Pastor Bob and Donna Coats from Parkesburg Baptist Church, PA
Pastor Dan and Terri McDowell, FBC Olean, NY
Finishing the Dorm Floor
Six Steps or Less
It’s a small world. Most of us have said it and have heard it said at least a few times. We often hear it when we discover that somebody knows someone we know and the odds are seemingly impossible that it would be true.
Frigyes Karinthy in his 1929 short story, "Chains" proposed for the first time the concept of six degrees of separation. Six degrees of separation (also referred to as the "Human Web") refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer (Wikipedia). Seems like “it’s a small world” is nothing new.
Take for instance that you are reading this article about mission in Mexico. How is it that of the 6 billion people on the planet, our lives have intersected? I find that I am reminded over and over again of the passage in Ephesians 4. I like the Message version. Verses 4-6 tell us: “You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all." Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. It is one small world. If we are to sit in the center of Biblical truth we must say our world of 2-3 billion believers is one kingdom of people. God is orchestrating the movements of his Kingdom with a sovereign hand. Frigyes Karinthy was only referring to what had already been purposefully created.
In the last two weeks we have hosted a mission group and intersected with another at the same time. One was the Parkesburg Baptist of Parkesburg, PA and the other was the First Baptist Church of Olean, NY. Both churches support Joyce and I missionaries. What we experienced is a series of interconnecting steps that I could have never made up. Only God can do this stuff.
The First Four Steps
Step 1: In 2000, God sends David & Joyce Reed as ABC Missionaries to La Paz, Mexico to partner with the Baptist Convention of Southern Baja. Step 2: In December of 2005 the youth group of FBC Bethlehem, PA builds a house for the family of Mari & Raul Martinez, members of Emmanuel Baptist Church, in La Paz. Step 3: In March of 2007 a mission team from FBC Olean, NY, comes to La Paz and works on a kitchen and the Christian Education wing of Emmanuel Baptist Church. Step 4: In March of 2008 Parkesburg Baptist Church sends a mission team to work with The Cristo Viene Church.
Six Steps Later
Step 5: In March 2011 FBC Olean and Parkesburg Baptist return to La Paz with mission teams the same week. Step 6: Parkesburg Baptist is building a home for a single mom that is just down from the Martinez’ home. She is pictured with the group in the photo below. One comment was, “wow, this house is just a little bigger than our bedroom”. They are eating lunch every day in the now finished kitchen that FBC Olean began 4 years ago. Step 7: Raul Martinez is directing the building of the home for the single mom. He is now passing on the blessing of receiving a home. Step 8: Because we were already hosting the Parkesburg group, the Olean church was helping to finish the cement floor of a dormitory at Rancho El Camino and reach into a poor community with God’s love. Rancho el Camino is a ministry run by Pete & Cher Gatto who are TEAM missionaries, good friends and colleagues of David and Joyce (Crossroads, a ministry to English-speaking people in La Paz started by Joyce & David, supports Rancho El Camino’s Horse & Camping Ministry as one of their mission projects. It is through FBC Olean’s connection to David & Joyce that they are able to minister at the Ranch). Step 9: During the week of these mission groups FBC Olean & Parkesburg Baptist both attended Emmanuel’s Wednesday evening service to celebrate their joint connection with this church. The church provided a meal for both groups at the end of the service. Step 10: FBC Olean was only able to finish half of the project at the ranch due to limited funds. Parkesburg Baptist under-spent their allotted project funds, and gave the surplus to Olean so they could finish the dormitory floor.
3 Steps Farther Away
Step 11: One of the Pastors at FBC Bethlehem, PA is now pastor at Crossway Community Church in Hamilton, Ohio. They are returning in October of 2011. Step 12: Pastor Dan (FBC Olean) & Terry McDowell’s daughter Sarah and her fiancé are exploring a call to mission work as a result of Sarah’s mission trip experiences in La Paz. Step 13: Pastor Bob (Parkesburg) and Donna Coat’s son CG is now serving as the Youth Minister at Calvary Baptist in DE. Calvary Baptist has already sent 3 teams to La Paz and plans to bring another one in February 2012. I can only wonder where these steps will lead.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps (Proverbs 16:9). Everything we are and think and do is permeated with Oneness in one amazing living story (Ephesians 4:6, italics added). Over the course of 11 years we see God’s hand mysteriously interconnecting the steps of people according to his purposes – it is surprising and beautiful and orchestrated to his glory.
Just one step away - you are a part of this ongoing glory story too! Thank you!