Our Own Backyard: Charity on the High Plains

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Our Own Backyard: Charity on the High Plains

Men's ministry helps local family

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Janet Bontke taking pictures of projectWhen Lloyd D. Morton was asked why he was crawling around on the ground at the Nolan and Janet Bontke residence north of Plainview recently his answer was simple.

“Google Josh Wilson, ‘I Refuse,’ ” he said.

The song Morton was making reference to points out that a true Christian servant can’t simply sit by and watch needs go un-met.

A key line in the song — “I could pray a prayer and just move on like nothing’s wrong, but I refuse” — explains why a half dozen men from the First Baptist Church, Plainview’s Men’s Ministry team where at the Bontkes’ home building a deck that morning.

Morton elaborated.

“I think too often we stay in the church (building),” he said. “That’s not enough. Too often we just get comfortable. Prayer is a wonderful thing, but sometimes you’ve got to get off your knees and get to work.”

In the process, he continued, maybe you can do some good for someone who needs help . . . someone like the Bontkes.


Professor helps students make their passion their ministry

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Poster designed by Wayland senior Kate Trejos emphasizing water crisisFor Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Trey Shirley there is more to his work than simply teaching his students the finer points of design.

A key element of the Wayland Baptist University instructor’s message centers around social awareness and responsibility. Through that emphasis, Shirley has found a way to make his passion his ministry.


Stanfield ministers through sign language

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Note: A version of this story first appeared in the Plainview Herald.

Rachel Stanfield had her future all mapped out. She enjoyed signing and wanted to be involved with that, but first, she thought, she had to get a bachelor's degree.

Then God began to tap her on the shoulder.

The end result of that tapping was that she found a way to make her passion her ministry, but it wasn't that cut-and-dried when the process began.
Stanfield said she ignored the tapping at first, but ultimately the 23-year-old realized that God wasn't telling her to ditch her plan, simply to reorganize it.

"It was definitely a God thing," she said. "I was going to go to school to be a teacher, and he changed my mind."

But not right away.

"I told him, ‘No! This is what I want to do,' and he kept saying, ‘No, this is what you want to do,' " she said with sheepish grin.


About Our Own Backyard

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Me in Honduras Our Own Backyard helps coordinate missions and ministry in the High Plains area, including West Texas, Eastern New Mexico, and the Oklahoma Panhandle.

The current economy makes it challenging for many churches to hire a staff missions coordinator. Our Own Backyard helps meet that need by serving as a clearinghouse for ministry and service opportunities across the region.

Our Own Backyard has two main goals:

  • To connect people who can help with people who need help. For example, an organization collecting supplies for disaster relief can post what it needs here. Or an organization needing mentors for a program for at-risk kids can ask for volunteers. Churches and individuals can then use Our Own Backyard to find service opportunities.
  • To tell the stories of Christians who are making a difference in their communities and around the world. The site will share documentary stories about those who have taken to heart Jesus' admonition in Matthew 25: 31-46 to take care of "the least of these" - organizations such as Plainview-based Hunger Plus, which provides humanitarian aid not only locally but throughout the world, and the Women in Action for Missions group at First Baptist Church, Plainview which makes blankets, scarves, and other items to help people stay warm during the winter.

One disclaimer, though. This is not a political site. It is guided by the notion that one should treat others as they would like to be treated. Our Own Backyard is a space for positive Christian action, not for inflammatory rhetoric.

With that in mind, enjoy your time in Our Own Backyard - your feedback and participation not only are welcome, but encouraged. Specifically, check out the following features:

  • Stories about past work and experiences in ministering to the poor.
  • The Share or Meet a Need Forum (registration and login required), where you can share a need, find out about needs to fulfill, and talk to others interested in serving.
  • The Photo Gallery, which holds photography documenting the work we do. Prints are available for sale, with proceeds going toward this ministry.
  • Ideas about how you can help make people's lives better in the High Plains.

OOB Ride for Missions

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OOB Ride for Missions/October 24

Oct. 4-5: approx. 180 miles; Total: approx. 1,034

Well, it has taken me a while to put together an update about the OOB Ride for Missions and for that, I apologize. I guess I still had to get over a little bit of frustration.

The ride was scheduled for Oct. 4-6 and as you well know, that ended up corresponding with the first Norther of the year. I went ahead and attempted to get the ride in but ended up having to pull the plug a little more than halfway into it because of the weather.

The original plan was to leave Plainview at around 8 a.m. on that Thursday and ride 150 miles to Vernon. On Friday, I would ride about 70 miles to Henrietta and then on Saturday ride the remaining 90 or so miles to my sister’s house in Haltom City. However, after looking at the weather forecast and realizing that mid-morning the wind was going to switch from blowing around 20-25 mph out of the southwest to 20-25 mph out of the northeast, I decided to take off at 5:30 a.m. to get as much benefit from the tailwind as I could before it became a headwind.

With that thought in mind I took off from my house with my friend and sag wagon driver, David Appling, following close behind, illuminating me in his headlights. For the most part, that worked well — despite getting caught up in rumble strips in the dark (talk about rattling your cage . . . and other things) and running over a dead animal carcass I could not see in the dark.


Community leader focuses on working with Wayland athletes

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Two years ago this spring, Danny Andrews was sitting through a Wednesday night Bible study at Plainview’s First Baptist Church when something his pastor, Dr. Travis Hart, said hit him like a ton of bricks.

Andrews, who serves as the director of alumni development at Wayland Baptist University after a four-decade career in journalism, had always questioned whether the university and local churches were putting enough emphasis on ministering to the student athletes who came through Plainview.


A Social Gospel

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Charles Nieman is the senior pastor at Abundant Living Faith Center, a non-denominational church in El Paso. With a membership of more than 20,000 people, the church is what many would describe as a mega church. However, its size is not something that weights it down. On the contrary, the church and its resources have enabled it to provide the structure its members need to practice what Nieman refers to as “Social Gospel” — described by the pastor as “helping people at their basic need.”

Neiman said he and his church started out small as he began to realize the need for Christians to work aggressively to impact their communities.

“I pastored here, had a big church,” he said as he began to describe the process.

It actually was his members who began to spur him into action as the church's leader. He talked about how he was caught up in what he described as a typical contemporary Christian response to societal problems.

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