Missions, mentoring among Lane Prairie’s priorities

JOSHUA—A world map in the worship center reminds members of Lane Prairie Baptist Church in Joshua, Texas, of the Great Commission weekly, and they’re working to see pins marking at least 10 locations of missionaries sent from their church through the International Mission Board. 

Toward that end, the church recently hired Travis Kerns as associate pastor of missions and mentoring. Kerns served as a Send City Missionary in Salt Lake City with the North American Mission Board for six years before moving to Fort Worth as associate professor of apologetics and world religions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Matt Queen, associate dean of Southwestern’s school of evangelism and missions, is a member of Lane Prairie, and with longtime pastor Jerry Clements and executive pastor Ricky Fuchs, the four are serious about getting the gospel to the ends of the earth as they shared in a recent Zoom conference call with the TEXAN.

“We want to be a Great Commission church. That’s our desire, and that means not only do we share in Jerusalem but Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world,” said Clements, who will mark 22 years as pastor of Lane Prairie in February.

So far, the church is supporting—largely through Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving and through regular contacts—David and Kristin Washer, IMB workers in Madagascar. The Washers were members of Lane Prairie while they were students at Southwestern, and they were instrumental in “talking up missions,” Queen said.

“To have somebody with flesh and blood whose family is going to be on the field was really good, and it really pumped our people up for missions,” Queen said. “In fact, we’ve got several lay people who talk to Washer weekly. They’re contacting him, and our staff keeps in contact with him.”

Lane Prairie, a 150-year-old congregation, had a chance to contribute to a specific need in Madagascar recently. 

“Someone went to a village the other day and the whole village was dead from starvation,” Clements said. Lane Prairie immediately sent $5,000 through the IMB and planned to send more. “He can feed a whole village for a month with $5,000,” Clements said of Washer.

Clements expressed a desire to challenge other churches to send $1,000 through the IMB in care of David Washer to prevent people from starving in Madagascar. He noted that in three months, the Washers shared the gospel more than 1,000 times and saw 84 professions of faith, which is “pretty phenomenal in that area.”

“We’re so proud of them,” Clements said. 

Kerns said the church aims to send “as many as the Lord will give us as quickly as the Lord will give them to us.” To aid that goal, Lane Prairie launched a mentoring program a year ago to train students in a local church context. 

“Seminary can teach you a lot of things in a classroom, but there’s only so much it can teach you in a classroom,” Kerns told the TEXAN. “We can talk about how to run a deacons meeting in a seminary classroom, but then you get into a deacons meeting and realize it’s a whole different ballgame.”

In addition to strong Cooperative Program giving, Lane Prairie is identifying seminary students who are called to missions or the local church, and they’re adopting six students per semester as interns. 

“They come to our church, and we train them how to preach a sermon, how to teach a Sunday School class, how to serve the Lord,” Clements said. “We invest in them. We give them $800 a month toward their tuition or housing or whatever they need.”

To reach the local community, Lane Prairie hosts Operation Backpack each August, inviting students to receive school supplies, clothing and shoes. The year before COVID-19 was their biggest yet with nearly 600 children receiving supplies. The church also led Good News Clubs in four of the five local elementary schools before the pandemic. 

At Thanksgiving, the church gives out baskets of meal supplies for families in need, and each time, they tell about Jesus.

“We’ve seen people saved through every single one of those ministries,” Fuchs, the executive pastor, said. “As we do every single one of these, the gospel is at the forefront.”

Clements, whose father was pastor of First Baptist Church in Brownsville years ago and who has three brothers who are pastors, is battling blood cancer, which returned after nine years in remission. 

“Pastor Jerry is fighting the good fight and running the race with endurance, even in this season of life,” Tony Wolfe, church health and leadership senior strategist with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said. “He is faithful. He is leading well. He is reproducing. He is an inspiration. He is the SBTC.”

Clements told the TEXAN, “God gets all the glory.” 

TEXAN Correspondent
Erin Roach
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