Funding from churches fuels Kingdom advances
Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012
By Diana Chandler
NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- Missionaries and church planters shared the good work at home and abroad funded by church dollars as part of the Executive Committee report to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans.
The Cooperative Program, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions allow 45,000-plus Southern Baptist congregations to share in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Following are several of the missions reports relayed to messengers during the EC's June 19 report in New Orleans.
Her name was Maria. In Rio, she owned a bar and was known as "the spirit lady." Eric and Ramona Reese, an African American missionary couple who have served in Brazil 11 years, began to reach out to her, teaching her English and Scripture.
"That's when she told us that she was hearing voices in her house at night, as if someone was in the house with her," Ramona Reese said. "What she didn't know was she was under attack and the worst was yet to come."
When Maria accepted Jesus, she became one of many who have been brought to Christ through work funded by the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon offering.
"I can tell you that the same Gospel you preach in your pulpits in cities like New Orleans across America is the same Gospel we are preaching to those who are lost in Rio de Janeiro like Maria," Eric Reese said. "God is working there."
On Oct. 11, 2012, Southern Baptist workers on 800-plus college campuses across the U.S. will initiate Engage 24, an initiative for every Christian student to share the Gospel with at least one who is lost.
It was through such outreach that Rob Warren accepted Christ in 2005. Today he and his wife Lisa are collegiate church planters at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
"In 2005, I came to know Jesus because one of my best friends Andy ... and former teammates engaged me with the Gospel," Warren said. "And it was Andy's persistent witness to me that God used to really rock my world and change my life radically forever.
"God often uses college students, young people, to spark awakening and revival, not just on campuses either, but really throughout society as a whole," Warren said, thanking Southern Baptists for their support. Last year alone, Cooperative Program funds allowed church planters to engage 358,517 college students with the Gospel.
Kevin Nguyen is a "Vietnamese Texan" church planter in Los Angeles, whose mother was adopted with eight other refugees by a Southern Baptist family in Owensboro, Ky., during the Vietnam War. Nguyen calls the Kentucky family "Mr. and Mrs. Faith."
"For me, faith has a face," said Nguyen of families who support the Cooperative Program. He and his wife Hannah have planted Cornerstone Community Bible Church in Los Angeles, reaching Asian-Americans, which the 2010 U.S. Census records as the fastest-growing people group in the U.S.
"More than just helping us plant the church, the SBC family has contributed so much more and I can only describe our gratitude through the story of faith," he said, adding that CP has encouraged generations of church planters in his family.
"It was because of the SBC ideology and missional joy of planting immigrant churches with my father in Dallas, Texas, to engage refugees. In turn they loved and nurtured their children in believing in Gospel expansion."
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' staff writer.