LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Baptist State Convention missions ministries team wants to “come alongside” churches to impact the ends of the earth,” said Robby Tingle, ABSC missions ministries team leader, in the State Missions Report at the annual meeting.
“We want to support and encourage you,” he continued, noting the team bases its ministry on Acts 1:8, seeking to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the world.
Tingle interviewed several people who have been involved in missions in Arkansas.
Hunter Thompson, a student at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, served as a Kaleo student summer missionary this past summer. He said his summer experience helped to shape his call to ministry. In addition, he encouraged pastors to seek out young people in their churches who may be dealing with a call to ministry. “Find them and encourage them,” he said. … Give them opportunities to serve … and time to practice what they feel like they are called to do.”
In 2009, churches affiliated with Greene County Baptist Association saw 275 baptisms, said Dave White, associational missionary. “But in 2011, it was almost 400.”
White attributed the increase in baptisms to the glory of God and to the fact that more people in churches in the association have become involved in missions.
Church members in his association were inspired by their participation in the Mississippi River ministry project held in Pine Bluff. For this reason, the association held a similar mission project in Greene County. In addition, the association hosts block parties around the state.
White believes the increase in mission involvement “wouldn’t have happened” without the support of the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering and the ABSC missions ministries team. “They got involved in our association and it has been very effective to the work of the Lord,” he said.
Tingle said the missions ministries team would be “delighted” to share with those who are interested how to become “involved and engaged in ministry” in Arkansas.
In addition, Tingle noted that God is continuing to move in Kansas and Nebraska, where Arkansas Baptists have been involved for a number of years, working alongside churches in those states.
“We are seeing God do some incredible things,” said Tingle, noting a cooperative spirit among Arkansas Baptists.
Tingle said God is using young adults, including some from Baptist universities such as Ouachita Baptist University, to plant churches.
Aaron Harvey, a Ouachita Baptist graduate, who serves as a church planter in Philadelphia, said though he never thought God would take him from Arkansas to his current ministry, he has seen Him start a church that is multiplying.
“God is on a move of multiplication,” Harvey said, inviting Arkansas Baptists to join him to minister in Philadelphia.
African-American church planting is another way that God is at work in Arkansas, said Tingle. “Because of your support of the Cooperative Program, we are going to see five brand new (African-American) churches started for the Kingdom of God,” he said, also noting the team is working with churches to develop a strategy to reach urban areas in Arkansas.
James Bell, a church planter who has started Victory Ministries in Clarksville, said during the first service of the new mission, which began meeting on the campus of the University of the Ozarks in March, two people in attendance “came running to the altar, screaming and crying, asking, ‘What must I do to be saved.’”
Since that time, Bell said they have witnessed miracles happen in the lives of the people who have become part of the church. “God has … shown the community that it’s not about us, it all about Him,” he said.
The Clarksville church start has baptized 46 new believers and has grown from 10 members to 160, according to Bell.
Emil Turner, ABSC executive director, prayed for church planters involved in ministry in Arkansas to close the report.