Each year a new committee convenes to pray and discuss ideas for the state missions emphasis. Each committee works on a theme that will be used nearly two years after their initial meeting. Working this far in advance is necessary in order to research stories and prepare materials.
It is always fascinating to me to see how a particular emphasis fits the circumstances and needs at the time it is used. This is the result of prayer and God’s leadership in this process.
Our 2017 emphasis, Rise Up and Shine, focuses on Kentucky Baptist ministries to internationals. From college campuses to large cities, and in small communities and out of the way places like Oneida Baptist Institute, internationals have come to Kentucky to study, work, and make a life.
While we want to welcome these who have come, concerns about immigration and many related issues have been front page news. There are no easy answers to many of the associated problems. But scripture is clear: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19 NIV).
In my Children in Action group, a retired missionary to Central Asia portrayed a refugee for the children, explaining why she needed to leave her homeland to protect her family from war. This missionary has lived where danger make people willing to risk everything to live in another country. We wanted the children to understand and care.
Nik Ripken, author of “The Insanity of God” and “The Insanity of Obedience,” poses a question that makes me uncomfortable: “What if the worst persecution today was having little or no access to Jesus. Am I a persecutor when I keep my faith to myself, only within the environment of the church?”
God is sending the nations to Kentucky. Watch the 2017 state missions video of Nik giving suggestions for how we can minister to internationals. It all begins with friendship, a meal, and some simple questions to show your interest.
In this month of response to hurricanes, remember to support the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering first. Our channels of mission support put ministries like Disaster Relief in place before they are needed. Keep the foundation strong even as you give an extra offering for specific relief efforts. Let’s Rise Up and Shine!