News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Va., N.C., Ky. evangelism/missions news; ‘I have never seen a kids’ program that cared for my son’

Today’s From the States features items from:
Proclaimer (Virginia)
Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
Western Recorder (Kentucky)


Va. church hosts VBS for
Arab immigrant families

By Cindy Middaugh

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Proclaimer) — Every summer, churches across America open their doors to children of all faiths to attend Vacation Bible School (VBS), one of their largest outreach events of the year. Many times, VBS is the first time a child hears about the saving love of Christ, and it’s often when he/she becomes a believer.

This past summer, a mission team from Forest Baptist Church in Forest, Va. worked with SBCV church planter Martin Solan* in his ministry area of Metro Washington, D.C. They joined with Solan’s partner SBCV church* for a two-day VBS to reach the children of Arab immigrant families living nearby.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Romans 10:14

Of the Muslims in America, 42 percent were born in the United States**. The children of this generation are raised in their parents’ faith, but they are exposed to Christianity in the communities where they now live. Pastor Solan’s desire in hosting a VBS was to connect with these families.

The team from Forest (made up of adults, teenagers, and children), shared LifeWay’s Go and Tell Mission Trip VBS with the children. This new resource is designed to present the Gospel to any child anywhere, no matter the culture or language.

“Having financially supported Pastor Solan and his mission, we were excited to ‘go and tell’ the truths of the Gospel to a community of people who may have never before heard the name of Jesus Christ,” says Joe Veres, Forest’s elder of missions. “Our desire, as the Holy Spirit prepares the way, is for the seeds of truth that we planted to be nurtured in the lives of children who will eventually come to faith in the Savior of the world.”

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

The children heard the Gospel through Bible story time, crafts, games, and even face painting. “It meant a lot to us,” Solan says, “because these kids and families were able to hear the message of Christ through the Go and Tell curriculum and crafts. Some of them had never heard these stories before. This has helped the community understand more about Jesus and how to have a relationship with Him.”

“I have never seen a kids’ program that cared for my son,” one Arab refugee mother shared. “My son enjoyed his time and enjoyed the games. He came home and shared the Bible story with me. This was one of the first times that my son clearly explained a story from the Bible. I hope next year they do it again.”

“All of these people are refugees and immigrants who have recently come from places like Pakistan, Egypt, and other locations in the Middle East,” shares Pastor Solan. “This has brought joy to their isolated lives and will help us to continue to reach them through our ministry here at the mission center.”

For more information on how to get involved ministering to Arab refugees, contact Larry Black ([email protected]).

*Name has been changed or withheld for security purposes
**Pew Research Center, April 17, 2018

All Scripture references are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
This article appeared in The Proclaimer (sbcv.org/proclaimer), newsjournal of the SBC of Virginia. Cindy Middaugh is children’s ministry strategist for the SBC of Virginia.


Immigrant hospitality
center opens in N.C.

By Mike Creswell

LINCOLNTON, N.C. (Biblical Recorder) — Baptists have opened a new Immigrant Hospitality Center in Lincolnton that will provide legal counsel and other help to immigrants.

The center is not just a building, but rather is “a community effort to show love to our neighbors,” said center director Bobby Farmer.

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is a major supporter of the new ministry, but has partnered with a long list of other organizations, churches and individuals to get the new center set up and staffed. Convention leaders plan to gradually open similar centers across the state.

A dedication service and reception were held the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 27, in the new center at 415 East Main Street in downtown Lincolnton.

Farmer is ministry consultant for Hull’s Grove Baptist Church in Vale, where he has served for 12 years. The church is allowing him to commit two days a week to the center as part of his staff work.

Workers being trained

Hull’s Grove is supporting Farmer’s Department of Justice training that will enable him to become an accredited representative on immigration issues. He also spent time in an immigration center in Atlanta to see first-hand how an immigrant hospitality center functions.

Miriam Acevedo is also completing the 40 hours of training required for accreditation by the Department of Justice and will become a volunteer in the center’s ministries. She is the wife of Ponciano Acevedo, pastor of Calvary Hispanic Church in Lincolnton.

While Lincolnton is not a large city, the Immigrant Hospitality Center is strategically placed. Farmer said about 10,000 immigrants live within 10 miles of the Lincoln County Courthouse, according to census reports.

Although Hispanics are by far the largest segment of immigrants, Farmer said he has met people from countries in Europe, Africa and other regions now living in the area. “We are beginning to see Hispanics in the area from nations other than Mexico — from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras,” said Miriam Acevedo.

The Acevedos joined with two other Hispanic churches last fall to provide English lessons to Hispanic immigrants: They registered 86 adults.

While parents learned English, their children were given help with their homework.

English classes will again be offered starting in March at both the Immigrant Hospitality Center and at Punto Victoria Church in town.

The English classes are coordinated by Janice Hager, a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Alexis.

A place of welcome

Farmer said the new center will be a place where people will be welcome and made to feel at home, a place to trust, a place for people to talk about things important to them, a place to maintain their status in the country and maintain their employment.

It will help churches to know their neighbors and provide services needed, he said.

BSC workers Larry Phillips and Amaury Santos, who lead the convention’s ministry to immigrants, have completed Department of Justice training.

An important partner in the immigrant ministry is the Raleigh-based Council on Immigrant Relations.

John Faison, the council’s executive director, has worked closely with convention workers in establishing the new ministry.

He will provide help through the center until more local workers are trained.

Santos told those present that the BSC passed a resolution in 2015 calling for Baptists to deal more effectively with the immigration issue. The resolution affirmed the dignity of every human being.

Christians called to help all neighbors

“It was a call to action, how to share the gospel and serve the community. We celebrate today the accomplishment of that vision … a first step in the vision of God for the community,” Santos said during the dedication service.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to be with you. This will go down as one of the best days of my life!” said Phillips as he blinked back tears.

Phillips told how he has had a long career as a Southern Baptist missionary to Peru, a pastor and several ministry assignments as a BSC staffer. “This is one of the best moments. This is a special day,” he declared.

Lincolnton is an important town in North Carolina, Phillips said, “but it’s just a small black dot on the world map.” God is going to use this small community called Lincolnton in North Carolina to change the way the world views immigrants, he said.

Phillips said he prays the center will be “a safe place, a transformational place and a launching place, a birthing center for transformation in the lives of local Christians and transformation in the lives of those God will bring to walk among you.”

He urged those present to follow Paul’s instructions in Romans 15:7, “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Ponciano Acevedo, a native of Mexico, spoke in Spanish during the dedication while his wife, Miriam, translated into English.

He said America is the promised land for most Hispanics who come, hoping to become rich. But some, like him, find the Gospel as he did. Calvary, the Hispanic church Acevedo leads, is an active partner with the BSC.

The congregation is renovating a building in Cherryville.

The center is not just a building, but rather is “a community effort to show love to our neighbors.”

Baptist convention helping

Keith Hollar presented Farmer with a check for $8,000, representing the funds from the BSC for the center.

Hollar is the associational mission strategist for the South Fork Baptist Association, whose 70 local churches are spread in and around the Lincolnton area. South Fork is an active partner in the center ministry.

Hollar recalled how locals in Mexico and Costa Rica welcomed him when he visited on missions trips and how that made him feel.

“We are concerned not just about American citizenship but heavenly citizenship,” Hollar said.

The Immigrant Hospitality Center has been needed for years, said Anita McCall, one of five Lincoln County commissioners and a Baptist.

She told how her neighbors near her home in Lincolnton are from Costa Rica — the husband is a U.S. citizen but his wife is not and must complete paperwork periodically to remain legally in the country.

When they sought help with completing the forms from one local agency, the cost was going to be $500.

“It takes only five or seven minutes to complete that form. People need to be able to go someplace that is safe and they won’t be taken advantage of,” she said.

Local churches, individuals give support

John O. Gilleland Jr. is a local real estate agent and member of nearby Freedom Church, started several years ago with support from the BSC’s Church Planting Team. Gilleland and his business partner own the building being used as the center.

Gilleland told how he showed a number of buildings to Bobby Farmer and tried not to show him the one finally selected – the building was in bad shape and needed a roof, new floors and much other work.

But Farmer’s prayer team had been all over town praying about a building, and they heard God telling them this was the one.

Upon hearing that, Gilleland said, “I’ll write the contract up.” He and his business partner paid to have the building completely renovated, heating and air conditioning installed, new floors added and other improvements.

“I just can’t wait to see what God is going to do in this ministry,” Gilleland said during the dedication. He agreed with other speakers that the ministry is greatly needed and will help immigrants as well as local businesses looking to hire them.

Pastor rallies local business support

Another strategic partner in the center opening is Marcus Redding, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Lincolnton who also serves with the North American Mission Board and works with the BSC.

Through LifeSong, a non-profit organization he established, local businessmen have contributed more than $20,000 for the center, including six months of rent in 2018, all the rent for 2019 and furnishings for the building.

Redding established LifeSong in honor of his daughter, who died in a car crash 12 years ago.

Redding led in prayer opening the dedication, asking that the Lord would show His love through the center’s ministry.

The Immigrant Hospitality Center is open by appointment only for now until trained volunteers are available. For more information, visit the center’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ihclincolnton or call (980) 284-2011.
This article appeared in the Biblical Recorder (brnow.org), newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Michael Creswell is senior consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.


Ky. youth group invites peers
to be part of something real

By Robin Cornetet

LONDON, Ky. (Kentucky Today) — A student-led awakening appears to be happening at Corinth Baptist Church, said church leaders, as youth invite friends and point them to Christ.

In the last year and a half, the number of students attending mid-week Bible teaching has more than doubled.

“We were consistently around 42 or 45-ish on really high nights,” said student minister Tim Howard. “We averaged about 108 in the fall.”

On a Wednesday night in late February, middle and high schoolers bounded up the graffitied staircase in thundering twos and threes. Upstairs they greeted each other, hugging and smiling. The student worship band squeezed in a few more frantic minutes of rehearsal.

Behind the band on a chalk paint wall the words “The Summit” glowed under stage lights, announcing not only a sense of place on earth but in the eternal.

Howard, who joined the Corinth Baptist staff three years ago, said Wednesday nights are designed to be “high energy” with crazy games and a booming sound system. It’s uncertain if Howard realizes he’s a contributor to that energy with his animated presentation of the night’s message.

“Tim’s been a great fit,” said lead pastor Andrew Dyer. “We have seen amazing growth over the last 12 to 18 months and Tim has been a big part of that just by being in the students’ lives and being real with them.”

Howard, on average, attends three or four sporting events or music recitals a week to let students know he cares about them outside of Wednesdays and Sundays.

“If we can move the church outside the four walls and talk about Jesus at a pizza place,” Howard said, “that’s when we can make a bigger impact because it becomes an authentic relationship instead of a religious habit.”

Howard was an intern on the student ministry team at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., before he and his wife moved to growing southeastern Kentucky city of London.

Dyer praised Howard’s leadership by recruiting other adults to come alongside and help with the weekly gathering of more than 100 students, and how he reaches students with God’s Word through expository Bible teaching and preaching.

Howard said the season of growth in the student ministry “has been a whirlwind,” but he was hesitant to accept credit.

“When I came in, it was a fairly young group,” Howard said.

“As they have matured, we’ve been able to build up an understanding of what it means to be a leader. We’ve been able to build a culture of students leading students, students inviting students.”

At Life Groups on Sunday nights, boys and girls separate and under student-led Bible study they build communities within the larger youth group community. Howard’s hope is that they will find comfort in sharing one another’s struggles, opening up the way to accepting Jesus.

“They are the influencers. They invite their friends. They get them here. They’re the ones who make it feel like a family,” said Howard. “At the end of the day, that’s what I tell them, ‘It’s on ya’ll.'”

Sixteen-year-old Brady Dalrymple was first invited to a D-Now weekend at Corinth and now he’s the one extending the invitations.

“I’ve invited my whole soccer team, my whole friend group and I’ve invited people I just barely know,” Dalrymple said.

It’s no secret high school can be stressful, and the sophomore thinks most teens are looking for a place they can feel safe and accepted for who they are.

“At Corinth, you got people that want to pray for you. You got people that want to be there for you and ask how you are. It’s just a big family that has structure and support, and easily accepts anyone who walks through that door,” Dalrymple said.

Dyer said churches looking to increasing their youth involvement should view the student ministry as an important part of the church’s overall outreach, and not as a group of kids shoved in a youth building or life center attic.

“I get really frustrated when I hear people say we need to reach the youth because they’re the church of tomorrow. They’re not the church of tomorrow. They’re the church today,” Dyer said.

And as such, Dyer added, these student disciples of Christ need to be given the responsibility and the opportunity to make disciples of others.
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Robin Cornetet is partnership editions director of the Western Recorder.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, typically 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. Except for minor style, security, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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