Go West, Pastors, Go West

By Brian Blackwell

Message Staff Writer

Two Louisiana Baptist families have headed out West to share the gospel.

Scott Belmore and Ronnie LaLande and their immediate family members have left the comforts of home and a successful ministry to pursue missions in Alaska and Colorado, respectively.

And both men are confident that even though they have left their home state, God is clearly leading them to walk alongside Him on an incredible journey of faith.

Belmore arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, on Sept. 1 while LaLande began ministry in the Denver/Front Range, Colo., area on Aug. 1.

Belmore is working alongside former University of Louisiana-Lafayette Baptist Campus Ministries director Brenda Crim in the ministry Alaska Missions. They will meet basic physical needs to break down walls to be able to share the ultimate need which is a relationship with Christ.

Servant evangelism his ministry is involved with include key, signature Alaskan events such as Kodiak Crab Fest, Iron Dog Race and Salmon Frenzy. They also will participate in feeding programs in Anchorage as well as 13 bush villages to find persons of peace. Additionally, the ministry also will partner with the Alaska Baptist Convention in order to plant churches.

According to the Alaska Baptist Convention, between 95 and 97 percent of Alaskans are unchurched.

Belmore served as Baptist Campus Ministries director at University of Louisiana-Lafayette since 1999 and for the past five years has led his college students on missions trips to Alaska. During the 2012 trip to Alaska God showed Belmore he and his family were to move to the state, but his wife, Dana, was not ready to leave Lafayette where their family resides.

However, a trip to Atlanta in January for the Passion 2013 spiritual awakening conference for young adults changed her mindset. Shortly after the conference the Belmores accepted the call to serve full time in Alaska.

Belmore compared his call to that of Abraham in the Bible.

“God called him to leave his family, his people and his land,” Belmore said. “Abraham responded in absolute unwavering obedience.

“He left,” he said. “He didn’t even have a destination. And yet he obeyed.”

Dana Belmore said she is excited about the lessons God will teach her family in the years ahead.

“We have learned what it means to fully rely on the Lord's provisions, day by day,” she said. “We have learned what it means to walk by faith, not by sight.”

Meanwhile, LaLande is scouting out the Denver area to plant a church there. His desire is to start a church that in turn plants other churches. He is working with the North American Mission Board and Colorado Baptist General Convention.

Previously director of new project developments at Louisiana College in Pineville, LaLande said the transition from Louisiana to Colorado has not been easy, as his family misses their loved ones in Louisiana. But knowing God has called them to minister in Colorado has helped lessen the uneasiness.

“I am energized to get back to my roots as a missional leader,” said LaLande, who was saved while attending a church plant, Warren Street Baptist Mission in DeRidder, in 1975. “I believe people need the Lord and the fields are white unto harvest. I am both humbled and excited for this new ministry opportunity.”

LaLande said his interest in Colorado can be traced back to vacationing in the state and admiring the beauty of God’s creation and culture.

Since 2012 God placed a burden of LaLande and his wife, Sandy, for the people in Colorado. He recently read an article by JD Payne about the lostness in America, which included a map of how much of the area south and west of Denver were lost and unengaged with the gospel.

According to the Colorado Baptist General Convention, of the 2.8 million residents who live in the Denver metropolitan area, 2.4 million do not have a personal relationship with Christ. Eighty-five percent of Denver residents indicated they do not attend a church, synagogue or temple on a regular basis.

“Looking at that map of ‘our Colorado’ I became convicted and knew I had to leave the Bible belt,” LaLande said. “My wife and I spent many hours in prayer about God’s will for us. We both came to the conclusion that we needed to go to Colorado and win souls to Christ and to help change the direction of the state.”

Looking ahead to their future in Alaska and Colorado, Belmore and LaLande say financial support and prayers are their two main needs.

“We have been praying through this process as a family,” Belmore said. “Many of you have been praying with us.

“We are confident God has gone before us,” he continued. “… Become a part of what God is doing in the Last Frontier. Thank you so much for supporting us and praying for our family as we begin our next adventure.”

LaLande said wisdom from the Lord is needed as they move forward in their ministry.

“We need clarity as to where we should plant a church,” LaLande said. “We need prayer for our family.”

Those wanting to contact Belmore may do so by e-mailing scott@akmissions.com or calling 337-739-8700. His website is www.akmissions.com.

Anyone wishing to contact LaLande can do so by e-mailing LaRockLande@yahoo.com, calling 337-396-8039 or writing La’Rock’Lande Ministries, PO Box 308, Castle Rock, CO 80104.