The Simplicity of Cross-Cultural Ministry: Ordinary Conversations Serving an Extraordinary God

Each month I look forward to receiving Alex Tenenbaum’s ministry newsletter.  These newsletters are full of stories about how he ministers to people just as he goes about his everyday life.  Alex is a quiet kind of guy but wow, is he ever impacting those in his church and community circles. 

Alex is a KY-Mission Service Corps Missionary, serving through Forest Baptist Church in Louisville as Director of Community Engagement.  His main role is to equip church members and mobilize them to make disciples in the community by finding where God is moving and create ministries to meet the practical needs of the community.  Not only is Alex equipping church members but is leading by example.

Alex has a passion for unreached people groups of the world and desires to see them come to know Christ, as well as a passion to disciple believers to go deeper in their faith.  As a result, Alex has gotten involved in a cross-culture community in Louisville and even moved into this community to intentionally minister to and reach them with the Gospel. 

You may find Alex helping a young man with his driving test, connecting residents to ESL classes, helping to sponsor a cookout in order to meet his neighbors, partnering with a nearby hospital to offer materials, classes, and training for those he serves, helping residents to get into college, and organizing Bible study and prayer groups.  He shares stories of how all these activities have opened doors to share Christ and to help others grow in their relationship with Christ. 

One interesting story Alex shared is about an evening they ordered Chinese food and it was mistakenly delivered to the wrong address.  Alex went to the other home to share about the mix-up, which led him to a thirty-minute conversation with a high school student.  Not only was this young man in school, but he was also having to work to provide for himself, his mother and niece.  He had moved to Louisville from Rwanda in 2020 and is still growing in the English language.  Alex encouraged him, shared that he could support him with his classwork, and be another friend to connect with.  “He has an interest to connect with the church, but as of yet has not,” Alex said. “There were silent moments when we hung out but, as I was about to leave, this young student said that he doesn’t know how he will thank me for visiting him that night, that it is so good to have a friend.  This reminded me,” Alex went on to say, “that we just don’t know how our simple steps of faith can really bless and impact someone else’s life.”

You can be sure this is only one of many conversations Alex has with men and women each week, and that he looks for every opportunity to show and share the love of Christ. 

Please pray for Alex and for Forest Baptist Church as they reach out into their community to “know” their neighbors and share the Gospel.

To learn more about Alex’s work, or to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, go to https://fbcnewburg.org/ministries/community-engagement.   

Consider “adopting” Alex through the KBC Adopt-a-Missionary program.  Click on www.kybaptist.org/adoptmissionary for information.

Displaced People: God’s Great Commission Strategy

Displaced People: God’s Great Commission Strategy

We live in an incredibly unique time to fulfill the great commission! Every day, millions of people are moving across the planet and communities, cities, and countries are literally changing overnight. In the midst of this migration, God is opening new pathways for the church to be on mission both locally and globally. Taking the gospel to the ends of earth is not only about being a sending church, but also a receiving church. It has always been God’s design for the gospel to spread to and through diaspora communities, or through those who have been displaced from their homeland.

Welcoming the nations locally

As God poured out His Spirit in Acts 2, the disciples began to fulfill the Great Commission by ministering among the diaspora in their midst. The apostles were preaching to, baptizing, and discipling the “devout men from every nation” who had come to Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost. These men, both Jews and proselytes, had come from the Near East, Asia Minor, North Africa, Arabia, and from the known world. Under the apostle’s leadership, they formed the church, faced persecution, boldly proclaimed Christ, helped those in need, and God added to their numbers daily.

During the pandemic, God opened the door for KBC churches to embrace the displaced people across the state. One church was able to not only love, serve, and welcome a refugee family from an unreached people group to KY, but also to lead them to the Lord. Through Zoom, the team met Ibrahim’s mother, who still lived in a refugee camp in Central Asia. After hearing her son’s testimony, Ibrahim’s mom was willing to let an IMB worker visit her home. As she heard the gospel in her heart language, she not only came to know Christ, but also opened her home to host a Bible Study for women in the camp!  

In partnership with World Hope Bible Institute, the Mobilization Team started a training center for international pastors in Louisville.  Multiple pastors from across the state are providing theological education for 11 pastors from East Africa. Also, the Lord opened the door for KBC churches to partner and plant two new Congolese churches, and now these 11 pastors shepherd 4 different congregations.

Going to the nations globally

In Acts 8, God allowed persecution to send Philip to preach the gospel in Samaria, and God used an angel to send him to lead an Ethiopian eunuch to Christ in middle of the desert. In Acts 11, scattered believers from Cyprus and Cyrene preached about Jesus to the Greeks and many believed. They called themselves Christians and formed Antioch church. Then, in Acts 13, the Holy Spirit called out members from this church of displaced people to declare God’s glory among the nations.

In June, volunteers from 3 KBC churches went on an emergency trip to West Africa, in order to help IMB workers serve displaced people in crisis. On this trip, God used the team to not only open new pathways to love and serve those in crisis, but also to share the gospel with Muslims who have never heard. After sharing the story of Jesus healing the paralytic in one of the camps, one of the Muslim men said, “No one has ever told me that about Jesus. If Jesus can forgive sins, then that would make him God, right?” Now, local pastors are leading Bible studies in the camps.

Declaring God’s glory among the nations by ministering to and through the diaspora has always been a part of God’s global plan. The question for us is simple: Are we willing to join him? Discover the new opportunities for you and your church today. Contact John Barnett email: [email protected] phone: 502-654-3385.

Are you a READY CHURCH?

WHAT IS A READY CHURCH?

Most churches and organizations fail to plan and prepare and tend to be more reactive rather than proactive to any type of crisis or disaster. Because of this, they often find themselves wondering what to do, how to do it and who to call for assistance. Very often churches have the resources and volunteers capable of the work but failed to prepare properly that when disaster strikes, they find themselves unable to respond effectively.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief offers a strategy plan. “READY CHURCH” is a strategy and tool to aid churches to prepare, connect and respond in times of crisis or disaster. This strategy plan will give churches the ideas, tools, and direction to respond effectively and in a timely manner to assist their community when disasters happen.

READY CHURCH strategy will give the local church the tools to be equipped to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the local community.

The goal of READY CHURCH is three-fold:

  • To assist churches to PREPARE for disasters by developing a plan for preparedness.
  • To assist churches to CONNECT with the local community prior to a disaster or crisis.
  • To assist churches to RESPOND in the local community when disaster or crisis happens.

You have heard the quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

READY CHURCH will help your church plan for:

  • How to respond to crisis or disasters, large or small.
  • How to involve your church family with training and roles.
  • How to minister and evangelize during a crisis or disaster.
  • How to be the light of Christ beyond the crisis or disaster.

Paul challenges Titus and the church “To be ready for every good work.” Titus 3:1

Communities across the Commonwealth have the potential to experience tornadoes, floods, ice storms, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, windstorms, power outages, fires, explosions, industrial accidents, vehicle crash, train derailments, riots, public shootings, and more.

When communities experience such tragic events, our emotion and compassion kicks in, and we tend to react rather than respond. The goal of READY CHURCH is to prepare your church to respond in a timely and appropriate manner to make a lasting difference in your community.

During times of tragedy and loss, people will need compassionate people to love on them, care for them, and help them physically, emotionally, and spiritually deal with their loss. The Scripture encourages us to minister and care for the widow, orphans, strangers, broken, wounded and to the “very least of these.” This is the perfect time for the church to be the church.

We live in a dark and fallen world that needs to see and hear the light of the Gospel. Compassion ministry creates opportunities to share the Gospel and hope through Christ. You have heard it said, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Disasters and crisis open doors that have often been closed to the Gospel if the local church would compassionately respond and care for those who are hurting.

READY CHURCH enables the church to prepare for times of disaster. It is not a matter if the disaster or crisis will come to a community, but when. Churches need to be ready to respond promptly and properly.

READY CHURCH will help you identify real need and not perceived or manufactured need.

READY CHURCH will guide you through assembling your team, identifying community leaders, knowing your resources, understanding needs, and guide you through implementing your plan.

READY CHURCH will help you:

  • Develop Your Roles
  • Determine Your Resources
  • Define Your Response

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) defines preparedness as a “continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action in an effort to ensure effective coordination during incident response.”

In other words, READY CHURCH is not designed to be a training for information, but rather a training for continual action.

The Missions Mobilization Team of the KBC can assist you in developing your church as a READY CHURCH. Created by churches, for churches, to help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. Contact us today at 502-489-3401 or [email protected] We are here for you. 

5 Ps of Mission Partnerships

Each local church has the same mission from God regardless of the location or culture of that congregation.  In essence, all churches are called to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19-20).  While we have the creativity and wisdom to nuance how each church carries out this God-given mandate, multiplying disciples is the mission of the church.  No church can be everywhere, but every church is called to make disciples of all nations.  How is this possible?  One practical way for every church to make disciples of all nations is by partnering well with missionaries who serve among the nations. 

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One of our IMB missionary partners helped develop what we call the 5 Ps of partnership.  In other words, how can your church partner practically with missionaries who live among the nations in order for your church to be part of discipling all nations?  While Southern Baptists are part of impacting all nations through our Cooperative Program giving, we also want to make personal connections with missionaries in order to put a “face” to Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, and, in our state, Eliza Broadus. 

Here are 5 ways to partner with missionaries for global disciple-making:

  • Prayer– This is where it all begins. No partnership should pursue any of the other four “Ps” without starting here. This is God’s work. The book of Acts describes the early church as being empowered through prayer (Acts 1:14).  Developing a prayer strategy is essential for global impact.
  • Pastoral– Often overlooked, pastoral (soul) care provides missionary longevity. The book of Acts describes how the early church provided encouragement for mission partners. (Acts 14:21-22).  Paul intentionally encouraged his partners, knowing that ministry is a road filled with adversity.
  • Project– Mission trips are what most people think of in terms of partnership.  Project partners (local churches) should listen to their mission partners (missionaries), assisting in their existing platforms and identities to help and not hinder long-term work.  As needed, churches can help missionaries accomplish much in disciple-making through mission trips, particularly as they assist them along the missionary task.
  • People group/Place– The focus here is on the people group/place itself; that is, there is an understanding workers may come and go, but a long-term commitment to supporting a planting effort among a particular people group/place can take different forms and involve different people over time.  The local church commits to that people group/place regardless of whether missionaries come or go.
  • Pioneer– Perhaps the least common among these five, Pioneer Partners take the work on for themselves, mobilizing their own teams to directly engage in the long-term planting effort.  Realizing that the need is greater than there is manpower, Pioneer Partners commit to enter a location themselves with the help of nearby missionaries. 

If the Missions Mobilization Team of the KBC can help your church intentionally develop mission partnerships by thinking through the 5 Ps, please let us know ([email protected]).  We are here to help. 

Remembering Bro. Jerrell

Last week our KY-MSC Family lost one of our longest-serving members.  Bro. Jerrell White, who had served as a KY-MSC Missionary with the Earle C. Clements Job Corps in Morganfield since September 1999, went home to be with the Lord. 

Bro. Jerrell was one of the most encouraging men I have ever met and was the “life of the party” whenever we met for our annual missionary retreats.  During the last retreat he and Mrs. Connie attended, I walked out in the hall and heard singing.  He had found a piano, recruited a pianist, gathered a group of the missionaries together, and they were singing the old hymns to the top of their lungs.  Of course, I joined in. It was so much fun. 

Nearly every time I talked with him, whether on the phone or in person, he thanked me for the leadership I gave to the missionaries and then asked to pray for me.  I recall the evening I was working in western Kentucky, and they asked me to spend the night.  Before bedtime he, Mrs. Connie, and I gathered in their living room for a time of singing, devotion, and prayer.  It was such a special time and a memory I will never forget.    

Arlene Miller, the KBC west region mobilization consultant shared, “Bro. Jerrell was an inspiration.   He could do more than everybody else put together.  When I called to get his report each year, he had been involved in more activities than all of us put together.  This inspired me to want to try harder.” 

Not only was Bro. Jerrell involved in “activities”, but you can be sure he was befriending and sharing the love of Christ with those he encountered.  Every year he reported 8-15 men and women at Job Corps that he had led to faith in Christ. For his faithful service, Bro. Jerrell was chosen as the 2005 Kentucky MSC Missionary of the Year.

Bro. Jerrell, thank you committing your life to the Lord and for sharing Him with all of us.  May we follow the example you set for us to love Him, serve Him, and share Him with others.  We loved you and gonna miss you.

Please pray for Mrs. Connie and family during the difficult days ahead.  

The Mission Requires Submission

There are several things we think about when sending a group from our church out on mission for a week or even a weekend.  We expect those going on a mission trip to be people of integrity, faithful in their local church, bold in sharing their faith, and prepared for the work they’re going to do. 

I’ve seen many requirements for going on a mission trip, but I don’t recall ever seeing “submissive” on the list.  Our culture views submissive as a weakness so most don’t want to submit to anyone.  So, should submission be a requirement for going on a mission trip? 

What does submission mean? Google’s dictionary defines submission as “the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.”

Submitting means putting others before yourself; it means not always doing what you want to do. It means putting God’s desires above your desires.

Missionaries on the field with whom short-term mission teams work have prayed and sought the Lord’s direction concerning the people they’re trying to reach, strategies they use and ministry methods.  Well-intentioned short-term volunteer teams generally arrive on the field, filled with excitement and zeal about the mission work they’re planning to do.  They too, have prayed and prepared themselves for this experience.

However, sometimes teams believe they know better than the missionary how the work should be done and question, or even push against the methods or ministry plans.  This creates tension and has the potential to minimize the effectiveness of the mission.

If there is a difference of opinions, an unwillingness by volunteer teams to submit to the missionary in authority shows spiritual immaturity.  And, if the short-term team is unwilling to submit, it is the missionary who remains behind to correct things long after the volunteers leave.

The Bible has much to say about submission: to God (James 4:6-7), to political authorities (Romans 13:1-7), to church leadership (Heb 13:17), within marriage (Col 3:18), and even a general submissiveness of all Christians to one another (Eph 5:21).

We all have a lot we can learn about submission. Submission can be a very hard thing. When Jesus prayed for an alternative to the cross (Luke 22:39- 44), he wanted another way so badly that he sweat drops of blood. However, He chose to follow the Father’s plan even when it was hard. All of us should be extremely grateful that He did.

There may be times as a volunteer team member that you believe you know better than the missionary what is best and that what you’re being asked to do doesn’t even make sense to you.  Like Jesus, you may find it hard to follow the plan, but exercise submission to the missionary in authority and trust our Father for the results. 

SEND Relief: Respond to the Afghan Refugee Crisis Today!

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” In the midst of the current tragedy, I want to recognize the beautiful, courageous, and marvelous Afghan people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Although many of their stories have yet to be told, their unwavering spirit, strength, and bravery is #notforgotten. Church, let us take time today to pray for them, and then let us take a lifetime to serve and embrace them with love of Christ.

Through our cooperative program giving (SBC), we (Kentucky Baptist) are able to have authentic impact by bringing help and hope to Afghan refugees as they resettle in communities around the world. Here is how you and your church can get involved today through SEND Relief, which is the global compassion wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. We are Stronger Together! *(Info below comes from SEND Relief):

Overview

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, storming across the nation and capturing all major cities within a matter of days.

In the aftermath of the political coup, a mass exodus is building as Afghans try to flee the country by the thousands. One group of Afghan refugees seeking escape are Christians fleeing immanent persecution, as well as other religious minorities, ethnic minorities and women and girls.

Send Relief is strategically working with World Relief and our trusted global ministry partners to minister to Afghan refugee families around the world. As refugees flee persecution and resettle in communities around the globe, Send Relief can connect you and your church with opportunities to give, pray and volunteer to support our response.

Your gifts to the Afghanistan Refugee Crisis Fund will provide welcome kits, ESL classes, job interview prep and more. Give today to bring help and healing to Afghan refugees.

How You and Your Church Can Serve

Ways to Pray for Afghanistan

  • Pray for the Afghan people as they navigate political unrest, violence and persecution. Pray that they may find peace in Christ among overwhelming circumstances.
  • Pray that God would intervene and glorify His name in this tragic situation.
  • Pray for Afghan believers whose lives are being threatened by the new regime. Ask God to give them courage and strength.
  • Pray for Afghans at risk because of their service alongside the U.S. government and that they would be quickly and safely evacuated.
  • Pray that the millions of Afghans who have never heard the Gospel will have an opportunity to hear.
  • Pray for neighboring countries, as well as countries around the globe, as they attempt to host the surge of refugees coming out of Afghanistan.
  • Pray for Afghans who are desperately trying to leave Afghanistan.
  • Pray that those helping will be able to overcome obstacles as they facilitate the exits and relocations of Afghans.
  • Pray that the physical needs of those waiting at entrances and at the airport will be met, including protection, water and more.
  • Pray for favor and that pathways become available to safety and relocation.
  • Pray for countries to open their borders and for people to open their hearts to those being displaced from their homes.
  • Pray for those who will not be relocated.

Partner as a Church

In Kentucky, contact John Barnett, KBC missions strategist ([email protected]), to discover new opportunities and strategic pathways to help equip your church to love and serve refugees both locally and globally.

You Make Me Smile…Thank You

Ron Crow, Disaster Relief Director, Kentucky Baptist Convention

Do you have those people around you that just make you smile? There are various reasons why certain people make you smile, and those reasons can vary from person to person.

Some people make you smile because of past experiences of fun and laughter. As you reminisce about different people or events the smiles and laughter just come. Other people make you smile because of some dumb things they have done, or possibly you have done with them. I am sure that can bring back lots of memories full of smiles.

Then there are those who make you smile because of what they have accomplished. It might be the student that just graduated high school or college. A proud parent cannot help but smile at the accomplishments of their child. It could be you landed your dream job or found that “one” that you want to spend the rest of your life with. It makes your heart smile.

We smile at the funny things people say or do. I smile often at my grandsons at the things they say and the funny faces they make. Just the presence of their faces brings smiles. In fact, whether a spouse, a child, grandchild, or someone just special to you can bring a smile because they are important to you.

Then there are those who make you smile because of who they are. Because of their heart. Because of how they care, serve, and love others. They are special people who impact lives. And as you think about all they do and how they serve, you cannot help but smile with appreciation for their dedication and love for God.

I am blessed to serve Kentucky Baptists as the State Disaster Relief Director. Watching these disaster relief volunteers serve in some difficult situations, lodge in some uncomfortable places, and work in some hot and dirty conditions, yet come out with smiles on their faces eager to go again. This dedicated service is indicative of their heart. Seeing that heart to serve and love brings a huge smile to my face.

August 22 is Disaster Relief Appreciation Sunday across our churches in Kentucky. We are asking all of our DR volunteers to wear gold that Sunday. Be sure to thank them and show your appreciation to them as well. They are special people and just hearing their stories and seeing their heart, you will smile too.

Great Commission Difference

Gospel work is hard work.  The apostle Paul knew this reality well.  Not long after setting out on his first missionary journey he and Barnabas experienced much opposition (Acts 13:45).  In fact, Paul’s normal pattern of gospel engagement included going where the people (Jews first) were gathered, sharing Jesus, and then seeing a variety of responses (Acts 13-14).  Some believed and embraced the message with great joy.  Others baulked at this message of a Messiah crucified and raised from the dead.  In many places where Paul and Barnabas preached Jesus, they were forced to leave. Yet, in their leaving they often saw a fledgling church birthed from their gospel proclamation. 

To be sure, these new church plants, as we would describe them today, were stationed in locations where the gospel soil was hard.  For various reasons, not least of which Jewish traditions, these new churches faced an uphill climb to reach their cities with the good news of a Jewish Messiah who was crucified and raised to life on the third day.  Let’s face it, Jesus warned his first followers that if the world hated him, they would no less hate them and anyone after them too (John 15:18).

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Nearing the end of Paul’s first missionary journey, he recognizes the importance of encouraging those fledgling churches.  He makes his way back to them “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith…” (Acts 14:22).  Why is this necessary so soon after these churches were birthed?  Because gospel work is hard work and if churches (and missionaries) are not careful and intentional, they can find themselves overwhelmed by the daily needs of the flock and the opposition of the unbelieving world around them.

Paul knows this from personal experience, so he models for these new churches an important Great Commission component. Other churches can help provide longevity in the gospel work of others through their encouragement.  Perhaps often overlooked, encouragement of other pastors, churches, and missionaries is a critical piece in an overall understanding of Great Commission faithfulness. 

Missionaries find themselves discouraged at the prospect of reaching a people hostile to the good news of Jesus, as well as all the challenges that come with living in a new culture. Pastors find themselves down over the lack of commitment of members in the church. Those in the church feel deflated at times when the ministry they help lead has few involved in it.  The point is clear: we all need people in our lives to encourage us to keep running, to not grow weary.

So, what is a person to do to bring encouragement?  Think of two approaches to encouragement.  First, pray weekly.  Second, encourage (tangibly) at least monthly.  Identify a missionary, pastor, and/or church (members) that you can pray for weekly and encourage monthly.  Let them know you are praying for them (ask for specific needs from them to intercede for them). Then monthly, find various ways to lift them up: send a text message, write a card, mail them a gift package, remember their birthday(s), make a visit.  In other words, be creative about the ways you can pour into them while they are pouring into others for the gospel.  In doing so, I am convinced that God will use your encouragement as a means for their perseverance.  Never underestimate how your encouragement will make a Great Commission difference. 

Kentucky Baptists, Let’s Go Christmas Shopping!!

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Recently I spent a few days in the Smokies.  While there, my sister and I visited a couple of Christmas shops.  There was Christmas music playing and we saw all types of decorations and gifts.  My favorite decoration is the nativity, and they had some neat ones.  I sang along with the Christmas carols and, for a few minutes, found myself in the Christmas spirit, even in June.

With bright, sunny skies, and a current temperature of 90⁰, it’s hard to think about Christmas, but someone reminded me on Facebook a few weeks ago that Christmas was only six months away.  My reply was, “Is your Christmas shopping half done?”

Actually I (and my church) have begun Christmas shopping. We are shopping now to fill 50 Christmas backpacks for children in Kentucky and it is so much fun. There is an excitement in the air as the whole congregation comes together to provide Christmas gifts for children who are less fortunate.

Many churches across Kentucky are getting on board as well. The KBC Missions Mobilization Team has been preparing for the Christmas Backpack Initiative for a few months now and applications requesting backpacks are coming in from ministries across the state.

Kentucky Baptist churches are partnering together to reach a goal of 10,000 backpacks to fill these requests. While we will receive requests for far more than that, we are thankful for partnering states that also bring backpacks to help meet the needs.

Statistics show that one in four of Kentucky’s children live in poverty. So, for each of these children, a backpack from Kentucky Baptists may be all they will get for Christmas!  Would you join with churches across the state and commit to fill one, five, fifty, or perhaps a hundred or more, backpacks?  It is not too early to get started.  Remember, Christmas is only five months away now.

Instructions for filling the backpacks can be found at www.kybaptist.org/backpacks.  Once there, you can download a promotional bulletin insert and poster.   Also, check out our new “Christmas Story” leaflet.  And, don’t forget to register your backpacks.    

This year the North American Mission Board is offering churches up to 72 free backpacks which can be ordered and used for ministry.  Additional ones can be purchased for only $3.00 each.  To take advantage of this offer, go to www.sendrelief/backpacks and order yours today.

Let’s join together and exceed the goal of 10,000 backpacks from Kentucky Baptist churches! Many of them will be distributed directly to children living in poverty in Kentucky, while others will go to needy children in our partner SEND City, Cincinnati.

Thank you for helping a child this Christmas.  To learn more, contact the Missions Mobilization Team at 502-489-3403 or email [email protected] 

“Let’s not neglect to do good and share what we have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16