EDITOR'S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board's call to embrace the world's 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board's call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.
Today's From the States features items from:
The Christian Index (Georgia)
Florida Baptist Witness
The Pathway (Missouri)
Taking a spiritual
bite out of the Big Apple
By J. Gerald Harris
MARIETTA, Ga. (The Christian Index) -- In January 2007 The Christian Index announced that Patrick Thompson was joining the Georgia Baptist Convention staff as a Sunday School consultant.
Subsequently, he was asked to serve on the 20/20 Task Force to help chart a course for the future of the GBC and ultimately became a part of the team that helped develop the state convention's strategy for reaching more of the unchurched through five core initiatives that eventually became the Five Smooth Stones.
During the time Thompson was helping develop the new structure for re-organizing the GBC, God began impressing upon his heart the desire to become a church planter.
Thompson concluded, "People are moving into the cities, but churches are moving out of the cities into the suburbs. This doesn't seem right."
Patrick and Katie, his wife of 20 years, and their son, PJ, 14, and daughter, Natalie, 12, at first thought God just might want them to plant a church in Atlanta, but reasoned that it was not the right fit at the right time.
Thompson explained, "God seemed to close that door, but began to turn our hearts toward New York City. In the last two years I had been to New York five times - each trip to the city.
"In 2011 PJ turned 13 and we decided to let him choose where he wanted to go on a mission trip and he chose New York. We went to Long Island City and strangely agreed that if we ever lived in New York that LIC would be a good place to live."
No better place
"When we transitioned out of the GBC staff our family began to pray about what God would have us to do. I thought about going back on a church staff, but I knew that wasn't the direction God had for us.
"Then one day I got a call from Tim Wolfe (church planter with Urban Atlanta Church Planting) and he asked me if I had an interest in church planting in an urban center. He specifically asked, 'If you went to an urban center, where would you go?' I told him that New York would be the place I would plant a church."
Thompson continued, "Tim connected me with North American Mission Board missionary Steve Allen in New York. When I talked to Steve he asked me where I would like to plant a church and I told him Long Island City. Steve said, 'There would be no better place. There is almost no evangelical work there.'"
Long Island City is not to be confused with Long Island. LIC is located on the westernmost part of Queens on the East River. It is directly across from mid-town Manhattan and just one subway stop from Grand Central Station.
Life in the stroller capital
One of the distinct things about NYC is the amount of people located in the metropolitan area. Over 22 million people live in this area. That means 1 out of every 14 people in America live in NYC. There are over 66,000 people that live in every square mile of the city. It is also a place that has people from virtually every nation living within its boundaries. Over 170 languages are spoken daily in America's largest city.
Thompson specifically described LIC by saying, "It is experiencing explosive growth. Experts predict a population growth of over 20-30 percent in the next ten years. So many young families are flocking to the area that LIC has been called the 'stroller' capital of NYC and there are 56 different ethnic groups present in the 11101 zip code."
Thompson continued, "The people of NYC are searching for two things: (1) The people have a heart to serve. The events of 9/11 turned NYC into a community of service. Because of that I think they will understand our desire to invest in their lives. (2) The people of NYC desire relationships. Although millions of people live within miles of where we will be, NYC is the most isolated city in the world.
"But we will be starting from scratch. I will get a secular job and begin as a bi-vocational pastor. Katie is a dental hygienist. Our kids will be going to two different schools and they are as committed to this mission as we are. Each of us will be building relationship with a purpose - to reach people for Christ."
The Thompsons plan to move to New York in January and have already been looking for a place to live in LIC. So far they have looked at two 1,300-sq.-ft. apartments. One rents for $4,500 a month and the other for $6,000 a month. They will not be taking an automobile due to the high cost of parking in the city, but rather will rely on public transportation.
How to partner
In addition to raising funds for their own livelihood, the Thompsons are attempting to win support for their church plant that will include a homeless ministry and after-school programs that will require Bibles, musical instruments, and rental for a meeting place, which could cost as much as $15,000 a month for 2,000 square feet of space.
To date, 15 churches along with a team of individual supporters have agreed to help fund this church start in the Big Apple. Others who may want to be a part of this church plant may check the church website at www.new-citychurch.com.
This article appeared in The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. J. Gerald Harris is editor of The Christian Index.
FBCH packs clothes, diapers
and cribs for Guatemalan orphans
By Amy Wiggins
LAKELAND, Fla. (Florida Baptist Children's Homes) -- Florida Baptist Children's Homes staff and board members met inside a shipping container recently to inventory and load donated diapers and clothing into a shipping container headed to the Malnutrition Center in San Juan, Guatemala.
The center, in partnership with Orphan's Heart, provides food, clothing, housing and medical care for underprivileged children. Volunteers also loaded cribs Florida churches dropped off for FBCH to transport overseas. Many of the cribs are in almost-new condition but can no longer be used in the U.S. due to changes in safety standards.
Along with the diapers and clothing, the cribs will also go to the Malnutrition Center, which cares for 80 severely malnourished and at-risk children. Surplus cribs will be shared with other international orphanages and communities supported by the Orphan's Heart ministry.
Julie Boyd, FBCH vice president for development and communications, hopes by offering to export the cribs, FBCH can help churches alleviate the shortage of cribs many international orphanages face. The cribs will also replace unsafe cribs several of these orphanages are still using.
When FBCH and Orphan's Heart became involved with the Malnutrition Center four years ago, Boyd said that many of the center's cribs were in substandard condition and covered in lead paint. Orphan's Heart replaced those cribs and has made several other improvements to the facility.
Boyd said that many international orphanages continue to use older cribs and those in poor working order because they are unaware of the dangers they pose to children. They may also lack the resources to replace the cribs with newer and safer models.
"All children deserve a safe place to sleep, and there is a tremendous need in Guatemala for cribs that meet today's basic safety standards," Boyd said. "With taking care of packaging and shipping the cribs, this is a wonderful opportunity for churches to provide safe cribs to children in need."
Churches and other organizations can drop off cribs at the FBCH Miami campus, located at 7748 SW 95th Terr. by Dec. 1. The FBCH Lakeland campus, located at 1015 Sikes Blvd., will serve as an alternate drop-off location and will accept cribs until Nov. 27.
According to Boyd, cribs must be less than 10 years old and in good condition. The cribs will be inspected before shipping, but churches should check the model number at www.recalls.gov to verify that cribs have not been recalled before donating them.
Board members indicated appreciation for the outpouring of support. They counted 33,701 donated diapers given in response to the recent FBCH diaper drive. Loading the shipping container with cribs and boxes full of donated items reminded the staff and board of the impact of those partnering with FBCH to make a difference in the lives of children in need.
FBCH president Jerry Haag has seen this difference first hand. "When I first visited the Malnutrition Center in 2008 with Orphan's Heart, the conditions the children were living in were heartbreaking," Haag said. "I remember seeing babies wearing dirty shirts secured with pieces of rope, as diapers."
Haag is thankful for the support the center receives, including diaper donations. Now, he said, the children are clean and comfortable with proper clothes and diapers to wear.
Board member Polly McCallum sorted and inventoried donated clothes and toys. She said that working together on a hands-on project helped her get to know the other board members and staff better. As she sealed the boxes, she thought about the kids at the Malnutrition Center in Gatemala.
"Just think, I might get to see a child in Guatemala dressed in one of the cute outfits we packed in Miami," McCallum said. She will be serving on a mission trip to the center in January with Orphan's Heart and First Baptist Church in Palatka.
Ron Gunter, FBCH vice president of international childcare, thanked the board members and staff for their hard work. "You helped us accomplish in one day what we couldn't have gotten done alone," he said. "I find that is true of this entire ministry. It's not about what we can do individually, but it's what we can do working together."
For more information on donating to FBCH or donating cribs for export, contact Julie Boyd at 863-687-8811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Florida Baptist Witness (gofbw.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention. Amy Wiggins is a member of the Florida Baptist Children's Homes board of trustees.
Three Missouri churches building
long-term relationships in Haiti
By Brian Koonce
BOREL, Haiti (The Pathway) -- What could pull Missourians to one of the poorest nations on earth three times in six months? Nothing but God.
Mila Ayers, a member of Second Baptist Church in Bowling Green, joined 17 others from her church, members of Desloge Baptist Church and Macon Baptist Church for a mission trip to Haiti in late October. This trip followed closely on the heels of an initial trip in June and a third coming up in this month.
They went to Borel, a city about 60 miles north of Port-au-Prince (although the ride to from the airport took nearly three hours in the back of a truck due to poor roads). Through the missionary contacts of Desloge Baptist, Ayers and the group split up in Haiti to cover more ground.
The men of the group went to Bon Repos and put a roof on a church that had been destroyed in the January, 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed about 200,000 people and left much of the country in ruin. The women stayed in Borel, walking through some of the poor areas leading a Bible study/craft time for 150 Haitian children. Then they packed everything up and joined the men in Bon Repos for more Bible studies and craft time. During the course of the trip, they gave out 300 Haitian Creole Bibles, 100 dolls to children and babies in two hospitals, and 100 "new-mom" kits.
"God has helped us build some really good relationships," Ayers said. "The people in our group have such a heart and burden for children. We're there for such a short time, but I feel like God is building it to where it's not just people coming, then leaving. We can't wait to go back and make it ongoing."
Ayers said they want to bring soccer balls for boys and jump ropes for girls later this month. They also hope raise enough money to provide each family attending Bible study a bag of rice.
They hope to make contacts with some orphanages to pave the way for a large group from Missouri returning June 2013.
This trip was extra special for Ayers, she said, because she was able to go with her husband and kids.
"It's a great blessing to do it together as a family," she said.
This article appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Brian Koonce is a staff writer for The Pathway.
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