Montana Baptist E-News

The Montana Baptist E-News | September 2014


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11.6 Staff Meeting

11.7-8 Get Real West

11.7 ELEVATE Training (Bozeman/Missoula)

11.8 ELEVATE Training (Miles City/Great Falls)

11.27-28 Thanksgiving Day Office Closed


12.30-1.7 International Missions Emphasis

12.10-11 Winter Staff Retreat

12.11 Christmas Party

12.25 Christmas

12.24-31 Office Closed


2014 MTSBC Annual Meeting Promo

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention


Troy Communicty Baptist Discovers the Next Best Place

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

We began the Next Best Place process at Troy Community Baptist Church nearly 18 months ago, and it is amazing to realize just how far we have come in such a short period of time. It was proposed and accepted by our pastor, Cameron Foote, with anticipation, as well as nervous apprehension. The idea of evaluating every aspect of our church, including the pastor, was an intimidating notion. It took some time to warm up to the idea, but eventually, the church’s leadership embraced the idea of following the Lord’s plan and purpose for our church to take us to that “Next Best Place”.

During our Congregational Summit Meeting we identified 4 areas that we felt the Lord was leading us to address and improve immediately. These areas were Fellowship, Worship, Communication, and Financial Administration. We went to work right away and have created a Fellowship committee, Greeters Ministry, Finance committee, and Worship Team, as well as an Information/Coffee kiosk, a new church website, and a Facebook page! These new teams and programs are now operating with much more vision and intention. They have proven to be very effective, efficient, and focused on our church’s mission which is “Transforming the Community….Becoming like Christ!”

This summer we were busy with several unique ministries that are directly enhanced by our involvement in the Next Best Place program. When school adjourned for summer break in early June, we sprang into high gear with our Summer Food Program, offering free lunches, activities, and an afternoon snack for kids up to 18 years of age! In less than 50 days throughout the summer we tirelessly served more than 1,450 lunches and over 1,050 snacks to the children and young people of our community! Another exciting ministry that we have been able to maintain for the previous 5 years is a partnership with a large urban church in Federal Way, Washington. For one week each summer Federal Way brings more than 30 youth and nearly a dozen volunteer adult leaders to our little town to minister and share the love of Christ with everyone they come into contact with. That week is composed of VBS for the children, sports camps for the youth, various community service projects all over town, and a BBQ in the city park every evening. Each BBQ not only includes great food and fellowship, but live Christian music, bouncy houses, cotton candy, snow cones, testimonies, and making connections with the 200-300 friends, family, and even strangers that attend every night! It has become a tradition that the entire town eagerly anticipates as hundreds of residents in our community get an opportunity to hear the Good News, see God at work, and meet new friends because of this amazing ministry!

Through our participation in the Next Best Place program, we have been able to clearly identify what the Lord’s plan and mission is for our church. We have been able to establish what our strengths are, and which areas we need to improve in, and we have been able to come up with clear strategies on how we can become more productive, effective, and intentional about accomplishing His mission through us. Because of our emphasis on fellowship we are able to meet the needs of many children who might otherwise go hungry, we are able to reach out and build connections while we serve our community through community service projects, BBQ’s, VBS, and sports camps. Because we listened to God’s leading in the area of worship, our own Worship Team was able to perform and glorify Him in the city park for an entire week!

The Next Best Place program has helped us focus our efforts so that we can be a greater witness in our community and fulfill the Great Commission in the city of Troy. The most exciting result of these changes this year is that we were blessed to be able to baptize 18 people at the end of July who had made commitments to Christ! It is so exciting and humbling to see how God uses our willingness to cooperate with His plan in order to bring Him glory and further His Kingdom! We are not done yet, but we are faithfully moving toward that Next Best Place!


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Next Best Place on the Strengthening Team Page


Reaching the Community a Part of Next Best Place in Lewistown

Mark Langley, MTSBC Strenthening Team Leader

Construction of a new church building at Central Baptist Church in Lewistown

Community Outreach is vital to the life of a healthy growing church. Thom Rainer in his latest book The Autopsy of a Dying Church says that “when a church ceases to have a heart and ministry for its community then it is on the path toward death. Eventually the church will not look like or even reflect the community in which it is located.”

If the church becomes a navel-gazer then eventually it will die. That’s just a fact of life…and death.

So what does a church do to avoid the downward spiral of internalization? Here are several suggestions:

Construction of a new church building at Central Baptist Church in Lewistown

1) Conduct at least one community outreach event annually. These can be everything from sports camps, backyard bible clubs, Community VBS or Awana, concerts in the park, community yard sale, Easter egg hunt, Pizza feed for community teens, free movie night…and the list goes on. [Refer to Tony Compolo’s 101 Ways to Reach Your Community if you need ideas.]

2) Discover a community need and develop an on-going ministry to meet that need. You may want to simply support a current successful ministry. Some ideas here are: food pantries, latch-key after-school programs, day care, Mom’s day out, support groups, Call Ray Willis to help you become trained in literacy ministry. (855-4265 or

3) Survey your community every two years. Begin by ordering a demographic report of your community from NAMB (it’s free at!). Following a Sunday potluck send everyone out into your community and ask these simple questions:

     1) What are the needs of our community?

     2) What are your needs?

     3) How can our church help you?

This exercise is not intended to be evangelistic but it will inspire your church to be more proactive in sharing the gospel. Meet back at the church and ask each survey team to report their discoveries. Then ask them these questions:

     1) What is God trying to tell us about our community?

     2) What should we do that we have not been doing?

End the survey afternoon with brain-storming ideas then prayer for God’s direction for the future.

Some may say, “This won’t work in Montana.”

Well, yes, it will. Just ask Frank Burns, pastor of Central Baptist Church of Lewistown. This exercise was used by them during their recent Next Best Place process.

I will never forget the excitement in the dream summit. On a Sunday afternoon, the church had discovered a community that had specific needs. They spent about two hours brainstorming about how to meet those needs.

This church became attuned to the corporate will of God are currently experiencing good steady growth. They have built a state-of-the-art education/fellowship hall addition this past summer.

They called an associate pastor to add to their staff this past year. Pastor Frank Burns says that the church is now primed to start two worship services this fall.

It is always so exciting to see a church awaken and “lift up its eyes unto the harvest.”


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Next Best Place on the Strengthening Team Page

Central Baptist Church of Lewistown

North American Mission Board

Vision 20/20
Vision 20/20

Meet the Damron Family

Montana Southern Baptist Convention

“Connecting those who love the outdoors to the love of Jesus Christ” is the vision statement of Ken and Cary Bell, church starting couple in western Montana. The Bells are currently living in Bonner and are praying and working toward starting a church in this community.

Ken and Cary have been married for 15 years and have four children. Their oldest son, Tyler, is 13 and likes sports and outdoor activities. Haley is 12 years old and enjoys acting and writing plays and stories. A second daughter, Katelyn, is 10 and enjoys gymnastics and just spending time with her family. At the age of 4, Caleb, enjoys NASCAR racing and wrestling with his brother.

Haugan and St Regis are two small towns on the I-90 corridor in western Montana, just a few miles from the Idaho border. These towns are where you will find Alan and Sarah Damron busy serving and ministering to the people of both communities.

The ministry of the Damrons has spanned over 40 years. They spent the first ten years of their marriage traveling and ministering through evangelism. After graduating from seminary they moved to Havre, MT, as a part time staff evangelist. Besides serving the local church, the Damrons also traveled in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and California doing revivals and encouraging pastors. Alan has held other church staff positions and served as a pastor for 26 years before their return to Montana.

Beginning in June of 2009 Alan & Sarah felt strongly led to return to Montana to encourage pastors and churches, conduct revivals, or whatever the Lord might lead them to do. They assisted churches on the eastern side of the state in the month of June, then in July arrived on the western side specifically in Haugan where there is one little church surrounded by five bars and casinos which give the majority of residents their social center. There in the western mountains is where the Damrons initial plan ended and God started them on a brand new journey!

After completing their revival schedule, the church in Haugan asked Alan to stay and pastor. The church agreed to re-launch under a new name, New Day Fellowship, which they did in August 2009. When the Damrons saw the spiritual darkness in the 33 mile-stretch from St Regis to Idaho, they were clearly captured by the urgency to share the Gospel. Without a doubt the words of Matthew 4:16 rang clear and true: “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

Just a few miles east of Haugan, St Regis, looks like many other towns in this state. The majesty and beauty of the western mountains surrounding this community take your breath away. A closer look reveals a small town with friendly, hard-working people striving to provide for their families in spite of the high unemployment, high alcohol abuse, and dire poverty. The children in five communities from St Regis to the Idaho state line all attend the St Regis Schools. With about 550 households in the town and two small churches there are surprisingly no activities other than school for children and youth. Unfortunately, the apparent lack of interest in anything relating to church or God is blatant. Clearly for this community the Gospel Story has yet to be written but it’s a New Day in St Regis.

By September 2009 Alan and Sarah began a youth Bible study in St Regis. A few months later they began renting the St Regis Community Center on Sunday evenings for a soft-launch of New Day Fellowship-St Regis. The Damrons, along with a hand-full of believers prayed for a permanent facility and presence in the town. They believed this would enable them to extend their ministry during the weekdays. The Lord provided a way to purchase an abandoned Methodist building located directly across the street from the St Regis schools. They began services in this location in March 2011. This has opened many, many doors of ministry to the community and enhanced the opportunity of seeing the beginning stages of this Gospel Story.

This is just a glimpse of what is happening in western Montana. For more information on the Damrons and their ministries, visit


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Damron Family - Church Planter Profile

MTSBC Church Planter Profiles

New Day Fellowship

Dave Ferguson

Recovery On The Nation at Fort Belkknap

Dan Stewart, Disaster Relief State Coordinator

Well, we have just completed a three-week deployment to the Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation, primarily in Hays, Mont. Montana was privileged to host 32 disaster relief recovery workers over the three-week period, tackling six work orders, completing four and leaving two at around 90 percent complete, but livable, for now. Volunteers were comprised of a team of five from Idaho, 16 from the Volunteer State of Tennessee, three from Montana and a collegiate team of eight from NAMB.

Though the collegiate team from NAMB could bless us for only six days, they managed to tackle one of our larger jobs and would have finished it had the lumberyard not run out of trim. But the Lord had plans that even we had not anticipated!

During this deployment on the Ft. Belknap Reservation, all the team members had been staying at the Montana Indian Ministries Camp. Our disaster relief workers came from all over the United States, and we were all playing by the rules. People in need made the necessary applications for help, the jobs were accessed, estimates were made and jobs were assigned and completed--with one exception.

A man, a Native American from that reservation, whom we shall just refer to as "John," lived next door to the camp. I mean, you could stand at the property line and hit his house with a rock. John is 62 years old and suffers from the scourge of most reservations--alcoholism. Our feeding team brought hot breakfasts and dinners to his home every day while we were there, as well as something for his dog. His home was suffering badly from "deferred maintenance" and you would have to walk a 1"x 8" plank laid across what remained of his porch to get to his front door. Though John had been raised a Catholic, he had little or no use for any organized religious organizations or, for that matter, the authorities. So John didn't request any help; he didn't expected any, so why bother?

Well, since the collegiate team had finished up half a day early, I spoke with their Blue Hat, Rick Salley, about how this situation reminded me of Luke 10:29-37 concerning the Good Samaritan as the scholar, seeking to gain creditability, asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" John was our neighbor, and while we sought to help people across the reservation, there John sat in plain sight. Thank you Lord for removing the scales from our eyes! So Rick and I approached John and asked if we could replace his 8'x 8' deck for him. John said he would like that but he didn't have any money to replace it. We told him not to worry, that we would pay for it and do the work. When he asked why, we said, "Because we love you, brother."

Well, within four hours the collegiate team had torn out the old rotted deck and in its place sat a new, properly built, pressure-treated deck complete with safety rails! When they had finished, John came out, walked around the deck, jumped up and down a bit on it and then proclaimed, "This is a great deck; it will hold a 300 pound woman up!" But that's another story that you will have to come to Montana to hear.

Our Tennessee team tackled our toughest project to date, Mrs. Margaret Martin's home. They removed hand-cut, rough sawed logs 3' high from around all the outside walls of the house and replaced them with a 2"x 6" knee wall. They also replaced drywall and a put on a new roof.

Mrs. Martin, a retired schoolteacher on the reservation, is 72 years old and a widow. She and her late husband raised five children of their own, adopted and raised a little girl and had seven foster children. While we were working on her home, dozens of people stopped and admired the workmanship going on at "Mom" Martin's home. Everyone praised her for all she and her family had done for the Hays community, saying she deserved to have her home fixed. People thanked us time and again for helping her in her time of need. Mrs. Martin was so impressed by the Tennessee crew that on the last day she insisted on fixing a traditional Indian taco supper for the whole Tennessee team and would not take no for an answer. So she and one of her daughters-in-law prepared a meal fit for a king. You could feel the love there that evening.

In closing, I can't say enough about all the fine people who have come to the aid of the people of the Hi-Line. We hope they enjoyed the hospitality of Montana. Some of the DR recovery personnel stayed in teepees the entire time they were here, even though there had been some legitimate bear and mountain lion sightings in the area. That might explain why more teams don't come up here. But I would paraphrase Romans 8:31: "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us, a bear or mountain lion?" Hey common on guys and gals; it's only a bear or mountain lion! We'll see you in Montana!


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Montana Disaster Relief

Donate to MTSBC Disaster Relief Fund:

Members of the 2014 Tom Cox World Ministries team and mission team from MTSBC churches. Taken at the celebration sharing dinner in Lima Peru.

Partnership Produces

“Hola! I have been waiting for you,”

Jose smiled as he delivered the greeting in Spanish to Stan Bricker. this proclamation was directed to the Montana Southern Baptist Convention’s Sending Team Leader as he got off the bus with other team members. They were to minister in one of the poorer barrios in Trujillo, Peru on August 6, 2014. It was the last day of house to house visits with Peruvian Baptists for this particular mission trip.

Jose went on to explain his excitement. During the previous year when the Montana Southern Baptists sent a team to partner with Tom Cox World ministries in the northern coastal city region of Peru, Jose met Stan Bricker. Stan was with Peruvian interpreter Christine and a few members of a local church. The team was participating in the original launch of a brand new ministry, entitled the Andrew Project.

Stan Bricker with Jose, in front of the mission church where Jose volunteers.

Kriss Weiss, Stevensville, helps with a Bible Club.

Jessica Liner, Stevensville, in one of the many Bible clubs held during the trip.

Shelene Reno, Lewistown, far right, with Julie, center and Jessie Berry, left, Arkansas The Berry’s are just two of the other 54 missionaries from the United States partnering with TCWM.

Dr David Roberts, Red Lodge, right back, getting ready for a medical clinic.

Tom Pritchett, waits to share the gospel with clinic patients.

Renae Hunt, fourth from the right, BG Stumberg and Lynn Stumberg (center couple) at the church in Cartavio.

Tom Cox gives the morning devotional at the seminary cafeteria. Dr Yong Park, Missoula and Renae Hunt, Laurel, can be seen in the right hand of the picture.

Lynn Stumberg, Helena, with Pastor Elvis.

On a house visit to his home, made by appointment, Jose accepted the gift of salvation by praying to receive Christ in August of 2013.

“No one had ever told me about Jesus the way that you did.” Jose face seemed to light up exactly one year later, as he told Stan and Christine, who happened to be the interrupter assigned to Stan and his group for the 2014 trip.

Jose then joyfully shared what God has done in his life over the past year. He was baptized and joined the Miguel Grau church. He now works with a church plant in another area of the city, Alto Trujillo. He plays guitar on the worship team and is involved in children’s ministries.

Jose then shared the burden he had for a lost friend in the area that had recently lost his wife. Jose, Stan and Christine went to see Phillip and shared the gospel with him. Phillip prayed to receive Christ.

“ I will be anxious to see what God is going to do in Phillip’s life during this next year,” Bricker exclaimed when he shared the story with the rest of the team members later that Wednesday.

This is what can happen when partnerships work together. This is the third time Montana Baptists have traveled to Peru in association with Tom Cox World Ministries.

Using the Tom Cox Theological Seminary in the city of Trujillo as the central base, thirteen Montanans joined with forty three others on mission from Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming.

This year’s team of 56, ministered in medical and eye clinics, Bible clubs, a women’s conference, house to house visits and nightly revival services in and around the area of Trujillo. With over 2,000 gospel presentations, 681 prayed to receive Christ during the nine day outreach effort.

On March 1, 2014, the MTSBC formed an official partnership to do missions with Tom Cox World Ministries. Tom Cox World Ministries (TCWM) is committed to leading today’s church to reach today’s world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since 1971, TCWM has been utilizing creative means to communicate the biblical message of God’s holiness, love, and grace to people worldwide, and leading God’s people to do the same.

TCWM believes, according to Ephesians 3:10, that God has chosen the church to be the primary vehicle through which He makes His message known to the world. Therefore, TCWM assists churches in engaging their mission field from next door to around the globe through evangelism events, church revitalization and health events, mission conferences, and managing strategic mission points around the globe. To date, TCWM has worked in 123 countries, and among several hundred people groups.

TCWM has well-established, ongoing work, on four continents. God has accomplished much of the international work through short-term mission volunteers. Each year, TCWM mobilized hundreds of church members from across the United States for one-week to three-week mission projects. Many of these projects are in some of the most remote areas of the world.

TCWM has a long-standing strategic relationship with the SBC International Mission Board (IMB). TCWM leadership regularly meets with the IMB executive leadership and works closely with field personnel.

“I think this remarkable, successful partnership between TCWM and the MTSBC, working cooperatively with the International Mission Board is indicative of the future fabric of the Cooperative Program,” said Eric Ramsey, President of TCWM. “I am excited about the impact this partnership is having on Montana Baptists. I am hopeful that the increased passion for evangelism and missions will be realized in Montana as well.”

For many who made the trip from the Treasure State, it was their first time going on a plane, to a foreign country or on a mission trip. Here are a few comments from some of the mission team’s first timers experiences:


“I have read many times in my devotions and bible studies that God is Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent. However, I never really thought of it in such a personal way. During my trip to Peru, I learned, in my heart and mind exactly how awesome my God really is. In my devotions prior to going to Peru, no matter which devotional book I picked up, God seemed to be telling me the same thing: Obedience. I prayed I would be obedient no matter what. In Peru, the place with the team I was given was with the children. That sounds wonderful, but I always thought my place was not with children, but with the elderly. I have been a Volunteer Hospice Chaplain for several years now. I love the elderly. I told God, I will obey, I knew what He wanted me to do.

My heart was touched in such a wonderful way. My heart was opened to the most beautiful little people. I learned so much about me too. I fell in love with everyone I met. I don't say that lightly. My heart was opened to a world where I saw God working in people and places so far removed from my world. I saw people who spoke a different language, who lived a different life, very much in love with 'My God'. All I can say is: what an awesome God we serve.

I have already started saving for next year’s trip to Peru. My prayer is that I will not loose touch with the love I have for others. Jesus loves us so much, that he allows us to experience a small bit of that love. Again, what an awesome God we serve!”

Shelene Reno, Central Baptist Church, Lewistown, MT


“This was my first time in a plane, first time outside of the United States and the first time I led someone to the Lord. This trip was life changing for me.”

Anna Wilson, Valley Baptist Church, Huntley, MT


Some were returnees to the Peru mission field. Doctor David Roberts, The Rock Church, Laurel, MT had this to share:

“During this trip, we were blessed to see many of our patients pray to receive Christ. I was personally given a special gift by God in the form of an eleven year old girl, who came in dejected and depressed. As we presented the gospel to her, her countenance changed, you could see joy written all over her face and she came to me and hugged me for the longest time. That one patient made the whole trip worthwhile.”

To read more about the mission experiences, see the articles from Parrish Hartley, missionary to Trujillo and the Tom Cox Seminary and Tammy Brown, member of Central Baptist Church, Lewistown, MT in this edition of the Montana Baptist E- News.

This year’s mission team was glimpse of what Kingdom work should look like. The ages of the group ranged from seventeen to seventy plus years. Some were high school students, some were college students, some were middle aged, and some were in their golden years. The team was blessed to have Spanish speakers, pastors, Bible Club Leaders, nurses and doctors from across the entire state of Montana.

In alphabetical order the 2014 Peru Mission Team are:

Diana and Stan Bricker, Valley Baptist Church, Huntley

Tammy Brown, Central Baptist Church, Lewistown

Renae Hunt, The Rock Church, Laurel

Jessica Liner, Bitterroot Family Fellowship, Stevensville

Yong Park, Korean Baptist Church, Missoula

Thomas Pricett, Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church, Helena

Shelene Reno, Central Baptist Church, Lewistown

David Roberts, The Rock Church, Laurel

BG and Lynn Stumberg, Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church, Helena

Christina Weiss, Bitterroot Family Fellowship, Stevensville

Anna Wilson, Valley Baptist Church, Huntley


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Tom Cox World Ministries

First day of the Missions School in Trujillo at Tom Cox Theological Seminary, Parrish Hartley is second back row.

Former Montana Pastor Serves in Peru

Do I Matter?

What are we doing that will matter next week, next year, next decade, next century? Big questions like these help me focus on what really matters. The Bible says it this way, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col 3:1-2).

We were riding in a small bus packed with Peruvians. All of us, gringos and Peruvians, had our thoughts on getting off the bus and to the next thing. Then it dawned on me, “I might NOT arrive safely. None of us may.” Then I thought, “Better to see Christ having served Him to the last moment than to sit safely at home and miss the opportunity of making His name famous!” I don’t normally experience moments of clarity like that. Every once in a while our Father gives me a small bit of wisdom and I hang on to it.

Here in Trujillo, Peru, the weather always reminds you of spring – or so it is said. Trujillo is the “land of eternal spring”; it must be so, they placard these words everywhere one looks. Trujillo, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the mighty Andes Mountains, holds wonderful surprises for those fortunate enough to travel here. Montanans have a great opportunity to do this each summer with Tom Cox World Ministries (TCWM). The partnership between TCWM and Montana Southern Baptist allows the people of God to work and invest in this wonderful region of South America. The needs here like so many other places, stagger the mind and melt the heart. The seminary, Baptist Theological Seminary of Trujillo, is just beginning a school of missions to prepare Peruvians to go to their ends of the earth. What the students lack in opportunity they more than make up for in humility, love, and zeal. Pray for the thirty or so students and their families as they prepare to follow our Father’s call upon their lives.

One particular couple in the School of Missions stands out in my mind. I worked with them last year in a city called Otuzco located high in the Andes. A typical Andean mountain town, the people move to a decidedly slower pace than I am accustomed. This couple support themselves and work in this very hard place because they heard and answered God’s call. They have a deep desire to go further with the gospel and prepare to follow His call, but books and supplies are limited. Access to computers and printers can be difficult. Many deserving students like these need our prayers as they prepare.

The seminary stands in a strategic place geographically and spiritually. The history of the seminary goes back to the Foreign Mission Board in the 1950s. The prayers, laborers, and gifts of God’s people birthed a center of training in Peru. The faithfulness of God’s people sustained the work all these years. Now, TCWM along with others have brought the seminary back from the brink of closing. The seminary works to make disciples who will disciple their own people. Pray for the seminary as we seek accreditation and do much needed construction on the facilities. Can you help us? Will you help us? Maybe the Lord will ask you to purchase a window in the new School of Missions. Perhaps you can give so that a floor can be built or a door installed. This is not just a building – it is a place to ignite and fan the flames of mission passion.

Above all pray for us. We miss Montana and our friends. We joyfully surrender our strength and our years to the glory of our Father. I tell my three children often, “We are separated by miles and hemispheres, but we will all be together when it matters.” To be gathered together beholding with eternally clear vision our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ will forever erase any sting of separation or sorrow of departing.

Come see us in Peru and visit your seminary. You’ll never be the same because of what our Father will do in you.

Parish and Jeanne Ann Hartley

Seminario Teológico Bautista de Trujillo Assoc. Tom Cox


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Tom Cox World Ministries

Tammy Brown, left, with Peruvian mission church members

Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt

The common thing, the seemingly expected thing to do when visiting a new place is to purchase the tourist T-shirt proclaiming that you’ve been somewhere. But have you really been to that place? Have you met the people who live there, experienced their culture? Or did you just stay in the ‘tourist area’? Yes, I did buy the obligatory tourist T-shirt on my recent trip to Trujillo, Peru. I admit I wanted a tangible reminder of the trip in addition to my collection of photos and unspent Peruvian money. After a hectic four-month fundraising effort and the incredible generosity of my local Church members, I went to Trujillo, Peru recently on a medical mission trip sponsored by The Montana Baptist Convention and led by Tom Cox World Ministries.

I’d been on an international mission trip before this one. I knew that I’d see people living in poverty, extreme poverty according to U.S. standards. Given the contrast in living standards between the U.S and the Peruvians we met, I expected to feel sorry for them, that they don’t have what we do. Then I chided myself for my American attitude. Not everyone wants what we have. I went to Peru to learn about their culture, not to impose American culture upon them. While their homes were usually constructed of concrete walls with dirt floors, some homes we saw were only bamboo walls or black plastic sheeting. The Peruvian people I met were extremely friendly, grateful for the small bit of medical care we were able to give them. Hugs and kisses are universal…….and we got lots of them.

Tammy taking a patient’s temperature. Ken Bowie, former International Mission Board missionary and current TCWM partner and missionary to Trujillo, helps one of the nine medical clinics that were held on the 2014 trip.

A group of ten of us from Montana were part of the larger nationwide group of about 50 people who traveled with Tom Cox World Ministries to provide basic medical care and evangelism to poor residents in several villages in and around Trujillo, Peru. In our team were doctors, nurses and people skilled in other jobs. The ministry group owns a large seminary complex which is their headquarters for Peru. As our ‘home’ during the trip, the bunk-bed filled dorm rooms encouraged plenty of laughter, quickly turning strangers into friends.

We traveled by bus to a different village each day to see patients. Our quickly set up clinics were usually held in the local Church, using whatever space, tables, chairs or benches were available. Rarely did the clinic resemble a typical American medical clinic. Adapting and improvising was vital. In one location, our clinic was held in a person’s home. The family’s two small bedrooms became an ‘exam’ room and a counseling room. The home’s one light bulb dangling from the ceiling did its best to help the doctor see his patients.

On average, we saw between 50 and 75 people in each location. The youngest patients were babies only a few months old. The oldest patient was a man who I was told was 100 years old. We carried with us a ‘pharmacy’ of antibiotics, vitamins and various OTC medications. Vitamins which seemed to be a universal need in Peru, are readily available in their numerous pharmacies, but were prohibitively expensive for the average Peruvian’s income. Despite being able to give out only a month’s worth of vitamins to a patient, our supply ran out in just a few days. The other necessary thing we ran out of too quickly was candy. One adorable little boy who was treated at the clinic was steadfastly determined he was not leaving the clinic until he got some candy. By that day, though, all we had brought with us, was already gone. We were finally able to distract him from the missing candy, by playing with him for a few minutes.

Understandably, we could not do surgery, invasive exams or X-rays, but there were only a few patients we had to refer to local healthcare. Rudimentary medical care is better than none at all. Quite a few of the Peruvians we met had ‘access’, if one could call it that, to healthcare, but that does not mean they could afford it. Others faced transportation barriers that kept them from obtaining care.

The optometrist in our group was the busiest of us all. He and his team saw an average of 120 people daily. In his busiest day, 206 Peruvians received a basic eye exam. Each person who needed them was given free eyeglasses, thanks in large part to those generous people who donate glasses to the Lions Clubs. We provided medical care without cost or obligation. Can you imagine any American medical facility accepting the grateful hugs and kisses offered, as payment in full for the care offered? I’m not criticizing the American healthcare system. It was, however, a blessing to me to know that I could use my nursing education without the selfish concern of ‘what’s in it for me?’

Helping those of us who don’t speak Spanish that well (yet), were a terrific group of translators. Triaging patients through translators, most of whom have little medical knowledge, was a challenge. Add to that the ever-present concern that some commonly-used words and phrases don’t translate well from one language to another, and you’ve got yourself one terrific language barrier. Worth a few good laughs and blushing apologies as you try to explain what you meant to say.

I’ve been an LPN since 1982, and in those 30+ years, I have worked in a variety of healthcare settings. Last fall, I decided to go back to college, again, to work toward a Registered Nursing license. My nursing skills came in handy during the Peru trip, of course. I went on the medical mission trip expecting to learn a few things, too. What I learned was how to overcome a language barrier, as well as an educational variant. By that I mean that I had to quickly learn the difference in how the Peruvians described their health concerns to me, and what our American nursing education generally teaches us. Not everything we learn is in a textbook nor follows what our textbooks tell us we should expect. Even though I had just finished a nursing assessment course, I managed to get by with liberal use of Medscape and some rapidly-developing new critical thinking skills.

Oh, how grateful I became for the translators patience to explain things to me. In one instance, a lady’s complaint of ‘kidney pain’ as she was pointing to her back, was more likely a UTI. In another instance, the lady’s description could have been either a UTI, a yeast infection or an STD. Imagine running a medical clinic without being able to do a physical exam or lab testing to confirm a diagnosis. Virtually unheard of in modern-day American healthcare. The doctors’ diagnostic skills and the nurse’s triage skills were put to the ultimate test, to be sure. Healthcare workers never really understand the value of hand washing, until you’re in places where you can’t wash your hands. Using hand sanitizer doesn’t seem sufficient when there is no running water, the toilet is outside and ‘flushes’ with a bucket of water.

A short-term medical mission trip in a foreign country may be the best test of American nursing education. If you have a heart to serve, this is an amazing experience. Go to improve your nursing education. Go to learn a new culture. Spend your money on a working vacation like a mission trip, actually meeting the people who live there. Know that when you buy that tourist T-shirt, you’ve really earned it because you’ve actually been where you said you’ve gone.


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Tom Cox World Ministries

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Yellowstone Christian College

Why Excellence Matters

Bruce Cannon, President, Yellowstone Christian College

I was surprised several weeks ago when an influencer said to me, “Accreditation brings ‘big brother’ to the doorstep and dictates our ability to stay true to Christ.” My response was that we are being evaluated by a faith-based agency, the Association for Higher Biblical Education (ABHE). My friend double-downed on his response, “I don’t think anyone should be telling us how to think or act.” Herein is the problem: there may be a misunderstanding of accreditation.

Accreditation encourages (forces) institutions to do with excellence what the institution claims it is doing. ABHE is not telling YCC what to teach, only requiring YCC to prove it is doing with excellence what it claims it is doing. Accreditation evaluates the claims of educational plan objectives, goals for each objective, and student progress toward those objectives and goals. Accreditation also evaluates financial solvency, administrative and board effectiveness, as well as student life issues. Each evaluated area confirms the truthfulness in all that is claimed.

Excellence matters in all areas of life. This is especially true with preparing YCC students for life. Educating and coaching students to effectively serve in our churches demands excellence in all that YCC attempts. Excellence is holistic involving a growing spiritual maturity, solid academics, pleasing interpersonal skills, financial wisdom, and a keen sense of calling whether or not the student is pursuing full time ministry. With this in mind, accreditation matters.

Yellowstone Christian College is seeking accreditation for its academic programs. Moving to Candidate Status, projected in February, 2015, will provide the opportunity for Pell grants for students, access to the FAFSA system, greater transferability, and permission from the Montana University System to add a variety of associate degrees to open the enrollment door even wider. These issues benefit Christian students looking for an affordable, quality, Christian education.

These are good days at YCC. Strong moves are being taken to strengthen the college. God is opening doors and blessing in a variety of ways. We continue to thank the churches and individuals who help make Christian education in Montana a reality. Excellence is not just a by-word, it’s our mandate.


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Baptist Campus Ministries

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

PASTORS: Got students heading to college? Help get them connected with campus ministries! As our students head off to college, it is vital that every attempt is made to get them connected to someone on that campus.

In Montana:

  • Montana Tech, Butte – Baptist Student Union, Mark and Rachel Arbaugh. 406-491-4583.

  • Montana State University – Generation Ministries, Zach and Aryelle Todd. 406-209-1540.

  • MSU-Billings, Rocky Mountain College – Emmanuel Baptist Church, Jim and Brandi Taber. 406-652-3161.

  • Flathead Valley Community College – Easthaven Baptist Church, Joey and Debbie Gardner, 406-250-2428.

  • Outside Montana:

    Find the website for the Southern Baptist convention of that state, then the collegiate person or department. They may have a directory of campus ministries.

    If you have any questions, give me a call:

    Joe Todd



    Mack Cole Memorial Service

    The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

    A memorial service for Mack Cole will be held on October 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm at Big Horn Baptist Church in Ft. Smith.