By Kayla Rinker
RAYTOWN – “If you were to get in your car near the Atlantic Ocean and drive 30 hours all the way to Manitoba, you would not pass a single Baptist Church,” said Gary Smith, North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionary to Canada.
“God has called Missouri Baptists to a place that doesn’t have anything right now. However, five years from now, I anticipate that we will be celebrating the great things God has done through this partnership.”
During its 175th annual meeting in Raytown, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) agreed to a five-year partnership with the Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC). The partnership will focus primarily in the area of northern Ontario, where the need is at its most basic level.
Rick Hedger, partnership missions specialist for the MBC, said the people of Northern Ontario have been on his heart. Though there are no churches in the region, the partnership goal is to plant 50 new churches by 2014. The 50 churches would help fulfill CNBC’s long-term goal of establishing 1,000 churches across Canada by 2020. Currently, Canada only has 289.
Hedger said five of the new church plants will be platform churches, or traditional churches that would meet at an actual church building. The remaining 45 will be under the house church model, or a group of believers gathered in a house for Bible study.
“At this kind of beginning level, the house church will spread much more rapidly,” he said.
This partnership will bring a variety of opportunities for Missouri Baptists to do mission work. Some opportunities include adopting a city or town to begin a prayer partnership, prayer walking, mission projects, seeking God’s direction on how to bless a community in a physical way and, in doing so, looking for opportunities to tell Canadians about Jesus. Hedger said one idea for Missouri Baptists may be a “Campers on Mission” type of outreach.
“If we had people willing to go in their RV or fifth-wheel trailer during the summer and spend some time, they could really do a lot to bless the community,” he said.