LIBERTY — Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri attendees enjoyed a brief conversation with global missions field personnel Shane and Diane McNary Friday evening —from across the world.
The occasion was the CBFMO missions banquet, part of the state CBF Coordinating Council's event April 8-9 at Second Baptist Church of Liberty.
Linked electronically from the field where they coordinate partnerships among Baptists working with Roma/Gypsy churches in Slovakia, the couple encouraged CBFers to pray for their work, to give to its support through CBF Global Missions and to come on a Roma partnership team in the fall.
They also were challenged to participate in the Big Muddy — Clean Water project to raise money for four clean water projects to benefit Ethiopia.
A two-man team consisting of Columbians Josh Arnone and Jason Nazario plan to canoe the Missouri River 340 that pits teams of canoe and kayak paddlers along the Missouri River starting in Kansas City and ending 340 miles later in St. Charles. The pair seeks to raise $20,000 from sponsors in the 48-hour paddle.
Their efforts were bolstered later during the missions banquet when Jennifer Greason of the CBF Giving Circle (administered by the CBFMO Endowment Board) announced the team had been granted the group's $5,000 grant after being chosen from three applicants.
She made the announcement as she presented an oversized $5,000 check. The giving circle included 100 people who committed $50 to do more than anyone could have done alone, she explained.
Missions banquet attendees heard from Leslie Limbaugh of St. Louis that Yugoslavians Sasha and Mira Zivanov, who minister to a large Bosnian population in St. Louis, are soon to be commissioned as CBF affiliate missionaries. Though supported directly by individual churches, CBF will provide them a network of others serving internationals, Limbaugh said.
Terrell Carter reported that about 20 pastors in the St. Louis area now make up the St. Louis Area Pastors conference. Primarily bivocational pastors, they meet weekly to find support in the midst of unique pastoral challenges.
Central Baptist Theological Seminary student Kate Hanch, a CBF Leadership Scholar, told the group that without the support of CBF, she doesn't believe she would have heard the call to ministry.
National CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal said that while CBF had been involved in ministries all around the world, "the place where we have done the most last year was in Haiti."
Vestal said CBF and other partners worked to re-create a dynamic model he and others had witnessed in Awassa, Ethiopia, among women in a self-help group —"the poorest of the poor."
The women, who had almost nothing, were teaching a "culture of saving," he said. Each contributed a little. They in turn then made small loans to individuals in the group to better their lives.
One borrowed enough for scissors and a comb and became a barber. Another borrowed enough for garden implements and another supplies for sewing.
Made up of religious groups that included Christians and Muslims, they had "no collateral, only relationships," he said. They started and ended meetings with prayer and resorted to prayer when conflict developed.
They went to the Word of Life Church, which started 45 self-help groups. They had discovered the secret of moving from charity to transformation, Vestal said.
"We sent four Haitians to Ethiopia for three months to learn from the Ethiopians," he said. Then 50 Haitian pastors in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, gathered to learn how to create similar self-help groups.
Outsiders have created a monumental system of charity in Haiti, he said. "We have helped create problems in Haiti.
"Pray that God will help them transform their culture."