volunteering in missions
Microbiologist Isaac Sterling says it’s easy for him to share the gospel in
other countries, but reaching his local community for Christ is his next
challenge. Gail Autry, a strategy war planning specialist for the Pentagon,
wants to reach her neighborhood as well. She has a heart for the single mothers
in her community. Shawn Richardson, a self employed handiman, is devoting two
days a week to spreading a missions vision to local pastors and sharing the
gospel at PTA meetings and with local school administrators. Retiree Shirley
Cambridge wants to reach her Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the
earth. She’s been to New Orleans for mudouts following Hurricane Katrina, and
she’s been to Paris, France, to share Christ with her “fellow African-American
brothers and sisters.” These four live within a short drive of Washington D.C.,
they all attend El-Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Maryland, and they
all want to change the world for Christ. These and 60 plus more like them are
the result of 13 years of teaching and prayer. Recently, the entire
congregation of El-Bethel were commissioned as missionaries and even given
certificates from the International Mission Board (IMB) and the North American
Mission Board (NAMB).
“I wanted our congregation to see themselves as ministers and missionaries
who embraced the Acts 1:8 challenge in their communities,” says Reverend James
Dixon, pastor of El-Bethel. “The next great awakening can only take place when
people can see us living out the gospel as well as telling it. People need to
see the Christ we’re talking about.”
Reverend James Dixon, Jr., presents Gregory Long, who
uses mime performance to share the gospel, with a certificate recognizing his
dedication to missions and evangelism.
Photos by Lakeya Jones
“It gave me a sense that I’ve got official sanction to go forth and do what
we’re called to do. Seek and save that which is lost,” says Isaac Sterling.
Says Shawn Richardson: “Before the commissioning I wasn’t moving toward sharing
the vision with other churches. But now I’m trying to bring other churches on
board with what we’re doing.”
For Reverend Dixon, the commissioning was the birth at the end of a
decade-long gestation of teaching on missions and the Great Commission.
“In our church, if you don’t do missions and evangelism, you don’t fit
Allye Guthrie’s first period class had
never been terribly exciting to her. Typing did little to stir the imagination
of the 11th grader who hoped one day to be a missionary nurse. But the moment
she walked into the room in early February her shirt drew the attention of a
small crowd. “What’s The Way?” someone asked, referring to the bold words
emblazoned across her blue t-shirt. Four others got curious. As Allye shared
about her relationship with Christ, some light bulbs went on.
“One girl began crying,” recounts the articulate 17-year-old who at the time
was a new believer.
Conversations like this happened in middle and high schools throughout the
Ft. Worth area as students from more than a dozen churches gathered at their
schools to prayerwalk the halls before school, pray for faculty and answer
questions about the notorious blue t-shirts emblazoned with potentially
It all started when five youth pastors in the Ft. Worth area asked the
question “What if we got together and had all our kids studying the same Bible
studies, praying the same prayers and wearing the same t-shirts for one month?”
In the end 17 churches (mostly Southern Baptist but a few other denominations)
jumped on board and a mini revival broke out as blue-t-shirt-donning teens got
serious about prayer and bringing the gospel to their schools.
Buddy Hunter, youth pastor of Harvest Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas,
tells the story of three guys who were lost until two of their friends started
praying for them.
“It was cool to watch these guys start
praying with a burden for their lost friends. One by one they started accepting
the truth. One had been in drug rehab. Another came from a really bad family
situation. The other guy was athletic and popular and saw no need for God. It
was amazing to then see these new believers pray for their lost friends to get
saved. God overwhelmed them with His truth and love,” Buddy says.
As the month of February came to a close, the momentum for The Way picked up
and the youth pastors realized it would go beyond a simple experiment. “These
students have taken the ball and run with it.”
While there’s no “official” gathering anymore, students still meet on
Thursdays for prayer and are still boldly sharing their faith and wearing their
blue t-shirts. Now the movement is crossing into other areas of North America
as churches download Bible studies and order The Way t-shirts online.
“Whether you call it a movement or revival or whatever, The Way is something
God is using to reach students,” says Buddy.
To learn more about The Way and to start a similar ministry in your city, visit
Want to know what people groups are living in your community? www.peoplegroups.info, a
project cosponsored by the International Mission Board and the North American
Mission Board, seeks to identify the nations within our nation. This online
database of people groups in North America also allows you to report on people
groups living in your area, request people group resources and network with
other people group workers.
www.peoplegroups.org Your church has decided to adopt and
pray for a different African country each month but you’re just not sure how
many tribes there are in Burkina Faso. And you certainly don’t know about their
religion or language. Instead of calling the U.S. Embassy in Botswana, log on
to this website and have important information at your fingertips.
articles on defending your faith and download the latest radio broadcasts from
Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias and others. Ravi Zacharias International
Ministries is a leader in presenting a Christian worldview to skeptics
worldwide. This website is a great resource to pass to people looking for
answers or those trying to respond to tough questions of faith with gentleness
By Connie Cavanaugh
Can’t get your guy friends to come to church? How
about inviting them to a weekend of whitewater rafting, cliffside rappelling,
camping and cooking over an open fire? Finish off with a worship experience and
Dan Kelly, a firefighter and member of Sequoia Community Church in Ottawa,
Ontario, was inspired to organize a guys-only weekend in the spring of 2004 in
order to reach the non-Christian men in their community.
Eighteen churchmen and their friends signed up and headed out for a
three-day paddle down the rushing 45-mile Lower Petawawa River. What a trip!
Five near-death experiences—one man fell while rappelling and a canoe
capsize—resulted in a bonding experience like nothing they’d ever known.
Joe Prestera, who fell 20 feet and landed on his back without injury, felt
no need for spiritual things prior to his fall. Joe gave his life to Christ
after hearing Pastor Rick’s message Sunday morning challenging men to be like
Moses and lay down their staffs. Joe admitted that his staff was pride. He laid
it down and was baptized in the river moments later.
Last spring, 32 men signed up. They paddled the same rapids but found a much
higher cliff to “swing” from. Dan’s brother-in-law Alan Ryckman had never been
interested in church, but when he was swallowed up in the adventure of men
seeking God and thrills, he was hooked. Alan responded to Pastor Rick’s Sunday
morning message and gave his heart to Christ. He and three others were baptized
“This was an opportunity to learn how to work through our struggles together
as brothers in Christ,” says Dan.
Plans are already in the making for this year’s trip. Sequoia Community Church
is thinking about trying a couple’s outdoor adventure in addition to the men’s
For tips on how to plan a similar event go to www.sequoiachurch.org and
contact the staff.
Connie Cavanaugh is a writer living in Cochrane, Alberta.
You can’t help but think of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress when you hear
the story of Jonathan Carter, who spent six months last year traveling the
2,175-mile Appalachian Trail. As a chaplain for AT Servants, an outreach
organization formed by MSC missionaries Craig and Suzy Miles, Jonathan walked,
suffered and triumphed alongside soul-searchers and long-term vacationers all
connected by the common ground of the trail.
“I hiked with people who’d been to prison. Married and divorced. One hiker
was only a few years out of high school. A couple were atheists,” Jonathan
says. “People come out here for one of two reasons: either they’re soul
searching or they’re on an extended vacation. Either way they’re searching for
something and 10-to-12-mile days provide a lot of time to think and
Jonathan’s job as a trail chaplain was to come alongside people and offer
them the hope of Christ no matter their reason for the long hike. From March to
September Jonathan traveled the trail stretching from Georgia to Maine and
formed friendships he still maintains. Best of all, he planted gospel seeds in
people he probably would never have met otherwise.
In an upcoming issue of On Mission, learn more about Jonathan and MSC
missionaries Craig and Suzy Miles who brave the rough physical and spiritual
terrain of the trail as instruments of God’s grace.
For more information on how you and your church can join the on-going
journey of AT Servants, visit www.atservants.org.
Here are 10 questions that will help you turn conversations to spiritual
matters. Putting some of these questions in your own words and weaving them
into your daily interactions will build your confidence and open doors for
sharing the gospel. Try them with a neighbor, family member, friend or stranger
and enjoy one of the greatest privileges we have as believers—telling the good
Some women gave up Starbucks for several weeks. Another committed to stop
smoking after 20 years, an expensive habit at $8 a pack. One single mom rescued
by Christ out of a drug addiction three years ago agreed to set aside $25 of
her social assistance check every week. She also collected and redeemed soda
cans. These represent a group of 22 women who raised $15,000 for a mission trip
to Georgia this past spring. Churches could have supported them, but then that
would have defeated the purpose.
“We gathered our pennies and nickels to see how the Lord would provide,” says
Alicia Madden, mission trip leader and wife of Steven Madden, pastor of The
Potter’s House Community Church in Westbank, British Columbia.
For almost five years, The Potter’s House had been thriving on raised
support and the support of four sponsoring churches in Georgia. In pioneer
areas, which describes most of Canada, church plants rely on larger, more
established churches to carry out ministries and plant other church starts. It
often takes many years before churches in those areas become independent. But
The Potter’s House, which still relies on tithes and teams from First Baptist
Church in Peachtree City, New Hope Community Church in Fayatteville and several
other Georgia churches, wants to be a church that knows how to give back.
In April, the women led a women’s retreat in Georgia then split into groups
on Sunday to share their stories with sponsoring churches.
“I felt that if our women could go and share their faith and have
conversations about what God is doing in Westbank, then our sponsor churches
would get even more excited about more church starts in Canada,” Alicia says.
“It also gave our southern partners a greater appreciation for what God is
doing through their giving.”
But as with any service, the person serving receives blessings as well.
Alicia says that by visiting churches much larger than any in Canada, the 22
participants came back with bigger dreams and a more contagious vision for
reaching Canada for Christ.
To learn how you can become a sponsoring church and help your congregation
achieve the dream of church planting visit www.churchplantingvillage.net.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC