For FBC Clever, it’s more than just money
Congregation’s first overseas mission trip reaps fruit in Ukraine
By Allen Palmeri
August 17, 2004
CLEVER – For many Missouri Baptist churches like First Baptist Church, Clever, giving money to international missions is the extent of their involvement. But when the members of First Clever began hungering for more, they found a way to do something about it. They sent a five-person team abroad for the first time.
In the midst of their historic mission trip to Kiev, Ukraine, July 16-25, church member Clark Satterlee told Pastor Doug Richey that “money is helpful, but people are priceless.” Satterlee, a junior at Drury University in Springfield, had concluded that actually sending short-term missionaries to help strengthen a church plant in Kiev was a good investment.
“We could have sent the money we raised to come to Kiev and it would have been helpful, but you can’t put a price tag on people,” said Richey. “I thought that was a wonderful, wonderful observation. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world are such an extreme minority. They have very little fellowship with fellow believers, so whenever you take a team like ours, five of us, to work with a team of 10 people, it was just an amazing thing to see their excitement and the joy that they had in being able to interact, even though there was a language barrier.”
Clever is a town of around 600 people located 10 miles southwest of Springfield. Richey has been the pastor of First Clever, which runs 120-125 in Sunday worship, for nearly four years. He said he had to wait while God led the members to where they truly desired an international mission trip.
“I think it was just a matter of being sensitive to the leadership of God,” Richey said. “It’s one thing to say that you need to be patient in your teaching and leadership of the congregation and looking for opportunities, but I think you can never downplay the work of God. His leadership, working through the hearts of His people, you can’t measure it. It was a significant tool, I believe, in getting our church to that point where God just began to really work in the hearts of our people.”
Little by little, church members began to believe that they could send a team overseas. At first 10 people signed up to go, but obstacles arose that resulted in the list being cut in half. Richey challenged the group to raise funds, and a combination of family, friends and church giving proved to be sufficient for the group that included Richey, Satterlee, a high school student and his mother, and the church’s youth pastor.
“I would say that almost 50 percent of expenses of the trip came through the church, and the other 50 percent either came from the individuals or their families and friends,” Richey said.
“Until you come to that point where you say, ‘We have an opportunity to serve the Lord in Salt Lake City,’ or ‘We have an opportunity to serve the Lord in Dubuque, Iowa,’ or Kiev, and you begin to plan that, and even if it means you take two or three people, it doesn’t require a large group of people to have a tremendous impact in the area that you’re ministering in and the church,” Richey said.
Last year, First Clever took its first North American mission trip to Broken Arrow, Okla., where 20 short-term missionaries worked with two Native American congregations that had been recently planted.
“It is so clear from Scripture that this is something that we ought to be a part of, but the majority of our congregations have not done this,” Richey said. “Their idea of missions is Lottie Moon (Christmas Offering), Annie Armstrong (Easter Offering), the Cooperative Program and the money that we send out each month to the convention—that’s our mission work. You don’t want to downplay the importance of money, because it does help, but money is not the only responsibility that we have in expanding the kingdom of Christ. We need to be involved personally.”
Waiting for the congregation to catch the full impact of Acts 1:8, coupled with timely encouragement for individuals to step up in the area of missions, has been the key to First Clever accepting the Acts 1:8 Challenge of the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Richey said he particularly enjoyed the fellowship he experienced with the pastor of the church plant in Kiev, which began in February as a Bible study of 10 in the pastor’s apartment and has grown into a flock of 25. Kiev is a city of approximately 3.5 million people; less than one percent are evangelical Christians.
“Here you have two individuals who are separated by over 5,000 miles and two entirely different cultures, speaking entirely different languages, and yet we have the same concerns in ministry, the same challenges in ministry and the same goals,” Richey said.
“We were there to encourage them and to help them with a children’s day camp and a youth sports evangelism camp.”
It was the first international mission trip for four of the five participants from First Clever.