FROM THE STATES: Ga., Mo., Ark. evangelism/missions news; 'The more I learned, the more I loved missions'

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jul 29, 2014 3:22 PM
Today's From the States features items from:

The Christian Index (Georgia)

The Pathway (Missouri)

Arkansas Baptist News

Hispanic WMU shows

steady growth in Georgia

By Jim Burton

RIVERDALE, Ga. (The Christian Index) -- There's a new and rapidly growing tea party movement in Georgia.

Relax. This party isn't about the Boston Harbor in 1773 or the next U.S. presidential election. This tea party is about establishing mission education in Georgia's Hispanic Baptist churches through Woman's Missionary Union (WMU).

Sandra Rice is the Georgia Baptist Convention's (GBC) Hispanic WMU consultant. The native Panamanian knows the power of relationships within the Latin culture.

"We have a ministry called, 'Let's have a cup of tea,'" Rice said. Along with members of her team, Rice will host a tea party for women at Georgia's Hispanic churches complete with decorated tables and nice serving sets.

"That has opened the door for us to get into a lot of churches," Rice said.

During the nearly four years that Rice has built and led a 13-member state Hispanic WMU planning team, she has found that mission education coupled with women's ministry is attractive to busy women.

"There are many Hispanic women in Georgia who are hungry for the Word of God," Rice said. At a recent weekend gathering at Camp Pinnacle, GBC's WMU state camp, 290 Hispanic women came from across the state for training and inspiration.

"Our prayer for these women is that they would know the Lord and go out of there with a desire to worship the Lord," Rice said.

Rice and her team fast and pray before any event. The result has been a growing multi-generational ministry. Her planning team includes 22-year-old Maria Gonzales and 12-year-old Susy Albernas, whom Rice calls "half an orange."

"The first time Susy got up , I thought the Bible was bigger than her," Rice recalled.

Albernas has a passion for Girls in Action (GA) and Acteens, WMU's children's and adolescent mission-education organizations, and encourages Hispanic churches to invest in those age groups.

Likewise, Gonzales spent years giving leadership to GAs and Acteens. Now, as a young working professional, her focus is on other college and career women. At the recent Hispanic WMU Camp Pinnacle event, Gonzales hosted 15 of her peers. Despite the long drives some had the night before to reach Camp Pinnacle in Clayton, each participated in a 5 a.m. prayer walk.

"It was all brand new for them and me, but very rewarding," said Gonzales about leading that age group.

Gonzales began training and working on the state level at 18. She has been a contributor to national WMU publications and shares Rice's vision to draw women closer to God by showing them God's purpose for them as women.

"My heart has always been in missions. I love working with females," Gonzales said.

Rice knows that most Hispanic women are no more aware of missions than she was in the 1970s when her husband served in the military at Fort Benning. A Hispanic church there emphasized WMU.

"I was never familiar with WMU," Rice said. "I got very interested in listening to the stories of the missionaries. The more I learned, the more I loved missions."

In 1995, Rice reluctantly returned to Panama for her first short-term international mission trip and spoke at a woman's conference. While there, a Southern Baptist missionary hosted her.

"This is where your offering money goes," the missionary said to Rice.

"Once you see something in front of you, it gets bigger," Rice said. "Every little bit that we give is used for God's kingdom. I made up my mind that I would never stop giving for missions."

WMU has long been the primary champion of Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program (CP) and its two annual mission offerings -- the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. Many of the Hispanic women now learning about missions through WMU don't have a Baptist background, or they come from Baptist churches that didn't emphasize mission education.

Rice recalls that during a recent annual promotion for the Lottie Moon offering, one person asked, "Didn't we give to that lady last year?" Through mission education, Hispanic women are learning about the mission legacy of Southern Baptist icons like Armstrong and Moon.

"WMU is contagious with the women," Rice said. "All of a sudden we're opening all of these doors. God is just reaching out. I am blessed that I'm part of that."

This article appeared in The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Jim Burton is a photojournalist living in Cumming, Ga.

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Teams find a world of

lostness in St. Louis, Kansas City

By Ben Hawkins

KANSAS CITY (The Pathway) -- A dozen interns sent out by the Missouri Baptist Convention are discovering a world of lostness in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Last month, these interns began a 10-week canvassing initiative, a joint project of the Missouri Baptist Convention, the North American Mission Board (NAMB), the International Mission Board (IMB), the Blue-River Kansas City Association and the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association. Through this project, which is funded by the Cooperative Program, these interns are finding answers about the populations of both cities: Where do lost people live? Did they move from overseas? What are their religious beliefs? Would they like to be part of a Bible study? Would they like to host a Bible study in their homes?

Applying lessons learned during last summer's canvassing project, the 2014 teams have already begun to establish Bible studies that may open doors to draw people to the gospel and that, someday, could possibly develop into churches. In fact, interns will try to start Bible studies only a week or two after hearing that a family is interested in hosting one in their home.

MBC Evangelism-Discipleship Strategist Mark Snowden, who envisioned this canvassing project, praised the commitment of the canvassing interns and of their team leaders, Andrew Heusing in Kansas City and Matt Clark in St. Louis.

"We're seeing young people engaging the lost and developing a heart for specific people groups on a level we've never seen before," Snowden said about the interns. "I believe the Lord could call them to work full-time among those (people groups they engage in the canvassing project) -– either here, in Kansas City and St. Louis, or overseas."

Many of the interns, in fact, know more than one language and have already served on mission projects overseas, Snowden said. Their skills and experience is advantageous as they interact with people from across the world who now live in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Heusing agreed. Because of their previous experience overseas, some interns in Kansas City have had the language skills and cultural understanding to research family ties among internationals and to interact with internationals at various religious centers. So far, the team estimates that nearly 8,000 Somalis, 7,000 south Sudanese, 200 Iraqis and as many as 20,000 Vietnamese live in Kansas City.

"We're getting a clearer and clearer picture of probably 23 people groups that have sizeable populations," Heusing said.

As they find information about various people groups living in both Kansas City and St. Louis, MBC interns report the information to www.peoplegroups.info. The canvassing project will come to a close at the end of July and beginning of August.

This article appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Ben Hawkins associate editor of The Pathway.

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Homebound woman

reaches around world

By Jessica Vanderpool

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) -- Doris McCall may be homebound, but her acts of service are reaching around the world.

McCall, who made a living as a seamstress for about 50 years, now makes dresses and shorts for teams to take on mission trips and donate to children.

McCall, who attends Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, when her health allows, has been homebound for several years due to a heart condition. In 2011, doctors gave her two years to live.

Now, three years later, McCall has regained her strength and is back to sewing for missions. She said that when she outlived the two years the doctors gave her, she knew God had restored her strength for a reason.

"And I said, 'I am not going to be caught sitting at home, wringing my hands. I'm going to stay busy if it's the Lord's will,'" said McCall. "And the Lord has blessed me with this, so I hope I can continue to sing His praises and not sit and cry and be on a pity party -- so that's the main reason I do it."

But even before falling ill, McCall was ministering through sewing -- making clothing for mission teams and making items like wall hangings and baby blankets to give away.

She began sewing for missions when First Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, needed seamstresses for a project they had become involved in called Children Hemmed in Prayer. The project provides clothing for children worldwide.

When McCall told her friend, Susie Hargis, about her participation in the project, Hargis requested McCall make garments she could take with her on mission trips. McCall obliged, and since then, Hargis -- a member of First Baptist Church, Monticello -- has gone on multiple mission trips with First Baptist Church, McGehee, and has taken many of McCall's garments with her.

"Doris is such an inspiration to me as I have participated in volunteer medical missions," Hargis said. "It is beyond excitement when the boys and girls in other countries receive a new dress or pair of shorts. This is most likely the first new item of clothing that they have received in their entire life, and it was made especially for them."

She added, "To see the children receive these 'gifts of love' touches my soul, and I am sure that God is smiling too! I just wish that Doris could see the reaction of the children when receiving her special gift for them."

McCall continues to sew for whatever mission teams may need garments. Because she is homebound, her neighbor -- Joe Burt, associational missionary for Red River Baptist Association -- picks up the garments and arranges for them to be sent with teams.

Since she began sewing for mission teams in 2006 or 2007, McCall estimates she has sewn about 2,000 garments.

"It's amazing what the Lord will lay on your heart to do," she said.

"Doris McCall ... is an example that everyone can do a part to be 'on-mission,'" Hargis said.

McCall's garments have gone to a number of countries, including Japan, Honduras, Haiti, Uganda and India.

"Sewing these garments for missions is what keeps her going," said Judy Vernor, McCall's daughter, who also attends Mt. Olive Baptist Church. "She lives for this. She's really got a talent she uses for the Lord."

McCall has seen God's hand in the ministry. As she regained her strength and decided to start sewing again earlier this year, she realized she was running low on fabric and didn't have the income to purchase more.

McCall recalled her prayer: "I said, 'If you're planning to keep me around another year or two, You've got to help me, Lord. ... I've got to have some help. You've got to show me what I can do and where I can get material.'"

Just a few days later, a neighbor knocked on McCall's door and said she knew a woman who would like to donate fabric to McCall. McCall estimates that in the last several months the woman has donated 1,000 yards of fabric.

Another woman donated about 100 yards of fabric.

In addition, McCall's daughter Darla Rhodes, who lives in Idaho, recently found a sale on sheets and pillowcases, which make good linings for the garments. McCall said she was surprised when she received the packages.

"The postman came and knocked on the back door, … and he had these two boxes. I said, 'What in the world?' They brought them in, and it was like Christmas in July," McCall said. "I could not get over it. ... We pulled those sheets out, and I absolutely could not help it. I could not control myself. I was just crying because I was so happy I had material I could sew with."

"You'd have thought she sent her a box of gold," Vernor said. "She'd rather have something to work on those dresses and shorts than something for herself."

Others have donated everything from thread, elastic and fabric to plastic-lined boxes and freezer bags for transportation.

"So don't tell me the Lord's not got a hand in this," McCall said. "He's been directing me and leading me a long time, but I can really see His hand in this."

McCall is not alone in ministering through sewing.

Members of Beirne Baptist Church, Beirne, make "pillowcase dresses." And along with McCall and First Baptist, Arkadelphia, a number of churches have been involved in Children Hemmed in Prayer. These churches are: First Baptist Church, Second Baptist Church, Mount Zion Baptist Church, Hollywood Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church and First Presbyterian Church, all in Arkadelphia; and First Baptist Church, Prescott.

"Their ministry puts a smile for Jesus on children's faces," said Burt, noting how excited the children are to get the clothes.

"It's just another mission adventure. We're always looking for more places to connect, and this is giving … another connection for a lot of our ladies who may never go to the mission field but their work is in the mission field. They've had a direct part in spreading the gospel through clothes. It's not just sending money over -- it's sending a part of them over."

This article appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. Jessica Vanderpool is assistant editor of the Arkansas Baptist News.

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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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