Living Water

11010980_1025885547423275_4568844014778077594_nFor my blog post this week, I am sharing the testimony of a mission team that recently returned from Madagascar.

“A three member well drilling team from First Baptist Church of Shelbyville just returned from their second mission project to Madagascar.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief provided the well-drilling tools and assisted with training at Water Step in Louisville.  Baptist Global Response paid for the pumps and hardware needed for each site.

The team had three goals in mind as they traveled to Madagascar.  First, they desired to obey the command of Jesus by seeking to make disciples.  Second, they wanted to offer assistance and encouragement to international mission partners.  Third, they wanted to provide the blessing of clean water to remote villages.

The Shelbyville team partnered with an International Mission Board Strategist to assist in digging a well for an unreached people group in the Fort Dauphine area.  This village sits in an arid part of the island of Madagascar, and, because of this, villagers must walk ten miles for clean water.  Although the team attempted to drill for water in four different sites, they were unable to hit water and finally had to admit defeat.  In total, the team dug 102 feet with no success.

The team lamented, “Had God not heard our prayers?”

Though the team was not able to find a water source for this village, they were able to provide these villagers with an even more important life sustaining source.  The team was able to bring the “living water” of Christ to people unreached for the Gospel.   This is the same living water that Jesus offered the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.  The team, following leadership of IMB strategists, shared Biblical stories with villagers as they dug for clean water.  The people were very receptive to the message of God’s Word.  Several people gave public testimony of their commitment to follow Christ by being baptized.

In addition, the team was able to return to two villages on the northern tip of Madagascar, where they had ministered the previous year.  The team discovered two very important things.  First, the two producing wells, which were dug the previous year, were still functioning and providing water for 1600 people.  The people said they were not sick anymore from unclean water.  Second, the wells had opened doors for the Gospel and the team was excited to see the continued work of Christ in these remote and previously unreached villages.  As the team returned, the villages celebrated those who had brought them both clean water and “living water” of Christ.

The team desires to tell others of the importance of providing clean water in nations across the globe, and to open unreached villages to the “living water” of Christ.  Water related illnesses continue to affect families and villages all across Sub-Sahara Africa.  A child dies every fifteen seconds somewhere in the world due to water related diseases.  One out of nine people lack access to safe drinking water.  Compassionate ministry opens tremendous opportunities for the Gospel.

If you have an interest in learning more about water ministry opportunities, such as well digging and pump repair, please contact Coy Webb in the Disaster Relief Department at the Kentucky Baptist Convention.  As a team, we are personally thankful that the Kentucky Baptist Convention connected our church to this exciting opportunity of service that enabled us to bring clean water and “living water” to some of the least of these.”

Madagascar team members:  Jerry Tracy, Bob Walters, and Mike Embry

You can contact Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief at (502) 489-3527, (866) 489-3527, or at to learn more about mission opportunities in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Missions Thinking Doesn’t Fulfill the Great Commission

Acts 1:8 challenges every Christ follower to be a missionary everywhere – locally, regionally, nationally and around the world. All believers are called to this commitment, but sadly, we know that not all are obedient.Mission Wordle

Likewise, churches are to be Great Commission churches – sending people and making disciples everywhere, locally, regionally, nationally and around the world. Most churches believe they are already a Great Commission church because they are missions-minded, but that’s all they are. In addition to “thinking” about missions, they may give financially to the support of missionaries, but that alone doesn’t fulfill the Great Commission.

Who in your church is responsible for keeping the focus on missions? Who or what group develops intentional strategies to reach your “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the utter most parts of the earth”? Who is challenging and equipping church members to be on mission? The truth is, if it’s everyone’s responsibility, it’s no ones. Someone, or some group, must have the responsibility for developing and leading the church’s missions call. If left to chance, it won’t happen.

Churches fulfilling the Great Commission will have a missions leadership team (call it what you want). Prayerfully select team members to ensure a healthy, missions active, comprehensive approach. Once the missions leadership team is established, they should develop a list of responsibilities. Now that someone has responsibility for keeping the church on focus, they’ll be much more than a missions “thinking” church.

Here is a suggested list of responsibilities for the missions leadership team:
• Develop a missions strategy for your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth.
• Educate, inspire, and motivate church members to embrace their role in commitments as Great Commission Christians.
• See that missionaries are cared for and supported.
• Equip and enable individuals for personal involvement in missions.
• Develop partnerships between the church and mission points.
• Organize and fulfill meaningful short-term missions teams and projects.
• Develop prayer support for missionaries and unreached people groups.
• Set priorities, goals, and promotion for missions funding, budgeting, and management.
• Recruit and help prepare missionary candidates from within the congregation.
• Develop relationships with denominational missions leaders who can assist with assessments, training and equipping.

The Summer Is Ended

back to school

Today is back-to-school day for many students across Kentucky.  It has been fun seeing all of the pictures on Facebook of students as they return to school.  Many parents have posted side by side pictures of their children from last school year and this school year.  Some have even posted pictures from kindergarten and then pics of today.  My, how the children have grown over the years.

Where has the time gone?  It seems only a few days ago we were celebrating the end of the school year.  Although there are still several weeks of summer left, for many the beginning of school seems to mark the end of their summer.  Please pray for the students, teachers, faculty/staff, bus drivers, administration, and all those in the school systems to have a good and safe school year.

Back-to-school also tends to mark the end of the summer schedule for our missionaries.  Mission teams have come and gone.  Many families have been ministered to, the Gospel shared, and lives changed as a result.  Praise God for their willingness to serve and for those who have experienced new life in Christ as a result.

Although much has been done, there is still much work to do.  Missions does not end with the end of summer.  There are many opportunities to serve throughout the year.  Thousands in our own backdoor, in our state, our nation, and around the world still need the Gospel.  We must not slack; never give up.  We must be about our Father’s business of taking the message of hope to them.

The children at my church sing a little chorus that says, “I hope you see that my hope in only in Jesus, and I hope you see that your hope is only in Him.”  We must go.  We must share that hope.

Be on the lookout for Fall and Winter 2015 mission opportunities.  Projects will be updated soon and can be found at

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20).

Ready Church

Ready churchMost churches, businesses, and organizations fail to prepare for any kind of disaster.  The result is that each of these entities lessen their ability to survive and recover.  However. a far greater tragedy is that the church often fails to minister in a positive and effective manner following disasters.

Kentucky Disaster Relief’s strategy plan, “Ready Church,” enables congregations to Prepare, Connect, and Respond in times of disaster.  This strategy empowers churches to be the hands, feet, and voice of Christ to their hurting neighbors.  Ready Church also offers valuable discipleship in disaster preparation and practical wisdom in establishing effective response plans.

God has placed the local church in a community to be a light that reflects the hope of Christ. Disasters create unique opportunities to share that hope and to offer the Good News of the Gospel.  Ready Church enables believers to fill gaps of need and to make a life-changing impact on our neighbors and community.

Paul challenges Titus and the church in Titus 3:1:

“To be ready for every good work.”

Why Ready Church?

  1. Communities across the Commonwealth have the potential for tornadoes, floods, ice storms, public shootings, earthquakes, severe storms, power outages, fires, industrial accidents, fatal vehicle crashes, and terrorist attacks.
  2. Kentucky has people who need compassionate ministry in the midst of loss and tragedy. God encourages us throughout Scripture to minister to widows. orphans, strangers, the broken, the wounded, and the “least of these.”
  3. Kentucky has people who need Christ.  Compassionate ministry creates opportunities to share the Gospel and hope of Christ.  Disasters open doors that have often been closed to the Gospel, if churches are prepared to respond to our hurting neighbors with positive and caring ministry.


Join us to learn more about Ready Church during Super Saturday events sponsored by the Kentucky Baptist Convention;

Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington on August 22

Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah on August 29

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville on September 12

Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green on September 19

You can contact Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief at (502) 489-3527, (866) 489-3527, or at for more information or to coordinate a Ready Church training in your area.

Small Church with a BIG Heart for Missions

Pillow Case Dresses

Recently I had the privilege of visiting with Slate Hill Baptist Church in London, KY to share about ways to reach out to their community through the “Operation InAsMuch Kentucky” emphasis this September.  In asking probing questions to learn more about the church and community I was really impressed to hear of the outreach this church is already doing.

The WMU ladies shared about their sewing ministry.  They showed me rack after rack of pillow case dresses (with matching flip-flops and doll dresses) and homemade dolls that they had made for little girls.   For the boys they had made shorts and bought matching tee shirts.

These dresses, flip-flops, dolls, shorts, and tee shirts have reached children at home and around the world as they were given to the local school resource center, sent to an Indian reservation in South Dakota, to Haiti, Africa, Brazil, Jamaica, and the Philippians.

The ladies also make fleece blankets, backpacks, and participate in the Samaritan Purse Operation Christmas Child.  They deliver meals to families in and around their church when there is a sickness or other need.  Quarterly the WMU sends financial donations to Wycliff, to the Laurel County Life Center, and to the Anti-Abortion Clinic.

Such an active church.  Such a giving church.  A church involved in lots of outreach projects.  Yet they are looking for ways to better reach their community.

Slate Hill Baptist Church was established in 1831 and, though small in number (with an average Sunday AM worship attendance of 44), they are BIG in heart.  As part of the Kentucky Baptist family they are also involved in reaching their community, state, nation, and the world with the Gospel of Christ through their gifts to the Eliza Broadus State Missions Offering, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and the Cooperative Program.  We thank God for these faithful WMU ladies, for Pastor Homer Johnson and his leadership, and for the entire church.

To learn of ways you can participate in Operation InAsMuch Kentucky this September go to   For information on other types of outreach please email the Missions Mobilization Team at

Mission Partnership Opportunities Abound

Is your church or association prayerfully considering a new mission partnership, or desiring to begin one for the first time?  If so, the KBC has a wealth of requests for mission partnerships that may be just right for your group.  But how does one go about choosing a mission partnership and what does that partnership look like?  Let me suggest some mission partnership considerations.

First, what does a mission partnership look like?  Mission partnership nuts and bolts are rather simple.  We suggest that mission partnerships be long-term (3-5 years).  Relationships take time.  Further, if possible, send multiple teams a year.  For instance, instead of sending a team of twenty, send four teams of five throughout the year.  Still yet, make sure that the partnership is gospel-centered.  This may seem obvious, but there are times when doing acts of mercy, for example, end simply with giving out food or constructing buildings.  While these are great ways to demonstrate love, the gospel is what changes lives.  In addition, intentional mission partnerships allow the local church/ministry/missionary to determine the needs.  Mission teams submit to the needs expressed from the field, which leads to the last nut and bolt of partnerships.  Be a servant.

Now, what about deciding on a partnership?  Prayer is essential.  Along with prayer, the best way to decide on a partnership is through experience.  Vision tours are a tremendous way to experience (touch, taste, hear, see, etc.) areas in need of gospel impact.  We have four such vision tours planned in the coming months.  Perhaps you would join us in experiencing the lostness of certain areas in our country and world in order to see if God is leading your church or association to partner for Kingdom advancement.

CincyOur Cincinnati Vision Tour is September 28-29, 2015.  Join us in this NAMB strategy to reach the greater Cincinnati area with the gospel.  We will meet with church planters and experience the tastes and sights of this river city.  For more information or to register visit:

Salt Lake CitySalt Lake City is in great need of gospel partnerships.  Our NAMB church planters there are asking for your help.  This vision tour is scheduled for November 2-4, 2015.  Come and see how your church or association can partner with church planters in Salt Lake City to push back the darkness through the light of Jesus.

BrazilSão Paulo, Brazil is one of the largest cities in the world with over 20 million residents.  The opportunities for gospel engagement are almost limitless.  January 31-February 6, 2016, we will venture through this city with IMB missionaries and former KBC leaders, Scott and Joyce Pittman.

FranceEurope sits in darkness and is in need of Kentucky Baptist partners to come alongside of IMB personnel to have gospel impact.  Of the 800 million people in Europe, missiologists tell us that 99% are lost without Jesus.  Within Europe, France is a country where many do not even believe that God exists. We need churches and associations that will take the gospel back to the place that once flourished with the gospel.  April 5-16, 2016, we will explore gospel partnerships in this European region.

These four vision tours allow you and your group to seek God’s guidance as you prayerfully discern where He is leading you to partner for Kingdom impact.  For the Cincinnati tour, see the web link above.  If you are interested in Salt Lake City, Brazil, or France, please contact Doug Williams, 502-489-3420 or, for more details. For more partnership opportunities, visit our web at  Search by length, location, or project.  Indeed, mission partnership opportunities abound!

Tornado Preparedness

West Liberty - 3Tornadoes are the most violent storms in nature.  Almost 1200 tornadoes strike every year across the United States.  Winds can reach more than 200 miles per hour, and they can destroy a neighborhood in seconds, leaving behind loss and chaos.  Every year, thousands hold their breath as they watch 15 to 20 of these deadly rotating clouds of fury pass through the Commonwealth.

The destruction and injury depends upon the size, intensity, path, time of day, and length of time the tornado stays on the ground.  They can occur in any season but are most likely in the spring and summer.  Tornadoes frequently occur between the hours of 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The 2012 tornado that struck West Liberty tracked across Eastern Kentucky for more than 85 miles.  A survivor of this tornado reminds us of the violent nature of these storms and the need to be prepared, “If it weren’t for God, we’d all be dead.”

Most injuries and fatalities from tornadoes are caused by flying debris.  When a tornado strikes, it is vital to go to the safest place for protection and to seek personal cover.

Here are some tips for tornado preparedness:

  1. Know the difference in a tornado watch and a tornado warning.  A tornado watch means that the weather conditions are possible to produce a tornado.  A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.  Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger and those in the warning area should go to a safe place of cover immediately.
  2. The best protection in a tornado is underground in a basement, cellar, a storm shelter, or in a safe room built to FEMA standards.  These shelters greatly increase survival chances.
  3. If an underground shelter is not available, it is recommended that you seek protection in a small windowless room in a sturdy building, such as a bathroom, interior hallway, or closet. It is strongly recommended that these be on the first floor.  One should use additional personal cover as you gather in this interior space.  Use what is available to cover yourself, such as a mattress, blanket, or coat.  Cover your head and neck with your arms.
  4. Mobile homes, malls, gyms, warehouses, vehicles, and the outdoors do not provide safe protection against tornadoes.
  5. Families should have a plan that includes a first aid kit, emergency supplies, and a place for all family members to meet following a disaster.  It is recommended that families have two pre-determined meeting places.

As always, being prepared greatly increases you and your family’s ability to survive when a disaster strikes.

10 Things Missionaries Won’t Tell You

I recently read a blog post introduced to me by one of our Kentucky missionaries that was written in July of 2014 by Adam Mosley. After working with missionaries for most of my ministry, I know that what Adam has written is so true. If you’ve not served as a missionary, you might not know these things. So, I’m going to share his blog posting with you right here. I pray it will open your eyes to more effective ways to minister to and support missionaries whom God has called to serve.    KBCL1091 - copy

Being a missionary is hard work. Everybody knows that. But the things we think of as the hard parts – lack of modern amenities, exposure to disease, and the like – only begin to scratch the surface of the difficulties of real missionary life. Often, it is the things left unsaid that really begin to erode the passion and soul of a missionary. Here are just a few of those things…

• Have you read my latest newsletter?
• Newsletters, blog posts, website updates – all the “experts” tell me that I need to be sending you fresh content on a regular basis so you won’t forget about me. But here’s the thing…writing is hard, especially for those who aren’t natural writers. You know what else is hard? HTML, CSS, PHP, and a bunch of other tech-geek stuff that you have to learn about just to make a decent-looking website or email. I really want to tell you what’s going on, but it’s hard to turn out gripping narratives while I have a sick child asleep in my lap. And if I have to look up how to code a “mailto” link one more time, I’m going to scream!

• Thank you so much for the encouragement!
• I’m glad that you liked my Facebook status. I really am. The thing is, when I say we need $1,200 by the end of the week to pay the school fees for orphaned children, I’m talking about actual dollars and actual need. Contrary to the rumors, Bill Gates doesn’t donate a dollar for every Like. That part is up to you. So, the next time you Like my status, consider sending a few bucks my way too.

• I’m trusting God to provide, and I’m so thankful for our donors.
• Lest you think #2 sounded a little whiny and money-hungry, you should know that I truly despise asking for money. I always have. And now I have to ask for it almost all the time. Even when I’m not asking for it, I’m thinking about asking for it. There are never enough funds to do all the good I’m trying to do, and I live with a nagging feeling that the one person I don’t ask is the one who would have written the big check. So, when I ask for money, know that I do so with fear and trembling.

• Please pray for me. It has been a challenging week.
• Things are pretty bad here. If I told you what’s really going on, you would either come rescue me, or think I was exaggerating. If you heard some of the things I’ve said out loud, you might question my salvation. If you knew some of the thoughts I’ve had rattling around in my head, you might question my sanity. Sometimes good days are hard to come by, but I don’t dare tell you the worst. If I did, you would probably tell me to throw in the towel.

• I just need a time of refreshing.
• After 2 or 3 years of hard work, most people feel like they deserve a little break. Take the family to the beach. Visit a theme park, a national park, or Park City. I would love a vacation, but honestly, I feel guilty “pampering” myself, rather than putting all my time and resources into the ministry. On top of that, I know some people will judge me if my vacation is “too nice.” If I scrape and save pennies for 5 years so I can spend a week on an exotic island, you’ll never hear about it, because I can’t handle the snarky, “It must be nice” comments (the ones you’ll say to my face), or, “My donations paid for your vacation” (which you’ll think, but not say out lout – at least not to me). So, I keep some great stuff to myself for fear of being judged.

• I’m so excited about your team coming!
• Bless your heart. You think you’re doing me a favor. Thirty people show up at my door and expect me to provide transportation, food, lodging, sight-seeing, and a list of service projects a mile long. You’re here to “help.” The thing is, the other 51 weeks out of the year, we manage to do what needs to be done here just fine. That is, except for the time we spend working on the logistics for your team. You come over and want to help build a fence, when I can hire local workers to build a fence for a tiny fraction of what you spent to come here. I appreciate your desire to help, and I even love having visitors, but consider the size and expectations of your group before you plan your trip. A team of 3 or 4 highly skilled people is much more valuable to our ministry than a gaggle of mission tourists.

• It’s great to be back home.
• Please understand, I now have two homes. When I’m at one, I’m away from the other, and there is a lot of emotion involved in that. On top of that, my life is absolutely crazy when I go “home.” I have to see relatives and friends, visit with partner churches, and take care of any number of issues that have arisen with my health, my electronic devices, and my government paperwork. Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months, I spend my time living out of suitcases and hustling from one appointment to the next. Is it good to be home? Sure. But when I get on that plane to go to my other home, I breathe a sigh of relief that life is almost back to “normal.”

• I’m not very good at self-care.
• Let’s face it, I’m no saint. I’m not any more spiritual than you are. I don’t start my day with three hours of devotional reading and prayer. I typically just get up and get to work. And there is a lot of work to be done. In fact, there is so much need here that it’s really easy to become so focused on doing things for God that I lose sight of God himself. In pursuing my calling, I’ve somehow forgotten about the caller. My spiritual life is almost nonexistent, other than the occasional desperate cry of “Why God?”

• I’m just looking for some good strategic partners.
• There are good people here, there really are. But I have seen the worst of humanity in my work here – much of it from people I worked with and trusted. Other missionaries and pastors can be the worst. Just when you think you know someone, they stab you in the back, the front, and both sides. I’ve gotten to where I simply don’t trust anyone. My guard is up, and it’s not coming down. I refuse to get burned again. If that means I have to do everything myself, then so be it.

• I’m OK – just really busy with the ministry.
• Having neglected my relationship with God, and given up on people entirely, I’m left with just me. I hate it. I want to quit. I have dreams about what my life would be like if I went back to my old home town, to my old church, and my old friends. I could get a normal job earning a salary – with healthcare and paid vacation. I could shop and eat at normal places. Most of all, I could have normal relationships. But here? I’m all alone. I don’t know if there’s anyone like me here, and I know no one back home understands. I want to feel wanted, invited, and loved. I want someone to pour into me the way I’m pouring into others.

Kentucky Missionary Honored

A. MillerArlene Miller, one of our Kentucky missionaries, was honored this week at the National WMU Annual Meeting in Columbus, OH.  During the Sunday evening session Arlene was presented with the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development.

Arlene has served as a Mission Service Corps funded (self-funded) missionary through the North American Mission Board and the Kentucky Baptist Convention since 2001 in her work as Director of Impact Ministry and Christian Women’s Job Corps.  Impact, a food and clothing ministry, and Christian Women’s Job Corps are ministries of the Christian County Baptist Association in Hopkinsville, KY.

Arlene is a strong leader and her work has impacted many, especially needy families, women, and volunteers serving alongside her.  She helps to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of those she serves and is quick to share their need of a relationship with Christ.  Arlene is active in her local church, association, and state WMU where she had held many leadership roles.

In addition to Arlene’s service at Impact and Christian Women’s Job Corps, she also serves as the West Region Mobilization Consultant with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, where she recruits and enlists other KY-MSC and NAMB MSC-funded missionaries, and provides much needed encouragement for the missionaries in her region.

Arlene has been active in international missions, having taken numerous mission trips.  You can see her light up as she shows pictures and speaks of the children at the orphanage in Haiti.

Many times, Arlene says, she has told the Lord “no, I can’t, I am not qualified, but will pray for You to get somebody else,” only to hear His voice say, “I want you!!”

Arlene is very conscientious, is an encourager, and such a humble, giving person.

CONGRATULATIONS, Arlene!!  You are most deserving of this award.

If you are looking for a good Kentucky mission opportunity, consider a trip to Hopkinsville to work with Arlene and her volunteers at Impact Ministry and CWJC.  Click on the following link to view their needs –

You are meant for so much more!

All of us have had adversity in our lives.  All of us have likely asked why such adversity comes our way, but have you ever asked why blessings come your way.  It is one thing to ask “why” when bad things happen, but it is another thing to ask “why” when good things happen.  The Psalmist in Psalm 67 offers us the answer as to why good things come our way. He says, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations” (Ps 67:1-2). blessing

This song of blessing mirrors the priestly blessing offered to the people of Israel in Numbers 6:22-27.  Asking for the blessing of God is meant for the praise of God.  The Psalmist goes on to say, “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you” (v 3).  God blesses His people, so that His people might make His salvation known to the ends of the earth.  Yet, the spreading of God’s name is ultimately for God’s fame.  God’s desire is the praise of all peoples, regardless of ethnicity, language, or culture.

God doesn’t simply save because people need saving, but because He is worthy of praising.  Yes, people need saving, but more than that God is worthy of the devotion of all peoples.  God blesses us, so that His fame might spread to the ends of the earth for His glory and praise.

If this is true, and I believe it is, then we must reevaluate the use of our lives and our churches for this end.  In other words, how am I as a husband, father, neighbor, and coach living for the spread of God’s fame and the glory of His name?  How am I making Him know through the many blessings that He has lavished on me?  Am I more prone to hoard God’s blessings in my life or herald God’s name through these blessings?

What about in our churches?  Are we more inward focused on ourselves—our wounds, our needs, our wants, etc., then we are on making Jesus famous across the street and across the sea?  What if our churches focused their budgets and their ministries around using the blessings of God as the means of proclaiming God?  What if our mission, vision, and strategy revolved around the sole purpose of using our blessings as the means of investing in the lives of others for the spread of God’s fame and the glory of His name?  What if we were less concerned, as one friend puts it, about potholes in our parking lot, mildew on our steeples, and shag carpet in our buildings?

What might God do in us and through us if we viewed and used our blessings as the means of advancing Jesus’ name for the praise of all peoples?  After all, this is why we were made and saved.  We are meant for so much more than buildings, budgets, and business meetings (not that these are unimportant).  We are meant to proclaim His name for the praise of His name.