PICKENS, S.C. (BP)–As a family doctor, I am familiar with an EKG as a test on cardiac activity in a patient. This common test helps determine whether a patient is healthy or in danger of some type of heart problem. More than a year ago, I learned of a different type of EKG, which is the strategy our state Baptist convention has used to challenge individual churches in contributing to the growth of God’s Kingdom. At East Pickens Baptist Church, we have also used EKG as part of our strategy to see people reached for Christ through our Global Missions Impact Center. EKG has helped us assess our church to see if we are healthy in our approach to missions.
When we started our Global Missions Impact Center a year ago, we felt God had already given us the best strategy and command for missions involvement in Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world.”
We have approached missions from a local/state (Jerusalem/Judea), North America (Samaria) and international (uttermost parts of the world) viewpoint. Approaching missions with three different avenues has encouraged more people to be involved in missions. Our church has had a strong missions involvement with short-term national and international trips, but seeing Christ call us to be witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea has caused us to think about missions locally and in our state as well. When you ask God for opportunities to get involved, be prepared because he will give them to you.
Internationally, God has opened doors for our church to be involved in missions projects in Romania, Brazil, Asia and a part of the world in the 10/40 window, which is the part of the globe between 10 and 40 degrees latitude north of the equator. If you looked at the countries in this window, you would find that of the 55 least-evangelized countries, 97 percent of the population lives within the 10/40 window.
We have had a partnership with a sister Baptist church in western Romania the last few years. Through this partnership, we have seen this mother church plant more than 20 mission churches in local villages.
In Asia, our missions work has been in support and encouragement of our International Mission Board missionaries by going to provide workers to care for children of the missionaries while training, and a medical team of doctors and nurses to care for missionaries at a conference. These opportunities of support for the missionaries have taught us that although we have not necessarily been on the frontlines in sharing the Gospel, God has allowed us to impact the entire world.
In Brazil, we had the chance to use baseball and medical clinics as a platform to share the Gospel. We are blessed with people talented with skills who want, in turn, to use those skills as a tool to tell about Jesus. When you are focused on Kingdom growth, you realize the talents you have been given should, in turn, glorify God and tell others about His love.
This past year, God has called two of our church members through involvement in short-term mission trips to become full-time missionaries with the International Mission Board in the 10/40 window. Later this year, our church will send a team to see how we can support them in their work in that part of the world. God often uses short-term missions to call some out for full-time service in his Kingdom growth plan.
In the past year, God has given us the opportunity to participate in a national mission trip to Colorado Springs, Colo. We have realized that to balance the Acts 1:8 challenge, we cannot focus only on foreign lands. Highlighting the need for North American missions was a little girl at our Backyard Bible Club in Colorado who, when asked if she attended a church, replied, “What is a church?” We had the opportunity to partner with a multi-cultural, inner-city church there.
Sometimes the hardest people to witness to are people in your own community. Those around us are watching our lives closely to see if our walk matches our talk. God has blessed us with several opportunities in our community to share about Jesus.
Our church has hosted a community-wide celebration the last six years on July 4 to not only celebrate our country’s freedom, but also the freedom we have as Christians in Jesus Christ. This event’s attendance has grown each year, to approximately 5,000 people.
Other local missions projects God has given our church this past year are to host Celebrate Recovery, a support group for people to deal with their hurts, habits and hang-ups; to build a Habitat for Humanity house for a couple in our church; and to support our first church plant in the northern part of Pickens County.
I am not sharing about East Pickens to boast about ourselves or our church, but to show how God has used missions to energize and mobilize our members to fulfill our part of the Great Commission. If you ask God to help your church participate in the Acts 1:8 challenge, you will see for yourself how God will provide a local, state, national and international outreach. We could never have planned for all these opportunities, but we have seen God open doors we never knew about.
God doesn’t look at our ability, but at our availability, when it comes to serving him. Through working with the Global Missions Impact Center at our church, I have been blessed to see God do some extraordinary things through our church in our desire to Empower Kingdom Growth.
Greg Edens, of Pickens, S.C., is director of East Pickens Baptist Church’s Global Missions Impact Center.