Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reflections of Haiti - Part Three

In God’s Hands in Haiti

I continue to emphasize the power of prayer, especially in the context of international missions. Over and over, we who travel overseas to deliver the Good News experience the hand of Almighty God touching lives, moving obstacles, and intervening as only He can do. He is always busy revealing His power and glory to anyone willing to see. In Haiti, we saw God work in the lives of the people we met and in the connections we made. We went with a plan and a schedule and it worked out about half of the day! After that, our plan disintegrated and we experienced what it meant to be carried by the Holy Spirit as Phillip experienced in Acts 8. We connected with people and ministries that we did not know existed the week before. We traveled to places that in our own understanding did not make sense. But this is “normal” on most mission trips. It is the evidence of the power of prayer, and it results in divine appointments and being in God’s supernatural care.

If you have led an Urbancrest mission team or even gone with us as a volunteer, you know that we make plans and try to be aware of every detail. By making sure our mission projects are well-planned, we hope to eliminate foreseeable problems that the enemy can use to make our witness less effective. This allows God to work His plan.

Our Haiti trip was to be no different. Our travel, lodging, and food arrangements were made before we left Lebanon. Appointments were set and we knew the containers were at the Mission Lifeline compound. As a practice of due diligence for every trip, we require every team going out from Urbancrest to have accident insurance on every volunteer. We also require that every team be registered with the US State Department before they leave the country. The reason for the accident insurance is obvious. The reason for registering with the US State Department is so that the team can get updates if there is danger, or if there is something that US citizens need to know about.

Such was the case with this Haiti team. As leader of this team, it was my responsibility to make sure all was completed. But the week before, I was very busy with Mission Leader Mentoring (MLM) preparations and caring for visiting missionaries. By the time I had taught the MLM all day on Saturday, I had lost all ability to think of anything other than packing a few things for the trip. Diane reminded me of the need to register the team with the US State Department, and she went ahead and enrolled the team in the insurance program for me. I told her I would register the team with the State Department on Sunday evening since we would be staying in Ft. Lauderdale Sunday night before flying to Port au Prince early Monday morning. Well, I forgot. I was on the plane and arriving in Port au Prince before I thought about it again. At that point, I decided to just let it go. We had an experienced team and usually have no problems anyway.

As the week in Haiti moved along we were very busy and heard little news. From day break to dark and beyond we were working, either meeting people or loading and unloading food and supplies. We had made reservations and pre-paid to stay the night at the Florida Baptist Convention (FBC) guest house on Thursday night, but when we tried to contact their Florida phone number to get directions to the guest house in Haiti no one there seemed to be aware of our reservations. They informed us that they didn’t currently have anyone working in Haiti. We were hoping to stay there because of the proximity to the airport and because we knew we would be traveling to Port au Prince on Thursday. At that point it seemed best just to stay one more night at the Lifeline guest house, so we adjusted our plans.

On Thursday, we traveled back to Port au Prince and met with Dr. Bernard at the Bethel Guest House. This is where our team stayed in August. It is also where Dr. Bernard has the orphanages and the crèche. Larry Bergeron had not been there and I was excited that the two of them would meet. After we toured the crèche and were preparing to leave, I received a text message from Diane who had forwarded part of the following message from my email account:

On-Going Demonstrations in Port-au-Prince
U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince issued the following Warden Message on November 18, 2010:

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is issuing this Warden Message to alert U.S. citizens that there are reports of demonstrations in downtown Port Au Prince on the Champ-de-Mars, and in Nazon and Lalue. Roads are being blocked, tires set on fire, and rocks are being thrown at passing vehicles. The Haitian National Police have deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd several times. The crowd continues to move in this area and regroup. All travel to this area should be avoided.

U.S. citizens are advised to maintain an increased level of vigilance when traveling in and around Port-au-Prince. They should be aware of their surroundings at all times and are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy.

After receiving the text message, I made sure our driver was aware of the location of the riots so that he didn’t drive us through them. It was difficult for him to keep us away from the rioting because our location required us to drive right near there as we made our way back to the Lifeline guest house. We would go down side streets and then move back to the main street, only to detour again. At one point we followed a UN squad in full riot gear for several blocks (see picture below). That seemed pretty safe! I later learned that the rioting was due to the fact that the UN had been accused of causing the cholera outbreak, as well as the unrest due to the upcoming presidential elections.

I feel that the Lord really protected us in that situation. If we hadn’t changed our lodging plans at the last minute, which allowed us to stay at Lifeline rather than at the FBC guest house, we would have had to spend the night in the middle of the riot zone. It is clear to me that God intervened and moved us out of harm’s way. Secondly, I was thankful that we had received the very timely State Department warning which saved us a lot of trouble and also kept us out of a very dangerous situation. I figured that Diane must have registered our team with the State Department while we were gone.

After we were home a few days, Diane commented on the fact that it was a good thing I had registered the team with the State Department so that we were able to get the warning when we did. The fact is, neither one of us registered the team!

It is still a mystery to me how I came to receive a message from the US Embassy without registering the team. The airline tickets were in Larry’s name and he did not receive the message. There is not a good explanation other than God acted on your prayers and intervened for the safety of the mission team. Thank you again for your faithful prayers for this Haiti team. God loves to glorify His name as we lift it up to the nations!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Give Your Best Gift to Jesus

Ahhh, Christmas! What a wonderful time of year! It is a time for family and friends. Christmas seems to bring out the best in most of us. If you have lived around Southern Ohio as long as I have, it is hard to imagine Christmas without a little bite in the outside air temperature and the hope for a “white Christmas.” Yet, even with all of these enjoyable experiences, there are a few things that I dislike about the Christmas season. I hate the commercialization of the holiday. I really don’t like to shop at all. I love to give gifts to my family and friends, but I really don’t like the fact that in our culture Christmas is more about the money than the caring or the worship of the Savior.

Christmas, at its heart, is about Jesus. We give the gifts to people we love or care about to celebrate the greatest gift ever given. The arrival of a babe lying in a manger, announced by angels, was the gift of a Savior given to the world. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was sent to give His life to die for our sins and not ours only but for the sins of the whole world. The gift of eternal life is given to those who believe. That has to be celebrated! Giving is the best expression of gratitude. So giving to those we love is very natural.

I believe giving should go beyond those we love to those He loves and gave His life for. There are 1.6 billion people in the world who have not heard the Good News, and 6,424 people groups in the world that have no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They do not glorify Him or worship Him. How can we say we love Him and not care about those He loves?

One of the ways that Linda and I demonstrate our love for Jesus is to give our best Christmas gift to the Combined Mission Offering at Urbancrest Baptist Church. The Combined Mission Offering goes to the heart of lostness. 10% goes to reach the state of Ohio, 10% goes to World Hunger, 40% goes to reach North America through the North America Mission Board, and 40% goes to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering of the International Mission Board. Over 10,000 missionaries are serving literally all over the world sharing Jesus with those who have never heard about our Savior. These are some of God’s choicest servants who work in some of the most difficult places in the world.

Urbancrest’s Combined Mission Offering goal this year is $50,000.00. That is the highest goal we have ever set. Each week we are getting closer to accomplishing it, but we still have quite a ways to go. People are waiting to go tell those who have never heard, but the funds are lacking to send them. What a great gift we can give our Lord by sending workers to those who have never heard!

This year, give your best gift to Jesus. After all, it is His birthday! But even more importantly, if we are faithful to give, there will be souls in heaven rejoicing and worshiping Jesus with us for eternity!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reflections of Haiti - Part Two

“I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.” Psalm 140:12
Our team visited Haiti with the purpose of distributing the four 40’ containers of Kid’s Against Hunger food that had finally arrived. Each container held roughly 300,000 Kid’s Against Hunger meals along with other supplies such as clothing, diapers, and medical items. My personal objective was to assess the ministries we partner with and to see what Urbancrest will be doing in future ministry there. It sounds simple enough, but it doesn't take being there very long before the reality hits that Haiti is totally broken.

For too long, Haiti has been used by corrupt politicians, other governments, and even so-called "Christian ministries" to pad their pockets. My mailbox is full of “Help Haiti!” donation envelopes. But, unless you are giving to a long-established ministry, or better yet a church, you have no idea how your money will be spent. The whole system in Haiti seems to be run on bribes or “tips.” Americans who travel to Haiti often seem to understand the system and adjust to the demands for “more.” But for me, after three trips, it just got old. What I did determine was that we can’t “fix” Haiti.

The earthquake only multiplied the misery and poverty that has been present in Haiti for decades. Though thousands of homes have been built, there are still over 1.3 million people living in tents that have no way of helping themselves. Unemployment is at 85%. It is estimated that there could be as many as 500,000 orphans there. No one is sure of the numbers due to the earthquake, but there are as many starving and helpless adults as there are children. Many of the children are orphaned from AIDS, the earthquake, and other devastation. Many will have one or both parents living who are either unable or unwilling to care for them. Therefore, the children are the ones that we will put our focus on in Haiti. My reflections of Haiti are mirrored in a few of the places we visited and the heroes that work there.

Haiti Children's Home
Tracy Snyder sent word asking if we could check on the Haiti Children’s Home (HCH) in Mirebalais. We traveled the gravel road there late in the afternoon. It was about a two hour journey from Port au Prince. We were told they were nearly out of food and several of the children had cholera. It was nearly dark when we arrived there, but with the help of our Haitian friends we were able to find this place tucked back on the banks of the river that is now carrying cholera to all of Haiti. The house had been damaged in the earthquake and a Dominican Republic team came in and built a make-shift orphanage out of plywood. I am not sure how it withstood hurricane Tomas, but it was there and full of children.

HCH is a ministry founded by Patricia & Melinda Smith to care for malnourished, premature, and abandoned children in Haiti. Many of these children are special needs children and it was told to me that because of their condition they will sometimes be left along the roadway. At the time of our visit, both of the Smiths were in the U.S. This mother/daughter team had returned to the U.S. so that the pregnant daughter could have her child, but the cholera outbreak was not allowing her to return at this time. Shay Hellmann and another young lady who had arrived in June were directing the ministry and the 30 Haitian workers who care for the children. This was a huge job, and it looked to me like “mission impossible.” But, they were handling it with God’s care and control.

This little fellow pictured is a picture of Haiti to me. You can see him in the walker, so little. Although he looks about six months old, we were told that he is four years old. Being underdeveloped and malnourished must have been an anomaly to the voodoo priest. They decided to worship their God of hate and fear by “passing him over the fire.” I am not sure what that phrase means exactly, but it left him burned and traumatized, and left me very angry. Yet, the heroes at the Haiti Children’s Home love and care for these children, fighting cholera and finding food wherever they can. We left them over 2,000 meals and about 5,000 doses of doxycycline. They are there today still working and caring for those children just because Jesus does. Please pray for them.

Ebenezer Church and Orphanage
Some Urbancrest members who went on the medical mission trip were at Ebenezer church last April. We discovered their church made of straw matting when we were there last February, and at that time they were caring for 23 children. The house they were staying in had only one-side roofed. The pastor, his wife, and their three children lived in the house with all the children sleeping on the floor. We had worked hard to find food for them (remembers ours didn’t arrive until early November). Although every team that went in after us took them food and medicine and we prayed for them a lot, we could not do anything else for them. Resources and food just did not get released. But, God was not counting on us. He had a totally different plan for Ebenezer.

You will see from the pictures that when we arrived almost everything we had dreamed of and prayed for, God had already accomplished there. The sponsor organization, Feed My Sheep, and Tom Sparks and his good church in Jacksonville, Florida had built a brand new church/school. The house has been expanded to house a boy’s dormitory, and a new girl's dormitory is now being built. The children (there are now 45) looked healthy and happy in their new environment. God is always working and caring for His little ones. Continue to pray for Pastor Renauld and his dear wife as they work to provide everyday for these little children.

New Mission Link (Dr. Bernard)

Last August, our team of twenty stayed at the Bethel Guest House. This is also the Haitian headquarters for Brent Gambrell Ministries and is where Urbancrest's mission intern Matt Prichard served last summer. It is the best that Haiti has to offer children. Dr. Bernard is a gracious man and loves the Lord. The Crèche houses 90 children from infants to age six that are all able to be adopted. New Mission Link facilitates the adoptions to the U.S. Over the years, they average about 50 adoptions per year. They also have orphanages for older children. Dr Bernard’s ministry is a credit to the Lord and His love for the children. The Bethel Guest House is a wonderful ministry that is a blessing to see and visit. It was great to get Larry connected with Dr. Bernard.

We visited several other orphanages and ministries during out time in Haiti. Although the conditions at each place vary, there is one thing that is true for all of them: We can’t feed and clothe all those in great need. We can’t fix the government or the culture. But, we can pack food and medical supplies and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to those we touch. The Lord Jesus can fix it and will--in His time, Haiti will glorify God.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reflections of Haiti - Part One

The most recent team from Urbancrest that headed to Haiti was in response to the arrival of the containers of food that had finally been released by the customs officials of Haiti. Urbancrest partnered with Larry Bergeron of A Child’s Hope International to pack Kid’s Against Hunger food that was shipped to Haiti in response to the January 2010 earthquake. Our first shipment left Cincinnati on February 1st and went through Jacksonville, Fl. to Haiti.

Though we were assured that the shipment of nearly 300,000 Kids Against Hunger meals, baby formula, canvas, and many other critical supplies would arrive in Haiti within a few weeks, that one shipment was not released for a long eight and a half months. Though every effort was made at great expense by Mission Harvest and Urbancrest, the government system in Haiti and other events caused this unfortunate situation. In the interim, Larry shipped 4 more containers and three of those had arrived. With these shipments now in country and available, it was time to go distribute this great amount of food and supplies. My personal reason for making the trip was to help in the distribution as well as to also assess the situation and ministries that we support or otherwise partner with. In addition to the food and other supplies, we were able to carry in over 30,000 doses of the antibiotic doxycycline which is greatly needed to fight the cholera epidemic that has now come to Haiti. Much of that was donated by the Warren County Health Department.

This was my third trip to Haiti since the earthquake. The rest of the team included Larry Bergeron of A Child’s Hope International, and Mick & Wanda Lovely who are the directors of Urbancrest Disaster Relief. This was the sixth trip with Urbancrest members involved. We have had 2 of our interns, Matt Prichard and Sarah Bickers, serve in Haiti for 6 to 12 weeks. Urbancrest has had a strong presence in Haiti, with nearly 30 people making the journey to serve the Lord in Haiti over the last 10 months.

Larry arranged for us to lodge at the guest house at Mission Lifeline in Arcahaie, Haiti. Their US headquarters is in Clay City, Kentucky. We were hosted by Donald & Pat Curtis. Pat is a great cook and they both went out of their way to see to our every need.

The Mission Lifeline compound is huge. In addition to two guest houses, there is a church, school, medical clinic, and a very large kitchen where a crew of cooks prepare 3,500 meals every day to feed children who would otherwise go hungry. Mission Lifeline also has several storage facilities that are used to house the food and other supplies. In addition to the meals prepared and distributed to orphanages in the area, they also load dry rice or Kids Against Hunger meals onto mules and distribute the food to orphanages in the mountains. The pictures below are of the Mission Lifeline compound and one of mules bringing food to these orphanages.

Much of our time at Mission Lifeline was spent loading the vehicles of various mission organizations as they came to pick up the food that Larry had allocated to them. Despite the lie that was propagated on Facebook, I really did do manual labor every day! We actually moved a full container load by hand into dump trucks, box trucks, tap taps, and whatever else was brought to haul the food to the ministry locations.

It is my intention to write several more blog posts about Haiti. In the meantime, please continue to keep the Haitian people in your prayers. We have returned home to the United States, but they are still there. This has been a traumatic year for them, as reflected in this Haitian artist's rendering of the earthquake.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Haiti Mission Team Update

We just got back an hour or so ago from Port au Prince. We went to Ebenezer this morning to talk with the pastor there and Richard at Feed My Sheep. We were able to take them more food and find out more about their work and who is helping them. They have a new church and are still seeing buildings go up.

This afternoon we took some supplies to Dr. Bernard's orphanage and I was able to introduce Larry to him. As we were leaving town, I got a text from Diane that told us there were riots going on in downtown Port au Prince. We were able to steer clear of the area and make it back safely. We came pretty close to them, and at one point were following a UN vehicle with soldiers in full riot gear (see picture below). After we got back to the guest house, we learned that at least 2 people were killed. Haiti is becoming unsafe.

We will leave for the airport in the morning at 6:30am and fly out at 9:55am if all goes well. Please pray that we are able to make it to the airport on time, and that there are no delays due to closed roads. We should fly into Cincinnati via Ft. Lauderdale at about 6:30pm.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Haiti Mission Team Update

Today we visited the Ebenezer church and orphanage. There has been a lot of building going on and there are new dormitory rooms and a new church that is being used for a school. They now have 45 orphans. We will take them food on Thursday. After we returned to Lifeline, we waited for ministries to come for their food allotment. Most were late and therefore we loaded the last truck after dark. One young man came seeking food for an orphanage on the west end of the island where the hurricane was the worst. Larry is going to find someone to go and see how they can best be helped. But, while he was here the young man was able to taste the Bread of Life and he prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior!

Tomorrow we have several people coming before 10am for food. After that, we will travel to Port au Prince to visit a couple of sites. Please pray for the timing on all of this. Our time is short here and we have a lot to do. We need things to work smoothly tomorrow, and since this is Haiti, we are asking for a miracle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Haiti Mission Team Update

We are at Lifeline in Archaie. Everyone is doing very well-- tired, of course, but healthy. The weather here is pleasant. They have not had rain since Tomas left. They had 3 days of blinding rain but the tents are still standing. The Curtis' are praising God for the lifesaving suitcases full of doxycycline. Deaths are mounting and water is still dirty for many. Brent Gambrell Ministries just got here with a dump truck and a school bus full of young, healthy bodies to sort and load supplies to go to Dr. Bernard's orphanages.

We will probably go to Ebenezer tomorrow. So far, the plans for the week have not 'hiccupped'...but it's early...and this is Haiti. God is good. His word for today is Isaiah 42:3. Jesus is in control!

Keep praying for our team: Doss, Larry, Mick & Wanda

Friday, November 5, 2010

Salongo! Salongo!

“Salongo! Salongo! Why do you not answer when I call you?”

The young pastor calling me was smiling as he touched my elbow to gain my attention. It was the second morning that our Urbancrest team was ministering on Buvuma Island in Uganda. Charles Fry and I were teaching at the Buvuma Island Pastor Training School that George Smith had founded. The day before, the pastors had given me an African name, Salongo. I was not quite familiar with it yet. According to the pastors, the name meant “twins” because I brought teams to them and, as they explained, it meant double blessing or “double trouble.”

Well, it was true that I brought volunteer mission teams. This was my fourteenth team to Uganda and there were fourteen of us currently on Buvuma Island. Eight of the fourteen were returning for their fourth, fifth, or sixth year. Three were remaining in Uganda to work for an additional two months.

Buvuma Island is a chain of islands on Lake Victoria. It is remote and primitive. There are no roads, no electricity, and no resort hotels. It is estimated that 50,000 souls live there tucked away from the rest of the world and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our IMB missionaries George & Geraldine Smith are doing an awesome work there and have planted over twenty churches and started 5 schools.

Our teams go there to teach pastors and layman. We also teach women and children and help school teachers develop their abilities. Most of our volunteers are just everyday folks that sit in a pew on Sunday and go to the Sunday school class. But, they are following Jesus and He has given them a great passion to bring glory to His name.

Our purpose at Urbancrest is just that: to bring glory and honor to the name of Jesus and to make His name famous. For that reason, we send mission teams numerous places around the globe each year. Every year Urbancrest carries that name from Lebanon to Haiti, Argentina, Africa, and many places in between. There is a place for everyone to serve. You can go! When you go, God WILL use you to glorify His name.

In 2011, we have more than 15 trips planned. See the list below and begin now to pray. Begin the process of getting your passport if you do not have one already. Information meetings will be announced very soon. Some trips are starting to train now. Both Israel and Cuba are now forming and need you to go.

“If God desires every knee to bow to Jesus and every tongue to confess him, so should we. We should be ‘jealous’ (as Scripture sometimes puts it) for the honour of his name — troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed, and all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which are due to it. The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God) but rather zeal — burning and passionate zeal – for the glory of Jesus Christ. … Before this supreme goal of the Christian mission, all unworthy motives wither and die.” --John Stott

Urbancrest Baptist Church Mission Trips 2011
Cuba ~ February 19-26, Team Leader: Doss Estep
Israel ~ February 12-26, Team Leaders: Mike & Darlys Bullock
Haiti ~ March TBD, Team Leader: Mick Lovely
Hawaii ~ March 24 - April 1, Team Leader: Shawn Peoples
Haiti ~ April TBD, Team Leader: Wanda Lovely
Appalachia ~ June TBD, Team Leader: TBD
Key West, Florida ~ June 2-9, Team Leader: Dave Bickers
Uganda ~ June 29 - July 16, Team Leaders: Doss Estep & Diane Lynch
Ukraine ~ July 10-17, Team Leader: Bob Grimshaw
Eastern Kentucky ~ July TBD, Team Leaders: Paul & Janet Boroff
Argentina ~ August TBD, Team Leader: TBD
Summer IMPACT West Central Association ~ July TBD, Team Leader: TBD
Haiti ~ August TBD, Team Leaders: Jeff & Deanne Clem
Uruguay ~ November TBD, Team Leader: David Coppedge

For more information please contact Doss Estep at 513.932.4405 or by email at

You-Turn Mission Trips with Joe Veal 2011
Malawi, Africa ~ February 1-15, April 25 to May 9, July 18 to August 1, August 2-16, August 8-22, October 31 to November 14

Haiti ~ June 24-30

Dominican Republic ~ December 2-9

For more information about You-Turn trips, please contact Joe Veal at

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mark Your Calendars

Upcoming Urbancrest Mission Events:

November 1-December 31 ~ Receiving the Combined Mission Offering

November 3-4 ~ State Convention of Baptists in Ohio Annual Meeting

November 7 ~ Key West Mission Team Report, 6:00pm in Room 203

November 7-14 ~ Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Drive

November 14 ~ Bogan Family Uganda Update, 6:00pm in Room 203

November 14-19 ~ Haiti Mission Project (Please be in prayer for the team!)

November 12 -13 ~ Disaster Relief Volunteer Training

November 13-14 ~ Meet Visiting Uganda Missionaries Anthony & Misty Shelton

November 21 ~ Meet Visiting Missionaries Gary & Sis Tufts

November 28 ~ Appalachia Mission Team Report, 6:00pm in Room 203

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ministry Update from Sarah Bickers ~ Urbancrest Intern Serving in Haiti

Urbancrest currently has 17 interns exploring the call of God on their lives to vocational cross-cultural mission ministry. One step in completing their intern project is to spend a summer (6-10 weeks) on the mission field either nationally or internationally in a cross-cultural setting. This is the first year we have implemented this program, and we had eight interns on the international mission field in four different countries. In the next few blog posts, I will introduce you to the interns and post their final reports.

The first report comes from Sarah Bickers, the daughter of David and Ginny Bickers. She has been serving in Haiti for the past five weeks with the Florida Baptist Convention. This is her last in-country report as she will be returning home next week:

"I have officially celebrated my first Haitian birthday here! We went to the Baptist Mission for my birthday and it was so chilly up in the mountains, but refreshing. We toured Ft. Jacques which was a fort built to protect the ports. It's so far away and high in the mountains, I wondered how a cannon ball could shoot that far, but maybe they aim it straight up and it slowly falls into the ocean! They had "American" food at the mission and it was nice to enjoy some chicken nuggets and fries.

I've been ministering to a few families that live in our office parking lot in tents. First, I was able to give them Buckets of Hope and I remember one little boy who received one for his family. His face stuck with me and I noticed him starting to hang around the parking lot more and more when we arrived in the mornings. I tried to bring him little toys, crayons, etc. every now and then. I found out his name was Samuel. He starting bringing his brother named Dolfne (sounds like Dulfnee) as well. Then another boy named Anderson would wander over. They joined us each morning for our singing and devotions that we did in the parking lot under the trees. I asked them one morning if they knew that Jesus loved them so much that He wanted to die for them. Samuel said, "Yes, He must love me for some reason because I didn't die in the earthquake. He must want to keep me for some reason." It about broke my heart, but at least he understands the love of God and I'm pretty sure all three boys had either accepted Christ, or at least were consistently hearing it from their parents because they knew all of our worship songs. I asked them if there was one thing that they really wanted to receive and at first they said a soccer ball, but then decided they needed backpacks for school, as well as pencils. So, I made some calls to a staff member who was coming down in a week and asked for some deflated soccer balls. With the help another staff member, we were able to buy all three boys new backpacks, pencils, and new soccer balls. They were so excited!

Please pray for the staff that will fill in behind me to minister to these parking lot families. God has put them right at our feet for a reason! Also pray for Dolfne because he hasn't been around the past few days and when I asked where he was, Samuel said, "He doesn't come here anymore." I'm not sure what that means, but pray for him wherever he is! I've attached a picture of me with these boys so you can see their faces for yourself. Samuel is the one with the hat on and Anderson is the taller boy."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Urbancrest Local Missions Blog Launch

The missions ministry mandate at Urbancrest Baptist Church is based on Matthew 28:19-20: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The strategy that we use to carry out that mandate is found in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The purpose of our ministry is to do just that! The strategy given in Acts 1:8 requires us to take His good news to everyone locally in Lebanon (our Jerusalem), regionally in Ohio (our Judea), in the United States (our Samaria), and to the ends of the earth.

We work and give to that very end. The Urbancrest Missions blog page is dedicated to keeping you informed of the many ministries and people that are involved in Urbancrest missions regionally, nationally, and to the ends of the earth. However, our local ministry is very multi-faceted and has a lot of activity throughout the year. For that reason, we have created a separate blog page that our Local Mission Strategist, Mike Wright, can use to bring you local mission news. You can read his first report at and you can sign up to receive his blog updates either by entering your email address on his blog homepage or by sending an email to with "subscribe" in the subject line.

While this blog will keep you informed about Urbancrest ministries around the world, the Urbancrest Local Missions blog will give you a birds-eye-view of the work our church family is busy doing throughout Lebanon. Please subscribe to his blog and you will receive his updates via email!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ministry Update from Jeff & Deanne Clem ~ Urbancrest Haiti Mission Team

On August 7th our team left the Columbus airport, a little anxious, but excited to see all that God had in store. When we returned on August 14th, each of us knew that we would be forever changed. God had far exceeded “all that we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).

The people of Haiti are hopeless and full of fear. They are hungry and sick and many are still living in the rubble that remains after the devastating earthquake. They are desperate. As believers, we know that Jesus is the answer to each of their problems and that He alone can bring hope and healing to their lives. As the body of Christ, we can supply them with food and medicine to meet their desperate physical needs and we can reveal to them the Creator who loves them and wants to restore them to Himself.

At the beginning of our week, we had the privilege of worshiping with Haitian believers who know that Christ is their firm foundation. We held a two day VBS for their mountain village of Kenscoff. Two hundred children participated in Bible stories, crafts, and games. Sixty of those children found new hope in Jesus and placed their faith in Him. The pastor of the church was ready and excited to begin follow up with those children and their families. Each of those 200 children went home with enough rice to feed their families for a week and with the knowledge that there is a Savior who loves them and can meet their every need.

Of the many buildings destroyed by the earthquake, one was an orphanage housing children from birth to 6 years. In Creole, the name for this baby orphanage is “crèche”. After the earthquake, these babies were moved to a part of the guest house where we were staying. We had the privilege of holding, caring for, and playing with these precious children every day as we finished up other ministries. We definitely found new meaning in James 1:27.

One of the most life-changing experiences of our trip was our day of prayer walking, evangelism, and medical clinics in the tiny desert village of Kaness. These people walk 1 ½ hours each day to collect water and their homes are nothing more that sticks and mud. They have no well, no school for their children, and no formal church in which to worship. In spite of all this, they have a deep faith in our Savior. Our team was humbled as we watched our brothers and sisters in Christ literally kneel down in the dirt as we prayed over their homes and families.

Our 4 amazing nurses went from hut to hut assessing medical needs and caring for the sick. During one visit, a team was able to see one man change his life forever as he placed his life in the hands of Jesus. After our prayer walking, we set up a medical clinic under the only tree in the village and patients were given vitamins and treatments for worms and other ailments. After their treatment, other team members would take them aside for a time of prayer. Thanks to your generous donations, we were also able to assemble “family bags” that were given as a gift at each home that we visited. The bags contained Kids Against Hunger rice packets and other food, clothes, shoes, and baby items. Each family also left that day with a 55# bag of rice that would feed them for more than two weeks.

It was our privilege to partner with Brent Gambrell Ministries during our week in Haiti. Brent and our entire team could daily feel the power of prayer. We cannot thank our church family enough for all of your encouragement and for the prayers that were lifted up on our behalf. Please continue to pray for Brent Gambrell and the ministry that he has with the people of Haiti. Pray for God’s continued guidance as he builds relationships with pastors, believers, and those waiting to hear about our amazing Savior.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ministry Update from Leah Busick ~ Urbancrest Argentina Mission Team

Our trip to Argentina this summer was a very different experience from years past. Our team of five ladies, including 3 teens, joined two Urbancrest interns who were already in Argentina. We joined with two missionary couples and two interpreters in the city of Salta, in the province of Salta, Argentina. We had the opportunity to work with a local Salta church in many different ministries. From the Thursday evening we arrived through Sunday night we worked in two "Happy Hours" (which are weekly children's Bible studies much like VBS), ministered in a local school teaching English and the love of Jesus, visited patients in the local hospital, attended a large youth event involving four churches, and shared our lives and testimonies with the church at teas, Sunday Schools, small groups, and during their main service.

Monday our team moved to a town outside of the main capital of Salta which was a bit smaller than the city of Lebanon. When we arrived, we went directly to the local high school where we met Juan Jose, a teacher there and also the elder of the local church. We found out that recently this city has been plagued with sadness because of a rash of suicides and suicide attempts among young people. They do not know the extent of this sad epidemic, but it has been as bad as 15 attempts in one day. Needless to say, this was a dark place in need of the hope that only Christ can bring. The Lord opened so many doors for us to share. We were primarily in the public high school, but we also visited the elementary school and spent one afternoon in a private high school. Each classroom was different. Sometimes we started with an English lesson, but sometimes we just started with our testimonies and lead straight to the Gospel. Not once were we stopped in these schools; not one student was disrespectful to the message we were offering. In fact, quite the opposite; many students ASKED how we could live with such hope and joy. We can only attribute that to the Lord and His work in the lives and hearts there. It was an amazing experience where God just let us be a part of and see what He can do. We spoke to over 600 students in this town where hope and peace were planted in a people that are calling out for it.


In all, our team got to witness 79 souls changed forever as they gave their hearts to the Lord. We ask for prayer for these people as they start their new lives in Christ--for discipleship and growth and protection. Please pray for the missionaries we worked with in Argentina: Will & Alejandra Herndon, Chema and Analia. Please pray for a young man we worked with in Salta. Raul is only 18 years old but had a massive stroke after we left the city. Last we heard he is in a coma and his situation is very serious. He is a core worker for the church. Please pray for his recovery.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! Without prayer and the Lord's guidance we would all be hopeless!

Ministry Update from Doss Estep ~ Urbancrest Uganda Mission Team

Fourteen team members were in Uganda for two and a half weeks from June 23-July 9, 2010. This team began their ministry with IMB missionaries George and Geraldine Smith on Bavuma Island. Leadership training was taught at the Pastor’s Training School by Charles Fry and Doss Estep, while basic foundational training was taught to other pastors and laymen by Ron Whitmer, Eric Norman, Cliff Glenn, and Andrew Mendez. Women’s conferences were held in two different locations on the Island by Diane Lynch, Linda Estep, Darlene Whitmer, and Kayla Kresslein. Jeri Cook, Cliff Glenn, Kayla Kresslein, Andrew Mendez, Ed Mendez and Samantha Smith taught in the Island schools while Darlene Whitmer and Heidi Mendez conducted a 3-day teacher’s conference.

The team ministered in a children’s hospital and also with Pastor Alfred Adundo of MCOP in the Jinja slum Masese. Ed and Heidi Mendez and Eric Norman conducted a medical clinic while the rest of the team taught Bible studies to children and adults. They also taught both men and women in the prisons of Jinja, seeing many come to Christ.

After the ministry in Jinja, the team then moved to Masindi in northern Uganda where they conducted Bible conferences once again on Canaan Farm with Susan and Richard Angoma of Family Empowerment Uganda.

355 souls came to Christ in Uganda as a result of your prayers and offerings and the obedience of these who went to share the Good news of Jesus Christ.

Ministry Update from Dave Bickers ~ Urbancrest Key West Mission Trip

Twelve Urbancrest members traveled to Key West, FL to assist our ministry partner Pastor Bill Welzien and Keys Evangelistic Ministries in the 34th Annual Swim Around Key West. Over 100 swimmers from around the country participated in this event. The Urbancrest team assisted in administrative tasks, assembled goodie bags with gospel materials and served the guest swimmers in other practical ways. We also participated in Sunday worship services, prayer walks, and two nights of open air evangelism. Team members were able to share personal testimonies and give witness to Christ to many tourists and locals during this week.

Friday, September 3, 2010

News from Missionaries ~ New Zealand Earthquake

You have probably heard of the recent earthquake in New Zealand. I have had email contact with our missionaries that are living in the area. Jamie & Sandra Thompson currently live in Auckland and Erik & Michele Stapleton live in Vanuatu but are on furlough in Chicago for several months. They are all fine. I have posted their comments below.

Hey Doss,
Thanks for your concern. The earthquake was located on the south island and we are on the north island. We have never felt an earthquake in Auckland. Thankfully no one was killed. God bless and we are thankful for our church family!
In Him,
Jamie Thompson

The earthquake damaged the office some. It was felt all over Vanuatu. We assume our house in the village is fine but don't know since we are stateside. If anything, it would have cracked the concrete foundation but not much else. Thanks for asking!
Erik Stapleton

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A New Way to Communicate

Welcome to the first post of the Urbancrest Mission blog. It is with some trepidation that I enter into the blogosphere. My fear is not that there is not much to talk about in the scope of the Mission Ministry of Urbancrest Baptist Church, or the subject of missions as a whole. Rather, I fear being able or having the time to cover everything that God is doing in His Kingdom through Urbancrest, throughout the world, and locally.

My desire is to keep everyone interested and up-to-date on the work and ministry that God is doing through His children that call Urbancrest home. In this blog, I will post updates from mission teams that are Urbancrest-sponsored. I will inform you of future events that you may want to attend. I also intend to use this blog as a forum to publish any important news that affects the work and ministry of the Kingdom of God and the ministry of Urbancrest Baptist Church. Occasionally I have an idea that I need to air out or just something the Lord has given me that He wants me to share with you.

I am not sure where it all will lead, but I will need your comments to help me stay focused and on course. We will learn together, and as much as possible I will try to make it fun.