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FROM THE STATES: N.M, N.C., Ill. evangelism/missions news

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
FROM THE STATES: N.M, N.C., Ill. evangelism/missions news

By Staff

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.


Today's From the States features items from:

Baptist New Mexican

Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)

Illinois Baptist

Partnership Will Help

Build Houses of Hope

By John Loudat

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Baptist New Mexican) -- The Baptist Convention of New Mexico has expanded its effort to build Houses of Hope in Kenya, by encouraging New Mexico Baptists to not only "adopt" the houses but to actually build them.

The BCNM's executive director, Joseph Bunce, visits with the Kenya Baptist Convention's logistics coordinator for missions, Jared Okello, about the effort in a new video that has been posted on the BCNM's website.

In the video, Bunce invites the state's Baptists and their churches to consider taking a mission trip to Kenya to help fulfill the BCNM's commitment to partner with Kenya Baptists, through the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, in building Houses of Hope.

While the BCNM already has encouraged its cooperating churches to provide funds to build at least one House of Hope (for $400 each), Kenya Baptists are working with villages, which provide land and put up adobe walls for each house, the two explain.

Bunce encourages churches to also send teams "of six or seven" to the villages to put metal roofs on the structures, instead of the typical grass-thatch roofs, which will enhance the buildings' security for the widows and orphans who will move into them.

Before each team departs, Bunce and Okello explain, a team member will share the gospel with the entire village, which will gather for a dedication service, and two or three team members will share their testimonies.

Kenyan pastors will then lead Bible studies every Wednesday for 12 weeks in the houses, which will, over time, become churches, Okello says.

The trips can be scheduled for whenever is most convenient for the teams, Bunce said.

Last fall, during the BCNM's Missions Celebration Banquet, the founder and president of the National Day of Care, Farmington Baptist Ronna Jordan, announced that the organization had already built 200 "Houses of Hope" in the east African nation. The goal, she said then, was to build 800.

That goal has now been expanded to 1,000, Jordan told the Baptist New Mexican last month.

In January 2012, the BCNM sent to every Baptist church in the state a video featuring Bunce, Okello and Jordan, in which Bunce asked churches to "adopt" a House of Hope, which will then be given to a widow, who will take in some of the nation's 7 million orphans, and house a new church.


Churches are now being encouraged to not only begin organizing teams to go to Kenya to build the houses, but to also "get involved in other ministry opportunities offered by the Kenya Baptist Convention …," Jordan said.

"Typically a mission team leaves the United States on a Friday, arrives in Nairobi the next day and returns the following Saturday evening," Jordan explained. "During the mission trip the volunteers teams help African villagers construct 10 Houses of Hope and are present for the dedication of each one.

"Other ministries are available at every House of Hope construction site including working with children, widows, medical missions, schools, hospitals, seminary and leadership training, and hut-to-hut and sports evangelism," she said.

"The cost per person is $1,500 plus airfare," Jordan added, noting that it covers the cost of "accommodations, food, van transportation and a one-day safari."

Okello told the Baptist New Mexican that the best dates for teams to visit in 2012 would be March 23-31, anytime in April, May 1-18, June 8-30, July 7-27, Aug. 4-31 and anytime in September through December.

To view the video, go to and click on the "mission trip opportunities" button and select "Kenya"; or scan the tag to the right with Microsoft's Tag Reader app on your mobile device. To download the free app, visit from your mobile device.

John Loudat is editor of the Baptist New Mexican ( For more information, contact the BCNM's missions mobilization team at 924-2315 (Albuquerque) or 1-800-898-8544, ext. 315.


Networks enable churches to

partner toward Kingdom growth

By Dianna L. Cagle

CARY, N.C (Biblical Recorder) -- In 2010 Todd Brady met a church planter from Canada in the exhibit hall of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina's (BSC) annual meeting.

Brady, who is lead pastor of The River Church in Fayetteville, said that meeting began a relationship that took 15 of his church members to Toronto last summer. Now, Brady is leading a Global Impact Network of seven North Carolina Baptist churches to help promote the efforts of this church plant in Canada.


The pastor Brady met that year at the Convention's annual meeting was Scott Rourk of Rendezvous Church in Toronto, Canada. After sending members of The River Church on a summer mission trip in 2011, Brady returned with other pastors as part of a vision trip in September of that year.

"For the longest time churches have been doing their own thing," Brady said. "I see an incredible trend where churches are starting to come together."

Rendezvous Church, the plant that is partnered with several churches in the Fayetteville area, hopes to plant 10 churches in Canada over the next few years. The goal is for the network to help Rendezvous make that a reality.

The Global Impact Networks help connect a church planter or an area/people group to churches in North Carolina.

The network "enables a smaller church that might not be able to send a large group" to partner with other churches to help in a mighty way by providing teams to help with community outreach, training, and other ministries, Brady said.

Global Impact Networks emerged as part of the strategy of BSC's Office of Great Commission Partnerships.

Four of the seven N.C. Baptist churches committed to this network are going on a vision trip to Toronto in April to seek out ways they can partner to expand and enrich local church plants.

"We can do more together than by ourselves," Brady said. "God just put it all together.

Potentially, all seven churches could send people on two to three mission trips this summer.

"Our church planting catalysts who make it possible" are North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionaries, said Mike Sowers, senior consultant for the Office of Great Commission Partnerships. The planters work with the Convention and these budding networks to build their outreach capacity.

Funding for these NAMB church planters comes through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and giving through the Cooperative Program.

When Kevin Ezell, NAMB's president, announced a focus on church planting, NAMB launched Send North America, targeting church planters in bigger cities. NAMB cut jobs, reorganized and diverted funding from other areas of ministry to church planting.

Sowers is excited about the networks that are forming to help churches in Toronto, Boston and New York, areas of emphasis for the Convention's Office of Great Commission Partnerships as well as for NAMB's Send North America efforts.


Sowers said the network concept birthed out of the partnership with Toronto. The Office of Great Commission Partnerships is working to build similar networks for New York and Boston as well. Right now, North Carolina has four networks formed and two more in process. The first step is to get "boots on the ground" participating in vision trips to help form connections with church planters, Sowers said. "Our work is focusing on those networks … steering people toward a long-term focus."

Partners can provide training and leadership resources as well as teams to help facilitate reaching communities.

Last summer The River Church taught a soccer clinic and held a Vacation Bible School in Toronto. Rourk started an after school program "because the kids wanted to come back," Brady said.

That program led to an adult Bible study because the children were asking their parents questions about the Bible that they couldn't answer.

Brady is excited that the "next generation type of guys are starting to get a heart" for church planting and seeking to save the lost.

The goal for all the church plants is for them to become multiplying churches.

"That's the only way we'll be able to even make a dent in any of these cities," Sowers said. "We like to give to something. We like to go to something."

In the giving and the going it is important to remember not to forget prayer, Sowers said.

Churches who might not be able to send money or people can pray for these church plants. "When a good mission network gets involved, it pushes the church planting process six months or so ahead of where they should be on their own," Sowers said. "I'm real grateful for the new vision. I really believe we're all working together for the same end with the same strategy."

Dianna L. Cagle is assistant managing editor for the Biblical Recorder (, where this article first appeared.


Pathway Church reaches out to

Metro East with help from partners

By Meredith Flynn

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (Illinois Baptist) -- When Richard Rea graduated from seminary in his 50s, he started looking for a ministry role fit for "somebody of that age, with a Masters of Divinity and no experience."

What he found was a place in a church planting movement impacting Illinois' Metro East St. Louis area with churches that are rooted in communities and committed to meet real needs of the people living there.


Larry Richmond, a long-time friend of Rea's and director of missions for Gateway Baptist Association, encouraged him to come help his association develop a strategy for planting churches. But strategy development was only one piece of the puzzle; Richmond also wanted Rea to help plant a church.

He gave Rea a region bounded by three interstates and one county line, and their attention soon focused on Collinsville, a working class community of 26,000 people. Rea immediately saw areas of need, from multi-unit housing complexes to kids wandering around downtown without much purpose. Collinsville "seemed to be the right place," he said.

Heightened need

Rea moved to the area and became part of the Bethel Network, a group of churches intentionally working together to plant new churches. (See sidebar for more on the network.) They're driven by a desire to reach people in a region where eight of out ten are unchurched. Pathway would eventually become the first church plant to come out of the network.

At the IBSA Annual Meeting a few months later, Rea met with Chris Funkhouser, who was pastoring in Zeigler at the time. But church planting was on his heart. "God had been working in my heart about the need to reach the city," Funkhouser said. "There's a need for the Gospel everywhere we go, but the need is heightened the closer you get to higher populations."

As Rea and Funkhouser talked about Collinsville, they formulated a leadership plan that emphasized their strengths and callings. "Chris came on board with the understanding that he would begin to assume more and more of the leadership role there, because I saw my role as being involved with the network … getting other established churches on board toward the planting of new churches," Rea said.

Pathway had already been meeting as a weekly small group for several months when Funkhouser moved to Collinsville last March. They spent most every Saturday that spring meeting their neighbors. Of the 18,000 doors in the town, Rea estimates they knocked on 10,000 of them.

On Easter Sunday, Pathway held the first of four monthly preview services. Now meeting weekly at a Collinsville VFW hall, the church averages 40 people in its Sunday morning worship service and has connected with people in the community, many who weren't previously part of a church. Rea said they are "folks that when they wake up on Sunday morning, they don't think about coming to church; this is a big change for them."


To make their initial connections with Collinsville residents, Pathway set out to make a real difference in the community. When they approached Collinsville leaders about areas where they could help, officials "realized we were going to be persistent about helping our city," Funkhouser said.

Loving the city

The church became part of Collinsville's code enforcement team; in other words, when there are cleanup or improvement projects that need to be done, people from Pathway go to work. They completed at least eight projects last summer, and their assistance led to opportunities to be involved with other community events, like Collinsville's annual Italian festival.

They're also involved with homework help at a local elementary school, and have adopted Collinsville's dog park, sending volunteers every two weeks to keep the park clean.

"We desire to love our city, and we desire to show Jesus to the people in a real way," Funkhouser said. And they know they can't do it alone; Pathway has relied on mission teams from Illinois to supplement the work they're able to do, and will partner with several other churches this summer to host block parties and Vacation Bible School.

"We are so thankful for the support we've gotten from churches here in Illinois, from IBSA, and for all the things Baptists do so well in cooperating," Rea said. "The Holy Spirit can do what the Spirit will, and Jesus is going to build His church, but I think the way he intends for us to be involved is through partners."

See the next issue of the Illinois Baptist for more stories on how cooperating Southern Baptist churches in Illinois and around the world are reaching out with the Gospel.

The Bethel Network

Who: Currently, six churches and one association: Bethel Baptist, Troy; Calvary Baptist, Alton; Dow Southern Baptist; Second Baptist, West Frankfort; Crossroads Church, Brighton; Second Baptist, Granite City; Gateway Baptist Association. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is also part of the network as an "equipping partner."

What: Existing churches working together to plant new churches.

When: Since 2010

Where: Metro East St. Louis

Why: "It takes local churches working together to plant new churches," said Richard Rea. "We think that's what the Book of Acts of about … There's room at the church planting table for churches of any size."


For more, go to

Meredith Flynn is the associate editor of the Illinois Baptist (, where this article first appeared.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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