Isaac causes flooding in Haiti, Arkansas Baptist convention camp not affected

Watch a video about Isaac in Haiti.

LEOGANE, Haiti – Flooding, food shortages, destroyed crops and other damage has occurred in Haiti as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac, according to Haitian nationals who serve alongside Arkansas Baptists in the country. 

No Arkansas Baptist volunteers were in Haiti at the time the storm hit the island. The Arkansas Baptist camp in Leogane was not damaged.

“The folks we serve in the Leogane area had quite a setback from the storm named Isaac,” said Bob Fielding of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) missions ministries team. Fielding is posting updates regarding the storm at ABSC Haiti Response blog at http://abschaiti.blogspot.com.

Since January 2010, Arkansas Baptists have had a continuing presence in Haiti with volunteers doing church planting, training rural trainers, and the construction of permanent homes, evangelism, dental teams, medical teams and other ministries. 

“To date, almost 90 separate teams have partnered with the ABSC, numbering almost 550 Arkansas Baptists. They have led some 4,300 people to Christ, including eight Voodoo priests,” said Fielding, who asked for prayer for feeding efforts that started today (Aug. 27). 

“Our initial response of $5,000 will enable our partner to get much needed food to the neediest of victims,” said Fielding. 

“Please pray for Arkansas Baptist Churches from Dewitt, Stuttgart, Jonesboro, Dardanelle and Van Buren that have adopted geographic areas around our base and have on-going ministries in Haiti,” he said. “Many other churches and BCM’s send in teams on an annual basis to work in areas as needed.”

Fielding said Arkansas Baptists interested in ways to provide additional assistance should contact Jill Modlin at jmodlin@absc.org.


1,350 attend; 49 accept Christ at HuntFest

A bluegrass group performs at HuntFest.LITTLE ROCK – In all, 49 decisions for Christ were recorded at HuntFest: A Fellowship for Men and Boys, held Aug. 25, at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. This is the fourth year HuntFest was sponsored by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC). 1,350 men and boys attended the event.

Jimmy Houston, called “America’s Favorite Fisherman,” and host of a fishing show that has run on TV for 35 years, was the featured speaker at HuntFest, sharing fishing tales and his testimony. 

Jimmy Houston shares fishing tales and his testimony.Houston’s TV show, “Jimmy Houston Outdoors,” appeared on ESPN for 20 years before moving to NBC Sports and other channels. He appears at hundreds of bass tournaments each year and is “always ready to share a fishing story or his faith in Christ,” according to his biographical information. Houston is the author of several books, including a new “Catch of the Day” devotional that includes fishing tips and stories. Houston will speak at 7 p.m.

“Our goal with HuntFest is to have a high-energy, high-impact men and boys event that is fun, fellowship-oriented and evangelistic,” said Sonny Tucker, leader of the ABSC evangelism and church growth team, prior to the event. “We will share the gospel using a high-profile national personality sharing his faith story that leads into the plan of salvation followed by an invitation where the attendees are given a chance to commit their lives to Christ.”

Tucker added that churches across Arkansas were planning to use HuntFest for outreach.

“While this event is open to the entire state, many churches have stated that this will become their churches sportsman’s banquet for their men and boys and an outreach event for their unchurched prospects,” he said.


New Hope Baptist extends mission to Texarkana, Kansas

CARAWAY – The Great Commission in Matthew 28 and the challenge of Acts 1:8 are directives and not optional parts of Scripture set aside for those called to some faraway part of the world, believes Heath Hawkins, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Caraway.

“No, they are for every single believer and something (we take to heart),” said Hawkins.

“When I came to New Hope three years ago, I told them up front I had a heart for missions that start at home and extends to the ends of the earth,” Hawkins explained.

This summer members of New Hope – which averages 65 in Sunday worship – did just that by completing two mission trips to their Judea (Texarkana) and Samaria (Kansas).

In mid-June a group from the church traveled to Texarkana to work with Life House Ministries, said Hawkins.

“This unique fellowship, led by Pastor James Ross, is reaching out to the Jerusalem outside their door. That happens to be one of the most economically depressed parts of the city. They host a community meal twice per week and will pick up anyone who needs a ride,” said Hawkins, adding, “Every week they fellowship with homeless men and women, prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics and those in their community that just need a little help.”

The goal of the New Hope mission team was to love as Christ loved, he said.

“The team of adults and teens was able to help prepare and serve meals, prayer walk, visit the four new churches that Life House is planting, as well as other unique ministry opportunities. This was the second time in three years that New Hope ministered alongside Life House.”

A second trip by New Hope members took them to Concordia, Kan., to work with CrossPoint Church. CrossPoint is a member of Smoky Hills Baptist Association.

“This marked the first weeklong out-of-state mission trip for New Hope Baptist Church,” said Hawkins.
“The (association) is comprised of 15 counties, but only 12 Southern Baptist works. Ken Beckner is the director of missions, and he and his wife, Brenda, sold their house in Salina, where the association office is, and moved to Concordia,” he said. “Three times in the past Southern Baptists have tried to start a work in the community but have not been successful. Bro. Ken and Brenda prayerfully decided to move there and start building relationships from the inside. They currently meet each Sunday in the meeting room of the Holiday Inn Express with about 15-20 people.  

“Pray for them, that God will continue to bless and grow their ministry.”

Hawkins said while in Kansas part of the team spent the morning at the local sports complex scraping and painting bleachers at the baseball fields. Previous mission teams had painted fire hydrants throughout the city.  

“Bro. Ken feels this is a great way to build rapport with the city, as well as building relationships, and it seems to be working. Two of the members of CrossPoint are city workers who we worked alongside.  Another part of the team spent the morning hanging siding on one of the closest churches in the association, what was in a town about 45 minutes away,” he said.

The mission team spent afternoons prayer walking the community, doing a nursing home service and preparing for Back Yard Bible Club (BYBC).  

“The BYBC was held in the yard of one of the city workers we had met and worked with,” said Hawkins. “The whole team came together to sing, tell Bible stories, play games and create fun crafts. Every night there were new kids that came to find out what was going on. It was awesome to see the kids’ faces light up, especially knowing that many of them had never really heard much about Jesus before.”

Hawkins said living in a small town in northeast Arkansas with five Southern Baptist churches makes it hard to imagine a place like Concordia, Kan.  

“(It is) a town much bigger than my own, but until two years ago had no Southern Baptist church. Not only is it the only SBC work in the town, but also in the entire county. It was so eye-opening that this Midwestern state would be so different from ours spiritually. Regardless of where you are, there are people all around us who need Jesus,” he said.

“This summer has challenged New Hope to examine how we can better show the love of Jesus to our own Jerusalem.”


‘Bible storying’ reaches culture

FOR CENTURIES, missionaries have told stories from the Bible as a way to communicate the gospel to those they are trying to reach.

This approach is now being used by several Arkansas churches to disciple their members and teach the Bible to others who did not grow up in the Church.

Avery Willis, the late Southern Baptist leader in missions and author of “MasterLife” discipleship material, is widely considered the pioneer of the use of “Bible storying.”

Jonathan Curtis, teaching pastor at First Baptist Church, Little Rock, portrays a Bible character at the Fellowship of Retired Baptist Workers annual meeting.Marcus Brown, the discipleship consultant on the Arkansas Baptist State Convention evangelism and church growth team, learned the Bible storying strategy from Willis and now leads workshops on the approach. He also leads a Bible storying group each Wednesday evening at his own church, New Life Baptist Church in Alexander.

“I have never had more fun teaching the Bible,” Brown said. “It’s a great strategy, and I think it’s a great way for the church to disciple people.”

The strategy calls for the leader to tell a story from the Bible accurately and without embellishment, Brown explained. From there, the leader invites the group members to open their Bibles to the story so they can see it themselves. The leader then asks discussion questions designed to help the group members understand and apply the story.

Shayne Baker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Charleston, attended a conference on Bible storying and said the idea interested him because his church was looking for ways to increase attendance on Sunday nights. Since employing the approach last year, attendance has risen from an average of about 20 to more than 60-70 people on Sunday nights

The Sunday night service opens with a Bible story, and then the congregation separates into small groups made up of people of all ages. The groups have an icebreaker, share prayer concerns and then discuss the significance of the Bible story.

Baker said Bible storying has been a great tool for his church.

“People grew up hearing the stories,” Baker said. “This gives them a chance to make sure they understand the story and the purpose of it.”

One of the exciting parts of the strategy, he added, is that children can be involved with adults when discussing the Bible stories. The stories have included Zacchaeus, David and Goliath and Nehemiah rebuilding the wall.

First Baptist Church, Nashville is using Bible storying in a different way, said Don Fletcher, deacon chairman.
Fletcher said the church has a great group of fathers who did not grow up hearing Bible stories.

“We wondered how we could get them involved and get them growing and thought this might be a way to do it,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher and several men will lead the group and – though they are just getting started – he believes the ministry will grow.

“I think it will be a real good addition to the biblical studies in our church,” Fletcher said. “It’s simple, concise and there’s time for interaction.”

Brown said telling Bible stories should not be limited to children’s ministry. Bible storying with adults and students is gaining traction in Arkansas with great success. He is willing to provide training for any church interested in Bible storying and can be reached at mbrown@absc.org or 800-838-2272, ext. 5128.


$22 million budget proposed by ABSC

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Executive Board approved a $22 million Cooperative Program budget proposal for 2013, which is slightly higher than the $21.4 million 2012 operating budget.

The 2013 budget recommendation will be voted on by messengers attending the ABSC Annual Meeting Oct. 30-31 at First Baptist Church, Cabot.

Meeting Aug. 2, the budget approved by the board reflects the first year of the ABSC’s new budget formula approved by messengers at the 2011 annual meeting. The formula – which will be in effect for the 2013-17 budget years – increases the percentage of funds (total receipts) forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), with budget surpluses being divided with the SBC. Additionally, the formula directs the convention to conduct a statewide emphasis every five years encouraging churches to increase their Cooperative Program percentage.

In February 2011, executive directors of state conventions agreed to affirm a portion of the Great Commission Resurgence report requesting a 50/50 division of Cooperative Program funds – after consideration for “shared ministry” items. ABSC messengers approved at the 2011 annual meeting in Little Rock a recommendation by the ABSC Budget Formula Study Committee increasing the percentage which are given to the SBC Executive Committee for the next five years by the same two-tenths percent a year. 2012 will be the sixth consecutive year the ABSC has increased its percentage to SBC causes. In 2012, shared ministries total $2.2 million, or 10.28 percent of the ABSC budget.

Emil Turner, ABSC executive director, said the 2013 budget proposal not only continues to increase the percentage of funds directed to the SBC – but it also allows Arkansas Baptists to assists smaller conventions.

“It (allows) us to help new work conventions in ministries that are diminished by budget cuts,” said Turner. “We are grateful for the faithful commitment to the Cooperative Program demonstrated by our churches.”

In other action, the board:

– Heard a testimony from new staff member Willie Jacobs, who is serving as urban church planter strategist for the ABSC missions ministries team. In his role, Jacobs focuses on urban areas and the Delta region, and in church planting primarily among African-American churches. “I am excited what God is getting ready to do in Arkansas,” Jacobs told the board.

– Recognized the following outgoing board members: David Dillard of Sparkman, Paul Grant of Van Buren, Gene Tanner of Casa, Wade Totty of Rison, Paul Lancaster of Mountain View, Travis Berry of Arkadelphia, Larry White of Hardy, Gerald Kausler of Trumann, Dale Sykes of Mountain Home, Dolores Case of Fairfield Bay and Nora Earnest of Pottsville.

– Agreed with a recommendation of the Program Committee to approve 2013 goals for all ABSC teams.

– Approved the annual audit of the convention. Turner told the board the audit is “clean as a hound’s tooth. It is a good, unqualified audit.”

– Approved a recommendation from the ABSC administration reaffirming a policy of the board regarding the release of information regarding ABSC employee salaries. An ABSC Executive Board policy on the matter was approved in November 1983 and updated in August 2002. It states, “Salaries of Executive Board employees are to be made available, by the Executive Director, to any Arkansas Baptist upon request. The Executive Director is to exercise caution to see that the salaries of the Executive Board employees are neither written, published or distributed.”

– Heard an update from Turner regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the convention and providing health care for employees. “We have never purchased an insurance policy that has had as a benefit any abortion services. We have never done that and will not do that in the future. However, the insurance provider may have no choice about that,” said Turner. “At this point it is not impacting us, but it is a factor for the future of all of us.” Turner encouraged churches to contact Dan Jordan, team leader of the ABSC business affairs team, for more information how the new law potentially will affect their church. Jordan may be contacted at 501-376-4791, ext. 5171, or by email at djordan@absc.org.

– Approved the ABSC’s continued financial support of a leadership meeting in Southeast Asia conducted in cooperation with the International Mission Board. Turner said the ABSC has participated in the conference for the past three years, providing vacation Bible school for the children of missionaries. “It’s amazing. It’s the first time in a year that some of these children are around Anglo believers,” said Turner.