Madagascar Missions Team 2018 Story – Elko Baptist Church

by Crystal Trout Baker

We are a small-town church, with a HUGE missions challenge ahead of us. It’s biblical. Jesus said it. How can we not obey? Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Yes, we are a small-town church, with a HUGE challenge before us, but our GOD IS BIGGER!

Our church is a giving church. We are a serving church. We earn recognition for per capita giving in the annual Lottie Moon Christmas offering, the Annie Armstrong Easter offering, and the statewide Janie Chapman Missions offering. We support the local back-pack ministry of sending food home from school with needy children on the weekends so they will not go hungry. We donate school supplies to the community distribution efforts in August so that all children may have equal supplies. We lead in the weekly Good News Club in the local elementary school. We prepare Prisoner Packets of towels, washcloths, soap, toothpaste, and other hygiene items. We pack over 150 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child efforts to send basic gifts and gospel tracts around the world each Fall. We have a team who builds ramps for physically handicapped persons in our county. We perform quarterly “community ministry days” in which we help clean up debris in yards and sheds, and trim trees, hedges, and mow grass as needed. One week out of each summer, our church has served in other states with tornado re-builds, flood recovery, disaster relief efforts (in state and out of state), construction projects, repair of homes as needed for safe residency. We meet quarterly for an evening worship service in a local nursing home. We host the annual VBS each summer in our church building, but also promote backyard Bible clubs in the community, along with prayer-walking events. We join other community churches for “Holy Week” services at noon each weekday in the week leading up to Easter. We have provided turkeys and meals for needy families in the community at Thanksgiving. We host a Memorial Service in early December for those who have lost loved ones in the year or years past. Through the years, we have supported various individuals joining other missions teams as they traveled on short-term international mission trips. But we have never sponsored an international missions trip from our church alone…. Until 2017. Everything changed when Elko Baptist became a SENDING CHURCH for Nathan & Tessa Baker, Southern Baptist career missionaries. Nathan is one of our own.

Nathan is the oldest son of our pastor and wife (Tom & Crystal). He served for two years as a missionary to Madagascar in the Southern Baptist “Journeyman” program 2011-2013. In God’s plan, Tessa was a single young woman who had already served in Madagascar for three years in the central region of the island. She was relocated to the Southwest region of Madagascar and served on the same team with Nathan. It was not love at first sight, but their mutual respect grew for each other, as did their love for the people whom they served, and out of that, a special love blossomed between them. Their term was up in the summer of 2013. They returned to the US, married in December, and began plans to complete their seminary education …and return to Madagascar within three years. A daughter was born in 2016 as both Nathan and Tessa worked “piece-meal” part-time jobs, along with taking full-time seminary classes. Nathan graduated seminary in December 2016 and they soon moved to Richmond for training. In April 2017, they moved to Madagascar as career missionaries, eager to return back to the fields which were “white unto harvest” as God had been at work among their people. It was also April 2017 that Elko Baptist Church voted to sponsor a volunteer missions trip to Madagascar, going in 2018, to demonstrate our commitment to support and assist our missionaries in any way and every way possible. THAT STORY leads to the stories of the six team members who are now known as the MADA MISSION TEAM 2018. Each team member needs TEN SPECIFIC PRAYER WARRIORS. Will you let us know at ctbaker220@gmail.com for whom YOU will commit to pray??? We can then email you further updates for that individual. Thanks in advance!

Rebecca Thomason:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. Psalm 34:4-5

Rebecca is a nurse, but Rebecca is so much more. Everybody needs a Rebecca. She lives with her mother and cares for her as she continues to experience multiplying health needs based on her diabetic condition and other health concerns. Rebecca leads our missions education class for boys and girls. She cares for some cousins’ children as both parents work late or early as nurses themselves, and alternate weekends. She served as the Director of Nursing for the local Nursing home and was on call 24/7 because of her administrative skills, her knowledge of health care, and her compassion for the residents. The day the church voted to sponsor a missions team to Madagascar, our Minister of Music spoke about the faith her own recent trip to the Dominican Republic required. Rebecca said she knew she was to step out and go to Mada at that moment. She has never been on a plane before. Her heart always has room to love one more, though, so Mada needs a Rebecca and she is willing to GO!

John Williams:

 This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

John is a deacon at Elko. He teaches Sunday School and serves on the “ramp ministry team.” He and his wife, Birdie, lead a weekly discipleship group. John is a retired medical equipment technician. He is a jack of all trades. He is eager to plunge into new opportunities to use his skills. On the ride home the day the church voted to sponsor a missions team to Mada, John told Birdie he felt God was calling him to go to Mada on the team. She suggested he certainly pray about it but assured him SHE was not called to go. He talked to the pastor (Tom) soon thereafter and expressed his interest in the trip. Birdie fully supports him going…and now….sometimes she is even jealous that she is NOT going!

Jodi Williams Bazzle:

If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit.” Leviticus 26:3-4

Jodi is John’s daughter. She had no knowledge of her dad’s conversation with the pastor. She is a nurse, by profession. She has been married to David for 26 years and they have two children, Amanda (25) and Paul (18). She has been in the “charter” discipleship group led by the pastor for 3 ½ years. Tom was preaching revival services in a church in a nearby town last August. The discipleship group agreed to “tailgate” for dinner in the church parking lot and attend the Monday night service as a group. Tom’s message was on Jonah. Jodi said God clearly told her to GO to MADAGASCAR that night. It was time for her to not look for what the church could do for her, but what she could do for her church. Her son, Paul, is a senior in high school. His graduation is following her return from Madagascar. Her daughter, Amanda, will be her grandmother’s (Birdie) companion during the trip. David— well— Jodi has never flown ANYWHERE and they have never been apart more than a few days—and her children have never been alone with JUST DAD—you get the picture!

Rev. Tom Baker

Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. Ephesians 6:19

Tom & Crystal and their sons moved to Elko when Tom was called as pastor in 2009. Their first morning awakening in the parsonage, Tom called Crystal to the arched window at the front door to join him in looking at the beautiful sunrise across the open, flat field in front of the home. Crystal said, “It looks like God just stretched out His hand and said, “Welcome to Elko.’” Little did they know how God had been preparing them for Elko and Elko for them for many years. Other churches poured into their sons’ lives as they were young and helped equip them to respond to His call at the right time. Now was time for launching the oldest sons. Nathan was serving on a missions team that summer and continued multiple trips through the college the following year. Andrew served as a counselor at a camp that summer, served in OH later, and traveled internationally with the college. Daniel also served as an intern in OH during his college years.

The older three are now married and have launched into their own unique service: Nathan & Tessa in Madagascar; Andrew & Samantha, as they prepare to serve internationally in the future; Daniel and Olivia as they are active leaders in a church plant.

And, now Adam and Benjamin are the younger two Bakers “launching” this year. Tom will have the unprecedented joy of traveling overseas with TWO of his sons, going to minister to the people whom an older son serves, on his FIRST INTERNATIONAL TRIP himself. With joy, he will lead the team of six to uncharted waters as Elko Baptist makes history in following Jesus to THE ENDS OF THE EARTH (Acts 1:8). Crystal will keep the home fires burning, watching at a distance.

Adam Baker

 But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, produce fruit. Luke 8:15

In a former church, Adam was known as the “Little Evangelist.” He is not a man of many words, but he always attracted friends…and invited them to come to church with him…and then to the lunch table! Upon moving to Elko as a young teen, he became the “Outdoorsman.” That led to his major in college being “Outdoor Leadership.” He anticipates college graduation in late April. He has developed many “primitive living skills” in the last four years that will serve him well on this trip. He has also been a good student of “common sense” and he has an eye for things in his surroundings that many others miss. One deacon at Elko says, “Adam never misses a thing.” The missions team is confident that Adam won’t leave one behind! Adam has wanted to go on a missions trip previously, but says none ever felt right. When Elko voted to sponsor this missions trip, he KNEW the time was now right— an international missions trip with HIS CHURCH! PERFECT! And—he has the flexibility of returning to his full-time summer job with the National Park Service, and then launching into a full-time career SOMEWHERE soon thereafter. The timing of this trip for him—- PERFECT!

Benjamin Baker

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

Benjamin– the last of the tribe, but the tallest. He is full of energy and adventure. The team has already tagged him as the one who will guide them through uncertainties of international travel because he never meets a stranger and is never afraid to take a plunge. As he prepares to enter college full-time this fall, he is eager to share the story of Jesus and that of his own redemption with those of another culture. He is eager to share his gift of music and trusts that God will use the music to break language and other cultural barriers. Perhaps other teens will be challenged to seek Jesus wholeheartedly, in the US and in other lands, because of Benjamin’s faith to follow wherever He leads….and this year, that is Madagascar.

We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right. A story of truth and mercy…., a story of peace and light…

We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord, a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword.

We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above has sent us His Son

to save us, and show us that God is love.

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow has trod, that all of the world’s great peoples may come to the truth of God.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright,

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.

“Coasts and islands, listen to me; distant peoples, pay attention. The Lord called me before  I was born. He named me while I was in my mother’s womb. He made my words like a sharp  sword; he hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me like a sharpened arrow; he hid me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” Isaiah 49:1-3

Because you GIVE, they GO. Because you SEND, they SERVE. Their financial needs for the trip are now met. But so much more is at stake. They must be prepared for spiritual battles on the field, just as they have already faced many in the months leading up to this trip. Thank you for taking time to review these specific requests for the team. As they go, PRAY. Pray constantly. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Rebecca:

Pray for health now and on the trip. She has faced some physical challenges recently. She has also recently taken a new job, and is learning the ropes, but knows she will be away some soon.

Pray that she will have eyes to see and ears to hear the needs for which the Lord has prepared her to respond.

Pray for her mother’s health, peace, and security while Rebecca is away.

John:

Pray for Birdie’s health, peace, and security while he is away. They have never been separated this long in their nearly 51 years of marriage!

Pray that John’s skills will give him opportunity to share the gospel and that language barriers will be broken.

Pray that he is always ready with an answer for the hope that is within him in all contacts and conversations.

Jodi:

Pray that her family will turn to God in their own faith while she is away.

Pray that her family will trust God for her care and not fear for her travels nor her visit in a foreign land.

Pray that Jodi’s heart, hands, and eyes will be prepared for the intense poverty she will see and that she will practice wisdom in her response.

Tom:

Pray for his wisdom in leadership through all the transitions and responsibilities of the team.

Pray for his health in the heat and intense sun, as well as a demanding schedule with “uncertain” foods.

Pray for his peace as he leaves Crystal during the trip.

Adam:

Pray that he will remain focused on college assignments and complete them all successfully as he seeks to FINISH STRONG.

Pray that he will not experience motion-sickness in the midst of plane and auto travels.

Pray that his way of “seeing things” will translate appropriately in a foreign culture.

Benjamin:

Pray he will appropriately align all his responsibilities in school/work as he prepares to leave for an extended time.

Pray that he will be attentive to the moments at hand and capture them with a witness for the gospel.

Pray that his missions experience will help him better define his future calling and college major.

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