Today's From the States features items from:
Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
The Pathway (Missouri)
souls in Ukraine
From North Carolina Baptist Men
MUNKACS, Ukraine (Biblical Recorder)--Since 2008, North Carolina Baptist Men has partnered with Roma (gypsies) in Munkacs, Ukraine. Initially slated to transform an old KGB listening post into a house of worship, the need for volunteers was redirected when the young pastor said "would you please just come love on the children?" Teams eagerly switched gears and focused on the children.
Members of First Baptist Church in Roxboro spent a week last summer working with up to 300 children each day. Along with teaching Bible stories, crafts and music, they conducted several medical clinics. That experience gave Jill Burleson, nurse practitioner at Duke University Medical Center, the desire to conduct a week-long medical mission trip. Her dream became a reality in the spring of 2011. The following is her account of that experience.
"Our van passed a whitewashed brick wall, switching the scenery from a quaint village in Munkacs, Ukraine, to a trash heap. Mud roads jostled our insides while we tried to comprehend the stark reality behind that wall. Filth, trash, mud, disease, houses crafted crudely out of sticks or mud, roofs patched with cardboard and trash to hold it in place met our eyes first. Children with naked brown bodies and swollen bellies from malnutrition ran alongside the van to cheer and wave. Their dirty faces strained to make out these strangers coming to visit. The need was overwhelming. And the tears began.
"However, those tears were soon dried by mamas and children clamoring to hug, kiss, and engulf us into their fold as if we were family. We entered a building, from which a melody came floating lightly, joyously, on the putrid air, turning the stench of the trash into a holy aroma rising to the heavens. And there we worshiped.
"I recalled these scenes from eight months before, the beginnings of a dream to bring a full medical team to the gypsy camps of Munkacs. Now after planning and packing, it was reality. For a week, our team provided medical care to almost 450 people from the gypsy communities. Some were extremely sick, like our Lily who was severely burned and whom we labored over intensely each day. We were relieved to watch her bloom as the week progressed.
"Others suffered only from malnutrition and received vitamins. The rest fell somewhere in between. All were given undivided attention. It was our privilege to hold their hands, listen to their lungs, hear their hearts (whether through story or stethoscope), and try to convey God's love to them in words and actions.
"My soul sighed at the end of our week in Munkacs. I realized that in my daily life, I tend to forget how to sing heaven's song that the gypsies know so well. How the love flows naturally and praises drown out the world, melting the rubbish of life into a campfire's ashes.
How gently the spirit can hold a child that isn't its own, or how the flinch of a person touched kindly for the first time feels under your fingers. How it is to bandage hearts and hold hands, and how love needs no language to be perfectly understood.
"I learned in this week how it feels to have a homecoming in the middle of a garbage dump. How it is to have the strength of Samson when holding a child who just needs to be close. How it is to feel that child wrapped around you so tightly it's as if she is trying to seep into your very heart. And how it is to feel your heart break as you realize she has.
"The medical and societal needs of the gypsies in Munkacs are many. But in their beautiful pain, they are reaching for God, rising from the rubbish, and bestowing a renewed blessing to those of us fortunate enough to serve them. It is only by God's grace that we have anything to offer them in return."
This article first appeared in the Biblical Recorder, newsjournal of the North Carolina Baptist Convention (biblical recorder.org). To view a photo gallery from a medical mission trip to Ukraine, go to http://www.biblicalrecorder.org/galleries/Munkacs2011.aspx.
Chicago's need of the Gospel beckons;
Missouri Baptists to answer the call
By Kayla Rinker
CHICAGO (The Pathway)--Named one of only 10 Alpha Global Cities in the world by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC), Chicago and its surrounding suburbs are home to 9.3 million people.
Two-thirds of those, or 6 million people, live in Cook and DuPage counties which make up the Chicago Metro Baptist Association's (CMBA) mission field.
For perspective, according to the 2010 census, the entire state of Missouri counted 5,988,927 people, showing Missouri's population as slightly less than the Chicago metro area. In another startling comparison, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) includes almost 2,000 churches throughout the state. The Chicago Metro Baptist Association, with essentially equal population, has 211.
"Chicago is one of many large cities that is vastly unreached," said Robert Goette, executive church planting coordinator for the CMBA. "We need people to come here and be intentional in their outreach. Whether we like it or not, our nation's cities are microcosms of the entire world. Even the city's suburbs are not concentrated with people from this or that ethnic background. It's more like putting cultures in salt and pepper shakers and then scattering them throughout Chicagoland."
He compared the difficulties of reaching Chicago to a familiar situation all people face from time to time.
"Too much of the time we look at huge cities like Chicago like we are driving down the street trying to find a restaurant to eat at," Goette said. "There is a Mexican restaurant and burger joint but then you see something unique like an Indian or Thai restaurant and you think to yourself, 'What's that?' But, too many questions and uncertainties there, so you just drive by. We know it's different and we are not denying that it intrigues us but that's about it. You go somewhere more familiar, more comfortable. That's how Chicago and cities like it have been bypassed by the vast majority all these years."
But not anymore. Missouri Baptists turned their heads toward Chicago in 2010 after a partnership was formed between Northern Illinois and the MBC. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and North American Mission Board (NAMB) have also set their sights on Chicago and have set goals to be part of thousands of new church plants in the coming years.
"You could accomplish all of Acts 1:8 in one neighborhood in Chicago," said Rick Hedger, partnership missions specialist for the MBC. "We need Missouri Baptists to pray asking is this some place God is wanting to send you? In Southern Illinois they have an average of one church for every 500 people, which is a lot. But, in Northern Illinois and Chicago there is one church for every 29-35,000 people. They need help."
Chicago's Alpha City status is not based on population alone. The GaWC defines an Alpha City as a city that has a direct and tangible effect on global affairs in areas such as economics, trade, culture, politics, medicine, art, education and entertainment. In essence, reaching Chicago for Christ impacts the world for Christ.
"Because Chicago has such a direct connection to the world, our greatest prayer is that the Gospel will 'piggyback' through these conduits from Chicago back to countries and people groups around the world," Goette said. "We do impact the world from Chicago. My prayer is that someday soon it will be with the Gospel of Christ."
This article first appeared in The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention (mbcpathway.org). Kayla Rinker is a contributing writer for The Pathway.
Church plant meets
challenges with Miss. team
By Don Whalen
TORRINGTON, Wyo.--Seven couples from Brandon Baptist Church of Brandon, Miss., recently arrived in Torrington, Wyo., on a mission trip to share Jesus and spread the word about the new church plant called Lifeway Church.
Going door to door for three days, the team canvassed the city and shared 1,500 flyers announcing the presence of Lifeway Church in Torrington. Their efforts resulted in 45 prospects who requested a follow-up visit by Pastor Marty Rostad.
One Torrington resident called Rostad to say, "Thank you" for the team's visit because it came at a time of great personal need. Another resident said he could not turn them away. The team was so friendly and caring.
On the Sunday following the canvassing efforts, Lifeway Church enjoyed nine first time visitors in their Sunday morning service.
This experience has created a new excitement and passion for sharing the love and hope of Jesus with the people of Torrington. It also has generated a renewed appreciation for the cooperative ministry enjoyed between churches and associations across the United States as they partner together for mission opportunities and for starting new churches.
Lifeway Church has expanded their ministry vision and impact by accepting the "Harvest Points: Each One Touch One" challenge. In an effort to impact lostness and push back the darkness of sin, a new evangelistic Bible study has been established in Ft. Laramie, under the sponsorship of Lifeway Church.
The new church plant hosted a barbecue June 19 at a ranch north of Fort Laramie and more than 70 people from the area attended. Rostad followed the barbecue with a Mountain Man Rendezvous service. Thirty-five people from the Fort Laramie area attended the service.
Fort Laramie is one of many communities in Wyoming that are in need of a church or group of churches who will claim them as a harvest point and begin to share the love, hope and salvation found in Jesus.
This article first appeared in Horizons, newsjournal of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention (wyomingsbc.org). Don Whalen is church planting strategist for the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net