What is Spiritual Warfare?

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The Bible speaks about the reality of a conflict we face as believers, and we popularly call that conflict “spiritual warfare.” Given the fascination of this topic, it is easy to mystify the spiritual battle and miss the Bible’s basic teachings about this conflict:

  1. The Bible is a book about God, not about the devil. The Bible does not answer every question about warfare, nor does it grant us permission to focus our attention on the devil. Any approach to warfare that magnifies the devil’s power does not reflect biblical spiritual warfare.
  2. Satan is not our biggest problem. We face three enemies: the world, our flesh and the devil (Ephesians 2:1-3). In some cases, the three are so interwoven, it is difficult to tell them apart. Our primary problem is not Satan, though; we are our biggest issue.
  3. God reigns, even over the enemy. We have strife between human beings and the serpent because God put that conflict there (Genesis 3:15). That strife would lead to the cross, where the death of Jesus would break the back of the powers (Colossians 2:15). Now, God sovereignly uses the battles to make us the followers He wants us to be.
  4. The enemy we face is a defeated foe. Satan has been bound through God’s judgment and the cross, is being bound through the preaching of the gospel and will be bound for eternity. We do genuinely wrestle against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12), but the devil and his forces have never been outside of God’s control.
  5. On one hand, warfare is the devil’s attempt to deceive and divide believers to keep us from glorifying God and carrying out the Great Commission. From the Garden of Eden, he has tried to bait us with false teaching, lure us into sin and turn us against each other. He seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8), so we can no longer be a light to a lost world. As Church Lawless commonly summarizes it, the enemy wants us to mess up (fall into sin), give up (get discouraged), get puffed up (live in arrogance), split up (divide) or shut up (quit evangelizing).
  6. Satan battles against us because we are God’s witnesses to the world. When the apostle Paul described lostness, he often framed it in terms of spiritual warfare. Non-believers follow the prince of the air (Ephesians 2:2). They are blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:3-4), bound in darkness (Colossians 1:13, Acts 26:18) and caught in Satan’s snare (2 Timothy 2:25-26). His goal is to keep us from proclaiming and living out the gospel that sets people free.
  7. On the other hand, we are not on the defensive in this battle. Yes, we are to stand against Satan (Ephesians 6:11, 13, 14), but standing is not simply waiting and deflecting the arrows of the enemy. Even Paul, who called the Ephesians to stand, sought their prayer so he would keep proclaiming the gospel boldly even when he was imprisoned (Ephesians 6:18-20); his own “standing” meant that he would faithfully evangelize even if the war cost him his life. We put on the full armor of God not so that we can defend ourselves, but so we can march into the enemy’s kingdom to do the work of the Great Commission.
  8. The offensive nature of this battle demands that we do evangelism and discipleship. Evangelism requires intentionally taking the light into the darkness. Discipleship then requires teaching others to understand their position in Christ and to put on the full armor of God. If we do not evangelize, lost people remain in Satan’s kingdom; if we do not disciple, we send believers into the war unarmed. Either can result in tragedy.

In the Great Commission, the Lord commands us to make disciples of all nations and he established his church to be the way we would gather to worship, grow in discipleship, and go to every nation with gospel, i.e., every tribe, tongue and people could know and worship Him. The very task of church planting places the planter in the sights of the enemy. Because we are seeking to reach lost people, develop strong disciples, and plant healthy congregations who plant more congregations – all of which means that we are offensively engaging the enemy’s territory – we can rest assured that the enemy will fight back.

We do not need to fear, however. In the power of God, simply love Christ, and live and speak for Him in such a way that God is glorified and an already-defeated Satan is threatened (Acts 19:11-16).

The Missions Mobilization Team exist to serve you and your church, as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, please contact John Barnett at [email protected] or text 502-654-3385. *info used in this article is attributed to Dr. Chuck Lawless. Taken from my notes in his Spiritual Warfare Class and his writings. Used with his permission.

Cedaridge Ministries Celebrates 30th Anniversary

On Friday, June 10th, I was privileged to attend the 30-Year Celebration of Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg, KY.  Cedaridge is a non-profit ministry with a primary focus of serving needy families in Whitley, Knox, Laurel, and surrounding counties with food, clothing, household items, home repairs and, most of all, share the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

In 1999, when I first began with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Cedaridge was one of the first ministries I was introduced to, and it has been exciting to see how it has grown through the years.  What started as a ministry of the South Union Mount Zion Baptist Association, Cedaridge has now grown into its own 501(c)(3) organization, with three warehouses. 

Cedaridge is directed by Mission Service Corps Missionary Keith Decker.  Keith was approved by the North American Mission Board on June 18, 1997 and is one of the longest serving MSC Missionaries in Kentucky.  He is not only a co-worker in ministry but has become a dear friend and encourager to me.  He is one of the most humble, grateful, and dedicated persons you will ever meet.  Having grown up much like the clients he now serves, Keith has a heart for those less fortunate and for those lost without Christ.  Over the past six years, Keith has reported four hundred twenty-nine (429) persons have prayed to receive Christ through the ministry of Cedaridge. 

Cedaridge operates a thrift store where families in the community can shop for good used clothing, household items, and furniture at a minimal cost.  They operate a recycling center that meets a big need for Whitley County and brings in revenue for the ministry.  They have facilities that can provide shelter in times of emergency.  Just recently, Cedaridge was a distribution hub for the government food boxes.  Working with churches and other ministries, these boxes provided food for hundreds of families in southeastern Kentucky.

Mission teams come to Cedaridge throughout the year to direct Vacation Bible Schools and other outreach events, work at the Center, do wheelchair ramps and home repairs in the community.  During the Christmas season, Cedaridge partners with churches and individuals to provide Christmas Backpacks filled with food, clothing, toys, clothing items, and a Gospel witness to hundreds of children.

Kentucky Mission Service Corps Missionaries Joyce Decker, Lorie Wells, and Brenda Sparks now serve alongside Keith, and are all there to help in times of need.

To learn more about Cedaridge go to www.cedaridgeministries.com.  Email [email protected] to volunteer or partner with Cedaridge.  Or, visit Cedaridge at 189 Factory Lane, Williamsburg, KY.

Thank you, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Volunteers

Every Christian is called to be on mission for the sake of the Gospel. His call may vary from person to person; however, we are all called and commissioned to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel. Being a Christian is not just about who we are, (or Who’s we are), but also what we are to be. We are to be just like Jesus Christ.

The Bible challenges us, What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [f]your works, and I will show you my faith by [g]my works. James 2:14-18

The ministry of disaster relief models the ministry of Jesus. Jesus would see a physical need and seek to meet their need so He could show them their greater need: their spiritual need.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are some of the most dedicated, selfless, and faithful servants I have ever seen. Just like Jesus who was moved with compassion to those in need, Kentucky Baptist disaster relief volunteers are moved with compassion to those affected by disasters and are ready to respond.

I am often reminded of Stan. Stan’s family attended church, but he was very independent and did not need Jesus. He believed church could make you a better person, so he sent the family, but he did not need anyone to help him. Following a severe ice storm, Stan was caring for his wife who was battling cancer and their four grandchildren they had adopted. Their power had been out for over a week, and he was getting tired. I made several offers for them to come to the church and let us help. He would always tell me “No, we take care of ourselves.”

A few days later, Stan finally reached a breaking point and brought his family to the church for warmth and rest. Several of those gold shirt volunteers began to love on them and get them whatever they needed. They served them selflessly. Stan watched with amazement how these volunteers just did whatever needed done with eagerness and a smile. He had never witnessed anything like this before.

A few days of watching this, Stan said he needed to talk to someone, “Right now!” One of the chaplains took him aside and asked what he needed. Stan replied, “I have never in my life witnessed such love as I have with all of these gold shirts. They have something I do not have, and I want what they have.” The chaplain shared with Stan the Gospel message, and Stan prayed to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. His life was dramatically changed!

I have watched so many of our volunteers in those gold shirts work hard, serve faithfully, and love generously without ever expecting anything in return. They model true servanthood.

I see them work hard all day and drag in exhausted in the evening. The feeding crew who had also been working hard all-day preparing meals, serves these volunteers. It’s not long, everyone is laughing, celebrating what God did that day, sing songs of praise, and sleep hard only to get up with eagerness to serve another day.

They understand God had set up these diving appointments and they cannot wait to see what will happen next. God has a plan. It may be a meeting at a gas station, at restaurant, in Wal-Mart or in someone’s back yard. But they are there. Ready to serve.

To the world it seems like foolishness. But to those who have experienced it, it is life changing; it is amazing; and it is incredible.

They love to work together, serve together, and pray together. They are eager to learn, to train, and to train others. They are truly the hands and feet of Jesus, ready to go across town, across the state, across the nation, or even around the world. Just like Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me.” (Isa. 6:8).

Many of them use their own equipment or vehicle; take their own vacation time to serve to help others; take time away from family or their own needs at home to serve others. It is in their heart.

So, next time you see someone in the gold shirt, let them know how much you appreciate them .

Everyone can pray. Pray for this ministry and these volunteers as they serve.

Most can give. Your generous gifts help provide the resources needed to care for others in times of disaster. Your giving allows us to go; to provide the chainsaws, the kitchens, the trailers, the tarps, supplies, training, and so much more. And as you give through the Cooperative Program, you support this wonderful ministry.

Some can go. Will you pray about and consider becoming a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer? It will change your life.

This ministry not only models the ministry of Jesus Christ, but it demonstrates the cooperative spirit of the Christian. We are a family.

THANK YOU!



Establish Healthy Churches

From time to time as I help churches develop their missions strategy that inevitably should involve church planting, the question is asked: “Do we need more new churches or for our existing churches to become healthier? The answer is simple. Yes! We need both. While I have written about the need for church planting, I want to focus on the importance of how the establishment of healthy churches also involves ensuring that our existing churches become healthier.

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Along with planting new churches, establishing churches involves discipling existing churches.  Establishing churches is not a decision about whether we need new churches planted or existing churches strengthened.  We need both.  Discipleship must be intentional, or it will not occur.  Followers of Jesus need to be taught scripture reading, doctrine, prayer, evangelism, church membership, fasting, missions, parenting, biblical view of work, ethics and so much more. In other words, each church must have a robust and intentional method of discipling their own people from the youngest to the oldest – from the cradle to the grave – with the word of God.

Churches must ensure that disciples are being formed within their congregations. Paul reminds the church at Colossae that the goal of every church is to proclaim Jesus by “admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete (mature) in Christ” (Col 1:28).  Similarly, Jesus instructed his first-century followers on that Galilean Mountain to “teach [all believers] to observe all that [he] commanded [us]” (Matt 28:20).  Ultimately, we are after the transformation of lives rather than simply the preservation of information.  Jesus and Paul are concerned with disciples living out the teaching of Scripture and not simply knowing the teaching of Scripture. 

So, what might a transformed disciple look like?  The IMB speaks of 6 marks of a disciple (Foundations, IMB).  In other words, every church’s goal is to see every Jesus follower mature by the transformation of the word in these areas of their life:

  • transformed heart- being born again with a new heart
  • transformed mind- being renewed in our minds
  • transformed affections- being led with godly desires/affections
  • transformed will- being obedient in what we do
  • transformed relationships- being reconciled with others because of Jesus
  • transformed purpose- being engaged in God’s mission

In essence, then, establishing healthy churches involves the holistic transformation of each disciple in every aspect of their life—heart, mind, affections, will, relationships, and purpose. 

Further, disciples transformed by the gospel will contribute to overall healthy church formation.  But what does a healthy church look like?  Helpful in this conversation is the IMB’s 12 Characteristics of a Healthy Church (Foundations, IMB).

  1. Biblical evangelism
  2. Biblical discipleship
  3. Biblical membership
  4. Biblical leadership
  5. Biblical preaching and teaching
  6. Biblical ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper
  7. Biblical worship
  8. Biblical fellowship
  9. Biblical prayer
  10. Biblical accountability and discipline
  11. Biblical giving
  12. Biblical mission

What plans does your church have in place to ensure that all believers are taught not simply to know the Bible, but to live [observe] the Bible?  How is your church ensuring its ongoing healthy growth by intentionally focusing on these 12 characteristics?  Where might your church be strong in these 12 characteristics and where might your church be weak? What steps can you take to shore up weaknesses and reinforce strengths? After all, our the goal is not simply for a church to exist, but for healthy church existence. And that, as we know, takes intentionality.  

Sharing the Gospel in Hostile Times

Syrian refugee girls march at a United Nations refugee camp in Jordan.

Oftentimes, the mission of God does not seem to match our conveniently constructed models. God calls us to love all people, which means taking the gospel to hard places, among hard people, and during difficult times. In Acts 8:26-40, we catch a glimpse of how God brings about what He has promised is going to happen in Revelation 5:9-10. God orchestrated circumstances in such a way that Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch met on a desert road to bring about His will, and He continues to do so today for the same purposes. However, we see some things about this mission that are often missed, or even rejected, in the West. Philip understood that God would never leave him or forsake him, so he never stopped sharing the gospel no matter where God sent him. In this passage, we see four realities regarding the mission of God that can empower us to share the gospel in hostile times.

  • The mission of God is inconvenient
    Think about the inconvenience of the Lord’s assignment for Phillip. Phillip had just been scattered from Jerusalem and gone to Samaria where “revival” broke out. Then, God ask him to leave and go south to Gaza. Not very convenient to go to a place that is known for robbers, in the middle of the desert in order to talk to a wealthy, Ethiopian eunuch. For someone limited on time, surely there were better assignments. In the West, our culture is built on convenience, constantly attempting to make life more comfortable. While some conveniences may have their place, the mission of God is never convenient, at least not the way our culture thinks about convenience. Church, we will never have mission without sacrifice.
  • The mission of God appears inefficient
    Phillip was praying, and God directed him to go to a desert place. Once there, the Spirit directed him to run alongside of a chariot of foreigners. The eunuch’s journey to Jerusalem was conceivably five months long, one way. Once there, he was doubly denied entrance into the assembly at the temple for being a Gentile and a eunuch. While efficiency has its place, the mission of God is hardly efficient, and the details surrounding Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch underscore this point. In the West, as one of the holdovers from the Industrial Revolution, our culture loves efficiency. We value seeking the greatest output for the least input. Church, we must obey God’s call, share Christ without fear and trust the Lord with the results.
  • The mission of God is ingenious
    God combats the core human instinct to “go our own way,” even our feeble attempts to earn His favor by our convenient, efficient means. The gospel is a gift, and the only way to be made right in God’s eyes is to admit you need salvation and to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. Nothing is more convenient than that! But the genius of God is that to grow in this grace is to receive His mission,  “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Grace writes a blank check for the obedience of the recipient. Church, we must spend time in prayer, hear from God and obey him at all costs.
  • The mission of God is indisputable
    God has given us the end of the story. Either it is true, or it is not. And if this story is the true story of what He is doing in the world, then the reason His mission seems inconvenient and difficult to many is perhaps because we are living for a different story. Jesus said, “All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have command you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Church, the Great Commission is not an option clause, it is a command from our living Lord, Jesus Christ.

The Missions Mobilization team exist to serve you and your church, as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, please contact John Barnett at [email protected] or text 502-654-3385.

Would You interSEED for our KY-MSC Missionaries?

Each month we post an interSEED prayer calendar for Kentucky Mission Service Corps Missionaries and Church Planters.  Many of you download this calendar and pray for the missionaries and planters on their birthdays, and we thank you for doing so.  But now, I am asking that you go another step and pray for all of the 117 KY-MSC Missionaries for the next month. 

The last few weeks have been difficult for many of our missionaries, and they have shared many specific prayer requests.  Some have experienced health issues, others surgeries, family deaths, family and ministry-related issues.  All of these going on while continuing to minister to others.

Ministry can be hard and discouraging at times, especially when the missionaries are dealing with personal problems.  They need our prayers and encouragement more now than ever. 

I would like to ask you to go to www.kybaptist.org/msc, where you will find a list of the missionaries, their pictures, a ministry description, and email address.  As you view their profiles would you pray for each missionary and perhaps even send an encouraging email.  (If you would like to send encouragement or prayer cards email [email protected] for mailing addresses.)

Pray for the missionaries’ physical, mental, and emotional health.

Pray for their families, their children, their marriages to remain strong.

Pray for the missionaries to have strength to do the work they have been called to do.  Most all of them work long hours, days without a break, and without enough help.  Pray for co-laborers to come alongside and share in the work.

Pray for safety.  Yes, even in Kentucky, many are serving in dangerous areas.

Pray for both personal and ministry finances.  All of these missionaries are self-funded and often find support very lean.

Most of all pray for them spiritually.  Pray that the missionaries have a personal, intimate, growing relationship with the Lord.  Pray that they are bold in their witness and that they are a shining example of Christ.  Pray for mentors and support groups.  Pray that the missionaries are surrounded by other strong Christians and get connected to a strong, supporting church family.

As you spend time in prayer each day don’t forget to thank God for the missionaries serving in our state and pray for them to stand strong in their service.

You might also consider “adopting” a Kentucky missionary through our “Adopt-a-Missionary” initiative.  For information go to www.kybaptist.org/adoptmissionary.

Thanks for your care and concern.

Pray for Ukraine…and Give

Pray for Ukraine. We hear those words often and our hearts break for them and we are moved with compassion. We want to do something, anything to make a difference.


As I look at the images we see on the news and online, I often have no words. There are no words to describe my thoughts, my emotions, and the evil we are seeing happening in our world. I do not feel what these people feel, I have not experienced what these people are experiencing, I am not displaced as these people are, and I am not hurting and scared as these people are. Yet, my heart breaks for them.

As of May 1, 2022, around 13.2 million people – approximately 30.5% of the Ukrainian population – have been forcibly displaced by the ongoing military offensive, including 7.7 million internally displaced and 5.5 million displaced across international borders.

According to the revised estimations, over 24 million people – more than half of Ukraine’s population – will need humanitarian assistance in the months ahead, about 8 million more than estimated less than two months ago. It includes 15.7 million inside Ukraine, whose access to vital necessities have been impacted due to massive destruction of civilian infrastructure, the consequent displacement, and dramatic loss of jobs and livelihoods.

Send Relief continues to be in contact with company and national partners on the ground and Send Relief’s response to this major crisis continues to rise. Send Relief began responding with food relief before the invasion and continues to collaborate with national partners and Baptist Union leaders to provide food, shelter, transportation, medical supplies, clothing, and trauma ministry to those displaced and impacted by the crisis. Send Relief has continued to expand response to displaced people and is now assisting in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Italy. SBDR disaster response teams have deployed to Poland and Romania, and Send Relief continues to work with field leaders to deploy SBDR and other volunteer teams. SBDR state conventions currently active or in process of activating: North Carolina Baptists on Mission, Texas Baptist Men, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Southern Baptist Texas Convention, Georgia, Missouri, California, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Alabama.

Current projects: Send Relief continues to work in 14 countries and has 42 current relief projects funded through company partners, state convention partners, and Baptist Union partners. Ministry is happening with the support of many Southern Baptists.

So, what can we do? How can we help? Pray for the Ukrainians…and give.

Prayer Requests:
• Pray for peace in Ukraine and Russia.
• Pray for increasing numbers of people being displaced.
• Pray for the rising numbers of refugees in Western Ukraine, many who do not want to leave their country.
• Pray for those unable to leave war ravaged areas of Ukraine who are increasingly in need of basic life sustaining supplies.
• Pray for God to change the hearts of those in power in Russia.
• Pray for God’s protection for believers serving and ministering on the front lines of this crisis.
• Pray for those suffering in the areas of active conflict and for those who have lost loved ones.
• Pray that God will open people to the hope of Christ through this difficult season in their lives.
• Pray that the displaced can find a shelter and basic needs as they flee from the conflict.
• Pray for minority groups being displaced, who are often forgotten and disenfranchised.
• Pray for women and children displaced from home without husbands and fathers, who are often the primary providers in these families.
• Pray that children will be protected from those who might seek to harm or exploit them during this crisis.
• Pray that partners and the local church will have wisdom and strength during this time.
• Pray for local churches and partners in Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Germany as they seek to help those fleeing and traumatized by war.
• Pray for the SBDR response teams and other volunteer teams as they serve in response.
• Pray that as we serve together and offer compassionate ministry in these difficult circumstances that all we do would glorify our great Lord and Savior.

Everyone can pray. Most can give and you can support the Ukrainian relief effort by visiting www.kybaptist.org/Ukraine. Some can go. Pray for our Kentucky Baptists scheduled to go in the coming weeks. Give to support this work.

“Brethren, pray for us” 1 Thessalonians 5:25









Information or Transformation?

When Jesus offers those famous final words to his disciples on that mountaintop in Galilee, he has the end goal in mind—transformation, that is, mature disciples.  Jesus’s command in the Great Commission is to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19).  The goal of the Great Commission is faithful Jesus followers.  Where the gospels end with the story of Jesus, the book of Acts begins.  Acts is the story of how Jesus’s commission is to be carried out among all nations through the local church.  Churches not only plant churches in Acts to fulfill His mission, but churches are also concerned with maturing as a church by “teaching [disciples] to observe [do] all that Jesus commanded” (Matt 28:20).      

Discipleship must be intentional, or it will not occur.  Followers of Jesus need to be taught scripture reading, doctrine, prayer, evangelism, church membership, fasting, missions, parenting, biblical view of work, ethics and so much more. In other words, each church must have a robust and intentional method of discipling their own people from the youngest to the oldest – from the cradle to the grave with the Word of God.

Churches must ensure that disciples are being formed within their congregation. Paul reminds the church at Colossae that the goal of every church is to proclaim Jesus by “admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete (mature) in Christ” (Col 1:28).  The Great Commission is not simply about forming converts but forming mature disciples. How can we know if a person is becoming a mature disciple?  

The International Mission Board (IMB) is helpful by speaking of 6 marks of a disciple (Foundations, IMB).  In other words, every church’s goal is to see every Jesus follower mature by the transformation of the word in these areas of their life:

  • transformed heart- being born again with a new heart
  • transformed mind- being renewed in our minds
  • transformed affections- being led with godly desires/affections
  • transformed will- being obedient in what we do
  • transformed relationships- being reconciled with others because of Jesus
  • transformed purpose- being engaged in God’s mission

In essence, then, the Great Commission involves the holistic transformation of each disciple in every aspect of their life—heart, mind, affections, will, relationships, and purpose in the context of the local church. 

Further, disciples transformed by the gospel will contribute to overall healthy church formation.  When disciples of Jesus in the context of the local church are becoming more mature in Christ, that local church becomes healthier.  But what does a healthy church look like?  Again, helpful in this conversation is the IMB’s 12 Characteristics of a Healthy Church (Foundations, IMB).

  1. Biblical evangelism
  2. Biblical discipleship
  3. Biblical membership
  4. Biblical leadership
  5. Biblical preaching and teaching
  6. Biblical ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper
  7. Biblical worship
  8. Biblical fellowship
  9. Biblical prayer
  10. Biblical accountability and discipline
  11. Biblical    

Is your church intentionally working toward these 12 characteristics which will both mature the disciples and the church?  What plans does your church have in place to ensure that all believers are taught not simply to know the Bible, but to live [observe] the Bible?   After all, those famous last words on the mountain with Jesus are meant for our transformation and not simply our information.

Reflections and Updates on the Ukrainian Crisis

I watch as an older man stands in front of his bombed-out house. All of his memories, the small earthly things that give us comfort, his entire history is scattered. There is a confused, bewildered look on his face as he realizes that the accomplishment of his labor is no more.

I see a woman who does not want to leave the danger zone because she just witnessed the death of her family by artillery fire. To her, she is sitting at their grave.

I see people lining up at bordering countries with whatever they can carry and waiting in 15–16-hour lines, exposed to the elements and waiting to be processed. Once they cross the border, their status changes to “refugee,” but regardless of the label, it is the same person fighting disbelief, exhaustion, and desperation as they search for ways to fend for their families.

You see, it does not matter which country is experiencing conflict: Uganda, Yemen, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria, Libya, Georgia, Armenia and now Ukraine, war forces people to become displaced.

With the tragic scenario currently unfolding in Ukraine, Send Relief has responded quickly, propelled by God’s love. They are providing food, hygiene items, shelter, safety blankets and transportation to the neighboring countries that people are fleeing to, such as Hungary and Poland, while continuing projects are providing relief to people still trapped in Ukraine itself.

As they monitor the situation, it has become clear that the bulk of the Ukrainian refugee population are currently seeking shelter in countries with similar cultures and languages, as well as those with a large diaspora presence of Ukrainians. Currently, Poland will be the base of operations moving forward, but as is the case many times, the majority of people in dire need are not the refugees outside the country but the displaced people trapped inside the country, with no means of travel and no family or friends to go to.

Present news reports state that over 2.5 million refugees have made it to Poland, with Romania receiving the second highest number at 700,000. All of the countries receiving people need more assistance, because coping with an influx of this number of refugees is difficult for any nation.

Send Relief has established multiple rest and registration facilities at the key entry points, where they can offer refugees relief packages with sandwiches, water, and more necessities, along with working with local authorities to provide a play tent for children to wait in while their parents are processed. As of today, Send Relief is partnering with local churches and national partners in fourteen countries.

Currently, the majority of those fleeing Ukraine are women and children, as most 18–60-year-old men must remain in the country to fight unless they have medical exemptions.

Establishing these rest and registration points will help Send Relief confirm where they will be resettling in Poland and other countries, who they will stay with and if we can arrange follow-up visits to assess and strengthen the financial capacity of host families.

In all of this, we must remember that God is in control. His kingdom expands in a time of turmoil. As the body of Christ unites, believers are emboldened and strengthened in their walks with God.

As Kentucky Baptist, you can join in solidarity with the people of Ukraine by praying, giving and going! Go to https://www.kybaptist.org/ukraine/ today and get involved!

The Missions Mobilization team exist to serve you and your church, as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, please contact John Barnett at [email protected] or text 502-654-3385. *field info from Abraham Shepherd, Send Relief (Area Director for Europe, Middle East, and North Africa.

Introducing the 2022 Kentucky Missionary of the Year

Stacey Burton, Director of Lake Cumberland Baptist Association’s PM59 Ministries in Somerset, is the 2022 Kentucky Missionary of the Year.

Stacey has served as a Mission Service Corps Missionary since June 2013.  She directs a ministry to children and families which, in the past, has included a children’s choir, family mission action projects, mission education for children, day camps, family movie nights, and much more. 

In March 2020, when the pandemic forced their regular ministry activities to stop, Stacey found new adventures and new ways to reach her community.  Working with five partnering churches, they began drive thru dinners and, when these stopped, she focused on two housing areas where they continued to deliver meals.

Stacey ministers to ladies at a local rehab center, where she builds relationships, feeds them meals, and offers encouragement.  Over the past couple of years, she has seen many of these ladies profess faith in Christ and follow through with baptism.  Stacey helps to connect them to a local church and continues to disciple them in their new walk with the Lord.

On her 2021 KY-MSC ministry report, Stacey reported thirty professions of faith and twenty-five baptisms as a result of her ministry and/or personal witnessing. 

Each year Stacey coordinates the Christmas Backpack program in Pulaski County, serving nearly one thousand local children.  She works with other churches in the Lake Cumberland Baptist Association to create, organize, and/or maintain their preschool, children, and family ministries, and helps many of the smaller churches with Vacation Bible School.

Stacey left a career as a public-school teacher a few years ago to devote full-time to this ministry position.  In addition to her ministry, she has adopted and fostered several children, some of which are now teenagers, and is leading them to be active in ministry. 

Bro. Ed Amundson, Stacey’s pastor at High Street Baptist Church in Somerset, has shared how valuable Stacey has been in leading their church and other churches in the Lake Cumberland Baptist Association to be on-mission in their local communities. 

Stacey is most deserving of this award, which is given annually to a missionary that demonstrates:

  • Commitment to and effectiveness in evangelism, church planting, or ministry.
  • Demonstration of “going the second mile.”
  • Outstanding performance in achieving assigned tasks.
  • Tenure
  • Unusual commitment to our Lord’s service.
  • Positive representation of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
  • True reflection of being an “On Mission Christian.”

CONGRATULATIONS, Stacey!!