CARY — Picture this: Scatter seed money for missions projects across North Carolina and wait for all sorts of life-changing missions and ministry projects to bloom.
Wish you could help with something like that? North Carolina Baptists can — through the 2008 North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO).
Here’s how. Ten percent of this year’s challenge total, or $200,000, will be sent to Baptist associations over the state. This amount will be divided among the state’s 80 associations according to how much each association’s churches contribute to the offering.
A survey shows the associations will use this money for an amazing variety of missions and ministry projects.
Here’s a sampling of what associations project they will do with funds from this year’s NCMO and what they have done with the funds in years past, including both missions outreach and ministry to meet needs.
Sandy Creek — This historic Baptist association of 48 churches in and around the Sanford area is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year and its NCMO funds use reflects its lengthy missions tradition.
“We have used our NCMO money in a number of ways,” said Gordon West, associational missionary.
“Just this month we voted to use over $5,500 of NCMO money to continue supporting our newest Hispanic mission for another year,” West said.
More than 100 young people accepted Christ through Sandy Creek’s one-day sports clinics partly funded by NCMO funds. “Between 600 and 700 young people have attended our clinics,” West said.
Sandy Creek has used the NCMO funds to provide Jesus videos and the plan of salvation on bottles of water distributed at fairs and festivals in the area. The association reaches out to public school teachers who come from all over the world to teach in area school systems.
Association workers minister to people who work at the fair each year; NCMO funds help provide the workers a hot meal when they arrive and a service in which they hear the gospel, West said. “We use the NCMO money to help do missions. Thanks for sending it to associations. Please continue to do so,” he added.
Truett — The Hispanic population has increased rapidly in western North Carolina and Truett Baptist Association has joined with other Region 10 associations to start new Hispanic churches.
NCMO funds are helping support the work of two church planters, Alejandro Arreaga and Robert Hernandez, said Mitchell Shields, associational missionary for Truett. The association is made up of 67 congregations in the Murphy-Hayesville-Andrews area of western North Carolina.
Robeson — This association of 71 churches around Lumberton also uses the funds for Hispanic work. “We pass our portion of the NCMO back to our missions,” said Bud Parrish, associational missionary. “This has helped our Hispanic missions to remain stable and growing,” he said.
Dock — “Our association is very small, but we are very missions-minded,” said Alan Gore, missionary for the association of 15 churches east of Tarboro in coastal North Carolina.
“In recent years we have used the NCMO monies to help fund our outreach ministries, such as youth ministry, our senior adult ministries, our prayer ministry and wherever money is needed as long as it is a mission outreach project approved by the churches,” said Gore, an unsalaried volunteer.
Stanly — “We dedicate the NCMO funds for volunteer missionary scholarships,” said Hal Bilbo, associational missionary for the 64-church association whose office is in Albemarle, east of Charlotte.
“We support first-time international missions volunteers, believing that this is one of the great tools of life change, as well as bridging the gap between the local church and missions ‘out there,'” Bilbo said.
South Mountain — “We invest this annual missions offering refund in our annual associational mission team trips,” said Gwyn P. Sullivan, director of missions for the association of 28 churches northwest of Lincolnton.
“In fact, our missions team is on mission this week in the Brunswick Baptist Association (Wilmington area), conducting Vacation Bible Schools, doing handyman repairs and building handicap ramps where needed. Thanks,” Sullivan said.
Atlantic — NCMO funds are used both internationally and locally by this association of 44 churches in and around Morehead City, reports David W. Phelps, director of missions.
“Over the past few years we have used NCMO funds to finance a large portion of building a church in Armavir, Armenia; build a church in Swaziland (Africa); and to provide funding for a Korean church plant in Ukraine,” Phelps said.
The association has bought keyboards for four churches in South Africa and sent funds to the Greater Boston Baptist Association as part of a partnership, he said. The funds were also used for recovery after a hurricane struck the surrounding coastal area and helped pay the medical bills incurred by a language mission pastor and his wife related to the birth of their child.
A new church started within the association got audiovisual equipment from NCMO funds, he said.
Macon — “In a nutshell, the money goes toward our churches working together to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our communities,” said Jeff King, associational missionary for the 45-church association around the rolling hills of Franklin, in western North Carolina.
Workers reach out to people hiking the Appalachian Trail by providing them food. The association also helps people going through hard times, in some cases building roofs for those in need or installing ramps for handicapped people.
“We serve an apartment complex, ministering to single moms, single dads and their children,” King said.
Catawba River — NCMO funds will be used for evangelism projects by Catawba River Association, said Phil Oakley, whose 67 churches are spread through the hilly area around Morganton. Oakley, a former Southern Baptist missionary to West Africa, has served as associational missionary for just over a year.
“We have not planned out which projects but are talking about using the funds for outreach to children in apartment complexes or having evangelistic outreach at some of our local festivals or doing a county-wide outreach to youth,” Oakley said.
Tar River — “We have used the NCMO money for a Bible seminar and a prayer tent ministry during the Relay for Life (a local talent show which raises funds to help cancer patients),” said Georgette Burnette, secretary for Tar River Baptist Association, whose 52 churches are grouped around Louisburg.
“We also have used the money to fund a summer youth worker and for a computer for the association office,” she said.
Pee Dee — “We put the NCMO funds into an account called the ‘Minister’s Emergency Fund,'” said Lanell Moree, who directs religious education and church development for the 42-church association in the Rockingham area.
“This fund helps our active pastors who have been abruptly terminated from their church as pastor, or on some occasions, a pastor who has run into a very difficult time with medical emergencies or any situation that our committee feels is a need,” she explained.
Sandhills — “Some of the ways we use the funds are for Bibles, to support WMU, to support local ethnic ministries and newspaper ads, both general and focused tabloids,” reported Patty Lunday, secretary. Sandhills Baptist Association has 35 churches located northwest of Fayetteville.
Surry — “We at Surry Baptist Association have used our NCMO funds in two ways,” said Billy Blakely, director of missions. Surry’s 68 churches are spread throughout the hills in and around Mount Airy towards the Virginia border.
“First, we used the funds to supplement our Client Assistance Fund for our counseling center. We offer Christian counseling to people who need it, regardless of their ability to pay for the services, Blakely said. “We have seen two people accept Christ through our counseling center and have seen many couples reunited in their marriages through help received. Many of those we help are school-aged children and youth who have made remarkable changes for the better,” he said.
Second, Blakely said, Surry has used NCMO funds to support a Spanish mission, which has constituted into a church and is now in the process of acquiring its own building.
Randolph — This association of 49 churches with an office in Asheboro is using its NCMO funds towards a new disaster relief trailer. At other times “we use the funds for whatever mission projects come up and need funding,” said Drema Hill, secretary for the association.
Burnt Swamp — More than 300 families living below the poverty line are helped in December by an annual Christmas Toy Drive, run by the associational WMU leadership team from the association’s office in Pembroke.
“This project requires much more funding than our association’s share of the NCMO, but we are grateful for its availability to us,” said Mike Cummings, missionary for the 68-congregation association.