Meet Our New 2019 Kentucky Missionaries

Spring has officially arrived, the dogwoods and redbuds are blooming, and everything is pointing to new life.  What an exciting time of year.  It’s time once again 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, Eliza Broadus State Missions and many resources and support available to them.  This time of networking is most valuable.

Sixteen 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 Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration on Friday, April 5th, at First Baptist Church, Bowling Green.

These new missionaries are:

  • Chris & Becky Baird, Director and Secretary/Treasurer for the Ohio County Food Pantry in Hartford.
  • Jill Boddy, Office Administrator with HR Ministries in Princeton.
  • Gail Boling, Serving at the Daviess-McLean Association’s Baptist Center in Owensboro.
  • Dean & Melissa Branscum, Directors of Living Water Clothes Closet in Eubank.
  • Tim & Joyce Burdon, Chaplain with Retriever Hunt Test Ministry and Women’s Ministry Leader in Marion.
  • Sheila Cobb, Serving at Daviess-McLean Association’s Baptist Center in Bowling Green .
  • Hilton & Barbara Duncan, Directors of Integrated Community Ministries in Stearns.
  • Annette Robinson, Food Coordinator for Blood River Association’s Bags of Hope Food Pantry and Clothes Closet in Hardin.
  • Lee Rust, Women’s Evangelist & Prison Ministry for Female Inmates with Freedom Forever Ministries in Paducah.
  • David Thomas, Serving with Mission Hope for Kids in Elizabethtown.
  • Daniel & Alice Tarnagda, Directors of Refuge Bowling Green.

We want to extend a special invitation for you to join us for this special commissioning service where you can meet the missionaries and pledge your support for them. 

The 2019 Kentucky Missionary of the Year will also be recognized at the service.

For more information, and to register for the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration go to http://www.kywmu.org/annualmeeting

We hope to see you there.

Evangelize the Unreached

Acts is a book about the advancement of the gospel (through the birthing of churches) as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the lives of Jesus followers. In fact, the Holy Spirit takes would-be cowards and transforms them into lion-hearted witnesses for Jesus. For example, Peter preaches his second sermon at the temple area in Acts 3.  Chapter 4 describes Peter and John being arrested for preaching the gospel.  Peter and John make it clear to the religious leaders who had arrested them that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12).  In the midst of hostility, Peter and John demonstrate gospel boldness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Can the Church Help Disaster Survivors?

Hurricanes

Floods

Wildfires

Earthquakes

Tornadoes

The year 2018 witnessed Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael,  the California Wildfires, the Indonesia Earthquake and Tsunami, the Guatemala Mount Fuego Eruption,  and Super Typhoon Manghut along with countless other smaller disaster events.  Each of these events caused significant loss that left people and communities reeling in the aftermath of these natural disasters.

What can we do as the church to help those suffering in times of disaster?

Here are the ten best ways to help survivors of disasters:

  1. Do not just show up to volunteer.  Spontaneous, untrained volunteers often make response more difficult for responders.  Disaster areas are often short on housing and food.  Those who just show up often rob these resources from those affected by the disaster, and often create issues that slow down rescue and recovery efforts.
  2. Get trained as a disaster relief volunteer.  Training enables you to respond at the right time and in the right way so that you provide real and effective help to survivors of disaster.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief provides effective and positive ways to connect as a volunteer to help in times of disaster.  Learn more and register for a training at http://www.kybaptist.org/dr .
  3. Avoid the temptation to load up a tractor trailer with donated supplies unless you are connected with someone on the ground and meeting a specific request.  Disasters often become a receptacle for “guilt” giving or “make-myself-feel-good” giving.  It does not help communities devasted by disasters to barrage their communities with unwanted items or to ship them our junk.  Collecting stuff often causes further damage to communities by creating debris piles and the cost of disposing unwanted, unneeded truckloads of stuff.
  4. In most cases, monetary donations to reputable organizations are the best way to help those affected by disasters.  Monetary donations enable organizations to meet real needs in the best and most efficient way.  Ministering to disaster victims should be about meeting the needs of those affected, not making myself feel good.
  5. Avoid charity fraud.  Give to reputable organizations with a proven track record.  Donations through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, Baptist Global Response, and Send Relief with the North American Mission Board are some of the best ways to offer help and hope to disaster survivors.
  6. Donate blood.
  7. Pray for those affected.  Prayer is always a right thing to do for hurting people.
  8. If the disaster is in the church’s community, the church can offer compassion by just reaching out to support our neighbors.  Listening to them and being with them in their pain and confusion brings God’s healing comfort.
  9. Meet practical needs.  Offer the church as a shelter.  Prepare meals or allow a Southern Baptist mobile kitchen to be set up at your church to provide meals.  Collect and reach out to families affected with Home Depot, Lowes, or Walmart gift cards.
  10. Plan and organize a community memorial service or worship event that allows families a safe place to find healing and comfort in their loss.

“Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”

(1 John 3:18).

Sewing Seeds of Kindness Ministry Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

This week I had the privilege of participating in the 10-Year Anniversary of “Sewing Seeds of Kindness” ministry.  One morning in 2009 I received a call from then Appalachian Regional Ministry Director Bill Barker that he was leaving the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, GA and headed through Kentucky.  He had a van load of clothes and 2 boxes of homemade witnessing dolls for a ministry in Appalachia and was looking for a place that could use them.  I met Bill in Corbin, KY and we unloaded the clothes and dolls to Mission Service Corps Missionary Robin Reeves, with Christians by Choice Ministry.  Little did Robin, Bill or I know what God was about to do through something as simple as a homemade doll.

Mission Service Corps Missionary Robin Reeves

When Robin’s friend saw the dolls she wanted to take them on an upcoming mission trip to Nicaragua.  Since these dolls were particularly donated for children in Appalachia that was not possible.  Robin, a professional seamstress since the 1980s, had an idea.  She shared the need with her church and a group of about 30 ladies volunteered to help.  Together they made 470 dolls and 55 baby blankets to send to Nicaragua.  This was the beginning of the new “Sewing Seeds of Kindness” Ministry.  From that time the ladies met once, twice, or even more times, each week to sew witnessing dolls and other items for ministry.  The ladies in Nicaragua also began making the witnessing dolls from the same pattern.

In an article written by Shirley Cox for the February 2010 issue of Missions Mosaic Robin and the ladies had sent over 1000 witnessing dolls to 15 states and 5 countries.  Robin’s 2018 report noted that over 22,000 witnessing dolls have now been made, have gone all across Kentucky, to children in all 50 states and 30 countries. 

Thousands of children around the world have heard the Gospel message through a homemade doll, made from colorful fabrics and yard, with a necklace of salvation beads and a card that explains what each color represents.  On one side the eyes of the doll are closed, representing one’s lost condition before coming to know Christ.  On the flip side the eyes of the doll are open, representing how our eyes are opened when we come to know the Lord.  A red heart, with a cross painted inside, is a reminder that once we accept Christ into our heart He is always with us.       

Dolls around the globe.

In addition to the dolls, “Sewing Seeds of Kindness” Ministry now makes prayer squares, baby quilts for a Crisis Pregnancy Center, lap quilts for the cancer wing at Baptist Health in Corbin, and dog/cat beds to Knox Whitley Animal Shelter. 

Recently Mrs. Robin has partnered with Anchored Ministries, a rehab facility in Williamsburg, where she is teaching ladies in the rehab how to sew, even helping one lady to begin a sewing business that will support herself financially.

There are many amazing stories of how God has used this ministry to touch the lives of people of all ages and in many places.  If interested in learning more about the ministry, or to get the doll pattern, please email [email protected]

Thank you, ladies, for giving to the Lord.  Many lives have been changed as a result.  Keep on sewing!! 

“Wait” Before We Go

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

photo by IMB

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

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

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

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

photo by IMB

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

Importance of the Pastor as a Catalyst for Missions

The Pastor is called to be a preacher/teacher within the body of faith.  This place of leadership gives him a unique authority and influence in the local church.  When the shepherd of the flock leads, the flock will follow.   This is crucial for the general health of the church but also for the missional health of the body of Christ.

The pastor is called to be God’s strategist for the local mission field but is also critical for God’s command to take the Gospel to the nations.  When the pastor has a passion for missions the church will be ignited to go into all the world for the sake of the Gospel.

The pastor is vital in:

  • Casting a missional vision. If it is not said from the pulpit most in the pews do not think it is important.
  • Helping the body of Christ understand lostness. When the pastor is consumed by the urgency of our work for Christ, it will overflow to the people in the pews.
  • Making missions a regular and important part of worship. Missions should flow from the worship of God. We were created to give God glory. When we meet God in worship, it stirs our hearts to make His name known among all peoples.  The pastor plays a key role by seeking ways to make missions a part of worship (preaching on missions, showing mission clips, praying for missions, highlighting mission offerings, using missions’ illustrations in his message, inviting missionaries to speak).
  • Preaching the Word faithfully and challenging the people to live life on mission for Christ.
  • Leading by example. The church will never be more committed than their leader.
  • Fostering the development of missionaries within the congregation by seeking to grow and encourage those in the family of faith to serve and surrender to a missions’ calling. Pastors are called to equip up the saints, so that these disciples may be sent out on mission for Christ.  The Missions Mobilization Team at the Kentucky Baptist Convention can assist individuals in connecting with our Southern Baptist missionary sending organizations to begin exploring the missionary appointment process.
  • Developing a comprehensive mission strategy to move the church to reach its Jerusalem, to have impact in the church’s Judea and Samaria, and to take the Gospel to the farthest corners of the globe.
  • Being an encourager of missions and missionaries. Invite missionaries to your church and help the church to build relationships with missionaries.
  • Promoting missions giving. This is the lifeblood of missions, and when we give cooperatively, we can do more for the Kingdom than any of us can alone. The pastor plays a vital role in helping the church to understand why we give to missions and choose to work cooperatively as Southern Baptists.
  • Encouraging the church to pray for missions, unreached peoples, and missionaries.
  • Energizing the flock to “Go.”

The strength or weakness of each local church’s missionary program, its missionary support, and its missionary outreach will depend, more than any other one element, on the mission-mindedness of its pastor.   

Names Do Matter

William Shakespeare, author of “Romeo and Juliet” didn’t think that names should matter very much. He had Juliet say: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”  I would disagree with old Shakespeare on how much a name matters.  What we call something describes its function and helps give meaning to its purpose.  

The role of the local Baptist association has changed throughout history and must continue to do so in order to be relevant and of value to its member churches.  Likewise, the role of the associational leader is ever changing as well. It was in recognition of the changing association that served as a catalyst in 2017 for SBC Associational Leaders to establish a study committee to meet, pray, research and engage in meaningful dialog around the language describing the title and the role of those serving as leaders within local associations.  

The study committee presented their report in Dallas, Texas during the 2018 annual meeting of SBC Associational Leaders.  While there are many perspec­tives on this topic, all can agree that many changes over the past few decades have impacted the function and focus of the local Baptist association. The commission signaled, and I agree, it was time for a fresh look at associational leadership.  

The study report addressed several key items, but the one creating the most discussion, was the recommended use of “Associational Mission Strategist” when referring to associational leaders in the future. The decision to use this terminology is more than just a name change. It describes very well what the role of the associational leader is to be.  Ray Gentry, Executive Director, Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders, shared that “this was the first time in more than 40 years that the title was updated. But having just three or four names spread over three centuries is not all that bad.”  

Most every title used to describe the associational leader has advantages and disadvantages. A frequent complaint about “Associational Missionary” is that when the word “missionary” is employed in common usage it refers to someone commissioned to work on behalf of a group – clearly not to the role of someone guiding a coalition of churches doing the work themselves. “Director of Missions” likewise connotes an image of someone with authority over churches, which is simply untrue. “Executive Director” sounds corporate or secular to others.

The term “Associational Mission Strategist” however, or “AMS” as an abbreviated version, speaks to the singular focus associational leaders have of serving churches to engage with one Great Commission, while skillfully selecting intentional ways to engage and energize local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

If you’re familiar with Southern Baptists polity, you know that it is up to each autonomous association to determine what term they will use to describe their association’s leader.  But for clarity and consistency, the Kentucky Baptist Convention will begin referring to associational leaders as AMS or Associational Mission Strategists.  I’m excited about the term and pray that it will serve as a reminder to each of us of the responsibility entrusted to the person in the role to be strategically focused and intentionally missional in everything that he leads the association to do.   

I hope now, that you will agree with me that Shakespeare was wrong in thinking that a name doesn’t really matter. The names we give positions and people do matter and what we call something has importance. 

Missions at Home, part 2

At the beginning of the month my blog was on Missions at Home and ways to participate in missions short-term, mid-term and long-term in Kentucky.  A couple of other ways to be involved in “missions at home” is through the interSEED prayer calendar and the Adopt-a-Missionary program.  Let’s look at how these work and where to find information about them.

interSEED    

How could God work through our missionaries and church planters if we better supported them through strategic intercession?

The interSEED monthly prayer calendar is a resource for Kentucky Baptists to support missionaries and church planters serving in Kentucky. These monthly prayer calendars encourage believers to pray for them on their birthdays.

Each month you can go to www.kybaptist.org/interseed and download the prayer calendar.  The calendar will show the birthdays in that month and where the missionaries and church planters are serving. 

Most of them will tell you that prayer is their number one need and you can be a part of their ministry through prayer.  To better personalize your prayer for the missionaries go to www.kybpatist.org/missionaries and see a picture of the missionary and a description of their ministry.  I know they will be so meaningful for the missionaries and for yourself.

Adopt-a-Missionary

Do you want an exciting and meaningful boost for your church?

Do you want your church or small group to be more involved in missions?

Do you want to “get to know” a missionary?

Missionaries are not orphans, but adoption is a beautiful word that helps describe the strong relationship between missionaries and the churches and friends who pray and encourage them in their ministries. The church at Antioch, in a sense, adopted Paul and Barnabas as special messengers of the gospel to Asia and Europe (Acts 13:1-3).

An adopting church or group will experience:

  • A personal relationship with an active missionary.
  • A strengthened commitment to missions.
  • A heightened awareness of mission opportunities.
  • A fresh, outwardly focused ministry perspective.
  • Group building and bonding through service to others.
  • An opportunity to see God at work and an invitation to join Him in it.

The adopted missionary will benefit greatly from the prayer support, encouraging phone calls, emails, cards, visits and care packages they receive from their adoptive church.  Sending mission teams to help with projects and resource needs are also a huge help and, opportunities to visit and speak at the adopting church will be greatly welcomed by the missionary.

Check out the Adopt-a-Missionary program at http://www.kybaptist.org/adopt-a-missionary,1477 and consider adopting a Kentucky missionary.

For more information on interSEED and the Adopt-a-Missionary program contact the Kentucky Baptist Convention Missions Mobilization Team at [email protected].

May you have a blessed 2019 as you connect with missions in Kentucky!!

Is Risk Right in Missions?*

“Is it safe?” This question echoes across church fellowship halls and Sunday School rooms as short-term informational meetings take place throughout the year in churches of all shapes and sizes. The call goes out in the church for a short-term team to go to ____ and do ____. A meeting is scheduled for those interested in this mission opportunity. Inevitably, pressing upon the inner thoughts of those interested or those who love those who are interested is the question of safety. “Will I or my loved one be safe?”

Forming our theology of risk is vital to an overall strategy for fulfilling the Great Commission. The purpose of a theology of risk allows individuals and groups to think through the reality that any mission endeavor (long-, mid- or short-term) involves risk. New Testament missionaries faced risk (e.g., Acts 9:15-16), and it is only appropriate to understand that today’s missionaries may also face risks or crises while serving God during mission efforts. In the face of such crises, a clear understanding of Scripture, as related to risk, should prepare mission team members to honor God despite difficult circumstances.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is the foundation of all the church does in the name of Christ. Like Paul and Barnabas in the book of Acts, we are called upon to “risk” our lives for the cause of Christ (Acts 15:26).

Missions can involve high levels of risk—criminal, political, health, or even natural catastrophe.  Understanding God’s call on our lives is essential (Luke 9:23; 2 Timothy 2:1-4).  The biblical legacy of risk is evident in Scripture.  Paul was ready to be bound and even die, if necessary (Acts 21:13).  Some early believers could have escaped but chose not to (Hebrews 11:32-38).

No single response to danger is given in Scripture. Both fleeing and facing danger is given. There is freedom in either case; therefore, we must be careful not to develop hard-and-fast “rules” for risk. For example, Stephen faced risk in Acts 7-8, and the early believers fled in conjunction to his death (Acts 8:1-4). Neither are viewed as superior or less-than in these circumstances. In fact, God uses both facing and fleeing for His glory (Acts 11:19-26).

The problem for the church today is often not the decision of whether to face or flee danger, but whether we should even consider danger as an option. We assume that Jesus wants us to be safe and secure, so why would we go to other places where there are risks?  Jesus does not call us to safety; He calls us to be satisfied (in Him).

Facing or fleeing danger seemed to be assessed most often in Scripture based upon the need for the gospel in a particular place.  In Corinth, Paul, who was apparently fearful, was assured by God that he would be safe while he remained in Corinth preaching the gospel (Acts 18:9-11).  He understood that his calling was one of testifying to the gospel of the grace of God in places where it had not been heard (Acts 20:22-24).  He knew danger awaited him. 

There is a sense of urgency in Scripture for gospel advancement. This urgency means that, at times, Jesus calls us to face danger, and at other times, He calls us to flee from danger.  May God give us the wisdom and grace to do both. *(Portions adapted from Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions Policy and Procedure Manual)

Thank You Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Volunteers!

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief finished an active year of disaster response in 2018.  Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are often the first to arrive on the scene in times of disaster and the last to leave.

This past year saw Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers respond to flooding in Kentucky, wildfires in Colorado, tornadoes in Connecticut, and record flooding in Pennsylvania.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief played a significant role in disaster response in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael.  In addition, teams brought clean water to the Central African Republic and Mozambique.

This active year had disaster relief teams serving 40 weeks in response and saw the following ministry:

Volunteer Days: 5468 Days

Ministry contacts: 5468

Chaplain contacts: 3271

Gospel Presentations:  216

Decisions for Christ: 136

Meals Served: 156,388

Damage Assessments: 678

Flood Clean-up Jobs Completed: 407

Chainsaw Jobs Completed: 411

Heavy Equipment Hours of Operation: 692

Temporary Roofing Jobs Completed (Tarping):  113

Showers Provided: 6110

Laundry Loads Provided: 894

Bibles Distributed: 1346

Bottles of Water Distributed: 66,874

Wells Established or Repaired in Mozambique and Central African Republic: 9

“Thank You” Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers for your compassionate and faithful ministry to those devastated by disasters in 2018!

“Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  (1 Corinthians 15:58)