At our annual meeting in October, we held a missions fair to help our churches focus on supporting God’s work through mission action. We had 20 groups present to share their ministries with our churches to give our churches some ideas how they can better focus their energy and resources in partnering with God in His mission to reach the world with the saving message of Christ. Over the next several months we will be sharing with you opportunities for your church to become more active in mission action. Our intent is to help you connect and participate in Baptist mission activity here and around the world.
IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT US!
God has called believers into a relationship with Him. Through that relationship we are assured of a home in heaven for eternity with the Lord. Once saved, though, we have some responsibility to fulfill. The Bible is clear that God wants us to work on His agenda to share Christ with others and help them grow into spiritual maturity. Many have misunderstood the focus of Christianity. It is not to make a comfortable place (church building) where we can go to hear a sermon and sing some songs, maybe give a little in the offering, and go home unchanged. The normal activities of a church are NOT to provide a comfort zone for believers. Our worship service and Bible study activities are meant to challenge us to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. The intention of worship is to help believers encounter God and His agenda so that we can adjust our lives to what He is doing. It is a time of praising God and drawing closer to Him IN ORDER TO BETTER PARTNER WITH HIM IN HIS WORK. If a believer misses that understanding, he/she is missing the whole purpose for our lives as followers of Christ.
The scripture is clear. Read Acts 1:7-8, Matthew 28:18-20, and 2 Corinthians 5:17-20. Our responsibility is to evangelize the nations. As we become obedient in following the Lord and partner with Him in His mission, He will bless us in ways we cannot even imagine. But even if we do not receive a blessing, we still have the responsibility to be obedient to our assignment as ministers to the nations.
I encourage you to plan to lead your church to greater mission involvement in 2014 and beyond. Lives will be changed. Every time I have participated in mission action, my life has been changed, and God has changed those to whom I was able to minister. Your church can be, and will be changed, as you become more obedient to Christ.
We are encouraging all of our churches to increase their participation in mission action. Southern Baptists have historically been strong supporters of all kinds of mission projects. So in 2014 we will be informing you of various missions projects. Here are a few to get started NOW:
1. Food Drive for two new East St. Louis Churches
Bethel Network, the church planting arm of our association, is planting churches in our association and in Metro East Baptist Association. Two new churches have started in East St. Louis: The Light of Christ Church, pastor Barnicio Cureton; and The Body of Christ Church, pastor Jarvis James. These two new churches are growing and are reaching people for Christ. They are ministering to a population that is in financial distress. They are finding that getting enough food for families is a big issue. Kids are going to school hungry; at the end of the month, food is scarce. At a recent meeting of the Bethel Network board, it was discussed that our two associations (GBA and MEBA) might hold a food drive to collect non-perishable items (canned goods and dry goods). The food would be delivered to these two churches, and they will provide this food to families as they share Christ with East St. Louis families during the Christmas season (a great time of the year to minister to others).
Here is what we are planning: We encourage your church to collect food items between now and Sunday, Dec. 8. We ask that you transport the food items to the GBA office on Dec. 9 (between 9am—1pm) or Dec. 10 (between 9 am—7 pm). (To arrange an alternative drop off date/time, please call our office.) We will transport the food to these two new churches on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
You might ask your Bible study groups to participate in this mission action to involve everyone in your church. Use this as an opportunity to respond to the needs of others!
2. Luncheon to discuss Ukrainian Mission Action
On Thursday, December 19, 11:00 am to 12:30 pm, we will be hosting a luncheon to hear from the president of Ukrainian Baptist Seminary from Lviv, Ukraine. Chip Faulkner and I traveled to Ukraine to teach and preach in churches and in the seminary. God is actively working through Slavik (the president of the seminary) as this new seminary impacts Western Ukraine. Come and hear what God is doing there and see if the Lord would have you be involved in mission action in a country that desperately needs Christ.
This luncheon is for pastors, staff, and any church leaders interested in missions. Please call our office by December 16 to make reservations for the meal. The cost of the meal for each attender will be $4.00, and GBA will pick up any additional cost.
Luncheon: Ukrainian Mission Action
Date: December 19, 2013; 11:00 am to 12:30 pm
Place: GBA Office
RSVP: 254-3953 by Dec. 16
3. African Vision of Hope—supporting seminary students in Zambia
African Vision of Hope was started several years ago by Bob and Judi Bertels, members of FBC Maryville. The ministry has grown tremendously over the past 10 years. The Lord is working through this ministry to further the cause of Christ in Zambia, Africa. Part of the ministry supports students (pastors) at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia. AVOH is looking for partners to help with the support for the training of pastors. Education in Zambia is a great challenge. Only 19% of the population get a high school level education. Only 20% of people are employed! So, it is a great challenge for pastors to get training. For less than $2,000 per year your church (or an individual) could support a pastor and his family and provide the cost of training for a full year!! Might your church consider sponsoring a seminary student? For more information, call 618/288-7695 or 888/988-7695 or visit their website at www.africanvisionofhope.org. Giving can easily be made through GBA or you can give directly to AVOH.
4. Impacting your Grade School for Christ: Great Local Missions Activity
We will be providing more information on this later, but I have been investigating Child Evangelism Fellowship, headquarters located in Warrenton, MO. I traveled there recently with two friends, one of which was Harold Hendricks (from Bott Radio Network in St. Louis). CEF is working in over 185 countries with materials for children, helping them to understand who Jesus is and how they can connect with Him. They have a special process for churches to be able to start clubs in their local grade schools. It is a perfect process for churches to use to impact families through local schools.
On February 18, 2014, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, we will host a meeting to provide basic information on how your church can use this process to reach families in your community for Christ. If you attend a smaller church, you can still do this by partnering with other small churches as you jointly sponsor this work. This meeting is for pastors and staff and any people in your church interested in participating in this activity to reach families for Christ.
Meeting: Ministry to Families through Child Evangelism Fellowship
Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2014; 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Place: GBA Office (at Crosspoint Church in Edwardsville)
Evangelism Training Available
Would you like some ideas on how to better share your faith? Dr. Larry would be happy to come to your church for a one-night 1 1/2 hour class on basic evangelism. If you are interested, please contact the GBA office at 254-3953.