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GenSend opens student missionary’s eyes to gospel living
By Kathy Chapman Sharp
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
“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
Learn more about GenSend, and how to apply at http://sendnetwork.com/gensend. Discover your next missional community at the
Kathy Chapman Sharp
is a writer and church communications consultant living in Nashville, Tenn.
Date Created: 2/8/2016 3:29:34 PM
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
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
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
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
“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.
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.”
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
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
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2016 North American Mission Board, SBC