Northwest Impact – Expanding God’s Kingdom in the Northwest

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Northwest missions began when four Native Americans travelled to St. Louis and requested from the Superintendent of Indian Affairs that missionaries be sent to their people.  The year was 1831 and the man with whom they met was William Clark of the famed “Lewis and Clark Expedition.”  Methodist missionary Jason Lee was the first to arrive, coming in 1834.  He was followed by Presbyterian missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, and Henry Spalding, who arrived in 1836.  Baptist layman, David Lennox, travelling the Oregon Trail, arrived in 1843, and started the West Union Baptist Church in 1844.  It was the first Baptist church in the West.  Located near Hillsboro, OR, it remains to the present day.

From this beginning, believers have continued to establish churches and do evangelistic work in the Northwest.  Still, our beautiful land remains one of the great mission fields in North America.  Only four percent attend church on a given Sunday, and the great majority of our neighbors profess no faith in Jesus Christ.

To meet the missionary need of the Northwest, Northwest Baptists (NWBC) are doing more than any other group to do four things.  First, we train more pastors and leaders than any other grouping of churches.  Already, more than 200 pastors and 800 lay leaders having participated in some form of training in 2015.

Second, we start more churches, with 27 church planters beginning their work in the Northwest in the past 12 months (through June).  Approximately 130 of our 466 churches worship in one of 30 languages other than English.

Third, no group in the Northwest does Disaster Relief like we are doing through our 660 plus volunteers.  On this very day 60 of our DR volunteers are deployed, providing thousands of meals daily to those who’ve lost their homes in the wildfires, and providing chaplaincy to firefighters and others.

Fourth, evangelism training and resources are provided to every church that requests them.  Next spring we will conduct one-day “listening evangelism” workshops in multiple locations throughout the Northwest, funded in part by the Northwest Impact Offering.

In addition to your mission giving through the Cooperative Program, a major source of funding for Northwest Missions is the annual Northwest Impact Offering (Sylvia Wilson Offering).  This year’s offering will provide funds for each of the four areas mentioned above.  Materials (prayer guides, posters, bulletin inserts, envelopes) to promote the offering have been sent to each of our churches.  You can also access them through a link on the Northwest Baptist Convention website, www.nwbaptist.org.

One new promotional feature this year is videos which focus on the four areas mentioned above.  Links to the videos are on our website, but I’m providing them here so you can take a quick look at them.  They are kept very brief so that you can show them to your church on a Sunday morning:

  1. Church planting:  https://vimeo.com/137394331
  2. Leadership:  https://vimeo.com/137408075
  3. Evangelism:  https://vimeo.com/137407924
  4. Disaster Relief:  https://vimeo.com/137403838

Please consider giving your church an opportunity to support Northwest missions through Northwest Impact.  Together, we can have a larger gospel footprint and impact our communities more forcefully in the year to come.  Remember, you are not alone.

Wildfires and Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief – You’re Not Alone

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This week Paula and I have been visiting with pastors and churches in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington (sorry if you’re in this area and we missed each other). Each day the smoke from the wildfires has been visible and sometimes heavy. Everybody is talking about it, and last night at Medical Lake Baptist Church there was anguished prayer as we learned of three firefighters who died near Twisp, WA while fighting fire. A fourth firefighter was badly burned and is struggling for his life in a Seattle hospital. One of the men praying last night had just returned from 3 days of firefighting in which he labored for almost 60 hours. Still, he was in church with his wife and children, and grateful to be there, even in his bone-weariness.

As we prayed and worshipped, we also expressed gratitude for the Disaster Relief volunteers from our Northwest Baptist churches. I was able to share with that congregation of 30 souls that they are part of a big and deep work, providing care and ministry to people suffering disaster, even that night. While we met and prayed, four NWBC Disaster Chaplains were enroute to minister to the firefighters and families in Twisp. Other Disaster Relief volunteers are deployed elsewhere, as fires are raging throughout our beautiful Northwest.

Disaster Relief is one the great gifts of Northwest Baptists, and our Baptist friends across the United States, to our world. With an army of 90,000 volunteers (about 660 in the Northwest), D.R. volunteers respond to every major disaster in our nation and in the world, and they respond to many “smaller scale” disasters as well. This is but one of the wondrous fruits of our cooperation as Baptists. Whether a church has 22 in Sunday attendance, like the church we attended last Sunday, or many hundreds, disaster ministry requires the participation and cooperation of us all. So when you see those beautiful gold shirts with “Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief” printed on them, know that they represent you.

If you are ever interested in joining the NWBC Disaster ministry, we have training for volunteers on a regular basis. You can discover training dates on our website, www.nwbaptist.org, or call the NWBC office at 360-882-2100.

Also, if your church would like to be a “Ready Church,” ready to respond to needs in your community, you can receive training as to how you can do that as well. Some churches serve by providing shelter in the midst of crisis. Other churches are the go-to peoples when community leaders need volunteers or resources in the midst of a crisis. Ready Church provides a wonderful way for your church to extend itself into the community when times are tough.

One more thing – as you gather with your church family this Sunday, please pray for our firefighters and other first-responders. Law enforcement officers, medics and firemen are the heroes that run toward while others are running away from trouble. They deserve our profound respect and prayers. And pray too for the volunteers, men and women with whom you sit in church and Bible study, whom, when disaster strikes, don the gold shirt and go serve their fellowman. They do it in the name of your church and Northwest Baptists. More importantly, they do it in Jesus’ name, often sharing Jesus’ message with those who are looking for God in the chaos. Bless them. God bless them all.