Today’s From the States features items from:
The Pathway (Missouri)
Baptist New Mexican
FBC Ferguson, Mo., pastor
talks about Crossover 2016
FERGUSON, Mo. (The Pathway) — In spite of all the negative realities of now famous Ferguson, Joe Costephens — now Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Ferguson — sees the crisis resulting in wide-open opportunities to spread the good news of Jesus!
Below, hear him talk about it in his own words in this exciting interview on Bott Radio Network with host Harold Hendrick.
This article appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
N.M. University students
show love to Navajo people
By Steve Timmons and Kevin Parker
TOHATCHI, N.M. (Baptist New Mexican) — Western New Mexico University’s BSU Christian Challenge, a Cooperative Program-funded ministry of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, takes a group of college students on a Spring Break mission trip each year to work with Navajo Reservation churches. This year’s trip was a second visit to Tohatchi Baptist Church, a BCNM-affiliated Navajo congregation about 25 miles north of Gallup on Indian Service Route 108. Aaron Jim pastors the church.
Three students and Christian Challenge director Steve Timmons drove to Tohatchi from Silver City. Three additional college students joined them from Gallup for a day each. Each year, the trip begins with a Saturday cultural experience at the Gallup Flee Market. The excursion introduces the students to handmade Navajo art and jewelry. Then, ministry begins.
The Tohatchi church owns three vans that it uses to bring people to church meetings. Drivers navigate “roads” that are nothing more than paths to people’s homes. When this year’s team arrived, all three vans were broken down. For several weeks the church had been unable to use them. Saturday night the team made temporary repairs to one van.
Team members had traveled to Tohatchi in a van borrowed from Silver City’s Indian Hills Baptist Church. So, Sunday morning the temporarily repaired van and the Indian Hills van traveled the routes bringing people to church. Vanloads of people excited to attend church made an impression on the team of students.
Another team from churches in Lubbock, Texas, arrived a week later and was able to repair all the vans. They also brought the church a fourth, much-needed van. One of the original three vans boasted over 300,000 miles, yet still ferried people back and forth to church meetings.
The team also helped the church serve individuals who it is trying to reach. One individual was a cousin of Pastor Jim. Because her parents are traditional Navajos and she has been exploring Christianity, they told her to get her things out. Earlier, she had lost her house to bankruptcy, and her belongings were in her parents’ carport. Complicating the situation, other family members at the home also refused to help her; but the Christian Challenge students were willing and available.
Pastor Jim used the opportunity to help his cousin see that her family might not help her, but God sent the students to help in their place. He described how God is more important than native beliefs, and she needed to commit her life to the true God. He explained that God is the one who really cares about her. The team also helped tear out a kitchen for another woman, preparing it for repairs.
Next, the team promoted a church evangelism event planned for the following week. They drove around the area to post flyers and invite people to the event. When the event day arrived, 15 people accepted Christ. Even though not present that day, the team realized their part in those 15 choosing to follow Jesus. Those 15 saw advertisements the team distributed, and so they came. The group also installed a shed for firewood and prepared the church’s sign to be painted. Both were additional activities that God could use to capture people’s attention and create opportunities for them to discover life through Jesus Christ. Such activities were the purpose of the trip.
Early in the WNMU spring semester, Timmons had visited a welding class to invite students to participate in the trip. Three days before the team left, a student named Seth, whom Timmons had never met, called the Christian Challenge and asked to go. Timmons said, “Sure.” Seth also tried to get some other students in his program to go, too. But, they wanted to get paid. One important detail: Seth is not a Christian.
Seth had helped his friends complete court-mandated community service, and he wanted to be a part of church-oriented community service. Seth said he had helped others, and he wanted to experience what it was like to help a church. He heard the Gospel explained clearly on several occasions during the trip. And, though he did not accept Jesus as his Savior, he listened intently.
A couple of years ago, Seth participated in some bad activities with friends. The friends were related and were constantly in trouble. One day, while driven by anger, one of them shot and killed two cousins. Through the experience, Seth realized he needed to invest his life in something better.
Seth’s mom was 16 when he was born, and his dad was never involved in his life. “Merely taking Seth on the trip made it worth going,” Timmons said. Why? On the trip, Seth saw and experienced Christian love.
The WNMU BSU Christian Challenge intentionally chooses places like the Navajo Reservation for mission trips. One of the most unreached people groups in the United States lives right in New Mexico, close by. Reservation churches often encounter overwhelming needs in the people of the communities they serve, and Christian Challenge students can assist with activities that many people might consider trivial or unimportant. But, those activities help churches like the Tohatchi church establish ongoing ministries that matter and reach people. Eventually, some will choose to follow Jesus because a student on a Spring Break trip took time to love them.
This article appeared in the Baptist New Mexican (bcnm.com/bnm), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Steve Timmons is a correspondent and Kevin Parker is editor of the Baptist New Mexican.
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.