Today’s From the States features items from:
The Baptist Record (Mississippi)
Western Recorder (Kentucky)
The Pathway (Missouri)
Miss. church commits
to ‘Tell Someone’
By Tony Martin
BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (The Baptist Record) — First Baptist Church in Brookhaven, is in many respects the typical First Baptist County Seat church found all over the South. The community is stable, as is the church. According to pastor Greg Warnock, however, there is excitement to be found.
“Our emphasis for this year is Tell Someone What Jesus Has Done for You,” he said. This is also the 2017 emphasis of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. “This is sort of a refocus for us,” he continued. We’ve broken it down into four phases –- Pray (for specific lost friends to come to Christ); Learn (one spiritual conversation); Invite (unchurched people to your small group); and Share (the gospel at least one time.”
Warnock reflected on how the last few months had gone. “We did it pretty much by the book,” he said. “The people here have bought into the big picture. I used selected scriptures from Ephesians to tie into the weekly theme. And Jeff [Doremus] led the Sunday School through the curriculum.”
Doremus is associate pastor of education. The curriculum, The Unvarnished Truth, presented by LifeWay, was put into the hands of all the adult Sunday School teachers.
“All of our adult classes bought in,” Doremus said. “Now, for them to take six weeks out of their usual curriculum and just wholesale out was a big deal. We purposely didn’t use the word ‘evangelism’ because of their preconceived thoughts. We presented it as a way to tell their stories, about how God had changed their lives. We had seven classes, and in each one we’d ask people, ‘Hey, would you like to tell your story, about how God has changed your life? And a lot of unity came from that, because people love to hear other people’s stories. It seemed to resonate with each class.”
“We have church-wide discipleship classes,” Warnock said. “We call it Sundays at Five, and they are for children, youth, and adults. We do this on a semester schedule, and the classes meet while we have what is called Legacy Worship for adults. Jeff taught them how to develop their testimonies and share them in two or three minutes.
“Our church’s theme this year is #tellsomeone,” Warnock continued. “I’ll preach from Acts 8, 9, and 10 through January, and focus on this again February 25-26 with a Tell Someone revival. Then February 28 is our area Tell Me Rally, and then September 24 we’ll have an associational Tell Everyone Rally with Dr. Fred Luter. We’ll have that at the high school football field.”
Warnock spoke well of the resources available to him and other pastors and churches.
“That’s the reason I love Mississippi Baptists,” he said. “The Convention is leading the way. The Convention says, ‘We are putting a focus on this again, we’re giving you the tools, challenging you to challenge your members.’ Are we too busy to see that person in front of us we need to engage? It’s time to seek God again.
“We found that there were people in Jeff’s class you never thought would have come and participated,” Warnock stated. “God was doing a work in their lives.”
“We would train them to share their stories,” Doremus said. “We took them to the I Am Second website so they could see others sharing their testimonies. You find out about people as they share their stories. They enjoyed hearing each other.”
“We saw an increase in worship attendance and Sunday School, about 8 percent,” Warnock said. “For us, in a stable community and church, that shows excitement. People were bringing their friends. And that is just preparation for this year.”
Warnock was asked what benefit he saw in this for his peers.
“It’s a great tool for busy pastors,” Warnock said. “It helps them help their people do the work they were called to do. We are called to make disciples, and when you get tired of doing all the things that keep you from making disciples, you’ll appreciate these resources.
“It wasn’t just an eight-week campaign for us,” Warnock noted. “It helped us refocus the life of our church.”
This article appeared in The Baptist Record, newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (mbcb.org). Tony Martin is associate editor of The Baptist Record.
Ky. church helps Ohio
church find a home
RICHMOND, Ky. (Western Recorder) — In a series of events crossing state lines, Tate’s Creek Baptist Church in Richmond had a hand in helping Harrison Street Baptist Church in New Madison, Ohio, find space to expand their ministry — a stone, early 1900s church building that was going to be torn down.
Businessman Harold Sparks acquired the building of a Methodist church that had shut its doors. A local church had utilized the property for a time, but they relocated, leaving the building vacant again. Not finding anyone to use the property, he was planning to tear it down, saving only the antique stained glass windows.
Then he ran into Jerry Huffman, pastor of Tates Creek Baptist Church. Behind the scenes at Tates Creek, God has been doing “amazing things,” Huffman said.
Huffman recounts story after story over the past few years of God providing needs for the church that they hadn’t even asked for, all stemming from “a new emphasis on the focus of the church” — prayer, he said.
Many of the events included individuals donating money to meet specific, unpublicized needs, Huffman said.
So, he wasn’t surprised when Sparks said, “I think I’ll take the windows and just sell them and tear the building down. But if I could find somebody that would use it for ministry, I’d probably just give it to them.”
“I’ll take it,” Huffman responded, having no idea what he was going to do with the building. Sparks gave him the keys that day.
“Normally, congregations are looking for a place to worship, but this was one event where there was a building looking for a congregation,” Huffman said.
After contacting Ohio Baptist Association, they connected him with Greater Dayton Association of Baptists’ director of missions, Steve Stiglich, who knew of just the congregation for the building.
Harrison Street Baptist Church was interested in expanding their property for more ministry opportunities. This building was located just a few miles from their existing property, so Pastor Kyle Herman met with his DOM and Huffman.
Huffman soon learned that not only was Harrison Street growing, but much of their growth was coming from the area where the church building was located, a short distance from Dayton.
By the end of that meeting, Huffman had passed the keys that he had been given along to Herman.
Although they are considering turning the building into a ministry center, Harrison Street isn’t exactly sure how the building will be used quite yet. There is much work to be done, including the installation of plumbing.
“It’s a smaller building, but God’s got something going on with it just by the way things are moving,” Stiglich said. “They’re trying to really be sensitive to what God’s doing.”
“Jerry Huffman became a conduit or a connector who did nothing other than seize an opportunity, make some phone calls, and carry a set of church keys from Kentucky to Ohio,” Danny Davis, Tates Creek Baptist Association’s director of missions, reflected. “He became the middleman in what God was doing to convert an abandoned church building into a useful facility for a growing congregation.”
Their story serves to “encourage people to be Kingdom-minded and to keep their eyes open. Everything that comes to us (as individuals or believers) is not about us. It’s about the Kingdom,” Davis said.
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Mo. church’s motto: Go,
pray, proclaim, repeat
By Dan Steinbeck
NEOSHO, Mo. (The Pathway) — For a decade, Calvary Baptist has been on mission in Thailand and in Africa. One truth coming from both locales is the need for repeat visits.
The work in Africa
“Calvary was a guinea pig for the engaging churches that the IMB started. Rick Hedger (now MBC staff) was pastor before I came,” said current pastor Roger Brumley.
“First we had to “find the (African) people group we had adopted,” Brumley said.
Through the years, they found and ministered to them in Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and The Gambia, through education camps, clinics, women’s ministry, and planting a church among the “M” people.
“Over the years, we have seen a lot of people reached among the “M” people. Several tribal leaders, including chiefs have come to Christ. We’ve gone from not knowing if there two churches in the three countries, to now having close to 70 churches. Some have up to 300 people, some have only a handful meeting under mango trees.”
“One chief said we are the only group that keeps going back (to them). We do different things to show we care. It amazes them we keep returning,” Brumley said.
“We now are establishing Bible schools to train their leaders in theology and biblical studies. Most people we reach can’t read, so we do Bible storying, so they can hear the truth. They learn differently. A lot of them feel like God wants them to pastor.
“God is using the “M” people to reach other people groups. Some churches are on their feet walking, but they are very young churches.”
The “M” language has only been written about nine years, and combines 26 dialects. There are also national languages — Senegal, French; Guina-Bissau, Portuguese-Creole; and The Gambia, English. Sometimes Brumley has to be translated twice — once in the native language and then in “M.”
“They finally have been able to put it print, but most can’t read it. Most speak three to four languages, but some speak seven or eight.”
Muslims have come to some areas where past mission work stopped.
“The only reason Muslims haven’t come into these nations (in high numbers) is because the Christians keep coming back. God has won the victories and allowed us to be part of that. There are so many things God is doing and we know nothing about.”
“Two years ago, three of us crossed a two-mile-wide river, then took roads. One man said ‘God told me three white men were coming to tell me about Jesus’ Forty-five minutes later, he was saved, and two months later he died. Now, about 50 attend regular bible study (in his area).
Mission efforts in Thailand
For ten years, Leona Mieswinkel and Marinda Sandlin have gone to Thailand, leading one of five biblical English camp teams, each using a Bible-based curriculum.
“An official overseeing 175 schools said those with the biblical English camps are talking to others and ‘now 170 other schools want English camps.’
“For the last two years, we’ve handed out Bibles. One school associate said the Bibles are ‘the best gift they could ever have,” Mieswinkel said adding they openly teach Bible in the schools.
Two years ago, they showed Christian resolve when a beloved Christian translator died suddenly. The two women continued the camp with 89 children.
Working with Thais has been a continual witness. A Buddhist interpreter said the returning teams ‘do more in one week than they (nationals) do for the students in a year.’
“We keep coming back because we love them,” Mieswinkel said. “Now they are responding.”
The Thai project began as a partnership with the International Mission Board. Recently, the Calvary Thai team raises most funds through an annual yard sale and arranges schedules with schools, interpreters, travel and lodging.
“As long as God tells us to go back, we go. It is in an area where is can be done. We have an open invitation,” Mieswinkel said. “Laos is becoming an open country. I wish the IMB would take a new interest in this work.”
Distribution of Bibles began when a former missionary heard Mieswinkel’s heart at an association meeting. He helped her arrange for Thai-English Bibles printed in Thailand.
“We do the camps through games, songs, and a worksheet. Some families come and hear in their language through the interpreter. The Bibles go into the homes. You look at the Bibles you gave out last year and this year, they have scriptures underlined,” Mieswinkel said.
Sandlin said about 70 of the 180 school children live most of the year at the school.
“Most students can’t afford an education after ninth grade. It’s a very poor area. Those who live at the school with one male and one female teacher, can’t afford to go home to the mountains (except for annual breaks.) They clean the school, do their laundry, and have their own garden. They have rice and some soup mix three times a day.”
“They are open to the Gospel. Thailand is open to Christianity,” Sandlin said.
Past mission teams brought toothpaste, lunch trays, rice, mosquito netting, and bedding for the students.
Calvary also ministers to a Thai Christian orphanage mainly for girls whose parents are deceased or in prison.
This story appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Dan Steinbeck writes 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.