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Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
Outreach North America
Meet ONA’s New Staff
Joel Gardner, Admin. Asst. for Finance My spiritual background is that I come from a Jesus following family. From as far as back as I can remember my parents pointed me to Christ. My mother has told me numerous times from my birth about how she gave me up to the LORD for Him to use me however He desired. So it does not come as a shock that I accepted Jesus into my heart at the age of five. And maybe in the same respect, because of my rebellious nature and the schemes of the devil, it might not be a shock that I spent a good seven to eight years running away from God. By doing so I turned to the things of the world, the flesh, and the devil. It was not until my junior year of college, less than three years ago, that I repented of my ways and asked Jesus to be my LORD. I now live fully aware that I am a sinner deserving the full wrath of God, but by His grace I am saved, and not by any work of my own so that I cannot boast. He has blessed me with a beautiful wife, Natalie, and so much more than I deserve. So, however long God has me on this earth, I pray to be a living testament to His glory, making disciples in the name of Jesus to whomever and wherever the Spirit leads me and my family. “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve. . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) While in college, I was blessed to have the opportunity to do a one year financial internship with the church I was attending in Columbia, South Carolina. During this time I worked with the elders of the church on a weekly basis to assist them in overseeing a $400,000 budget. It was a great opportunity for me to serve this new (5-year-old) church plant with their financial needs. This yearlong internship was excellent preparation for working at ONA, where I am able to support multiple church planters in their financial needs. Stephanie Smith, Office Manager I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I grew up in church and was very active in youth group until the beginning of seventh grade. In seventh grade, I started playing organized club volleyball, which practiced a couple times a week and had tournaments on the weekends. This made attending every church activity difficult. As my church attendance declined, my feelings of being “the outsider” increased. Eventually I did not want to go to church even if I was available. continued on page 4
From the Director
We Are Here to Help
Dr. Alan J. Avera, Executive Director
In this issue of Outreach, we introduce you to the ONA staff. We have had some staff changes this past year, so we want to help you put a face and a personal story to the people who are here to serve you at Outreach North America (ONA). I am the only one serving full time with ONA, the others serve with us part time. Growing up in a nominally Christian home, my family only went to church sporadically. I thank the Lord for a faithful Sunday School teacher in Stone Mountain, Georgia who reached out with Christ’s love to a child who was there only occasionally. She planted the seed of the Gospel in my life. I encourage you Sunday School teachers not to overlook the children who attend sporadically. It was not until my senior year of college at the University of North Carolina that this Gospel seed took root and grew through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. While serving active duty in the U.S. Navy, my call to ministry was confirmed at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. After serving on staff of the Church of the Atonement in Silver Spring, MD, the Lord called me to plant a daughter church, Faith Presbyterian, in Olney, MD. I have served as Director of ONA since 2004. Here is the ONA team. We encourage you to contact us. We are here to help. †
Wes Spring, Board Chairman
Director of Evangelism & Care
Director of Church Renewal
Admin. Asst. Office Manager Publications & Stephanie Smith Communications
Admin. Asst. for Finance
By the grace of God, there is movement toward renewal in churches and presbyteries of the ARP. This movement is part of my current testimony as I witness the hand of God moving in the ministry of renewal to which He has called me. As grateful as I am for what God is doing through this ministry, I must guard against my tendency to focus on the doing while missing the being. Having now logged five years as ONA’s Director of Church Renewal, clearly the investment is paying off in the form of an ever expanding ministry of renewal, but what is God doing with me on the inside? What is my inner testimony? What has God done in me lately? To be brutally honest, the battlefield for me these days is in my motives, my attitudes and the focus of my thoughts. It is not so much in what I do, but in why and how I do what I do, and where the mental energy of my day is expended. These are the areas that God keeps bringing to light. I see promising improvement followed by disappointing relapse. I guess I am not the only one living this two steps forward, one step back testimony. Come, Lord Jesus! † stories from missionaries about their relationships with Jesus Christ. At one of the conferences, I was introduced to students from Erskine College and through my relationships with John Carson, the Boyce twins, and many girls, I decided to go to Erskine College. It was there through playing soccer and tennis that I learned much that would later help me in establishing a church through coaching teams at a local high school. I had played baseball and basketball in high school and was able to establish teams in the infancy of our church to recruit men to be a part of our church plant. While at Erskine, I received a degree in Elementary Education and History, which helped me establish Christian Education programs within the church. While at the University of Georgia, I was led to Christ by a fellow student and ARP, Dr. Jim Polhill. His youth group in Louisville, Georgia, was on fire and I saw what God could do with young people fully committed to Jesus. I went on to receive my Masters Degree in Counseling from UGA. After serving as a high school counselor, I realized that my call was to the ministry. I served with Campus Crusade for Christ for six years and learned to share my faith and lead a small group. Through their Institute of Biblical Studies I fell in love with studying the Scriptures. While I was serving in Atlanta in the Doraville ARP Church, God greatly blessed our church under Dr. and Mrs. Bob Marshburn’s ministry. Rev. Lanier Ellis and I connected with the youth. Through that church I was called into the pastoral ministry. After serving briefly in the Reformed Church in America (RCA), I was called to start a church in Greensboro, North Carolina, where there were no ARP’s. God blessed that ministry and from Christ Community Church He used my wife and me to start other churches. When ONA asked me to come to work for them, I could see that this was God’s hand and a natural fit. After twentyfive years in ministry, I believe God has uniquely equipped me to help others in the process of church planting. †
What Have You Done for Me Lately?
Dr. Ken Priddy Director of Church Renewal Somewhere between cliché and idiomatic expression lies the question, “What have you done for me lately?” When considering Christian testimony a better question might be, “What have you done in me lately?” It is a simple prepositional modification, but it packs a wealth of meaning. Those of us who are in Christ understand that the Holy Spirit is active and moving, and part of that action and movement takes place in our own hearts. However, we must pay attention or we just might miss it, thinking of testimony only in terms of what is happening around us rather than what is happening in us. The word testimony evokes thoughts of that point in time when one first received Jesus as Lord and Savior, and rightly so. But for many such as I that point in time was a long time ago. What about now? What is new or fresh in the way of testimony? For me, as ONA’s Director of Church Renewal, there are exciting signs of renewal popping up in many areas. The calendar is filling with opportunities to present JumpStart Seminars and HIGH M-PACT Revitalization Training. Atlanta has become a hub of continuing and upcoming ministry with three ARP churches located in and around the metro area. Another hub of renewal activity is the Charlotte/Rock Hill area where numerous churches are committing to renewal and where one church has become the first approved applicant for the newly established Church Mobilization Fund. In the fall, I had the opportunity to speak to Florida Presbytery, present a JumpStart Seminar to Florida churches, and preach at two churches near Tampa. The capacity to provide renewal ministry is expanding with Wes Spring (ONA Board Chairman) and Dr. Charles Roberts (pastor at Ballston Center ARP Church) being trained as revitalization trainers and consultants.
Dr. John Kimmons Director of Evangelism and Care Little did I know that being a fifth generation ARP might help me in dealing with people from many presbyteries in the ARP Church. Although I grew up in the First ARP Church in Statesville, North Carolina, our family moved to start a new church while I was a freshman in college. I attended this church plant, Covenant ARP, not realizing it would help me in establishing other church plants later in my life. I bleed ARP because of my affiliation from my earliest years. At fifteen, I went to work at Bonclarken. My Eagle Scout training really helped out. Before then I had gone every summer that I could remember to the Adult Bible Conference and to Camp Bonclarken. My heart had been strangely stirred by Scripture memory and the
We have a legacy of traditional biblical values that are waiting to be translated into contemporary messages which will not only reach the lost but gather them into the ARP family. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to reach out to our mission developers and to pray daily for their protection and for their answering God’s call to sow the seeds of the future generations of believers in Christ. † I would like to mention some of the benefits that will make this a win-win adventure. 1. Christian Education Ministries (CEM) has seen an increase in the number of churches wanting to participate in the Appalachia mission, but due to limited availability and a desire to optimize effectiveness, it may be difficult to find enough ministry sites for all the churches that want to participate. The Appalachia mission has also seen great success and ONA is working with CEM to take veteran churches to help with church plants and renewal endeavors in the ARP. It is great that ARP churches are excited about missions and ONA and CEM want to help provide opportunities for mission trips to support our ARP church plants! 2. Having an established church partner with a church plant for a week will make the church personally involved and concerned for the mission. The benefits could be endless including fellowship, prayer support, mutual encouragement, and financial support. One of the proven factors that will reduce the risk of church planting is having supporting churches that really care that they succeed. 3. One of the challenges to short term missions is follow-up. Who will nurture new Christians and seekers when the one week missionaries leave? Church plants that host a summer mission trip will be there year round to follow-up. 4. There are endless opportunities for spreading the Gospel: VBS, Backyard Bible clubs, work projects, community outreach, mercy ministries, and the list could go on! The Apostle Paul understood the importance of supporting other believers, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:15-17). † If you are interested contact Tessa Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org 864.232.8297 ext 241 or a church plant directly
By Wes Spring ONA Board Chairman I have been in and out of a relationship with God since I was a child, but because of God’s grace, He has never been out of a relationship with me. Since Thanksgiving Day, 1999, I have come to know and live more fully in that grace. That was the day God called my father home and I became the primary care giver for my mother. That meant moving to Florida, a place I only intended to visit occasionally. That also meant God opening up the opportunity for me to learn and appreciate the rich heritage and legacy of the ARP Church. My parents had been worshipping at First Presbyterian of Lake Placid and I wished for my mother to continue with her small group Bible study and attend services in her church home. I was serving as a freshman elder in 2004, when I met and began to appreciate Hal Morris (former ONA Board Chairman) and his passion for church growth through planting and revitalizing current congregations. I felt God’s calling on my heart to find out more about church planting and perhaps begin to find an avenue to share my leadership consulting skills as well. My first experience was not a home run. It was however, a wonderful learning and growing experience that ignited my passion for the ARP and for wanting to spread the Word to the greatest mission field in the world- right here! So, I have been on a quest to get more elders to step up and answer God’s call for men to lead. We must lead with truth and compassion for the spreading of the Gospel message not only to the lost but also to our brothers and sisters in Christ that we are commanded to go forth and build God’s Kingdom here on earth. I am honored and humbled to be the Chairman of the Board of ONA, and it is my prayer that every member of every ARP Church will be excited about the heritage which our forefathers have built and cherished so as to be a launching pad for growth and renewed energy.
Supporting Each Other
By Tessa Taylor Publications & Communications By God’s grace, I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I used to think this meant that I did not have a testimony. However, I have learned that my testimony is an ever changing story of what God is doing in my life as He uses me in different ways and seasons for His purposes. Like John Kimmons mentioned in his testimony, I believe God has uniquely equipped me to work with ONA in this season of life. I am also the wife of a youth director and mother of a two-yearold. I believe that helping my husband in his ministry and being in the midst of raising a child has given me a desire to see our church planters and their families encouraged and supported in their ministries. I am very excited that this summer some established ARP churches are partnering with our church plants for mission trips. We hope this great opportunity will flourish and grow over the next few years. From my personal experience, my husband and I have taken high school students on a mission trip to Wales for many summers. Even though many miles separate us most of the year, we have built relationships that continue year round. We communicate with and pray for our brothers and sisters over there regularly. Two years ago we went to Sarah and Paul’s wedding in Wales. This January we even had a family from Wales come visit us in the USA! Think of what our church plants can have with another congregation closer to home!
continued from page 1 The summer before my senior year in high school I was persuaded to attend a week-long missions conference. It was at this conference that the Lord opened my eyes to Himself again, and gave me the desire to begin actively seeking Him. After high school, I moved to Greenville, South Carolina to attend Furman University. While at Furman I played on the varsity volleyball team and was involved in Campus Outreach, a Christian campus ministry. It was through a beach project sponsored by Campus Outreach, the summer after my freshman year of college, that I came to truly understand Jesus’ significance in my life and the sacrifice He made for me. After all of my seeking, my summer at the beach finally helped me comprehend the Gospel, and cement Christ’s love, sacrifice, and truths in my heart. Since then I have been trying to follow in His footsteps in my day to day life: whether that be in actively pursuing a deeper relationship with my Father, playing volleyball and studying while at Furman, or after my graduation following His calling to Malawi, Africa to live among, serve, and share His Word with the people of Malawi. I am constantly amazed by how God continues to grow me and by His provision in my life. I am so excited to see where He guides me in the future! † Look for Outreach North America on
News and Notes from the Field
The Inner Life of the Church Planter was just published by ONA board member Rev. Gentry McColm. It is available at amazon.com. King’s Parish in Dallas, TX accepted its first members in March. Seed Growers Initiative King’s Parish will begin later this year. Our goal is to increase individual participation by ARP members in support of church planting. Seed Growers will give individual congregation members a way of connecting more closely to our church plants through prayer and financial support. Stay tuned. Hill City Church in Rock Hill, SC was approved by Catawba Presbytery as a new mission congregation beginning April 1 with Rev. Andy Stager as the mission developer. Church Planter’s Special at the ARP Bookstore 8 books ($120 value) for $95.00! www.arpbookstore.com
1 Cleveland St., Ste. 110 Greenville, SC 29601-3696
General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
Outreach North America
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