Disciple-making starts at home: “I watch their faith and their dedication to trust and follow me because I follow Jesus”

By Izah Broadus

When people think about the ministry of a church, they probably think of the pastors and ministers and what they do. What people might take for granted? The ministers’ families!  

Our family talks about the ministry at New Faith. I mean, it’s a big part of our lives. I make sure my family is involved—that they are not just members but they are also growing in the Lord and growing with the church.

But something I always want to make sure of is that I’m not pressuring them into something. My hope is that they will seek the Lord because they want to. Like Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) At the same time, I watch their faith and their dedication to trust and follow me because I follow Jesus.

Right now our family lives in Little Rock, and we have two daughters in Pine Bluff. Because of the distance, my girls are not able to be a part of everything that happens at the church. Even so, God is using our family to make an impact.

My wife isn’t in West Helena all the time, but when she is in town the young ladies come to her for advice and look up to her. And our children! They have a funny, on-going argument about who is going to open the service or read Scripture for our Youth Sunday every month. It’s amazing how God is using them to bring others to the church and bringing them into a relationship with Jesus.

In the last few weeks, my wife has been talking about how it’s time for us to move to West Helena. It brought joy to my heart to know that she sees what God is doing in West Helena through New Faith! I think I almost cried because it has been on my heart and I didn’t want to pressure her into moving.

After a lot of prayer, we both feel that’s what God is leading our family to do. Please be in prayer for us as we are looking at some houses and plan to make that transition at the end of the year.

Seeing God’s hand

Because we see how God has blessed what we are doing, we have dreams. With the after-school program and our six-week summer program (starting June 12) bringing new kids to New Faith, we want to continue creating more events that focus on children and youth. We want the church to be open every day of the week!

And we have lots of helpers. My kids and other youth in the church are eager to be there and eager to serve. I’ve also seen God’s anointing on a young man named Stanley.

Stanley—who is now 17 years old—came to New Faith with his father about a year ago. Even though his dad left, Stanley stayed. I’m amazed when I hear him talk, and all the kids in the church look up to him.

I thought that Stanley would want to find himself a job after just graduating from high school, but he wants to be involved in what the church is doing. He plays the drums for New Faith, and he volunteers with our after-school program. I’ve noticed how he mentors the kids, and I think about how he could have easily found a job instead. But God has used him here!  

Actually, Stanley recently said he feels God is leading him into ministry. He wants to stick around at the church and go to a local community college to continue his education.

God is truly at work in New Faith Baptist Church and West Helena!


Which comes first: preaching, teaching, or reaching?

By Anthony Banks

I went to the service station on the outskirts of town one day, and I was telling a gentleman about being a new pastor in Turrell. He said, “They need it, all those gang bangers, and drug dealers down there.”  And I wanted to know, What does he want to do to help?

Turrell is an impoverished community. You have to travel to find jobs because there are no jobs here. They have a couple of businesses, a country store, a funeral home, and one little place that sells sandwiches, but basically that’s about it. The majority of people are on a fixed income.

Just from observing, there’s a lack of education, and schools have closed down and combined with others. The drop-out rate is high because of the issues people face. A lot of people battle depression and behavioral problems. There is a real need for counseling. I mean, these things happen because of what people are facing.

Churches should and could ban together to be a stronger force. My mission is to preach the word of God and pray for some healing and restoration in the town. This is why we do what we do at Second Baptist. Basically we are looking at it from both sides. It’s about restoring what should be versus what people are settling for. 

Anthony standing outside Second Baptist

But I used to hear this: “Each one teach one.” However, I am a firm believer in: “You can’t teach a person you can’t reach.”

Paul said, “I became weak to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 19:22). If Paul didn’t become weak then he couldn’t understand them, and they perceived that he couldn’t understand them. If you’re trying to teach someone but you’re not even trying to reach them, how can they pay attention? You don’t understand their problems.

I have been through what they are going through: through the gang banging, drugs, and living the street life. I’ve had to say, “I understand. I used to feel I had to do the same thing.” I’ve explained, “This is a choice you can make, but you can make a different choice.”

Once you can reach them, you can teach them that’s not the way…

I can talk about how I remember falling into the same trap. When these guys would ride around in nice, fancy cars and had big speakers and shining rims. I remember wanting those things and thought I had to do the same thing to get it, but the whole time God was convicting me, The devil is tricking you—just like he did in the garden.

So I made a decision to live differently. Yeah, when I got hired I wasn’t making the same money as when I dealt with drugs, but Jesus owns everything.

I can say, “He’s not slacking in His promises. If He takes care of the birds of the air, then you have to trust the plans He has for you—this is what you need to hang your hope on. The Bible tells us everything else will pass away, and there will be a new heaven and new earth. Tomorrow is not promised, but if the Lord feeds the birds of the air, how much more will He will take care of you?”

{ I think of what they are doing, and what I have done, so I can relate to them. I want to help them understand there is a better way. }

I think of what they are doing, and what I have done, so I can relate to them. I want to help them understand there is a better way. Once I reach them I can teach them about this Jesus who took my feet out of the miry clay and placed them upon a rock to stay.

But I’m not just targeting people on the streets. There are other people who do not have anything to do with drugs or alcohol, but they have other issues that are taking effect in their life. There are people who aren’t going to church because they’ve been hurt by church folk. I have to minister to that, too, through the love of God.

When I see folks, I let the Spirit lead me. As a man of God—pastor or not—whenever I run into anyone in Turrell or anyplace else, I don’t waste an opportunity. I may not know who they are or if they’re on the streets, but I’ve got to bring God into the equation. Every conversation is a situation to share God in revelation. 

Between Sundays: why churches fail or succeed

By Lee Kemp 

Why is Sunday to Sunday important as a church planter? Well, it’s just like a football team.

As a youth pastor, I was fortunate to be around Greenwood High School football, coached by one of the soon-to-be hall-of-famers, Rick Jones. What has made him successful, just like every other leader I’ve observed, is what he does when no one is looking.

There’s a great quote that says, “What you do when no one is looking is what you will become when you can no longer help it.”

As I’ve thought about this, what I’m doing during the week when no one’s looking at me is what really influences what Forefront becomes when we can no longer help it. 

The importance of training leaders

There’s two parts to this. First of all, there is conscious doing. What I want to do the way I want to do it. Eventually, you get into ministry and you are unconsciously competent. You know what you’re doing, you just don’t naturally stop to explain it. If I’m not careful, I’ll be doing ministry with an unconscious competence.

If I’m not training leaders during the week and discipling people, then it’s going to impact my ministry when I need all hands on deck.

It’s hard sometimes to put on the coaching hat and say, “Hey guys, we need to have these conversations. We’re going to be doing this kind of ministry.” Between Sundays is a developing conversation, and if we don’t have that ministry bank to withdraw from, we won’t be able to draw it out. This is why established churches and church plants are either failing or succeeding.

{ Between Sundays is a developing conversation, and if we don’t have that ministry bank to withdraw from, we won’t be able to draw it out.}

Lives aren’t going to be changed just because I check all my emails. If I don’t give people my time, and do life with them then the ministry coaching piece is absent.  People don’t care how much you know ‘til they know how much you care.

So I look at my in-betweens. I ask myself, “Lee, what time am I giving, and when, to leaders? What time am I giving and allotting to lost people?” and “Who am I developing to reach the others in-between?”

The impact

On that note, meeting lost people doesn’t have to be weird. My son got involved with the Fort Smith Boxing Club and the Boys & Girls Club. Now Forefront worships at the Boys & Girls Club, and I’m leading a Bible study there!

What I’m bringing to point is: between Sundays really does show who we are. 

Albert Einstein said, “We are already perfectly organized to achieve the results we are getting.”

Our services, numbers, etc. at Forefront are just a reflection of what we are already doing. This is sobering. And I can’t look at my church and accuse my people for not seeing results I might have desired. They’re my sheep, I’m they’re shepherd.

I have to say, “Lee, what did you do between Sundays?” 


What “radical” living teaches my kids & church

By Lee Kemp 

My kids are like me, they love adventure. People used to ask me, “Is living in a two-bedroom apartment necessary? You are a family of seven. Isn’t this a little too radical? Can’t you live in a nicer neighborhood and just go to Timberline?” But we couldn’t do that.

My neighbor is a stripper. Another is a prostitute. There are policemen constantly driving through the complex. We don’t let our kids go outside by themselves.

But what am I teaching my kids if I don’t do this? Someone once said: “We may teach what we know, but we reproduce who we are.”

I’ll give you a recent example of this. There’s a guy at Forefront Church who is praying about planting a church in another complex. His family has been kind of critical about it, and someone asked, “If your pastor wants you to go live in a rough apartment complex, why doesn’t he?” The conversation ended when he said, “He already has.”

{ My neighbor is a stripper. Another is a prostitute. There are policemen constantly driving through the complex. We don’t let our kids go outside by themselves. But what am I teaching my kids if I don’t do this? }

What am I showing my kid if I don’t go all in? My kids are going to have this half-based faith. If I don’t want my kids to live like that, then I don’t want to live like that.

Even the businessmen who supported our ministry initially thought we were crazy. One of them told me later, “Lee, I thought you were just a squirrel. We gave you six months tops to quit and move out of the complex. People who talk like you talk, they quit.”

Well, when I stuck around, they said “We’ll keep funding!” They came back on when they saw I was here to stay.

You can’t quit on the vision God’s given you. I think he gives us all a specific calling, and if you don’t answer that call he’s going to send somebody else and you will miss out on what’s unique to you and him. It’s like God says, “I want you to do this Lee, and I want you to do it with me.”

{ …if you don’t answer that call He’s going to send somebody else and you will miss out on what’s unique to you and Him. }

Making it all work

When we first moved into the apartment complex, we had three kids and one on the way. (A baby has never stopped us!) Sarah and I took the guest bedroom and gave our kids the main bedroom. The two girls were in the bedroom, and our son was in the walk-in closet. We made it a man-cave and built a loft bed that was attached to the wall; we made it feel like a duck-blind!

Honestly, it’s been great. If I wasn’t a married man I would live here all the time, I really would. But I have a family. People ask what we’ll do when our girls are grown and our son is 12. We want this ministry to be fun for our kids. I want to show my kids we can go on adventures with Jesus, but I also want to take care of them. If it’s not exciting to them, then sometimes we need a break.

 { I want to show my kids we can go on adventures with Jesus, but I also want to take care of them. }

Taking a break, restoring roots

When you deploy a soldier you don’t deploy him forever.

The complex we lived in, it wore us down. We lived there for almost two years until another church in town offered us a six-month stay in their mission house. After that, we still felt like we needed a break and my wife was pregnant, so we did a one-year lease in a historic district in town.

It was a big house. We used that season to entertain and have people over often, just practicing hospitality. Because we had so many people over my kids would always ask, “Who are we having over tonight?”

A couple from our church stayed in the apartment complex while we were gone. They needed a break, and even though we had asked another couple in the church who might be ready to take their place, the more and more we thought about it we felt the Lord was bringing us back. As our lease came up we felt like it was time to come back to the apartment.

The break brought us back to our roots. We just moved back in, and this go-round we have five kids! The girls have the bunk beds in the main bedroom, our son is back in the walk-in closet and the baby is in our room. We plan to do this for another year and a half.

My hope is that by doing something “radical,” Forefront Church would be willing to be radical!