(By Dr. Ivan Greuter) — I remember my first rodeo! No, I was not riding but watching safely from the grandstands. It was a spectacular sight for a seven-year-old. The animals and humans racing through the ring mesmerized me as they wrestled for supremacy. “How do they hold on to those bucking broncos?” I asked my grandpa. “Pure determination and a little luck,” he replied.

Sometimes, church life in our contemporary world feels like that rodeo: everything is moving quickly, the air is filled with loud noises, and everyone is just trying to “Hold On!”
However, the church is supposed to be and do more than only “hold on.” We are not told to “keep what you already have received” but “go forth” to join God’s mission in Christ (mission Dei in Christo). That is why I am excited about the upcoming annual Mid-Winter Mission & Evangelism Conference on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18-19 (Martin Luther King Jr. weekend), 2019, at Cross Wind Conference Center near Hesston, Kan.

The theme will be “Hold On!” from Hebrews 12:26-27. We will explore the important question: What do you hold on to when heaven and earth shake? Hopefully, you will learn new ways of thinking and gain practical skills for your congregation to move from “Hold On!” to “Go Forth!”

The event will begin with a simple supper at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and conclude with lunch on Saturday.

The keynote speaker will be Rev. Glynis LaBarre, retired transformation strategist for American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS).

Working with local churches interested in retooling for future ministry, LaBarre has been responsible for several turnaround churches, including All Tribes Community Church, Tulsa, Okla., where she developed a ministry training program for Native Americans which resulted in 11 tribal elders becoming licensed ministers.

LaBarre has been instrumental in helping churches achieve God’s mission goal through a unique Missional Church Learning Experience (MCLE). She is the author of “Learning Mission, Living Mission: Churches That Work.”

LaBarre holds an M.Div. from Central Baptist Theological Seminary, in Kansas City, Kan. She is a certified ministry coach by Valwood Christian Leadership Coaching.

Our special missionary speakers will be Barbara and Dwight Bolick, currently serving with International Ministries (IM) in partnership with the Convention of Baptist Churches Chilean Mission in ministries of economic and leadership development. Their primary focus is with Mapuche churches in southern Chile.

The goals of the Bolicks’ ministries with the Mapuche churches and communities are, first, recovery of identity as a people made in the image of God; and second, the discovery of vocation as productive stewards of creation. Barbara and Dwight, with the Mapuche churches, pursue these goals through various programs, such as recovering the use of the native language, Mapudungun, in worship, evangelism and service; entrepreneurship training in a rural context (beginning with the production of traditional weavings, and beekeeping/honey production); and theological education. The Bolicks also serve in equipping leaders among the Convention’s other churches. They both teach and preach in churches from Santiago to the Lake District. Barbara helps churches develop ministries to women and children, and Dwight focuses on stewardship, assisting churches to grasp their potential to create and sustain Christ-like ministries in their communities.

We will receive a free-will offering for Ottawa University. Participants are also encouraged to bring financial and gift-in-kind donations for the Cross Wind Conference Center.

The cost for registration and meals is $60.00 for adults and youth (age 13+), and $20.00 for children (age 5-12) before Dec. 15, 2018. Children age 5 and younger are free. Lodging costs vary depending upon room selection and number of occupants. The late fee is $10.00 per person. Register online at abccr.org or by mail.

For more details, please contact Rev. Wilma Engle, Registrar.