Author: Jayson Larson

Svajda joins SBTC as pastoral ministries associate

GRAPEVINE— Anthony Svajda has been named pastoral ministries associate in the Church Health & Leadership department of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He was officially hired by the SBTC Executive Board in April and began work in May.

Among Svajda’s duties will be overseeing SBTC’s Regenesis church revitalization strategy. The goal of Regenesis is to help church’s in jumpstarting the revitalization process.

Svajda has served as lead pastor at Harvey Baptist Church in Stephenville since 2015 and has also served as an associate pastor, collegiate pastor, and student pastor in locations including Jewett, Colleyville, Keller, and Watauga. He received his Ph.D. in evangelism and church vitalization from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2018 and his Master of Divinity in evangelism from SWBTS in 2013.

Svajda and his wife, Kristen, have two children. In addition to his pastoral duties, he currently serves as a member of the SBTC Executive Board.

To connect with Svajda, e-mail asvajda@sbtexas.com.

SBTC, GuideStone partner to give Mission:Dignity recipients extra check

Mission:Dignity recipients in Texas will receive an extra check — a 13th check — in 2022, thanks to efforts from churches and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

The SBTC marks the seventh state convention to offer such an arrangement between Mission:Dignity/GuideStone and state conventions.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to bless those who came before us and served our Lord faithfully and sacrificially,” said Nathan Lorick, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “The Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention unanimously and enthusiastically approved the motion to grant a 13th check to Texas recipients of the Mission Dignity ministry. We trust the Lord will use this gift to meet a need and provide encouragement at just the right time.”

In 2022, Mission:Dignity will help more than 2,500 individuals with extra money needed for housing, food and vital medications. It also ensures a well-deserved dignity, independence and, often, the ability to continue serving the Lord. In May, some 275 Texas recipients will receive a 13th check — equal to a normal monthly check. Just over 2/3 of the Mission:Dignity recipients in Texas are pastor’s widows. Texas is home to more Mission:Dignity recipients than any other state.

“We are so thankful for the partnership, now with seven state conventions, to provide an extra check to each participant in the Mission:Dignity ministry,” GuideStone President Hance Dilbeck said. “The men and women we serve through Mission:Dignity are truly deserving of a double honor, which Mission:Dignity certainly is. That so many state conventions have caught this vision is a blessing to those we serve. I am reminded of Paul’s remarks about another offering to help the poor — For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:12 CSB)

Mission:Dignity expressed its thankfulness for the efforts of SBTC churches.

“All of us at Mission:Dignity are thankful for Nathan Lorick, the executive board of the SBTC and their churches across Texas,” said Aaron Meraz, director of Mission:Dignity. “The pastors and widows we serve are truly deserving of these gifts. Because of the SBTC’s ‘whole life’ initiative to care for the most vulnerable among our churches, Texas recipients will be receiving an extra blessing this year.”

For more information on Mission:Dignity, to give, to apply for assistance or to refer someone in need, visit MissionDignity.org.

A church I’d join

I write this from a foreign land. Tammi and I moved to Northwest Arkansas last spring and had the experience of doing something we’ve done only a few times in our 46 years together—deciding which church to join.

As a church staff member, the choice was made for me. Grace Baptist Church expected their youth guy to join Grace Baptist Church. For my last 20 years as a layman, we were members of one church. It’s different being the new guy in a new church. If you’re a pastor or staff member, you may be unaccustomed to having to evaluate churches; but the people who join your church have likely done so. Maybe by sharing what we thought about before joining First Baptist Fayetteville, Arkansas, I can help you think about the experience of potential church members in your church.

First, let me say that we didn’t primarily base our decision on the Sunday service—music and preaching. Granted, there is a baseline there of serious (not grim, not silly) music that we expect from any church, as well as preaching that highlights the gospel and comes from the Bible. A person can’t assume those baseline things, but I am assuming you have already established those priorities in your ministry. Here are some things we did consider:

Cooperation

Simply, we didn’t want a church that had a small or casual relationship with the rest of our Southern Baptist fellowship. That means participation, as in more than 5 percent, in the Cooperative Program. Cooperation means that the church makes a big deal about the Lottie Moon missions offering. It means that the church is Southern Baptist in its actions. I think your church will benefit from having new members who think cooperation matters. What would be your answer if a knowledgeable prospective member asked about your participation in the SBC?

Interest in us

When we moved back to Texas in 2001, we visited about 10 churches. No more than four even called us after we filled out a visitor card. We joined one of those four. Our primary questions were not details about the church ministries—we knew how to find those things out. Question No. 1 had to do with whether the church was remotely serious about reaching new people.

Stability

There’s a feeling of disorder or decline in some churches. While many churches go through times of transition, that’s not what I mean. Does the church seem to have its priorities in hand? I’ve seen pretty small churches that were doing the basic things as well as they could, even without a pastor. I’ve seen larger and well-established churches that were not. New members aren’t eager to jump into chaos.

Evangelism

Does the pastor share his faith? Is he pushing that priority out through the membership by providing opportunities and training to share the gospel? It’s very basic, but it’s also something many churches find difficult. A visitor who believes his church should be evangelistic can tell pretty quickly if this is a priority.

Opportunity

I’d never join a church if I didn’t think I’d be put to work. I had a friend who was a trained chef. She was a humble lady, but she could cook! She wanted to help with Wednesday night meals at her church but found the hospitality committee “didn’t need any new person messing up the system they’d used for years.” However that story plays out in your church—committees, teaching, ushering—new members need a way in. I can’t imagine assimilating into a church if it didn’t need me to serve. God wouldn’t lead me to a church that doesn’t need what He has gifted me to do.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

A happy, prayerful, grateful fellowship of believers is an effective church. It’s never perfect or universal in joy, but a happy church is generally sweet, and it is led by loving people. I haven’t always done this, but I’d counsel that a person spends enough time in a church to determine if this is the sort of culture they are joining. Are these people who will lift you up in your walk with God?

We’ve joined churches as small as 50 and as large as 10,000, so my point should be applicable to your church. Finding out about the experience of those who visit your church could be as helpful as those surveys restaurants solicit after you visit them. It tells them if you intend to come back and why or why not. The work of your church and mine is even more important than Chick-Fil-A!

Are there some things you should consider to better reflect the important mission of your church as it is experienced by newcomers? Are you leading a church that you’d join if you had a choice?

Salado church destroyed by tornado rises over adversity to continue ministry

SALADO—Tornadoes can hit with an unheralded ferocity.

On April 12, weather reports indicated a “slight chance” of severe weather in this Central Texas town of about 3,000 residents located down Interstate 35 between Waco and Austin. Donnie Jackson, pastor of First Cedar Valley Baptist Church, heard the reports. After radar indicated a strong and building storm was heading their way, he and his son, Donnie Van, watched from the porch as his wife, Linda, took the grandchildren inside to huddle inside a closet.

The two men would soon join the rest of the family.

“All of the sudden it just exploded,” the pastor said. “We couldn’t see the tornado, there were too many trees—but we sure could hear it.”

The EF-3 tornado that swept over them made a deafening noise, mixing in with the sound of baseball-sized hailstones pelting their metal roof, crying children, and prayer.

Then it was over.

They emerged after about five minutes to see the property intact—the first sign of destruction some 300 yards away. “All I could hear were sirens from every direction,” Jackson said.

The five-acre church property about a mile-and-a-half from the pastor’s home told a different story.

An historic church continues ministry

“The tornado wiped out everything,” Jackson said. Large oaks and 200-year-old cedars were savagely uprooted and tossed into piles. All that remained of First Cedar Valley Baptist’s 13-year-old modern structure was its slab foundation and its cross, anchored to the foundation.

The “new” church was gone, but the historic church building—dating from 1942 when it was little more than a brush arbor enclosed over a dirt floor—still stood, yet suffered structural damage and proved unsalvageable. Jackson and congregation finished tearing it down a few weeks ago, he said, choking up a bit.

“It’s a difficult time for us,” he said. “A lifetime of memories. What held those memories is now gone.”

Jackson had known the historic building since boyhood. By age 15, he was leading the music there, the first of many stints as a lifelong worship leader in the various cities and churches he served while working as a businessman full-time. Jackson recalled his uncle lighting kerosene lanterns and hanging them on cedar support posts in the old church before it had electricity.

Now it’s time for the church to rebuild, and they have started. And church has continued.

On Easter Sunday, less than a week after the disaster, First Cedar Valley held worship on its bare slab, the service covered by area news outlets.

“Nothing’s going to stop church from happening. It’s always gonna happen,” 11-year-old churchgoer Asa Gooden told news crews.

“That building means nothing compared to the cross and what He did for us,” Jackson proclaimed from his Easter pulpit, gesturing to the surviving cross in the background.

A tent has since been erected, and a church member who is a builder has arranged for a temporary building. They intend to build back on the same foundation, using the same plans but with a few modifications, such as reconfiguring interior walls to allow for more meeting areas and less office space.

“Nothing’s going to stop church from happening. It’s always gonna happen.”

Asa Gooden, 11-year-old churchgoer Tweet
A lifetime of ministry

Jackson has only been pastor of FCVB for just over two years. Following a career as a national operations manager for a retail chain, he returned with his wife and family to the Salado area when their kids were school-aged. The Jacksons purchased a convenience store off I-35, which they owned and operated for 21 years, from 1976-1997. The pastor wanted his children to share the same small-town youth experiences that he had known.

It was natural that a return to Salado meant Jackson again began to serve his childhood church as a worship leader.

“I’ve always been involved in gospel music,” he said. In fact, from 2000-2008, the Cedar Valley Singers, consisting of Donnie, Linda, and three other church members, performed as a popular statewide gospel attraction until the demands became too great.

The last three or four years, the Lord called him to preach, Jackson said. He began to fill pulpits and, when the FCVB pastor stepped down because of health concerns, was asked to become the full-time pastor. COVID-19 hit and in-person attendance waned, but livestreamed services kept the congregation worshiping.

“During COVID, our small country church was down to 10 or 12 people attending. We now run 45-60,” Jackson said.

The tornado may have destroyed its building but hasn’t pushed pause to the church’s recovery. A family of five joined after the storm, which, thankfully, did not cause any fatalities, although many lifelong friends lost property.

At 77, Jackson has seen his share of ups and downs, replete with God’s provision. He hopes to leave First Cedar Valley to an eventual successor on a firm foundation in more ways than one, following the tornado.

“You’ve got to accept what is. Don’t look at what was. Look at what is to come,” Jackson said. “It’s been hard in the flesh, but I believe Romans 8:28. I don’t know what God’s purpose is, but we’ll be stronger. We’ll reach more people than we would have been able to reach.”

Women find practical ministry tools to take home at latest She Stands conference

MANSFIELD—Rebecca Carrell, a longtime radio broadcaster, author, and podcaster, unapologetically called for women to stand firm by digging deep and immersing themselves in God’s Word at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s She Stands conference held April 22-23 at First Baptist Church of Mansfield.

This She Stands conference—the second of four scheduled for 2022—was marked by Carrell’s message to be a joyful follower of Jesus, a team of dedicated staff who are passionate about equipping women’s ministry leaders, and a group of women of all ages who not only attended, but who warmly fellowshipped and worshipped with one another and were challenged to grow in their service to Christ in all contexts.

The conference included a bilingual worship service in English and Spanish on Friday night, and a Spanish track was offered simultaneously to the English track on Saturday, when breakout sessions were held throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. Through those messages, conference attendees were called to rise up above their circumstances, taking courage to minister to other women; and to rise up to be equipped, inspired, and empowered to the task of reaching women through evangelism, inviting women to use their gifts in service of the Lord, supporting their local church in its mission and vision, engaging the next generation, and nurturing other women through discipleship.

Many of the women who attended said they found great value in the conference. Sue Pille, women’s ministry director at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill, said the women in her group who attended are planning on getting together soon to share notes on how to implement some of what they learned at the conference. “Every woman in my group was so blessed by the worship and the speakers,” she said.

Another woman, Elizabeth, said she is a team member in her church’s women’s ministry and was excited to hear the information that was conveyed during the spiritual leadership breakout session she attended. “This is what I have been looking for,” she said. “I want to enroll at the seminary and learn more so that I can help lead the women at my church.”

Yet another attendee, Melissa, said she learned strategies to help her better understand and communicate with teenagers. “When we show them by example, they tend to hear and follow,” she said. “We [need to] show more and tell less! And even when they seem busy on their phones, they still hear what we show!” A woman named Sarah, who attended a session about understanding anxiety from a biblical perspective, said, “Getting to the root of anxiety takes time, and Jesus has all the time and patience we need! In Him, there is healing from anxiety.”

Finally, a woman named Nancy said she felt encouraged to take her next step in ministering to women at her church because of some of the information she received at the conference.

“I cannot wait to get back to my women’s group at church,” she said. “Most of them are sitting on their gifts. They need to know how much they are missing and are needed.”

The next She Stands conference is scheduled for August 26-27 at West Conroe Baptist Church.

 

Women find practical ministry tools to take home at latest She Stands conference

MANSFIELD—Rebecca Carrell, a longtime radio broadcaster, author, and podcaster, unapologetically called for women to stand firm by digging deep and immersing themselves in God’s Word at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s She Stands conference held April 22-23 at First Baptist Church of Mansfield.

This She Stands conference—the second of four scheduled for 2022—was marked by Carrell’s message to be a joyful follower of Jesus, a team of dedicated staff who are passionate about equipping women’s ministry leaders, and a group of women of all ages who not only attended, but who warmly fellowshipped and worshipped with one another and were challenged to grow in their service to Christ in all contexts.

The conference included a bilingual worship service in English and Spanish on Friday night, and a Spanish track was offered simultaneously to the English track on Saturday, when breakout sessions were held throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. Through those messages, conference attendees were called to rise up above their circumstances, taking courage to minister to other women; and to rise up to be equipped, inspired, and empowered to the task of reaching women through evangelism, inviting women to use their gifts in service of the Lord, supporting their local church in its mission and vision, engaging the next generation, and nurturing other women through discipleship.

Many of the women who attended said they found great value in the conference. Sue Pille, women’s ministry director at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill, said the women in her group who attended are planning on getting together soon to share notes on how to implement some of what they learned at the conference. “Every woman in my group was so blessed by the worship and the speakers,” she said.

Another woman, Elizabeth, said she is a team member in her church’s women’s ministry and was excited to hear the information that was conveyed during the spiritual leadership breakout session she attended. “This is what I have been looking for,” she said. “I want to enroll at the seminary and learn more so that I can help lead the women at my church.”

Yet another attendee, Melissa, said she learned strategies to help her better understand and communicate with teenagers. “When we show them by example, they tend to hear and follow,” she said. “We [need to] show more and tell less! And even when they seem busy on their phones, they still hear what we show!” A woman named Sarah, who attended a session about understanding anxiety from a biblical perspective, said, “Getting to the root of anxiety takes time, and Jesus has all the time and patience we need! In Him, there is healing from anxiety.”

Finally, a woman named Nancy said she felt encouraged to take her next step in ministering to women at her church because of some of the information she received at the conference.

“I cannot wait to get back to my women’s group at church,” she said. “Most of them are sitting on their gifts. They need to know how much they are missing and are needed.”

The next She Stands conference is scheduled for August 26-27 at West Conroe Baptist Church.

Unidad, oración, adoración y alabanza en la Conferencia de Mujeres SBTC She Stands

Del 22 al 24 de abril, el Ministerio de Mujeres de la Convención Bautista del Sur de Texas (SBTC), dirigido por Laura Taylor, llevó a cabo una de sus conferencias, She Stands. La conferencia She Stands, con su contraparte hispana, Mujeres Firmes, recibió a un grupo de más de 300 mujeres de habla hispana e inglesa en la Primera Iglesia Bautista en Mansfield, Texas. La conferencia se basó en 1 Corintios 15:58: “Así que, amados hermanos míos, manténganse firmes y constantes, y siempre creciendo en la obra del Señor, seguros de que el trabajo de ustedes en el Señor no carece de sentido.”

La conferencia incluyó un tiempo de adoración bilingüe el viernes por la noche dirigido por la líder de adoración de la iglesia Baptist Temple, Nidia Quintanilla. Durante este tiempo de adoración, ambos grupos lingüísticos pudieron alabar, adorar y orar juntos. Quintanilla también dirigió un taller sobre cómo estar anclada en la adoración. “La adoración y devoción a Dios es un compromiso. La adoración fluye desde adentro y todo lo ponemos delante de Dios porque Él es nuestra ancla,” dijo Quintanilla.

Este tiempo de adoración también incluyó la lectura de la palabra de Dios en ambos idiomas y el testimonio de Suzanne Bradley sobre cómo Dios contestó su oración de salvar a su nieta Karis de 7 años de un tumor cerebral. Compartió cómo ella tuvo que confiar en Dios durante COVID porque ni siquiera se le permitió entrar al hospital para ver a Karis. “Nos dimos cuenta de que no todas las historias terminan tan bien. Ahora somos muy sensibles a aquellos que no tienen un resultado tan exitoso como el de nosotros. Pero Dios es fiel a todos. Él tiene un plan para cada uno de nosotros. Él ama a Sus hijos. Puede que no todas las situaciones sean buenas, pero Dios usa cada situación para bien,” dijo Bradley.

Alexis-Ann Barron, la oradora principal hispana en la conferencia, originaria de Puerto Rico, usó Efesios 6: 10, “Por lo demás, hermanos míos, manténganse firmes en el Señor y en el poder de su fuerza,” (Efesios 6:10—RVC), para animar a los participantes el sábado por la mañana: “manténganse firmes durante la batalla porque el único líder que aún vive es el nuestro, la tumba está vacía, y eso hace real el fundamento de nuestra fe. Siempre hay una estrategia antes de ir a la guerra y Dios nos la ha dado en Efesios 6:10-18. Tienes tu salvación en Cristo, la Palabra de Dios, tu fe, y el Espíritu Santo para ayudarte a mantenerte firme.”

Barron es conferencista, previamente viuda, y misionera que ha estado sufriendo de una dolorosa enfermedad durante décadas. “El poder de Dios me ha mantenido en marcha. Soy una hija de Dios con quien tengo complacencia, y pase lo que pase, Dios está conmigo. Mantente firme porque Él también está contigo,” dijo Barron. Ella también enseñó un taller sobre cómo tener comunión con Dios y otros creyentes.

La oradora principal en inglés el sábado por la mañana fue Rebecca Carrell, quien habló sobre mantenerse firme en una cultura cambiante. Carrell dijo que, “Sin una base sólida, una casa no puede mantenerse estable, especialmente en nuestro suelo desplazador de Texas. De la misma manera, debemos tener un fundamento sólido construido sobre Cristo, su palabra, y su Iglesia si vamos a pararnos en el suelo cambiante de nuestra cultura.”

El sábado por la tarde, Carrell compartió con todos los participantes mientras su mensaje era traducido simultáneamente al español por la ex misionera de la IMB en Egipto, Roxanna Martínez. Carrell compartió refiriéndose a Mateo 7: 21-27 y dijo que, “preparamos nuestra casa antes de la tormenta, no durante la tormenta”. También agregó: “Cuando perseguimos la felicidad, no podemos evitar ponernos a nosotros mismos y a nuestras necesidades en el centro de nuestro universo. Perseguir la felicidad solo conduce a la frustración. Pero cuando buscamos la santidad, encontramos amor, gozo, paz, paciencia, amabilidad, bondad, fidelidad, mansedumbre y dominio propio. Dios nos ha llamado para que seamos santos y sin mancha delante de él”. Carrell es autora, conferencista, locutora y directora de Aprendizaje y Proyectos Especiales de Artes y Adoración de los Medios (MAMW), en el Seminario Teológico de Dallas (DTS).

Las líderes de los talleres en la conferencia She Stands/Mujeres Firmes fueron miembros del ministerio de mujeres de la SBTC de diferentes regiones y líderes de ministerios de mujeres locales del área metropolitana: Dra. Ashley Allen, profesora en Southwestern Baptist Seminary (SWBTS), Audria Adorno, Dra. Cheryl Bell, Profesora de Consejería Bíblica en SWBTS, Carrie Bond, Clara Molina, autora y profesora adjunta en SWBTS, Joanna Rawlings, Arlene Sanabria, Aimee Shelton, Laura Taylor, asociada del Ministerio de Mujeres de la SBTC, y Rhonda Tidmore.

Los temas de los talleres incluyeron temas actuales que las mujeres cristianas enfrentan a diario como los estándares de Dios para la sexualidad, la maternidad, el sufrimiento, cómo estudiar la Biblia, cómo pasar tiempo con Dios todos los días, la ansiedad, el dar, el matrimonio, la amistad, la oración, la adoración, y compartir nuestra fe.

Las conferencias regionales She Stands se ofrecerán en otras tres ciudades de Texas durante este año: el 27 de agosto en la Iglesia Bautista West Conroe en Conroe; el 16 y 17 de septiembre en New Beginings en Longview, y el 8 de octubre en Southcrest Baptist Church en Lubbock (la conferencia de Lubbock será bilingüe). Para obtener más información en inglés, puede visitar sbtexas.com/women, y para más información en español, https://sbtexas.com/en-espanol/.

 

‘The Image of God: What It Means to be Human in a Culture of Death’ to be held at SWBTS

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Multiple organizations, including the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission, are partnering together on an important event to address the topic of “The Image of God: What it Means to be Human in a Culture of Death.”

The event will be held May 24-25 at the Riley Center on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Other partnering organizations include Stand For Life, an ERLC initiative, and SWBTS’s Land Center for Cultural Engagement.

Featured speakers include:

  • John Kilner, Professor Emeritus of Bioethics and Contemporary Culture, Trinity International University;
  • Scott Rae, Dean of Faculty and Professor of Christian Ethics, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University;
  • Jennifer Marshall Patterson, Director of the Institute of Theology and Public Life, Reformed Theological Seminary;
  • Ben Mitchell, Graves Chair of Moral Philosophy, Union University;
  • John Stonestreet, President, Colson Center for Christian Worldview; and
  • Thomas Kidd, Research Professor of Church History, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Full scholarships are available for pre-conference participants upon request. Online registration is available here.

The colloquium will be held as a pre-conference to a two-track Faculty Development Conference, May 25-27, hosted by the International Alliance for Christian Education.

One track will focus on faculty members who have been teaching less than five years, while the other will be designed for those with extensive classroom experience and aspirations for attaining positions such as program director, department chair or dean.

Separate registrations are required for the pre-conference and the Faculty Development Conference, even for those attending both events.

Burleson pastor, church member join group ministering to Ukrainian refugees in Romania

The pastor of Burleson’s NorthPointe Church, Landon Dees, was part of a group that went to Campulung and Sighetu, Romania, to serve, encourage, and share the gospel with refugees along with the group Manna Worldwide.

Dees ministers to a congregation of over 600 people who support his heart for the lost and the importance of mission.

“We challenge our people to live their lives on mission and look for every opportunity to have gospel conversations and identify needs that our church can meet,” Dees said. “When it comes to missions at a distance, our goal is the same.”

Dees was able to observe God at work in the middle of the chaos. “Two Christian brothers from Ukraine, Vlad and Alex, drove down from Kyiv to load up on supplies to bring back to those in need. We helped them load then listened to their testimonies and prayed over them. I admired their strength in the Lord to go back into harm’s way for the good of others and for the glory of Christ,” Dees said.

While on mission in Romania, Dees shared that his group spent one day of their trip in Campulung, Romania, where their mission partners oversee a family home/orphanage. There were about 30 Ukrainian refugees staying at the home and Dees and his group spent the evening listening to stories of God’s faithfulness and singing songs together “each in our own language.”

In Marmației, Romania, which sits on the border of Ukraine, Dees said there were several churches that he and his group worked alongside and assisted with restocking their supplies. NorthPointe and other partner churches gave funds to buy food, water, medical supplies, and more.

Sharing the gospel and the love of Christ was a major priority for the mission team.

“At one church we spent time with Ukrainian refugees, primarily women and children since the men had to stay back. To see these people displaced from their homes was heartbreaking,” Dees said, “but to see how this local church was caring for them and to hear how over 400 refugees that stayed there had heard about the hope only found in Christ was incredible.”

The team was composed of six American pastors (including him), four Manna missionaries, and three lay people (including Michael Luedtke, also from NorthPointe).

“We simply partner with local churches in communities around the world and join them in the work the Lord is doing there. One of the ways we do this is through our partnership with Manna Worldwide,” Dees said.

He’s partnering with the organization to go to Nicaragua and has also ministered through Manna in Cuba on three different occasions. Dees shared that the servants at Manna “do a fantastic job” at finding like-minded churches around the globe, primarily in impoverished places, then join them to help meet the needs in their communities. Often this is through feeding programs, schools, and medical clinics.

“It is through that partnership that we joined the work in Romania ministering to Ukrainian refugees,” he said.

Dees is currently working on his Masters of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Krystal, are evangelistically driven and support the Cooperative Program by giving through the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. In 2021, NorthPointe had 50 baptisms, and he baptizes those who accept Jesus as Lord on the first of every month.

Dees said he is blessed to serve at NorthPointe: “God made it abundantly clear through prayer, fasting, and the affirmation of others that it was where he was calling us to serve. The people of NorthPointe have been gracious and kind, and the Lord has shown us favor with substantial spiritual and numerical growth.”

The pastor asked for prayer for their mission partners and pastors in Romania and Ukraine.

“They are working very hard and are at the point of exhaustion,” he said. “Pray that God would allow NorthPointe to continue to minister to them and support them during this time, that Christ’s name would be made known through these difficult circumstances.”

 

SBTC churches gave record CP amount in 2021, Lorick tells board

GEORGETOWN—Cooperative Program giving in 2021 was the highest it has ever been in Southern Baptists of Texas Convention history, Executive Director Nathan Lorick told the SBTC Executive Board at its quarterly meeting Tuesday.

Lorick attributed the record amount—$27,283,572.03—to two things: a belief in cooperative missions work that encourages faithful giving, and also the quality of missionaries, church planters, disaster relief workers, and all other efforts “that the Cooperative Program fuels and sends.”

The record giving, he noted, happened in the midst of uncertain times that some felt might lead to a decrease in giving.

“Let’s not miss that today,” Lorick added, “that in the midst of people saying the sky is falling, I think God’s just getting started.”

Convention taking a ‘whole life’ approach to ministry

In other action Tuesday, the executive board unanimously approved two motions that will provide ministry for the most vulnerable.

One of the motions approved a reserves funding grant to be given to the Psalm 139 Project, a pro-life ministry of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The funds specifically will be used to purchase six ultrasound machines and training for pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) in Texas.

Each of the six PRCs have made urgent requests for the machines, as there has been a drastic increase in the number of women being served since the passing of the Heartbeat Bill in Texas. One clinic in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has reported a 48% increase in clients over the previous year.

The Psalm 139 Project aims to place 50 ultrasound machines in PRCs across the U.S. by Jan. 22, 2023—the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade case that provided legal protections for women seeking abortions in the U.S. ERLC representatives say ultrasounds offer a “window into the womb” which ultimately leads more women to choose life after seeing their babies.

On the other end of the life spectrum, the board approved another reserves fund grant to Mission Dignity, a ministry of Guidestone Financial Resources which serves to honor retired Southern Baptists ministers, workers, and widows struggling to meet basic needs through advocacy and financial assistance.

Mission Dignity funds 12 monthly gifts to approximately 263 individuals in Texas, of which 178 are widows or widowers. The reserves fund grant approved by the executive board will be used to provide a 13th check as a bonus/love gift over and above the normal 12 monthly gifts.

The executive board’s next meeting is scheduled for August 9 at the SBTC office in Grapevine.