By Allen Palmeri
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ontario—One of the major breakthroughs experienced by Brent Campbell, director of missions, Twin Rivers Baptist Association, in his capacity as team leader of the Aug. 2-6 mission trip to this Northern Ontario city became evident on the very last day.
The team, which consisted of eight associational members and eight supportive members from two other Missouri Baptist churches, was able to set up a festival at Etienne Brule Public School next to the V.E. Greco Memorial Pool within sight of the International Bridge to America. The mood was upbeat as several mothers and fathers brought their children onto the schoolgrounds to receive free kiddie train rides and free popcorn along with Gospel tracts and a flyer announcing a new Canadian National Baptist Convention church in town in 2011.
“We’ve made the contact that controls the schools and school property,” Campbell said. “In the summertime it’s so important to be out on the school property and be visible. Possibly our church planter is going to want access to a school to even use it for services.”
Rick Hedger, partnership missions specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), appreciates the willingness that Campbell is showing as a DOM to stand in the gap and pray for the Lord to plant a platform church in a key Northern Ontario city. Other platform churches are needed in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, North Bay, and Bracebridge.
“In Psalm 2:8, God the Father tells His Son to ask for the nations as an inheritance and He would give it,” Hedger said. “We are asking the Son to ask the Father to send out workers to reach Northern Ontario for the kingdom. Brent Campbell gets the vision.”
It all starts with prayer. Campbell had all eight of his core team members prayer walking Aug. 5, thanking God in advance that a Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC) church will be in Sault Ste. Marie and praying for the Lord to send a Canadian church planter to the waterfront city of around 75,000 citizens.
“It’s got to be a God thing,” he said. “If it were easy, they’d already have somebody here. It’s not easy. I honestly think it’s just a matter of prayer. We prayed all summer, praying that way that it would happen, and now we’re putting in print that it’s going to happen in 2011.”
With that statement he handed The Pathway a flyer that went out to prospects that day inviting them to a new church next year and giving them contact information for the CNBC (www.cnbc.ca and 1-888-442-2272, ext. 105).
George and Jean Hosick of Fellowship Baptist Church, Warrenton, transported their six-car kiddie train up to Canada with the goal of providing free rides for children. Campbell wanted to do this at a neighborhood park but instead found a willing host in the owner of the Skyline Motel where they were staying. The Great Northern Road, a busy four-lane with lots of stores and restaurants, was a good place to create visibility as the train with the multi-colored passenger seats (green, red, orange, gray, yellow, and blue) finally got rolling in a tight area dotted by trees.
“The kids like you moving around in circles,” said George Hosick, taking a break from his engineer duties on a 15-horsepower John Deere tractor. “It’s a little bit rough. I think they kind of like that, bouncing.”
For Campbell, it represented progress toward the ultimate destination.
“People are friendly, and we’re seeing small steps taken as we’re able to talk to people, pray with people as we prayer-walk the neighborhoods, get out and make connections, even at a motel—people who are obviously not Christian but are open to Christian things,” he said.
The next day the team was able to set up at a local school, which was more to their liking in that they could spread out and try to attract a bigger crowd. Free popcorn and motion generated by Missouri Baptist youth on mission through kite flying, soccer, and Frisbee helped create more of a festival-type of environment as Hosick kept the train rolling. There were times when all six seats were filled by Canadians, giving mission team members time to engage the parents in spiritual conversations. Most of these adults are unchurched.
“That’s what you want,” Campbell said. “The non-Christians come to Christ, and the unchurched come to the church to see what’s happening.”
Campbell is currently serving as a trustee for the North American Mission Board (NAMB). As such, he is uniquely positioned to be an advocate for supporting this new work both from within the association and the continental entity as Southern Baptists move ahead with their stated goal of getting more money out of the Deep South and into pioneering areas like Sault Ste. Marie.
“NAMB’s very open to supporting a church planter in Sault Ste. Marie,” he said. “As in Missouri, it’s got to come from a local level.”