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    Elders' Blog - Entries from April 2012

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    FriFridayAprApril27th2012 Pray for Mali

    Below is an update from Dan Zimmerman, former missionary in Mali. Please take time to read, pray, and increase your awareness of the progress of the gospel around the world.

    The sound of automatic rifle fire and the cries of Allahu Akbar pierced the early morning stillness as rebel forces made their way into the city of Gao, Mali, on March 31, 2012. They arrived in Timbuktu the following day. This was the beginning of the end of almost 61 years of continual missionary outreach among the Muslims in the northern regions of this West African country. 

    In 1951, Dan and Ann Zimmerman pioneered the ministry in Gao, Mali, under the auspices of Africa Christian Missions (later known as Evangelical Baptist Missions). Other missionaries soon followed and moved into Timbuktu and a couple of other cities in that region. In 1979, we were the first of a group of second generation missionaries (and the second generation of Zimmermans) to arrive in northern Mali. By January 2012, there were established churches with Malian pastors in most of the major cities of northern Mali. A Bible college in the city of Gao (with a Malian director) had already graduated 30 students, most of whom were serving as pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and Christian workers in areas such as translation. There were also a number of ongoing projects with the goal of reaching the Muslim communities with the Gospel. This all changed the end of March. 

    Early this year, rebel forces made up of a combination of heavily armed Tuaregs returning from the conflict in Libya, Al-Qeda, and other terrorists groups began attacking desert outposts with the goal of eventually taking over the northern two-thirds of Mali and establishing their own territory which they call Azawad. This has been their desire since some of these men first attacked Menaka when we lived there. With the fall of Menaka, Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu, they accomplished their goals. 

    As these Islamists began implementing sharia law, looting and pillaging, terrorizing citizens, raping women and girls, the populations of these cities began to flee. God was gracious in allowing some 200 Christians from northern Mali to escape to the south of the country totally unharmed physically, although many were traumatized emotionally from all they experienced. However, every church, the Bible college, the various projects, homes of pastors and believers have all been looted and destroyed. It has been heartbreaking to see the destruction of all physical aspects of 61 years of ministry in these cities. At the moment, there isn’t a lot of hope that ministry will ever again be able to take place in these regions. Yet, we are reminded that the church isn’t in buildings and equipment, but rather a group of believers who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. His work still goes on in the lives of these men and women. These particular men, women, and children need your prayers in a special way. 

    This has been a vivid reminder of the need to redeem the time because the day in which we live is very evil and growing more evil with each passing day. We do not know how much time we have left to share the gospel message. No one ever thought the large city of Gao, Mali, would fall into the hands of Islamist terrorists. It is mind boggling to know that almost overnight, the Christians were forced to escape for their lives and all churches were destroyed. The same thing could happen anywhere. Are we doing all we can for the furtherance of the Gospel?
    WedWednesdayAprApril25th2012 Introducing 1 Corinthians
    byDon Whipple Tagged Revival Sermons Video 1 comments Add comment
    FriFridayAprApril20th2012 Change ahead
    byDon Whipple Tagged No tags 3 comments Add comment

    ATF: that’s what it looks like on my calendar each Wednesday at 7:30 PM. It sounds like a government agency of some kind. We introduced this group to you in last week’s blog post as 12 KSBC members appointed by the elders to evaluate, advise, and recommend a preferred service structure that will position us to grow in our effectiveness of making disciples. The Advisory Task Force has been meeting for several weeks deliberating and praying through this task from every possible angle and perspective. We as elders are so grateful for their service to our church family and the gospel.

    While the ATF is finalizing their report and recommendations to the elders, we are prepared to share the bottom line of a new service schedule with the understanding that explanations of the “why” will come over the next several weeks. The Elders and staff have interacted with the recommendation of the ATF as well. I believe it is safe to say that the conclusions of the ATF were different than anyone on the team expected as they started this process.

    Beginning on Sunday, May 13, and continuing on through the next year, our meeting schedule for Sunday mornings will include corporate worship at 9:15 AM with the Bible School hour for all age groups meeting from 10:45 until 11:45 AM. One worship service – as surprising as it is, it is also quite exciting.

    This decision impacts each one of us in different ways. I imagine there are more than a few who have responses that include anger, disappointment, confusion and a lot of questions. I am not going to attempt an explanation of all that has gone into this decision in this blog venue. We wanted to get the details out, however, so that plans and expectations can be addressed. I genuinely look forward to interacting with the church family on this exciting development.

    We are a few weeks from having the ATF’s final report to the elders. In the meantime, the elders and staff are thinking through the most effective way to teach and dialogue with the church family and answer your questions. We may be looking at late May or early June before we are able to pull the church family together for this discussion, so again, please be patient with us as we prayerfully work our way through this process.

    I believe this change will be a blessing to our church family, an opportunity to refresh our thinking about who we are to be as a church, and a means to sharpen our focus of gospel ministry for years to come. Thanks so much for your patience and prayers as we have this conversation in the coming weeks.

    FriFridayAprApril13th2012 Church meetings
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Community 2 comments Add comment

    Last December the Elders began a process of evaluating our meeting times and structure with the goal in mind of better matching our values of being a gospel driven church with how we currently do church – meetings, times and weekly opportunities, for example. We sincerely believe that this is a crucial conversation with significant potential for growth and increasing effectiveness in reaching and discipling people. The topic has provoked a good bit of interest and sharing of personal perspectives.

    Since the first of the year, the Elders appointed 12 KSBC members to participate as an Advisory Task Force (ATF) to evaluate service models, to serve and advise the Elders as a voice of input and reason and to recommend a preferred service structure that will position us to realize our ministry values.

    The ATF has been meeting weekly since early March. It is quite an eclectic group as there are young and old, early service and late service attenders, men and women, children’s ministry workers and senior saints workers and KSBC veterans alongside newcomers. Two Elders have been meeting and interacting with the group as well. I am extremely grateful for and encouraged by this prayerful group of KSBC’ers who have taken to heart this crucial task. Please pray for this group!

    Two quick thoughts to stimulate our thinking while we wait to hear more from the Elders and ATF in the coming weeks:

    First, it should be obvious that service times and structure are limited in their impact on producing or encouraging real life change. For hearts to be stimulated and lives to be changed in increasing ways, more than meeting times must be addressed.

    Second, the Bible clearly teaches that God’s people are to meet regularly for specific purposes. No mention is made or directions are given as to times, length, or number of meetings (although Acts 20:7 is interesting). What is both quite directive and compelling is the ‘devotion’ that God’s people are to have to such meetings. Acts 2:42 describes the devotion believers had to meeting together for teaching, fellowship, eating and prayer. This was something they seemingly saw as primary and built the rest of their weekly schedule around these joyful meetings. Hebrews 10:23-25 teaches the principle that your confidence and hope in God are dependent upon and directly connected to regularly meeting with your church family. The message is clear: be devoted to attending and participating in scheduled church meetings so that you are encouraging others and stimulating them to greater love and service.

    Let’s trust God to clearly unite our hearts around devotion to Him, his word, prayer, and each other in the weeks and months ahead. If we do not guard our hearts carefully, our devotion becomes distracted and diluted, resulting in a weakening of our faith that essentially places a cloud over the beauty and glory of Christ that is to be seen in our lives individually and corporately.

    ThuThursdayAprApril5th2012 Easter
    byDon Whipple Tagged Repentance Resurrection 0 comments Add comment

    It’s late, but not too late to “tune your heart to sing his praise” in preparation for your celebration of this Easter weekend. The war began just a few minutes after Valentine’s Day for our imaginations and affections of what we ought to do, feel, and expect for Easter. I suggest that after reading the various accounts of the resurrection story in the Gospels, you listen to (read) Peter’s two explanations of what happened just a few weeks after it happened!

    My Bible reading schedule has had me reading the first few chapters of Acts recently. In Peter’s public addresses recorded in Acts 2:14-36 and 3:11-26 he sharpens our thinking and entices our affections about Christ’s death and resurrection with his bold clarification. Wrestle with these truths asking God to ignite your heart in a fresh way with passion for Christ.

    • Easter humbles you. Peter had no hesitancy explaining the empty tomb by simply saying to us and the crowds, you killed him, God raised him. God sent Jesus and powerfully affirmed his identity among us. The Holy and Righteous One. The Author of life. You traded his life for that of a murderer. Your rejection of him was genuine and complete. Humble yourself again this Easter as the guilty one in need of grace and mercy.

    • Easter reorients you. Your imagination is assaulted daily to think small thoughts of God and his absolute and loving control of all things. Remember Peter’s explanation of what really happened. God raised Jesus up, exalted him, seated him at his right hand and made him Lord and Christ. He goes on to tell us that this Jesus has an appointment to return once the time for restoring ‘all things’ is complete. The empty tomb means God is in control, everything is on schedule, restoration is currently underway, and King Jesus will be here right on time. Shake out the dust and cobwebs of your thinking as you celebrate the risen Christ.
    • Easter saves you. You rejected Christ. God elevated and honored Christ. You have a problem with God. Peter acknowledges that this is the obvious conclusion of the Easter weekend events. The only response that makes any sense is repentance and faith. Because of Jesus death and resurrection, repentance and faith will bring you forgiveness/blotting out of your sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit and ‘times of refreshing.’ Peter concludes his 2nd message by saying boldly that the death and resurrection of Christ is the fulfillment of the global blessings promised to Abraham. Make this the Easter you turn from your sin and trust Christ.
    By the way, watch the weekly church bulletin for news about our summer schedule. Next week, Lord willing, I plan to explain the schedule and share more about the encouraging process taking place with a group of KSBC members as we wrestle with matching our mission with our meeting schedule.

    He is risen! 

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