BRIDGEPORT (BP)—First Baptist Church in Bridgeport needed a new missions opportunity. Church planter Matt Dye needed a partnering church to help him reach an underserved part of downtown Atlanta.
Separated by 870 miles, the North Texas church and the Georgia church planter needed help to meet.
The 2012 Send North America Conference helped bridge that gap. Now, close to a year later, the church has a partnership with Dye and a strategic place in which to engage in North American missions.
“I really wanted us to get involved in something new and exciting,” said David Burrows, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bridgeport. “I came across Send North America and thought it was something we should do. I wanted to see us get involved in some new works in new places where we may not be able to go but we could help those who were there.”
A North American Mission Board mobilizer connected Burrows to Jim Haskell, a former Texas Baptist pastor and Send North America’s Atlanta coordinator, at the 2012 Send North America Conference. In turn, Haskell connected Burrows with Dye.
“I had done mission trips in Atlanta before, in the late 1990s, when I was a pastor at First Baptist Church of Laredo,” Burrows said. “I knew it was different than a lot of other southern cities. There were a lot of different ethnicities in the city. I figured there was probably a much bigger need there than people realized. I also figured many other churches would want to go to the other regions, and not many would be interested in the South.”
Haskell encouraged Burrows to take a vision tour of Atlanta and see underserved places church planters are engaging and places Atlanta-area Baptist leaders hope to engage.
The tour confirmed many of Burrows’ pre-trip assumptions about the spiritual needs in pockets of the city. He also met church planters passionate about sharing the gospel in these least-reached places and among people in need of churches.
One church planter, Matt Dye, had moved from Kentucky to start a church in downtown Atlanta. Burrows was struck by the spiritual needs Dye encountered while in the neighborhood.
“He meets people and walks and talks with them,” Burrows said. “Every time he meets someone, he asks them about church. Not a single person he has met is attending church.”
After the trip, First Baptist in Bridgeport decided to partner with Dye by agreeing to provide mission teams, prayer and resources for the church plant, called M28 Church—a reference to the Great Commission of Jesus in Matthew 28.
In March, First Baptist Church hosted the Dye family so the congregation could get to know them. Burrows subsequently attended a church conference in the Atlanta area with Dye. The Bridgeport church is continuing to look for ways to invest in the church Dye is planting.
“If you’re going to make that kind of sacrifice and leave the stability of pastoring a church in Kentucky for eight years and you’re going to risk everything you have to start a church where there is none, that definitely appealed to us,” Burrows said. “We wanted to be a part of what he is doing.”
This year, NAMB’s Send North America Conference takes place at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano July 29-30. The conference offers tracks for pastors, church planters, worship leaders, students and lay leaders.
“Connecting with Matt was a good connection for us,” Burrows said. “We never would have done that without the Send North America Conference.”