcoming mission trip to Nicaragua.  Since these dolls were particularly donated for children in Appalachia that was not possible.  Robin, a professional seamstress since the 1980s, had an idea.  She shared the need with her church and a group of about 30 ladies volunteered to help.  Together they made 470 dolls and 55 baby blankets to send to Nicaragua.  This was the beginning of the new “Sewing Seeds of Kindness” Ministry.  From that time the ladies met once, twice, or even more times, each week to sew witnessing dolls and other items for ministry.  The ladies in Nicaragua also began making the witnessing dolls from the same pattern.

In an article written by Shirley Cox for the February 2010 issue of Missions Mosaic Robin and the ladies had sent over 1000 witnessing dolls to 15 states and 5 countries.  Robin’s 2018 report noted that over 22,000 witnessing dolls have now been made, have gone all across Kentucky, to children in all 50 states and 30 countries. 

Thousands of children around the world have heard the Gospel message through a homemade doll, made from colorful fabrics and yard, with a necklace of salvation beads and a card that explains what each color represents.  On one side the eyes of the doll are closed, representing one’s lost condition before coming to know Christ.  On the flip side the eyes of the doll are open, representing how our eyes are opened when we come to know the Lord.  A red heart, with a cross painted inside, is a reminder that once we accept Christ into our heart He is always with us.       

Dolls around the globe.

In addition to the dolls, “Sewing Seeds of Kindness” Ministry now makes prayer squares, baby quilts for a Crisis Pregnancy Center, lap quilts for the cancer wing at Baptist Health in Corbin, and dog/cat beds to Knox Whitley Animal Shelter. 

Recently Mrs. Robin has partnered with Anchored Ministries, a rehab facility in Williamsburg, where she is teaching ladies in the rehab how to sew, even helping one lady to begin a sewing business that will support herself financially.

There are many amazing stories of how God has used this ministry to touch the lives of people of all ages and in many places.  If interested in learning more about the ministry, or to get the doll pattern, please email [email protected]

Thank you, ladies, for giving to the Lord.  Many lives have been changed as a result.  Keep on sewing!! 

“Wait” Before We Go

When it comes to the Great Commission, the lostness of the world is second to the global glory of God.  God’s greatest concern is His great glory among the nations.  Only when our passion for God’s glory blazes will our endeavors to make Him famous among the nations shine bright. 

photo by IMB

Ironically, instead of blazing a trail for God’s glory in Jerusalem and abroad, the early disciples were first told to wait.  Wait?  The strategy for which the Lord gave the apostles began with waiting.  That seems quite odd for a movement that was intended to take the world by storm.  But if you think about it, where does this unquenchable passion for God’s glory among the nations come from? 

Jesus knew that what the early disciples needed most was power from on high, not power from within.  Passion for God is ultimately God-given passion.  Therefore, Jesus instructs the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for what the Father had promised, namely the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).  Both the power and passion for accomplishing the Great Commission comes from above; it comes from outside of ourselves.  The Holy Spirit would ignite a passion and provide the power to go into all the world preaching the gospel (Acts 1:6-8).

Interestingly, after Jesus’ departure, we find the disciples locked up in an upper room . . . waiting.  That is, waiting and praying (Acts 1:12-14).  Great Commission advancement always invovles waiting and praying.  A survey through Acts demonstrates that gospel boldness is closely connected and often follows the fervant prayers of God’s people (e.g., Acts 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:6-7; 10:9; 13:1-3).

As we examine the book of Acts it’s no wonder why we see such incredible gospel advancement.  The early church bathed the advancement of the gospel in prayer.  Yet, prayer seems to be an afterthought in so many churches today when it comes to Great Commission faithfulness.  “The gospel must be on the go,” we say.  “We don’t have time to pray when lostness is all around us,” we chide.  Yet, the underlying truth that the early church understood, that we would do well to understand, is that the gospel advances supernaturally through the prayers of the people of God.  In other words, the battle against lostness is first fought on our knees.

photo by IMB

We need churches and associations entering the battlefield on their knees before going to their feet.  Yes, “beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things” (Rom 10:15).  Yet, as we see from Acts, the beauty of our feet comes from calloused knees.  Great Commission faithfulness must begin with empowerment thru prayer.  Strategies void of prayer will be strategies void of power.  Only when God’s people cry out to Him, who alone can take a message offensive and foolish to the world and turn it into a beautiful embrace of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, will that message advance powerfully.  Let us be faithful to advance the Great Commission, but let us wait upon calloused knees for God to give us His power and passion.

Importance of the Pastor as a Catalyst for Missions

The Pastor is called to be a preacher/teacher within the body of faith.  This place of leadership gives him a unique authority and influence in the local church.  When the shepherd of the flock leads, the flock will follow.   This is crucial for the general health of the church but also for the missional health of the body of Christ.

The pastor is called to be God’s strategist for the local mission field but is also critical for God’s command to take the Gospel to the nations.  When the pastor has a passion for missions the church will be ignited to go into all the world for the sake of the Gospel.

The pastor is vital in:

  • Casting a missional vision. If it is not said from the pulpit most in the pews do not think it is important.
  • Helping the body of Christ understand lostness. When the pastor is consumed by the urgency of our work for Christ, it will overflow to the people in the pews.
  • Making missions a regular and important part of worship. Missions should flow from the worship of God. We were created to give God glory. When we meet God in worship, it stirs our hearts to make His name known among all peoples.  The pastor plays a key role by seeking ways to make missions a part of worship (preaching on missions, showing mission clips, praying for missions, highlighting mission offerings, using missions’ illustrations in his message, inviting missionaries to speak).
  • Preaching the Word faithfully and challenging the people to live life on mission for Christ.
  • Leading by example. The church will never be more committed than their leader.
  • Fostering the development of missionaries within the congregation by seeking to grow and encourage those in the family of faith to serve and surrender to a missions’ calling. Pastors are called to equip up the saints, so that these disciples may be sent out on mission for Christ.  The Missions Mobilization Team at the Kentucky Baptist Convention can assist individuals in connecting with our Southern Baptist missionary sending organizations to begin exploring the missionary appointment process.
  • Developing a comprehensive mission strategy to move the church to reach its Jerusalem, to have impact in the church’s Judea and Samaria, and to take the Gospel to the farthest corners of the globe.
  • Being an encourager of missions and missionaries. Invite missionaries to your church and help the church to build relationships with missionaries.
  • Promoting missions giving. This is the lifeblood of missions, and when we give cooperatively, we can do more for the Kingdom than any of us can alone. The pastor plays a vital role in helping the church to understand why we give to missions and choose to work cooperatively as Southern Baptists.
  • Encouraging the church to pray for missions, unreached peoples, and missionaries.
  • Energizing the flock to “Go.”

The strength or weakness of each local church’s missionary program, its missionary support, and its missionary outreach will depend, more than any other one element, on the mission-mindedness of its pastor.