April 2011

Baptist Children’s Homes receives perfect score

April 18 2011 by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications

Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) received its reaccreditation in February by the Council on Accreditation (COA).

“Accreditation is the highest form of validation and affirmation of excellence that an agency like ours can have,” said Michael C. Blackwell, BCH president. “It affirms that Baptist Children’s Homes is among the elite in providing the highest possible quality of services to children and families.”

In addition, the ministry was given a perfect score in its final evaluation.

COA is an independent, non-for-profit accrediting body accrediting more than 1,500 private and public organizations serving children, individuals and families in the USA and Canada. The reaccreditation process occurs every four years. BCH received its first accreditation in 1987 and has been accredited ever since.

From February 13-16, COA’s three-member review team visited BCH’s statewide locations conducting detailed examinations of the nonprofit’s residential services, administrative functions, and facilities, including interviewing 65 staff members, residents and trustees.

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Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) has been reaccredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Family and Children (COA). Preparation and planning for the process was led by BCH’s reaccreditationteam: (from left) Bond Kiser, coordinator of performance and quality improvement; Michael C. Blackwell, BCH president; Wendy Campbell, coordinator of program development and compliance; and Nancy McNeill, executive vice president, operations.

Blackwell received notification of the successful reaccreditation less than 50 hours after reviewers completed their visits. It traditionally takes more time for an organization to receive its results from COA.

“We scored perfect on all of the 667 individual standards COA required us to meet,” Blackwell said. “We did not receive a single written demerit.”

Representatives must evaluate their findings and prepare a written review citing any issues discovered during the process. In BCH’s case, as explained in the February 18 email sent to Blackwell by COA president Richard Klarberg, there were no faults to cite. “Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Inc. was expedited through the Pre-Commission Review Report process as a result of not receiving any out of compliance ratings in any of the fundamental practice standards,” Klarberg stated in his email. “Congratulations on this amazing achievement.”

Blackwell says that among the standout comments from reviewers was a glowing statement regarding BCH’s intentional Christian focus. “This particular reviewer said that out of all the faith-based organizations he has examined, none of them were on par with BCH when it came to our commitment to carrying out ministry.”

The reaccreditation process is a necessary one for BCH and other similar agencies. “It moves Baptist Children’s Homes into a status of excellence that few organizations have achieved,” Blackwell said. “It sets us apart and communicates to our churches, supporters and friends that settling for second best will never be an option when it comes to providing the highest level of care to children and families.”

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/18/2011 7:33:00 AM by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications | with 0 comments

Japan relief: ‘Let’s do it together!’

April 18 2011 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

TOKYO – It’s a lot different this time. So much so that Southern Baptist disaster relief specialist Don Hargis looks incredulous if you try to compare Haiti’s earthquake or even the 2004 South Asia tsunami to Japan’s March 11 triple disaster.

Of course, there are the obvious differences – a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a tsunami that brought in three walls of waves measuring 50 feet high and then don’t forget the invisible radiation threat of the ongoing nuclear crisis.

Using a photograph as part of her training at Tokyo Baptist Church in Japan, Dee Gulledge explains how her daughter’s battle with cancer brought her to the place where she began to counsel others in times of crisis.

And then, there are the not so obvious differences – Japanese government restrictions early on didn’t allow international agencies to help with the search and rescue or meeting basic needs, a snow storm set in hours after the tsunami hit, parts of the disaster zone are closed off due to radiation and then the ingrained Japanese culture of stoic perseverance summed up in one word, “ganbatte.”

There are no English words or phrases that properly describe this “ganbatte” mentality. The closest might be “be tough,” “do your best,” “hang in there” or “try harder.” However you interpret the phrase, it comes down to one thing: The Japanese will do whatever it takes to persevere, with or without help.

“You can’t even compare this to anything we’ve ever responded to,” says Hargis, from Copper Springs Church in Clovis, Calif. “This is our first time to respond to a place that had three major disasters hit one area all at the same time. Then, when you add in the fact that we can’t just fly in and set up shop, we’ve had to figure out other ways to help and make an impact.”

Because of these unique differences, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is taking a slightly different role in Japan, providing support and training for Japanese Baptists. Specialists who train disaster relief volunteers in the U.S. are doing that in Japan. Tokyo Baptist Church asked the specialists to come alongside to train their volunteers in everything from feeding stations to crisis counseling.

Dee Gulledge of South Carolina feels this new role is culturally appropriate. She teaches an introduction to crisis counseling to 70 relief workers crowded into the fellowship hall.

“In my wildest dreams I couldn’t imagine what it is like” living through a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, Gulledge tells the group. “It’s better for me to be here training you. You know how to fit this into your culture so it will be more appropriate.”

The veteran crisis counselor stresses the need for victims to share their stories. She suggests volunteers learn to listen closely. She asks what the appropriate cultural response should be in Japan when hearing stories of the trauma.

A low murmur rolls through the room. One word – “ganbatte” – is repeated over and over until one brave soul speaks up.

“I think it might be better if we try to avoid the ‘ganbatte’ mentality and phrase,” the participant suggests. “I think we should try ‘ganbarimashou.’ It means, ‘Let’s do it together.’”

Gulledge smiles at the phrase. It’s the perfect compassionate phrase to use with victims and evacuees, followed by actively meeting needs – physically and spiritually. It’s also the perfect analogy for Southern Baptist and Japanese Baptist disaster relief workers – working together to show God’s love through disaster response.

In Ishinomaki, Japan, Tokyo Baptist Church volunteer Ernest Kwok (left) stirs the miso soup while Southern Baptists Naomi Paget, Ed Jordan and Don Hargis add the soybean paste that gives the soup its characteristic taste.

Hargis and Naomi Paget, a disaster relief trauma counselor from First Baptist Church in Bellville, Texas, mentor a volunteer team from Tokyo Baptist as they prepare food and distribute supplies in Ishinomaki. The duo is impressed with the easy way the volunteer team works together and adapts to the elements.

Volunteers slave all morning over four 80-quart pots on wood fires. The soup and rice are only enough to feed the first 1,000 people lined up. As one pot empties, cooks prepare the next batch of soup, until almost 4,000 eat a hot meal.

“It’s neat to watch them cook over wood fires. I haven’t ever done that. We use transportable industrial kitchens in our disaster relief in the States,” Hargis says.

“I’m impressed with their ability to adapt to the situation. There’s no potable water and no electricity in this area. Only way to heat something is over the wood fire, yet they managed to feed almost 4,000 people a hot meal.

“They have an open spirit and are learning quickly,” Hargis adds. “I hope we can increase their vision – and I hope other Southern Baptists will be able to help them reach out. This is going to be a long-term project. There’s plenty of work for everyone.”

The volunteers take turns cooking and circulating through the crowd, listening to stories and praying with individuals. Hargis and Paget work alongside the Japanese Baptist team. When a woman walks past, struggling to carry a 10-liter bottle of water, Hargis and a Tokyo Baptist volunteer jump to her aid.

“Ganbarimashou!” the volunteer says as he and Hargis grab the heavy load.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Susie Rain is an International Mission Board writer/editor living in Southeast Asia. The IMB has established a relief fund for the Japan disaster. Donations may be sent to Office of Finance, International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Ave., Richmond, VA 23230. In the memo line write “Japan Response Fund.” Or you can give online by going to imb.org and clicking on the “Japan response” button. For further information, call the IMB toll-free at 1-800-999-3113.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/18/2011 7:19:00 AM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NCBM responds to devastated areas

April 18 2011 by North Carolina Baptist Men

On Saturday, April 16 a series of devastating tornadoes hit many areas of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

N.C. Baptist disaster relief volunteers began doing assessment and disaster recovery as soon as the storms passed. There are still many areas where volunteers cannot safely get into due to downed power lines.

North Carolina Baptist Men is setting up disaster recovery sites in many of the affected areas, in the next few hours and days based on the assessments.

Right now disaster relief team leaders are setting up or assessing operations in Wake, Johnston, Lee, Bladen, Wilson, Cumberland, Person, Northampton, Bertie and Robeson counties.

Baptist Men is keeping a list of potential volunteers and donations are being accepted for the Tornado Disaster Relief Reserve fund. You can donate online or mail check to: NC Tornado Disaster Relief, North Carolina Baptist Men, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512-1107.

Contact Gaylon Moss at gmoss@ncbaptist.org or (800) 395.5102, ext. 5605.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/18/2011 6:15:00 AM by North Carolina Baptist Men | with 0 comments

N.C. Baptists begin partnership with Moldova

April 15 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

CHISINAU, MOLDOVA — Every day at school John was told God did not exist. He remembers when youth in his village were taken off to prison after soldiers finally discovered they had printed portions of the New Testament.  

Growing up in Moldova, when it was part of the Soviet Union and being a Christian was not allowed, did not make life easy for John Miron, his seven siblings and parents. In his village there was no church, so his family met with other believers in what they called underground church. The government forbid them to meet publicly, so they met privately in homes throughout the village. John could never tell anyone he was going to church or that he had been to church.  

John’s parents did not have much, but they worked hard to provide for their family. One day his dad’s cow — the family’s main source of food — got sick. His dad refused to try and sell a sick cow. So for 12 days the family prayed and fasted.  

“God healed the cow,” John said. And that became the moment John said will be forever etched in his memory when he knew God cared about their family and would always provide for them. God used that experience to teach John to trust Him. John knew when he received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior that his faith may bring persecution. Yet, God took his fear away and replaced it with a great desire to serve.  

“I knew when I grew up I wanted to serve Him,” he said.  

John is now president of the Baptist Union of Moldova and pastor of a Baptist church in a country with an evangelical population of less than two percent. About 3.5 million people live in Moldova and the predominant religion is Eastern Orthodox.  

Moldova, situated between Ukraine on the north, east and south and Romania on the west, experienced great spiritual revival in the early 1990s as the Soviet Union collapsed, the country gained independence and its citizens their religious freedom.  

“People were thirsty for the gospel,” John said. “The people were looking for hope; they were looking for God.”  

Things are different now. John described Moldova as a country growing more and more interested in secular, worldly things as the interest in God and spiritual things is less and less.  

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John Miron, once an atheist, leads the Baptist Union of Moldova. Less than two percent of Moldova’s population is evangelical. See photo gallery.

At least 700 villages in the country are without a church or evangelical presence of any kind, while at least one Orthodox church is in 99 percent of all villages.  

Moldova is a poor country, the poorest in Eastern Europe, and agriculture is the country’s main economic source. Many people living in Moldova — John estimated as many as 1.5 million — actually work outside Moldova because they cannot find work in the country. While some who work outside Moldova only do so for periods of time and then return home, others never return, leaving nearly 190,000 children as orphans.   

Earlier this year the World Health Organization named Moldova as the world leader in alcohol consumption. Human trafficking is also very prevalent in Moldova.  

Despite all this, John is not discouraged. He has not left to do ministry anywhere else, nor will he, because he said God gave him a responsibility to share the gospel with the people of Moldova. “We go every month by faith,” he said. “We are like the Israelites coming out of the wilderness. Every month we make it a step of faith.”  

John began his ministry working in youth ministry in one of the largest Baptist churches of Moldova. After several years of ministry training in Bucharest he returned to Moldova and helped organize a Bible college. He also got involved in church planting and ministry with the Baptist Union.  

As president of the Union, John is working closely with the Baptist State Convention (BSC) as the Convention begins a partnership between Baptists in North Carolina and Baptists in Moldova.  

The partnership, organized by the Convention’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships, is set to be at least a three-year partnership in which North Carolina Baptists will help the Baptist Union in three strategic efforts: evangelize, congregationalize and disciple the residents of Moldova; strengthen their ability to train, send and support an international missions force; and provide leadership development opportunities for pastors.  

“We praise God for the opportunity to be in this partnership and for Him to give us this hand of help,” John said. “We appreciate North Carolina Baptists who are part of God’s plan in Moldova.”

Moldova is uniquely situated to not only impact Moldova with the gospel, but the rest of the world. “Moldova is involved in the mission outside of Moldova,” John said. “We are blessed to be in a special context.”  

For example, the Bible college in Moldova is training many students who are from countries that are resistant to the gospel. These students will take the gospel back home once their studies are complete.  

Though they may be few in number, the Christians in Moldova are hungry to learn more about God.

Yet, the opportunity for training and equipping is rare. To kick off the new partnership, the BSC recently sent a team to Moldova to lead in conferences for pastors, women and youth. One pastor who attended the conference said, “Pastor John, I’m going home with a new strength, a new hope.”

“God has already used North Carolina Baptists in Moldova,” John said.   Michael Sowers, consultant for Great Commission Partnerships, said one goal of the partnership is to send a North Carolina team to each of the 33 districts in Moldova. North Carolina Baptists who come to Moldova will be involved in leading an evangelistic outreach on Friday and Saturday nights in the main town or village in the district they are serving that week.  

Teams will also be involved in various outreach activities, such as day camps in order to teach the Bible, sports and other children’s activities. Teams can host a medical clinic or minister to senior adults who often live in poverty.  

“We are praying God will use this partnership to advance the gospel not only throughout Moldova, but throughout the world,” Sowers said.  

“Our Moldovan brothers and sisters are ready to do whatever it takes to see the name of Jesus Christ glorified. We pray for God to send out many North Carolina Baptists as workers into His harvest field.”  

Believers in Moldova are ready for a great revival to once again sweep across the country. “I’m praying the people of Moldova may hear the beat of God’s heart,” John said. “And that their hearts may feel like God’s heart for unsaved hearts.”

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 

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4/15/2011 9:11:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Conference encourages church leaders with flocks

April 15 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Kevin Turner* is from southern Moldova and speaks a dialect unique to only certain areas in Moldova and a few other places in the world. When he became a Christian as an adult, his heart became burdened to reach his people.  

He learned from friends about a particular people group that spoke his language, a group he had never heard of before, and he began praying with his family for these people. For three years his family prayed for these people they had never met.  

After that time God led Kevin and his family to leave Moldova and move to another country in order to minister among this group. Kevin serves in an area of the country that he described as very plain; a place not welcoming for tourists. But this is where God led him, and so this is where he faithfully serves.  

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Sheep are one of the main livelihoods of some rural Moldovans. A team of North Carolina Baptists led pastors in a conference on taking care of their flocks. See photo gallery.

Kevin works in five communities where he passes out Christian literature, organizes summer camps for youth, serves among the poor and seeks to meet people and share with them the gospel.   Before Kevin and his family moved, God used Kevin to make a difference in three Moldovan villages as a missionary/church planter.  

Kevin is temporarily living in Moldova while he awaits approval to go back to the country in which he is serving. Kevin said he attended the pastor’s conference sponsored by the Baptist State Convention (BSC) and the Baptist Union of Moldova because “discipleship and evangelism are my main task.”  

The two-day pastor’s conference was part of the launch of the BSC’s Great Commission Partnership with Moldova. The conference featured John Ewart, associate vice president of project development and director of doctor of ministry studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaking on prayer; Allan Blume, pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone teaching on disciple-making; and Bobby Welch, strategist for Global Evangelical Relations for the Southern Baptist Convention, teaching on evangelism. Welch also preached during the two evangelistic rallies on the evenings of the pastor’s conference.  

“Truly, I received encouragement,” Kevin said. “You can’t see this very often. It is very rare a conference like this happens.”  

Adam Moore,* a 2009 graduate of the Bible College in Chisinau, also came to the conference. He said at the conference he was reminded that Jesus Christ is the head of all things.  

The teaching Moore received at the conference encouraged him to pray and ask God to “change my heart and vision so that I may have more of your heart and vision.”  

Moore is serving now in a village church in Moldova that went through a difficult period prior to his coming. Moore is helping the church as they try to recover, and doing what he went to the Bible College to do: give His life to God and serve Him.  

Moore received Jesus Christ as His personal Lord and Savior in 1999 at age 14. He had been sick with a heart condition (a condition he still struggles with sometimes but cannot do anything about because he cannot financially afford it) and did not know what to do. “One day I just said, ‘God, help me,’” Moore said. One of the hardest aspects of ministry for Moore is dealing with loneliness. “This conference was the answer for me,” he said, as the conference provided opportunity for encouragement and fellowship. Moore learned much from Welch’s teaching on evangelism. Welch encouraged those in attendance to be motivated to share their faith with others, and to see evangelism as closely tied with discipleship. “A person can’t claim to be discipling if he isn’t doing evangelism,” Welch said.   Welch reminded pastors that God’s love compels Christians to share their faith with others. “It is important for us to be looking for the lost. You must have a heart for it,” he said.  

“If you’re going to motivate others, your own heart has to be revealed. Let’s face the truth: the reason most of us pastors don’t talk about our experience in reaching lost people or attempting to reach lost people is because we don’t have a story to tell.”  

Pastors cannot expect to have a story to tell if they are not praying about that story. In Ewart’s teaching on prayer, he challenged pastors to pray evangelistically. “If we would pray this way, we would see the world in a different way,” he said. In other words, Christians would see nonbelievers as God sees them; as lost and helpless and without a shepherd.

“If you want God to reach Moldova, then the people of God in Moldova must be on their face before God,” Ewart said.  

Prayer and evangelism are both aspects of discipleship.  

As Blume taught on this topic, he reminded pastors that discipleship really begins with a recognition of God’s grace. “Grace and truth — those two words separate the Christian religion from all other religions of the world. Grace is the key to all the Christian disciplines,” Blume said.  

As Christians remember that God has freely poured out His grace on their lives, they will have no other response than to extend grace to others.  

Blume also talked about various models for making disciples. For example, the Bible calls believers to have the discipline of an athlete as they prepare for the task of disciple-making. Believers are to have the dedication of a farmer, working hard but trusting God with results.  

Believers are also to have the endurance of a soldier. “The soldier keeps focus on his responsibility and doesn’t get entangled with other affairs of this life,” Blume said. “A soldier must be committed to the long-term. We must endure.”  

For partnership information contact Michael Sowers at msowers@ncbaptist.org or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5654.  

*Names changed.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)

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4/15/2011 9:08:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Moldovan women hungry for spiritual truth

April 15 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

When Nadea Dunas began a women’s ministry in her church she did not have anyone to show her what to do or how to get started, and she did not know who to even ask such questions. Dunas, whose husband is pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Cahul in southern Moldova, said starting the ministry was very hard.

Dunas grew up in a church that lacked leaders to teach the congregation how to study the Bible, or women to teach and mentor other women — which she wanted very much.

Dunas recently attended a women’s conference at Emmanuel sponsored by the Baptist State Convention (BSC). The BSC sent a team to Moldova to lead in women’s conferences in different parts of the country, as well as pastor’s conferences and a youth conference.

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Women sing during one of the conferences led by N.C. Baptists to train Moldovans in March. The Office of Great Commission Partnerships sent a team to work with the Baptist Union of Moldova. See photo gallery.

The conferences were part of the BSC’s launch of a Great Commission Partnership with the Baptist Union of Moldova. Dunas called the conference and partnership “a new beginning;” an opportunity for believers in Moldova, men and women, to grow closer to Jesus Christ.

One of the things she learned from the women’s conference was how to share her faith with others. “Sometimes you think it’s so hard to share the gospel,” she said. “But today I understand that it’s so easy to begin.” Dunas learned that opportunities to witness often come through small acts of kindness and simply being willing to get to know people.

Ashley Allen, director of Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries, led the teaching time on evangelism, speaking from John 4. Allen shared how the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well that day went and told others about her encounter with the Savior. Many came to faith in Christ because of her testimony.

“We’ve experienced Jesus ourselves,” Allen said. “We can be like the woman at the well and share Christ with others.”

Pam Blume, who has served on the International Mission Board’s (IMB) Board of Trustees and various BSC committees, and Bobbye Rankin, wife of Jerry Rankin who is president emeritus of the IMB, joined Allen on the women’s teaching team. Blume spoke about leaving a spiritual legacy, and Rankin shared about missions.

Allen and the teaching team heard over and over again women saying, “I will take this back.” What they learned that day they will take back to their homes, churches and communities. With the start of this new partnership comes many prayers — from this side of the world and from Moldova — that more training and equipping will take place in Moldova, as well as more laborers to join in helping Moldovan believers advance the work God is already doing.

Immediately after Allen spoke at the Cahul conference the women went into a special time of prayer. Allen said Eugenia, the women’s ministry director for the Baptist Union, sensed God was working in hearts so she asked the ladies to stop and take time right after the message to pray.  

“Women were praying aloud and they were praying so passionately,” Allen said. “Knowing those ladies were making a commitment right then to do more when it comes to evangelism was very humbling.” Revival also came in the hearts of women during the conference in Chisinau. Rankin spoke from Exodus 15 about how when the Israelites came to Marah they could not drink the water because it was bitter.

Yet, they cried out to God, and He answered their cries and made the water sweet. Rankin asked the women to get into groups of two or three and pray. Throughout the room, women lifted up prayers to God in Russian, Romanian and English.  

“It was a sweet time of holiness as these women interceded for lost family members and friends,” Allen said. “I can still so clearly hear the sound of a woman sitting behind me and just weeping and weeping.” Eugenia Podoleanu works with the Baptist Union of Moldova and helps churches across Moldova learn more about how to develop an effective women’s ministry. Podoleanu said the women have longed to be taught and trained, and the more they learn, the more they will take ownership of ministry.  

Podoleanu saw a great spiritual revival sweep across Moldova in the 1990s after Moldova gained its independence. Now, she said, although people are still open to the gospel, the interest is not as great. Podoleanu has come to realize, like other leaders in the Baptist Union, that the best, most effective means of evangelism is one-to-one. Building relationships with other women and offering special events very specific to a specific group of women has proven quite effective.  

During the conferences Blume used Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and 5:32-33 to encourage women to begin thinking about the spiritual heritage they want to leave for their family.  

“You may not be from a long history of Christians,” Blume said. “But you can be one who starts your spiritual heritage.”  

Blume asked women to remember that God created them to “proclaim the praise of the one who called you out of darkness. He has given us the assignment to spread the gospel.” That assignment begins at home, and Blume said that assignment cannot even begin until mothers and fathers commit to praying for their children.  

“Obeying God does not rob the joy of life,” Blume said. “Show by your life that a life obedient to God is a joy.”

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)

Related stories
Moldovan pastor continues grandfather's legacy
N.C. Baptists begin partnership with Moldova
Conference encourages church leaders with flocks
Ready to impact the next generation
4/15/2011 8:02:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Ready to impact the next generation

April 15 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

When Mihai Caraivan found out his dad had become a Christian he didn’t know what to say or how to react. “I couldn’t believe my ears,” he said. “That was the surprise of my life.”  

Caraivan grew up in a family that did not believe in God. Even when his dad received Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, Caraivan wanted nothing to do with God. So the prodigal son left home. After a year and a half of arguing with his dad he could not take it any longer. “I was against everything my dad said,” he said.  

Caraivan did not know it at the time, but while he was gone his dad continued praying for him. The day came when Caraivan, out of money and options for work, had to come home. When he did, he was ready to listen, and at age 20 Caraivan became a Christian. He now works with the Baptist Union of Moldova in the area of youth ministry. “It is a joy to see youth serve the Lord,” he said. Caraivan enjoys working with youth because, “you are impacting a full life ahead.”  

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Moldovan children learn Bible stories during a training event for leaders. See photo gallery.

When Caraivan started going to church his dad was the youngest member of the church, and the church really didn’t have any youth or young adults involved. Caraivan decided he wanted to do what he could to share his faith with other youth because he knew what he had been missing out on all those years. He knew, personally, the life-changing power of the gospel.  

One of the challenges for Caraivan is a lack of prepared youth leaders. Even when the leadership is trained, it is very transient, as many Moldovans move in order to find jobs because they cannot find jobs in the country. Caraivan has learned that one of the most effective ways to reach youth with the gospel is by getting to know them and forming friendships. One-to-one, or life-on-life, is when opportunities to share the gospel really abound. Caraivan said that to a non-believer, “seeing an actual life lived for Christ” makes all the difference.  

The Baptist State Convention (BSC) recently sent a team to Moldova to kick off a new partnership with the Baptist Union of Moldova. The team helped lead a one-day youth conference.  

David Johnson* is a first-year student at the Bible college in Moldova who attended the youth conference. Johnson said he enrolled in the college because he wants to serve people, study about missions and be involved in youth ministry.  

The Bible college, which began in 1994, has about 140 students enrolled. Most of the teachers are from Moldova. All the teachers have at least a master’s degree and some a doctorate.  

Through his studies Johnson is learning evangelism tools and strategies that will help him when he returns home after college. Johnson, like many other Bible college students, moved to Moldova from a country that is closed to the gospel. But Johnson isn’t waiting until he goes home to engage in ministry. While in Moldova he is learning more about other religions and languages, and he is friends with people of different religious backgrounds. He is praying for opportunities to share the gospel.  

Matt Williams* is a third-year Bible college student who grew up in central Moldova. One reason he came to the youth conference is because of the missions focus. “I enjoyed hearing about the Great Commission and the importance of sharing the gospel, and how they motivated us to answer the call.”  

Williams is studying at the college because he wants to be obedient to God’s call on his life to be a pastor. He plans to begin serving with an existing church, with hopes of planting a church. Williams has learned through his studies the importance of equipping Christians for missions and actually living out the gospel.  

“As Christians, we need to give a good example; a genuine example,” he said. “Lots of people say they are Christians, and they have heard about God, but they aren’t Christians. So, they need to see something different.”  

John Smith* is a youth leader in Comrat, a city in southern Moldova, who attended the pastor’s conference in Chisinau because he wanted to learn how to multiply his ministry and how to be more effective in evangelism, especially among youth.  

Although such conferences and training opportunities are rare, Smith hopes youth leaders can learn more about how to be effective in ministry. Smith said too often church leaders look to youth in the church to be involved and bearing fruit, yet the youth have never been taught how to do that. Youth get frustrated when they can’t meet those expectations, and as a result, some leave the church.  

“The world offers them a lot of things,” he said. “The world offers more entertainment. Youth think it’s boring in the church.” When that happens, “the church loses the youth,” Smith said.  

The church must continue teaching youth about Jesus and what Jesus Christ values, he said. The church must show youth that Jesus is better than anything the world offers.  

*Names changed

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)

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4/15/2011 7:57:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

National Day of Prayer upheld by 7th Circuit

April 15 2011 by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court reversed an April 14, 2010 ruling that had invalidated the National Day of Prayer.

A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago struck down in a unanimous decision federal judge Barbara Crabb’s opinion that a law establishing a day for the observance was unconstitutional. The appellate ruling came almost one year to the day of Crabb’s controversial ruling.

Last year’s 66-page decision by the judge from Wisconsin’s Western District had threatened a tradition as old as the American republic and a specific observance in effect for nearly 60 years. Congress passed a resolution in 1952 calling on the president to establish the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, which President Truman initiated the same year and which presidents since have recognized with proclamations. In 1988, Congress amended the law to set the first Thursday of May for its observance.

Critics of last year’s ruling by Crabb applauded the Seventh Circuit’s decision.

“I’m grateful that sanity still reigns at the appellate court level, at least in the Seventh Circuit,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “The idea that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional is absurd on its face. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. “Americans have been having national days of prayer long before the Constitution was ratified and ever since the Constitution was ratified, and, God willing, we will have them for many centuries into the future,” Land said.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, whose organization filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing last year’s opinion, commended the appeals court “for rejecting even the idea of a federal lawsuit that demands this kind of religious expression be scrubbed from the public square.”

“Today’s ruling sends a message to Judge Barbara Crabb and any other activist judge who would rewrite the Constitution to advance a hostile treatment of religion in public life,” Perkins said in the written statement. “This is a perfect example of a harassing lawsuit that should have been dismissed at the outset.”

In writing for the panel, Frank Easterbrook, the Seventh Circuit’s chief judge, required only nine pages to express the court’s opinion that the Freedom From Religion Foundation did not have legal standing to sue the president of the United States over the observance. The organization — based in Madison, Wis., and consisting of atheists and agnostics — had filed suit in 2008, saying the law violates the First Amendment’s clause barring government establishment of religion.

Neither the law nor presidential proclamations implementing it injure those bringing the suit, Easterbrook wrote. The law “does not require any private person to do anything — or for that matter to take any action in response to whatever the President proclaims,” he said.

Though the annual presidential proclamation regarding the National Day of Prayer “speaks to all citizens, no one is obliged to pray, any more than a person would be obliged to hand over his money if the President asked all citizens to support the Red Cross and other charities,” Easterbrook wrote. “It is not just that there are no penalties for noncompliance; it is that disdaining the President’s proclamation is not a ‘wrong.’”

No sensible person would assume a court should censor a president’s speech to remove statements that might offend some in the audience, said Easterbrook, who was nominated by President Reagan.

He cited President Lincoln’s mention of God seven times and prayer three times in his second inaugural address, which is engraved in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. “An argument that the prominence of these words injures every citizen, and that the Judicial Branch could order them to be blotted out, would be dismissed as preposterous,” he wrote.

After Crabb’s ruling last year, the National Day of Prayer Task Force said the tradition of designating an official day of prayer began with the Continental Congress in 1775. Afterward, President Washington issued a National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation. Presidents have issued similar proclamations and “appeals to the Almighty” ever since, according to the task force. Typically, all 50 governors, in addition to the president, have issued National Day of Prayer proclamations.

Crabb was nominated by President Carter. The other two judges on the Seventh Circuit who signed the opinion, Daniel Manion and Ann Claire Williams, were nominated by Presidents Reagan and Clinton, respectively.

The case is Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Obama.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. With reporting by Erin Roach, an assistant editor of Baptist Press.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/15/2011 7:48:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Ramseur church embraces Hispanic ministry

April 14 2011 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

Joaquin Martinez was ordained to the gospel ministry by First Baptist Church in Ramseur on March 20. That’s a one-line summary of what happened that day.  But here’s the rest of the story.

First, note the number of Hispanics in Ramseur and surrounding Randolph County has climbed steadily in recent decades.

North Carolina’s Hispanic growth was one of the fastest in the nation during the 1990s, seeing an almost 400 percent population growth. And Randolph County’s Hispanic population grew by more than 1,400 percent during the same period.

Some churches retreat or close down when communities change so abruptly.

After a time of reflection and prayer, First Baptist Church’s leaders decided to reach out instead.

“Our community has more Hispanics now. We knew the church should reflect the community. We prayed for guidance on how to reach out to our community,” said John Fogarty, chairman of deacons.

As part of their searching, the First Baptist ministry committee called on Guillermo Soriano, consultant in multicultural evangelism with the Baptist State Convention. Soriano counseled patience and prayer, promising God would open doors for ministry when the time was right.

Soriano, himself a native of Honduras, put the church in touch with Manuel Chacon, pastor of Roca Eterna Baptist Church in Dale City, Va., near Washington, D.C.

BSC photo by Mike Creswell

Chacon lays hands on Martinez during the ordination service March 20 as other leaders line up to pray for the newly ordained and baptized pastor. See photo gallery.

One of that church’s members, Joaquin Martinez, had just moved back to Ramseur, and was feeling the Lord lead him to share the gospel with Hispanics and start a new church.

“He had lived here before and wanted to move back to live. He was looking for a place to get started,” Fogarty said.

Soon First Baptist had endorsed the ministry of Martinez and later licensed him to the gospel ministry. The church Martinez is starting, also called Roca Eterna (Eternal Rock), has been growing slowly. That growth was evident in the March 20 service: Immediately after being ordained, Martinez stepped into the baptistry and baptized Alicia Rosales, a new believer.

Chacon brought a van full of his members from Virginia to support Martinez and his new ministry. “For us it is an amazing experience to see him ordained, because God has been working both in the two churches in Virginia and North Carolina and through the Baptist State Convention to bring it all together,” Chacon said.

He introduced Martinez to the combined congregations of First Baptist Church and the two Roca Eterna churches.

Ron Coleman, a minister and First Baptist Church member, delivered the ordination sermon and presented the certificate of ordination and a Bible to Martinez.

Guillermo Soriano delivered the charge to the churches, and John Fogarty conducted the traditional ordination review of Martinez.

It was a big step forward for First Baptist Church in reflecting the changing community around them as hoped for by Fogarty and other leaders.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/14/2011 10:02:00 AM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Aftershocks keep Japan’s survivors on edge

April 13 2011 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

ISHINOMAKI, Japan — Things appeared to be getting better in Hirasuka Kiiko’s neighborhood on the outer edge of Japan’s tsunami disaster zone.

Cleanup crews hauled off mounds of debris blocking the entrance to her home. They even towed the pile of cars deposited in her driveway by the March 11 tsunami. Her children shoveled out the mud and muck left in the ground floor of her two-story house.

When electricity finally returned to her neighborhood April 7, Kiiko slept inside for the first time in a month. She’d been too scared to stay by herself in the dark, not to mention the threat of another earthquake. On her first night back home, she stayed on the second floor, “just in case another tsunami hits.” The water level reached more than halfway up the front door, so the top floor seemed safest.

The middle-aged Japanese woman couldn’t contain her excitement about the next day.

Utility workers promised the community their water would be turned on. She went to bed dreaming about taking a hot bath and washing clothes, something she’s been unable to do since the earthquake and tsunami.

Then, at 11:36 p.m., a 7.6-magnitude aftershock rocked the area. A low rumble built to a dull roar. The shaking lasted less than two minutes but felt like eternity. Everything in Kiiko’s house moved straight up and down, a sign the quake’s epicenter was directly below the region.

BP photo

Hirasuka Kiiko, a resident of Ishinomaki, Japan, assists in the distribution of food near a closed convenience store in a neighborhood flooded by the tsunami. Kiiko has been living in an evacuation center where the only food she had for four days was a banana and a grape juice box that she shared with two neighbors.

An eery silence descended as more than 1 million people were, once again, without electricity. Kiiko picked up her thin futon mattress and the pile of blankets. She felt her way down the stairs in the dark and joined her neighbors outside in the cold. No one got much sleep as aftershocks continued to ripple through the area.

“It’s so scary,” Kiiko said, commiserating with her neighbors. More than 975 aftershocks have hit Japan in the past month, but this was the biggest so far. “It’s like we went back to zero. Just as everything’s starting to get back to normal, we get hit again — and the fears resurface.”

In the darkness, Kiiko relived the nightmare of March 11, the day she thought she would die. The 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit, knocking down utility poles and wires and carving cracks in her house. When the tsunami warning blared, she never dreamed it would come as far inland as her house. As the wall of water rushed toward her neighborhood, she jumped in the car to drive away.

The raging flood overtook her, however, and filled the car to her shoulders. Kiiko managed to open the door and escape, but wandered in waist-deep water for days. She rested on top of debris as snow fell around her. Finally, she found shelter at an evacuation center.

Even then, she felt cut off from the rest of the world; no supplies could get to the center due to the nuclear crisis. After four days, Kiiko found a banana to eat and split a grape juice box with two neighbors. When government relief supplies arrived at the shelter, the first offerings consisted mainly of instant noodles. Kiiko grabbed some and joined her neighbors heading back home, determined to be strong and rebuild.

When the sun rose April 8, Kiiko welcomed an end to the long night of aftershocks, but the disturbing images and emotions remained. She pushed away the horrible memories with thoughts of a food distribution that morning. Twice before, International Mission Board missionaries had brought food and supplies to her neighborhood. They promised to return that day with more.

Kiiko lined up in the parking lot of the local grocery store with more than a hundred others.

The rank stench of spoiled food wafted from the store, but that didn’t deter the group from staking out their spot. Japanese government supplies are sent to the 150,000 citizens living in shelters, but those who can live in their homes are expected to fend for themselves, despite the fact that food, gas and kerosene are still in short supply, especially after big aftershocks like the one April 7.

The group waited for hours. The aftershocks closed roads and caused traffic jams. The missionaries were three hours late, but no one seemed to mind. That’s just the way life is now. Everyone was excited when the van arrived.

“You didn’t forget us,” Kiiko blurted out, jumping out of line and directing several men to unload supplies.

“I fear people are going to forget. We still need the help,” Kiiko said, acknowledging that it’s been a month since the triple disaster. “Please don’t let them forget Japan!”

Kiiko worked alongside the missionaries as the food was handed out. Eighty bags did not last long. Many who waited left empty-handed, yet no one got angry or fought for food. Someone rummaged in the van for anything else that could be handed out and emerged with a box of homemade cookies. Each remaining person got two cookies.

That’s when the missionaries noticed Kiiko, the woman who had assisted them, was empty-handed.

To show that she did receive something, Kiiko pulled a single homemade cookie out of her large cloth shopping bag. “Every little thing we get helps,” she said, explaining that she wanted to give away all of the food to her neighbors before helping herself.

“There has been so much bad luck that I wanted to give it away, so goodness would come back to me,” she explained, referring to her Buddhist beliefs of making merit. She opened her cookie, which had a Bible verse written on the paper wrapper.

Kiiko paused and read the verse. She touched the paper to her heart and reverently placed it in her pocket before turning to the missionaries and making them promise to return.

Kiiko admits she was interested in the desperately needed supplies, but she also said she feels some sense of peace and calmness — even when a small aftershock interrupted the conversation. It was hardly a major tremor compared to the others — “just” a 5.2-magnitude — but it was enough to make Kiiko catch her breath.

These days, Japan just won’t stop shaking — whether it’s the ground beneath Kiiko’s feet or her belief system. Japan’s world is slowly shifting.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rain is an IMB writer/editor living in Southeast Asia. The International Mission Board has established a relief fund for the Japan disaster. Donations may be sent to Office of Finance, International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Ave., Richmond, VA 23230. In the memo line write “Japan Response Fund.” Or you can give online by going to imb.org and clicking on the “Japan response” button. For further information, call the IMB toll-free at 1-800-999-3113.)
4/13/2011 7:05:00 AM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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