"As the 'bottled water team' neared our On Mission '99 Kindness Explosion
site, I could feel the anticipation mounting," said Trevor Davis. "I had prayed
to see some actual conversions to Christ when I went witnessing."
Trevor was at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, participating in On Mission '99, a
conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board (NAMB). The Kindness
Explosion was planned to give practical application to ideas encountered during
the week. Trevor was partnered with 10-year-old Kayla.
"We wanted to give folks ideas of what they could do and ways to involve
their churches to help awaken people to their spiritual needs," said Carol
Baker, NAMB Missions Opportunities and Events associate. "Kindness Explosions
are really servant evangelism. Servant evangelism is a combination of simple
acts of kindness with intentional personal evangelism."
Kayla and Trevor prayed and then knocked on the first door of the Deaverview
apartments. A young woman answered.
"Our purpose today is to show the love of Jesus Christ in a practical way by
giving away this bottled water to you and your neighbors," Trevor told her.
Kayla read aloud the Bible verse that was attached to the water: Jesus
answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever
drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him
will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John
Trevor's next question puzzled the woman. "Has anyone ever shared the gospel
with you before?"
"I'm not sure," she replied. "My parents are Jehovah's Witnesses, but
religion is really confusing to me. Can you help me?" she asked.
"I'd be glad to try to help you," Trevor said. "May I tell you first about
the greatest thing that ever happened to me? "
"Please do," she responded.
Trevor told of his personal experience with God and shared a few verses of
scripture. He asked her if she wished to know Christ too.
"Yes, I really would," she said.
She repeated a prayer to receive Christ while standing in the doorway of her
apartment. Trevor gave her a New Testament and encouraged her to read it.
After discussing joining a local, well-balanced Baptist church and being
baptized, Trevor picked up his sack of water bottles, and he and Kayla prepared
to leave. But the woman stopped them. She noticed one of the hygiene kits that
were to be distributed at the community center later. "Are you giving those
away, too?" she asked.
"Would you like one?" Trevor asked.
She then told them that she was out of money and couldn't find a ride to a
store. She was out of most of the items in the kit and she did not know how she
would get more. They gave her two kits.
Her last words to Trevor are unforgettable to him. "I'll go to church every
Sunday if someone will just give me a ride," she said.
Despite that loss, Wieland's athletic achievements are impressive: four-time
world record holder in the bench press with a best lift of 507 pounds;
competitor in the New York, Los Angeles and Marine Corps marathons; completion
of a 6,200-mile bike circuit twice across America in conjunction with the
Congressional Medal of Honor; strength, flexibility and motivational coach for
the Green Bay Packers for the 1991-92 season; and the only double amputee to
complete the grueling Ironman Triathlon Course in Kona, Hawaii.
The Clermont event--a full ironman competition and the biggest of several
triathlon competitions held annually in the Florida community--was Wieland's
first triathlon competition in 10 years. The following day, prior to the Sunday
afternoon awards ceremony, he shared his testimony at First Baptist Church of
Wieland acknowledged that as a young man, he "trusted in sports" until the
night some visitors from Campus Crusade for Christ shared the gospel with him
while he was a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse.
The Bible says that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be
saved, Wieland reminded the Clermont audience, and "I figured out I was a
whosoever." That night, he knelt down by his bed and invited Jesus into his
"The Lord Jesus Christ will never refuse you when you come with a pure
heart," he affirmed.
A talented athlete, Wieland had ambitions for a career in pro baseball, but
just as he was hoping to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, the
U.S. Army "offered me a contract I just couldn't refuse"--his draft notice.
Stationed as a medic at Cu Chi, about 25 miles northwest of Saigon, he
remembers his sergeant telling him, "Don't plan on going back to the United
On June 14, 1969, "our company got ambushed," Wieland recalled. In a
desperate rush to save one of his buddies, Wieland stepped on an 82-mm mortar
round--powerful enough to cripple a tank.
Though he was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, "by the mighty
grace of God" the doctors and nurses decided to make a last-ditch attempt to
save Wieland's life. A tracheotomy, eight quarts of blood, steady doses of
morphine, surgery and a bout with malaria followed, but he survived.
Though his legs--and his pro baseball dreams--were gone, "I was just happy
to be alive," Wieland said. He remembered Mark 7:37, that God does all things
well, and 2 Timothy 1:7, God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of
power, and of love, and of a sound mind (KJV). And he believed everything was
going to be all right.
He also determined to regard himself as an able-bodied person and pushed
himself to regain his strength and become independent.
Thirteen years later, he took the first step of a remarkable journey that
would bring him national attention--a 2,784.1-mile walk across America on his
hands and stumps. From California to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, the
three-and-a-half-year journey took 4,900,016 steps. The most difficult step was
the first one, he said.
Along the way, he raised funds for world hunger and shared the gospel with
anyone who would listen--including his parents, who knelt down by the side of a
New Mexico road and invited Christ into their lives.
Wieland pointed out to the triathletes in Clermont that according to Romans
10:9, only two things are needed to begin a life with Christ: a mouth to
confess and a heart to believe. "Everybody here qualifies," he said.
"Why not accept the greatest prize, the greatest reward you could ever
The service featuring Wieland's testimony is the latest of several efforts
Clermont First Baptist has made to reach out to triathlon competitors as
Clermont becomes an increasingly popular venue for the sport. For the past two
years, the church has sponsored a pre-race pasta dinner before the Florida
Challenge Triathlon, a large-scale, half-ironman event held each September.
This year's dinner drew more than 400 athletes and their families to the
church's Christian Life Center. About 60 church members, ranging from teens to
senior adults, prepared food, waited on tables and greeted the athletes. Each
visiting triathlete was given a New Testament.
"This is a unique ministry God has given us," said Danny W. Davis, pastor of
the Clermont congregation. He said the church has a vision of "enlarging as we
go along," perhaps becoming involved in additional events throughout the year.
Davis sees possibilities for approaches such as ministry on the Lake Minehaha
beach where the triathletes gather, various kinds of service ministries and
informal chapel services.
Coordinating an e-mail prayer ministry isn't the first thing that comes to
mind when you think of the job description for a director of mission ministry.
But Betty Lynn Cadle is accustomed to finding ways to involve people in mission
Whether it's coordinating disaster relief child care units or helping
immigrants in a new land, Cadle finds herself matching needs with people who
Cadle's title is Convention Director for Mission Ministries and Woman's
Missionary Union for the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention. She works from
the convention's Rochester, Minnesota, office.
The e-mail prayer ministry grew from the worldwide response to the 1997 Red
River and Dakota floods. What has developed is an electronic prayer chain
linking people across the country and around the world and focusing on the
needs of people in the convention.
But the heart of Cadle's advocacy comes in working with church members and
leaders to discover their own ministries.
"I work with them and help them catch a vision for being on mission where
they are. It's encouraging to see churches get involved in missions and then
begin new ministries," Cadle said. "What I really do is ministry networking,
putting people and resources together."
Cadle points to the work among the Hmong people as an example of what only
God can do. Emigrating from Laos, a large number of Hmong have settled in the
"There was a need to help these people resettle, and they were also
incredibly helpful. They have a strong Christian faith, and many Hmong worked
selflessly during the floods to help disaster relief units and assist in any
way they could. There were only about two Hmong Baptist churches then. Now
there are 10 in the convention.
"The Hmong never had a Bible in their language. Their leaders here
translated the Bible, and we helped get it into print.
"There are now four young Hmong women who have made a commitment to lifetime
mission service. We may do some coordinating, but when God's at work, you just
have to try to keep up with Him," Cadle said.
Christey Miller knows firsthand the power of spiritual multiplication. As a
US/C-2 missionary with Mission Odessa in Odessa, Texas, she sees people who
once knew nothing of Christ not only come to know Him but also introduce Him to
"We go to people who won't come to the average church downtown, and we take
church to them," she said. "We're in nine apartment communities, two retirement
centers, the county jail and the parole office. We've got three mission
churches. We have Bible studies, homework clubs, and when the need arises, we
teach people how to sew. We've even had classes to help women with personal
improvements to help themselves get back into the job market. And we use those
opportunities to share the gospel with them."
"There are people who come to our Bible study week after week after week,"
she says. "We've seen people change from drugs and alcohol and live-in
boyfriends or girlfriends and that sort of thing to getting right with God.
Later those people bring other family members to Christ."
Taking church beyond the walls is the focus of Miller and Mission
But learning to reach out to the people in her mission field didn't come
easily for Miller. As she discovered, there can be parts of our upbringing that
get in the way of ministry.
"I come from a family of law enforcement officers. My whole life I've had it
drilled into my head that you don't go around gangs, don't go into bad
neighborhoods, don't go around places where there are drugs," she says.
"God had to show me that those people need Jesus just like everybody else
I had to go out of my comfort zone into places where I was uncomfortable and
didn't feel safe. The Lord had to work on me about my attitude. It was easy to
look down on people in situations like that. But that's not what we're here
for. It's a faith-building experience when God starts working on you like
"Our pastor stood up at the business meeting and said he'd quit before he
saw the church cut the mission offering. He said he would take a cut in pay to
make the funds available," said member Thomas Fanning.
By all accounts, God honored pastor Stan Gillcash's bold stance. In a matter
of months the church recovered from near bankruptcy. New Hope even increased
its mission giving.
At about the same time, Fanning went on his first mission trip. An
electrician by trade, Fanning went with Gillcash to work at Mid-America Baptist
Theological Seminary's satellite campus. The experience opened Fanning's heart
to a world of service he'd never known. It made him eager to bring others with
"I've always been vocal about my faith at work. People know where I stand.
They know we drive 70 miles from Ontario to Waterton to attend church. But
going to help at the seminary made me want to see others get involved too,"
His wife of 30 years, Judy, got the message early and became the church's
mission director. Before long the mission trips were including Vacation Bible
Schools. New Hope's members began preparing to share their faith.
New Hope can even claim the genesis of a North American Mission Board
ministry. When the Bass Master Tour came to town, pastor Gillcash jumped at the
chance to host a fishing clinic. It was the first time NAMB missionary Glenn
Chappelear used a fishing clinic to share his faith. It confirmed for
Chappelear that a fisherman could be a missionary, because two men at the event
accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.
For Gillcash it was just another confirmation that missions are too
important to neglect.
"I served as an assistant pastor in Alaska while stationed there in the
military. I received a lot of training from older pastors who told me, 'Never
cut missions.' I took that to heart. We didn't cut missions, and God has proven
Himself to be true," Gillcash said.
Fanning says the evidence clearly bears out Gillcash's faith. Since that
Sunday business meeting, New Hope has received a $10,000 matching grant from a
member, and has 22 members in F.A.I.T.H. training (see page 53; F.A.I.T.H. is
available from LifeWay).
New Hope has church planting in its future, sponsoring its first start this
year. And New Hope is wired. "Judy started going on the Internet to find prayer
requests and information about missions. She found the International Mission
Board's Global Priority Church initiative. We adopted Botswana when George
Kitchner, a retired missionary from Botswana, joined New Hope."
Fanning placed his faith in Christ at a young age. He remained faithful
through his years in the military and his daring family's move to Canada, but
it was his initial involvement in missions at New Hope that showed him the
need--both for him and others--to be about missions.
"Love drew me into missions--the love we received from the people at New
Hope. They really cared about us and showed it in tangible ways. And they
prayed for us. I know you can't feel prayers, but I could feel their prayers.
That motivated me to get involved. Once you get started, you get hooked.
Helping people, helping other churches and seeing people have the opportunity
to respond in faith to Christ just makes you want to do more," Fanning
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