You are making a difference. You are blessing God. In times of suffering, in days of struggle, it is essential to know that you and your church are expanding God’s Kingdom into the hearts of thousands. When Peter wrote to a suffering church, a persecuted church, he encouraged them with the truth that they possessed a “living hope.” The gospel of the resurrected Savior is so magnificent, Peter wrote, that angels desire to look into it (1 Peter 1).
Therefore, as aliens and temporary residents of this world, as those who possess a gospel of superabundance, I want to encourage you in the work that we are doing together through the Northwest Baptist Convention of churches.
Ministry Leader Training
Already this year we have had 75 pastors involved in pastoral leader training groups, each meeting several times or over several days. Sixty-six pastors and other ministry leaders were trained in methods to lead churches through times of transition. Nine students attended the new Portland CLD center (Contextualized Leadership Development for pastor training), joining a couple of dozen others in CLD who are training for ministry. Forty-six students attended Golden Gate Seminary’s Pacific Northwest Campus this spring. Also, since January over 800 Northwest ministry leaders have attended training events in evangelism, small groups, Vacation Bible School, children’s ministry, church music, women’s missions and ministry, and much more. Training ministry leaders for our 450 churches is a vital part of what you do to reach people in the Northwest with gospel of Jesus Christ.
Eleven new church planters have launched new work so far this year. They join 50 others who are currently planting new churches. In addition, seven men have begun their one-year church planting apprenticeship before they move to church planter status. These new works include Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Native American, and English languages. They are located in each of the three states in our convention. Some are rural and small town churches. Most are urban and suburban churches.
The annual church planter training retreat on May 20-22 included 49 church planters, 8 apprentices, 45 spouses and 63 children. They were joined by 24 collegiate ministry leaders and 27 additional children. This is Northwest missions. This is what you are doing to reach our Northwest people with the good news of Jesus Christ.
East Asia Partnership
A few dozen churches are already moving forward with mission trips to East Asia and/or adopting an unreached people group in East Asia (go to www.nwbaptist.org for more information). Now we have the remarkable opportunity to serve our East Asia missionaries and their children in a training retreat August 1-10, 2016. Get this – 1,300 East Asia missionaries and children, together with 75 missionaries from the IMB’s Deaf Affinity Group, will gather in Thailand for worship, inspiration and training. And they have invited the NWBC to provide 200 volunteers to serve them! I am so thankful that Shelia Allen has agreed to serve as the NWBC project coordinator. See the East Asia article in this publication for more information on this historic opportunity. Reaching the nations from the Northwest is what we do as Northwest Baptists.
Through the Cooperative Program the churches of the NWBC are doing missions in your neighborhood, throughout the Northwest, and to the nations beyond. Together, always and only together, can we accomplish the work our Lord has given to us. Every person matters. Every church counts. It is a good day to serve the Lord in the Northwest!