Going with the Gospel #1

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. We’re serious about that purpose, and we put that purpose to work every day in our strategy, in our methodology, and in our partnerships. It is to fulfill this purpose that we choose to partner nationally and internationally because we are committed to going with the gospel to all people. For this reason, we engaged the poor of West Virginia, the Chorti of Honduras, and the Dibo of Nigeria. We believe that one day, when we are gathered around the throne of the Living God, we will worship with people from every tribe, tongue, and nation that Christ has ransomed for himself (Revelation 5:9). We not only have that hope as we seek national and international partnerships, but we recognize our responsibility to participate in the mission of God in going for the gathering of that multitude around the throne. We have engaged in mission among these partnerships consistent with our purpose of going with the gospel to all people and our passion of reaching the unreached.

Parkwood has been blessed to send teams all over the world in 2015. We want to update the church on these partnerships for a few reasons. First, you should be informed that you might be encouraged as you give to these partnerships. Second, you should be informed that you might praise our heavenly Father for the work he is doing among the people of the world. And third, you should be informed that you might be encouraged to go with the gospel among the nations. To this end, you can read below and in two following updates from West Virginia, Honduras, and Nigeria.

Going to the “poorest of the poor”…

  
McDowell County is one of the poorest areas in the nation. Located in the southernmost corner of West Virginia and home of the massive Pocahontas Coal Field, McDowell and the area around it was once a thriving region whose economy was fueled by coal mining. This huge industry reached its peak sometime before about 1980. Since then the steel industry, coal country’s largest customer, has largely moved offshore resulting in the closing of coal mines. The economic collapse of the region accelerated as increasingly difficult emissions standards forced electric power plants to shift away from high-sulfur coal to cleaner natural gas and renewable energy sources. Today, once-proud communities, many not much more than coal camps, are ghost towns. The few people left in the towns and the surrounding “hollers” have one of the lowest household incomes in the nation. Many survive on food stamps, disability payments, and other social welfare subsidies. The illiteracy rate approaches fifty percent. People there live hard and die young because of black lung and other respiratory diseases. Drug abuse and all of the ills that accompany such a culture are rampant.

  

On a recent mission trip to McDowell County, a couple of our men were talking with the coal miners and truck drivers (“wheelmen”) at a truck stop near the town of Iaeger. The locals were friendly enough, but there wasn’t much joy in their voices or their eyes. They said that three more mines were closing that week—none of them would have a job with Christmas and the mountain winter approaching. When the mines close, the coal trucks stop running, the diesel station stops selling fuel, the lady who comes in at 4:00 a.m. loses her cat-head biscuit customers, and so on down the revenue chain. By the end of the year, only five mines—all independently owned—will be left in the county. 

  

During that same mission trip, one of our men sat talking with a local lady and her daughter at a Family Night sponsored by Little Sparrow Ministries in Iaeger. He and others had met her during an earlier trip to West Virginia. She lives with her husband and daughter in a rented house that is in unbelievably poor condition. Open holes were in the walls where windows should have been. The wretched plumbing provided only a trickle of water, which was undrinkable due to barium and sulfur contamination. The furnace, an ancient oil-fired thing, had long since quit working. There was junk and filth everywhere, evidence of hope given up. The man of the house was upstairs sleeping, apparently stoned on oxycontin (“hillbilly heroin”). That night, this lady stood up before the preaching began and gave her testimony—it was a story of sickness, pain, poverty, and time spent in jail. Even her Christian faith seemed filled with hopelessness. 

  

It is into this poverty that we send our mission teams to help the “poorest of the poor”—not just with food, clothing, hygiene and cleaning items, and construction projects, but also with the hope of the gospel message. We expect this fledgling ministry to expand in 2016 by engaging our Growth Groups with the opportunity to put “boots on the ground” in West Virginia.

International Missions Offering

The IMB is the Southern Baptist sending agency for international missions. Each year over half of the agency’s operating budget comes from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO). This offering is given during the Christmas season and is used directly for the sending and maintaining of global workers among the nations. Parkwood gives to the same offering, but we have elected to use the name International Missions Offering (IMO) simply because the name offers more explanation. The IMO is the offering we give for international missions. We significantly emphasize the IMO every year at Parkwood because we believe two truths, and all of missions come together in these two realities. First, we believe that the God of the Bible is worthy of all worship, and his desire is to redeem a people lost apart from his salvation that he might receive their worship and glory in rescuing them. Second, we believe that in the Bible our God has made clear the marching orders for every follower of Christ to magnify the glory of God and proclaim the gospel of God in all the world. Because we are driven by these two realities, we must not rest until Christ returns and announces the mission is complete. Until that day, therefore, Parkwood will give, send, and go to our neighbors and to the nations, and this coming Sunday, December 20, offers a remarkable opportunity as we give to the 2016 International Missions Offering.

As you think about giving, consider this word from our Kids Pastor Ryan Foster:

Imagine what happens when kids begin to see beyond themselves to see how they can be a part of God’s work in the world. Each Wednesday night, 225 Kids & Leaders get together for Awana, a night focused on scripture memory, relationship building, and lots of fun with recreation. This time of year is really exciting for them because it means store night. Store night is a blast because the kids trade in shares to buy gifts for their family, friends, and/or themselves. Shares, paper money with dollar equivalents, are earned throughout the year as the kids learn verses and do other awesome things. This month, we challenged our kids to do something new: to give more than they take. 

With the help of Pastor Kem Lindsay, Jacob Mennear, Lisa Taulman, and our amazing Awana leaders, we hosted a special offering service last week where the kids could give their shares to missions. It was really important to us that they understood how and why they were giving. We explained how their shares would be able to purchase specific things like Bibles, SIM cards with videos articulating the gospel, and even supporting a missionary family for a week on the field. 

After explaining, we showed video of a Nigerian village with whom we are partnered giving as they danced to the playing of drums. As the drums begin, the people come forward to give their offering. All the kids were glued to the screen and became so excited to give like the Nigerian village gave. After praying, I told them it was their turn to give and invited to come. Row by row, with the drums beating in the background, the kids came to drop their shares into baskets at the front.

What happened next, none of us fully expected: 120 Kindergarten-5th graders gave 1,180 shares, which we matched with $1,180. The entire amount was given to the International Missions Offering! Their giving, instead of buying more gifts for themselves, provided enough to support an entire missionary family on the field for 8 days! 

The Bible says that God loves a cheerful – literally “hilarious” – giver. There were a lot of hilarious kids last week, and my continued hope is that on December 20 they will see how Parkwood gives to the gospel and goes to the nations to advance the Kingdom of God. As one mom told me later, “I asked my son in the car how much he was going to give. He emphatically answered, ‘All of it!’” Wow, that kid’s perspective demonstrates the way we all should give and view the gifts and resources God gives us.

Would you consider giving like that, not out of abundance but sacrificially? Perhaps a little more explanation of what the IMB will do with these funds would help. Christ was clear regarding the extent of the mission when he said to begin where you are and continue to give, send, and go into all the world (Matthew 24:14, Acts 1:8). The IMB takes that commission seriously and sends intentionally to global cities and extreme places. They send to global cities because of the vast numbers of people in cities like Dubai and Shanghai that are lost and without the gospel. And they send to extreme places because it’s easy to get people to go to luxurious locations but difficult to convince them to go to demanding or dangerous places. The IMB sends people to global cities and extreme places because more important than preference is the desperate need for the gospel among millions and millions of unreached people who are dying with no one telling them that they can live. For example, one of those extreme places is Central Asia where many of the world’s least evangelized live with little access to the truth. In the Caucasus Mountain region of Central Asia – between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea – exist more than 2,000 villages where 45 distinct languages are spoken… and the vast majority of them are unreached with gospel.

The national goal for this year’s offering is $175 million, but that goal would be reached if every Southern Baptist gave only $30. What if every Southern Baptist gave $150? The total offering would be nearly $1 billion. Consider how many global workers we could send to global cities and extreme places with that much money?! In the days and hours leading up to Sunday, December 20, consider giving to the International Missions Offering for the sake of God’s glory among the nations.

Thanksgiving from the Chorti

“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Ephesians 5:20)

On Friday, August 9, a team of six led by Nick Majors traveled to Honduras to deliver food to starving Chorti.  Three days into the trip, I received this encouraging email from Audrey Long.  Take note of the theme of thanksgiving ringing throughout the message:

Wonderful day.  The guys did great and there was no heavy rain–sprinkled a little bit and cooled things off.  Folks in Gobiado were very appreciative  and expressed their thanksgiving to God for supplying food for them.  The folks from Las Medias also were very grateful.  Several folks offered up prayers of thanksgiving for the food and prayed especially for the group that brought it for them [our guys].  Manuel and Gregorio [Bible study leaders in Las Medias] both spoke to the group.  Was a wonderful day to see folks praying and thanking God for his faithfulness.”

Chorti picture #2

This is an important step in our work among these people.  The Chorti’s acknowledgment of God’s goodness in the form of thanksgiving tells us that the Word is taking root among them in a deeply significant way.  “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136:1).  This fact should thrill our hearts.  God’s Word is sure and steadfast.  God, through His Word, always accomplishes that which He desires.  May it continue to increase (Acts 6:7).

Below is a picture of Edgardo sharing the Gospel in one of the villages.  Delivering food is necessary, yes, but sharing the good news of Christ is essential.  Continue to pray for Edgardo as he works to spread the Gospel and make disciples among his own people.

Chorti 3

The team has just a few days left among the Chorti – that means just a few more days to deliver food, and more importantly the good news of Christ.  Please pray for rest, strength, and confidence in the Gospel.

Our Lord is at work.  May we continue to be faithful to His calling.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Matthew 28:18-20 in living color

Several years ago, Parkwood was seeking to practically live out taking the gospel to an unreached people group. We were blessed to meet and partner with Billy and Mary Collins with the IMB to assist them in reaching the Chorti of Honduras. They labored for years among them before retirement, planting seeds and loving the people. They faithfully shared the gospel with Edgardo who believed. However, he was resistant to baptism. A little over a year ago, one of our partners from FBC Seminole, Jase baptized Edgardo.
In March, we asked Edgardo to head up the work among the Chorti by becoming the missionary to his own people. Today we witnessed Matthew 28:18-20 before our eyes as Edgardo, a Chorti man baptized 12 people as Chorti, a student team from FBC Seminole, and the team from Parkwood rejoiced together. I will never forget this moment. Rejoice with us as you witness the first Chorti baptizing Chorti.
Chorti Baptism