Archives For August 2018

Praying with purpose

Lisa Misner —  August 30, 2018

How will you intercede for Illinois missionaries?

Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, so that I may make it known as I should.
– Colossians 4:2-4, CSB

MIO Logo 500pxThe apostle Paul’s words to the church at Colossae are a blueprint for how we can pray for missions in Illinois, especially during this season when many churches will collect the Mission Illinois Offering:

1. Be devoted to prayer. MIO is more than a monetary offering; it also calls churches to a week of intentional prayer for missionaries and ministries across the state. Find daily devotions for the Week of Prayer Sept. 9-16 at missionillinois.org. Use one each day to remind you to pray for state missions, and read them together during your church’s worship service and small group gatherings.

2. Pray specifically. Paul urged early Christians to pray specifically for him as he preached the gospel of Christ. In Colossians, he asked for open doors. In Ephesians 6:19-20, it was boldness.

As you pray for missions and missionaries in Illinois, pray specifically—for open doors for church planters working in communities without a church, and for boldness for campus ministers serving at colleges and universities. Pray also for perseverance for missionaries who are currently seeing few results, but trusting God to transform lives and build his church.

3. Pray outside the box. In the passages in Colossians and Ephesians, Paul reminds his readers that he’s in chains for the gospel. Hidden in his prayer requests for the ministry is a personal request of sorts—remember me in prison.

Missionaries still need prayer for things that aren’t directly related to their work, said Kathy Deasy. She served with her husband, Jeff, in Kenya and Brazil before they moved to Illinois, where Jeff leads IBSA’s Church Cooperation Team.

“When we were serving overseas, we were constantly asking for prayers for the non-missionary work things that totally affected our ability to do our ministry,” Kathy Deasy said. Housing, transportation challenges, children adjusting to a new culture, marriage, money, diet, time—personal things everyone deals with are made even more challenging in a different cultural context than your own, she said.

When they asked for prayer on the field, the Deasys listed ministry challenges, goals, accomplishments, and progress, Kathy said, “but we felt ministered ‘to’ when people went above and beyond to pray for our families and our personal lives and walk with God to remain strong, in the midst of attempting to accomplish those things we felt called to do.”

Go to missionillinois.org to order free MIO prayer guides and bulletin inserts for your church.

More than half of American churchgoers say their political views match those of most people at their church, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research. And 57% of Protestant churchgoers under 50 say they prefer to go to church with people who share their political views. “Like many places in America, churches are divided by politics,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “And churchgoers under 50 seem to want it that way.”

Search committee named to find next Southwestern president
A committee of nine Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees has been appointed to find the Fort Worth school’s next president. The committee is tasked with finding a replacement for Paige Patterson, who was moved to emeritus status in May and terminated a week later, after coming under fire for his response to alleged sexual assault on the campus of Southeastern Seminary, where he previously served as president. The Southwestern committee includes an Illinois Baptist—Denise Ewing of First Baptist Church, Winthrop Harbor.

Southern Baptist chaplain exonerated
A U.S. Army chaplain accused of discrimination has been cleared of all charges, Baptist Press reported. Chaplain Jerry Squires told a soldier earlier this year he couldn’t perform a marriage retreat for her and her same-sex partner; he also rescheduled the event so another chaplain could perform the retreat. The Army dropped its investigation Aug. 24 after determining Squires had handled the matter in accordance with military policy.

Christian leaders advocate for refugees
A group of evangelical leaders, including Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, sent a letter to the federal officials in August asking them to consider opening U.S. borders to 75,000 refugees for resettlement in fiscal year 2019. The number is about 50,000 higher than a limit reported being considered by the Trump Administration, The Christian Post reported.  

Illinois churches ready families for fall with shoes, haircuts, backpacks, and prayer
Across the state, churches launched students and families into the back-to-school season with a number of outreach initiatives tailored to specific needs in their communities. In Harrisburg, Dorrisville Baptist Church gave away more than 500 pairs of gym shoes while in Chicago, Another Chance Baptist Church sent kids back to school with backpacks and new glasses. Read about back-to-school outreach and more from IBSA churches in the current issue of the Illinois Baptist, online at ibonline.IBSA.org.

-LifeWay Research, Baptist Press (2), The Christian Post, Illinois Baptist

Leading women 2

Halsey (at the mic) leads at panel discussion at the 2018 Priority Conference.

Carmen Halsey has a passion for educating and empowering godly women. As IBSA’s director of women’s ministry, she organizes leadership training cohorts, large equipping events, and mission trips in Illinois and abroad. Her desire is to help women find their God-given gifts, and to bring those gifts to build up the local church and carry the gospel to the marketplace. “We’re investing in you,” she tells women as they grow into leaders, “so you be ready to invest in others.”

 

Halsey (second from left in photo above) said she tends to see where “God has women versus where he doesn’t have women.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor, almost 47% of the country’s workers are women and 70% of mothers with children under the age of 18 are in the workforce.

One of those women is Andrea Cruse. “When I met her, she was already a young mother, she was already a pastor’s wife, but one of the things that intrigued me about Andrea was re-engaging the workforce, and wondering where she was going to fit,” shared Halsey.

Cruse, who is married to Adam Cruse, pastor of Living Faith Baptist Church in Sherman and has three young children, has been the recipient of Halsey’s leadership through Illinois Baptist Women (IBW).

Andrea Cruse

Cruse

“Carmen has taught me to be a leader in the marketplace and my church by just allowing me the opportunity and inviting me to participate in the cohorts that are available,” Cruse said. “I’ve just gained valuable knowledge on those foundational leadership skills that have proved significant in my own personal marketplace.”

 

Cruse began sharing the leadership skills she was learning with her supervisors at work, and when an opportunity for advancement came up, she was tapped for the position.

She credits Halsey and IBW, saying when she expressed doubts about accepting the new management role, her supervisor told her, “Andrea, we can teach you what you don’t know, what we need is your leadership skills.”

“And it was at that moment,” Cruse said, “I was just so thankful that IBW and Carmen were willing to invest in me and provided me with the resources to develop those skills.”

Halsey’s work is possible, in part, because of support from the Mission Illinois Offering & Week of Prayer. Collected annually in September by IBSA churches and designated exclusively for ministry in Illinois, this offering supports IBSA missionaries and staff in missions especially needed within the state. That includes Illinois Baptist Women, the group within the IBSA Church Resources Team that focuses on growing women in their roles as disciples, missions mobilizers, and leaders. Under Halsey’s guidance, that has grown to include leadership at home, church, mission field, and in the marketplace.

That’s one main theme of the annual Priority Conference Halsey organizes for Illinois women. “Priority provides a safe environment for us to come and learn together. We can ask questions. We don’t have to feel foolish; we don’t have to shy away from some hard conversations,” Halsey said.

Her conferences have approached hard topics such as assisting refugees, human trafficking, and sexuality. And leadership. “Women are influential folks, and sometimes they just need someone to tell them that.”

Growing influence
Another woman who has benefited from Halsey’s leadership is Becki McNeely. She is a member of Lakeland Baptist Church with a rich heritage.

McNeely is the wife of Brandon McNeely, Baptist Collegiate Ministries director at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is also the daughter of Lakeland’s pastor Phil Nelson and the granddaughter of International Mission Board missionaries Jack and Ava Shelby. Even with that pedigree, taking on leadership roles in her church could be intimidating. Until she met Halsey.

“I felt like I was thrown into being a leader until I met Carmen,” NcNeeley said. “She poured so much into me personally through leadership cohort groups. If it had not been for Carmen, I wouldn’t have had the tools I needed to lead.

“I couldn’t put a price tag on how much I learned from her.”

Jacqueline Scott

Scott

Jacqueline Scott, a member of Dorrisville Baptist Church in Harrisburg, may be retired, but the natural born leader isn’t about to slow down. Since becoming active in Illinois Baptist Women, Scott said, “Carmen increased in me a sense of urgency to be serious about the Great Commission. The world is going so fast, we’ve got to catch up, get into the game.”

 

Last summer Scott joined Halsey on a mission trip at the southern tip of the state in Cairo. Scott said the experience taught her, “We need to be ready, better equipped. The Cairo mission trip was a learning curve for me.” She described how many of the people they met while going door-to-door said they practiced other religions. They “challenged” her.

Halsey noticed.

“Jacqueline just saw oppression that her eyes had never seen before,” she said. “And what I loved is that her inner leader just came out. There was a boldness, there was a confidence there that can only come from God.”

Scott agreed. “When I went to Cairo, it was good for me to be there.”

Halsey’s work includes encouraging women in missions mobilization. Her team has led mission trips to Chicago and New Orleans, Europe and South Asia, and has urged Illinois Baptist Women to engage their own neighbors and communities with the gospel.

“It does make me proud—you know, godly proud—when I see somebody succeeding,” Halsey said. And that encourages her in her work with Illinois Baptist Women all the more.

A call to prayer
Please encourage your church to pray for state missions during the Mission Illinois Offering & Week of Prayer, September 9-16. Pray especially for women’s ministry and missions across the state, and the development of leaders through Illinois Baptist Women. Pray for Carmen Halsey and all the members of the IBSA Church Resources Team as they equip churches and leaders for ministry.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering.

A compelling vision

Lisa Misner —  August 23, 2018

MIO Logo 500pxImagine a place in America where people have never heard the gospel. Imagine a growing town with no church to share the Good News of Jesus. That place is Illinois, and that community is Pingree Grove—rather, it was. Now, church planter R.T. Maldaner and City of Joy Church are taking the gospel to Pingree Grove, with the help of IBSA church planting strategists.

People in Pingree Grove are catching a vision of what it would be like to see their community transformed. The spiritual need there, and across Illinois, is at the heart of the 2018 Mission Illinois Offering & Week of Prayer.

Acts 1:8 commissions believers in Christ to share the gospel everywhere, from their home towns to the ends of the earth. Tucked into that call is “Judea,” which modern readers often translate to mean our state. Our Judea is spiritually needy, with millions who don’t know Christ, and at least 200 places in need of a new church.

13 million people call Illinois home. More than 8 million of them do not know Christ.

Baptists have long been people of vision, especially for missions. We give cooperatively to send missionaries to North America’s largest cities, and to remote villages around the world. Here in Illinois, people need the truth of Christ just as desperately. Imagine whole towns and cities transformed. Churches made stronger by members intentionally living out the gospel, and sharing it with their neighbors. Lives changed—for eternity.

The Mission Illinois Offering is a lifeline to vital ministries and missions here. Your MIO offering helps start new churches, strengthen existing congregations, and train people to share the gospel in their neighborhoods and beyond.

In our state of great need, we have a compelling vision—to see the gospel transform lives, churches, towns, and cities.

Many IBSA churches will observe the Mission Illinois Offering & Week of Prayer Sept. 9-16. Your church should have received an offering kit in the mail, and additional resources are available at missionillinois.org.

If your church is planning to collect the offering for the first time, or the first time in a while, the IBSA ministry staff will gladly help you communicate with your church about the vital nature of state missions. Please contact the Church Communications Team at (217) 391-3119 or request a speaker online.

In our state of great need, we have a compelling vision—to see the gospel transform lives, churches, towns, and cities.

The Briefing

Greear: Catholic abuse report requires ‘bold steps’
A Pennsylvania grand jury’s report alleging unprecedented levels of sexual abuse and cover-up by Roman Catholic clergy has drawn reaction from Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear, who said Southern Baptists should respond to the report by taking “bold steps” to eradicate sexual abuse “from within our community.”

Christian college drops sex standards in law school bid
Trinity Western University (TWU) dropped its controversial community covenant after Canada’s Supreme Court ruled against what would have been the country’s first Christian law school. TWU’s quest to open a law school stalled in court for years after several law societies refused to accredit would-be graduates due to TWU’s covenant prohibiting sex outside of traditional marriage. On August 16, TWU’s board of governors decided to drop the covenant altogether.

White House rejects trade offer to release Brunson
The Trump administration has rejected an offer by Turkey to release U.S. pastor, Andrew Brunson, in exchange for the United States’ forgiveness of billions of dollars of fines. Turkey offered to release Brunson if the U.S. drops its investigation in Halkbank (formerly known as Turkiye Halk Bankasi), which faces fines for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Poll: Leave animals how God designed – except mosquitoes
A new survey released by the Pew Research Center finds seven in 10 Americans support genetically engineering mosquitoes to limit their reproduction. Evangelicals were equally supportive (69%). But when it came to using biotechnology on other animals, they were more reluctant than the general public.

Tim Tebow to produce upcoming film
Tim Tebow—the Heisman Trophy winner, football and baseball player, and television broadcaster—is now adding movie producer to his list of resumes. Tebow and his brother Robby are executive producers of an upcoming faith-based film, “Run the Race.” The fictional story tells of two brothers and high school athletes who see their relationship tested when they seek different paths. A release date has not yet been set for the film, which is in post-production.

Sources: Baptist Press (2), Christianity Today (2), Christian Post

By Andrew Woodrow

Pingree Grove prayerwalking

Pingree Grove,” Tim Bailey said, “is a small town in desperate need of a church.”
Situated in the far western suburbs of Chicago, just west of Elgin, Pingree Grove was once a small farming community with less than 200 residents. The markers were a tiny white clapboard church that would close, and a cemetery. That was in the year 2000. Now, this rapidly developing city is expected to grow to over 15,000 people by 2020. The residents live in neighborhoods sprawling across what were once cornfields, and they commute to work in the suburbs and the city.

But this burgeoning bedroom community had no church.

“During a visit to Pingree Grove, I recognized there was nothing of a spiritual nature there,” said Bailey, an IBSA church planting catalyst in northern Illinois. “But as I prayerwalked in that community, I recognized that there was something special there—something that God wanted to do.”

Bailey was praying and walking the area last summer when he had an idea. Several groups of teens from all over Illinois were coming to Chicagoland for a week in July to assist church planters. Calling on Ken Wilson, his IBSA counterpart from southern Illinois, Bailey put forth his plan.

“He said, ‘I want to plant a church in four days, and they say that we can’t do that,’” Wilson recalled. “And the last thing you want to tell a southern Illinois redneck is that you can’t do something. So, I wanted to be part of something that only God can do.”

“For the first time we decided instead of going and helping a church planter,” Bailey said of the usual summer projects teaming teens and planters in Chicagoland, “we were going to attempt to plant a church with just 11 people in four days.”

The 11 people included several teens from First Baptist Church in far south Metropolis, led by associate pastor Cliff Easter, and the students from Clarksville Baptist Church in central Illinois with their youth leader, Leslie Propst.

The group divided into groups of two and prayerwalked Pingree Grove, knocking on more than 650 doors in those four days. They prayed for the people in the community, asking the Lord to save the lost, connect them with people looking for a church, and to help develop friendships in Jesus’ name. And they invited the people to a Bible study on Thursday night.

MIO Logo 500pxAs church planting catalysts, Wilson and Bailey are part of a partnership between IBSA and the North American Mission Board. Gifts to the Mission Illinois Offering help provide support services for these church planting missionaries, allowing them to recruit and train men who will plant and pastor new churches in some of the 200 places in Illinois where IBSA has identified the need for new congregations. With Mission Illinois as both a goal and a calling, IBSA seeks to establish evangelistic, gospel-teaching churches within easy reach of every lost person in Illinois.

“The Lord granted us immense favor,” Wilson said. “We met many people interested in knowing more about a church plant possibility, and a few more who even recommitted their lives to Christ.” The superintendent of a local school gave them permission to have a meeting there. Four families attended, Bailey said, and that was the start of a church.

But we need a leader
“We were far from finished,” Wilson said, “We prayed for Pingree Grove, that God would send a church planter to lead where we began.” Little did they know, God had begun his work in Pingree Grove three years earlier.

R. T. Maldaner and his family of eight had moved to Illinois from Idaho. Maldaner was serving in a church staff position in Elgin, but he sensed the Lord leading him to plant a church. “But we really didn’t know where,” Maldaner said.

His desire for church planting was encouraged by a mentor who told him that he had the DNA of a church planter. “He told me of IBSA’s need for solid, gospel-centered men to plant solid, gospel-centered churches,” Maldaner said, “and he then connected me with a gentleman from IBSA by the name of Tim Bailey.”

In January, six months after that summer outreach, the two met at Starbucks in South Elgin. “Tim and I were sitting down drinking coffee,” Maldaner said, “talking about my desire to church plant when he asks me his final question for the interview: ‘Where do you live?’”

When Maldaner said, “Pingree Grove,” Bailey pounded the table and yelled, “Praise the Lord!”

“R.T.,” Bailey told him, “we have been walking around Pingree Grove, and driving around Pingree Grove, and praying around Pingree Grove for a year that God would send us a church planter for Pingree Grove.”

One month later, Maldaner started a gathering. Since that Sunday, 150 people have attended faithfully, Bailey said, “and we have yet to begin the major push in encouraging people to come.”

Maldaner recognizes that the “Lord has orchestrated a miraculous thing….Knowing that our church isn’t a church plant in isolation, knowing that we have IBSA and a plethora of other brothers standing alongside us and helping us is a very liberating feeling.”
The church, called City of Joy, is set to launch officially on September 9.

“It is nothing we did,” Bailey insists, “It was only because of prayer, and more prayer, and even more prayer, that God decided to open the door to this church.”

Wilson remains invigorated by the experience of prayerwalking for a church plant. “I see God wanting to do this in multiple places, even rural areas across Illinois…Because he wants to touch Illinois (even more) than we want to reach it.”

A call to prayer
Please encourage your church to pray for state missions during the Mission Illinois Offering & Week of Prayer, September 9-16. Pray especially for church planting across the state, to reach more than 8 million people here who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior. Pray for Church Planting Catalysts Tim Bailey, Ken Wilson, and other members of the IBSA Church Planting Team. And pray for R.T. Maldaner as he leads the new City of Joy Church in Pingree Grove.

MIO Logo 500pxThe Mission Illinois Offering and Week of Prayer is September 9-16. For all the resources and materials available online and at your church, you may be thinking, Where do I begin? How do I get my church excited to give and contribute to kingdom work here in our own state? The first answer is to pray for state missions.

Pray for your congregation’s hearts to be open to giving to the Mission Illinois Offering. Then, distribute the prayer guide and join as one body, committing to praying together for all the requests listed.

  • Ask your worship leadership team to allot time for prayer for Illinois during the month of September.
  • Distribute the Mission Illinois Offering bulletin prayer guide in your Sunday morning worship service. The guide is in your MIO kit and at MissionIllinois.org under the tab “Downloadable Extras” and then scroll down the page to “Inserts and Other Helpful Documents.”
  • Consider holding a special prayer gathering at your church where you take turns individually lifting up each ministry and missionary.
  • Pray for the millions in our state who don’t know Christ, for church leaders and church planters in Illinois, and for local churches to have opportunities to share the love of God with their community.

Organize a state missions study. It is easy to do a mission study! Missions-related studies geared specifically towards students and adults are available at MissionIllinois.org. You simply need to pick a time for people to meet—it could even be during the Sunday school hour—and find someone to facilitate the study and discussion. We all could use a fresh understanding of the spiritual need in Illinois.

Look for the MIO kit in your church office. Download mission studies and videos at MissionIllinois.org. If your church has not received its kit, e-mail MissionIllinois@IBSA.org and request one.

Commit to give. And keep giving until your church’s goal is met! Lead by example and communicate to others the importance of this offering for furthering the kingdom in Illinois.

Provided in your church’s MIO kit are video reports showing the need for Christ across Illinois and some of the missions and ministries IBSA churches together support to meet those needs. During the Sundays leading up to MIO Week, please show them to your congregation. Make sure to include the video “Partners for Illinois” and at least one or two of the stories from the mission field.

Just as there are those who speak up for other annual offerings or ministry events, you can become a champion in your church for the cause of state missions. Whether you are a pastor, a deacon or elder, a missions leader, part of a committee, or a preschool teacher—you can be a voice for Mission Illinois. Our call to missions begins here where we live.

When you champion missions in Illinois, know that lives will be transformed because of your church’s commitment to prayer and to generous giving,