EBO Funds Help to Provide Retreat for KY-MSC Missionaries

September is State Missions Month.  Most of our Kentucky Baptist Churches have observed the Week of Prayer for State Missions and received the Eliza Broadus Offering, which supports missions and ministers across the state.  As Missions Mobilization Coordinator with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, let me say thank you for praying and giving through EBO. 

As you give through the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering, you are a part of the work of 120 Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries that serve in various ministries across the state.  Just this past week I had the privilege of leading the annual Kentucky Missionary Retreat at Central Baptist Church in Corbin.    

The missionaries work hard all year, and this is a way to say thank you to them, allow them to rest & relax, worship & pray together, and a time to network with each other.  We like to say this is our KY-MSC Family Reunion.

The retreat began on Wednesday afternoon.  Following an opening devotion & prayer, the missionaries played EBOpoly with Ms. Susan Bryant.  This was a fun way to learn about ministries that receive EBO funds, as well as other information about Eliza Broadus.  Did you know she was not born in Kentucky?  Dr. Liz Encinia also shared about how KY-WMU supports the work of KY-MSC missionaries.

Dr. Todd Gray greeted the missionaries via video.  Mattew Bone, Minister of Music at Pikeville First Baptist Church, and Josh Pollitt, Senior Pastor at Central Baptist Church in Corbin, led us in a time of worship.  We heard ministry testimonies and learned about “Living with Margin” from Pastor John Lucas & Tanya Parker, with Pikeville First Baptist Church.  Wow did we ever need that!!

Free time was spent visiting interesting sights in the Corbin area.  Some got to see Cumberland Falls for the very first time; others enjoyed a snack from the “original” KFC.    

The retreat ended on Friday with “Intentional Evangelism” by KBC’s Ian Carrico, and “The 3 G’s of Discipling” by Seth Carter, Pastor of Paintsville First Baptist Church.  Bro. Seth referred to evangelism and discipling as “peanut butter and jelly.”  These sessions will better equip the missionaries for service.

This was a fun and challenging three days.  Thank you, Kentucky Baptists, for helping make the retreat possible. 

For information and ways to connect with Kentucky missions & missionaries go to kybaptist.org/missionaries.     

Short-term Missions as a Help to the Mission

Missions is about making disciples of all nations, and often involves the crossing of cultures, languages, and geographical boundaries to accomplish that task. Disciples are made in the context of the local church over time.  Missionaries invest their lives in places void of the gospel in order that sinners will come to faith in Jesus and grow in that faith through the ministry of the local church.  There is no shortcut to disciple-making.  So, if there is no shortcut, how can short-term missions be part of this overall mission of disciple-making of all nations?  In other words, how can anything short-term contribute to anything that we know is a long-term process?

No doubt that short-term missions can be a hinderance to the mission when churches go with their own agendas.  However, I am convinced that done rightly, short-term missions can be of help to the missionary and the work of the gospel. Let me offer some suggestions to help churches assist missionaries through short-term missions. 

  • Local churches partnering with missionaries long-term.  Relationships take time and churches that will invest in relationships with missionaries over many years will often find that the work of the gospel is strengthened.  I would suggest an initial commitment of 3-5 years for a mission partnership.  This gospel relationship can include elements such as intentional prayer, financial support, tangible encouragement, and, yes, short-term teams. 
  • Send multiple short-term teams throughout the year (when needed).  Most missionaries I know partnering with churches and short-term teams prefer smaller teams rather than larger teams.  Certainly, there are exceptions to this request, but larger teams are often more difficult logistically.  Instead of sending one team of 20 to a partnering missionary, a church can send two teams of 10 throughout the year.  Multiple teams allow the church the opportunity to deepen the touches and relationship with the missionaries and the people they are seeking to reach. 
  • Be intentionally gospel-centered. While this sounds obvious at first glance, we can often do good things but neglect (unintentionally) the most important thing—the gospel.  At the end of the day, our goal is to make disciples of Jesus.  There is so much we can say about what a disciple of Jesus is, but we can not say less than it being one who turns from their sins and trusts in Jesus as their sacrificed, risen, sinless Savior and Lord.  Churches must work carefully with their partnering missionary to share the good news of Jesus with intentionality.
  • Allow the missionary to determine the needs/strategy for making disciples among the people.  While local churches often mean well, we can often impose our own agendas and strategies for reaching a people that we frankly do not know much about.  Missionaries invest their lives learning a new culture, language, and way of life in order to effectively make disciples where Jesus is not known.  Churches will do well to trust those missionaries and assist them in the strategies that they believe will best accomplish that goal.   
  • Be a servant.  As churches partner with missionaries for gospel impact, the goal is to serve those missionaries and the people they are seeking to reach.  Taking on the posture of a servant will allow both the missionary and the church partner to work well together, as it demonstrates the church’s goal of coming to serve and not be served (Mark 10:45).

There is no guarantee that any mission gospel partnership will be free from relational challenges, but these five suggestions will go a long way to strengthening gospel partnerships meant for gospel impact.  Indeed, there is no short-cut to disciple-making or mission partnerships, but the benefit of gospel impact will affect not only the missionaries and partnering churches, but also those who do not yet to follow Jesus. 

Insubordinate Witnesses

I recently overheard a conversation among friends about a company that fired an employee after he refused to follow the demands of his supervisor.  I chimed in that “he deserved his punishment” and shouldn’t have been surprised since he knew what was expected of him when signing on for the job.

Several days later while preparing for a missions workshop in our state, I read again the familiar Acts 1:8 passage, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. 

While the concept of insubordination is often linked with the military, it can as I’ve already referenced, also occur in the workplace.  But does it occur in the church?

Webster’s dictionary defines insubordination as “not obeying authority or refusing to follow orders”.  Before being taken up into heaven, Jesus gave final orders to His apostles, and to us in Acts 1:8.  Has the church failed to obey His authority and refused His orders?

I’m not an attorney, but as I understand it, there are several characteristics that must be present before a situation can be considered insubordination.  First of all, the order must be clear and in the form of a verbal or written statement.   If Jesus had said, “I suggest that you guys consider being witnesses after I’m gone,” it would not be considered an order or a command to follow.  God made sure that this command was recorded in the scriptures to ensure that we would understand His expectation of us.

Additionally, if it’s insubordination, the order must be proper and cannot violate the law.  Being His witnesses doesn’t violate the law, at least in very many places in the world.  But it definitely doesn’t violate God’s law.  It only seems appropriate, that if His message is going to go to the ends of the earth, His followers must be the ones to take it.

I don’t know of a church that has directly refused to be His witness.  Yet many members have done their own thing and failed to be witnesses of Christ in their community, state, nation or world.  However, whether direct or indirect, it’s still insubordination if the order is not carried out. So, are you guilty of insubordination or are you actively involved in carrying out the command given by our authority, Jesus Christ?

The Summer Is Ended

School is back in session and, although you would not know it from the 90ᵒ temperatures we are having, summer is almost over.  It has been fun seeing pictures on Facebook of students as they return to school.  Parents have posted side by side pictures of their children from last school year and this school year.  This morning I saw a picture of a young lady that started her first day at the University of Kentucky.  It seems only yesterday that she was in kindergarten.  My, how quickly they grow up.  Where has the time gone? 

Although there are still several weeks of summer left, for many the beginning of school seems to mark the end of their summer.  Please pray for students, teachers, faculty/staff, bus drivers, lunchroom workers, administrators, and all those in the school system to have a good and safe school year.

Back-to-school also tends to mark the end of summer schedules for our missionaries.  Mission teams have come and gone.  Many families have been ministered to, the Gospel has been shared, and lives have been changed.  Praise God for their willingness to serve and for those who have experienced new life in Christ as a result.

Although much has been done, there is still much work to do.  Missions do not end with the end of summer.  There are opportunities to serve throughout the year.  Thousands in our backdoor, in our state, our nation, and around the world still need the Gospel.  We must not slack; never give up.  We must be about our Father’s business of taking the message of hope to them.

The children at my church sing a little chorus that says, “I hope you see that my hope in only in Jesus, and I hope you see that your hope in only in Him.”  We must go.  We must share that hope.

Be on the lookout for Fall and Winter mission opportunities.  Projects will be updated soon on the KBC Mission Opportunities page (www.kybaptist.org/go).  Churches have already begun to fill Christmas Backpacks (www.kybaptist.org/backpacks) for needy children where the Gospel will be shared.  Let’s keep on showing and sharing the love of Christ.  Many still need to hear. 

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20).

Loving Children Like Jesus

There are times we don’t always see things like Jesus does. We struggle with it often, and as I look in the scriptures, the disciples struggled with it too. There are several times recorded in the Gospels where Jesus had to correct them. I sometimes will ask myself, “when will I ever learn?”

I am reminded specifically of the passage in Luke 18:15-16 where people were bringing their babies to Jesus so that He might touch them. What did the disciples do? They tried to prevent these parents from bringing their children to Jesus.

And I love Jesus’ response to them, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” I can hear the tone of His voice. I can sense the compassion and love He had for these precious little ones. I can see the smile on His face.

I have watched children, even my own grandchildren and love the innocence of their hearts, the excitement for life, the joy simple things bring, and a smile that will just melt your heart. When did we lose those things as we grew up? Why don’t we look forward to a new day with excitement? We can learn so much from our children.

And yes, I know children can be loud, obnoxious, and even disobedient. But let us love these children enough to spend time with them. To teach them. To show them new things and experience this world. To tell them the truth, correct them when they are wrong, and hug them when they hurt.

Most importantly, let us love them enough to show them the compassion and love of Jesus. May we tell them about Jesus and how He loved the little children. May we disciple them, teach them, and tell them about how Jesus loved us enough to die on the cross for us.

May we not be so consumed with our own lives that we miss what our children can teach us. What they can show us. And just maybe, the excitement they have for life will be contagious just enough that it will rub off on us.

Let me encourage you to take a few minutes to:
• Pray for the children in your life… that they will know Jesus.
• Play with the children in your life…that you may bring joy into their day.
• Prepare to learn from the children in your life…that you enjoy each day a little more.

Maybe loving children like Jesus will ultimately change us.

Jesus: The Great Savior Who Forgives Great Sinners

Just who is Jesus? That’s really the question that the gospel writer Luke is seeking to answer as he writes his book. Luke chapter 1 tells us that he writes to a man named Theophilus.  We are not exactly sure who he is, but it seems that he is an important person, perhaps a government official of some kind (“most excellent Theophilus”- Lk 1:3).  Stories about Jesus are spreading.  Luke’s concern is to paint an accurate picture of Jesus for Theophilus—both what He did and who He is.    

The gospel of Luke reveals many things about Jesus.  Luke 6, for example, records for us the greatest sermon ever preached; we often refer to it as the Sermon on the Mount.  But Jesus is more than a great preacher.  Luke continues painting this accurate picture of Jesus in chapter 7 with 5 different scenes or encounters. 

In chapter 7, Jesus travels to Capernaum, northern Israel, where he encounters several people.  In summary, Luke shows us that Jesus is the one in whom we have faith (v 1-10); he is the one who raises the dead (v 11-17); he is the one who heals disease, afflictions and cast out demons (v 18-23); and he is the one who is a friend of sinners (v 19-35).  But there’s more.

The last scene of chapter 7 involves verses 36-50.  Yes, Jesus is the one to whom we have faith in.  Yes, Jesus is the one who raises the dead and heals all kinds of diseases.  He is even a friend of sinners.  But this last scene described by Luke gives us understanding as to why He is more than a great preacher, why our faith is in Him, and why it matters that He heals diseases and is a friend of sinners.

Jesus is invited to a party at the house of Simon the Pharisee.  During the evening, a woman shows up whom Luke describes as a “sinner” (v 37).  She stands over Jesus’s feet wetting them with her tears and wiping them with her hair. She then kisses his feet and anoints them with oil.  Simon is appealed by this action from the woman and concludes in his own mind that Jesus certainly is not a prophet, or he would know what sort of woman she is.

Jesus, knowing Simon’s thoughts, shares a story of a moneylender forgiving the debt of two debtors (v 40-42).  When the two debtors could not repay the moneylender, he forgave the debt of both, Jesus explains.  He then asks Simon, “Who will love the moneylender more” (v 42)? 

The answer is obvious from the story Jesus shares.  The debtors neither could earn nor deserved the cancellation of their debt.  Jesus wants Simon to know that he is referring to the woman, the sinner.  Her debt was great, but Jesus forgave her (v 47).  And herein lies the story of the gospel.  Jesus is the great Savior who forgives great sinners. Our debt of sin is immeasurable.  We can neither earn nor deserve pardon.  Yet, in Jesus’s infinite grace, He forgives all who come to him broken (perhaps even at times weeping) over our own sins.  While our sins are great, His grace is greater. 

John Newton knew this all too well.  He was from London in the United Kingdom and lived in the 1700s. He was raised by a Christian mother but later rejected his mom’s teachings about Jesus.  As a young boy he left home, became a sailor involved in the slave trade of Africans, and later was converted to faith in Christ through a series of events revolving around sailing a ship that nearly sunk while working the slave trade.  As a result, he fought to end slavery.  He was a self-described wretch of a man prior to coming to Christ in faith. As you know, he would later write:

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see…”

He died at 82 years old, and it is told that many friends would visit him prior to his death as his health faded.  He is known as saying, “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.”  

Praise God that Jesus is the great Savior who forgives great sinners!

Why Are We Going?

The summer months are usually busy with activity as groups go on mission to share Christ.  In years past, mission trips were typically only taken during the summer when school was out.  But many more groups are exploring other times of the year for engaging in volunteer mission efforts, like fall break and Christmas vacation.  Many collegiate ministries will raise funds and travel out of state or internationally on mission trips during spring break.  And believers of all ages will spend a week or more of their summer this year on a mission trip with their church or family.  But why is it that we are going? 

We’re quick to call everyone going on the mission trip a missionary, but is that really true?  Is it possible that some individuals go on mission trip as a tourist and not a missionary?  You may be asking “what’s the difference”, so let me explain.  Yes, both are going, and perhaps to someplace new, but their “why” in going is dramatically different.  Tourists go because of the place.  However, missionaries go because of the people and their need for Christ.   Jeff Iorg, in his book, “Live Like a Missionary”, addresses this very subject, suggesting that a “missional Christian prioritizes impacting people – not going places – as his or her ultimate objective.” 

Yes, God does call us to go and make disciples and many times that involves traveling to another state or country.  But always, God’s focus is on the people who need a relationship with Him, not the place.  I’ve encountered Christ-followers who considered where they were going on their next mission trip by where they’d not yet been.  Almost as if they were checking states or countries off a map to see how many different places they could go on a mission trip.  

My prayer is that every Christ-follower would be on mission and willing to go wherever God leads.  But let the emphasis be on “where He leads” and not where we want to go.  There are already enough tourists traveling around.  God is calling out missionaries who will go forth and engage lost people with a boldness to share Him.  

Ever Thought About Becoming a KY-MSC Missionary?

Many of the blogs I write for KYandBeyond each month are about Kentucky Mission Service Corps Missionaries and their ministries.  You may have heard the term, read their stories, and even volunteered in their ministries, but also may be asking, “What is a Kentucky Missions Service Corps missionary.”

The definition of a Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionary (KY-MSC), is an adult (18 years of age or older), called by God and connected to a Kentucky Baptist Convention church, who commits to serve from 9 months to 2 years (renewable). The positions engage in or directly support missions, church planting, collegiate ministry, or evangelism, in cooperative partnership with a Kentucky Baptist Convention church, association, or organization. Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries are self-funded.  (Go to www.kybaptist.org/msc for information.)

Currently one hundred twenty-two (122) Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries serve in various ministries across the state.  They serve in roles from association outreach positions to equestrian ministries, ministry centers, pregnancy care centers, homeless shelters, and prison ministries, just to name a few.  Some of these missionaries came to Kentucky from other states, while most are serving in their home state, very possibly their hometown or community.

We are always looking for persons to join our KY-MSC Family.  Recently, while speaking at the Liberty Baptist Association Executive Board Meeting, I met Becky Baise.  Becky, a member of Coral Hill Baptist Church in Glasgow, shared that she served at Next Step, a Christ-centered ministry designed to help equip individuals to become personally, financially, and spiritually responsible to God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They address the physical and spiritual needs of each individual through assistance with basic human necessities, the development of life skills, and through sharing the truth of the Gospel.  The following week I connected with Becky, and Next Step Director John Harbert, about becoming KY-MSC missionaries.  They were not familiar with KY-MSC, although they fit the criteria perfectly.  Both Becky and John have been approved, and are now serving as Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries through Next Step Ministries.

Why become a KY-MSC Missionary?  Individuals can serve without being KY-MSC, but networking with the other missionaries is such a support.  Sharing ideas, resources, encouraging one another, is such a blessing.  We like to say we are a KY-MSC Family.

Do you perhaps serve in a ministry that would qualify you to become a KY-MSC Missionary?  Or, do you know of someone who is a candidate to serve as a KY-MSC Missionary?  If so, please email [email protected].  We would love to talk with you about joining our KY-MSC Family.     

And, thank you for supporting KY-MSC.  As you give through the Cooperative Program (CP) and the Eliza Broadus State Mission Offering (EBO) you are a part of the work of these missionaries and ministries.  Although self-funded, a KY-MSC Missionary does benefit from CP and EBO funding through orientations, trainings. annual retreats, and opportunities to apply for grants to assist in ministry.  As Kentucky Baptists. we all are FAMILY!!

Looking for Mission Partnerships in North America?

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

It is one thing for us simply to tell you about an area in need of gospel partnerships. But it is altogether different for us to help you experience that area and envision how your church might partner there for the gospel.  Thus, we offer vision trips in order that KBC churches and associations might meet missionaries/church planters, experience the culture, hear the vision of a particular area in need of the gospel, and prayerfully consider how they might come alongside of the work being done in unreached places.

Currently, we have three North American partnerships that are great opportunities for KBC churches and associations to engage lost areas with the gospel.

Nestled along the Ohio River, Cincinnati is poised, as some experts believe, to see a population boom in the coming years.  However, only 13.7 percent of metro Cincinnati’s 2 million residents are currently affiliated with an evangelical church.  Cincinnati vision trip is August 28-29, 2023.  You can apply now for this vision trip at www.kybaptist.org/cincinnati-vision-tour/.   

Salt Lake City is a city most often recognized for Mormonism.  However, the city has become a major metro area and needs vibrant gospel churches to impact a population with only 2.2 percent evangelical presence.  Salt Lake City vision trip is November 8-10, 2023.  You can apply now for this vision trip at www.kybaptist.org/salt-lake-city-vision-tour/.   

Impact New York City and you impact the world.  As a financial and cultural hub in our country, New York City is one of the most influential places in North America and the world.  With a metro population over 22 million, only 4 percent of New Yorkers identify themselves as evangelical.  New York City vision trip is May 13-15, 2024.  Though the sign-ups are not live for 2024 yet, you can learn more about NYC at www.kybaptist.org/new-york-vision-tour/.  

You can also get involved in a new NYC project called We Inspire NYC, as church planters engage four schools in NYC.  Learn how your church can play a vital role in impacting the teachers and administrators of these schools at www.kybaptist.org/inspirenyc.

KBC churches and associations are needed to impact these areas with gospel faithfulness and partnerships.  If you have questions or we can serve your church as you prayerfully consider gospel partnerships, email us at [email protected].

Kentucky Baptists, It’s Time to Go Christmas Shopping

Well, I have just gotten back from my few days away in Pigeon Forge.  Once again, visiting the Christmas shops and hearing the Christmas music has put me in the Christmas spirit.  It is hard to believe that 2023 is almost half over and Christmas is only six months away. 

Have you begun your Christmas shopping?  Better yet, are you planning to bless Kentucky children through the KBC Christmas Backpack Initiative again this year?  If so, it is time to start planning, promoting, and collecting items for those backpacks.  For Christmas Backpacks we are less than five months away, as they are due to be delivered to the local Baptist Association collection sites October 23-27, and to the Regional Collection sites October 30 – November 3. 

Instructions for filling the backpacks can be found at www.kybaptist.org/backpacks.  Once there, you can download a promotional bulletin insert, poster, PowerPoint slide, and the “Christmas Story” leaflet.  Be sure to include the leaflet in each backpack that you fill. 

Please remember to register your backpacks and perhaps consider partnering with a specific ministry.  You may want to take the backpacks directly to the ministry and help with the distribution.  It is so special to see the children’s faces light up as they open the backpack, and to experience them hearing the true Christmas Story and a gospel message.  This is what Christmas is all about. 

Statistics show that 35% of Kentucky’s children live in single-parent homes, and a backpack from Kentucky Baptists may be all they get for Christmas.  Many of the backpacks collected will be distributed directly to children living in poverty in Kentucky, while others will go to needy children in our partner SEND City, Cincinnati.

Kentucky Baptist churches are partnering together to reach a goal of 10,000 backpacks to fill requests coming in from our missionaries, churches, and associations.  While we will receive requests for far more than that, we are thankful for partnering state convention churches that help to meet the need. 

And we are thankful for Kentucky Baptists and your part in this annual initiative.  Pray with us that not only will the children receive a nice Christmas gift and hear a gospel presentation, but that many will come to know Christ as their personal Savior and receive the GREATEST GIFT this Christmas season.