IL Disaster Relief Volunteers Impact Communities As Re-Building Begins
SOUTHERN IL | “Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers brought hope.”
That’s how Roy Orr, pastor of First Baptist Church, Junction – devastated by May’s record flooding in Southern Illinois – summarized the assistance SBC volunteers provided his church and community.
“Everybody in town is talking about how the Baptists came and helped in our time of need,” Orr told the Illinois Baptist. “Their presence has really impacted this community we’ve been trying to reach for years.”
The same story is being told in dozens of communities near the rivers that form the state’s southern borders.
“We’ve done some very good ministry here,” said Terry Mathis, director of missions for Union Baptist Association. “Our churches are getting a good name in the community because of the work they’ve done.”
Anna Heights Baptist Church Senior Pastor Mark Roath said ministering to hurting people provided opportunities to witness for Christ.
“When we first went out, every single one of the people we were helping asked us ‘why does God do this to us?’ We were able to answer, ‘We don’t know, but He loves you and sent us to help you,’” Roath explained. “Being with people in the midst of hard times gives a good impression of the church and the Lord. We’ve built trust that they can rely on Christians, the churches and the Lord.”
Only a fraction of the relief efforts provided by IBSA churches can be captured in official statistics, but those numbers alone indicate disaster relief teams from three states and dozens of IBSA Churches completed work on nearly 100 homes just in the Metropolis area.
Mark Kirk, pastor of Sandy Creek Baptist Church, Tamms in Clear Creek Association, said his members just “did what needed to be done – sandbagging, cooking, and mud out.”
“When the flooding started, I was concerned I didn’t know how to coordinate all that needed to be done, but my folks didn’t need anybody to tell them what to do,” Kirk said. “They just met needs they found out about. They were the Body of Christ doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Kirk said the surrounding communities will remember, “Sandy Creek Baptist Church was the first to come help them.”
Now, officials say, begins the summer of re-building homes and churches.
Clear Creek Baptist Association is working feverishly to complete a mission center at Cairo Baptist Church That will enable them to house mission volunteer teams.
“We were hoping to be done by the first of June but the floods have put us behind schedule,” said Roger Ferrell, Clear Creek DOM. “But it should be completed later this month so we can provide a good facility with beds, showers and dining facilities for mission teams that come work in Southern Illinois this summer and for a long time to come.”
Several church buildings inundated by flood waters are assessing damage and trying to determine how to proceed.
Pastor Orr said their 118 year old building has cracks in the foundation and may not be salvageable. The congregation is considering moving out of the tiny village of Junction, population 139.
“A number of people have already moved out of town, so we’re looking at buying property on higher ground, Possibly near the intersection of two state highways, and rebuilding there.” The church will need to replace most of their furniture and equipment, because their pews, pulpit, Lord’s supper table and sound system were all destroyed. First Junction is currently meeting at an American Legion hall in Shawneetown.
82-year-old Verlee Eaker, pastor of Lake Milligan Baptist Church in southwestern Illinois’ Miller City, is facing similar decisions.
“We had five feet of water in our basement which included our fellowship hall, kitchen appliances and air conditioning units, and nearly a foot in the auditorium which ruined our carpet and piano. I think we can re-finish our pews, but we’re letting the building dry out to see what other damage there is,” Eaker said.
Eaker, who has served the church 18 years since retiring after 34 years as Clear Creek Association’s director of missions, explained some members are considering moving the church to higher ground, possibly into nearby Olive Branch.
First Baptist, Elizabethtown in Antioch Association, worships in a building constructed in 1877 that may require more than $50,000 to repair. However, a new twostory education building built 10 years ago was not damaged and is providing necessary meeting space while the 134 year old church building is repaired. Pastor Ed Lafferty says the church is the oldest continuously meeting Baptist church in the state, and will continue to be so.
Before flood waters even receded, IBSA sent a total of $7,000 to a number of damaged churches and associations to help them cope and minister in the midst of the disaster. DOM Mathis said the funds “helped us meet immediate needs like food and supplies for families in need.” IBSA has also made pastors and DOMs aware that a fund is available at the Baptist Foundation of Illinois for churches damaged by natural disasters.
To provide assistance to Southern Illinois churches damaged by the flood, contact the churches directly or the associational directors of missions. Contact information is available at IBSA.org; click on Find a Church or Association. To make a donation to IBSA disaster relief, click on Donate at IBSA.org or send gifts to: IBSA, 3085 Stevenson Dr, Springfield, IL 62703.
Great Ideas For Getting Your Church Involved In Missions
DECATUR, Ill. | The Great Commission issued by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 calls Christians to share His message with their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Jerusalem ministries – those closest to home – are a way for many churches to take a missions first step, according to Rex Alexander, IBSA’s director of missions mobilization.
There are three types of Jerusalem ministry, he explained. “One-day introductions to missions like IBSA’s Missions Spectacular are good. There are also periodic ministries that can take place around holidays. Then, there are on going ministries which lead people to having a vision within their own hearts and to start to come up with their own missions ideas.” (See sidebar for a list of Jerusalem project ideas).
Once church members have become comfortable doing missions in their own communities, they can move on to Judea or state ministries, said Mark Emerson, IBSA Missions Involvement director. “Entering an area outside their community can become more difficult,” Emerson cautioned. “Churches often spend 90 percent of their missions efforts within their own communities because it’s ‘home.’ Why not just stay at home? Because you have not seen the other needs.”
He emphasized churches can partner with churches in other parts of Illinois. “A church can help another church make an impact in the partner church’s area. The church coming in can impact people they would not normally have an opportunity to reach if they stayed in their own community.”
Another way Emerson said IBSA churches can serve in Illinois is for them to become involved with the ministry efforts with children at the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis and the Baptist Children’s Home in Carmi. Or they could minister to the needy and the homeless through Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago.
Churches ready to move their missions efforts beyond Illinois to their Samaria and ends of the earth can become involved in IBSA’s Diasparta missions effort. Diasparta is the dispersing of Illinois Baptists to 100 places in the United States and world to share the message of Christ.
“We have 365 mission projects going everywhere,” said Emerson. “What’s the area the Lord has laid on your heart?”
He noted 26 mission projects are planned by Illinois Baptist churches to Europe and 27 projects to sub-Saharan Africa this year, while other churches are participating in the Illinois/ Pennsylvania-South Jersey Partnership in the United States.
Emerson shared that by doing just one mission project, greater missions involvement can be set in motion. He cited a church that went to East St. Louis on a mission trip. “They got so excited about ministering to other people that they wanted to go on another mission trip.”
For help planning a mission trip, e-mail MarkEmerson@IBSA.org or call (217) 391-3136, or e-mail RexAlexander@IBSA.org or call (217) 391-3134.
20 Local Mission Project Ideas
Rex Alexander offers these ministry ideas for Jerusalem (local) mission projects that churches, Sunday School classes, mission groups, and others can do to reach their communities:
1. Disaster Relief – Church building serves as a shelter or feeding center
2. Literacy – Adult literacy classes
3. Sports – Upward sports teams, Sports Crusaders, community leagues, clinics
4. Hunger – Food pantries, serving meals, keeping food packets (granola bars, jerky, etc.) in auto glove compartments to give to someone in need
5. Senior adult – Nursing home visits and/or Bible studies, senior-to-senior ministries
6. Medical – Health testing
7. Clothing – Clothes closet or supporting other clothing ministries
8. Poverty –Assisting local missions, providing information about community resources, (see Hunger and Clothing ministries above)
9. Children – Apartment ministries, backyard Bible clubs, Vacation Bible School,
10. School – Providing a meal to teachers during teacher preparation week, adopt-a-school (ask principal what needs to be done - painting, tutoring, mentoring, etc.)
11. Emergency responders – Providing a meal for and/or holding special services to recognize local fire, police and EMT personnel
12. Parks and highways – Beautification projects including clean-up, brush cutting, etc
13. Surveys and evangelism – Direct and door-to-door surveys, giving out information about church and inviting people to attend.
14. International people groups – Church planting, English as a second language (ESL) classes, Bible study
15. Special needs – Sunday School classes and Bible studies, providing transportation, building ramps for sister churches and homes
16. Pregnancy centers – Bible studies, help with construction and landscaping, donating needed items
17. Construction – Assisting sister churches with construction needs, help widows and single mothers with home repair projects
18. Church planting – Start a new church, help support a church planter through door-to-door surveys, block parties or financial gifts, allow church plants to use space in your church building to meet
19. Prison/criminal justice – Bible studies at correctional facilities for prisoners and off-site for ex-offenders, volunteer with at-risk teens and at juvenile centers
20. Collegiate – Begin or support local Baptist collegiate groups, adopt-astudent (invite to home for a meal or for holiday, drive student to doctor appointment, etc.).
E-mail Alexander at RexAlexander @IBSA.org or call (217) 391-3134 for more ideas and information.
IBSA-Supported Mission Work In Middle East Celebrates 100th Anniversary
ISRAEL | Hiba* used to pore over the Quran, trying to sort out life's problems.
Then she bumped into some Christians and agonized for days about which was the real book, the Quran or the Bible. “And then God showed me,” Hiba said.
Local Baptists discipled her, but it was Southern Baptists, including Illinois Baptists in Sandy Creek Association, who supported the first Baptist missionaries to the region a century ago. That legacy of Baptist work was honored last month at the 100th anniversary of Baptists in Israel.
From its earliest beginnings, the Illinois Baptist State Association supported international missions through the SBC’s Foreign Mission Board. However, according to Illinois Baptist author and historian Myron Dillow in “Harvestime on the Prairie,” IBSA also endorsed work in the Middle East through the Baptist Missionary Convention.
“The resolution affirming the Baptist Missionary Convention came immediately following the resolution to affiliate with the SBC,” Dillow wrote. “The story of the Baptist Missionary Convention (1904-1919) is a thrilling story of foreign missions in the Middle East … (originating) in Sandy Creek Association,” led by pastorevangelist- editor J.O. Raines.
From 1913-1915, Sandy Creek Association conducted a campaign seeking to enlist 1,000 people who would give $5 a year for six years to support the mission work in Persia, Syria and Galilee. The society, which was organized to support two missionaries, was supporting “about twenty missionaries” by 1914.
One of those missionaries was Shukrie Mosa who established the Galilean Mission in May 2011.
According to Dillow, “Sandy Creek Association and IBSA continued to support the Baptist Missionary Convention until the work was taken over by the SBC’s Foreign Mission Board in 1919.”
The work in Nazareth sparked a flame of American-led Southern Baptist work in the region. And it produced many Arab believers who took the Gospel to other countries when war in Israel dispersed part of the nation's Palestinian population in 1948.
At the 100th anniversary celebration, Gordon Fort, vice president for overseas operations for the IMB, challenged Baptists to keep reaching out across their region and the world.
"Israel has a genuine faith living among its Baptists for 100 years. Years ago someone brought that genuine faith to you. It is your responsibility to share this faith with others," Fort said.
* Name changed.
IMB writer Ava Thomas contributed to this story.
An unexpected package arrived at our house last week. It was heavy for its size, and one side was almost covered with hand-applied postage stamps. The return address label quickly brought a smile to my face. The package was from Ken and Betty Stapp.
Ken and Betty were members of First Baptist Church in St. Charles when I started there as a 20-year-old summer youth minister. That summer I commuted from my parents’ house, more than 25 miles away, and would frequently stay at the church through the dinner hour on a Sunday or Wednesday night, to lead a youth activity or Bible study that evening.
Ken and Betty lived only a few blocks away, in the same neighborhood as the church, and at least once or twice a week, they would invite me over for dinner. I can still picture Betty’s less-than-five-foot frame smiling up at me and asking, “Do you want to come for dinner? I’m making pizza roll!”
Pizza roll was one of Betty’s specialty meals, and Ken was the guy who first taught me you can eat peanut butter on ice cream. Betty was always quick to say that the recipe for her famous pizza roll was nothing special, that it came off the back of a Pillsbury hot roll mix box. But oh, it was spespecial to a hungry young youth minister on a budget.
Even more special, though, were the encouragement and fellowship I always received at the Stapps’ house. To put it simply, they refreshed me. And in doing so, they gave me new energy and empowerment for ministry.
I don’t recall that Ken or Betty ever gave me advice on how to be a better youth minister, though I certainly could have used some. They never critiqued the church’s ministry to me, or second-guessed things that could have been done differently.
The Stapps seemed to intuitively understand that those in ministry need time away from its stresses to just be themselves, and unwind, and recharge. And they need to do so with the encouragement of a few special friends who don’t judge, but just love unconditionally.
That “summer” youth ministry ended up lasting six years, and Ken and Betty were among my chief encouragers, youth sponsors, and feeders throughout those years. I eventually moved on to marriage and other ministry roles, and the Stapps moved on to on-mission retirement in Kentucky and then North Carolina. But for more than 30 years now, we have exchanged Christmas letters and birthday greetings, and even managed a long-distance visit or two. You never want to fully let go of refreshing friends.
The Apostle Paul sometimes wrote about special friends who refreshed him in his ministry. In 2 Timothy 1:15 he wrote that Onesiphorus often refreshed him and was not ashamed of his chains. He praised Philemon in that brief letter (v. 7), telling him “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”
And in 1 Corinthians 16:17-18, Paul wrote that he was “delighted over the presence of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus” because they had “refreshed his spirit.” Then he simply adds, “…recognize such people.”
I guess that’s why I feel compelled to write here about Ken and Betty, and perhaps to call to your mind those who have refreshed you in ministry. Thirty years later, we still make pizza roll at our house, and I still occasionally eat peanut butter on ice cream. We still talk about things Ken and Betty used to say, and some of the funny, and wonderful, and refreshing things they used to do.
This latest package from the Stapps contained books from their library that showed they were also faithful Illinois Baptists. They included Tinyburg Tales books by former Illinois Baptist editor Robert Hastings, a history of Illinois Baptists, and a devotional book by various Illinois Baptist authors. A card Betty had written a couple of weeks earlier told me she and Ken were starting to look at retirement homes, and I imagine these books were more than they felt they could take with them there.
I’m not surprised at all that instead of disposing of these books in an easier way, my refreshing friends sat and licked about 50 stamps so they could send me a surprise package, and refresh me yet again, even long distance.
Do you have friends who refresh you in your ministry? Of course you do. Why not recognize them today, and why not look for ways to be a refreshing friend to others?
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association and may be reached at NateAdams@ IBSA.org or (217) 391-3108.