Headline News from around the Southeast for January 13

Florida

When David Schorejs became pastor of First Baptist Church Apopka on Easter 2014, he established one goal. “Instead of creating ministry and asking God to bless it, we decided to embrace the community around us,” he said. Located north of Orlando, the community surrounding the church was home to a large population of homeless and destitute people, the Florida Baptist Witness reported. The church soon began to host weekly dinners as a part of its Next Step Ministry. “The ministry is designed to remind the community that everyone has a next step in life,” he explained. Each week between 60 and 70 volunteers come out to serve in the ministry, and as many as 60 impoverished people attend the dinners. Through the years, more than 30 community residents have made professions of faith in Jesus and have been baptized. “We love seeing what the Lord is doing,” Schorejs said. For more of this story, click here.

Georgia

The mile-wide path of destruction left behind after an EF-4 tornado rumbled across Coweta County in March was nearly beyond imagination. Less than a year later, the trees downed by the tornado have become firewood to help needy families heat their homes this winter. With cold weather approaching, Pastor Jamie Callaway and members of Faith Baptist Church in Bowman have delivered 20 tons of tornado-ravaged firewood to the Ramah Navajo Reservation near Pine Hill, New Mexico, The Christian Index reported.

“What was a tragedy for Greg [Thompson] and his family [who lost their home in the tornado] turned out to be a blessing for our brothers and sisters in the Navajo nation,” Callaway said. Homeowner Thompson said God used the tornado to renew his faith, explaining that God brought him “to a state of repentance” because he had not been “as close to Him as I should be.” To read more, click here.

Kentucky

After more than a decade of membership decline, Scottsville Road Baptist Church in Bowling Green voted unanimously in August 2020 to become a campus of nearby Living Hope Baptist Church, called Living Hope Scottsville Road, The Baptist Paper reported.

Will Burnham, pastor of the new campus, said the decision to merge has been positive for all involved. “Being part of the [Southern Baptist Convention], you are not alone. There’s always somebody out there who’s ready to help. It’s just being willing to ask for help and to know that we are stronger together. That’s the beating heart of the SBC, isn’t it? To cooperate together, to advance the Kingdom,” Burnham said. “If there is a church out there struggling, I would encourage it to be willing to have a conversation with a sister church in its county.” Click here to read more of this story.

North Carolina

Nearly eight years after arriving in the United States as a refugee, Nathan Rostampour still reaches families in Central Asia with the gospel, raising up leaders among secret house churches in the region, the Biblical Recorder reported.

On Sundays, he broadcasts worship services through Instagram, which is one platform not blocked in Iran. At the end of the service, he opens a chat box where members fellowship virtually and share prayer requests.

About 1,000 families tune in from their homes to join services and discipleship courses every week.

On Saturdays, Rostampour holds an online class through which he teaches discipleship and leadership concepts. He hosts multiple Zoom meetings and phone calls with house church leaders throughout the week to mentor, keep in touch with and pray for leaders in Iran.

The evangelical population in Iran is quickly growing, he said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for the church in general to reach Iran these days.” To read more about this ministry, click here.

Tennessee

Leaders at Carson-Newman University are continuing to navigate through the recovery and assessment phases in the wake of a Nov. 26 fire that damaged the school’s Pedersen Nursing Building, the Baptist and Reflector reported.

Campus leaders expressed thanks to the many who donated to replenish lost supplies and training equipment.

Due to fire and water damage, nothing in the building was salvageable.

Because the fire occurred when students were away for Thanksgiving break, no one had been in the building for days.

“It was a hallelujah moment when we discovered that everybody was accounted for and safe. … We can replace technology and equipment and buildings.

“But you just can’t replace a life,” said Fowler, who requested prayer for the school’s leaders and for God to work in the details as the university continues through the transition. Click here to read more.

Virginia

When 5,000 Afghan refugees were relocated to a U.S. military base on the East Coast earlier this year, Sarah Parker (name changed for security reasons) felt called to help.

A Marine wife and member of Pillar Church of Dumfries, Parker began to look for ways to minister to the families displaced by the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul.

Working with Send Relief, Parker helps coordinate numerous activities for children, including sports, games, songs, English as a Second Language classes and crafts.

“The goal is to go in and love on these kids who have been through so much trauma and transition in a short period of time,” Parker said.

“We want to set them up for success in the American education system, while reminding them that they are children who can still play and have fun despite what they’ve been through,” she said. “This is our missions field.” Click here to read more.

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