Nicholas Walker shares about his mission during the Arkansas Delta Vision Tour in Fordyce.
More than 20 pastors and church leaders from across the state recently traveled almost 500 miles throughout the Arkansas Delta, where they visited with and heard the hearts of church planters and pastors of established churches.
The group was led on this Delta Vision Tour by Sam Roberts and Clint Ritchie of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention Missions Team. Vince Blubaugh and Chanson Newborn of the Convention’s Church Planting Team also joined the tour. The group made stops in Trumann, Marion, Marianna, Stuttgart, Fordyce and Sheridan.
“Our prayer for this trip is to help pastors across our state understand the need that is present in the Delta. That our churches are struggling here. That there is a great spiritual need. That the folks who are serving here are here because they want to be here. God has called them here, but they have limited resources and they need partners to help them in that work,” Roberts said. “This vision tour is to connect churches across our state with missions opportunities located within the state.”
During the stop in Stuttgart, Atkins First Baptist Church Pastor Zach Phillips said they were excited to partner on the eastern side of the state. Growing up in the Magnolia area, Phillips said he has a heart for the Delta.
“My heart breaks for this area. My church is eager to see what lies ahead for us partnering over here,” Phillips said.
The Arkansas Delta Vision Tour gave participants the opportunity to explore long-term partnerships with new and established works, opportunities for short-term missions trips and the need for coaching partnerships with church planters in the Delta.
For instance, several of the church planters and pastors shared needs of building repairs or renovations. In Trumann, church planter Shane Fore said they could use partners to help with a bit of remodeling, such as tearing down walls inside their church to create more room for attendees.
Evangelism was also a common partnering opportunity for the churches.
“We are the type of church that believes in evangelism. We walk the streets,” Nate Smith of New Harvest Community Church plant in Blytheville said. “What I really would like is for some of the larger churches to say, hey, let’s get a team and send it to Blytheville to walk the streets. Knock on doors. Bring people in.”
Other partnership opportunities include Vacation Bible School and block parties as well as summer day camps, prayer walks and more.
“The desire is there. The vision is there. It’s just that we need some help physically. We need people to help us mobilize to do what we need to do,” Dave McKinney of Shell Lake Baptist Church in Heth said. “The ministry opportunities are great. We just need partners.”
Roosevelt Brown of Family Church in Pine Bluff said, “We need people to come along and walk beside us.”
Just after the first day of the two-day tour, Roberts said one participant told him he had five years’ worth of ministry.
“They’ll leave with plenty of options for partnering. The difficulty is determining which one,” Ritchie said. “They would love to be at each one because there is a need at each place. Each guy had a great vision. They connected with each one and now the difficulty is where are they able to invest in long term.”
Roberts said those who are serving in the Delta are there not because it is the only place they could serve, but it is where God has planted them.
“God has given them a heart for these communities and for many of them this is home. The Delta is home. God has placed them here. They have a burden to the people of that community. They are doing incredible Kingdom work here already, but they are limited in terms of the resources they have to accomplish that. The need is great,” Roberts said. “We can look anywhere in the state and see that there is a great need. There is vision. There is passion. There are people who are called to that ministry who are not going to leave that ministry, but they need help.”
The Arkansas Delta Vision Tour came about after several pastors expressed that the Lord is leading them to partner with churches throughout the Delta. Ritchie said it is exciting to see how the Lord is burdening pastors to lead their churches to serve in the region.
“Guys across the state, unbeknownst to each other, were calling and saying, ‘God placed the Delta on my heart. How can we partner there?’ So, we brought the group together,” Ritchie said. “God is stirring hearts to be involved.”
Should some type of weekend or short-term medical initiative be included in a Delta initiative, I’m willing to volunteer my EMT skills for initial assessment of individuals, etc. particular interest- weekend events. Lived in Stuttgart, 2002-2014, under Dr Sam Roberts’ leadership. Now in Clinton AR