Rebuilding the Walls

IMG_0135The physical damage from disasters can be catastrophic to communities, families, and individuals.  Everyone who is affected faces a long recovery.  Once the immediate crisis has passed, it can be months and even years before lives begin to normalize.

Rebuild ministry is a way to help families and vulnerable populations restore their lives and recover from disasters.  Rebuild construction teams offer continued help, healing, and hope to those devastated by disaster. Your church can be part of God’s compassionate hand to those seeking to recover from crisis.

Southeast Michigan Flood Recovery

Detroit was once known as the “Motor City”, but now is becoming known as the “Vanishing City”  with unemployment rising above 15% .  Sadly, it has also become known as the city of the “Vanishing Church”.  Most estimate that 9 out of 10 in this city do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The recent woes in the Detroit area have caused many to begin searching for spiritual answers.  God is using many circumstances including the floods of 2014 to open doors for the Gospel.  Would you like to be part of what God is doing in the Detroit area?

Rebuild efforts are underway in the Detroit metro area of Michigan, where floods damaged 129,000 homes in the fall of 2014.  Teams are working in partnership with Warren Woods Baptist Church, Michigan Baptist Disaster Relief, and the North American Mission Board to bring help, hope, and healing to thousands of families in the greater Detroit metro area.

The rebuild effort will continue through August 31, 2016.  

Currently, their is a great need for experienced construction volunteers or teams.

There are ministry opportunities in construction and survivor care.  Recruit a construction team, grab your tools, and join us in bringing help, healing, and hope to our neighbors in southeastern Michigan.  Or, recruit a team to come and assist church planters and pastors in follow-up and survivor care to the thousands who suffered damage and loss. 

Teams will have housing and meals provided at Schofield Elementary school in Warren, Michigan.  Sleeping quarters are dorm style with bunks and cots.  Cost is $25 per person.  This includes housing, meals, and supplemental insurance.

To schedule a team or for more information, contact Southeast Michigan Recovery staff at    (770) 410-6271 or MI_Recovery@namb.net.

I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.  They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’  So they began this good work.”  (Nehemiah 2:18)

Romania Mission Trip Leads to Local Community Ministry

Operation Give Hope PhotoIn February 2010 Katheryn Pope received an email, totally out of the blue, from the KBC regarding an International Team Leadership Training, and decided to attend.  They agreed to help fund a mission trip to São Paulo, Brazil, with a commitment that each participant would then lead a team on an International World Changers trip within 18 months.  “I felt God was calling me to do so, even though I knew it would really stretch me, or I would not have gotten the email,” she said.

When the itinerary arrived, it included pastors, campus ministry leaders, and those that had been all over the world doing missions.  She did not fit in with this group, she thought.

The trip started as a fiasco for Katheryn as her flight was cancelled due to a thunder storm and she had to fly over 10 hours to Brazil alone.  “While there, we were instructed to go out on campus, strike up conversations with students, and eventually share Christ with them.  I was overcome by fear.  The first day I could not do it but, by the end of the trip, I was doing fine,” Katheryn said.

Once back home she realized that now she must fulfill the commitment she had made.  Although she had been on several mission trips before, she had never led one.  Katheryn contacted a local youth pastor and the two of them put together a strong team of 15 to go to Romania.  However, a few months before the departure, the youth pastor called and said he had been called to another church and would not be able to go with them.  But, with the team they had prepared, she was ready to lead.  In Romania they did construction projects, children’s day camps, and Bible studies.

Following the trip the team members became burdened for their own community.  The needs at home were great as well and they could do the same types of outreach right in their own county.  They contacted local Director of Missions Randy McPheron with their vision and, in 2012, the Rockcastle Baptist Community Mission Team was officially adopted by the association.

Since that time the Team has been active year round with outreach to their community. Volunteers from several churches in the association have come on board and this is literally an “associational team”.  Celebrate Recovery, Women’s Bible Study, GED Classes, Community Meals, a Summer Feeding Program for Kids, Back-to-School Events, an Emergency Food Panty and Door-to-Door Evangelism are just some of the ways they are impacting their county with the Gospel.  With each event the Gospel is shared.  Just in the past few weeks alone, 36 people have prayed to receive Christ as their Savior.

For the past 5 years the team has held Christmas Outreach events.  The most recent, Operation Give Hope, was held in which children and families were fed, heard the Christmas story, and received coats, blankets, and toys.  Kentucky Baptist Convention helped provide Bibles for this event and Appalachian Regional Ministries provided Christmas backpacks.

Katheryn was approved and commissioned in 2015 as a Kentucky Missionary and God has filled her with a passion for the lost and hurting.  Someone recently described her as soft spoken and iron-willed.  She continues to go on international trips but her on-going ministry is right here at home.

To learn how you can begin a similar community ministry, or partner with Katheryn and other Kentucky missionaries, please contact the KBC Missions Mobilization Team at 502-489-3530.

Hearing Lottie’s Challenge Afresh

LottieShe stood well under 5 feet (some say 4 feet, 3 inches). Yet, she was a giant with lion-hearted boldness in calling for missionaries to foreign fields. Writing in 1874 to H. A. Tupper, head of the mission board in her day, she challenged, “Oh that we had active and zealous men who would go far and wide scattering books and tracts and preaching the word to the vast multitudes of this land” (Keith Harper, Send the Light, quoted by Danny Akin, Five Who Changed the World, 64). She would also challenge Southern Baptists to give more for the sake of spreading the gospel among the nations.

For decades Southern Baptists have risen to Lottie’s challenge to go and give. In fact, Southern Baptists have given record amounts in recent years to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (2013 record amount of $154 million and $153 million in 2014). Further, individuals and couples are still answering the call to go and tell the good news among the nations. In spite of these record amounts of giving, some missionaries in recent years have been on hold to go because the finances are just not there (http://imb.org/updates/storyview.aspx?StoryID=7989#.Vp-aaGco7IU).

In 2016 we need to hear Lottie’s words afresh. In January 1888 she wrote: “The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent. It is grievous to think of these human souls going down to death without even one opportunity of hearing the name of Jesus” (Aking, Five Who Changed the World, 67). Today there are still billions who will go down to death without ever hearing the name of Jesus.

The IMB has recently made some hard decisions to reduce their force between 600 and 800 people. The fact is, missionaries are coming home. This reality should strike the largest Protestant mission organization in the world with great force. We are sending missionaries home because the funds are just not there. How this problem began is another topic of discussion. The hard truth, however, is that Southern Baptists are sending missionaries home.

So, what do we do?

We pray. Jesus told us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest (Matt 9:38).

We send. Our God is a sending God who calls us to send our very best into that harvest (Acts 13).

We give. Senders send through not only giving people, but dollars. Like never before our churches must step up to the challenge Lottie gave and give so that the gospel might spread.

I know personally of two such churches in the Kentucky Baptist Convention who have heard the echo of Lottie’s challenge in recent days. Highland Park Baptist in Louisville and Williamstown Baptist in Williamstown both challenged their churches to give more than they have ever given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Both churches had goals for giving this year, but upon hearing of recent challenges with the IMB their churches responded incredibly. Their churches both gave three times the amount of their Lottie Moon goal.

What if every KBC and SBC church said, “We can pray more, send more, and give more so that others might hear of Jesus!”? What might God do with such a response to such a tremendous need? Only God knows! But we do know that fewer would go “down to death without even one opportunity of hearing the name of Jesus.”

Have It Your Way

Have It Your WayFor forty years, Burger King was known for its slogan, “Have It Your Way.”  It would be wonderful if one could order life like this.

Give me a double blessing with pleasure, money, recognition, a little adventure, and hold the danger.

Give me a mega church with extra good health, great leaders, and make it problem free.

Unfortunately, life does not work like this.  If we put our trust in Him, God has promised to be with us every moment of our journey.  But, He chooses to let every bend hold a surprise. None of us get to order life our way.

We cannot see what tomorrow will bring: transitions, career shifts, moves, health adjustments, family changes, and cultural revolutions.  Life is filled with diversity and is always shifting.

Solomon speaks of this in Ecclesiastes 3:

“To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;

A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

A time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain, and a time to lose;

A time to keep, and a time to throw away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;

A time of war, and a time of peace.”

Life comes with many seasons, twists, and turns.  Just open your local newspaper or read the national headlines.  Every day our world is rocked with news and descriptions of how quickly life can change.

The Supreme Court’s Ruling Causes Seismic Cultural Shift.

Greek Crisis Rocks the Stock Market.

ISIS Takes Key City in Iraq.

Week of Severe Weather Leaves at Least 43 Dead Across Seven States.

Words, such as these, can quickly bring fear and dread into our lives.  The changing seasons of Supreme Court rulings, financial crashes, terrorist plots, and natural disasters can cause us to quiver and be anxious about tomorrow.  For many of us, we are left to wonder, “Where can we find security and hope in our ever-changing world?”

We find hope in the same place that it has always rested.  Our hope is in an unchanging God, who is still on His throne.  Changes do not surprise God.  He is the One who created all the seasons of life.

I may not know what tomorrow brings, but I do know who holds tomorrow in His hands.

If our security rests in the momentary things of this world, then life often disappoints.  But, what if this world is just another season that God has given?  What if the winter seasons of life are meant to prepare us for a coming spring like we have never known?  The apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18,  “Therefore, we do not give up.  Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Eternal life with an unchanging God of power and grace.  When that season comes, we will look back and realize that the winters were rather mild.

A New Start Should Involve Reaching New People

new year new startThe New Year’s Eve celebrations have ended and before us is a new year of new opportunities, new beginnings and new direction. This is the time of year that we find ourselves evaluating the past year and making new plans and resolutions for the coming year. Usually the new plans have something to do with our physical health, financial portfolios or our relationships. We resolve to quit eating so much, to start exercising, to save more money, to spend more time with our children and so on. We are lucky if these resolutions that we make to ourselves last 6 months.

As important as those things are, this year I challenge you to consider making a resolution this year that will really make a difference in your life and that of others – reach new people for Christ by engaging your community through a new ministry.  Not necessarily by yourself, although God may lead you to do so, but through your church.

Here are a few reasons why your church should prayerfully consider staring a new community engaging ministry:
• Identifies those who need to know Christ
• Builds witnessing relationships
• Connects church to community
• Increases visibility of church as caring
• Creates new ministry opportunities for members
• Helps communicate gospel in word and deed
• Reaches new un-reached people
• It’s Biblical

There are unreached people all over the world who need to know the love of Jesus Christ. Some of those unreached people are right outside the doors of our churches. The possibilities for how to reach them is limited only by your imagination and creativity. The Gospel of Christ has been effectively shared through medical clinics for the un-insured, mobile home rehabbing, after-school tutoring for at-risk children, money management courses for families living in poverty, English as a Second Language classes for internationals, job skill training, accountability groups for recovering addicts, etc.

I’m excited about the New Year ahead of us and trust you will see the possibilities that exist for sharing Christ through new ministries. Please let us know of ministries you’ve been involved in or heard about. Your comments on this blog may encourage others to try other new ministries in an effort to reach new people. Also let us know if there are ways we can assist you in the development of new ministries in your community.

A Gift That Keeps on Giving

Gift

Christmas 2015 is behind us.  Gifts have been unwrapped.  Gifts have been given and gifts were received.  At this time of year we hear the words of Jesus repeated often that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”  And, it is a time of giving.  We carefully picked special gifts for those we loved and wanted to share with.  Most of us not only gave to our family and friends, but also gave to charities and to those in need.  We were in the spirit in giving.

But, I want to share a little about receiving.  I am also thankful for each gift I received this Christmas for, it means, someone loved me enough to share a little bit of themselves with me.

Recently, I heard a pastor ask the question, “What is the best gift you have ever received?”  Of course, to us Christians it is the gift of salvation.  And, he was getting to that answer but, with this particular question, he first was asking about material gifts.

As I pondered that question (I have received many nice gifts during my lifetime), my answer was the piano I received from my parents when I was 16 years old.  Why my piano?  Because it is a gift that has kept on giving every year since that time as each week I serve as pianist in my home church.

Giving and receiving go hand in hand.  Had I not received the greatest gift of God’s Son, I would not have a message to share.  If I had not received the gift of a piano and piano lessons, I would not have that skill to use in worship.

As His children we have received the greatest gift ever given.  God has also gifted us for service.  Our family and friends have gifted us with material gifts.  Let us take a look at the gifts we have received and see how we can continue to use these gifts for God’s service into the New Year.

HAPPY 2016!!

 

 

Hope is Coming

Christmas is about Jesus. It is a time to celebrate His coming. In fact, Christmas is about the hope of Jesus coming to a world in need. During this time of year one way Southern Baptists celebrate Christmas is by giving to missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. As I think about Christmas, missions, and the hope of Jesus, I am reminded of attending my first commissioning service for the International Mission Board several years ago.

As each missionary stood on stage and offered a couple minute synopsis of where they were going and what they would be doing, one couple concluded, “They (the people group they were going to serve) don’t know yet, but hope is on the way!” Everyone in the service was moved by the reality of their sacrifice to go, but even more so by the pronouncement of the hope they were bringing.

This pronouncement of coming hope is the message of Christmas. Long ago during the dark of the night, shepherds were given a pronouncement of hope. As glory lit up the night sky, the angel announced, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luk 2:11). The Shepherds didn’t know it, but hope had come.

ornamentAs I sit some 2,000 years later waiting for Christmas Day to come in a few days, I am reminded again that hope is coming. Yes, the hope of Christmas, but in a way different than past years for my family. You see, my family has been in a process for over three years to adopt a child from Africa. Just a few weeks ago we received the overwhelming news that a little girl is now waiting for us to bring her home.

She doesn’t know it yet, but hope is on the way! Just as God set His love on us and planned to save us before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), He promised to bring us into His family by adoption through Jesus (Eph 1:5). God’s plan to love us and save us would come forth in Christ at just the right time (Eph 1:9-10). This is the message of Christmas—Jesus has come, and He brings us into His family through adoption!

Just as those Shepherds long ago didn’t see it coming, hope arrived at just the right time. Though our daughter doesn’t know it yet, hope is on the way. And as is always the case with God, hope will be right on time!

I’m Not Trained, But I Did Stay at a Holiday Inn Last Night

Believers often ask in Disaster Relief, “Why do I have to go through training to serve as a
volunteer?  Why can’t I just go help people?”

Preparation is important in any area of ministry, because it enables us to be more effective in
ministry.  The wisdom writer in Ecclesiastes 10:10 declared, “If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength, but wisdom brings success.” Sharpening the blade will enable the tool to be more efficient, just as training helps believers to serve more effectively in response to the survivors of disasters.  Through your gifts to the Cooperative Program, the Kentucky Baptist Convention is able to provide training in disaster relief that prepares Kentucky Baptists to be ready to serve in positive ways during times of disaster.

Top ten reasons to be trained:State leadership Meeting

  1. Training prepares us in our understanding of disasters and the needs that arise in times of disaster.
  2. Training enables us to respond in appropriate and effective ways.
  3. Training prepares us to understand our role as part of a team.
  4. Training enables us to sharpen our abilities, in order to be an asset not a hindrance in the response.
  5. Training helps us to understand hazards and safety concerns in disaster areas.
  6. Training prepares us to understand, in a deeper way, some of the trauma that victims face, so that we might be able to offer appropriate compassion.
  7. Training prepares the heart for ministry by increasing awareness of the need and different opportunities to minister.
  8. Training prepares the hands to be ready to serve effectively.
  9. Training prepares the head by gaining knowledge.
  10. The greatest reason to train is that God deserves our very best in all that we do.  In order to achieve this, discipline, effort, and knowledge are required.  Trainings are an opportunity to grow as believers, so that we are ready when God calls.

Several years ago, there was a popular commercial that showed a man preparing to do surgery when everyone began to realize that perhaps he was not up to the task.  The man’s response to their concern was, “I may not be a doctor, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”  I cannot answer for you, but I really do not want that man doing surgery on me. Yet, sometimes we are that way when it comes to ministry.  “Hey, I am not really prepared to minister to you, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”

Disasters will come.  Therefore, let me encourage you, be prepared to serve by being trained.  Victims deserve that.  Other disaster relief workers deserve that.  But most of all, our God deserves that!

Check out these opportunities for training in 2016:

  • January 16, 2016 at Beaver Dam Baptist Church in Beaver Dam
  • February 13, 2016 at Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington
  • March 12, 2016 at Crestwood Baptist Church in Crestwood
  • April 9, 2016 at Calvary Baptist Church in London
  • September 24, 2016 at Clarkson Baptist Church in Clarkson

 

For more information or to register go to http://www.kybaptist.org/dr.

Is Serving Others Only a Seasonal Activity?

I love Christmas, the lights, family gatherings, decorations, music and gift giving. It’s a time of year when people show compassion to the hurts and needs of others. We see it displayed in the days leading up to Christmas by children taking gifts to the elderly in the nursing home, groups singing carols and delivering cookies in the hospitals, families adopting children in need of clothing and toys, and residents of the local community gathering to prepare and serve a meal for the homeless. It’s amazing how ministry active we can become at this season of the year as we serve others in the spirit of Christmas.  Christmas Soup Kitchen

When I see these unselfish acts of Christmas, I’m thankful that this season of peace, joy and love brings out such kindness in most everyone. However, I question our motivation if we only serve and show acts of kindness during the Christmas holidays. Is showing kindness and compassion to others only a seasonal behavior?

More than likely, the needs we choose to meet during the Christmas season exist all year long.  The elderly in our nursing homes need visits and the gift of your presence all year long. There are sick people in the hospital 365 days a year that would love the prayers, songs, cookies, and visits of others. There are children in our community that need clothing, food and basic necessities during the summer, spring and fall too.  If we fail to minister to the homeless in need of shelter and food throughout the year, these members of our community may not be alive next Christmas for us to serve.

Christ spent His life showing us what it means to serve others. He took the form of a servant when he was born (Philippians 2:5-7) in the likeness of man. Jesus taught us that we serve Him by serving others (Mark 9:35). He came to serve and proved to be the ultimate servant by giving His life as a ransom for all (Mark 10:45).

It seems very appropriate that we celebrate the birthday of the greatest servant, Jesus Christ, by serving others. But let’s not limit our service to only the holiday season. Make serving others a daily behavior that flows out of your love for Christ. When we give Jesus His rightful place as Lord of our lives, we will express that devotion by serving others every day of every week, not just at Christmas.

The Gift of Christmas

DR Truck‘Twas not the night before Christmas; no snow was on the ground.

‘Twas not Saint Nicholas and a sleigh full of toys.

But…

‘Twas a beautiful, sunny day of November 16, 2015.

‘Twas a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief tractor-trailer full of toys, and driver Gary, who was definitely a “saint.”

Gary, a retired truck driver from Tennessee, was volunteering his time to deliver Christmas backpacks to ministries in Kentucky and other states.  On this day he delivered 600 backpacks to the Rockcastle Baptist Association for their Operation Give Hope Christmas Outreach on December 19th.  From there, he was headed to Barbourville to drop off another load of backpacks to Missionaries James and Virginia McDonald at Emmanuel Bible Camp.

In all, over 40,000 backpacks were donated by churches in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and perhaps some in other states as they joined with Appalachian Regional Ministry and Mississippi River Ministry to provide gifts for children and teens this Christmas season.  Nearly 15,000 of those came to Kentucky Baptist churches, associations, and ministries.

In Louisville it ‘twas not Mrs. Claus, but ‘twas Missionary Linda Otterback with Eastern Kentucky SONrise Ministry who, along with a number of volunteers, collected 1023 gifts for children in eastern Kentucky.

In Jenkins ‘tis Dove Broadcasting, serving alongside Missionaries Bessie and Lester McPeek, that will provide Christmas for 2000 children.

And, the list could go on and on.

My dad used to recite a poem about a little boy named Tim Ryan, who was so poor that the only sock he had to hang up for Christmas was one with a hole in the toe.  When Santa came he filled, and he filled, and he filled but the presents kept running out at the toe.  Tim Ryan was so excited the next morning when he got up because he had not been forgotten, but had gotten much for Christmas.

‘Tis not Santa Claus, but ‘tis Southern Baptists that will cause many children across Kentucky know they have not been forgotten, but have a blessed Christmas because they are given, not just gifts, but the true Gift of Christmas.

May you have a blessed Christmas and may you too share the true Gift of Christmas with others during this special season.