Part three of five parts; click here to read part two.

34. Hotel rooms on the upper east side of Manhattan are unaffordable for many who travel there for chemotherapy and radiation treatment at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. But William Hanousek, pastor of Bethany Memorial Reformed Church, helped pioneer a solution. The church, located across the street from the hospital, converted six of its rooms into lodging for cancer patients and their families. The suggested donation of $10 per night is a welcome relief from the local hotel rates.

35. Helping inner-city teenagers experience the Allegheny National Forest is the mission of William Coplin, executive director of Urban Christian Ministries in Buffalo, New York. In UCM's Wilderness Program, youth hear the gospel and learn discipleship, teamwork, and leadership skills as they go hiking, rappelling, backpacking, and rock climbing. Coplin says he wants the teens to realize "that there's a whole other world out there away from youth violence."

36. While leading classes in bread making, creation of desserts, and other cooking skills, Laurie Ingram, a Southern Baptist missionary to Belgium, talks about the Bread of Life. Ingram conducts sessions in private businesses and schools.

37. The Anastasis, one of three vessels operated by Mercy Ships of Lindale, Texas, docked in Togo and Madagascar last year. Together doctors treated more than 10,000 people on land and performed 898 surgeries on board, including 585 eye operations, many of which gave sight to children who were blind since birth.

38. Buses International turns old, yellow school buses into medical and dental clinics on wheels. Eight have been sent to Mexico, two to Honduras, and one each to Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, and southern Illinois. The buses are supervised by missionaries who recruit volunteer doctors and dentists to undertake medical tours in destitute areas.

39. The Palmer Home for Children in Columbus, Mississippi, has used its ten cottages to provide homes for 80 orphaned or abused children, attempting to keep siblings together and give the children a Christian upbringing. Alumni include former cochair of the National Republican Committee, Evelyn McPhail, and former vice president of the Tandy Corporation, Bill Kimbrell.

40.Voice of Calvary Ministries recently renovated its sixty-fifth house in one neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi, and its thirty-fifth house in another. With the help of Christian volunteers and the families who now live in the refurbished homes, the ministry transformed the dilapidated image of these two neighborhoods while also giving home-ownership training and spiritual counsel to the families.

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41. By miming the gospel on a two-month tour this past spring, EPPIC Ministries International saw 20 Italians in Rome become Christians and 250 people in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya, and the M'bale region.

42. The Walter Hoving Home for Women in Garrison, New York, takes in women who are drug addicts, alcoholics, and prostitutes and guides them through a year of morning Bible studies and afternoon job-training sessions. Each year 15 to 20 successfully complete the courses and live productive lives.

43.Columbia International University this year awarded need-based scholarships to 30 international students who otherwise would not be able to attend the school. They included students from Romania, Trinidad, Iran, Nigeria, Lebanon, and Micronesia.

44.Enough Is Enough spearheaded a national public-awareness campaign on the need to make the Internet safe for children. One result was the implementation of effective library Internet access policies in the Loudoun County, Virginia, public library system.

45. Just in time for Easter Sunday, 100 volunteers from 12 states rebuilt in one week Saint Mark's Missionary Baptist Church, the meetinghouse of an African-American congregation that an arsonist had set on fire in 1995. The project was coordinated by Hosanna Industries, a Presbyterian housing ministry in Philadelphia.

46. The Portland Fellowship of Exodus International last year counseled 575 people seeking spiritual help to leave homosexual lifestyles. The fellowship also presented its views on sexuality on such television shows as Hard Copy, 60 Minutes, and ABC World News, as well as programs on Danish and Chilean television.

47. Project RISE—Refugees in Search of Employment, sponsored by five area agencies (Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Service, World Relief, Minnesota Council of Churches, and International Institute)—provides job-search assistance, training, counseling, and translation services for refugees and immigrants.

48.Zenas Ministries, in the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Fort Wayne, Indiana, provides congregations with legal services, financial planning, and bylaws review. Churches are billed only for expenses.

49.Mary Jane Ponten was born with cerebral palsy. John Nix has twin daughters with CP. Based in Pikes Peak, Colorado, Nix and Ponten run the Mephibosheth Ministry, named after a physically disabled grandson of King Saul (2 Sam. 9). Ponten writes and pub-lishes Bible-study materials for mentally retarded adults. Both Ponten and Nix have conducted seminars in more than 25 states and five countries to help churches incorporate the physically and mentally challenged into all aspects of congregational life.

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50.Rob and Sandra Pattison, along with their son, Daniel, 12, and daughter, Emily, 10, operate Bread of Life Ministries, which sends a portable soup kitchen twice weekly into inner-city areas of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Aboard a bus called "The Street Connection," the Pattisons oversee distribution of free hot soup, hot dogs, sandwiches, and drinks to 200-300 people who live in government housing. Each week, the ministry also distributes 500 loaves of bread and hundreds of doughnuts.

51. With the support of his father's church in Phoenix, Matthew Barnett, 23, took an existing congregation of 48 Filipinos and expanded it into a massive ministry to inner-city residents. Known as the Los Angeles International Church, nicknamed "The Dream Center," the ministry is located in a high visibility high-rise: the former Queen of Angels Hospital. Thirteen ethnic congregations conduct 42 worship services weekly in the 15-story complex. The church provides free housing and meals in the building for 500 people—recovering drug addicts, runaway teenagers, former gang members who are in wheelchairs after suffering gunshots, and volunteers from other states and countries who minister and help refurbish the building. The church distributes clothes to 1,000 people weekly and 600,000 tons of food annually. Barnett led the church to develop a ministry in which teams of five members "adopt" an inner-city block and go door to door asking how they can help, such as running errands or assisting with housecleaning or yard work.

52. After testing HIV-positive, Kim Davison became involved with Love & Action, a ministry to AIDS patients based in Annapolis, Maryland, where she helped promote abstinence among student groups. She also initiated an annual drive to gather like-new stuffed animals for HIV-positive adults and children. Since Davison's death, Love & Action has renamed the project "Kim's Teddy Bear Campaign," which will likely gather more than 3,000 huggable animals this year.

53. Douglas Carew wants to go home—to Sierra Leone where he teaches Old Testament at Sierra Leone Bible College. But first, he will have to finish his dissertation on the prophet Hosea, and second, his country will have to boot a military regime and restore democracy. So for now, Carew, 41, is studying at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his family receive about two-thirds of their support from John Stott Ministries (formerly known as the Langham Foundation). "I want to capture the seminaries of the world for the gospel," Stott said recently, noting that Rockefeller millions have educated many Third World theological liberals. Carew is one of about 50 scholars from developing countries who have been funded and prayed for by Stott.

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54. Joe Smith, Country Shepherd
Wanted: Replacement for retiring pastor. Ministry situation: a parish stretching 65 miles along a rural highway in northern Minnesota. Four congregations: two Methodist; two Presbyterian. Combined attendance: 200 (less during the winter months when many migrate to Florida).

If this isn't the kind of job opportunity most seminary grads consider ideal, says Joe Smith, codirector with Martin Giese of the Country Shepherds Workshops, that's because "the seminaries don't train people for ministry in the rural setting—they train people for the suburbs." The majority of churches in the United States have fewer than 100 members, many being country and small-town churches. So, he says, the pastors of these churches have to adopt what he calls the "agrarian mindset."

Smith and Giese help them do that through their annual October Country Shepherds Workshops on the campus of the Oak Hills Fellowship and Bible College in Bemidji, Minnesota. In their seminars, Smith and Giese analyze the agrarian mindset and its implications for pastoring.

The quickest way to separate rural people from metro types, he says, is to hand out 3x5 cards and ask them the question, "Who are you?" The city person often gains identity by training for a specialty: He's a marine biologist or a stock analyst. The country person is a generalist whose identity is in his family or his land: "I'm Doc Stuart's son" he may say, even before his name. Or "I'm a Smith. We have owned the southwest corner of Lake Hattie Township for 75 years."

When it comes to making decisions in rural churches, Smith advises, "People want to know what Ralph thinks about an idea before they approve of it. Asking a board to decide on something at a meeting where Ralph is not present results in panic. Let them chat with others before they have to stand on something. And never have a clause in the constitution that requires use of Robert's Rules of Order. You will find total resistance to making a motion before they have a good line on what will be the consensus."

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Rural people prefer small groups and institutions rather than crowds and impersonal organizations. They value independence over cooperation ("You find a helping hand at the end of your own arm") but will cooperate for survival, not achievement.

City people perceive that they have limited time and a surplus of money, so they give money to save time. Rural people will give time to save money. ("Put both kinds on a building committee," Smith wryly observes, "and watch the fun!")

In the agrarian world there are constant reminders of human limitations. Livelihood is directly influenced by factors beyond human control, like the weather. By contrast, the skyscrapers, airports, and freeways in cities are constant reminders in the urban mindset of the human ability to control the environment.

The urban church expects new members to catch the vision and "learn the ropes." The rural church sees if new members will "learn the story" of its history and ways.

Pastors have used Oak Hills and the Country Shepherds Workshops for continuing education and for personal encouragement. "Where I'm living, farms are getting bigger and population is getting smaller," says Phil Butler, pastor of Artichoke Lake Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Appleton (Minn.), with a combined membership of around 60. "And these aren't the small family farms but corporate farms—hog setups and turkey operations. Farm expenses have gone up while farm prices haven't, so a lot of wives need to work off the farm, which affects the church. They can't volunteer as much for things like the Ladies' Missionary Society and Bible school." At Joe Smith's workshops, pastors like Butler find ideas for ways to address these typically rural struggles.

David Gabriel—the retiring minister mentioned in the opening want ad—has pastored in rural Minnesota for over three decades, employing principles all along that Smith later taught in Country Shepherds Workshops. Because the rural folk in Gabriel's 65-mile-long parish won't walk into the church office for a visit with the pastor (the only office they visit is the bank, and they don't like that), and the geography demands that he's frequently out of the office, he has kept a "pastoral presence" in the community with his cell phone since the technology became available.

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Joe Smith has encouraged many other pastors serving in sparse rural settings. Phil Butler says, "He encourages us that we don't have to be a full-service church that offers everything to everybody. But what-ever we do, we should do it well. He affirms who we are."

55. Through the Jericho Road Cooperative Computer Ministry in Memphis, Tennessee, Rich Cook and Nathan Hill refurbish used computers and donate them to faith-based organizations, such as schools, parachurch ministries, children's homes, and food pantries. In addition to their gifts of hardware, Cook and Hill provide free setup and installation. During a recent project, a homeless women's shelter received a computer network for five users.

56. While conducting a food-and-clothing ministry in Columbiana, Alabama, Charles Stroud, Debbie Snyder, and Jimmy Jones realized they were missing a key ministry target: needy people too proud to take handouts. As a result, the three staff members of the Shelby Baptist Association founded The Widow's Mite Shop, which conducts a monthly "One Dollar or Less Sale" of clothing and household items. Hundreds of people who will not accept charity gladly pay a small amount to purchase much-needed items.

57. Ronnie Crudup, Voice of Dignity
Brenda Wilson, a 33-year-old African American, listens patiently as her community college World Lit teacher decodes Homer's The Odyssey. The stroy is an epic journey for truth amidst a world of unconscious desires that "threaten to pull you down in the undertow."

Brenda pens notes.

"Does Odysseus remind y'all of anyone?" the teacher ensues. He grins giddily. "Jesus," he gushes. "Jesus, right?"

That calamitous ocean once pulled Brenda Wilson into the undertow. Not five years ago, her $120 welfare check melted monthly in a sea of cigarettes, cocaine, and alcohol; her two children were left for relatives to raise. Then she delivered a third cocaine baby.

"I was going down a path of destruction," Brenda recalls. "[Today] I feel great. I'm ready to live. Jesus makes all the difference."

Her Jesus is no myth. Perhaps this is because her Odysseus, Ronnie Crudup, pastor of the church that rescued Brenda, isn't either.

A friend brought her to Ronnie Crudup's 600-member New Horizon Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. There his hard-hitting sermons challenged her heart.

Crudup leans over and gazes at his congregation. He says that the third-leading cause of death among African-American young men age 14-24 is suicide. "Does that sound like the kind of people who love themselves?" he asks. "Take rap music, for example," he says. "You know what that music basically says? That you're an animal." Crudup continues: "When someone calls you 'a female dog,' or 'my yard tooth,' what is that saying? … Ah-nee-mull!"

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With support and networking offered by New Horizon, Brenda has kicked her addictions and recovered care of her children. She eventually got work as a bus driver, which fit well with her children's school schedules, and later at Packard-Bell Electric plant where she works days. She spends several nights a week finishing her degree in nursing. Now the children are left in the loving care of her new husband.

A whole host of lay-led ministries of New Horizon work cooperatively to redeem west- and south-side Jacksonians. These include a church-run elementary school for boys, a full-scale nursery, an alcohol and drug recovery program, a prison-release program that shares the church's own halfway house, a construction company run by recovering addicts and inmates. The list goes on.

Ronnie Crudup founded the church with 56 original members in 1987. Today, New Horizon has gone from rental space to ownership of three large buildings on Jackson's south side. "When God called me into ministry in 1977, he really spoke to me that my ministry was to be a renovator in the house; it wasn't to shut the house down," he says.

The ministries at New Horizon don't rely on parachurch ministries or work groups from Iowa. Church members—led largely by men—are the locus, displaying real community rooted in active, church-based relationships. New Horizon emphasizes a disciplined life ("not just becoming, but remaining," Crudup says) based in supernatural joy. Crudup's sermons offer a regular diet of delayed gratification and long-term obedience.

How does New Horizon galvanize so many black men into leadership? "We've got a pastor that gets involved," says Henry Joseph. "He has a big vision. The men jump on board. He tells you to take it and go with it."

For 13 years Joseph was a cocaine addict. He now helps run the church's alcohol and drug rehabilitation group, overseeing a halfway house for recovering addicts, alcoholics, and former prisoners. He also leads a construction crew of seven men in rehabilitation called New Life. The Jackson-area members of Promise Keepers chose Joseph as their regional director.

New Horizon's grade school has grown in three years from 11 boys to an estimated 65 enrolled for 1998-99. Says Crudup, "We want to give both the boys and their parents an alternative that would emphasize excellence and create a climate where it would be cool to be smart."

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Gathering in the basement of the church one Tuesday, 39 teens are tie-dying their work shirts for the summer project. They are participating in Faithworks, a six-week daily program for area teens run by New Horizon that teaches them the value of work, how to fill out an application and be interviewed for a job. They work several weeks on a team project, usually focusing on cleaning up a region of the city, enhancing the community's appearance. They learn the value of being on time, working together, and working hard. Every child is paid a stipend, half of which comes from the parents, half from the church.

New Horizon is living up to its name. Brenda Wilson soon will become a nurse. But for now, she sits in her college classroom listening to Homerian lectures. "This is the journey of the hero," Brenda's teacher proclaims, "the story of moving from animal nature to God nature; from darkness to light."

Part three of five parts; click here to read part four.

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