By Caleb Mynatt
CBF field personnel Johnathon and Tina Bailey signed an Encourager Church covenant with Providence Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 7, 2020, during their Sunday worship service. The Baileys will use the funding from and prayers of Providence to strengthen their missions in Bali, Indonesia.
The signing of the Encourager Church covenant between the two parties ties the knot on a relationship that spans 20-plus years. The Baileys became familiar with the church back in the late 1990s because of familial connection, before Providence had a building to call their own. As Providence has grown, the Baileys’ relationship with the church has remained strong despite many changes throughout the years. As the Baileys’ work in Bali has grown, so has the amount of support they receive from Providence.
“We’ve had a good relationship with them for many years now,” said Tina Bailey. “The Encourager Church piece is really just making it official, but we’ve always felt connected with them.”
To officially enter a covenant with the Baileys was something that was in the works for almost a year at Providence, but became possible after they hired a permanent pastor. The decision to enter a covenant with the Baileys, according to Pastor Dan Freemyer, was very much a congregation-led decision. According to Freemyer, the members of Providence greatly identify with the work that the Baileys do in Indonesia because of their work in the arts, something that is important to the congregation.
“I think the nature of the art and music and the way they use them to develop relationships resonates with the people at Providence,” said Freemyer. “There’s a strong sense of appreciation within the congregation for the movement of God through art.”
The Baileys work is very much centered in the arts, which they use to connect and communicate with the people of Bali. Music and dance are ingrained into Balinese culture; so it acts as the driving force the Baileys use to share the word of God. Through their work in the Narwatsu Art Community, an organization that consists of international students and community members which they founded in 2005, as well as through their arts program at a high security prison in Bali, the Baileys use art and expression in every facet of their work. Without art, the Baileys’ missions are not possible.
Their goal with Narwatsu is to provide a space for meaningful relationships that bridge cultural, linguistic and religious differences, as well as a place where people can express themselves. Through their prison arts program, they are able to provide a way for prisoners to express themselves, as well as offer guidance, helping prisoners learn some life-skills that will help them re-integrate into society once they are released.
Not only is Freemyer hopeful that their funding will continue to help the Baileys accomplish their goals, but he also hopes that Providence will learn a thing or two along the way. By examining and learning from the work of the Baileys, Freemyer is hoping the congregation can use the things they learn in their own outreach in South Carolina. Through the Baileys, Freemyer thinks that Providence will become stronger by strengthening relationships in their local community, as well as with the network of other CBF churches who support the Baileys.
“What we are counting on is an intentional exchange of information and ideas so that when we learn what they are doing, we can apply that in ways that can affect our relationship with our own local neighbors,” said Freemyer. “What they are all about is developing relationships, and that’s something Providence needs.”
The Baileys feel their bond with Providence is a model that other Encourager Churches should try to adopt. The relationship illustrates the benefits, as well as the importance of a strong, grounded relationship between field personnel and an Encourager Church. Because of their long-standing relationship, they feel that they will be able to accomplish even more with the support of Providence. It’s also important to the Baileys to uphold their part of the Covenant so that Providence also benefits from the relationship.
“We feel very strongly that this isn’t a one-way relationship,” said Tina Bailey. “We hope that we can be as much of a resource to them as they are to us.”
The covenant was signed during a virtual worship service, highlighting the effect of COVID-19 on missions. Although COVID-19 has made missions more complicated, not to mention the signing of the covenant itself, the Baileys are working to overcome those challenges. They plan to return to Bali within the next month and resume their work. But their mandatory time away from the area presented a great opportunity to finally make their relationship with Providence official. Despite the fact it could not be done in person, there is still plenty of excitement from congregation to leadership about the signing during this time.
“Most people had wanted to wait; but there is real enthusiasm at Providence Baptist Church in going ahead and allowing this process to proceed.” said Ellen Sechrest, manager of Global Missions for CBF.
To learn more about the Baileys’ ministry as well as ways to donate to their work, visit their website at www.cbf.net/bailey.