Illinois Baptists Reflect On Post-9/11 New York City
MT. VERNON, Ill. | “It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years…”
As Chaplain Dan Lovin reflected on his time in New York City immediately following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was evident the memories are still fresh.
When he first arrived at New York’s LaGuardia Airport: “I remember standing on the street…there was a smell in the air, like a burnt home or business. The smell was in the air even as far as LaGuardia.”
When he met with law enforcement officers at a police precinct: “I’ve never seen [such] discouragement, hopelessness, on men’s and women’s faces.”
And when he visited Ground Zero for the first time: “Some places are so sacred and so holy, there are no words to describe it. When you know that over 3,000 people died there, and you’re walking there…the ash and the dust…there are not words to describe what you’ve seen.”
Lovin, a member of Logan Street Baptist Church, was sent by the North American Mission Board to New York on September 17, 2001. His assignment was to minister to law enforcement officers as they struggled with a seemingly insurmountable task: picking up the pieces after one of the most costly disasters in American history.
He also served local chaplains. As a police chaplain in Mt. Vernon, Lovin understood their agony over losing men they worked with.
“You don’t lose that many and not just be devastated; the chaplains needed chaplains.”
Lovin was part Southern Baptists’ immediate response to the events of September 11. (For more, see pages 6-7 of this issue of the Illinois Baptist). Throughout the next year, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief would send volunteers to feed rescue workers, provide childcare for New Yorkers, and clean apartments covered in dust and debris.
“The first Disaster Relief personnel arrived the night of Sept. 11…and the last Southern Baptist DR team pulled out 11 months later on August 10, 2002,” said Jack Shelby, who was serving as Illinois Baptist Men’s Ministries director and Disaster Relief coordinator.
More than 100 Illinois Baptists served in New York City, Shelby said, many of them working all night to make breakfast for rescue workers.
“We were feeding people who were working at Ground Zero; we fed Red Cross, Salvation Army personnel, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, all the rescue workers. We were preparing the meals there, and they were trucking them down to the sites where the people were being fed.”
George and Kathy Goeddey, members of Faith Baptist Church in Carrollton, helped prepare up to 1,200 meals a day at New York’s Floyd Bennet Field, where aviators like Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes once took off for their famous flights.
Kathy remembers the eerie sounds of airplanes flying overhead; in the days directly after September 11, there was still a very real fear of more attacks.
“It was just really fresh,” she said.
Kathy returned after Thanksgiving that year to serve on a Disaster Relief childcare team. Along with four other Illinois volunteers, she watched over children while their parents met with relief organizations that were providing new mattresses and air filtration systems to residents impacted by the polluted atmosphere near Ground Zero.
“We used art as a way for [the children] to express what was going on,” Kathy said, “and some of their artwork really reflected the fear, the devastation they had experienced.”
The Goeddeys’ experiences, along with that of other Illinois volunteers, signaled a new era for Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief. Shelby said in 1999, there were 600 volunteers trained to serve on DR teams; currently, there are around 2,200. Shelby said the Illinois response to 9/11, and subsequently, to Hurricane Katrina, generated extreme public interest in Disaster Relief. It also spurred Illinois’ DR chaplaincy program.
“Up to that time, DR chaplaincy had been virtually non-existent; it was there, but almost invisible. So that brought about a vastly increased emphasis on our chaplaincy,” Shelby said.
Along with changes in Disaster Relief, responding to September 11 certainly changed individual volunteers who saw first-hand God’s provision even in the most disastrous circumstances, Lovin said. While he was serving in New York, he spoke with his wife one evening and she asked how he was doing.
“I’m different, I’m changed,” he said then. And now: “Those kinds of thing, they change you forever I guess.”
IMO: Campus Is Mission Field For Emmaus Church
Editor ’s note: Kevin Singer, an IBSA campus minister and church planter at Northern Illinoi s Un ivers ity, is one of nearl y 100 Illin ois mis sionaries supported through gifts to the Illinois Mission Off e ring. Th is ye ar ’s Season of Prayer for Illinois missions is Sept. 18-25.
DEKALB, Ill. | Kevin Singer knows firsthand how spiritually formative one’s college years can be.
“When I was in school here, I really came to know the Lo rd in a unique way,” s a id Singer, a Northern Illinois University (NIU) alumnu s and IB SA church planter. Singer and his wife Brittany are planting Emmaus College Church, a cam pus church that meets on Thursday evenings at NIU.
“When I found out I had the opportunity to plant a church on the college cam pus that I went to, I really jumped on the opportunity because I developed such a heart for Northern Illinois college student s, really reaching out to them, and giving them opportunities to know Christ, to serve Him and share Him with the world.
“That’s how I developed my heart for NIU students, because I came to know the Lord in a really powerful way when I was in college.”
Now, Singer is introducing other students to Christ, and discipling them as they grow deeper in relationship with Him. Brooke Piers on is one NIU student forever changed by Emmaus’ ministry.
“My freshman year of college, I kind of had a desire to get to k now God or kind of check it out, but I didn’t really know where to go or what to do. I didn’t come from a church culture; I didn’t Know anything,” said the NIU senior.
“Then, junior year, God took all of my excuses away. Someone knocked on my door and invited me to Bible study.”
Pierson attended a Bible study hosted by Emmaus, and afterward, Brittany Singer shared the Gospel with her. Kevin Singer remembers Brooke’s reaction:
“She said, ‘This is what I’ve been looking for my whole life. I’ve been looking for purpose. I’ve been looking for a new identity. And I’m looking for hope and lasting joy in Christ.’”
It was Emmaus’ willingness to meet her where she was that had the biggest impact, Pierson said.
“God is sovereign, so He would have brought me to Himself somehow. But having a church that’s actually going out onto campus and talking to students and genuinely caring about their concerns, it’s just so important.”
Since that day, she has taken on a leadership role with Emmaus, leading small group Bible studies and serving on a mission team to Haiti. Her story is proof God has plans for college churches like Emmaus, Singer said.
“When I see transformation in a college student, I am so excited because, one, I feel confirmed that this college church really ought to be here. It’s also amazing because I know this person has hopefully 30, 40, 50-plus years to be a missionary in the world.”
Pierson said she can be a bold witness for the Gospel on her campus because people were willing to share boldly with her.
“I think I’ve definitely gotten my boldness from thinking about how I used to be when I wasn’t a Christian…where I was open to Christianity but I wasn’t necessarily going to search for someone.”
Meeting college students and building relationships with them is important because of the zeal and authenticity they bring to whatever they do, Singer said.
“If we can get college students to be passionate about Christ in their context wherever they are in the world, we’re going to plant more churches, we’re going to start more movements, and more people are going to know about Christ.
“Once they take hold and really buy into a vision, they are all in. That’s why I love working with college students, because once they are on fire for Christ, it hard to stop them from doing pretty much anything.”
For more information about Emmaus College Church, go to emmauscollege church.org. To view and download a video about Emmaus, go to IBSA.org/IMO.
Churches Urged To Guard Against Copper Theft
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. | Several Illinois Baptist churches recently have been victims of copper theft. Across the country, thieves are stealing copper from air conditioning units and other building fixtures and selling it for scrap.
Outdoor air conditioning units are the most common targets, although at least one IBSA church had its copper gutters stolen right off the building.
Victor Mendoza, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Emanuel in Aurora, had to replace his church’s 40-year-old copper gutters with less valuable metal ones after the church was targeted three years ago. He’s heard other area churches have replaced entire air conditioning units when copper wiring and tubing was torn out.
In Peoria, thieves targeted Laramie Street Baptist Church, cutting the copper wiring running from an AC unit to the church’s roof. Six months after trustee Don Sawatzki oversaw the needed repairs, the thieves returned and took the entire unit.
Mount Nebo Baptist Church in Chicago also has experienced returning copper thieves. According to Pastor Danny Norment, two years ago, vandals chopped up a wooden fence protecting two AC units behind the church so they could remove the copper. Even with a new wrought iron fence, they returned several months ago and stole the copper again.
Removing the copper wiring or tubing from an AC unit can cause several thousand dollars worth of damage. In each of the cases above, the church was protected by insurance, but was required to pay a deductible and cover the cost of any preventive measures, like new fencing or security systems.
Insurance providers like Church Mutual Insurance Company are warning churches to be aware of the prevalence of copper theft. In an e-mail to the Illinois Baptist, Risk Management Specialist Chris Renzelmann outlined state and national trends:
“A recent analysis of claims from 2011 (January - June) show that copper thefts make up 45.4 percent of all theft claims nationwide (up from 36.3 percent a year ago at mid-year) and make up 65.3 percent of loss dollars (up from 60.8 percent a year ago at mid-year).”
0 Statistics in Illinois mirror the national numbers, Renzelmann said; 61. 2 percent of the theft claims are copper-related and 57.8 percent of theft loss dollars are associated with copper thefts.
Gaelen Cole of GuideStone Financial Resources urged churches toward two important steps in preventing copper theft: First, talk to their insurance agent to ensure they have adequate coverage. Then, take immediate action to provide a locked barricade around air conditioning units.
Church Mutual provides additional suggestions for preventing copper theft on their website, church mutual.com, including:
- Surround AC units with a chainlinked fence or metal caging.
- Make sure exterior lighting illuminates all areas where equipment is kept.
- Consider increasing security measures with video cameras and/or tamper sensors.
- Don’t grant thieves easy access to rooftop units by leaving ladders on the church property.
Some cities, including Springfield, have enacted policies that require scrap operators to keep detailed records of each sale so that police can respond more easily to thefts. Church Mutual advises churches to immediately notify recycling centers or scrap metal yards of the copper that has been stolen.
Questions To Ask Of The Illinois Mission Offering
In my last column, I proposed four questions for evaluating when to give beyond one’s tithe and gifts to a local church, to a special offering. Now I’d like to pose those same four questions of this year’s Illinois Mission Offering, which most churches receive in September.
1. Does it carry the gospel? Each year, the number one need consistently expressed in IBSA’s annual survey of pastors and church leaders, is for assistance with evangelism and outreach. This year IBSA staff and missionaries will provide evangelism training and help fund evangelistic events in over 300 churches. They will help start evangelistic ministries on at least five new college campuses, in addition to the dozens that already exist. And they will work with churches, associations and other partners to start at least 25 new churches, whose primary purpose is to share Christ and make disciples of those beyond the reach of existing churches.
Popular events like Super Summer and Youth Encounter will again train hundreds of teenagers to share their faith with their fellow students. And ministries like the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis, hunger ministries in Chicago and elsewhere, and disaster relief efforts benefit from the IMO, and result in people hearing the gospel who might not have that chance in any church.
In fact, working together, IBSA churches are on pace to baptize more than 5,000 new believers this year. So, “Will my IMO gift help people hear about Jesus?” Yes.
2. Does it work through a local church or churches? As you can tell from the above, almost all of IBSA’s efforts are in and through local churches. We see the local church as the Holy Spirit’s primary instrument of redemption, and the place where disciples are made in obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission. We don’t work outside the local church or in competition with it.
So, “Will my IMO gift strengthen and work through local churches as they pursue their Biblical mission?” Yes.
3. Do those I’m supporting believe and communicate the same Biblical doctrine I do? As I mentioned last issue, there are a number of fine Christian organizations and groups that share common goals with Illinois Baptists. But when IBSA missionaries and staff train leaders (over 24,000 last year) and assist churches (over 700 a year), you can be confident it is undergirded with sound Biblical theology, consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message.
Eight out of ten people in America are comfortable describing themselves as “Christian” today, but fewer than four out of ten believe the Bible is completely trustworthy, that Jesus is the only way to God, and that His salvation is through grace alone without human effort. It’s so important that we faithfully deliver to the lost both the gospel and sound doctrine.
So, “Will my IMO gift not only share the gospel, but share Biblical, Baptist doctrine as it makes disciples?” Yes.
4. Do I trust the people I’m assisting, and are they effective? Frankly, you will need to answer that question for yourself. I hope your church has personally benefitted from some of the ministries and mission efforts described here. Or perhaps an IBSA missionary has helped your church find a pastor, resolve a conflict, discover a resource, improve a ministry, connect with a missions project, or conduct a more effective VBS. What I can tell you from my personal experience is that the IBSA missionaries and staff are among the hardest working, frugal, churchloving people I’ve ever known.
So, “Can I trust these people to be good, effective stewards of my IMO gift?” You will answer that question, perhaps partly through your gift this year.
I will add one special footnote to this appeal. Next year IBSA’s funding from the North American Mission Board has been reduced by $265,000. We’ve already made some painful adjustments in our 2012 budget to allow for that reduction.
The IMO would have to increase by more than 60 percent, for example, just to return our total resources to this year’s level, and that would be a lot to expect of IBSA churches. But I hope it’s not too much to hope that we can do more than ever before to accept responsibility for our Illinois mission field. If your church isn’t promoting the IMO, you can give directly and securely online at IBSA.org. And I hope the answers to the above questions will encourage you more than ever this year to invest in the Illinois Mission Offering.
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association and may be contacted at NateAdams@IBSA.org.
Illinois Baptist Voices: Rooted in the local church, even in a city with few roots
I moved to New York City on New Year’s Eve 2004. I had a clear calling: to serve as part of the North American Mission Board’s city-reaching strategy, where I would be part of a team working alongside the metro area’s local Baptist association.
Within just a few days, I knew I was going to love living in the city. But after a few more days, I was growing more and more certain that I’d never feel rooted in the city. There was so much to see and do, and everything moved so quickly. I couldn’t imagine being able to build real friendships. The city just seemed Each one told a little about herself and what had brought her to New York City. Amy worked in research for a major pharmaceutical company. Edna was a member of her country’s United Nations delegation. And Carolyn was a Radio City Rockette.
My job, while a dream for me, seemed less glamorous than show business or global politics. But I muddled through that introduction and kept meeting each week with the group. As we studied the Bible together, we started talking about things deeper than our jobs or pastimes.
“I’ve never wanted to read the Bible before. Can I pray God will help me want read it?”
“No one in my family believes like I do. How do I talk to them about this faith I have?” “
I’ve lived my whole life trying to find my identity in other things. What does it mean to find my identity in Jesus?”
I grew up in church, but I had rarely heard anyone say things like this. These girls and other people at my church were totally transparent about their need for God to transform their hearts. Even in New York City, they were rooted, first in Christ and then in His church for accountability and fellowship with other believers.
It was the first time I had watched lives change because of the Gospel, and through my small group, I had a frontrow seat. My own heart changed as I heard the testimonies of the girls sitting in my apartment each week.
With all the distractions New York had to offer, staying rooted in the local church and accountable to other believers wasn’t always easy. Over the months we met together as a small group, we fought busy schedules, fatigue, even broken down subways and buses. But because of the strength of the root that brought us together, we saw God work through the group, drawing us closer to each other and to Him.
At the end of a year, we started a new cycle of small groups, and most of us joined new groups meeting across the city. But the lesson I learned during that first year in New York has stuck with me through moves to two new cities since then. My roots are to be in Christ and His church. Praise God for giving us the church, and for raising up leaders to plant new congregations so that He can continue to transform us, whether in New York City or Illinois.
Meredith Day is associate editor of the Illinois Baptist and can be reached at MeredithDay@IBSA.org.
Illinois Acteens Challenged At Blume
ORLANDO, Fla. | Eighty-one Illinois Acteens and their leaders from ten churches were in attendance at this year’s Blume. Blume, sponsored by WMU, has been held every four to five years since it began in 1972 as the National Acteens Convention. This year’s event made a significant impact on the girls from Illinois. Two girls accepted Christ at the event, while one surrendered her life to missions and several others rededicated their lives while at the July 13-16 gathering at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla.
Serena Butler, IBSA Missions Awareness director said the event was a blessing for all involved. “The girls said it was exciting to be in a room with 2,300 other girls worshiping freely. It was a great experience for them to be in a crowd of people going through the same stage in life, all trying to figure out God’s plan for themselves while hearing from the missionaries.”
Melissa Phillips, Springfield Southern Baptist Church WMU director and IBSA associate executive director, took four girls and another leader to Blume. She shared about her group’s experience, “It was a great event for our girls to attend. They grew so much spiritually and were able to come back to our church and share their testimonies. But, the most exciting thing for us was that one of our girls we had been praying for accepted Christ while at Blume!”
In a special moment for Illinois Baptists, former IBSA Women’s Missions Director Evelyn Tully was recognized and thanked at this year’s event for her role in planning and conducting the first National Acteens conference in 1972. WMU Executive Director Wanda Lee also recognized Tully for serving as the first National Acteens Consultant. In an e-mail Tully said of this year’s event, “I don’t think I have ever experienced a better planned and coordinated event. I am so proud of WMU and the two on national staff who led the way on this one. The leaders and the girls were such a blessing and gave such hope for our future.”
National Acteen Panelist and member of Westview Baptist Church in Swansea, Julia Jones, was also among the Illinois Baptists in attendance. Jones is one of only six panelists chosen each year. As part of their duties, they help plan and lead Blume.
Russia Focus Of 2011 Girl's Mission Celebration
SPRINGFIELD | Russia is the ninth most populated country in the world with nearly 140 million people from 160 different ethnic groups living within its borders. An estimated 15- 20 percent of the population is Russian Orthodox and another 10-15 percent claim to be Muslim, while just two percent belong to Catholic and Protestant groups. This year’s Girl’s Mission Celebration (formerly GA Day) will give girls and their leaders a glimpse into that world when they gather in the Springfield area for “A Journey to Russia” on September 30-October 1.
Russia was chosen for this year’s theme because the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, providing opportunities to minister in the country. “Russia is halfway across the globe, and is a very diverse country that desperately needs to hear the Gospel,” said Serena Butler, IBSA Missions Awareness director.
The celebration is for all Illinois Baptist girls in grades 1-6. “We want all girls in the state to come and learn about missions and maybe Think about becoming a missionary themselves,” said Butler.
During the celebration girls will learn about the different peoples and customs of Russia while enjoying games, food, crafts and Bible study. Missionaries who have served in Russia also will share their stories of ministering to the country’s peoples.
Friday’s session is 7-8:30 p.m. at the IBSA Building, and Saturday’s activities will be held at Chatham Baptist Church in Chatham, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The cost is $10 per person and includes snacks on Friday and lunch on Saturday. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Hampton Inn (across from the IBSA Building) in Springfield. The hotel has a pool and serves a continental breakfast. Rooms in the block are $68 per night and are available through September 9 or until full. Contact the hotel at (217) 529-1100 and mention the IBSA Girl’s Missions Celebration for the reduced rate.
For more information about Girl’s Missions Celebration, contact Barb Troeger at (217) 391-3138 or BarbTroeger@IBSA.org.