by Tim Faulkner
Celebrating in the Midst of Suffering
At various moments in my life, I have been in line with other friends, waiting to throw the rice as a new couple emerges after their wedding ceremony. On a few of these occasions, at the same time, another group was gathered at the church across the street. They were dressed in black and preparing to follow a hearse to the cemetery. That is how life is at times, and sometimes it can feel awkward to celebrate in times of great suffering.
This edition of Highlights will focus on the suffering caused by the crisis in Ukraine and the resulting refugee and humanitarian needs that the war is creating. International Baptist Convention churches have regularly responded in these moments, and this time is no exception. However, before we turn to the difficult topic of ministering in the midst of the war, I will point out some reasons for celebration:
- When I began as General Secretary in October 2020 there were about a dozen churches looking for pastors. Today there are only a few. Let’s thank God for providing pastoral leadership for churches.
- This year six churches have residents. That means that six churches have committed to hosting a young leader or leader couple for the purpose of developing them for ministry. Like an extension of the church staff, the resident gains valuable on-the-job training. Convention funds help make this possible. Praise God for the growing number of graduates of the residency program. These are potential future IBC leaders who are raised up from within our churches.
- In 2012 the most recent emphasis on church planting began. With coaching from a sister church association the IBC adopted a methodology. Pastors regularly dreamed, planned, and trained for starting new churches. As a result we have at least 14 new churches in the past 10 Initially IBC churches in different regions partnered together to start new churches. Later several churches started their own daughter churches. Most recently we are seeing daughter churches in the language of their host culture. Let’s celebrate a greater vision of cooperating with God for new churches.
- After a two-year hiatus, the Ministry Leadership Conferences returned in late March. A dozen IBC leaders gathered in Buenos Aires and a hundred more in Dubrovnik. These family gatherings are always a highlight of the year but especially precious for leaders who have been ministering in Covid I am grateful to the Lord for IBC brothers and sisters who faithfully serve in leadership to the local church. It was encouraging to be back together again to recharge and refocus for ministry in the coming months.
- IBC churches gave 80€ to the Global Missions Offering for 2021. This money will go toward helping single parents in Rwanda, earthquake victims in Haiti, and the Pomeranians in Brazil.
We take comfort in God’s work in every circumstance of our lives, in the highs and the lows. As you read the articles that follow I trust that you will be encouraged as you read of bold faith and a faithful God. The current war is an opportunity that we do not want to lose as God responds through His children in local churches around the globe.