Today's From the States features items from:
Hawaii Pacific Baptist
Louisiana Baptist Message
Lexington Baptist Church (South Carolina)
Storm Lake Pilot Tribune (Iowa)
Mission team finds sharing gospel
in Korea as simple as learning ABC
HONOLULU, Hawaii (Hawaii Pacific Baptist)--In July, seven people from Maui churches and three HPBC staff and four from Seoul International Baptist Church travelled to South Korea to help the Taebaek Baptist Church conduct their 10th English camp for children and youth in the community.
Rochelle Knight, a three-year veteran of the camp from Lahaina Baptist Church, led the Hawaii mission team. Among the group were Chris Martin, pastor of Lahaina Baptist Church, and his wife, Wendy; Veryl Henderson, HPBC executive director and his wife, Cheryl, and grandson, Andrew Cummings; Faith McFatridge, director of communications, partnerships and mobilization; Gail Takeuchi and her son, Tyson, members of a local church on Maui; David and Becky Shaw and Emmanuel Nestor from Seoul International Baptist Church; and Alex Walker From Texas who was visiting her grandparents in Seoul. The team was met upon their arrival in Korea by Dan Armistead, pastor of Seoul International Baptist Church, Dave Shaw, associate pastor.
Taebaek and back
The first morning was a day of travel from Seoul to Taebaek. That afternoon the team got to work evaluating the children's English proficiency and assigned them to the appropriate class level. The children applied to attend the English camp through the Taebaek church and 60 students were selected.
Classes were divided into four levels. The first level was for those who knew very little English while the fourth level was for those who could read, write and converse in English. The top level was was a highly sought after class. Students from this class will be selected to apply for the English immersion home stay program in Hawaii that has been hosted by Lahaina Baptist Church for the past two years.
Each day began with a worship time with singing kid-friendly songs. One of the popular songs was "I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N." During one of the morning sessions, Veryl Henderson shared the gospel story using rope tricks which he later taught to the students in their classes.
Faith McFatridge recounts, "I was assigned to teach the third level with students who understood English but couldn't converse well. With eight students in the class, and a little booklet of lessons, we started class.
"With my 30 years of children's ministry and the help of Cheryl Henderson, a former preschool and children's teacher, we were able to keep the children busy with class work and fun things, too. The curriculum focused on the colors of salvation and each day the children learned the appropriate Bible verse and what each color stood for.
"One of the highlights that the students enjoyed was making paper airplanes using an origami technique," McFatridge noted. "They had fun making the airplanes following directions given in English. As a reward, we made a landing with squares and they had to fly their planes onto the squares.
"They also enjoyed playing the game of 'Concentration' as a re-enforcement using the words we taught at camp.
"The students earned 'bucks' during the course of the camp. They could spend these 'bucks' on Market Day at the end of the camp. Their involvement in class, achieving skills and participating in games helped them to earn their 'bucks.'"
Each class had to learn a song in English to be presented at the Celebration Ceremony. Parents were invited to see the accomplishments of the children. Team members said it was rewarding to watch each of the classes perform their song. Each child received a certificate of completion and the children presented their parents a letter thanking them for allowing the children to attend the camp.
Ten years in the making
Ma Dae Won, pastor of the Taebeak Baptist Church in South Korea, said he had been praying for a long time about helping the children in their community. Ten years ago, he felt God leading him to start an English school at the church. For the first few years, International Mission Board missionaries volunteered to teach the children. About four years ago, the Seoul International Baptist Church expanded their role and began helping Pastor Ma to conduct a week-long English camp. When Seoul International Baptist Church inquired about affiliation with the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, the HPBC Credentials Committee heard from Dan Armistead who had just arrived at the church as pastor. He talked to committee about what the church was doing and suggested the possibility of some Hawaii churches joining them on one of their missions activities. Chris Martin, pastor Lahaina Baptist Church, was serving as chairman of the Credentials Committee during that time. He responded to the English camp ministry and a partnership with the church began.
Beginning in 2009, Knight became a volunteer with the camp. She also recruited a friend, Gail Takeuchi, a member of another local church in Maui. In December of the same year, Lahaina Baptist Church started hosting a small group of students from the Taebaek English camp for a six-week English immersion experience. This was best time for Korean students because the Korean schools are on a long winter break.
"The mission work in the 10th Annual Taebaek Youth English Camp in Taebaek, South Korea is especially exciting to report," Martin wrote in his newsletter. "The city of Taebaek has been very blessed through the ministry of Pastor Ma Dae Won and the vision that God began in his heart over ten years ago to hold a camp to teach the children how to speak and use the English language. This vision is using the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the curriculum with the desire that the children will not only learn English, but also the love of God through Christ. And as always, it is working!"
Taebeak is located in the province of Gangwon-do, about a four-hour bus drive from Seoul. The town is situated in the high mountains where the mining of coal was once a major industry. The government shut down the mines and the people started moving away. Today the residents make their living by farming or working in the ski resorts that have been developed along the slopes of the mountains. In the urban cities, there are many opportunities to learn English which can be useful in getting ahead in education and in business. In the mountain provinces, those opportunities are limited.
Veryl Henderson says, "The Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention has been blessed through the ministry of the Seoul International Baptist Church. Through the missional passion, Hawaii Pacific Baptists have extended our boundaries of serving people in communities formerly beyond our reach."
This article first appeared in the Hawaii Pacific Baptist, newsjournal of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention.
FIRST-PERSON: New Church Plant
plants a Church in Guatemala
By Tony Meinhardt
BENTON, La.--After visiting the village of Santa Rosa el Rodeo in Guatemala last year, I returned home with a renewed desire to reach that people group for Christ. My wife and I had the joy of joining a mission team out of Mobile, Alabama last year with the goal of building homes for families in Santa Rosa el Rodeo. After spending a week there and discovering that there was no evangelical church in that village I knew that this was an opportunity to do something great for the kingdom, but how?
After returning to our home church in Bossier City, I shared with our small congregation of about 70 people that the Lord had placed this opportunity before me and I thought it was something that we surely needed to pray about.
Our church, Cross Point Baptist, is a new church plant and we are like most new starts, we have our own struggles. Nevertheless, I was determined not to allow this vision to die. After several weeks of prayer and studying just what it might cost, we set a goal of 30.000 dollars. In just a matter of a couple of months, we reached our goal and raised an additional 14,000 dollars for the up keep and for paying a pastor.
With the funds that we raised we were able to buy a small piece of land, hire some locals in the village and began the building process. I returned this summer with a group of 8 from our church and about 50 people from the Mobile group to help with the building. We spent two weeks and saw God do some amazing things.
When we first arrived, a local pastor who we have known for several years, named Pastor Max, had already began to reach out to the people in the village. They had already had church services on the property and 4 people had already given their lives to Christ. We watched as the building continued to go up and the gratitude of the people continued to be shown to us each day. At the end of our first week the walls were up and the floor was almost ready to be poured.
Our first Sunday found us sitting on wooden benches in the hot sun, but no one complained. Pastor Max and a missionary from Mobile, Marvin Robinson, preached and 6 people prayed to receive Christ and many more came for prayer. It was the most spiritual thing that I have been a part of in a long time.
Our second week found us working and making preparation for the roof and the floor. We also had to build outside bathrooms during that last week. Because of rain we were unable to see the completion of the building, but Max and Marvin continued to work after we left. I am glad to say in the last two weeks the church has been completed, but I am most excited to report that to date 16 people have been saved and the church reported 115 in service this past week.
As I close, I want to express how proud I am of our church family here at Cross Point for their generosity. I have to say that I have never heard of a church plant as small as ours planting a church. I pray that our church can continue to have a vision for furthering God's kingdom here in our own community and in the communities around the world. Let me also remind each of you that you are never too small to do great things for our Savior.
This article first appeared in the Louisiana Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Tony Meinhardt is pastor of Cross Point Baptist Church in Benton, La.
S.C. Sunday School class sends 13
to oil fields of North Dakota
WILLISTON, S.C. (news release)--Transitioning toward a missional Sunday School mindset, a South Carolina coed Sunday School class is entering a partnership with First Baptist Church, Williston, N.D., following up on a successful flag football camp there this summer.
The V Class (www.thevclass.com) at Lexington Baptist Church, Lexington, SC sent 13 of its men, July 9-16, to organize and lead the flag football camp attended by 52 area children. First Church Williston pastor Ashley Olinger said the camp was presumably the first of its kind hosted by the church and the first of its kind within the community.
Scott Vaughan, a 20-year Sunday School teacher at Lexington Church, and teacher of The V Class, said God put the mission trip idea on his heart back in 2001. He was serving, in 2001, as director of marketing for the South Carolina convention, and had opportunity to visit Wyoming and the Dakotas serving churches and associations there.
"I drove like 2,000 miles in four days, and God whispered that I needed to come back and lead a sports camp," Vaughan said. Unable to find a mission partner to buy into the project, Vaughan became more and more frustrated. "God was waiting on me to get on board with His vision instead of pushing my own vision."
Vaughan also knows God was using 10 years to bring together other significant pieces that led to the Williston camp.
"God needed to grow this Sunday School class so that we would have a pool from which to pull just the right men for the camp," Vaughan said. The V Class began in 2000 with eight members and has grown to more than 200 members and regular guests. The average Sunday morning attendance is 58-65 percent of enrollment.
"God also opened our eyes to being a missional Sunday School class, moving beyond an hour on Sunday morning and a Christmas party," Vaughan said. "In 2010, responding to national discussions about missional churches and small groups, we created partnerships with a local food and clothing pantry, local law enforcement and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). The North Dakota project is in line with where God is leading us as a class."
Vaughan said, "I'm pretty sure God knew He wanted us in Williston, too." Williston is the site of a current oil boom, and people are moving from all over the country to the small town. Unemployment in Williston is at two percent, but housing is difficult to find and inflation is high. "We found many children who needed encouragement and really needed to meet other children who were new to the area."
When Vaughan and Williston pastor Olinger found one another in late 2010, Vaughan stood before the Sunday School class and asked for 12 good men willing to go and be a part of the camp.
"Wouldn't you know it? There were 12 men plus me that took the trip," Vaughan said. He credits God with lacing together just the right for the trip. "I didn't have to sell anyone on going; I never recruited one specific individual. They all stepped forward on their own." Among those were Jimmy Kinard, a high school varsity football and basketball coach; Larry Grady, a high school football coach; Allen Mitchell, a former University of South Carolina quarterback; and, Dan Martin, a former offensive lineman from VMI. Other volunteers, including Vaughan, had long track records of involvement with children through recreation coaching, children's ministry, public education and as dads. Only four of them had ever been on a mission trip; two of the men missed their wedding anniversaries and two others missed the birthdays of children. With an average age of 45, most took a week's vacation from work or worked by cell telephone while on the road.
The trip was funded through each man's personal contribution, funds raised by the class and administered through the church, and the Lexington church's Global (Missions) Impact Team.
The South Carolina men led the camp, Monday-Friday, with a morning session for K-3rd grade and an afternoon session for 4th-6th grade. Each session began and ended with prayer and included a devotion - led by one of the men - at a designated time for snacks. First Church Williston provided a hot dog cookout for families, players and coaches on Friday evening.
"Not knowing how many kids we would have, what the weather would be like, or even how much the hotel would cost for sure, Scott Vaughan led a great group of men to North Dakota anyways," Olinger said. "It took all of one day to know that I wanted them to come back - their hearts were right - their attitudes were right - and the bonus ... they even knew how to teach football. Their impact over the week on the lives of the children as well as people from our church will not be forgotten soon. The local newspaper came out to see what a bunch of guys from SC were doing way up here."
Vaughan said The V Class will be sending one or two teams to Williston during summer 2012. He is working with Olinger to improve the church's communication system in concert with a church building project and future sports camps.
The South Carolina mission team included: Rick Carter, Chuck Cordovano, Larry Grady, Jimmy Kinard, Joe Maciaszek, Dan Martin, Derek Miller, Allen Mitchell, Patrick Smith, Jay Tompkins, Don West, Scott Williams, and Vaughan.
BCPSJ youth grow in faith
during India mission trip
NEW DELHI, India (Penn-Jersey Baptist)--After months of preparation, six youth and three adults from across the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey boarded a plane in Newark, N.J., and headed for New Delhi, India. It was the first foreign mission trip sponsored by the youth evangelism division of the state convention and was formed in partnership with Southern Baptist Convention field personnel.
None of the youth had ever been to India before, and a few had never even been on a plane. But each believed that God had called them to make the time and financial sacrifices necessary to take this missions adventure.
The team hit the ground running. Their first day was spent delivering donations and helping clean Courage Home -- a sanctuary in Delhi for girls rescued from the sex trade. The team delivered five suitcases full of various supplies, including lots of teddy bears. Each young girl at the home will receive a teddy bear upon their arrival. At least 70 bears were delivered along with books, games and other supplies. Some of the items donated were bought with funds donated by youth and youth leaders at the Student Conference held in April. The team also spent a few hours helping to clean and arrange the home in anticipation of receiving girls soon. Team members wished they could have had more time to help, and expressed a desire to go back some day.
The next morning was spent sight-seeing and getting to know the Indian culture. The youth visited the Taj Mahal and Agra fort. Then they split into two teams and traveled to their next ministry sites by train. One group went north to Dehradun. The other took the all-night train to Allahabad.
Adult leader Melanie Hart and three youth -- all from churches in the Washington-Pittsburgh area -- traveled together to Dehradun. There they visited a few house churches, prayer-walked the area, experienced village life and worked with school children as they went up toward the mountains.
"I saw God at work in the opportunities (when) we got to actually talk with people," said Milia Mastrangelo.
The youth said they had some divinely-appointed conversations with people, such as taxi drivers, a girl on the street and people on the trains. Indian believers said they also were a great encouragement while visiting their house churches.
Tara Payne remarked how great it was go to meet with Indian believers in their homes. "They are the ones who are going to reach their community and we were able to encourage them and continue to pray for them," Payne said.
Their prayer walks also took them to Hindu temples where the youth saw first-hand how people worshipped idols and practiced many types of rituals. "Just to see people worshipping idols with everything they are is so hard to watch," Payne continued.
The other group, led by John and Debbie Richardson, went south by train to Allahabad. Working directly with field personnel, the team of two adults and three youth set out for villages and schools in the area. Hannah Hess, of Elizabethtown, and Brooke Conklin, of Trevorton, joined Debbie Richardson as they went to visit a house church, teach songs and demonstrate making crafts in the schools.
Hess also brought along a ukulele to teach songs. Each was able to share their story of faith in Christ wherever they went.
"I loved to see the strong faith of the true Christians in India," Conklin said.
Chris Richardson, of York Haven, Pa., joined John Richardson and together they traveled to meet with house churches and to share in villages where they had gained an invitation.
"They have so many gods they worship and still have this hole in their life. It felt good to bring them the truth of the real God who is able to fill that hole in their life," Chris Richardson said.
"It's hard to figure in this day and age, but we actually had a chance to share our story about Jesus with people who had never heard the name of Jesus before, ever," John Richardson said.
An older villager they encountered said it was obviously that God brought them to share their faith because he had been sick and praying that someone would come see him.
Both teams had numerous experiences and stories to bring home. They learned a great deal about India and Indian culture, but more than that they learned about faith and the greatness of God and the true hope held in Jesus.
"One thing that was really striking to me during the trip was the realization that my God is bigger than all the other gods in the world put together," Conklin continued.
"God taught me a lot about prayer. Now I have an ongoing conversation with God," Payne said.
"God gave me a real heart for the people of India," Amanda Craig, of Washington, Pa., said. "This trip caused me to become stronger in my faith than ever before." Asked if she would be interested in going back, Craid replied, "It's not a question of can I go, but when."
Youth Evangelism Strategist John Richardson summed up the missions adventure. "This was one of the best groups of kids I have ever worked with. They went with an attitude to serve and were an encouragement to our field personnel, the leaders and all they came in contact with," he said. "I was extremely proud of them and so should their parents and churches that sent them. They represented their Lord well. Thank you to all who donated their time, prayers, and finances to make this trip possible, the Lord will multiply your gifts as He builds His kingdom."
This article first appeared in the Penn-Jersey Baptist, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey.
Missionary Muscle: Buena Vista University grad returns
with feats of strength to inspire God's children
STORM LAKE, Iowa (Storm Lake Pilot Tribune)--When Bryan "Bubba" Dowling talks to you passionately about faith, you don't argue. The big man's been known to twist an aluminum baseball bat into a cross with his bare hands.
The massive missionary and former Storm Lake resident is a strongman competitor and AAU World Superheavyweight Weightlifting champion with a recent bench press of 730 pounds, squats over 830 and the highest composite lift total in American AAU history. With his tattoos, shaved head, billy goat beard and a build like a powder keg with biceps bigger than most elite athletes' legs, he makes an instant impression.
Ten years ago, Dowling was wrapping up a degree in Human Services and Psychology at Buena Vista University and wondering where life would take him.
Now a missionary, counselor, father of five, business operator and professional athlete, he came home to BVU this week with Team Xtreme, an international Christian athletic strength demonstration team based in Grandview, Missouri, at the request of Impact University, a Baptist youth program holding its annual convention at the university.
Dowling, who enjoys mentoring children and hopes to create his own youth training program near his home in Lee's Summit, Missouri, tries to do a couple of shows with TX each month across the U.S. He says that his power comes from God, and it's there to be used to help him reach and help others.
People are held back today by a culture that fears maximum effort and commitment, and which tends to call people who are willing to give their all to any cause "crazy." Such negative energy is only "cotton bullets" when a person comes to see themselves as "a titanium wall of perseverance."
"Every negative comment should remind you of how special and uncommon you are," he and wife Heather, a fellow missionary, say on one of their websites. "Let them call you obsessed and you get stronger with every word."
Dowling performed at familiar Schaller Chapel (at Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, Iowa), spinning campers overhead as they clung to a steel bar, lifting seemingly immovable objects and even ripping a soda can to shreds with his teeth. The Team Xtreme athletes bent iron bars and crushed piles of concrete blocks, intermingling feats with messages about the Christian journey to their wide-eyed young audience. About 200 campers and some 40 community members were on hand to witness the event.
For fun, he's been known to bench press a V8 engine block, flip over SUVs, toss tractor tires as if they were Frisbees, punch through six layers of landscaping rocks.
The native of Ottumwa also has a strong sense of humor, and has been known to appear on stage in a grass hula dancing skirt. He jokes that he has a degree in "Redneckology" that lets him connect with just about anyone he encounters - whether he is preaching, encouraging children to make the most of their lives, or training athletes.
There have been tough times in his own life, and times that he has doubted himself. The ink across his chest spells out his philosophy in bold gothic letters: "Forgiven."
"Forgiven does not mean perfect, " he says. "Thanks, Jesus."
This article first appeared in the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune in Storm Lake, Iowa. Reprinted by permission.
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