Category Archives: Kingdom Now

Kingdom Now: Youth Serving Post-Florence

For the 2018-2019 school year, First Baptist is adopting a church-wide emphasis: Kingdom Now. As we as a church and as individuals reflect on how God has called us to seek the Kingdom around us, we will be celebrating stories of ways that members of our FBC Family of Faith are doing Kingdom work right here in Lumberton and Robeson County.

Written by: Doug Reedy

Our community is reeling after a second devastating hurricane and flood in less than two years.  To those of you who have lost your homes and/or businesses for a second time, there are no words.  We cannot imagine how you feel, but we do wish there was some way to fix it.

One of the most difficult issues we all face before, during, and after these events is the feeling of helplessness.  We prepared a little better for Florence than Matthew, but no one was fully prepared.  We were helpless to speed the storm up as it crawled excruciatingly slowly through our area.  We as individuals, as churches, and as a community can’t easily fix the pain of the aftermath.

The only anecdote for hopelessness is of course hope.  Our hope is of course in Jesus Christ, but we are the hands and feet of Christ on earth.  We are to feed the hungry and heal the brokenhearted.

There are many heroes in the community, but forgive me for taking a moment to brag on our youth, the teenagers of First Baptist Church of Lumberton.  They spent all of last week and the previous Saturday moving water logged furniture, appliances, rugs, and baseboards.  They have removed limbs, carried logs, and raked yards.  They have cleaned and prepared an unused church hallway, complete with welcome signs and decorations, for another local Baptist church’s youth group to have a home.  Several of them are the same youth who two years ago unloaded and distributed supplies for two straight weeks after Hurricane Matthew.

In short, they have provided hope.  They could have spent the week watching Netflix, obsessing over their social media accounts, partying, playing video games, or doing whatever our generations accuse them of spending their time on.  Instead, they spent it helping others to the tune of over 400 hours combined.

For their efforts, they received multiple mosquito and fire ant bites, ruined shoes, blisters, sore arms and legs, and that undeniable smell of floodwaters etched into their memories.  They put up with a cranky old youth leader telling them to hurry up and work harder.  They arrived prepared to do one job, and then were thrown into another.  Although they did receive some thank yous and lunches, they did this primarily because it was simply the right thing to do.

There is one more thing they received, and perhaps it’s most important.  Working hard for others, especially in times of crisis, often results in something often undervalued.  A good night’s sleep!

Their parents are and should be proud of the young men and women they are raising.  Forgive me in advance, but I may not react graciously to anyone downing them or their generation in any way any time soon.  I’m proud of these youth and believe they compare to any others quite favorably.  I thank God every day I’m blessed to work with them as they build God’s Kingdom here and now.

Kingdom Now: Hurricane Florence response

For the 2018-2019 school year, First Baptist is adopting a church-wide emphasis: Kingdom Now. As we as a church and as individuals reflect on how God has called us to seek the Kingdom around us, we will be celebrating stories of ways that members of our FBC Family of Faith are doing Kingdom work right here in Lumberton and Robeson County.

When we dreamed up the Kingdom Now emphasis for this school year, we had no idea what Mother Nature had in store for us. Less than a week after introducing the theme and posting our first Kingdom Now story (which we will re-share at a later date!), Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc on our community, a mere 23 months after Hurricane Matthew did the same in 2016.

Kingdom work takes on a whole new meaning in the wake of a hurricane. Striving to meet basic needs, caring for our community, and helping others rebuild are all acts that reflect the love and justice of God and therefore are Kingdom acts. We hope to have more specific stories to share in the weeks to come, but here is a brief overview of the ways members of our family of faith have been seeking the Kingdom of God in Robeson County…

  • Some spent days on end at the Emergency Operations Center, helping coordinate critical information to keep our city and county residents safe in the constantly changing storm conditions.
  • Some were part of a team of civilians, city employees, and National Guard members that filled sandbags to help fill a gap in the levee in West Lumberton, seeking to help our neighbors on that side of town.
  • Some have shared their sump pumps, tools, hot water, food, and more with their neighbors to help clean up and provide some comfort in the days that followed the storm.
  • Some have worked to transport supplies all over the county to distribute to those in shelters and others in need.
  • Some have spent time in the shelters, offering encouragement and kindness to neighbors who have been displaced.
  • Some have been working to ensure that their employees are safe and have what they need.
  • Some spent the entire storm at the hospital, on call and ready to serve.
  • Some have ministered within their own flooded neighborhoods, offering resources and encouragement to their neighbors.
  • Some gathered for our Inasmuch Day, which transitioned into a clean up day. These volunteers raked yards, cut up trees, and even cleared our playground so it could be used by our daycare children.
  • Some have offered a smile and a kind word to our neighbors coming to our activity building to seek replacement food stamps.

We give thanks for the many ways our family of faith has been doing the work of the Kingdom in this difficult time. In addition to the ways people have been serving individually, we as a congregation are doing Kingdom work as well…

  • We are collecting money to be used by helping agencies in our community.
  • We are hosting a team in our church building from Christian Aid Ministries, who have come to prepare and serve meals in the community.
  • This week, we are serving as a DSS location for those seeking replacement food stamps.
  • Starting on Wednesday and for the foreseeable future, we will be sharing space with our brothers and sisters from West Lumberton Baptist Church, who were again flooded out.

Seeking the Kingdom isn’t always easy. It’s hard work that requires some flexibility and a lot of grace, especially when it involves stepping outside of our comfort zones and adding to our normal list of responsibilities. But, it’s good work, and it’s important work that we are called to…especially now.

Kingdom Now: Classroom Prayer Partners

For the 2018-2019 school year, First Baptist is adopting a church-wide emphasis: Kingdom Now. As we as a church and as individuals reflect on how God has called us to seek the Kingdom around us, we will be celebrating stories of ways that members of our FBC Family of Faith are doing Kingdom work right here in Lumberton and Robeson County.

It started with a Facebook post: “Want to sponsor a student?” Kim Gore, Summer Pittman, Sharon Prevatte, and many other Robeson County teachers put a simple request on Facebook, asking for prayer partners to pray for one of their students and provide a book and encouraging note to give them on the first day of school.

The response was almost immediate. People commented, requesting a number (to maintain privacy, children’s names are not shared) and committing to pray for that student for the year. Summer had enough commitments for her kindergarten class at Tanglewood Elementary within an hour of her post. “It was so good to see our community come together to support our students,” she shared, “not only in my class, but in classes across the country. I loved seeing the posts fill up my newsfeed.”

For Sharon, a second grade teacher at Rowland-Norment Elementary, an added joy was the variety of friends that committed to pray for her students. She said that one friend “who used to always help in schools but cannot help any longer due to health issues stated that this was a way in which she could definitely help.  She not only gave me her favorite book for a student, but loaded me up with school supplies (which I didn’t expect) to give to students at the beginning of the year and throughout the year as needed.”

On the first day of school, the children received their books and notes, and the happiness they felt was immediate. All of the children were excited about their gifts. “I wish you could have seen their eyes,” Sharon said.

The impact has lasted beyond the first day, though. Many of the children still treasure their gifts they received. “One girl keeps her note with her all the time in the little envelope,” shared Kim, a second grade teacher at Tanglewood Elementary. “She is very protective of it. Another child will not take their book home. They want it to always be in their cubby at school.”

As the year goes on, all prayer partners have committed to pray for the entire year for their student. Sharon plans “to let all of [her] friends know the gender of their student and a prayer request for that student.” While she can’t share many specifics, letting prayer partners know to pray about a child’s family member, home life, or emotional/behavioral needs will help them continue to feel connected to their assigned student.

All three are hopeful for how this program will continue to encourage their students. Summer thinks that, “this year will be different than others because so many kids will be lifted up in prayer, some that, sadly, may have never been prayed for before this.”

For Kim, she has two hopes for the lasting impact of this program: “First of all, that my students will feel the joy that reading books can bring and secondly, that they will have a sense of peace knowing someone, other than me, is thinking about them throughout the year.”

Encouraging literacy, praying for students, and supporting our teachers: three simple ways to help make God’s Kingdom shine a little brighter in Robeson County.

Kingdom Now: An Introduction

In the four Gospels, Jesus talked about the “Kingdom of God” (known as the “Kingdom of Heaven” in Matthew) at least 100 times. And his teachings about it were not about some future reality after we die, but about his mission to make the Kingdom of God a reality here on earth…

“The kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15)

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)

“The kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21)

When Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, he was proclaiming a reality where people live under the governance of God. When God’s love is proclaimed, when God’s grace is shared, when God’s justice is sought, the kingdom of God is at hand. And if the Kingdom of God was important enough for Jesus to talk about it at least 100 times, perhaps it should be important to us, too.

The past four weeks in worship, we’ve been focusing on the Kingdom parables in Matthew 13 to help us think about the Kingdom of God. Now, we’re issuing a challenge. What does it look like for each of us to seek the Kingdom in our lives, in our homes, and in our community? How can each of us live our lives in such a way that we help make the Kingdom of God a reality right here in Robeson County?

We’re calling this emphasis “Kingdom Now,” and we’ll be officially kicking it off this Sunday in worship. Throughout this emphasis (which will last through the school year), we will be gathering and sharing and celebrating stories of ways members of our family of faith are seeking the Kingdom in Robeson County. It might be through helping with a one-time event, serving in an ongoing ministry, or doing something new to help share the love, grace, and justice of God in our community. Some of these stories might be through mission opportunities at church, and others might happen outside the church walls.

Our goal is for every person in our congregation to find some way they can help make God’s Kingdom a little more real in our corner of the world. Regardless of age or ability, we have all been called and empowered to seek God’s Kingdom here on earth. And, as you are seeking the Kingdom, please share your stories with us so we can celebrate!

Join us as we work together to seek God’s Kingdom…now.