How Easily We Forget

“I try to fit you in the wall inside my mind.  I try to keep you safely in between the lines.  I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed.  I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye.

doug-williams-adoption-picWhen did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?  I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world.  How could I make you so small, when you’re the one who holds it all?  When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas.  So who am I to try and take the lead.  Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough.  When you’re the one who made me from the dust.”

These lyrics are from the song “King of the World” by Natalie Grant.   They are a reminder of what is all too familiar to us all.  We easily forget!  In the business of life’s circumstances, we often forget who is King over our circumstances.

My family has been in an adoption process for over four years.  We are nearing the end, but recently were told that the end would not come until after the first of the year.  How easily we forget that God is King over all things, even adoption processes.

A week ago, out of the blue, we received word that we must prepare to travel and meet our daughter.  The past several days have been a whirlwind of preparation and emotion.  This long journey is nearing the end.  There were days we (by we, I mean me) wondered if this day would ever come. There were moments that we (by we, I mean me) doubted.

Oh, how easily we forget that God is King of the world.  In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, the Psalmist reminds us to be still and know that He is God (Ps 46:10).  When all around us seemingly unravels, the Psalmist is not telling us to run or even panic.  In fact, he says, “Be still.”  The only thing we should do in those times is be still and know that God is King.

I have been reminded once again (not for the last time I am sure) that God is King of the world.  We travel this week to meet our daughter and then bring her home.  I am sure there will be challenges in this final process, but I pray we will remember that God is King of the world.  So, Doug, remember God has “always been the king of the world” and He always will be.

by Doug Williams

Living Prepared: Disaster Relief Ministry

0919121217bSouthern Baptists have a long history of demonstrating compassion to those affected by crisis and loss.  In 1984, God moved the hearts of Kentucky Baptists to organize a state disaster relief ministry.  From that humble beginning, God has raised up 46 mobile disaster relief units, and trained thousands of volunteers to respond.

Disasters are nothing new.  Noah teaches us in Genesis 6 the importance of being prepared.  We should also let this lesson remind us of the urgency to share the Good News of God’s salvation with this generation.

Today, disasters happen every day across our globe, and Kentucky is not immune.  Kentucky averages a flood event every six days, and witnesses, on average, twenty-five tornado sightings per year.

I praise God for the trained volunteers who have answered the call of God to minister to the least of these, when tragedies strike.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were there after 9-11 in New York and following Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.  They have ministered to war torn refugees in Iraq and earthquake survivors in Haiti.  This past year, they served flood victims in South Carolina, tornado victims in western Kentucky, and victims of famine in Lesotho.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has answered the call to go wherever needed and to do whatever it takes for Christ’s sake.

One of the best ways to be used by God is to be trained, so that you can respond correctly and effectively.  Here are the upcoming opportunities to get connected to the ministry of Disaster Relief:

2017 Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Trainings:

January 14, 2017 at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown (Central KY)

February 4, 2017 at Big Creek Baptist Church in Hazard (Eastern KY)

March 4, 2017 at Zion’s Cause Baptist Church in Benton (Western KY)

April 8, 2017 at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Independence (Northern KY)

September 16, 2017 at First Baptist Church of Richmond (Central KY)

Find out more about this Kingdom ministry and register for trainings at www.kybaptist.org/dr.

Steps to SENDing

I had the privilege to be in a church recently that has made a deliberate effort to become a sending church.  They take seriously the commandment we’ve been given to go and make disciples of all people.  It was so exciting to see the progress they were making toward that Biblical goal as they develop a sending culture within their church. They recognize that their church has a responsibility to send members out on mission trips (locally and globally), church planting efforts, disaster relief responses and local community ministry projects.  Living as “sent” people has brought intentionality to their “going” that God desires for His church.  They don’t just go on mission, but are sent on mission by their church.  steps-to-a-sending-culture

The culture of a church will greatly influence whether or not it becomes a sending church. Culture is the personality of the church. Culture, more that vision or strategy – is a powerful factor in the church. Therefore, it’s possible that the personality or culture of a church will need an adjustment in order for it to become a sending church.  Here are some steps toward development of a sending culture, that in turn, will produce a sending church.

  1. Preach sermons about missions – tell them of the church’s responsibility to send and our responsibility to go.
  2. Expect it. Share with leaders, members and visitors that everyone is commanded to go and we’ll help you to be obedient.
  3. Repent of your failure to send and go as the Bible commands, if you’ve not been doing so.
  4. Communicate impact – share and celebrate missionary achievements, spiritual decisions and answers to prayer.
  5. Skype with a missionary, or invite them to come and speak during the service.
  6. Pray for missionaries and ministry needs – share specific needs.
  7. Offer many different kinds of opportunities for people to use their gifts, talents and skills in missions and ministry (mission trips, local projects, long term service, etc).
  8. Give scholarships to financially enable people to go.
  9. Provide missions education opportunities for children and adults – small groups, Sunday School, online, etc.
  10. Plan and implement a missions fair to introduce members to missionaries and missions opportunities.
  11. Encourage giving to missions and share how the offerings are used.
  12. Commission individuals and groups going out on mission.
  13. Adopt a missionary – develop relationship, provide support, give updates on their work, invite them to come, partner with them in the work, send teams.

It’s All Worth It

KY InAsMuch Logo

This past summer the Lord laid on the hearts of a couple of ladies at Pine Hill Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, KY to have a free clothing give away. They shared this idea with others in the congregation and plans were soon being made for their first ever Operation InAsMuch Day, a one-day blitz by the church in the community.

For months, they gathered and sorted clothing. Adults, children, and youth all pitched in to help. Although it was hard work, and took lots of hours, it was a great time as they worked together to prepare for this project. Many times they stopped to “model” some of the clothing and found a few pieces to set aside for ourselves.

Everything pic-1was ready to go. On Saturday, October 15th, the big day came. The clothing was sorted, the workers were in place, and the doors set to open at 10:00 AM at this small, rural, 60-member church. They had never done anything like this before and did not really know what to expect. The church is five miles out of town. The event had been advertised in the local newspaper, on the radio, and at the 5 county schools, but they could not help but wonder if anyone would show up.

But, were they ever in for a surprise! At 8:50 AM the first cars began rolling in to the parking lot and, from that point on, they kept coming, and coming, and coming, until 1:00 PM, when the event was scheduled to end. An estimated 250 people showed up for this free clothing give-away. People came from all across the county, and from 4 adjoining counties.
People were “shopping,” men of the church were grilling hot dogs, and ladies were in the kitchen preparing chips, drinks, and cookies. Other church members were mingling with the crowd, talking to people, making them feel welcome, inviting them back to church, and witnessing where the opportunity presented itself.

The church was blown away by the response. But, the “guests” were blown away as well. Many of them wanted to pay for the hot dogs and commented that they had never been to a place where everything was free.

Nobody seemed to be in any big hurry. The folks “shopped,” ate, and some just sat around visiting and enjoying the day.

The “guests” were invited to register for a couple of grocery gift cards. On the registration cards 11 people indicated they would be interested in a call or visit from the church. Three persons have already visited the church as a result of the clothing give-away and the church is still following up with others.

Nineteen members of the church showed up on the day of the event to work, but a total of 40, ranging in age from four to eighty-two, had actually helped in some way. One member said, “I’m not sure who received the bigger blessing from the event, our community or our church members who absolutely loved seeing our hard work pay off.” Another lady said, “To me it was a very humbling experience. Most of all, what got me was when several asked when would we be doing another one.” One of the most interesting comments came from a teenager that had worked so hard. He simply said, “It’s all worth it.”

And, yes, plans are being made for a similar event in the Spring of 2017.

The Famine

A famine is spreading across the globe and if it remains unchecked, the consequences will be devastating. In fact, the repercussions are already being felt. The famine I am referring to is not likely what you are thinking of. While half of the world lives in poverty (living on less than $2 per day) and one billion in extreme poverty (living on less $1 per day), I am not speaking about a famine of finances or food (though this is true). I am concerned about the theological famine that is spreading across the globe.

It is believed that 75% of all Christians live outside of the US in the “majority world” (Latin American, Africa, Middle East, and Asia) (Weymann Lee, Training Leaders International). By God’s grace, the gospel is flourishing in these parts of the world. Yet, it is estimated that there are 5 million pastors outside the US, and an overwhelming majority of them (85%) have little to no theological training or even access to it (Lee).

To understand the theological famine in the “majority world,” let these ratios sink in:

            The ratio of theologically trained pastors to people in the US is 1:230

            The ratio of theologically trained pastors to people outside of the US is 1:450,000 (Lee)

zimFor this reason, we are making an intentional effort to mobilize pastors and church leaders across the Kentucky Baptist Convention for the purpose of equipping pastors in the “majority world” for great gospel impact. Recently, we led a team of five to Africa to train pastors and church leaders throughout the country of Zimbabwe. In partnership with the Moore family from Kentucky, our team was able to assist in training around 100 church leaders in three different topics: doctrine of salvation, biblical interpretation, and expository preaching.

Kentucky Baptist church leaders can truly make a difference by investing in “majority world” church leaders what was invested in them through their theological education here in the US. The need for theological training outside the US is real and Kentucky Baptists have a genuine opportunity to partner in this great endeavor.

As one Zimbabwe pastor said to me, “What you are teaching us is needed for all of our pastors. When will you be back?” The solution to the theological famine across the globe is simple yet complex. It is simple in that the tide will turn as church leaders are trained to “rightly handle the word of truth.” However, it is complex in the sense that we need more co-laborers who will take Paul’s words to Timothy seriously: “The things which you heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2). So, let’s push back the famine.

The Bucket Project

Kentucky Baptist churches will help open many doors for the gospel by packing buckets with hospice supplies and delivering them to the convention’s annual meeting in November.

Kentucky Baptists are again participating with Baptist Global Response to provide hospice care buckets to help families care for those with HIV/AIDS.  Buckets will be collected at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Nov. 15, 2016, at Florence Baptist Church.

Our goal is to collect 2000 buckets at the annual meeting.

Here is  a recent testimony of a bucket’s impact in the African mountains of Lesotho:

lesotho-new-believerPartnership at work: International Mission Board, Baptist Global Response, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, Churches in the US, Reclaimed Ministry.

A child, soon to be an orphan, experiencing compassionate love from a Reclaimed worker.  An International Mission Board nurse caring for a sick and dying mother.  A hospice bucket packed by a Southern Baptist Church in the US and delivered by Baptist Global Response.  A Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer responding on a famine relief team with a willing spirit to go to a dying home…the result?

A good and great God brought it all together and now a dying momma belongs to Him!  

Priceless!

One kit costs between $80 to $100, plus shipping costs.  A detailed shopping list is provided and has been revised from prior years.  All kits must include all of the requested items.  Some items listed are available in bulk or are only available in quantities larger than needed.  For example, if after competing five kits, you have 10 extra packs of straws, include all extras in a separate box marked “EXTRAS.”

For uniformity in packing and shipping, as well as customs approval in recipient countries, please only provide completed kits that match the detailed list.  Varying kits and materials may delay shipments and, in some cases, may mean that the kits will not be accepted into a country.  Please refrain from adding notes, cards, letters, or tracts as this can also cause customs issues.

Click here for the shopping list

Click here for instructions for packing buckets. Please use this method when packing your buckets

“Urgency should always accompany the gospel message, and nowhere is that more evident than among the millions of people infected with HIV,” said KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood. “By providing hospice buckets to be distributed by our missionaries, Kentucky Baptists have the opportunity to show the love of Jesus to those who are suffering and share with them the hope of the gospel.”

Have you packed your bucket?

Remembering Larry O

larry-linda-pic

In early 2001 Linda Otterback was scheduled for a mission trip to El Salvador.  When the trip had to be cancelled, Linda received a phone call asking if she would like to go to Fleming-Neon instead.  “What country is that in?” Linda asked.

Linda soon learned that Fleming-Neon is in Eastern Kentucky.  She said “yes” to that mission trip, which began the Eastern Kentucky SONrise ministry that is still active today.  Linda and her husband Larry poured their hearts into the Eastern Kentucky area, where they have led prayer meetings, women’s and men’s conferences, gathered much needed resources (clothing, diapers, household furniture, Christmas gifts), and led mission teams to the EKY area.  They have also been such encouragers for many residents, as well as missionaries that serve in eastern Kentucky.

Larry and Linda were married 51 years, grew up in church together, and served together as North American Mission Board MSC Missionaries.  Larry served in this position for 10 years until health issues forced him to step down.  However, he continued to pray for eastern Kentucky and support the work of his wife Linda.

As his health allowed, Larry attended the annual Kentucky missionary retreat with Linda.  One interesting memory about Larry was the Missionary Retreat of 2015 when Larry and fellow missionary Greg Whitetree had a two-lap wheelchair race around the entrance to Dupont Lodge at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.  As the two rounded lap one, Larry was in the lead, however Greg came back to pass Larry for the close win at the finish line.  It was a lot of fun, with missionaries cheering for both of their missionary friends.  That retreat proved to be Larry’s last, as his health continued to decline.

With the 2016 retreat being in Louisville, Linda was able to attend some of the sessions, while sitters helped with Larry.  Linda shared a video, recorded by Larry and his pastor from Simpsonville Baptist Church, in April 2016.  Larry shared about the good life he and Linda have had together, shared about their family & ministry, and basically had a chance to say “goodbye.”  He shared that, even during his illness, their home had become a church for many people, as he did not let them get out without asking about their relationship with the Lord.  “I’m ready,” Larry said.  “My address is going to change.”

On September 30th, Larry’s address did change, as he went HOME.  Thank you, Larry, for your friendship, your encouragement, and for your service.  Many have been blessed through your service.  We will miss you.

Please pray for Linda and the family.

To see Larry’s video, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x45J7RvBtkk.

To make Him famous

crowdGod is concerned for His fame among all the world, all peoples. Fame is the condition of being known or recognized by many people (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ fame). If God is ultimate and His glory is the purpose of our existence (as I argued previously), then this praise of God is meant to be among all nations.

The Bible is replete with passages that speak of God’s fame being worldwide. Psalm 96 is one such passage that calls for God’s fame among all the earth. In fact, the Psalmist commands all peoples to praise God. The only way for the worship of God to be worldwide is to extend His fame among all peoples. People will worship something, but the Psalmist wants them to worship the one true God who made the heavens (Ps 96:4-5).

Missionary Jim Elliot was captive to the thought that the greatness and salvation of God should be extended to the nations. He was determined to call the nations to worship the one true God through the gift of His Son, Jesus. He wrote of praying prayers such as this: “I covenanted with my Father that He would do either of two things— either glorify Himself to the utmost in me, or slay me. By His grace I shall not have His second best (Danny Akin, Five Who Changed the World, 88).”

He knew that his desire for God to be glorified in his life would best be lived out by telling the nations of God’s greatness. Writing a letter to his family, he said, “Remember you are immortal until your work is done. But don’t let the sands of time get into the eyes of your vision to reach those who still sit in darkness. They simply must hear” (Akin, 93).

Not allowing the sands of time to blur his vision, he went to South America and to the country of Ecuador. He had heard of the Huaorani Indians, also know as the Auca Indians. They had never heard of Jesus, but he was willing to live his life, so that they would hear. He was willing to give his life, so that they would hear.  He lived his life to make Him famous.  Let us be determined to live ours with the same resolve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing with my International Neighbor

We live in a world on the move.  Our cities and communities are becoming more culturally diverse.  In Louisville, for example, there are now over one hundred languages represented in the metro school system.  Thousands of students are coming from abroad to study at our American universities.  The international community is evident in many of our small towns with the presence of ethnic restaurants and local shops.  The world is coming to us.

Iraq Team

How, in this changing world, can I be part of Christ’s Great Commission?  

How can I plant seeds for the Gospel with those from other lands that God is bringing to my community?  

  • Smile.  Grace and kindness work in any culture.
  • Open your eyes to those that God has brought to your community.  Take time to see the server at the restaurant, the cashier at the convenience store, the nurse at the hospital, the new person in your office, or the neighbor across the street who may look, dress, and speak a little different from you.
  • Start a conversation.  It can be as simple as asking someone their name and where they are from.  Ask them about their family or homeland.  Inquire about religious beliefs in their country.
  • Be a good listener.  Seek to be a learner.  People tend to listen to others who really listen to them.
  • Pursue genuine friendship.  Many internationals would love a real friend in a new land.  You are called to share with folks in a relationship, not sell the Gospel.
  • Be an ambassador for Christ.  Let them see Christ in you.  A good ambassador knows when to talk and when to listen.
  • Practice hospitality.  Share your phone number if they need a friend’s help or guidance. Invite them over for tea or coffee.  Drive them to the doctor or help them at a grocery store.  Have them over for a meal at your home.
  • Pray for them.
  • Share your faith story.  Tell them what your life was like before Christ, how you came to Christ, and what Jesus means to your life now.  Try to work on being able to share this in two to four minutes.  Avoid church words like lost or saved, as unbelievers often do not understand the internal language of Christians.
  • Remember the goal is not to win debates, but to passionately share your faith.  Stand strong on what you believe in a loving manner.
  • Finally, be ready for the day when your new friend wants to know how they can have a relationship with God through Christ.  Be prepared to share in every day language what sin is, who Jesus is, and what the Gospel is.

“Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.
Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:5-6).

 

For I Wasn’t Hungry…

Several years ago, I came home from work complaining about how hungry I was.  My wife was fixing dinner and the girls were working on homework at the kitchen table.  They asked if I had eaten lunch today. To which I replied, yes, but I haven’t had anything since lunch. They laughed at my foolish reply because no one else had eaten since lunch either.  I was embarrassed by my response because it had only been hours since I’d eaten, but I acted as if I were starving.  Truth is, I’ve never been starving, but there are those for whom starvation is a reality.

hunger-child-groceriesAlmost 800 million people around the world live with constant hunger, and 1 in 6 people in the US are food insecure, meaning, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The tragedy of hunger is very real for many of our churches and their communities. We all wish hunger would go away, but it isn’t going anywhere and the church has a clear command in scripture to feed the hungry (1 John 3:17-18 & James 2:5-17).

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Global Hunger Relief is a very effective funding system, put in place to assist ministries and churches in feeding the hungry.  80% of the hunger relief funds are used internationally while 20% are distributed within North America. 100% of every dollar given to Global Hunger Relief goes directly for the purchase of food.  None of it is used for promotion, administration, transportation, or operation costs.

The Global Hunger Relief offering has helped rescue starving children in West Africa, provided food for forcibly displaced refugees and given hope through backpacks filled with food to children in Appalachia.  SBC hunger relief ministries provide food to the hungry and offer the Bread of Life to them as well. There were over 21,000 professions of faith as a result of hunger ministries throughout the world. That includes 142 decisions for Christ last year in Kentucky as a direct result of hunger relief ministries.

Even though we have an effective hunger relief funding system in place and every penny of every dollar goes only toward the purchase of food –  it’s still not enough because the average Kentucky Baptist church member gave less than the cost of a canned soft drink to hunger relief last year.

Southern Baptists have set aside October 9th as Hunger Relief Sunday.  Let me challenge you and your church to step up it’s giving to the Global Hunger Relief offering. Raise awareness of the offering and how it helps relieve hunger.  Encourage friendly competition between small groups in your church.  Preach a sermon on hunger relief or prepare a children’s sermon for Sunday morning.  You’ll find resources to help with these suggestions at:  www.kybaptist.org/hunger

The next time you start to say, I’m starving, stop and remember that you aren’t. But, there are many others in the world, and in our neighborhoods, who are.