Northwest missions began when four Native Americans travelled to St. Louis and requested from the Superintendent of Indian Affairs that missionaries be sent to their people. The year was 1831 and the man with whom they met was William Clark of the famed “Lewis and Clark Expedition.” Methodist missionary Jason Lee was the first to arrive, coming in 1834. He was followed by Presbyterian missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, and Henry Spalding, who arrived in 1836. Baptist layman, David Lennox, travelling the Oregon Trail, arrived in 1843, and started the West Union Baptist Church in 1844. It was the first Baptist church in the West. Located near Hillsboro, OR, it remains to the present day.
From this beginning, believers have continued to establish churches and do evangelistic work in the Northwest. Still, our beautiful land remains one of the great mission fields in North America. Only four percent attend church on a given Sunday, and the great majority of our neighbors profess no faith in Jesus Christ.
To meet the missionary need of the Northwest, Northwest Baptists (NWBC) are doing more than any other group to do four things. First, we train more pastors and leaders than any other grouping of churches. Already, more than 200 pastors and 800 lay leaders having participated in some form of training in 2015.
Second, we start more churches, with 27 church planters beginning their work in the Northwest in the past 12 months (through June). Approximately 130 of our 466 churches worship in one of 30 languages other than English.
Third, no group in the Northwest does Disaster Relief like we are doing through our 660 plus volunteers. On this very day 60 of our DR volunteers are deployed, providing thousands of meals daily to those who’ve lost their homes in the wildfires, and providing chaplaincy to firefighters and others.
Fourth, evangelism training and resources are provided to every church that requests them. Next spring we will conduct one-day “listening evangelism” workshops in multiple locations throughout the Northwest, funded in part by the Northwest Impact Offering.
In addition to your mission giving through the Cooperative Program, a major source of funding for Northwest Missions is the annual Northwest Impact Offering (Sylvia Wilson Offering). This year’s offering will provide funds for each of the four areas mentioned above. Materials (prayer guides, posters, bulletin inserts, envelopes) to promote the offering have been sent to each of our churches. You can also access them through a link on the Northwest Baptist Convention website, www.nwbaptist.org.
One new promotional feature this year is videos which focus on the four areas mentioned above. Links to the videos are on our website, but I’m providing them here so you can take a quick look at them. They are kept very brief so that you can show them to your church on a Sunday morning:
Church planting: https://vimeo.com/137394331
Disaster Relief: https://vimeo.com/137403838
Please consider giving your church an opportunity to support Northwest missions through Northwest Impact. Together, we can have a larger gospel footprint and impact our communities more forcefully in the year to come. Remember, you are not alone.