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FROM THE STATES: Va., Ga., Mo. evangelism/missions news; ‘… [B]lown away by God blessing our hard work of preparation’

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Today’s From the States features items from:
Proclaimer (Virginia)
The Christian Index (Georgia)
The Pathway (Missouri)

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Va. church plant hosts
Back to School Bash

By Darrell Webb

WOODBRIDGE, Va. (Proclaimer) — On a hot summer Saturday, a one-year-old Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia church plant in Prince William County reached more people than it could have imagined.

Led by Pastor T. Jay Williams, nearly 40 volunteers from Freedom Community Church (FCC) gathered at their meeting space — Penn Elementary School in Woodbridge, Va. — to host an outreach event they called Back to School Bash 2016. The church has been intentional in building a healthy relationship with its host school and developing a heart to reach the community with the Gospel.

FCC worked diligently to prepare for the event. Hundreds of publicity flyers were mailed to the community, and advertisements covered the pages of social media. The church prayed for God to do a great work through this community outreach.

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They invited local organizations and businesses, including Sweet Frog, Prince William County Health Department, Prince William County Nutrition Services, two local hair salons (to give free haircuts), and one home clothing business to donate their time and services. Eleven local businesses helped fund the event.

FCC purchased 300 backpacks and filled them with school supplies to distribute to elementary students in the area. They worked with the school to make sure those with the greatest needs received backpacks. Through their continued positive relationship, the school administration and staff of Penn Elementary School know that Freedom Community Church cares for them.

The day of the event, FCC volunteers, including SBCV block party intern Allison Webb, wore matching red FCC shirts, ready to serve their community. The team held a rally to get energized about what God was going to do. They walked around and prayed with people in the community who were lining the sidewalk before the event. The volunteers prayed together as a team, asking for the presence and power of God to be evident at the Back to School Bash.

“Our leadership was blown away by God blessing our hard work of preparation,” says Pastor T. Jay. The leadership thought it would be a great success to serve 300 at this first-ever event. But God, by His amazing grace, brought over 700 people to the Back to School Bash! Neighbors from different nations and religions came to join in the fun of games, bounce houses, snow cones, and popcorn. Physical blessings like haircuts, clothing, and medical services were extended to them as well. Visitors had the opportunity to make wordless Gospel bracelets at the craft table, where FCC volunteers shared the Good News.

Guests could also visit a dedicated tent to ask for prayer and for more information about Freedom Community Church. “We were surprised that many asked for prayer for themselves or for their families and filled out prayer request cards,” says Pastor T. Jay. “One child came to the tent and said, ‘Will you please pray for my parents?’ This touched all of the FCC volunteers.”

Praise the Lord for the many Gospel seeds that were planted in a heavily unreached area and for the two new families who have started attending FCC since the block party bash!

Pray that the seeds will take root and flourish and that this new church plant will grow and multiply for the glory of God. Your church may want to consider partnering with Freedom Community Church as they seek to bring “Freedom for Life” by sharing the Gospel in Prince William County.
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This article appeared in The Proclaimer (sbcv.org/articles/category/proclaimer), newsmagazine of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. Darrell Webb is a regional missionary for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.

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Georgia Baptists provide
health care in Savannah

By Joe Westbury

SAVANNAH, Ga. (The Christian Index) — On a typical Monday morning in downtown Savannah, a stone’s throw from its namesake river, a sprawling one-story building serves as a magnet for individuals seeking health care.

Cars idle in the street waiting for a parking spot in the small lot behind the chain link fence. Some drivers double-park in order to get inside take a seat in the waiting room while others walk to the clinic to receive assistance for what ails them.

For 18 years the J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center has been struggling to meet needs of residents of Savannah and Chatham County, restoring health to some while teaching others to manage chronic illnesses. While the needs are great, the funding remains a constant priority for those who oversee the healing arts.

The never-ending need for assistance from entities like the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation is obvious.

The center began in 1999 focusing on homeless shelter clinics and expanded into the general community in 2009. Three years later its caseload reached 7,700 clients resulting in about 25,000 medical visits; in 2013 they served 8,009 with 28,053 visits.

The entity grows at a yearly increase of about 600 clients and more than 3,000 medical visits. The needs constantly outpace the funding ability.

Greatest need is education and preventative care

“Clients receive medical as well as dental services at the clinic but the greatest need is education and preventative care to avoid repeat crises,” a spokesperson noted.

Individuals receive assistance in managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and smoking cessation as well as health concerns linked to poor lifestyle choices resulting in obesity, substance abuse, and poor mental health. Much of those concerns could be avoided through education and developing better lifestyle habits.

Through a six-day, 52-hour-week schedule a team of physicians, a psychiatrist, dentist, dental hygienist, and licensed professional counselor offer a variety of approaches to healing. They are supported by a team of more than 40 staff members.

Individuals like Elizabeth Harris is grateful to funding agencies like the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation for helping restore her health.

“I’m a stroke victim without any insurance. The folks here have been very gracious and understanding of my condition. Without their help I don’t know what I would do. This means everything in the world to me,” she says as she begins a checkup visit.

Chronic lack of insurance among many individuals in society

The clinic is popular because of the chronic lack of insurance among many individuals in society today. Some small businesses are not able to afford the benefit to employees and others working on minimum wage cannot afford the high premiums.

And that’s where Georgia Baptists come into the equation. Buddy Wasson, association missionary of Savannah Baptist Association, says the partnership between the Association and the clinic is a visible way of showing the love of Christ to those outside the walls of the church.

The association has been sensitive to needs of lower income residents on its mission field. For years it has supported the Savannah Baptist Center, meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of persons in East Downtown. The center is based out of its 704 Wheaton St. headquarters.

Its partnership with the Lewis Center extends that into the medical and psychological realm. In addition, it provides assistance to homeless through the Association’s Oasis Ministry, which was funded through a $100,000 grant from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation. And importantly, it provides spiritual counseling as requested through the volunteer ministry of Dane Moore of Sycamore Church.

Wasson sees its relationship with the Lewis Center as normal extension of its Christian presence in the city.

“We as a people no longer live on ‘church fields,’ we live on mission fields. The Church needs to start thinking like missionaries and living like missionaries,’ he says.

“The Health Care Ministry Foundation is helping us fulfill that mission of getting outside the four walls of the church and becoming more visible in our community. The Foundation summed it up best when it coined the idea of being a ‘hospital without walls;’ they are moving health care out of the traditional framework and moving it into the communities where it is needed the most. In like manner, we as the Church are being empowered to follow the same ministry model.”
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This article appeared in The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index.

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Mo. pastor trims
beard for missions

By Ben Hawkins

ST. LOUIS (The Pathway) — During “No-Shave” November, bearded evangelicals take pleasure in citing the words of renowned Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon, who reportedly said that growing a beard “is a habit most natural, scriptural, manly and beneficial.” But one Missouri Baptist church planter here recognized this month that, for the growth of God’s kingdom, a good beard-trimming is also worthwhile.

Noah Oldham, an elder at August Gate Church and North American Mission Board SEND City coordinator for St. Louis, trimmed his beard in mid-November as part of a church campaign that ultimately raised $11,420.75 for missions. The money went to support a family from within August Gate church that recently traveled overseas to serve as missionaries among the unreached in Southeastern Europe.

Oldham had grown his beard for roughly three years. Before being trimmed, the beard was 11 inches long.

“It was worth it,” Oldham said. “Anything is worth it to see people who don’t know Christ come to know Christ.

“We’re a 7-year-old church plant, and these are our first missionaries from within our church that we’ve been able to send and support internationally. So it’s a big deal for us. We wanted to set the tone really well and prove that any size church can do this and any age church can do this. This is what it’s all about — not just planting churches in St. Louis, but taking the gospel to the end of the earth.”

But, of course, this extreme beard-trimming was a serious ordeal — perhaps, more so than any clean-shaven person would expect.

“Everybody thinks (the now short beard) is weird,” Oldham said, then describing his kids’ reactions: “My oldest daughter wept half an hour. My oldest son thought it was funny. My third child, my youngest daughter, just keeps asking me every time she sees me, ‘What happened to your face?’ And my baby still doesn’t recognize me from time to time.”

Even before the “beard-off” campaign, however, Oldham used his interest in facial hair to grow God’s kingdom. To keep their beards in good shape, men must condition their hair and skin with special beard oils. So, after reading a massive handbook on essential oils and doing other research online, Oldham began his own line of beard oils. He sells his product and splits the proceeds, giving half to the international missionary family from his church and the other half to a NAMB church planting intern.

“This became my hobby,” Oldham said. “I make every bottle by hand. I mix it individually.

“As pastors, we tell people all the time, ‘Use whatever gifts and passions you have for the glory of God. And even hobbies can do that.'”

He has a special beard oil for each season –- each one named after a characteristics from a family motto that he learned from his dad while growing up: “Honest (the winter oil), brave (spring), strong (summer) and tough (fall). We are Oldham boys.”

Oldham said that he charges less for his beard oil than most people could find online, and people can buy it through his Facebook page or by emailing him at [email protected]
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This article appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Ben Hawkins is associate editor of The Pathway.

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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.