Congratulations, Larry Brannin!

Larry Brannin, Media Associate for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, is the videographer and producer of the Kentucky WMU state missions videos.  For the third year in a row, Larry has been recognized by the Baptist Communicators Association for his work.

In April Larry won three awards for videos produced this past year, including our 2010 “Why?” state missions video. The videos were award winners in the BCA Wilmer C. Fields Competition. The competition is named in honor of BCA lifetime member and retired vice president of public relations for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Wilmer C. Fields. The competition is designed to encourage professional excellence among association members and to recognize those members who have done exemplary work. Each year the awards are presented at the annual BCA workshop.

Larry won a second place award in the category “Video – Magazine Format” for the “Why?” video.  He won another second place award in the “Video-News Story, more than 5 minutes” category for his “Find It Here” video.  And Larry won a first place award in the “Video-News story, less than 5 minutes” category for his “Haiti Disaster Response” video.

We are very proud of Larry for these accomplishments. Kentucky WMU is so blessed to have Larry produce our state missions video each year.  To be recognized at this level is quite an accomplishment, especially considering that Larry is a one-man shop.  He plans each video, shoots the footage, edits, and creates the finished product.  I have been blessed to collaborate with him on our state missions projects.  He listens, catches the dream, and then makes it happen.  His heart is in each video as he tells our missions stories from behind the camera.

The 2011 Chain Reaction video is nearly complete.  I’ve seen it and believe it is the best one yet!  (And I thought last year’s was really good!)  As Larry and I reviewed it together, tweaking a few details, I got excited about the elements of the video, the stories that he captured, and the way it all fits together.  The Chain Reaction article by Shirley Cox complements the video, providing additional details in each story.  You’ll want to see the video and read the article this fall.

Congratulations, Larry!  A big thank you from Kentucky WMU for what you do to help us tell missions stories and challenge Kentucky Baptists to learn, pray, give, and go!

Kentucky writer keeps telling missions stories

The writer information in the July Missions Mosaic  simply says, “Shirley Cox, Mission Service Corps missionary, writes from her home in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky.”  What an understatement!  After working with Shirley both as a writer and as a member of the Kentucky WMU Executive Board (2006-09), I know Shirley as one who is making a difference in missions by telling missions stories, prayer, and personal ministry.

An early opportunity for Shirley’s writing to have an impact on missions came when she wrote about Bessie McPeak, better known as “the diaper lady.”  That feature story in Missions Mosaic brought volunteers and all kinds of help for Bessie’s ministry in Jenkins, Kentucky.  Since then, Shirley’s articles have appears in places like the North American Mission Board On Mission magazine, SBC LifeWestern Recorder, and Altitude (Contemporary Mountain Living magazine). Four of Shirley’s Missions Mosaic articles have been featured on the magazine cover.  She has also written missionary focus feature articles and book reviews for Mosaaic, website articles for Adults on Missions and Women on Mission, as well as articles for Appalachian Regional Ministry and MSC Newsletters.

Shirley’s recent articles in Missions Mosaic include “Merciful Healing” in the June issue and “Disaster Relief Volunteers” in the July issue.  The ministry in Haiti of  Baptist Nursing Fellowship nurses is the subject of the June article.  The work of Jim Richards and volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is featured in the July article.  The stories are inspiring and challenge readers to get involved in ministry.

Shirley has also been the writer of our Kentucky state missions Master Article for the past several years.  Each year Shirley interviews people whose stories challenge us to pray, give, and go.  Her writing helps us to tell the story of Kentucky missions in a print articles that complement the videos produced by Larry Brannin, award winning Media Associate for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Perhaps you remember some of Shirley’s stories for state missions.  “Follow His Lead (2005), “Be Utterly Amazed” (2006), “Celebrate God’s Love (2008), “It’s Harvest Time (2009), and “Why?” (2010).   They are still good reading about Kentucky missions!  Likewise, the videos are still good to use in your church!

Shirley’s “Chain Reaction” article is a key part of the 2011 state missions booklet which will be sent to WMU directors and pastors in July.  In the meantime, read Shirley’s articles in Missions Mosaic  and pray about your response to the missions needs all around us.  God has used Shirley Cox to start many a missions chain reaction.  Read, respond, and be a part of the continuing missions chain reaction in Kentucky and beyond!

Connecting in Puerto Rico

On Tuesday, April 26, a Kentucky WMU team of six left for Puerto Rico.  Team members are Linda Cooper, Susan Bryant, Patricia Reaves, Marilyn Creighton, Wendy Stout, and Joy Bolton.  The purpose of this trip has been to prayerwalk sites where other Kentucky teams will work later this year and to lead a retreat for Puerto Rico WMU.

On Wednesday we visited the Puerto Rico Baptist Convention Office.  In addition to offices for convention work, seminary classes are held here.  There is also a Baptist camp with housing and conference space. 

From there we traveled across the mountains to the south side of the island.  We visited Villalba and the Mision Templo Bautita Oasis de Amor.  Pastor Issai Aviles has a passion to reach the community.  The current facility of the church is a rented building with plenty of parking.  We were able to prayerwalk on three streets, then drove around the community to pray for more areas.  Drugs, alcohol abuse, school drop outs are all problems.  The pastor wants to reach entire families with the gospel.

We drove on to Mayaguez to spend the night and prayerwalk on Thursday morning.  After breakfast with members of Iglesia de Jesus Cristo, Pastor Carmelo Medina took us to the church to hear about their needs.  Several members of the church joined us for prayerwalking which allowed us to divide into several teams and go to different areas.  Then we went into downtown Mayaguez to the inner city mission that Rev. Medina also pastors.  We walked the streets of Mayaguez, even praying in the townhall building and the local Catholic church.  We met a policeman who welcomed us to the city and encouraged us to write the mayor our impressions of Malaguez.

On Thursday afternoon we headed to Arecibo where we met Pastor Carlos A. De Jesus.  Iglesia Bautista Sendero de Luz is a small church located in what one person referred to as “the hole.”  The church has little parking and wants to move to a better location.  Pastor Carlos took us prayer driving around the hilly community that he wants to reach.  In the center of the community, there is a community center and ball field.  He hopes to have activities there this summer to reach kids.  Thus far, the strongly Catholic area has been very resistent to his efforts.  Parents have not allowed children to participate in activities and there has been limited response to events such as concerts for the entire community.  Pray for a better location for this congregation of about 30 and pray for open doors for the gospel.  Drugs and gang violence are a great problem in the area.

Our WMU retreat was held at Iglesia Bautista de Fe on Friday evening and Saturday morning.  The theme of the retreat was “Spiritual Life.”  We were given three topics and we divided up the time between our team members.  Marilyn and I spoke about our Spiritual Journey.  Linda and Susan provided insights on how to grow in your spiritual life.  Pat and Wendy spoke about WMU focus areas and why we teach missions to children.  Kentucky WMU provided copies of Nuestra Tarea, prayerwalking cards, and a WMU brochure in Spanish to each participant.  Linda and Pat even had handouts in Spanish!

After the retreat we enjoyed a wonderful Puerto Rican lunch with conference participants, then drove back to San Juan.  Today the team attended a small English speaking church and is visiting the area this afternoon.  Tomorrow we prayerwalk at Iglesia Bautista Belen, Carolina.  After lunch, we head back to the airport and travel home.

My first prayerwalking experience was in 1997 in the country of Kyrgyzstan.  People wondered why we were going.  “Can’t you pray at home?” was a frequent question.  Yes, we can pray at home, but often do not.  There is something significant about being at the site, hearing about the needs, and praying.  In Kyrgyzstan in 1997, there were only about 20 known Christians.  In the years since, the number has grown and WMU’s World Crafts is even carrying a nativity set and other items from Master’s Handicrafts made in Kyrgyzstan.  Prayer does make a difference!

During the three year KBC partnership with the Piaui Baptist Convention in Northern Brazil, WMU teams went each year to pray.  We are excited to have this opportunity to pray for the communities and KBC teams where will work this summer.   Please keep them in your prayers, too!