Meet Miss Helen, Miss Patti and the McPeeks

Lester & Bessie McPeek
MSC Missionaries

In 2001 Lester & Bessie McPeek from Jenkins, KY began “God’s Love from a Diaper Bag,” a ministry to young mothers struggling to provide diapers for their babies.  Now, nineteen years later, this ministry is still going strong and has grown beyond anything they could have thought or imagined. 

Along with diapers, this ministry provides now baby clothes, baby food, wipes, car seats and pretty much anything a parent might need for their baby.  They host baby showers for expectant mothers and teach lessons on how to care for the babies.  They partner with local health departments, hospitals, sheriff departments and even jails, to minister to families.

Early in their ministry Mrs. Bessie began to address the “Shaken Baby Syndrome” issue, using eggs and baby food jars to demonstrate.  She would put an egg in each of three baby food jars.  The white of the egg represented the membrane, the yoke represented the brain and the baby food jar the skull.  As she shook the first jar the yoke of the egg would separate into the membrane.  The egg in the second jar, when shaken a little harder, would separate a little more.  The egg in the third jar, when shaken violently, would look like scrambled eggs.  This allowed the parents to actually “see” the seriousness of shaking their babies.

Miss Helen
“Shaken Baby” Doll

Now, with the addition of two fairly new members to the “God’s Love from a Diaper Bag” team, Mrs. Bessie can demonstrate this problem even more realistically.  Miss Helen Arabella Grace, a “Shaken Baby” doll, is the size and weight of an actual baby, but with a clear head that allows the parents to look inside the brain.  When the doll is shaken, the head lights up in the part of the brain that is affected, allowing the parents see what happens when they shake their baby.  She shares with them how, when they get to the point of frustration, to deal with it in other, non-violent, ways even to the point of calling someone to help when they got to that point.  One lady with three young children said to her, “but Mrs. Bessie, I don’t have anyone to call” to which Mrs. Bessie replied, “then call me.” 

One night at 8:00 the lady called.  The children were crying, there was no milk or diapers, the boyfriend had been put in jail due to drugs and the lady was so distraught.  Mrs. Bessie went to the house, took milk and diapers, rocked the children, put them to bed and just sat with the lady until she calmed down.  The love of Jesus demonstrated. 

Miss Patti
“Drug” Doll

The other new “member” is Miss Patti, a “Drug” doll, representing a baby that is addicted to drugs.  The doll’s face grimaces as if in pain, her hands and feet are clutched, and her stomach is sunken in.  The doll tremors like she is going into DTs and she cries constantly.  This doll helps the families to see how using drugs will affect their babies.    

These two dolls are great tools is teaching families to care for their children, which is so important, but the McPeeks do not stop there.  Mrs. Bessie shares that “the plan of salvation is given to every person who attend any of our mission events or that we deal with on a daily basis.”  Over the past four years they have witnessed 81 persons praying to receive Christ as a result of their ministry and/or personal witnessing. 

Please pray for the McPeeks as they minister in their hometown of Jenkins and surrounding areas.  Pray for the babies and families they serve.  Pray for mission teams to work alongside them and pray for many more to come to Christ as a result of this ministry.

Contact the KBC Missions Mobilization office ([email protected]) to learn of ways to serve with this ministry.

Churches and the Missionary Task

The Great Commission was not given to a denomination or mission agency.  It was given to the local church.  Thus, churches send their own missionaries (Acts 13).  I am not saying that denominations and mission agencies have no role to play in the Great Commission. They play a vital role if our understanding is that of partnering for greater gospel impact.  After all, as Southern Baptists, we believe we can do more together.  Therefore, we champion cooperative missions. 

So, while we work with sending agencies such as the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB), our churches send missionaries in partnership with these organizations.  If churches are the senders, what exactly are we sending missionaries to do?  In recent years the IMB has helped us better crystallize the task of the missionary.

Many needs often compete for our attention when it comes to missions.  IMB mobilizer D. Ray Davis recognizes, “Let’s be honest, there are a lot of overwhelming needs around the world, and it’s easy to allow needs to dictate and define the work we do” (“Churches: Essential Partners in the Missionary Task”).  

To keep us focused on our God-given responsibility to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20), six components detail the missionary task. Whether through the missionary on the field or the partnering church, the mission should focus along these lines (Davis, “Churches”).  So, if you are the missionary on the field or the church partnering with the missionary, the mission is the same.  These six components of the missionary task include: entry, evangelism, discipleship, church formation, leadership development, and exit. I want to look at the first component in this blog.

  1. Entry:  Finding and engaging a particular people group is the first component.  In short, as the IMB has described it, entry involves finding them, getting to them, and developing an ability to communicate with them

First, finding them involves researching the people group in order to learn culture, levels of evangelization among them, whether any translation of the Bible exists, and if other Great Commission Christians are present.

Second, getting to them requires exploring the political, economic, and religious environment.  Further, exploring access options is critical as most places with unreached people are unreached because they are hard to get to.  Most hard to reach places are hard to reach because missionaries are not welcome.  Thus, missionaries must acquire the necessary skills and resources to enter among a people group. 

Third, developing an ability to communicate with them involves skills that no doubt requires language and cultural learning.   Most hard to reach places will mean missionaries must learn another language besides English!

Churches can play a vital role in the entry level.  They assist by praying that missionaries gain legitimate ways to enter.  Churches can also be a means of providing legitimacy for the missionary’s presence among that people group.  To that aim, churches may partner in this phase through specific mercy needs or platforms, such as businesses or services provided.  

In order to reach the unreached, missionaries are sent by churches to enter among peoples and places that are unreached. Being intentional about entry and partnering carefully together, we can ensure that the gospel not only enters among the unreached but that it remains there.   

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:

  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 2020:

  • February 8, 2020 at Edgewood Baptist Church in Nicholasville
  • March 7, 2020 at First Baptist Church of Paducah
  • April 4, 2020 at Hawesville Baptist Church
  • September 12, 2020 at Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow

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

The Key to Success

How do you measure success?  The world looks at bank accounts, houses, prestige, degrees earned, or your position in the company.  The athletic world looks at scores, games won, and championships attained.  The church may look at membership rolls, worship attendance, the number of baptisms, or the size of buildings.  All of these things are indicators or “marks on the measuring rod”.  But true success is obedience to God.  How can you be more successful than obeying God who created and sustains us, and calls us to obediently join Him in the work?  

There are more than one hundred successful missionaries serving in Kentucky through the Mission Service Corps.   These Mission Service Corps missionaries are having an impact in all areas of ministry through local churches, institutions, associations and individual ministries.  In terms of ministry opportunities, the sky’s the limit with Mission Service Corps missionaries because each one has a special ministry that fits their giftedness and uniqueness.   Each missionary felt God’s calling on their life to do the specific ministry they’re involved in.  

Mission Service Corps missionaries are committed to long-term mission service (4 months or longer for at least 20 hours per week) and are either self-funded or supported by partners while on the mission field.   Successful Mission Service Corps applicants are carefully screened to serve in specific ministries and following approval, are commissioned and participate in an orientation prior to their placement. 

If you want to be obedient to God, and therefore successful, prayerfully consider if God wants you to be a Mission Service Corps missionary by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Have you felt an unusual moving and/or stirring of God in your heart? 
  2. Has God alerted you to see or hear of missions and/or ministries that you could perform?
  3. Has God placed in your heart a strong desire to help others?
  4. Are you available to serve, either by going someplace or by remaining at home? 
  5. Did the Lord call you previously to missions or a special service and you were not able to or did not respond?
  6. Has God assured you that He will provide enabling for all He may call you to do?

If you answered “yes” to several of these questions, you are aware of God working in your world and He may be calling you to serve as a Mission Service Corps missionary. 

Let me encourage you to…

  • seek guidance from God’s Word, 
  • talk to and pray with your pastor or Associational Mission Strategist, 
  • discuss your feelings with family members, and most importantly,
  • pray, asking God to show you what He is doing and how you can be a part of it.

          The genius of the Mission Service Corps missionary structure is that every Baptist can be directly involved in missions.  For some, involvement means responding to go;  for others, it is providing so that someone else may go.  For still others, being involved means praying for those who go and their partners; and for many it is a combination of these.   

          Mission Service Corps missionaries won’t climb the corporate ladder, become a celebrity, be featured on ESPN, or make as much as Bill Gates, but they will be successful if they serve the Lord with gladness by answering His call to go.  Will your response be, here am I, send me?   

How Will You Be A Voice For Life?

These Syrian children were forcibly displaced and now live as refugees with their mother in Athens, Greece. Over half of the world’s refugees are children. In this family’s case, their father had been killed. These children live with their mother in an apartment building that had been converted into a makeshift urban “camp.”

Near the conclusion of the creation account found in Genesis 1, God’s Word makes a profound statement that highlights the significance and value of all human life.  Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

While there are many rich truths that could be gleaned from this single verse of Scripture, the fact that we are created by God in His image is what gives all men and women a deep sense of worth and value. Mankind is the crowning jewel or the zenith of God’s creation, and the Bible underscores this truth throughout the pages of Scripture. For example, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Throughout this month, many followers of Christ will set aside a time to remember and reflect upon the sanctity of human life and holiness of God.  Churches will celebrate the fact that life is a gift from God, and they will also grieve the numerous lives that have been lost prematurely due to abortion, abandonment, abuse, violence, persecution, or some other means. As believers, we are called to be a voice for the powerless and to serve and support those in need by sharing the grace, love, compassion, and good news of Christ with others. There are several ways that individuals and Kentucky Baptist churches can be a voice for life. Consider how God may be calling you to be involved.

  • We can pray for those whose lives are the most vulnerable, particularly the unborn, the disabled and the elderly.
  • We can stand ready to come alongside and minister to those who find themselves in the midst of a crisis pregnancy or the loneliness that often comes in the late stages of one’s life.
  • Maybe God is calling you to adopt a child, serve as a foster family, or minister to refugees. 
  • Perhaps God is asking you to play a part in the restoration and healing process with someone who experienced the emotional and physical pain of an abortion months or even years ago, but they still long for forgiveness and spiritual healing. Will you help that individual to know that God loves them and offers a new start in life?

In whatever way God leads you to be an outspoken voice for life, remember the truth that we are all made in the image of God. An individual’s worth and dignity is not based upon that person’s culture, their class, country of origin or the color of their skin. Every single person has value to God because they are made in His image, and each individual is precious to Him. Remember, whoever is precious and valuable to God should be precious and valuable to us.

For further questions or comments, please contact John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected] The missions mobilization team is here to serve you and your church, as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission both locally and globally.

A Soft Place to Land in a Hard, Hard World

Lee, Erica & Cheri

For the past 20 years women inmates across Kentucky have been shown the love of Jesus Christ through worship services and the Christ-centered teachings of Freedom Forever Ministries.  KY-MSC Missionary Lee Rust says they minister inside, behind the bars.  In addition to the worship services Lee and her volunteer team provides a 10-week Good Grief program and are reaching women who are often forgotten, with the Word of God.

“We see God transform lives right before our eyes,” Lee says.  “We get to know the women, share their heart and pain, and see God work through them.  We are His voice.  We are rewarded by seeing what He does, by seeing changed lives.”  Lee says it is not unusual to have women come up to her years later, ask if she remembers them and tell her how well they are now doing thanks to Freedom Forever Ministries.

Cheri, a former inmate who was incarcerated at the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex for three years, is more than happy to sing the praises of Freedom Forever Ministries.  She was very broken and really struggling while in prison, but said this ministry was “such a bright spot for the ladies in a really dark world we were living in.  They were such wonderful people, so loving and kind,” Cheri said.  “It encouraged my faith, kept me from lagging and from falling into the ways of prison life.  Once you came in, if you weren’t a believer I don’t know how you could go out and not be a believer, because you heard the Word in the message given by Lee each Wednesday, you heard the Word in the music and the seed was planted.  They were a soft place to land in a hard, hard world.  It was so nice to see a smiling face each week, to have somebody ask how you were doing, how your week was going.  They did their very best to take that extra minute here and there to be personal, interested and compassionate.  They were truly the hands and feet of Christ.”

Lee’s husband Eric and daughter Erica are also a part of the ministry.  Erica was not allowed to go into the prison until she turned 18.  Once she turned 18 however, Erica too joined in the ministry.  Cheri recalls Erica singing at the services, saying “she followed her parents’ servant hearts.”

Erica just recently married and, when choosing food for the wedding reception, reconnected with Cheri, who is now released from prison, has her life back together, and has her own business of making beer cheese.  Cheri said it was the first time she had seen this family since being released from prison and it was such an honor to meet on the “other side” and to “give back” to a family that had meant so much to her. 

Pray for Lee and Freedom Forever Ministries as they make a difference in the lives of many women when they are at their lowest.  To learn more about Freedom Forever Ministries go to https://freedomforeverministries.com/ or connect with them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FreedomForeverMinistries/), where you will find a video of Cheri’s testimonial. 



The Power of Missions

If you or I were to write the script for the advancement of the gospel after Jesus’s death and resurrection, I dare say it would not unfold quite the same as it did in the book of Acts.  Perhaps we would have sent the disciples out on mission immediately after the resurrection or at least after Jesus’s ascension.  Jesus did not lay out a military strategy that called his early followers to “strike while the iron was hot.”  Rather, Jesus commanded them to wait until they were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8).  The advancement of the gospel would not rely upon the ingenuity of man, but upon the power of God.  In fact, Jesus promised the power of the Holy Spirit to carry the call of God to the world. 

As Bob Burton notes, “The book of Acts . . . begins with waiting and preparation.  For the first-century church, the measure of the effectiveness on the mission field was directly related to the measure of spiritual preparation—praying, waiting, and expecting” (The Spiritual DNA of a Church on Mission, 10).  He goes on to explain that the church does indeed explode with growth, but only after a time of preparation (10 days of prayer and fasting).  The urgency of the gospel moving mightily through Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the nations begins by preparation through prayer. By waiting and praying. 

Prayer is always instrumental in the expansion of the gospel in Acts.  Burton is correct that “there is always a direct connection between prayer and missions (The Spiritual DNA, 11).  For example, in Acts 3 Peter and John enter the temple area at the time of prayer and heal a man who is born lame.  As this event creates no small commotion, Peter uses it to preach the gospel to the gathered crowd.  This gathering then gains the attention of the religious leaders who arrest Peter and John for preaching Jesus.  In Acts 4 the apostles are threatened with death and then released with the understanding that they have been warned.  They immediately return to the church knowing what is at stake.

They report to the church what had happened and then begin to pray.  They pray not for deliverance from this threat or that Jesus would somehow ease their burden or change their calling.  No, they pray for God-given boldness (Acts 4:29).  As they pray, God physically shakes the room where they have gathered and fills them with the Holy Spirit. Thus, they continue speaking with boldness about the gospel of Jesus (Acts 4:31; 33). 

As we see, “preparation was the foundational missional principle for the church. It all began with a lifestyle of prayer, waiting, and expectation” (The Spiritual DNA, 11).  Oh, that the church would rediscover this principle.  What might God do with the church today that waits and prays?  What might He do with the church that pleads with God to move mightily in and through them by the filling of His Spirit?  He did it then; He can do it again.  If we can help your church in developing intentional prayer for the Great Commission, then please call on us at [email protected].     

Wise Instruction for a Leader

Good leaders are deciders. Leaders make decisions and move forward. They may not always be right, but they do not allow themselves to be paralyzed by indecision.

Great spiritual leadership recognizes the need for God to be integral in the process of decision-making. In Exodus 18: 19-21 Moses was given great leadership advice by his father-in-law Jethro, “Now listen to me; I will give you some advice, and God be with you. You be the one to represent the people before God and bring their cases to Him. Instruct them about the statutes and laws, and teach them the way to live and what they must do. But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.”

This passage teaches us three great pastoral leadership principles:

  1. Bathe decisions in prayer. We should begin decision-making in prayer. If we are to lead God’s people effectively, we need to be a person of prayer. Our calling is to lead people to the place that God desires them to be, and to do that effectively we must stay close to God. Great leaders lead the people as they draw close to God and remain close to Him during the journey. Talk more to God about the church’s issues than you proclaim them from the pulpit.
  2. Base all you do on God’s truth. Godly leadership bases decisions on the truth, not personal opinions. We are called as spiritual leaders to teach the truth of God that He has revealed to us in His Holy Word. All we do should be based on the teachings of Scripture and our lives ought to seek to model these teachings. Any decision made that cannot find foundation in God’s Word will not stand the test of time and ultimately will fail.
  3. Share leadership with others whom God has gifted. Moses could not possibly do everything himself as he led the people of Israel, and neither can we. God does not call us to be Lone Ranger followers. Good leaders empower others to use their gifts and share leadership responsibilities with others. We can always do more together than any of us can do alone. Pastoral authority is not lessened in shared leadership, it is enhanced as we maximize the giftedness of the church and allow the followers of Christ opportunity to be used and to grow in their faith. Good leaders do not fear other mature believers having a voice in the decision-making process, and in wisdom welcome the input of others.

The called of God are to stand and lead. But that privilege only comes to those who have first followed. Therefore, speak after you have first sought a word from Him. Lead as you pursue His direction. Stand after spending time before His throne of grace. Be wise by seeking the input of other gifted followers of our God. And then issue the call to go boldly forward not by barking commands but by rallying the faithful to follow Our Commander and Lord.

Choose Obedience Over Safety

I talked with a pastor last week who was discouraged and hurting.  The reason he was discouraged might surprise you, because worship attendance wasn’t down and the church wasn’t behind in the budget.  It wasn’t because of internal fighting or dissatisfaction with his sermons.  Instead, this pastor was discouraged because members felt like conducting ministry in near-by apartments was too dangerous for the church. They didn’t want to go to that hard place because it could be un-safe for them. 

I remember a similar situation many years ago when I was serving as a student minister.  I had planned a mission trip to inner-city Chicago and some were questioning whether or not they should allow the trip to take place because it could be un-safe. We did go, and God blessed. 

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is our foundation for going and making disciples everywhere.  Everywhere, sometimes include unsafe or hard places.  I’m not suggesting that we face all danger with no regard for the safety of ourselves or others.  But, like Paul and Barnabas in the book of Acts, we are called to “risk” our lives for the cause of Christ (Acts 15:26).  Do we really want to remove our gospel witness from the hard places in the world where it is most needed?   Jesus doesn’t call us to safety, He calls us to GO!  If we always choose safety over obedience, we’ll never make disciples of all the world.    

The Great Commission commands us to go.  Here are three reminders found within The Great Commission that will help us as we seek to be true to the calling. 

1. The Great Commission reminds us of Jesus’ power over all things.  These are the words of the risen Christ, who had overcome death on the cross.  He claimed all authority and gave us the authority to represent Him in the world that we live in.    

2. The Great Commission reminds us of Jesus’ purpose for our ministries. Our mission is, that we are to make disciples of all the world as we go.  This mission is a call to reach all people groups.  We are called to share the gospel in our neighborhoods (even the un-safe ones) and in all the nations (even the hard ones). 

3. The Great Commission reminds us of Jesus’ promise to be with us always.  The promise that Jesus made should be meaningful and encouraging.  We live in a dangerous world, but His promise should bring us enormous comfort because He will always be with us. 

There are many Christians throughout history who have faithfully served the Lord at tremendous cost to their safety and security.  Our calling is to be found faithful with the gospel today, even in the unsafe and hard places.  Lord, may we choose obedience to you over our safety and security. 

WHY YOU SHOULD OPEN YOUR HOME THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

The end of the year is often marked by a seemingly endless barrage of family gatherings, cookie swaps, white elephant gift exchanges, office parties and more.

The holidays cause some to stress out and wonder if they can fit everything in. Others experience profound sadness as they reflect on the loss of a loved one or other disappointments in life.

The holiday season can be a welcome time of intentional hospitality. When Jesus shared meals with people, it gave him the opportunity to enter the lives of the people with whom he was eating. In fact, eating together is one of the most important and practical means for overcoming any barriers that separates us.

When considering how to love our neighbors and family this season, Jesus offers a way for us to use the gift of hospitality as means to share his grace. Here are three ways to enter the holidays with gospel intentionality:

1. Broaden your reflection.

As you begin to shift your thoughts toward the birth of Jesus, add this verse to your reflection: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus said he will come to the table if you will let him. Incarnation was always about recapturing simple, intimate communion.

2. Open your table.

There is a familiar saying around our house when it comes to supper: “There’s always room for one more.” And there is. But what takes that from a stated fact to a shared reality is an intentional invitation. When we open our tables to our neighbors, we are offering more than a meal. We are offering an invitation into communion.

3. Ask good questions.

Around a table, the art of conversation is fostered. Try to avoid questions that lead to one-word answers. Instead ask open-ended questions like, “What are some of your greatest memories of the holidays growing up?” or “What is most difficult for you during the holidays?” These questions, when engaged honestly, can connect people at a deep level. Take time to listen. Really listen.

Focusing on these three things this holiday season can create space for intimate communion with family members, co-workers, neighbors, international students, or refugees. And who knows, because they are at your table, you might find yourself in a conversation with someone wondering how they can find a seat at Jesus’ table.

As Jesus says in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Lord, help us to open our homes this holiday season for glory of your name, and we pray that many will come to know you! The Mission Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your church, as you seek to faithfully fulfill the Great Commission. Email John Barnett, KBC mission Strategist, at [email protected] to discover new great commission opportunities or resources for you and your church. Merry Christmas. We are stronger together!