Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mission Trip Reflection

We had a wonderful trip to Bluffton, S.C. this past week to help a new church plant there, Crosspoint Church-Bluffton. Our days were usually split into a morning and an evening segment, as far as work. Every night, we put on a Vacation Bible School for Crosspoint and a sister church in the area in a borrowed facility. During the morning ministry time we did some nursing home ministry and an outreach at a local Boys and Girls Club...the highlight of the week for me! I learned a few interesting things about our team and about the work to be done in Bluffton that I thought I would pass on to you:

-Beaufort County is the most unreached county in South Carolina, with only 9% of its population considering themselves to be Evangelical Christians. Wow.

-Many of the residents we met this week were transplants from up north...and I don't mean North Carolina! In our conversations with residents at 2 nursing homes, we determined that about 90% of them were from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. Who woulda' thunk that?! Come to think of it, I only met a handful of people who were actually from Bluffton. That being said, there are many people who have little exposure to Evangelical Christianity.

-The population of Beaufort County is expected to double in the coming 3 decades....a little boom town! There were subdivisions popping up everywhere...and strip malls...and lots of road expansion. You could tell that this area is getting ready to explode with people!

-When you think of the general Hilton Head area, you usually think of very wealthy people. However, it takes many, many "regular" people just to keep things going there (retail, business owners, construction work, etc.)

Having said all of that, there is much work to be done in this area. I'm glad we partnered with Crosspoint this week and hope to continue supporting their work. I was so proud of our Good Hope mission team. All in all, 20 people went with us on this trip. Each one of them worked very hard, and with very little complaining. They did what was asked of them and beyond! I had a blast getting to hang out with this group.

-We have some men who would intimidate grizzly bears with their snoring, no lie. I have never slept with ear plugs...until this week! Thanks Jesus for inventing ear plugs.

-Danny Owens is a cooking machine. We ate well.

-We had a few children who went with us and they were great assets to the ministry, especially the nursing homes and the VBS. Great job kiddos!

-The teens/college students who went with us really made me proud with their effort. Whoever out there who has lost faith in teenagers just don't know the good ones!

-The construction crew were real troopers: lugging it 50 minutes each way to get to the site each day and completing everything they were asked to do!

-Jody, Michelle, Tim, Justin and the other adult leaders did a great job of ministering to the kids at VBS. I couldn't have asked for better quality in preparation and effort.

As I said, the trip was a great success. If you're a Good Hoper, I hope you consider going to Bluffton with us the next time we get a trip together. See you Sunday!

Friday, July 03, 2009

SBC Reflections

The Southern Baptist Convention was a wonderful experience for me a few weeks ago. It reignited a passion in my heart for both the Great Commission and my denomination. Of course, there are always knuckleheads in every large meeting who try to make weird the weird guy from New York in a bad toupee who made the resolution for our seminary professors to stop teaching that the world was coming to an end in May 2011...and the Mark Driscoll bashers who want to incite friendly fire on a strong brother who is on our own team. But, on the whole, the experience was positive and uplifting. The highlight of the Convention for me was the SBC Pastor's Conference. For some of you this might be considered torture...but to me it was absolute delight. For an entire day...all day long...I got to sit under powerful preaching from some of the leading voices in our denomination and beyond. My dad and I were literally sitting on the front row directly in front of the podium. The experience was like trying to get a sip of water from a gushing fire hydrant! The most awesome experience, to me, was David Platt's message on the state of the Church today. I highly encourage you to follow the link below to the video and watch. It might be the most impacting 35 minutes you'll ever spend. The Brother started off his message by quoting from the Psalms for a really long time...completely awesome! I watched it again 2 nights ago just because I needed to hear it again. If I'm ever sick and can't preach, Good Hopers will be watching this video message in my place.

For a video link to David Platt's message, click on the link below:

With all of the good things, there was also some discouraging news that requires action from each of us. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is a special SBC offering that all churches in our denomination take up to support our international mission efforts. There was a 30 million dollar shortfall this past December, severely crippling the IMB from sending out new missionaries. We were told there are 2,000 missionaries who are "in the pipeline" to be sent out. Many of them have sold their homes, gone to school, and are waiting to be sent. At the present time, we can only send 300 of them to the field due to the budget shortfall. I am joining with other SBC pastors in calling for a "Christmas in August" special offering to make up for this shortfall. Good Hoper's, please be in prayer and prepare to give sacrificially so we can provide for our missionaries who are depending upon us for the resources to "go and tell." We can't let these guys down!!!