Standing Ready

Disasters come whether one is prepared or not, and tragically most churches fail to prepare for disaster events in their community.

As Stephen Cyros declared, “Remember, when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed.”

Be prepared as a church by:

  1. Encouraging the need for preparation. Church leaders can lead in providing disaster preparation information that includes safety, first-aid, needed supplies, and evacuation or shelter instructions to those in our churches. People who are prepared have increased survivability in times of disaster.
  2. Assessing the greatest and most likely disaster threats for your community.
  3. Examining the church property to determine if there are ways to minimize loss and to improve the church’s ability to withstand a disaster event.
  4. Ensuring that the membership understands evacuation or sheltering plans if a disaster occurs while the church is gathered.
  5. Devising a plan to check on church members in the aftermath of disasters. Focus a priority on the most vulnerable in your family of faith such as the elderly, those with disabilities, single mothers, and those with health issues. This could be a great ministry for deacons or other church ministry groups.
  6. Developing a ministry plan for the church in the aftermath of disasters. Often churches miss opportunities to meet real needs and to have life-changing impact with families in the aftermath of disasters because they have not planned for a disaster. Crisis events open doors for the Gospel as people are seeking help and answers. God has placed the church in communities to be His hands and voice, but we need to think about how we can best help survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.
  7. Connecting with other churches in your community and other organizations to discuss how to prepare and respond to disasters. Most County Emergency Managers would welcome churches who genuinely want to help, and who have a plan to meet vital needs. We can always do more together than any of us can do alone.
  8. Being prepared to pivot the focus of the church in the aftermath of a disaster. The day after a disaster strikes your community is probably not the time to begin a new ministry, but the church demonstrates a lack of compassion and awareness if it does not pivot from the routine and put priority focus on responding to the loss that disasters bring. In the aftermath of disasters, the church needs to show the Gospel in action.

The Scripture gives a great word for the church as we seek to prepare for times of disaster in Proverbs 27:12,

“The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

What is Missions in the New Normal?

In Matthew 13:44, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from the joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” As pastors and church leaders empowering our congregations to reassemble for worship and live for Christ in a post Covid context, we must ask ourselves and our churches some challenging questions. Has our hope and joy always been in Christ and the kingdom of heaven? As church buildings have been empty, attendance numbers not counted, budgets potentially altered, are we striving to simply return to normal, so we can persevere and endure as the church at Ephesus? Who or what is our first love? Is Christ calling us to “go” back to Church or to “be” the Church?

As a Great Commission people, we are called to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, by either planting churches among those who have never heard of Christ, or by revitalizing churches among those who have forgotten about Christ. But during this pandemic, it feels like everything has been on hold. Church members are asking how to be the church in our current situation, and what does missions in the new normal look like?  

The book of Jeremiah reminds us that because of Israel’s unwillingness to turn from their idols, God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Israel and the temple. Most of the vessels of the sanctuary and many of the Jews were carried away to Babylon as slaves for 70 years. Israel had their nation and their identity taken from them, and they longed to get back to the way things were. The false prophet Hananiah told them what they wanted to hear, which was that they would return home in two years. But God told His people that while they were captives in Babylon, they were to build houses, plant gardens, and instead of decreasing, they were to marry and continue to increase. In addition, they were to seek the welfare of the city in which they lived and to pray to the Lord for it because their own welfare would come from the welfare of that city.

Their situation should resonate with us during this time. We must recognize that God does not always want us to get back to the way things were. He is doing something during this time to awaken His people. We may be in these circumstances for a while, or at least in some form. God uses times like these to challenge His people both personally and corporately. He desires idols to fall and the church to return to its biblical core.

So, what are we to do as we come out of this pandemic? How has God refined us during this situation, and what has changed moving forward? Remember, during this time of sheltering in place, many have been plowing new ground for the kingdom. The kingdom advances every time you teach Scripture in a Zoom Bible study and someone turns to the Lord or they surrender a part of their heart they have been holding on to. The kingdom advances every time someone who never would have come to church watches an online service. The kingdom advances every time the church is pushed to get away from traditionalism and to define their worship services by the core elements seen in Scripture. The kingdom advances every time another pastor stays the course instead of yielding to discouragement.

Pastors and church leaders, as the ones whom the Lord has called to feed His sheep, may we lead our churches to Repent of our Idols, Return to being the Church, and Reimagine Missions in the New Normal:

  1. Repent of our Idols
    • Idol of Event
    • Idol of Success
    • Idol of Gifted Leader
    • Idol of Busyness
  2. Return to being the Church
    • Return to the New Testament Vision of the Church
    • Return or revisit God’s call to Worship, Discipleship, Ministry, Fellowship, Evangelism, Prayer
    • Return or Revisit the characteristics of a healthy church
      • Evangelism, Discipleship, Membership, Leadership
      • Preaching and Teaching, Ordinances, Worship, Fellowship
      • Prayer, Accountability and Discipline, Giving, Missions
    • Return or Revisit leadership roles
      • Pastors equipping the saints
      • Servant Deacons caring for the vulnerable
      • Every Believer ministering the gospel
  3. Reimagine Missions in the New Normal
    • Maintain missions as our catalyzing principle
    • Ground our mission strategy in God’s Word. Missiology is not methodology; it is applied Theology.
    • Work together and serve one another. Individualism is killing the American church.

Shepherds, as we seek to be the church and share the gospel in the new normal, let our first love be Christ and His word!  Let us equip the saints to not only find their joy and identity in Christ alone, but also to share their joy and the hope of the gospel in a fallen world. Let us love and serve our families well, and may we be willing to sacrifice everything for the glory of God. Remember, missions in the New Normal is simply missions in the New Testament.

The Missions Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact me, John Barnett, at [email protected] May the Lord continue to give us wisdom, as we continue to seek His face. (Ref: IMB, BSCNC).

On a Mission From God

Moses was chosen, called, and commissioned by the Lord to deliver and lead the people of God.  Though reluctant to lead at first, Moses demonstrated himself to be a skilled and effective leader.  His uniquely close relationship with God was the foundation of his leadership and enabled him to lead amid a diverse and often difficult group of people.  God himself spoke this validating word of Moses in Numbers 12:7, “He is faithful in all My house.” 

Throughout his journey of faith Moses demonstrated that leaders must have vision, perseverance, and the ability to endure the pain of leadership without compromising their character.  Our character as leaders is always on display to those around us and to those who follow us.  If we crumble and fall into the pit of unhealthy leadership and practices, it will have crippling and devastating consequences for the people entrusted to our care as leaders. If we are not healthy as church leaders then the family of faith will be vulnerable to the plague of disorder and dysfunction.

Humble leaders attract followers and create an environment of trust, and trust is vital to healthy relationships and healthy organizations. Arrogant, autocratic leaders may dominate for a time, but they do not build trust among those who follow them. And eventually, most see their kingdoms crumble around them in the tremors of seismic rebellion.  There is a difference in leading people and driving people. 

 Spiritual leaders have been entrusted by God to lead those whom God has placed in their care. Humble servant leadership is not weak leadership. For leaders, it is not between being strong or weak, the choice is between building God’s kingdom and helping people discover God’s purpose for their lives or building our own little earthly kingdoms and exploiting those entrusted to us.

Leaders who are strong and humble value the people entrusted to them, and when you find this kind of leader, you will find healthy and growing churches and organizations. This is the kind of leader that people will follow.  This kind of leader produces confidence in the heat of the battle.  This kind of leader inspires trust when storms arise.  This kind of leader motivates people to reach heights they never dreamed possible. Ultimately, this kind of leader enables people to reach the place promised to them by God.

It is a paradox that the one whom God entrusts in leadership can be both humble and visionary; he can be a person of grace and yet bold; he can be consumed and yet at peace; he can be filled with compassion and yet speak the truth without compromise. Moses learned the lessons of leadership as a shepherd in the desert and by answering God’s calling with trembling yet unwavering faith.  And in the end, it was said of him in Deuteronomy 34:10, “But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

When leaders recognize the privilege of being chosen and called by God and give of themselves to humbly serve those entrusted to them, they are secure and can endure because they know, as Elwood Blues put it, that they “are on a mission from God.”

Listen, Lament, Pray, Repent

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. The Gospel is about reconciliation with God through Christ that results in peace between all relationships, where God and man, man and woman, humanity and creation can flourish and work as He intended. As believers, we are ambassadors for Christ, and we are to proclaim the gospel to people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. Questions: How do we partner with Him? How do we become faithful, obedient witnesses?

As the Body of Christ, it is not just in the wake of scandal, civil unrest, abuse or unjust actions, that we should speak forth the gospel, but in all places to all peoples where brokenness reigns and Jesus’ kingdom is not being reflected or preached. As believers in a fallen and broken world, we should continually lament, confess, repent, and seek reconciliation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are some steps to help us in these challenging days:

  1. Acknowledge that these are not isolated incidents. Abuse, racism, mass shooting, brutality, corruption, and war are not isolated incidents. Violence, oppression, land theft, racialization, classism, and genocide against people of color and other vulnerable people exist not only in other countries around the world, but also in the US as well. Poverty, inequality, and abortion are not one-off happenings and the scourge of greed, self-absorption, and fractured families are part of every community and daily life in a fallen world. Current events are moments that push suffering to the forefront of man’s consciousness, but this suffering is constant. As believers in the States, we need to speak out against racial oppression and atrocities that are committed against our neighbors, who are black and brown, not only today and tomorrow, but also every day until the Lord returns. Romans 12:15-16 says, not only to rejoice with those who rejoice but to mourn with those who mourn. As the church, we must place our hope in Christ alone, and work together as His ambassadors!
  2. Please stop talking and listen. Take time to listen to those people in pain and who are immobilized by grief and wrestling with anger and rage because of the constant and consistent suffering and violence in the world highlighted by events in the headlines or a particularly tough season in their lives. Read James 1:19-20.  
  3. Lament and Confess.
    1. Cry. There is no shame, condemnation, or weakness in weeping.  Share with a friend, pastor, or leader out loud why you are angry, sad, or afraid and allow your emotions to come. Read Psalm 13 or 88 and write out these truths in your own words if you have difficulty getting thoughts together.
    1. Confess: It is sin and violation of God’s purposes in this world when we crush the image of God in other people either implicitly or explicitly by actively oppressing the poor and marginalized or passively allowing them to continue. Read Psalm 103 and write these truths in your own words if you have difficulty.
  4. Forgiveness and Blessing.
    1. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah enters God’s Holy presence, and he is convicted of sin and immediately confesses. Instead of being condemned, he was cleansed and sent out as a witness. Similarly, when we confess our sinfulness before God, He is just and mighty to forgive us, not condemn us.
    1. Ask the Lord to expose any tensions or challenges of prejudice, racism or unexposed anger or bitterness in your heart. If needed, ask your neighbor, brother, or sister for forgiveness for your words, deeds, actions, or inaction.
  5. What does it look like to Repent & Reconcile practically? Repentance means that we turn away from our sin by confessing our sins to Christ, asking for forgiveness, and following God’s word in deed and action through the power of the Holy Spirit. Reconciliation is the work of God, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, to bring about peace with God and man. Here are some first steps:
    1. Pray: Alone or with a group, grab your bible, a journal and pray. If you do not know how to pray, the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-12 is a great place to start. You can email [email protected] and we can share some resources with you as well.
    1. Proclaim: Read Psalm 24. In it we see that the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”. That means our schedules, finances, the ground we stand on, the air we breathe, and the bodies we have belong to Him. Write down the time, talent, and treasure that you have and ask the Lord to show you can use those gifts to share gospel and be an ambassador for Christ! Praise the Lord for what he has given to you and offer it ALL back to God because He gave it to you!
    1. Partner: With the time, talent and treasure you brought to God, look at ways you can partner with your church and leverage them to share Christ and serve the poor, marginalized, oppressed, and displaced people in your community, state, nation, or around the world. Then, follow through with what the Lord shows you. Keep in mind, success is not in the progress but the obedience to the God who loves us.

The Missions Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, concerns, or need help getting connected, email me at [email protected] or call 502-489-3404.

Do Not Be Alarmed

For most of us our world has changed in 2020.  Our world has been drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are washing our hands and using sanitizer more.  We are social distancing and wearing face masks as we try to not get too close to one another.  Many of us have stockpiled food, water, and even toilet paper.  We are weary of the nightly reports of stay-at-home extensions, new cases, death counts, and growing unemployment.  Most Americans believe that it will be a long time before things return to normal, and social media chirps constantly about the new norm.  As we begin the re-opening process, it appears the response to this deadly disease has left us with more questions than answers.

The pandemic has ground our economy to a halt, but it has not slowed the famine in Sub-Saharan Africa that has left millions starving.  It has not ended the Iranian – U.S. tensions that witnessed another close encounter in the Persian Gulf this week.  According to the United Nations Refugee Agency it has not decelerated the number of displaced people across our globe.  Nor has it curbed the active early tornado season that spawned over 100 twisters and left 73 people dead.

I do not claim to be an expert, but I think that I can accurately proclaim, life can be a dangerous venture.  The journey of life often passes through dark valleys.  Valleys that can leave us anxious, frightened, and insecure.  And many ponder “What if it all gets worse?”

As I read the Bible, I am thankful that God is honest with us.  Jesus shared with His disciples and reminds us that difficult days will come. He tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that there will be wars and rumors of wars, famines, pandemics, and natural disasters.  He predicts His church will be persecuted, people will turn on each other and spew hatred against their neighbor, false prophets will appear, and wickedness will increase.  Jesus shares that things are going to get worse before they get better. 

Yet do not miss an important word that Jesus shares with His followers right in the middle of this calamity-filled proclamation.  Jesus shares this key directive in Matthew 24:6 as he teaches about the coming tribulation, “See that you are not alarmed.”  This word “alarm” in the ancient language means “to wail, to cry out in despair, to be hysterical.”  Jesus counsels us when bad stuff comes, do not panic, or fall apart.  And He tells us why with His next words in this passage of Scripture, “because these things must take place.”

Must is a vital word in this passage because it asserts that all events, everything that takes place in this world, from the mundane to the chaotic are part of God’s plan.  God uses all things to accomplish His purposes and plans.  When the world seems to be careening out of control, be reminded that God is still on His throne, and our Lord has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us. He declares to us that trials and tribulations will come in this world and they are very real, but do not let these present troubles blind you to the fact that a better world is coming.  Jesus has formulated the predictive model for our world’s pandemic, and He has established a treatment plan that will cure all that is wrong in our present age.

If you have placed your faith in Christ, it will all work out in the end, and by His grace, He will get you through today and tomorrow. And by the way, if this world is a chaotic mess, be assured it is not yet the end.

3 Keys for Sharing Christ with Muslims

For over two decades, the Lord has blessed me with opportunities to serve Him by sharing the gospel with Muslims around the world. As 1.8 Billion Muslims are fasting and praying during Ramadan in midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, now is the time for Christians to share Christ. Here are three keys:

1. Prayer and Fasting

Let us confess it before Christ. Christians usually fall short in this area. We profess to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but all too easily we fall into the habit of relying on our own efforts. Among the conversions I observed, prayer and fasting were a common denominator, and God was moving. In order to reach peoples who are entrenched in other belief systems, we may very well need to engage in all-night prayer as our Lord practiced. It may mean fasting and pleading with God to break barriers and open hearts. Prayer and fasting are not man-centered ways to manipulate God or attempt to force his hand. Rather, they convey our utter helplessness to win souls. They express our total dependence upon the power of God, and the truth of the gospel (Matt 6:16-18)!

2. Real Relationships

There is no generic Muslim. There are diverse individuals who practice the same faith. When we think our calling is only to win people to Christ, it can turn the missionary task into something detached, impersonal, and faceless. Instead, we must realize and actively remind ourselves that it is our calling to win people to Jesus. We win individuals, and every person is not only an image-bearer whom God loves, but also every person needs Christ. Every Muslim I know said they knew of at least one Christian they could go to with their questions when God began to work in their lives. Maybe you can be that one. But you must be a true friend, even if they never convert.

3. Jesus Stories

Serving others is commendable, but it is not enough. The gospel is a message that must be verbally shared and carefully explained. A Muslim background believer I know once shared with me that Muslims view loving service from Christians as something that should be expected as if Christians owe them a debt. In other words, they think Christians should serve them because Muslims have the final revelation from God . . . or so they believe. It will never do to merely love and serve Muslims in the name of Christ. Humanitarian aid is wonderful, but it is not the ultimate need of Muslim people. The Word of God must be spoken to them. The gospel must be proclaimed. Muslims must be called into account before the true and living God. The Bible calls God’s Word “the sword of the Spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Acts of love and service are good, but they are not the heart of the missionary task.

It has become my practice to speak to my Muslim friends just like I would talk to a friend in church. I share what God taught me during my quiet time in his Word. I talk about stories from Scripture or Bible verses that apply to both of us. They may ask, “Are you trying to convert me?” I simply respond, “Only God can speak to our hearts and convince us of truth.” Until they walk away, I keep sharing the Word. As we pray and fast for Muslims during this Ramadan season, may we bring Jesus into every encounter with our Muslim friends, and trust him open hearts to gospel. Remember, it is never a matter of if, but it is only a matter of when the next person will believe. When the gospel is preached, the Lord changes heart for His glory.

If you or your church have any questions or want to learn more about reaching Muslims for Christ, please email John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected]

Creatively Meeting Needs During the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every community and every element of our society.  Businesses, schools, organizations and even parks, are closed if they don’t provide what is considered an essential service.  Most people are sheltered in place, while those that do get out are forced to practice social distancing. 

The pandemic has impacted our medical system to the point that the demand for medical supplies and personal protection equipment outweighs the supply.  However, after understanding how great the need was, many stepped up to creatively meet the demand.  Factories retooled assembly lines, university classrooms manufactured face shields, and individuals sewed masks.  It’s inspiring to see people get so creative in order to meet the need of others.

Years ago, from about AD 249-262, the Plague of Cyprian was a pandemic that spread throughout the Roman Empire.  It too, impacted every element of society and killed as many as 5,000 people per day in Rome.  During that time, the early church stepped up and effectively ministered when disease incapacitated a city.  So many people turned away from paganism because they saw how the church ministered to the poor and sick during that crisis! 

I believe the same could happen today if the world sees the church ministering during this crisis rather than only protecting itself. God is calling us to minister during this difficult time of crises so that people turn from lostness to Him.  Doing so, will require creativity on the part of the church, just as it did the factories and universities.  Let me encourage you to prayerfully consider how you will step up during this crisis and effectively meet needs while practicing social distancing and adhering to the guidelines given us by our elected officials. 

So how does the church serve as a witness for Christ and minister during these difficult days when there are so many restrictions needed to protect us, and others, from the virus?   Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Prepare and deliver meals for those that can’t get out.
  2. Deliver needed supplies to the front porch of the elderly and most vulnerable.
  3. Sew masks for frontline workers.
  4. Leave a simple card on front doors that says, “Hello! If you are self-isolating, let me know how I can help.” Include your name and contact information.
  5. Serve as the host for a blood drive as blood is in short supply.
  6. Encourage medical personnel on the front lines with meals, thank you cards and prayers.
  7. Provide childcare for hospital staff members and first responders since day cares are closed.
  8. Deliver meals prepared by the local school to children receiving lunches as transportation may be a need.
  9. Take baked goods to neighbors and ask them if there’s anything you can do for them.
  10. Create videos of hope and place them on social media as an encouragement to others. 
  11. Provide a sense of connection to those in quarantine. If video calling isn’t an option, consider standing outside their storm door on the phone so they can see, as well as hear you.
  12. Call a frontline worker and offer to pray for them.
  13. Serve grab-and-go meals for the homeless while teaching social distancing and sharing hygiene tips.
  14. Children can write Bible verses and encouraging messages with sidewalk chalk on driveways in their neighborhood.

What will you do to minister during COVID-19? The need for the church to step up and meet the need of the community has never been greater.  Seek the Lord about how you can creatively press into this situation in strategic ways for the sake of His Kingdom.

Practical guide for family prayer and encouragement

Missions is a family affair. In Acts 2, the Bible records Peter’s powerful sermon on the day of Pentecost. As Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirt moved in the hearts of those who were listening. They pleaded with Peter, “What must we do to be saved?” Peter answered them and said, “Repent and be baptized!” 

As the people confessed their sins and became believers under the new covenant, Peter continued to explain that salvation was not only for them. As Peter explained in Acts 2:39, “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 


WATCH A VIDEO PRESENTATION


As a parent, I am always seeking to equip and encourage my family to live a life on mission. My wife and I pray and ask the Lord to teach us new ways to be intentional in fulfilling the Great Commission at home and in our community.


One simple way to be intentional in fulfilling the Great Commission is to pray for and encourage the Body of Christ. In the book of Acts, The Bible teaches us the importance of encouragement as it relates to the fulfillment of Great Commission. In Acts 14:21-23, the Bible says that “after they (Paul and Barnabas) had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and say, “Through many tribulations we enter the Kingdom of God.” 

In the midst of this global trail and displacement from the coronavirus, here are some practical ways (or a practical way) you and your family can pray and encourage others in the Body of Christ:


Gather your family, read Acts 1:8, Acts 2:39, and Acts 14:21-23. Following the Acts 1:8 paradigm, let Jerusalem represent your local church and community, Judea (Kentucky), Samaria (North America), and Ends of the Earth (the world).

  • Jerusalem (Your Church and Community):
    1.  Pray, write a thank you card, short letter or email to your Pastor
    2. For younger kids, ask them, “Who is our pastor?” “How can we pray for him?” and have them write out or record their answers. Pray for your pastor and then let him know.
  • Judea (Your State: Kentucky):
    1. Teach your children to pray for a Kentucky Missionary.
    2. We have over 100 Kentucky Missionaries who need prayer and encouragement
    3. Go to the InterSeed website and download the monthly prayer calendar to pray for the missionaries across the state
    4. Email [email protected] to get a missionary contact info for encouragement
  • Samaria (North America):
    1. Teach your children to pray for our NAMB (North American Mission Board) missionaries.
    2. Share with them how our Baptist churches work together to fulfill the Great Commission through the cooperative program.
    3. Pray for these NAMB missionaries and Kentucky Baptist partners.
      1. Salt Lake City Bobby Wood
      2. Chicago: John Yi
      3. New York: Won Kwak (NAMB); George Russ (Metro NY Baptist Association)
      4. Cincinnati: Travis Smalley
    4. Email [email protected] to get a missionary contact for encouragement.
  • World (International Missions):
    1. Teach your children to pray for IMB Missionaries
    2. Go to the IMB website, click on one of the 9 Affinity groups around the world, watch the video, and use the pray guide as a family
    3. Pray for these IMB missionaries that the Kentucky Baptist are currently partnering with
      1. Sao Paulo: Aaron and Melissa Stormer; Scott and Joyce Pittman
      2. Zimbabwe: Nick and Kyndra Moore
      3. Central Asia: _____ (can’t give names, as you know, but the Lord knows)
    4. Email [email protected] to get a missionary contact for encouragement.


The key is to model for your children that our Faith and Hope is Christ, and that he will never live us or forsake us in the midst of trial. By taking time to pray and encourage your Pastor, Church leaders, or a missionary family today, you and your family will be participating in fulfilling the Great Commission! Perhaps, the Lord may open a new door for a Kingdom Partnership! 

You can download the Prayerwalking Guide and the Neughbor Survey from the Kentucky Baptist convention coronavirus resource page


JOHN BARNETT is a Kentucky Baptist Convention Missions Strategist. Reach him at [email protected]

Baptist Leaders Call for Unified Care for Displaced People

This is a big enough issue and a big opportunity for the church to be the church in some of the most strategic areas here in the states and across the world. I think there needs to be a voice coming from our convention that would provide a structure for what we’re doing so that our efforts would be unified.” JEFF PALMER, BAPTIST GLOBAL RESPONSE

The world is on the move. Millions of people live far from their homes but are able to stay connected with their family through the use of technology. Because of this, leaders from a number of Southern Baptist agencies, state conventions, local associations and churches believe the time is right for a strategic plan to reach these people on the move.

According to Jeff Palmer, CEO of Baptist Global Response (BGR), there are about 70 million who are displaced in the world today. “This means they can’t go home for some reason. It could be because of a natural disaster, a war, terrorism or even human trafficking,” he said.

Conversations between leaders at the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board and North American Mission Board along with leaders from the Woman’s Missionary Union, BGR, state conventions, local associations and churches led to a gathering on October 31, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky, for a listening session on initiatives to reach displaced people.

The conversations didn’t end there. In fact, they’re stirring a greater desire for collaboration on every level.

“There’s a growing desire among Southern Baptist Convention entities to communicate more and collaborate better when it comes to serving displaced people,” said Trent DeLoach, Send Relief coordinator and pastor at Clarkston International Bible Church in Clarkston, Georgia. “We’ve had opportunities at the SBC’s annual meeting to share the stage with other entity leaders and have this conversation,” 

“There’s no shortage of great work that’s happening on all of these levels,” said Jeremy Simmons, National Ministry Center director with the North American Mission Board. “I think we’re really working toward communicating the need between each other.”

Leaders with the IMB believe Southern Baptists must recognize they are living in a world where people are connected with people in more than one country; living in one country while maintaining their unique identity from their country of origin.

Terry Sharp, IMB conventions and network relations leader, believes this is an opportunity for a truly global strategy in reaching displaced people. “An exciting thing to me would be to see churches engage with people groups overseas through missionaries, but then also engage those same people who have been displaced and relocated in North America. They can be working with them simultaneously both globally and in North America.”

John Barnett, missions strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, says seeing this opportunity made an impact on him when his family returned to Kentucky after serving overseas with the International Mission Board. “One of the biggest impressions on me when we came back from overseas in 2015 was the internationals who were here. There were refugees in Louisville, Owensboro, Lexington and Bowling Green. We have an opportunity to build pathways here that will connect all the way back to the refugees home country.”

Building the pathway is the challenge, though. While the churches and entities are at work individually, the autonomous structure of Southern Baptist life can prove to be a challenge for collaboration.

Palmer believes, “This is a big enough issue and a big opportunity for the church to be the church in some of the most strategic areas here in the states and across the world. I think there needs to be a voice coming from our convention that would provide a structure for what we’re doing so that our efforts would be unified.”

Sharp echoes the sentiment, “We’re grateful for the Cooperative Program. We want to keep sending missionaries, but we hope Southern Baptists will realize that while we’re going to the nations, God is bringing them to us in the United States.”

Barnett recalls previous strategies to reach those in the “10/40 window. Ten years ago the International Mission Board was talking about engaging people in some of the most difficult places in the world. Now, God is spreading those people out all across the world. This is a wonderful time for the church to care for and to reach those people.”

Pray for the Lord’s wisdom and vision as leaders prepare for a second meeting in Atlanta on April 23, and get your church connected today. Here are some options to get started, you can visit our Displaced People Website http://www.kybaptist.org/stories/displaced-people,3748 and click one of the headings for next steps. Email John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected] or call our team at 502-489-3529. The Missions Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your Church.

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.