The Impact of One Life - Ed Stevens

One Life Matters – Ed Stevens

by Mark Powell, Director of General Baptist International Missions

For many years, General Baptists have celebrated the life of Rev. Ed Stevens. Ed Stevens was a missionary who served on Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Chi Chi Jima. He died at an early age while en route to Guam to receive medical treatment. As is often stated, we honor his sacrifice each year through an annual international missions’ offering on the Sunday closest to September 22 in honor of his passing. But is that the only reason we honor this singular life? Not at all.

Ed Stevens accomplished an unbelievable amount of good in a few very short years. In doing so his life reminds all of us how one single life, consecrated to God, can have an eternal impact on thousands.

The length of Ed Stevens’ ministry as a missionary was from 1946-1952. Following his ordination in 1945, Ed was on his way to Guam less than one year later. He served briefly on Guam from 1946 – 1947 where General Baptists are the oldest Protestant denomination. He then pioneered a new work on Saipan when General Baptists became the first protestant denomination on that island – making him not only a missionary but a church planter. The next two years were miraculous as Ed Stevens began a new outreach on the nearby island of Tinian to a leper colony, led Vincente Silencino to the Lord and baptized him, and laid the foundation for a new work on the island of Chi Chi Jima as the result of a hospital visit to a man from that island.

Ed Stevens in two short years accomplished more than many would in a lifetime! As a missionary, he pioneered Saipan, Tinian, and Chi Chi Jima. As a church planter, he started the Saipan Community Church which has literally touched thousands of lives. As a pastor/missionary, he ministered to the hurting in the leper colony on Tinian. As a personal evangelist, he led many to the Lord, among whom was a “Filipino boy” who would later become our first General Baptist missionary to the Philippines impacting thousands of lives and producing over 300 churches to date! As a pastor/evangelist he would make a hospital visit to a man from Chi Chi Jima resulting in a new work for General Baptists on that island.

The product of these two years has made an eternal impact on so many that only heaven knows the singular value of this one man’s life! The ministries on Guam, Saipan, and the Philippines continue to change lives to the present day.

Ed Stevens spent two years back in the States from 1949 – 1951 where he finished his degree program at Oakland City University, served as pastor, and tragically lost a son in an accident. Despite the pain of that loss, Ed, his wife Gertie, and son David would return to Chi Chi Jima in the fall of 1951 to continue the work he had pioneered three years earlier. In September 1952 Ed Stevens would fall ill and seek medical attention on Guam. His ship was in sight of Guam and ready to enter the harbor when God called this faithful servant home.

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Launch

What is LAUNCH?

By Mark Powell, Director of General Baptist International Ministries

For many years, General Baptist International Ministries has received a VBS offering from churches across the denomination. Launch is an extension of that offering with a new program called General Baptist Day of Poverty with General Baptist youth especially in mind.

This year GBIM will produce both VBS and Day of Poverty material with one central goal: to launch General Baptist children and youth in missions’ awareness and involvement. The VBS and Day of Poverty will invite your kids to get involved locally and globally through education and giving. Mission One will be inviting these same youths to join GBIM as interns when they approach college and career age. We pray God will raise up a generation of missional General Baptists ready to change our world.

In the latest issue of the Messenger you will find articles from Christina Massey, Director of Faith Home, detailing the LAUNCH (VBS) offering and its purpose; GBIM Director, Mark Powell, shares information about the Day of Poverty; and recent intern Kaebra LaGrange shares about her recent internship on Saipan.

For more information about LAUNCH, please contact the GBIM office. For specific information about internship please contact Dr. Jim Pratt, Mission One Coordinator, 100 Stinson Drive, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901 or 573-785-7746.

Raise the Roof! Faith Home, Honduras

Raise The Roof! At Faith Home, Honduras

Rodney and Teresa Walls

New personnel, Rodney and Teresa Walls

Faith Home has experienced many changes in 2016. Changes in number of children, changes in staff, and changes in the way we see God. We can’t say enough of the greatness of our God and how we have seen Him move in the lives of the children and the ones who are caring for them.

We have seen sick children miraculously healed, families reunited, and lives literally saved by God’s provision of Faith Home for the abandoned and neglected children of Honduras. But the most important changes are the ones we have seen in the hearts of the children and young adults as they accept Christ and learn to embrace His unconditional love that comforts in all circumstances. Some of their stories bring tears of joy and some just pure thankfulness for our God’s timing, which is always perfect:

  • One sibling group came with all four children very sick. Two of them spent a week in the hospital. We were told that in another week on the street that they would not have lived.
  • One of the newborn babies that arrived was so severely malnourished that family services told us later they were surprised he made it through the night. His mother is in prison for stealing food to survive.
  • One of the young boys who arrived this year told us this was the best Christmas he had ever experienced and one he would never forget.
  • Many of the new children have shed tears of joy over the simple things of new clothing, shoes and toys (things they never had before).
  • An 11-year-old was so excited to be able to attend school for the first time…ever.
  • One child commented to his mother at a supervised visit that they get to eat three times a day …every day!

We are thankful for Faith Home and the people who so generously support this ministry. 2016 has been full of changes mixed with moments that have abundantly blessed the hearts of the children and adults of Faith Home. We are excited to see what changes God has in store for Faith Home as we LAUNCH a new year.

LAUNCH!LAUNCH. The VBS offering in 2017 will go to help us to change more lives by bringing more children to Faith Home. Along with the blessing of 33 new children in 2016 (13 of whom were reunited with family) came challenges and extra expenses. We are grateful for all who are helping with additional sponsorships and funds for foster care and newborn baby care, but we also have other housing needs.

Currently all of our casas are occupied. We are keeping the newborns in the missionary houses. Church Planting / Medical Missionaries Rodney & Teresa Walls are the primary caregivers of baby Ely who has hip dysplasia along with fetal alcohol syndrome. Ely arrived when she was a month old and only four pounds.

Isaias with Christina Massey

Isaias with Christina Massey

Faith Home Director Christina is the primary caregiver of Isaias who came to us when he was 13 days old and under four pounds. Baby Samuel arrived when he was seven days old and a little over three pounds. We have a night nanny that keeps Samuel and another nanny who works with our teen girls to help with the babies during the day.

We have a house for each age group of boys and girls and we are currently at capacity. We are praying for more staff and children in 2017, which means we need additional housing and repairs to current casas. Casa 3 (destroyed in the earthquake of 2009) is currently being rebuilt but needs an extra $30,000 to complete.

Casa 3 will be able to house up to 16 children depending on age. We have built flexibility into the design of this casa, so that it can be used as a toddler house or for older transition children depending on the needs we have at any given time.

The children are growing up quickly, so the dynamic of our campus is constantly changing. Casas 5, 8, and the transition houses outside need metal roofs (approximately $2,000 each) to get the weight of the tejas (clay tile) off of the aging casa walls.

There are also several possible remodel plans that could allow us to house more children in 2017, all of which takes additional funding. Please consider how you can help Faith Home LAUNCH 2017 by helping with our housing needs and allowing us to impact more lives in Honduras with the Love of Christ.

New Ministry in Baja California Mexico

A New Ministry in Baja California Mexico

Eylin RodriguezGeneral Baptist International Ministries is pleased to announce a new work in the Baja California area of Mexico. Pastor Rene Rodriguez and his daughter Eylin have played a key role in the development of this work. General Baptists already have an association of churches in the area and a Bible Institute. The new association has a close connection with General Baptist International as well as the Sheffield Association of General Baptists in southern California.

Eylin Rodriguez is the 25-year-old daughter of Pastor Rene Rodriguez, Director of Ethnic Ministry in Southern California. Born in Honduras, at the age of 13 her family moved to the USA. Eylin says of her childhood, “Some people can say that being part of a Pastoral family is difficult, I can say that on the contrary, I am blessed to be able to learn from them. I feel truly blessed to be a witness of the work that our Lord has done through many great men and women who have taken on the privilege of expanding the kingdom of God.”

Eylin married Jose Carlos Hernandez, and they have two beautiful children. In 2015 Eylin and Jose Carlos had a long conversation with the director of Sheffield Association of General Baptist Pastor Rene about the necessity of a new work in Mexico. Her family felt the call to make themselves available to work for the Lord and go wherever he desired to take them. As Eylin so aptly states it, “so now here we are in Mexico.”

On Saturday October 22, 2016, they had their first meeting in Tijuana Baja California, Mexico. Five Pastors decided to associate with General Baptists, giving birth to the Northern Mexico Association of General Baptists. They have also started a Bible Institute under the guidance of Pastor Rene who is the director and teacher of the Bible Institute in California. There are approximately 30 students and 3 fully accredited teachers. To date they are still looking for a more appropriate location between three cities, (Ensenada, Tijuana, and Tecate) since the students come from all three locations.

There are a total of eight associated churches who have started working with General Baptists and are ready to carry on the Great Commission. There are more meetings scheduled with pastors who want to know more of the work of General Baptists. Eylin states, “I am honored and thankful for being part of the all the work that is being done through International Missions of General Baptist here in Mexico.”

General Baptist International Ministries is currently committed to $200 a month to help sustain the new Bible Institute. If you would like to be a ground-floor partner with this new ministry, please contact GBIM, 100 Stinson Drive, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901, 573-785-7746.

Update from Prakash and Jemima Pamu - India Missionaries

Update from Prakash and Jemima Pamu – Missionaries in India

Dr. and Mrs. Prakash Pamu recently sent an exciting update on their ministry in India. The Pamu family ministry is in the Kakinada/Pithapuram area of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh has a population of 84 million with 1.51% being Christian. As you consider this information please keep that important fact in mind. General Baptists have worked in this area since 1982.

  • Dorcus Sewing CentersDORCAS SEWING CENTERS (DSC): Ten DSC are now operating among poor people in ten communities in India. They are 1) Zaddangi ,2) Bodlanka, 3) Bangarayyapeta, 4) Ravikampadu,5) Donthamuru 6) Gollaprolu , 7) U. Kothapalli 8) Rachapalii, 9) Venkatanagaram. 10) Chitrada. More than two hundred girls are in training and listen daily to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thanks to all our beloved sponsors for this good work.
  • NEW SEWING MACHINES TO DSC GIRLS: As a Christmas, gift forty DSC girls received sewing machines because of the generosity of General Baptist sponsors in the USA. It is a blessing to all our General Baptists to show the love of Jesus Christ in our deeds. Thanks be to Our Lord for our General Baptists in USA.
  • DSC AND PASTORS CHRISTMAS: We had a Christmas gathering of over 300 believers, non-believers, DSC girls, Bible women (Bible study leaders) and Pastors on December 27, 2016 at our General Baptist church in Pithapuram. New blankets and bed sheets were given to pastors and Bible women, and new clothes were given to believers as a gift of Christmas. It is wonderful to share gifts on behalf of all our General Baptists in USA. Thanks to one and all of our sponsors.
  • CHRISTMAS: In our main church at Pithapuram, we had blessed Watch Night Service and New Year worship services.
  • BAPTISMS: Seven new converts were baptized in the Bay of Bengal on 1st of January 2017. Praise the Lord!
A Calling to Go - Launch GO

A Calling to Go – Launch GO

by Kaebra LaGrange, LAUNCH GO Intern

Finding your purpose, or calling, in life is a difficult task. Many of us go through life searching for it. What is our purpose, and how are we as individuals best able to serve God? That was a question I had been dealing with until recently. It was not until I went on a life-changing trip that I truly found my calling and what I wanted to do with my life. I went to Saipan on a missionary internship opportunity and left changed.

For most of my life I had sort of just glided through. I went to school and decided to settle with an easy major. I felt no calling toward the degree I was pursuing. I was simply doing it to finish school and to be done. I knew it was a fast track way to a decent and easy life. I wouldn’t venture out of my comfort zone. I had everything planned out. That was until God threw me a curveball and my plan crumbled. It felt as though my whole life had crumbled. I now had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or how I was going to do it. I was searching for God, for answers, and for my purpose.

God then proceeded to open doors for me and He led me to General Baptist International Ministries. I applied for a missions internship and was thrilled when I got accepted. I was going to go overseas and serve somewhere. It was scary. I had no idea what to expect. I was sent to a school in Saipan. I had no idea where Saipan even was, but I was excited to go. I knew this was God’s plan for me and I was eager to go where He led me.

God orchestrates trials and tribulations in life to grow us, deepen our faith, and to push us where He wants us to be. If it wasn’t for my trials I wouldn’t have ended up in Saipan and I wouldn’t have found my calling and love for teaching. In Saipan I felt God truly speaking to me and showing me what He wants for my life. Continue reading

Christmas dancers in India help outreach

Christmas Outreach in India

by Jessey Vemula, missionary in India

Christmas Outreach in India

Caroling is a common outreach during Christmas in IndiaChristmas is an important time to many Christians around the world. To Indian Christians it is a big celebration. Churches in India have many activities and preparations to do in the months of October and November. The church is painted and decorated with lights, balloons, garlands, paper stars and a Christmas tree. Other than decorating, members can also be involved in caroling.

Caroling is a common form of outreach during the whole month of December. Calvary General Baptist ministries has done caroling since the ministry began. During the Christmas season there are less persecutions from unbelievers, which makes this the perfect time to preach the Gospel. The old way of caroling was going from street to street singing the gospel songs, playing musical instruments, dancing with Santa Claus and giving candy, and preaching the gospel for ten minutes. Unbelievers would come outside to see Santa, why we were singing, or to hear the preaching. However, we decided to do something different in 2016.

A New Plan for Outreach

CHristmas Outreach in IndiaThis year our caroling method involved more planning and work. A couple of new things were going to village elders and asking them to come and celebrate Christmas with their village people, also the Jesus film. Total we went and asked permission from 22 villages around the Siddipet district. Only eight of the 22 gave permission. This may seem like a low number but we were blessed to do outreach in this many villages. Caroling in the villages involved a whole new method of outreach. The event lasted three hours or more and included preaching, a visit from Santa, traditional dancers (told Jesus story in a cultural way), showing Jesus film, and a cake cutting to share with everyone.

Outreach this year allowed us to share the gospel to 450-500 new people. In the coming years we hope to do this more and get more response. Our best response came from Boggulabanda, where many raised their hands to receive Christ. We were very thankful to have six new families attend our Christmas day service. They were given free bibles. We will continue to help them grow spiritually in the Lord.

Thanks to God and Supporters

The outreach was a community eventMany seeds have been sown this Christmas season. We thank the many supporters who prayed for this outreach. An outreach like this does have risks and persecutions as well. One of the eight villages called Appanapalli had given permission but after the gospel team arrived in the village the elders changed their mind. Only after a Christian family (our church members) went to the police, we got the permission to do the outreach two days later. We are thankful that everyone involved did not get hurt.

Please start praying for 2017 and upcoming events. Prayer has helped CGBM India to be able to do great things this year, but greater things will come in 2017. We ask you to continue to pray for us and the ministry in India and, consider sponsoring shares to help this ministry make a difference in the lives of people in this needy place. May God bless you all and continue to use you for His kingdom in 2017.

Visit: Calvary Grace General Baptist Churches of India on Facebook for more photos and videos from Christmas

Jessey and Brittany Vemula serve as missionaries to India.