News Articles

Alabama church adds Kenya to missions focus

On a trip to Kenya earlier this summer, a group from Lineville Baptist Church saw God open doors for partnership.

LINEVILLE, Ala. – Lineville Baptist Church recently added another international ministry to its growing list of missions endeavors.

This is in addition to the 12 percent of undesignated offerings given to missions through the Cooperative Program, the way Southern Baptists work together world-wide in God’s kingdom missions and ministries.

“The Cooperative Program we believe is a powerful, powerful tool, unmatched and unequaled,” Pastor Ben Curlee told Baptist Press. “Our CP giving is rooted in what Jesus called us to do. The Great Commission is clear: ‘Go make disciples.’

Young people play basketball at Lineville Baptist Church.

“Almost 100 years ago, our fathers and mothers in faith moved with wisdom to set up a mechanism that would bolster Gospel work,” Curlee continued, referring to the establishment of Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program in 1925. “Churches of all sizes and from many contexts lock arms when we give through the Cooperative Program.”

Lineville, which began in 1839, has been a missional church throughout its history, the pastor said. When he was called as pastor in 2019, the church was giving 10 percent to missions through the Cooperative Program, and an additional 3 percent to the work of Carey Baptist Association. It’s now giving 12 and 5.

“How beautiful are the feet of these [missionaries] giving their lives to go and live in different cultures and contexts.” Curlee said. “The Cooperative Program gives us the opportunity to support those engaged in such work and equip more to join in such work.”

At least 25 percent of Lineville Baptist’s total offerings goes to missions. In 2021, more than $26,000 was given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. That total was more than double the church’s previous high of $11,000.

Luanda, Kenya, is the latest international outreach. Charlotte Robertson, a former Lineville member now living in Montgomery, Ala., was instrumental in starting Mescal’s Children’s Center of Hope in Kenya 10 years ago. Today the ministry includes 36 youngsters living in the center’s orphanage and 100 attending Mescal’s Christian Academy. Mescal’s, named for Charlotte’s mother Mescal Griffin, sits on a five-acre parcel on the outskirts of Luanda. Mescal Griffin was a long-time member at Lineville and left a legacy of Gospel ministry in her family.

“It was wonderful,” Curlee said the week after returning from a fact-finding/vision trip to Kenya. “Our church family has been in sort of a loose partnership with Mescal’s Children’s Center of Hope. When we saw first-hand on the ground what was happening there, God really opened our eyes to a dynamic opportunity for us to officially partner with them.

Ben Curlee

“I believe these types of opportunities only strengthen our awareness of the need to spread the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a global Gospel. These types of partnerships in cross-cultural contexts help us be at the tip of the Gospel spear.

“At Lineville, we partner with NAMB church planters in Las Vegas and IMB missionaries in Dublin, Ireland,” the pastor continued. “Faithful Cooperative Program giving makes these partnerships possible. How else could a church in rural east Alabama connect with the nations in such an active way?”

Lineville Baptist also serves as the primary sponsor of a North American Mission Board church plant elsewhere in Carey Baptist Association, supports a Fellowship of Christian Athletes missionary and involves about 600 people – 150 youngsters and their family members – in Upward Basketball each winter.

The small, rural county has two elementary schools and one high school. Lineville Baptist ministers at all three: providing school supplies for teachers to pass out as needed; giving breakfast and prayer at the start of the school year for teachers; helping teachers as needed throughout the year; and pre-pandemic, Curlee was among a group of pastors and leaders who led a devotional each week they called “7 at 7,” seven minutes at 7 a.m.

Several other ministries are available for volunteering by the 200 people attending Sunday morning worship at Lineville Baptist. The church is in a low income, rural area where emotional, socio-economic and great spiritual needs are apparent for those with eyes to see.

“We engage with our community in a number of ways,” the pastor said. “We have a multi-layered and multi-faceted approach to our local Gospel work. Our church is going to continue to battle lostness as we go into these areas, as we attempt to meet these needs where they are.” 

Participating in missions and ministries “helps raise Gospel awareness in the hearts of the people,” Curlee said. “Sometimes viewing the Gospel work through a different culture or worldview reminds us of the urgency of the work at hand. Jesus told his disciples to pray for laborers and immediately sent them out to preach.”

“The disciples were the answer to their own prayer,” the pastor continued. “We must be ready to go ourselves, across the street, the nation or the ocean. We must be ready to go. Going always leads to more going. Our people consistently step up their Gospel witness because of having gone on these trips or having been involved in a local ministry.”

Curlee, son of Marc Curlee, a retired pastor who served in Alabama and Georgia, is in the fourth year of his first pastorate. The younger Curlee credits Lineville’s previous pastor, Jerry Colquett, who served Lineville Baptist for 33 years, for changing the church’s culture.

This enabled the members to follow their new pastor’s leadership in 2020, when in a month’s time they paid off nearly $176,000 in debt on the church’s Family Ministry Building, freeing the money for missions. 

“One of our consistent challenges is keeping a Gospel urgency in all we do,” Curlee said. “It is very easy to fall into the business of church but Jesus has called us to be His church.

“When we do church we’re caught up on measures and metrics. Our pet projects and preferences come to the front. But when we live the Gospel we’re focused on Jesus and His mission. There is nothing more powerful, dynamic and world-changing than the church being the church in her community.”