You Can’t Be One and Not the Other

I gave my life to Christ at the age of nine.  I understood then, as much as young boy can, that I was making a commitment to become a Christ follower.  That meant allowing Christ to control every aspect of my life.  I knew that my life was no longer mine.  I was to model my life, attitude and actions after Him.  Whatever Christ did, I was supposed to do.

Scripture tells us to imitate Christ, walk as He did and follow His steps.  (1 John 2:6, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 Peter 2:21).   I didn’t know that I would one day serve as a missionary or go on a mission trip.  But I have come to understand that if I’m a Christ follower, I am also a missionary, because that’s what He was. 

A missionary is defined by the North American Mission Board of the SBC as a person who, in response to God’s call and gifting, leaves his or her comfort zone and crosses cultural, geographic or other barriers to proclaim the Gospel and live out a Christian witness in obedience to the Great Commission. 

Jesus became the first missionary when He left heaven and came down to earth.  God called His son to leave the comfort of heaven and go to earth.  Now that’s a change of geography and culture for sure!  His mission was to seek and save the lost who needed to be rescued.  He engaged the indigenous people of the earth while proclaiming the Gospel.  He lived His life as a witness to the Father’s love.  What a missionary He was!        

I want my life to reflect Christ and pray that people see Him in me.  If I want to be like Christ in every way, it will mean going as a missionary because that’s what He did.  I might not cross an ocean, but I will need to cross the street or grocery isle.  I might not go to a foreign land, but I will need to engage the internationals in my community.  I might not be sent by a mission agency, but I have been sent by Christ Himself (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20).  I am thankful to be a follower of Christ AND missionary – you can’t be one and not the other.    

Key Missional Skill: Think Like a Missionary

How can I think like a missionary?
Missionaries live with a deep love and compassion for those who are far from God. They are burdened for those who are lost — those who are like sheep without a shepherd. They live by the words of Jesus when He said, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold” (John 10:16). They are driven by the fact that there are people out there who are not yet brothers and sisters in Christ, simply because they have not been given an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. With this great burden comes three questions that are usually on the forefront of missionaries’ minds:

1. Who lives around me?
Missionaries want to discover the people who live in their city. They want to know the number of people, commonalities, diversities, languages, cultures, joys, hopes, fears and struggles.

2. Who goes to my church and the other churches around me?
Missionaries want to understand who their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are in their city or community. They want to know the number of believers, the health of the churches and the reach of their ministries. They understand that every believer and every church is called to fulfill the Great Commission, and that it is God’s design for churches to work together to reach their communities and the world for Christ.

3. Who is left?
Missionaries want to devote their time and resources to those in their community who are unbelievers and have not yet had an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. They look for “gospel gaps”, which are opportunities to use the gifts and skills God has given them to enter into the lives of unbelievers and to meet them in the midst of their brokenness. They engage people through social, service, support, sports, seasonal or study activities. The goal is to build authentic relationships with gospel intentionality.

How can I live like a missionary?
Once a missionary has asked these three questions about their community, then what would they do?

They would:

  • Be fervent in prayer.
  • Seek to enter into the lives and communities of people who are far from God and have not had opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.
  • Be bold and frequent in the proclamation of the gospel, calling people to repent and believe.
  • Disciple those who come to faith, teaching them to obey all the commands of Christ.
  • Gather new believers together to form healthy churches, growing them up together into maturity in Christ and developing from among them those who will lead these newly formed churches.
  • Eventually partner with churches and leaders they formed to press into other communities where they gospel had not yet gone.

What would our cities look like if we saw ourselves as the ones Jesus sent to seek and save the lost in our own communities? Imagine how our culture would change if we began not only to think but also to act like missionaries in our cities, towns and neighborhoods. The Mission Mobilization team exist to serve your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. To discover new opportunities to make disciples and further develop an “Act 1:8” strategy that reflects the specific gifts and personality of your church, contact John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, by email: [email protected] or phone 502-654-3385. We are here to serve!

Bringing Help, Hope and Healing

Ron Crow, Disaster Relief Director, Kentucky Baptist Convention

I am so grateful to our Kentucky Disaster Relief volunteers who are so eager and willing to respond to those who are suffering from disaster. It seems we have seen so many people that have been affected in some way and several even repeatedly.

That is what we discovered in Lake Charles, Louisiana recently. This community was very hard hit from Hurricane Laura last fall with still much left to do to rebuild. Some had just completed rebuilding when the torrential rains came just a few weeks ago flooding many of the homes once again. I cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak, discouragement, and distress this caused these families.

This past week I visited some of our Kentucky Flood Recovery teams that responded to the recent flooding in Lake Charles. It was a long way to travel but Kentucky volunteers are so willing to go when the need arises. Distance does not matter. They understand there are people hurting and that we have the resources they need to help them clean up and recover. We bring them the help that is needed, with the equipment to do the job, and a trained team that can get the job done quickly, safely, and efficiently.

But there is more. Not only do we bring the help that is needed for those who need assistance recovering from the mess, we bring them hope. In fact, there was one individual who was so discouraged and distraught they were considering ending their life. That is when the disaster relief team in the gold shirts arrived. They brought the help that was needed to clean up the mess, but more importantly they brought them hope that through the process it would be okay.

There is hope that comes because of the help they receive. But beyond that, there is the hope that we bring through Jesus Christ. By helping those who are hurting, we can share with them the hope we can find in the Bible and through the cross.

With every home that we help, we present to the homeowner a Bible, signed by every member of the team. These families treasure this Bible as it reminds them of the help and the hope that came to them from these precious people in gold shirts. And this begins the healing process as they move forward from destruction and discouragement, to hope and healing.

In times of disaster, we bring the Help, Hope, and Healing needed to those who are suffering.

Remember to PRAY for our teams and for those experiencing loss. Everyone can pray.
Remember to GIVE to support the continued work of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. Most can give.
Remember to GO and be available to serve and help those who are hurting. Some can go.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16









Holding the Ropes in New York City

William Carey is known as the “father of modern missions.”  He was a missionary to India in the late 1700s.  He and his good friend, Andrew Fuller, partnered together for the advancement of the gospel.  While Carey went to India, Fuller stayed back home becoming president of the Baptist Mission Society.  Carey famously said to Fuller before his departure overseas, “I will go down into the pit, if you will hold the ropes.”  Carey went and Fuller held the ropes. 

New York City is known for many iconic markers—the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, One World Trade Center, just to name a few.  People flock to this great city for food, entertainment, fame, and fortune.  I recently led a group of church leaders there for a vision trip to meet church planters living in the city for gospel impact.  The city is coming back to life after a year of uncertainty known as 2020.  Manhattan, for example, known as a worldwide center for all things commercial, financial, and cultural, was busy with activity. 

As we met with various church planters to hear their stories and their vision for reaching the city, one theme became clear: we need your help!  Great Commission work is not meant to be done alone.  In a metro area of 22 million people, only 2% follow Jesus.  The massive need of lostness alone can be crippling to any gospel minister without the right support, not counting the challenges of living in a concrete jungle. 

Kentucky Baptist Churches, while very different in context from New York City, can play a vital role in providing a lifeline of gospel advancement in a human sea of lostness.  Every church leader we met expressed the need for meaningful partnerships.  These partnerships are not dependent upon having the same ministry context, but simply a willingness to link arms or as Carey told Fuller once, hold the ropes.

Kentucky Baptists can hold the ropes with gospel partners in New York City through the following examples:

Partner long-term (at least 3-5 years).  Relationships take time and gospel work in New York City is often slow.  Relationships built around encouragement, prayer, teams, and finances provide much needed support. 

Send multiple teams (per year if needed and possible).  Nothing like seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and touching the city to understand the great needs of the city.  Short-term teams done rightly can be a huge boost to the planter and the advancement of the gospel.

Be gospel centered.  Partnerships built around the gospel are critical.  While there are many good and helpful ways we can serve others, the gospel must be at the center of all we do.

Follow the vision/strategy of the church planter/church.  Let those who live in the city and know the needs of the city determine how to best reach the city. 

Be a servant.  While New York City is a great place to experience so much, partnering there requires that Kentucky Baptist Churches place priority on serving their partner.

As William Carey set sail for India, he needed the assurance that others like Fuller would be back home holding the ropes for him.  New York City church planters need the assurance of Kentucky Baptists that we will join in the work there by holding the ropes for gospel advancement.  If you want to learn more about your church partnering in NYC, please contact me at [email protected]