News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Ariz., Ky., Tenn. evangelism/missions news; ‘We go where the pizza guy won’t’

Today’s From the States features items from:
Portraits (Arizona)
Western Recorder (Kentucky)
Baptist and Reflector (Tennessee)


Ariz. churches helping people
who struggle with addiction

By Rik Danielsen

TUCSON, Ariz. (Portraits) — “Sober Project saved my life.”

These are the words of a man known as “Smiley,” who came to Sober Project in Tucson in 2006. There, he found Christ and a life of sobriety — and he met his wife Bianca. She had been referred to Sober Project because of a relative who was abusing drugs. At Sober Project, she found hope and healing and became an active servant of Christ.

A number of churches in the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention are finding a fertile field of ministry among the estimated one-and-a-half-million drug and alcohol abusers in our state. Time and space do not allow us to share the story of every church in Arizona with this type of ministry, so we are focusing on three churches.

These were chosen because they are in different cities and have different approaches to this ministry. What they all have in common is their message: “There is hope for addicts in the person of Jesus Christ.”

Set Free, Phoenix

In Phoenix, the men at Set Free Church say, “We go where the pizza guy won’t.” Every Tuesday and Friday night, they minister to people in neighborhoods where the pizza guy won’t deliver. They take food, water and a message of hope.

Some of those they meet will get in the van and enter the Set Free residential program. There, they will find a place to sleep, three meals a day and a program called “The Most Excellent Way,” which is based on “Ten Attitudes” taught in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.

A few will only come to get off the street for a night, but 75 percent of those who are serious about getting help will finish the program.

“The men come in broken, but leave with their heads held high,” say Pastors Joseph Still and Arthur Hisey.

Sober Project, Tucson

Sober Project in Tucson is a church for addicts that is not a residential program like Set Free but is one that ministers to people with addiction issues.

Pastor Larry Munguia and his wife Bobbi came to know Christ in 1997. They lived in the neighborhood around Calvary Baptist Church and saw a need to minister to people with substance abuse problems.

Larry says he “took the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and put Jesus right in the middle of it.”

The Munguias started Bible studies at Calvary in 2003 and launched Sober Project as a church in 2004. In the years since then, hundreds have come to know Christ.

The average Arizona Southern Baptist may not feel comfortable in a church where the pastor plays the drums and preaches barefooted, but Sober Project doesn’t exist for the average church member. They exist to rescue those who know they are perishing.

Calvary Baptist Church, Lake Havasu City

Ted Kamena is the recovery pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Havasu City. Ted is a retired police officer and a recovered alcoholic.

Calvary is not an addicts’ church; it is a church that has identified recovery ministry as one of its seven core ministries. Today, about 70 people are involved in Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery program featuring 12 steps and eight biblical principles.

When asked what he would say to a pastor considering starting a Celebrate Recovery ministry in his church, Ted says, “It is a leadership machine.” Celebrate Recovery produces leaders for other ministries at Calvary, he explains.

One of the most impressive things about these recovery ministries is the fact that they don’t believe a person is an addict or an alcoholic for life. When you come to know Christ and experience the freedom He gives you, your identity is in Christ, not your addiction.

“Hi, my name is Rik and I’m a follower of Christ.” (Oh, by the way: God released me from alcoholism and drug abuse in 1971. I thank the Lord and the wonderful people at Renewal House in Los Angeles for helping me in my journey to discipleship and sobriety.)
This article appeared in Portraits, newsmagazine of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. Rik Danielsen is director of evangelism and missions for Yavapai Baptist Association and Leader Care Facilitator, Arizona Baptist Children’s Services and Family Ministries.


Welding skills, taught by Ky. Baptists,
light torch for Gospel in Mozambique

By Myriah Snyder

MOZAMBIQUE (Western Recorder) — A Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief team recently returned from a week in Quelimane, Mozambique, where they taught welding to national pastors and left each with a startup welding kit.

Their goal was for the pastors to learn a trade that would help them support their families while they plant and pastor churches there.

The trip was similar to another trip on which disaster relief volunteers had provided training and equipment for well digging. From that trip, several churches were planted and many came to know Christ. The welding team is hoping for similar results. During the week they were there, 12 professed faith in Christ.

“We’re excited about these kinds of trips because we think it multiplies our work and the impact for the Gospel,” Coy Webb, state Disaster Relief director, said.

“It’s also exciting to see pastors being given a way to learn a skill that will not only open doors to the Gospel, but also feed their families,” he added. “We feel like it’s a way for us to help do the Great Commission we’ve been given.”

Matt Stickel, a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer from Ohio, said, “The main goal was not the physical part. Those business owners are pastors. They live in the country, and they work in their fields most of the time.

“They don’t have a lot of free time to go out and plant churches noted Stickel, who has been on 13 overseas mission trips in the last seven years with disaster relief teams.

“This is giving them a business where they can move in town where the higher population is and start a church, earn income for their family, and be able to serve in a church that can’t afford to pay.”

The team of three Kentucky Disaster Relief volunteers with welding experience teamed up with a volunteer from Arizona who taught the business aspect. At the end of the week, they had taught welding skills to 33 and an additional 27 had learned business aspect. The welders received a certificate.

Teaching course material that would generally take a semester in a classroom outside under a tree to students who spoke little to no English in one week was much different than his normal teaching experience, Bill Johnson, DR volunteer from Liberty Missionary Baptist Church in Canonsburg, said.

“Not knowing really what to expect and trying to teach through an interpreter, we thought there would be a disconnect, but it was just the opposite. We connected from the very beginning with all of the men who were in our class,” Johnson said.

“We were concerned with trying to teach someone to weld in a week. That’s just not how it’s done,” he continued. “God just made a way for everything to happen in such a fluent manner. They picked up on what we were trying to teach.”

“It was just an amazing week, the way we could share with them not only about welding, but while we were interacting with them, sharing our testimonies and hearing their testimonies. Just the interaction was phenomenal,” added Johnson, who was on his first overseas mission trip.

During the week, the team put what they were teaching to good use, repairing gates for Quelimane Baptist Church.

In a thank-you note to the team, pastor Joao Antonio Sulude said, “(W)hen we look at the two gates, they are signs of your presence and by them you will always be remembered here at the Baptist Church in Quelimane. Your example will be remembered and followed.”

“I am praying that the machines that have now gone out will continue to bring fruit into our cities for years to come,” John Dinah, IMB missionary in Mozambique, said. “Thank you Kentucky Baptists for your part in winning souls to Jesus in Mozambique and your continued partnership.”
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Myriah Snyder is a news writer for the Western Recorder.


Tenn. teens
serve in Guatemala

By Connie Davis Bushey

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (Baptist and Reflector) — “We went to Guatemala to change people there and show them Jesus, but we came back with changed hearts and opened eyes,” said Jania Howe, 17, who ministered recently in Guatemala.

Howe and 77 other teens and adults served in Guatemala as a part of the Youth Evangelism Conference missions team. They went to support the Tennessee/Guatemala Baptist Partnership. The team served June 3-11. Offerings given at the 2015 and 2016 YEC helped fund the trip.

The team was made up of students from 11 churches, reported Bruce Edwards, youth specialist, Tennessee Baptist Convention, and team leader. “It was an incredible experience for all of us. We left a part of our hearts in Guatemala!

“Seeing these students boldly share their testimonies and the Gospel through interpreters was amazing and we saw many Guatemalans, especially youth, accept Jesus Christ and make professions of faith,” he added. Assisting Edwards was Wes Jones of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief and his wife Pam, who are former Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries to Guatemala.

Team members ministered in the Lake Atitlan region in elementary, junior high, and high schools teaching Bible stories, leading craft activities, singing songs and playing games. Tennesseans also visited very poor families in their homes where they delivered food baskets and shared God’s love.

Stephen Fisher, student pastor, Buffalo Trail Baptist Church, Johnson City, saw five adults, one college student, and four teens from his church join the team.

“It was incredible seeing all of these different people coming together from across the state and working so well together. … Everybody just got along seamlessly. It was like we had known each other all of our lives. … It was almost like the Lord handpicked everyone, considering their personalities and skills,” said Fisher.

For instance, he saw one young adult man on his team really “come out of his shell,” as he ministered in schools, telling Bible stories with help from translators and leading activities.

Fisher, who also served in Guatemala in 2015, said he and the others on the team who taught the students about the Bible and Jesus had no restriction in sharing the Gospel. The older team members also spoke on social media, sex and drugs.

He was struck by the fact that the Guatemalans visited in their homes didn’t ask for prayer for themselves. They always asked for prayer for someone who was not a Christian or someone who was sick.

The churches there had worked hard preparing for the Tennesseans, he added. He plans to return again with a team of students and adults.

Camryn Shepherd, 17, of First Baptist Church, Manchester, wrote an article about her experiences for the Coffee County News Facebook page.

“Every single person that left the comfort of Tennessee and went to Guatemala came home a different person. We have a new perspective for Christ, and we are ready to proclaim His name in all that we do,” she wrote.

“If you feel called to share with someone at work or on the other side of the world, go. The Lord has great plans for you. Do not be afraid because He is the one, true, almighty King and Lord.”

Sammy Mai, 17, of First, Manchester, said in the Coffee County News story, “When I got a five-minute hug from a child that had never had the opportunity to play with a basketball or draw with chalk, it truly made me just stop and thank Jesus for what He had provided for me.”

Marc Rollman, one of the adult leaders, was struck by the fact that the Tennesseans partnered with Guatemala Baptists which meant that working together they “planted many seeds for the Gospel.”

Students came from Gum Springs Baptist Church, Walling; Saint Bethlehem First Baptist Church, Clarksville; Hillcrest Baptist Church, Dyersburg; Bethlehem Baptist Church, Crossville; Crievewood Baptist Church, Nashville; Hurricane Chapel, McEwen; Ooltewah Baptist Church, Ooltewah; Hope Fellowship Church, LaVergne; First Baptist Church, Manchester; and Boone Trail Baptist Church.
This article appeared in the Baptist and Reflector (http://tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Connie Davis Bushey is news editor of the Baptist and Reflector.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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