Archives For Mission Illinois

The stand

ib2newseditor —  August 14, 2017 — Leave a comment

Surrounded by a Forest of Tall Golden Aspen Trees

Over the years, I’ve grown to love Aspen trees. They’re not that common in Illinois, growing in only about a third of the state’s counties, mostly in the north. But in cooler or higher-altitude climates such as central Colorado, they grow abundantly, often covering the mountains like wildflowers.

It was while vacationing there with my family this summer that I started asking myself why I find Aspen trees so beautiful and interesting. Is it the “quaking” leaves, which so freely alternate their green and silver sides in the breeze, and then turn bright yellow in the fall? Or is it that those leaves are mounted on a beautiful white tree trunk, crisscrossed with black bands, that grow up to a hundred feet tall?

Perhaps it’s that these striking trees always appear so plentifully. Aspens grow in clusters or “stands” and multiply rapidly. Individual trees are actually part of a larger, singular organism that spreads rapidly in the form of new trees from a common root system.
As a result, one Aspen stand in Utah is considered by many to be the world’s oldest living organism. It’s more ancient than the massive Sequoias of the West, or even the famous Bristlecone Pines, some of which are said to be 5,000 years old. It appears that individual trees like those are not quite as enduring as the spreading organism of Aspens, which presents itself as many trees, yet underneath shares a unified root system that results in each unique tree being a genetic replicate of the others.

Inspiration for Baptists from the mighty and prolific Aspen trees

As you might guess, I find in these beautiful Aspen trees an encouraging metaphor for the equally creative work I believe God desires to do among Baptist churches here in Illinois. Like the diversely colored leaves that “quake” at the slightest breeze, our lives, stirred and filled by the Holy Spirit, should attract the attention of those we meet and invite them to know Jesus as Savior.

The bright, white-and-black banded trunk that holds us together is the local church that beautifully reflects the light of Christ and his word, not just one at a time, but in diverse sizes and shapes. Yet our churches should be united by a common root system of both doctrine and cooperation, one that makes us resilient and also allows us to multiply rapidly and spread throughout our region and the world. Aspens are the most widespread tree in North America, and there are varieties of Aspens found throughout Europe and Asia.

This year, September 10-17 is the week our “stand” of churches here in Illinois has set aside to pray for mission work here, and to receive a special offering called the Mission Illinois Offering. This offering is like a refreshing rainfall on our cooperative work as Baptist churches, work that takes place in a culture that can be as harsh on Baptist churches as mountain winters on a stand of Aspens.

But with that offering, we train leaders and church members in evangelism. We strengthen churches in multiple ministries that help them make more disciples and grow. And we provide the network of doctrinally sound cooperation that gives you confidence that the 20 or so churches being started in Illinois each year, though unique, are doctrinally united with all the churches in our “stand.”

Aspens grow all the time, even in winter. But many feel they are most brilliant and beautiful in the fall, when their golden leaves paint the mountainside with the glory of God.

This fall, when you and I give a generous offering through the Mission Illinois Offering, I believe we have an opportunity to do the same.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

Great Partners

ib2newseditor —  September 19, 2016

Recently my wife, Beth, left town for a few days to visit our sons in the Chicago area and to attend a bridal shower for our soon-to-be daughter-in-law Alyssa. I had a couple of local commitments, and so I agreed to take care of the home front while she was gone. I thought to myself, “This won’t be that hard. I’ll just do all the things she normally does, plus my stuff. There should be plenty of time left over to relax as well.”

How wrong I was. After a few days of preparing my own meals, doing the laundry, tending to the dog, and a dozen other surprisingly time-consuming duties, I realized the lawn needed mowing. Now before you judge me, let me point out that my wife says she likes to mow the lawn. She loves being outside, considers it good exercise, says it gives her a sense of accomplishment, and even uses it as prayer time. So I let her mow.

Our missionaries and staff couldn’t do what we do without the partnership of IBSA churches and the generous gifts of Illinois Baptists, especially through the Mission Illinois Offering.

Beth chose to be absent, however, on one of the hottest and most humid Saturdays of the summer. On top of that, our self-propelling mower recently stopped self-propelling. Its handle is held together by little plastic ties. And at least two of its wheels wobble badly. As I forced it up the hills and around the curves of our yard, I seemed to remember Beth saying something about perhaps needing a new one.

During the many times I stopped to wipe the perspiration off my brow and out of my eyes, I found myself thinking how much I missed not just my wife, but my life partner. I pictured trying to do both of our jobs all the time, plus parenting and serving in the church, and all the other responsibilities that we share. And I realized again that I can only do what I do because of what she does.

The following Sunday I was scheduled to speak at one of our state’s most generous missions-giving churches, though they are far from the largest. In 2015, this faithful church gave by far the state’s largest Mission Illinois Offering.

They are between pastors right now, and I had already planned to try and encourage them from Philippians 1, where Paul says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

As I introduced the text, I found myself telling them about the unsustainable few days I had just spent without my wife. I told them those days had really made me appreciate the value of a good partner. And then I thanked them sincerely, from my heart, for their partnership in the gospel, not just this year, but for so many years.

Without the partnership of local IBSA churches, we could not have planted 23 new congregations last year, or delivered 20,000 trainings to pastors and church leaders, or mobilized more than 24,000 missions volunteers.

Across the state this month, hundreds of IBSA churches will receive the Mission Illinois Offering, focused on reaching more than 8 million lost people here in our state. Some offerings will total a few hundred dollars, and some several thousand. But together, they help form a powerful partnership in the gospel that gives my prayers joy as well.

Beth is back, and this week we bought a new lawnmower. It’s one small way I can thank my wife for being a great partner. Our missionaries and staff couldn’t do what we do without the partnership of IBSA churches and the generous gifts of Illinois Baptists, especially through the Mission Illinois Offering. Thanks for being great partners.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

Offering Day

ib2newseditor —  September 18, 2016

Mission Illinois Offering  Week of Prayer Day 8

MIO-box-smallToday many churches across the state will collect the Mission Illinois Offering. With a goal of $475,000, the ministries in this prayer guide depend on faithful giving in order to continue reaching people for Christ. The Mission Illinois Offering is the most direct channel through which Illinois Baptists can fund mission work close to home and really invest in the things important to us here.

Mission Illinois encourages the work of local congregations, is built on solid Baptist doctrine, and helps share Christ in every setting where IBSA missionaries serve. Missions giving through this offering helps equip and mobilize people to reach our specific mission field—the lost and unreached people in Illinois.

Pray for IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams and all the missionaries and staff of IBSA. Pray for generous giving during your own church’s offering for state missions.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering

Watch Nate Adams’ video, “Turn on the light.”

Mission Illinois Offering Week of Prayer Day 6

MIO-box-small75% of Illinois’ 13 million people don’t know Jesus Christ. Almost 2 million residents are from outside the U.S. and many more have not understood their need for salvation. In Chicagoland, for example, “every block is a different world, every community is a different community with different races, different beliefs,” said Kenyatta Smith, planter and pastor of Another Chance church in Chicago’s Inglewood neighborhood.

In an area filled with killing and violence, Smith is dedicated to bringing the hope of God back into this community and offering people “another chance” just like he got, through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And he’s planting a second congregation in nearby—but very different — Evergreen Park.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering

Pray for spiritual awakening in Illinois, and the unreached people who live in our state.

Watch Kenyatta Smith’s story, “Reaching unreached people in Illinois.”

IBSA conferences and camps

ib2newseditor —  September 15, 2016

Mission Illinois Offering Day 5

MIO-box-smallHundreds of children, teens, and church leaders visit IBSA’s camps at Streator and Lake Sallateeska. Whether for a quiet spiritual retreat, or a fun week filled with games and summertime activities, these sites are home to many fond memories. And many young people have come to know Christ and have committed to ministry. The missions camps challenge students to think about mission work locally and worldwide. And worship and leadership conferences held at Christian colleges train teens to be leaders in their own churches.

“People who might not be as receptive in another setting are open to hearing the gospel” in a camp or retreat setting, Mike Young said of the Streator camp.

Pray for expansion of our camp facilities and programs, Steve Hamrick who leads student music conferences, camp directors Philip Hall and Mike Young, and the staff and volunteer leaders of Super Summer and other life-changing experiences.

Watch this slideshow of students enjoying their camping experience at Streator and Lake Sallateeska Baptist Camps.

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Mission Illinois Offering Devotion Day 4

MIO-box-smallLily Ohl grew up thinking Chicago is a scary place. But the 17-year-old from Sherman found during ChicaGO Week that many people were open to hearing the Gospel. Each summer, teens travel to the city and assist church planters in reaching their communities. They learn firsthand how new churches are started and get practice sharing Christ. “It’s a big city, but people are willing to listen and you can really change a life,” said Ohl.

Showing students the value of planting new churches is just one way IBSA is leading efforts to reach America’s third largest city, where less than 10% of people are affiliated with an evangelical church.

Pray for the salvation of Chicago, and IBSA’s Chicagoland church planting team: Tim Bailey, Dennis Conner, Jorge Melendez, and John Yi.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering at missionillinois.org.

Watch Lily Ohl’s story, “Students on mission in Chicago.”

Mission Illinois Offering Devotion Day 3

MIO-box-smallThis spring seven Illinois women set aside their daily responsibilities for a week and said “yes” to a call to South Asia. There they worked with Muslim women. Team member Lindsay McDonald said it was a very dark and oppressed place, “but I think in the darkness, we were also allowed to see hope.” Even in a place of persecution, women raised their hands wanting to become followers of Christ.

“We went expecting to see certain things and then God delivers the unexpected!” said Carmen Halsey.

IBSA aids churches in sending more than 22,000 people each year to serve on mission teams, in their communities and around the world.

Pray for IBSA’s Carmen Halsey and Dwayne Doyle and the teams they help train. And pray for your church’s involvement in missions.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering

Watch Lindsay McDonald’s story, “Mobilizing volunteers worldwide.”