Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Missions Conference Update, West Africa Summit

I enjoyed an outstanding time the past few days, fellowshipping with Josue Marroquin, the vice-president of the Guatemala Baptist Convention. I flew from Kansas City to Dallas last Thursday for a meeting of the Guatemala Affinity Group at the headquarters of WorldconneX. Representatives from a number of interested churches as well as the Baptist University of the Americas and Buckner Orphan Care International were present. I went to represent the Baptist General Convention of Missouri. We had a great time of sharing what each group has been doing in their focus on Guatemala as well as engaging in some strategic planning.

Josue had flown up the previous evening from Guatemala and he accompanied me back to Missouri on Thursday evening. On Friday I exposed him to a cross-cultural experience as I conducted a funeral that morning for one of our members. We traveled back to the airport Friday night to pick up Bill Tinsley, the leader of Worldconnex. On Saturday, we all traveled early to Columbia, MO for a missions conference. Bill spoke about new paradigms in missions and Josue and I were able to present the details of the BGCM's three year partnership with the Guatemala Baptist Convention.

We stayed over that evening so Josue could preach the next morning at the Parkade Baptist Church in Columbia. In another cross-cultural experience for Josue, he got to witness my passion for college football as I cheered for the UT Longhorns as they won a tough game on the Texas plains at Lubbock against Texas Tech. The Parkade church was launching their world missions emphasis Sunday morning so our visit was great timing for them. We had a wonderful time with the congregation and enjoyed lunch afterwards with pastor Chris Cook, his wife, and Alberta Gilpin. Josue and I traveled back to Lee's Summit that afternoon and he preached in our church that night. He's a gifted preacher and communicated a clear call to missions involvement in both messages.

On Wednesday I'll be traveling to St. Charles, MO for a West Africa Summit that the IMB and the Missouri Baptist Convention are sponsoring. We have a couple that are members of our church that serve with the IMB in Togo and we want to pursue some missions projects with them in addition to our focus in Guatemala. The only ironic part of this process is that our church will be one of 18 at least that will be (or perhaps has already been) excluded from the MBC during their annual convention meeting in Cape Girardeau October 30-31. Because we have chosen to partner with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, we are no longer considered "singly aligned" and are thus being ousted by the MBC. We will continue to support Missouri Baptist endeavors, including our direct support of the Missouri Baptist Children's Home and other entities, despite the MBC's decision to sever ties with us and many others churches over the single alignment issue.

I'm looking forward to seeing at least 3 families that are listed on the program for the West Africa Summit that we were appointed with back in 1986. It will be good to renew old acquaintances and hear of the Lord's work in their lives.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Guatemala and the BGCM

This coming Saturday the Baptist General Convention of Missouri will be hosting a New Realities in Missions Conference at the Parkade Baptist Church in Columbia, MO from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Bill Tinsley of WorldconneX will be joining us to share about the changing world of missions and new paradigms for churches wishing to be directly involved in missions. Josue Marroquin, vice-president of the Guatemala Baptist Convention, will also be joining us to help promote a three year partnership between the BGCM and the Guatemala Baptist Convention. It will be my privilege to host Josue this week as he arrives on Thursday for a meeting of the Guatemala Affinity Group (consisting of various entities that are pursuing missions work in Guatemala) in Dallas at the WorldconneX offices. In addition to participating in the conference on Saturday, Josue will be preaching Sunday morning at the Parkade Church and then on Sunday evening in our church in Lee's Summit before returning to Guatemala on Monday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New Wednesday night Bible study series

One of the most rewarding things I'm privileged to do in my capacity as associate pastor at FBC Lee's Summit is to lead the Wednesday evening prayer meeting and Bible study time. Since joining the staff here a little over three years ago, we have studied 1 & 2 Peter, Hebrews, selected Psalms, a series on the benedictions and doxologies found in the Scriptures, and most recently Nehemiah. I've been prayerfully considering what direction to go next as we begin a new series on Oct. 25th. The next two weeks we have our quarterly business meeting and then I've asked a couple who recently participated in a mission trip to Peru to share about their experiences on the 2nd Wednesday. After much thought and prayer, I've decided to begin a series on the Gospel of Mark. Mark has long been a favorite gospel of mine. I remember being impacted by a study on Mark led by the Campus Crusade for Christ director of a summer beach project I was on way back in 1974. Mark's portrayal of Jesus as a man of action, written to a Roman audience that respected such a virtue, is a powerful one even today. I'm excited about the opportunity to study it with our Wednesday evening group.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Missions Projects

Our church has been and continues to be involved in numerous missions projects in a variety of venues and through several different groups. We have had a three-year partnership with a church in Fajardo, Puerto Rico that has included financial assistance to aid them in preparing to erect a building on land they have purchased, as well as a youth trip last summer that I was privileged to participate in as a translator/sponsor. Our youth were involved with the youth of the Fajardo church in a camp experience with wonderful times of praise, solid preaching, and great fun. We also painted the facilities of a Christian school (not affiliated with this church), cleaned an overgrown playground area of a home for unwed mothers that is run by an order of Catholic nuns, as well as doing general clean-up and improvements to the camp facility and some public beaches.

We are currently receiving donations of winter coats, scarves, gloves, etc. for the Lakota Indians of South Dakota. This is the third year we've participated in this effort called Operation Warm Embrace. It's part of the Rural Poverty Initiative that CBF has launched to meet the pressing needs of those in the 20 most impoverished counties in the U.S.

We're also looking to get directly involved as a church in the 3 year partnership that the Baptist General Convention of Missouri has with the Guatemalan Baptist Convention. I've been able to make 2 trips there so far and we're looking at creating some church-to-church partnerships between BGCM churches and those in Guatemala.

Another missions initiative that we will be pursuing is called Kids Heart Africa, a project sponsored by Buckner Orphan Care International and CBF to meet the needs of the rapidly mushrooming number of AIDS orphans in Africa. We'll be focusing specifically on some orphanages and child development centers in Kenya.

Our church also is privileged to be able to offer missionary housing to furloughing missionaries on stateside assignment. In one house we currently are hosting a single IMB missionary who serves in the Philippines where she is involved in MK education. In the other house, an IMB missionary family that serves in Togo, West Africa is currently residing. Tony and Marlene Darnell consider our church as their home church as Marlene grew up in FBC Lee's Summit. Her parents are very active members and her father Lynn has gone on several mission trips with us in recent years. We're also exploring options to plug in to their ministry in Togo through the IMB. The IMB will be hosting a West Africa summit in St. Louis next month and we look forward to the opportunity to learn more about the possibilities of involvement in that part of the world. I noticed that at least three of the missionary couples slated to be present were with us at the Missionary Learning Center in our orientation back in 1987. It will be good to renew ties with them.

I'm grateful to be part of a church with a big enough vision to say that we will work with anyone who is committed to Kingdom causes in missions. It's a blessing to be involved with Christians of many "stripes" who don't let political issues overshadow the task of working together to fulfill the Great Commission.