Meet Our New 2017 Kentucky Missionaries

Spring has officially arrived, which means it is time for our annual missionary orientation and commissioning of the new missionaries serving in Kentucky.  The orientation is a time for the missionaries to learn about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, and many resources and support available to them.  This time of networking with each other is most valuable.

Eight men and women that have sensed God’s call to serve in ministries across our state will be commissioned at the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Missions Celebration on Saturday morning, April 1st, at Central Baptist Church in Corbin.

Those new missionaries are:

  • Damon & Yolonda Armstead, Executive Director and Director of Weekday Ministries at the Baptist Fellowship Center in Louisville.
  • Cory Bledsoe, Executive Director of Louisville Rescue Mission.
  • Joanna Mack, Executive Director of Grace & Mercy in Hopkinsville.
  • Renee Parsons, Director of Hope Central, a ministry of Central Baptist Church in Ashland.
  • Teresa Purichia, Interim Executive Director of Crossroads Life Center, a pregnancy care center in Glasgow.
  • Twyla Sheffield, KBC Northern Region Missions Mobilization Consultant.
  • Kendra Smallwood, Director of “A Chosen Sisterhood” women’s ministry of Rockhouse Baptist Church in Hyden.

This year’s WMU Celebration will also feature an Eastern Kentucky Missions Extravaganza that you will not want to miss.  During the Extravaganza participants will have an opportunity to visit and interact with many of the eastern Kentucky missionaries for a “hands-on” experience of the work they do.

By all means, we would like to extend a special invitation for you to join us for this year’s KY WMU Celebration and commissioning service, and pledge your support to these new missionaries.

The 2017 Kentucky Missionary of the Year will also be announced.

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

Hope to see you there.

Construction Teams Needed

Construction

There are many ways to be on mission in Kentucky.  Opportunities are available to serve through Vacation Bible Schools, Backyard Bible Clubs, block parties, work in food and clothing ministries, prayer walking, sports camps, door-to-door evangelism, serve in free medical and dental clinics, equestrian ministry, prison ministry, racetrack and resort ministry, and outreach with all ages from preschoolers to senior adults, just to name a few.  Appalachian Regional Ministry has a brochure that shows 102+ ways to serve in missions.

One great way to serve is through construction.  Many times a person feels he or she cannot participate in missions because they are not good at teaching, preaching, or sharing their faith.  I recall a story told about a man who came up to a missionary following the missionary’s sharing about ways to serve.  The man had tears in his eyes and said that before that time he did not think he could do missions.  That night he came to realize that he could use his skill of painting in ministry.

Lots of projects are posted on the Kentucky Baptist Convention website and construction teams are needed across the state.  Teams are needed for church repairs and/or renovations, new church construction, home repairs, and work on associational and ministry buildings.  There are opportunities for those with skills in carpentry, painting, electrical, plumbing, laying tile, putting up handicap ramps, and the needs just go on and on.  These “support” type roles are important so that the churches, associations, and ministries can do their job of reaching people with the gospel.

Many of these projects can be done in one or two days and many are in areas near where you live.  Others may be week-long projects or projects that one team can follow another until the work is complete.

If you have skills in construction consider using them in service for our Lord.  Go to the Kentucky Baptist Convention website (http://old.kybaptist.org/mission-opportunities/project-type/construction-maintenance/) to see opportunities available.  The projects have now been updated for 2017 and are just waiting for teams to respond.

For more information contact us at [email protected].  We will be happy to help connect you to a construction opportunity in 2017.

Much to be Done in the New Year

 

2017

Welcome 2017. The year 2016 is now history. This past year ended with lots of church and ministry outreach events. Hot meals were served. Warm blankets, coats, scarfs, and gloves were given out for the upcoming cold winter months. Christmas was made brighter for many children as they received a special toy. Thanks to Appalachian Regional Ministry’s Christmas Backpack Program thousands of children also received a backpack filled with school supplies, hygiene items, clothing, candy, toys, and a Bible. The Gospel message was presented.

As reports come in we are hearing of hundreds that invited Christ into their lives during these events and received the greatest Gift during this season of gift-giving. But, where are they in January 2017?

We must not stop by simply presenting the Gospel message and decisions being made. There is much work to do as we now help them to grow in their new-found relationship with Christ. We must invite them into our churches and walk alongside to disciple and mentor them. We must not leave them as babes in Christ.

This past Sunday a lady and her daughter visited our church as a result of a Christmas outreach event. She wanted to start the new year in church and really seemed to enjoy the service and fellowship. The young daughter was excited to learn of a Sunday School class and Children’s Church that she could be a part of. I too am excited for the mom to join my Sunday School class as each week we learn, grow, and fellowship together.

May 2017 be a year when those lives that we impacted in 2016 come to a saving relationship with Christ, and those who do know Him as Savior draw nearer in their walk with Him and their service to Him. May our Christmas outreach events not be in vain.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Christmas Memories

gifts-of-christmas

I love Christmas.  As the song says, it is truly “the most wonderful time of the year.”  There is just a special spirit at this season that in unlike any other.  The sights and sounds of Christmas seem to bring out the child in all of us.

Our trees are put up, nativity and carolers in place, advent candles on the table, and Christmas music playing.   Christmas parades, complete with marching bands and Santa Claus, are in almost every town.  There are Christmas parties and church programs to attend, Christmas cards, shopping, and gifts wrapped in pretty paper and bows.

Christmas to me is family.  It was always a special time at our house as we planned our family gathering, the food we would eat, baking and candy making, giving and receiving gifts, and just being together.

One of the most memorable gifts I received as a young toddler was a baby doll.  I do not remember the doll as much as the homemade cradle that my dad made, and the quilt and pillow that my mother made for my doll.  These were special gifts because of the extra love my parents had for me as they “made” these gifts.

Another memorable gift was the bicycle I received from an older sister when I was six years old.  It was my first year of school and her first year to teach school.  This was a gift that I enjoyed for many, many years.

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the music.  I recall Christmas band concerts and parades, and the church Christmas programs that I was a part of.  As a college student at Eastern Kentucky University I looked so forward each year to attending the performance of the “Messiah.”

And the memories go on and on.  We all have our Christmas memories and traditions.  But, with everything we do, let’s never forget that we have Christmas because of Jesus.  I never remember a Christmas in our house that the true meaning of Christmas was not at the forefront.

With all we do this Christmas let’s be sure to include Him in our celebrations.  Include Him in our decorations, in the cards we send, and in the music we sing. Let’s include Him in our greetings to people as we smile and say “Merry Christmas.”

Christmas is a time when more people seem to be open to hearing the true story of Christmas, so let us be ready to share that message.  It may just cause someone to receive the special Gift of Christmas.

It’s All Worth It

KY InAsMuch Logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering Larry O

larry-linda-pic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please pray for Linda and the family.

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

Pregnancy Care Centers Make a Difference

12195

In downtown Greenville, KY there is an amazing ministry called Pathway of Hope that ministers to families who are facing unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.  This ministry, directed by North American Mission Board missionary Diana Anderson, helps these families to make life-affirming choices, with their main goals to love on those they serve, share factual information with them, and be Christ-like in their love for them.  “We want them to see Christ through us,” Diana says.  “We try to share Christ with everyone that comes in the door.”

Since the ministry opened, nearly twelve years ago (October 2004), they have seen 76 persons accept Christ as their personal Savior.  Several others have recommitted their life to Christ,  Pathway of Hope helps their clients to find, and get connected with, a church close to where they live.

12196Other services provided (free of charge) by Pathway of Hope include pregnancy tests, diapers and wipes, clothing (from newborn to size 5T), and anything baby-wise. They can use donated items, even homemade items such as baby blankets, etc.

Pathway of Hope works with at-risk parents through Social Services and the court system.  Those include parents at risk of losing their children due to drug issues, domestic violence, disciplinary issues, etc.  Their “Earn While You Learn” curriculum, written for pregnancy center use, is an education program that deals with many of the needs these families face.  Post-abortion Bible studies also allow them to see the transformation and healing that God provides.

Diana says there has never been a true need that God has not already provided what the person needed.  One day a lady come to Pathway of Hope in need of a car.  She had a newborn baby boy with a benign tumor on his forehead.  The father walked out of their lives and they needed a mode of transportation to get to Louisville every other week for treatment.  At 10:30 that morning they prayed specifically for this need.  At 3:30 that same afternoon, the answer came.  Another single lady called saying she had gotten a new car and would like to give the old one to someone that could use it.  The car had new tires and had just been serviced.  The two ladies met, the car exchange took place, and there was much rejoicing.

When asked about how someone could help at the ministry, Diana recommended they seek out pregnancy care centers in their own area and see if they might meet a need.  “The needs are generally for volunteer labor, financial needs, material needs and, most of all, prayer.  It is not an easy job,” she says, but it is sure making a difference in the lives of so many families and children.

Please pray for Diana and Pathway of Hope as they minister to these families.  Pray for them to be bold in their witness.  Pray for other pregnancy care centers across the state.  Then, go to http://www.kybaptist.org/pregnancycare/ to find a pregnancy care center in your area and see how you might get involved.  If you know of a center in your area that is not listed, one that is private, Christian based and Southern Baptist connected through a local church and/or association, we are interested in working with them as well.  Contact us at [email protected] with that information.

A Great Mission Field

back to school

It’s “Back-To-School” time and many students are getting help from Kentucky Baptist churches and ministries all across the state through their back-to-school community missions outreach programs.

Last week I made a trip to Monticello, KY and picked up 170 pairs of athletic shoes from Evangelist Dale Rose, with E & E Warehouse, and delivered them to Amy Wilhelmus at the Moore Activity Center in Covington, KY.  The trunk and back seat of my car could hardly hold the boxes.  There were nice shoes of all colors and sizes.  These, added to shoes that Amy has collected throughout the year, will be used to serve approximately 200 students that come to the MAC on Saturday, August 13th, for help to begin the new school year.  Some of the shoes are donated and others purchased from a monetary donation designated for school shoes.  Socks, school supplies and hygiene items will also be given to each student and, along with these items, the Gospel message will be presented.

This is just one of the many similar events that are going on throughout the state.  John Morris, with God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell, shared that the students at their KidStock 2016 event were excited to receive school supplies and shoes but that most importantly they all heard the Gospel.  John told a 9-year old girl that he loved her new shoes, to which she replied, “Do you know where I got them?  The lady inside said that Jesus gave them to me because He loves me!”

But, the ministry does not stop with these one-time back-to-school events.  Many of our ministries work with schools throughout the year to meet the needs of the students.  They help to provide school supplies all year long, as well as hygiene and clothing items that the students may need.  Many ministries have ongoing food backpack programs where they send food home with the children for the weekend.

Still other ministries have after school tutoring programs for the children throughout the year.  Some ministries, such as First-Priority, FCA, and B.R.E.A.K. are privileged to teach the Bible and lead students in worship during their school day.  Missionary Beth Arnold, with Bible Released-Time Education Association of Kentucky (B.R.E.A.K.) in Corbin, says our students are “possibly one the most unreached mission fields in our country.”

Our students have many needs.  The need for food, clothing, and other material items.  The need to be cared for and loved.  And, most importantly, the need to hear the Gospel.  Jesus loved the children and we must too.  There is a great mission field among the children in our neighborhoods.  May we commit to pray and care for our children and youth.

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Mark 10:13-14

 

A Simple Phone Call

Hardinsburg Bldg

Often I have said, “When I get up in the morning and start my work day, I never know what a phone call or email may bring.”  On June 7, while not in my office, but at a Lexington hospital with my sister, I received one of those calls.  Missionary Keith Decker, with Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg, called with one of his “unusual” questions.  “Do we have any ministries in Hardinsburg that could use a building?” he asked.  He went on to share with me that he had been approached by a pastor now living in Williamsburg, that had a building in Hardinsburg that he would like to donate for ministry.

My reply was, “I don’t know of anything off the top of my head but let me make a phone call or two.”   Not knowing of any particular ministry in that area, I looked up the phone number for the Blackford/Breckinridge Baptist Association and called new Director of Mission Brent Thornton.  “Are you the lady I met at the DOM Retreat?” he asked.  I said that I was and told him why I was calling.  I didn’t know if he was going to shout, cry, pass out, or have a heart attack.  He could not believe his ears.  Then he went on to tell me his story.

Brent had only been in the DOM position for four months when, near the end of April, a gentleman had walked into his office and asked if they would be interested in selling the building that had housed their office for the past 35 years.  The man made them an offer and the association voted, just a few days before I called, to sell their current building.  They were going to have to find temporary office space almost immediately.  He had been so concerned about where they were going to move.  Now, he gets a call, totally out of the blue, about a building and 1 ½ acres being offered to them…for free.

On July 5, almost one month from that initial call, the property was deeded to the Blackford/Breckinridge Association.  The facility, once used as a church building, has pews, furniture, a keyboard, and office space.  And, while it is far from move-in ready, it offers incredible potential for ministry.

The facility may never be used as the association office but it is definitely in their long-range strategy for ministry.  It is in a great location, is structurally sound, and has a building with over 3000 square feet of ministry space to be used for the Kingdom.  “It is not hard to see God’s hand I the timing of this,” Brent said.

God has blessed me to share in just a small way in many stories such as this.  How exciting to see Him at work.  I am just waiting for that next phone call.

New Building for Mill Creek Baptist Church

Mill Creek BC Building Project

Tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy earlier this month for one Bell County congregation.  Mill Creek Baptist Church was destroyed by fire on a snowy February 16, 2015 morning but, thanks to the Mobile (AL) Baptist Builders, a new building is now under construction.

On June 4 a team of 120+ volunteers, all unpaid, rolled into the Stoney Fork community of Bell County to begin work on the new church building.  The volunteers were from 14 states across the U.S., some as far away as Maine and Colorado and some from within the state of Kentucky.

In just 4 days the building was up and the roof and steeple were on.  An outline of a cross behind where the pulpit will eventually stand, overlooked the blue sky, green trees, and the beautiful Bell County mountains.  From now until September other volunteer teams will follow and do finish work, until the new church building is completed.  Mill Creek BC Building Project 2

In addition to the construction work there was also a lot of ministry going on.  Each day throughout the week the volunteers fed 80 – 90 children in the area, played games, and shared the Gospel message with them.  They also held classes for the ladies of the community.

Every evening after dinner the team had a worship and testimony service.  As of Wednesday one person had professed faith in Christ and the Gospel message was continuing to be shared, even among their fellow team members, as some of them were not believers.

We like to “go where God’s people are and we want to go help God’s people,” says Burben Sullins, coordinator for Mobile Baptist Builders.  “This is my 34th year in volunteer missions and this is my 70th project,” he went on to say.

When asked about the work of the team, Mill Creek Pastor Larry Sowders said, “it was unreal.  These were amazing people that were led and called by God, and Burben Sullins was an amazing leader.”

Cooperation.  That is a key word for Southern Baptists.  And, this project was just one way the family of Southern Baptists serve one another.

Each year several teams such as the Mobile Baptist Builders serve in Kentucky.  These teams like to come and work on new construction projects, building from the slab up.  Hundreds of volunteers, both men and women, take a week of their vacation, and pay their own way, to participate in volunteer missions.

If your church is planning to build and is interested in a Baptist Builder team, please contact the Missions Mobilization Team of the Kentucky Baptist Convention at [email protected]  We can help you to connect.