Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mark Your Calendars!

January:
January 5 – Faith Promise Fund Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

January 8 – Uganda Mission Project Information Meeting @ 12:30pm in Room 207

January 14 – Gracia Burnham Women’s Conference @ 2:00pm at Camp Chautauqua in Miamisburg

January 15 – Guest Speaker Gracia Burnham @ 6:00pm Urbancrest evening service    

January 22 – Hawaii Mission Project Information Meeting @ 12:30pm in Room 207

January 29 – GIC Team Leaders Meeting @ 12:30pm in the Gym

January 29 – Mission Staff Meeting @ 5:00-7:00pm in Room 206

February:
February 2 – Faith Promise Fund Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

February 4 – Short-term Mission Team Leader Training @ 8:30am – 3:00pm in Room 203/204
 This training is required for UBC members that are current short-term mission trip team leaders and  also for invited guests that would like to be eligible to lead a UBC mission team in 2012. If you are interested in becoming a short-term mission team leader, please contact Doss Estep at destep@urbancrest.org prior to the training.
March:
March 8 – Faith Promise Fund Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

March 14-18 – Global Impact Celebration
 Over 40 missionaries from all over the world will join us to share their ministries and stories. Plan now to attend every event!
     Theme: “His heart, His hands, His voice” from 1 Corinthians 12:27
     Speakers:
  • Aaron Coe, NAMB Vice President of Mobilization
  • Dr. Steve Davis, NAMB Vice President – Midwest Region
  • Dr. Patrick Melancon, Baptist Global Response Disaster Management Specialist
  • Dr. Henry Clary, International Mission Board Church Planter 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stapleton Prayer Update ~ December 26

Merry Christmas! Erik and I flew back to Vanuatu on Christmas Eve and spent a nice Christmas yesterday with the family. Other Wycliffe members had decorated our house for Christmas and even put food items in the kitchen so we wouldn’t have to run out on Christmas Eve to shop. My finger is much better now, though I still have a few antibiotics to finish off and physio exercises to limber up the finger. We really appreciate all the prayers on our behalf.

One added benefit of being in New Zealand was being able to go shopping and get some much needed items which aren’t available in Vanuatu. Thus, we came back on the plane with 4 new ATV wheels!! Unusual luggage to say the least! Erik will be flying back to Tanna tomorrow for just a few days. In our haste to leave the village for my finger, some items were left there which we need. Also, Erik was given new parts for our satellite dish while in NZ so he will go back and see if he can fix the VSAT so that we will have internet access again in the village.

We plan to stay in the capital city this month in order to print items in Nafe language. The last week of January we will have a consultant check of John and 1 John. We would appreciate prayer for that.

Blessings,
Michele Stapleton and family

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stapleton Medical Update

We praise the Lord for the improvement in Michele Stapleton's hand. Please continue to pray until we see her hand completely restored!

Good news! The doctor just came by and released me from the hospital—with the condition that I hang around NZ for 2 more days just to make sure it doesn’t turn worse (as they’ve sometimes seen happen). The swelling is completely gone and the finger is all fleshy pink again—albeit pus is still coming out, but it is remarkably better. They also are still waiting on the results of lab work they’ve done and that should be ready within 48 hours as well. I still can’t bend the finger but can move it up and down and the feeling/movement should come back. I have been given physiotherapy exercises to do for it. I’ll begin oral antibiotics now (versus IV) and start soaking the finger in saltwater 3/x day as ordered.

Thus, we’ll head to a friend's house to stay, and then Erik can pursue the flight back to Vanuatu after the 22nd. 

Michele Stapleton

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stapleton Prayer Update


Since the last update from the Stapleton’s, Erik and Michele were denied a visa from Australia because they had not had a tuberculosis test. However, with the help of the New Zealand High Commission, they were able to get the papers needed to go to New Zealand. The children are in the capital city and being cared for by missionary friends. Please continue to pray for Erik, Michele, and their children as they seek the medical attention for Michele’s hand. 

It is Sunday here in New Zealand and the plastic surgeon just came by to check my hand and take me to surgery. He informed me that my case will be handled in stages. Stage 1 will consist of going in and cleaning out the infection. Samples will be sent to the lab to see if they can discover the root cause of all this! Stage 2 will be 24-48 hours later when they will close up the wound if possible (may require a skin graft) or else go back in and clean out even more ‘gunk’ and leave it open another 24-48 hours. The doctor does not think I will be back in Vanuatu by Christmas, though. Middlemoore Hospital is known for their hand surgery unit, so we are confident I am getting good care and the antibiotics are definitely helping. The sitting-around-waiting stage is by far the hardest thing for me at this point, not to mention having to wear those LOVELY hospital gowns!

Thank you for your prayers!
Michele Stapleton

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stapleton Medical Emergency


Erik and Michele Stapleton are Urbancrest mission partners serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. Wednesday of this week, we received a plea from Erik requesting prayer for Michele. She has an infection in her arm which they perceive to be very dangerous in the tropical climate. Today we received the following email updating us of her situation. Please pray for Michele, Erik, and their children.  

Hello! We had fully planned having David’s 11th birthday (Sunday) and Christmas in our village, but plans have changed suddenly. After having lived for several years in a tropical environment, we have seen how quickly infections can go septic. Last Friday, a small red sore developed on Michele’s right hand index finger. She ended up in the Tanna hospital and then went by plane yesterday to the capital city to the hospital there. The surgeon took one look and said, “You must go abroad if you want to save your hand.” Thus, today, we are working on acquiring a medical visa for Australia and if it comes through, we will fly there this afternoon. If not, on Saturday, we can fly to New Zealand. Already, the strong drugs they are giving Michele via IV are helping with the swelling, which is a relief. The surgeon is not sure how much tendon damage (if any) there is, but at this point she cannot move that finger. It appears that it is a case of cellulitis gone gangrenous. Please pray for our family at this time through all the unknowns. The children will remain in the capital city (right now they are still on Tanna but will fly in today alone) and live with various SIL families until we return.

Erik & Michele Stapleton

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Combined Missions Offering 2011

Last month we kicked off our two month emphasis for our UBC Combined Missions Offering. At Urbancrest, we have two major missions offerings that we use to support missionaries. The first is the Faith Promise Offering. Urbancrest emphasizes this offering at our Global Impact Celebration each spring. With it we support over 50 missionaries directly, sending teams and supporting many projects. You will hear much more about the Faith Promise Offering as March approaches.

The Combined Missions Offering is the way Urbancrest supports the missions of the Southern Baptist Convention. Ten percent of this offering is designated for World Hunger, which is a huge need globally during these tough economic times. Much of this food aid is administered by Baptist Global Response. Another ten percent is designated to missions ministry in Ohio. This includes Disaster Relief and the ministries at the Seneca Lake Assembly.

Forty percent of the Combined Missions Offering is designated to the North American Mission Board, which is assigned the task of reaching North America, our home. There are over 5,500 missionaries serving throughout the 50 states, Canada, and the U.S. territories that benefit from this part of our offering. These funds support church planting efforts like those sponsored by Urbancrest: Living Word Bible Church, Grace Community in Hawaii, Urban Hills in Cincinnati, and even the Hispanic ministry we will begin in early 2012.

George & Geraldine Smith,
IMB Missionaries
The final forty percent is designated to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. This offering will go to support over 5,000 international missionaries serving all over the world. Right now there are over 130 missionaries who are waiting for the International Mission Board to have sufficient funds to send them where the Lord has called them to serve. The funds, with the downturn in the value of the dollar, have just not been available. People are ready to go into all the world, and it is our calling to be faithful to send them.

Our goal this year is $52,000. To reach this will require all of us to give sacrificially to this enterprise that the Lord Jesus has assigned us to. During this holiday season that leads up to the celebration of the birthday of our Savior, I hope you will join Linda and me as we give our best gift to Lord. After all, we are celebrating His birthday, and the salvation of souls was the reason He was born! Join me, as we pray and give to reach this $52,000.00 goal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's a "GCP Mission Intern"? by Bonnie Hailey

Intern – a student, etc. doing supervised temporary work in a field to gain experience (Webster’s Dictionary). 

GCP – Global Connection Process – the training program used at Urbancrest to prepare and equip individuals and family members who believe God is calling them to cross-cultural missions.


 
In September, UBC began another two-year program to train Mission Interns with the end goal of certifying nine Interns and launching them out to reach the nations (this could include our own nation)!  This will be the second class of Mission Interns being sent from our church as missionaries to serve along-side our strategic partners throughout the world and in the USA. Ron & Darlene Whitmer,  Aaron & Dana Bogan, and Matt Prichard are examples of those who prepared in the Mission Intern Class of 2010-2011 and are currently serving cross-culturally!

 This is the natural ‘next-step’ of a strong missional church. It reproduces! Believers who participate in local, state, and foreign missions grow in their understanding of God’s call “to go make disciples of all the nations” and therefore seek training so that they will be equipped to obey His call. The UBC missions ministry met that demand with GCPN Panorama Curriculum that originated from FBC Arlington, TX.


 Our Mission Intern class of 2011-2012 and group facilitators can be seen in the above photo. The facilitators are leadership personnel within UBC missions ministry who have been trained as instructors to facilitate the GCP Mission Intern classes and fill in as substitute facilitators and co-leaders.

 Our Interns have had many opportunities to use what they have learned. This is not only encouraged, it is expected and a part of their training. The photo below is of the Otto family working in Judgement House. They served in the Heaven scene and also as spiritual counselors.

 As a Kingdom-minded church, we are not only considering our own members but sharing and resourcing local sister churches, church planters, and other “Kingdom-builders” who express a desire to learn about preparing for cross-cultural missions.  To that end, UBC hosted a two-day facilitator training for GCPN (out of First Baptist Arlington, TX) on November 4 & 5. This was a seminary-level facilitator training for some of our mission leadership as well as other churches in surrounding states and church planters.

"Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

 Pray for the Urbancrest missions ministry as we plant seeds through discipling our members, church planters, sister churches, and the nations.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vail, Arizona Update – A Life Saved!

The Vail, AZ mission team was used in a very amazing way this morning! As the team arrived to serve at a neighborhood block party, a man from the community collapsed. He was turning blue and unconscious. Anna Seibert, who is a trained medical professional, took control of the situation and kept the man alive for 15 minutes while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. It seems the ambulance was held up in traffic. This man would not have survived without Anna today.

It may not be obvious why God would lead you to serve on a mission team or in other service for the Kingdom. You will never know unless you obediently go. God arranged this trip and called Anna to go, “for such a time as this.” With his wife and son looking on, Anna saved his life and touched the lives of all present with the love of God. Now Grace Fellowship Church has an open door into many more lives. We give thanks for those on this team and ask for your continued prayers for Paul & Janet Boroff, Darlys Bullock, Anna Seibert and Beth Irons. Thanks you God, for using Anna today. Please save souls as you save lives and use this team for Your glory.

"I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it." ~ Isaiah 46:9-11

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Church of the Condemned

For many years, Urbancrest has been involved in ministry with George & Geraldine Smith through church planting and education efforts on Bavuma Island, Uganda. In addition to the ministry on Bavuma, George has been very involved in prison ministry in Jinja. Each time Urbancrest sends a team to Jina, we know that a few team members will go to the prison to preach and pray. Ron & Darlene Whitmer, Urbancrest members who have moved to Uganda to support the work of George & Geraldine, are also very involved in the prison ministry. While in Uganda this month, I went with George & Ron to the men’s prison. My wife Linda went with Darlene & Geraldine to the women’s prison. We brought with us many copies of the Challenge Good Newspaper, which both the prisoners and the guards love to read.

The prisons in Uganda are very different than those in the U.S. Those accused of a crime in Uganda are thrown into a prison designated for that crime until a trial can be held where they can have the opportunity to prove their innocence. In other words, they are guilty until proven innocent. Those accused of murder (or a crime of similar severity) are held in the death row prison until the trial. It could be many years before the trial is actually held. If they are found guilty, punishment is swift. Once condemned, they are held on the second floor of the prison out of contact with the other prisoners for the remainder of their natural life. This is actually an improvement over a previous law which required those found guilty to be immediately hanged.

The prison building itself is also vastly different than prisons in the U.S. The prison we visit is a 3 story row of cells built in an oval shape. In the center is a courtyard where most of the prisoners live during the daylight hours. At night they are returned to 10 x 12” cells where as many as 10 to 12 men are together in one room. There is no air conditioning, color TV, exercise equipment, or library. The prisoners must fix their own Ugandan meal of posho and eat as a group sitting on the ground.

The prisoners we worked with are the “condemned” who live on the second floor. We entered the prison, and after being questioned by guards we were allowed to go upstairs. The guard opened the gate and we walked in. The gate closed. The hallway was dark. It was at that moment that I understood hopelessness. Life was reduced to its most basic essence. The most valuable possession there was a bar of soap. With the prisoners standing all around, it occured to me that these men had been found guilty of serious crimes! I looked for Ron & George, intending to stay close to them.

As we are made our way down the dark hallway, some of the men rushed toward us. Thankfully, it was not to cause harm! They had been expecting us, praying we would come, and grateful that we had not forgotten. George then introduced me to Zep. Zep is a young man less than 30 years old who was saved in that very prison. He is the leader of the “Church of the Condemned.” This sounds very strange doesn’t it? That is not a name we would choose for a church in the U.S., but it is the reality in that prison. Zep leads a church of born-again believers on death row in a Ugandan prison. George & Ron are his mentors. As we gathered, they prayed and sang wonderful songs of worship. Zep and two other men gave their testimonies. Ron & George both brought a short greeting. I was given the privilege of preaching the wonderful words of life and hope to these men who live in a hopeless place. The 18 men who were there were a testimony of God’s grace and forgiveness. I was so humbled to be in their presence. These men live in total dependence on Christ alone.

Now that I have returned home to the U.S., I think about those men that are members of the “Church of the Condemned” and realize that I am one of them. In a sense, we are all members who have been condemned by our own sin. But, praise God that we are also the “Church of the Redeemed,” and so are these men. Our salvation is not of ourselves, but in Christ and His blood that was shed on the cross. It is available to all who believe and repent, calling on His name for salvation. Those prisoners are our brothers, forgiven and purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross!

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” ~ Romans 8:1

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Uganda Trip Travel Update


Dear Prayer Team,

 Wednesday we said goodbye to the Whitmers and Bogans after going with them to pick up a couple of very important items. For the Whitmers, it was a washing machine. They have just moved into their permanent residence and had to purchase the machine to be able to do laundry. The only other alternative is to pay someone to wash your laundry by hand. While this seems like it would be a good, viable solution, it is extremely hard on the clothing which would need to be replaced often.

We then rode with the Bogans to pick up their “new” vehicle. It is a 1996 Toyota Hiace van. It had to be prepared for Uganda by getting heavy duty shocks, struts, and tires, as well as several other upgrades. It was great to see them head off to their home in Jina for the first time in their van.

 As you are coming to the end of your day, Linda and I are in the middle of what I have come to call “the longest day.” Our day started at 6:00am Ugandan time. That is 7 hours ahead of you on EDT.

 Our flight leaves tonight at 11:30pm which is about 4:30pm your time. We gain an hour as we arrive in Amsterdam at 6:45am. This is one of those connections where we really need your prayers. Our flight to Detroit leaves at 8:00am, which is only one hour and 15 minutes after we arrive. Pray that everything happens on time with this flight. If we stay on schedule, we will arrive in Dayton at 1:11pm on Friday, which will be approximately 37 hours since our day began Thursday morning in Uganda. If anything happens to delay us, this time can stretch into 2 full days fairly easily. Therefore, please pray for safe planes that leave on time with alert crews and all our bags!

  It has been very productive to be able to visit our two Urbancrest families in Uganda. We were able to hear their struggles and bring the love and resources of Urbancrest to them. They have each shared with me that our visit has been such an encouragement to them, and that it came at the perfect time in their deployment. Thank you for allowing me the honor of visiting our servants on the field. I know souls will be in Heaven because of your faithful giving to our church and to the Faith Promise Fund.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Urbancrest is in Uganda

If it is normal for the church to be a point of departure to missions and ministry (and it is, see my previous blogs: The New Normal Part 1 & 2) then it is also the responsibility of the church to care for and encourage those they send as extensions of the ministry of the church. As the Bogan family and Ron & Darlene Whitmer were moving and adjusting to their new life and ministry in Uganda, it was a great privilege for me to be able to go visit them.

Linda and I arrived in Uganda on October 14, 2011. Our first days were spent with Aaron & Dana Bogan and their four children Nicholas, Dylan, Marie, and Joey. It is amazing to see how quickly they have adapted to missionary life in Uganda. Aaron has begun his teaching duties at the Uganda Baptist Seminary. He is teaching a course in Old Testament Survey to two different classes each day. He is up every morning at 5:30am and in the classroom by 6:30am. His day usually ends around 4:00pm. Of course, he then has to prepare his lessons to teach the next day. This is his schedule Monday through Saturday, and he has Sunday off. It sounds pretty grueling, but when Aaron talks about his work it is with joy and excitement. You can easily tell it is his passion, and passion is never work.

Dana is home schooling the children and has already found every resource available for that in Jinja. There is even a store that sells the chemistry supplies that keep Nicholas and Dylan busy with schoolwork. Marie and Joey are the happy, outgoing children they have always been. It is a blessing to see this called and obedient family interacting with their new environment in such positive way. Contentment is a promise of God for those committed to follow His plan for their lives.

God has blessed them with a beautiful home that their IMB missionary partners found and made ready for them. It is much more that they expected, and at much less cost than believable even for Uganda. Their lives here have already touched the Ugandan neighbors near them as well as those working with them.

The Whitmers were out of the country for a short time the first days of our visit. Ron & Darlene Whitmer returned to Uganda on Tuesday from Thailand. Caren, their daughter-in-law, went to Thailand on a medical mission with Caring Partners from Franklin, Ohio. Darlene’s brother lives in Thailand and they had all met up for a small family reunion. In Uganda since June, the Whitmers have been busy hosting mission teams on Bavuma Island, strengthening the work that is being done in the schools, and ministering in the prisons.
Settling in has been a bit slower for them. They just this week moved into their apartment. Up to now they have been staying in a guest house. Aside from the inconvenience of not having a place to unpack, they too are adjusting very well. Since they spent much of their summer on the island, they were too busy to notice.

Urbancrest is in Jinja, Uganda. That seems unfathomable to me, but it is true. Whatever God calls these missionaries to do, He calls Urbancrest to do. They are obedient. We must be obedient as their resource. They are His instruments of the gospel, and we hold the ropes. May God help us to be obedient to pray for them, to encourage them, and to resource their needs and the needs of their ministries.   

Monday, October 10, 2011

The New Normal ~ Part 2

At his commissioning service, Aaron Bogan stated, “Take a look at us. This is normal for followers of Jesus. We are to follow Him wherever He sends us.” The “new normal” for sending those called to missions or ministry is not really a new occurrence in the Church. Historically we have always had those people who would leave their churches to follow wherever God would lead them. Yet, in our churches today we seem content to remain stationary rather than be sent. Eric Mock said, "Somehow the church has become a point of destination [rather] than a point of departure." Departure is normal. Our Christian service can never be about location (living and serving where we want), but rather about obedience (living and being God’s instrument wherever He chooses).

The "new normal" doesn’t come easy. It is a process the church must embrace. It takes time, but it is worth the investment. Urbancrest began the process many years ago and has sent many families into the ministry both regionally and overseas. Ironically, just two weeks before we commissioned Aaron & Dana Bogan to leave for Uganda, we had a reception for Charles & Bonnie Hailey to welcome them home from the Ukraine.
 

Charles and Bonnie originally left for two years of service with the IMB, but ended up remaining there almost nine years. Prior to moving to Ukraine, they had been in ministry most of their lives. Charles served as a worship leader and Bonnie worked with both youth and women’s ministry. Just when Charles was looking forward to retirement, Bonnie received an invitation from the Lord to join His work in Ukraine ministering to teachers and teaching them to instruct with a Biblical worldview. She founded Hope in Education that today is led by Ukrainians. Charles’ response to Bonnie’s call was, “I will carry your bags wherever the Lord sends us!” For those nine years, God used Bonnie to help transform the old Soviet system one teacher at a time. God used Charles’ giftedness in the administration office as he arranged the travel and housing logistics for missionaries so that they were free to engage in the ministry God called them to. Charles & Bonnie pioneered the way, showing us that it is normal for the Christian to follow closely the call of God. The full impact of their ministry and witness will not be known until we all stand before Christ. Even after returning home from the Ukraine, Charles & Bonnie continue to serve the Lord in new ministry assignments. Bonnie is now the Director of Mission Education at Urbancrest. Charles will serve the spiritual needs of folks coming to the Resource Center as well as help with any travel logistics in our missions ministry. Well done, Charles & Bonnie!  

In the past two years, our church leadership has become very serious about helping church members who are sensing a call to mission service explore that call through our Mission Intern program. Our first group of interns completed their preparation in June of this year. Shortly after completing their training, Ron & Darlene Whitmer departed for their ministry assignment on June 21, 2011. They have been members of Urbancrest for over 16 years and always envisioned themselves enjoying a relaxing retirement, traveling the country in an RV and riding their motorcycle. But, God had other plans for them!

 

Darlene was born to missionary parents in Laos and has always been an avid supporter of all things missional. The Whitmers began serving in the missionary hospitality room during our Global Impact Celebration where they became friends with many missionaries. Then, their plans began to change following a motorcycle accident and Ron’s position at DHL being downsized due to the economic downturn. This free time allowed him to begin serving at the Urbancrest Resource Center. They noticed a prayer request from George & Geraldine Smith who were hopeful that another couple would come to minister with them on Bavuma Island in Uganda. In 2009, the Whitmers joined the short-term mission team from Urbancrest that was going to work with the Smiths. The trip fanned the flames of mission service in their lives and the Whitmers joined our Mission Intern program in January of 2010. For their intern project in the summer of 2010, the Whitmers returned to Bavuma Island for nine weeks of service. The extended time on the field solidified their call to Uganda. Darlene retired from her teaching job, they sold their home and all their personal belongs, and they became part of the “new normal.”

Many other Urbancrest members have joined the “new normal” over the years: Joe & Liz Veal, Bryan & Karen Byrd, Erik & Michele Stapleton, Chris & Janella Straw, Larry & Elizabeth Bergeron and many others. Soon Matt Prichard will depart for Haiti, and Shawn & Michelle Peoples will move to Hawaii to plant a new church. What do all of these people have in common? They have a heart to follow closely after God. They have chosen to leave everything that binds them to this world: homes, jobs, vehicles, and even family. All of these things pale in comparison to the surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ. They have come to understand that the flow of God’s power and His promises are directed toward the lostness of this world. The power to live our lives victoriously is given in great measure as we live within the flow that draws us to the lost and hopeless in the world. It is to those who have not heard that we are sent. Our minds, hearts, and souls must become bound to the mind of Christ, which is to seek and save that which is lost. The cost becomes irrelevant. The prize is only His “Well done!”

Please don’t hear me say that to be in the “new normal” we all have to leave Urbancrest or whatever church you are a part of. We do not. As a matter of fact, most of us need to stay. But if that is good news to you, it may be that you are still a part of the old normal. The departure is not to a location, but to a new level of spiritual desire to love those who Jesus loves, to be doing what He desires us to do, and to be where He wants us to be. The new normal will pull you into the flow of God’s power. It may lead you to the ends of the earth or to the nursery on Sunday morning. It certainly includes giving our tithes and supporting our missionaries through the Faith Promise Fund. The “new normal” for you may be a life given to intercessory prayer for missionaries and ministries around the world. Many are called to give up a week or two of vacation to go on one of the many mission trips that Urbancrest sponsors. Some feel led to open their home to an orphaned child or give up their day off to pack food for A Child’s Hope International. The new normal may prompt you to start a new church plant in a community that has no church, or you may bring glory to God by sorting clothes at the Resource Center.

Whatever, however, and whenever the Lord calls, we need to be ready to lay aside the desire to stay sedentary, and we need to follow Him. The new normal begins with this prayer of surrender: “Lord, I hear your voice. Here am I, send me!” Have you put your “yes” on the altar?

"So Jesus said to them again, 'Peace to you!
As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'” ~ John 20:21

I hope you are ready to be part of the “new normal.” Let me know if you are. I can help!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mission Opportunity to Tucson, Arizona

A team from Urbancrest Baptist Church will be traveling to Tucson, Arizona from November 11–20, 2011 to work with Steve Chamblee and Grace Fellowship Church. We will minister at Del Web Community Center and Diamond Children’s Hospital. We will also be helping Steve and Grace Fellowship with a block party, plan their Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration, prayer walk neighborhoods, possibly distribute gift bags during the El Tour de Tucson bike marathon, and work alongside Grace Fellowship in various projects. For those team members interested in a day trip to Mexico, we plan to assist an orphanage that had a fire last year where over 40 children perished. We will be providing light construction and ministering to the children. If anyone feels led to join the team, please contact Paul & Janet Boroff at 513-934-5518 or pebjan@aol.com as soon as possible for more information. We believe, with all our hearts, that this is a tremendous opportunity for Urbancrest and we need additional team members! If given the opportunity, Urbancrest can impact the lives of so many in Arizona and be a blessing to Grace Fellowship Church as they try to spread the Good News!

Thanks,
Paul & Janet Boroff

Friday, September 16, 2011

The New Normal ~ Part 1


Aaron & Dana Bogan packed up their four children and moved to Jinja, Uganda two weeks ago. That may seem strange to most people. After all, this is a family that had a great future without going anywhere. Aaron, after serving in the Navy, had completed his master’s degree in mathematics and was employed as a professor of statistics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Dana is trained as a Registered Nurse. They were living the American dream!

Then, in 2005 Aaron & Dana experienced a life-changing event when they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. They made Jesus their Lord and began a journey of obedience to Him that changed every other decision they made. In 2006, after hosting a missionary family in their home, they expressed to me that they were drawn to missions and cross-cultural ministry. Urbancrest provides many opportunities for mission experience and they began to participate in everything they could.

They became the team leaders of the first mission trip to Appalachia in 2007. Although Aaron fell off the roof of a house on that trip, that experience did not leave a negative impression of mission work! They went on to lead teams to Costa Rica in 2008 & 2009 and were involved in many of the mission events and trainings that Urbancrest provides. The Bogans definitely had been bitten by the mission bug! In 2009, Aaron & Dana surrendered to full-time international vocational ministry. They began the process of seeking a sending organization and the location of their call. They took a short trip into Honduras in 2009 and also began the application process with the IMB, Operation Mobilization, and several other mission organizations. The downturn in the economy became a factor as many organizations were reducing, not expanding, their mission staff. In early 2010, Aaron & Dana took a trip to Kenya, and it was during that trip that God confirmed their call to Africa. But, it was not until August of 2010 when Aaron traveled to Uganda to meet with the missionaries, faculty, and governing board of the Uganda Baptist Seminary that God revealed His full plan for the Bogan family. Aaron was invited with a unanimous vote to join the seminary faculty.

For the past year, the Bogan family has been preparing to make the move to Uganda. It has not been easy. They have traveled thousands of miles, written hundreds of letters and emails, and spoken in numerous churches. They had to raise thousands of dollars to make the move in addition to the monthly support of $4,000.00 per month. The financial challenges seemed insurmountable! Southern Baptists typically give to the central funding of the Cooperative Program and the denominational offerings to support their missionaries. Therefore, the story the Bogans were sharing with the churches was a new paradigm for most. Thankfully many were able to see God working in their lives and join Him to move and keep them on the field. Nothing is impossible with our God!

This is the new normal. The funding mechanisms that we have traditionally used are wonderful and have given the churches a great infrastructure of missionaries all over the world. Unfortunately, there are not enough missionaries or funding to fulfill the Great commission with this method (Matthew 28:19-20). The gospel is to be preached to all peoples, according to the words of Jesus (Mathew 24:14), and Revelation 7:9-10 tells us that there will be people from every tribe, tongue, and nation worshiping at the throne of God. Mission boards alone will never be able to make this Scripture a reality because it is a mandate and commission to the local church. Ultimately, the church will have to provide the direct resources for people who are called to cross-cultural ministry. We live in a time where the mission infrastructure is in place, but much more is lacking if we do not send our own people to the mission field. Urbancrest is a sending church that will send God-called individuals through any appropriate channels to obediently reach people for Christ. We will send people through the boards and agencies if they are accepted, but if they are not, we as a church will send them. It will take all of the resources that can be mustered to fulfill the task. The church is the point of the spear and will be held accountable, not just for how well we supported the mission boards, but how we equipped the saints and sent them to the task of world evangelization and discipleship. 

At their commissioning at Urbancrest on August 28, 2011, Aaron stood with his family on the stage and commented that they were just ordinary people that had been saved by the blood of Jesus and the grace of God. Then he said, “Take a look at us. This is normal for followers of Jesus. We are to follow Him wherever He sends us.” This really does have to be the new normal.

The Bogans are on the field in Uganda and Jesus is being glorified in their lives, both there and here. It is pretty amazing to see the church be the Church. Numerous churches are participating in sending the Bogans, and hundreds of individuals are praying and giving. It will take all of us doing all we can to keep them on the field in Uganda. May we be found faithful! You can follow the Bogans and find a link to their blog at http://www.gatewayglobaloutreach.org/Bogan/.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Unreached People Group Summit ~ September 30-October 1, 2011


Call Urbancrest Baptist Church at 513.932.4405 to register!

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” ~ Matthew 24:14

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” ~ Revelation 7:9-10

Jesus was explicit in His command that His followers should go tell every people group His good news. Sometimes that requires much effort. Many times the cost is great compared to the number of souls won, especially to Americans who love to keep score. I have been told twice in the last month by men I consider to be mission mentors that the price is too high. “How can we spend so much money to go to the ends of the earth when we can use that money to do so much good right here?” Although it may sound ridiculous, this is what the King has told us to do. God’s economy is different than ours, as are His ways. We are not the score keeper. He is.

There are 11,228 people groups on our planet today. We have been commissioned to make sure they all hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every Christian, and certainly every church, should be taking part in this divine endeavor, even if we are unsure of the outcome.

To that end, Urbancrest is hosting an Unreached People Group Summit on September 30 – October 1, 2011 with the America Peoples Affinity of the IMB. Please read the information below and participate in our attempt to reach those who have never heard the Gospel in a way that they can understand it. Urbancrest will begin the process of adopting one of these people groups in the near future. It will take the efforts and support of all of our church members to reach them, and it will take the effort of every church that this blog touches to reach all 462 of these people groups in the Americas that have zero exposure to the gospel. I invite you to come and see how we can partner together to fulfill God's plan for the nations!

Event Details/Schedule:
"Our vision is a multitude of disciples among all Peoples of the Americas equipped to fulfill the Great Commission to the ends of the earth."

This event is being held in hopes of finding churches that will co-labor with us to see that vision become a reality.

With 462 specific People Groups with 0 missionaries and 0 churches among them, we desperately need SBC churches to be actively involved in efforts to reach every one of these.

The Connection Event will help equip your church to effectively engage People Groups through focused prayer, practical methodologies, realistic long term strategies, and reproducible models.

Highlights will include general sessions with Terry Lassiter (Affinity Global Strategy Leader), breakout sessions with experienced field missionaries, specific information about Unreached and Unengaged People Groups, utilizing Orality/non-literate methods among Oral People Groups/cultures and more.

Join us as we seek ways to see Matthew 28 become Revelation 7:9-10 among every Unreached People Group within the Affinity.

Please make your own hotel and ground transportation arrangements. Click the image above to see a list of several lodging options on the Lodging Page for your convenience.

Registration Fee: $35
Call Urbancrest Baptist Church at 513.932.4405 to register!

Friday, September 30
Check-in from 3:00-5:00p.m. followed by dinner, worship and a general session

Saturday, October 1
Registration and continental breakfast - 7:30-8:00a.m.
Morning sessions, including break - 8:00a.m.-12:30pm.
Lunch - 12:30-1:00p.m.
Afternoon sessions - 1:00-4:00p.m.
Break/Snack - 3:45-4:00p.m.
Optional Orality Workshop - 4:00-7:00p.m.
Dinner - On your own

The gospel works in every culture. The only way it can fail is if, due to our fear and disobedience, we do not share it.

There is coming a day when we will worship before the throne of God. There with us will be people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. That day is as much of a reality as today. I do not know how many people will be in heaven, but I know that there will be a minimum of 11,228 since there will be at least one from every people group. Among those represented will be the 462 people groups that are living in the Americas. Will you make the time to learn how to reach them?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Urbancrest Missions Calendar Updates ~ September 2011

Faith Promise Stewardship Meeting
September 6, 2011 @ 7:00pm in Room 202

Mission Intern Class/GCP
September 7, 2011 @ 6:30pm in Room 206

Men’s Summit
September 9-10, 2011
The registration deadline is September 6!
http://www.mens-summit.org/MensSummit/HOME.html

Mission Staff Meeting
September 10, 2011 @ 5:30pm

Living Word Bible Church Launch Service
September 11, 2011 @ 6:00pm
Production Services Unlimited
575 Columbus Avenue
Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Southern Hills Baptist Association Annual Meeting
September 13, 2011 @ 7:00pm
Northview Baptist, Hillsboro, Ohio

Mission Intern Class/GCP
September 14, 2011 @ 6:30pm in Room 206

GIC Coordinator Meeting
September 18, 2011 @ 4:30pm in Room 206

Mission Intern Class/GCP
September 21, 2011 @ 6:30pm in Room 206

Mission Staff Meeting
September 25, 2011 @ 5:00-7:00pm in Room 202

Mission Intern Class/GCP
September 28, 2011 @ 6:30pm in Room 206

Unreached People Group Summit
September 30 – October 1, 2011 @ Urbancrest
For more information and to register, visit:
http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=974501

Friday, September 2, 2011

Malawi Mission Summary ~ Part 3, Orphan Care


“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” ~ James 1:27

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” ~ Matthew 25:37-40

Many people do not realize that Urbancrest supports many orphan ministries all over the world. In Uganda, Urbancrest partners with Alfred Adundo’s Macedonian Child Outreach Project, Richard & Susan Angoma’s Family Empowerment-Uganda, and George & Geraldine Smith’s Bavuma Island ministries. Urbancrest also helps take care of orphans in various locations such as Svitlana Mayboroda’s Orphans for Christ in Russia and Brent Gambrell Ministries in Haiti. Locally, our church works alongside Larry Bergeron’s A Child’s Hope International to help feed children and support foster care/adoption worldwide. Though we have been a major partner with Joe Veal’s You-Turn Ministries in Malawi for many years, our involvement with the orphan ministry there just began a new chapter.

Two years ago, Joe Veal through You-Turn Ministries was led by the Lord to expand his extensive evangelism ministry in Malawi to work with orphans. Orphan care is a huge need throughout the world, where over 30,000 children die every day due to poverty, malnutrition, and preventable illnesses. In Africa, most of those who die are orphans and children that have no one to care properly for them. The life expectancy in Malawi is only 34 years due to the AIDS epidemic. As you can imagine, the adults who die at that age leave numerous children in need of care.

With the help of God and many supporters, Joe was able to purchase property that had a house already under construction. After researching other orphanages in Africa, he designed a kitchen and a porch to add to the house where the children could be fed. The house was redesigned as a training center and also serves as a new church plant for the area. This is what is known as the Lighthouse. Currently, 63 children are being cared for in this location and receive daily food, school fees, and other provisions.

The strategy in Malawi seems simple to me. First, as stated in James 1:27 we are to be obedient in caring for the widows and orphans. In Malawi, it is difficult to ignore the orphan problem. Second, the focus should be on evangelism. By feeding and caring for orphans, the love of Jesus is shown to the community and each individual child. The name of Jesus is glorified to them and through them. Most receive Christ, and an army of evangelists is made ready to reach the next generation. The final element of the strategy is discipleship. The leadership of the community is impacted and becomes open to receiving input into their lives and the lives of their village through Bible and leadership training. Our Urbancrest team had 88 village chiefs at the first leadership training conducted!

The primary reason that I went to Malawi was to see the work at the orphanage so that I could assess whether Urbancrest could help duplicate the efforts in another location. The ministry leaders in Malawi had already been searching for a location before I arrived. We visited a city called Dedza that is south of the present Lighthouse location. The Mpingo Baptist church there has agreed to use their building for a Lighthouse orphanage and training center in their city. The location is great! The church building is African-style and large enough to accommodate the training seminars. The property is four or five acres and will accommodate more buildings. What sealed the deal for me was the fact that they had already installed a water line the day before. If we are going to feed 50 children a day, water on the property is a necessity.


Much work is needed to prepare for the orphans. A kitchen and feeding porch just like the one at the original Lighthouse will be built. The church is new and has been meeting on a dirt floor. A concrete floor will need to be poured. The Lord has allowed Urbancrest to adopt this site and partner with Joe for this new Lighthouse. Our FPF team has approved $5,000.00 to complete the construction projects. In November, this will be completed and the Lighthouse in Dedza will be ready to receive children. Our great need now is to raise the $10,000 per year that will be needed to care for these children. Please pray with us that God will raise up regular givers that will meet this need. Our Faith Promise budget does not include this orphanage. Yet, we have been assigned this responsibility by the Master long ago.

The current plan is for Urbancrest to send a team each year to Malawi to train and care for these children. Pray now and prepare to join us next summer. We will need men and women to teach, evangelize, and care for orphans. If you are lead to give, you may do so through the Faith Promise Fund by designating that your gift is for Lighthouse Dedza.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Malawi Mission Summary ~ Part 2, Discipleship



"'...teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen." ~ Matthew 28:20

You will recognize the Scripture above as the last verse of the Great Commission. I purposely left off the first half of the verse so that we could focus our attention on this last, but very important, commandment. Truly, we are to go evangelize the nations and baptize those who believe. If we did not step out and evangelize there would be no one for us to teach. But, the Great Commission is not fulfilled until we have discipled new believers and taught them to go, to evangelize, and to disciple others.

The Malawi mission trip was a Great Commission ministry. My last blog told of the 23,874 souls that responded to the message of salvation. In the weeks since, several other teams have joined Joe Veal and the number is now over 59,455 with another team on the way. That is an astounding fact! God is awesome and we praise Him for His goodness. He is mighty to save!

The ministry in Malawi through You-Turn Ministries brought together over 88 village chiefs and their wives (178 total) for a leadership conference that Clint Otto, Joe Veal, and I taught. This single day of training, although brief, was a unique experience. I am not well versed in Malawi culture, but it appears that the village chiefs exert great power and influence. Malawi has a democratically elected President and government. They also have a military and a police force. Yet, the chiefs can act as the judge, jury, and executioner in their village.

The men and women that attended our leadership conference were not Jesus followers. Most have been given the office of chief without any preparation, yet they have the responsibility of leading the people of their village. Many think of African villages as being very small with only a few people and few decisions of consequence, but these villages can range in size from a few families (50 or 60 people) to several thousand people. These men face the effects of poverty and HIV/AIDS every day. It is common for death and starvation to leave orphans and widows in need of food and help. Additionally, there is drought, famine, and joblessness, as well as many other dire situations that impact their constituents.


Our leadership lessons were adapted from John Maxwell’s Equip lessons, which are based on his popular 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Yet, the Equip lessons add a Biblical dimension that is missing from the original book. I taught the lessons on “The Law of Influence” based on the life of Joshua, and “The Law of Sacrifice” taken from the life of Moses. Clint taught “The Law of Process” based on the life of Joseph. Upon finishing the lesson on “The Law of Influence” which teaches putting the interest of others above yourself and important values such as integrity and transparency, one of the chiefs raised his hand to ask a question. “I know what you have told us is true and that this is how we should live and conduct ourselves, but how is it possible to live such a life, and how do we incorporate this teaching into our lives?” he wondered. That sounded to me like an invitation to give an invitation! I told him that the drastic, lasting change that he desired would require complete access and reliance on God. I explained that they could only have access to God through Jesus and offered to show them how they might pray if they were ready to surrender their lives, repent of their sins, and live obediently for Him. Everyone in the room prayed. I asked how many of them had asked Christ to save them for the very first time. They all raised their hands. Not quite believing my eyes, I asked them how many of them were Christians or Christ-followers before today. No one raised their hands. I again asked how many of them had sincerely asked Jesus Christ to be their Savior and their Lord that day. They all raised their hands!

At the end of the day Joe Veal taught the final lesson, “The Law of the Legacy,” which uses the life of Jesus Christ as the model. At the end of our time with them, we asked for questions or comments. There were many. Some commented on the points of leadership that were taught or asked for clarification about something. Many commented on how thankful they were for the teaching because they had just been put into leadership without any training. One chief at the very end summed it up by saying, “Today I have been born again! I have also learned that we need to change the way we lead and to put our people first. We need more of this teaching, and we all should open each of our villages to have a church in them.”

The other major meeting was a two-day conference for pastors. Clint taught the Foundational Doctrine series, and I lead the pastors through the leadership lessons. These men and their wives had already been saved and called to ministry; yet, they lacked training in Biblical doctrine. The potential is great for what the Lord will do through them! Malawi needs churches that are led by strong leaders who understand and can teach the truths of the Bible. This is why discipleship is so important there. Our time with them was precious. We are praying that each of them will multiply themselves a hundred-fold and that thousands of churches can be planted through the partnership of You-Turn Ministries and Urbancrest as we work together for the Kingdom of God.

The work in Malawi is complex and will take many who are willing to go, give, and pray for them. We will have to invest much more while the fields are still white for harvest. All of the projects that Urbancrest is involved in are supported by the Faith Promise Fund. Thank you for contributing to this fund that brings life to the world. People will be in Heaven because of your sacrifice!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Malawi Mission Summary ~ Part 1, The Harvest


The Malawi team returned on August 1, 2011 a bit tired from the 26+ hours of travel, but healthy and happy to be home. Third world mission trips are always life changing, if you let it change your life. While working in Malawi, God did four very important things through the ministry: evangelism, discipleship/leadership training, orphan care, and finding another location to begin a new Lighthouse ministry.

Evangelism, or fulfilling the Great Commission as described in Matthew 28:19-20, involves not only going, but also telling. “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

The people of Malawi are ripe for the harvest, but before the harvest can be collected the seed has to first be sown. This was accomplished by David Livingstone as he walked the dirt paths over 150 years ago, and in that same fashion our team of 6 spent many hours walking the dusty paths from village to village, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and showing the Jesus Film each evening. Being used by God to deliver the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we watched hundreds of people at a time respond. This is an amazing experience that is hard to put into words. As our leader Joe Veal says, “The Gospel works!” As nearly as we could calculate (and rounding down when needed), 23,874 souls prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior!


Many will wonder how this is possible. Is it just a culture that prays because someone asks them to? Are they seeking material benefit from us as we come to them? Livingstone and others did not see such a harvest as they preached the same Gospel in the same part of the world, enduring sickness and near death for decades with very little response. Yet, there is much evidence that these professions of faith we have seen are genuine. After they received salvation, those we shared with testified about how God set them free and gave them new life. They rejoiced because their sins had been forgiven. They immediately asked for churches and training. Each time a church is planted in Malawi (335 last year), it begins with at least 50 people and usually has 300 attendees very soon. God’s is moving! The challenging part is training the leaders, which I plan to discuss in a separate blog post.

A harvest field of this magnitude is possible...
  • Because of who God is. When He glorifies and honors the name of Jesus Christ, men, women, and children are drawn to it. John 12:32 states, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
  • Because “nothing is impossible with God” (Mark 10:27).
  • Because of the Word of God which commissions us to go preach the Gospel (Mark 15:16).
  • Because of the power of prayer. “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Matthew 9:37-38). Prayer is the driving force in the harvest!
David Livingstone and others helped prepare the soil in Malawi, and we are seeing the fruit of their work today as it is harvested. Truly, we all live in a harvest field. Maybe not one as bountiful as Malawi currently is, but certainly God is at work in the lives of our families, friends, and people in our communities. According to the Word of God, the key to the harvest is prayer for the laborers; therefore, join in the prayer and prepare to be used somewhere...anywhere!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Malawi Mission Team Update ~ July 28

Yesterday the team visited a potential site for a 2nd Lighthouse orphan ministry and pastor’s training school. This site looks to have great potential due to the fact that it already has running water, which is rare in Malawi. The hope is to begin a 2nd site of orphan feeding and care there. During the evening, the team showed the Jesus Film at two separate locations and 5,700 people made professions of faith after viewing the film.

Today was the team’s last day of evangelism and so far there have been a total of 19,324 people who have made professions of faith during this trip. It is certainly a harvest field right now in Malawi! People are hungry for the gospel and very open to hearing truth. In addition to evangelism, the team was able to purchase 7 bicycles for needy pastors.

Tomorrow the team will be traveling and would covet your prayers. Thanks for your faithfulness!
Doss Estep & the Malawi team

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Malawi Mission Team Update ~ July 26

It is now Tuesday evening and our day is drawing to a close. Joe and Clint are still at a village showing the Jesus Film and we expect hundreds to be saved there. The last two days have been very productive and a blessing to us. Clint and I taught 150 pastors and wives in Leadership and Major Bible Doctrines while Jeri Cook taught the children. She must have been a hit because the number of children grew from 60 to over 100 and maybe more when the M&M story was told!

Today has been a tremendous day of evangelism. Joe, Randy, and Howie have already seen over 2000 souls respond to the gospel. That brings the team total to over 9,000.

Pray for us as we travel a bit tomorrow to look at property for another Lighthouse Training Center and also evangelize in that area. We have had some illness, but everyone seems to be getting better.

Thank you for your faithful prayers!
Doss Estep & the Malawi Team

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Malawi Mission Team Update ~ July 24

We traveled Saturday to an area about an hour away from Lilongwe where Lighthouse is planting a church. Our team walked from village to village evangelizing and ministering to the people. In the evening, we showed the Jesus Film to nearly 1000 people. Over 2000 responded to the invitation of Christ by the end of the day.

On Sunday, Joe, Randy, and Howie returned there. Joe preached the message and there was a baptismal service for 17 new believers. Doss, Clint, and Jeri returned to Twanga to the Lighthouse. Clint and Jeri gave their testimony and Doss preached.

God has truly been blessing the team. Over 4,300 souls have come to Christ. Please pray for the week that is ahead of us. On Monday and Tuesday, Doss and Clint will lead a leadership conference for pastors. The whole team will be evangelizing all week.

The country now seems to be calm and we look forward to a fruitful ministry as we continue to work and you continue to pray!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Malawi Mission Team Update ~ July 22

We were able to move around today and the rioting seems to have ended. Once the roads re-opened we traveled about 30 minutes away to the You-Turn Lighthouse Project. Clint, Joe, and I were able to teach approximately 70 tribal chiefs and their wives. So far we have made it through four lessons on leadership. I have never seen a group of people more hungry for the material we are sharing! The principles in the leadership study are Biblically-based, practical, and universal. When we presented the gospel, the whole room prayed. Nearly all were saved and left the conference with a brand new eternal destination! The gratitude they expressed for the training was humbling to us.
 
Randy Youst, Jeri Cook, and our friend Howie from South Lebanon went to the villages to share the gospel with those they encountered. From their effort today, 468 souls came into the Kingdom. Therefore, we believe that approximately 640 souls accepted Christ today in Lilongwe, Malawi, and many were trained and discipled. Praise the Lord!
 
Please continue to pray for the team:
  • Pray for our ability to travel and that the country would remain calm.
  • Pray for divine appointments and receptive hearts to the gospel.
  • Pray for health. I have not felt well today, but was able to teach and share what I needed to.
  • Pray for Joe Veal and Ross & Sherry Collier as they care for us and a team from Allen, Texas.
  • Pray for our families that remain back home and the many issues they are dealing with in our absence.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Malawi Mission Team Update

Greetings from Malawi! Our team has had a great trip so far. We arrived on schedule with all our luggage and I am told that this is a miracle! There is currently violence in Malawi because of the fuel shortages. Our missionaries, Ross & Sherry Collier, have served here for 30 years and are keeping us safe.

Today our team focused on evangelism, and Jeri Cook ministered to the women at a conference. Please be in prayer for me tomorrow as I will be teaching leadership curriculum to 150 tribal chiefs.

Malawi is 6 hours ahead of Ohio; therefore, if you pray for us as you get ready to go to bed, you will help us begin our day. Thanks for your continued prayers!

Doss Estep & the Malawi Mission Team

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bellefontaine – Impact Ohio IS THIS SATURDAY!!!

Plans are to meet at UBC between 8 and 8:15 with departure promptly at 8:30. The truck and block party trailer may leave earlier. Block Party starts at 11 am until 2 pm at Blue Jacket Park. We will need to set up and be ready to serve by 11 am. At 2 pm everything will shut down and we will pack up and return home. I believe Joe Veal will be preaching around 1 pm. 

  Directions: 42 North to 68 North to Bellefontaine. Once you reach Bellefontaine there is construction on 68. To avoid some construction turn right at the Walmart on Guntown Rd. This is the first stop light in Bellefontaine. Go the first stop sign and turn Left on Ludlow. Blue Jacket Park will be on the left. Address: for GPS users 900 Ludlow, Bellefontaine 43311

Teams – we need people to face paint, run concessions, set up and tear down, prayer walk and whatever.

 If you are planning on driving please let me know. Also, if you NEED A RIDE please let me know. We are trying to determine if we need one or both church vans and will need to arrange for drivers. 

 Feel free to call or text my cell phone 513-403-7424 and/or email me.               destep@urbancrest.org

Word from Bellefontaine is that they are seeing God do amazing things as they prepare for Saturday. We have the opportunity to JOIN GOD in his plan to tell others about His amazing love. Beautiful Feet sharing the Love of Jesus and making an IMPACT in Ohio for the Glory of God! Don’t miss this opportunity. Thanks to each one of you.

 Linda Estep

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Argentina Mission Team Update

This is our last day of ministry. We just got finished with lunch after having given out 6,000 papers in downtown Cordoba. Yesterday, Tuesday, we worked around the local church of QUEVEDO, covering about 25 city blocks of houses. We had the opportunity to give a paper to every player of the Ecuador national team. Monday evening we went to the soccer stadium at 5:30 (4 hours before the Argentina-Costa Rica game) and gave out 5,000 papers as the cars were pulling into the parking lots. We did it this way because we did not want the fans to shred the papers and use them as confetti when the team entered the field. This afternoon we are going back to the downtown area to give out another 5,000 papers between 5-8pm. After dinner we will go to the stadium (at 10pm) to hand out 12,000 papers as the fans exit the game at 11:30pm. We will be finishing up with the activity around 2am!

Thank you for your prayers and your partnership in this endeavor!
Leah Busick, Argentina Mission Team Leader

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Argentina Mission Team Update

Day one of ministry is coming to an end. Today we started off by handing out 2,000 papers of EL DESAFIO in the Independence day parade in downtown Cordoba. We were finished in only 1 hour! We also went to the hotel where the Paraguay national soccer team was staying and we were able to hand out papers to fans, family members, and players of the team (the testimony of one of the Paraguayan players is on the front page). In the afternoon, we split up into 3 teams around the soccer stadium and handed out 7,500 papers to a mass of 55,000 fans. Had we had more hands on deck, who knows how many we could have given out! We just couldn’t cover all the people exiting the stadium quick enough. The evening ended with a youth group meeting and dinner at midnight.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we will have Sunday School in the morning and an evening worship service.

Please continue to keep our team in your prayers!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Urbancrest Mission Intern Graduates


It has been a long, hard year and a half for several of our Urbancrest members, but also a year of great learning and adventure. For this group it all ended June 12, 2011...or did it? Maybe it is just the beginning! A celebration for the Urbancrest mission interns who have completed their course of study was held on June 12th. Many are now working on their deployments to the different places the Lord has called them.

It is interesting how this all happened. I wish I could say that is was part of a great vision the Lord gave to me for the mission outreach of Urbancrest. But it really was a God-directed, Holy Spirit born ministry. In 2009, the economic crisis affected the value of the dollar which caused mission organizations to reduce and reverse the number of missionaries they supported. Even our own International Mission Board anticipated having to reduce their numbers from 5,500 to less than 5,000 missionaries worldwide. It was against this backdrop that our church was confronted with church members who were called to missions and desired to take the next step. Aaron and Dana Bogan were looking for a sending agency, and though they were willing to do almost anything to be able to fulfill their calling, there were no takers.

Realizing that the divine mandate of our church is to send those who God has called, we sought out a course of study that would help fulfill the church’s responsibility to prepare those that it sends to the mission field. I found it through the Global Connection Partnership Network, a group based in Arlington, Texas that had written 42 essential lessons that prepare missionaries for cross-cultural mission service. After a trip to Arlington to learn how to prepare myself, we developed a mission intern process for Urbancrest members that would help them explore God’s call to mission service.

To my surprise, we had 19 interns begin the three-phase process. The first 12 weeks were spent exploring God’s call and learning the Biblical mandate to go. Next, we moved into the essentials of preparation and going, which included connecting and serving on a mission project. In the summer of 2010, Urbancrest had 8 interns on the international mission field for 6-12 weeks. The rest of the interns were involved either in local or regional mission service. In total, this group of interns served 104 weeks on the international mission field and witnessed over 500 souls come to Christ.

A couple of our interns (Emily Clem, Kelly Kemp) moved on to attend college full-time, and several couples saw such growth in their own ministries that they needed to give it their full attention (John & Brocklyn Steiner, Larry & Elizabeth Bergeron). Twelve of the interns completely finished the course and received the certificate of completion. The weekly lessons were facilitated by Linda Estep, Diane Lynch, and me.

This group is ready to lay down their lives and go where God has called them! Ron & Darlene Whitmer moved to Uganda, Africa on June 21 to work on Bavuma Island with IMB missionaries George & Geraldine Smith. They sold their house and all their belongings and will serve the Lord there for at least one year. What an example to all of us of how to re-fire, instead of retire!

On August 31st, Aaron & Dana Bogan and their four children will also move to Uganda where Aaron will teach in the Uganda Baptist Seminary, influencing the lives of over 300 pastors each year to reach all of east Africa for Christ.

Matt Prichard is preparing to leave for Haiti as soon as he has raised a team of supporters. He will work with orphans through the Hands and Feet Project of Audio Adrenaline.

All of the others are in the process of seeking the place and time that God will use them in His purpose to glorify His name to the ends of the earth. Please continue to support them in prayer and consider helping them on a regular basis as they become the heart and hands of Urbancrest around the world.

We are now accepting applications for our next group of interns. Applications are available in the church office and must be turned in very soon in order to begin the interview/entry process. Space is limited! The program is set to begin September 7th. Contact destep@urbancrest.org.

Urbancrest Missions Calendar Updates ~ July 2011

Argentina Mission Project
July 7–14, 2011
Please remember to keep this team in your prayers!

Block Party at Pleasant Square Park (Across from Lebanon Post Office)
July 13, 2011

IMPACT Ohio Mission Project
July 16, 2011 from 8am-4:30pm
Bellefontaine, OH ~ Block Party, Prayer Walking & Evangelist Joe Veal
Volunteers still needed! Sign up @ the UBC Welcome Center or contact Linda Estep at destep@zoomtown.com

Appalachia Mission Team Meeting
July 17, 2011 @ 12:30pm in Room 201

Warren County Fair Ministry
July 18-23, 2011

Malawi Mission Project
July 19-August 1, 2011
Please contact Doss Estep at destep@urbancrest.org to receive prayer updates for the Malawi team while they are on mission.

Block Party at Lebanon City Schools District Admin. Building (700 Holbrook Ave.)
July 20, 2011

Block Party at La Luz Apartments
July 27, 2011

Disaster Relief Feeding at New Life Mission in Hamilton, OH
July 30, 2011

Looking Ahead:
Block Party at East Ridge Drive & Deas Drive Community
August 3, 2011

Challenge the Neighborhood
August 10, 17 & 24, 2011

Unreached People Group Summit @ Urbancrest
September 31-October 1, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Haiti Mission Team ~ June 15 & 16 Updates

June 15, 2011 Update
God is good! We have had perfect weather so far this week. Thank you to those who have been praying for us! Monday was a preparation day for VBS and the first day of construction for that team. Preparation for VBS included preparing crafts and lessons, sorting supplies that were brought in with the team, and making up family bags that will be given out to the children who attend VBS. These bags include clothing, food, and toiletries. The construction team is helping to build a home for a family of 10 whose home was destroyed in the earthquake. The home is close to the church in Calabasse where we are doing VBS. Some of us were also able to spend the day in the crèche caring for the babies and lightening the load for the nannies. Our nurses participated in a medical clinic in Petion-ville and saw over 40 patients. These clinics are the only time that most Haitians are able to receive any medical care.

The team is doing well and God is moving in our lives. Tuesday was the first day of VBS. 100 tickets were passed out to children around the church to come to VBS and 97 showed up. The team did an amazing job of engaging the children despite the language barrier. Tyler McQuinn shared the gospel with the children and three gave their lives to Christ! The construction team completed carrying and laying the block for the house. All that remains is to put the roof on.

Today is the 2nd day of VBS. Pray that many children will hear and respond to the gospel. Pray for the safety of the construction team. Many of our teens are going to Wings of Hope, the special needs orphanage. There they will spend time playing with, caring for, and loving on the residents. These children are considered cursed and are usually abandoned by their parents. Pray for the team as they process the sights, sounds, and smells.

June 16, 2011 Update
Wednesday we completed our 2nd day of VBS. Kim Gidley and Lynn Moore did an excellent job of directing it! We had another child accept Jesus during the gospel presentation. Please pray for these precious children as they begin their Christian walk. The pastor of the church was given the names from the past two days and will do follow-up. The Wings of Hope team had an incredible time and was able to show Christ’s love to these precious souls. The construction team was able to complete the house yesterday as well.

Today we go to Canez, a small village of some of the poorest in Haiti. They live in mud huts and must walk 1½ hours just to get fresh water to drink. We will be going hut to hut praying for the families. We will also conduct a medical clinic and distribute beans and powdered milk. Please pray for the team as many will see poverty like they have never experienced. Pray that we would be able to effectively minister to these families.

Thanks again for interceding for out team and the people of Haiti!
Your Haiti Team

Monday, June 13, 2011

Haiti Mission Team ~ June 13 Update

Greetings from Haiti!

Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day in Haiti! We left early in the morning and headed further up the mountain to worship with our brothers and sisters in a small Baptist church in Calabasse. They were serving communion and when 80 Americans showed up they had to go out and purchase additional supplies so we would partake with them. Although we could not understand most of the service, we could sense the sweet spirit and experience worship alongside the Haitian believers. In the afternoon, we went into Port au Prince to look at the remaining devastation from the earthquake. Although you can still see collapsed buildings and there are still thousands living in tent cities, much of the rubble has been cleaned up. The city, however, is still steeped in poverty and was overwhelming for many of us. Please pray for the 9 million Haitians that struggle daily to provide food and shelter for their families. Earnestly pray that their spiritual lives will be transformed through the acceptance of Jesus as their Savior!

Today we will split up into different ministry areas. Some of us will be building a house for a widow whose home was destroyed in the earthquake. Pray for our safety and that we would have an opportunity to share with our Haitian co-workers. Others will be working in the crèche, caring for the orphans, and cleaning and giving some relief to the ladies who work there. Pray that they would bring joy to the lives of the 60 babies and young children. Still others will be preparing for Vacation Bible School. Tuesday and Wednesday, a large part of our team will be heading back to Calabasse to do VBS with 100 children each day. Pray specifically for Kim Gidley as she is the VBS Director and will be managing 35 people. Pray that the teachers will prepare lessons that will connect with the children and that many will accept Christ.

Everyone is doing well, and we continue to covet your prayers for our health and safety. Pray that we would allow God to refine us and make us more like Him!

Your Haiti Mission Team

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 7 Update From the Key West Team

Greetings,

 We had a wonderful day yesterday. We enjoyed a bit of free time, but it awesome seeing the Lord remind us that "free time" on mission still gives us open doors to share Christ. I watched as Leah engaged a gospel centered conversation with a young man for almost 2 hours. It was so cool. The ministry at Mallory Square went well. Pastor Bill gave 2 messages. We thought it very interesting that he had a conversation with lady with a strong Catholic background. He used a tract and said that he got those tracts from Urbancrest. At one of our GIC'S in the missionary store, he found a bunch of tracts. He uses them in his ministry here.

 We will clean things up at the ministry apartment and then head for the airport. Pray for safe and smooth travel today.

 We can't wait to see you and share with you all He has done. You've been so vital to the success of this trip. We thank each of your prayers.

 For the glory of the King!
 David Bickers

NOTE: The Key West Team has completed the mission project and is traveling today. They will return this afternoon. Give praise to God for the lives that have been touch, the Christians that have been encouraged, and the souls that have been transformed by the power of the Gospel throught the efforts of this team. Glory to the Name of Jesus!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 6 Update From the Key West Team

 We had an amazing day of ministry on Tuesday. We continued the rehab on the house at the First Baptist Church in Islamorada. Our team really worked hard and got much accomplished in a short time. The church was so grateful for our presence. One of the ladies in the church treated us to a quick dip in her pool to cool off. Then one of her neighbors invited us to see her seahorses. She raises them and hand feeds them. Very interesting, but only in the Keys! The dinner for the homeless went great. I got to lead the devotion and prayer and we helped in food prep and serving the families. They also run a clothes ministry, food pantry, free haircuts, and other ways to bless and share the love of Christ. It was a good day of ministry.

 Today is our last full day here. I'm taking the team out to the Dry Tortugas. A Civil War fort is there with lots of history and there and the water is great for snorkeling. They have worked very hard and this is our only free time. We'll be back late this afternoon to meet Pastor Bill for 2 messages at Mallory Square.

 Pray for our safety as we travel. We are still looking for ways to share our faith today.

Thanks for praying for us!

 David Bickers

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 5 Update From the Key West Team

We had a great day of ministry on Monday. After breakfast and team devotions, we drove 80 miles north to Islamorada. There we met Pastor Robbie Davis and members of the First Baptist Church. Pastor Robbie is co pastoring the church in Islamorada and the Community Baptist Church in Layton. The church in Islamorada is down to less than 10 members. They have recently made a fresh commitment to do whatever it takes to turn things around and reach their community for Christ. We helped to clean and rehab some of their facilities. They have a parsonage that was built in 1937 that is being completely renovated, and we helped to remove carpeting, old tile flooring, busted up a bathroom (Mark swings a mean sledgehammer), and other projects. The Lord kept the entire team safe from injury and they seemed so grateful for the help. We made the 80 mile trip back to Key West to meet Pastor Bill at Mallory Square as he shared his easel presentation 2 times. Several folks stopped and listened as they passed by and we were able to engage a few conversations and pass out several gospel tracts. There was another nice team of students from Melbourne, FL there last night sharing the gospel on their mission trip to Key West.

Today, please pray for:

1. Safety as we travel back to Islamorada. We will continue the physical labor on the property and then be assisting them tonight in serving a meal to the homeless. It's a ministry they call Tuesday Dinner at Jesus' House. They run over 50 each Tuesday they serve.

 2. Pray for Mark as he returns home today. He has to get back to work. He's been such a blessing on this trip

 Again, you'll never know how much we appreciate your prayers. Lives are being touched and the kingdom work is being advanced.

  David Bickers

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 4 Update From the Key West Team

Please pray today for:

1. Pastor Bill and his family. He needs to rest today after all the activities of the weekend. He also will be preaching tonight at Mallory Square.

 2. Pastor Robbie Davis. Our team will be driving up to Layton Community Baptist Church and working with Robbie. He has a variety of ministry projects for us. Robbie is a new contact for us and we are excited to see where the Lord might be working there. Some of the work might be physical in nature, so lift up our safety.

 We had a great day in worship here yesterday. The team was able to meet many new church members and one family insisted on fixing us dinner last night. They are originally from the Caribbean, so Mrs. Veronica prepared a wonderful meal of Caribbean BBQ chicken, rice, and salad. The fellowship was as good as the food.

 We thank you for praying today. God is at work and you are a key part to this mission.
 
David Bickers

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 3 Update From the Key West Team

Praise the Lord, great things He has done!

We had a wonderful day yesterday at the 35th Annual Swim Around Key West. The weather was very favorable, even with strong winds in the afternoon. It was so cool to see Pastor Bill pray over these swimmers and kayakers. The team from Urbancrest did so well. We served the swim and Pastor Bill in many ways, always looking for ways to then share Christ. As they return home today, we are praying that the seeds planted in their lives will grow as the Lord plans.

This morning, I'm sure my team is sore and sunburned. Please pray today for:

1. The worship services and Pastor Bill. All swimmers and families were given an invitation. Pray many will come and that many will come to Christ.

2. Our team will be leading the evening worship. We will lead some worship songs and I'll preach. Pray for boldness.

Thanks again for being part of this mission trip. We feel your prayers!

David Bickers

Saturday, June 4, 2011

June 5 Deadline for Haiti Donations

As a reminder, tomorrow is the last day for collecting the following items for the Haiti mission team. They will be carrying in the donations to the orphans in need. Please bring your items to the barrel in the church foyer. This is an easy way to be a part of international missions!

Clinic Needs:
Tylenol extra strength tablets
Ibuprofen
Naproxen
Tums
Mylicon infant drops
Ranitidine
Cimetidine
Adult multivitamin with and without iron
Infant poly vi sol vitamin drops
Vitamin B6
B complex vitamins
Slowmag
Ginger root tablets (for morning sickness)
Eye drops
Allergy eye drops
Nasal saline drops
Tylenol sinus
Nasal decongestant
Lotrimin cream
Bengay type cream
Phisohex soap
Cetaphil type product

General Needs:
Peanut butter
Tuna/spam
Diapers
Baby wipes
Baby lotion
Baby food (plastic containers only, no glass)
Powdered infant formula
Baby rice cereal

Generics of any of these are perfectly fine. They do not have to be these name brands.