News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Mo., Fla., Okla. evangelism/missions news; Church goes ‘from teaching about missions to doing missions’

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


Small Mo. church does
big community outreach

By Staff

LOWRY CITY, Mo. (The Pathway) — In the middle of summer heat, First Baptist Church of Lowry City, Mo., held Mission: Lowry City, a multi-faceted gospel outreach effort to reach their town.

Lowry City, population 640, is located mid-way between Kansas City and Springfield on Highway 13. The church, which averages around 80 in worship, placed ads on Facebook and in area newspapers offering to do home repair projects at no cost.

“The response was amazing,” said Pastor Jeff Ferguson. “In just 5 days we completed repair projects in 18 different homes in and around St. Clair County. Everything from installing handicap ramps to repainting homes to doing a complete bathroom remodel.”

On Thursday night the church hosted an appreciation dinner for the home owners to say thank you for allowing the church to be a part of their lives. The primary purpose of the week was not home fix-up, but getting the gospel of Christ out into the community. This was accomplished by members personally sharing with the homeowners and by a planned distribution of over 330 gospel outreach bags delivered to every home in Lowry City.

“For our door-to-door outreach, we partnered with the Saturate USA. They provided free DVDs of the Jesus film, bags, and literature. All they required of us is that we deliver the materials and include follow-up information on our church so home owners can learn about us and get in contact with us. We divided into seven home teams and had all 330 bags distributed by noon,” Ferguson added.

“Our church was typical of so many SBC churches, we ‘did missions’ by supporting our Association and Camp, and by giving to offerings like the Rheubin L. South, Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings, but we were not ‘doing missions,'” Ferguson explained. A lot has changed in the church’s approach to missions.

“The shift in mission philosophy, from teaching about missions to doing missions really began in 2006 when we started our Awana Bible Club children’s ministry,” he said. “I asked the church to give up their Sunday night service time and use it to reach area children. They were willing. In fact, we had 16 men commit to serving in Awana that first year.”

The Bible club currently runs between 35 and 50 children now. The Awana success was followed in 2009 when the church did its first mission trip sending more than 20 members to aid victims of the Greensburg, Kansas, F-5 tornado.

Becky Hyke, a member and an area high school science teacher, had the vision to organize the church’s first out-of-town gospel mission effort to Greensburg.

“The trip was challenging on many levels as we had a lot to learn,” Ferguson said. “But we were well received by the community there when we went door to door with gospel tracts on our last day there. Residents there had seen us laboring all week in our First Baptist Lowry City safety green t-shirts all week and we had earned their respect.”

Since 2009 the church has travelled to Georgia and Colorado twice, Kentucky, and numerous locations around Missouri doing construction, VBS, and home repair ministry. In 2018, First Baptist Lowry City took 34 members to Houston, Texas, and spent a week rebuilding homes that were still unlivable a year after Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast.

“These homeowners were overwhelmed, still living with relatives or in RVs a year later and needed someone to come alongside them and help,” Ferguson stated.

Ferguson said one reason everyone can participate in these efforts is they have made prayer walking an integral part of the week. Teams divide up and walk the streets praying and more often than not get opportunities to connect with the community where they are ministering.

Hyke now serves as the church’s missions coordinator and is responsible for putting projects together which involves developing a master list of jobs and keeping track of repair teams, locations and job progress.

Ferguson concluded, “It is really touching to learn the stories of those we come in contact with through our efforts. This year’s outreach saw our church family minister to two widows that recently lost their husbands, a woman with cancer caring for her daughter who had suffered a stroke, and an Army veteran who is an amputee that needed assistance with a handicap access ramp, just to name a few.”
This article appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.


Fla. church covers
schools with prayer, mulch

By David Moore

OCALA, Fla. (Florida Baptist Convention) — Armed with 40 backpacks full of school supplies, 80 bags of mulch, landscaping tools and prayer cards, about 120 members of First Baptist Church in Ocala set out on a hot Sunday afternoon in August to take part in its annual back-to-school project.

It’s called “Gather and Scatter” as members gather at the church for a quick meal, prayer time and instructions before scattering out to three schools. This marked the fifth year the church has been doing this back-to-school project. Members donate school supplies in July to fill the backpacks. They also pick up prayer cards with the names of employees from all three schools, pledging to pray for them during the school year.

“We’re working in our neighborhood schools where we have the most opportunity for service,” said Bruce LePoint, pastor for Global Disciplemaking at First Baptist. “This is our way of giving back to the community. We try to make the campuses as nice as we can.”

At Forest High School, volunteers circled and joined hands as they prayed for the students, staff and administrators. They then walked the campus, stopping to pray for each classroom and office.

At Ward-Highlands and Maplewood elementary schools, there were two teams at each school, comprised of both adults and children. A prayer team walked each campus, praying for teachers, students and administrators, while a landscaping team helped to beautify each campus by trimming hedges, pulling weeds and laying mulch.

For Micah and Jennifer Baxley this event was a family affair. They and their four children volunteered on the landscaping team at Ward Highlands.

“I love that I was able to serve my community alongside my children and my church family,” Jennifer Baxley said. “Having service opportunities that include children of all ages allows them to see their individual role in the Body of Christ.”

Projects like First Baptist’s Gather and Scatter fall in line with the Florida Baptist Convention’s “Write Beside You” initiative, which encourages churches to partner with schools to make a difference in the lives of students across the state.

For this project, LePoint contacts school administrators to find out how the church might assist them. Sometimes school administrators even join the volunteers at work. That was the case last year when Treasa Buck, principal at Ward Highlands Elementary, and her son assisted with the landscaping work there.

“Every new school year our students show up with new clothes, new shoes and smiles on their faces,” Buck said. “Every new school year our staff shows up with new strategies, new ideas, and a renewed sense of purpose for why they are driven to teach our students.

“Because of First Baptist Church of Ocala, our school welcomes the students and staff every new school year refreshed and beautiful. The members of the church put their heart into the yearly beautification and pray over our school for a blessed school year,” she added.

“Our students continue to grow and be successful because members of our community like those at First Baptist Church of Ocala believe in them.”
This article appeared on the website of the Florida Baptist Convention (flbaptist.org). David Moore is a writer in Florida and member of First Baptist of Ocala.


Okla. college students gather
for gospel encouragement

By Hannah Hanzel

EDMOND, Okla. (Baptist Messenger) — Edmond, Henderson Hills’ entrance hall resembled a combination of a college campus and a family reunion on Sep 6 as nearly 1,000 college-age young adults teemed into the building. They poured into the church from all over the state for Momentum, a Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Collegiate Ministry event.

The event consisted of three segments, the first being a worship service. Oklahoma band Soul Society led worship, bringing many students to a place of surrender and praise. After a time of worship, Jonathan Pokluda, teaching pastor at Dallas, Texas, Watermark Community and author of “Welcome to Adulting,” delivered a message on Philippians 3.

Pokluda recalled in his message a time, before he knew the Lord, when he attempted to enter a bar with fake identification. He drew students into the connection between this fake ID he had assumed and the fake personas they might take on in their everyday lives. Students were challenged to internalize what traits of themselves in which they might be placing their identity. The audience laughed as Pokluda suggested traits such as “dog mom,” and then hushed as he further suggested identifying in past abuse or current addictions. He proceeded to present the Gospel and revealed the true identity God has offered them through salvation as a child of God.

As the first segment came to a close, the second began with a stampede to the outer hall for free Chick-fil-A, Krispy Kreme and All-American Pizza. Games were played, and conversations were shared as the young adults consumed all 800 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, 780 Krispy Kreme donuts and 90 pizzas.

During this time of fellowship, Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM), formerly Baptist Student Unions, from across the state connected. Friends that had been made over the summer at Falls Creek, Super Summer, GOStudents and other Oklahoma Baptist ministries, found each other in the throngs of attendees and reunited.

As students wrapped up the second segment, they were invited to visit and meet with the 10 various vendors in the outer hall. The booths consisted of multiple seminaries as well as several BGCO ministries such as Falls Creek, CrossTimbers, Oklahoma Church Planting and more.

The last session of the evening had attendees gather back into the church sanctuary for the final worship service. Soul Society closed the evening with further praise in song as Pokluda offered an alter call. Numerous students responded through surrender to ministry or through making a profession of faith in Christ.

To learn more about Oklahoma Baptists work in college students’ and young adults’ lives and how to be involved, visit www.bgco.org/ministries/collegiate.
This article appeared in the Baptist Messenger (www.baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Hannah Hanzel writes for the Baptist Messenger.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, typically 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. Except for minor style, security, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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