Journey Baptist Church in Sulphur Springs determined to do something about the financial needs of the international mission program of the denomination with which they are aligned. The local congregation made a $29,000 contribution to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention this month.
The story that follows is printed with permission of the Southern Baptist Texan and texanonline.net, newsjournal of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention.
A small church in east Texas has made a sizeable gift to the International Mission Board (IMB), even though doing so meant sacrificing funds that could have been used for a permanent building.
Two years ago, Journey Baptist Church sold its building, a facility that was poorly located, with little parking and no room for growth. A purchase of 10 acres as a future building site followed, but constructing a new structure proved cost prohibitive, so church leaders were content to meet in temporary facilities until they were able to complete the project.
Upon hearing of the IMB’s 2015 decision to reduce the numbers of staff and missionaries on the field, Journey church members set aside nearly a month in earnest prayer to decide how they could help, pastor Kyle Ray said.
“Our prayer focus was based on three truths or promises: (1) If we truly seek first God’s kingdom, not our own, then he will take care of all these other things. (2) Are we going to believe it is better to give than receive? (3) Will we love our neighbors more than ourselves?” Ray said.
“During our season of prayer, a local man desiring to build a Christian ministry around Sulphur Springs contacted us about our using that ministry’s building, [which is] expected to be completed within 18 months,” Ray said. Information about the man’s unsolicited offer was presented to the congregation at a meeting held in early October to determine the church’s response to the IMB funding issues.
The congregation of about 60 members voted to give all of a special reserve fund, monies saved over and above operating funds, to the IMB – a sum of more than $29,000.
Additionally, the church increased its Cooperative Program giving from 7 to 10 percent next year, with a commitment to increase it by 1 percent each year until they get to 15 percent.
While waiting on the new facility to become available, the church planned to continue meeting at a local hotel, but Ray said the church discovered a better option.
“That week we were contacted by the pastor of First Baptist Church of Sulphur Springs who asked us, out of the blue, if we would be interested in meeting on Sunday mornings in that church’s Recreation Outreach Center (ROC) facility,” Ray said, calling the facility “one of the nicest buildings in town.”
The move to the ROC facility will save Journey church a significant amount each month, and the building will be available to use until they move to their more permanent location.
“As we prayed about giving more to the IMB, the Lord has seemingly convinced our church family that we don’t need to spend $500,000 on a building when we can get along fine without one. He will take care of us and has proven to do so by providing two meeting locations (one temporary and one for more long-term use) for way less than we are paying now and way less than a mortgage plus expenses would be to own a building,” Ray said. “It has been humbling to see God do so much.”
Journey church became a Southern Baptists of Texas Convention church plant four years ago and called Ray to become its senior pastor in January 2012. From the beginning, the church has embraced international missions, particularly among unreached people groups.
“Within six months of beginning our work together, we went on our first international trip … to work with an unreached people group,” Ray said. “We adopted that group and have since been back seven times, working with an IMB [worker] there.”
From fewer than 20 believers, the area where the church is partnering now has more than 200 believers and five churches.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jane Rodgers is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN at texanonline.net, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)