By Terry Maples
Attention, time and energy given in service to others ought to be a natural by-product of discipleship — helping people become like Jesus in attitude and action. Meaningful congregational mission engagement does not happen accidentally. Effective ministry results from intentional and repeated response to God’s gracious work in our lives. As Christ-followers, our greatest desire is to emulate our leader who said, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
I’m pleased to report that many churches across the state of Tennessee “get it.” They understand spiritual vitality grows when believers learn to love what God loves. Three Tennessee churches — First Baptist Church in Chattanooga, First Baptist Church in Knoxville and Second Baptist Church in Memphis — are involved in exciting ministry with the South Africa Network.
These churches collaborate with other like-minded Cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregations who also choose to make a difference in South Africa. Because of CBF’s investment in this part of the world, orphaned children are placed in safe and loving environments. Partners work with CBF field personnel Josh and Caroline Smith and Mark and Sara Williams to meet deep physical and spiritual needs resulting from the AIDS pandemic.
After Stephen Cook, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Memphis, returned from his first trip to South Africa in 2012, we met for lunch. To say he was excited about what he experienced in South Africa is an understatement. He described a church there that had taken a literal opening in a wall where babies were abandoned and created a ministry to care for neglected infants in four different “baby houses.” Thanks to CBF’s work at Refilwe and its community partners, children receive nourishment and care from compassionate and skilled caretakers.
Stephen also shared his enthusiasm about South Africa with his friend and colleague Thomas Quisenberry, pastor of First Baptist Church in Chattanooga. The members of First Chattanooga also heard the Spirit’s call to partner in South Africa. How exciting when congregations serve together!
Amazing things happen when we invite God to open our eyes to see the needs around us!
Last year, Stephen and Thomas noticed another way to make a difference in South Africa. They observed the transportation challenges of a nurse who, in her retirement, opened a medical clinic for the underserved. The two pastors explored solutions for these challenges. I’m pleased to report that acquiring a truck for Sister Didi and the Bophelo Clinic is becoming a reality because of the imagination and generosity of these two CBF churches!
Stephen also shared the story of South Africa’s needs with the Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (TCBF) Coordinating Council. Desiring to support the three Tennessee churches participating in the partnership, TCBF committed $5,000 to strengthen CBF’s work in South Africa. In addition, the TCBF Coordinating Council pledged $2,500 toward the purchase of the truck.
When missional churches tune in to God’s work in the world, their hearts open up to the Holy Spirit’s nudge to respond and their feet and hands move. God empowers effective partnerships and networks!
The global impact even small congregations in Tennessee have is powerful. A year ago, as CBF field personnel Missy Ward-Angalla engaged in fundraising to serve in Uganda, she planned to visit Middle Tennessee. Melissa Roysdon, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Cookeville, enthusiastically invited Missy to come preach. Missy so eloquently expressed her love for the Ugandan people and her call to serve female refugees fleeing to Uganda that Providence members were inspired to partner with her!
Though small in number, the good folks at Providence are incredibly generous. Their pastor encourages them to remain keenly aware of CBF field personnel and to pray for them. Over time, Providence members feel they really know the ones they pray for each week. Now they know and love Missy and choose to invest in her and her ministry. Providence Baptist Church and Missy Ward-Angalla are friends, co-laborers and ministry partners.
I’m grateful for CBF’s commitment to serve in difficult places among neglected people. Thanks be to God for leaders in Tennessee whose convictions encourages compassionate engagement around the world.
Let us celebrate the courage and boldness of pastors who point to opportunities to support and partner with CBF’s global mission enterprise. By regularly lifting up places of need and providing opportunities to respond, these leaders model the love of Christ and powerfully influence the Kingdom impact of the congregations they serve!
Terry Maples is field coordinator for the Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
When you support the CBF Offering for Global Missions, you support all CBF field personnel. To give to the CBF Offering
for Global Missions and for more information on how to promote it in your congregation, visit the Fellowship’s website at
Learn more about how to partner with the CBF field personnel mentioned in this story at the websites below:
Caroline and Josh Smith — South Africa
Missy Ward-Angalla — Uganda
Mark and Sara Williams — South Africa