News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Ky., Md., Ark. evangelism/missions news; ‘The goal of this was to love people’

Today’s From the States features items from:

Western Recorder (Kentucky)
BaptistLIFE (Maryland)
Arkansas Baptist News

‘Inasmuch’ reveals
God’s love for Somerset
By David Roach

SOMERSET, Ky. (Western Recorder) — Health screenings, haircuts, pet grooming, car washes and more were among the free services offered in Somerset when four Kentucky Baptist churches partnered with three congregations of other denominations to host an outreach blitz Sept. 14 called Operation Inasmuch.

“The goal of this was to love people,” said Suzette Davis, Operation Inasmuch volunteer coordinator at First Baptist in Somerset. “We were there to love them and help them as an example of what Christ did for us.”

First Baptist hosted the outreach, with High Street, Beacon Hill and Duke Memorial Baptist churches participating as well. It was the seventh annual Operation Inasmuch in Pulaski County.

Named for Jesus’ statement in Matthew 25:40 that “inasmuch” as believers serve “the least of these,” they serve the Lord Himself, the ministry brought together 200 volunteers ranging in age from six to 80 and served at least 600 people. Operation Inasmuch is affiliated with a Tennessee-based organization of the same name that equips churches of all denominations to serve the neediest members of their communities.

One young woman made a profession of faith through the Somerset outreach, though Davis classified it as “pre-evangelism” more than active gospel sharing—making initial contact with unchurched families, loving them in Christ’s name and giving them information about local churches.

Many of the day’s ministries took place at First Baptist, but Operation Inasmuch also included projects in the community, such as family photography at a park and yard work.

Perhaps the most popular project was a free yard sale at First Baptist, Davis said. Each guest received a bag with information about the participating churches, and they were invited to fill it with items donated by members of the congregations. More than 500 bags of sale items were given away as well as several boxes.

Among the other ministries at First Baptist:

— Kroger gave away 50 cases of water and performed diabetes screenings.

— Doctors and nurses did blood pressure checks, eye screenings, skin cancer screenings and stroke awareness screenings.

— A pastor from High Street was available in a prayer room where guests could share their needs and concerns.

— 500 pairs of new shoes were given away.

— More than 400 personal hygiene kits were distributed, containing mouthwash, toothpaste and other grooming items.

— Volunteers provided minor grooming services on pets—a very popular ministry, according to Davis, since pet grooming often is one of the first items to be cut from a family’s budget in difficult economic times.

Other projects in the community included building a new porch for one family, painting an elderly woman’s home, installing a wheelchair ramp for a 14-year-old boy in hospice care and delivering handmade blankets and bathrobes to nursing home residents. For Davis, a gratifying part of the day was realizing how much the ministries meant to people. The elderly woman who received house painting “felt like she’d been forgotten and had no one to help her in her home,” Davis said. When volunteers arrived, “she was thrilled.” The boy in hospice had to be carried to the car by his mother before volunteers built his ramp. It is a blessing “to think how much easier her life probably is,” Davis said of the mother. A Methodist church is scheduled to host next year’s Operation Inasmuch before High Street hosts the event in 2015. “One of the other wonderful blessings of this is working with and meeting people from other churches and seeing what they are doing,” Davis said. “Each church has something to offer. It doesn’t matter the size—small, medium or large—or where they are located.”


This article appeared in the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. David Roach is a freelance writer for the Western Recorder.
Feed My Sheep ministry at Landover Hills Baptist
Church fights hunger in their community
By Shannon Baker

LANDOVER HILLS, Md. (BaptistLIFE) — When Sandra Griesemer and Lisa Shutak go shopping, it’s not unusual for their shopping carts to contain 1,100 pounds of produce, 100 pounds of bread and 50-60 gallons of milk.

And that’s just for one week.

That’s because they direct a Feed My Sheep food pantry at Landover Hills Baptist Church, a church located inside the Washington, D.C., Beltway.

The church offers a client-choice pantry, which offers guests the opportunity to pick one thing of their choice from each of the 10-plus cabinets of food, which are organized by food types—pasta, canned vegetables and fruit, breakfast items and more. Occasionally, toiletry products and other items, such as cleaning supplies and over-the-counter medicines, are made available as well.

That means their guests—it is free to all who wish to receive the benefits regardless of income—leave with three-to-four bags of food, “from produce to eggs to bread” and non-perishable items, Griesemer said. Sandra is the wife of Pastor David Griesemer.

The food is a mixture of free leftovers from Panera Bread as well as purchased food from the Capital Area Food Bank, where the church has been established as a partnering agency.

The church budgets $110 a week to shop at the food bank, which charges by the pound. There, Griesemer and Shutak do not know what the quantities or the items available until the afternoon of the distribution. In addition, the time to shop at the food bank is limited so they have fine-tuned their weekly excursions to be able to purchase as much as they can.

“We always manage to have enough!” Shutak marveled. “Each week we see God’s blessings.”

The pantry is open on Wednesdays in the morning and evening and is led by at least 30 volunteers, from ages 4 to 80-something. Surprisingly, most volunteers are church members who aren’t otherwise volunteering in the church.

“As volunteers lead each ‘shopper,’ they’re not just saying, ‘One here. One here,'” Shutak said, explaining the church’s desire is to build personal relationships with each of the guests. “They are getting to know each person.”

And rather than offering bags of pre-selected food items, the church volunteers “actually listen to their needs and concerns and try to accommodate them,” she said.

The volunteers also share recipes and other information to help the guests make their food go further. In the future, they want to host cooking classes.

The guests are really responding. Sometimes there are long lines of people waiting for the doors to open.

According to the Capital Area Food Bank’s 700 partner agencies, there is a tremendous increase in those seeking food assistance in the area—from 30 to 100 percent. Much of this is due to job loss, the economy, high cost of housing, lack of health care and other issues.

So far, several of the guests have started coming to the church worship services, and one person has made a decision to follow Christ. In addition, several of the guests go to the Iglesia Bautista Torre Fuerte, the Hispanic ministry of the church.

Leftover perishable items are given away at the local Laundromat, which gives another opportunity for the church to connect to the community.

In addition to the food pantry, Landover Hills offers annual clothing and school supply giveaways. This year the church shared with 267 area residents, a much higher number, compared to their humble beginnings when only 50 guests came five years ago.

“It’s neat for me to see all these backpacks that I know came from the church on kids walking up the sidewalks to their bus stops,” said Pastor Griesemer.

“It touches my heart what happens here,” Sandra Griesemer agreed. “You thank God, not the church. He provides!”


This article appeared in BaptistLIFE, newsmagazine of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Shannon Baker a national correspondent for the convention.
36 saved at
Acts 1:8 One Day
By Jessica Vanderpool

HARRISON, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) — “I’m excited!” said Lucille Lovell Curnutte as she introduced herself to the group with whom she would be serving during the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip – Harrison, held Oct. 5.

“It’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to go to one of the big mission trips,” she said, explaining about 20 people from her church in Missouri had come for the annual event as a result of a man in their church who had recently moved from Arkansas.

But along with it being her first mission trip, a second thing stands out about Curnutte – she is 90 years old.

She and a group of others served through prayer at the church.

“They called us prayer warriors, and I had never been in on a group like that,” she said. “It was very enlightening, and it really meant a lot. I mean, it’s something I’ll carry with me as long as I’ve got my mind.”

She hopes hearing the stories and seeing the photos from the trip will inspire her fellow church members to be involved in missions.

In fact, Robert Hanners, who along with his wife was leading the Missouri church’s mission team, commented that one of their other participants is already planning a block party as a result of the Harrison trip.

Their stories are just some of many from that day of ministry.

More than 2,700 volunteers took part in the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip sponsored by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) and North Arkansas Baptist Association. Participants represented 207 churches and came from five states besides Arkansas. This year, they spread out to minister across the Harrison area, which is served by North Arkansas Baptist Association.

For a number of those participating – like Curnutte – it was their first mission trip experience.

One such person was 91-year-old Averil Davis, who has been a member of First Baptist Church, Harrison, for 72 years.

“It’s an advantage to see so many of the Baptist faith,” she said. “This is just wonderful to see so many Baptists.”

And Marie Mayes, of Northvale Baptist Church, Harrison, was also on her first mission trip.

“So many people are interested in winning souls – that’s what I like,” she said. “I’m just thankful that people are interested in doing God’s work. … That’s why I’m here.”

The three first-time “missionaries” were part of the prayer warrior team led by Ella Faye Widner, member of Bear Creek Springs Baptist Church, Harrison.

“I don’t really believe we know the power of prayer,” said Widner, referencing how God answered Asa’s prayer in 2 Chronicles.

“We just need to all get busy and serve the Lord,” she said. “I mean I really do believe our time is short and we need to reach as many people for the Lord as we can.”

But the one-day missions experience was not just for adults. While Curnutte, Davis, Mayes and Widner were serving as prayer warriors at the church, Carolyn Rook and her 5-year-old son, Bradley, were prayer walking the streets of Harrison in the pouring rain.

“I know there’s hurting people in my town, and I just wanted to do anything I could to help and something that could involve my son, too,” Rook simply said.

And praying was only one aspect of the ministry that took place Oct. 5. Despite the rain, participants volunteered at a number of ministry sites, serving through construction work, a children’s fishing derby, cowboy ministries, sports camps, children’s ministry, hunger-relief ministry, jail ministry, block parties and medical missions.

Through these sites, they were able to meet the needs of community members such as Doreen Jones.

Jones had read about the medical clinic in the newspaper and had been planning to come for two weeks. Through the services offered by mission trip volunteers, Jones said she got her flu shot and had her eyes checked and teeth cleaned.

“It feels great because, with my insurance, I don’t have insurance to cover for dental and vision and all that stuff, so kind of like, moneywise, I couldn’t afford it otherwise,” Jones told the Arkansas Baptist News.

Volunteers also took part in senior adult ministry, and the senior adult choir from Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, who were in the area already, sang at several nursing homes.

In addition, community members were offered a free lunch, and through this, more than 5,000 people were fed. In addition, five vanloads of food, all brought by participants, were delivered to hunger sites and the Arkansas Baptist Boys Ranch.

By the end of the day, the one-day volunteers had seen 36 people accept Christ, six of whom were inmates. In addition, all the women in the jail visited by volunteers rededicated their lives.

“Yes, it was a ‘God day’ in Harrison – a day that none of us could have done ourselves,” said Breck Freeman, ABSC missions ministries team member and Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip coordinator. “It was wet, and the weather did not stop any activities. We prayed in the rain, we fished in the rain, we shared in the rain we played in the rain, and we moved block parties, children’s sites and sports camps inside church gyms across the area.”

The event not only blessed community members, it also helped light a fire in the hearts of volunteers. They are taking it back to their own churches, associations and even states.

Tracy Archibald, pastor of Unity Baptist Church, Paragould, shared how the Acts 1:8 event can impact a church. His church first got involved in the Pine Bluff Acts 1:8 project in 2010, never having done much mission work as a church prior to that. The 2010 project spurred their church on, and they bought a block party trailer and began doing block party ministry. They have since grown from an attendance of about 60 to an attendance of about 200. And they take missions teams around the nation and internationally.

Archibald will become the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip coordinator in 2014, working with Freeman, community missions strategist for the ABSC. Archibald previously served as block party coordinator for the ABSC.

“We’d love to see more missionaries, and within that, we’ll be taking on more projects and reaching lost for Christ – that’s our biggest thing,” he said about his hopes for the future of the one-day missions event. “Our overall goal is evangelism – that we do something for the kingdom of Christ.”

Ken Patterson, deacon at Ridgewood Baptist Church, Forrest City, knows how the Acts 1:8 missions event can inspire a church. He said his church had not previously been involved in the one-day missions event until it came to their area last year. And it inspired them to continue to be involved again this year.

“We got excited about it,” Patterson said. “I mean we saw what results happened there and the change it made in so many lives – not only just in the community, but in our church. It got us excited about missions.”

In fact, his church took the idea of a one-day mission trip to the small town of LaHarpe, Kan. And a church planting couple, along with one other person, from LaHarpe Baptist Mission decided to come to Harrison for Arkansas’ one-day mission trip.

Freeman said he is in contact with the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, helping them become more involved in Acts 1:8 mission trips.

Royce Sweatman, associational missionary for North Arkansas Baptist Association, said his office has been “inundated” with people telling stories of how God worked and how their churches are already planning to start their own Acts 1:8 events.

“I’m hearing story after story, and it has just been thrilling to see what it’s done in our association and how our people have responded,” he said.

He said he strategically planned a senior adult event to take place prior to the one-day mission trip and a crusade to take place directly after the trip – with hopes of passing out fliers for the crusade.

Sweatman is less than a year from retirement, so he wanted to end well and for the one-day missions trip to reflect his heart and encourage others to do what Christ said – take the gospel to the world, beginning at home and stretching outward.

“The biggest problem we have today is not that we need to get people to church, but we need to get the church to the people,” he said. “And Acts 1:8 is a tool where we can get the church to leave the building and get out among the people. … And with 2,767 people signing up, we really did it with a bang.”

The 2014 Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip is scheduled for Oct. 4 in El Dorado. For more information, contact 501-376-4791, ext. 5150, or email [email protected]


This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptistnews.squarespace.com/), newsjournal of the Arkasnas Baptist Convention. Jessica Vanderpool is assistant editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.
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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