Healing and Hope

Refugee DR Team - Uganda - 3What is our calling as the church of Jesus Christ?

If we look to the ministry of Jesus, we see that He demonstrated equal zeal for the ministries of preaching the Gospel and bringing healing to the broken.  Luke 4:40-44 gives us a great example of the spiritually balanced ministry of our Savior:

“When the sun was setting, all those who had anyone sick with various diseases brought them to Him.  As He laid His hands on each of them, He would heal them…When it was day, He went out and made His way to a deserted place.  But, the crowds were searching for Him.  They came to Him and tried to keep Him from leaving them. But, He said to them, “I must proclaim the Good News about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose.”

This was a consistent pattern in the life of Jesus.  He always preached the Gospel, but He also demonstrated compassion on the sick, the hungry, and the broken.  The church is called to follow this pattern of Jesus Christ, as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission and share the life-changing hope of our Lord.

Baptist Global Response (BGR) was organized in 2006 by Southern Baptists to help implement a more effective and efficient international relief and development effort.  Global disasters and human tragedies give believers strategic doors to share the Good News of Christ, as we offer a hand of compassion to the hurting and wounded.  BGR was established as a partner of our International and North American Mission Boards to assist Southern Baptists in maximizing our resources and enhancing our opportunities to impact the world with the Gospel.

Kentucky Baptists can be part of this Great Commission effort.  You can be part of the “Preaching and Healing” work of Christ by:

  • Giving to the World Hunger Fund.  One hundred percent of the money given to the World Hunger Fund goes to meet real needs of hurting people in North America and around the globe.
  • Becoming a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has entered a partnership with BGR to be a primary responder to disasters in Sub-Sahara Africa. This partnership has resulted in sending a medical team to care for refugees in Mali, an assessment team to the refugee crisis that displaced over 100,000 South Sudanese from their homes, and two teams that brought clean water to villages in Madagascar and Mozambique.  Has God given you the gifts and the heart to offer compassionate ministry to suffering people?  Contact Coy Webb in the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief office to discover how you can become involved in this Great Commission work that opens doors for the Gospel.
  • Leading your church to get involved in a BGR Community Development Project that combines practical help to chronic problems with the life-changing message of Christ. Kentucky Baptists have been involved in ministering to AIDs victims, child-headed homes, and orphans in South Africa, a hospital renovation in Zimbabwe, construction of a mission training center in Suriname, and medical ministry in Pakistan.  Contact Doug Williams, Missions Strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, to find out how your church can connect in a project or partnership that can make a difference for Christ.

iGO Do You?

 

 

Reaching Our Judea

The Bible tells us that when the Holy Spirit fills us, we will be witnesses of Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the entire world (Acts 1:8).  Jesus made it clear that the gospel wasn’t just for a specific people or only those living in a certain place.  He wanted us to share the message of salvation with all tribes and tongues.

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I’m encouraged by the recent emphasis in many churches to reach outward into their communities to share Christ (Jerusalem).  Lots of churches will engage in missions  in large urban areas within North America (Samaria) where millions of lost people live and work.  Most, if not all, churches will acknowledge the need to go internationally in order to share the gospel with unreached and unengaged people groups (ends of the earth).  But  ”Judea” is often overlooked by churches.

“Judea” can be described as that area outside our daily routine that is accessible without the expense of substantial time and resources.  The state of Kentucky would be “Judea” for the 2,400 Southern Baptist churches in the Commonwealth.  We know from the 2010 Glenmary report that only 12% of Kentuckians attend church on any given Sunday.  Kentucky’s population is 4.3 million (2010 US Census Bureau) and Lifeway research tells us that 2.8 million of them are lost and without Christ.  Our Judea is in need of a strong Christian witness by Holy Spirit filled believers!  

ON Mission Expo has been planned … for such a time as this.  ON Mission Expo will help awaken believers to find their strategic “Judean” place in mission involvement while providing connection points for ministry service in Kentucky.  Hundreds of pastors, church leaders and missions curious Christ-followers from the Commonwealth will converge to -

  • Meet missionaries and ministry leaders from across Kentucky.
  • Visit displays and booths representing Kentucky missionaries and ministries.
  • Learn about culturally relevant new ministries.
  • Make plans for your next (or first) mission trip.
  • Develop personal connections with ministry opportunities.
  • Discover effective strategies and methodologies for reaching Kentuckians.
  • Engage in worship and powerful missions challenge to reach our “Judea”.

What will your strategic place of “Judean” engagement be as we seek to reach Kentucky with the life transforming message of Jesus Christ? 

ON Mission Expo is Saturday, October 11, 2015 at Immanuel Baptist Church, Corbin, KY.  For more information or to register – www.kybaptist.org/missionexpo

 

 

It’s State Missions Week

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This week Baptists all across Kentucky are focusing on the Week of Prayer for State Missions and the Eliza Broadus Offering.  Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union so faithfully promotes state missionaries and ministries year after year and provides material for our mission emphasis.  Through the print material and videos we have an opportunity to learn what is going on in Kentucky, are encouraged to pray for missions in Kentucky, are given the opportunity to give to missions in Kentucky, and are provided with many ways do missions right here at home.

Currently 100+ missionaries serve in Kentucky in numerous ministry settings.  Those include evangelism/community outreach to children, youth, and families; serving the homeless; ministries to jail/prison inmates and their families; ministry to elementary, high school, and college students; church planting; work with internationals; disaster relief; camps; pregnancy care centers; hospitality houses; and equestrian ministry, just to name a few.  You partner with all of these through your gifts to the Eliza Broadus Offering and Cooperative Program.

There are lots of other ways to connect with Kentucky missions all throughout the year.  When asked what you can to for the missionaries their number one response is almost always, “pray.”  They are also eager for you to visit and learn about their work, then come and serve alongside them.  Whatever gift, skill, or talent you have there is a place for you to serve.

You can view a list of our Kentucky missionaries at www.kybaptist.org/missionaries.  Your church or missions organization may be interested in adopting one of the missionaries.  For information on that go to www.kybaptist.org/adopt.  To pray for our Kentucky missionaries on their birthdays go to www.kybaptist.org/interseed.  And, to find numerous opportunities to in Kentucky go to www.kybaptist.org/go.

If you have never gone on a mission trip before let me encourage you to begin right here in Kentucky.  Contact me at teresa.parrett@kybaptist.org and I will be happy to assist.

Thank you, Joy Bolton and staff, for you promotion of Kentucky missions.  Thank you, Kentucky WMU all across the state, for your support of Kentucky missions.  And thanks to all of you who pray, give, and go to share the Gospel right here at home.  Because of your faithfulness many of the hungry are fed, many in prison are being ministered to, many who do not have clothing are provided for and, most importantly, many come to a saving faith in Christ Jesus.

For information on the 2014 Week of Prayer for State Missions and the Eliza Broadus Offering go to www.kywmu.org/ebo.

Missions Strategy: Evangelize the Unreached

When Great Commission faithfulness begins with fervent prayer, as I wrote about last month, it leads to bold gospel proclamation (e.g., Acts 4).  The second component of Great Commission faithfulness is evangelizing the unreached.  Peter preaches his second sermon at the temple area in Acts 3.  Chapter 4 describes Peter and John being arrested for preaching the gospel.  Peter and John make it clear to the religious leaders who had arrested them that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12).  In the midst of hostility, Peter and John demonstrate gospel boldness.

The religious leaders are surprised by the confidence of Peter and John because they were uneducated men.  They further recognize that these two men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).  In order to squelch the boldness of Peter and John, the religious leaders threaten them to speak no more about Jesus (Acts 4:17).  You can imagine them being told that if they continue with their message, then they will do to them what was done to Jesus.

Instead of cowering to the threat, Peter and John reply that they cannot help but speak about what they have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).  In other words, we cannot keep silent; we must not keep silent.  They are threatened again and released.

Peter and John gather back with the church and report all that had happened (Acts 4:23).  Peter’s and John’s gospel boldness comes through their confidence in a sovereign God (Acts 4:27-28).  Just as God was in sovereign control over the death of Jesus, He is also in charge of their lives.  Thus, gospel boldness is rooted not in ourselves, but in someone else.

They pray, not for deliverance per say, but for boldness to proclaim the gospel more (Acts 4:29).  While we might think that their prayer would revolve around asking for a way out, they actually pray for boldness in the midst of hostility.  The gospel spreads from Jerusalem and beyond as the church prays, the Spirit fills, and the believers are emboldened.

photoWhy such a change from chapter 1 where the disciples are locked up in an upper room?  Well, it’s really quite simple.  Jesus was dead, but now He is alive . . . and they knew it.  Jesus left them in order that He might send another comforter who would fill them with power (John 14; Acts 1:8).  Still yet, the disciples really believed that Jesus is the only way to be saved.  That means any other way besides through Jesus alone is no way at all.  They were gripped by this truth!  They lived, breathed, slept and ate this truth.  Men and women, boys and girls are eternally lost without Jesus.  Whether as an individual in a remote tribe in Indonesia who mixes animism with Islam or a cultural Christian in suburban Kentucky, all are lost who do not forsake their sin and trust in Jesus alone for salvation.

Ultimately, to be unreached is to not know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Peter and John were gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves.  They lived their lives seeking to make Him know, even if it cost them theirs.  May we, too, be gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves and pray for gospel boldness to reach the unreached.

Well-Meaning?

While serving with a mission construction team, a friend of mine volunteered to install light switches.  I was not sure that my friend had experience in electrical work, and so, in a few minutes, I went to check on him.  I found him standing in a puddle of water, as he was working with the electricity.  When I asked if this was safe, his response was, “I did notice that I wasWest Liberty -6 feeling a bit of a bite.” (Translation – I am being jolted by electricity.)

My friend was well-meaning, really wanted to help, and was even doing the best he could; but, honestly, he had no business attempting this type of work.  Because he was not properly trained, he was putting himself at risk, and potentially doing more harm than good to the people that we were trying to serve.

This story is very similar to what I see in many disaster settings, as scores of untrained volunteers converge on the site of a disaster.  It is not uncommon for people to show up on site with the best of intentions, but with no real knowledge or training in disaster work.

Consider this:

  • In most disaster sites, there is no food, water, shelter, or fuel to spare for volunteers. People that are not connected with trained and self-sustaining organizations often rob resources from those suffering in the midst of a disaster.
  • Just because you mean well or own some equipment does not mean that you are ready to be serving in a disaster area.  Untrained people are much more likely to get injured, hurt, or expose themselves to health hazards, as they are typically unfamiliar with potential risks in a disaster zone.
  • In disaster settings, volunteers will encounter victims, who are often stressed, overwhelmed, desperate, and even angry.  Untrained volunteers are often clueless in how to provide appropriate assistance and correct information that can genuinely help those who have suffered loss.
  • Volunteers in disasters work long, stressful days in austere and rugged living conditions.  Showing up unprepared is a good way to create more problems for yourself and others.
  • Spontaneous volunteers typically lack familiarity with situation assessments and incident management; and, because of this, usually end up being in the way, rather than providing meaningful help.
  • Scam artists, who are there to prey on hurting and vulnerable people, often show up in disaster settings under the guise of being a volunteer.  To ensure the safety of victims, most disaster groups need volunteers who have been previously trained and who have been screened properly.

Disasters are complicated and intense situations that require people with some basic training and real commitment.  The priority in times of disaster is providing genuine help to those affected by disaster, not giving spontaneous, untrained volunteers a feel-good moment.  

For the sake of the hurting, get trained.  

For Jesus’ sake, get trained.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief is offering training for volunteers at the following locations and dates:

  • September 20, 2014 at Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow
  • January 17, 2015 at Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah
  • February 7, 2015 at Second Baptist Church in Russellville
  • March 7, 2015 at Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort
  • April 11, 2015 at Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster
  • September 19, 2014 at Rich Pond Baptist Church in Bowling Green

 

For more information, please click here.

It’s Back-to-School Time

 

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It is back to school this week for students, faculty, and staff all across the Bluegrass even though it seems they just got out for the summer break.  With the beginning of school many Kentucky churches, associations, and ministries held Back-to-School events to provide some fun activities, food, help with much needed school supplies, and to share the Gospel message.  Thousands of students were served through these events.  

One Back-to-School Bash that I visited was at the Freedom Center Ministry in Cumberland (Harlan County), KY.  Six mission teams from South Carolina, one team from Alabama, and two teams from Frankfort, KY came to assist with the outreach where over 400 students and families were served.  The children were given one new and one used outfit, new socks and underwear, had their feet washed and were given new shoes.  They were then prayed with and given school supplies and hygiene items.  Some of the girls received manicures and pedicures, while some of the boys received free haircuts.  Games, crafts, and food were also available for the students.  It was such a blessing to hear one of the preteen volunteers share with the children that the reason they were washing their feet was because Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet.  He asked each one, “Have you heard that story?” then proceeded to tell them.  A future minister or missionary I am thinking.

Similar events were held in lots of other locations as well.  Many ministries placed a Bible in each of the backpacks.  Some of the churches gave gas cards to the college students.

A big thank you goes out to all of those who helped the students to begin the 2014-2015 school year.  And, a big thank you to those ministries that will provide food backpacks to needy children all throughout the year.

DSCN4821Please commit to pray for the students, administration, faculty, and staff.  Say special prayers for the bus drivers who, day after day, have those precious lives on such dangerous roads.  Pray for students to get involved in Christian organizations such as B.R.E.A.K., First Priority, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and others.  Especially pray for those going away to college for the first time to get connected to a good campus ministry and stay committed to their faith.

May this be a fun, safe, and EXCEPTIONAL year!!

Missions Strategy: Empower thru Prayer

When it comes to the Great Commission, the lostness of the world is second to the global glory of God.  God’s greatest concern, as I wrote last month, is He great glory among the nations.  Only when our passion for God’s glory blazes will our endeavors to make Him famous among the nations shine bright.

Ironically, instead of blazing a trail for God’s glory in Jerusalem and abroad, the early disciples were first told to wait.  Wait?  The strategy for which the Lord gave the apostles began with waiting.  That seems quite odd for a movement that was intended to take the world by storm.  But if you think about it, where does this unquenchable passion for God’s glory among the nations come from?

Jesus knew that what the early disciples needed most was power from on high, not power from within.  Furthermore, passion for God is ultimately God-given passion.  Therefore, Jesus instucts the disicples to wait in Jerusalem for what the Father had promised, namely the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).  Both the power and passion for accomplishing the Great Commission comes from above; it comes from outside of ourselves.  The Holy Spirit would ignite a passion and provide the power to go into all the world preaching the gospel (Acts 1:6-8).

man_pray1Interestingly, after Jesus’ departure, we find the disciples locked up in an upper room . . . waiting.  That is, waiting and praying (Acts 1:12-14).  Great Commission advancement always invovles waiting and praying.  A survey through Acts demonstrates that gospel boldness is closely connected and often follows the fervant prayers of God’s people (e.g., Acts 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:6-7; 10:9; 13:1-3).

As we examine the book of Acts it’s no wonder why we see such incredible gospel advancement.  The early church bathed the advancement of the gospel in prayer.  Yet, prayer seems to be an afterthought in so many churches today when it comes to Great Commission faithfulness.  “The gospel must be on the go,” we say.  “We don’t have time to pray when lostness is all around us,” we chide.  Yet, the underlying truth that the early church understood, that we would do well to understand, is that the gospel advances supernaturally through the prayers of the people of God.  In other words, the battle against lostness is first fought on our knees.

We need churches and associations entering the battlefield on their knees before going to their feet.  Yes, “beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things” (Rom 10:15).  Yet, as we see from Acts, the beauty of our feet comes from calloused knees.  Great Commission faithfulness must begin with empowerment thru prayer.  Strategies void of prayer will be strategies void of power.  Only when God’s people cry out to Him who alone can take a message offensive and foolish to the world and turn into a beautiful embrace of Jesus Christ and Him crucified will that message advance powerfully.  Let us be faithful to advance the Great Commission, but let us wait upon calloused knees for God to give us His power and passion.

Celebrate Subtractions!

It’s interesting to note how often we use numbers to determine the success or effectiveness of our churches.  We talk about how many attend on Sunday, the number of small groups, how many were baptized or the annual budget.  If attendance is less this year than last, things must not be going well.  However, that’s not necessarily true if the number attending is less because they’re sending out missionaries, ministry leaders and church planters.  But how often do we describe a church by the number they’ve sent out?

Abacus & Calculator

Throughout the Word of God, it’s very clear that God’s people are to go because we are sent by Him (Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 6:8, Matthew 28:18-20, John 20:21, Acts 1:8).  So why not describe the success of our church by how many went on mission trips, the number of members engaged in local ministry, or how many we have sent as missionaries or church planters?   I think it would be exciting to greet pastors and church leaders with – “how many less did you have in worship this week?”

We typically celebrate additions and grieve or become bitter about subtractions.  But the sending of a church planter or mission team is reason to celebrate.  Let’s see if we can begin a shift in our thinking and conversation that would include celebrating subtractions related to the church’s sending.  Our sending will mean a smaller number is gathering, but what a subtraction celebration it could be!  Let’s celebrate subtraction from our small groups if it’s because more Christ followers are going with the message of Christ.

The focus of the church must change from how many gathered to how many were sent.  It will be hard to talk over lunch or in meetings without asking how many attended small groups or gathered for worship this week.  But by changing the conversation and celebrating subtractions, we’re taking a step toward changing the score card that determines success.

So I Sought for a Man

zim - 5Within North America, one of the greatest pockets of lostness is men.  Sixty-one percent of men across our culture do not profess a personal faith in Christ and another thirty-three percent are characterized as cultural Christians.  Recent studies identify less than six percent of American men as Biblical believers.  However, if dad is the first one to be reached for Christ, then, there is a ninety-three percent probability that his whole family will come to a saving faith.

Spiritual reformation in society hinges on the spiritual renewal of men.  The local church remains as a vital key in reaching men for Christ, but the church must be strategic in how it connects with men.

Men’s Ministry will:

  • Require a missional approach.  Determine who you are seeking to reach and what strategies would be most effective on your mission field.
  • Need a planned direction.  The plan should fit your unique ministry setting.
  • Demand strong leadership.  Good leaders are the foundation for an effective ministry that reaches and develops men into disciples.
  • Include a “doing” aspect.  Men like hands-on ministries.
  • Offer multiple connecting points and not be limited in scope.
  • Utilize Affinity Evangelism strategies.  Find areas where men have an interest and use them as tools for the Gospel.
  • Always include a next step in every men’s event.  The intent should always be to help men make a further commitment.  Do not waste the momentum of a successful event.
  • Seek to always have the Pastor on board.
  • Pursue God’s direction in prayer.

Effective men’s ministry should strive to capture the heart, head, and hands of men.  God desires every man to be a disciple.  As Ezekiel 22:30 reminds us, our future as a culture may rest on our ability to reach the next generation of men:

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”  

 

VBS – A Great Opportunity to Serve in Your Home Church

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This week I had the privilege of working in Vacation Bible School at my home church.  What a joy it was each evening to see the smiling faces as the children marched into the sanctuary, to hear them pledge allegiance to the flags and Bible, and to hear them sing to the top of their lungs “I hope you see that my hope is only in Jesus.” These little minds seemed to soak in the stories of Jesus as they learned that Jesus is really God’s Son, that He is more than just a good man, that He died for their sins, that He is alive, and then learned how to respond to the message.

Practically the whole church body was involved.  Each person knew his/her role and used the gifts, skills, and talents God had given him/her to serve the children.  Whether it was the van drivers, kitchen crew, the craft and recreation leaders, mission leaders, Bible study teachers, directors, or the pastor, all were ready to greet and serve the children.  Especially exciting was to see two adults, both young Christians, attending and working in Bible School for the very first time.

Missionaries representing the county, state, nation, and the world shared with the children about their ministries and/or mission trips.  Each night a mission offering was taken and the children learned about the Cooperative Program and how we partner with other churches to take the Gospel to those at home and around the world.  The children were introduced to the Gideons’ ministry and 4th and 5th graders received a Gideons’ New Testament.

Missions right in your own church.  There is no better way than to serve through Vacation Bible School.  What an opportunity.  What a privilege.  What a learning experience.  It is not an easy task but it is so rewarding.  You ought to get involved.  You will certainly be blessed!!