Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
Baptist & Reflector (Tennessee)
Baptist New Mexican
NC Baptist Men involve
thousands in ministry, missions
By Melissa Lilley
CARY, N.C. (Biblical Recordoer) -- They are called the "poorest of the poor" and shunned by society, yet North Carolina Baptists are embracing the Roma people with compassion as they extend the love of Christ.
Through North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) volunteer teams, the Roma, or Gypsy people, in Romania and Hungary are receiving medical care, food, clothing and, most importantly, the gospel.
"They are so persecuted and despised, but God is working among them in a great way," said Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director-treasurer. "They show their emotions so much; their church services are so vibrant."
This year has been a banner year for NCBM (men, women, students), with thousands of volunteers involved in missions and ministry. Outreach among the Roma people expanded with the launch of the Roma Bible School in January.
Craig Hamlin, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, directs the school, which completed its third semester in September.
"I got involved with the school simply by taking a mission trip to serve among the Roma people. Through that, God just opened my heart to the need for these pastors to be educated," Hamlin said.
About 30 pastors from Romania, Hungary and Ukraine have committed to completing the three-year course of study. Hamlin and other North Carolina Baptist pastors are volunteering their time to travel and teach courses such as Old Testament, pastoral ministry, biblical interpretation, church history and apologetics.
"These pastors are taking everything we are teaching them and taking it back to their people and teaching them. Most of the people in the Gypsy camps can't read or write very well, so the pastors are the primary leaders in their village or camp," Hamlin said. "They live very difficult, mundane lives. This school gives the pastor something to look forward to; something to hope in."
Romania is just one of many opportunities to serve internationally through NCBM. Paul Langston, director of missions for Eastern Baptist Association, has participated in four mission trips to Haiti in the last three years following the January 2010 earthquake.
"What caught my attention is the tremendous poverty in Haiti, and the awareness the earthquake created that voodoo is a failure. The power of voodoo in Haiti is being broken," he said. "The Haitians are reaching and grasping for hope, and we can help. We can help make an eternal impact."
Langston's work in Haiti led Brunson to ask him to lead a new ministry team called "Least of These," focusing on providing financial support for ministries led by locals in Haiti, Kenya, India, Armenia and Gaza.
"We want to support nationals as they do ministry and encourage them," Langston said.
Internationally, NCBM volunteers also served this year in Honduras, Cuba and Guatemala. Teams led Vacation Bible Schools, sports camps and medical/dental clinics; helped with construction projects; and shared the gospel door-to-door in villages. In Guatemala, teams are helping build a community health clinic and leadership training center, and renovating a children's home.
Through the end of September, NCBM volunteers have served 187,854 patients in medical clinics in Haiti since January 2010. The more than 1,400 volunteers have seen 1,752 people profess faith in Jesus Christ.
This year volunteers continued helping with disaster relief needs in Pamlico County related to Hurricane Irene. Since 2011, 122 homes have been rebuilt and 8,490 volunteer days recorded.
Although North Carolina Baptists stepped up to serve New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy, volunteers are still needed to help with construction projects such as installing insulation and sheetrock, painting and trim work.
In addition to serving through disaster relief, men, women and student volunteers participated in 13 ministries sponsored by NCBM, including medical/dental, aviation, church renewal and agricultural ministry.
A popular ministry opportunity each year is Deep Impact -- a weeklong mission camp for middle and high school students. This year 1,606 students and adult leaders served in mission projects in 13 locations, from Cuba and Honduras to New York and Charlotte.
Tracey Ford, a leader with Good News Baptist Church in Greensboro, has served four years with Deep Impact.
"To see the students' excitement is incredible. They could be doing anything else in the summer, but they come year after year," she said. "You can tell that some are being stretched outside their comfort zones. It's inspirational."
Through Transform122, about 150 college students served in missions this year. Students served across the state and internationally in Cuba and Ethiopia.
College students also served in the communities surrounding Red Springs and Shelby, where NCBM sponsor mission camps.
"The purpose of the camps is to reach others through Christ through missions and to get the churches involved in missions," said Eddie Williams, Shelby camp coordinator.
In addition to local and international missions, NCBM volunteers served this year in national ministry efforts in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, the Appalachian Coalfields and the Rocky Mountain region.
Brunson said he is grateful for the support of North Carolina Baptists this year in ministry projects, and prays that individuals and churches will begin thinking about involvement in 2014.
"I pray that more people would be willing to go and to step out of their comfort zone; to take a risk for God," he said.
"There are so many people in the pew who don't think they can do anything. We want them to see that they have things in their hands God can use. We pray that they will be open to release what they have so God can take it and use it."
To learn more about NCBM, visit www.baptistsonmission.org or contact Richard Brunson firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 395-5102 ext. 5597. NCBM ministries are supported through the North Carolina Missions Offering.
This article appeared in the Biblical Recorder (brnow.org), newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Melissa Lilley is research/communications coordinator for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (www.ncbaptists.org).
By Lonnie Wilkey
SELMER, Tenn. (Baptist & Reflector) -- The goal of the Judgement House which has been held by First Baptist Church here for the past 10 years is not to scare people into making decisions for Jesus Christ, leaders of the effort agree.
"Our goal is to help people see they are one breath away from where they will spend eternity and there are decisions they have to make," said John Chandler, minister of youth at FBC and co-coordinator of Judgement House, along with church members Missy Whitaker and Tracy Whitaker.
Jackie Suggs, a church member who coordinates counselors for the event, agreed. "It is done to help you realize that life is fragile and you have to make a choice for Jesus Christ."
Missy Whitaker noted that every scene is a story about something that has to take place before a person experiences the judgment seat of Christ. Death is a part of that, she said.
"We try to be sensitive," she said, adding that they put disclaimers on their promotional material that the event is not recommended for children under 10 years of age.
"We do it in a non-threatening and non-intimidating way," Suggs agreed. He added that people are given an opportunity to respond and meet with counselors at the event before they leave.
The annual event has gained in popularity since its beginning in 2004. Over the 10-year period, 15,723 people have attended (including a record 1,933 this year) and there have been 769 recorded professions of faith, including a record high of 143 this year. The numbers average out to slightly more than 1,500 people each year and about 76 professions of faith annually.
Over the past 10 years the church has used 10 different themes. This year's theme was "Where There's Smoke, There's Fire."
FBC is authorized to produce the event by Judgement House, a national ministry based in Clearwater, Fla., which equips local churches to create a walk-through gospel presentation concerning the truth of people's choices versus the earthly and eternal consequences, according to the entity's website.
While Judgement House is considered a youth ministry, it involves the entire church, leaders agreed.
Whitaker said it takes about 150 volunteers each year to make the event happen. Planning for the late October event usually begins in late June or July, she added.
In addition to the actors, set construction and prayer support, volunteers are needed for registration, promotion/advertising, security, meals and snacks for the volunteers, and more.
While the youth make up the largest portion of the cast, adults are also needed for the drama, Whitaker said.
It's truly a churchwide effort, Suggs said. "We work together, pray together, and rejoice together over the decisions," he said.
"This is one of the biggest evangelistic events we do each year," Suggs added.
Chandler said Judgement House provides an opportunity for the church's youth to share the gospel and witness through the use of drama.
This year's Judgement House utilized 50 youth over the four nights the event was held. "I stress to them that each one of them has a part in sharing the gospel," Chandler said.
"This is a unique way for them to present the gospel in a skit and they take it seriously," he added.
Whitaker agreed. "The youth enjoy this and they have fun, but they realize why they are doing it," she said.
Suggs observed the youth's participation helps them to grow spiritually as they present the gospel message through the various scenes.
The leaders agreed that Judgement House has helped to unify the church in a common purpose of reaching out with the gospel message of Christ.
"It has motivated our church members to share the gospel in our community," the youth minister observed.
Suggs noted that while some members of the church have accepted Christ as a result of Judgement House, the majority of the salvation decisions come from outside the church.
The event reaches across denominational lines and well beyond Selmer and McNairy County, the leaders said.
In addition to the church's community, Judgement House has drawn church groups of all denominations from Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, and other parts of the state.
Those attending are encouraged to come in groups and to make reservations, but individuals can attend and they will be worked into a group.
What makes the event personal is that FBC gets the name of every member in the group when they register. Those names are provided to the "judge" who calls out each person in the group, Chandler said.
"People who have not attended before are shocked to hear their name called out," Whitaker laughed.
The "judge" tells them that while this is not their time, they need to be prepared to make a decision about where they will spend eternity, he added.
There is no way to truly portray what heaven or hell is really like but "we can portray the reality that everyone has a choice on where to spend eternity," Chandler said.
After the last scene, they are taken to the sanctuary where they are presented a gospel tract and an invitation is given. For those who make decisions, they can visit with a counselor, Suggs said.
The church does follow up by contacting people who made decisions when appropriate and sends the names of those who made decisions to the churches listed by people on their registration cards.
Because it is so labor and volunteer intensive, the leaders agreed that they entertain thoughts of not doing the event every year, but those thoughts vanish after they see the results each year.
"It is a lot of work but it is so worth it," Whitaker said.
Suggs agreed that while the event is tiring, "it's very rewarding when you see folks make a decision for Jesus Christ."
This article appeared in the Baptist & Reflector (http://www.tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist & Reflector.
131 receive Christ
HOBBS, N.M. (Baptist New Mexican) -- Taylor Memorial Baptist Church in Hobbs led an evangelistic crusade Sept. 15-18, recording sizable numbers in attendance and baptism.
"In one week's time, over 2,200 people came through these doors to hear the gospel preached," said Andrew Hebert, the church's lead pastor. The church saw 131 people come to faith in Christ and baptized 36, with many more scheduled for baptism in the coming weeks.
The church hosted a "Discover Joy Crusade" with evangelist Scott Camp. It began with "friend day" on Sunday morning, to which members invited lost friends to hear a message about Jesus.
The crusade included services every evening with a focus on different groups. Sunday night focused on men and began with a meal where nearly 250 lost men came to hear the testimony of Robert Borelli, an ex-Mafia member who has trusted Christ. Monday night had a focus on women, with a special guest speaker and dinner for ladies. Tuesday night focused on children, with a magic show for children that preceded the service. The crusade concluded with "Student Night" on Wednesday, when 60 junior high, high school and college students came to faith in Christ.
The church mobilized its members to blanket Hobbs with the gospel during the week, and staff members were able to visit schools in the city and promote the crusade among students and teachers.
Asked about the impact of the crusade on the city, Hebert said, "This has been the most fruitful week of my entire ministry. We've seen entire families come to faith in Christ and get baptized together.
"We've seen friends who came to watch someone get baptized trust Christ and get baptized the next night," he said. "I will tell my children and grandchildren about this week. God moved in a powerful way."
"The most exciting moments for me was when I saw people gathering at the church early on Sunday morning to pray for the lost and then when the friends I brought trusted Christ and were baptized," said one of the church's members. Since Hebert was called as pastor one year ago, the church has added more than 150 new members, more than 80 by baptism.
Taylor Memorial is a multi-ethnic, multi-generational church that focuses on multiplying disciples.
This article appeared in the Baptist New Mexican, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico (bcnm.com).
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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