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CP Missions is central to Korean church’s discipleship

TACOMA, Wash. (BP)–Members at Tacoma First Baptist Church learn an appreciation for and obligation to CP Missions from their first “new beginners” class.

By the time they’ve also completed discipleship training through LifeWay Christian Resources’ “Survival Kit for New Christians” and “Experiencing God,” Tacoma First members are grounded in Southern Baptist missions.

“I explain we gotta do this,” pastor Chang S. Moon said of CP Missions, the method by which Southern Baptist churches support an array of missions and ministry initiatives across North America and around the world.

Tacoma First was a Korean Sunday School department at First Baptist Church of Lakewood in Tacoma when Moon was called 21 years ago as pastor of what was then a 120-member group.

“We have been part of the Cooperative Program [CP Missions] so we have to support it. … The Southern Baptist Convention has been doing this more effectively than a single church could.”

Today nearly 1,400 people worship in three adult Sunday services at Tacoma First — two services in Korean and one in English — and in three youth-oriented English-language services — a Contemporary Ministries service for the college/career crowd, a youth service for teens and a children’s service for youngsters through the sixth grade. Tacoma First is the largest church of the nearly 450 congregations that affiliate with the SBC and Northwest Baptist Convention.

This year, for the 10th consecutive year, mission teams will go to East Asia for intensive Bible training with perhaps 20 house churches. Each of Tacoma First’s 43 cell groups/house churches sponsors one house church in East Asia. The church also helped start — and continues to help with — a noodle factory to ease hunger needs in one part of East Asia.

Mission teams also go once and sometimes twice a year to the Philippines to share the gospel and provide medical care, and the church assists a missionary with the Maori tribe of New Zealand.

Closer to home, meanwhile, Tacoma First planted two churches last year, in Lynnwood and Des Moines, Wash., and Tacoma First members minister at a rescue mission in downtown Tacoma.

The church also provides a daycare center for about 50 preschoolers and is in the planning stages of building an apartment building near the church for senior citizens.

“This is so they can go to the church any time,” Moon said of the seniors. The church doors open at 4:30 a.m. Members trickle in to start their day in a time of prayer that concludes at 6:30 a.m.

“In the 1950s and ’60s, and beyond that I don’t remember, we are so poor in Korea we have to pray,” the pastor explained. “If you are sick, you can’t get hospital, so through circumstances we had to pray. God was the only one we could depend on.

“It’s tradition now in America to pray early in the morning,” Moon continued. “But even now, though we live in an affluent country, yet we have to depend on our God still, seeking Him in prayer. And also I believe we pray for spiritual growth.”

Discipleship training at Tacoma First takes place Sunday afternoon and Thursday evening. Tuesday is visitation. Wednesday, prayer. Friday and Saturday are kept open for the house churches/cell groups; the Korean-speaking groups meet weekly; the English-speaking, monthly. About 300 women from the community also meet Tuesday and Wednesday at Tacoma First for an interdenominational Bible study.

To build relationships among church members, a typical multi-course Korean meal is served each Sunday to about 800 people, funded by the contributions of those who participate. Eight groups of ladies cook and serve in a rotation-type ministry that has been going on for many years, the pastor said.

Tacoma First also owns a 10-acre retreat center near Mt. Rainier that it hopes to expand in the next five years. Its present size limits it to children’s camps and missions groups’ prayer retreats.

“The purpose of a church is to reach out to the lost and help them to grow spiritually,” Moon said, “and to equip them to serve the Lord. We are Southern Baptist because it is a Bible-believing denomination that is working together to reach out to a lost world.”

“Together” is a key word, the pastor said. The purpose of the Sunday fellowship dinners is to build a sense of togetherness, which helps Tacoma First to continually increase its effectiveness in ministry.

“Tacoma First Baptist Church has grown because of God’s grace,” Moon said, citing, “Prayer. Plan for growth. Dedicated laypeople. Easy message to understand and applicable for daily life.

“Through discipleship training our members learn to serve,” Moon said. “The more people learn to serve together, the more effective the ministry. Look at CP Missions to see the value of working together. This is an honor to God.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: TACOMA TOUCHES PHILIPPINES, PRAYER IN THE PHILIPPINES, YOUTHFUL OUTREACH and PORT PRESENTATION.