Today's From the States features reports from:
Baptist & Reflector (Tennessee)
Baptist New Mexican
Christ in Philippines
BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. (Baptist & Reflector)--A team of volunteer missionaries from West Tennessee has returned from conducting two weeks of evangelistic crusades in the Republic of the Philippines.
The 18-member team experienced the presence of the Lord doing some incredible miracles, said team leader Charles Pratt, director of missions for Fayette and Haywood Baptist associations and president of Cross Partners Ministry, Inc.
Team members witnessed the salvation of 21,286 people coming to receive Jesus as their Savior with more than 500 other decisions.
The volunteers had been preparing for the evangelistic crusades for several months while enlisting Prayer Partners among friends and church members. The team served with approximately 100 churches in four different Baptist associations.
Pratt credits the experience to prayers from hundreds of prayer partners on both sides of the globe. Cross Partners Ministry produced a Prayer Guide of 19 specific prayer concerns and asked team members to recruit the prayer partners that would commit to praying daily for the souls of Filipinos.
Pratt has been leading volunteers all around the world for the past 25 years on five different continents. "Each of those experiences has been a tremendous blessing, but this mission has produced thousands more people coming to Jesus than any mission that we have conducted. We definitely knew that it was not about our team, but the work of the Holy Spirit from the very onset.
"The team saw dozens of people give their lives to Jesus on the airplanes as their journey began to the other side of the world and on their return trip home," Pratt continued. He related that taxi cab drivers and hotel attendants were also won to Jesus in Manila. "The volunteers had determined that the Lord would have full use of their lives to see what He could do with some ordinary believers," Pratt explained.
"Perhaps the most amazing personal experience for me was preaching at a funeral wake service for a young man who was murdered," he noted.
Late one night after conducting an evangelistic crusade, Pratt was told that plans had been made for him to be the speaker at the wake service. "When I arrived at the home at about 9:30 p.m., where the service was to be held, I could hardly believe the sight that I saw. The crowd was estimated to be more than 2,000 people who came to offer their sympathy to the bereaved family."
The local pastor of some of the family members offered words of encouragement to the family and then Pratt shared the message of hope and salvation in Jesus and offered an invitation for the Filipinos to accept Christ as their Savior. Approximately half of the crowd prayed to receive Jesus, he related.
"It was a very humbling experience that I shall never forget. I have spoken at many funeral wake services in the Philippines over the years, but none that had this many people in attendance."
Loren Stephens, pastor of Southside Baptist in Dyersburg stated, "I was thrilled to return to work with the Filipino people."
Southside provided the funds for the construction materials of a new church building in eastern Luzon Island at a town of Navitidad, which had no church building. The people of the church provided most of the construction labor, plus the lot to build upon. The building should be completed by the end of March.
First time volunteer Daniel Hodges from First Baptist of Millington, observed, "I am still in awe of the greatness of our Lord and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. I never could have imagined God using my broken past life all the way around the world to lead thousands to a saving faith in Jesus."
"I am so humbled for God using me like He did," declared Ed Bone of Jolly Springs in Dresden on his second trip to the Philippines.
Volunteer Mike Hopper from the Zion Baptist Church near Brownsville acknowledged that "the glory of the Lord fell all around us on this journey, bestowing a multitude of blessings upon us. We witnessed the power of God in action.
"We have never seen so many people coming to Jesus as we did on this trip to the Philippines. I want to see Him do some similar things in Tennessee," Hopper added.
This article originally appeared in the Baptist & Reflector (tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Leaders say prayer
event is first step
By Elizabeth Young
GLENDALE, Ariz. (Portraits)--A solemn assembly attended by an estimated 400 Arizona Southern Baptists Jan. 15 was a first step toward revival, several of the session's organizers said.
Pastors, church staff members, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention and associational staff members, key church leaders and their spouses attended the event at Mountain Ridge Baptist Church, Glendale.
The solemn assembly, or sacred assembly, was called by a 10-member transition team charged with assisting Byron Banta, ASBC interim state missionary, as the North American Mission Board rolls out its new strategy. Banta presented the team's report, which included a call for a sacred assembly "to seek the face of God for renewal and revival in Arizona," at the ASBC annual meeting last November.
The approximately two-and-a-half hour solemn assembly was facilitated by Dave Butts, chairman of America's National Prayer Committee and president of Harvest Prayer Ministries, Terre Haute, Ind. Using Psalm 107 as an outline, he led those gathered to pray in small groups and individually for the state of the church in America and for repentance of "being simply hearers of the Word and not doers."
With the congregation reassembled as a whole, Butts asked for people to call out the sins of the church. After a short time, he said, "Can you hear that without weeping? ... This is us. This is what we have done to the precious blood of Christ."
Next, he led the participants in "declarative praying, taking the Word of God and praying it back to Him." People lined up at microphones to share Scriptures about how believers are empowered by the Spirit of God.
"I am absolutely convinced that God loves the church too much to leave us where we are," Butts said. "He responds when his people cry out."
Because people prayed at the solemn assembly, "all of heaven is busy with activity," Butts said. He concluded by urging those present to "do it again and again and again until we see God move and change us forever."
Banta said the event was "significant because of what it showed God. It demonstrated to Him that we know we need Him and that we have taken this first step to seek Him. We are not done, but we have taken a first step."
He noted that some were disappointed that "the fire did not fall."
Chad Garrison, transition team member and pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Lake Havasu City, was one who said he had "higher expectations" for the evening. It was a "nice, positive event," he said, but he wanted it to be "powerful, not nice."
He said he hoped this would be a time in "the convention's life to acknowledge our failures" and for leaders "to model what public repentance looks like." However, he said, the time was cut short.
Banta said he was not disappointed.
"Something new began to happen on January 15," he said. "We have not seen it yet, but things are astir. We genuinely worshipped God."
Mitch McDonald, transition team member and ASBC church evangelism facilitator, described the solemn assembly as "an appetizer of what God wants to do in and among Arizona Southern Baptists."
Monty Patton, transition team member and pastor of Mountain Ridge, said the event was "a good start in the sense that the people who were there were hungry to hear from God."
While the attendance wasn't as large and there wasn't as much praying as had been hoped for, Tommy Thomas, transition team member and River Valley Association director of evangelism/missions-church planting catalyst, said the solemn assembly "was a very, very significant beginning of something in Arizona that is going to really catch fire."
Thomas said he's seeing people "come out of the woodwork" with a heart for spiritual revival and awakening to take place in Arizona, and they believe it will come through prayer.
People have asked what happens next.
"The transition team made no further plans for next steps," Banta said. "We are depending on God to move in the hearts of our pastors and leaders."
Patton said he hopes pastors and associational leaders who attended the solemn assembly felt encouraged to hold their events.
"My ultimate prayer is that we as pastors will lead our churches to seek the face of God in a more authentic and unpretentious way," he said. "Let's not focus so much on external things ... (but) really just depend on Him and see what His desire for Arizona is. Then, as we grow to love God, we'll learn to love others, and out of that we'll actually begin to transform Arizona and the world."
Because of the distance from Glendale, Yuma Association chose to schedule its own prayer event rather than promote the solemn assembly. "A Call to Prayer" was planned for Feb. 12 at Oasis Church, Yuma.
While some pastors and leaders from Desert Pines Association attended the solemn assembly in Glendale, about 30 attended one at Jesus First Baptist Community Church, Eagar.
Yavapai Association has called a solemn assembly for its churches on Feb. 26. As a result of the statewide solemn assembly, Gila Valley Association will be holding monthly "Empowered for Kingdom Life" prayer training conferences, which are being called "First Fridays," this year.
Prayer and spiritual awakening is part of McDonald's assignment with the ASBC, and his office is available to help churches in planning or conducting solemn assemblies. McDonald is also pointing pastors to OneCry, a nationwide call for spiritual awakening that will launch Feb. 25. More information is available at www.onecry.com.
Meanwhile, Banta is continuing to repeat the theme he addressed at the ASBC annual meeting: the key is really knowing God.
"I am convinced that the evangelical church in Arizona needs to know God in new and deeper ways," he said. "We have let the knowledge of the Holy One slip from our hearts. Programs and planning are excellent and necessary things. Being smart and efficient is just good stewardship. But the problem is deeper than that. We need to cry out to God, drawing near to Him so that He will draw near to us."
This article originally appeared in Portraits (azsobaptist.org/portraits_main.shtml), newsmagazine of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. Elizabeth Young is editor of Portraits.
New church rising
from dairy ministry
By John Loudat
CLOVIS, N.M. (Baptist New Mexican)--New Mexico Baptists' new dairy ministry in eastern New Mexico is spinning off a new church.
Representatives from the new Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Canto, Eastern Baptist Association, one of the sponsoring churches and the Baptist Convention of New Mexico met Dec. 13 to finalize a partnership agreement related to the new work that will meet in Clovis.
Nuevo Canto is scheduled to officially "launch" on Easter Sunday, April 8.
The BCNM, under the leadership of its regional Spanish strategist, Pedro Escobar, began ministry at three of the area's 100 dairies last year.
"Our dream is that these dairy workers can have a minister who will be dedicated to minister to and meet their specific needs," Escobar said in an article in the Baptist New Mexican last summer.
Benedicto Fasanando, who at the time was pastor of Iglesia Bautista Belen in Clovis, got involved in the effort to establish a weekly ministry at the Grande Vida Dairy. He resigned as Belen's pastor in November so he could serve as pastor of the new church that is developing out of the ministry at the dairy.
Fasanando also has been training five young men who are interested in taking on leadership roles and teaching in the ministries.
"We hope to establish groups in the churches that will hold monthly meetings/celebrations in Clovis and Portales," Escobar said.
While Nuevo Canto's ministry is taking place at dairies during the week, the congregation began meeting at Sandia Baptist Church in Clovis on Sunday, Feb. 12. It had been meeting at Eastern Association's office at 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Three cell groups have also been meeting in homes during the week.
Churches that are partnering with the BCNM and EBA in sponsoring Nuevo Canto are First Baptist Church in Portales and Central, Highland and Sandia Baptist churches in Clovis.
Fasanando, a native of Peru, had been ordained to the gospel ministry by a church in Peru but wanted to be ordained by a Southern Baptist congregation when he was ordained by Mora Valley Baptist Church, Cleveland, in 2009.
Saved as a child in Peru, Fasanando earned a bachelor's degree in theology from the Peruvian seminary and pastored a church in Peru for five years, until moving to the U.S. in 2008 with his wife, Terri, whom he married earlier that year.
Terri Fasanando was serving as a short-term International Service Corps missionary with the International Mission Board in Peru, where she was ministering to Asian population in Lima. It was there that she met her future husband.
At Mora Valley, the Fasanandos worked on developing and growing a youth ministry and an evangelistic outreach to the area's Hispanic population.
This article originally appeared in the Baptist New Mexican (bcnm.com), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. John Loudat is editor of the Baptist New Mexican.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net