Why Are You Here?

27 03 2013

whyhere
Last week, I was privileged to get to go on a mission trip with a wonderful group of college students to Anchorage, Alaska. We have been working there for the last couple of years with a new church plant called True North Church pastored by Brent Williams. Our church also supports a couple that moved there last year named Will and Eryn Cole.  Will is serving as an associate pastor and campus pastor of their recently started second campus. Our purpose in going there was to work on the University of Alaska campus and try to hook college students up with the church and to possibly talk about spiritual issues with them. In order to do this, we hung out at the campus coffee shops, played pingpong, cooked over 800 hamburgers, threw a laundry party, and played frisbee in 25 degree weather.

While on the university campus, we were constantly asked why we were there. It blew people’s minds that we would give up a spring break to head north instead of south to the beaches. There were times that I asked myself that question when heading out in the morning with it still being dark and 0 degrees. This question, though, is exactly what we were waiting for. It gave us the opportunity to let people know that we love them, and that we serve a great God that loves them as well. We cannot report that we had any salvations while we were there, but that is not our job. Our job is to scatter the seeds of the gospel. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to regenerate a lost soul. We also go to Alaska, because it is the least-reached state. It is the least-reached state for a number of reasons, but one of them is that the people’s hearts there are very much closed to the message of the cross and the church. It is for this reason that we must continue to go and have hope that one day there will be an abundance of fruit.

Don’t get me wrong, though. True North is definitely seeing fruit! We had the incredible opportunity to be in attendance at the launch of their second campus. They have seen and are continually seeing lives being changed by the power of God. But it is long, hard, and difficult work. Please be in prayer for their church as they continue to reach out to their city of Anchorage. Be looking for an opportunity to join our church in serving there in the future.





Embajadores – Venezuelan-Style

16 10 2012

 

This Saturday, October 20th, we have a team from Venezuela coming to Fort Smith. They are from a very mission-minded, Southern Baptist Church there. Their purpose in coming is to help us, as a church, reach out to the Hispanic community in our city. I am extremely excited about this on many levels. First, I just think it is incredible to be apart of God’s global plan and purpose. For many years the United States was the country that sent out most of the world’s missionaries. That is no longer the case. We now have missionaries coming to us from other countries. Second, our city has a very large Hispanic population and very few churches are doing anything to reach out to them. God has made it clear that if we will not go to the nations, He will bring them to us. Now that they are here, it is our responsibility as believers to share the gospel with them.

Embajadores is the spanish word for ambassadors. We are called to be ambassadors for God. This team from Venezuela is coming as embajadores to share the love of Christ with those of a different race and culture than me, and they will be more effective than I will be because they speak the same language and look the same as the ones they are trying to reach. My prayer is that this will kick start an incredible mission to the Latino community here in Fort Smith. Please be praying with me, and be sure to give the team a warm welcome when you see them in church. A number of them do speak English!





Church Partnerships

23 08 2012

I just had the opportunity to have lunch today with Ryan Martin, the Mission Pastor at University Baptist Church in Fayetteville. We talked about how both of our churches could partner together to reach the indigenous tribes in the Amazon River basin in Colombia. We are currently partnered with First Baptist Church of Jenny Lind to reach the Northern Arapaho Tribe for Christ. We have gone to Alaska with FBC Van Buren. We are about to send a team to Central Asia with a church in Louisiana. When my family and I served in Tanzania, we had a number of churches that were partnered with us in our work. Two weeks ago I had lunch with my good friend, Greg Ford, who is the Mission Pastor at FBC Fort Smith. We are looking at potential partnerships.

Church partnerships are healthy. I believe that we need to do more of it. There are many churches out there that are much smaller than we are and can probably not do their own full-blown partnership with a team on the field, but they can partner together with another church. I believe that this idea of churches partnering together to reach the world for Christ is a great way and maybe the best way for the body of Christ to come together. I have tried many other things in the past locally, like doing community-wide concerts or Disciple Now’s or revival services, but these usually never amount to anything, because of all the competition locally. But multiple churches could come together to reach an unreached people group for Christ. That sounds exciting and is an incredible experience to be apart of.

Churches coming together to do missions also breaks down the stereotype that churches do not really cooperate. Jesus says that when people see our love for one another, they will see Him. Jesus’ love is best shared not only by simply doing missions, but by also doing it together with other believers from other churches.

A very exciting thing that is about to take place in our church is that we will be hosting a mission team from Venezuela. They are coming to Fort Smith in order to do mission work among our Hispanic population and to help us begin a ministry to the Latinos in our community. This is taking partnership to a whole new level. We are also extremely excited to be working together with a team in Brazil to reach a city in Italy. Now this is body of Christ stuff! I desire to be apart of something that is big like this, and only God can fulfill that dream. He is allowing that to happen today in unprecedented ways and invites all of us along for the ride. My encouragement to you is to get involved. Don’t stand and watch on the sidelines. Life is too short.

 





Great Commission Baptists

21 06 2012


Why I’m A Southern Baptist

I am always amazed that people will join a church and never know what the church or denomination actually believes or why they exist. I think that many people were simply born into a church or denomination and have continued without asking the hard questions. My parents were members of a Southern Baptist Church, and it would have been easy for me to just continue on in that tradition without ever even thinking about it. When I went to the University of Arkansas, like many college students, I began to question my beliefs and why I did the things I did. I started out questioning the basic beliefs of Christianity and was satisfied with the arguments for it. I then began to question my interpretations of the scriptures and the tradition of the Southern Baptist Church that I grew up in.

I discovered two things that have kept me a Southern Baptist. Before I state those two things, I will admit that we are not perfect. Like any large institution, there are imperfect people involved. There are things that I wish we would change or do differently. There have been things done in the past that are embarrassing. I am also not saying that heaven will only be filled with Southern Baptist (although we will make the potlucks spectacular). I believe that when we all get to heaven, we will discover that we were all wrong.

The number one reason why I am a Southern Baptist is because I feel like we are the closest to being Biblical of any other denomination. I love our Baptist Faith and Message that most of our churches subscribe to. I appreciate the history of our due diligence to write our statement of faith and to stick with it when it has not been popular.  I will admit that we have some gaps, but these are on nonessential items. I was bothered that in order to serve as a missionary with the International Mission Board I had to sign that I was baptized in a Southern Baptist Church and I did not use a private prayer language. I was baptized in a Southern Baptist Church, but I was not baptized to identify myself with that denomination. I was baptized to identify myself with Jesus. I don’t have a private prayer language (the gift of speaking in tongues), but I certainly believe it is a Biblical gift that some people have and should exercise. All in all, though, these things are minor compared to the theological problems that I have found in any other denomination.

The second reason why I am a Southern Baptist is because of our focus on the Great Commission. As a matter of fact, our denomination just approved the use of a new name: Great Commission Baptist. Our denomination has the largest mission agency that the world has ever seen.  We are currently supporting around 5,000 missionaries who are serving in every corner of the world. This did not happen on accident. It is the result of the very reason why our churches decided to come together in the first place. We believed that one church could only do so much to change the world for Christ, but together we could not only obey the Great Commission better, but also complete it. Today we are a network of around 45,000 churches that are working towards completing the Great Commission, and I fully believe that we will accomplish this task in my lifetime.

So there you have it! Why are you attending the church that you go to on Sundays? Do you know the history of your church? Are you apart of a church that is doing their part to reach Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the Earth?








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