FRANKLIN — Being on mission is an adventure and every opportunity is unique. However, Tennessee Baptists can engage one of the more unique partnership missions opportunities the Tennessee Baptist Convention has ever endeavored.
Messengers of the 2021 Summit, held at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, affirmed a partnership missions agreement between the Tennessee Baptist Convention and the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention (HPBC).
The partnership began this year and some pastors have already taken a vision trip to better understand how their churches might be involved with serving in Hawaii.
“When I presented this opportunity to our church, I didn’t know many of them already had a history with Hawaii,” said Jacob Brimm, pastor of Bethel Springs First Baptist Church. “Our church is a missions-minded church and a core group of people heavily involved in missions had been texting during the service. They came up to me afterwards and they already had it worked out. They were ready to go!”
And there is plenty to do and opportunities to be had, despite the relatively small land mass of the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii is a land of diverse peoples, worldviews and religions. It is certainly a global crossroads.
“There are so many different cultures and people with differing backgrounds,” said Brian Smart, HPBC assistant executive director. “You run into people who approach the gospel with various world-views. Eastern thought and Western thought are completely different. There are at times language issues. Some people have no biblical understanding and sometimes they have never heard of the Bible.”
Four pastors and their wives from across Tennessee participated in the first vision trip led by Tennessee Baptist Mission Board’s Partnership Missions team to better understand where their churches could plug in.
The pastors connected one-on-one with local pastors or leaders of a particular ministry, like Baptist Collegiate Ministry. The HPBC also made a presentation to the pastors regarding a vision for ministry in New Zealand.
The HPBC geographically covers a large part of the Western Pacific stretching to New Zealand, up to Japan, back to Hawaii and everything in that triangle. It is a massive area.
More on-location opportunities will open in 2023, but participating in partnership missions to Hawaii doesn’t have to mean going to Hawaii. The distance and cost can be a daunting leap, especially for smaller churches.. However, there are other, strategic ways churches can be involved.
“Right now we are wanting to initiate relationships,” said Scott Shepherd, TBMB partnership ministry specialist. “A great way to do that is to connect churches in Hawaii with our TBC churches for the purpose of prayer.
“As pastors and churches connect with each other and invest in one another by sharing prayer needs, opportunities will emerge. With all churches having learned about using technology like Zoom the past couple of years, it makes getting to know people there a lot easier,” he said.
And it allows people there to get to know people in churches here. That’s the idea of a partnership.
“Our churches could really use encouragement,” Smart said. “Most of our churches are smaller churches, but we believe our churches could be an encouragement to Tennessee Baptist churches and believe HPBC churches could assist Tennessee churches as well. We hope to see churches connect with each other and let God explore how the churches can minister together.”
Shepherd said one of the key roles of the TBMB’s partnership missions ministry is to help churches understand how it can be on mission across the United States and around the world.
“We are here to serve churches,” Shepherd said. “If a church is interested in connecting with Hawaii, Guatemala or anywhere else, I’d encourage them to contact us and let’s talk about how we could help. That may be as simple as getting them connected to a sister church in Hawaii so that they can build a relationship and better understand the needs that church is facing there. Praying for one another is always a great way to start a relationship.”
If you are interested in finding out about Hawaii or other partnership missions opportunities, contact the TBMB at 615-373-2255 and ask to speak with someone in partnership missions. B&R For more on the Tennessee-Hawaii Pacific partnership, see related story HERE and see Chris Turner’s column HERE.