Tools sharpened at disaster relief summit

By Sheila Allen

January 29, 2015

Disaster relief volunteers collaborate during a recent national disaster relief training event at Greater Gresham (OR) Baptist Church. Several Northwest participants joined leaders from other states across the country.

GRESHAM, OR – Even as they convened near Portland, OR, for training and encouragement, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief’s national leaders kept their eyes on a massive winter storm hitting the eastern seaboard states. Gathered at Greater Gresham (OR) Baptist Church, DR representatives arrived from across the country to hone their skills and carry information back to volunteers in their home states.

 

North American Mission Board DR personnel led the charge in training and workshops to offer information and help participants obtain certification in specified disciplines relating to all things disaster relief.

 

“It takes lots of different kinds of people to do the onsite role,” said Kathy Miller, a NAMB staffer who co-led a workshop on onsite incident command administration with Deborah Wilson. “God is a God of order – he likes order – and we are following God’s lead. These volunteers take care of finances, reporting, other volunteers and their needs and keep track of staff. They’re responsible ultimately that everything gets done.”

 

Myriad details are managed at each disaster site and years of experience by Southern Baptists have honed the process to an art.

 

“We have to have a facility agreement signed with the church or other entity, a room usage form that includes a copy of the facility layout and an office set up,” said Wilson. “Other issues must be considered, including a reception area for volunteer teams and the public, security and storage for supplies and equipment.”

 

Volunteers learned that basic practices such as posting information on walls, including daily schedules, date, location, facility layout, emergency information and other items can help prevent too many questions getting asked throughout the day in a chaotic environment.

 

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Scholarship available to assist young people on mission

A scholarship established in 2012 by a trust with the Northwest Baptist Foundation is again available for high school-aged teenagers and young adults, according to Steve Brock, NWBF chief financial officer.

 

 Seeking to assist young people up to 25 years old with the financial needs of an international mission trip, the fund is specifically geared toward those engaging in evangelistic mission activities. Applicants must be enrolled in secondary or post-secondary education.

 

 High school students who receive the scholarship must also be a member or regular attendee of a church affiliated with the Northwest Baptist Convention or college students that are active participants of a local Northwest Collegiate Ministry. Those with a parent who is or was an appointed missionary of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention are also qualified to apply.

 

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Urban scene requires different mindset

By Sheila Allen

January 20, 2015

PORTLAND – A majority of young adults are moving into core urban areas of Portland, according to Wes Hughes, Northwest Baptist Convention church planting catalyst. Although nearly 65 percent of Portlanders claim to be either religious or spiritual, church planting is not for the faint of heart in the largest urban center in Oregon.

 

“It’s going to take all kind of models of church in Portland,” said Hughes. “It really is like those moving to North Africa and adopting the local customs. But Portland is great because there is a 35-year master plan for the city with lots of data for those willing to take the time to research it.”

 

For now, Portland is the middle of a “doughnut hole” for Northwest Baptists, as churches in the suburbs dominate the scene. With 95 vibrant neighborhood associations comprising the city, many older areas are undergoing revitalization and attracting people.

 

“We have no strong churches in Portland currently,” noted Hughes. “I have been praying to the Lord of the harvest, asking him to send disciples back into the city. It is a dream of mine to have a church in each of those 95 neighborhoods. That will take pastors and lay leaders who will move into these neighborhoods, begin to make friends and become an integral part by learning what the values are. Just moving here doesn’t necessarily mean that people will trust you or your message.”

 

Several church planters are laying foundations in a few areas around the city, and it is crucial for those leaders to see themselves as pastors of the local communities, not just a church, stated Hughes.

Recruiting those with missionary zeal is a high priority for Hughes and Clay Holcomb, also an NWBC church planting catalyst who is also the North American Mission Board’s “Send City” coordinator for Portland.

 

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Church planter answers call to unreached city

By Sheila Allen

January 20, 2015

Josh Carter and his wife, Amy, have moved to the Bethany area of Portland, Ore., to start Remedy City Church.

PORTLAND – Josh Carter was enjoying his role on a church staff when he began feeling the first stirrings to plant a church in a place of great need. Thirty months later, he and his young family relocated to Portland’s Bethany area on a journey of discovery and grace to follow God’s leading.

 

“I had a crazy life growing up and my parents split when I was a boy,” Carter said. “But my grandfather was a bi-vocational pastor of a small Appalachian mountain church and he was a praying man. I remember him praying for an hour at a time on his knees in the corner of the living room – really talking to God. That made an impression on me and created a desire on my part for a relationship with God.”

 

Although his wife, Amy, first said “no way” to church planting, Carter took the process a step at a time, eventually traveling to Georgia for an assessment as a potential church planter from his home in Johnson City, TN.

 

“It was an incredible process to be that vulnerable in front of these people who are unbiased,” Carter said. “I’m loyal to a fault and can worry about what others think of me, but God made this thing happen.”

 

After praying, the Carter family accepted the invitation from the North American Mission Board as church planting apprentices and initially moved to Las Vegas for a period of learning.

 

“I struggled because I didn’t know where I was going to go and my family and others were counting on me,” Carter noted. “The definition of that year was to value Jesus in me rather than what I do for Jesus. That’s where grace came in for a guy with identity issues.”

 

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Oregon woman overcomes odds to serve East Asia

By Sheila Allen

January 20, 2015

Abby Spence traveled to East Asia on mission with hopes of spreading the name of Jesus.

GRESHAM, OR – Although she had never traveled abroad, Abby Spence wanted to go the first time she learned about an evangelistic trip to East Asia planned by her church.

 

 “Before I went to East Asia, I never understood how big and how small the world is,” said Spence. “What I found is that even with how privileged we are in America with our freedom, our culture just blows God off. But in East Asia, they are willing to risk their lives to believe and share – and they do.”

Spence was raised from an early age in Oregon within a family of largely Mormon heritage.

 

“My grandma grew up Methodist and had a strong view of Christianity and introduced me to prayer,” Spence noted. “But it was later at a Vacation Bible School that I attended that I accepted Christ.”

 

After Spence married her husband, Jeremy, they looked for a church together and found a home at Greater Gresham (OR) Baptist Church.

 

“We loved it because people remembered our names and were so genuine,” Spence said. “We started our home on Christian principles, which now includes our son Jack and daughter Zoe.”

 

In her mind, the road for Spence getting to East Asia was more difficult than the ministry she accomplished while overseas.

 

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Washington woman returns to mission field

By Sheila Allen

January 20, 2015

Alana Grant* spends time in Central Washington prior to assuming a new assignment in Southeast Asia with the International Mission Board.

VANCOUVER—After a two year hiatus, Northwest native Alana Grant* is returning to active service through the International Mission Board. With a change of locale on the horizon and a new language to learn, Grant has new adventures in the offing.

 

“I came back to the Northwest in April 2012, and while working a fulltime job, I also took classes at Golden Gate Seminary to finish my degree,” said Grant. “I knew I wouldn’t be here forever, and when the spring semester was winding down, I started to get serious about what God had in store for me.”

 

After five years as a career missionary and a previous two-year stint as a journeyman high in South Asia’s mountains, Grant formally resigned from that IMB region and is now headed to a new part of the continent in Southeast Asia.

 

“I filled out a profile that showed my interest in college students and working with women,” said Grant. “When the director of the city team where I will be serving heard wind of it, she contacted me and we were able to get together here in Vancouver when she was home on stateside assignment.

 

“I am excited because I sense that she wants to find out what my gifts and abilities are and use me in a way that will maximize them to the greatest advantage,” she added.

 

The decision to return did not come easily.

 

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Listening key to sharing gospel

By Sheila Allen

January 20, 2015

Curtis Lilly explored historical sites while serving on a mission trip with Northwest Baptist Convention youth to Israel in 2014.

Curtis Lilly finds it easy to build relationships with students he meets in the Snoqualmie Valley, just by remembering their name.

 

A bi-vocational youth pastor at Lifepointe Community Church, Lilly uses his second vocation as a substitute teacher in the local school district to meet many teenagers and make a difference in the name of Christ.

 

“I have found that taking an interest in students is the most important thing to them,” Lilly said. “They want to come down to a deeper level than social media provides. It starts with simple questions about a choir trip or how the basketball game went. As I take an interest, people begin to open up, because very few people actually listen when someone is talking.”

 

As he grew up in Iowa, Lilly received a firm spiritual foundation from his parents and older brother as he grew in his faith, as well as a strong youth pastor. While he still experiences a normal fear of rejection at times, Lilly sees so many wide open opportunities to share about Jesus that he doesn’t hesitate to walk through the door.

 

“I tell our youth ‘You get the share the best news of all eternity around you, so shift the way you see things,’” Lilly stated. “What else can we do but share Jesus with people?”

 

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