Lee Warren/contributing writer
OMAHA, Neb. – The Heartland Interstate Strategy (HIS) task force met online July 22 to finalize plans for its vision tour set for Aug. 26-28 that will help leaders identify which hub cities along the I-29 corridor they want to consider or partner with for future church planting or evangelistic opportunities.
The corridor, which runs from Kansas City to Winnipeg, Manitoba, is an 800-mile stretch that is largely lacking in Southern Baptist churches and evangelical witness in general.
To date, ten leaders have signed up for the vision tour that will begin in Omaha on the evening of Aug. 26. The bus will make stops in the hub cities of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Sioux City, Iowa, before returning to Omaha the afternoon of August 28.
During the stops in Sioux Falls and Sioux City, the tour will also provide information about the needs in other hub cities, including Winnipeg; Fargo, N.D./Moorhead, Minn.; and St. Joseph/northeast Kansas.
Plenty of seats are still available on the bus. HIS invites anybody who is interested in partnering with prospective plants along the corridor to attend.
“We’re looking for pastors who have some level of interest, planters who might be praying for an area in which to plant a new church and directors of missions whose associations want to get involved,” said HIS chair Mark Elliott. State convention executives and lay leaders are welcome, too.
Elliott said two Missouri associations are already working with Nebraska congregations. And Jeffrey Chavez, HIS coordinator, has been busy making trips and connections to help facilitate partnerships between churches in the south with prospective church plants along the corridor.
“It’s not a large commitment,” Elliott said about joining the bus tour. “Once you get here, we’ll take care of everything from the ground up.”
Hotels and food are covered once the tour begins. The only expenses that will be incurred by those who join the tour are travel expenses to and from Omaha.
“You’ll have tremendous exposure to a huge region that needs the gospel,” Elliott said. “It’s an opportunity to get some vast exposure and insight into Southern Baptist life and needs in the upper Midwest.”
Rod Giesbrecht, who represents the Manitoba region on the task force, prayed to end the meeting, expressing the sentiments of everybody involved.
“Our heavenly Father, we thank you for where you’ve taken us so far,” he said. “And we wait in faith for you, Lord, to take us to where you want us to go.”
A small group of motorcyclists with an interest in the area will go on a “Spy out the Land” ride starting July 30, with hopes of expanding to more riders in 2015. The task force asks Missouri Baptists and Christians everywhere to be in prayer for the advance team of riders, and, of course, for the bus tour.
A website (www.mobaptist.org/HIS) has been set up if you want to sign up for the bus tour, or if you want more information.