Today's From the States features items from:
Florida Baptist Witness
Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
Baptist Message (Louisiana)
Seafarers ministry director moves to
Port of Miami for God-ordained opportunity
By Carolyn Nichols
MIAMI (Florida Baptist Witness) -- For 13 years, Dan Bailey, director/chaplain of the Space Coast Seafarers' Ministry of Brevard Baptist Association, has headed a ministry to thousands of seafarers who visit Port Canaveral. He now is headed south -- back to his hometown of Miami -- to start a ministry to seafarers visiting the world's largest cruise ship port.
Growing up in Miami, Bailey said he was hardly aware of the Port of Miami or of the thousands of international seafarers who set foot there. Since developing the ministry at Port Canaveral, however, he became keenly aware of the lack of an evangelical ministry to the 500,000 internationals who pass through Miami every year.
"My greatest desire is for us to have a sense of love and compassion for those who work on ships seven days a week providing for their families," he said. "We have to take advantage of the opportunity to tell them about Jesus. It's an opportunity to touch the world without leaving home."
After several attempts to get others interested in a ministry at the port, Bailey decided to quit trying.
"I told the Lord that I was through trying to do something in Miami, but I promised, 'If anyone invites me to Miami to start a ministry, I will go,'" he wrote in the Space Coast Seafarers Ministry summer newsletter.
Chuck Dewing, a retired United Evangelical Church missionary to the Philippines now living in Pinellas Park, shared Bailey's concern for the Port of Miami. The two ministers to seafarers often conversed about the needs there. When Dewing and his wife Joan travelled with their church's youth group to Miami in July, they persuaded the group to visit -- and to prayerwalk -- the port.
The group of 21 youth from Suncoast Cathedral Assembly of God walked by dozens of buildings on the port property and stopped in front of an empty building with a sign, "Norwegian Seaman Union." Dewing told the Florida Baptist Witness he asked the group to surround the building and to pray that it would one day be home to a ministry to seafarers.
On a visit to a nearby crew store, Dewing asked about the empty building. The clerk directed him to its owner, Hany Ayoub. When Dewey told him about the youths' prayers, Ayoub replied, "I wish someone would come to minister to the seafarers here. Do you know somebody I could ask to come?"
Dewing gave him Dan Bailey's name and number.
"It is amazing to see how God works. We can work for years, and He can do it in an instant. This is a situation only God could have set up," Dewing said.
Meanwhile, Bailey had forgotten about his promise to God. He continued to build the ministry at Port Canaveral even during a personally trying time in which his beloved wife Carlyle, 54, died June 17 after a long illness.
"She was a great pastor's wife and chaplain's wife. The Lord chose to take her home early," he said.
Forty days after his wife's death, Hany Ayoub called Bailey. At first Bailey thought Ayoub, who owns several crew stores and a restaurant at Port Miami, was asking him to rent a building from him. Instead, Ayoub was offering the space for ministry.
"During this conversation, the Lord reminded me of my promise, but I was expecting a call from a Baptist association or a Baptist church -- not from a businessman," he said.
Within hours of the men's conversation, Bailey headed to Miami to look over the situation. Ayoub, a member of the Egyptian Orthodox Church, worked to persuade Bailey to come to Miami for the sake of the seafarers who needed a ministry there.
Bailey talked through the offer with his daughters: Anna, a middle school teacher in Kendall; Clara, a freshman at Palm Beach Atlantic University; and Sarah, who works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Bailey agreed to keep the family home in Brevard County, but to "step out in faith" to move to Miami, he said.
"While my wife was sick, and I was gone from the ministry so much, I saw that they can do this without me, and now I have an opportunity to do something brand new," Bailey said.
Unlike the ministry at Port Canaveral that has three full-time staff members, 80 volunteers and a budget of $289,000, the Port Miami ministry will begin with only an L-shaped modular building that will house a chapel and a library of Bibles and evangelistic materials in common languages. Bailey will have access to crew stores and to a Filipino restaurant near the ministry building.
"I will walk around as a chaplain in these places—not as an administrator like I am here, but more as a pastor," he said.
Bailey also hopes to have access to visiting ships since many of the ships have the same parent companies.
"Every port is different, and once I get there, I will see what is needed at Port Miami," he said.
Bailey may live in Miami Baptist churches' mission homes, or rent an apartment near the port. Brevard Baptist Association will continue to pay for his annuity and medical insurance. Ayoub, family and friends also will contribute to Bailey's support.
The Florida Baptist Convention has agreed to contribute to the Miami Port ministry, and the Miami Baptist Association will endorse the ministry. Bailey will visit and solicit support from churches in Miami.
He said the ministry will need "volunteers to hang out at the port and pass out information cards to the seamen." He asked Baptists all over the Sunshine State to pray for and to support the new ministry.
"Baptists believe in missions, and once they see internationals accepting Christ and their families being changed, I think they will want to be a part of it," he said.
For more information, e-mail Baild3@aol.com, or write International Seafarers Ministry, c/o Rev. Dan Bailey, 1180 S. American Way, Miami, FL 33132. The Florida Baptist Chaplains Network provides information about other chaplaincy ministry in the Sunshine State.
This article appeared in the Florida Baptist Witness (gofbw.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention. Carolyn Nichols is a newswriter for the Florida Baptist Witness.
Former 'bad kid' leaves
N.C. to start church
By K. Allan Blume
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Biblical Recorder) -- Matt Chewning is not your typical Southern Baptist church planter. He did not grow up in a Christian home. He did not grow up in the South. He did not get a seminary degree. And he has only been a believer for 12 years.
But, with the North American Mission Board's (NAMB) support, Chewning leads Netcast Church, "the fastest growing church plant among Southern Baptists in greater Boston," according to Curtis Cook, the Boston City coordinator with NAMB and pastor of Hope Fellowship Church in Cambridge.
Three years ago God gave Matt and Beth Chewning an unlikely vision to reach Boston with the Gospel. He left the financial security of a successful business to become an intern at 1.21 Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. Within a year they moved to the North Shore of Boston to begin the church planting process. Today he is the lead pastor of Netcast in Beverly, Mass., with more than 400 in worship.
Chewning described growing up in New Jersey: "I didn't have any Christian influence in my life whatsoever. My parents were not believers -- my Mom is Jewish, my dad is Catholic. My parents split up when I was 4."
He was recruited to play basketball at East Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass., near Boston. "I had no real reason to go to this school," he said. "It is a Christian college, and they asked me if I was a Christian. I said, 'I think I am because my Mom is Jewish.' I had no concept whatsoever of spirituality or Christianity or Jesus."
Chewning was quickly labeled the bad kid because, "I had a really bad mouth and a bad New Jersey attitude -- totally different than most of these kids, who grew up in Christian homes."
A fellow player on the team made an impression on Chewning. "He was one of those guys who was not weird, but definitely loved Jesus. I built a friendship with him and asked him one day what it meant to be saved. ... He explained it to me and in that moment ... I stopped and received Jesus. I became a Christian on Sept. 11, 2000," he said.
There was some immediate transformation in his life. His language changed and his desires shifted. But he struggled with understanding what was wrong with some of his old lifestyle. In the middle of that internal conflict, Chewning admitted, "I wore a mask for a while, trying to pretend I was more spiritual than I actually was, because I was in an environment where if you're a Christian you're supposed to look a certain way.
"About four years later ... I began to understand grace and the difference between walking with Christ and living the law."
After graduation from college he began to climb the corporate ladder -- living in Boston for two years and five years in Greensboro, N.C.
They settled into Daystar Church and began serving in the church's youth ministry. The ministry grew rapidly from 30 to 500 students in about a year. That opened up unusual opportunities for Chewning to invest in the lives of young people and get a feel for what ministry looked like.
He said, "I was making really good money, and I thought that is what I would do forever. ... God began to stir my heart for ministry and more specifically, church planting."
One night he was wrestling with a feeling that the Lord was calling him into full-time ministry. "It freaked me out to be honest, because there was no money , and I felt like money was very important at that time," he said.
"I went to bed that night and I had a dream that I was literally planting a church in the Boston area. I didn't think much of it. Then the next night I had the same dream. We were actually starting a church in Boston Commons, which is in the heart of the city. I had the same dream from different angles for five days straight.
"On the fifth day I asked my wife, 'Honey, if God was going to call us to plant a church, where would He call us?' She rolled her eyes and kinda huffed and said, 'He'd probably call us to the Boston area again.'"
Startled, he told her about his dreams.
He shared the idea with four pastors in the church, admitting that he and his wife were young and not ready to do this. The church leaders worked with them and about a year later they gave the Chewnings their blessings to redirect their lives into church planting.
On the move
"I quit my job in 2009 and became a full-time intern at 1.21 Church in Winston-Salem. My goal was to study church planting, pray through some of the specifics and raise money," he said. They moved to Boston in September 2010.
They went with the intentions of meeting and loving their neighbors. Chewning said, "We had the mind set of 'we're not necessarily trying to plant a church - we're trying to plant the gospel.' The greater Boston area is about 98 percent lost."
Jesus was the primary message of every conversation with their neighbors. "Within 30 days we had what we called the 'vision night' on Oct. 10, 2010." That night they shared with their friends and neighbors why they moved to Boston. They were surprised when 30 people showed up. A month later they had a similar event and 40 people came.
Since their home was too small, they explored venue options and settled at the YMCA. They launched the church Jan. 23, 2011, with 120 people.
"It blew our minds," he said. "A lot of college students were coming, and we were shocked with that, because say that college students don't care about church."
They tried to get the people plugged into community groups and worked to sharpen up the service. "I had never preached two weeks in a row, so I didn't know what that meant. I'm trying to learn what it looks like to pastor a church and be a communicator of the gospel, at the same time, planting a church."
He said the church has baptized more than 20 people the first year, and about 20 are awaiting baptism now.
They outgrew the YMCA facility, so a middle school became the church's home. Again they grew from 120 to about 225 people by February of this year. By the first week in September more than 400 people attended the service.
"We didn't expect this to happen so fast," Chewning said. "We're only 18 months old."
Not about numbers
Are numbers the true gauge of success? Not according to Netcast Church.
"We really try to gauge our effectiveness - not by numbers - but by the presence of the Holy Spirit in what we do," Chewning said. "Our goal is to not be able to explain everything that happens in our church through systems, programs and organizational charts. We really want to do those things well, but we want to look at what we are doing as a church and ask, 'has the Holy Spirit fallen on us? Has the Holy Spirit done things that we can't explain?'"
Chewning said he has great appreciation for North Carolina Baptists and NAMB, which provides monthly support through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. "I want to share the victory of how God has used different N.C. Baptists to significantly impact a little local church like Netcast Church in New England," Chewning said.
"NAMB has been incredible to us in their encouragement, support and love - not just for me, but my entire family and the church - this has been huge," he added. "In New England you feel a sense of isolation because there are not a lot of churches. Micah Millican (director of church planter relations for NAMB) calls to check on us. Jeff Christopherson (vice president for NAMB work in Canada and New England) comes to talk with us. This reminds us ... there are people who are behind us. These little things are huge in the life of a church planter."
Michael Sowers, who leads the office of Great Commission Partnerships with Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), strongly affirms the work in Boston.
He said, "The BSC partnership with Boston is laser focused on helping connect N.C. Baptist churches with planters like Matt Chewning. God is blessing Matt with a platform to share the gospel in an area that is practically unreached. N.C. Baptist churches who partner with Boston planters help accelerate the fruit that is being seen already and further cultivate gospel communities in Boston."
NAMB's city coordinator for Boston, Curtis Cook, added, "N.C. has been a huge and tremendous partner with the work in Boston - really engaged, helpful, motivated, significant follow through. We just can't say enough about what a great partner N.C. has been and the difference it is making in Boston with multiple church plants."
According to Cook the greatest need in the N.C. partnership is for churches to commit to a partnership for two to five years.
"We need churches who say, 'we want to walk with you, we want to know you, pray specifically for you ... share in your victories and challenges, bring mission teams, support you financially.
"The most fruitful partnerships we have seen are those that share a mutual, ongoing commitment, and walk with a church plant for several years. ... Those are the churches that help these church plants get on a solid foundation."
To find out about the church, visit netcastchurch.org; for information about N.C. Baptist's partnership with Boston, visit ncbaptist.org/boston.
(EDITOR'S NOTE - If your church is interested in partnering with a Great Commission church plant, contact Mike Sowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This article appearead in the Biblical Recorder (brnow.org), newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. K. Allan Blume is editor of the Biblical Recorder.
Revival fire helps East Fork
Baptist plunge into baptisms
By Holly Jo Linzay
KENTWOOD, La. (Baptist Message) -- A fire of revival breaking out in East Fork Baptist Church brought in 47 new members during the last three months.
"God is up to something at our church," said Mike Shumock, pastor of East Fork Baptist Church in a rural community just outside of Kentwood.
"The Lord is moving in a mighty way," the pastor continued. "Of the 47 people He has added to our church, 25 of them got saved and baptized. Things are really hopping at our church. There's been an explosion."
Recently, the pastor baptized 18 people, all dressed in white robes, in the Tangipahoa River in the East Fork community. The baptism drew a large crowd, with one little girl telling her mother it looked like "angels were in the river," Shumock noted.
The spark of revival at his church flamed to life in late June, shortly after Vacation Bible School. The church members had been praying for revival for months.
"We even had a prayer vigil asking the Lord to send revival no matter what the cost. We were asking the Lord to pour out a blessing on us, and we were really seeking His face," Shumock said.
East Fork then held a revival service, and the people were packing out the church every night. After the revival service, Shumock began preaching on having an authentic relationship with the Lord. It was at a church worship service in late June when a 23-year-old woman seemed to ignite the passion of Christ in the church body with her testimony.
"She was under conviction of the Lord and said she had been baptized at 8 years old, but knew she was 'lost,' and said she wanted to get saved and take care of it right then," Shumock explained.
Because of VBS decorations covering the baptistry, the pastor baptized her that day in the Tangipahoa River.
"She had a life-changing experience," Shumock said, adding that her profession of faith touched the hearts of many and people started walking down the aisle expressing the need for God to change their lives.
In July, the church's youth group attended camp at Tall Timbers and 10 made a profession of faith.
"The youth came back from camp so pumped up and so on fire," said Dana Hendry, a Sunday School teacher and children's choir director at East Fork Baptist Church.
She said the youth group has grown and has not let the "fire" go out either.
"The youth didn't burn out just after a few weeks. There has been a revival among them, some eye-opening experiences. They even started a youth praise band," Hendry added.
The "fire of revival blazing" in the youth group caught on in the children, the pastor said. They conducted their own RA and GA camp, and six children asked Jesus into their hearts during the camp.
"After that, things have kind of exploded. Adults in the community started hearing about what's been happening here at our church and have been coming," Shumock said.
The Lord is being lifted up at East Fork Baptist, Hendry said, and He is drawing people to the church.
"The Holy Spirit has definitely been moving. You can feel the Holy Spirit on you. You can feel the fire," Hendry said, adding that the Spirit is manifesting within the church body by reaching out to the community in a number of ways.
The youth group has cleaned up the yards of several widows and shut-ins, the RA boys have washed the cars of widows, the adult groups of the church have been involved in many aspects of disaster relief and the children's choir has started singing at the local nursing homes. The youth band has started leading worship on Sunday nights.
Michael Bracy, who had not gone to church since the early 1970s, said he met Hendry when he was giving out vegetables from his garden to the community.
"I realized there was something different about Dana. She just seemed to have this inner glow. I wanted that," Bracy said, adding that he joined the church about two months ago.
Bracy was one of the 18 who was recently baptized in the Tangipahoa River.
"I have an inner peace now within myself," he said. "I feel like I have found my home after being out of church for more than 40 years. Everyone there is warm, welcoming and full of the Spirit. You can see the light of the Lord in their lives."
This article appeared in the Baptist Message (baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Holly Jo Linzay submitted this piece as a special report to the Baptist Message.
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