Posted by Chris on October 20, 2014 under Front Page Announcements, Missions
UPDATE: 80% of GOAL REACHED
As of Nov. 12, the current total of gifts and pledges is $198,053. That is 80% of the budgeted amount. We are grateful for all who have given and all who have yet to give so that we might reach 100% of the goal.
2015 MISSIONS GOAL IS SET: $247,103
The mission committee has spent much time in prayer and conversation considering all the needs for current mission efforts. The next year, 2015, also presents special opportunities for growth in mission faithfulness.
The amount that we hope to raise in contribution and pledges is $247,103. If we reach the fundraising goal, then all of these works can be fully funded. This congregation has met the mission goals in the past with a spirit of dedication and joyful giving. Please be prayerful about the needs that have been submitted this year. These are momentary opportunities that will make an eternal difference.
Our Mission Weekend is Oct. 25-26, 2014
Our Mission Giving Sunday is Nov. 2, 2014
Watch this page for links to new information!
Phil grew up in Arkansas and Texas, the son of a minister’s family. He received his B.B.A. from Harding University and later his J.D. from the University of Arkansas. After completing their respective educations, Phil and his wife, Rebecca, met on a short-term mission trip in Bucharest, Romania in 1991. That mission trip turned their interests toward Romania and each other, and they returned to Bucharest in 1993 as a missionary family. They worked three years with the Bucharest church, also helping start the church in Ploiesti, a city located 40 miles from Bucharest. In 1996, they and another mission family moved to Cluj, located in northwest Romania, and began planting a church there. The Jacksons also organized and promoted an annual Christian camp and national church conferences in Bucharest.
The family returned to the States and Phil joined Missions Resource Network in 2002. As European Facilitator, Phil is recruiting long-term mission teams for strategic locations throughout Europe and working with missionaries and churches to develop effective mission strategies for those locations. They have two children and are members of the Prestoncrest Church of Christ in Dallas.
Our speaker for Oct. 26 is Behailu Abebe.
Behailu Abebe has years of experience in efforts to save lives and to save souls. Behailu is and has been a minister, evangelist, translator, radio broadcaster, school coordinator and director of humanitarian life-saving projects. In the 1980’s Behailu directed the Church of Christ Famine Relief Project, which raised eight million dollars and saved 128,000 from dying of hunger. He has served as coordinator for Schools for the Deaf and Preacher Training Schools in Ethiopia. He manages the Water Development Project that has dug over 540 wells providing fresh water for over 2.5 million people. He coordinates the broadcast of World Radio Amharic Service into Ethiopia, which reaches 90 million listeners. He also translates biblical studies into the Amharic language.
Behailu was baptized in 1964. He and his wife, Alem Seyefu, have been married since 1962. They have four children. Behailu and his wife currently reside in Seattle, Washington. In addition to continuing his ministry to his native country of Ethiopia, he is also involved in outreach to African immigrants in the Seattle area and active in the Holgate Church of Christ in Seattle.
Posted by Chris on November 1, 2013 under Front Page Announcements, Missions
Mission Sunday Goal Is Set: $224,913
This is the amount we need to raise beginning with our special contribution on Nov. 3, 2013.
In addition to your contributions on Nov. 3, you may submit a pledge card showing your intent to give certain amount to fund mission efforts for 2014. Making a pledge allows the mission committee to manage the funds for all the mission efforts in the upcoming year.
A copy of our standard pledge card is available below.
The mission committee has spent time in prayer and conversation considering all requests and opportunities. The amount that we hope to raise in contribution and pledges is $224,913. When we reach the fundraising goal, then all of these works can be fully funded.
If you have any questions about the process for contributions or pledges, please contact a member of the mission committee or the office. We encourage everyone to make a pledge or gift. May God give us the faith to reach this goal so that we might experience (again!) the joy of realizing what God can do through all of us when we commit ourselves to his mission.
Posted by Chris on February 7, 2013 under Front Page Posts, Missions
Our trip begins today. We are waiting for our flight out of Fort Smith. It’s delayed until 1:46 pm due to weather in Atlanta. But we are all healthy and feeling good. Our team is Jim Wilson, Don Wilson, Kelvin Kleman, Rusty Walker and me.
We were fortunate to get a special deal on two free checked bags thanks to our travel agent. Because of this, I was eligible for a carry-on that I don’t need. So I brought an empty bag and it became our community chest. Rusty put soccer balls that we are giving away into it. Jim had song books and computer cords that we will use for the showing of the Jesus film. Kelvin had some books to carry – they were thick. He must be a fast reader or he was prepared for delays like this.
I like the idea of this group bag. It is very Acts 2 and all things in common. And this bag may retire in Ethiopia. It’s has served the Benjamin family well since we lived in Abilene.
You may also follow Ethiopia Mission Team 2013 on Facebook as they travel, teach and encourage the church in Ethiopia. There are daily posts, pictures, and videos — a wonderful way to pray and participate daily in God’s mission there!
Posted by Chris on July 22, 2012 under Front Page Posts, Missions, Sermons
1987 – 2012
West-Ark began its current era of mission efforts in 1987. Of course, there were notable mission efforts before 1987; and the two congregations that merged to become West-Ark (College Terrace and Windsor Drive) certainly have their own histories of mission efforts. Yet, we mark 25 years from 1987 since that was the beginning of the West-Ark “Mission Committee” and a significant time for a new period of growth in West-Ark’s overall approach to reaching out around the world and across the street.
We will accept the excuse to celebrate what God has been doing among us for a quarter of a century! In the months ahead many stories will be told of how God has worked through different mission efforts and how he continues to work in amazing ways. The story of missions at West-Ark is not institutional or programmatic. Though there is serious attention to budgeting, fundraising, equipping, and other logistics, the story is organic, just like the story of any family. This story is about the growth and development of people who are caught up in God’s adventures. We believe that God has a mission, and that the mission has a church (rather than saying “the church has a mission”). We believe that God is at work in the world and we must join him in that work.
I have three general observations regarding West-Ark’s 25 years of mission efforts. Looking back, I hope to indicate how God has been at work within West-Ark. Looking forward, I hope to suggest some ways that we might build on this legacy and encourage future generations to follow God’s leading.
1. West-Ark is a congregation that encourages and equips its members to join in God’s work. There is an impressive list of our people who have been nurtured and encouraged by this congregation over the years to serve God. Over the last 25 years we have had individuals and families, members of this congregation just like any of us, who have made the decision to leave their profession and home country to devote themselves in serving God’s church where they might be needed most. That trend continues and even now we are involved in preparing couples who originally came to the Fort Smith region to work and start a family here.
Concern that this process weakens the local congregation by sending our best and brightest away from us is understandable but unfounded. The departure of families to serve God in other countries and cities has never left our congregation weaker. There is no instance of this ever being the case in 25 years. Even if it were true, we must remember that the mission of God is not to preserve our congregation. If West-Ark truly desires to be a congregation that follows Christ, then we must take his example seriously. Christ did not seek to preserve himself. He recognized that what might appear as loss to those who are concerned with self-preservation and establishing their own institutions is gain in the kingdom of heaven.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” – John 12:24-16
In the last 25 years, West-Ark has let go of the anxiety of self-preservation. As a result, we have been inspired by our involvement in the lives of various missionary families. Kernels of wheat have fallen to the ground but many more seeds have been produced.
I want to encourage every member to consider how God is calling you. I hope that each of you will at least get involved even in a short term trip before the end of 2013. God has prepared good works for you to do. Don’t look to West-Ark or its staff to do it – you are the church and you are West-Ark. Whether you have been here since 1980 or just placed membership today, you have a calling.
2. West-Ark has been and must continue to be a regional and international resource for missional faithfulness, awareness, and support. Before I came to West-Ark in 2003 I was inspired by West-Ark’s involvement in the mission. I was preaching at Lake Jackson in 1998 when there was news about trials and challenges for some of our missionaries. The story of their faithfulness and resolve inspired me and the congregation in Lake Jackson.
I believe that God has prepared and equipped this congregation to influence and encourage other congregations. We have partnered with other congregations and included individuals from other congregations in our region in our mission efforts. We are a regional steward of the mission of God.
We must continue to have this vision and be intentional about supporting others who are also involved in God’s mission. This congregation will not grow if we only concern ourselves with “our own affairs.” We have been too richly blessed and we are too mature to simply turn inward.
3. If we want the congregations that we directly support in our mission works to be faithful, then we had better be faithful too. One of our missionary families working in a challenging field sent us this message recently: “Please give our love to all there. Encourage them to make the most of their freedom for His glory!”
What are you doing with your freedom? Not just your freedom as an American, but your freedom in Christ. We can thank God that we are not persecuted as some of our brothers and sisters in other countries are persecuted. We can and should thank God that we have freedom of worship in this nation. But even if we did not, we have the freedom to pray to the Creator of the Universe and the Sovereign over all the earth. Governments on earth can only acknowledge that freedom; no government on earth can bestow that freedom or take it away. The Lord of Heaven and Earth has invited us to come and make our petitions and requests known to him.
Posted by Chris on June 25, 2012 under Front Page Announcements, Missions
Message from Rick Odell:
Sunday began with Jared Turbyfill sharing a great message about the importance of EACH person in the Body of Christ. The entire conference room was packed, literally, as we had to get extra chairs… and there were still a few that sat on the floor. During the worship service, we sang in Bulgarian and English (led by Jaquar Padilla), an opening prayer by Rusty Walker, a fantastic sermon about the story of Cornelius becoming a Christian (including an art display) by our own Chris Benjamin and scripture readings by Jake Odell, Tanner Robbins, Wyatt Benjaminand Hayden Brent Evans. It was an amazing thing to share with brothers and sisters from all over Bulgaria. It was a blessing to be with all of the church in Bulgaria.
Fairly soon after services, our group went to the Borosova Gradina (park) and began a variety of activities and began meeting several students in the park. After three years of doing this, we have learned a great deal and are having a big impact on the connections we are making on behalf of the local church.
About 7 PM, our group, at the invitation of Blagovest Petrov, played a match of Ultimate Frisbee against his team, which included a couple of Americans living in Sofia. We made some amazing contacts and built relationships with several of the players. We ended the day with a very late dinner and headed to bed. Tomorrow will be another day at the park. Pray for our continued efforts to bring Christ to ALL of Bulgaria!
Posted by Chris on June 23, 2012 under Front Page Announcements, Missions
The seminar in Bulgaria for the church in this region went well today. The themes of this seminar will continue tomorrow in our worship service and into to the next two weeks. However the spiritual breakthroughs and maturing that took place today will continue for generations. Today was very encouraging and this is only Day 2 on the ground. We all believe that great things are unfolding.