News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Arkansas, Northwest, Louisiana ministry news; ‘God is ahead of us at every turn’

Today’s From the States features items from:
Arkansas Baptist News
Northwest Baptist Witness
Baptist Message (Louisiana)


Arkansas ‘country church’
finds home in town

By Staff

TRUMANN, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) — “We were out of the loop,” said Jim Duffel, pastor of Maple Grove Baptist Church in Trumann.

The church, located two-and-a-half miles outside the city limits, was looking for a way to minister to Trumann residents.

“For the past couple of years, we had two things on our hearts,” said Duffel. “Our youth were meeting downtown on Main Street on Wednesday nights, so one of our issues was that they needed a place to meet. So, we started looking, but in the midst of that we were praying and asking God how Maple Grove could impact Trumann.”

Last summer, a building that once served as the NEA Baptist Clinic was offered to them, but the 33,000-square-foot building was more than they could afford at that time.

“We really weren’t sure how we could invest funds and be good stewards of it,” said Duffel. “At first we thought it was time to move the church, but that wasn’t a deep thought. It was more of a knee-jerk reaction.”

Two months later, the church was gifted the old clinic building.

“We couldn’t afford it when it was $175,000, but we couldn’t refuse it when God said, ‘Here, I’ll give it to you,'” said Duffel.

The building was officially Maple Grove’s in late January and was dedicated on June 2.

The church began to transform the old clinic into an office space. A worship center and fellowship hall were also established.

The next question was how to furnish the space.

“We had a man in our church who had contact with a FedEx warehouse in Memphis,” said Duffel. “When FedEx has stuff that people don’t want or return or items have been damaged, they give it to nonprofits. The guy said they had a surplus of stuff.”

Soon, five truckloads of office furniture, chairs and tables were brought to the new building.

“Everything we use right now, they gave us,” said Duffel. “We have enough tables to go into classrooms when we get the rest of the building painted and fixed.”

Maple Grove came into contact with Shane Fore, a church planter with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

“A couple of years ago, God gave me a burden to set up a rescue shop in Trumann for the unreached and unchurched,” said Fore.

“He was looking for a place to minister,” said Duffel. “We had a place looking for someone who could take it and run with it.”

Fore became the pastor of Maple Grove Baptist Church’s Main Street Campus. Couples from the church partnered with Fore and his wife, April, and started the work at the new Trumann church plant.

Fellowship Baptist Church in Witcherville partnered with Maple Grove Main Street over the summer. During the week, Fellowship’s missionaries hosted a sports camp and canvassed the neighborhoods to get the community connected with the church plant.

“We couldn’t have gotten that many contacts that quickly without them,” said Duffel. “They flooded the community with information about our church.”

Maple Grove Main Street Campus launched Oct. 6 with 37 people in attendance. Seven people joined the church, and one was baptized.

“God is changing lives in the worst part of Trumann, and we are honored to see it firsthand,” said Fore.

On Wednesdays, Maple Grove’s student ministry uses the space for worship and fellowship. The Main Street Campus meets for worship on Sunday mornings. Fore plans to launch a Celebrate Recovery on Sunday nights in November, and Duffel hopes that in the spring a children’s ministry can be established.

“God is ahead of us at every turn,” said Duffel. “He has given us this great opportunity to expand our ministry, and our church has been so supportive. I don’t know what else to say; I’m overwhelmed.

“It was not our wisdom. We never even dreamed this up,” he continued. “Never in our wildest dreams would we be sitting in the heart of Trumann.”

Duffel believes that it was the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip held last year in Trumann that motivated Maple Grove to have a continuous presence in the community to impact it.

“Acts 1:8 sparked the idea, and it was fueled by the Holy Spirit,” said Duffel. “Acts 1:8 had a big part in our church. It impacted our whole county, and it really impacted Trumann. I can’t speak for the other churches, but I can tell you that it did put that vision in our hearts.

“We have a permanent place in Trumann,” he said.
This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (http://www.arkansasbaptist.org/), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.


NW Baptists help
missionaries in Asia

By Sheila Allen

EAST ASIA (Northwest Baptist Witness) — Advancing the Gospel globally often seems out of reach for many church attenders. But a cooperative effort among Northwest Baptists in partnership with the International Mission Board’s East Asia workers has afforded opportunities for hands-on skills of everyday people.

Over 100 Northwest volunteers from 23 churches joined forces to support a conference for field personnel and their families in Asia in recent weeks, many of them using their abilities in less than traditional ways. While many taught children or led them in worship, others cut hair, gave manicures and massages, provided event security or assisted with needed technology support.

A conference highlight was infusion of Northwest roasted and brewed coffee, a staple of life in the Pacific Northwest. Lines snaked toward the barista station daily before sessions and during breaks for iced and hot drinks provided by Northwest Baptist Convention-affiliated churches.

“Our team loved the trip and was deeply impacted by our experience,” said Joshua Moore, pastor of Driscoll Boulevard Baptist Church in Spokane, Wash. “One of our team members, Jocelyn Picker, is 13 years old and surrendered to missions last summer at Fuge youth camp.”

Moore was a counselor for the church group at the camp.

“One evening after worship, she was crying and upset,” recalled Moore. “Her mom also happened to be a counselor and went over to console her. What we thought was just a camp emotional moment was actually something much different. She was upset because there were people in East Asia who didn’t know Jesus. Jocey had no idea the NWBC has an East Asia partnership.”

This year’s trip dates conflicted with Fuge camp, “but she decided to go on mission with us instead.” Moore said. “She raised all her own funds and we are so proud of her efforts on the trip. This trip helped solidify and confirm her calling to East Asia one day. What a beautiful picture of God’s sovereignty at work.”

Workers’ children enjoyed daily doses of Vacation Bible School teaching and fun alongside their parents at the conference, designed for all field personnel in East Asia. Other activities included music, swimming, outings and field games. Most important were the quick bonds formed by preschoolers and children who live in far-flung regions without other English speakers.

“This trip was unlike any other mission trip I’ve been on,” stated Katie McNeil, who traveled to Asia with a contingent of team members from Pathway Church in Gresham, Ore.” It was such a blessing to be a blessing to our mobilized families and give them a chance to relax, fellowship, and recharge. We got to provide an experience that is rare for these families and they were so grateful to us. I was humbled to think about how easy my life is in comparison to theirs and how often I take that for granted. This trip was a reminder to daily pray for those serving around the globe as well as answer the call in my own life wherever God has placed me.”

Opportunities abounded for personnel to recharge, collaborate and receive encouragement during corporate worship and training opportunities throughout the eight-day conference. Many volunteers counted it a privilege to serve those who have made a life-long commitment to taking the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the world.

“It was a blast,” said George Stein, who traveled alongside a large group from Highland Baptist Church in Redmond, Ore.” It was so much better than I had imagined.

“I worked with the 2-year olds and they just got to my heart, so much so, I didn’t want to say goodbye when our time was up,” he said. “I just hope that I was a blessing to them as much as they were to me. If anyone wants to be blessed in the future, providing this kind of support is a guaranteed way for that to happen. The Lord was there and made sure blessings were poured out all the way around.”

Ongoing partnerships with those serving in East Asia may be explored by contacting NWBC East Asia liaison David Gass at [email protected]
This article appeared in the Northwest Baptist Witness (nwbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Northwest Baptist Convention. Sheila Allen is managing editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness.


La. truckstop ministry
reaches ‘highways and hedges’

By Brian Blackwell

ANACOCO, La. (Baptist Message) — In the past Bill Blackmon drove his big rig cross-country in pursuit of big hauls and big bucks. But since 1993, after repenting for salvation at Good Hope Baptist Church in Anacoco, he has been driven by the desire to share Jesus among truckers, treating them as a unique people group who need to hear the hope of the Gospel.

“I didn’t go to church growing up and the trucker lifestyle was really all I knew,” Blackmon said “The last thing I was thinking about was where I would spend eternity. But when I found Jesus, my purpose changed from hanging out at the bars, during my off time, to spending time with others to share with them the Good News of Jesus.

“Truckstop Ministries has given me another tool to share the hope that is found in Jesus with so many people whom I share a common bond with across our country,” he added.

Since 2017, Blackmon has served as a chaplain with Truckstop Ministries and has seen hundreds saved at nearly 80 truck stop chapels in 29 states. He is among 600 volunteer chaplains and “missionary” truckers who have a presence at the ministry’s designated truck stop chapel buildings.

According to the group’s website, the Jackson, Georgia-based Truckstop Ministries was founded in 1981 by Joe and Jan Hunter and is directed by an executive board of “born-again” Christians, led by the Holy Spirit and dedicated to fulfilling a God-given vision. The ministry’s main focus is operating chapels but also offers a 24-hour trucker prayer hotline that is manned by staff and volunteers.

“The mission field is huge,” said Blackmon, a member of the First Baptist Church in Anacoco. “It’s like another people group. Most people who work are not like truck drivers who are gone three to four weeks at a time. When troubling things happen back at home and they are on the road without a way to physically be at their town, talking to the chaplains is helpful.

“One time I had a great conversation with a trucker who opened up to me outside one of our chapels about everything that was happening in his life,” he said.

“He was a Christian already but just needed another believer to talk with and pray with as he was trying to live for Jesus on the road. It’s amazing how people tell you their life story and they don’t even know you,” he said. “Because you are the chaplain they unload and tell you their struggles and concerns. Stories like that one give me encouragement about how valuable our ministry is to so many truckers.”

Blackmon, who also is a vocational evangelist with the Louisiana Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, said even with a force of 600 volunteers and a few paid staff members, many more people are needed to partner with the ministry as it strives to carry out its mission of encouraging thousands of truckers.

“We’ve seen lives changed, from the drivers who get saved and put their marriages back together to the lesbian lady who is led to Christ and then walks away from that lifestyle,” he said. “It’s the power of the Gospel that does the work but the chaplain is a vessel for the Gospel to work through. Sometimes it’s a Christian driver that just needs to know someone cares and someone to talk to other than a dispatcher. “Most of all, we do what we do because Jesus first loved us,” Blackmon said. “We share the love of Christ and will continue to do so as representatives of Him through Truckstop Ministries.”

For information about how to volunteer with Truckstop Ministries, call Blackmon at 337.353.2746, follow the ministry at facebook.com/truckstopministries, or, visit truckstopministries.org.
This article appeared in the Baptist Message (baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Brian Blackwell is a staff writer for the Baptist Message.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, typically 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. Except for minor style, security, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

    About the Author

  • Staff