Today's From the States features items from:
The Pathway (Missouri)
The Baptist Courier (South Carolina)
Baptist New Mexican
NAMB, MBC leaders
discuss Send St. Louis
By Vicki Stamps
ST. LOUIS--Unity of mobilization was the theme of the Send St. Louis meeting held July 21 at the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association. Steve Davis, Midwest director of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Aaron Coe, vice president of NAMB, led discussions on the strategy and plans for Send St. Louis.
Send St. Louis is NAMB's effort to aggressively plant evangelistic Southern Baptist churches in the St. Louis area.
"Aaron discussed the support and mobilization plans as we identified partners in ministry," Davis said. "We had new people at the table as the coalition is developing. We have a couple more pastors to join from the metropolitan area, one from Illinois and one from the Missouri side of the river."
"Our next step will be to recruit key out-of-state partners," Davis said. "We will also want to have a training meeting for the greatest impact on planting churches in St. Louis."
Jim Breeden, director of missions for the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, agreed that the meeting was productive. "We are beginning to see a template or skeleton of how NAMB and Send St. Louis will focus on our city. We are coming together to develop a structure of healthy cooperation for what God has called us to do as Southern Baptists."
Breeden also sees this effort of cooperation as positive. "In the past," he said, "the NAMB would come in with package deals, but in this case, we are having indigenous decisions developed by a local group. It may be slower on the front end with talking and planning, but it is healthier and broader in the cooperation."
Prayer is the backbone of this effort. "Prayer is our starting point," Davis said. "We want to bathe the entire city in prayer. We want to pray for every household and pray against every stronghold."
According to Davis, the need in the St. Louis area is great. "We looked at the number of churches per population in various cities and states. In the entire state of Missouri, we have one Southern Baptist church for 3,000 people while in St. Louis, we have one Southern Baptist church for 7,500 people. That's what lostness looks like."
Davis said Coe's group for mobilization will help the Send St. Louis coalition match resources to needs. "His group is working to develop partners to help. At the recent Southern Baptist Convention, more than 500 pastors expressed an interest in partnering with NAMB to reach major cities in North America. The mobilization group will match those pastors with specific needs in St. Louis."
Plans are being made for the launching of Send St. Louis in the fall. An official date for the launch has not been set because of the growing coalition.
The meeting encouraged Davis. "There was lots of excitement in the room," he said. "There was a real spirit of unity and a desire to have an impact on the St. Louis area for Christ."??
This article first appeared in The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention (mbcpathway.org). Vicki Stamps is a contributing writer for The Pathway.
A Ringside Seat to History
After revolution, doors open
to South Carolina Baptists in Egypt
GREENVILLE, S.C. (The Baptist Courier)--Two representatives of the South Carolina Baptist Convention recently visited Egypt, where they saw that the recent people's revolution has "popped open" doors for missions partnerships.
South Carolina Baptists have an ongoing partnership with North African and Middle Eastern peoples, but difficult conditions limited the partnership to two projects in 2010. That changed almost overnight. "Churches in Egypt have asked for our help," said Wayne Terry of the SCBC's multiplication team. And not just help, he said, but urgent and immediate action from believers during a rare but undeniable window of opportunity.
Wil Bradham, director of missions for Southeast Association, describes Egypt as the "doorway to the Middle East."
"If Egypt is won for Christ," he said, "the Middle East will be won."
Terry and Bradham recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Egypt to discover firsthand the needs of the pastors and their congregations.
With the advent of new freedoms throughout the country, a hunger for the truth has been unleashed, Terry said. When the chaos of the revolution swept one community, the response from citizens of several religious backgrounds was to gather in the courtyard of the local Baptist church. The church recently planned something unheard of in Egypt, an outdoor Christian concert where about 1,500 people in the community responded.
As Terry and Bradham visited with an Egyptian pastor in a densely populated city of high-rise buildings, the pastor took the men to the rooftop courtyard to observe his community of several city blocks. The responsibility and desire to show God's love to his 1.5 million neighbors was overwhelming, he told them. With the Muslim call to prayer ringing loudly across the city, the men shared a prayer for the lives of those around them.
Terry said 16 Baptist churches in Egypt are calling, "Come help us." When Terry told the Egyptian pastor that some churches in America might have difficulty responding immediately because "they have not planned for this," the pastor immediately responded, "We did not plan for the revolution and God opening the door."
Terry said a relationship with Egyptian churches would require a long-term strategy of friendship and resources. So far, seven South Carolina churches have "opened their arms" to partner with Egyptian churches, he said.
The effort will begin in Egypt with the arrival of South Carolina Baptists in the fall for a series of special services in each host church and a two-day leadership conference for the pastors and leaders. Long before the teams arrive in Egypt, Christians from both countries will be praying for every aspect of God's work there. A 40-day prayer guide has been designed to encourage Christians to seek God's blessing on the new ministry. The theme for the ministry is: "Serve the Church … Bless the Country."
When discussing the urgency of the need, Tim Rice, director of missions mobilization group for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, said, "There is no multiple choice in the Great Commission. Now is the time to step out in faith."
This article first appeared in The Baptist Courier (baptistcourier.com), newsjournal of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
Mongol Tie Removes
Gospel Barriers Near Gallup
By Karen L. Willoughby
GALLUP, N.M. (Baptist New Mexican)--God responded to Sung Hyun "Peter" Cho's specific prayers and as a result, a church that started with one person Easter Sunday 2010, grew to 110 on Easter Sunday 2011.
Cho, of Korean ancestry, is pastor of Grace Community Church on the Navajo Indian Reservation about 20 minutes north of Gallup.
"When Jesus Christ came, his ministry is reconciliation," Cho said. "I believe God called me to reconciliate. I'm a third person: Asian. I reach Native—same root: Mongolian. I say Jesus is Mongol's God and White's God. This is one of my ways of reaching Natives."
Cho had been a volunteer youth minister at First Baptist Church of Gallup when Jim Turnbo, regional associational missionary for Western and Mountain Baptist associations, asked him to pray about starting a church in a building that had been empty for two years.
Cho already had been praying.
"First prayer: reservation church," Cho said. "Second prayer: closed church. Third prayer: property—five to 10 acres. Fourth prayer: first service Easter Sunday. Resurrection—of Jesus; of the church. All four God answered. God exactly answered me!"
Cho came to New Mexico from Korea via Southern California, where he attended a Presbyterian seminary. (Many Southern Baptist Koreans started their Christian walk as Presbyterian, according to statistics compiled for the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America, a Southern Baptist fellowship group.)
In a seminary class, he heard that many missionaries said "We failed" to reach Native Americans. This struck Cho's heart.
"God never fails," Cho said. "God never gives up; never fails."
He moved his family to New Mexico and lived in 16 places the first year.
"God gave me a heart about Navajo," Cho said. "God gave me a mind for church. I want to build a Jesus Christ church that he would be pleased with."
The Cho family, which includes two sons, now 18 and 12, settled in Gallup, where his registered nurse wife Joy found employment and he found a place of ministry with teenagers at First Baptist Church, where Jay McCollum is pastor.
"I think that time God gave me a heart for youth camp for Native American youth, children and others, so I need big worship center," Cho said—one in which 450 people can sit comfortably. "My prayer: God gets glory from my church."
Grace Baptist Church seats about 65 comfortably. Additional chairs are brought in each Sunday since about 80 people participate in morning worship most Sundays.
"For Easter, we kept bringing in more chairs and more chairs," said Mike Permann, associate pastor and general servant for the church that believes in serving.
"I am a servant," Cho said. "Just to give good material (in preaching and teaching) is not serving. Most important is tell: We tell the story of the Lord Jesus Christ, his love, his sacrifice.
"If we don't have love, agape, we cannot serve," Cho said. "We need to have that agape love and sacrifice for Native people. Reconciliation is first step. If no reconciliation, to spread gospel is very hard."
Fifteen people were baptized in Grace Baptist's first year under Cho's leadership.
Services take place Sunday morning—"First, Word of God," Cho said. "I want my congregation stand firmly on Word of God"—and 6:30 p.m. Friday evening—"to fight Satan," Cho said. The Friday evening service gives Natives something productive to do so they don't gravitate toward less wholesome activities, Cho explained.
Friday prayer focuses on Navajo and all Native Americans. At 6:30 a.m. Saturday, early morning prayer—a Korean mainstay—is when personal needs are lifted to the Lord.
"They're prayer warriors," Turnbo said of Peter and Joy Cho. "I'm excited about his love for our people. He lacks the baggage (white) people like us have. I just see God's hand on him."
While Cho considers himself a full-time missionary—with no NAMB-funded church planter support because the money was used up with the previous congregation—he does practice his other skill, acupuncture, on an as-needed basis. He was given a small RV to use as a clinic. It is parked on the church's five acres.
"God provides," Cho said. "Every time I need money, I receive."
This article first appeared in the Baptist New Mexican (bcnm.com), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Karen Willoughby wrote this as a special correspondent for the Baptist New Mexican.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net