Today's From the States features items from:
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
Baptist & Reflector (Tennessee)/The Montana Baptist
The Alabama Baptist (two items)
in world, local missions
By Dana Williamson
SAYRE, Okla. (The Baptist Messenger)--The world is actually coming to the flatlands of western Oklahoma. And if the world doesn't make it to the area, the people of western Oklahoma will go to the world.
That seems to be one of the driving forces behind the ministry of Beckham-Mills Association, led by Ralph Chapman, director of missions.
"We are either going on mission trips or helping someone else go," said Chapman, who has led the association for 22 years. "Last year, we had 140 people involved in 18 different mission trips." Those trips led people to such places as Tanzania, Bangladesh, Russia, India, China and across the U.S. with World Changers and an associational partnership in South Dakota.
And because the association is located on strategic Interstate 40, people from around the world are stopping to participate in another ministry at a truck stop.
"Our truck stop ministry with Bible study and music is attracting people, literally, from around the world," noted Chapman. "Last week, we had a couple from Russia on their way through with a trucking company."
Chapman said the partnership with South Dakota began eight years ago, when a pastor from the association felt God's call to move to an area where the association had worked on a church building.
"In the process, we have started four new churches, and one of the churches has begun a biker church, with 60-70 people on Harley Davidsons showing up on Sunday nights," Chapman said.
Chapman added that several churches in the association are involved with their own partnerships, and the association tries to help them as well. It doesn't hurt that missions team leaders for the association are Will J. and Marie Roberts, retired missionaries who served in Kenya and Tanzania.
Chapman said the area has been blessed with an abundance of oil and gas, providing royalties to church members, who are generous with their resources.
"The bad financial crunch that hit America has been a little slower out here," explained Chapman. "It's kind of like the old guy said years ago, 'God has a bigger shovel than we do. We shovel it out and God shovels it in.'"
In addition to around the world ministries, there is plenty going in the boundaries of the association.
Beckham-Mills owns its own Falls Creek cabin and uses it 6 of the 8 weeks of youth camp, renting it out the other two weeks, and they are owners with three other associations of Southwest Baptist Churches Assembly at Quartz Mountain, which is booked from March to September each year, and includes a Chinese camp.
Vacation Bible School is also a big ministry in the association, with an excellent team, Chapman said. More than half of the churches are involved in VBS each summer.
Since the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma is no longer providing funds for a Baptist Collegiate minister at Sayre Junior College, the association has taken that under its belt.
"We've determined BCM work is not going to suffer," said Chapman. "We look at it as an opportunity for us."
About four years ago, the association purchased a disaster relief feeding trailer, which has already been used to feed workers and firemen fighting grass fires in the area, and to feed victims of an ice storm, where about 8,000 were treated to meals.
Chapman said they have about 80-85 people trained in disaster relief, and while he is one them, it has become a big laymen's ministry, so he tries to leave it up to them.
"We have the feeding unit trailer and a big box truck with a lift on the back that goes out with them," Chapman said. "We can use it for VBS or a church anniversary also.
The association also has men's and women's conferences, with a recent men's rally attracting 304 men at a county barn, resulting in 36 professions of faith.
A Hispanic mission in Elk City is running about 60 in attendance and is picking up about one third of its financial obligation.
"We think in another three or four years, they will be on their own," Chapman said. "The pastor, who is on staff at Elk City, First, also does a Hispanic Bible study at the prison here, and it has grown so much, they can only take the first 100 who show up."
In addition, the association sponsors Evangelism Explosion, has seminary extension classes and provides a counseling ministry.
Although his vocation is a pastor and DOM, Chapman is a talented singer, and has made several recordings, including three CDs in the last four years. He recorded two more in Nashville this summer.
A Vietnam veteran, he made his way from his birthplace in Brunswick, Ga., to Oklahoma with the Air Force, stationed in Altus, and that's where he met his wife, De.
Chapman received his education from Western Oklahoma State, Oklahoma Baptist University, Moody Bible Institute and through seminary extension on the OBU campus. He has served as pastor of Gould, First; St. Louis, First; Maysville, First; Lindsay, Calvary and Duke, First, as well as churches in Texas.
He and his wife have four grown children, who are all active leaders in their churches: Cheryl, Fairview, First; Brian, Sayre, First; Michael, Edmond, North Pointe, and Crystal, Sentinel, First. The Chapmans also have five grandchildren with another expected in November.
Chapman says he believes the future of associations looks as bright as ever.
"I see the place of associations as a resource and partner with the local churches," said Chapman. "While decisions made by the SBC, NAMB or the BGCO may affect associations in some way, they will never determine what associations do. I think our best days are ahead of us."
This article first appeared in The Baptist Messenger, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Dana Williamson is associate editor of The Baptist Messenger.
Montana Baptists Reciprocate
By Connie Davis Bushey
LAKE CITY, Tenn. (Baptist & Reflector/The Montana Baptist)--A team of 14 Montanans served in East Tennessee Aug. 5-10 to participate in the Tennessee/Montana Baptist Partnership.
Although for several reasons it was a stretch for them, explained William Johnson, president of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention, pastor of Gallatin Valley Baptist Church in Manhattan, Mont., and a team member, it was the thing to do because of the many things Tennessee Baptists have done for the churches in Montana, and to practice spiritual maturity.
One reason it was a stretch for the group was that the three churches represented are seven years old and younger and only have about 50, 90 and 150 active members, explained Rich Ratts, North American Mission Board missionary in Montana; he organized the team.
The nine students who came also stretched themselves, said Ratts, who is based in Missoula, because they didn't know each other since they live in three cities located many miles apart. Additionally most had never been on a missions trip before, many had never visited the South before and many had never flown before.
Wayne Phillips, pastor, Main Street Baptist Church, Lake City, who hosted the team, said because he has visited Montana three times as part of the partnership, he understands somewhat what was required of the team. They left "Big Sky Country" and came to Appalachia, he said. "It's a little bit of a culture shock," added Phillips, "but they have been such a blessing to our church."
One reason Phillips felt comfortable in agreeing that his church host the team is because a team of 20 from Main Street just served in Bozeman July 9-16 and they didn't want to come home, he explained.
Phillips also agreed because he had become friends with Ratts on his trips to Montana and Ratts had asked Phillips to help him "get his folks out and do some missions work."
The team worked in Lake City on the playground of a public school, distributed literature in Clinton, served at the Knoxville Rescue Mission and prayed for and toured a ministry center in Briceville. They also got to visit Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.
In Clinton the team worked with Bethel Baptist Church and Darryl Taylor, pastor. Amazingly, while the team was working in neighborhoods, distributing literature left over from the church's involvement with GPS (God's Plan for Sharing), the church learned that it had received permission to visit a needy neighborhood. Taylor said what was amazing was that the church had tried for six years to visit people there. Thankfully, the development of manufactured homes had a new owner, he explained.
Taylor and members of Bethel and the Montana team went to the neighborhood and distributed packets to the houses. The two groups, including about 15 youth and adults from Bethel, distributed packets to a total of about 500 homes.
Taylor, like Phillips, has been in Montana three times in preparation for a partnership between Clinton Baptist Association and Treasure State Baptist Association, based in southwest Montana.
Taylor said having the Montana team here and what God did to open up that neighborhood really blessed him. His youth also enjoyed getting to know the Montana youth, he added.
Having experience in relating to both Southerners and Montanans is Johnson, pastor of a church in Manhattan he helped start five years ago. He is originally from North Carolina but felt called to the ministry and to Montana after visiting the state while on his honeymoon. He responded to the call despite the fact that he held degrees in accounting and business administration.
His church has been helped in many ways by Tennessee Baptists, said Johnson, especially First Baptist Church in Sevierville.
Though Montanans have "an independent mind-set," Tennessee Baptists "have earned a lot of their trust," said Johnson.
"We have benefited so much from receiving from the outside; it is so good to give," Johnson said.
Also, for the team members, students and sponsors alike, being on this trip "empowers them" because it helps them realize that they don't have to be a part of a big church or big group to do missions, Johnson added.
One great thing that First Sevierville did was take four members of Gallatin Valley with them to Haiti to do missions, he said.
"That was phenomenal for our church, phenomenal for our people."
Ratts, who has served as a NAMB missionary in Michigan and Montana and who grew up in Illinois, said as a missionary he might feel a long way from "the mother ship" of Southern Baptists but most Montanan Baptists don't have that context.
Generally, Christians who "get out of their own cultural context and experiences" and "live like missionaries" learn to "think missionally." That helps them, whether in Tennessee or Montana, to cross their street or fence to minister and witness, Ratts said.
Both Ratts and Johnson invited Tennessee Baptists to participate in the partnership between the two state conventions.
Montanans "are not necessarily hostile" to the gospel, said Ratts, "but they are hardened to it. It's hardened soil."
This article has appeared in the Baptist & Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and The Montana Baptist, newsjournal of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention. Connie Davis Bushey is news editor of the Baptist & Reflector.
Moulton Baptist missions team refused
entrance to Wales, sent back home
By Leigh Pritchett
MOULTON, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist)--A group from Moulton Baptist Church en route to do missions work in Wales was detained July 21 by U.K. officials and subsequently sent back to the United States.
The team of 14 -- comprised of high school seniors, college students and adults — left the United States on July 20 for a 10-day missions trip to Llantwit Fardre Community Church in Wales, said Mark Wakefield, associate pastor of the Muscle Shoals Baptist Association church.
Llantwit Fardre Community is a Salvation Army church with which a team from Moulton Baptist had ministered during a missions trip the previous year, Wakefield said.
Patrick Horner, minister to students at Moulton Baptist and leader of the Wales-bound missions team, said the trip was planned through the organization Global Youth Ministry.
In flight from the United States to Heathrow Airport in London, group members had to complete "landing cards," on which they had to state the purpose of their visit to the United Kingdom, Horner said.
Team members wrote that their purpose was "to do volunteer youth work for a Salvation Army church," Horner explained.
When the team arrived at Heathrow Airport around 10:15 a.m. July 21 and proceeded through the U. K. Border Agency checkpoint, an official determined that group members must have additional paperwork in order to continue on to Wales.
The official insisted that the group must have a letter of invitation and explanation from the church where it was going, Horner stated.
Such paperwork had not been required previously, Horner told The Alabama Baptist.
Because of the official's decision, "we were detained for over 12 hours," Horner continued.
During that time, team members were fingerprinted and photographed and their passports taken, Horner said.
Also team members had to surrender credit cards and currency, which was counted in their presence, Horner said. Later they did get these items back.
With a credit card and some British pounds left from the previous Wales missions trip, phone calls were made to entities and individuals who might possibly be able to help the group continue on its missions trip, Horner said.
In the United States, Moulton Baptist church staff and church members received word of the problem and began making phone calls as well to people whom they thought could help. Wakefield said there was also a special prayer time that afternoon at Moulton Baptist.
The office of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, was one of the many entities made aware of the situation.
Brooks' office contacted the British Embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in London. Brooks' office asked that all courtesies possible be extended in looking at the situation and in allowing the group to enter Wales, said Johnny Turner, who attended Moulton Baptist for a number of years and is field representative for Brooks in Decatur.
Nonetheless all the various attempts to assist met with roadblocks, Wakefield said.
At 10:30 p.m. July 21, the team was allowed to leave Heathrow Airport because of minors in the group. Horner explained that minors could not be detained overnight.
After the group was settled at a hotel, Horner met with team members and asked what they would like to do with their time in London. Resoundingly the response was that they wanted to do what they could to reach people for Jesus Christ.
So, with the oversight of the adults in the group, team members left Gideon International "Life" books in restrooms, in phone booths, on park benches, in subway stations — anywhere that they thought someone might see a copy and take it, Horner said.
Meanwhile Horner had received by e-mail a letter of invitation and explanation from Llantwit Fardre Community Church. He and a Welsh friend took a copy of the letter to Heathrow Airport to give it to border authorities. Still the response was that the letter was not sufficient, Horner stated.
It seemed that each time a requirement was met by the group, another requirement was added, Horner observed in recounting what happened.
Salvation Army International also agreed to provide the necessary letter to secure the group's passage, Horner said. However, when the Salvation Army was questioned as to whether background checks had been performed on members of the Moulton team, the organization's representative truthfully replied that they had not been done.
When the missions team arrived July 22 at Heathrow Airport to board a plane back to the United States, a Salvation Army major was waiting, Horner said. The major informed Horner that nothing more could be done to try to get team members into Wales.
The group returned to the United States — via Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — the evening of July 22 and arrived at Moulton Baptist in the very early morning hours of July 23.
"We lost a little bit of money, and we lost 12 hours of our life (sitting in the detainment area). But it is nothing compared to what Jesus did for me," Horner said of the experience.
Through this experience, group members maybe have a glimpse of what people without Jesus Christ will face when they stand before God, Horner said.
This has made team members even more burdened for people who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior, Horner continued.
"We were just denied access to a country. We were not denied access to heaven," he said.
Already some positive things have been seen through the situation.
One is that, because the Moulton group was not able to help at the Wales church, other believers "have risen to the occasion" by taking over the outreach efforts it was going to do, Horner said. "That is worth it."
Also he said the demeanor of the students and adults while they were in detainment made a favorable impression upon many of the border agency officials who came in contact with the group.
"I'm extremely proud of our students," Horner said.
They all handled themselves in an exemplary manner, he stated.
In addition, he noted that group members are keeping the experience in perspective.
"We're not mad; we're not bitter; we're not upset," Horner said.
Instead Horner said team members understand that God will work through this event to bring about His purpose and plan.
Mich. volunteers serve
St. Clair Assoc.
By Gary Hardin
RAGLAND, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist)--For two years, groups from St. Clair Baptist Association churches have made their way to Novi, Mich., to do missions with Orchard Hills Baptist Church. And July 9-16, 14 volunteers from the church came to Shoal Creek Valley to do disaster relief. It's what partners do.
"Our group is excited to be in Alabama," Pastor Jon Hix said. "We regard this week as an opportunity to return the favor."
The team -- along with volunteers from Elko Baptist Church in South Carolina; Greensport Baptist Church, Ashville; First Baptist Church, Moody; Sulphur Springs Baptist Church; and First Baptist Church, Pell City — helped rebuild a house for Sherry Smith, her daughter Lori and her grandson J.D. It also helped three families with some cleanup projects, and some Orchard Hills Baptist volunteers worked in the distribution center in Ashville, which has been collecting supplies for those affected by the April 27 tornadoes.
"The Michigan team, led by Pastor Jon Hix, did an outstanding job of serving the folks in the Shoal Creek Valley and in Ragland," Director of Missions Ben Chandler said. "It was interesting to see how some who had never been in the South before to our 'hospitality' and our food. There are no surprises in our partnership, however; when it comes to the gospel, they serve the risen Savior as do we, and our commitment to make Jesus known to the world, even through a disaster, is the key to a great partnership."
Chandler added St. Clair Baptists look forward to returning to Michigan to work with Orchard Hills.
When asked what motivated him to travel the long distance from Michigan to Alabama, Steve Monette took a pen and drew a cross on a 2-by-4 stud. "This is what motivated me to come," he said.
Monette and his fellow Orchard Hills volunteers wired the house and repaired the 1,500 feet of waterline coming to the house, which was damaged by the tornado and cleanup machinery. The Elko Baptist team helped with the decks, walls, roof and part of the plumbing.
The volunteers from South Carolina cited a call similar to Monette's.
"We felt God pushing us to do this," Pastor Tom Baker said. "It's been a positive experience for us."
Newlyweds Deborah and Angelo McCaw were among the 20 team members.
"I'm glad we could help," Deborah McCaw said. "Angelo and I knew God wanted us to go."
And the Smith family is very grateful they and so many others were obedient.
"It's exciting to wake up each morning and see the progress being made on our home," Lori said. "We are thankful to God for all the people who have come to help us."
These articles first appeared in The Alabama Baptist, newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Leigh Pritchett and Gary Hardin are correspondents for The Alabama Baptist.
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