News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Ill., Ark., Mo./Kan. evangelism/missions news; ‘[O]ur community gets to see the capital ‘C’ church …’

Today’s From the States features items from:
Illinois Baptist
Arkansas Baptist News
The Pathway (Missouri — story from Kansas)


Ill. churches band
together for ‘Big Give’

By Morgan Jackson

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (Illinois Baptist) — Three years ago, members of Vale Church in Bloomington showed up one Sunday morning expecting their regular weekly service. But when lead pastor Ted Max got on stage and said he wouldn’t be preaching, they realized that Sunday was going to be anything but normal.

Instead, attendees were instructed to leave, go to the nearest grocery store and purchase needed items for Home Sweet Home Ministries — a local mission that meets the needs of children and families through shelter services, a fully stocked food pantry and the good news of Jesus Christ.

That day was coined “Big Give” Sunday. Now in its third year, the most recent outreach included multiple churches in the Bloomington-Normal area that joined forces to help supply as much of the ministry’s annual needs as possible. Together, they provided more than 20 tons of food and goods for Home Sweet Home’s ongoing ministry.

“The impact of an initiative like Big Give is almost immeasurable; 40,000 pounds of food will allow a ministry like Home Sweet Home to provide services to those who are homeless and under-resourced for over six months,” said Mark Weaver, Vale’s pastor of connections.

On September 18, Weaver’s church and seven others partnered with Hy-Vee grocery store for the big day. Hy-Vee made many of the food items accessible just outside the store, and even set up a separate cash register so people could buy their goods and get back to the church as soon as possible.

After people in each of Vale’s three services returned, participants took what they bought to the altar and the congregation prayed over the items and the people who will receive them. They asked God to bless those who will receive the gifts, and that individuals and families will come to know Jesus Christ as a result of Home Sweet Home and their mission to spread the Gospel to the people of Bloomington-Normal.

By the end of the morning, over 40,000 pounds of food and personal care items spilled on to the stage and surrounding area, enough to fill up three truckloads.

Because of Big Give, Weaver said, “our community gets to see the capital ‘C’ church take a step together to give those less fortunate a hand-up in their life. Our community doesn’t see divided churches arguing about doctrine or theology, but the church being united in being the hands and feet of Jesus.”
This article appeared in the Illinois Baptist (ibonline.ibsa.org), newsjournal of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Morgan Jackson is an editorial contributor to the Illinois Baptist.


More than 1,800 Ark. Baptists
part of Acts 1:8 One Day event

By Caleb Yarbrough

FORT SMITH, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) — More than 1,800 Arkansas Baptists, including 400 children and youth, flooded into the Fort Smith area Oct. 1 and they were not in town for the fair.

The large group, representing 140 churches and 26 associations, were volunteers for this year’s Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Acts 1:8 One Day event.

The book of Acts contains Christ’s last words on earth before He ascended into heaven: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8, ESV).

Christians often refer to this passage in support of Christ’s Great Commission, His instruction to His disciples to go and share the Gospel all around the world. In Acts 1:8 Christ specifically told believers that they will go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to “the end of the earth.”

In Southern Baptist life the four locations Christ mentioned are often interpreted to mean one’s hometown/city (Jerusalem), state (Judea), country (Samaria) and the rest of the world (end of the earth).

For Baptists across the state, Oct. 1 was all about impacting their “Judea” — the region outside their local community — which meant the Fort Smith area. The goal of the annual ABSC Acts 1:8 One Day events is to allow Arkansas Baptist churches across the state to focus on missions and partner in reaching their Judea together.

“Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip continues to change lives and impact lostness across our state,” said Breck Freeman, ABSC missions team member. “One Day is an outreach tool to reach your Judea and take back home and reach your Jerusalem. One Day brings focus to missional living.”

This year’s event featured numerous outreach activities spread across 107 ministry sites in Fort Smith, Greenwood, Barling, Alma and Huntington. Outreach events included block parties, children’s sites, fishing derbies, an archery sport camp, medical and dental clinics, prayer walking, door-to-door evangelism, home repairs, yardwork, laundry ministry and senior adult ministries.

Calvary Baptist Church, Fort Smith, was one of the event’s major hubs. The church hosted a block party and medical and dental clinics in addition to distributing boxed supplies from their food bank to members of the local community.

Edward Ellis, pastor of Calvary Baptist, commented on the busy scene inside the church during the event.

“We have five events going on here today,” said Ellis. “The Gospel is shared with everyone that comes in here today. So if they invite Christ into their lives, we’ll follow up with them by tomorrow afternoon.”

Gary Fulton, former ABSC church planting team member and member of First Baptist Church, Farmington, used skills learned from his service as a missionary to Guatemala to translate for the dental and medical clinics at Calvary Baptist.

Many Arkansas Baptists expressed joy to be part of the Acts 1:8 One Day event as they had the opportunity to reach their state with the Gospel working alongside other volunteers from across the state.

“Missions work is one of the most rewarding things that we do. We have done (Acts 1:8 One Day) for several years now, four or five trips. We just meet the nicest people when we do this, and we are able to share (Jesus),” said Penny Neal, who came on the mission trip with Ruddell Hill Baptist Church in Batesville.

“We do missions because we love it, and we go back to our church and say, ‘Oh, we can’t tell you how wonderful it is.’ Our missions team keeps growing because we get so excited about talking about it,” said Neal.

P.J. Weston, a 14-year-old boy who came to Acts 1:8 One Day with First Baptist Church, Hot Springs, served at multiple children’s outreaches and delivered food to other volunteers during the event.

“I’ve been doing this (Acts 1:8 One Day) for six years. I like to do it. It’s fun. I want to do mission trips, but I can’t always go out of the country. So to take care of home first is the most important thing,” said Weston.

Anthony Fible, who came to Acts 1:8 One Day with Breakout Church, Cabot, a new ABSC church plant, said this year’s One Day was the first missions event his church had participated in together since forming.

“This is our first One Day as a church, and we had six people come to Fort Smith today,” said Fible. “We have been trying to figure out how to get our people to do missions. We may have a bunch of ideas about where to go. I mean, you have people going to Africa and Haiti, but there are lost people right here, too.”

Connie Davis came to One Day with Ruddell Hill Baptist and worked with the children’s outreach sites. Davis, who has been on mission trips to Alaska, Colorado and Montana in the past, said she loves participating in One Day events and was very proud of the youth who volunteered.

“I have been on several (One Day) trips. I just love doing it and trying to minister to people, plant a seed,” said Davis. “The teenage kids that came today — I’m just so proud of them. They have jobs, but they took off to come with us.”

According to ABSC reports, 67 people prayed to receive Christ during the event.
This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (http://www.arkansasbaptist.org/), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Caleb Yarbrough is assistant editor at the Arkansas Baptist News.


Kan. pastor makes ‘high-tech and
high-touch’ way to share gospel

By Brian Koonce

LENEXA, Kan. (The Pathway) — Every Christian has a story to tell, and now there is one more way to spread that story far and wide.

Steve Barnes, a minister on staff at Lenexa Baptist Church (a Missouri Baptist Convention-affiliated church, despite their west-of-the-border geography), is the brains behind 1millionstories.org, a website that helps people share the story of how Christ changed their lives. The site is free, available to churches and individuals, and is quick and easy to use for both the Christian and those seeking to learn more.

“It’s high-tech and high-touch,” Barnes said. “The purpose is to simplify sharing the Gospel. You have everything you need if you know Christ.”

1millionstories.org lets users upload their story in written or video format, then Barnes mails out physical cards with the site’s web address and a space for that person’s specific story number. The cards then point anyone to that specific story.

“You can point them to the site whether you have 30 minutes to talk or 5 seconds at the drive-through,” Barnes said. “Even if both people are in a rush, the evangelistic effort doesn’t end at the conversation.”

For the nonbeliever, 1MillionStories.org is a safe place they can visit privately to see how Jesus Christ transforms the lives of people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. The goal is for them to discover how they too can have a personal relationship with the Savior of the world.

Visitors can browse other users’ stories, and each one is tagged by certain categories. This searches testimonies pertaining to 50 or so specific topics, such as abortion, divorce, financial woes, trust and fear.

“If there’s a history of alcoholism, a lost loved one or any other issue, they can search and find all the stories that deal with it,” Barnes said. “The common denominator is that they all point to Christ as the only one that can truly help you with those challenges in your life.”

Each story has a social media share option, and each story can easily be translated into any language with a click. It also allows a reader to email the story’s author.

As they learn of Christ’s power in the lives of others, they are led to a point of decision in their own life, a fork in the road. 1MillionStories.org walks them through the process of why they need Christ, how they can have a relationship with Him, and offers tools and resources they can access if they still have doubts or questions.

And for those who make decisions for Christ, they can learn how to begin their walk with Jesus right then and there.

“It’s just a tool,” Barnes said, “but even the most timid and shy person can share his faith this way.”

Church leaders can use the site to mobilize their congregations for evangelism, and Barnes can provide a tailored plan of action and complimentary story cards that are personalized to individual churches.

For more information, go to 1millionstories.org or email [email protected].?
This article appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Brian Koonce is a staff writer for The Pathway.


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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