2016 Kentucky Missionary of the Year

John & Teresa

On April 9, during the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting in Madisonville, John Morris was recognized as the 2016 Kentucky Missionary of the year.  Each year this award is presented to a missionary or missionary couple 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”.

I have had the privilege of working with John since 1999 and he certainly meets and exceeds all of these requirements.

He was a young guy then (actually is still a young guy) but has accomplished so much.  He became pastor of the Lothair Baptist Church in Hazard where he was 20 years old, and served there for 16 years.  During that time he also served as Director of Chreia Church Resource Center and then in some part-time roles with Kentucky Baptist Convention Partnership Missions Department.

In 2013, he became Interim Director of God’s Appalachian Partnership (or GAP as we call it) in McDowell, KY (Floyd County) when the founders and directors moved back to Florida.  Then, in 2014 he was named the Executive Director.  It was in this role that he was nominated as Kentucky Missionary of the Year.

The ministry at GAP has been strengthened under his leadership and is a model ministry.  They engage the community and share Christ through food, clothing and household items distribution, home repair, children’s events, a coffee house called Beans Talk, an annual children’s event called KidStock, money management and parenting classes, The Christmas project, a community wide Easter Egg Hunt, and a mobile home renovation ministry called Dorema, to name a few.

John grew up in Hazard and became a Christian at age 12.  It wasn’t long, he says, before he knew God was calling him to be a missionary.  Because he is from the mountains, John understands the people he is ministering to and is loved and respected by them.  He has helped GAP to become more effective in reaching people and assimilating them into the local church.  In the past 2 years that he has served as Executive Director there have been 58 reported professions of faith.

Serving alongside John is his wife Shaughanessy and their 2 teenagers Jacob and Jhaughanessy.  This family truly serve as a team.

Thank you John for your love for the Lord and your faithfulness in serving Him.  Congratulations on being chosen as the 2016 Kentucky Missionary of the Year!!

To learn more about the ministry of GAP and how you can get involved in this ministry go to www.gapky.org.

Global Conquest…Then

seaThroughout the pages of the Bible, God is the God of conquest. The purpose of His conquering is the spread of His fame. God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man. For example, He delivers Israel from Egyptian slavery by conquering their enemy through a series of plagues, which culminate with the Passover and the parting of the Red Sea (Exod 7-15). In order to bring decisive victory over Pharaoh and the Egyptian army, God causes them to pursue the recently emancipated Israelites while on their way to the Red Sea. With their backs against the wall of the sea, God parts the waters so His people may cross on dry land. In hot pursuit, the Egyptian army charges after the Israelites through the newly formed walled-up sea. God causes the wall of the sea to crash down upon the army, destroying the Egyptians.

Not until under Joshua’s leadership, Moses’ successor, will the Israelites finally take the land that God promised them through Abram (Gen 12). Yet, the land promised to them by God was inhabited by other (pagan) nations who were not too keen on giving up their cities. As Joshua and the new generation of Israelites approach the land of promise, an obstacle stood, or flowed, in their way. In order to reach and conquer the first city in this new land, the Jordan River was in the way. Like Moses before him, through Joshua’s leadership God parted the Jordan so the people could cross on dry land. But why did God choose to conquer in this manner?

“So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever” (Joshua 4:24). God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man.

stone wallsFirst on the list of conquest is the city of Jericho (Joshua 6). This city boasted of its impenetrable stone walls. How would the inexperienced Israelite army score their first victory with such a defense in place? The strategy that God gave Joshua will never be considered among the most elite military strategies known to man. But that’s just it. God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man. The strategy? Walk around the city one time for six days with the army, the ark, and the musicians. In fact, take the trumpet players and let them blow their trumpets (rams’ horns). Say nothing; do nothing. Just walk around the city once and blow the trumpets. Repeat this process for six days.

I don’t imagine that Joshua’s army was too thrilled with this strategy at first. After all, these soldiers were kids when their parents blew it in the wilderness a generation prior. They have been waiting for this day for some forty years. So you can imagine their initial reaction to “encircle the city once, say nothing, blow the trumpets, and go back to camp.” As if that alone was not enough to cause the soldiers to doubt Joshua’s leadership, he then tells them a whopper for day seven.

pile of stones“Alright,” says Joshua, “on day seven we are going to encircle the city seven times.” Perhaps at this point some soldiers are thinking, “Finally, we are about to do something!” Or maybe they are at a loss thinking, “This guy has lost his mind.” Joshua goes on to instruct the soldiers to say nothing, but on the seventh pass he will cue the band to blow the trumpets and the people will…SHOUT! Joshua then adds, “The walls will fall down flat.”

Are you kidding me?! That’s it? The big military strategy of the ages? You want us to what? But that’s just it. God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man. The Israelites obey and God does what He says He will do. The army encircles the city, the musicians blow their trumpets, the people shout, and the walls come tumbling down. God conquers this first city so that He receives all of the glory, not Israel.

God stills conquers nations. How He conquered then is different (in some regards) as to how He conquers today. What remains the same is that God often does the unimaginable in order that He receives all of the glory and not man. Next month we will explore how God continues to conquer peoples from every tongue, tribe, and nation.

Being Prepared for a Flood

Johnson county 2015 FloodsFlooding is the most frequent disaster that impacts Kentucky.  Kentucky averages about 56 flooding events a year with an average yearly loss of 30.4 million dollars.

Sometimes, floods develop slowly and forecasters can anticipate where a flood will happen days or weeks before it occurs.  However, flash floods can occur within minutes and without any sign of rain.  Floods can happen anytime and anyplace.  Being prepared can save your life and give you peace of mind.

How can you be ready?

  • Talk to your insurance agent and make sure that you have proper coverage, particularly if you live in an area prone to flooding.
  • Copy important documents.  Keep a copy at home, but store additional copies in a secure place outside the home.
  • Take photos of your possessions and store them in a secure place with documents.
  • Have an emergency plan that includes best contact phone numbers and an evacuation plan.  Have an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, matches, batteries, candles, blankets, and a three day supply of food and water.
  • Monitor weather warnings in your area and heed official instructions.
  • Always follow evacuation orders.
  • Seek higher ground.
  • Never walk or drive through a flooded area.  Turn around; don’t drown!  Six inches of water can cause control issues and stalling.  A foot of water will cause many cars to float.
  • Stay away from downed power lines or other electrical wires.
  • After a flood, check for structural damage before entering your home.  Remove wet and damaged contents and dispose of them properly.  Sanitize affected areas to prevent mold growth and contamination.  Mud and water from flooding can contain chemicals and raw sewage.

“A shrewd person sees danger and hides himself,
but the naive keep right on going and suffer for it.” 
(Proverbs 27:12)

How Many ATTEND or How Many We SEND?

Many churches count how many attend as if that is something that determines it’s success. How many we’re seating on any given Sunday was never intended to be a tool used to determine effectiveness.  But, how many the church sends out each week is an indicator of a church’s health and Biblical obedience.

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And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” – Romans 10:15  

Our God is a sending God.  Nearly every time He speaks to someone in scripture, He is sending them on a mission.  From Abraham to Moses to Paul, to us, God’s people are always being sent into the world on mission.  He sent His best and only son into the world to save us.  Jesus is referred to as “sent” forty seven times in the New Testament.   Clearly, God is a sender by nature.  In the Old Testament, He sent prophets, angels and the very special Angel of the Lord.  In the New Testament, He sent not only angels, but John the Baptist, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, among others.  Jesus sent the apostles, and He has sent us.  After His resurrection, Jesus passed on his identity to His disciples:  “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

The English word “mission” comes from the Latin word “missio”, which means sending out, or being sent out.  The word pertains to the sender as well as to the one being sent.  Considering how many times in the Bible God sent people, we can assume the word mission applies to Him as well.  God’s nature is one of action; He is a sender.  He calls people to participate in His work by sending them out to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19).  Send may be a small word, but it evokes big action.

The Biblical foundation for living as a sent people on mission is loud and clear (Matt. 28:19-20,  Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15, John 20:21-22) and churches are expected to send their members out (Romans 10:15).  A “sending church” equips members to demonstrate the gospel every day in their workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools and be prepared to give an answer to those in our community who ask them to “give the reason for the hope that they have”  (1 Peter 3:15).

SENDING is the act of enlisting, equipping and mobilizing believers to engage the world with the gospel through:

  • local community ministry
  • short term missions
  • church planting efforts
  • disaster relief work
  • vocational ministry
  • long-term missionary service

Will you accept the SEND challenge?   Will your church SEND at least one more on mission this year than you did last?  It is our desire to help you discover what it looks like to SEND One More.  We welcome the opportunity to help you and your church take the next steps toward obediently joining God in His mission.  To accept the SEND Challenge or request assistance for your church (training, strategy development, resources, placement, etc), visit www.kybaptist.org/SENDmore.

Meet Our New 2016 Kentucky Missionaries

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Spring officially arrived this past week, the dogwoods and redbuds are in full bloom, and everything is pointing to new life.  What an exciting time of year.  We are in the middle of Holy Week and, as we reflect on what Christ did for us on the cross, we look forward to Resurrection Sunday and the thoughts of serving a Risen Savior and the new life we have in Christ.

Each year at this time we are preparing for the annual missionary orientation and commissioning of the new missionaries that are serving in Kentucky.  The orientation is a time for the missionaries to learn about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, and resources available to them.  This time of networking with each other is most valuable.

Eight men and women have sensed God’s call to serve in ministries across our state and will be commissioned at the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Annual Meeting on Saturday morning, April 9th, at Madisonville First Baptist Church.

The new missionaries are:

  • Jeff Burke (from Henderson), serving as Director of the Kathy J. Strange Answer Center, an outreach ministry of the Green Valley Baptist Association in Henderson.
  • Nelle Thomas (from Elizabethtown), serving as Director of Mission Hope for Kids, an outreach to students in Elizabethtown.
  • Kimberly Robinson (from Louisville), directing the Hands of Hope for Women Ministry through the Bashford Manor Baptist Church in Louisville.
  • Amy Wells (originally from upstate New York), ministering to vulnerable children and families of Appalachia through New Heights Church in Pineville.
  • Josh & Tasha McWherter (from Murray), serving with God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell to reach children and families in the Floyd County area of eastern Kentucky.
  • Allison Norris (from Somerset), serving in a ministry to young women in the Richmond, KY area.
  • Holly Decker (from Barbourville), serving with Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg to reach families of need in Southeast Kentucky.

We want to extend a special invitation for you to join us in this special commissioning service and to pledge your support to these new missionaries.

The 2016 Kentucky Missionary of the Year will also be recognized at this service.

For more information on the Kentucky WMU Missions Celebration go to http://kywmu.org/annualmeeting.

Hope to see you there.

March Madness and Missions

basketballI am a football fan who occasionally dabbles in watching basketball. However, I must admit that there is something exciting about March Madness! Maybe it’s the story of the Cinderella team that no one gives a shot to win, but somehow finds the right combination at the right time. Maybe it’s because of the frenzy of games and the do-or-die situation that every team faces. Whatever the reason, I enjoy the excitement. Regardless of whoever you are pulling for this much is true—no team makes it to March Madness without intentional preparation.

This same kind of intentionality is true also for the church. Jesus calls His disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8). Jesus’ call is for every church regardless of size or location. Obedience to Jesus’ disciple-making command is not for the faint of heart. Disciple-making is hard work. Faithfulness and effectiveness in the Great Commission must be intentional. If we aim at nothing, we will always hit nothing. In order to be a Great Commission church intentionality is essential.

If we do not make the Great Commission priority it will never be priority. There will always be committee meetings, staffing issues, member care concerns, as well as a whole host of other (important) matters that compete for our attention. It’s not that these issues do not need our attention as leaders in our churches, but not to the neglect of the Great Commission. To prioritize internal church issues over the external and clear command to make disciples of all nations is to minimize or even ignore Jesus’ final words to the disciples.

Because church ministry is filled with multiple layers of responsibilities, an intentional plan for Great Commission faithfulness is a must. No team aiming to arrive at March Madness does so without intentional preparation. So why would the church of our Lord be any different when it comes to following Jesus’ final earthly words?

There are multiple levels of Great Commission preparedness. Churches need to know why they exist, who they are in Christ, what they are called to do, and how they will do it. If every church is called to makes disciples of all nations (and they are!), then every church must figure out what that looks like for their congregation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the Great Commission, but there are basic principles that apply to all. The Missions Mobilization Team at the KBC is happy to help you march through disciple-making principles for your church without all the madness!

Displaced

Iraq -7They often flee in the middle of the night, taking only what they can carry.  They flee because their ethnicity, religion, or politics make it unsafe to remain in the place that has been home.  They are refugees.  People without a home, without a country.

The decision to leave their homeland is not a easy decision, nor something that most of them sought voluntarily.  Most of these displaced have left behind almost everything of value:  family, friends, homes, possessions, occupations, livelihoods, and the security of what they have always known.  It is no easy thing to be torn from your roots.

The flight usually brings more trauma.  Many do not survive the journey.  If they survive, they often are not welcomed in the place where they seek refuge.  Life in a refugee camp can be difficult, unstable, and a daily battle to survive.  The vulnerability of depending on total strangers for basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter can be humiliating and defeating.

These are people with names, dreams, and hopes.  These are people like you and me.  These are people loved by God.

“Let brotherly love continue.  Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.  Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily.” (Hebrews 13:1-3)

What can we do as followers of Jesus Christ for the displaced?

  • We can see their plight.  Biblical compassion is to be moved deep in our gut by what we see.
  • We can reach a hand.  Sponsor a refugee family as a church.  Help a displaced person in your community with furniture or transportation to a job interview.  Volunteer to teach them English as a second language.  Be a good neighbor.  Reach a hand of friendship.  Opportunities exist right now in the Louisville metro area to assist Cuban refugees.
  • We can give.  The Southern Baptist Global Hunger Fund provides needed supplies to those displaced and homeless.  Learn more about how your gifts can make a difference at Baptist Global Response.
  • We can pray for those driven from their homes.  Pray for God to intervene on their behalf.  Pray for peace.  Pray that evil and darkness will be pushed back.  Pray that God will use the chaos of displacement to open doors for the Gospel.
  • We can share the hope that is within us.  Rather than being fearful of refugees, the church should seek to share the hope of Christ with these battered and broken by life.

  “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him,
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21)

May we never forget that we, too, were once lost,
but through the grace of Christ have been found!

Community Ministry Involves 75% of Congregation

I may not have believed this if I didn’t experience it myself. September of 2015 marked the first year that Kentucky Baptist Convention churches were invited, encouraged and equipped to conduct a statewide Operation Inasmuch (OIAM) effort. We discovered that somewhere between 55-75% of a church’s Sunday morning attendance participated in their OIAM ministry. I don’t know of any other mission experience or ministry project that involved such a large percentage of church members. Not everyone will take a week or two and do a missions trip. Nor will a church normally see half of its Sunday morning attendance involved in local missions. But if proper planning and prayerful preparation is made, a church will see nearly 75% of its Sunday morning attendance involved in a one day OIAM.

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Here are reports from a few of the churches that participated last year:
• Calvary Baptist Church, London – averages 350 in worship and had 230 people involved. “We did everything just as it was presented at the training; used the materials provided and had church members participating who had never done this sort of thing before. It really set our church on fire.”
• Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, Manchester – is a small rural church with 20 elderly members. They said “we can do something”, and had 20 volunteers involved.
• First Baptist Church, Richmond – averages 750 in worship and had more than 400 people turn out to blitz the community through compassion ministry projects. “It was a great day for our congregation.”
• Riceville Baptist Church, Fulton – averages 40 in worship and had 27 people (including 3 non-members) participate.
• Crosspoint Baptist Church, Owensboro – averages 220 in worship and had 144 volunteers participate

OIAM is a great “first step” for those that have never participated in missions before. It will serve as catalyst for deeper involvement in missions and ministry by church members.  OIAM will not only help people at their point of need and give opportunity for believers to share Christ, it will strengthen fellowship and build family within the local church. AND, it will involve a majority of the congregation in hands on mission service.

Kentucky Baptist churches are encouraged to conduct OIAM during September in partnership with KY WMU’s 2016 State Missions emphasis.  However, OIAM can be conducted at any time so churches should determine when is best for them and their community.  Regardless of when a church decides to conduct an OIAM, preparation and planning should begin several months in advance.

Jesus said regarding the coming judgment in Matthew 25:40, “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (NKJV)

Let me encourage you and your church to participate in OIAM in 2016.  Training is being provided during March and April. For more information or to register for one of the trainings, visit the website – www.kybaptist.org/inasmuch.

 

 

Changing Lives, One Woman at a Time

Hands of Hope 4 Women Logo

In 2004 Kimberly Robinson took a class through the Women’s Ministry Institute of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  She knew she had been called to women’s ministry but just did not understand exactly how or where.  She vowed to wait for God’s timing.

While at SBTS a lady introduced Kimberly to Christian Women’s Job Corps, a ministry of Woman’s Missionary Union.  This peaked Kimberly’s interest and she and her husband gathered more information.  Through CWJC women are equipped, in a Christian context, for life and employment.  CWJC offers life skills, job skills, mentoring, and Bible study.  The timing did not seem to be right yet, but somehow, the interest never did completely leave Kimberly, and she eventually went for both Level 1 and Level 2 training.

Twelve years later, Kimberly’s dream and calling have come together.  Today she is one of our newest Kentucky Mission Support Catalysts, serving as Director of “Hands of Hope 4 Women,” a Christian Women’s Job Corps ministry.

Through Hands of Hope 4 Women, many women in Louisville are finding a new way of life.  This ministry helps to bring dignity, the love of Jesus, self-confidence and hope to women who might otherwise remain trapped in addiction, abuse, poverty, and despair.  Through classes, mentoring, networking, friendships, and spiritual development, women are recognizing skills, and faith to become what God intends them to be.

Hands of Hope offers clothing to the women through their clothes closet.  They provide food for ladies who need food.  They conduct Bible studies, where childcare is provided and a meal is served.  They work with a local drug rehab center by providing drug education and by bringing in nurses to teach nutrition.

Hands of Hope 4 Women offers “Jobs for Life,” is a sixteen week curriculum which pairs each lady with a mentor/encourager and helps to prepare them for employment. GED classes, budgeting classes, and other life skills are also taught.

Soon to be added is a Moms of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) program.  In the Spring of 2016 a woman’s tea and fashion show are planned, with the ladies they minister to doing serving as models.

The Gospel message is always shared and, this past year, 5 ladies found new life in Christ, as they prayed to receive Him into their lives.  Two of these ladies were baptized.

And, the stories could go on and on, thanks to the commitment of Kimberly and many volunteers that work with her.

Kimberly serves as a “self-funded” missionary in Kentucky and, has a great need for persons to assist with the ministry.  This could possibly be financially, although there are other needs as well.  Volunteers are needed to serve as encouragers for the women.  Persons are needed to teach classes, to sort clothes, to provide meals, and serve as prayer warriors.  Items such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, sheets, towels/wash cloths, and cooking utensils are needed for the women and, Kimberly’s big dream is for a building, house, or apartment as transitional housing.

If God seems to be nudging you to serve alongside this ministry, contact us at missions@kybaptist.org.  We would love to introduce you to Kimberly and Hands of Hope 4 Women.

Why short-term missions?

imageJesus’ commission to make disciples of all nations is clear (Matt 28:16-20). The early church saw clearly the responsibility of Jesus’ command as given to them (e.g, Acts 1:8; 13:1-3). But the question remains, Is the church today commissioned to simply send long-term missionaries or might there be room for short-term mission teams too? While the list below is by no means exhaustive, I offer eight reasons why the church should include short-term missions as part of their overall missions strategy.

1) Jesus commanded us to make disciples locally and globally (Matt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8). While both seemingly stating the obvious and being repetitive, Jesus intends for the church to reach people with the good news and to teach them all things. The Scriptures do not give us an option of whether we make disciples here or there; it’s both/and.

2) There is more work than workers (Matt 9:37-38). Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest. The number of workers needed is directly related to the prayers of God’s people. Every country I am privileged to share in disciple-making, I hear from our NAMB and IMB missionaries that they need more partners, not just the traditional long-term personnel (though that is true), but short-term teams as well.

3) Long-term missionaries and churches need encouragement ( Acts 14:19-23). Paul understood the importance of encouragement well. Every minister of the gospel needs someone to come alongside of them as a source of encouragement. Weariness easily sets in and our missionaries and churches need to know that they are not alone.

4) We can accomplish more together than we can alone (Matt 10:5). Cooperation is more than our dollars; it is our efforts too. As Jesus discipled his followers, he sent them out together for gospel impact. In short, Jesus planned for multiplication of impact. He knew that this kind of impact required team work.

5) To be a farming system for long-term missions (Acts 13:1-3ff). Paul begins his missionary journeys in Acts 13. Throughout his journeys, he constantly brings others with him. Often those with him are more short-term in nature. Take Mark for example, while his first journey with Paul is short-lived, he later becomes a valuable partner in gospel impact.

6) To open our eyes to the need of the gospel world-wide (Matt 9:36). In looking over the crowds, Jesus is moved with compassion that leads to action. Staying in our comfortable bubbles at home isolates use from the reality of a world desperately in need of the Savior. Out of sight, out of mind becomes our motto. Going somewhere else besides our home allows us to see a world filled with real faces and names, with real hurts and needs.

7) To disciple disciples (2 Tim 2:2). Paul taught Timothy who taught faithful men who taught others. Short-term missions offers a platform for discipleship like no other. Taking people away from their comfort zone and into the vastness of the world is a great crucible for Jesus to work in incredible ways.

8) Because 98+2= 100. People often say, “Why should we go over there when people need Jesus here?” Yes, people need Jesus here, but they need Jesus everywhere. As if Jesus’ command alone is not enough (Go and make disciples of all nations!), the truth is I live “here”. Why can’t I make disciples where I live 98% of my year and give 2% of my year making disciples over “there”? You see, it’s not hard math, but 98+2= 100.

Short-term missions should be part of an overall strategy for making disciples locally and globally for the glory of God. What other reasons would give for short-term missions?