Northwest Baptists meet needs in fire zone

By Cameron Crabtree

August 24, 2015

Volunteer NWBC disaster relief chaplains stand in the midst of other firefighting personnel to hear instructions about efforts to combat blazes in north central Washington. A feeding team is set to begin August 26 for those affected by the fires.

OMAK, WA -- As fires in north central Washington continue to challenge firefighters, more than 60 Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are readying a feeding unit and shower unit to aid firefighters and residents affected by the fires, according to Paul Henry, a regional coordinator for the Northwest Baptist Convention’s relief organization.


Starting August 26, the kitchen unit will begin serving thousands of meals from its base in Omak, WA. Volunteers with American Red Cross – a key partner with Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief -- will transport the meals to various locations, said Henry.


Six Northwest Baptist Disaster Relief Chaplains have already been on site assisting with spiritual care among firefighting brigades. More will arrive with the feeding unit’s volunteers.


The kitchen equipment is from Columbian Basin Baptist Association and Coulee Baptist Association. The shower unit is from Puget Sound Baptist Association.


“The response from our churches has been amazing,” said Henry. “Pastor Greg Thorn from Calvary Baptist Church, Brewster (WA) called and made his church building available for our disaster relief teams.”


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Pastors learn, grow as new church gels

By Sheila Allen

July 15, 2015

Newly launched Reliance Church is shepherded by co-pastors Jacob Morris (left) and Adam Bonus.

Although church planter Jacob Morris grew up in Spokane, WA, it was at Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas that he met future co-pastor Adam Bonus.


“We lived right above Adam and his family in student family housing, which was basically just like living in a dorm with families and little kids around,” Morris said of his time at DTS. He found his way to Texas after first realizing he wanted to be a pastor at the young age of 10 and then attending Moody Bible Institute in Spokane for a bachelors’ degree in biblical studies.


Morris and Bonus began dreaming of starting a church connected to a coffee shop during their seminary days, but Pennsylvania-born Bonus was initially pursuing international missions.


“The more we prayed about it, this seemed right,” said Bonus. “We decided to do it and had to raise support, so we put together a prospectus and took trips to raise some support.”


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Washington man passionate about evangelism

By Sheila Allen

July 15, 2015

Al Nave is evangelistic to the core, as evidenced by his commitment to sharing the gospel with many through the ministry of Airway Heights (WA) Baptist Church.

Walking the camp perimeter in Vietnam on dark nights serving in the Army, Al Nave read the pocket Bible given to him by his wife’s grandfather by candlelight. He knew he was secure in Christ, no matter what happened to him, but he was disturbed by his inability to explain to a fellow soldier how to accept Christ as Savior.


That experience stuck with Nave upon retiring from the Army and relocating to Airway Heights, WA.


“I was asked to become a deacon in the church and I said I would not do it until someone trained me to lead someone else to Christ,” Nave said. “I became a Christian when I was 13 years old after I went with my dad, a deacon, as he led revivals in the hollows of Tennessee, but I still wanted to be able to share Christ personally.”

One of 14 children, Nave left Tennessee never to return at age 17 when he joined the Army. Twenty years and 21 moves later, Nave retired from working on guided missiles.


“I started with Evangelism Explosion at Airway Heights Baptist Church and started leading some to Christ,” Nave stated. “I went on visitation all that time and went through six or seven other evangelism programs, include FAITH. I went through the FAITH program 13 times, first to be trained, and then taking two others through it with me each time after that, so 24 more were able to share the gospel.”


Nave conceded anxious feelings when he first began, but now it just comes naturally.


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Students prepare to serve in Thailand

By Sheila Allen

July 15, 2015

Students will take the lead as they make their way to Chackoengsao, Thailand, on July 30 for a 12-day Northwest Baptist Convention mission endeavor. A team of 20 teenagers and adults will seek to make a difference for Christ as they travel to the outskirts of Bangkok to teach English as a second language and engage in cultural exchange with middle and high school students.


Leading the trip is youth pastor Curtis Lilly of Snoqualmie, WA, and other adults who will accompany the teens from various parts of the Northwest. Danny Kuykendall, a NWBC church health consultant, is on tap as the mission pastor who will teach students in daily sessions.


“We will be working with Rob and Lori Pengra, who have a long history in the Northwest as church planters before assuming their position with the International Mission Board in Thailand,” Kuykendall said. “Rob Pengra was on staff at the Interstate Baptist Association and was also a church planting catalyst for the NWBC. We are thrilled to get the chance for our teenagers to influence other teenagers in a public school setting.”


The team will stay in a dormitory-style setting at a medical center in the area while in Thailand.


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Church plants multiplying in Region 5

By Sheila Allen

July 15, 2015

A large map and plenty of prayer are two central elements to penetrating the spiritual cavern of Region 5 for Garry Benfield, church planting catalyst and Northwest Baptist Convention team leader for the region.


It’s a vast territory that encompasses the Idaho panhandle, across to the Cascade mountain range, from the Canadian border swooping down through the upper reaches of Oregon.


“When it became evident that I was going to be a church planting catalyst after our restructuring four years ago, I laid out a map and the eight Native American reservations in our area just jumped out at me as an unreached people group,” said Benfield. “I have visited them all and see the lostness, although I am not Native American myself. I know Christianity has failed in finding ways to reach them.”


Benfield believes reaching Native Americans could lead to the next great spiritual awakening. But that people group is not the only population segment that concerns Benfield.


“I believe I’ve come to the point that we can never have too many churches,” remarked Benfield, who was a pastor himself in Portland, OR, and Auburn, WA, prior to beginning his service as director of missions for the Columbia Basin Baptist Association in 1995. “We have got to find a way to help our existing churches catch a vision to penetrate the lostness and help them maintain that as a goal.”


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"Parachute" team member returns to Northwest

By Sheila Allen

July 15, 2015

Stephanie Gibson oversees a game at a block party in Tumwater, WA for new church plant, The Canvas Church.

A homecoming of sorts took place in recent months when Stephanie Gibson arrived back in Tumwater, WA, to assist with The Canvas Church, a church launching in coming months. Gibson previously spent a summer with three others on a “parachute team,” sent to the area to cultivate the spiritual soil in hopes of building a community of faith near Olympia.


Raised and educated in Texas, Gibson began attending church with her grandmother in first grade, but when her family, who moved frequently, relocated to Amarillo, a neighborhood woman stopped by to see if her family would allow Gibson to go to church with her.


“I got saved at Vacation Bible School that summer,” Gibson recalled. “The pastor from that church picked me up even after we moved again. I wanted more than anything to see my parents in church, and it actually happened. My dad eventually led our youth group and mom got really involved, too.”


But it was in college that Gibson identifies as the time she began treasuring Jesus. She started participating in mission trips, such as “beach reach,” a spring break evangelistic outreach to college students partying on the beaches of San Padre, and international efforts in China and Thailand.


Gibson continued in her ministry efforts through Go Now Missions, a student missions program for collegians that enables them serve across the United States and the world for one week to 12 months as student missionaries. She spent the summer of 2012 in Tumwater, a site identified by the Northwest Baptist Convention as a town needing a new church.


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Food needs met by Washington church

By Sheila Allen

July 15, 2015

Volunteers from First Baptist Church of Hamilton, WA, staff the Hamilton Community Food Bank for those who face a shortage of food for their family.

Tragedy is known to bring out the best in people and residents of Hamilton, WA, know that all too well. Built in a flood plain of the Skagit River, the town has experienced devastating floods every few years for over a century.

Standing in the gap to meet needs and pull people from the brink of despair is First Baptist Church of Hamilton, where Pastor Ron Edwards has led the charge since 2003.


“I was told of the flooding when I first came here,” Edwards said. “The church building used to be in the center of town, but was a victim of two floods in 1990. The church decided to move and God opened up opportunity for land that was across Highway 20, on much higher ground out of the flood zone. God worked miracles, for within a couple of years it was paid for in full.”


It was clear to Edwards and his wife, Beth, when they walked through the low-income community that God was calling them to Hamilton. Four months later the town of 350 residents was once again hit by another massive flood and only five homes were not covered by water.


“We already had an arrangement with the Red Cross, so the church was once again turned into an emergency shelter,” Edwards stated. “With national attention, we received donations from all over the country and were quickly overwhelmed by it. At first, five Sunday school classes were quickly filled with donated clothes and other items. Then, a shipping container was brought onto the property. Soon it became unmanageable.”


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Young church launches new congregation

By Sheila Allen

July 15, 2015

Matthew and Nicole Savage, with their sons Elijah and Abel

What’s old has become new again for The Journey Church in Everett, WA, as the young congregation prepares to send off a significant portion of its membership to begin a new church in nearby Mill Creek, WA, where the church originally began.


Matthew Savage, now the pastor at The Journey, considers it providential that he saw a sign at the seminary he was attending advertising an opportunity to meet with Gary Irby, director of church planting resources for the Northwest Baptist Convention, for those interested in ministry opportunities in the Northwest.


“It was my first semester of seminary, and although I had told my wife I never wanted to plant a church, I also knew I wanted to get out of the Bible belt, and for me, the west coast was it,” Savage recalled. “Gary told me to call him when I was ready to graduate and so five years later I called his office. I signed up one more time when he came through our campus again and Gary said he had the church for me.”


Savage joined the effort at the young church meeting in public schools in Mill Creek as pastor of growth, joining founding pastor Chris Mayfield in 2007. After Mayfield resigned several years later, Savage was asked to become the pastor.


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Board solidifies 2016 goals, agenda

By Cameron Crabtree

July 15, 2015

VANCOUVER -- The Northwest Baptist Convention executive board approved a $5,164,000 budget for 2016, affirmed a $120,000 goal for the convention’s regional offering and added policies related to child protection and sexual harassment.


The budget and offering goal must be approved by NWBC messengers at the annual meeting November 10-11 in Portland.


The 2016 spending plan represents an increase in the total budget of almost $66,000 over the $5,098,300 in this year’s budget.


It anticipates $2,798,000 in Cooperative Program gifts from NWBC churches, an increase of $78,000 over the $2,720,000 in the 2015 budget.


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Foundation search committee accepting nominations

VANCOUVER – The Northwest Baptist Foundation committee searching for a new president to succeed Tom Hixson, who resigned July 1 to accept a post at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, is accepting resumes from candidates who are members “in good standing” of Southern Baptist churches and possess the skills necessary to manage and operate the Foundation.


It manages in excess of $42 million through various trusts and endowments, according to board chairman Jim Anderson, who also is chairing the search committee. The Foundation assists individuals and families in estate planning, wills, trusts, and other services, and in assisting churches with construction and long-term financing, asset management and other services.


Other search committee members are Ron Bryant of Redmond, OR, Jamie Sims of Beaverton, OR, Rickey Scott of Eugene, OR, and Leslie Toll of Redmond, OR.


Anderson noted the search committee requested all nominations be made in writing complete with a biographical sketch of the nominee, photograph, and concise statement of the reason for the nomination.


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