Our mission as a convention is
simple: created by churches, for
churches, to help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. The KBC staff aims to live out this mission
of helping churches fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus. But what exactly does this mission statement
mean for the KBC?
exist as the Kentucky Baptist Convention because Baptist churches throughout
Kentucky in 1837 desired to cooperate for the furthering of the gospel. The KBC owes its existence to Baptist
churches created the KBC for churches. In other words, the KBC was created not to be
served by the churches, but to serve the churches.
To help churches
the KBC exists to help churches do what God has called the church to do—the
Great Commission. Because the KBC was
created by churches, for churches, the convention exists to help churches. Helping mobilize churches for the Great
Commission is the mission of the KBC.
Reach Kentucky and
the world for Christ
did not give the Great Commission to denominations or mission boards; He gave
it to the church. Denominations and
mission boards are helpful insomuch as they help
churches reach those across the
street and across the sea with the gospel.
If your church needs help with
carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus, please call on us. If your church desires training or resources
or ideas for Great Commission work, we are happy to help. After all, we were created by churches,
for churches, to help churches reach KY and the world for Christ. Contact [email protected] to
begin the discussion on how we can best help you.
I have served almost twelve years as Disaster Relief Director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and have been involved in countless disaster responses across our globe – from hurricanes on the Gulf Coast to tornadoes in the Midwest to famines in Africa. As I reflect on these events, there is no question in my mind that God is good and His heart breaks as He watches the suffering caused by these catastrophic events. For those reeling in the aftermath of these life-changing events, the loss can be overwhelming.
So what should our response be as the church to those suffering in the aftermath of these crushing incidents?
The Bible again and again calls us to reach to those wounded by life with compassion.
Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:12, ” Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.”
The apostle Paul commands us in Galatians 6:2, “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. “
This is at the heart of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. Disaster Relief volunteers respond time and time again to bring practical help, a healing touch, and the hope of Christ to those struggling in the aftermath of disasters. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams are often the first on the ground and the last to leave these broken places. God’s light shines through the darkness as these responders offer the compassion and hope of Christ.
God often uses nature to both bless and to challenge us, to bring us food and to teach us the lessons of the struggle. The Bible challenges the church to fight against the devastation, disease, and brokenness of our world. He calls His followers to enter the battle and to be His hands and feet of compassion in a broken world. We are to leave the sidelines and enter the fray. As John reminds us,” This is how we have come to know love: Christ laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).
Historically, the church has always responded to tragedies with sacrifice and courage. During the third century it was the church that remained to minister to its neighbors when most others fled the plague. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief provided millions of meals and rebuilt scores of homes. And last year, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief provided over 116,000 meals to survivors of Hurricane Florence and assisted hundreds of families with chainsaw cleanup and recovery after Hurricane Michael.
As the followers of Christ, we choose to be “storm-chasers”. But we do not chase the storm to gather data, we chase the storm to bring help, healing, and hope.
If you would like to learn how you could become a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer, go to www.kybaptist.org/dr or call us at (502) 489-3527.
Last week I was privileged to attend the 20-Year Anniversary Banquet of Meridzo Ministries in Harlan County, KY. I too am celebrating 20-years with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and Lonnie & Belinda Riley were two of the first people I met when I came on board. It has been amazing to see Meridzo Ministries develop over the years. Every time I make a visit, new and exciting things have happened at the ministry.
Dr. Larry Martin, retired Missions Team Leader with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, has also connected with Meridzo from the beginning, and shares about the evening as a guest writer to this blog:
Meridzo Center Ministries,
Lynch, KY celebrated 20 years of ministry in the heart of Appalachia on
September 6-7. More than 200 people from at least 10 states gathered for a
banquet on Friday evening at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn and a cookout on
Saturday at Shekinah Village and The Stables at Creekside Glen. At the banquet,
22 current staff members of Meridzo were recognized. Meridzo is a faith-based
ministry; no staff member receives a salary.
At the banquet four
speakers shared about the impact of Meridzo: Dr. Larry Martin, retired KY
Baptist Convention missions team leader; Dr. Bruce Ayers, president emeritus of
Southeast KY Community College; Claude King, co-author with Henry Blackaby of
the Experiencing God study; and George Otis, Jr., producer of Transformation
Videos from communities around the world which are experiencing unusual
movements of God. Martin has often described the movement of God in Lynch as
“the greatest movement of God in one location I have experienced in more
than 50 years of ministry.” Otis referred to the movement in Lynch as the
greatest example of transformation he has encountered in North
Lynch Mayor John S. Adams
emphasized the positive impact of Meridzo Center during the past 20 years. In
honor of that impact on Lynch and the surrounding area, he announced that the
street on which the Meridzo Center office is located will be renamed
Lonnie and Belinda Riley,
the founders of Meridzo Center Ministries, served for more than 20 years
through the Ohio Southern Baptist Convention and in local churches in Ohio and
Mississippi, before returning in March 1999 to their home area of Southeastern
KY. Belinda was reared in Lynch; Lonnie was reared in Hazard and attended
college in Lynch. There he met Belinda, became a believer, and felt a call to
ministry. Unexpectedly, in late 1998 both sensed God leading them to
“return home and help hurting people,” as they put it. Over the
past 20 years God has displayed His power in amazing ways.
On Friday evening Lonnie
announced a transition in leadership. Lonnie will remain the President and
Chairman of the Board for Meridzo Center as well as continuing to do speaking
engagements and representing the ministry. Drew Baldwin will succeed
Lonnie as the CEO. Drew and his wife Leah have been Meridzo staff members for
the past 10 years, and Drew has served as COO since 2014.
More information concerning
Meridzo is available in the book “Miracle in the Mountains” and the
DVD documentary “It’s Only Cookie Dough.” Website for Meridzo
Imagine being a refugee landing in the United States for the first time. You’ve been waiting for years for the opportunity to start your life again. You haven’t had a home to call your own, your children have only sporadically attended school, and your spouse suffers from insomnia and nightmares about the violence that drove you from your country. You don’t speak English, and you have no idea how to get started in a new country.
Refugees have an array of hopes and fears as they acclimate to a new culture and a new way of life. As followers of Jesus, we need to stand ready to embrace those who arrive in our cities and neighborhoods. We have a ready opportunity to impact their hearts and lives for the gospel as they resettle in our midst. Here are seven powerful and practical ways to welcome them into your community.
1. Greet Newly Arrived Refugees
Greet and transport a newly arrived refugee family from the
airport to their new home. Meet them with a welcome basket filled with
information about their new community, including emergency contact information,
maps, invitations to your church worship services, tutoring sessions, and ESL
classes, as well as a note telling them how happy you are to have them in your
2. Be a Friend
If you’ve ever moved to a new neighborhood, you understand
that you don’t truly feel settled until you’ve been welcomed by new friends and
neighbors. Unfortunately, most refugees are accustomed to being ignored, and
loneliness is one of their greatest challenges.
For help getting to know a family and becoming a part of
their lives as they adapt to a new country and culture, connect with the local
resettlement agency that sponsors new refugees in your community, and
learn about their volunteer opportunities.
3. Visit Refugees in Their Homes
As with any friendship, you must make time for your new
friends. Visit them frequently in their homes and bring along a basket of fruit
or a freshly baked cake. Allow time to stay and chat. Ask them questions about
their family’s stories and how they came to arrive in your community. Learn
about their favorite foods and customs. They’ll likely be happy to share.
In return, you can share more about your family and some of
your favorite traditions. If you’re invited to a meal, try everything. They’ll be
happy to share their very best with you, even when they have a limited amount
4. Help Refugees Adapt to Their New Communities
Take your refugee friends shopping and explain the different
types of stores in your community. Help set up phone service and doctor’s
appointments. You can also assist them in registering their children for school
and showing them how to use public transportation.
5. Share Your Home and Life
Open your home and welcome a refugee family into your
everyday life. Share important milestones by inviting them to birthday parties.
Invite them to participate in routine family activities throughout the year.
Teach them how to build a snowman and serve hot chocolate or make homemade
cookies. Take them for their very first roller coaster ride at a local
amusement park. Invite them to your children’s baseball or soccer games or to
be your guests at a professional sporting event. Host them for their very first
American picnic or cookout.
6. Share Special Holiday Traditions
Invite your refugee friends to take part in your special
holiday traditions at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and any other
festivities that may be new to them. Share the American tradition of
thankfulness with a traditional turkey dinner. Plan your favorite Christmas
recipes, sing carols, and give each family member a special gift. In the
spring, invite them to the Easter service with your church. Special occasions
like these can make your new friends feel honored and provide wonderful inroads
to explain your hope in Jesus and the difference he makes in your daily life.
7. Strategic Church and Associational Involvement
Churches and associational networks also have strategic
opportunities to be a blessing to refugees in their area. Not only can they
provide cross-cultural evangelism training to their members who will be
building relational bridges, but they can also provide venues for larger
community outreach. Consider the following ministry possibilities:
ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for adults and tutoring sessions for children
Health screenings and basic health care
Classes on citizenship, budget planning, banking, and driver’s education
A furniture bank where families can obtain essential household goods
Job boards to post hiring opportunities
Baby showers for new mothers
Ask the Lord to give you his heart for the refugees in your
community. Perhaps Jesus has placed specific families in your area so that you
could be the one to demonstrate the gospel to them. Showing and sharing his
love and compassion to refugees in your community can be one of the most
strategic and rewarding global missions experience you will ever have. Contact
John Barnett, KBC Mission Strategist, to get you and your church connected
today. [email protected]