News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Texas, Okla. & La. evangelism/missions news; “We met physical needs in order to gain spiritual access.”

Today’s From the States features items from:
Southern Baptist Texan
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
Baptist Message (Louisiana)

Peruvians aided bodily,
spiritually by FBC Colleyville
By Stephanie Heading

COLLEYVILLE, Texas (Southern Baptist Texan) — Christians are commanded to go and make disciples but they are also encouraged to meet the needs of others as they go. A team of 13 from First Baptist Church of Colleyville started 2013 by taking up this challenge, meeting medical and spiritual needs in two suburbs in the Lima, Peru area.

“Our ministry purpose in Peru is to ignite movements that transform people into faithful followers of Jesus Christ,” said Dale Molden, First Baptist Colleyville’s missions pastor. “For this particular team, the focus was on providing free medical clinics and free medication to those in need.”

Two medical clinics were held in Peruvian churches in the cities of Villa El Salvador and Pamplona. First Colleyville has worked with these churches during previous mission trips to the area.

“We also host Vacation Bible Schools at these same churches in July,” Molden said. “These ministry events draw the residents to the church and provide opportunity for the church to build relationships in the community.”

“We met physical needs in order to gain spiritual access,” said Alwin Arendse, a physician and one of the team members. Arendse got involved with the medical mission project three years ago after Molden approached him.

After arriving in Peru, the team of 13 was joined by six Peruvians serving as translators. Team members included healthcare and non-healthcare personnel. A typical day began with morning devotionals and prayer as a team.

“I served as the spiritual and logistical team leader,” Molden explained. “The highlight of the trip for me was seeing the spiritual maturing of team members over the course of the week. Seeing individuals grow in their personal relationship with Christ, learning to rely upon him to meet needs, and seeing them share their faith in Christ with others is always a blessing.”

Following morning devotions, the team loaded equipment and supplies in vans and drove to their clinic site for that day. There was no shortage of people waiting to attend the clinic.

“Immediately upon arrival, team members assigned specifically to evangelism started speaking one-on-one with the crowds,” Arendse noted. “Usually people were already waiting to be seen before we arrived.”

During the time the team worked in Peru, they saw approximately 435 patients and dispensed more than 630 medications.

“We saw a variety of medical complaints that would normally be seen in a family practice or internal medicine practice. Most people had access to health care, but that often meant taking time off work to sit in a clinic for hours and then they may not be able to afford the medication,” Arendse said.

Of the large number of people seen by the team, some patients made a lasting impression. V.J. Hopson has been a member of three teams to Peru in the last 18 months, but this trip was her first medical mission trip.

“As many who served in mission trips can attest, the people and places you serve become a part of you,” Hopson said. “As you can imagine, every one of those has a story.”

One of the women who stood out to Hopson was an older woman who lived at the top of a dirt mountain.

“Her neighbor brought her in to see us because the older woman’s family had ‘dropped’ her off to live her last years atop this dirt mountain. The reason she was abandoned was this older woman had a large ‘tumor’ in her abdomen and was sure to die soon.”

With the neighbor serving as a translator, the medical workers removed layers of aprons over the woman’s abdomen, revealing a cantaloupe-sized tumor. Arendse took his stethoscope out and began listening to this growth. He looked up at Hopson with a big smile and said, “I hear bowel sounds!” It was a hernia, not a tumor, and was repairable.

“The older woman kissed everyone there at least twice. What a precious woman,” Hopson recalled.

Meeting physical needs, the team was then able to share Christ.

“One of the many highlights for me was that I could pray and share Jesus with so many of my patients and they were very open to the gospel and wanted to hear more,” Arendse commented. “Those who wanted to have a personal relationship with Christ, I would refer to the pastors and evangelism team to lead them to Christ as they waited for meds and blood work to be done. More times than not they accepted the calling to follow Christ.”

The group did encounter challenges, running out of key meds and having to buy them at pharmacies.

“This was an issue where the power of prayer and total reliance on God spoke volumes to me. Every time we ran out we prayed and God provided. By the end of the trip we had such a surplus that we ended up donating our excess to a local ministry. Again, without relying on God and the power of prayer this would not have been possible,” Arendse said.

Hopson recalled one woman who was especially blessed by the free medication. The woman had come into Lima from the jungle to visit her son in the hospital. A resident of Pamplona saw the woman struggling as she passed her on the dirt road.

The woman was directed to the clinic with the help of a translator, where doctors learned that she had been suffering with a painful urinary tract infection and other ailments for more than a year.

“When the doctor told her what she had and gave her prescriptions, tears began to roll down her cheeks as she explained that her family had owned several cows and had to sell them to pay for her son’s hospital bills. They were down to one cow and she just couldn’t sell it for her own needs,” said Hopson.

When the team gave her the meds, “This woman covered her face with her hands and just cried and cried,” Hopson said. “She pointed up and said God provided provision to us. A woman from the jungle and a group of people from North Texas meet on a certain day when she is visiting her son because God provided. Period.”

“It has changed me in a positive manner,” Arendse stated. “It does every time I go. It has given me more of a heart for the lost, less fortunate, hurting, and poor. It has made me bolder in sharing my faith. I am more attentive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and I have a more expectant prayer life. It has also changed the way I practice medicine back home. We live in a hurting world, both locally and internationally. If you take the time to listen and get beyond the surface you can change a person’s entire direction by meeting their physical and spiritual needs.”
This article appeared in the Southern Baptist Texan (texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Stephanie Heading is a Texan Correspondent.
Haitian churches use
pumps to share ‘living water’
By Chris Doyle

OKLAHOMA CITY (The Baptist Messenger) — The 2010 earthquake in Haiti had devastating results, with approximately 240,000 deaths occurring near the area of Port-au-Prince. Three weeks after the earthquake, Oklahoma Disaster Relief volunteers were on the island, helping with relief efforts. They discovered the number-one need was clean water.

More than 240 Disaster Relief volunteers helped restore many homes and churches from Feb.-Dec., 2010, and they also installed 120 water pumps to be accessible in different communities.

“The goal was to put water pumps in every Baptist church building to serve as a community well,” said Sam Porter, BGCO partnership and volunteer missions specialist.

Porter said the intention was to reflect the story told in John 4 of the woman at the well who met Jesus.

“She comes to draw water, but when she leaves she’s got more than a bucket of water. She’s got the Water of Life,” he said.

Three years later, the church water pumps continue to be a great asset.

“Our passion is to keep those wells going because it’s a great statement and testimony for the Baptist churches there that people can still come to draw water,” Porter said.

After three years of daily use by a multitude of people, the water pumps needed parts replaced. Porter said the cost to ship 12 new pumps and parts would be around $2,500. He knew that he and Steve Boone, a geologist and a Disaster Relief team leader, could fly with the equipment to Haiti for much less. In the last week of March, Porter and Boone flew to Haiti to do water pump maintenance and find out how the water pump ministry was doing.

They met with “Junior” and “Luko” who have been in charge of overseeing the water pumps. The young men served as translators with DR in 2010 and were hired as pump caretakers.

“I have them check seven to 10 wells every month,” Porter said. “If a well breaks, the pastors know to call them. We pay them a little bit each month to check those wells, and they give me a report every month.”

Porter also met with several pastors, who told him they were thrilled with how the water ministry is impacting communities.

“We are focused on water wells because we are the only group out of all the 42 Disaster Relief states that does water wells,” said Porter. “So we are going to continue to do that as long as we can. There are a lot of other things we can’t do, but this is one thing I know we can do. We feel it is one of the most urgent things God led us to do.”

As long as Haitian Baptist churches can offer pure water to people in their respective communities, the greater the opportunity there will be for people to receive “Living Water.”

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. Chris Doyle is associate editor of the Messenger.
World’s seafarers come
to Center to hear the gospel
By Mark H. Hunter

GONZALES, La. (Baptist Message) — The traditional view of international missions is to go out to all the world but at the Gonzales Seafarer’s Center, a ministry of the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge, men – and occasionally a few women – from all the world come in through the front door to hear about Jesus.

The Center’s visitor log book shows names in many languages from dozens of countries and hundreds of ships that ply the Mississippi River on a daily basis. Last year’s annual report showed 885 visitors from 24 countries who heard the plan of salvation presented 631 times and who took 154 Jesus film dvds in their own languages back with them.

“We average about 150 seafarers a month,” said Director Sylvester Wilson. There could be many hundreds more if it weren’t for strict post-9-11 Homeland Security and Customs regulations prohibiting most foreigners from disembarking.

“They are from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Korea, Russia, Latvia, Ukraine,” added assistant director, Jeremy Starnes, who also is Minister of Family discipleship at First Baptist of Gonzales. “They are always gracious; they are always willing to listen.”

There are over a million seafarers worldwide, Starnes said, and about a third are from the Philippines. “Most of them can speak a ‘working’ English so we’re able to share the gospel with them or someone in their group who can translate for the rest of them.”

The Center is located across a parking lot from a Wal-Mart Super Center. Many other stores and fast food restaurants are within walking distance for the seafarers who are glad to be on terra firma – if even only for a few hours.

The 4,000 square-foot Center includes a small kitchen where free sodas, coffee and snacks are served, a small chapel, and a game room with pool, foosball and air-hockey tables.

In the media room visitors make phone calls from seven booths or get on three computers to e-mail, Skype or otherwise have ‘face-time’ with their families at home.

While the crew may be mostly Filipino, the ship could be owned by an American or European business and sails under the flag of another country, such as Liberia or Panama, Wilson explained.

Each day, Starnes, or Wilson, receives two or three phone calls from dozens of docks along the river. They then drive 10-20 miles to the particular location in a 13-passenger bus to give the seafarers a free ride back to the Gonzales Seafarers Center.

Upon arrival, Starnes or Wilson present a brief salvation message.

Starnes and Wilson sell the men international phone cards at cost and assist them, sometimes just by listening to their stories, until they return the men a few hours later to their particular dock.

Many men accept New Testaments or tracts in their own languages and at least one Jesus film dvd, (which is produced in 50 languages) is sent along to each ship.

Wilson said he knows of at least two men who professed salvation; one from Chile in the last few months, and a Filipino perhaps five years ago. Another Christian seafarer, with whom Wilson stays in regular contact, says he wants to return home to India to show the Jesus film in villages.

Starnes said most of the men are “very receptive” to the gospel, but Wilson said he’s had two ship captains prohibit Bibles. One captain claimed, “the men all have to get along and Bibles cause disagreements,” Wilson recounted.

Along with gospel tracts and Bibles, hundreds of the seafarers have also received sock hats lovingly hand-knitted by the ladies of First Baptist of Baton Rouge, Wilson said.

On one recent evening, Starnes made two trips to pick up men from the Sentinel II, an ocean-going cargo ship unloading alumina ore from South America at a riverside plant.

Socrates Rocaza, a Filipino security officer, said he and his crew were all Christians and he pulled a worn New Testament from his jacket pocket to prove it.

They had been away from home for nine months and he won’t see his wife and child until September, he said.

“I feel homesick but I have to work hard to help my family,” Rocaza said. “I trust Jesus 100 percent. We are surrounded by evil spirits. Jesus protects us from them.”

The greatest need, both Starnes and Wilson said, is for volunteers. Because the two men work alone on alternating days, whenever they have to pick up or return seafarers and there are other men are at the Center, Starnes and Wilson have to ask them to wait outside until they return.

“We need someone with a heart for missions and who would be available to be here and see these people not as foreigners, but as people God has created in His image, people who need a safe place where they can unwind, call home and get into conversations about Jesus Christ,” Starnes said.

A retired couple – or two – would be ideal, Wilson added.
For more information visit the Gonzales Seafarers Center’s web page at: www.bagbr.org, or call 225.647.1617.
This article appeared in the Baptist Message (baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Mark H. Hunter is a regional reporter for the Message.
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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