Arkansas Baptist News
The Christian Index (Georgia)
Baptist & Reflector (Tennessee)
Ark., Ga. churches
By Tim Yarbrough
MOUNTAIN PINE, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) -- A coincidental meeting in 2010 in Alabama of two mission-minded congregations -- one from Arkansas and the other from Georgia -- has had a far-reaching impact on the churches' respective mission fields and work of cooperation.
When Veal Baptist Church of Roopville, Ga., traveled to Mountain Pine July 15-19 as a part of a five-year partnership that stemmed from their Alabama meeting, it blessed the churches far more than ever imagined.
The mission week was a combined effort of both the Georgia and Arkansas churches that averaged about 50 in morning worship.
Leaders of the churches met in Bayou La Batre, Ala., while serving on the same mission project through Youth Works, according to Darren Green, pastor of First Baptist Church, Mountain Pine.
"Immediately, our two mission teams meshed together in personalities and in vision of missions," the pastor explained.
"At that time, we decided to enter into a five-year mission partnership, with Veal sending a team to work in the Mountain Pine area in 2011 and 2013 (and with) Mountain Pine sending a team to work in the Roopville area in 2012 and 2014. (We) tentatively plan for our teams to combine in 2015 to serve in the Anchorage, Alaska, area."
Before the mission week began, teams from the churches went to Hot Springs to share a meal together. As they walked into a restaurant, they were presented with an opportunity to share Jesus with a man who was apparently homeless.
"When the teams arrived at the restaurant, they encountered a homeless man sitting outside on the curb," said Green, adding, "(He) was actually a co-worker of mine that none of the team members from either church knew. He was complete with dirty, smelly clothes, unshaven for over a week, dirty knapsack with an alcohol bottle sticking out of it.
"When team members noticed him, they immediately began to discuss ways to help him, and many of them approached him to invite him in to eat with us and witnessed to him. He politely declined the offer and soon wandered off once everyone was inside."
Green added, "The teams were very surprised when he - clean shaven and well-dressed- (and) his wife and son were pointed out the next morning during the sermon, which was on the good Samaritan, and realized that he had been a part of a pre-illustration to the message and to the mission week.
"I gave the teams an A-plus on how they handled the encounter with him on the curb."
When the workweek started, volunteers from the churches - numbering 26 strong - fanned out across the Mountain Pine community near Lake Ouachita, doing everything from light construction inside and outside of area residents' homes to installing carpet inside First Baptist's youth room - as well as other odd jobs.
Team members stayed at the church, sleeping on air mattresses in Sunday school rooms and in the church's fellowship hall. Church members opened their homes to team members so they could shower.
"(They) made sure that the teams had a hot meal waiting for them each evening for dinner," said Green, adding that each day started and ended with devotion time, along with team-building activities.
The theme for the week was LOVE: Sharing God's Love with the Community, said Green, and that's exactly what they did.
Projects included the following:
-- A young couple with three small children, who were not members of the church, saw their bathroom floor replaced, bedroom floors repaired, ceiling and wall drywall in several rooms replaced, work done in their kitchen and a new cookstove installed.
-- An elderly couple, who were not church members, saw their two porches rebuilt, a wheelchair ramp rebuilt, a kitchen floor replaced, drywall repaired and work around exterior doors to seal gaps completed.
-- A single mother and adult son with Down syndrome, who were not church members, had extensive amounts of drywall work in their ceilings and walls replaced, bedroom floors repaired, as well as electrical work and painting done.
"Being able to go to each other's location helps make a difference in the community, but just as importantly, it teaches that person how to do something," said Sabrina White, Veal Baptist team leader. "(That) has been the greatest blessing for all of us."
This article originally appeared in the Arkansas Baptist news (http://www.arkansasbaptist.org/), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.
Going to Guatemala
with the Gospel
By J. Gerald Harris
DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. (The Christian Index) -- Under the leadership of Kevin Williams, First Baptist Church Douglasville's student ministry is far more than fun and games. In fact, the middle school and high school students are called not only to commitment to Christ, but to an extreme surrender to Him.
The student ministry flies under the banner of Xtreme Life 1010. The 1010 part of the name is a reference to John 10:10 where Jesus promised not just life, but an abundant life to those who follow Him.
As many as 200 students come to FBC Douglasville on Sunday morning to study God's Word; and Williams recently reported that 250 often come to the Wednesday evening worship service he plans for the students.
Many of Williams' students are growing stronger in their faith and commitment to Christ and those who are willing are called upon to go to the next level of commitment, which is called Souled Out.
Over the years the Souled Out students have become involved in missions. They started with a mission trip to Savannah, then to Washington, then to Philadelphia for two summers and they have just returned from a mission trip to Guatemala.
There were 175 originally signed up for the Guatemala mission trip, but the requirements and cost of the trip eliminated about one-third of those who initially indicated an interest in participating in this summer's mission to Central America. However, there were 120 people - mostly students - who set out with the mission team to Guatemala on June 3.
Those who qualified for the mission trip were required to meet every Sunday afternoon for three hours during the entire school year prior to the trip.
After the morning worship service the church ordered pizza for the students and they remained at the church for an hour of choir rehearsal under the direction of the church's minister of music, Danny Koonce, who teamed with Williams to prepare for and coordinate the mission venture. Following the music rehearsal the students were engaged in an hour of Bible study with an emphasis on sharing the Gospel and then an hour to hone their skills in one of eight teams preparing for the mission trip.
Among the teams were a drama group, a musical ensemble, a sticks team (using long dowels), a puppet team, a food preparation team, Vacation Bible School teams, a medical team, witnessing teams, etc.
Prior to the mission trip to Guatemala, the Souled Out students were expected to engage in missions projects locally by assisting with such ministries as A Gift of Love Services, a benevolent ministry to the children of Douglasville. The Souled Out students of FBC were also urged to make a positive impact for Christ among their fellow students in the schools of Douglasville.
The cost of the trip was $1,600 per missionary, so the financial expense and the time commitment was not for the faint of heart or for those not willing to make a significant commitment to the missions effort.
Based on what happened in Guatemala through the ministry of the Douglasville missions team, Williams commented, "It cost a lot, but the prize was worth the price."
Garry Eudy, former pastor of Central Baptist Church in Douglasville, lived and served in Central American countries as an IMB missionary from 1978-1996. In 2009 Eudy sensed that God was calling him to mobilize volunteers to help fulfill the Great Commission. Since he knew the current needs and opportunities for volunteer missionary service in Guatemala, he helped coordinate the missions effort for the FBC Douglasville team.
Williams explained, "When Garry Eudy met us he said, 'I hope you see these people the way God sees them and that you will feel about these people the way God feels about them.'
"By the end of the week our students were hugging them and they were hugging our kids. It was obvious that love ruled - that love always wins out."
Williams exclaimed, "We were engaged in ministering the three cities: Guatemala City, San Pedro, and Santiago. In Guatemala City we were in three different schools teaching character education and the students did their presentations in drama and puppetry. In one school with 700 students there were 200 professions of faith.
"After the school presentation we went to a very poor section of the city to a park for a 'backyard' Bible study. Children came from everywhere to the park. The numbers increased every day. We gave them hospital-like bracelets to identify themselves as members of the Bible club and when we arrived each day the children would come from every direction holding up their arms to show their bracelets and indicating their participation in the Bible study.
"The medical team set up a makeshift clinic and ultimately saw a thousand patients, many of whom had parasites. There were two physicians, two nurses, and two pharmacists operating the clinic. Hundreds of prescriptions and vitamins were disbursed for those in need."
Zach Williams, summer intern at FBC and son of Kevin, ended up in the park with some of the Guatemalan students who were too old for the Vacation Bible School classes. He set up an Internet shop there and was able to share the Gospel via the translation options available on the Internet. He also won a young man to Christ who gave him a ride on a motorcycle.
Ansley Fowler, University of Georgia senior and summer student intern at FBC Douglasville, stated, "I knew there would be a language barrier in Guatemala. But I read in James 4:2-3 that so often that we have not because either we do not ask or we ask for selfish reasons. So, I prayed for God to break down those language barriers and that God would use me.
"The next thing I knew was that Garry Eudy was asking me if I would be willing to teach English in one of the schools in Guatemala. That was perfect, because they had to learn from me rather than me having to learn from them.
"It was awesome to see what God did through our students. He showed me that the Gospel is not limited by borders or languages."
Williams added, "On the last day we met in the park and gave away everything we had. Guatemalan mothers were crying and I asked, 'Why are they weeping?'
"The interpreter said, 'These people live in a dangerous area. No one ever comes here. You have given their children medicine, beaded bracelets, and much love. They are aware of what you have done.'"
Fowler concluded, "Kevin's first year here - 10 years ago - was my first year in the student ministry. This ministry is the best, not just because we have fun, but because this ministry has made a difference. The kids who have been in this ministry love the Lord and want to serve Him.
"The emphasis here will keep college students in church after college. The majority of my friends from this church are still involved in serving Christ."
This article appeared in The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. J. Gerald Harris is editor of The Christian Index.
Biker church plant
MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (Baptist & Reflector) -- A church that was begun here last November to reach people not going to church is seeing results.
First Baptist Church here took the initiative to help start Biker Church of Morristown.
"The purpose of Biker Church is to reach a segment of our community that may never enter First Baptist Church," said FBC pastor Dean Haun, who currently serves as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
In January Haun noted that the success of Biker Church affirms Harvest Plants, an emphasis of the TBC which encourages churches to start small groups or new congregations to reach folks not currently being reached by the church.
Biker Church has grown since it started. The church meets on Thursday nights and now has more than 100 each week. The church now has begun services on Sunday morning as well, led by Pastor Ray Slater. Slater said that between the two services attendance ranges between 160-180 each week.
In July the church baptized 19 new converts and an additional two people on Sunday, Aug. 4.
Haun has been amazed at how well the new church has started.
"We believed that God wanted us to do this. He gave us the opportunity to purchase a former flower shop as the place to begin the ministry," Haun related.
"He gave us Preacher Ray, the man who could begin the ministry. But without the touch of God it would have failed.
"We had no idea God would bless this new ministry so quickly but that demonstrates what happens when God is in it and we are obedient to Him," Haun said.
Slater agreed. "I know God can do anything but I am amazed," Slater said.
"The Holy Spirit has opened up."
Slater noted the church has helped find homes and cars for homeless residents and provided food and other necessities as well.
Future plans for the Biker Church include providing drug and detox care and rehab, outdoor concerts and evangelism, and more. "It's amazing what God is doing here," Slater said.
This article appeared in the Baptist & Refector (http://www.tnbaptist.org/BRNews) newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
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.
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