By Michael Domke
International Mission Board
I recently watched people line up outside a church as air raid sirens sounded in Ukraine. The church was not a bomb shelter.
They weren’t distributing food. It wasn’t even a Sunday.
People stood in line, awaiting their turn so they could hear about the hope of Jesus Christ.
Church planting amid war looks physically different from peacetime:
- Mattresses piled in the hallway of an apartment building where a pastor offers comfort in the middle of an attack.
- Pews pushed up against the church walls to make room for people whose homes were destroyed.
- A bullet-riddled car loaded with supplies driving through occupied territory.
- A pastor searching for a place to baptize 10 people.
I’ve found, however, church planting still boils down to believers being steadfastly present among the lost and joining God in His work.
I look at Ukraine and can’t help but think it’s amazing how God works through the generosity of your giving.
For more than a decade, Southern Baptist gifts allowed us to disciple and train a generation of church planters in Ukraine.
Just as we saw hints of a multiplying church DNA taking hold, the war ratcheted up, and we evacuated to another country.
We left everything behind — our possessions, dogs, friends and ministry. We were devastated.
But there Southern Baptists were holding the ropes. This support not only got us to safety but also provided trauma counseling through IMB member care for our three kids, JuliAn and me.
Southern Baptists helped us get established in a new home and schools. We left Ukraine, but God didn’t ask us to leave this ministry.
In fact, we’ve watched it grow — at first through digital engagement with our network of church planters and then with trips into Ukraine.
That church-planting DNA taught before the war took root and grew. Local pastors and believers shared the good news of Jesus Christ with close to thousands of people. We saw baptism after baptism.
One church that was about to shut its door now has more than 300 worshipping and has planted another church.
There are countless new small groups meeting as well as many new churches.
Saying “thank you” for supporting us (and, in turn, Ukrainian church planters) during one of the hardest times of our lives doesn’t seem like enough, but it’s all I have to give.
Thank you for heeding Lottie Moon’s rally cry to send more workers to the field because it is harvest time in Ukraine.
God is working.
And when God is working, that’s when we need to be working, too.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Michael Domke has served in Ukraine for 15 years with the International Mission Board. (Sue Sprenkle contributed to this article.)
Letters to the Editor
I am absolutely loving The Baptist Paper. I’m a huge fan. It’s the finest piece of journalism I’ve ever read.
Y’all take the time to look at the reason behind the article and I am never afraid that I will read something that contradicts God’s Word.
I also love a crossword puzzle that makes me open my Bible and ask, ‘What does this verse say to me?’
I teach Sunday School and use the commentaries you publish with my lessons.
The Rashional Thoughts editorials are very focused on getting the point across and very personalized. I can understand them and appreciate that.
I also love the fact that I can pick up the phone and call and talk to you.
Continue on with the good work.
Working together on mission
Hope Unlimited Family Care Center
We are the Church. Yes, all of us who know Jesus as our Savior have a call of some sort on each of our lives. Mine is the pregnancy care world and the pro-abundant life mission to help moms and dads realize their value and the value of their unborn and born children’s life.
There are so many pieces of the ministry of the pregnancy care world that parallel the church, and we want to come alongside churches so that we can make a bigger impact in the lives of families.
‘It is messy’
Are you ready for your church to look like a broken world? A place full of people who need a safe place to grow in their faith, be discipled in their walk with Christ, able to see godly marriages and parenting working, a place they will be loved unconditionally?
It is hard and it is messy. You know why? Because each of us is hard and messy.
How will moms and dads who have not been given a home life that pointed them to the cross — and all that Jesus has to offer — know how to function as a healthy family?
That is why partnering with your local pregnancy resource center is a win-win.
The PRC is not the Church. We are a stepping stone for families to be a part of the Church. We need churches that understand the mission, are willing to know their PRC and the services it has to offer, and then be willing to accept, disciple and love families.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This is an excerpt from an article originally published by Kentucky Today.
When we signed up with God, and especially with our faith in Jesus, then we signed up for the whole thing. We signed up for whatever God knew we could handle, and anything that took us by surprise, did not surprise God, and so we learned how to manage it.
We got what we signed up for because all of life, any aspect of life has its ups and downs — the awesome-over-the-moon times and the flaming disasters.
Everyone lives exactly like this, and no one escapes it. Some may have more of something you imagine you’re missing, some may suffer far more than you ever will, but the gift of faith is that you signed an eternal agreement. That means you always have somewhere to go when life gets stormy.
You always have someone to listen to you when you come to the end of your own resources.
When you get to the place where things feel like it’s not what you signed up for, then turn it over to God.
He signed up with you and nothing will change that. He sees your stress, your pain, your doubt and anything else that makes you feel like things are haywire.
So, here’s what you do — pray and thank God for [how you’ve grown, who you’ve met and where you are overall in life because of the journey].
Frustration may give you pause now and then, but your reality is not just fixed on today; it’s taking you through eternity.
And we’ve all been blessed with far more than we signed up for.
Excerpt from Karen Moore’s blog post “I Didn’t Sign Up for That” at karenmooreauthor.com
I’m a thoroughly convinced adherent of congregational church polity, not merely as a practical matter but as a theological conviction. I believe that the Holy Spirit guides believers as we make decisions together.
“God, when He calls us into ministry, never gives us a job description before we start. He calls us, and then He provides a job description because He knows if He gives us the job description before we submit to His will, we will perhaps be like Jonah and try to … get away,” said Reginald Calvert, pastor of New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Bessemer, Alabama.
The person that has a Heart for God will always experience the Hand of God.
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The best way to learn to be a lead pastor (whichever title you like) is to go be one. There are lessons you’ll never learn until you feel the pressure of that seat.
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“As a matter of fact, that’s what ‘overflow’ means. It’s not an overflow of blessings; it’s an overflow of intimacy. It’s not overflow to us, but it’s overflow coming out of us. It’s being with God until it overflows into our everyday life,” said singer-songwriter and worship leader Michael Bethany of his worship album, “Overflow.”
“Almost anyone with hearing loss as an older adult should get their hearing checked and address hearing issues if there are any,” said lead researcher Frank Lin regarding a study published in 2023 in The Lancet. “There’s really no … risk.”
Be known for being effective and efficient. Not just busy. #beknownforsomething
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“When God makes promises, He keeps them. God’s timing, however, does not always align with our timing or expectations,” said Douglas K. Wilson, executive director of the Center for Christian Calling, University of Mobile.