Posted on : Thursday August 18, 2022

“Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law — though I myself am not under the law — to win those under the law. To those who are without the law, like one without the law — though I am not without God’s law but under the law of Christ — to win those without the law. To the weak, I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.“ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

Delaware Church Builds Missions Center in the Philippines

Good Shepherd Baptist Church (GSBC) in Bear, Delaware, will have a “Taste of the Nations” fellowship event from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday. They’ll have food from various countries, representing the nationalities of the church body.

Alan and Shiela Bernardo with their children Sophia and Sadie (foreground) with a building worker in the background get a sneak peek of the mission building in the Philippines. The Bernardos are former GSBC members and mission partners who moved to Texas. (photo submitted)

Student ministry leader Erika Mendoza, who is also part of the mission team, said there will be Filipino, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, and Polish dishes, just to name a few. This event is to celebrate GSBC’s diverse congregation, whom they call “mission partners.” Some of the mission partners from the College/ Young Adult Ministry will be singing, while PAYAD (Philippine-American Youth Association of Delaware) will be putting on a cultural performance. Tri-fold poster boards will be present to showcase both the beauty and needs of the country – as it may be a potential mission area in the future.

Mendoza’s and the mission team’s heart for organizing “Taste of the Nations” is first to let the local community know about God and His work through the church and community. It’s also to support the church’s newly built missions center in Paranaque, Philippines.

Grace Baptist Church in Baer, Delaware, helped build this mission center in the Philippines. They’ll be on location later this month to prepare for the September grand opening. (photo submitted)

The cost for the “Taste of the Nations” is $15 per person, $28 for a couple, and further discounts for groups of 3 or more.

Pastor Arce recently stepped down as the senior pastor of GSBC to focus his attention on missions. Before he came to GSBC, he was a missionary in Korea and began working on the Philippine missions center project during that period. At GSBC, he continued the work, gathering partners from Texas and various other countries and states and mobilizing GSBC members to help.

Arce, very excited to see the vision coming to fruition, said the center is primarily to care for, evangelize, disciple, and service migrant workers. People are coming and going to various countries to earn money constantly. “Seven thousand migrant workers are leaving the country daily,” Arce said.

The center is a short distance from the airport, so it will be a convenient location where workers can stay for several days as they await their flights. “During that time,” Arce explains, “volunteers can share the gospel with those who don’t know Christ. They’ll also disciple those who are believers and help them to be on mission and share the gospel as they go to different countries. It’s an evangelism and discipleship center.”

Additionally, the center is a place for migrant workers’ families. Arce said that when people leave the Philippines, their families travel with them to the airport – so there are parents, siblings, and others. The center will give the family a place to stay together for a few days. While the migrant workers are away, family members can also go to the center to receive training. Arce said he already has mission partners from GSBC who will teach computer skills and share about financial management.

Missionaries and teams going to the Philippines can also utilize the center as a home base.

Arce is also thrilled to offer GSBC mission partners a multitude of hands-on ministry opportunities, especially, he said, young people.

The church mission team will leave later this month to celebrate the center’s grand opening.

“It’s exciting. The mission center will be finished by the time we get there! All we need to do is to buy the furnishings, decorate the place, and fellowship with the locals,” Mendoza exclaimed.

SCBC Faith Collaborates with FCA and Local Schools

Members of Southern Calvert Baptist Church (SCBC) are heading to Regency Stadium on Friday to do outreach at a Maryland Blue Crabs game. The team, based in Waldorf, is an independent partner league of Major League Baseball. Brad Criss, the church’s pastor of outreach and administration, is also on staff as a missionary with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and a former school teacher. Using his connections, Criss arranged for the church to be active at the stadium for the FCA Faith and Family Night on August 19.

The SCBC praise and worship team will sing, and church members, wearing their SCBC shirts will get to meet and greet people and distribute cards with QR codes with information about the church.

Criss said the church is using the event as an outreach. The Blue Crabs provide a number of free tickets for the event. “We’re telling folks that if they can’t go, that’s fine, give your tickets to a neighbor you’ve been wanting to invite to church. They’ll show up for the game at 5:30, and as they come in, they’ll hear praise music and then, later, testimonies from two players and one coach.

The church also hopes to build on the event and on their connections. Members recently returned from a mission trip to Mexico. The pastor they are working with, Julio, has requested a Bible school and baseball camp. Criss is working with the FCA and possibly some Blue Crabs players to host such a camp.

And more locally, Criss is using his 32-year connections through teaching in the area and has organized a “Back to School Bash” starting at 4 p.m. on August 28. One high school and two feeder middle schools are participating. There will be food, games, and a dunking booth. Two principals and one vice-principal have good-naturedly agreed to be dunked. The church will also give out free backpacks. Criss is reaching out to other vendors who may offer some fun, useful services for the day.

Kristie Graves with Brizzy (photo by Phil Graves)

“The whole church is involved in this through our Sunday school classes,” Criss said. The men’s group is handling the meat, a senior ladies class is providing desserts. Others are bringing drinks and various dishes.

Mom’s Side Version of an Amazing Ukrainian Adoption Story 

The Blue Ridge Baptist Association (BRBA) will welcome Kristie Graves as a guest speaker at The Women of BRBA Brunch from 9-11 a.m. on Sept. 10 at Faith Baptist Church in Knoxville. Kristie will share how she and her husband, First Baptist Church of Brunswick Pastor Phil Graves, were called to adopt a young girl affected by special needs from Ukraine

Little Brizzy’s parents had arranged for a surrogate mother. Tragically, when she was born at 26 weeks with physical and mental disabilities, her parents abandoned her. Phil said that at five months, the parents told the medical staff not to put her on life support. But she didn’t die. Marina, a compassionate pediatric nurse, kindly cared for Brizzy until the little girl was healthy enough to be placed in an orphanage.

Phil and Kristie had already adopted a little girl from Armenia a few years earlier, but God laid it on Kristie’s heart to adopt once more. They thought friends would tell them they were crazy — but they didn’t.

The couple has been featured in various publications, and Phil has written a first-person article about their journey – emotionally and physically as they traveled across the world, in the middle of a war with alarms going off around them, to get Brizzy. Now hear the story from Kristie’s point of view.

Block Parties, Fall Programs, and Bible Illustrations

Rather than a typical Vacation Bible School, Tabernacle Baptist Church in Essex chose to have monthly block parties during the summer through September. This month’s party will be on August 27.

Amy McCoy, a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church’s worship team shares at the church’s recent kids‘ camp. (photo by Theresa Keys)

Chris Reick, the church’s worship and outreach pastor, said they have a shaved ice truck, hot dogs, chips, lemonade, a Moon Bounce, and a Bible story presentation, and they try to change it up a bit each month. Earlier in the summer, they had a generous food donation. Church members distributed it during one of the parties. 

Reick said it was sweltering hot on the July party day, but they still drew 90 people. The church used the July event to kick off a week-long kids’ club. Children enjoyed Bible studies, games, and snacks. Reick said kids and adults had a lot of fun during the week, especially with water games. He has a slingshot that shoots water balloons. “They loved it,” he chuckled.

The final block party of the year will be on September 24. 

The church is also kicking off its fall “Quench” program in September. Church members prepare and serve dinners on a rotational schedule each Wednesday. All are invited and enjoy time together in fellowship before heading to various programs, including youth group, Bible study for adults, and a kids’ program with different stations such as crafts, Bible teaching, and activities.

Christine Strebeck chats with a young girl at the Tabernacle Baptist Church block party. (photo by Theresa Keys)

Reick incorporates his unique Bible illustration skills into the parties, kids camps, and Quench, sketching Bible stories as he shares, “I started in 2010 when I took an Open-Air Campaigners class,” he shared. He partially prepares his drawings and then adds features as he tells the story. The lessons, he said, are geared towards children, but there are always adults listening, so he’s able to layer the messages.

His “go-to” story is about Peter walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33), taking his eyes off Jesus, and calling out, “Lord save me.” Other favorites include Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21) and the healing of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52).

Reick was excited to share that last year at Quench, one young boy approached him and wanted to pray to accept Christ. The boy is one of two children in a family that lives next door to a church member. That member invited the boys and happily drives the boys to church.

“I don’t like to pressure anyone,” Reick said. “I explain the gospel very clearly and concisely. I pray over them and say, ‘if you want to know more about Jesus, please come and talk to one of the adult leaders.’”

“During the first summer block party, the pastor’s son told me one of the two boys wanted to talk to me about Jesus, and he also prayed to receive Christ.” Reick praised God and noted the faithfulness of the woman who invited and then drove her neighbors to church. 

Reick is available to share at churches and would be happy to train others interested in Bible illustrations. Email him for more information.

Canvas Church “Depressed Pastor” Podcast

Richard Pope, the pastor of Canvas Church in Salisbury just launched a podcast called “Depressed Pastor.” In his first episode, he shares candidly a bit about his background and his struggle with depression. In this inaugural episode, he also shares his motivation for the podcast, goals, and his favorite Funko Pops.
Check it out on Apple Music and Spotify.
Quotable Quotes
“Let us, therefore, forsake the vanity of the crowd and their false teachings, and turn back to the Word delivered to us from the beginning. — Polycarp of Smyrna
History Bites
1845 — Southern Baptists chose China as their first foreign mission field, and Samuel C. Clopton was appointed as the first missionary. He served in China less than a year before dying from illness.
1938 — The Foreign Mission Board appointed the first Native American Southern Baptist missionary, Jewell Starr Reid, of Cherokee ancestry. She and her husband, Orvil, served in Mexico, where she died in 1940.
Upcoming BCM/D Events 
  •  Sept. 14 — Healthy Leaders for Healthy Churches: Revitalizing Volunteer Leadership — Volunteer leaders are a vital part of any non-profit organization, including churches. Leading volunteers well is necessary to promote the effectiveness and success of your team. The material presented in these sessions is built on the leadership training strategies of Mark Miller, the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership for the Chick-Fil-A corporation. (Skycroft Conference Center)
  • Sept. 15 — Healthy Leaders for Healthy Churches: Revitalizing Volunteer Leadership — Volunteer leaders are a vital part of any non-profit organization, including churches. Leading volunteers well is necessary to promote the effectiveness and success of your team. The material presented in these sessions is built on the leadership training strategies of Mark Miller, the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership for the Chick-Fil-A corporation. (Baptist Center Offices, Columbia)
  • Sept. 22 — BCM/D Town Hall Meeting — Join us from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. for a time of communication, collaboration and celebration. We’ll celebrate what is going on in our two-state convention and eleven associations. We’ll communicate with one another specifically about things that have a direct impact on our convention as a whole. Our goal is to have proposed resolutions and proposed changes to our constitution available for discussion. This gives us time to deliberate and refine these items prior to our Annual Meeting. We will not only discuss resolutions, motions, and proposed constitution changes that are designed to help us work more effectively, but we will also hear about other opportunities we have to partner together.
  • Sept. 24 — Going Beyond Live With Pricilla Shirer — An Event for Women Seeking Jesus. Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena at UMBC 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore.