|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.
Today's From the States features items from:
Baptist Beacon (Michigan)
The Alabama Baptist
Kentucky Baptist Convention
Baptist & Reflector (Tennessee)
CEC gives tools
to Michigan churches
By Karen L. Willoughby
ROSEVILLE, Mich. (Baptist Beacon) -- More than 700 Michigan Baptists participated in the recent Church Equipping Conference, which took place on a mid-September Saturday at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville.
The eight-hour instructional event was designed to provide (or sharpen) tools for pastors and other church leaders as well as those sensing God might be calling them to more involvement in His kingdom work.
"The Church Equipping Conference was one of the best conferences I've seen in SBC life - well-organized, passionate leaders and good focus," said keynote speaker Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research in Nashville, Tenn. "I'm thrilled to have been a small part."
The eight-hour event started with an hour of worship. Sixty-one unique workshops followed; they covered the three priority resourcing areas of Michigan Baptist life: church strengthening, church mobilization, and church starting.
"I was so encouraged and inspired by attending," said Kyla Gurganus of Crossroads Community Baptist Church in Ann Arbor, where she is a kindergarten Sunday School teacher and Operation Christmas Child coordinator. "I learned so much. It was amazing to be around so many people who shared my same beliefs and were there to reach people from Michigan for Christ."
Lynn is pastor of Raisinville Baptist Church in Monroe. The day went by quickly because he was busy absorbing a variety of new information in every area of ministry, he said.
"From discussions on social media to reaching unreached people groups around the world, I returned home with my mind whirling with new initiatives that I wanted to start," Lynn said.
That's exactly the response state missionaries were wanting, when the statewide need for training surfaced during a staff retreat in March 2011, said Bobby Gilstrap, BSCM lead state missionary.
State and associational missionaries agreed then to work together in developing an event that would draw people from throughout the state.
An 18-member steering committee was formed; it represented 14 of the 15 Baptist associations in Michigan.
"It is our vision as a convention of churches to be 'partners in advancing God's kingdom,'" Gilstrap said. "The CEC helped us fulfill that vision and our mission of 'doing whatever it takes to see lives transformed for Christ through starting, strengthening and mobilizing churches.'"
By fall of last year, after talking with pastors and other church leaders across the state, to see what their needs were for training, suggestions surfaced for more than 100 workshops. Partners were enlisted - Christian Law Association, Alabama State Board of Missions, LifeWay Christian Resources, the SBC's North American Mission Board and others - and highly-regarded presenters were contacted.
"Eventually the workshops were winnowed down to 61, with training for virtually every key leader in the church," Gilstrap said. "More than 70 churches participated, in 14 of the state's 15 Baptist associations, and 702 people registered.
"This was the largest gathering of Michigan Baptists we're aware of in possibly the entire history of our convention, and certainly the last 25 years," Gilstrap continued. "It was a landmark event. It hopefully provided valuable training and resources for leaders in our churches to achieve their God-given leadership capacity, which will ultimately impact the church and community where they live and serve."
Some of those responding to an online survey of the CEC said the event was "awesome, great, life-changing" and more.
"It lit a fire in my belly," said Teresa Thomas, a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Ida, where she is an assistant leader in women's ministries.
"The CEC provides an opportunity for members to increase their knowledge, gain understanding and become further inspired to share with others the mission before us," said Derrick McDonald, pastor of Prospect Baptist Church in Pontiac.
"It was the most effective meeting I have been to with our state convention," said Karen Villapando of Memorial Baptist Church in Sterling Heights, where she is a mission team leader, weekday childcare administrator and adult Sunday School teacher. "It was like a big family reunion with the potential to make us collectively and individually better equipped to reach our state and serve in our own churches and communities."
As keynote speaker, Ed Stetzer hammered home the point that all members of a church - not just the pastor - should be representing Jesus as they go about their daily lives.
"Share your faith the way Jesus shared his," Stetzer said. "Be intentional about it. Jesus made a huge difference in your life, and He can make that same difference in the lives of your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers."
Kim McQuestion, women's ministry leader at Monroe Missionary Baptist Church in Monroe, said she understood what Stetzer was saying.
"It was a refreshing conference, very helpful in shedding new light on ways to reach, teach and keep people," McQuestion said. "I felt very inspired and challenged to continue thinking big for our Savior and Lord."
Mark Zdawczyk, a member of Kingdom Life Church in Lansing, said the Church Equipping Conference gave participants "a lot of tools.
"The real key is that now we should go and make disciples," Zdawczyk said. "Now that we've got these tools in our hands, now we need to go and do something that Christ has called us to do with them."
This article appeared in the Baptist Beacon, newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (michiganbaptists.org). Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Beacon.
helps Sudanese village
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist) -- Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham, has taken a costly new step in its nine-year commitment to the South Sudanese village of Akot.
On Oct. 7 the church voted to enter a five-year partnership with Living Water Community Transformation (LWCT), a 501(c)(3) organization founded to minister to the approximately 12,000-member community in Sudan. Dawson will provide $500,000 over the coming years to help build and operate two primary schools, train pastors and provide work for women in the area. In addition the church will continue to send specialized missions teams into Akot.
Those specialized short-term missions trips actually were the seed of Dawson's commitment to the village. In 2003, Southern Baptist representatives in the region near Akot invited American teams to do missions work there. The need then was massive: extreme poverty, damage from the Second Sudanese Civil War and an almost complete lack of children's education, employment opportunities and health care. The first missions teams into Akot set up medical clinics in the bush and conducted evangelism. Ongoing trips led to the creation of the Akot Medical Mission, a medical facility still in operation today.
After the Southern Baptist representatives left the region, Dawson -- in partnership with several other churches -- formed LWCT to keep working in the area.
LWCT has founded two primary schools that meet under trees and grass-roof shelters. About 650 students -- 90 of whom are orphans — are taught between the two schools. LWCT also has created a training center to raise pastors for the 14 Baptist churches in the area, facilitated the drilling of several water wells and employed Sudanese women in a vocational sewing center.
Grants from organizations like Baptist Global Response have provided vaccinations for the schoolchildren and a daily nutritious meal Several young adults also are receiving scholarships for secondary or college-level classes.
Ben Hale, minister of missions and evangelism at Dawson, spoke of the responsibility the church is taking for the Akot region. "God called us to Akot originally and seems to be leading us to a deeper level of commitment," he said. "We now know the names and circumstances of many of our Christian brothers and sisters in South Sudan."
Because LWCT is not an independently funded group, it is in serious need of financial assistance from Dawson and from others.
"If we do not build and fund the schools in Akot, the children will not be educated. If we do not give and go to Akot, the women will very likely be left to fend for themselves. If we do not give and go to Akot, the pastors' training will very likely cease," Hale said.
Hale and Dawson leadership hope this partnership "will provide ... a renewed sense of responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission," he said.
Dawson Pastor Gary Fenton said members and leadership are excited about being part of "such a strategic ministry at such a crucial time."
"This appears to truly be a divine appointment as needs and by faith we are believing God will provide the resources to meet the needs," he said.
For more information on how to get involved, contact Ann Rao at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ben Hale at email@example.com. For more information about LWCT, visit livingwaterct.org.
This article appeared in The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention.
Collegiate ministry uses
10-11-12 to share Christ on campus
By David Roach
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Kentucky Baptist Convention) -- An international student hears the name of Jesus for the first time....
A young woman considers the cost of committing her life to Christ....
An agnostic agrees to meet with a Baptist campus minister weekly to discuss spiritual questions....
These were just a few of the results when hundreds of Kentucky college students participated in Engage24, a national, 24-hour evangelistic push on college campuses Oct. 11 organized by the Baptist Collegiate Network, a group of college ministry directors from Baptist state conventions across the country.
"We were looking toward Oct. 11 as a big push," said Mark Whitt, campus minister at Murray State University. "But what I have seen is that the specific day gave students the opportunity to be intentional and that it has been more on their mind to pray for their peers and share the gospel with them since that day."
Kentucky Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) students shared their faith that day through servant evangelism, spiritual surveys, evangelistic gatherings and informal, one-on-one conversations. Engage24 also involved concerted prayer for those in spiritual need on campuses around the state.
At the University of Kentucky in Lexington, more than 100 BCM students participated in the outreach, receiving evangelism training in advance and sharing the gospel with nearly 200 fellow students Oct. 11. A 24-hour prayer chain ensured that at least two students were praying for the campus at all times Oct. 10-11.
"One of the main purposes of Engage24 was not to do a day-evangelism event and feel good about ourselves," UK Baptist Campus Minister Daniel Berry said, "but to truly engage people with the gospel and continue the journey for them to have a personal faith with Christ. Continued...