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Making missions local, regional, international


Jeff Lamb, minister of youth at South Rossville Baptist Church, speaks at a school in Feira de Santana, Brazil. He is joined on either side by Eddy Rushing, associational missionary for Northwest Georgia and Lookout Valley associations, left, and Eddie Frye, a member of Lookout Baptist Church in Chickamauga.

Eight years ago Eddy Rushing went on his first mission trip. As a pastor, he traveled to India with fellow church members. He returned with a passion for missions, wanting to involve more people in his church in mission work.

But God had other plans. Just two months after Rushing returned from that trip he became associational missionary for two associations: Northwest Georgia and Lookout Valley associations.

"When I went on that trip [to India] I had no idea I would be an associational missionary. No one even approached me with the idea until after I returned," Rushing said.

But when he accepted the job, it was with the understanding that he would bring a heart for missions to the job.

"God put it in my heart. I knew I needed to get other people to do this. You get people overseas [on missions] and they're changed when they get back. They're more supportive of the church, of the association, of missions everywhere."

Gradually, over the past eight years, Rushing has led the association to be an Acts 1:8 association -- serving locally, regionally and internationally. The Acts 1:8 movement is a new goal for many associations.

David Pickard, pastor of Southeast Fellowship in Northwest Georgia Association, baptizes a new convert at t river in Dandeli, India. The international trip was one of several taken by the association.

"Baptist associations have been in existence for more than 300 years," said Frank Nuckolls, GBC associational missions specialist. "The reasons for the existence of associations has shifted throughout these years. In this current decade, the Baptist association must continue developing relevant ministry and resources for the local church thus assisting the church in its journey to become a healthy, missional, Acts 1:8 entity."

Rushing is doing just that.

He organizes and leads three international trips each year. This year the associational international trips include the Congo, India and Brazil.

"When I started this I thought it might be a problem with some of the pastors. They might think I'm gone too much. But it's been just the opposite. They're glad we go," Rushing said.

In fact, many of the pastors participate in the mission trips.

"We do evangelistic trips. We have done some construction, but our emphasis is on evangelism," Rushing said.

Last year Rushing took four pastors to preach at eight churches in Brazil. They saw 145 people accept Christ.

The association also has a partnership with a West Virginia association.

David Picard of Southwest Fellowship speaks to students at a school in Bangalore, India.

"Our pastors do simultaneous revivals there. One group took 27 people who did remodeling in a church during the revivals. In the summer, teams do vacation Bible schools and construction work," he said.

The association also sponsors several local ministries, including two food ministries that served more than 1,000 families last year. They also have an ongoing counseling ministry and currently sponsor two new local church plants.

All the mission work the association does is about attracting lost people, Rushing said.

"That's our focus: lost people."