A new perspective

GenSend opens student missionary’s eyes to gospel living 

By Kathy Chapman Sharp 

While a student at Liberty University, Sarah Reese Hunt (far right) served as a GenSend campus mobilizer. Here she shares a moment with then fellow Liberty University students (from left) Andrea Bowman, Hayley Brown and Haley Alverson. Hunt served as a GenSend missionary in Portland, Ore., in 2014 and as a campus mobilizer at Liberty in 2015. NAMB file photo by Susan Whitley

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sarah Reese Hunt has found a whole new way of looking at the world–through the lens of the gospel. She is convinced it’s the only way to see things the way God would have us perceive them.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Hunt was an active participant in missions growing up and discovered early that things looked different when she viewed people as being valuable to God. She also realized that she didn’t have to go overseas to find people and opportunities to invest in–there were plenty all around her.

While studying women’s ministry at Liberty University, God began to convict her that the church was His vessel for reaching the world. Hunt’s world was rocked. She’d never considered that God might use her in a church role. This conviction led her straight to her computer where she “googled” everything she could find about church planting internships.

When she found North American Mission Board (NAMB) and GenSend Portland, Hunt knew she was on the right track. And she was taking her next missional step. GenSend is a student missionary opportunity through NAMB, part of the “farm system” of assisting churches discover the next generation of church planters and missionaries in their midst.

Arriving in Portland in the summer of 2013 as part of a GenSend student missionary team, Hunt was immediately confronted with a darkness and lostness she had never encountered before. 

“It was so different from anything I’d ever experienced,” Hunt said. “There was no Christian culture; no tolerance for the gospel. God opened my eyes to the fact that there are big cities in North America with a huge need for the gospel. 

Along with her teammates in Portland, Hunt poured her life into the city and the people she met along the way. She looked for opportunities to invest in relationships, invite people into biblical community and teach them to make disciples. When she finished her summer assignment, Hunt knew God was calling her to focus on urban church planting.

She attended the 2013 Send North America Conference in Dallas committed to go wherever God sent her. At the conference she met Jonathan Hunt, a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and discovered he attended the same church as her family in Louisville.

This was no chance encounter. The young man, whose heart was also committed to urban church planting, soon captured her heart. The couple became engaged in the summer of 2014 and married the next year.

Before her wedding, Hunt had an assignment she wanted to complete. She became a NAMB GenSend mobilizer, recruiting a team from Liberty to return to Portland for the summer of 2014. Looking back, Hunt says that God used her GenSend experiences to move her in the direction He had for her.

“Being plugged in and living on mission is such a part of me now,” Hunt said. “I see my entire life through the lens of the gospel and that changes everything. As humans we just have a tendency to separate everything–our work, our play–just living. We compartmentalize, checking in and out of living on mission.

“And that’s the tendency we also have in our Christian life. Every day we have to ask ourselves: ‘How can I reach my neighbor?’ and ‘How can I care for the barista that always serve me coffee?’ We have to use the everyday rhythms of our lives to share the gospel. It’s not a one-time event–it’s our life! I’ve learned to share and speak the gospel.

“The gospel is not a rigid system. It’s a living, breathing relationship with the Lord. It is everything I need for life; every thought, every action, every decision. Everything trickles back down to the gospel. It’s the gospel that will reach the world. When I look through the lens of the gospel and see the deep forgiveness I have received, I’m able to give it to others. I can also give kindness and be patience–whatever is required. The gospel does that; it’s the gospel in us that others see!”

Hunt her and husband, Jonathan, are excited to be moving to Denver, Colo., where they will be planting a church with Corbin and Allie Hobbs downtown. “We can’t wait to get there,” Hunts said. “We’re ready to engage and see the community through God’s eyes. We don’t want to stand on the outside–we want to jump in and be a part of people’s lives, loving them, doing the things they do, go where they go, learning to live how and where they live–all for the sake of the gospel.”

Learn more about GenSend, and how to apply at http://sendnetwork.com/gensend. Discover your next missional community at the http://sendme.namb.net/.

Kathy Chapman Sharp is a writer and church communications consultant living in Nashville, Tenn. 

Date Created: 2/8/2016 3:29:34 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus

NAMB trustees make church planting personal


View Captions or Download 

By Mike Ebert 

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – As North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees gathered for dinner on the eve of their Feb. 2 meeting, the entity’s president, Kevin Ezell, called on several to share how their churches are involved in planting churches and sharing Christ.

“I am excited to say that we have trustees who are not only serving as trustees, they are actually out there doing the ministry,” Ezell said.

Andy Addis pastors CrossPoint church in rural Hutchinson, Kan., a multi-site church that has grown from just over 100 attendees to 12 campuses with more than 3,000 in the last decade. Recently they started “Church in a Box” to help reach even smaller communities. It allows people to start faith communities right out of their homes, on ranches and farms and in areas unable to support a work with a building. “We’re giving it all away,” Addis said. The new works have the option of linking to CrossPoint or ministering independently.

Jay Watkins pastors Redland Baptist Church in Valdosta, Ga. Four years ago his church banded together with others to start “Community Day” which offers free food, free clothing, free medical services and much more for those in need. Since the event started in 2008 more than 100,000 Valdosta-area residents have attended and more than 2,000 have accepted Christ. 

“We are a very small country church with a budget of less than $300,000 a year,” Watkins said. “If we can do it, anybody can do it.”

Danny de Armas is associate pastor at First Baptist Orlando. His church recently celebrated with Storyline Fellowship Church in Denver as the church plant marked its 1-year birthday. First Orlando took in church planter Ben Mandrell and his family of six as they prepared to plant. After seven months, First Orlando sent the Mandrell’s and a dozen other families to launch Storyline. At the one year mark the church is running more than 500 on Sundays.

Also attending the dinner was Wanda Lee, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). Ezell presented Lee, who announced her pending retirement last month, with a gift of appreciation.

“Since Wanda became WMU leader nearly $900 million has been given to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®,” Ezell told trustees. “No one loves missionaries in the SBC more than Wanda Lee and the WMU.”

Lee shared several examples of how WMU supports and encourages missionaries.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner,” she said.  “It’s a privilege to serve alongside you.”

At their Feb. 2 meeting NAMB trustees heard reports of church planting and chaplaincy activity throughout North America including news that preliminary 2015 reporting from SBC chaplains shows more than 127,000 gospel presentations in 2015 with more than 15,000 salvations.

Trustees also:

  • Received a financial report showing that in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2015-2016, NAMB revenue came in 3.82 percent above expenses despite revenue being down slightly compared to the same quarter in the previous year.
  • Approved adjustments to NAMB’s financial reserves which do not impact the total amount in reserve but allocate more for missionary housing-related expenses, a health care reserve fund and a short-term investment to increase promotion of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®.
  • Voted to receive the Report of the Independent Auditors for fiscal year 2015. “We are pleased to report that we got an unqualified opinion which means a clean opinion,” said financial services committee chairman David Parks, a member of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky.
  • Voted to appoint Batts, Morrison, Wales and Lee, PA as NAMB’s independent auditors for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018.
  • Approved dates for NAMB’s 2019 Board of Trustee meetings. The Board’s public meeting dates will take place Feb. 6, June 10 and Oct. 9, 2019.

Ezell began his president’s report expressing gratitude for the $58 million Southern Baptists gave to the Annie Armstrong Offering in 2015. The goal for 2016 is $70 million.

Ezell reminded trustees why they voted in October to send financial help to IMB.

“In the SBC we are a family,” Ezell said. “Because of that, when IMB shared what they are going through, we felt it necessary to cut back in our budget. We took $4 million out of our fund for church plants this year so that we can help part of our family while they are in need,” Ezell said. “This was not out of overflow or excess money. It was out of a budget cut.”

More Multiplying Churches 

Ezell said that as NAMB continues to help Southern Baptists plant new churches, a new focus for the entity will be to cultivate more plants to become multiplying churches.

“Our goal from this point on is going to be help Southern Baptists plant 1,200 churches a year. We are praying that a tenth of those would be multiplying churches. A multiplying church is on a path to being self-sustaining in five years. And within three years has a plan to reproduce itself. We want that to be part of the DNA. We need 120 multiplying churches a year.

Ezell also highlighted NAMB’s recent church planter orientation, plans for the launch of Send Relief at the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis in June and several new and existing evangelism strategies and events. In addition, he shared three dates and locations for the 2015 Send Conference which will be presented in partnership with IMB. The 2017 dates are Feb. 3-4 in Southern California (Long Beach), May 19-20 in Dallas and July 25-26 in Orlando. 

Earlier in the day Ezell showed trustees a baptism service video from Candeo church in Waterloo, Iowa. Candeo is one of many churches planted by Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa.

“That’s why we do everything we do,” Ezell told trustees after viewing the video. “The reason we do all of it is not just to plant churches, but to reach people.”

Mike Ebert writes for the North American Mission Board. 

Date Created: 2/8/2016 1:26:52 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus

Terms of Use

  • We strive to maintain an atmosphere of free and open discussion, but comments are moderated.
  • Comments must be signed by your full name. If you log in through Twitter or Yahoo please include your full name at the end of your comment. Anonymous comments will not be published.
  • Comments containing profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate content will be edited or rejected at the sole discretion of the North American Mission Board. Comments are the responsibility of their authors and do not represent the position of NAMB.