Ministry in Review Because we believe that the city is God’s gift to Great Commission minded Christians, it is our intention to help facilitate an urban-church-planting movement. Since the city increasingly mirrors the global demographic, the potential exists to minister to the whole world within individual cities. Furthermore, it is possible to follow the human connections made in one city to all parts of the world, thereby building the body of Christ globally. Boston is our city.
Networking Global-Church Planting Providentially, last year was a time of building the network for global-church planting. Along with the ministry in Boston, there were opportunities to network global-church planting on a regional, continental, and international basis. As the result of past networking, Toby and Susan Stevens, and Andy Scott have joined the ministry in Boston and are making plans to minister vocationally here. In the same vein, last evening, a student who is participating in Bill’s on line urban-church planting course, contacted Bill, informing him that he and his wife are making tentative plans to move to Boston for the purpose of being mentored in global-church planting. In addition to the on line course, Bill is working with another school to implement an urban-church planting academic program.
The International Baptist Fellowship Last year saw the continued development of the NEU Chinese Bible study, and the growth of the Bostonian Bible study. As you may remember, our church plant meets Sundays from 11AM to at least 3PM. Our corporate meeting includes two Bible studies, a long prayer session, music and lunch. In addition to our Sunday activities, the International Baptist Fellowship (IBF) has numerous, evangelistic/discipleship Bible studies, one-on-one meetings, and two small group Bible studies. The small group Bible studies are developing along ethnic, educational, regional, or some other meaningful sub-group parameter. We believe that these are key to both individual and corporate spiritual growth.
Goodbye and Hello We are seeing growth in the overall ministry, but one needs to look globally to fully appreciate it. Last year the IBF launched several individuals and families to places across the United States, and even the world. Rob and Amanda Edmondson and children moved back to Jackson, Wyoming, taking with them the lessons learned while being mentored in Boston. Adam and Heather Brandt and their three children moved from the ghetto in Boston to the ghetto in Minneapolis. They also are implementing lessons learned in order to be life-giving blessings there. In addition to this, the IBF said goodbye to several of our disciples who went home to China. I am glad to report that after this mass exodus, our Bible study room is once again filling up with new faces, new disciples and new opportunities to minister the gospel globally.
The IBF Christmas Children Christmas was a very special time for the IBF. Our heavenly Father has given us the privilege of ministering to a family of very at- risk children. Because of their unstable living circumstances, our relationship with them is tenuous—we don’t know how long we will have them. We are trying to make the most of the time we do have. On the Sunday before Christmas, the fellowship provided a bag of gifts for each child, and we all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas program. The children were dressed up as angels and sang several beautiful songs—at least I am sure our Father counted it as beautiful. Lately, it seems as if we are losing contact with our children. I still remember their beaming faces as they learned and experienced the love of God at the IBF. Will you pray for them, and for the thousands of children like them in Boston, and the millions of children like them in the urban centers of our world?
Dumplings Anyone? We had a full house on the night of Spring Festival—Chinese New Year. Somewhere between 30 to 35 people filled our home, gathered around the table, and enjoyed all manner of Chinese cuisine. We were able to initiate new friendships with several, and all of our new friends learned that we believe in the God of the Bible and stand ready to teach them more of our Savior. Some attended church the next Sunday and hopefully, these will soon be engaged in evangelistic relationships/studies. Please ask our Father to help this happen.
Baptisms Two of our disciples were recently baptized. Jason became a Christian some time ago, but wanted to make sure he really believed, before following the Lord in believer’s baptism. In the spring, he will be leaving for Taiwan, and then Singapore. Fabiola, Bruce’s Argentinian wife, also requested believer’s baptism. She has proved to be a wonderful addition to the IBF family. We are planning another baptism for the month of April. We have several potential candidates, but we need to pray. In each potential candidate’s life, ministry remains to be done before they are either ready or desire to be baptized. Please pray with us.
The Battle for the Bostonians Please also pray for our Bostonian Bible study. As I have said before, I have a particular love for the participants of this study. They seem to have a tenacious desire to know and live for God, but all of us in this study have our problems—lots of them. It seems like I (Bill) am dealing with major sin problems within this group on a weekly basis. The need for anonymity requires that I not list what I mean by major, but, believe me, major is what it is. And yet these folks fight with grit and determination to overcome the power of sin in their lives, working to become a trophy of God’s grace. I love them, and I love the God who has given me the privilege of ministering to them.
Deb Deb is extremely busy. Today I asked her to help me know the people to whom she is personally ministering. She presented me a list of well over 20 people whom she regularly communicates. These are either language conversational partners or individuals with whom she has Bible studies. Of course, this is on top of her normal hospitality ministry, including dinner on Fridays, for 12, and lunch for 20+ on Sundays. Deb is stretched extremely thin at times, and she needs you to pray for her.
Building our Foundation On Sunday afternoons the IBF is working on the church doctrinal statement with the intention of becoming a local church sometime this year. Please pray that we will be able to develop just the right balance in our gospel-centered doctrinal statement.
Yawn I, (Bill), also need your prayers. My schedule is becoming demanding—I love every bit of it—, so I must be very disciplined. I go to bed early and rise very early to care for the administrative and study details of our global-church-planting endeavor. It seems to me, we have the potential to extend the life of Christ to a great many within the urban-global community. However, this potential, at least partially, depends upon extreme personal discipline on my part. Successfully extending life to the urban world is possible if one disciplines himself for the task. As Paul admonishes, “Run in such a way that you may win.” I want to win at extending the life of our Savior. Will you pray for me?
$$$ We lost a bit of our monthly support, but we gained some, as well. The budget constraints of one church forced them to cut us out of their mission’s budget, but another was able to renew their support after a hiatus of several years—what an encouragement! In addition to this, a third church recently picked up our support at $150.00 a month. In addition, pending an upcoming missions conference, there is another potential supporting church on the horizon. Never fear, if you desire to support us, there is still time. :) Even with the increased support, we still lack $1,200 per month. We cover the support deficit, augmenting our income by teaching as an adjunct professor and by speaking in churches and mission conferences. These activities have the additional benefit of helping build the global-urban-church-planting network. The IBF also helps with almost all of our ministry expenses, which is a big help indeed! This help will continue as long as I am the pastor of the IBF. Having 100% support would allow us to plan mission trips for the purpose of visiting our disciples in other parts of the world, thereby building the international urban-church-planting network. Also, full support would accelerate the paying down of our mortgage—several years ago our financial situation forced us to refinance, resulting in a payoff date well past our retirement years.
In the meantime, we remain fully engaged for the sake of the gospel,
Bill and Deb,