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AAEO Day 5 — Reaching a vast wilderness
Mickey Noah, North American Mission Board
March 11, 2010
8 MIN READ TIME

AAEO Day 5 — Reaching a vast wilderness

AAEO Day 5 — Reaching a vast wilderness
Mickey Noah, North American Mission Board
March 11, 2010

What could be better than

serving as a North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionary in picturesque

Colorado Springs? After all, the city of 380,000 backs up to the base of

snow-capped, 14,000 feet-tall Pikes Peak on the edge of the Rocky Mountains.

Money and Outside magazines

have both deemed it as No. 1 on the list of the best places to live in the

United States. It’s perceived as a Christian “mecca” and nicknamed “The

Evangelical Vatican” because so many evangelical Christian organizations are

headquartered here — Focus on the Family, The Navigators, the International

Bible Society and Young Life, just to mention a few.

Colorado Springs is a

military stronghold, the location of the Army’s Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force

Base, Schriever Air Force Base, NORAD and the United States Air Force

Academy.

The 6,000-foot high city is

headquarters to the U.S. Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic Training Center,

and the national sports federations for Olympic bobsledding, fencing, figure

skating, basketball, boxing, cycling, judo, hockey, swimming, shooting,

triathlon, volleyball and wrestling.

The Colorado Springs area is

also a vast wilderness of “lost” souls. Just ask Bill and Carol

Lighty.

Photo by Erik Stenbakken

NAMB Week of Prayer missionary Bill Lighty, left, meets with Andy Hornbaker, center, pastor of Fellowship of the Rockies in Fountain, Colo., and Darin Anstine, fire chief of the Fountain Fire Dept. Andy is the volunteer chaplain for the fire department. See video.

Bill, 53, serves as a NAMB

national missionary and director of missions for the Pikes Peak Baptist

Association, which includes about 50 Southern Baptist churches and church

plants. In a metro area of more than 600,000, 83 percent — some 500,000 —

never darken the door of a church — any church.

“God really broke my heart

over the lostness of the Pikes Peak region,” says Lighty, who — with his wife

of 32 years, Carol – has worked in his current assignment two and a half

years. Prior to that, he spent almost 21 years as pastor of Chapel Hills

Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. The Lightys have two grown daughters,

Trisha and Ashley, and two granddaughters.

Lighty is one of some 5,300

missionaries in the United States, Canada and their territories supported by the

Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® for North American Missions. He is among

the North American Mission Board missionaries featured as part of the annual

Week of Prayer, March 7-14, 2010. This year’s theme is “Live with Urgency:

Share God’s Transforming Power.” The 2010 Annie Armstrong Easter

Offering’s goal is $70 million, 100 percent of which benefits missionaries like

Bill Lighty.

Although Lighty says

Mormonism and Catholicism are both strongly entrenched in the Colorado Springs

area, “there’s half a million people here who don’t know Christ.”

In addition to Pikes Peak,

another of Colorado Springs’ famous landmarks is the “Garden of the Gods,”

so-called because when it was named in 1859, it was described as a “place fit

for the assembling of the gods.” Lighty said this focus on the mythical

gods — but not on the one true God — is symptomatic of many of the residents of

the Colorado Springs area.

“In a very real sense,

Colorado Springs is not godless because the people here have a lot of gods they

worship,” he said. “Some worship nature and the mountains. Some

worship skiing. Some worship the metaphysical. Spiritualism is a big

element of our culture, and we have a strong Wiccan movement. Some worship

their motorcycles. With five military installations here, many worship the

military and the goal of getting promoted to the next rank.

Photo by Erik Stenbakken

Bill and Carol Lighty are among eight North American Mission Board missionaries being featured during the 2010 Week of Prayer, March 7-14, 2010, for North American Missions. Lighty serves as director of missions for Pikes Peak Baptist Association in Colorado Springs, Colo. See video.

“So our challenge is

competing with all these other gods plus the mountains — where there’s

something to do 12 months out of the year — in order to help people worship the

one true God versus their multiple gods,” Lighty said.

Lighty says he wears

different hats in his job — church planting strategist, a coach to pastors and

a consultant to churches.

“I never saw myself getting

out of the pastorate, but it’s been a wonderful change. I never would have

thought of myself in this coaching role. I love helping men and women

develop leadership skills and giftedness. Now I have the opportunity to

impact the entire region, not just one church.

“I have now come to the

realization that one church cannot reach the Pikes Peak region for the Kingdom

of God,” Lighty said. “If one church could have, it would have been done 100

years ago. I don’t think one denomination can do it, but that it’s going

to take hundreds and hundreds of churches to reach these people significantly

for God.”

One of Lighty’s “hot

buttons” and key church planting strategies centers on multihousing ministry,

especially in nearby Manitou Springs. According to Lighty, 50-60 percent of

families living in America (U.S. citizens and non-citizens) reside in apartment

complexes or mobile home communities. But 95 percent of these people do

not associate with a local church, and only four percent say they actually

attend a church.

“We use a variety of

strategies to impact the multihousing communities,” says Lighty. “Many multihousing

communities are extremely multi-ethnic. In Colorado Springs, we have about

6,000 Russian-speaking people and a significant Rumanian population. The

world is coming here and many of them live in multihousing communities.

“So one thing we’re trying

to communicate to pastors is that these people may never come to your church

building but perhaps we can plant a church in that multihousing community,”

whether an apartment complex or mobile home park.

Wynn Greene is the Pikes

Peak Baptist Association’s multihousing coordinator for the Front Range area of

the Rocky Mountains.

“We’re not keeping up with

what God is doing,” Greene said. “God has brought the world to America and to

multihousing communities. So we missionaries can put our passports back in

the drawer and our suitcase back in the closet and start praying for the local

community.

“Bill Lighty, as the DOM for

the Pikes Peak Baptist Association, has been phenomenal because of his personal

leadership and his past experience as a pastor in the Colorado Springs area for

over 20 years,” said Greene.

But Lighty said the

challenge to reach Colorado Springs is intensifying because the percentage of

unchurched in the Colorado Springs metro area is going up, not down.

“In the ’90s, our local

newspaper took a survey and discovered that at that time, only 25 percent of

the people went to church on a given Sunday. Ten years later, they

repeated the exact same survey and found that now only 20 percent go to

church. It’s dropped five percent.” At the same time, Colorado

Springs continues to grow by leaps and bounds as it has for the past 30 years.

“To the best of my

knowledge, there has never been a revival west of the Mississippi River and

that’s sad,” said Lighty. “I’ve been praying for 25 years that God would bring

us a revival and that we would see a fresh movement of God in this region,

whether it’s along the I-25 corridor, in Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins

or wherever.”

Why is the Annie Armstrong

Easter Offering important to Lighty’s ministry?

“It’s critical because so

much of what we do is mission-driven. Our new churches are often times

very small, and many of the pastors are bi-vocational or their wives work

full-time so they can pastor part-time. Without ‘Annie,’ probably

one-third of our churches would go under, especially in this economy.”

Lighty sums up the challenge

like this: “It seems as if God has said, ‘OK, if you won’t go to the mission

field, I’ll bring the mission field to you.’ So now, the mission field is here

and it’s right in our back yards. All local churches have to do is go into

these communities, be what God has asked us to be and do the work He has asked

us to do. We have no excuses.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Mickey

Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board. The Biblical Recorder

will be updating each day of the Week of Prayer with a feature story, photos

and video about a missionary.)

Related stories

AAEO Week of Prayer — Live With Urgency: Share God’s Transforming Power

AAEO Day 1: Mtn. Survivor now cowboy preacher

AAEO Day 2: Reaching students at Syracuse U.

AAEO Day 3: Multihousing as a mission

AAEO Day 4: Blazing an Appalachian Trail

Macon Assn. lends hand, heart

AAEO Day 5: Reaching a vast wilderness

AAEO Day 6: Reaching out in word and deed

AAEO Day 7: Expanding God’s work in Puerto Rico

AAEO Day 8: Winning souls in Arizona