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FROM THE STATES: La., Okla., Mo. evangelism/missions 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.

Today’s From the States features items from:
Baptist Message (Louisiana)
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
The Pathway (Missouri)

Wave of Prayer washes
across state
By Karen L. Willoughby

ALEXANDRIA, La. (Baptist Message) — Prayer by Louisiana Southern Baptists is to take place at each of the courthouses in Louisiana’s 64 parishes during the months of March and April.

Church members gathered at 15 parishes for prayer during the first week of March alone, led by David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, with other members of the LBC staff and the local associational director of missions.

“I pray this will spread like wildfire,” said James Carson, DOM for the Caldwell, Deer Creek and Richland Baptist associations, during prayer at the Caldwell Parish Courthouse in Columbia on March 8. “We do pray for spiritual awakening to start in our hearts, through our churches, to all Christians, as we … continue to confess and ask for cleansing in our hearts.”

About 30 people participated in each of first week’s prayer vigils. That number is expected to grow.

The concept is that as a wave of prayer washes across Louisiana, it will gain momentum, resulting in more prayer, more fervency, and more power as the Holy Spirit unleashes a spiritual awakening, LBC leaders said.

Hankins is so committed to this, he said, that he plans to participate in each one of the parish prayer vigils, which are to culminate Sunday afternoon, April 29, on the steps of the state capitol in Baton Rouge. Gov. Bobby Jindal has been invited to that prayer event.

In physics, a wave -– simply stated –- is a disturbance that transfers energy. The parish-by-parish Wave of Prayer is one aspect of a concerted effort to set the stage for a God-sent spiritual awakening as Southern Baptists celebrate 200 years of ministry in Louisiana, and 200 years of Louisiana statehood.

More than 500 churches already have participated in 21 days of prayer and fasting. (See related article on page 13 of this issue of the Baptist Message.) Other churches plan to do the same between now and Easter, and still others, later in the year. Some of the 500 initial churches have indicated they plan to have another 21 days of prayer and fasting in early 2013.

“It’s Time … to Awaken” is the over-arching theme for each of the major LBC events of the year.

“We cannot program, plan, or demand spiritual awakening,” according to the www.lbc.org/awaken website. “However, we can prepare for it, pray for it, and plead with God to send it.”

The website lists four ways to engage with the “It’s Time to Awaken” emphasis:

— 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting: Commit your church and yourself to participate in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Suggested dates are 21 prior to Easter (March 19-April 8), or after Easter (April 9-April 29) but any time that works for your church calendar is fine. You can find resources at www.LBC.org/Awaken/21Days

— Commit to focus on the need for spiritual awakening by delivering a God-inspired message to your congregation on this subject.

— Celebrate what God has done in 200 years of ministry in Louisiana on Sunday, April 29.

— Participate in various opportunities during the year to focus on the need for spiritual awakening.

To those who ask why they should participate in Awaken, “200 years ago Baptists heard the voice of God in a new and fresh way that called them to Louisiana,” according to the website. “Like most things God does, it started small and grew by the power of His Spirit into what is today over 500,000 Southern Baptists worshipping in 1,600 churches “However, during this 200 years of ministry in Louisiana there has never been a spiritual awakening, a movement of God that sweeps across the state changing the lives of people, churches and ultimately the culture.

“Imagine what could happen if more than a half-a-million people, young and old, men and women of all races in Louisiana humbled themselves before the face of Almighty God? What if they gave themselves to a Spirit-led shift in priority that put His will above their own? The explosion of Godly passion would change Louisiana – and the world – It’s Time!”

Truck driver Michael Lincecum, a member of First Baptist Church of Columbia, participated in the March 8 prayer vigil at the Caldwell Parish Courthouse because, he said, he sees the need for prayer.
“We’ve got so much stuff going on in our country,” Lincecum said. “It’s time for change. Let God do it.”
This article originally appeared in the Baptist Message (baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Karen Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message.
Missions foremost on mind
of Concord-Kiowa Association
By Dana Williamson

CORDELL, Okla. (The Baptist Messenger) — Carl Thionnet says he’d rather do five things top notch than do 15 average. That’s why when he became director of missions in Concord-Kiowa Baptist Association some 20 years ago, he stopped having meetings “just to have meetings.”

“They were having meetings of all kinds all the time, and only a handful of people showed up,” Thionnet recalled. “I believe meetings should benefit and enhance what we’re doing as churches and as an association. I don’t think we should do the Lord’s work in an average way. We should give it everything we’ve got.”

Thionnet said one of the best thing the association does is camp, participating in Southwest Oklahoma Baptist Church Camp.

“I read a statistic a few years ago that blew me away,” said Thionnet. “Between 70 and 75 percent of all of our baptisms come from church camps, revivals or Vacation Bible Schools. That begs the question, what do we do the rest of the time.”

Thionnet added that perhaps we have come to depend on these things for baptisms rather than building on them.

“Serving the Lord is not a two-, three- or four-time thing each year,” he said. “It’s all the time. It should be foremost in our thinking.”

In Concord-Kiowa, the rest of the time is filled with evangelism and mission projects.

“We have an annual evangelism dinner to bring in people whose ministry has been centered on evangelism to give encouragement, ideas and help to our pastors and staff,” he said.

The association also sponsors “The Call,” a western Oklahoma youth event, modeled after the state Youth Evangelism Conference.

“A lot of our churches aren’t able to go to YEC because of a lack of sponsors and so forth,” Thionnet said. “So we have a mini YEC each October that draws around 500-600 youth. We try to make it as good as what they will hear at YEC, sometimes with the same speakers and musicians.”

See You At The Pole in September is also a big event for youth in the association.

Thionnet said his association places a great emphasis on missions.

“Our people are truly mission minded,” he noted. “Approximately 20 percent of our average Sunday School attendance will go on a hands-on mission endeavor somewhere around the world each year. It’s amazing how interested our people are.”

Members of the association have traveled to Malawi and the West Coast of Africa, all over Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Mexico and “some places they can’t talk about,” as well as numerous locations throughout the U.S.

In the 1990s, Thionnet took a group of pastors to Beatrice, Neb., where a former youth minister in the association was pastor.

“We took a tour of 21 counties in southeastern Nebraska and found that only four had an evangelical witness,” Thionnet reported. “That tugged at our hearts.”

About four years ago Thionnet returned to Nebraska with a group of men to work with Mark Elliott, director of missions for eastern Nebraska. They ended up in Grand Island, a city of 50,000 with no Southern Baptist church and only two or three churches that preached the Gospel.

“We voted to do a church plant there, and support it entirely,” he said. “The association called a pastor, Bill Rowland, a former IMB missionary in Venezuela. We had a three-year commitment, but some of our churches are continuing to support the mission.”

Thionnet said the association makes missions a part of its budget.

“If there are youth who feel God has called them to missions or is calling them to go somewhere for short-term projects, and they need help, we do our best to make sure it happens for them,” he acknowledged.

Thionnet revealed that one of the greatest surprises of his job is the time he gets to spend with staff people other than pastors.

“I want to help pastors be the best they can be, but I don’t want to get in their way,” he said. “I just want to help them, and the same goes for other church staff.”

One thing Thionnet does every month is send birthday, church anniversary and wedding anniversary cards to church staff with personal notes of encouragement.

“Some months, that takes a lot of time, but sometimes, it’s the only card they get,” he disclosed.

Thionnet revealed that he loves the Lord, loves people—really loves young people—and wants to do everything he can to help them get to where God is calling them to go.

Thionnet was called to preach in 1966, and became pastor of Retrop Church in Beckam-Mills Association. He then served as pastor of Canute, First; Gribble Springs near Denton, Texas; Spiro, First and Wewoka, First. He served nine and a half years as associate pastor of Bethany, Council Road before becoming director of missions in 1992.

He and his wife, Joyce, have two sons, David and Jeff, and six grandchildren.

Thionnet said when he turned 65, people started asking him when he was going to “hang it up.”

Hang it up? I haven’t even got hold of it yet,” he admitted. “If I retired, I’d still want to do something, so why not do something you enjoy and are called to do until such time you believe it’s right to ‘hang it up.'”
This article originally appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Dana Williamson is associate editor of The Baptist Messenger.
Sudbury church can be
springboard to reach region
By Kayla Rinker

SUDBURY, Ont. (The Pathway) — Since joining the Canadian Baptist National Convention (CNBC) a few months ago, All Nations Church in Sudbury, Ontario, has quickly become one of the most vital components in the mission partnership between the CNBC and the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).

“We are seeing All Nations as a place where our partnering teams from Missouri can bounce out from,” said Gary Smith, senior church starting catalyst for the CNBC.

He said there are several ways to serve alongside All Nations; ideal for Missouri Baptists who possess a variety of spiritual gifts. Some opportunities include helping with the church’s planned outreach events, as well as assisting with the church’s current large-scale building project.

“We are hoping Missouri Baptists will be an asset in the construction of our ambitious project,” said Jeremy Mahood, senior pastor of All Nations Church.

When finished, the church building project, called “Building on the Rock for Tomorrow,” will consist of two 13,500 square foot Monolithic domes connected by a 4,000 square foot foyer. The top of the foyer will feature a 30-foot tall light rod extending out of the roof and pointing upward into the sky.

“From this ‘Ministry Outpost’ we’ll be able to use fiber optic cable to broadcast high quality messages and connect the pockets of believers who are living in remote northern Ontario communities,” Mahood said.

Traveling and making personal contact with these isolated believers is another way Missouri Baptists can help.

“We need people to go into these remote communities; knocking on doors, offering Vacation Bible Schools or planning revivals,” Mahood said. “I’m excited to get to partner with Missouri Baptists. We are starting to become aware of what God’s up to and it’s giving us a sense of joy and hope.”

For more information on how to join All Nations Church in its mission effort in Northern Ontario contact MBC Partnership Missions Specialist Rick Hedger at (573) 636-0400, ext. 620, or e-mail him at [email protected]
This article originally appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Conveniton. Kayla Rinker is a contributing writer for The Pathway.

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