Good News from the Pacific Northwest

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Each day brings new opportunities for God’s people in the Northwest to bless God and serve Him. Hurricanes raged in Texas and Florida, and NWBC Disaster Relief volunteers are responding to the tremendous need of our neighbors there. We currently have two teams in Texas, with more to follow. We will probably have NWBC disaster teams in Florida. We are awaiting the call to send chaplains, ash-out teams and others into the fire-ravaged areas of the Northwest, though blessedly the fires have destroyed few structures, as we understand. No ministry of Northwest Baptists reveals the power of our cooperative work quite like Disaster Relief. And wherever our DR volunteers go, they share Jesus.

Thankfully September has involved more than ministry in the aftermath of natural disasters. Five new NWBC churches began meeting in September. Three launched their worship services last Sunday, September 17. These new churches are in rural, urban, suburban and college communities. Praise God!

Speaking of new churches, last Sunday Paula and I were at Sunnyside Bible Fellowship, a two-year-old church pastored by Eric Simpson. Sunnyside is a town of about 16,000 people, 82 percent of whom are Hispanic! Did you know we have towns, large towns, in the Northwest that are majority Spanish-speaking? We have several that are. Pastor Eric also said that the school children are well over 90 percent Spanish-speaking. To address this Eric sought an associate pastor who is Spanish-speaking. Praise God that Darius and Raquel Bastias came from Bible college in Texas to serve alongside Eric and Kellie Simpson. Darius is from Chile. Raquel is from Honduras. They met and married at the Rio Grande Bible College and are now with us in the Pacific Northwest. Pray for them and for this church. We have a great need for Spanish-speaking pastors. We could start 20 churches tomorrow if we had 20 Spanish-speaking pastors.

One of the significant things God has done in recent weeks concerns a small church of mostly senior adults in McMinnville, OR. Grace Baptist Church is a small church with a big heart and meets in a retirement facility. At one time they had the dream of owning their own building, but God redirected their dream to that of encouraging people in our churches to become foster parents. Their dream is that foster children in the Northwest will have Christian foster parents from our NWBC churches, and that these children will come to know Jesus. The dear saints at Grace Baptist have given $50,000 through the NWBC to help make this happen. A grant process for our NWBC families is currently being configured. Information will be available at http://www.nwbaptist.org, or you can call our office for more information.

Additionally, Grace Baptist has given $110,000 from their building fund to help start new churches in the Northwest. Led by Pastor Richard Bryson, they came to see that new, young churches reach young families. The senior saints at Grace Baptist, with the humility and grace their name implies, have shifted their vision of owning a building to that of building churches that will prayerfully fulfill the original dream of the church to reach young families for Jesus Christ. An amazing group of people at Grace Baptist! Their gift of $110,000 will be used to receive matching funds from the North American Mission Board in the amount of $623,333. So, the $110,000 given by the church will result in $733,333 invested in new churches!

In a few weeks we will gather in Eugene, OR for the annual meeting of the NWBC. Blessing is the theme of our meeting and I hope you plan to attend. Additional information is included in this publication, but I want to express my personal desire that your church be represented. We will conduct the necessary business, but perhaps the most important thing we will do is encourage each other in the Lord’s work. I’ve been blessed in years past by the large number of young leaders and language church pastors and leaders that attend.

Without question the divisions in our nation have deepened. In the Northwest we are experiencing open hostility toward Christian values. Our state governments, and many of our city governments, are openly hostile to those who hold to biblical teaching on the most fundamental institution in the world, the family. In times like these God’s people need to pray, worship, witness and stand together. Isolated believers, and isolated churches, will lack the necessary strength to stand when the storm comes. It is always a good day to serve the Lord together in the Northwest.

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.