Sunday, October 01 2017
Harvey brought tragedy to many people. There were lives lost, homes destroyed, valuable property and possessions gone forever. We grieve with those who suffered at the hands of Harvey.
Out of the disaster, however, Jesus has brought blessings — blessings that come from loving God and loving people.
Jesus called His church into action and the church stepped up. Our churches rescued people, took meals to victims, opened shelters, and set up distribution centers to provide food, clothing and supplies.
Those outside the area wanted to help so they began sending supplies, volunteers and money to help with disaster relief.
Our TRBA churches organized with other churches and non-profits in the area. They did not wait for people from national charities or government agencies. They took ownership of the disaster and went to work. Wherever they saw someone hurting or in trouble, they did whatever they could to help.
When County Judge Jay Knight was asked if the Red Cross saved Liberty County, he answered, “No. The churches saved us. We weren’t saved by the Red Cross but by THE Cross.”
Through Hurricane Harvey, we have learned how to work together to respond to human need in the midst of a tragedy. Now we can take that experience and continue to work together to meet the greatest human need, the need for a Savior.
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Our annual meeting this year is an opportunity for us to celebrate the good news that Jesus is greater than Harvey — that God used this natural disaster to advance His Kingdom purposes.
A panel of pastors will share stories of how they saw God working in the midst of the rescue, relief, and recovery efforts. We will spend time worshiping the Lord together. We will hear a Bible message that speaks specifically to our association where we are today.
Please come and bring as many as you can from your church as we celebrate together, proclaiming, “JESUS > HARVEY.”
Friday, September 01 2017
When Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain on us at the end of August, our churches sprang into action. worked together with other churches and agencies in their communities to do whatever they could to meet the immediate need for shelter, water, food, and clothing.
As the need to shelter and feed people declines, we are now shifting our focus to helping people clean out their homes and — after several weeks of drying out — helping them restore their homes.
Virginia Baptist Disaster Response has set up a command center at First Baptist Church in Liberty to help us coordinate the recovery effort throughout the area of our association. is the same group that worked out of First Liberty after Hurricane Ike. are here for the long haul. they are sending assessors to check out property reported as damaged. groups of volunteers are being sent out to work on homes.
Please share this information with your congregation and beyond.
We are working in the entire area of Trinity River Baptist Association which covers south Liberty County, west Hardin County, and mid Chambers County. — not just members of our churches, but anyone — whose home was flooded should call the recovery center for help. The phone number is 936-256-3415.
If you know of groups of volunteers that want to come from outside our area, have them call that same number. if you are hosting a group of volunteers, call that same number to get some assignments for them.
As your church receives donations for flood relief, please consider using some or all of that money to help fund this recovery effort. will be helping all of these homeowners at no cost to them, which means we will need financial resources to provide clean-up and building materials as we move forward. addition, we will need to feed volunteers who come to work.
If you do not have a disaster relief fund in your own church, TRBA has such a fund and will be glad to accept your donation and use it for that purpose.
Also, please consider being a host church, housing teams that come to help.
We’ve seen what Harvey can do. Now let’s watch what Jesus can do as we work together to share His love with the people around us.
Working with you to meet needs,
Tuesday, August 01 2017
John Donne wrote, “No man is an island,” and his point was that our lives are intertwined with the lives of all the other people on this planet. We could also say, “No church is an island.” While each church in our association is autonomous, we are interdependent, cooperating with one another and caring for one another and helping one another.
Sometimes a church (mistakenly, I believe) pulls apart and tries to “go it alone” without the support and encouragement of the other churches nearby. I think it is far healthier for churches to see themselves as part of a network of Kingdom outposts, all working together to share the gospel with all the people who need to know Jesus.
Churches should not see themselves as competing with each other. We are on the same team. And the team is much more than any one church.
Our Men Alive Outdoor Expo, annual Evangelism Rally, Secret Church Simulcast, Mission Lone Star at the motorcycle rally in Galveston, and other associational events provide opportunities for our churches to work together.
But churches are also encouraged to form their own partnerships with other churches and work together.
In our association, we have some good models of churches working together.
* Heights and First Dayton partnered to bring a focus on prayer to their congregations.
* First Dayton and Calvary Dayton work together to have a joint DiscipleNow, as do North Main and Hardin.
* For three years Trinity Dayton has sent a team to Smith Point to help that church conduct VBS and also do some clean-up and fix-up projects.
* This summer Hardin sent a team to First High Island to help them have a VBS. The Hardin team also provided a men’s night service and women’s night service for the church.
In each of these partnerships, both churches benefitted.
What about your church? Could you find a nearby church with which to partner for a major event? Or is there a smaller church that could use your help to have a VBS or some other event?
In the New Testament, churches found ways to work together. Members traveled from one church to another with messages. Churches took up offerings to help other churches that were struggling. Churches circulated letters they received from Paul or other apostles. Churches planted other churches and sent members back to check on them to see how they were doing. Churches knew each other, cared for each other, prayed for each other.
No church is an island. We are all connected and we flourish when we take advantage of those connections. Some of the best connections you can have are with the other churches of our own association.
Glad to be connected,
Saturday, July 01 2017
Many thanks to you for your prayers, phone calls, cards, flowers, and other expressions of concern and sympathy during the recent passing of Donna Kay’s mother, Betty Whittemore.
Betty was 86 years old. She had been in declining health for the past few years, but still her recent hospitalization and quick departure came as a surprise to all of us.
Donna Kay had the opportunity to help care for her mother in the hospital and transitional care center during her final two weeks. When it seemed she had only days or hours to live, I began driving to Maryville, Tenn., to be with them. She passed away about the time I crossed the state line into Louisiana. We buried her a week later.
We will return to Maryville at the end of June so Donna Kay, her brother, and her sister can begin sorting through Betty’s earthly possessions and putting her home on the market. Please continue to pray for us.
The death of a loved one always causes us to remember our own mortality. The Bible has this to say on the subject: “The length of our days is 70 years—or 80, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10, NIV).
According to that, Betty had already lived the 70 years she could expect and even the 80 years she could strive for. My mother, who also lives in Maryville, is 96. She will tell you that she has not only lived longer than expected, but far longer than she wanted.
One thing is for sure. No matter how long the Lord allows us to live, unless Jesus returns first, sooner or later we will die. Hebrews 9:27 says that our common destiny is “to die once, and after that to face judgment.”
I am grateful that when I die and face judgment, Jesus has already died on my behalf and paid for all my sins so I can be forgiven and live forever with God.
Ready to “fly away,”
Thursday, June 01 2017
For this month’s Mission Journey I’m yielding to Theresa Adair, who has been on a 20-year mission journey as our association’s administrative assistant. We honored her in May and she wanted to express her appreciation. — David Williams
From Theresa Adair
Thank you, Trinity River Baptist Association, for honoring my 20 years of work with a wonderful celebration. Thank you for the cards, gifts and your presence at the celebration.
Let me express my appreciation for First Baptist Church, Sour Lake and all of the hard work your congregation provided for our executive board meeting and celebration. The decorations, meal, and cake were outstanding. Our three directors of missions, Bro. Kelley, Bro. Bill and Bro. David blessed me with their sweet words. A big thank you to women’s missions and ministry for the plaque presented by Nora Lee Ladd. Mike Tucker leading and Martha Jordan on the keyboard did an excellent job singing my favorite hymns. My gratitude extends to all of you.
I was the daughter of a pastor and I grew up in church. We were there every time the doors opened. At a very early age I started learning about missions through Sunbeams, GA’s and Acteens. God gave me a love for missions early on. I always wanted to be involved in missions.
Education came first, working and then a family. When my children got older there was a need for me to go back to work. I worked for our preschool at our church for several years and substituted at schools.
I was always looking for a full-time job. Jerry’s health was failing and I knew I needed to work full-time.
A co-worker told me about a job with her husband’s company. I applied at Wiggins Trucking Co. and got the job.
It just so happens Mrs. Wiggins, co-owner of the company, did the finances for Trinity River Baptist Association. Mrs. Wiggins taught me about finances. She was very kind and patient with me.
Dr. Duane Kelley came to my office every other week to get checks signed by Mrs. Wiggins. Many times he sat down and talked to me.
After two years the trucking company had to let me go. The secretary position at TRBA opened up and Mrs. Wiggins called me to apply for the position, so I did. I met with Bro. Kelley. That evening he called and offered me the secretary position.
God was working early on through all my circumstances to bring me to work my dream job at TRBA.
It has been a blessing to work through the Association with Bro. Kelley, Bro. Bill and Bro. David. Having the opportunity to talk, share and pray with so many people has been so rewarding. I have truly been blessed.
Thank you, Trinity River Baptist Association, for allowing me to be on mission at work for you for the last 20 years. I have truly enjoyed every minute of it.
Monday, May 01 2017
On Earth Day (Apr. 22) 2016, we got a free pine seedling when we ordered a pizza from Papa John’s for three of our grandchildren who were spending the night with us. The next day we planted “Lolly,” a loblolly pine, in our front yard.
We celebrated Lolly’s first birthday this year. From a 13-inch seedling, she has more than doubled in size, now measuring 28 inches tall.
Not only has she grown in height, but she is vibrant and healthy. I’ve been told she can grow up to two feet a year and may eventually be 90 feet tall.
All we did was plant her. God gives the growth. It’s the same when we plant a church. Paul wrote of the church at Corinth, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (1 Cor. 3:6)
What have you planted lately? What has your church planted lately?
Glad we planted that tree,
Saturday, April 01 2017
The New Testament includes several letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to churches he had started or ministered to during his missionary journeys. He told them he was glad to have been able to partner with them in the proclamation of the gospel, and he encouraged them to faithfully continue their ministry, confident “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Phil. 1:6, NIV).
One of the greatest joys for those of us in ministry is to hear how God has blessed a believer, a church or a ministry that we had a hand in helping during their early years.
For Donna Kay and me, March was a time to celebrate some of those fruits of ministry.
Chin Community Ministry
In 2006 we met Zammang Maulcin who was starting a church for the Chin refugees who had settled in our community after fleeing Burma because of ethnic, religious and political persecution.
First Flower Mound became the primary sponsor of Chin Evangelical Baptist Church. We also recognized a need to partner with the new church in their unique ministry to refugees. Becky Nelson, a member of our church, agreed to start Chin Refugee Ministry as a volunteer.
Becky has faithfully led that ministry (recently renamed Chin Community Ministry) as it has provided furniture for new residents, tutoring and mentoring, ESL classes, citizenship classes, and a host of other services. She is now executive director of that separate non-profit ministry which is supported by gifts and volunteers from several churches in the area.
The handful of Chin refugees in Lewisville has grown to 3,500 and there are now five Chin Baptist churches in the area.
On Mar. 8, Donna Kay and I attended the ten-year anniversary celebration of the Chin Community Ministry, still changing lives and sharing the love of Jesus.
New Covenant Baptist Church
Our church in Flower Mound sponsored New Covenant Baptist Church, composed of immigrants from Nigeria. For more than a decade they met in our facilities on Sunday afternoons for worship and Bible study.
A few years ago they bought some land but were having great difficulty developing it because of issues related to access. We left Lewisville three years ago, wondering how they would ever build on that property.
Recently their pastor James Falola told me they sold the property (for a large profit) and purchased land and a building. They invited us to the Mar. 26 dedication.
We are so excited that this group will finally have their own place of worship. It is a blessing from the Lord.
Clint and Missy Kirby
Clint grew up in our church, played in a Christian band with our sons, and was called to ministry during his college years. In 2009, Clint and Missy moved to Gdansk, Poland to plant a church.
They worked hard, sowing seeds and building relationships. Finally they saw a harvest. Gospel Church was planted. Now, just a few years old, Gospel Church is making plans to send out a core group to plant another church.
Clint wrote in the church’s newsletter, There can always be a tendency to say, ”I don’t think we are ready yet. Let’s keep building what we have here.” And someone could easily make that case at Gospel Church. It is not a church of 500 people. Typically there is an average between 50-70 people on a Sunday.
But there will always be a reason to wait. There will always be a reason to think that we are not quite ready. But that is why we want to step out in faith and ask God to begin yet another new work.
We are grateful that Clint and Missy have caught the vision of spreading the gospel through church planting.
In ministry we rejoice not so much in our own success, but in the success of those whose lives we touched. As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “You are our glory and joy” (1 Thess. 2:20, NIV).
Enjoying the fruit,
Wednesday, March 01 2017
The greatest thing about being in an association of churches is the opportunity to associate with other churches. But to paraphrase Mark Twain’s famous quote about reading, I would suggest that churches which do not associate with other churches have no advantage over those that are not in an association. I encourage each of our churches to find ways to build relationships with other churches in your association.
We provide some opportunities for that on a regular basis, such as the recent missions banquet at Hardin Baptist and January’s evangelism rally at Old River.
Other major TRBA events that will give you a chance to be with people from other churches include the Secret Church Simulcast (Apr. 21 at Heights), our annual meeting (Oct. 24 at North Main), and the TRBA Christmas fellowship (Dec. 12 at First Devers)
In addition, several times a year we have TRBA executive board meetings, open to all members of your church, not just pastors and executive board members. We begin with a meal provided by the church and end with an inspirational/informational program. These will be Mar. 21 at Central Daisetta, May 9 at First Sour Lake, Aug. 8 at Grace Community, and Sept. 12 at First Saratoga.
Every Thursday we have a fellowship and prayer lunch for pastors who are able to break away from their other responsibilities. It is our hope that having it during lunch enables some of our bivocational pastors to come. We also have a pastor prayer breakfast on a Saturday morning once a quarter.
Then there are opportunities to do ministry, evangelism and missions together such as the Sept. 16 Men Alive Outdoor Expo at the TVE Fairgrounds and the Nov. 2-4 Mission Lone Star on the Strand in Galveston during the motorcycle rally.
Ongoing associational ministry opportunities for members of all our churches include the TRBA food pantry, the jail ministry, and the Family Visitors’ Center at the prison complex.
TRBA has a partnership with Baptists in southern Minnesota. A mission trip last year included people from three of our churches. Plans are now being made for a trip this year.
Churches in our association also come up with their own ways to partner. In January Mike Chadwick, pastor of First Dayton, led a prayer conference at Heights in Liberty. Members from both churches participated.
North Main and Hardin Baptist will have a Disciple Now together Apr. 28-30 and are inviting other churches to join them. Students will pay a nominal fee, churches will provide their own host homes, but all will come together at Hardin for worship and Saturday lunch and dinner.
You and I need each other. Our churches need each other. God has blessed us by putting us together into the TRBA family. Let’s take advantage of that wonderful privilege.
See you soon,
Wednesday, February 01 2017
I think we have all been pleasantly surprised and excited that the Lord has called out so many men to attend our year-long Pastor Essentials Class preparing them to plant a church or pastor an existing church in our area. In 2015 we graduated 8 men; in 2016 we graduated 15 men; our 2017 class has 13 men enrolled. Enrollment is now closed for 2017.
Anything worth doing, I believe, is worth doing better, and this year we asked the Lord to show us some ways to make the class even more effective. He has given us some clear direction on how to do that.
So, even though the class is very similar to what it was the past two years, it is different enough that you might call this year’s version “Pastor Essentials 2.0.”
The improvements are so significant that five of last year’s graduates have decided they want to go through the class again to continue their own growth and to mentor and encourage the new students. Some of the changes are:
(1) We have three sessions instead of two each evening.
(2) There will be three written tests and three interviews.
(3) We will provide more help in developing and refining a resume.
(4) Students will develop and deliver a sermon during class.
(5) Each student will partner with another student to start and lead an evangelistic Bible study, including discovering and enlisting unchurched people to attend.
(6) We gave students a list of 29 “competencies” — things they will be competent to do after completing the class.
I believe these changes will raise the bar for the class and better prepare the men for effectiveness in ministry.
Thankful to be training men,
Sunday, January 01 2017
Christianity doesn’t just turn the world upside down; it also turns our own personal worlds upside down. Properly understood and embraced, Christianity radically changes our personal values and priorities. It changes how we see things and how we see people. Followers of Christ focus on the lost, the least and the last.
The world around us says that what is important is what we have. But Jesus says we should pay attention to what we don’t have. Whether it’s a lost coin, a lost sheep, or a lost son, the one we are missing is always worth seeking and finding.
As we go through life, we tend to see the people we already know (most of whom are Christians) while not even noticing the hundreds of lost people we pass by. Jesus told His disciples, “Open your eyes and look at the fields!” If we will do that, we will see the thousands of people around us who don’t go to any of our churches and are desperately in need of Jesus.
The world around us values the rich, famous and powerful people. But Jesus said the poor, weak, and hurting masses are the ones who are really important.
Jesus said there will come a day when rewards will come to those who took care of the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. “When you did it to one of the least of these,” the King will say, “you were doing it to me.”
That’s why TRBA’s Food Pantry, Jail Ministry and Family Visitors’ Center at the prison complex are so vital. They are ways that we can show love to the least of these.
In a marathon, all the spectators are there to applaud the first runners who cross the finish line. By the time the last ones straggle across—sometimes hours later—there are few left to cheer them.
It’s different in the world of missions. We are all standing by waiting to see the last unreached people groups finish the race. Jesus promised His return will come after the Gospel is preached to all the nations.
Revelation 7:9 tells us that the multitude gathered around the throne in heaven will include people from every nation, every language, every tribe. I’m anxious to see who comes in last.
Looking for the lost, least, and last,
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