Today’s From the States features items from:
Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
Rocky Mountain Baptist (Colorado)
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
Praying for revival
on a N.C. bus tour
By Emily Rojas
GREENSBORO, N.C. (Biblical Recorder) — Among Christians, prayer walking around towns and neighborhoods is a common practice — it’s a way to see an area’s particular needs and cover them in prayer.
But when a group at the Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina decided to prayer walk around the city of Greensboro in under two hours, they decided it would be easier to take a bus.
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, two buses full of Annual Meeting attendees embarked on a guided prayer tour around Greensboro to pray for needs in the areas of church planting, church revitalization, church bodies, unreached peoples and college campuses. Each bus drove through a separate “pocket of lostness” as identified by the convention’s Strategic Focus Team. Four of the top 30 pockets of lostness in North Carolina are located in Greensboro, so the buses traveled through areas inhabited by some of the largest populations of lost people in the state.
This “Pray Greensboro” prayer vision bus tour was organized and planned through the cooperative efforts of the Piedmont Baptist Association and the Baptist State Convention’s Strategic Focus Team and Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening.
Brad Roderick, director of missions of the Piedmont Baptist Association, was the guide for one of the buses, giving passengers information about the sites they passed so they could better pray for the area. Roderick’s bus passed by five main areas that needed prayer: North Carolina A&T State University, 16th Street Mosque, apartments that are home to many refugees, Northside Baptist Church and Magnolia Street Church.
These landmarks were areas of prominence — North Carolina A&T State University has been named the best of the Historically Black Universities in America; 16th Street Mosque is the largest of the six mosques in Guilford County. As the buses passed these landmarks, passengers offered up prayers for the needs of students, for the mosque’s 450 members and for God’s Spirit to fall on both areas.
“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world,” Roderick said, quoting 1 John 4:4. “I pray that Christians would have the confidence of the Lord to share (the Gospel) with them.”
The churches that the groups visited were also places in significant need of prayer — Northside Baptist Church is a church in desperate need of revitalization. J.S. “Bud” Parrish, the church’s interim pastor, has helped the church grow in outreach to its neighborhood over the past two years. He’s expanded Northside’s homeless outreach, feeding about 170 homeless people each week.
But still, the need for revitalization at Northside is great. “There are 19 churches on the north side of (Greensboro); now 17 are in decline,” Parrish said. “That’s why we’re not reaching this community. So pray for revitalization.”
Passengers also prayed for revitalization at Magnolia Street Church. The church has a rich history but in more recent years has seen a transition in its community’s demographics. Attendees prayed not only for those who are new to the city, but also for those who have remained in the area as it’s changed.
“It was very evident the Spirit was working in individuals and in the group, just bringing our hearts together,” said Gretchen Roderick, who is married to Brad Roderick and was a contributor in orchestrating the prayer tour. “I am anxious to see how (God) is going to respond to all the prayers we’ve lifted up.”
This article appeared in the Biblical Recorder (brnow.org), newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Emily Rojas is a communications assistant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Colo. food pantry
celebrates 10 years
By Nancy H. Babcox
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (Rocky Mountain Baptist) — In 2006, members of Trinity Baptist Church in Grand Junction Colo., responded to a need in the community by opening the Trinity Baptist Church Food Pantry. Economic issues which resulted in a large loss of jobs on the western slope created the need for the most basic of items for many families.
The food pantry, initially open every Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. immediately became a central meeting place for families in the small community in search of not just a bag of groceries for the coming week but for spiritual guidance as well. Now open two Fridays a month from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. the food pantry is run totally by church volunteers and is financially self-supporting through private donations, grants and annual funding from the local Grand Valley Baptist Association and the Colorado Baptist General Convention.
The majority of the food items the pantry provides to the community are purchased from the Rocky Mountain Food Bank, collected throughout the year or during annual food drives such as a Chili Supper hosted by the church every October or during Vacation Bible School every summer.
Two local grocery stores provide bread and pastry items for the food pantry four days a week. In addition, local farmers donate fresh seasonal produce during the growing season and several families & other local churches provide ongoing support by donating money or collected canned food and boxed items monthly. Several times a year, an individual or family who themselves have benefited from the food bank drop by the church and leave a collection of canned food or a monetary offering to be used to pay it forward.
“God provides” is the central theme voiced by the food pantry volunteers. Director Don Huddleston echoed this sentiment: “There is a lot of need in our area. No matter how short we think we are on donations God always makes it last for those who come in for help.”
Over the past several years the Trinity Baptist Church Food Pantry has also been able to distribute groceries for a traditional Christmas meal all due to the kindness of others in the community. One recipient of a Christmas meal box several years ago was a single mother of triplets born months before at a local hospital.
In 2015 one local Orchard Mesa restaurant owner donated 44 turkeys to the food pantry along with collected boxes of stuffing mix, gravy, canned vegetables and cranberries, potatoes, fresh bread and pies. Families, including some receiving care at the Grand Junction VA hospital, were able to take home brightly colored boxes filled with Christmas dinner groceries.
In addition to storage for the food itself, the pantry volunteers allocated a small Sunday school room as a clothing closet which allows for the free distribution of gently used seasonal clothing items. Shoes, coats and children’s clothing are always popular items offered free of charge to those visiting the food pantry.
During the first year of operation 6,300 people were served in the Grand Junction area through the food pantry. These annual numbers over the past 10 years have waxed & waned in response to the needs of the local community. In 2010, 3,100 people were served and most recently in 2015 close to 8,000 people were served. A total of 53,900 people have been blessed by this humble ministry since its initiation in 2006.
The food pantry and the church, now known as Orchard Mesa Baptist Church and under new leadership, continue to thrive and serve the community.
Senior pastor Robert Babcox said, “Obviously God wants this food pantry and clothing closet to continue to serve the Grand Junction area because He continues to bless this ministry, not just through donations of money, food and clothing but through willing volunteers who dedicate their time & energy to seeing it succeed.”
Located on a small table inside the food pantry are bibles, booklets and local resource materials free for the taking. Prayers cards and a prayer station are available for those requesting prayer for a specific need. Individual prayer and counseling is offered by the multiple volunteers who are present the days the food pantry is open.
The mission statement of the food bank: “This Ministry is an outreach of Orchard Mesa Baptist Church to our community and our church family who need just a little extra help. We strive to provide not only food and gently used clothing but also to share and demonstrate Jesus’ love in accordance with the Scripture John 3:17”. Demonstrating God’s unending love these past 10 years through their food pantry has proven to be a blessing not just to those who benefit but also to those who serve at Orchard Mesa Baptist Church.
This article appeared in the Rocky Mountain Baptist, newsjournal of the Colorado Baptist General Convention (coloradobaptists.org). Nancy H. Babcox writes for the Rocky Mountain Baptist.
Oklahomans have choice
of missions partnerships
By Chris Doyle
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (The Baptist Messenger) — The annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), Nov. 14-15, provided multiple opportunities for Oklahoma Baptists to connect with each other, but the event also offered pastors and other church leaders to connect with three key mission leaders of mission partnerships with the BGCO.
Calet Basurto is the director of missions in Guerrero, Mexico. Bob Shelton is a missionary for Edmonton in Canada. Peteris Sprogis is the bishop of Union of Baptist Churches of Latvia. All three attended the BGCO Annual Meeting and gave reports about the mission work happening in their respective countries.
“I’m really encouraged by where we are,” said Mike Hand, BGCO partnership missions strategist, about all three partnerships.
Hand has been serving with the BGCO since March 1 and made vision trips to both Edmonton and Latvia soon after he came on board. “Both of these vision trips were already in place before I came,” he said, “and I really felt like on both of those visits we made some good headway.”
Both Edmonton and Latvia are newer partnerships, while BGCO has been partnering in Guerrero for 12 years. Hand said 16 Oklahoma Baptist churches have ongoing partnerships in Guerrero, while nine churches are committed to serve in Edmonton, and eight churches have committed to partner in Latvia.
“They have agreed to partner; they’re putting their strategies together,” Hand said about the 33 combined church partnerships involved in Guerrero, Edmonton and Latvia. “They are looking down the road on when they are going to send their first team. Some of them are further in the partnership than others, but all at least have made the commitment and are looking to the future as what they are going to do.
Partnering with Basurto and Guerrero Baptists for 12 years, the BGCO will conclude its partnership in 2017, but Hand is encouraged about future work in Guerrero.
“While we’re going to end the partnership, there’s not one single partnering church that their partnership is based on BGCO’s involvement,” Hand said. “Those 16 churches will continue on as they have done.”
Basurto shared during the annual meeting that Guerrero has seen 78 new churches planted, and almost 1,700 people have made professions of faith during BGCO’s partnership in Guerrero.
The BGCO is working with 12 different church planters in Edmonton, a city of 1.2 million people.
“These are not just English-speaking congregations,” said Hand about the Edmonton churches. “They are different ethnic congregations, but the lostness is the same.”
Shelton shared during the annual meeting that a recent survey concerning religion among Edmonton citizens revealed the box checked the most was “no religion.”
“There’s a great amount of work to do, and I believe Oklahoma Baptists will be a great source of encouragement to these young church planters and the work they are doing,” said Hand. “We are not sending our churches up there to tell them how to do it. We’re sending our churches up there to say, ‘Hey, how can we come alongside you and partner with you and be more effective?'”
Hand mentioned Brian Garcia who planted a church in an Edmonton apartment complex of 4,700 residents. “He has planted a church in an apartment complex that is basically larger than many towns in Oklahoma,” Hand said.
Many Oklahoma directors of missions were excited about the Edmonton partnership, and they plan to be a part of a vision trip to Edmonton this spring.
“It is a trip of 12-16 directors of mission who will be going April 2-5 to catch a vision and inspire their churches in their associations to go on a bigger mission trip in October with a goal of 30 pastors and other church leaders participating,” Hand said.
“Latvia is really an inspiration to me,” said Hand about the work of the 88 churches within the Union of Baptist Church in Latvia. “Their attitude is, ‘We’ve got a big job to do and hope that Oklahoma Baptists will come alongside us, but we’re not sitting back and waiting for Oklahoma Baptists.’ They are going to do the job whether we come along or not.”
Latvian Baptists are dedicated, but Hand said pastors and other church leaders desire more training.
“They are sharp, but I believe Oklahoma Baptists can be a real encouragement to the pastors in Latvia, providing them training that will help reach their communities,” Hand said.
Hand encourages Oklahoma Baptist churches to pray and consider being a part of these three mission partnerships. He said all churches, regardless of size, can be involved.
“It’s not the size of your church that determines whether or not you can make a difference on the other side of the world,” he said. “It is the size of the heart of the church. The heart of Oklahoma Baptists is sharing the Gospel.”
Those interested in any of the three BGCO mission partnerships may contact Hand at 405/942-3000 Ext. 4370.
To comment on this article, visit baptistmessenger.com.
Chris Doyle is associate editor of The Baptist Messenger (www.baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
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.