HOUSTON – The Texas Baptist Missions Foundation celebrated 25 years of service during its annual mission awards luncheon Nov. 16 during the Annual Meeting of Texas Baptists. This year, more than 200 people gathered as the TBMF gave special honor to those ministries who have worked to spread the hope of Christ throughout Texas.
Rudy Camacho, chair of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation Council, opened the luncheon in prayer, and Bill Arnold, TBMF President, provided a welcome to those present.
Afterwards, Randel Everett, Executive Director of the Texas Baptists Convention, brought special greetings and shared with those present the ways in which the TBMF has been making the Texas Hope 2010 initiative possible. Among the many ways the TBMF has helped is in the distribution of the Texas Hope 2010 compact discs, which contain the Gospel of John, individual testimonies, and resources for helping others know how they can become a follower of Christ.
“Thanks to the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation, we are able to make this possible,” said Everett.
Following his greetings, Arnold shared with the group that to date the TBMF has helped to raise $976,000 for the Texas Hope 2010 project.
The TBMF Adventurer Award is given to those whose ministry represents an embarking into new, unchartered areas in presenting the gospel. The 2009 Award was presented to Casa El Buen Samaritano, a medical clinic located in the predominantly Hispanic community in southwest Houston.
According to Barry Landrum, pastor of West University Baptist Church, the mission began as an outreach project to a group of undocumented individuals living just a few miles outside of Houston. Attempting to reach out to those who could not help themselves, Landrum, Steve Spann and others formed Casa El Buen Samaritano in order to provided needed medical care and also establish a window of opportunity to share the love of Christ.
Since its establishment, thousands have received free medical care from hundreds of volunteer doctors. Members of Iglesia Horeb in Houston, a partner church with the ministry, are also available to help through interpreting, sharing the gospel, or providing counseling for those who come to the clinic. According to Iglesia Horeb pastor, Campo Londono, their work allows them to be a part “of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.”
“It is a blessing and honor to receive this award,” said Lydia Eckhoff, executive director of Casa El Buen Samaritano, “and we want to thank the TBMF for their support over the years. We hope that this award will provide us a platform that will let other local churches to know about the work we do and partner with us.”
The 2009 Innovator Award for Creativity in Missions was presented to Street Life Worldwide, a ministry to urban youth based out of Houston led by Terrance Levi. The award is given to those ministries that explore new and creative ways in which to present the Gospel.
Salvatore Sberna, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Houston, presented the award and described the ways in which this ministry penetrates into the Hip-Hop Culture to bring them the hope of Christ. Street Life Worldwide engages in many typical outreach activities, such as apartment ministries, festivals, revivals, and sports ministries, but it does so through the medium of Hip Hop. With a special eye to redeem all of creation, including the creative arts, for God, Street Life Worldwide has produced music, short films, and is in the works on a feature-length film, all told from an urban perspective.
One of the delivery methods for these media creations is the Mobile Multi Media Missions Machine, or “M5,” a large bus outfitted with speakers and screens which goes into neighborhoods to set up block parties. Funds from the TBMF helped to purchase the M5.
“Street Life Worldwide has worked to redeem the arts for the sake of the Gospel,” Sberna stated. “Levi and his team have found a way to penetrate the darkest areas of culture to present the Gospel.”
During the course of the last 12 months, Street Life has held 63 events, which reached 15,000 people with 9,250 who accepted Christ for salvation.
In accepting the award, Levi pointed to the concept of cultural penetration as a great need for the church in the years to come. “We have to have a penetration mindset and be willing to do some different things,” Levi stated. “For the church to make the impact we want, we have to be willing to penetrate the culture.”
The 2009 Pioneer Award for Service in Missions was presented to First Baptist Church in Galveston and Pastor Ray Meador. The award recognizes those ministries who endure special hardships and persevere due to their commitment to the gospel.
Alan Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church in Nacogdoches and long-time friend of Meador, presented the award to First Baptist Church. Reed described the ministry of this Body of Believers after facing the destruction of Hurricane Ike in September of 2008 as well as God’s provision during that time.
Over the course of the past year, FBC Galveston has had to face the destruction of its own facilities as well as the displacement of many of its members. However, instead of being focused on their own devastation, the church became a center of ministry to the hurting community.
In working with churches from around Texas, First Baptist provided showers for the homeless and the volunteers. They established Grace Mart, which distributed clothing, household items, baby supplies, and food to those seeking help. They also worked to man Mercy Clinic, which provided medical assessments and assistance. Even though the church’s facilities are still months away from restoration, this church have continued to offer freely the love of Christ in visible, meaningful ways.
As Meador accepted the award, he reflected back to a sermon series he began two years prior to the storm that focused on Jeremiah 29:7. In this passage, God calls upon His people to seek the welfare of the city where they live, and in turn, they will also find their welfare. Meador explained how this passage became real to him over the past year.
“The great thing about being where we were,” Meador explained, “was seeing how God used His hand to make us bring about His hope.”
By Blake Killingsworth, Dallas Baptist University