Mid-Term Update

God has a mission to magnify His glory and to proclaim His gospel in all creation. Jesus clearly prescribes His strategy for accomplishing the mission when He commissions His followers to make disciples of all peoples. Go into all the world and make disciples that God’s glory might be magnified and His gospel proclaimed. Missions at Parkwood flows from the mission of God as we seek to participate in His mission through short-term, mid-term, and long-term sending. 

Mid-Term Missions is a missions endeavor occurring in a timeframe of two months to two years. Parkwood currently has three mid-term gospel workers on the field. 

Rebecca was recently sent by Parkwood to serve for the summer alongside Jason Griffin in Surprise, Arizona as part of our Phoenix partnership. She left Gastonia at the beginning of June and plans to return from Phoenix at the end of the summer. She is doing well and serving in the Arizona heat for the sake of the gospel. The Father is granting her valuable experience and using her life and work for His glory. Pray for Rebecca that the Father’s mercy would rest upon her and yield much fruit through the ministry He allows and blesses. 

Esperanza has been sent from Parkwood to an extreme place and frontier location. She is in a secured area where we cannot divulge her name or location for her safety, yet she has willingly and joyfully left home and comfort for the sake of the gospel among a people far from God. Pray for Esperanza and for her family as she is away; pray on behalf of her parents for their peace and that they would be strengthened by their daughter’s zeal and sacrifice for the gospel. Pray on behalf of Esperanza that she will be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove and that her joy will be a never ending fountain springing up unto eternal life. 

David and Carla Demaree and their children were sent out from Parkwood in November of 2015 and are currently serving in Honduras among the Chorti through 2017. David is working in discipleship and training with Edgardo, a Chorti brother leading much of the work among his people. Pray for the Demarees as they have given this period of their lives to serve God’s glory and gospel in Honduras. Pray they will see fruit in their ministry, in Edgardo’s life and ministry, and in gospel advancement among the Chorti of Honduras. 

As our attention is called to these two ladies and this family who have given two months to two years for the sake of the gospel, please pray for them. Thank God that He has called them, and pray for His sustaining grace in their lives. Also, as you consider their going, would you consider your going? Parkwood desires to continue sending increasing numbers of short-term, mid-term, and long-term gospel workers to the nations. Pray for Rebecca, Esperanza, and the Demarees, and pray that the Lord of the harvest would send more workers into His fields that are white for harvest. 

Meet Parkwood’s Global Disciple-Making Mobilizer 

Meet David Crane, Parkwood’s Global Disciple-Making Mobilizer. 
David Crane was born in El Paso, Texas and was raised in Cherryville, North Carolina. David is married to his beautiful wife Renee, and they are blessed with three children: Thomas, Zebulon and Mary. Zeb is a writer and lives in Charlotte. Mary is also single and lives in Nashville, Tennessee where she is a Vet-Tech. Thomas and his wife Leslie are serving the gospel internationally, and they have three children: Judah (5), Sofia (2), and Sarah Renee (born Jan 1, 2016).

The purpose of Parkwood is to glorify God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all people(s). It is therefore our desire to increase gospel witness and effectiveness in our community and among the nations. To this end, Parkwood’s missions effort is developing into a more focused two-pronged approach: Local Disciple-Making and Global Disciple-Making. Enter David Crane. David will join the Global Disciple-Making office as a mobilizer to offer consultation and guidance from a wealth of knowledge and experience. 

Crane holds degrees from Columbia Bible College and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. He pastored Beulah Baptist Church in Virginia before serving with the IMB for more than twenty years. From 1993 to 2015, David and Renee served in Africa, where the Father called tens of thousands to Himself. He has served as a Personalizer and as a teacher at the Kenya Baptist Theological College. Crane was also a strategic leader for East Africa, coaching and supervising field personnel in five countries.

I encourage you to make David and Renee feel a welcomed part of the faith family at Parkwood, and take every opportunity to get to know them. This wonderful couple is a great addition to our leadership as Parkwood seeks to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching everyone that we may present everyone mature in Christ (Matthew 28:18-29, Colossians 1:28). 

North American Missions Offering

Much has been said the last few months about giving and going to the nations. Parkwood celebrated sacrificial and significant giving to the International Missions Offering in December, and earlier this month, we gloried in the mission of God during Mission Impact Celebration. Much of Parkwood’s focus has been looking beyond the United States and even North America to the global cities and hard to reach places of the ends of the earth. Now, however, we turn our attention to the North American Missions Offering, what Southern Baptists have historically referred to as the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. 

It is important to see these offerings with a consistent vision rather than at odds with one another. To see these offerings with consistent vision, consider two things: the meaning of harvest fields and the reason for disproportionate giving. First, consider the meaning of harvest fields in the Scriptures. Begin with the Great Commission command to go and make disciples. Since going is actually a participle, the instruction is to make disciples as you go. As you go, make disciples near or far. Most should make disciples everyday during the course of your going to school, to work, to play. Others, though, should leave and intentionally go cross-culturally to make disciples. If we are to make disciples among the nations, then the geographical goal of that command necessarily includes the place in which you live. 

Likewise, this near and far tension relates to the harvest field. Followers of Christ are commanded to earnestly pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send workers into the harvest fields. What fields? Certainly he does not only mean international locations to the neglect of closer places. What did Jesus say to his disciples before ascending? Indeed he directed his disciples to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. When we consider the harvest fields, then, it is consistent to consider each of these geographical locations as legitimate fields of service. Jesus tells his disciples that the fields are white for harvest, and later he tells them to go to their current city (Jerusalem), to regions beyond their city (Judea), including areas that are different or even difficult (Samaria), and of course, to the ends of the earth. When you consider the biblical directive to go to the harvest field, therefore, do not negate every harvest field for one particular field. The hard to reach places are harvest fields for which we should pray and to which we should go, but other harvest fields exist also, perhaps in your own backyard.

Second, the reason for disproportionate giving to international missions should be understood in view of disproportionate need. No doubt much is said at Parkwood about going from the United States to the nations, about going to global cities and hard to reach places, about naming Christ where he has not been named, and no doubt Parkwood exhorts the church to give and send and pray toward these end of the earth harvest fields. But spurring this international harvest field focus is the reality of drastic need. Of course the lost are in the United States, but also across this country are many Christians and churches and resources. In the forty-five unreached people groups of the Caucasus Mountains, for example, many more lost live with much fewer Christians, churches, and resources. So we unashamedly raise the call to go to other nations even while we consistently go, pray, and send to our own country and North America.

For these reasons, it is consistent and right to highlight the far and hard to reach harvest fields even while we give through the North American Missions Offering to the North American Mission Board. With this vision for missions, would you please consider this week what you might give next week to the North American Missions Offering? I pray we would give faithfully and obediently in accordance with the gift given to us in the gospel.

Mission Impact Celebration Rewind

“Declare His Glory” is the theme of Parkwood’s 2016 Mission Impact Celebration (MIC). We pray we have declared his glory, and we pray we will every day and into the future. I explained in a previous post that Mission Impact Celebration exists to glory in the mission of God, to share what God is doing through the mission of the church, and to exhort the church to be on mission in the intentional opportunities of everyday life and in the strategic cross-cultural communication of the gospel. Every aspect of MIC, therefore, is planned and conducted with this purpose in mind. Our time together begins with an explanation of why we go and how we go, as I interview normal guys who are sent out from Parkwood under normal circumstances to plant churches and declare his glory. We are sent out and we go to declare his glory as these three families have, to our own community and state, to international settings, and to pioneer contexts. 

Having considered what the Lord of the harvest is doing through those interviewed and many more testimonies of gospel work, every member of Parkwood must be confronted regularly with the question, “Does God want me to go?” “Is he sending me?” The Something New video suggests the possibility that limitless missionary teams could go to the harvest field if we would only consider the option for normal people to go along various pathways, as church planter, students, professionals, and retirees.

Where should we go? Why should we go? Well, it seems true enough that we should go to the lost because we have the gospel and they do not. True, there are lost, and we should go to them and share with them. But the missionary question, is where are there lost that do not have access to the gospel? The lost are everywhere. Some of the lost, though, are unreached. If they awake today and want to know the gospel, they could walk for days and weeks and never see a church, a Bible, or meet a Christian. So, yes, we must go because people are lost, but we must not lose site of the broader picture. Two billion people are lost and unreached,  and no one is yet looking for them. 

We are thrilled to complete another Mission Impact Celebration on Sunday when we investigated the mission of God in the Scriptures and discussed our strategy of going, sending/giving, and praying both locally and globally. It was a joy to see such throngs of people come forward with decision cards as we issued the 2% Challenge: a challenge to give 2%, or 1 week, to going locally or globally with the gospel. Are we on mission? We do not have the privilege of “maybe;” the answer is “yes” or “no.” What about you? Have you acknowledged that the God of the mission has enlisted you? Remember Psalm 96:3, “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” I pray we would be about the mission of God, and declaring his glory would be our consuming desire.