Newlyweds plunge into ministry in East Asia

By Sheila Allen

September 29, 2014

Christian and Lisa Vargas, members of Kennewick (WA) Baptist Church, were welcomed to a Himalayan town in East Asia with a ceremony at a local restaurant and given ceremonial scarves.

KENNEWICK, WA – Just weeks prior to the day they shared their wedding vows, newlyweds Christian and Lisa Vargas sat in the morning worship service and heard Kennewick Baptist Church lead pastor Dustin Hall describe an opportunity for ministry in East Asia.


“Lisa and I were in church that morning and knew it was an amazing opportunity,” said Christian Vargas. “We heard Dustin mention that he had met ‘Sam,’ a Buddhist monk who started a school for nomadic children in the shadows of the Himalayan Mountains. Sam was so anxious to have someone teach English to the children that he was open to the possibility of them sharing about their faith. Dustin said this is our foot in the door to this part of East Asia.”


In the spring of 2014, Hall journeyed with Northwest Baptist Convention executive director Randy Adams and other Northwest Baptist pastors who fanned out over several regions of East Asia on a scouting trip for a proposed partnership between the NWBC and International Mission Board personnel serving people in East Asia.


“I knew I felt a strong desire when Dustin presented the information to the church and said that two people were needed to teach English for two weeks in the foothills of the Himalayas,” Christian stated. “But we didn’t talk about it for a month and when we did we knew we didn’t have the $2,500 each needed to make the trip.”


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Church plants prepare to take flight

By Sheila Allen

September 18, 2014

A 'parachute' team that worked in Tumwater, WA, spent the summer of 2012 building relationships and having spiritual conversations for a potential church plant in the area. From left are Stephanie Gibson, Monya Brown, Jake Blackman and Kyle Baldock.

LONGVIEW, WA – Winds of spiritual change are blowing in the Northwest Baptist Convention’s southwest Washington region, resulting in a surge of church planting activity.


The area stretching from Longview, WA, in the south, through Washington’s political center of Olympia and ending at the edges of the Olympic Peninsula, has not seen a successful church start in three decades, according to NWBC Region 2 missionary Phil Peters.


“When my role transitioned to the NWBC regional model from the Southwest Baptist Association, my partner Gary Floyd and I visited all the churches in our region,” said Peters. “Since that time there has been a cultural shift from ‘don’t talk to us about church planting’ to having some events occur that bumped it along.”


An earlier NWBC reorganization and subsequent North American Mission Board initiative to start many more new churches was an impetus for Peters and all NWBC-related church planting consultants to sharpen the focus on seeking fertile ground for new congregations.


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Northwest women schedule fall missions events

By Sheila Allen

September 9, 2014

VANCOUVER – Women from across the Northwest are invited to learn more “missional living” in their communities at a Nov. 9-11 gathering in Salem, OR. Scheduled in conjunction with the Northwest Baptist Convention annual meeting, several events for women are slated that include children and families.


A mission celebration open to all ages kick-starts the scheduled events at Salem’s Capital Baptist Church on 3000 Lansing Ave NE.  A bilingual worship service will begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, with a program to follow to celebrate mission endeavors taking place around the Northwest. Wanda Lee, executive director of the national Woman’s Missionary Union, will be the keynote speaker. A mission fair that includes booths from different local outreach efforts will follow the service.


“Our desire is to celebrate all that God is doing in our area, giving thanks to him, as well as to give encouragement and creative ideas to spur us on to do more, to reach more people for Christ,” said Laura Harper, NWBC women’s specialist and Northwest WMU executive director.  “We each have a calling in mission to go beyond where we presently find ourselves. Maybe it is a calling to prayer or to serve in a ministry or to start a ministry. The main thing is that we find that next step and that we find it together because we need each other along the path. We hope to continue to develop a greater understanding of what it means to live a missional lifestyle and how to live it together.” 


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Disaster relief volunteers share hope with fire survivors

By Tobin Perry

August 29, 2014

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteer Barbara Guidry (left) talked with homeowner Patty Wetzel as an SBDR team finished work on her property. The team, mostly made up of Texas Baptists, cut down more than 15 fire-damaged trees on her property

TWISP, WA - Patty Wetzel already knew the life-altering devastation that can come when fire strikes her home. She remembers the night 37 years ago -- as a young mother -- when she and her family were forced to flee their burning home while still in their pajamas. Her family lost "everything" that night.

Last month fear gripped her as she was given 20 minutes to leave her Twisp, WA, home before the fire she could already see in the horizon reached her property.

"It was just pure fright," Wetzel said. "First you pray. I said 'God, please don't let this happen again.' Then it was like, 'Help everyone.' It was coming so fast, and it was so hot."

This time Wetzel's home was spared. Despite burning a variety of spots on her backyard-including more than a dozen trees-her home suffered little more than smoke damage.

A month later the uninsured homeowner fretted over the burnt trees in her backyard and their potential damage to her home should they fall. That's when she ran across a sign advertising "Southern Baptist Disaster Relief" efforts in Twisp.

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Students invest summer in Portland ministry effort

By Sheila Allen

July 28, 2014

Young adults share in the power of music as they encouraged street people during their six week stay in Portland. The students are participating in a spiritual venture in an urban context to gain leadership and ministry skills. Photo by Christina Nadeau

PORTLAND – Coffee shops, climbing walls, parks, yoga studios and other points between are the daily destinations for 56 college students who have made Portland home for a summer of mission focus.


Young adults from four states outside the Northwest and a few from around the region are on a spiritual venture in an urban context to gain practical knowledge in leadership and ministry within a metropolitan area, according to Wes Hughes, urban church catalyst for the Northwest Baptist Convention.


“The primary goal of ‘Gen Send’ and the ‘Parachute’ teams is a relational one where they meet people, invest in them and their community and invite them into gospel conversations, biblical community and be willing to be invited into their space,” said Hughes. “We highlight one missionary activity each week to grow sharper in our understanding of the practice of the everyday Jesus follower.”


Over the course of six weeks, 11 students from the University of Florida in Gainesville tried to build relationships in the Portland’s upscale Pearl District in Portland. Interviews of locals have revealed they don’t appreciate gimmicks, ulterior motives or those who stand on street corners handing out materials.


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Summer 2014 complete issue

2014 Summer final.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [54.9 MB]