2009 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering
In John 4:35–37, Jesus urges His disciples to look at the fields that are ready for harvest. Jesus’s followers needed to be reminded that the harvesting could not wait, and that reminder is just as valid today. Certainly North America is filled with fields ready for harvest and fields ready to be sown—or resown—with the eternal-life message of the Gospel. Can we afford to wait to move into those fields? Three out of four people in North America live without a personal relationship with Christ. Who is sowing the Gospel to reach them?
Your Southern Baptist North American missionaries, working in partnership with state conventions, associations, and local churches, are sowing in the fields of the United States, Canada, and their territories and living with urgency to share Christ and reap a harvest for His glory. They are creatively and boldly sowing the Gospel among those who have never heard or responded to the Gospel before. They are moving beyond their comfort zones into uncommon territory, actively seeking common ground with unbelievers so they can share the Gospel.
What will your investment into the Kingdom of God be? Will you commit to faithfully pray for our North American missionaries and give sacrificially to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering? Will you work alongside our Southern Baptist missionaries and do your part to sow the Gospel in your community?
Use this prayer guide during the Week of Prayer for North American Missions to guide your prayers for our missionaries and to pray about what your gift will be to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, 100 percent of which supports North American missionaries and their ministries.
Day 1: Gary and Sue Smith, Canada
In the vast land mass of Canada, thousands of communities have little or no evangelical witness. Gary Smith, burdened by the number of people who need to hear the Gospel, is sharing God’s love with Canadians as a North American church planting missionary. His harvest field is ethnically diverse and includes the heavily populated city of Toronto, Ontario, also known as the most metropolitan city in the world. And though the faces, culture, and language may vary in Eastern Canada, Gary sees past those differences to the one common need: Jesus Christ. Through his work, Gary encourages, trains, and mentors church planters. He also assists in enlisting potential church planters and volunteers who can help start more churches. Gary’s wife, Sue, shares his passion for church planting and joins him in praying that their witness will be contagious and that the seeds they sow will bear much fruit.
Prayer Concerns: Pray for Gary’s effectiveness as he sows together with others to start churches. Pray for God to open doors among the different people groups who need an evangelical witness and church. Pray for a great awakening to spread across Canada through Gary’s ministry.
Day 2: Al and Noemi Fernandez, Florida
South Florida is an area Al Fernandez knows and loves. Reared in Miami in a Christian home, his passion for the people there led him to plant and pastor a Southern Baptist church. Today, as a North American missionary and director of Urban Impact Ministries for the Florida Baptist Convention, Al is sowing the Gospel seed in a field that houses more than 60 percent of Florida’s population. In this highly multicultural and multilingual area of South Florida, Al assists churches in three of the state’s most densely populated counties—Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. “I assist in developing urban strategies and in the implementation of urban leadership development, evangelism, and church planting,” says Al. Through Urban Impact Ministries, Al is fulfilling his call to help bring spiritual transformation to this complicated, multicultural, and unchurched area.
Prayer Concerns: Pray for churches and leaders Al works with to understand the importance of, and become active in, spreading the Gospel beyond their neighborhoods to the many unbelievers living in South Florida.
Day 3: Daniel and Kimberly Goombi, Kansas
Native Americans, as part of their culture, are deeply rooted in the traditions of their ancestors. Fortunately, our God is the Alpha and Omega, and placed His roots for Native American ministry deep in the heart and background of Daniel and Kimberly Goombi. Daniel, who was reared in Nebraska as a missionary kid on a Native American reservation, and Kimberly, whose family later served on those same reservations, now serve together as North American missionaries in Kansas. Together, they are sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ to Native American tribe members who live on a reservation. “One of the most difficult hurdles in sharing the Gospel with Native American tribes comes from the false belief that our Heavenly Father is a ‘white-man’s god,’ “ says Daniel. Through community ministries, outreach ministries, Vacation Bible Schools, and personal evangelism, the Goombis are sharing Christ’s love and acceptance with Native Americans who think they have to forget their heritage and face exile from their own nations.
Prayer Concerns: Pray for more churches to become aware of the need to reach sovereign nations of indigenous people within their own state. Pray for Native Americans to be receptive to the Gospel and the Lord as the God of all people.
Day 4: Brenda Crim, Alaska
With just 300,000 people living in and around Anchorage, it is easy to see how Alaska can often be perceived as cold and desolate. But the people there share a commonality with many living in the lower 48 states: they are in desperate need of the Gospel. North American missionary Brenda Crim sees and accepts the great task of spreading the Gospel into areas without any witness at all. “There are 130 villages that have no church at all, of any type, and I believe my campus is a pivotal place to reach the leadership that would go back into these remote villages, untouched by a church or Christian witness,” says Brenda. As a Baptist Campus Ministry director and North American missionary, Brenda is a bold witness and a strong mentor to students seeking God’s direction for their lives. She ministers to college students at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, focusing on sharing Christ with the Native Alaskans who attend there and encouraging them to return home and help start new churches in their villages. In addition, she heads up a ministry to fans and sled dog racers of the Iditarod race and leads students in an evangelistic ministry to outdoorsmen and fishermen.
Prayer Concerns: Pray for God to call out more Native Alaskan students who can open doors in villages where there is no Gospel witness. Pray for more missions teams to be willing to come serve, especially during the winter, and share Christ in remote areas of Alaska.
Day 5: Song Sik and Fanny Kim, California
When Song and Fanny Kim look around their state to their native people group, it is easy for them to see how much work is needed to sow the Gospel. More than one million Koreans live in California, but 80 percent do not have a personal relationship with Christ. As a church planting strategist and North American missionary, Song Kim is working among Koreans, spreading Gospel seeds and helping plant new churches.
While assisting Korean church planters and teaching at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Song is helping pastors and leaders see beyond their churches into the fields where the work of spreading the Gospel by starting new churches is a vital necessity. In his role, he assists and trains existing church planters and seeks out individuals who will start new churches in areas where there are no Korean Southern Baptist churches.
Prayer Concerns: Pray for Song and Fanny’s safety as they travel California visiting church planters and seeking new areas in need of a Korean church. Pray for ten new churches to be started in 2009.
Day 6: Lamar and Dolly Duke, Pennsylvania
Overlooking Pittsburgh from an area he calls his Jerusalem Gate, Lamar Duke prays for the city known as the third most religious city in America, but with less than five percent claiming to be evangelical Christians. “There are two million unchurched people living in the Baptist Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and there are only 73 churches,” says Lamar. With one Southern Baptist church for every 61,225 people, it is easy to see why this metropolitan area is a huge field waiting for the Gospel to be sown. As a North American missionary serving as the associational missionary in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Lamar’s responsibility is to start new churches and to strengthen and empower existing churches to be more effective in sharing the Gospel. Progress is being made, as evidenced by the 27 churches, of which seven are Hispanic congregations, started in the past few years. But more churches are needed. Lamar’s goal is clear—”we cannot and will not rest until there is a vital, evangelizing, discipling, reproducing church within driving distance of each of the three million people in the nine counties of Southwest Pennsylvania.”
Prayer Concerns: Pray for Lamar to be open to where God is working and for him to see past his own personal desires to what God wants him to do. Pray for more volunteers to assist existing churches in ministries designed to reach the unchurched population.
Day 7: Paul and Elizabeth Biswas, Massachusetts
Born in Bangladesh into a Hindu family, Paul Biswas was taught that salvation is earned by doing good works. But the questions that arose from his Hindu studies of reincarnation led him to seek answers from a different God. “I began to question in my heart: ‘after how many reincarnations would I be saved?’ and what kind of creator was Brahman that he discriminated between castes of people?” recalls Paul. An encounter with Christian relief workers, an evangelist, and reading the Bible helped put Paul on the path to finding answers—and the true God. “I discovered my good works could not wash me clean, but that Jesus paid the penalty of my sin through His atoning death on the cross.” Today, Paul is a North American church planting missionary and pastor of Boston Bangla Church. Through one-on-one evangelism, disciplining and equipping leaders, and mobilizing local churches, Paul is reaching out to one of the most unreached people groups in America—the Bengalis—whose population is more than one million, but who have only three Southern Baptist churches in the entire country.
Prayer Concerns: Pray for Paul and Elizabeth as they share the Gospel among Muslims and Bengali people. Pray for two new churches and leaders to begin in 2009.
Day 8: Willie and Ozzie Jacobs, Tennessee
Many people residing in and around the major urban center of Memphis, Tennessee, live in spiritual darkness. With a burden for the great number of unbelievers, especially those within the African-American community, living within sight of their churches’ doors, Willie and Ozzie Jacobs are committed to helping existing churches and to starting new churches that make an impact in the Memphis community As a national missionary for the North American Mission Board, Willie, who had seen much success in his prior mission field of Ohio, moved to Memphis last summer to begin networking and strategizing with pastors and other church leaders in the Mid-South Baptist Association to discover potential areas for new church plants. From the Mississippi Delta communities to downtown Memphis, Willie’s heart is to sow the seeds of the Gospel in a land that is desperate for spiritual hope and renewal.
Prayer Concerns: Pray for churches to become more missions minded and see the need to share the Gospel in their own communities. Pray for believers to be actively involved in sharing God’s love as committed churches work together to reach their state for Christ.
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