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By Tobin Perry
BOSTON, Mass. --
Most years, when Prestonwood Baptist Church’s young singles take mission trips
to Boston, they arrive a week before the Boston Marathon and leave the day
Last year was an
exception. Since they could get cheaper flights two days after the event, the
team decided to stay a day longer. When a bomb detonated near the finish line
of the 2013 marathon killing three and injuring 264, that extra day may have
been the most important day of the whole trip.
“We had an
amazing opportunity to just love on a city and offer prayer and encouragement
to a city that needs it,” said Bryan Gibbs, who arrived on Thursday for his 16th
mission trip to help church planters in Beantown since 2004. “We went back into
the city and affixed signs to our bag that said, ‘Need prayer? We’re
“We did a lot of
the same servant evangelism work we usually do, but we knew this was not a
normal situation. We were able to pray for people outside of the hospital. A
lot of our people were able to give granola bars or bottles of waters to
first-responders—to just go out there and help the city. We were thankful we
were able to stay up there that extra day and be there to provide what help we
could in such a tragic time.”
Gibbs and his
team are back in Boston for ministry this week as they prepare to serve the
city and its visitors during Monday’s 2014 Boston Marathon. They will be
involved in a variety of servant evangelism initiatives. Yet the primary hope
is that they’ll have opportunities to share the Gospel with Bostonians and
visitors from around the world in the city to watch the race.
The story of how
Prestonwood had ministry feet on the ground during this critical time last
spring goes back more than a decade and was born from both the missionary heart
of God and the heart of its senior pastor, former Southern Baptist Convention
president Jack Graham.
In 2003 the
North American Mission Board helped connect Prestonwood with Boston church
planter Curtis Cook (@curtisdcook). Cook started Hope Fellowship in
September of 2003. As well as pastoring Hope, Curtis now serves as NAMB’s Send
North America: Boston city coordinator.
“That’s when our
heart really started to beat for church planting when we developed a
partnership with Hope and Curtis and started sending teams up there,” said
Jarrett Stephens, a teaching pastor at Prestonwood.
even more involved in church planting in 2011 through NAMB’s Send North America
efforts to mobilize churches to 32 of the continent’s largest and most
influential cities. Near that same time, Graham led the church to gather a
network of likeminded churches “to resource and
encourage pastors while working together to plant and revitalize churches.”
“What I want to
see happen through the Prestonwood Network is to encourage pastors and church
leaders to take the baton and go forward strongly and passionately with the
Gospel of Christ in ways that will really change the world,” said Graham, who
has pastored the Dallas-area church since 1989. “My goal with the network is to
pass on to this generation and to future generations some of the things that
I’ve learned, and some of what God has taught me over the years in ministry.
I’ve never been more excited to have the opportunity that we’ve been given here
network has blossomed in the past three years with plants in several large
cities including Boston, New Orleans, Seattle and San Francisco and plans to
plant soon in Denver, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.
“We want to
introduce established church pastors to planters who are getting it done,”
Stephens said. “We want to encourage pastors who aren’t in the game to get in
the game. They can do exactly what we’re doing. They can send teams. They can
start their own network and get them behind these guys.”
doesn’t just provide funding for church plants but also sends volunteer teams,
like the one in Boston this week to serve at the marathon. These trips play an
important part in discipling participating Prestonwood members—along with
members of other partner churches—in what it means to be believers living on
For example, when
Gibbs first got involved in mission trips to Boston, he had recently
re-committed his life to Christ and was intimidated by sharing his faith in the
city’s tough intellectual climate. Today Gibbs not only believes he is better
prepared to share his faith in Boston but also back home in Dallas.
people think about short-term mission teams, I always thought about going
overseas from my own naïve perspective,” Gibbs said. “Now I understand that
there are places like Boston that very much need the love and hope of Jesus
Christ as much as any other place. Literally, Boston used to be a beacon for
Christianity—a City on a Hill—but that’s kind of waned over the years.”
Metro Boston has only one SBC church for every 42, 919 people. For more
information about helping SBC church plants in the city, visit http://www.namb.net/Boston. To learn more about the
Prestonwood Network, visit http://www.prestonwoodnetwork.org.
Tobin Perry writes for the
North American Mission Board.
Date Created: 4/17/2014 12:27:16 PM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2014 North American Mission Board, SBC