Church Strengthening Ministry is launching “Operation Macedonian Call” on Sept. 1, moving deeper into the eastern Kentucky mountains to be closer to the congregations it’s working with.
The term “Macedonian Call” refers to a God-given vision that directed the route Paul took on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:39-18:22). Paul’s plan was to visit and strengthen the churches he had planted in the Asian province of Galatia during his first journey. After that he hoped to take the gospel to unchurched regions. Paul and his companions, Silas and Timothy, had plans to head directly west, but they were “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.” (Acts 16:6-8).
Church Strengthening Ministry is a local church-based ministry on mission with God. It is evident that God is calling CSM deeper into the mountains. Now, with an invitation from Pastor Tyler Shields to be based at Rockhouse Baptist Church in Hyden.
Ministering to this highly unreached (2 out of 3 eastern Kentuckians have no personal relationship with Christ) and unchurched people group (93 plus percent don’t attend a church) can seem as foreign to many Americans as an international mission field. One must learn the customs, courtesies, culture, and even language of the people of Appalachia in order to gain their trust and ultimately lead them towards Christ. Although in the heart of the United States, this region which is not separated by international boundaries has been isolated from mainstream America for centuries. Effectively evangelizing and discipling the people here is much different than many other places in the nation. This is something that Tom and Ann hope to highlight.
There is an undertone of religion that permeates the culture. Even those who neglect regular attendance and participation in the scheduled services of the local church, (nine out of 10 Eastern Kentuckians will NOT be in any given House of Worship on any given Sunday) there has been a deep respect for those who are regular attendees and, especially, ministers of the Gospel. There is also a undertow for the Appalachians; there is a sense they are NOT worthy of God’s Grace. They are of the mindset that Jonathan Edwards preached, “A Sinner In The Hands Of An Angry God,” that is a strength NOT a weakness!
You will find Appalachians to be willing to discuss eternal things after they know you are truly concerned about them as a person. These are people who are intelligent and resourceful. They have survived tragedies, famines, job losses, and failing economies, and last, but surely not least, the drug culture. Should you decide to come to the Appalachian areas to witness, be prepared to give time.
Church Strengthening Ministry’s objective is that “By the transforming power of God’s Word, every church be on mission with God.” The three Goals of CSM are 1) Encouragement 2) Healing 3) Salvation. Where we’re based NOW, we have reached to where we are moving CSM base, by moving CSM base deeper into the mountains, we’re able to reach deeper into the mountains. The farther we go…the deeper we can reach.
The history of the church — and of the world — has been forever changed because of the God-given dream known as the “Macedonian Call.”
Tom Patterson, along with his wife Ann, leads Church Strengthening Ministry.