Brent and Michele Howard – missionary builders, finishing at Norton Baptist Church
With the warmer temperatures last weekend, I have begun to look earnestly for signs that Spring is coming!  I love the symbolism of spring in relation to the new life we have in Christ. I look forward to celebrating Easter and remembering the great cost our Lord and Savior paid so that we could be reconciled with our Heavenly Father. Rejoice in the new life provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He is risen indeed!

Around the Howard household there is much cause for rejoicing. In our last letter I mentioned that Ryanne was in a relationship with Daniel Main. On January 15th, with our blessing, Daniel asked Ryanne to marry him.  They plan to be married at our home church, First Baptist Church of Lagrange, on July 16th.  We are rejoicing even as we are busily preparing.

There are several reasons to cause us to rejoice in regard to our ministry. First, Praise the Lord with us that He has brought new supporters to our team.  We are so excited to be at 93% support. We don’t often share much about our financial situation, but being this close to full support for the first time in 15 years has spurred us on to share about the need we have remaining.  Would you please pray with us that we would diligently share our need of $417 a month with people and churches over the next few months so we could realize this goal that our mission agency has encouraged us to attain so often throughout our years of ministry? We are so thankful for our faithful supporters through the years. We rejoice that God has always used you to meet our needs!

Second, we rejoice in all that God has accomplished through our ministry over the past few months.  The lower level remodel project at Norton Baptist Church in Norton, Ohio is nearing completion.  Drywall, painting, new bathroom stalls, flooring, and drop ceiling are some of the recent projects. We hope to be finishing up there in the next few weeks.  Then we will transition to Grace Baptist Church in Canton, OH.

Finally, we are rejoicing with our co-workers, Jimmy and Abby Stevenson, over their increase in support.  Praise the Lord that they are over 60%, and pray for them as they near the dreaded 80% level where missionaries often struggle.  The Stevensons have quite a few trips scheduled in the next few months to continue to share their ministry with churches.  We are praying for these trips to be profitable in gaining the support team that the Lord has planned for them.

We rejoice in answered prayers.  We are thankful for your prayers on our behalf.  From the last letter, we have seen God answer the prayer for safety both as we traveled back and forth to Norton and as we drove to Florida. We also have made the decision to not go to Alaska.  Thank you for praying, we did not have peace about the timing of that trip. Please pray as we move the trailers to Grace Baptist Church in Canton and begin this year long project adding a sanctuary to their current building.

As I close, let me use the lyrics from a popular hymn (written by Charles Wesley in 1744) to help us refocus our thoughts: Rejoice, the Lord is King: Your Lord and King adore! Rejoice, give thanks and sing, And triumph evermore. Lift up your heart, Lift up your voice! Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Tim and Marsha Weeks – Church Facilitation Director with an emphasis on Missionary Care
Marsha now has joined Tim in the Medicare group. Birthdays come and go, yet the Happy Birthday song she sang in Sunday School- ‘Happy Birthday to you, only one will not do, born again means salvation, how many have you?’ makes her to rejoice that she has two!

Over the seasons of life especially since she was born again she observed God’s faithfulness. Reading in Deuteronomy this year the article ‘the’ stood out describing God. “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,” Deut. 7:9. He truly is the one and only matchless God who keeps us and His promises. In a following passage it states what God asks of us. Deuteronomy 10:12–13 (NIV84): “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” Yes these truths were written to Israel for their good, however this seem to reasonably apply to followers of Christ today. We have the advantage and are looking back to the finished work of Christ which He accomplished on the cross. During Jesus’ life ministry he even responded to a lawyer….“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart! and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 (ESV). Thoughts returning full circle to the faithful God who keeps covenants and steadfast love with those who love him. In His faithfulness to us, no matter how old we are we can love the Lord Our God with all our heart!

Praises

  1. Praising God for the March Council meetings that were encouraging to hear and rehearse God’s goodness in His giving of fruit in the ministry of churches in many states as well as the Ladies Grove retreat for Marsha.
  2. We praise Our Nourisher who sustains us “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” 2 Pet.1:5-7.
  3. Always continuing praise for… the opportunities God gives us to be an ambassador for Christ even with those who give us medical care.
  4. Grateful for the hospitality of those who share their, home, a meal with us and our main hosting family, the Babcock’s, and the use of their farm house [that is affectionately referred to as “Snob’s Knob Inn”, over the past 35+ years of the our visits to Sherburne, NY.
  5. Thankful for a kitchen renovation project that will be in progress while we are away for these weeks and into the our next prolonged weeks away, depending on arrival of orders.

 Scott and Marti Owen – Church Facilitation Director with a Conciliation and ITM emphasis
The sun is shining and we anticipate some warmer temperatures as we finish out March! Thank you for your faithful prayers for us the past couple of months as well as your patience between updates. Here are some ways that God has been answering your prayers:

  • Leadership Retreat: Ohio hosted a Leadership Journey Retreat for several churches. Scott flew out to assist in the training and started the 24 week Leadership Journey with one of the churches.
  • Hosting Honor: Marti’s brother needed a place to stay while he recuperated from a hospital stay. We are so thrilled that the kitchen was remodeled offering a clean and safe place for him! We rejoice in God’s timing and that God graciously allowed her brother to recover!
  • Refresh: Four days of great preaching, gracious treatment in a wonderful atmosphere is the FBBC Refresh Conference in Iowa. We enjoyed it all, but it is far from a break from ministry for us as this is an excellent time to connect with pastors and to develop ministry opportunities as we represented BCP. Though our bodies were weary our hearts were comforted as we heard challenging messages and testimonies.
  • Texas Trip: 3000 miles were added to our Equinox as we crafted an eight day trip that allowed us to connect with some of our financial partners, see some wonderful sites, attend a couple churches and most importantly, escape Iowa February weather. We caught Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Mission (Mexico border), and Houston. The Alamo, Riverwalk, Rio Grande boat ride and sleeping in a grain bin were all a part of the fun.
  • Partner Connects in Iowa: Scott spoke at a men’s conference at Blair Ridge Baptist of Cedar Rapids and we attended a retirement party for our friends, the Hatfields, at our sending church, CrossRoad Baptist of Ames. It was wonderful to connect with so many friends!
  • Relational Wisdom Workshop: Fellowship Baptist of Des Moines hosted a workshop at the end of February. We appreciate opportunities to share these principles in growing churches interested in developing their skills.
  • Meetings at BCP: Twice a year, council members and directors join the staff in Grafton, Ohio to discuss vision, provide reports and enjoy reconnecting. The trip also allowed us to report to our partner church, Emmanuel Baptist of Toledo, Ohio.
  • ITM projects: God continues to bless two of our current ITM churches – Northridge Baptist in Des Moines, IA and Brown Street Baptist in Alton, IL. There are several churches that are in various stages of consultation, and we continue to get new opportunities with churches in transition.
  • Church Facilitation: The past six months we have added four new churches to our facilitation responsibilities. Each is just starting the Leadership Journey with Baptist Church Planters. We how have eleven churches that we facilitate.

Prayer Requests:

  • Churches in Transition, Conflict and working on their leadership training.
  • BC 2.0 – Scott had some suspicions confirmed the week after our Texas trip as the ultrasound discovered another blood clot in the same leg as back in 2020. So far, he has not missed any time, nor visited the hospital, but he is under doctor’s care. This includes blood thinner, limited windshield time (car rides), and no flights. Oh, and he can’t run a marathon.
  • Training for Marti – She started the BCP 26 week Growing in the Grove, Developing Biblical Leadership and Servanthood for Women.

This year is also special for us in that this coming December we celebrate 40 years as a team! God has poured out His grace on us these four decades and allowed us to serve together in so many rewarding opportunities!

Jimmy and Abby Stevenson – missionary builders, finishing at Norton Baptist Church
We all have recovered from Covid and thankful to be on the upswing from that. Thank you for the many prayers and the care as we went through our illness. We know many of you our partner have also had to walk through illness, and we pray for your healing in this season.  Paul is crawling, standing, and loves his visits with Aunty ‘Chel (Michele Howard). Abby is juggling the typing of the newsletter and a curious little boy (who managed to hit the caps lock button without my realizing, so I just had to retype the previous sentence).  Jimmy is working hard on the jobsite, working alongside church volunteers, also he is loving the days of sunshine that occasionally come our way, ready for spring and not being cooped up indoors.

As we have entered the month of March, we are excited to see things take shape here at Norton Baptist Church. It will be a bittersweet day when we are done here and onto the next jobsite. Speaking of the next project, we will be working and ministering at Grace Baptist Church in Canton, OH. This church is just 35 minutes from where we currently are. We will be building a 15,000 square foot auditorium and office suite addition. Pastor Sean Yusten of Norton Baptist has been weekly writing updates on the work project and putting in the bulletin for the church family. Not only has this communication and been a neat aspect of partnership with the current church, it has also been an encouragement to us on the crew.

Here is one of the updates from January: “As I look at the progress, there are moments I am simply overwhelmed with joy, seeing the hand of God. As I look at the walls being finished, I see the work of God in the lives of men and women that caused them to give of their labor to the Lord. When I see a finished bathroom on the main level, I see the generosity of our awesome God in His people who He used to provide the finances for such, when I see classrooms take shape, I see a people of God who will learn and grow in them in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is so much more than a building project.”

What a privilege it is to come alongside this body of believers, to work on their physical church building, and be a part of the spiritual body. It will be hard to leave when the time comes, but how wonderful to see God work in their lives!

Praises

  • Everyone is past Covid and feeling better.
  • The days of sunshine that melt the snow and bring refreshment to the heart.
  • We have now reached 64% of financial of support

Prayers

  • The discipleship opportunities for both Abby and Jimmy
  • Good weather when it is time to break ground on the next job site
  • Wisdom as we invest in the lives around us.

Travels

  • February 13th -Camden Baptist Church~ Wellington, OH
  • March 6th-Grace Baptist Church~ Canton, OH
  • March 18th-20th-Pleasant Hills Baptist Church~ Sterling, OH
  • April 3rd- West Moreland Baptist Church~ Center Moreland, PA
  • May 1st- Nevada Baptist Church~ Nevada, IA
  • May 8th- Calvary Baptist Church~ Ottawa, KS
  • May 15th- First Baptist Church~ Creston, IA

 

Roy and Karen Kinney – church planters at Pinecrest Baptist Church in Millbury, MA
Praise:
-We have had 17 first time visitors at church since the New Year!  It’s been exciting to see God bring in new people.  All found us on the Internet except one who was sent our way by a family member who knew about our church. Some are from moves into our area, others looking to get back to church, and some looking for a different church to attend.
-Junior Church & Sunday School classes for children all reorganized and up and running and willing workers.
-Safety in travel for us as we went to the Mission in Ohio (Baptist Church Planters) for ChurchCare Meetings.  Karen worked in the kitchen and enjoyed serving with the Ladies while Roy headed up meetings.
-Pastor & Sandy Shatney (NRBFC Rep) were here to speak while we were away.
-Janet found housing and is all moved in.
-That spring is here along with “some” nicer weather to go with it.

Prayer:
-God’s direction and leading for each new family that has visited our church.  Many continue to attend.
-Sharon who is home recovering from surgery to remove cancer and a more recent emergency surgery to care for infection and problems.
-J. Rudder as he starts his 3rd round chemo today.
-Roy as he has surgery on 4/5 to remove the cancer in his bladder that returned.
-Wisdom, health, & strength as we meet the needs of a growing church:)
-Preparations for outreach during Easter & through VBS.
-The War in Ukraine (always on our hearts and in our prayers).
We continue to see God at work in the lives of people all around us. He is good and gracious.