Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief touching lives & sharing Christ worldwide

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The 2016 Kentucky Baptist Convention annual meeting was a tremendous time of celebration as messengers had opportunity to hear updates on the work of the Mission Board and its entities. I sensed a wonderful spirit of thanksgiving and unity unlike any I’ve experienced in the past. My appreciation goes to the host church, Florence Baptist, and to all of the KBC officers, staff members, volunteers, and messengers who made the annual meeting and Pastors’ Conference a blessing for all who were in attendance.

disaster-relief-training-2017-logoDuring the holiday season of giving thanks and celebrating God’s gift of our Savior, I want to make you aware of some of the practical ways Kentucky Baptists are touching lives, healing hurts, and sharing the gospel through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. As I do so, I want to thank every person who gives their tithes and offerings in a church that participates in cooperative missions through the Cooperative Program. Your gifts fund KBDR. Thank you for this eternity-changing ministry!

First, I’m pleased to share with you that more than 800 hospice care buckets to help families comfort those with HIV/AIDS were collected during the KBC annual meeting in Florence. Churches also made monetary donations of thousands of dollars to help support this project undertaken in partnership with Baptist Global Response.

In addition, over the past year, KBDR trained 802 volunteers to participate in relief work. In a special initiative, some of our disaster relief teams have begun working with Baptist churches in sub-Saharan Africa where they trained 75 volunteers in South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia.

New and seasoned volunteers have responded to needs created by floods in South Carolina, Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan, eastern Kentucky, and West Virginia. They responded to needs in Kentucky created by tornadoes in Mayfield and Ohio County and Hurricane Matthew as it impacted people and property in Florida and North Carolina. Our volunteers helped ensure clean water for people in Flint, Michigan, by installing water filtration systems in 275 homes. They also helped provide clean water overseas by assisting with wells and filters in Zambia and South Africa. Disaster relief workers fed 3,500 hundred hungry families in the African countries of Lesotho and Madagascar and did medical and trauma care in Iraq. Here in the U.S., KBDR workers prepared 52,938 meals, distributed 89,736 cases of bottled water, and did cleaned up 381 flooded homes.

These combined projects and relief work created significant ministry opportunities. Our workers and chaplains made 7,474 ministry contacts, distributed 767 Bibles, and saw 57 decisions for Christ. Every church that gives through the Cooperative Program can celebrate this ministry as their own.

KBC staff member, Coy Webb, coordinates our DR work and would be pleased to share with you and/or your church about upcoming training opportunities and ways to get more involved with KBDR. Coy can be contacted by phone (502-489-3527) or email (coy.webb@kybaptist.org). Information is also available on the KBC website at www.kybaptist.org/dr.

Posted in Annual Meeting, Disaster Relief, Missions | Leave a comment

Celebrating Kentucky Baptists’ cooperative mission work

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As Kentucky Baptists gather this week in Florence for the annual meeting, we celebrate all God is doing in our churches and in our cooperative mission work. The Kentucky Baptist Convention has a rich heritage and gospel legacy dating back to 1837, but I am convinced we have a greater opportunity today to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ than ever before.

Annual-Meeting-16-Give-Hope-logoThe growing ethnic diversity of our state has made the nations our neighbors. Ease of travel means we can literally be on mission anywhere in the world in a few days, at most. Technological advances in communications create opportunities for constant interaction with career missionaries, volunteer missions teams, and indigenous partners overseas, so that every church can have an ongoing, meaningful impact for the Kingdom. And, regardless of what we might think about the current economy, believers who prioritize stewarding our material resources for the sake of the Great Commission have more money available to give to gospel work than any generation that has gone before us.

Will our generation of Kentucky Baptists take advantage of this unique opportunity God has provided? If so, what will that look like?

First, we will commit to being a witness for Christ wherever He has us and wherever He takes us. Second, we will commit to fully participating in the life of the local church, God’s agent to reach the lost. Third, we will commit to generously contributing to the cooperative mission work of Kentucky Baptists and Southern Baptists.

No matter what size church you are a part of, the Great Commission is a task too monumental for any single congregation to accomplish. Moreover, churches working in partnership rather than on their own have proven far more effective at advancing the gospel. That’s why the Cooperative Program is such a vital tool, for it harnesses the collective resources of thousands of churches for the sake of the gospel.

In addition to the Cooperative Program, I want to challenge you to take advantage of two upcoming cooperative missions offerings. First, the Thanksgiving Offering for Sunrise Children’s Services is a unique opportunity to give directly to the James 1:27 ministry of Kentucky Baptists. Sunrise is currently touching 1,100 abused and neglected children. Lives and souls are being saved. For more information on the Sunrise offering, go to www.sunrise.org/thanks16.

Then, begin to plan your Christmas budget in a way that will allow your most extravagant gift to be given to the One who gave you the most extravagant gift by willingly laying down his life for you. A gift to Jesus, in the form of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, will ensure that those who do not yet belong to Him the world over will be able to hear His gospel and have an opportunity to be saved. For more information go to www.imb.org/lottie-moon-christmas-offering.

Posted in Annual Meeting, Cooperative Program, Evangelism, Great Commission, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, Missions, Sunrise Children's Services | Leave a comment

The post I never had the courage to write

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My family tree is diseased. Like every family tree in humanity, my family tree is diseased by sin.

Sins take many forms and the overarching consequence of sin, which is death, besets us in various ways. Death has visited my family quite frequently in the form of cancer. Thankfully, due to God’s grace in His provision for advances in medicine, most recent cancer diagnoses in my family have not resulted in death, at least among the nonsmokers. Nevertheless, the battle to overcome cancer can be a journey to the depths of suffering that, at times, make death appear as a welcomed friend.

Besides cancer, another obvious plight on my family is obesity. I have never spoken or written about it because, frankly, I didn’t have the courage. I was afraid I’d eventually be condemning myself. I was afraid I would offend people I love. And I was afraid to highlight a struggle that is impossible to hide when I struggle with many things I’m all too thankful to be able to hide.

So, why would I write about it now? I am beginning to see brothers and sisters liberated because there are those among us who have enough love and courage to address the issue and enough love and courage to come alongside those who struggle with overeating, unhealthy lifestyles, and a general disregard for their bodily temple (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Since Scripture teaches us to steward our bodies to honor God, ignoring our physical health is a matter of disobedience. We must have the courage to admit that and lovingly address it.

For me, a healthy lifestyle has been a lifetime in the making. Blessed with a high metabolism and beset by the sin of vanity, I “kept the weight off” until I hit 40. By the time I was 44, the scales were a good 20 pounds above what the doctor recommended. I’ve always been physically active and exercised – most months of the year. Nevertheless, after 40, exercise was no longer getting it done. So, coming alongside my wife at her request, I began a modified version of the diet set forth in Rick Warren’s book, “The Daniel Plan.” I modified the plan because my attention span is short. A simple, “Don’t eat processed foods, sugar, or dairy,” worked well for me once I figured out what that left on the menu. I’m not a legalist but, unless it’s Saturday, I stick closely to the plan.

In addition to weight loss, I experienced energy gain. And, unexpectedly, the ever-present pain of a bum knee (a church league softball injury) and degenerating vertebrae in my lower back (from picking up too many bales of hay without using my legs) significantly diminished. I was virtually pain-free for the first time in many years.

I’m not providing this personal information because I think you need to know me better. I’m providing it because I have experienced the benefit of a healthier lifestyle, and I want others to do the same. Several of our staff members at the Kentucky Baptist Convention have taken huge strides in healthier eating, weight loss, and exercise. When that happens, energy levels rise, work production increases, health care costs diminish, life becomes more enjoyable, we set better examples for those whom we lead in ministry, we enhance our credibility, and, most importantly, we honor God with our bodies.

If you, like most Kentuckians, struggle with obesity, let me encourage you to make a new commitment to “lay aside every weight,” literally and figuratively, and strive to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). God will be honored.

Posted in Family, Health | 2 Responses

Ideas for Pastor Appreciation Month

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October is Pastor Appreciation Month. If you are reading this article, you probably have a pastor. How can you express your appreciation to him for all he does to shepherd God’s flock? Let me offer two suggestions.

shepherding-2017-logoFirst, consider sending your pastor and his wife to Shepherding 2017. Registration is now open for this event here. The Kentucky Baptist Convention and Baptist Health hope that Shepherding 2017 will bring a time of godly refreshment to ministry couples.

As in the past, we desire to bring couples together in a relaxed setting where they can experience renewal, strengthen relationships, and encounter God in worship. The conference begins Thursday, January 26 and concludes Saturday, January 28. Space is limited. Register early to ensure availability. The registration fee covers only a portion of the costs associated with this event. As a means of joining you in blessing and encouraging our ministers, the remaining cost is provided by Baptist Health and by Kentucky Baptists’ gifts through the Cooperative Program.

holy-land-tour-logoSecond, Steve Rice and I will be hosting a Holy Land tour March 11-20, 2017, for any Kentucky Baptist who would like to join us. The tour would be a great learning opportunity for anyone but especially for pastors. Churches may want to consider sending their pastor or at least assisting him with the trip. The estimated total price is $3,869 per person from Louisville, Ky. A $300 deposit (paid to Jerusalem Tours) will reserve your place.

Included in the estimated price are: flights, hotels, touring, breakfast and dinner daily, four lunches, tips, airport taxes and fuel charges (subject to change by the airline). Not included in the estimated price are: optional travel insurance ($292), meals not noted in the itinerary, drinks and items of a personal nature. For more information, contact Dr. Stephen C. Rice, KBC Church Consulting & Revitalization Team leader, at (502) 489-3434 or steve.rice@kybaptist.org, or call Jerusalem Tours at (888) 373-8687.

God has blessed us with faithful, fearless men who love the Lord Jesus and His church. Whether the above opportunities work for you and/or your pastor, I trust you will find a way to express your appreciation for the man of God who spends his life preaching the gospel to you and your family, praying for you and your family, serving you and your family, and loving you and your family.

Serving as a pastor is a high and holy calling and those who serve well are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). Let us thank God for our pastors!

Posted in Family, Holy Land, Pastor | Leave a comment

The role of cooperative missions and cooperative funding across the SBC

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How relevant is the Cooperative Program funding model in fueling SBC missions and ministries?

CP-logoAt our dinner table last night, our 13-year-old guest turned to me and asked abruptly, “Do you know why I’m glad my sister is here?” Our guest comes to visit once a week. She is working her way through a residential treatment program, trying to recover from years of abuse and neglect. The question caught me off guard and, knowing at least some of what she and her little sister have endured, I wasn’t sure what she would say next, but I wanted her to understand she was free to say whatever was on her mind.

I simply replied, “No. Why are you glad?”

Her sister was three when she came into the care of Sunrise Children’s Services, the James 1:27 ministry of Kentucky Baptists. Fueled by the Cooperative Program, Sunrise ministers to more than 1,000 hurting kids in Kentucky. With more than 8,000 kids in our state’s care, Kentucky Baptists feel we are only scratching the surface even though we are the largest private provider.

When Sunrise contacted us about a three-year-old, my wife Michelle and I were a little hesitant. We had been foster parents for a teenage boy for a year, and, although he had recently been placed with another family, three-year-olds had never been on our radar. With two kids in college and one heading into middle school, a three-year-old didn’t seem like a “good fit.” But the scriptural mandate to care for orphans doesn’t say much about which kids fit our life-stage or lifestyle, so we took the plunge.

Now, at our dinner table, her 13-year-old sister is about to break my heart even thought I don’t know it yet.

“I’m glad she’s here because I’m glad she has a father.”

I knew our foster daughter had no memory of a father, so I wasn’t all that surprised when, in a matter of hours, she was calling me daddy. But what broke my heart was the 13-year-old celebrating that her little sister now has a father even though she doesn’t.

These two precious girls are among the 400,000 kids in foster care in the US. Thanks to CP ministries like Sunrise, many of those kids are finding foster homes and some are finding forever families. I’d call that relevant.

How relevant is the CP funding model in fueling Southern Baptist missions and ministries? I believe it is not only relevant; I believe CP is essential and irreplaceable.

If CP disappeared today, so would a significant portion of the ministries and mission work of Southern Baptists. Even the ministries and mission work that somehow managed to continue to exist would be significantly crippled. Let me explain why.

While the recent financial struggles of the International Mission Board have been widely reported, the loss of CP would mean a reduction of approximately $100 million, more than a third of the IMB’s annual budget. The loss of that much of the fuel that sends Southern Baptist missionaries to the ends of the earth would be eternally devastating.

The loss of CP would mean a reduction of approximately $50 million for the North American Mission Board. What would that do to NAMB’s capacity to fuel church planting in SEND cities or Southern Baptist Disaster Relief response to flood victims in West Virginia and Louisiana, fire victims in California, and hurricane victims along the coasts?

Since the ministry of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission is almost exclusively funded by CP, without it, Southern Baptists would lose their voice in Washington. And the resources that ERLC provides to help pastors address issues like religious liberty, human trafficking, racism, and abortion would no longer exist since those resources are paid for by CP.

What of the approximately 17,000 students currently enrolled in SBC seminaries? Without CP, their tuition and fees climb 30%-50%. That’s a tough blow for missionary candidates who need to be debt free to get appointed or pastors on tight budgets sacrificing to get formal training for ministry. A seminary with no CP fuel becomes a terribly expensive ride.

Without the fuel of CP, most of the significant ministries and mission work of Southern Baptists’ state conventions would come to a screeching halt. In the Kentucky Baptist Convention, that would mean Disaster Relief would be no more. Our annual retreat to encourage and strengthen ministry couples, known as Shepherding, simply wouldn’t happen. The evangelism training and church revitalization consulting that has helped contribute to growth in baptisms and overall church membership for two straight years in Kentucky, with no CP, would be no more.

If CP disappeared, the nearly 15,000 students who show up at our summer camps, called Crossings Ministries, would surely be disappointed and God would no longer use the gospel preaching at camp to win hundreds of kids to Christ each year. Without CP, the 1,000-plus hurting kids being loved and cared for by Sunrise may still suffer the pain of ongoing abuse, hunger, and neglect. Our educational institutions in Kentucky, which currently allow us to disciple and equip over 8,000 students, would, in some cases, be shuttered and, in other cases, see tuition hikes that would put them out of reach of far too many students.

On and on goes the negative impact that the loss of CP would have upon God’s Kingdom work in the states, our nation, and the world.

Thankfully, the essential and irreplaceable fuel of CP is still flowing! Southern Baptists still believe in cooperation and still give sacrificially to fund missions and ministries through CP.

Here in Kentucky, for two straight years, CP giving has grown. And, for the first time in a decade, our churches exceeded the CP budget this year. At the same time, Kentucky Baptists are digging deeper for other missions offerings, setting new records in giving through both the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions.

The omnipotent God wants for no resource. He will accomplish His purposes without any dependence upon Southern Baptists. But thankfully God is choosing to use Southern Baptists to share the life-giving message of the gospel and build the eternal church of Jesus Christ. In Southern Baptist cooperative missions and ministries, God has provided the Cooperative Program as the fuel to accomplish His purposes. CP is not only relevant, it is essential and irreplaceable.

And, in a very real way, CP provided a safe place for our three-year-old foster daughter to escape abuse and neglect. For me, it’s a reminder that, though we use words like “cooperation,” “missions,” and “ministries,” CP makes a difference in the lives of real people with real hurts and real needs. And we, as Southern Baptists, are working cooperatively to provide the help and hope of Christ to them. How relevant is the Cooperative Program funding model in fueling SBC missions and ministries? Innumerable people, whether orphans who have been rescued from abuse or lost adults who have been saved through the power of the gospel, would tell you it is altogether relevant.

Posted in Cooperative Program, Southern Baptist Convention | Comments closed
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