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

National Missions Sunday Church Planting in Jacksonville, Florida

National Missions Sunday – Church Planting in Jacksonville, Florida

Church Planting has always been a primary mission for General Baptists. Our movement was organized by a church planter who established churches on the American frontier in the 1820s.

Our denominational mission to plant churches is underwritten by the general budget through Unified Giving, but it is also made possible by special gifts such as those received on National Missions Sunday. This year the National Missions Sunday Offering will assist church planting efforts in Florida by helping to more firmly establish the new work of All Nations Church.

This ethnic church plant has resulted from the long-term ministry of Missionary Cecil Green who discipled a young believer in the Philippines nearly 50 years ago. In 1977 Pastor Pete Lapaz was ordained by the General Baptist Church of the Philippines and in 2016 he began work to establish All Nations Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

In a recent report Pastor Pete noted

  • the ordination of an associate pastor, Dr. Lito Ibaretta,
  • two more new converts ready for baptism,
  • two Bible study centers now in operation, and
  • two Spanish-speaking families now attending.

A Children’s Ministry will begin soon and the search is on for a larger meeting space. The group has outgrown meeting in homes. A recent attendance of 40 placed them at capacity in their current rented space.

On a recent Sunday in January, those attending worship paused for a photo. Pastor Pete is on the left holding his grandson. Pastor Lito is seated in the front center.

Different churches have different traditions about National Missions Sunday. Some churches include National Missions Sunday in the budget, others take up a special offering to aid these special projects. All gifts received for National Missions Sunday will result in winning many people in Jacksonville, Florida who otherwise will not be won to faith in Christ.

Mission & Ministry Summit

Take the Land

by Clint Cook, Executive Director

Clint Cook - Summit Keynote Speaker - possessIn 1994, I was privileged to speak at the General Association held in Nashville, Tennessee. My scripture portion was from Joshua 1. “Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the Lord said to him: You are old, advanced in years and there remains much land yet to be possessed.”

This passage is very similar to the key scripture chosen for the 2017 Summit theme: Take the Land. Deuteronomy 1:8 says, “See I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore to your fathers….”

These two passages have some interesting similarities: they both deal with the Promised Land, and they are both statements to Joshua. The difference between the two passages is Joshua’s age.

In Deuteronomy, we see a younger Joshua who was following a senior leader. Later we have a seasoned, mature Joshua who had encountered many ups and downs over a 40-year span of time. Joshua 1 shows us a man who had weathered the death of Moses, navigated his growth from warrior to national leader, and saw the result of disobedience. It was under Joshua’s leadership that the people of God finally conquered and possessed the Promised Land.

Then, in Joshua 13, the Lord gives a very clear analysis: “There remains yet very much land to possess.”

Like Joshua and the nation of Israel, each of us is given a similar directive by God to Take the Land. Disciples of Jesus are commanded in the Great Commission to go and make disciples. I see a direct correlation between God’s directive to Joshua and the Great Commission to the church.

As a 32-year-old pastor at that G.A., I was a lot like Joshua: young, impetuous, and intimidated. I knew the Great Commission commanded me to share the gospel and make disciples. I also knew of many older General Baptist pastors and preachers who had been blessed with fruitful ministries and growing churches. I recall that I reminded the 1994 audience that the General Baptist movement needs young, middle-aged, and older disciple makers, because, “There remains very much land yet to be possessed.”

Our movement has made wonderful progress for the Kingdom through souls saved, thousands of disciples trained, new churches organized and new international fields opened. Yet, have we run out of communities to change? Has every person we know been won to faith in Christ? No!

Just because General Baptists have had some successes, our assignment is not finished. In the midst of our praise to the Lord for these blessings, we must never lose sight of God’s mandate that remains unfulfilled: “There remains very much land yet to be possessed.”

So what can we learn from these passages?

First, whatever the age of your church, the age of your members, or the age of your pastor, we will give an account one day not only for what we have accomplished, but for what still needs to be done.

Second, the Great Commission is an ongoing, never-ending, retirement-free directive to the church. Church member, leader, pastor: our assignment is not complete. There is more land yet to possess!

Third, let us remember that making disciples is like fighting those Old Testament Canaanites. Sharing our faith is a spiritual battle that is full of obstacles, obstructions, and strongholds. But it is a battle we must continue to fight. The children of Israel dwelt on the obstacles. They asked, “Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts saying the people are greater and taller than we are. The cities are great and fortified up to the heaven.” (Deuteronomy 1:28)

We’re in this fight together. When we Stay Connected, we Stay Strong. Let’s hold fast to God’s response to the nay-sayers in verse 29: “Do not be terrified or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you, He will fight for you.”

My prayer is that 2017 will be the year every General Baptist church renews its commitment and obligation to Take the Land for, “There remains very much land yet to be possessed.” Join us at the 2017 Summit where we will challenged even more to Take the Land!

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.

GBBC Update

GBBC Update – Growing Bolder and Braver Conquerors

By Joyce Porcadilla, President of General Baptist Bible College, The Philippines

Happy new year! We do hope all of you had a blessed Christmas celebration and that you are excited to embrace whatever the Lord has in store for all of us this 2017!

Here at GBBC, Christmas has always been a grand celebration. We started off with our annual Christmas missions outreach in a very remote elementary school where the students and staff of GBBC held a Christmas program, served a meal, and gave out gifts. This was held on December 6th. It is always encouraging to see our students voluntarily put their resources together and share their blessings to the pupils and their families, as well as teachers of the said elementary school. But more importantly, it was a great blessing to see the joy in them because of the love they felt that no matter how simple the celebration was, we were able to make known to them the real meaning of Christmas and the reason of the season we are celebrating—Jesus.

Furthermore, on December 12th, the college students went around the neighboring communities to share the Christmas story through giving out candy canes. The students had the opportunity to share the Gospel and pray for and with various families and even those they met along the streets.

Before we finally ended year 2016 and before everybody went on a brief Christmas break, the entire GBBC family came together on December 14th for its annual Christmas program dubbed as “Christmasensation 2016,” with the theme, “Christmas is Within Us.” It was truly a celebration with friends and family, but above all a grand celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The program was highlighted with various musical presentations that revealed the true meaning of Christmas, giving emphasis on God’s amazing love towards us that caused Him to give us the greatest gift we could ever receive. As we have received and experienced that love, GBBCians made sure that we also share and demonstrate that love to others. Continue reading

Jumpstart Your Ministry: Start With The Basics – A 2020 Resource

Turnaround 2020Successful Turnaround efforts in a local church will add new people to the fellowship. Some will be transfers from other churches. Many times those already committed to Christ and His church relocate to new communities while others may leave a church environment they view as uncomfortable or even toxic. Growth by transfer is important to conserve the overall impact of The Church. Nevertheless, when the church receives transfer members the local church grows but The Church does not.

Real Turnaround then must focus on conversion growth rather than transfer growth. Conversion growth means that those who come to personal faith in Christ will also come into the fellowship of the church that won them.

In the not too distant past, churches relied on the visibility of their buildings or on a simple advertising campaign to attract new participants. Bill Easum describes an early effort to attract people to church by borrowing a piece of earth moving equipment and pushing piles of dirt across the church lawn. The visibility of apparent construction activity helped gain a crowd. (See Go Big!). This was in a day, however, when people routinely went to church so the main goal was to gain recognition of location. An early mentor of mine pointed out three criteria for church growth: location, location, location! Many suburban housing developments in the 60s and 70s routinely allowed for a few lots to be sold to churches. The church growth strategy in those days was that people from the immediate locale of the building would simply show up because everybody went to church.

In the 21st century buildings do not win people, nor do programs guarantee church growth. For example, in recent generations young families would be attracted to church about the time the children entered public school. In those days an effective children’s program guaranteed the growth of a church since religious education was the driving motive in a family’s return to church.

In the 21st century neither programs nor buildings guarantee church growth.

Continue reading