Boise, ID – The National Collegiate Day of Prayer was February 23rd. The leaders of Foundation College Ministry in the Treasure Valley decided this was a perfect occasion to celebrate by doing a campus outreach where we hand out Hot Chocolate and Donuts and pray for students on the campus. The impact was incredible. FCM joined with other campus ministries and church friends who volunteered to help serve the students of Boise State with us. We prayed with a handful of students, listened to numerous prayer requests, and we went through twenty dozen donuts by the end of the morning. It was the perfect day for hot chocolate as it even snowed on us at one point.
Here is a list of some of the requests we heard about:
Upcoming Tests and Assignments (several)
Stress over an upcoming move
Passing of an aging loved one where they were primary caretaker
Can’t afford to fail this semester like last time
Family moving away from Idaho to California and leaving her behind
The requests were personal, some sharing names. This was the most transparent students have been than anyone at FCM can remember. Overall, over twenty-five students asked for prayer for one thing or another.
The day did not stop there, later that night FCM and the other campus ministries connected to Boise State joined together for a prayer meeting. It was so encouraging seeing everyone get together with the same heart of praying for each other, their campus ministries, and for the students of Boise State. The night consisted of worship then moved into praying for each ministry. A representative from one group would share what God is doing and specific requests for their ministry, then we would spend time praying over what was shared followed by the next ministry representative ending that time by praying for them from the stage before sharing about their ministry with the group. By the end of the night, students and leaders encouraged one another and the ministries were unified with the same goal of reaching their campus with the gospel.
Reprint of original story published on the February 6, 2023 issue of Baptist Press
EMMETT, Idaho (BP) – Riverside Church, having successfully grown a 2019 church plant into a constituted church later that same year, plans to emphasize evangelism in 2023.
Starting its first community groups to disciple and organically nurture emerging leaders also is anticipated this year, Pastor Hugh Orr told Baptist Press.
“God has really put a burden on my heart for our church to step up our efforts in evangelism, to encourage people to understand there are people every day who are dying who don’t know Christ, right here in Emmett,” Orr said. “It’s every Christian’s privilege and responsibility to tell people about the Gospel and what Jesus has done for the world.
“I’m trying to remind people that, if we love our neighbors, we have to do this. That’s our emphasis this year, to stoke that fire in people’s hearts, to tell the Good News.”
Orr’s first class at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary a few years ago, had included a video on the Cooperative Program, the way Southern Baptists work together spreading the Gospel in North America and throughout the world. At the time he wasn’t Southern Baptist.
He chose Southeastern because it was the only seminary that offered a half-price tuition break to military veterans.
“I watched that video and was sold immediately,” Orr said. “I was living in Idaho, going to Creekside, and I told the pastor, ‘This is great! A little church like us can actually be involved in church planting in North America, and overseas missions too.’ I sold him on the idea to become a Southern Baptist church – I think it was 2015 – and that’s my total exposure to the SBC.”
The idea that eventually became Riverside Church started with a video Orr saw, about a church of 80 that had planted several churches. He was part of another 80-member congregation, Creekside Baptist Fellowship (now Creekside Bible Fellowship) in Eagle, Idaho, about 30 minutes south of Emmett, in southwest Idaho near Boise.
“Wouldn’t it be great,” Orr said to his pastor, “if we were to plant a church some day?”
Or maybe Riverside Church started with the prayers of another church in the association. Orr, at the time an associate pastor at Creekside in Eagle while working for the U.S. Postal Service and attending seminary online, talked about church planting at a gathering that included Clint Henry, pastor of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho.
“We’ve been praying for a church in Emmett for at least 10 years,” Henry said, according to Orr’s recollection.
It was early 2018. Orr, soon to graduate with his M.Div., had been considering what to do with God’s call to the ministry, though Orr hadn’t considered church planting until Henry brought the need in nearby Emmett to the forefront of his mind.
Later that year, “Two, three, four families from Emmett – none of them knew each other – started coming [to Creekside in Eagle] right at the time I was getting geared up to plant the church,” Orr said. “We told them early next year we’d be planting.
“We kind of had a built-in launch team from the beginning. Five families were excited about it. I preached every Sunday for three months, so they got a preview of what the preaching would be like at the new church.”
Orr and his wife Pam, who had moved to Emmett in late 2018, opened their home to a Bible study followed by supper on Sunday afternoons. In early February the fledgling congregation moved, at the unsolicited invitation of the pastor of Gem Community Church, to share their building.
“Since our people were used to meeting Sunday afternoons at our home, it was not hard to transition,” Orr said. “We had 21 at the beginning, and about 30 within six months in that small church building.”
The congregation moved in October 2019 to Sunday morning services at a much larger Seventh-day Adventist church building. That same month they constituted as a stand-alone congregation that allocated 10 percent of undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program.
Riverside Church this January started an eight-week course in evangelism.
“The first half is laying the foundation, learning what is evangelism, what is your personal testimony and some of the reasons we don’t evangelize,” Orr said. “The rest of it will be ‘how to,’ like how to steer conversations to things of God.
“A lot of evangelism is just intentionality,” the pastor continued. “Community groups will help with that. Community groups are an onramp to get introduced to the Gospel.”
As friends and neighbors join in the community groups, the Gospel will be shared, and “sharing with others will encourage others to do the same,” Orr said.
Riverside’s main outreach each year is Emmett’s annual Cherry Festival, which takes place in June. The church has a booth manned by church volunteers, who pass out free ice water, share the Gospel, invite people to church, give Bibles upon request, and pray for those drawn by the church’s sign, which says “Can we pray for you?”
The church’s mission statement is, “Making disciples who will exalt the name of Jesus in Emmett and beyond.”
Like everywhere, people in Emmett, known as the “gateway to Idaho’s backcountry,” often are too busy, focused on what’s happening in their lives on any given day, the pastor said.
“The way I try to change that [with those who attend Riverside] is by emphasizing, ‘This is real, my friends. People are going to go to hell. You might be the only Christian they ever meet. Engage them. See where they’re at.’
“I was much more fervent when I was first saved,” Orr continued. “I was fired up because it was so new, so real in my life. I think that’s true for many Christians. Then the years go by. Now, when we stop and think about it, we say, ‘I really should do more.’ It’s so hard to find the time. That’s why we talk here [at Riverside Church] about trying to – needing to – create the time. And pray that the Lord will give us opportunities, divine appointments.”
By Karen L. Willoughby A frequent contributor to UI Connections and Baptist Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ogden, UT – “What happens after we die?” “Is there life after death?” “Are heaven and hell real?” These and many other questions will be answered by Dr. Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Dew will be coming to the Shephard Union on the campus of Weber State University, on Monday, March 27 at 6:30 PM. The public is welcome to attend, but priority seating will be given to Weber State students in attendance to hear Dr. Dew’s perspective on this important topic.
Casey Swails, Family Pastor at Redemption Church in Ogden had a vision to invite President Dew to give a new and eternal perspective on life after death that goes counter culture to the predominant perspective found on this northern Utah campus. Swails, who oversees the Redemption Church college ministry at Weber State shared that the vision for this event grew out of a relationship the church built with Dr. Dew, his family, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Swails said “While connecting with Jamie and his wife, Tara, last year at a ministry event at hosted at our church, he expressed his interests to aid in the continued ministry of Redemption Church. Considering his expertise in philosophy and theology, we concluded that inviting Jamie to speak on life after death would be an excellent opportunity to reach the campus with a gospel perspective and he gladly accepted our invitation.”
Every student that attends will receive a Gospel conversation guide, a follow-up card with links to continue the conversation with students through gospel appointments. They will also be entered into a drawing for additional prizes to be given away at the event. The first 40 students in attendance will get a free Bible. Following the presentation, students will have the opportunity to have a question and answer moment with Dr. Dew. Please pray for students that will respond to the invitations and attend this event with an open heart to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel and for them to consider the biblical truth of what happens after this life is over and what they can do now to be prepared of that moment.
This event is made possible through the cooperative efforts of many organizations and groups that seek to reach and minister to the students at WSU. The leadership and volunteers have expressed gratitude for the generosity of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Evangelism Department of North American Mission Board, as well as funding through the State Missions offering of the UISBC and direct sponsorship by Semper Veritas at Weber State, the college ministry of Redemption Church in Ogden.
Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths. Psalms 25:4 CSB
Life is full of Twists & Turns. For kids and families living in today’s world, that statement rings truer than ever. Between online school, global pandemics, disruptions in family calendar plans, and the stress of everyday life, we can take comfort in knowing that God is still in control and we can follow Jesus wherever He leads.
Lifeway VBS 2023 is all about the life of Apostle Peter from the moment he first encounters Jesus to his transformation as a missionary sent to the Roman officer, Cornelius in Joppa. Kids and families will follow a board game themed journey with activities, songs, crafts, and mission stories that will help them understand how Jesus is there for whatever “Twists & Turns” life gives us. Following Jesus is the ultimate game changer!
We want to encourage you to find one of our seven VBS training events we are hosting close to you and plan on bringing your team for a day of encouragement, singing VBS music, equipping leaders, decorating ideas, and see the fun craft activities firsthand that kids will be doing the week of VBS. These events will take place across Utah and Idaho throughout the month of April and the first weekend in May. We will be livestreaming a couple of the events to be posted on demand on our UISBC YouTube page. Subscribe today to be notified when we plan to go live and visit our VBS page for updated times and locations.
Tentative Locations and Dates April 1, 2023 – Utah | English Training: Roosevelt Baptist Church, UT April 15, 2023 – Utah | English Training: Layton Hills Baptist Church, UT April 22, 2023 – Southern Utah | English Training: First Southern Baptist Church, Washington, UT April 29, 2023 – Utah | Spanish Training: Location TBD April 29, 2023 – Whispering Pines | English Workshop: Redeemer, Grangeville, ID May 6, 2023 – Treasure Valley |English Training: Central Valley Baptist Church, Meridian, ID
PRICE, Utah (BP) – Gospel Community Church lives up to its name at Christmas.
This year the congregation of about 30 adults and their offspring bought Christmas gifts for 59 individuals in the high desert community east of the snow-covered Wasatch Mountains.
“We are always looking for opportunities to engage with the community,” Pastor Chris Polito told Baptist Press. “God has blessed us and we want to love our community by helping out where we can.”
Three years ago the Southern Baptist church decided to use its excess-of-budget offerings for the community, “rather than just socking it away in a bank account,” Polito said. The church allocates 3 percent of undesignated budget income for the Cooperative Program, the way Southern Baptists work together to share God’s love worldwide.
Gospel Community’s three unpaid pastors and their wives – Polito, Nick Teny and Tony Martinez – came up with the plan to spend the excess dollars on Christmas gifts for some of those in the town of about 8,300 who struggle financially.
“God has blessed us with a congregation of people who are generous givers,” Polito said. “We just put it out on social media to nominate people who needed help this Christmas.”
This year the budget overage came to $8,700, including $700 donated by a teen who gave the money he earned doing a community service project.
“When you see how God is working in the congregation you can see the growth over the three years,” Polito said. The first year Gospel Community was able to help provide Christmas for 39 people. In year two, 45 people.
This year, the 59 individuals consisted of 11 families and nine mentally challenged teens in a group home. Each family was notified they had been chosen, and were given a form to fill out and return including clothing sizes and gift preferences.
“We went to various places to support as many local businesses as we could,” Polito said. “With the info on the forms, we could shop pretty specifically.”
The allocated $150 per person meant each individual received some if not all their wishes, including a hoverboard, ear buds, a Barbie and much more.
Saturday afternoon in the church worship center all the nearly 300 gifts were wrapped.
“It was chaos, crazy,” member Liz Konakis told Baptist Press. “It was wild and crazy and carrying on.”
Each gift was tagged with a number. Each number was attached to a recipient’s name.
“Some big dinosaur had three ladies wrapping it,” Konakis said. Other gifts: pillows, a bean bag chair, curling iron, boots, hats, clothing and a Bible. “Trying to get it all organized was a little crazy.”
Six teams set out after church – Teny had preached on “the advent (arrival) of love” – in cars, SUVs and pickup trucks stuffed with packages and armed with addresses.
Some houses weren’t so easy to find. Not all houses have visible addresses. Some people protect their neighbors from unknown people wanting to find them, even when they hear the “outlandish” tale that they’re just bringing gifts. When all else failed, some recipients were called for direction, but the phones weren’t answered because the number calling was unknown.
With effort, however, each family received its gifts. At each home, the gospel was concisely shared, prayer requests were sought, the requests and residents were prayed for, and multiple calls – from both recipients and deliverers – of “Merry Christmas!” were heard.
But that wasn’t the end.
Several delivery teams then ate together at local restaurants, having missed their Sunday dinner. The increased camaraderie among church members was an unanticipated blessing from the Lord, Polito said.
“In everything we do, we try to glorify the Lord,” Polito said. “With this Christmas project, we want to strengthen the connection between the church – the bride of Christ – and the community.”
The “pastors and wives” team already are talking about next year.
“We want to be able to branch out a little more, to build relationships with the families instead of just dropping off gifts,” Polito said. “We’re going to be inviting the mom and dad to shop with us.
“All three years we’ve been doing this, we’ve been doing it the same day ‘Shop with a cop’ have been doing it,” the pastor continued. “We’ve seen them laughing and building rapport with the community, and we want to do that too, for God’s honor and glory.”
by Karen L. Willoughby for Baptist Press. Used By Permission.