Friday morning began at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church of Versailles, KY with almost 40 dear brothers and sisters gathered together in attendance from around the nation. These key personnel included pastors of various churches, street preachers, evangelists, mission workers, authors of notable books, and long-time supporters of FirstLove’s ministry.
These likeminded Christians had come together to recognize a landmark occasion which would inaugurate the bringing forth of the ministry known as FirstLove Missions (FLM). After years of previous mission work that had already began before this point, years of literature distribution to untold thousands, and years of building relationships with other like-minded brethren around the world, FLM was now finally unveiled as an official organization and a separate entity from FirstLove Publications.
The meeting began with Pastor Joe Jacowitz giving an initial overview presentation of FirstLove Publications, our philosophies of ministry, what FirstLove is intending to accomplish, the resources by which we operate, and why. The initial overview also presented a brief introduction of the historical work of what was now to become the ministry of FirstLove Missions. After the first overview had completed, the group dismissed for a short break before the main presentation and official launch of the ministry began. The second presentation would be far more extensive and in depth, revealing, with full disclosure, all the internal workings of the ministry, its organizational structure, the different roles of specific key players, our key distinctives, finances, and then ultimately a look to the future. This was to provide, for the first time, a clear vision and invitation to join in with the work. By all metrics, the presentation was very well received and there seemed to be a great deal of excitement about where The Lord was taking us. There were many questions, not only during the presentation, but even during breaks as individuals who engaged with the FLM staff directly shared their thoughts, requested more information on certain points, and often expressed genuine support.
It was during this time then, that the FLM Staff officially and formally recognized our ministry team as we inaugurated our first group of pioneer missionaries, each one with their own particular role and unique gifting. Some were gifted preachers, some were strong evangelists, while others exceled in other particular fields of ministry. Each one, however, a dear and precious brother in The Lord who desired to follow Christ anywhere in the world He would take them. After each one was presented their certificates of ministry, they gathered together for a group photo (pictured below).
Pictured Above (Left to Right): Adam Murrell (FLP Managing Editor), Lawrence DuBois (FLM), Timothy Oliver (FLM), Eric Santos (FLM), Brian Luzny (FLM), Ben Walden (FLM & Warehouse Manager), Gerard Limtiaco (FLM), Jacob Gonzales (FLM), Tom Smith (FLM), Joe Jacowitz (FLP/FLM Director), Austin Huggins (FLM Administrator).
Dr. Paul Nelson would bring the final presentation of the development meeting as he gave a FirstLove ministry update from Nepal. So many different pictures of the Nepali people, their culture, and the unique ministry work that is being done there under Dr. Samuel Rai were presented to the audience. Dr. Samuel Rai is the General Secretary of the United Baptist Churches of Nepal, overseeing approximately 90 Christian Churches and acts as the Branch Lead for FirstLove Publications in the country. The personnel present at the meeting were, again, greatly edified and encouraged by the work the Lord has opened to us and the Christian brothers we are blessed to be able to serve. After that, a final round of Q&A was conducted for the FirstLove staff, there was a time of prayer, and then the meeting was adjourned.
It is important to mention that a number of the key persons in attendance at the Friday launch and development meeting were lodging at Brother Ben Walden’s property at Paul’s Mill Farm. On Bro. Ben’s farm estate, there were several different buildings that were used to hospitably accommodate 19 speakers, missionaries, and attendees. One of the buildings that were used for lodging is known as the “Pig Barn”. Despite its name, the accommodations were actually quite astounding, and most importantly, it is the building that has now been made use of as the new FirstLove Publications Warehouse and Order Processing Facility. Bro. Ben now oversees the operations there; and, with the help of volunteers from Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, he ships the free literature out to the saints around the world. The location is ideal for the pickup and drop-off of large shipments, as well as providing office spaces and work areas to fulfill and keep track of orders.
Saturday began the actual FirstLove Missions Conference that the rest of the churches had been invited to attend. The name and theme of the conference was “Send The Light: The Glorious Work of Missions”. The messages preached were especially centered upon allowing Christians to discover how they could actively participate in missions work, how to support those that are called to go, and what it means to be directly involved in the work. The speakers gave their messages in the following order:
The pastors and teachers spoke and gave exhortations over the next two days which were all equally received with gratefulness. After it was all said and done, many of the speakers came together and offered there thankfulness for each other’s messages. It was very precious to see that kind of fellowship and kindredness of spirit. After the conference speakers were finished, the host church provided both the speakers and attendees with a tremendous meal in the kitchen areas below. With so many staying behind to fellowship, the eating area were overfilled and many people were eating outside on the tables provided for overflow, the benches, and even sitting out on the ground. It was a precious time of enjoying the Lord and reflecting upon the ministry and the graciousness of the exalted Christ. Many new contacts were made, relationships with brethren were built, great food was eaten, and there was, indeed, much excitement.
“It was beyond my expectation . . . the fellowship was wonderful and I was very excited after the meeting . . . I could see this was how the Lord would be fulfilling things I had been curious about. I was also excited to see the presentation by Paul Nelson, from Nepal, and to hear about the cavemen that walked all the way to the bible conference. I didn’t need to talk to others about how they thought the meeting went, it was obvious, everyone loved it.”
Eventually, the entire team headed back to the farm, and after a requested tour of the premise, they were ushered over to the Pig Barn/Warehouse. Even though a few of the missionaries had been sleeping there, most of the others had not yet seen the warehouse. Many of them wanted the opportunity to do so before leaving Kentucky. It was evening, however, by the time they arrived. As soon as the group walks in, they find Robert Jones, Pastor Joe Jacowitz, and Bro. Mike Snyder sitting up together, smiling enthusiastically, and energetically enjoying one another's fellowship as they discussed the things of The Lord! Eventually everyone piled in and after a lot of hugging and praying they took a group photo together before parting ways.
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