NO Excuses!

It’s a pretty straight forward command, GO!  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, Matthew 28:19.

Since we’ve been commanded to go, we need permission in order to be excused from going.  Unless you’ve received special permission not to go, you better find out where God is sending you.  Jesus left the comforts of heaven and His place at the Father’s right hand to come to earth and He became our substitute on the cross at Calvary.

He told His disciples to go and acknowledged that many excuses would be given for why they couldn’t. The lame excuses that were given 2,000 years ago are the same ones we try to use today.

Here are some of the excuses given for not going –

  • Have to care for elderly parents (Luke 9:59–60).
  • Need to get everything in order first (Luke 9:61–62).
  • Must know what I’ll be doing before I commit to go (Luke 9:57–58).
  • Enjoying success where I am (Luke 5:1-11 & Acts 8:25-40).

Do any of those sound familiar to you?

It’s much easier to go when we don’t have family to take care of, I get that.  But it doesn’t excuse us from going if He has called us.

Waiting till everything is in order doesn’t excuse us from going when God calls either.  Delayed obedience is still … disobedience.

We can’t always know the details concerning the how, when and where of our call in advance. Many times those things aren’t shown to us until we’ve said yes to Him.

A successful ministry can be one of the greatest hindrances to going where Jesus wants us to go.  We may try to excuse the call to go elsewhere if we are comfortable and our current ministry is going well.

Jesus hasn’t given us permission to be excused from going where He leads.  We are to follow hard after Christ and He determines the timing and direction.  We are to adjust our lives and obediently go as He has commanded.  Have you adjusted your life to follow Him? Or would you prefer He make the adjustments?

He may lead you next door to share the gospel with your neighbor or to the other side of the world.  I’ve heard it said, “if it is important to you, you will find a way, if not, you’ll find an excuse”.  Nothing is more important than taking the gospel to lost people in obedience to Christ’s command for us to go!  Will you go with NO EXCUSES whenever and wherever He sends?

by Eric Allen, Leader, Missions Mobilization Team, KBC

Mission Hope for Kids – Touching Hearts & Changing Lives

These two pictures (cardboard testimonies) tell the story.  The first one reads, “Before Mission Hope for Kids…Depressed, Worthlessness, No Friends, Thoughts of Suicide!!”  The second one, “After Mission Hope for Kids…Depression Gone, I am Worthy, Have Friends, I want to Live!!!! Thank You Jesus.”

Mission Hope for Kids is touching hearts and changing lives and the future of an entire generation of children and youth in Hardin County, KY.  They invest in the lives of at-risk students from low-income families and offer them a weekly sanctuary, a place where they can come as young as 4 years of age and continue to receive services through high school.  The students have their educational, spiritual, physical and emotional needs addressed by caring mentors.

Directed by KY-MSC Missionary Nelle Thomas and a large group of dedicated volunteers, this ministry has been serving the children of Hardin County since 2007.  The ministry began as an outreach of a local church, when a handful of church members volunteered to transport the children to the church facility to reach and care for them in a weekly Bible study.  Immediately after the program began, volunteers realized that the children were hungry and started a local chapter of Kid’s Café, to provide for both the physical and spiritual needs of these children living in poverty.  They were soon providing a meal, Bible study, and activities for 150 children in Elizabethtown.  With such a large growth, and a desire to do more for the kids, Kid’s Café dissolved, and Mission Hope for Kids was officially established in May 2012.

On a recent visit to Mission Hope for Kids, I learned that they currently serve over 250 students from pre-school through high school and offer food, access to clothes and hygiene items, support, care and mentoring by engaged adults, and continue to give hope to kids in Hardin County, so they can experience a better day and the brighter tomorrow that they deserve.

They serve alongside the schools and other county entities to develop a comprehensive program with a vision to make a positive impact by giving the students opportunities to become Godly, responsible and community-minded citizens with a bright future.

Students enrolled in the Mission Hope for Kids program are provided with tools, skills and year-round support to help them overcome the many challenges they face at home, school, and in life.  Every student qualifies to attend the program once a week, year-round, and to attend special events like a Back-to-School Bash and Christmas Party.

Mission Hope for Kids is truly making a difference.  Would you like to get involved?  MHFK can continually use volunteers and resources.  Some of their current needs are:

  • Someone to assist with computer skills
  • Computer updating
  • 50 plastic chairs
  • Dave Ramsey material for youth
  • Volunteers to help the students as they shop, to build relationships, and pray with the students.

For more information about Mission Hope for Kids, to see a video of the ministry, or to volunteer to serve, go to http://www.missionhopeforkids.org/media/.

Cooperative Missions and Racial Reconciliation

I can’t remember a time in my life when the tensions between “races” has been so high.  The hatred at times seems like it is swelling to the point of bursting.  From politicians to athletes, everyone seems to have an opinion and a response to the injustices and protests against inequality.  The church of our Lord must not remain silent on this issue.  More so, the church of our Lord must not remain passive on this issue.

 

In 2015 the Kentucky Baptist Convention passed a resolution on cooperative missions and racial reconciliation.  In essence, the resolution affirmed our creation by God from one bloodline and our command to make disciples of all nations.  The resolution further confessed our misappropriation of “race” as sinful against black, brown, and yellow image-bearers throughout our nation’s and state’s early history.  In fact, we erroneously “defended the right to enslave African peoples, treating them as chattel, stifling their ability to pursue life, liberty, and economic autonomy.”  Because of our racialized thinking, we hindered multi-ethnic cooperative missions for the first one-hundred years of Kentucky Baptist existence.

 

Therefore, as a convention, we are resolved to unite together for the advancement of the gospel as a “symphony of multiracial voices who glorify the slain and risen Lamb (Rev 5:9-10).  In acknowledging our past sins of racism, we further resolve to live out the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit “in relationship with black, brown, and yellow brothers and sisters in our great Convention.”  Furthermore, we commit to “intentionally pursue at least one ethnic minority congregation in mutual friendship and love in order to reach our world for the glory of God.”

 

Resolutions are good insomuch as they have feet.  The gospel of Jesus compels us not simply to place ink on paper for resolutions, but to link arms and to serve together for God’s glory among the nations.  It’s one thing for us to vote on resolutions or even to “amen” the truth that Jesus breaks down the dividing wall of hostility that exists among differing groups of people (Eph 2:11-22).  Yes, the world needs to hear our denials of racism (all forms of racism) and our affirmations that all people are created equal and are thus image-bearers of God.  But it is altogether different for them to see us live these denials and affirmations out to a watching world.

 

Our brother James was pretty plain about truth without any action.  He said the two are not mutually exclusive.  Rather, they go hand in hand.  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).  In other words, it’s one thing for us to pass a resolution; it’s another thing to live it out.

 

I am encouraged by what I see among Kentucky Baptists seeking to live out not only a resolution, but what gets at the core of the gospel.  Jesus “reconciles us both (all groups of people) to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph 2:16).  What the world needs to see in the midst of continued hatred across differing ethnic groups is the change that the gospel brings.  The world needs to witness the joining of arms and the serving of feet that are red, yellow, black, brown, and white.  For indeed, each of these are precious in His sight.  Kentucky Baptists, let’s live out the gospel by serving together as one new body in Christ, and demonstrate to a watching world that Jesus restores what was once broken.

Written by Doug Williams,  Kentucky Baptist Convention Missions Strategist.

Global Hunger Sunday

When Southern Baptists observe Global Hunger Sunday on October 8, they will be called to act on the commands of Scripture.  The Bible tells us that when Jesus saw the hungry and hurting multitude in Matthew 14, “He had compassion on them…”  He healed and fed those who flocked to Him.

Scripture is filled with God’s compassion for the afflicted, broken, and hungry.  Isaiah 58:10 teaches, “And if you offer yourself to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness and your night will be like noonday.”

Compassion is more than a warm, fuzzy thought.  Compassion is a movement and desire in your gut that compels you to act.  The Global Hunger Fund gives us a way to act on the gut-wrenching scenes of need that are painted across the landscape of our world.  The Global Hunger Fund presents us opportunities, as God’s people, to make a difference for the sake of Christ.

The Global Hunger Fund gives us the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to:

  • a single mother and five children suffering from famine in Lesotho;
  • a Christian family needing a touch of hope in the refugee camps of Northern Iraq;
  • an infant needing clean water in a remote village in Mozambique;
  • a hungry child in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky;
  • and to the multitudes weary and hurting in forsaken corners of our world.

Since its inception in 1974, Southern Baptists have given more than 235 million dollars through the Global Hunger Fund to meet needs both at home and abroad.  Tragically, in recent years, the amount given to the Global Hunger fund has been decreasing.

However, hunger needs have not diminished, nor has God’s love for those who are hungry, sick, and thirsty.  This God-driven fund helps families survive disaster and famine, provides clean water and medical care, improves health and nutrition, and most importantly helps countless people to hear of the hope and Good News of Jesus Christ.

On October 8, will you do your part in helping Southern Baptists respond to a hungry world?

Would you consider giving the cost of a meal out to help provide food for a hungry family in Eastern Kentucky?

Would you consider giving a gift of $25 to provide clean water in a forgotten village?  

Would you give $100 to provide medical supplies to a refugee camp in the Middle East?

Would you consider giving $500 to provide food for widows, orphans, and single mothers in a famine-stricken village?

Would you give a gift of compassion that someone may know the hope of Christ?

Give to the Global Hunger Fund on World Hunger Sunday, October 8!

Hunger is NOT a Game!

There’s been a lot of buzz in recent years about the movie series, “the Hunger Games”. The movie takes places in a post-apocalyptic world in which poverty and starvation force teenagers in the fictitious country of Panem to compete in the hunger games where they fight to the death until only one remains.

In the real world where you and I live, hunger is NOT a game!

  • 795 million people are undernourished globally. (The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015)
  • Poor Nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – globally, 3.1 million children each year. (The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015)
  • 6% of Kentuckians are food insecure – including 222,380 children, making us the 4th hungriest state in the country (US Census Bureau)

Hunger is no respecter of geography or ethnicity.  It can be felt in an apartment in Paducah, a cardboard shack in Central America, a hut in Africa, or a house in Pikeville.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention in partnership with Global Hunger Relief is involved in relieving hunger locally, nationally and internationally in different ways, from providing meals and groceries to hungry families to participating in famine and drought relief, and from addressing chronic hunger to eliminating urban food deserts.

100% of every dollar is used for hunger relief because the Cooperative Program and partnerships with local ministries cover overhead costs.

Physical hunger is not a game and neither is spiritual starvation. The desire of KBC hunger relief ministries is to build relationships and lead people to faith in Jesus Christ. Last year, 21,770 people world-wide, including 129 Kentuckians, professed faith in Christ as a direct result of hunger relief ministries.

Sunday, October 8th is the designated day in Kentucky Baptist Churches for promotion of this offering, but feeding the hungry is a year-round need.  You’ll find a variety of resources on the web at www.kybaptist.org/hunger that will help you to promote this important offering that is meeting a critical need.  The need for hunger relief is increasing while offerings to aid in hunger relief are decreasing.

Will you encourage your church to emphasize this global crisis and give financially to meet the critical need of hunger through the KBC Global Hunger Relief offering?

Individuals or churches can give to hunger relief at:  www.kybaptist.org/hunger

Global Song

He was captive to the thought that the greatness and salvation of God should be extended to the nations.  He was determined that the nations be called 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” (Daniel 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” (Five Who Changed, 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.

That was in the mid-1950s.  Many scores of others have never heard of Jesus.  Yet, God has a heart for the nations, as is evidenced in Psalm 96.  The Psalmist insists, “Sing to the Lord a new Song; Sing to the Lord, all the earth. . . . Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples” (Ps 96:1, 3).

The word “peoples” or “nations” is used throughout this psalm.  There is an estimate of 11,629 people groups in the world (www.joshuaproject.net).  People groups (PGs) can be defined in a basic way as those of the same language and common identity.  By identity is meant common history, customs, family and clan identities (www.peoplegroups.org). Of these PGs, over 7,000 have less than 2% of Christian presence among them, which represents over 4.3 billion people.

Let me put it in this light: nearly 60% (4.3 billion people of the world’s 7.5 billion population) of the world’s population has very little to no Christian witness.  Essentially, six out of every ten people in the world have little to no access to the gospel.  We know that Scripture teaches us that the Lord will save people from every tongue, tribe, people and nation (Rev 5:9).  In other words, the Lord will save individuals from every people group.  How will this be brought about?  The answer: When our passion for God burns hot and bright, then our desire to make Him known among the nations/peoples of the world will extend globally.

It will take multiple hearts like that of Jim Elliot in the 1950s to see Psalm 96 lived out today.  The nations are called to worship the one true God, and we are the ones to call them to do so.  So, let’s call the nations to sing.

 

 

Ministry Involvement Makes You Healthier

“Christians are equipped for service that lowers their blood pressure…”

Okay, so Ephesians 4:11-13 doesn’t say it quite like that.  It does say however, that we are equipped for works of service, and according to a recent study, works of service may just lower your blood pressure.

The study suggests that engaging in volunteer ministry can make you healthier by lowering blood pressure.  The study, by Rodlescia Sneed, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, involved over 1,100 adults. The adults were interviewed about their volunteer service and had their blood pressure checked at the beginning of the study and once again four years later.  All of the participants had normal blood pressure readings at the time of the first interview.

Regardless of the type of volunteer ministry or service the participants were involved in, those who said during the first interview that they regularly served in volunteer ministry or service were 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure four years later than those who did not serve.

Why?  According to Sneed, “Participating in volunteer activities may provide older adults with social connections that they might not have otherwise.  There is strong evidence that having good social connections promotes healthy aging and reduces risk for a number of negative health outcomes.”

What does that mean? It means God built us to connect with each other, and to serve each other and Him.

1 Peter 4:10-11 teaches us “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

Christ followers have been equipped for ministry and we should use whatever gifts we’ve been given to serve others. It’s easy to see that ministry and service to others is expected of the Christ follower.

But there’s more: serving is a blessing, too. Proverbs 11:25 offers us the promise that “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

There are countless opportunities to engage in ministry service locally, throughout Kentucky, nationwide and around the world.  Discover how God has equipped you and commit to utilizing those gifts, talents, skills and experiences for His glory.  Check out www.kybaptist.org/GO for a list of opportunities.

When we are obedient to the Lord and serve, we receive a blessing. That blessing just might be lower blood pressure.

Why Get Trained?

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief offers several training opportunities every year for volunteers to become trained in disaster reponse., and to get connected with this Christ-centered ministry.

Why get trained?  Let me give you several reasons, why it is important to be trained if you want to respond in a positive and effective way in times of disaster:

  • People that are not connected with trained and self-sustaining organizations often rob resources from those suffering in the midst of a disaster.
  • 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.
  • Untrained volunteers are often unprepared to provide appropriate assistance and correct information to those affected.
  • Untrained volunteers lack expertise to genuinely help those who have suffered loss, and are unprepared to handle the emotional trauma of victims.
  • Untrained volunteers are unprepared to work long, stressful days in austere and rugged living conditions.  
  • 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.
  • Untrained volunteers create atmospheres where scam artists, who seek to prey on hurting and vulnerable people, can get site access in disaster settings under the guise of being a volunteer.
  • 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.

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 2017 and 2018:

September 16, 2017 – First Baptist Church of Richmond

January 13, 2018 – First Baptist Church of Grayson

February 10, 2018 – Mexico Baptist Church in Marion

March 10, 2018 – Shelbyville First Baptist Church

April 14, 2018 – Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green

September 15, 2018 – Immanuel Baptist Church in Corbin

For more information, contact the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief office by phone at (502) 489-3527 or (866) 489-3527, by email at [email protected], or register for training at www.kybaptist.org/dr/.

 

It’s Not Too Late…

 

School is back in session, summer is almost over, and Christmas is soon approaching.  Although only four months away, there is still time to participate in the Christmas Backpack Project for children affected by poverty.  17.3 million of the children living in the U.S. live in poverty, with almost 1 million of them in Kentucky.

For these children, Christmas does not always come with gifts, like it does for others.  For the past several years thousands of children in Kentucky have been receiving backpacks from Baptists in surrounding states filled with food, clothing, hygiene items, school supplies, toys, and a Bible or some Gospel witness.  To see the smiles on the children’s faces as they walk out with a backpack, many times almost as big as themselves, just warms the heart and helps you to experience the joy of giving.

In 2016 over 15,000 Kentucky children were blessed with these gifts and, this year, we want to invite Kentucky Baptists to be a part of this effort.  A goal of collecting 5,000 backpacks from Kentucky Baptist churches (the NAMB goal is 65,000) has been set.  One half of the backpacks collected in Kentucky will be distributed to children living in poverty in our state, with the other half going to need children in the Send Cincinnati area.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention is partnering with Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union and the North American Mission Board (Appalachian Regional Ministry and Mississippi River Ministry), in this effort.  Many churches, associations, WMU groups, Sunday School classes, and even individuals are already working diligently to pack their backpacks.  It was also the mission project for many Vacation Bible Schools this past summer.  We are excited to report that, to date, we have 107 registered participants, for a total of 3479 backpacks committed.

For information on how you can participate, how to pack a Christmas backpack, or to register your church’s participation go to www.kybaptist.org/backpacks.  Or, if you would like to have someone come and share with you about this project please contact email  [email protected].  Collection date is October 16-20 so please respond soon and join us in making a difference in a child’s life this Christmas and, very possibly, for eternity.

Looking for Mission Partnerships?

As a church leader you desire to lead your church to obey the Great Commission, but maybe you are not sure where to go?  If you are looking for mission partnerships, look no further.  The Mission Mobilization Team of the Kentucky Baptist Convention is here to help your church reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.  To achieve this goal, we have developed partnerships in Kentucky, North America, and the world for gospel impact.

It is one thing for us simply to tell you about an area in need of gospel partnerships. But it is altogether different for us to help you experience that area and envision how your church might partner there for the gospel.

Thus, we offer vision trips in order that KBC churches and associations might meet missionaries/church planters, experience the culture, hear the vision of a particular area in need of the gospel, and prayerfully consider how they might come alongside of the work being done in unreached places.

Currently, we have three North American and two international partnerships that are great opportunities for KBC churches and associations to engage lost areas with the gospel, with the hopes of adding more in the future.

  • Impact Boston and you impact the world.  As a cultural and academic hub in our country, Boston is one of the most influential places in North America.  Yet, there is only one SBC church for every 39,257 people.
  • Nestled along the Ohio River, Cincinnati, as some experts believe it, is poised to see a population boom in the coming years.  However, only 13.7 percent of metro Cincinnati residents are currently affiliated with an evangelical church.
  • Salt Lake City is a city most often recognized for Mormonism.  However, the city has become a major metro area and needs vibrant gospel churches to impact a population with only 2.2 percent evangelical presence.
  • São Paulo, Brazil is the largest city in South America with over 20 million people.  Easily one of the top 10 largest cities in the world, it is believed that São Paulo has between 18 and 19 million people who do not know the gospel of Jesus.
  • Greece is rich in both ancient and biblical history.  The gospel once took root in this country, but that root has nearly dried up.  Of the 10.8 million people in Greece, only about .03 percent are Jesus followers.

KBC churches and associations are needed to impact these five areas with gospel faithfulness and partnerships.  Learn more about where your church or association can partner through upcoming vision trips by visiting www.kybaptist.org/visiontrips or email [email protected].