WEEK OF PRAYER: Helping Copenhagen’s artists & atheists visualize faith
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (BP) -- The street musician rolled a cigarette, scratched his head and squinted for a moment. Frederik finished his final set of the day before resting on a bench on the Stroget, a popular avenue in downtown Copenhagen. It's a place where people shop, eat and catch a little entertainment.
EMBRACE: Church ’embraces’ tough decisions about unengaged peoples
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Choosing a people group to engage with the Gospel can feel like throwing a dart at a map, but it's not impossible, says a pastor leading his church to engage the unengaged.
Korean Baptists on board for people group challenge
CARROLLTON, Texas (BP)--On a crowded street in Seoul, Korea, David Gill's life changed when a missionary from the United States did something he didn't expect -- the man spoke to him. Gill was one of nearly 400 participants at the annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America this summer at New Song Church in Carrollton, Texas. Of 190 churches represented at the gathering, 52 committed to accept the embrace challenge. Gill, then 16, had traveled from a poor, rural farming area -- about a day's journey from Seoul -- to live in the city and attend school. He was alone and needed a friend when the missionary reached out to him. He invited Gill into his home. He taught him English. He later helped lead Gill to follow Jesus as Savior. More than 40 years later, Gill -- now a pastor at Concord Korean Baptist Church in Martinez, Calif. -- remains thankful for the missionary's impact on his life, still marveling at how the man "found" him. "There were so many people in the street of Seoul, Korea," Gill said. "He talked to me. He loved me ... and through him I came to meet Jesus. I don't know where I'd be without this man. God found me through [him]." Southern Baptist Koreans must strengthen their outreach to those who likewise need to be found for Christ. Southern Baptists of different languages, ethnicities and cultures have been challenged to "embrace" approximately 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups -- those who live in places that are less than 2 percent evangelical and have no active church-planting strategy among them.
EMBRACE: Southern Baptists begin engaging 3,800 people groups
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--"Let's get to it already. We're ready to roll." Micah Fries'sentiment echoed throughout the crowd as IMB President Tom Elliff gave an invitation during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting June 14-15 in Phoenix. Elliff told messengers he felt like he was "holding back a dam" of Southern Baptists ready to walk forward and "embrace" the remaining 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups around the globe.
A CALL TO SACRIFICE: World’s unreached gain Southern Baptists’ ’embrace’
PHOENIX (BP)--Southern Baptist pastors and leaders respond to the challenge to "embrace" the world's 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups during the SBC's annual meeting in Phoenix. "To the best of our knowledge … nobody has them on the radar screen," IMB President Tom Elliff told the convention.
S. Asia teams witness power of prayerwalking
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Their prayers weren’t public displays for all to witness on the streets in South Asia. Most of them didn’t involve kneeling at a bedside or in front of a church altar. In January 2010, six Southern Baptist volunteers from various churches in the United States prayerwalked (praying quietly with eyes open while walking) […]
‘Go where lost people are,’ Iorg urges WMU
PHOENIX (BP)–Wearing an umpire uniform, Jeff Iorg said he wanted to show off his “missionary clothes” during the concluding session of the 2011 National Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting June 13. Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., shared how umpiring baseball on the side for […]
Among Asian fishermen, they seek to be ‘fishers of men’
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (BP)--It hangs from the ceiling near the auditorium of Englewood Baptist Church like an overgrown spider web. It's frayed and tattered in spots, with blue netting where it has been repaired multiple times through the years. Pastor Michael Cloer runs his fingers along the fishing net, admiring the craftsmanship. As he inspects the net, he voices an impromptu object lesson. "You look at the individual pieces and they don't look like much, but together they are strong. … It's a great picture of the church," said Cloer, who received the net from a fisherman in South Asia when Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, N.C., took its first overseas missions trip to reach the Koli people for Christ. That Koli fisherman is now a follower of Jesus. A couple of months after the initial mission trip in February 2011, a second Englewood team returned to the same spot where Cloer had met the fisherman. By the end of 2011, the church will have sent four teams to engage the Koli people with the Good News. At last year's annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, Cloer said he became convicted that the congregation had not done enough to help reach people groups like the Koli -- those unreached with less than a 2 percent evangelical presence and unengaged with no church-planting strategy among them. "The Spirit of God just spoke to my heart and said, 'What are we doing about unreached people?'" Cloer said. "We had been praying for them, just as a whole, but that's as far as we were going. I came back and … began to pray, 'God, where do you want us to go?'" The church soon was committed to ministering to the Koli people. Amidst a backdrop of modern conveniences and technological advances, the Koli people -- with their colorful boats and waving flags -- represent an old way of life committed to hard work, tradition and idol worship. Fishermen struggle to make a living in polluted waters in a time when modern life seems to have passed them by. Most of the younger Koli generations hunt for new opportunities to escape the old way of life, while clinging to the worship of more than 300,000 gods. Of the 283,000-plus Koli people whom Englewood is engaging, fewer than half of 1 percent are evangelical. "We saw a people group who were mainly fishermen, and the Lord immediately struck in my heart," Cloer said. "God told us to be fishers of men … fishers of men among the fishermen." In the summer of 2010, the International Mission Board challenged Southern Baptists to adopt 6,426 unreached people groups based on that year's research. At this year's SBC annual meeting, IMB President Tom Elliff plans to narrow that focus to the approximately 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups. Englewood Baptist Church's partnership also will be featured at this year's SBC meeting. The Koli are now engaged with a church-planting strategy -- and the work has just begun. Church members venturing among the Koli in South Asia won't have to look far to find challenges. On the streets they'll find a variety of idols -- ones surrounded in fresh flowers on cab dashboards or those swinging from the rearview mirror. Some will be displayed on posters along shop walls and encased in concrete shrines. In some homes they'll find a cross, a statue or even a picture of Jesus, but locals view these as mere additions to their idol worship. "To the Koli, Jesus is just another god," said Claude*, an Englewood member the church is supporting to lead follow-up work among the Koli. Claude and his wife Lynne* plan to live in South Asia until the end of 2011.
In Asia, couple is at peace among unreached
SOUTH ASIA (BP)--Taped to the inside of their apartment front door is a list of essentials -- "phone, water, keys, money, copy of passport" -- that a North Carolina couple doesn't want to forget when venturing into the streets of a South Asian city of 12 million people.
Elliff to ‘newly introduce’ IMB to young pastors at SBC
ROCKVILLE, Va. (BP)--Tom Elliff, in his first trustee meeting as president of International Mission Board, rolled out the beginning of the vision he believes "God painted on my heart." Trustees elected a new vice president during their May 20 meeting at the International Learning Center in Rockville, Va., and were asked to pray for the final results of the 2010 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Trustees also approved 48 new missionaries. On May 22 at Mandarin Baptist Church in Los Angeles, 26 of those missionaries were appointed; the other 22 will be appointed during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting June 15 in Phoenix. EMBRACING THE NATIONS Elliff, in a brief preview of his IMB report to the SBC annual meeting June 15, shared his vision that each of the remaining 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups would be "embraced" by a Southern Baptist church committed to seeing that people group engaged with the Gospel. "I pray within 12 months of our Southern Baptist Convention," Elliff said, "that we will see all 3,800 of those unengaged people groups with some church saying, 'We've taken them on. We are reaching out embracing them. We're going to learn about them. We're going to pray over them. We're going to strategize.' "Our goal," Elliff added, "is to one day have boots on the ground [among them] sharing the Gospel, and that's an exciting prospect." Elliff also noted how the IMB needs to be more aggressive in facilitating younger generations of pastors and churches that desire to reach the nations. He affirmed that the mission board has significant value to "bring to the table" to a new generation of pastors that will benefit local churches and create fresh awareness of the SBC. "God is developing a fresh generation of pastors and churches that really take their faith seriously," Elliff said. "They are disciplined students of the Bible. They are driven by a remarkable passion to ensure the fulfillment of the Great Commission. "It would be foolish for us to assume that those pastors and churches are simply going to choose to be Southern Baptist as a default position. It is to this generation of pastors and church members that we must newly introduce ourselves. We must offer them compelling evidence that being a Southern Baptist and doing missions through IMB is scripturally based, it is spiritually empowered and it is fiscally responsible.