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Church’s men catch vision for building God’s kingdom

OWENSBORO, Ky. (BP)–Jeff Rager had been a Christian for only a year and a half last summer when he was faced with what some might consider a difficult choice. His company needed him badly the week of his scheduled vacation and was willing to pay him well to stay. But he previously had committed to helping build a residence for a Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children campus.
Rager — a former victim of child abuse — knew his impact on the lives of those youth could prove far more valuable.
“They offered him $3,000 to stay and work that week rather than go, and he wouldn’t take it,” said Mike Melloan, Brotherhood director for Yellow Creek Baptist Church near Owensboro. “He worked with those kids like you wouldn’t believe, and he stood up and gave his testimony one night, and he really ministered to those boys.”
The dedication to ministry exhibited by Rager and the other men actively involved at Yellow Creek is one of the primary focuses of Baptist Men’s Day, to be observed in many Southern Baptist churches Jan. 24.
Melloan said the church until about 1990 offered plenty of opportunities for men to fellowship over meals or catfish dinners, but not a lot of other activities. Then, he said, the men decided they needed to do more. They began investigating how they could be more actively involved in missions and soon settled into a dual-pronged approach to being on mission with God in building his kingdom.
In addition to day-to-day ministries and local servant projects, the men take on at least one major building project each year. But they also conduct between two and four lay revivals yearly, including one in conjunction with their building project. The combined effort draws on the strengths of everyone to further Christ’s kingdom.
Today, in a church with about 300-350 in worship, about 50-60 men are actively involved in missions and typically 25 men will participate in the missions trips. They still have three or four general meetings a year, but their purpose is more to provide information about future projects than for fellowship.
The men of Yellow Creek make it a point to ask individuals from the organization they are helping to work alongside them. Relationships are built with lasting impact.
“What we have found is when you are doing a building project and you let these guys work next to you for a day or two, then you have good success with a lay revival because then they know you’re real,” Melloan said.
The testimonies of the laymen receive some of the strongest response. The volunteers relate their own struggles, and their commitment stands as a testimony to the difference Christ has made in their lives.
At the children’s home, the interaction of residents with strong Christian role models was especially important. “What impresses me more than anything is that the staff of the children’s home talked more about the impact we had on the kids’ lives than they did about our building the cabins,” Melloan said.
Melloan said whenever he is asked to speak about how to get men involved in missions, he stresses that the answer is not necessarily in any programs or books. It is about igniting a vision for what men can accomplish with Christ.
“There’s more pent-up desire right now among laymen to serve than I’ve ever seen before,” he said. “Many of them can’t sing and they can’t teach, but they need an opportunity to serve.”
And despite the most common excuses, he has not found available time to be one of the main determinants of who becomes active.
“The best guys we’ve got are the busiest,” he said. “They’ve got less time to devote to these than the young guys working 40 hours a week. The difference is the commitment,” he said.

“Missions in Motion,” a video and print curriculum geared toward helping adults discover how they can be on mission with God, is published quarterly by the North American Mission Board. To order, call 1-800-233-1123; or fax, (615) 251-5983.

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  • James Dotson