News Articles

FROM THE STATES: La., Ky., Okla. evangelism/missions news; ‘How can they hear the Word if we don’t go?’

Today’s From the States features items from:
Louisiana Baptist Message
Western Recorder (Kentucky)
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)


La. Baptists helping heal
souls in Haiti
By Brian Blackwell

HAITI (Baptist Message) — Lane Howe and his interpreter had just entered the 8 x 10 foot home when they were offered the only food the 28-year-old Haitian woman named Garline had in her entire house — eight bananas.

Though she owned very little and had lost 17 family members during a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the country on Jan. 12, 2010, Garline demonstrated she had all she needed — a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The encounter forever etched in Howe’s mind a picture of Christ-likeness, and is a constant reminder of why he and 42 other Louisiana Baptists went to Haiti for a mid-October mission trip.

“She had it all figured out and showed me it’s not about the material things that matter,” said Howe, a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria, La. “Here was someone who had lost 17 family members and still had some injuries visible from the earthquake, yet she showed me how we are supposed to live our lives — devoted to Christ and excited to have Him in us.

“Just like she wanted to share all the food she had, we should be willing and excited to share what we have as Christ-followers,” he continued. “It’s our obligation because Haiti is in need.

“How can they hear the Word if we don’t go?” he asked.

Howe was part of a team comprising 18 Louisiana Baptist churches which ministered in the city of Croix-des-Bouquets and the rural area of Canaan, Haiti.

During the seven-day trip, the team cared for more than 800 men, women and children at a medical clinic, hosted a pastors’ conference, installed safe drinking water systems for 16 families, led a Vacation Bible School for at least 300 children each day, led a Bible club for 25 youth daily, participated in neighborhood evangelism and preached at area Haitian churches.

By the date of their departure Oct. 23, 181 people had received Christ as Lord and Savior and had been connected with Haitian Baptist churches in their prospective neighborhoods.

The trip was sponsored by the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries and the Louisiana Baptist Convention in conjunction with the Louisiana/Haiti Partnership, partnership between the Louisiana Baptist Convention and the Haitian Baptist Convention.

Since 2012, teams have provided orphan support with a focus on establishing a children’s village in Haiti. More than 50 churches have been involved.

Haiti was devastated by the earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 250,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Louisiana Baptists were among those who provided disaster relief soon after the earthquake and that effort has continued through the partnership.

The vision is to build a mission center with a church plant as well as a children’s village, a housing community, micro businesses and trade schools.

There are even hopes to build a hotel that will be operated by Haitians, and a school for educating the children.

The mission center will be Louisiana Baptists’ base for planting churches across Haiti.

Beth Green, director of church and community ministries at the Children’s Home, said Haitian Christians are praying for a new nation and she believes the work done by the teams over the years is helping to make that dream a reality.

“We are walking alongside them to change their country for Christ,” Green said. “We are not just going over there one time to provide physical needs but actually are working hand-in-hand with our Haitian brothers and sisters to transform Haiti.

“Children are children wherever they are,” she continued. “What is so amazing to see is the beautiful hearts of the children and the joy of their worshiping. By the world’s standards, the children have so very little, but by God’s standards, they have everything if Christ is their Lord and Savior. To know we will have a part in prayerfully helping children to grow in their walk with Christ and ultimately change their country for Christ is the greatest blessing of all.”

Wayne Sheppard, Louisiana Baptist executive assistant to the executive director, echoed the thought.

“I believe our partnership is going to be a long-term effort to transform Haiti,” he said. “Our vision that we are raising up a new generation to transform Haiti. That’s our goal and we go.

“God has placed a real burden on our hearts for the love of Haiti,” he said. “To know that some of these people who come to know Christ are people we may never see again here but in Heaven is reassuring because we’ll walk the streets in Heaven together one day. We leave each time knowing we made an investment in the Kingdom of God and the work will continue in the hearts of those we have touched.”

Construction on the children’s village will begin once property is purchased. Sheppard is optimistic the deal for 3.2 acres of land will be finalized by December 31, 2015.

Seeds planted

A highlight of the trip for Jeff Hulett, student minister at Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, was seeing his translator work up the courage to share the Gospel with his fellow Haitians and commit to discipling them after the team returned to Louisiana.

When Hulett first began sharing Christ, he noticed his translator retaining some of what he shared. Near the end of the week, the translator indicated his desire to share on his own. After receiving some initial coaching from Hulett, the translator was able to present the Gospel without any assistance.

“I told him that I knew God was doing some great things in the country and the greatest thing I saw was how he could witness to others,” Hulett said. “He was very excited and I could tell God was doing a work in his life. We ended up discipling a brother in Christ who is now better prepared to share his faith in his own country.

“Even if I don’t go back to Haiti in the future, I know there is a person I have trained and equipped who is continuing to do the work we had been doing,” he said.

Hulett’s wife, Stephanie, minister of missions at Jefferson Baptist, was touched by how God provided throughout their time in Haiti, such as when medical supplies seemed to be so low that the clinic would need to be shut down early. However, with the exception of a few bottles of cough syrup, all the prescriptions were able to be filled just before the clinic closed for the day.

“One doctor said we would have to shut down early and 200 still need to be treated,” she said. “We prayed that medicine would be multiplied and miraculously everyone was treated. That reminded us that no matter what situation we are placed in, God will provide the people and resources to accomplish it and every resource for the gospel to be spread.”

For Scott McKenzie, seeing church members participate in a mission trip for the first time was a highlight.

“As difficult as it was in many ways for them, they wanted to go back again,” said McKenzie, minister to senior adults and single adults at First Baptist Church in Lafayette. “I was also impressed that despite us having different cultures, speaking a different language and living in different countries, our basic needs are the same. We want to love and be loved, we want the best for our children and we want to be healthy. We were able to minister to some of those needs, spiritual along the way with the physical.”

While working at the medical clinic, McKenzie witnessed at least two incidents where God intervened:

— A woman was on the brink of death but team members were able to take her to the hospital in time, and she recovered after a treatment which cost the equivalent of 60 dollars.

— A young girl had a terrible infection on her leg, but the medical team took her promptly to the hospital as well. She began to recover almost right away and she returned to the clinic the next day to thank the team.

“God put us in place at the right time to help them,” he said. ”

Construction teams will travel in the spring to begin work on the new Children’s Village, and another mission trip is planned for Oct. 15-21, 2016. For more information on these and other future trips, contact email [email protected] or call 318.448.3402.
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.


Seminary student plants
church in rural Ky.
By Myriah Snyder

OWENSBORO, Ky. (Western Recorder) — Drawing from the need for new, growing churches in rural western Kentucky and a passion to reach and make disciples of the people of McLean County, a 23-year-old, bi-vocational farmer/pastor and seminary student has committed to planting a church built on a foundation of discipleship and missional communities.

Will Troutman, a member of Pleasant Valley Community Church in Owensboro, feels that “the Lord just really affirmed my calling for rural Kentucky people.”

“He tied my heart up with those people. I can’t imagine ministering to a people or loving a people anywhere else like I do these people in this particular part of the globe,” he said

Troutman, a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, cited statistics from the Kentucky Baptist Convention that point out a need for more churches in the area. “Even if all of the Southern Baptist churches in McLean County were growing and stuffed to capacity, they still wouldn’t have enough room to fit all 9,000-something people who live in McLean County,” he said.

“We’re doing kingdom work. Our main goal is not a successful church plant headed by Will Troutman,” he added. “Our main goal is to influence McLean County with the gospel of Jesus Christ by making disciples.

“We need more than our little church to do that. Part of our plan is helping other churches to grow,” Troutman continued.

The vision is for the church plant to be a “seed bed” for leaders and resources for other churches within the community.

As a plant of Pleasant Valley Community Church, this new endeavor seeks to use Pleasant Valley’s approach to church—missional communities being the foundation.

“Through the generosity of God’s people at PVCC and strategic partnerships, we have linked arms with faithful men to help plant over 20 churches!” he said.

“Many of these churches are in major metropolitan areas, but we also believe that every rural community in Kentucky needs a solid, Bible-believing, missions-minded, gospel-preaching church. One of those areas that we have identified is Calhoun,” Jeremy Hatfield, executive pastor at Pleasant Valley said.

“We have prayed and planned for quite some time about planting a church there. Enter Will Troutman,” Hatfield continued.

“The pastors of PVCC discerned that Will is a remarkably gifted leader and an excellent preacher, mature far beyond his year,” Hatfield said. “Will expressed his passion for Calhoun and desire to plant a church there. We were beyond excited as Will was a direct answer to specific prayers we have prayed for quite some time.”

The congregation began meeting at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Calhoun in March 2015. The budding church plant now meets for Bible study two nights a month, a family meal one night a month and a missions/ministry night the last Sunday of each month.

“During family meal, we talk about Jesus, because that’s who we love. That’s what we’re passionate about. But really, family meal is just a good place to make connections with these people,” said Niki Troutman, Will’s wife, who pointed out the broad spectrum of ages and personalities that comprise their group.

The first week of February, they will split into two groups, meeting independently of one another, but still coming together for a family meal each month.

As the missional communities grow, leaders will be chosen, as well as deacons and elders. The group hopes to continue this multiplication process until they reach about 30 members.

They then plan to meet together for a Sunday morning service, “and if we like the way that feels with a few trial services, we will come together for an official church service and at that point become a church.”

While they are hoping that happens this year, the timetable is completely tentative, Will noted.

“Will’s heart is to start a church that is made up of families of believers that are on mission together in Calhoun. There are lost people in Calhoun. Will’s heart is to actively find them and serve them, and he feels uniquely called to Calhoun and to work as a bi-vocational pastor,” Matt Woodfall, pastor of missional community life and member care, said.

“Making disciples is our creed,” Troutman concluded. “We believe that the mission of the church is to make disciples. If what we do doesn’t serve to help us make disciples, then we feel like we shouldn’t waste our limited time and resources doing those things.”

To connect with Troutman, visit his blog at ruralchristianity.com.
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.


Okla. Baptists link
with Latvia
By Chris Doyle

OKLAHOMA CITY (The Baptist Messenger) — The announcement was made during the 109th annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Nov. 9-10. Oklahoma Baptists are teaming with Latvian Baptist Union in a three-year mission partnership, as Latvia is “a door wide open for ministry,” proclaimed Anthony L. Jordan, BGCO executive director-treasurer, during the meeting.

Jordan participated in a signing ceremony at the annual meeting with Peteris Sprogis, bishop of the Latvian Baptist Union and founder of the Baltic Pastoral Institute for Church Planting. The ceremony officially forged the partnership, which includes the option to renew for additional three years at the conclusion of the original agreement.

“We are grateful for your kind hospitality and the privilege to be a part of your 109th meeting of the (BGCO),” said Sprogis in a recent letter to Oklahoma Baptists (see below). “We were delighted to sign the agreement of the new missions’ partnership between Oklahoma and Latvia. When the good news of this new partnership was brought back home, our churches were really excited and are prayerfully looking forward to these new relationships.”

Sporgis said churches and church plants in Latvia are working in practical partnership projects to “reach Latvia with the Good News.” The projects involved the Baltic Pastoral Institute, as well as initiatives that will train and equip worship leaders, children’s leaders and church planters. There are also initiatives to train and develop character for young men, equip and mentor local churches and provide quality literature in the Latvian language.

The letter also features encouraging words that Sporgis shared from British Missiologist Martin Robinson who said, “The best things in Europe happen in the places where intelligent nationals work together with sensitive foreigners.” Sporgis elaborated that he and his fellow Latvians will “do our best to be intelligent nationals, and we are looking forward to partner with sensitive churches from Oklahoma.”

Singing ChurchWomen go to Latvia

One of the first experiences involving Oklahoma Baptists to Latvia will be the Singing ChurchWomen (SCW) who have a mission trip planned for May 30-June 9 this year.

“We will sing in wonderful churches—both modern and ancient, have a special day of ministry with the women of Latvia and be an encouragement to our brothers and sisters who are leading churches and planting churches across the country,” said Randy Lind, BGCO worship and music specialist.

SCW have four concerts planned, performing in concert halls and churches across the country. In addition plans are being made to help an orphanage and have a worship service at the Latvian Baptist Student Camp. SCW will provide a sound system for the camp to use throughout the year.

The ladies also will host a one-day women’s conference in partnership with the Latvian Baptist Women’s Ministry.

Mission opportunity with Latvian youth

A nationwide celebration that happens in Latvia is the country’s Midsummer celebration festival, June 23-25. The Baptist Union of Latvia is planning an event during Midsummer, inviting Christian youth. The union desires to provide an environment that can be appealing to young people and would be an alternative to other Midsummer functions where the potential of excessive drinking of alcohol and other destructive behavior may occur.

Latvian Baptists are looking for Oklahoma Baptists to serve during the event and help with leading sporting events and being referees, leading activities and crafts for children, helping and leading workshops as well as other event assistance.

Those interested in being involved with this summer experience in Latvia or other mission opportunities may visit www.bgco.org/latvia or call 405/942-3800, ext. 4337.
This article appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Chris Doyle is associate editor of The Baptist Messenger.


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.

    About the Author

  • Staff