Reaching around the world

Bobby and Nan Bullard, directors of Partners in Ministry, from left, speak with the Rev. Stephen Prevatte, senior pastor at the Community Church at Tellico Village.

Nearly 70 people from the Atlanta area arrived in Loudon County May 3-5 to take part in a retreat at the Community Church at Tellico Village for Partners in Ministry.

PIM started in 1982 as an outreach ministry aiming to “encourage, equip and empower persons in ministry.” The group supports missionaries across the globe financially and through other means.

Jim and Marcia Bottenhorn, Tellico Village residents, have been involved in the ministry for three decades. On May 4 they helped bring one of PIM’s semi-annual retreats to Community Church.

“The whole weekend went off phenomenally,” Jim said. “We had an excellent, excellent weekend. We’ve got emails from church members and others involved about how well it worked out.”

For Jim, bringing PIM to Tellico Village was a natural fit since the community has so many people with various levels of expertise who are ready and willing to give back.

“God is just exploding the whole mission field in all parts of the world,” he said. “They’re focusing on what they call unreached people groups. Those are tribes or nations, people scattered around the world that have had no access to knowing about Jesus Christ at all. They don’t know anything about it. … Partners in Ministry is really beginning a rabid expansion. We’ve been good folks with them for 30 years and we thought, what we really need to do is come alongside the two entities — Partners and our church — and join forces.”

The retreat ran nearly all day May 4, followed by a joint service May 5 to provide information to the entire congregation about what PIM missionaries are doing.

For PIM, the weekend was a chance to spread the organization’s message.

“It was just a great way to hopefully get a lot more people on board,” Bobby Bullard, PIM director, said. “We’re hoping to get them involved and get them excited about world missions. We had some amazing missionaries who told their stories.

“... I cannot emphasize enough how hospitable everybody was,” he added. “They were just so generous to us and we just can’t say ‘thank you’ enough. We’re hoping — the church has kind of adopted Partners in Ministry as the official arm of their international missions. So we just look at them as an advocate, and we look forward to keeping that relationship going.”

Church members opened homes to host attendees, which was something the Rev. Stephen Prevatte, senior pastor, was thrilled to see.

“It was beautiful to see the relationships that were built in just a short period of time,” he said. “We feel like we are always trying to build relationships with people. Too many times we get in the way of those things.”

Prevatte viewed the retreat as an opportunity for the congregation to experience the mission field through some of the speakers who have spent time abroad.

“We felt like it was a breath of fresh air for our congregation to get to see and experience through their eyes what God has been doing out in the world with all those different missionaries,” he said. “It was neat to see and experience.

“... Of course, it was secondhand, but they were able to kind of live vicariously through these missionaries as they are able to hear from their experiences,” he added. “They can be a part of that. That was one of the main things we wanted to get across to the congregation is they can take part in that even if they can’t go themselves.”

Bullard hopes Community Church members will be inspired by the weekend.

“You hear a lot of bad news,” he said. “Just to sit there and listen to that wonderful news and story after story after story about how God just really loves people so much all over the world that he’s willing to go to extreme lengths to bring them the saving knowledge of Jesus was special.”