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FROM THE STATES: Fla., Tenn., Ky. evangelism/missions news; Church reaches ‘people who are forgotten’


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

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Fla’s church reaching
county’s forgotten people

By Barbara Denman

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (Florida Baptist Convention) — Eric Davis and his wife Marrisa returned to Wakulla County to plant The Mission in their hometown for “people falling through the cracks — people other churches are not reaching.”

It was the last place the 28-year-old thought they would be after leaving the rural county south of Tallahassee to attend classes at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

But when several church leaders from the Florida Baptist Association invited the young man back to the community and showed him pockets of people living in wooded areas off the highways and main roads, he found “places I didn’t know existed and people who are forgotten, thousands of people, many living in poverty.” No church has been able to penetrate these communities.

Davis has “a passion to see people reached for Christ and find the forgiveness and salvation He offers.” And God made it clear that Wakulla County was the place He wanted the young family to be.

The young man was employed as a chaplain at the faith — and character-based Wakulla Correctional Institute while his wife was hired by the Florida Department of Children and Families, helping resettle refugee families.

They began holding Bible studies in their apartment, reaching friends and others within his “pool of influence.” The Bible study quickly outgrew the apartment and began meeting in a community center in downtown Crawfordville, organizing as The Mission church in 2014.

But the center was limiting to the newly planted congregation, offering only a large room and available only on Sundays.

When a 3,600-square-foot office building in foreclosure became available just south of the county seat town on Highway 319, church leaders began looking for ways to purchase the property.

Instrumental in the purchase was the Florida Baptist Convention, which gave the church a $100,000 interest-free loan from the Maguire State Mission Offering and another $60,000 loan to purchase the office building.

The loans from Florida Baptists “mean everything,” said the church planter. The congregation had paid $1,000 in monthly rent at the community center. Their monthly mortgage payments through the Convention are $500.

Davis said having not grown up in church and coming to know Christ in his teen years, he was unaware of the generosity of Florida Baptists. “I am so thankful for Florida Baptists,” he said.

The remodeled office building serves as a worship center that seats 90 people comfortably and houses classrooms for Bible study, rooms for babies, preschoolers and youth, and a kitchen. The facility offers a meeting location for the church’s outreach and other Christian groups during the week, which is critical to reaching its surrounding community, the young pastor said.

The nursery has become a great resource for the 40-member congregation composed mostly of people in their 20s and 30s. The young adults are reaching others like themselves, who are increasing their own families through births. In recent months five babies have been added to the church family, including Elizabeth Grace, who was born to the Davis family in 2015.

Matt and Jill Puckett, who both work as lobbyists in Tallahassee and moved back to Crawfordville about three years ago to be closer to their family, enjoy the slower pace and recreational activities the area affords. Like many in the community, they make the 30-35 minute drive into the Capitol City each day.

In their 40s, Matt Puckett acknowledged they are among the older members at The Mission. He is drawn to the church by “the intimacy of the small group of young believers,” he said. “We know each other in a more intimate way. We pray earnestly for each other. I am inspired by the kids that go here.”

As they look toward the future Davis said The Mission plans to continue its outreach in the community, seizing opportunities to share the Gospel through meeting physical and spiritual needs. “We pray that we can transition from the incubator stage to be a sending church locally and worldwide.”
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This article appeared in the Florida Baptist Witness (gofbw.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention. Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.

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Tenn. DOM uses mechanical
skills to reach eskimos

By Connie Davis Bushey

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (Baptist and Reflector) — This summer Tim Key found a new way to minister to the Eskimo or Inupiat people in Alaska he has grown to love.

He repairs their four-wheelers or ATVs.

Key, director of missions, New Duck River Baptist Association, used to be a motorcycle mechanic.

There are many needs in the four villages he and other Tennessee Baptists minister in, explained Key. He and others would see many four-wheelers sitting around unused and in non-running condition, but he never found the time to try to repair one. The association has ministered in Alaska for four years.

This summer he had more time so he did. He wasn’t surprised to learn that the family who owned the ATV or Honda as the Eskimos call them didn’t know anyone who could repair it.

The village of Shungnak in the Northwest Borough is very remote, located about 185 miles from Kotzebue, the nearest city, and only can be visited by dog sled, snowmobile, boat, ATV, or airplane depending on the season and conditions.

Key was surprised to find the repair was only going to cost $60 for a starter. The ATV cost the family about $14,000. Most families don’t own vehicles which aren’t really needed in these villages because they are so remote. A couple of people in each village own a truck to haul supplies from the airport.

As he helped the family, he was glad to learn that the mother and wife of the family wanted to learn how to repair the four-wheeler as well as the oldest son, who was 14. The husband and father of the family is often gone hunting and fishing.

So Key challenged that 14-year-old boy and some of his friends to drag four ATVs to the “Baptist cabin” and when he returns next summer he will teach them how to repair them.

The Baptist cabin in this village is where a Baptist pastor or missionary has lived and ministered, explained Key.

This year Key served in Alaska for four weeks leading 24 missions volunteers from seven New Duck River Association churches. The association became involved in the village of Shungnak when Brian and Debbie Love served there for three years. They were Mission Service Corps missionaries of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board until they had to return to Tennessee because of the illness of a family member. Currently Brian is pastor of Charity Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Tenn.

This village and several others are helped by First Baptist Church of Kotzebue, he explained. Two of the villages desperately need Baptist missionaries/pastors to share the Gospel, Key added.

He and the other Baptist volunteers have learned to focus on the teens, he added. In the past nine months, three teens in one village have committed suicide, he reported.

The village residents also need other kinds of help, Key said. For instance, during the spring people need help to recover from floods.

The villages have satellite TV, internet and electricity.

He will return in December to deliver Christmas gifts from Baptist churches in New Duck River Association to several villages.

For more information, contact Key at [email protected]
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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.

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“Good News” delivered to
doors of Ky. residents

By Staff

HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (Western Recorder) — Toby DeHay, pastor of Concord Missionary Baptist Church, along with several pastors and churches of Little Bethel Baptist Association in Hopkins County are strategically engaged in delivering the good news in the form of a Bible study, “Good News for You,” to the entire population of their county.

“It seems that these pastors and churches have found one way to be intentional with the Gospel in the community where God has called them to serve,” said Todd Gray, the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s regional consultant for west Kentucky.

The Bible study comes in the form of a workbook developed and distributed by Charles Brock. “The studies are intentionally simple, easy to use, and gospel-centered,” Gray added.

Concord Missionary Baptist purchased 5,000 of the 8×11 inches, large print workbooks to distribute to the nearly 47,000 residents of Hopkins County, 38,000 of which, according to Glenmary research, do not attend any church on Sunday mornings.

Since beginning the effort, several area pastors and churches have joined in the campaign, including, Madisonville Second Baptist, Dawson Springs First Baptist, Slaughters Baptist, Nortonville Baptist and the association’s director of missions.

“Going into Nortonville as a pastor, I wanted to help the church become outward focused on evangelism,” Lee Davis, pastor of Nortonville Baptist, said. “One lady that is visiting the church wants to join because she values a church that is intentional with the gospel.”

Jonathan Lail, of Madisonville Second Baptist, continued, “It is low risk, very easy. We go to a door, knock on the door, and say I have some good news for you, and give them a workbook.”

They view this project as a simple, affordable and potentially impactful way of saturating their county with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Gray said. So far the group has distributed 2,500 of the initial 5,000 workbooks, and they have plans to order 5,000 more.

“While practicing door-to-door evangelism recently in one of our mid-sized towns, I met a man who is a leader for a large non-Christian religion. He did not want to hear the good news that I was sharing,” Gray recounted, sharing of one of his own experiences.

However, the man did share with Gray a disturbing reality. He said that his group shared their message intentionally by knocking on every door in their county twice a year, Gray said.

“It is very encouraging to see these Kentucky Baptist pastors and churches intentionally engage their community with the Gospel,” Gray concluded. “May the Lord bless and multiply their efforts to the reality of many people receiving Christ as Savior and Lord and becoming His disciples.”
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This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

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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 3,800 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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