As the annual Edna McMillan Oklahoma State Missions Offering (SMO) emphasis and week of prayer (Sept. 5-12) arrive, churches across Oklahoma are coming together to highlight our shared work to shine the light of the Gospel.
As part of SMO promotion and state mission education, Oklahoma Baptists produced four new videos for the 2021 offering, three of which focus on specific impact areas of the SMO.
Church revitalization in the Panhandle and beyond
This has been a challenging year for people across Oklahoma, but God is faithful and is at work in every part of the world. The 2021 Offering video focuses on one such area, the Panhandle of Oklahoma and a church that is seeing new life in the wake of the pandemic.
“When God called me here, they had 23 people,” said Russell Steel, pastor of Guymon, Grace Southern. He shared in the video that God had a purpose for him to lead this small church, which grew to more than 65 people on Sundays—until the 2020 pandemic caused them to close the church building doors, possibly permanently.
Thankfully, as Griff Henderson, Oklahoma Baptists northwest regional ministry partner, shared in the video, funds through SMO are available to help churches like Grace Southern keep the doors open and grow to make a community impact toward advancing the Gospel.
“Since the pandemic, we have had seven souls come to know Jesus as personal Savior; we’ve had nine baptisms,” Steel said. “I think for a little church, that’s fantastic.”
The video reports Grace Southern is now ministering to women who have been incarcerated and are now faithfully attending the church. Steel said this was one “open door” Grace Southern did not have before Oklahoma Baptists helped revitalize the church.
“God bless you. Thank you! We are so appreciative of every little bit of help,” said church member Loveta Carter, concluding the video.
Crisis care changes lives
Through SMO giving, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief is able to reach people for Christ. One shining example of this is how DR partnered with Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM), to mobilize college students as part of the vital relief efforts.
Ian Robinson shared how God put him on a path for salvation through, first, connecting with BCM at Oklahoma State University (OSU) and then through serving with Disaster Relief in Louisiana, as an unbeliever.
“That first day, we were doing a lot of hard work,” Robinson said when describing his DR experience. In his worn out state, he noticed everyone on the trip demonstrated a joy he did not understand. “Who are you people?” he asked in amazement.
Another OSU student shared the Gospel with Robinson that night. Though he heard the Gospel “all his life,” this was a new experience for him. “I wanted to follow this Jesus they were talking about,” he said.
Robinson is now on staff with the OSU BCM.
“When you give to the State Missions Offering, some of those dollars are going to assist Baptist Collegiate Ministry students get from where they are to where the disaster is, so that they can make a positive difference in lives of those who are in very difficult situations,” said Joe Ligon, interim executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists.
Compassion Ministries uplift OKC, the state
By supporting the State Missions Offering, Oklahoma Baptists are empowering churches to serve those with the greatest physical needs while sharing the Gospel with their neighbors.
Rickey and Brittany Thomas have a passion for northeast Oklahoma City. They opened the State Missions video sharing details of what it is like for many who live in this area.
“Thirty-seven percent of people who live in northeast Oklahoma City live below the poverty line,” Rickey said. “That’s a lot of people.”
Brittany mentioned the struggle to find groceries, as well as children’s academic struggles.
Both Rickey and Brittany are making a difference through the church plant Oklahoma City, Freedom Worship, where Rickey is lead pastor and church planter.
“If we say that Jesus has all the answers and Jesus can fix it, we have to guide people and show them how Jesus can fix it,” Rickey said.
Meeting at Tinseltown Theater, Freedom Worship connects with many people in the area. A worship service at the theater is featured in the video, showing people of all ages gathering.
Through the church, people learn about Freedom City, where Brittany works to help families in need. “We want people to have all the food they need, all the support they need,” Brittany said. “We want to help kids to excel at school. We want to help parents go back to school, and we want all of them to experience Christ.”
SMO helps support many of the people who Freedom Worship are reaching. Rickey said in the video that 20 women joined a small group with the church.
“We are seeing people come to Jesus,” he said. “We are also seeing kids improve in terms of their academics. We are seeing families that have dealt with a lot of trauma be made whole because of the work that we are doing here in the community.”
Ligon explained in the video how SMO will support churches, like Freedom Worship, meet the needs of their communities.
“When you give to the State Missions Offering, there’s an opportunity to send help and to send encouragement,” he said, “and to send the resources that some of your sister churches may need to accomplish the mission that God has put in front of them.”
To view or download the new videos, visit OklahomaBaptists.org/smo. Each video is a few minutes long and designed for churches to show during a worship service or in any church group gathering. At the website, shorter versions of each video—one minute or thirty seconds—are offered as well.
‘Shining light in the darkness’
The theme for the 2021 Offering is “Shine light in the darkness” based on John 1:5, which says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
“We will always be able to accomplish more together than we can alone,” Ligon said. “Every year we also get to see this truth, as Oklahoma Baptists give together toward the Edna McMillan Oklahoma State Missions Offering. In fact, one of the great things about being an Oklahoma Baptist is that we agree, once a year, to pool our resources toward this important offering.”
The 2021 SMO statewide financial goal is $1.2 Million. At the Oklahoma State Missions Offering website (oklahomabaptists.org/smo), Oklahoma Baptists can download free promotional materials during the offering emphasis, including prayer points, new videos, children’s missions education materials and more.
“Through this offering, we are reaching the hurting in communities throughout the state, we are strengthening the health of our churches, and we are enhancing the spiritual growth of the next generation of believers,” added Ligon. “Together, we will shine the light of the Gospel in every part of this great state, to the glory of God.”