Today's From the States features items from:
Baptist & Reflector (Tennessee)
Louisiana Baptist Children's Home
The Christian Index (Georgia)
Church plans to help churches in Israel
develop disaster relief ministry
By Lonnie Wilkey
MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (Baptist & Reflector) -- First Baptist Church here is launching a "Harvest of Israel Ministry."
The goal of the ministry is to help Messianic churches in Israel develop a disaster relief plan in the event of war or other catastrophic event, said Dean Haun, senior pastor of the Morristown, Tenn., congregation.
Haun said teams from FBC and other churches interested in ministering in Israel would help them learn how to do mass feeding, reconstruction and other elements of disaster relief ministry.
"We would teach the congregations there how to do it and we would come alongside them and help," Haun said.
The churches in Israel would be communicating that they are doing it through the love of Jesus Christ, Haun noted.
Though the concept of a partnership originally began with one congregation — Harvest of Asher, a Messianic church in northern Israel — it has grown to include other Messianic congregations in Israel, pro-life organizations and Ely Ministries in Jerusalem.
Haun, who has been to Israel 15 times, recalled that on his sixth trip to the country he asked God to "open a door of ministry" that would minister to all people in the country. Then last November, Guy Cohen, pastor of Harvest of Asher, visited First Baptist Church and shared the ministry plans the congregation desired to do in northern Israel. Those plans included a school and a soup kitchen, Haun related.
Church member Don Owen, who heads up disaster relief ministry for Nolachucky Baptist Association, observed that some of Cohen's plans had elements of disaster relief ministry.
Owen and Haun had a meeting with Cohen and discovered the pastor also wanted to be able to reach out to the Jewish people "in the name of Jesus" in the event of a major disaster.
Cohen asked First Baptist to partner with them.
In March, three members of the team, led by Owen, traveled to Israel to investigate the possibility of ministry there. Traveling with Owen were Brian Collins of Holtz Baptist Church and Don Rhoades of Hillcrest Baptist Church, both in Morristown.
Haun said Pastor Cohen laughingly referred to the trio as "the three spies."
The team assessed the needs and potential for ministry in Israel and came back with a report, Haun said.
From that assessment, things have mushroomed, Haun said.
The church has developed an Israel Rapid Response Team that will be ready to go on a moment's notice to Israel in the event of a disaster or war in the country, Haun said. He noted, however, how fast they get there depends on if they are able to enter the country.
The team does include Baptists from six churches and Haun said they are looking for other congregations "who want to do ministry with us in Israel."
He noted the partnership has been established and the church has already received more than $10,000 in donations to purchase supplies for Israel and to defray shipping costs. The church also was given a large amount of medical supplies from Morristown Hamblen Hospital that can be used if needed in Israel.
Should the team be needed in Israel, they would help coordinate the work there through the Messianic congregations, Haun stressed. While there are more than 100 Messianic congregations in Israel, there are only 14 with a membership of 100 or more, he observed.
Other plans tentatively call for the church to assist Harvest of Asher in building a school and with other ministries in their community including a crisis pregnancy ministry.
Haun stressed that the work in Israel, though disaster relief-related, will provide witnessing opportunities.
"Social ministry is an opportunity to share the gospel," Haun said.
He is optimistic about the potential for the ministry in Israel.
"God has opened this incredible door of opportunity," Haun said.
Both Haun and Owen encouraged Tennessee Baptists who would be interested in ministering in Israel to let them know.
"We hope to get some folks who want to get their hands dirty to join us," Owen said.
"I feel like this is something we need to be doing — helping our brothers in Israel."
Anyone interested in this ministry can contact Owen at (423) 581-4875 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Haun at (423) 586-0522 or email@example.com; or the website at www.harvestofisrael.org.
This article originally appeared in the Baptist & Reflector (tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist & Reflector.
LBCH launches International
Orphan Care Ministry
MONROE, La. (Louisiana Baptist Children's Home) -- Louisiana Baptist Children's Home & Family Ministries sponsored its first international orphan care mission trip in June. Sixty Louisiana Baptists, representing 16 LBC churches, bonded into an awesome mission team. They ministered to 75 medically-needy infants and children residing at a malnutrition center in San Juan, Guatemala.
The LBCH mission team ranged in age from 15 to 72 and tackled a variety of assignments during the week. Some provided direct daily care for the children including bathing, feeding, changing diapers, rocking babies, and stacking blocks with toddlers. Others sorted and organized the contents of 40 suitcases of clothes and supplies donated by our Louisiana churches.
Some provided worship times for the children with a daily puppet show, story time, balloon animals, and Bible songs in Spanish.
Others assisted staff with daily cleaning and sanitizing the children's rooms, bedding, and bath areas.
Missionaries also helped with daily meal preparation, daily laundry, and made much-needed repairs to the center facilities and grounds. God used everyone's gifts and abilities to minister to these precious children and to the Center's staff members who care for them daily.
This was the largest group to ever serve at the malnutrition center. The size of the team made it possible to reach out and share Christ in a nearby village.
Ministry in the village began at the pila, where the women gathered to wash their laundry. On the first day there were 15 women and eight children. Those numbers quickly increased to 60. Our missionaries distributed snacks, balloons, and crayons to the children. Bible stories and songs were shared through an interpreter.
Spanish Bibles were distributed with people begging for a copy of God's Word. Before the week's end, about 200 adults and children had listened intently to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the greatest love story ever told, in their native language.
Our missionaries completed their last day of service with both sadness and joy. Everyone had fallen in love with the children, the Center staff, and the people of Guatemala, but it was time to go home. We had accomplished much in a short time and wanted to do more.
During this first orphan care mission trip, God called three of our team members to full-time missions ministry. Claire, a 17-year-old resident of the Children's Home, was one of those three. See article below.
This September, another LBCH mission team will travel to Haiti to help complete construction of an orphanage. The next trip to the malnutrition center in Guatemala is scheduled for June 8-14, 2013. Dates and information for 2013 trips to Nicaragua and Haiti will be released in the coming weeks.
For more information on how you and your church can get involved in international orphan care, contact Beth Green at 318-343-2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The preceding is a news release from the Louisiana Baptist Children's Home.
alip Kumar, Shepherd Fellowship
of India impacting others
By J. Gerald Harris
JONESBORO, Ga. (The Christian Index) -- William Carey, the great missionary pioneer, was in a meeting where the spiritual needs of India were being discussed. The secretary of the meeting remarked, "There is a gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the center of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?"
Carey responded, "I will venture to go down, but remember that you must hold the ropes."
However, India is not so much a gold mine of natural resources today. The primary natural resources are iron ore, bauxite, and copper ore, but unfortunately, India's consumption of natural resources is now almost twice as much as what the country's land, air, and water can provide.
Nevertheless, there is a gold mine of hungry hearts in this Asian sub-continent. India is the second most populous country in the world today with over 1 billion people. With more than 2,500 distinct people groups, one out of seven people on the planet live in India. Almost 50 percent of all unreached people groups are in India.
Nearly 500 million live below the international poverty level and make less than the equivalent of $1.50 United States dollars a day. India is estimated to hold an astonishing one-third of the entire world's poor.
Millions of Indian people do not have adequate nutrition, shelter, education, or vocational/technical skills. They often live without any hope for improving their lot in life.
India is a complex nation with a variety of peoples, languages and numerous religious systems. More than 80 percent of the population is Hindu, with Christians making up less than 3 percent of what remains.
There are 412 million Indians who have never even heard the name of Jesus and do not readily have access to Bibles or evangelistic material. There are 330 million objects of worship in India with the people looking anywhere and everywhere for salvation.
For many years Dalip Kumar served as pastor of the Asian-Indian church affiliated with First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Ga. In that role he had the opportunity to present the Gospel to hundreds of people from India, many of whom are now teaching in the high schools of America (reaching more than 169 doctors who live in Clayton and Henry counties; sharing the Gospel those who own gas stations, Dairy Queens, Subways, dry cleaners, motels and hotels).
Kumar, however, is now focusing much of his ministry on the people in his homeland through Shepherd Fellowship of India. Since 2004 he has developed a church planting effort in northern India that is beginning to make a significant impact upon the people of that region.
Kumar started with four pastors and two co-workers. Now they have 45 pastors and co-workers in India engaged in serving 135 churches in seven Indian states. While most of the churches are meeting in homes, there are 7,000 people whose lives are being touched by these churches. Kumar has a goal of starting 1,000 churches by 2020.
The poverty of millions of Indians is heartbreaking and Kumar's ministry is also reaching into the slums to assist those in four different castes of people: Banjara, Bengali, Sansi and Madrasi. Kumar explained, "We are reaching more than 250 children, including children from the poorest of the poor social classes, including the Dalits or 'untouchables.'"
Kumar's ministry not only provides food and clothing for these children, but he has established Wisdom Academy, a learning center where they can study English, math, and science while studying the Bible.
Since his wife's death in June 2011, Kumar has divided his time between stateside ministries and the work in India. Until recently he provided leadership for Jonesboro First Baptist Church's Lighthouse Ministry - a ministry that provided food and clothing for the hundreds of people who came to the church in need of assistance.
"The Lord gave me the privilege of leading more than 800 of the people who came to our Lighthouse Ministry to faith in Christ," Kumar stated. "Many of them got their family life in order. Others enrolled in college or found jobs. Many of them became a part of the ministry of First Baptist Church."
Kumar is now focusing more on the needs in India. He recently returned from speaking in 16 different Gospel meetings in six states of north India and saw 128 trust in the Lord, 35 baptized.
Of Kumar's ministry Georgia Baptists' executive director, J. Robert White, commented, "Dr. Dalip Kumar has developed his ministry under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. His vision is to reach the people of India and see them transformed by the love of Christ."
For more information about Dr. Dalip Kumar or Shepherd Fellowship of India go to htshepherdfellowshipofindia.org.
This article originally appeared in The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. J. Gerald Harris is editor of The Christian Index.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net