WOW! What an awesome start to our Global Impact Celebration! Last night we kicked off withwhat had to be a record attendance for an opening rally. The first thirty minutes are always interesting. In years past, we have had people dropping from the ceiling, motorcycles running through the auditorium, space shuttles flying through the air, Bandellerocars racing down the aisles — so the air was thick with excitement as people came in to find treasure map markings all over the buildings leading them to a “Treasure Box” beneath the palm trees in the center of the auditorium. Thereamong the treasure was thisweek’s bulletin of activities among piles of “treasure” which the kids quickly pawed through and put on.
Right at the beginning of the opening rally (which is the first 30 minutes of each celebration’s program), we had a visit from Northside’s ownversion of the “Muppets” who sang “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, The Missions Life’s For Me” written by yours truly. (No, I WASN’T kidding when I fessed up to that.)
Shortly thereafter, the lights went up on our scale replica of a pirate’s sailing ship and we enjoyed a skit featuring “Jack Sparrow” who was on a search for “real” treasure. In the end, Jack discovered that the only treasure that matters is that which will never cease to have value and which will last forever, “The Word of God” and “People who give their lives to Christ”. Of course, there was plenty of silliness among the seriousness replete with a confused “gangsta”, an cerebral parrot and multiple cannon shots at a pathetic penguin with a bad case of the bird flu. There was many screams of delight when it was discovered that the loud cannon shots actually propelled Global Impact Celebration T-Shirts into the crowd!
After the skit, we got down to business as we enjoyed some encouraging worship, special music and a dynamic sermon by Dr. Doug Ripley, Senior Pastor of the Decatur Baptist Church in Decatur, AL. Dr. Ripley challenged us with a tremendous sermon on the Biblical model of giving to missions as we each begin praying over what we will give on Sunday to our special offering and our personal commitments to weekly giving through Grace Giving.
My personal assistant, Mrs. Cindy Smith, designs and coordinates these conferences as her own personal ministry. I don’t know of anyone in the country who does missions celebrations better than she does and I’ve worked with her for nearly fifteen years in putting these conferences together. She’s one devoted lady who has a heartbeat for missions! Her ministry to me and my family makes me a hundred times more effective in the Lord’s work and my own life than I would be otherwise. Few people I’ve ever known can balance all that she does and still have her level of passion for reaching others for Christ.
After the service, our eleven missionaries (who had already been introduced as they came down our ship’s gangplank) were hosted in our various lobbies by their hosts and hostesses as hundreds of attendees went by to see their displays, meet them personally and find out how we can patner with each of them.
Our missionaries this year are:
Mark and Donna Logan — former Northsiders who train national pastors around the world.
Tony Marciano — Charlotte Rescue Mission
Ben and Liz Rudolph and family — former Northside staff who are starting Providence Church in Denver, NC
Mike and Jennifer Kelly and family — former Northsiders who are starting a church for African-Americans in southern Georgia
Ron Bishop and the Bailey’s — Representing SCORE International
Beni Guxha — Personal friend of mine and our Albanian National Pastor representing New Hope Baptist Church of Tirane, Albania.
Ryan and Heather Hill — Missionaries to Thailand to work with our national pastor Khiatisak Saripandidorn.
Bobbie Meyer — Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte
Bob and Karen Williams — Camp Grace in Fairmont, NC
David Melton and Family — Boston Baptist College
Gary and Betty Holtz — Campus Bible Fellowship
These folks are all just fantastic missionaries and are working with tremendous agencies and outreaches.
This afternoon, we had a wonderful Senior Adult Banquet with over one hundred of our Northside family being served by our High School students. We enjoyed Arben (Beni) Huxha’s testimony of salvation and then learned about Mark Logan’s ministry in Africa where he works with national pastors.
Tonight, all across the region, our folks will meet in special “Landlubber” gatherings to meet our missionaries and pray with them. Tomorrow is more chapel services and our International Banquet in the evening with all our missionaries and hundreds of our Northside family.
Joe Schmidt from Tyler, Texas is ministering to the kids each night as well.
Check out the Northside website by clicking HERE and getting more details on the schedules. Saturday and Sunday will be PACKED with exciting opportunities.
Please continue to pray for our offerings and grace commitments!