WEEK OF PRAYER: Childhood memory awakens
DENVER (BP) -- A new home, new position, new ministry and new outlook came to Lorna Bius in the summer of 2012. But a childhood memory --forgotten for years -- helped her realize something oddly familiar about it all.
"I'm discovering that sometimes people need to experience LoveLoud ministry for a while before they recognize it," said Bius, one of this year's North American Mission Board Week of Prayer missionaries. "It was true in my life."
Bius, the first LoveLoud catalyst appointed by NAMB, moved to Colorado to give leadership for the initiative in NAMB's West Region for churches to demonstrate God's love by meeting significant human need while sharing Christ.
"I only realized a couple of years ago that I first witnessed LoveLoud when I was a child," Bius noted. "It started with my dad. When I was young, in early grade school, my dad took me with him on an errand. We drove into a neighborhood that I was unfamiliar with. He stopped in front of an old dilapidated house."
The memory of what happed next reawakened Bius' understanding of LoveLoud.
"My dad went to the trunk and took out two grocery bags, one in each arm," Bius recounted. "He went to the door -- it only had steps, no porch. When he knocked an older woman answered. She pulled back the screen door and my dad disappeared inside. A few moments later he came back out without the bags. He never said a thing about what he did. He showed me. I had forgotten about that day until the memory came back to me a couple of years ago. I realize now that was the first time I saw LoveLoud in action."
Now Bius hopes to multiply LoveLoud across the region, seeking to discover churches already engaged in similar ministries, with the goal of replicating them contextually for other churches. Bius began networking almost immediately after her move to Colorado from Nevada.
"I've been able to follow up with people I met at the Send North America Conference and the Colorado convention annual meeting," Bius said. The Send North America Conference is NAMB's gathering for church planting and mobilization. "I've also connected with people whose churches have been featured in state newspapers. I tell them I saw them in the paper and am interested in how their strategies are working."
In addition to her new church family, Bius also is involved with the Send North America: Denver team. City coordinator Dave Howeth quickly connected Bius with the group leading the initiative in Denver, one of nine Send North America cities in the West Region.
"Dave has been great," Bius said. "I'm so thankful that he brought me on board and helped me get established. I've made some good initial connections. Being in Denver is great. Twitter has been helpful, and I'm engaged in informal field research."
Bius isn't the only newbie with NAMB's LoveLoud team. She was on a conference call recently with new LoveLoud team leader Jerry Daniel and the newest LoveLoud catalyst, Taylor Field.
"It was a brief conversation, but I'm excited about what Jerry and Taylor bring to LoveLoud," Bius said. "Taylor will help church planters visualize a day-to-day strategy that not only connects with their communities but will help them discover how they can transform their neighborhoods and reach into peoples' lives.
"Taylor said one thing that resonated with me, and I will be using it everywhere I have the opportunity to speak. He said we need to 'Teach our people to be light, not lightning.' We need to be there not with just the quick strike, but for the long term. As Jerry and Al [Gilbert] say, we are called to be a faithful presence of ministry so we can tell people about Christ when they ask why we care." Field is founding pastor of Graffiti Church in New York. Gilbert is NAMB's vice president for evangelism.
The annual Week of Prayer for North American Missions, March 3-10, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering provide support for Bius and other missionaries like her who serve on behalf of Southern Baptists in North America. With a goal of $70 million, this year's offering theme is "Whatever It Takes – Reaching the One."
The heart of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is to support missions, Bius noted.
"It is amazing to me that I am able to see when people give [to the offering] in Mississippi or New York and then see it used to reach someone for Christ in Phoenix," Bius said. "I get to see the other side of the offering plate, the effects of not just the funds, but the heart behind the giving. It is incredibly potent with every offering and every voice.
"And not only giving, but in what the giving provides. It is phenomenal to be able to tell people that someone provided a resource because they wanted to help reach someone else for Christ. People are amazed, particularly in the West, that someone they don't know would give to help them."
Bius also sees LoveLoud as an avenue to develop future missionaries and leaders, noting that LoveLoud gives people the opportunity to participate in serving others, helps them develop interests and skills, and shows them how to take those interests and skills and engage people with the Gospel.
"When people walk away from LoveLoud they haven't just done something, they are becoming something," Bius said. "LoveLoud has a real opportunity to lead to church planting.
"My parents were great influences on me. That golden thread of God's heart runs through my family and my life over the years. I have been the beneficiary, and now I get to be a cheerleader for it. I never would have dreamed it."
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. For more information about Lorna Bius, visit www.anniearmstrong.com/LornaBius. For more information about LoveLoud, visit www.namb.net/LoveLoud. For more information about the Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions, visit AnnieArmstrong.com.