Friday, December 21, 2012

No Room for Christ

“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” ~ Luke 2:7

 We all have heard the Christmas story many times and are familiar with this account in the Gospel of Luke. It is such a beautiful account of Joseph and Mary, who made the long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Shepherds on a hillside received the announcement from angels of the child that was born, and they found him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

 I can understand how that happened. The city was filled with people, and everyone had their own agenda. All of these travelers were trying to get into town, register their family, pay the tax, and return home as quickly as possible. Some were wealthy and could pay plenty to stay in a reasonably comfortable room for a night. A wise entrepreneur had to make the most of the situation! After all, he had a family, a business, and maybe employees. Times were hard, and it appeared they may get worse. Taxes were going up and that meant everything was going to cost more. A poor young couple from a place like Nazareth would not even register on the inn keeper’s radar. Besides, they most likely had family living in town or they wouldn’t be in Bethlehem. Mr. Inn Keeper’s attitude was probably, “Find a relative and stay with them, or if you must, there is a stable out back!”

 I would love to condemn that inn keeper for his greed and insensitivity. His focus was short-sighted and myopic. His selfishness caused him to care only for himself, his wife and children, his business, and his own interests. This blinded him from the blessing of participating in the greatest moment planned from the beginning of time. Unfortunately, he truly represents all of us if we are not careful, especially this time of year.

 Our schedules can get really busy during the Christmas season. Our priorities of family and work are honorable, but can crowd out the truth of Christ and the purpose of His birth as recorded in Luke 19:10: “...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  We can’t properly celebrate His birth without recognizing Him as Lord and joining in His purpose.

 I believe our 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 6,400 people groups in the world that have no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They do not glorify Him, nor worship Him. How can we say we love Him and not care about those He loves?

 One of the ways we join Him in December at Urbancrest is to receive our Combined Missions Offering. This year our goal is $52,000. 40% of the offering goes to international missions to support the 4800 IMB missionaries around the world. 40% will go to support missionaries and church plants in North America, 10% will stay right here supporting missions in Ohio, and 10% will go to World Hunger.

Have you made room for Him in your life this Christmas? If so, please consider supporting this extremely important offering that reflects the very heart of who Christ is in our lives and why He came into the world. To reach our goal will require all of us to give sacrificially. I hope you will join Linda and me as we give our best gift to the 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.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

News from the Whitmers in Uganda

 From the ashes comes new hope! As many of you know, when we were back in the USA from March – May 2010, we received word that our Bible school building on Buvuma Island had been burned down and nearly destroyed. It was a time of great disappointment, but also a time to rely on God and His vast resources to rebuild.

On Nov 4th, we had our first classes in the rebuilt Bible School! There is still work to be completed (windows, plaster, paint, and floors), but the roof is on and it is usable. This has been a reminder that at times, God has to do the same thing to us---take us back to our foundation so that he can rebuild or reshape us for His service!

 God is so good! In October we moved into our new place. The IMB offered us a house since it was going to be empty, and we will remain in it until our return to the USA in November 2013! An IMB couple (James & Sonya) live below us and the compound is beautiful. This has been a blessing and a real answer to prayer!

  God continues to work on Buvuma Island! As a result of the Urbancrest team that was with us this summer, we continue to meet weekly for Bible study with believers in the village of Bulima. Aaron Taylor and Matt Johnson taught two days in the village which resulted in 24 salvations and an interest in learning more from the Bible! Thank you Aaron and Matt!

  Urbancrest Primary School in Butende is growing! We have hired another teacher and currently average 160 students per day. In addition to being taught the government curriculum, they are also hearing God’s word each day! We still have challenges there with finishing the construction on the new building and the new toilets (the old one collapsed).

  The leadership development of some of the women at Muwanga (our main compound) has resulted in growth in the Women’s Prayer Ministry! We now have groups at five churches and will continue to identify women in each church and train them to lead these groups. Our goal is to have a group in each of our island churches.

 We are also expanding the HIV Support Group to a second village to facilitate travel. The group at Muwanga has grown to over 40 and it is time to start another location. We have a monthly meeting which includes Bible study, prayer, nutritional information, a time to share personal challenges, distribution of vitamins and medication, and a meal. Johnson, one of our local pastors, has taken ownership of this project and administers it with our assistance.

  On a personal note, we are doing great! Our health has been good and God has kept us safe on the roads, on the water, and most importantly on the motorcycle (ask Darlene). A lot has happened on the home front back in the USA. On August 16th, Damon (our oldest son in Texas) got married! On October 23rd we “officially” became grandparents as Eric and Caren finalized the adoption of Sarah Patience Whitmer! We are so blessed to have such a great family! Damon and Eric will be coming to Uganda for a visit in January! It will be so great to have them here for a bit and show them our African lifestyle and work.

  It is so nice to have today’s media to keep up with what God is doing. A Wednesday night meal in the Urbancrest gym would be awesome! Please continue to pray for us and the ministry here in Uganda, George & Geraldine as they are on furlough in the USA until June 2013, and our pastors and their families on the island. We miss and love you all! 
~ Ron & Darlene Whitmer

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Uganda Mission Trip Report - Part 1

Uganda Mission Trip ~ July 28-August 11, 2012

The mission trip to Uganda, Africa has drawn many participants from Urbancrest and other churches over the years. Two of our Urbancrest families, the Bogans and the Whitmers, are currently serving there in full-time ministry. This year's short-term team consisted of the following fourteen participants:
  • Clint, Michelle, Lexi & Lauren Otto
  • Doss Estep
  • Mindy Howell
  • Matt & Jennifer Johnson
  • Heather Parks
  • Larry Picklesimer
  • Shela Smith
  • Aaron Taylor
  • Todd Tolliver
  • Marilyn Whitsel
  Because we had a large team, we were able to split the group into two groups for the first five days of ministry. The group that stayed on land in Jinja with the Bogan family consisted of Doss, Todd, Mindy, Lexi, Lauren, and me (Michelle). We visited Good Shepherd’s Fold (an orphanage) on the first day of ministry. Dana Bogan and Mindy assisted medically, and Lexi, Lauren, and I got to hold babies in the newly opened baby house. We also played with preschoolers and colored with the older children. We were able to present the Gospel to those who were old enough to understand and encourage the caretakers.   

  The second and third day of ministry we visited a Christian school called Hannah Moshi. The school focuses on reaching Muslims in their area. Dana and Mindy helped in the medical clinic both days, while the Bogan children and the three of us taught kids the Bible and played with them. Doss presented the Gospel to people who had been helped by the medical team. Many families gave their life to Christ!
  We also held a men’s seminar and taught women at Alfred Adundo’s church. Mindy and I worked together and had a wonderful time! The women really enjoyed getting together as a group, separate from the men. They said they got so much more out of having their own time versus staying with the men. We did a lot of discipleship with them and we encouraged them to continue meeting together and encouraging one another when we were gone. 
  We had a wonderful time ministering alongside the Bogans in these different areas. It was wonderful to do life with them, encourage them, participate in their church, catch up with them, and see where they live and work.

  When the group came back from Buvuma Island, they were able to visit a hospital where they prayed with many people. There were several salvations as they worked their way through the rooms of the sick. After that, they headed out to Alfred’s school in Massese. Our team was able to love on kids and help the women by purchasing some of the products they make and sell to help their families and the school.

  Later, we traveled to Masindi to visit Canaan Farm. This was a long, bumpy ride, but it was worth it! Canaan Farm continues to amaze everyone who sees what they’re doing. They have helped so many people by teaching them business and farming skills as well as providing them with clean water, medical facilities, and beds. We were able to help teach the Bible while we were there (although they already diligently do so). Aaron and Clint preached each evening, and men, women, and children were taught during these days.
  As a side note, much ministry was accomplished during the time we spent with our drivers. One of the drivers, Bediru, has been our driver each time I have been on this trip. He is a Muslim and has expressed interest in becoming a Christian. Please pray that the next time a team goes back, we can request Bediru as our driver and he can bring his wife with him, “so the good Christian women can talk to her” (as Bediru said). Bediru has talked to his wife about him becoming a Christian, but she said she would leave him if he did. It is very hard for him to make this leap of faith without her.
  This trip was different than the ones I have been on in the past. Discipleship was the main focus. I know that this is what the Lord wanted. So often, we see many salvations in Africa, but not enough discipleship. The heart of our trip was to make disciples just as Jesus told us to. People grew, were stretched, and I believe left with focus and vision for what God is calling them to do. I especially saw this as I was teaching the women at Alfred’s church. They were excited to see what God was calling them to and hearts were truly changed! Thank you all for your prayers on behalf of those that we went to minister to in Uganda, and for praying for us as well. We felt those prayers and know that the Lord honored them by keeping us all safe, healthy, and allowing many hearts to be changed or grown in their walk with Jesus!
~ Clint & Michelle Otto, Team Leaders

Mark Your Calendars


November 11 - Last Date for Operation Christmas Child Drop-off

November 18 - Baskets of Hope @ 6:00pm in the Sanctuary


December 2 – Annual Church Business Meeting @ 6:00pm in the Sanctuary

December 4 – FPF Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

December 14 – Church Planter Network Christmas Dinner @ 6:30pm in Room 203

December 16 – Baskets of Hope @ 6:00pm in the Sanctuary

Friday, October 5, 2012

Haiti Mission Trip Report

Haiti Mission Trip - June 30-July 7, 2012

“I don’t want to go home!” Many feel this way after a rewarding week on a short-term mission trip. This was, however, the sentiment of several team members the first night at our team devotion time. Haiti has a way of capturing your heart and emotions from your very first experience. Working with 68 orphans for the week certainly strengthened these feelings. God entrusted Urbancrest missionary Matt Pritchard and the staff at Hands and Feet Project with nurturing, teaching, and training these precious children.

Our team members included: 
  • Jeff, Deanne & Sarah Clem
  • Sharon Kenner
  • Tyler McQuinn
  • Julie & Emily Reutener
  • Karen Stonecypher
  • Chris & Michaela Woods

  Thank you to everyone who donated Crocs and other supplies for the orphanage. We were able to take items that are not available in-country or would be cost prohibitive. We also brought Vacation Bible School supplies. The first day of VBS was for the children at Hands and Feet and the second day was for the boys and girls in the surrounding village. Many groups have done VBS for the children in the orphanage, but this was the first time a team had done one for the children outside the walls. We were able to send these children home with Kids Against Hunger food and a gospel tract to share with their families. One hundred children participated in VBS, and Tyler shared the gospel each day using the EvangeCube.
  The nannies of Hands and Feet were very excited when we told them that we would love to treat them to a “Spa Day,” complete with manicures, pedicures and facials. We had baked cookies and made lemonade to serve them while we explained to them what a blessing they are to the children. We let them know how they are honoring Christ each time they serve these little ones. After our time of pampering, Chris led the ladies in a Bible study and prayer from Ephesians chapter one. The nannies left our time together knowing that we love them as our sisters in Christ and that Jesus loves them and sees them right where they are.
  Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti, especially the orphans and those who care for them.
~ Jeff & Deanne Clem, Team Leaders 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hope Community Block Party Report

Block Party Report from Randy Chestnut, Pastor of Hope Community Church:

  God blessed us with a wonderful day at Stuart Patterson Park in Old North Dayton on Saturday, September 22 for our Community Block Party!

 Our friends/partners from Urbancrest Baptist Church showed up with about 40 people to help. They all did a fantastic job! The weather was also beautiful. Of course, we saw evidences of spiritual warfare...

 The storm Friday night knocked out the electricity to the recreation center. We had rented the hall for the use of the kitchen, restrooms, etc. Fortunately, Mr. Byrd (who is leasing the facility) arrived early, saw the problem, and rented portable generators for us. All went well. Please pray for Mr. Byrd as the gymnasium experienced heavy water damage from the rain leaking in.

 The person who was to do the face painting had an injury Friday night that kept her from coming. I am told this is the first time she has ever had to miss! Please pray that she feels better soon. The good news is that we had other people step up to the plate and cover for her.

 The Youth Band had several dead cables that delayed their playing. Fortunately, their leader was able to run and get some new ones. The music was fantastic!

 Satan must have known some good things were fixin' to happen. I had the opportunity to present the gospel. Counselors were available in the recreation center hall to meet with folks that made decisions. I know of at least two professions of faith, as well as four that came for prayer. We will be following up! Please pray for one Muslim boy that responded to the gospel. We sense he was genuinely curious.

 One of our community leaders stopped by on his way to work. He could not stay long, but he found me and said, "I just wanted to stop on my way and thank your church for all you are doing in our community." God is using your partnership to plant the gospel. Pray for a great harvest!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Argentina Mission Trip Report

Argentina Mission Trip - July 16-26, 2012

Airlines going out of business….bad weather on the east coast keeping planes away from Cincinnati…Our team started to wonder if the Lord really wanted us to go to Argentina this year! Our team members were:
  • Leah Busick
  • Brooklyn Busdiecker
  • Cameron Busdiecker
  • Willie Figary
  • Hannah Hundley
  • Kelly Kemp
  The delay threw our original schedule out the window, but thankfully we were there for the glory of God rather than to keep a schedule!
  We finally made it out of Cincinnati on Monday afternoon (two days late) and safely to Portena, Argentina, on Tuesday where we met Will & Alejandra Herndon, our host missionaries.
    We came alongside a church that already had a heart to reach their city for Christ and worked with them during their “Happy Hours” which are like weekly Backyard Bible Clubs. They do them every week in town parks and invite many kids from the neighborhoods. We sang songs, did crafts, and played many, many games. Of course we also had lesson times and presented the Gospel to these kids. 
   We were able to go into the schools of this small town, as well as the tiny rural schools in the surrounding areas. We put on 45 minutes of music workshops where we played songs and taught basic music lessons. We then were able to share why we sing and play instruments, and we translated the words of our songs. From there sometimes we could publically proclaim the Gospel…sometimes we could not. When we could not publically speak, we would end early to talk to the students in smaller groups or casually outside the school building. It was during one of these casual conversations that three teenagers gave their lives to the Lord!
  The “Happy Hours” and in-school music workshops went hand-in-hand, because the weekend after we were in the school, the church was planning to hold a “Happy Hour” in the nearest park and invite all the kids!
  The most memorable moment came the last day we were in Argentina. It was the day we were NOT originally supposed to be in the country, but because we arrived two days late we stayed one extra day. That evening we went to our translator, Raquel’s classroom. She teaches English and invited us to come to her class of adult learners. These are 19-25 year old students who dropped out of school, but are now coming back to graduate. We had been praying for this group all week. That evening, 10 people raised their hands to accept Christ. In addition, two were talking to Raquel and asking her to pray with them or for them. It was an open door that we would not have experienced if we had left on our original departure date (and therefore not extended our trip an extra day). Our disappointments truly can be God’s divine appointments!
~ Leah Busick, Team Leader

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mark Your Calendars

September 11: FPF Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

September 15: Partner Connect UPG Training
  For more information, go to

September 23: GIC Leadership Meeting @ 6:00pm in Room 206

September 27: Church Planter Network from 10:00am-1:00pm  

September 30: Mission Staff Meeting @ 6:00pm  

October 9: FPF Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

October 13: The Great Pumpkin Giveaway @ Iron's Fruit Farm

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hawaii Mission Trip Report

Hawaii Mission Trip - June 2-8, 2012
 The primary purpose of our team was to assist Pastor Shawn Peoples in establishing Grace Community Church by focusing on the communities of Kapolei and Ewa Beach on the island of Oahu. Our team members were:
  • Paul & Janet Boroff
  • Abby Barham
  • Gary Byrd
  • Pete Chakiris
  • Geoff & Becky Estep
  • Tom & Kitty Kelley
  • Jaycee Morgan
 Our mission was to spread the word that Pastor Shawn would be hosting a Bible Study in his home. One of Pastor Shawn’s primary goals was to begin building relationships in order for him to minister to the community. 
  The team worked two different Vacation Bible Schools (VBS), prayer walked the Peoples’ neighborhood, served shaved ice, conducted survey interviews in local parks, and helped with several projects at Shawn & Michelle’s home.
 One VBS was held during the morning and was led by Darla Richardson, a NAMB missionary to Oahu. The event was attended by approximately 25 children over four days and included games, crafts, snacks, and devotions. On the last day, we served the children shaved ice which was a very special treat. Our second VBS was held in the evenings at Fellowship Baptist Church and was led by Harlan Nakasone. By the end of the week, we had recorded 17 professions of faith between the two venues. 
 Pastor Shawn coaches a flag football team and a volleyball team at different parks. Several of our team members served shaved ice for refreshments during and after practices, while others sought parents and spectators to interview. We wanted to find out what the people of Kapolei would like to see in a church and how a church could help to serve their community. At the end of the interview, we invited everyone to Pastor Shawn’s for the Bible study and provided them with a business card that listed Shawn's phone number and email address. Over four days, we conducted approximately 50 interviews and provided Pastor Shawn with responses as well as contact information to allow for follow-up conversations and prayer support. 
  Our team collected school supplies and backpacks for Pastor Shawn to hand out to needy children. We pray that this will help Pastor Shawn with his school ministry plans.
 Our team had many memorable moments where we listened to individuals as they shared their heartaches, and we prayed together before parting ways. However, one of the most memorable moments was when Janet and Jaycee approached a young man (Ryan) in the park while conducting interviews. Ryan had been praying for a Christian pastor to come to Kapolei. Ryan was the lone survivor of a tragic car accident where several others had died. We introduced him to Pastor Shawn and continue to pray that this relationship will flourish.

 Please continue to pray for Pastor Shawn & Michelle Peoples and the people of Kapolei! You can follow their new church plant by visiting:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Appalachia Mission Trip Report

Appalachia Mission Trip - June 17-22, 2012
 Following the Sunday morning service on June 17th, thirteen Urbancrest members traveled to Winfield, Tennessee, to the Appalachian Ministry Center. The Urbancrest team included:
  • Danny & Wanda Mitchell
  • Bob & Mona Amburgy
  • Janie & Danny Caudill
  • Gary & Sherlene Dishun
  • Galen & Mary Eshleman
  • Kirk Miller
  • Don & Donna Tedrik
 It is always a joy to work with folks like these who come fully prepared and ready to go. I am convinced of God’s hand in assembling such a group and turning them loose on this project.

 Director Jack Fletcher welcomed the team and supplied the materials for us to completely redo what used to be a grade-school cafeteria. We were pleased to find that all the materials were in place and the cooking/refrigeration equipment Urbancrest had donated previously was up and running for us to use to feed the gang. Their resource center ministry, after a slow start, has continued to blossom through the dedication of Urbancrest mission teams and other local servants who have a heart to minister to this economically challenged area in northern Tennessee. One room we worked on last year has been turned into the local library and a child care center is located at the rear where we had patched the roof. In addition, the resource room we renovated is already being used by local volunteers to distribute donated clothing and household items. God is blessing this ministry and continues to work wonders through the time and goods that are donated.

 Following great meals fixed on-site by Sherlene Dishun, we began and ended each day with a devotional from someone in the group. Some of these were quite emotional, and we had time to feel the inclusiveness and acceptance so important in fellowship. The spiritual part of this mission every year is the community of believers you get to work with who want to do God’s work and walk away with the spiritual reward in their heart.

 Being a natural-born worrier and “worst case scenario” planner, I was again amazed at how things came into place perfectly through what had to be God’s wishes. After all, who knew we would be able to call upon a professional builder, Bob Amburgy (who has the wisdom of Solomon), to help with advice, scaffolding, and the necessary tools to enable us to remove and rebuild an outside wall. In the refreshingly hot sun, the team of Kirk Miller, Bob Amburgy, and Danny Caudill sawed, gnawed, and clawed a very stubborn group of iron-framed windows off only to make room for the real work: building a whole new outside wall.
 Inside, Galen Eshleman and Gary Dishun exhibited the patience of Job working with a temperamental spray painter to get the 14 foot high ceiling painted while being wheeled around on scaffolding by the ground crew leader, Don Tedrick (and whoever else was handy). Although not on his back like Michelangelo (an Italian), Galen (a Dutchman) created a painted ceiling that was a real work of art! Additional scaffolding riders were the tireless crew of Donna Tedrick, Janie Caudill, and Mona Amburgy who cleaned, scraped, and painted walls and the ceiling supports. Along with Mary Eshleman, we painted the walls, the doors, the light fixtures and everything in sight that did not move. The final two hours of the mission were essentially a race between the inside team installing insulation and drywall and the outside team installing windows and siding. Throughout all this, the mission leader helped considerably by running between jobs and wringing his hands.
 Personal Lesson Learned: Hanging around with these guys makes you look a lot smarter than you really are. In addition to a plan, have a little faith that God will make things happen.

 Finally, we took our tired muscles home on Friday and celebrated together with a good meal on the way back. As usual, Jack and all the folks in Tennessee were amazed at what had been accomplished. So were we! To God be the glory!
~ Danny & Wanda Mitchell, Team Leaders

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Key West Mission Trip Report

Key West Mission Trip - June 21-28, 2012
  2012 marks the 4th year that Urbancrest has partnered with Keys Evangelistic Ministries to share the Gospel in the Lower Florida Keys. This year, our 8-member team included:
  •  David Bickers
  •  Leah Busick
  •  Kenny Grimes
  •  Sharon Grimes
  •  Brandon Myers
  •  Kevin Nicholas
  •  Carly Wheeler
  •  David Wheeler

  Our team handled all the administrative details for the 36th annual Swim Around Key West. We partnered with Pastor Bill Welzien to serve over 200 swimmers, kayakers, and their families. Gospel tracts, Challenge magazines, and invitations to worship services were distributed. In spite of 30+ mph winds, the swim proved to be a challenge, but very successful.

  The Urbancrest team had the opportunity to attend and lead worship services at the Keys Presbyterian Church. They also assisted in the open air preaching ministry of Pastor Bill at Mallory Square.

  Our team members served the Layton Community Baptist Church and Pastor Robby Davis by painting the exterior of their church and providing some maintenance to their building. We also partnered with them in an outreach dinner to the homeless and led their mid-week worship service.

  This team demonstrated a great spirit of unity, which I believe greatly added to the success of the week. One of the ways this team was used by the Lord was in the area of encouragement. Over and again, we heard from many folks how they were encouraged by this team. One of the exciting things we were able to witness was when Pastor Robby shared with us his desire to lead his church in joining Urbancrest in future mission efforts.

   I look forward to seeing how the Lord will open future doors to partner with these two great pastors and their congregations to reach the Florida Keys for the cause of Christ!

~ Dave Bickers, Team Leader

Mark Your Calendars

August 12: Cuba Mission Trip Information Meeting @ 12:30pm in Room 207

August 18: Summer Jam Tour 2012 1st Annual Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show
 Time: 11:00am-4:00pm
 Location: Urbancrest Baptist Church

August 22 Challenge the Neighborhood
 Time: 6:30pm-8:30pm

August 29 Challenge the Neighborhood
 Time: 6:30pm-8:30pm

September 11: FPF Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

September 15: Partner Connect UPG Training
 For more information, go to:

September 30: Mission Staff Meeting

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mark Your Calendars

July 25: Summer Jam Tour 2012 Wiffle Ball Tournament
  Time: 6:00pm-8:00pm
  Location: Colonial Park North, Lebanon

July 26-August 11: Uganda Mission Project

August 1: Summer Jam Tour 2012 Dog Show
 Time: 6:00pm-8:00pm
 Location: Dog Park in Tecumseh Park

August 18: Summer Jam Tour 2012 1st Annual Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show
 Time: 11:00am-4:00pm
 Location: Urbancrest Baptist Church

August 22: Challenge the Neighborhood

August 26: Challenge the Neighborhood

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Now Accepting Mission Intern Applications

Urbancrest Baptist Church is currently accepting applications for the next Mission Intern training class (Global Connection Process) that is scheduled to begin in the fall. This training is for those dealing with either an international or national call to missions ministry. It is a necessary process for those seeking to be sent by Urbancrest into the mission field. The first 14 lessons give a deeper understanding about missions and explore the call to cross-cultural ministry, while subsequent lessons prepare individuals to be successful on the field. God has used this process to prepare the missionaries that we now have serving around the world and locally.

For more information, see a previous blog post by Bonnie Hailey about the intern program:

To apply, pick up an information packet/application from the mission table in the foyer or the church office. Turn in the application to the church office by August 20. Interviews will be set for early September. For more information, contact or

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Divine Appointments

  Have you have had a meeting that you felt God had orchestrated? In missions we talk about “divine appointments” when we meet people that we can share Christ love with on planes and in the markets. Sometimes we think we need to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles away before we have that connection. Of course, it isn’t true. Our mission is to obediently deliver the good news of Jesus Christ wherever He takes us.

  When God sends these appointments our way, our job is to respond as the Holy Spirit prompts us. He gives us the opportunity. When we are obedient to follow the Holy Spirit, we have the wonderful experience of Him touching lives through us. I recently had such a divine appointment. It wasn't on the international mission field. I wasn’t even on a mission trip. I had only traveled 70 miles away to get taxes done for Gateway Global Outreach (GGO).

  While Linda and I worked on the GGO finances with our tax attorney, she suddenly looked at me and asked if I would meet with someone. She explained that her 9:00 am appointment was still in the adjacent office and she thought they needed to speak with a pastor. They were an elderly couple and the husband, who was 80 years old, had cancer. They were meeting with her to have some estate planning because he was terminally ill. In the course of their estate planning, she asked the man if he was saved. He said no and indicated that he would be open to talking to a pastor about it.

  I agreed to talk with them and she introduced me. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to explain the Gospel to this man and for him to find his way to the arms of Jesus. The couple wept together and held one another as I explained that, for the believer, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. He found comfort in knowing that Heaven awaited him, and that the angels were rejoicing because of his salvation. After I left the room the attorney slipped in to check on them and said they were having a very emotional time.

  I thought that these were long-time clients of our attorney, but it was the first time she had met them. They had been referred to her at the last minute and she just worked them in before our appointment, not knowing anything about them or his terminal condition. I am so thankful for her boldness to ask this very lost man about his spiritual condition. She paved the road for Jesus to speak and the Holy Spirit to draw. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit orchestrated our being in Adams County to be a tool to help this man find Jesus.

  Sadly, here is the update I received a week later from the attorney:

  "I wanted to let you know that Naaman C. passed away on Sunday. He is the one that you led to the Lord the last time you were in our office. His daughter called the office on Friday and said the last good day her Dad had was on that Friday when he spoke with you. Thank you again."

  Another divine appointment realized. Angels rejoiced and a child of God came home. I am reminded of the “Parable of the Laborers” in Matthew 20:1-16. Read it when you have time! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mark Your Calendars

June 10: Living Word Bible Church Block Party from 3:00-5:00pm
Location: 500 Mulberry Street, Lebanon

June 11-15: Living Word Bible Church VBS from 6:00pm-8:30pm
Location: 500 Mulberry Street, Lebanon

June 11-15: Urbancrest VBS from 6:00-8:50pm

June 16: Denver and the Mile High Orchestra @ 6:00pm at Urbancrest

June 17: Living Word Bible Church Father’s Day Cookout w/Outdoor Drama @ 1:00pm
Location: 500 Mulberry Street, Lebanon

June 17-23: Appalachia Mission Project

June 18-12: Living Word Bible Church Back Yard Bible Club w/S. Carolina Mission Team @ 2:00pm
Location: 500 Mulberry Street, Lebanon

June 20: Summer Jam Tour 2012 Talent Show 6:00pm
Location: Lebanon Jr. High School

June 21-28: Key West Mission Project

June 24: Uganda Team Meeting @ 4:00pm
Location: Urbancrest Baptist Church 

June 24: Living Word Bible Church Children’s Program Kick-off with Christian Magician
Location: 500 Mulberry Street, Lebanon  

June 30-July 7: Haiti Mission Project
July 3: Summer Jam Tour 2012 Lebanon 4th of July Celebration
Location: Colonial Park West

July 5: FPF Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

July 25: Summer Jam Tour 2012 Wiffle Ball Tournament
Location: Colonial Park North, Lebanon

 If you are interested in helping out with any of the Living Word Bible Church summer outreach events, please contact Doss Estep at .

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mark Your Calendars

May 12: Safe Travel Training from 8:30am – 3:00pm in Room 205
 This training is for the Hawaii Mission Team and any team members going on an international mission trip who cannot attend the June 2 date. Contact Doss Estep at if you plan to come.

May 18 – 20: Baptist Global Response Training
 Visit to register!

May 20: Hawaii Mission Team Meeting @ 4:00pm in Room 206

May 20: Key West Mission Team Meeting @ 7:30pm in Room 206

May 24: Church Planter Network Meeting @ 10:00am in Room 202

May 27: Hawaii Mission Team Commissioned in AM Services

May 27: Mission Staff Meeting @ 5:00pm in Room 206

May 30: Summer Jam 2012 Ultimate Disc Tournament from 6:00pm–8:00pm at the Warren County Career Center
 To participate or assist, visit for more information! 

June 2: Safe Travel Training from 8:30am – 3:00pm in Room 203/204

June 3: Key West Mission Team Meeting @ 12:30pm in Room 206

June 7: FPF Stewardship Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

June 20: Summer Jam 2012 Talent Show from 6:00pm–8:00pm at the Lebanon Jr. High School
 To participate or assist, visit for more information! 

June 24: Uganda Mission Team Meeting @ 4:00pm at Doss Estep’s home

Friday, April 6, 2012

Return to Haiti

 I returned to Haiti this February. I had not been there since November 2010. I traveled there a total of three times in 2010. The first time was in February, about a month after the January 11 earthquake that devastated a country that was already besieged by death and poverty. Our team of four men went to Haiti intending to distribute a container of Kids Against Hunger food that Urbancrest and A Child’s Hope International had shipped. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, the shipments were held up in a Florida port. You can read about that trip online at the Cincinnati Enquirer website:

  Mick Lovely and I returned to Haiti in June 2010 for the same reason and with similar results, except that the Urbancrest container was now in Haiti but being held in customs. We could not get it released, therefore Mick & Wanda Lovely, Larry Bergeron, and I returned again in November when we were sure the containers (by this time there were five) had cleared Haiti customs and had been delivered to our distribution site. Those events were chronicled on this blog in a series entitled “Reflections from Haiti” and are still available to read.

  In the years and months after the January 11, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Urbancrest has been very active working with many ministry partners. In addition to the teams I have served with, we have sent teams from Urbancrest led by Wanda Lovely and Jeff & Deanne Clem to Brent Gambrell Ministries (BGM) and Lifeline ministries. We have also sent two Urbancrest mission interns, Matt Prichard and Sarah Bickers, to longer-term ministry with BGM and the Florida Baptist Convention’s “Rebuild Haiti” effort.

 More recently, Matt Prichard was deployed to Haiti as a long-term missionary with the Hands and Feet Project, serving in their orphanage in Jacmel. The Hands and Feet Project (HAF) is a ministry of the now disbanded Christian music group Audio Adrenaline. I left for Haiti on February 10, 2012 with the purpose of being an encouragement to Matt, seeing where he lived and worked, and assessing the situation to see how Urbancrest could become ministry partners with HAF. I also wanted to assess the feasibility of sending short-term mission teams to work in this location. Joining me were Jeff Clem, Sarah Bickers, and Sherry Ratliff (who was going on her first mission trip).  

  HAF has two orphanages in Haiti. Steve & Carrie Mulligan are the directors of the Jacmel orphanage. They have three children of their own which brings the total number of children to 70. The other American staff members working with them are two short-term helpers named Phoebe and Zach. Matt and one other young man are both there long-term. The ministry employs many Haitian nannies, cooks, and maintenance personnel.

  Jacmel is a beautiful city on the ocean in the south of Haiti. It has the beauty of the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. But, Jacmel was also hit hard by the earthquake and still bears the scars. The 67 children in the orphanage also bear many scars from the earthquake, although not all of their scars are visible to visitors.

 Our team arrived in the early evening on Saturday, toured the facilities, and was given an orientation as we settled in to the “big house.” You may remember the Audio Adrenaline song:

It's a big, big house with lots and lots of room
A big, big table with lots and lots of food
A big, big yard where we can play football
A big, big house. It’s my Father’s house

 That is what the team dorms are called. All the buildings are concrete and stucco. The “big house” was under construction to increase the number of beds from 16 to 24.

 On Sunday morning, the children were walked next door to the church for Sunday school. The church is a long hall with pews and chairs. When we arrived an hour later, it was packed with approximately 300 children and adults. After standing outside a few moments, a pew miraculously opened up near the front of the church. As we were being guided to our seats, I noticed that a group of children had been moved to the front and were sitting on the floor. As we sat down, I sarcastically whispered to ask Jeff Clem if it bothered him that we had taken the seats of those sweet children. He either didn’t hear me or it didn’t bother him because he was smiling as he sat comfortably down. But, in just a few minutes the children were all back! They each found a lap, a leg, or squeezed their little bodies in between us. They listened a little to what was going on, took naps, played with the Americans' shirt buttons, pulled on Sherry's long hair, or just played a little with each other. For the most part they were really very good during the nearly two hour service, although the little boy on my lap flipped Zach’s ear a couple of times, and a little girl managed to pee on me before it was over!

 The orphanage at Jacmel is a happy place. The children and workers are busy every day schooling, cleaning, being children, and caring for children. It is to the credit of the Mulligan’s, Matt, and the Haitian workers that the children are settled in and secure. Just a few months ago, seven armed men broke into the compound in the middle of the night and robbed them. This caused them to move the children to a sister orphanage over two hours away. The children lived there in crowded conditions while the facilities at Jacmel were fortified. The place is very secure now and has cameras, fences, and an armed guard.

 I spent a good bit of time with Matt and we talked through many of the problems and situations he had experienced while in Haiti that short time. As a team, we were able to be a blessing to the orphanage by painting their office, cleaning the storage depot, and unloading a couple of trucks for them. Sherry even learned to cook some Haitian food! Our desire in sending teams to Hands and Feet is to connect them with other ministries and those who need Christ. We are working toward that as we plan for our Urbancrest team to serve there in July.

  After we left Jacmel, we spent a couple of nights at the Florida Baptist Guest House in Port au Prince where Sarah Bickers served twice as an intern in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2012. I was encouraged for the first time in all my trips to Haiti to see that the largest tent cities had been dismantled and replaced with permanent homes. They look like brand new subdivisions with very small houses (12’X16” being the largest). One of the things that really blessed me was to see two Baptist church plants in the midst of these houses. I know that this is something that God is doing, and we as a church want to be involved. Haiti is slowly making progress.

 Pray for Haiti! Pray that we can have 24 team members go to Jacmel this July. That is all we can take, so sign up early. Pray for Jeff & Deanne Clem as they prepare and lead the team. Pray for the church plants in Port au Prince as we seek to find ways to partner with them. Pray especially for Matt and the Mulligans and those that work with them. Pray for the children. Pray that as the Gospel goes out through the ministry of Hands and Feet in Jacmel that lives will be transformed and souls saved.

I want to be your hands.
I want to be your feet
I'll go where you send me
I'II go where you send me
And l try, yeah I try
To touch the world like
You touched my life
And I find my way
To be your hands

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mark Your Calendars

April 3 - Faith Promise Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

April 4 - No Intern Class – Spring Break

April 14 - Short-term Mission Team Leader Training from 8:30am-3:00pm in Room 203/204
Contact Doss Estep at if you are interested in leading a short-term mission trip.

April 15 - Uganda Team Meeting @ 4:00pm in Room 206

April 15 - Local Missions report in the evening classes

April 22 - Hawaii Team Meeting @ 4:00 in Room 206

April 22 - Intern mission report in the evening classes

April 29 - Mission Staff Meeting from 5:00pm-7:00pm in Room 206

April 30–May 1 - Church Planting School in Columbus for UBC Church Planters

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Global Impact Celebration Reflections

   I intended to write about the GIC as we went through the week-long celebration, but it was so packed with great people and events that I just didn’t have time. I want to thank our wonderful missionaries for investing in us! Their presence and participation was the highlight of the event! Hopefully you can now call some of them your friends.

  We were blessed to have such a gifted group of people working on this event. Our GIC Director, Susan Byrd, and her three coordinators, Deanne Clem, Donna Zalatoris, and Bonnie Hailey, pulled all of this together and really allowed Urbancrest to shine for the Lord. What an awesome team they are! Diane Lynch and Susan Clemmons are the two people that touch every part of GIC with their gifts in administration and graphic design. I also wanted to thank the seventeen GIC team leaders who led countless team members before and throughout the event, taking care of every detail that can be imagined: cleaning, logistics, hospitality (manned by our Legacy Builders), host homes, transportation, and more. Preparing food for the events is always a huge effort! Dewayne Jeffers and his team put together the Wednesday night dinner and the Saturday breakfast. Sherlene Dishun and her two teams of homeschoolers took care of all the luncheons, while Angie Crumbley and Anna Pelphrey led the Taste of the World on Saturday night. Thanks to all of you! It is a blessing to see all the parts of the body of Christ working together in unity just as 1 Corinthians 12:27 encourages us to do. 

    Our GIC is about inviting Urbancrest members to enter into missions by committing themselves to be obedient to pray, give, and go. Though we do not have all the numbers in at this time, our members responded faithfully! Hundreds committed to pray for the missionaries. Many committed to short-term mission projects, and five individuals committed their lives to long-term mission service. In addition, so far we have $220,785.00 pledged toward our 2012 Faith Promise Offering. Though this amount is substantially lower than last year, we do know that other Faith Promise commitments may still be added to this total over the next couple of weeks. If God is leading you to make a Faith Promise Commitment for the upcoming year, please let us know promptly so that we can begin to plan our budget. We will need a total of $250,000.00 to maintain our current level of missionary support.

 Remember, a Faith Promise Offering is just that. You will pray for God to impress upon you an amount and then promise to Him that you will give it to this fund as He gives it to you. Or, He may impress upon you to live more simply, or do something to raise the money. Pray about it, and as God reveals to you what He would like to give through you, let us know. After spending time in prayer, you may also decide that you would like to increase the pledge that you have already made. Please be in prayer for our Faith Promise Fund Stewardship Team as they determine whether we will increase, maintain, or reduce the support of our missionaries.

   God is using our church in a mighty way to accomplish His mission of reaching all nations with the gospel of Christ! We are His heart, His hands, and His voice to a dying world! The eternal destiny of thousands will be impacted as Jesus saves souls and transforms lives. This cannot be accomplished unless we join together as co-labors in the work and say, “I am missions.”

Monday, March 12, 2012

Global Impact Celebration 2012

  Our Global Impact Celebration begins this Wednesday, March 14. What a great week God has in store for us! Missionaries who serve locally, regionally, and in places such as Australia, Cuba, Thailand, Uruguay, and North Africa/Middle East are coming to Urbancrest to proclaim the mighty works of God and to meet you! You will not want to miss a moment! 
  I have included the Schedule of Events below. During the evening services, our children will have their own GIC special activities! I want to encourage you to attend our Wednesday night Kick-off Celebration. Aaron Coe, Vice President of the North American Mission Board, is our featured speaker. Come fellowship with our missionaries as we worship together to prepare our hearts for a life-transforming message. 
  Please join us in Room 207 during the GIC to pray for the missionaries, workers, and the lives that will be touched. The missionary prayer posters will be up on the walls so that you can focus on their specific prayer requests.
  GIC Prayer Points:
  • Pray for our missionaries as they travel and are among us.
  • Pray that God will be glorified and choose to come to us in all His power and might.
  • Pray that souls will be saved and lives transformed this week.
  • Pray that lives and finances will be committed to enable us to extend our role in His global mission during the next year.
  • Pray that prayer warriors will commit to pray for each missionary and project to defeat the enemy and bring glory to the King!
 I hope to write a few short summaries as we experience the week together. Feel free to post comments below to share your GIC highlights and how you have been impacted by the celebration! For many people, this is the highlight of their year. Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mark Your Calendars

February 10–18 – Haiti Mission Trip

February 17–18 – GIC Prayer Vigil

February 24–March 3 – Cuba Mission Trip

February 26 – Hawaii Information Meeting @ 12:30pm in Room 206

February 26 – Mission Staff Meeting from 5:00pm-7:00pm in Room 206

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
  • 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

March 25 – Uganda Information Meeting @ 12:30pm in Room 206 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Urbancrest to Host Gracia Burnham

Come Hear Gracia Burnham's Story of God's Faithfulness During Captivity! 
January 15, 2012 at 6:00pm

This event is free to the public. A love offering will be received for Mrs. Burnham at the close of the service.

Urbancrest Baptist Church
2634 Drake Road
Lebanon, OH 45036,+Lebanon,+OH+45036&hl=en&ll=39.474896,-84.18231&spn=0.011627,0.015879&sll=39.474395,-84.182306&sspn=0.011627,0.015879&vpsrc=0&hnear=2634+Drake+Rd,+Lebanon,+Ohio+45036&t=h&z=16

 For 17 years, Gracia Burnham and her husband Martin served with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines where Martin was a jungle pilot delivering mail, supplies and encouragement to other missionaries and transporting sick and injured patients to medical facilities. Gracia served in various roles supporting the aviation program and also home-schooled their children--all of which were born in the Philippines.

  While celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at Dos Palmas Resort off Palawan Island, the Burnhams were kidnapped on May 27, 2001, by the Abu Sayyaf Group, a militant group of Muslims. They seized several more guests and took them to Basilan Island, an ASG stronghold.

  In the ensuing months some of the hostages were killed, but most were set free. From November 2001, only the Burnhams and one other hostage remained in captivity.

  During their 376 days of captivity, they faced near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles, coldhearted murder, and intense soul-searching about a God who sometimes seemed to have forgotten them.

  On June 7, 2002, in a firefight between the Philippine military and the Abu Sayyaf Group, Martin was killed. Gracia was wounded, but was freed.

  Since that time Gracia has authored two books, In The Presence Of My Enemies, and To Fly Again. Gracia resides in Rose Hill, Kansas. Because of her unique story, Gracia is a popular speaker for churches, conferences and schools.

 More information about Gracia and the Martin & Gracia Burnham Foundation can be found at