Inside this issue:

An international ministry started at Briarwood Presbyterian in Birmingham, Alabama, over 25 years ago has been used by God to bring countless people to Christ.

MNA:  Reaching North America with the Gospel...
to Reach the World

Fall 2002


 

Building an Effective Outreach to Internationals

Twenty-eight years ago when Bill and Say Longshore joined Briarwood Presbyterian in Birmingham, Alabama, they had been leading an outreach to the local international population for a number of years. Longtime devotees of world missions, they had been drawn to Briarwood because of the church’s strong missions program.  

Their local outreach had begun as English language classes for new immigrants, many of whom had come to the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB), Medical School for graduate study or research. The classes led to formation of a Bible study in their home, taught by Bill.  

Few churches then were thinking about “diversity” within their own communities. On the contrary, in those days, missions activities and budgets were primarily spent overseas. Nevertheless, the efforts of the Longshores, as they were folded into Briarwood, became the first seeds of the church’s comprehensive international ministry—a ministry that God has used to draw countless people to Christ over the years.. 

When Tom Cheely, Briarwood’s missions pastor, came on staff in 1983 and learned about the outreach initiated by the Longshores, he set about to develop a structured ministry, now known as Briarwood International Outreach (BIO). 

Committed to reaching out to internationals with the love of Christ, BIO now encompasses ministries for Hispanics, led by Brad Taylor; for Japanese, led by Junji Yamasaki; and for Koreans, led by Young Song, each providing Sunday worship and Bible studies in their own languages. Also under the BIO umbrella is a multifaceted Student/Scholar Ministry. An important overall objective is to provide programs and activities to serve internationals of all circumstances — professionals, students, laborers, and short-term as well as permanent Birmingham residents.  

Soon after he came to Briarwood, Tom began to seek a relationship with colleges and universities in the area, and the church has cultivated a strong association with staff members who oversee international students. 

“They allowed us to participate because we offered services that helped students and gave them a positive impression of Birmingham,” explains Tom. “For example, we met arriving students at the airport, drove them on shopping trips, and took them out to dinner.”  

To involve the congregation, Tom formed Friendship Partners, which invites members to “adopt” an international student for a period of at least a year and to maintain contact on a regular basis.

The largest campus in Birmingham is UAB, which covers 65 city blocks. Its School of Medicine, affiliated with 12 hospitals in the area, is highly respected worldwide for research, teaching, and treatment. Counting students, professionals, employees, and individuals participating in advanced study, UAB’s total population is more than 15,000, including about 1,000 internationals.  

Reaching a broader segment of the international population are several Bible studies, which meet in members’ homes and are attended by Americans and internationals. As Tom puts it, “Our aim is not only to expand God’s Kingdom, but also to show the community that the people of God are one, working together for the cause of Christ.” 

Four years ago, Briarwood launched a formal program teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), which attracts primarily Hispanics, but also brings in immigrants from India, Russia, Korea, Japan, China, and Jordan. Classes of varying proficiency levels are taught by volunteers and offered every Wednesday morning and evening.

Jenny Kyle joined the Briarwood staff a year ago as coordinator of the ESL program. A “missionary kid,” she grew up in Mexico City and recently graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, where she majored in international relations and Spanish and completed an internship under Brad Taylor’s supervision. Last year, the church sent her to Cambridge University Language Center in New York City to gain certification for teaching English to adults.

Briarwood’s ministry to internationals has increased considerably in the past quarter century in terms of activity and staff. Last year, Beau Miller came to serve as BIO pastor and administrator of the three ethnic ministries and the Student/Scholar Ministry. Growing up at Briarwood, Beau was familiar with the church’s focus on international ministry, and he had spent four years with Campus Crusade in the US and Europe, which gave him valuable experience in working with internationals. 

“Throughout the Scriptures,” Beau explains, “it’s clear that God is concerned for the nations, and He wants us to be concerned too. Often the people we reach are short-term residents and, whether they return to their own countries or move to other locations in North America, we have a perfect opportunity to show them the love of Christ while they’re here.”  

Case in point: A Chinese man who was led to Christ by a Briarwood member, while visiting in Birmingham, returned to Mainland China and planted a church there. The Briarwood member who reached out to him is a physician, Dr. Ben Guo, also a native of China. Involved with medical research, Dr. Guo is a lay leader with Briarwood’s Chinese language ministry.

Above: ESL classes have been an outstanding means of reaching internationals with the Gospel. Most students are Hispanic, but people of other languages attend as well. When members asked for it, Briarwood also initiated Spanish language classes. 

Left: Jenny Kyle, coordinator of the ESL program, has developed instructional materials incorporating Scripture. “Our objective,” says Jenny, “is to teach excellent language skills, while sharing the Word of God.” 

In 1983, Tom Cheely, right, began building an international outreach (BIO) which has attracted people of more than 50 languages. BIO includes a specific ministry to Japanese, pastored by Junji Yamasaki, left, offering the only Japanese language worship in Alabama. There are also specific ministries to Koreans and to Hispanics

 

Bill Longshore, second from left, and his wife, Say (not shown), lead the International Sunday School Class that grew out of a Bible study they launched 25 years ago. To the right of Bill is Beau Miller, BIO pastor and administrator. With them are class members Reuben Daniel and Angela Amedo.

 

Briarwood’s international ministry reaches people from many different nations — some who come to Birmingham to stay and others for only a short period. For instance, one Chinese man who was led to Christ through Briarwood returned to Mainland China and planted a church.

 

Young Song, standing at left, pastors the growing Korean ministry. In the tradition of Korean Christians, this ministry meets for prayer six mornings a week at 5:30 and also gathers for Friday evening prayer, in addition to worshipping on Sunday.

 

Initial efforts to reach internationals at home began in the late 70s when the church was much smaller, long before it was customary. “We always emphasized world missions,” explains pastor emeritus Frank Barker, above, who started Briarwood in 1960. “Later we caught the vision for local outreach.” When Frank retired in 2000, Harry Reeder, below, was called as senior pastor and continues to uphold the vision

 

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How to Start an Outreach to Internationals 

No matter the size, any church can develop an international outreach. Chief requirements: a heart for people of other nations, prayer, and dependence on the Holy Spirit.  

• Agree with others in your church to pray for God’s guidance. 

• Explore outreach efforts of other evangelical churches in your area and consider working together.  

• Look for ways to meet practical needs of new immigrants — jobs, housing, medical services, child care. 

• Offer ESL classes; promote them through local ethnic newspapers and distribute flyers where internationals gather. 

• Remember also to reach succeeding generations, not only newcomers.  

• Don’t conduct efforts only in immigrants’ language of origin, since many speak English; also consider children’s ministries in English.  

  Attend the Hispanic Convocation at Briarwood Presbyterian. 

• If there’s a campus nearby, contact student affairs and offer services for international students. Stress your intent to provide practical help and friendship.  

• Find ways to reach adults at local academic institutions who may be involved with short-term research or study.  

 

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Birmingham's Rapidly Growing Hispanic Population Presents Excellent Opportunities for Sharing the Gospel and Bringing New Believers into the Kingdom 

Committed to equipping the saints to do God’s work, the Hispanic ministry is led by a lay team of 15 Anglos and Hispanics. Among them are, standing, left to right, Edgar Dominguez, Martin Londoño and Connie Londoño (now missionaries in Bangladesh), Eduardo Cuneo, Myrna Dominguez; seated, left to right, Raul Pacheco, pastoral intern; Julio Rivera, team member; and Brad Taylor, pastor of Hispanic Ministries. Not pictured: Zoe Poelt, Gary and Jackie Burnett, Tim Stephens, Christ and Laura Hyche, and Marilyn Barnett.

 

 

 

 

Lay leader Eduardo Cuneo broadcasts to Hispanics over the church’s radio station. Programs consist of teaching, music, and interviews. A Briarwood member before the Hispanic ministry was formalized, Eduardo is VP of a local steel company, which has operations in Mexico.

The Hispanic population in metor Birmingham, as in so many US cities and towns, has mushroomed in recent years. Currently, the estimated total is 56,000. To reach this significant group, Brad Taylor was called two years ago to establish Briarwood’s Hispanic Ministry. Fluent in Spanish, he spent eight years with an MTW team in Spain where he helped plant a church. Starting from scratch in Birmingham, he began building the ministry by contacting Hispanics who had attended ESL classes.  

“God provided several great volunteers,” Brad explains, “and we began visiting ESL students in their homes. We were thrilled when the very first man we called on received Christ!”

As they continued to visit, the Holy Spirit worked through them to lead ten more Hispanics to the Lord. The team was so encouraged that they decided to begin Sunday morning services almost immediately. After six months, a total of 60 people had come to faith in Christ. Meanwhile, they started a home Bible study and now have two.

Approximately a fourth of the regular participants of this ministry, now about 80 strong, are single men or women who have left families back home; the remainder are couples or families with children. So the ministry strives to create a warm sense of community with frequent social gatherings and group field trips to such places as the Huntsville Space Center.

In mid-September, the ministry will participate in hosting the MNA Hispanic Convocation at Briarwood, which is open to all who have an interest in Hispanic ministry — including those who want to get started and those already involved. In November, the team is planning to produce a three-day evangelistic crusade for the metro area.

Also assisting with the Hispanic Ministry is seminary student and intern, Raul Pacheco, a Brazilian who teaches a Bible study in Alabaster, a community about 15 miles from Briarwood. The plan is for Raul to start a daughter church there in 2003. Recently, the Hispanic Ministry sent out their first missionary couple, Martin and Connie Londoño, to work with Muslims in Bangladesh.

“The fields are white for harvest, and we’re thrilled to see lives changed through Christ,” says Brad. “Over the next ten years, we pray the Lord will use this ministry to plant five or more Hispanic churches in metro Birmingham and other parts of Alabama.”

 

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Gospel in Uniform

The Relevant Ministry: Five PCA chaplains are currently stationed at Ft. Campbell Army post in Kentucky, home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Each chaplain leads a different aspect of ministry under the supervision of Division Chaplain, Ken Brown. Following are edited excerpts from a report Ken provided for this issue of Multiply:

Five PCA chaplains are currently assigned to the Army post at Ft. Campbell, KY, each one involved with a different aspect of ministry. They are, left to right, Ken Brown, division chaplain; Ed Yurus, Mike Curtis, Bo Welch. Not pictured, Michael Rightmyer, who is deployed with Operation Enduring Freedom. 

“Over the past year, life has become much more stressful with numerous training and operational deployments. As PCA chaplains, we meet the spiritual needs of our community in a variety of ways. For example, we’re involved in chapel services across Ft. Campbell and have seen a number of people come to Christ. In the last year, over 21 people were baptized at Memorial Chapel. A class for new Christians is helping these new believers learn how to follow Him. Chaplains Mike Rightmyer and Ed Yurus also work to disciple soldiers through programs they lead at two different post chapels. 

“Chaplains Mike Curtis and Bo Welch work with ‘The Bridge,’ a worship service for young soldiers and their families. Through it, the youngest soldiers (sometimes only 17) and their families learn about God, what it means to worship Him, and how to build their faith. Started a couple of years ago, this service has seen strong and steady growth, despite the incredible transition typical of the military community.  

“During the past year, there has been hardly a day when all five PCA chaplains were at Ft. Campbell at the same time. Often, they are involved with training exercises, both on and off post, which stretch them and prepare them, not only for a possible wartime mission, but also to support soldiers away from home. 

“Since men and women of the 101st began participating in Operation Enduring Freedom last fall, PCA chaplains have been leading worship, administering the sacraments, providing pastoral care, discipling, and evangelizing men and women in uniform. They have performed these services everywhere — in chapels, hospitals, and homes, as well as on training fields and at the front lines. It’s amazing that any place on the planet can become sacred ground — a place to worship God and enjoy His presence.”

 

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Why & How to Build a Strong Hispanic 

Outreach in North America 

2002 Hispanic Ministries Convocation

DATE:    September 18–20, 2002 

PLACE:  Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham,  AL 

Lead Speakers:  

Manuel Ortiz, Professor of Ministry and Urban Mission & Director of the Urban Mission Program, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA 

David Moran, Senior Pastor, Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church, Miami, FL; former senior pastor, Oaklawn Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX, a bilingual congregation.  

Plus nine other conference leaders experienced with Hispanic ministry. 

Designed for representatives of PCA churches already involved with Hispanic ministry and those who wish to get started. 

For info, call Tina Smith at MNA: (678) 825–1253. Or check the Web: <pcanet.org/mna>. 

Reservations are required and space is limited. If you wish to attend, call today.

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Thanksgiving Offering 2002 

  

“Richard Yu truly has a servant’s heart…he has certainly strengthened our ability to show the love of Christ and to minister to the people of the St. Johns community.”  Chris Fisher, Director of Mercy Ministry, Redeemer Presbyterian, Austin, TX 

A native of Taiwan, Richard became a Christian at Redeemer New York and currently interns with New Start, a mercy ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian in Austin. Serving in a low-income neighborhood, he is a key member of the launch team for a Hispanic PCA church started by Redeemer.  

Richard is typical of developing ethnic leaders receiving financial assistance from MNA Urban & Mercy Ministries through the Thanksgiving Offering. This year’s Thanksgiving Offering brochure tells more about New Start and also profiles others who benefit from the offering.  

Brochures are now available for church leaders to distribute among their congregations. To order a quantity, call Janet Haynes at MNA: (678) 825-1239.  

Preparing ethnic leaders for PCA ministry in North America means that thousands of people can be led to Jesus Christ in years to come. 

  

“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:12 

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The Vital Church

A Family-Oriented Retreat: When Harvester Presbyterian Church, Springfield, VA, held its annual retreat last May, the staff of MNA Church Vitality was invited to conduct a Kingdom Intercessor Training (KIT), a program that teaches about more effectual prayer. Harvester, led by senior pastor Ron Bossom, plans a family-oriented weekend for the congregation each year at Potomac Park Camp in Falling Waters, WV, and schedules plenty of time for learning, reflection, and recreation.

According to Archie Parrish, MNA coordinator of Church Vitality, “Harvester is well underway in the adventure of teaching God’s people how to pray more effectively. The elders understand that the vitality of their church hinges on investing time and study in their primary responsibilities: prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4).”

KIT is designed to teach a congregation how to pray more strategically, more biblically, and more regularly. Each event intends to plant a vision and to provide the necessary tools so that church leaders can continue the prayer training over a two year period. For more information about Kingdom Intercessor Training and about scheduling a KIT event at your church, contact Archie Parrish: <aparrish@pcanet.org> or 678-825-1251.

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