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FROM THE STATES: Okla., Ky., Tenn. evangelism/missions news; ‘When God places a call upon my life it always seems impossible’

Today’s From the States features items from:
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
Western Recorder (Kentucky)
Baptist & Reflector (Tennessee)

Okla. churches
continue Malawi work
By Gary Jamar

ADA, Okla. (The Baptist Messenger) — Missions partnerships, by their very nature, come and go with a certain passing of time. Partnerships are so very valuable because they set the stage for a supernatural thing to occur. Every person who calls Jesus Savior and Lord is called to “go” into all the world. A partnership gives people a window of opportunity to go.

What happens when someone “goes” is where the supernatural can happen—being a part of experiencing what only God can do in lives. It is a place where dependence upon God takes absolute first place. It is here that people begin to hear God speaking. What can happen in this setting is God placing a hook of sorts in your heart.

He places a heavy burden, a sure calling upon your life to invest your life in becoming a part of His solution, His remedy to a people group, to a nation. This is exactly what happened to me.

After two visits to Malawi in 1998 and 2000, I did not think a lot about Malawi until 2006, when God vividly took me back to Malawi. This time, His message was so very plain to me: “I had been looking into the eyes of mature Malawians through sharing the Gospel, that I had overlooked the little eyes of the children.” 

The Divine hook of calling was set deep in my heart. I have discovered that when God places a call upon my life it always seems impossible. I believe that His calling upon a person’s life always seems impossible, and this is where faith is truly built into a reality.

For me, like many of you, I have come to understand that my calling as a follower of Christ is both spiritual and social. A meeting of the spiritual needs of a people, and addressing the physical needs of that same people. Jesus patterned this so very often in His earthly ministry as is recorded in the Gospels.

I was invited by Ruben Nkhata, then the General Secretary of the Baptist Convention of Malawi (BACOMA) in January 1998 to come and preach. I ended up preaching and teaching at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Lilongwe for 40 days. I was serving at Stonewall, First at that time. In August 2000, I led a group of eight members of Stonewall, First to Blantyre, where we worked with local pastors in evangelism events in the village area of Misea near Blantyre.

In two weeks, we saw thousands of decisions for Christ. Following this trip I moved to Phoenix, Ariz., where we planted a new church start. In 2003, I returned to pastor Ada, Morris Memorial. In 2007, I joined four other Oklahoma pastors to form an organization to focus on bringing the Gospel to Malawi through evangelism and meeting the physical needs of Malawi’s orphaned children—Rue Scott, pastor, Apache, First; Gerald Kelly, coordinator of prayer and spiritual awakening at Oklahoma Baptist University; Kenny Harrison, Stonewall, First; and Jonathan Jamar, Youth Minister at Stonewall, First.

Ada, Morris Memorial has been supporting our mission efforts since 2008, in addition to ongoing support through the Cooperative Program. Other Oklahoma churches include, Apache, First; Stonewall, First; Whitefield, First; Hobart, First; Ada, Trinity; Byng, New Bethel; Hugo, First; St, Louis, First.

In the spring and fall of 2012, the 4th grade classes at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore raised more than $800 to drill a water well in the Malawi village of Chikombe. The elementary school was later destroyed in May 2013 by a tornado.

Malawi is very open to the Gospel message; and yet our message must be more than words. Our words need action, not only to evangelize and disciple the people, but also to meet the people at the point of their greatest needs.

In 2012 while flying from Lilongwe to Nairobi, Kenya I sat with a representative of the U.N. In our conversation, he told me that Malawi was the poorest country in Africa, and most likely the world. Malawi, being a part of Sub-Sahara Africa, is included in this incredible number, “Every 21 seconds, a child 5 or under dies from a water borne disease.” A terrible statistic that can be changed by clean water sources.

We are currently engaged in a water well drilling project that will provide 60 cased water wells for up to 18,000 people living in the Salima District of Malawi. Each well costs approximately $1,300-$1,500.

Two drilling teams have been trained in Malawi to drill wells. It takes approximately five days to drill and complete a water well. Meeting the needs of more than 1 million children who are orphaned in Malawi seems impossible, but we are having an impact at an indigenous care village located on the shores of Lake Malawi. In September 2013, we began ministering complete care to 25 orphaned children. In addition to this, up to 275 more children are fed daily at the care village site.

Another noticeable problem especially with the younger children in outlying villages is malnutrition and, often, sheer hunger. This is most often indicated by an orange tint of the hair.

We have discovered than peanut flour and soy pieces bring much needed protein to their diet. Training in sanitation practices is also a great need, especially in rural villages.

A need for an active spiritual witnesses is also needed among the Yao people group who live along Lake Malawi. Availability and accessibility to medical clinics is a major health issue in outlying villages.

It seems like so many of the people who had gone to Malawi during the partnership years remain to have a great heart for Malawi. This is seen in the number of various church groups that continue to do mission work in Malawi by going or supporting ministry efforts there.

A few examples are Hobart, First’s work in Ngodzi, and McAlester, First’s work in Mangodzi. Pastoral training provided by Oklahoma Baptists has equipped so many pastors for ministry. Edmond, First and other Oklahoma churches have built churches in Malawi.

Baptist connections that stemmed from the successful Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO)/BACOMA partnership have been instrumental, allowing the Water4 Foundation to enter into a water well drilling partnership.

Much has been done, but there is much more to do. Please pray God would continue to build on the great foundation of the Gospel in Malawi. For more information on our particular efforts in Malawi, email MalawiOrphan- [email protected]

To comment on this article, visit baptistmessenger.com.
This article appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Gary Jamar is pastor of Morris Memorial Baptist Church in Ada, Okla.
Students see Ky. churches’
future in Ireland’s past
By Ken Walker

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (Western Recorder) — With their vision for inter-denominational outreach awakened by mission trips to Northern Ireland, University of the Cumberlands students are working to arrange a round-the-clock campus prayer vigil this spring.

Two members of Baptist Campus Ministries said the trips showed them how the situation overseas poses a warning for Americans. Although the Protestant-Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland reflects a wider political and social divide, they said if American churches don’t unify to share the gospel they will see a similar dwindling influence.

“We’re headed in the same direction,” said Giné (pronounced “Juh-nay”) Nichols, whose father, Greg, is pastor Hiseville Baptist Church near Glasgow. “I see a need to build relationships with other churches and for Christians to build relationships with non-Christians,” she said. “Kentucky is the best place to start.”

Campus Missionary Dean Whitaker led an Acts 1:8 Leadership team to Northern Ireland last summer, but the school’s trips in 2013 and ’14 were not part of that initiative.

Instead, Campbellsville graduate Kerri Gonzalez helped arranged the visits. Gonzalez works with a Northern Ireland charity to send U.S. teams, which aren’t seen as part of either “side.”

While students worked to raise the majority of their support, the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program provided a $500 per-student stipend for the latest mission Jan. 2-9.

“The trips helped open students’ eyes to the need for discipleship and that our churches don’t lose sight of what’s important,” Whitaker said of the vital role Kentucky Baptists played in the students’ spiritual growth.

Despite cultural differences, BCM President Kayla Smith said ministry in Northern Ireland is similar to the Bible Belt. As in Kentucky, overseas they often had to use truth to combat misconceptions before they could share about the love of Christ, Smith said.

“This is due to people being so hurt by ‘religion’ and ‘church’ that they don’t understand the grace and beauty of a real relationship with God,” said Smith, who made both trips. “Religion has caused so many problems in Northern Ireland,” she added. “It’s important for us to realize the importance of worshiping and working together.”

One outreach that especially impacted the BCM group was The Dock, a coffeehouse located where the ill-fated Titanic was built. Staffed by volunteers from various churches, it also hosts Sunday evening worship services, including a monthly inter-denominational event.

The Dock recently helped launch a region-wide prayer vigil lasting throughout 2014. Each week, various churches take responsibility for round-the-clock prayers.

That helped inspire the plans for a vigil at UC, with BCM hoping other denominations will participate.

“I could see and understand the importance of so many churches worshipping together,” Smith said of the service they attended. “That’s a glimpse of what heaven will be like.”

Nichols shared about her experiences Jan. 19 at Hiseville Baptist, the first of what she hopes will be many speaking engagements.

It isn’t just Kentucky Baptists who need to cross denominational barriers, she said, but churches across the commonwealth and the nation. “Why not work together to spread the message of Christ and His love?” Nichols asked.

One ministry the students helped with that touched her father’s heart was an initiative called Safe Zone.

Volunteers in that program work with police on weekend nights to patrol outside the many pubs and help intoxicated residents find a warm place to stay, a ride home or other assistance.

Greg Nichols said he was impressed with such a hands-on effort, which he said helps demonstrate that Christians “have a compassionate side.”

“Those are things that we could be doing here,” said the Hiseville pastor. “We need to get outside our comfort zones.”

Giné Nichols suggested joint Easter and Thanksgiving worship services sponsored by several Hiseville churches to “break down barriers,” she said.

Such cooperation came at a high price in Northern Ireland. Whitaker said churches were forced to unify after so many used religion as a convenient scapegoat for its many social problems.

“It’s what the church there has to do because they don’t have a voice,” he said of cross-denominational cooperation. “Likewise, we shouldn’t think that what’s happening in the greater culture won’t affect us.” (KBC)
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Ken Walker is a freelance writer for the Western Recorder.
Missionary couple excited
about partnership with Tenn.
By Connie Bushey

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (Baptist & Reflector) — Kevin and Laura Baggett, Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries to Argentina, are thrilled that Tennessee Baptists approached them several years ago about a partnership.

“There’s no confusion about who is doing the work,” said Kevin Baggett. “God is opening doors and hearts in Buenos Aires,” referring to the capital city of Argentina where they live and serve.

Baggett spoke Feb. 11 at the Baptist Center of the Tennessee Baptist Convention to church leaders in the state about the 2014-2018 Tennessee/Buenos Aires Baptist Partnership. The couple are natives of Georgia but Laura has family who are members of Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga.

“I really believe that Buenos Aires is the best city in the world,” he said, “not only because it is a great city, but because God has called us to this city as missions strategists. I also believe that because it is such a challenging city. The potential of BA (Buenos Aires) to impact the country and the world is huge,” explained Baggett, who has been a missionary there for eight years.

The challenge “is so big and the resources are few. The only way this happens is if God does it,” he added, referring to reaching more residents for Christ. Only about 3-7 percent of residents of BA are evangelical Christians which of course includes Baptists, he noted. About 92 percent of the 13 million residents say they are Catholic but only 20 percent practice that faith, he added.

Opportunities for volunteers

Baggett said he is ready to work with Tennessee Baptists who will be ministering in a huge city where the opportunities are many and varied. For instance the socioeconomic groups living there span the very poor to the very rich and include sizeable ethnic populations of Jews, Chinese, other Asians, Muslims, Europeans, Africans, and others. Many of these are third or fourth generation, so they speak Spanish as their primary language, he explained.

Tennessee Baptists will learn that many cultural barriers to ministry in other countries don’t exist in BA, said Baggett. Volunteers may stay in apartments with WiFi and certainly will enjoy the food, he explained. Translators will also be provided to Tennessee Baptists to cross the language barrier, he added.

To prepare for the partnership, pastors of the churches in BA have been praying together and reaching out into their communities to start new congregations, reported Baggett. Some churches have begun using 1-5-1 Harvest Plants from the TBC in Spanish. They have adapted it into 1-3-1 Harvest Plants because of the small meeting space available in most homes, Baggett explained.

Harvest Plants are geared toward off-campus efforts aimed specifically at non-Christians for the purpose of sharing the gospel. Most churches that embrace this strategy make a commitment to start no less than 1 plant in the next year, making an effort with the Lord’s help to reach, win, and baptize 5 people through each plant, and planning on each plant to start 1 plant by the end of the first year.

Many Baptist churches in BA are struggling, said Baggett. Most of the members are older women and most of the pastors are older. This is true despite the fact that Southern Baptist missionaries have served there for 100 years and a Baptist seminary is located there, he noted. Part of the struggle of the Baptists is linked to the diversity of the city and to the proud identity of the people, he explained, which sometimes doesn’t promote reliance on each other.

The Baggetts and their eight fellow IMB missionaries in BA hope to work with Tennessee Baptist churches, though they will work with individuals, said Baggett. They desire to work with Tennessee churches who prayerfully make a two to three year commitment to a BA Baptist church. Baggett said he envisions the Tennessee Baptist churches sending two to five teams a year, but a team can be made up of just two to six individuals, he explained. The purpose of this strategy is to enable Tennessee Baptists to develop relationships with Argentines, which is an important aspect of the culture, he added.

Wide range of opportunities

The Tennessee Baptists who serve in BA will be working closely with Argentine Baptists of a church assisting them, continued Baggett. 

Some very creative approaches by North Americans have worked in BA, he reported. Two music ministers came and performed drawing a group of upper-class believers and their friends. A lawyer came and compared the constitutions of the United States and Argentina drawing a good crowd of lawyers. An entrepreneur spoke to professionals on workplace creativity. In all instances, the Baptist visitors also witnessed of their faith in Jesus Christ, Baggett added.

Other visiting Baptists have led training in prayer, discipleship, and church health for BA churches. Volunteers also may be needed to lead Vacation Bible Schools for children and health care clinics for needy people, Baggett added.

He encouraged Tennessee Baptists who come to help Argentines to be themselves. “We are here to help you find where that fits best,” he stated.

Baggett suggested that volunteers work with Kim Margrave, church health/volunteer missions specialist, TBC, who coordinated the meeting, to plan their trips and help them consider details such as buying insurance. 

For more information, go to www.missionbuenosaires.com or contact Margrave at 615-812-0886 or [email protected]. B&R
This article appeared in the Baptist & Reflector (tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Connie Davis Bushey is news editor of the Baptist & Reflector.
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.

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