April 2012

Jesus is enough: Convention staff encouraged by great faith

April 30 2012 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

UNGHENI, MOLDOVA – After just a day or two, walking on piles of snow and narrow strips of ice was a welcome relief from mud.
Walking on mud that had hardened somewhat wasn’t so bad because you could gingerly step on the top and squish along, slipping and sliding. Walking through the soft mud was more challenging.
Navigating through that was more like sloshing, and should anyone remain in one place for too long, the mud became like quicksand. 
Sometimes the mud is even too much for the “Moldovan Mercedes-Benz” (a horse and cart, the common mode of transportation in villages) to handle.
The 11 staff members of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) who recently participated in a mission trip to Moldova became well acquainted with mud roads in Moldovan villages. For one week the team went door-to-door throughout villages in the Ungheni district, distributing food and sharing the gospel.
Each day they served in a different village and followed mud-laden pathways to meet people, often being invited into their homes. In one home an 11-year-old boy laid in bed, unable to walk. A wheelchair sat next to his bed, but it seemed a daunting task to get the boy and his wheelchair down the slippery, muddy hill.

The team met two older ladies, a mom and her daughter, living in a home consisting of only two twin-sized beds, – with barely enough room to stand in between – one cabinet and a small wooden stove on the floor, which served as a means for cooking and heating the home. The mom was bed-ridden and could not get up to go to the bathroom. For many Moldovans, a bathroom is nothing more than a hole in the ground. A table next to the bed with a pan served as her bathroom. The smell of urine drifted throughout the home.
The mission team saw similar living conditions in every village they visited.
Jimmy Huffman, director of Caraway Conference Center in Sophia, N.C., spent some time during the week going door-to-door in apartment buildings in the city area of Ungheni. In one apartment he said he saw the worst living conditions he had ever seen.
“One man living in the apartment looked like he was at the end of his rope,” Huffman said.
“When I reached out to touch him, you could tell that was the first time in a long time anyone had showed him any kind of compassion. I continue seeing that image in my mind.”
Moldova is marked by extreme poverty and is the poorest country in Eastern Europe, with agriculture serving as its main economic source.
At first glance it doesn’t seem so obvious. In the Ciripcani village, homes painted blue and green (popular colors in Moldova) are nestled among sprawling, rolling hills, and the village seemed still and peaceful.

But for many Moldovans, home life is anything but peaceful. It is not uncommon for men to go to Russia or other countries to find work in order to support their family back in Moldova. Some return home, but many do not. Human trafficking is very prevalent in Moldova, and the prime years are from ages 12-19. Up to 600,000 teenagers are lured into trafficking each year.
Moldova is also a spiritually dark place, with an evangelical population of less than two percent.
Abiding joy
Despite all this, believers of Jesus Christ do live in Moldova. Although few in number, their faith is strong and their joy undeniable.
Merrie Johnson, BSC senior consultant for student evangelism and ministry met a man, a paraplegic, living in an apartment that would be condemned in the United States. He was a Christian, and wanted the mission team to go visit a friend who was not a believer. And he wanted to go with them.
“We have more stuff than we know what to do with [in the U.S.],” she said. “They have nothing. But they have a contentment we don’t have.”
The team carried him from his apartment to the car, and then up flights of steps in the next apartment building to the fifth floor.
“Nothing was easy for him,” Johnson said. “But he had such a burden for his friends to know Jesus.”
Pastors in the villages share that same excitement, passion and burden for people to know Jesus.
Ashley Allen, director of Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries, shared how the pastors rejoiced when people in their village – and other villages – came to know Christ.
“There was excitement that the Kingdom of God was growing,” Allen said. “I remember walking into [an evangelistic service] the first night and being overwhelmed by the body of Christ.”
One night after the evangelistic service, the Convention staff had already boarded the van to head back to Chisinau when a local pastor came on the van, grinning from ear to ear. “Someone in our village got saved tonight,” he shouted. 
To learn more about how to get involved in Moldova, contact Michael Sowers at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5654, or visit ncbaptist.org/moldova.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This is the third article in a series about the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s staff mission trip to Moldova. For photos and videos, visit flickr.com/ncbaptist.)

Related story
Moldova mission team encounters lostness, spiritual darkness
Feeding a hunger for truth: Convention staff leads way in Moldova
4/30/2012 2:10:16 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Glorieta available for $1 to N.M. Baptists

April 30 2012 by John Loudat & Art Toalston, Baptist Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center is being offered for $1 to the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, according to both LifeWay and state convention leaders.

Jerry Rhyne, LifeWay’s chief financial officer, confirmed to Baptist Press April 26 that LifeWay has communicated to the New Mexico convention that it is “open to conveying the entire Glorieta campus to the state convention for one dollar. However, LifeWay has a responsibility to our trustees and all Southern Baptists that such action would be based on presentation of a financially stable, comprehensive plan.”

Last fall, LifeWay trustees agreed to pursue viable options for the conference center near Santa Fe due to changes in church practices, rising costs and a volatile economy. The center now offers only summer events for student groups, including Centrifuge camps and Collegiate Week.

The $1 offer was first noted during an April 12 gathering at the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s (BCNM) building in Albuquerque to explore suggestions for Glorieta’s future.

BP file photo by Brian Dunn

LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center has been offered to the Baptist Convention of New Mexico for $1.

The group of about 30 people from New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma met at the invitation of an ad hoc BCNM committee created in January and tasked with exploring “the future and possibilities of Glorieta.”

The committee’s creation was a response to a resolution adopted last fall during the BCNM’s annual meeting in Farmington, in which messengers resolved to “strongly urge the Southern Baptist Convention and LifeWay Christian Resources to insure that Glorieta continues its vital ministry to the people known as Southern Baptists now and well into the future or until Jesus returns.”

The resolution followed the decision one month earlier by LifeWay trustees to only offer summer events for students and to pursue “viable options for the disposition of the property ….”

Executive board chairman Lamar Morin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bloomfield, named himself to the study committee along with BCNM Executive Director Joseph Bunce, BCNM President R. Maurice Hollingsworth, BCNM business administrator Gerald Farley, BCNM attorney Steve Long and Bloomfield businessman George Riley. All but Farley were present April 12.

In March, Bunce issued “an invitation to anyone who would like to address the committee on April 12 ….”

“In order to do due diligence to the task that we have been assigned as a study committee concerning Glorieta’s future, we truly want to hear every possible suggestion that would lead to a solution for the future of Glorieta,” Bunce said, encouraging those with suggestions to bring “a written business plan.”

Bunce called the meeting to order at 6 p.m., encouraging everyone not to dwell on the past but to share ideas concerning the future.

Hollingsworth presided over the discussion, telling the group that the committee was in a “fact-finding mode.”

A former BCNM president, Rick Sullivan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Artesia, was the first to speak, asking “what exactly the situation [was].”

Bunce replied that he had been told that LifeWay would sell BCNM the property for $1, and Hollingsworth added that LifeWay would require the convention to present a detailed and viable business plan.

Hal Hill, the conference center’s director who was present at the meeting but did not speak, told the Baptist New Mexican later that any plan must be one that would allow for ministry to continue at Glorieta.

Five of the seven individuals who presented proposals that evening own residences on land they are leasing from Glorieta: Myra and Clif Green and their son-in-law Thomas Herndon; John Lee, associate pastor/worship and music at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas; and Glen Strock, pastor of Pecos Valley Cowboy Church in Pecos.

Also presenting plans were former New Mexican Bill Lawson of Collinsville, Texas, and Randy Egan of Santa Fe, who was Glorieta’s sales manager from 2006-09.

Lawson is the son of a former BCNM evangelism director and New Mexico pastor, the late Eual F. Lawson, whose family witnessed Glorieta’s beginnings firsthand, and the brother of former BCNM evangelism director L.E. “Chief” Lawson, who now lives in Allen, Texas.

“Glorieta must not die!” Lawson declared, urging the BCNM to work with neighboring state conventions to keep that from happening.

Specific suggestions offered during the three-hour listening session included:

– dividing the property into two “manageable” units, separating the campus from the residences.

– finding new ways of encouraging people to come to Glorieta.

– subleasing the property to a variety of Christian ministries.

– employing a full-time sales staff to “aggressively” encourage people to attend Glorieta events.

– taking advantage of Glorieta’s excellent access to water.

Sullivan and another past BCNM president, Jay McCollum, closed the meeting with brief but passionate pleas after the plans were presented.

Admitting he has been “grief-stricken” since LifeWay’s decision last September, Sullivan urged the committee first to act on New Mexico Baptists’ belief that Glorieta has a viable future in reaching the next generation and then to conduct an economic audit and employ a team of “economic architects” to develop a plan they could propose to the committee.

McCollum, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gallup, affirmed Sullivan’s proposal, urging the committee to act on the conviction that God has a plan and to make a commitment to carry it out, making Glorieta a viable ministry once more.

“We need to rethink throwing in the towel,” said McCollum, whose pastoral predecessor in the pulpit at Gallup was the late Harry P. Stagg, who led New Mexico Baptists from 1938-68, during which time he led the BCNM to purchase the original property at Glorieta and give it to LifeWay’s predecessor, the Sunday School Board. He also was largely responsible for persuading the Southern Baptist Convention to locate its western conference center at the site in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – John Loudat is editor of the Baptist New Mexican, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.)
4/30/2012 1:59:26 PM by John Loudat & Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Jim Wells to join Mo. convention staff

April 30 2012 by Brian Koonce, The Pathway

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) – Jim Wells, registration secretary for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), is joining the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) executive board staff as Cooperative Program state missionary for strategic partnerships.

Wells has been director of missions for Missouri’s Tri-County Baptist Association in Nixa for nearly 12 years.
Beginning June 1, Wells will serve as the Missouri convention’s liaison with directors of missions (DOMs); oversee the MBC’s On Mission Celebrations; work with DOMs in partner conventions; act as the executive director’s designee with convention entities and the Missouri National Guard Partners in Care program; and oversee MBC ministries involving chaplaincy.

Strengthening relationships between the Missouri convention and DOMs across the state will be a key focus of his work, Wells told The Pathway, the convention’s newsjournal.

Jim Wells, registration secretary for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), is joining the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) executive board.

"They are the largest statewide network," he said. "The state convention and association are partners in helping churches fulfill the Great Commission. A part of that is strengthening the relationship between the state and associations. When churches and associations are strong, the state convention will be strong."

John Yeats, MBC executive director, has known Wells for 15 years and has served with him on the SBC level where Yeats has been the convention’s recording secretary since 1998.

"This position is about network, network, network," Yeats told the MBC executive board as he introduced Wells for the new position during their April 10 meeting. "The DOMs know our churches, they love their pastors and they are our strategic partners. We need Jim Wells. He has a great reputation among his colleagues and I can’t think of a brother better equipped to work with DOMs than one of them who knows how they think."

As a liaison to state convention entities, Wells will represent the Cooperative Program at the trustee meetings of Hannibal-LaGrange University, Southwest Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.

"Jim and his wife Judy are a wonderful Christian couple and they bring the very best of Missouri Baptist life into our team," Yeats said.

In his joining the MBC staff, Wells has resigned his seat on the MBC executive board, of which he has been a member since 2006.

Wells first won election as SBC registration secretary in 2002 and plans to run for an 11th term when the convention meets in New Orleans in June.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Koonce is staff writer at The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)
4/30/2012 1:43:32 PM by Brian Koonce, The Pathway | with 0 comments

NC gay ‘marriage’ backers try to change subject

April 27 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (BP) – Less than two weeks before voters in North Carolina go to the polls to vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the main group opposing it essentially has acknowledged it will win only by changing the subject from marriage – a tactic that has been tried before in other states.
The amendment is still favored to pass, but it’s no longer a guarantee, and an April 20-22 survey by Public Policy Polling – a reputable pollster on the issue that uses the exact ballot language – had the amendment winning only 54-40 percent among likely voters. That’s a closer margin than the 58-38 spread in March and the 61-34 percent difference last year.

Election Day is May 8, although North Carolina voters already are participating in early voting.

If passed, North Carolina would become the 30th state defining marriage in a state constitution as between a man and a woman – and preventing state courts from legalizing gay “marriage,” as happened in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa. North Carolina is the only state in the South without such an amendment.

But the primary opposition group, known as the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, is trying to prevent the Tar Heel State from being added to that list, and it has launched two televisions ads that avoid the issue of gay “marriage” altogether.
In one 30-second ad, a mother is seen talking about the proposed marriage amendment as her young daughter is seen playing on a playground. The mother says: “Amendment one would take away my daughter’s health insurance, and that’s extremely unfair.” In another 30-second ad, a woman claims that the protection order a judge put in place against an ex-boyfriend who beat her would be voided if the amendment passes. The woman says: “Amendment one could take away my protection order just because we were not married to each other.”

The coalition group is trying a diversion strategy that has been tried in other states and, in nearly every instance, has failed. North Carolina’s proposed amendment reads: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” The coalition is arguing that the amendment’s prohibition of any “domestic legal union” similar to marriage would have a wide-ranging negative impact.
Amendment supporters say that specific language simply is aimed at prohibiting a court from legalizing same-sex civil unions, which have been used in states such as New Hampshire and Vermont as a steppingstone to legalizing gay “marriage.”
Rachel Lee, communications director Vote FOR Marriage NC, the main group supporting the amendment, said the commercials’ charges are false. Vote FOR Marriage NC released a 30-second ad April 26 rejecting the charges and urging voters not to “be confused by misleading ads.”

“They know that North Carolinians support preserving marriage between a man and a woman, and they’re bringing up these distraction arguments that are based on falsehoods,” Lee told Baptist Press. “They’re backed by no legal precedent whatsoever. This amendment will not strip away health care benefits from anyone. It will not alter our current broadly defined domestic violence statutes which protect a variety of qualifying persons. A person does not have to be married in order to be protected under our domestic violence statute.”

In fact, Idaho has a marriage amendment with language identical to North Carolina’s proposed amendment and has had no issue. All total, 19 of the 29 states with marriage amendments have language similar to North Carolina’s prohibiting the legalization of civil unions or their equivalent.

The commercial featuring the young girl does not mention that her mother, whose name is Melissa, is a lesbian and her partner works for the city of Durham. Melissa and her daughter receive health coverage through the city. But even that situation might not be impacted by the amendment, say three Campbell University law professors who wrote a 16-page paper analyzing the issue.

“Even if the proposed Amendment passes, same-sex partners still may be able to receive health insurance benefits from public employers,” the paper, co-signed by professors Lynn R. Buzzard, William A. Woodruff and E. Gregory Wallace, reads. Campbell University is located in Buies Creek, N.C.

The amendment prohibits “only same-sex marriages and other legal statuses resembling marriage,” the professors wrote, and the charges that it will have a widespread negative impact have “little support in the Amendment’s language or context, or in court decisions from North Carolina or other states.” The “plain language” of the amendment impacts only “domestic unions” and not “domestic relationships,” the professors say.

Amendment supporters are being outspent 2-to-1 or even 3-to-1 in some markets, Lee said, but their TV ads have a unique Bible Belt flavor that could resonate. With scenes of couples and families on the screen, a narrator in their first TV ad, released April 24, says, “Marriage has been one man and one woman since before North Carolina was a state. It’s what God created to give children a mother and a father.” The narrator adds, “Everyone, gay or straight, is free to live as they choose, but nobody has the right to redefine marriage.” As she finishes that sentence, an image of the Bible is shown. It’s the type of advertisement that could get voters in the state motivated to vote. In their second ad, the one that reacts to the controversial charges, the narrator says, “The marriage protection amendment does one thing: It protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman, just as God designed it.”

“The threat to marriage is real, and we’re going up against activists who want to change our culture here in North Carolina,” Lee said. “It’s a clash of values going on, and we as Christians need to stand strong on this. We could lose if we don’t have the support of our base.”

They also could lose if they continue to be outspent by a wide margin. Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, sent out an email to supporters April 24 warning of an “Urgent Need In North Carolina” and saying that amendment supporters have “had to cut their advertising budget by two-thirds simply because they don’t have the money” to run ads.

Said Lee, “Opponents are pouring efforts and resources into our state, because they see this as a chance to change public opinion.”

Hundreds of pastors across the state are expected to participate Sunday, April 29 in what is being billed as “Marriage Sunday,” a time where pastors will reference the amendment, encourage members to support it and show a video recorded by Vote FOR Marriage NC (voteformarriagenc.com/sunday/). Many churches also will hand out pro-amendment bulletin inserts. The IRS allows churches to take positions on such ballot issues as marriage amendments. In some locations where early voting locations are open on the weekend, members even can go vote after church.

One pastor who has been involved in promoting the amendment is Scott Davis of Pitts Baptist Church in Concord.

“I will be encouraging our people to make their voices known on this issue,” Davis told Baptist Press. “I believe this to be one of those defining moments for the church.”

Davis added, “We must not erroneously be led to think that this is a matter for neutrality. We do not live in a neutral world when it comes to morality.”

North Carolina’s Bible Belt-bent has been demonstrated by the fact that the boards of commissions in 21 counties have gone on record as supporting the amendment. In other states, such as Washington, localities often are debating whether to do just the opposite – that is, support gay “marriage.”

Six states currently recognize gay “marriage,” and two more have passed gay “marriage” laws that are being challenged by citizens and could be overturned. None of those states, though, had a marriage amendment, which binds judges to the definition in the text. In some of those states, the legalization of gay “marriage” has impacted the religious liberty of private businesses and curriculum in elementary schools. In Massachusetts, where it’s legal, a second-grade class read a book, “King & King,” about a prince who “marries” another prince. In Vermont, the ACLU sued a bed and breakfast after it declined to host a same-sex “wedding” reception.

Outside groups, Lee said, see North Carolina as an opportunity to pull off a landmark upset victory.

“They have placed a large target on North Carolina, because we’re the last state in the Southeastern United States to consider an amendment preserving marriage between a man and a woman,” Lee said.

A marriage amendment has failed only once, in Arizona in 2006, when opponents successfully persuaded voters into believing it would, for instance, limit Social Security incomes of unmarried senior couples. The ballot also had language that some thought was confusing. Two years later, in 2008, Arizona voters approved a marriage amendment with different language.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. For more information on the issue, visit VoteForMarriageNC.com/.)

4/27/2012 1:53:00 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine approved

April 27 2012 by Campbell Communications

BUIES CREEK — Campbell University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine (CUSOM) has been approved to begin recruiting students for its inaugural class that will begin in August 2013. The Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) decided at its April 21, 2012, meeting to award CUSOM Provisional accreditation status* effective July 1, 2012.
“This is an exciting moment for Campbell University, the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Harnett County and all of North Carolina,” said Jerry Wallace, president of Campbell University. “This medical school will train primary care physicians to address a critical shortage of healthcare professionals throughout our state.”
John Kauffman, founding dean, said the School of Osteopathic Medicine will begin accepting student applications June 1, 2012.

Campbell photo

The architectural rendering of the new Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, located on Hwy 421 near the main Buies Creek campus.

“We have assembled an outstanding team of medical educators, and I look forward to meeting and working with potential students to ensure that we identify and recruit the highest quality applicants for CUSOM,” said Kauffman.
Campbell’s medical school will eventually graduate 150 physicians each year, many of whom will practice in rural and underserved regions of the state. Students will spend their first two years training in the new medical school at Campbell University. Construction on the 96,500-square-foot facility on Highway 421 began last December and is expected to be completed by May 2013.
According to Kauffman, third and fourth year medical students will train in community hospitals across the state, where he expects many will live and become active members in their communities.
“We believe the School of Osteopathic Medicine is a natural extension of the University's mission and is a positive step forward in meeting the critical need for physicians, especially primary care physicians,” said Benjamin Thompson, chairman of Campbell University’s Board of Trustees. “We are grateful for the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation’s affirmation of the university’s ability to move this ambitious educational endeavor forward.”
*Provisional accreditation status, as outlined by the COCA, means the school would be eligible to actively recruit students, matriculate new students and offer a program of medical instruction with an approved osteopathic curriculum. Provisional status can last for no more than five years and can extend until the year in which CUSOM intends to graduate its first class in May 2017.  Until July 1, CUSOM’s status will be listed as “Pre-accreditation with permission to recruit, but not to admit students or offer instruction.”
4/27/2012 1:46:47 PM by Campbell Communications | with 0 comments

Calvinism conf. with SBC leaders coming to Ky.

April 27 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

CRESTWOOD, Ky. – The Kentucky Baptist Convention will sponsor a conference on Calvinism in August featuring four well-known panelists from divergent viewpoints, and despite its regional sponsorship, the conference likely will get widespread attention throughout the Southern Baptist Convention.
The one-day conference, advertised as providing an “objective look at today’s most discussed theological issue,” will take place Saturday, Aug. 4, at Crestwood Baptist Church in Crestwood, Ky., and will be recorded and posted on the Kentucky Baptist Convention website for usage by those not in attendance. The conference has been titled “Calvinism: Concerned? Curious? Confused?”

Speakers are:
– David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
– Steve Lemke, provost at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and director of its Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry.

– Frank Page, president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.

– Hershael York, associate dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said he hopes the conference will have an impact beyond Kentucky.

“My primary goal is to be helpful to our pastors and churches in Kentucky, but my desire would be that the tone we are hoping to set here and the way we’re hoping to affect the conversation would spill over and spread beyond Kentucky,” he told Baptist Press. 
In a statement that accompanied an email release, Chitwood said Calvinism “is arguably one of the most-discussed theological issues among Kentucky Baptists and Southern Baptists.”

“We wanted to provide a forum for an objective exploration of Reformed theology from a panel of speakers with diverse opinions on the topic,” he said in the statement. “Our goal for the event is a discussion that promotes clarity, charity and unity.”

Chitwood told Baptist Press he has had a desire to launch such a conference since he became executive director last year.

“We wanted to do something that will take us from talking at each other to talking with each other,” Chitwood said. “I have talked to each one [of the speakers] individually. The desire of each presenter and participant is to be helpful – to try to build bridges with regard to this issue.”

Only one of the speakers, York, identifies as a five-point Calvinist, Chitwood said.

The conference webpage said other goals of the conference are to:

– “Learn how others have arrived at their perspectives in good faith.

– “Be better prepared to answer questions from church members.

– “Explore ways Southern Baptists can move forward cooperatively despite theological differences.”

For more information about the conference, visit kybaptist.org/calvinism. The registration fee is $45, which includes lunch. It will begin at 9 a.m. local time and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Organizers hope to stream it live on the Internet.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
4/27/2012 1:41:40 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

VP nominee would lead IMB strategy for business leaders

April 27 2012 by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press

RICHMOND, Va. – Long before he became IMB (International Mission Board) president, Tom Elliff dreamed of a new kind of missionary – Southern Baptist business leaders who leverage their resources, global connections and growth strategies to help fulfill the Great Commission.
That dream, which Elliff calls “global strategic mobilization” (GSM), is a step closer to reality with his nomination of Scott Holste as vice president of the International Mission Board’s newly created GSM office.

Holste currently serves as IMB associate vice president of global strategy. Trustees will consider Holste for the new role in their May meeting.

“I see [GSM] as a focus of our mission that is long overdue,” Elliff said.

“It simply means that we would be partnering with SBC-led ministries and business professionals who are already traveling around the world and deeply desire to be involved in Great Commission ministries.”

Holste has served in IMB’s global strategy office since 2009, where he oversees affinity group leaders who direct the work of IMB’s nearly 5,000 field personnel. Holste also oversees IMB’s global research department, hunger and relief ministries and orality strategies.

BP photo

IMB President Tom Elliff recommended that Scott Holste, associate vice president for the office of global strategy, be considered as candidate for the new position of vice president for global strategic mobilization to the board of trustees. “He is innately qualified,” Elliff said.

“I’m very appreciative of Tom’s leadership and his confidence in me to head up this very important initiative,” Holste said. “It has been a joy to serve on the global strategy leadership team and to oversee the work of our affinity leaders. While the supervisory nature of those relationships will change, I look forward to continue working closely with these key field leaders as we seek together to fulfill the Great Commission.”

Holste, who holds a Ph.D. in organizational leadership, began working with IMB in 1987 when he was appointed as a missionary. In 1997, he transitioned into the role of director of the global research department at IMB’s home office in Richmond, Va. In 2005, he became associate vice president for research and strategic services before transitioning into his current role in 2009.

“Scott Holste is uniquely qualified to lead this initiative,” Elliff said. “Scott’s broad-based understanding of strategies to fulfill our vision and his insights into the opportunities and challenges in reaching all people groups provide a solid foundation on which to build this new component of the organization.”

If approved by trustees, Holste not only will mobilize, train and strategically involve SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) business leaders to fulfill the Great Commission but will supervise human needs strategies and serve as a member of IMB’s executive leadership team.

Holste hopes to help business leaders and marketplace professionals realize how they can be actively involved in missions by utilizing their knowledge, experience, connections and creativity to advance the gospel worldwide.

“My dream is that through the work of this new initiative, we will match our [nearly] 5,000 field personnel with 5,000 – or more! – passionate, trained and strategically positioned and connected marketplace professionals working in concert together and alongside national Baptist partners and other evangelicals to ensure the sustained, effective engagement of every people group,” he said. “My hope is that this radical involvement of individuals bringing all they are, have and know to fulfillment of the Great Commission might serve to energize, even transform, the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Elliff said the GSM concept is based on the first-century model of church planting, which was facilitated by taking the Good News along the Roman roads of commerce.

“We’ll be able to show [business leaders] how they become involved, give them and their organization training in the best ways to become involved and also show them, ... where possible, there could be a strategic alignment between the work that they are doing on the corporate level and the work that our personnel may be doing on a strategic level,” Elliff said.

If trustees ratify Holste’s nomination during their May 22–23 meeting in Nashville, Tenn., he will immediately move into the new position. Business leaders from across the United States also will meet in Dallas in May to participate in a “think tank” to further develop GSM and its strategies.

“I am convinced that [GSM] is a vital, yet missing piece of our global mission strategy,” Holste said. “While we have made a number of attempts to address this need over the years, it is clear that we need to be involved in a much more significant way as an organization and as Southern Baptists. GSM will help establish the marketplace as an essential component of our overall mission strategy.”

Holste and his wife Janie, daughter of emeritus missionaries Robert and Myrtle Daugherty, have three sons and three grandsons.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Laura Fielding is a writer for IMB.)
4/27/2012 1:33:53 PM by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Golfer, author shares devotionals, near-death experience

April 26 2012 by Roman Gabriel, Sports Q&A

Professional golfer and instructor Meredith Kirk shares about the game she loves, death and her devotional book.
Meredith Kirk is a wife and mom of three, and is an accomplished Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) golfer and certified golf instructor operating out of the golf mecca of Myrtle Beach, S.C. She is passionate about teaching golf to all levels of players, especially junior golfers. With 15 years teaching experience with top PGA and LPGA instructors, Meredith’s teaching methods combine golf mechanics with a mind-body-spirit connection.
She received her bachelor of arts in public relations from Coastal Carolina University and is a graduate of Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary with a degree in biblical counseling. Biblical Recorder sports correspondent Roman Gabriel III interviewed Kirk about her golf, her faith and how she almost lost her life at a young age. Kirk shared how this experience helped start a new chapter in her life that has inspired her to use her passion for golf and her struggles as a platform to help others. Meredith’s popular devotional book is titled Thy Club and Thy Staff. The book is comprised of 21 devotions that bring together the basics of good golf and the fundamentals of strong faith.
Q: As a certified LPGA professional and teacher, who do you teach at the Meredith Kirk School?

A: Beginners to advanced players [and] couples. I give playing lessons. I can work with anybody. I work with lots of juniors. I am a huge advocate for promoting the game of golf to juniors. I think it’s a great investment to work with these kids coming up in the game. It teaches so much, so I spend a lot of my time with juniors.
Q: Your book – Thy Club and Thy Staff – is 21 daily devotionals using golf to challenge us with biblical principles and teach lessons about life. Where did you get the inspiration to write a book about golf, using the method of daily devotions?

Contributed photo

Meredith Kirk, above, loves working with junior golfers. Kirk, with her family, shares a little about her life in a new devotional Thy Club and Thy Staff.

A: It’s kind of interesting. I had two life-threatening issues happen to me during the birth of my third son. I chose to have the epidural, and the needle actually went into a vein instead of the area in my spinal column where it was supposed to go into, so it stopped my heart.
The doctor got my heart going again, and said I was so lucky to be alive. This is rare. It scared me so much. I don’t think I have ever had so much fear flood me in all my life. After I gave birth, I couldn’t believe that I survived that. Four months later I had a thyroid storm, a life threatening issue when your thyroid overproduces hormones that regulate your metabolism. [I] almost had a heart attack. This happened about four months apart. At that time I was already a Christian. I gave my life to Christ at 19. I came to a place in my faith where I started to think about death. It made me look at how I was living my life. I could not run. I could barely walk. I was 20 pounds under weight, and lost half of my hair. We live on a golf course so I started just slowly walking the course. 
Q: Did you plan to write the book after your tough experience in the hospital?
A: God gave this book to me. I did not start out writing this for other people. God just spoke to me. I started journaling. It was really for me, but someone read it, and said, “This is decent stuff and other people should read this.” I thought why not go for it; why not put all these journals in a book and write about it? And if it helps one person then it’s worth it.
Q: Was contrasting the experience of golf and life a big part of your idea for the book? 
A: Absolutely, that was one of the ideas when I was writing the book. I was going through a lot of personal health issues myself. I actually could not play golf at the time. I was having trouble with health issues like keeping my heart rate up. I took the time to write these devotionals, when I was [going through] that. God showed me so much correlation between biblical principles and golf. He just opened up those doors for me. I thought, ‘Wow,’ golf teaches so much. God has shown me a lot through the game of golf, biblical principles … opening doors to teach us. The game is about honesty and integrity. You can learn a lot about someone [by] playing five hours of golf.
Q: Over the years a lot of people have spoken about what can be learned from this very demanding sport. How has the game made you a better teacher?
A: Golf exposes peoples’ personalities, their characteristics, shortcomings and strengths. By teaching kids through the game of golf and letting them go out and have fun, you also teach them a lot about biblical principles: telling truth, being honest, practicing patience, respect for other people, and learning to control your tongue.
I have some students that are real vocal when they hit a poor shot. Controlling what comes out of your mouth is so important. The Bible teaches on that.
I even wrote about it in a devotional in the book … you have to control your tongue.
The Bible talks so much about it. That’s what my book is about.
Q: How has dealing with hardship changed your perspective on life?
A: I can be a little bit stubborn at times. I am thankful for those experiences. A lot of people who turn their faith to God in crisis look at the situation later on, and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t like going through all that, but I learned so much. I am a much better person for it. … I hope it doesn’t just help my life but helps someone else’s life as well.
Q: Is the book something anybody can read and enjoy?
A: Absolutely! When I wrote this book I wrote it in a way that anybody can relate to. Actually, it’s a basic devotional, very easy to read. Anybody can pick it up. I have actually given it to some of my middle school students. They can read through and feel comfortable with the material, straight to the point really.
For more on how you can get Meredith’s devotional book Thy Club and thy Staff, go to her official web site at meredithkirkgolf.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel is an evangelist and motivational speaker. His Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio can be heard in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. It’s all about faith, family and sports. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook page: Roman Gabriel III Fan Page; connect with him on Twitter: romangabriel3rd; email him: soldoutrg3@gmail.com or call 910-431-6483. For more stories from Gabriel, visit here.)
4/26/2012 2:24:31 PM by Roman Gabriel, Sports Q&A | with 0 comments

Bombings in Nigeria continue against Christians

April 26 2012 by Staff/Compass Direct News

JOS, Nigeria (BP) – Suspected Islamic extremists attacked a TV viewing center in Jos, Nigeria, April 24, in a Christian area of the city where a crowd had gathered to watch a soccer match.
At about 10:15 p.m. at the viewing center, one of many such establishments popular for watching soccer in Nigeria, attackers drove past the site and threw an explosive device at hundreds of Christians watching soccer, eyewitnesses told Compass Direct News.

Some 10 minutes after the bombing, security agents evacuated the injured to a nearby hospital. Medical personnel at the hospital were treating at least four people under strict supervision of police and other security agents.

Soldiers and police under Nigeria’s Joint Military Task Force charged with keeping peace in the country’s embattled Plateau state cordoned off the area around the establishment. Authorities have not commented on whether the Islamic sect Boko Haram is responsible for the attack.

The bombing marks the second time in two weeks that the Christian area, Tudun Wada, has been attacked. Boko Haram, which seeks to impose a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, was suspected of a detonating a bomb a few yards from the center during Easter celebrations, injuring five Christians. Various churches in Tudun Wada commonly use the site as a base for evangelistic campaigns.

With Christians and Muslims living in close but separate quarters of the Tudun Wada area, the attacks have heightened tensions between the two communities. Eight churches are located in the area – Christ Way Baptist Church, Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Bishara 2, Angwan Yashi, ECWA Good News Church, Assemblies of God Church, Redeemed Peoples Mission, Solid Rock Church and Deeper Life Bible Church.

Last year, suspected Islamic extremists bombed three TV viewing centers in Christian areas near Jos on Dec. 10. A few minutes into a soccer match televised at a viewing center in the village of Ukadum, a bomb went off, killing a 31-year-old man. During the same game, bombs exploded at viewing centers in two other predominantly Christian areas of Jos, injuring at least 10 others, including several who were left critically injured or in a coma.

Nigeria’s Plateau state has become especially volatile as it lies between the country’s predominantly Muslim north and Christian south. Nigeria’s population of more than 158.2 million is divided between Christians, who make up 51.3 percent of the population, and Muslims, who account for 45 percent. The percentages may be less, however, as those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World.

The attacks were waged on the heels of a suicide bomber’s Easter killing of at least 38 people in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna.

Security personnel at a church had blocked the bomber, believed to belong to the Boko Haram sect. The bomber then drove away, detonating his explosives in the street at a nearby motorcycle taxi center, sources told Compass Direct. In addition to those killed, dozens of people were injured.

The bombs damaged the buildings of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Good News and All Nations Christian Assembly, besides blasting off roofs from nearby homes and hotels and destroying vehicles.

Law enforcement agents believe the ECWA Good News church was the bomber’s primary target, a source told Compass.

“He tried forcing his way past [the church’s security blockade], but the security man stood in between him and the blockade,” the source recounted. “He even pushed him a ways before some policemen manning the gate of the church rushed down to the scene. … [T]he police, fully armed, told him to move away. He drove away in a reckless manner. As we were regretting not searching his car, in about four to five minutes, we heard an earth-shaking explosion. The car that exploded was the same car that wanted to enter here.”

Suspected Boko Haram attacks in the Jos area in February left three worshippers dead at a Church of Christ in Nigeria service and three people dead at a Mass at St. Finbar’s Catholic Church, one of the largest Catholic parishes in the city of some 10 million people.

Boko Haram (literally “Forbidden Book,” translated as “Western education is forbidden”) has targeted not only Christians but state offices, law enforcement sites and some moderate mosques in its effort to destabilize the government and impose a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on all of Nigeria.

Suspected Islamic extremists also detonated a bomb outside a church building in the city of Suleja in Nigeria’s Niger state, in February, two months after a Boko Haram bombing killed 44 Christians and blinded seven on Christmas Day at a church in nearby Madalla.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Adapted from reports by Compass Direct News, a news service based in Santa Ana, Calif., focusing on Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Used by permission.)
4/26/2012 2:13:51 PM by Staff/Compass Direct News | with 1 comments

National Day of Prayer set May 3

April 26 2012 by BR staff

Many North Carolina Baptists plan to gather for prayer May 3. Recognized as the National Day of Prayer, Baptists will join with others that day to pray for the country and its leaders.

“One Nation Under God” is the theme for the 61st annual observance. Organizers are using Psalm 33:12 – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” – as its theme verse. Organized events will be held in thousands of public venues including in North Carolina.

David Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., will be the 2012 honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. He will give the keynote address in Washington, D.C.
Visit nationaldayofprayer.org.
4/26/2012 2:07:03 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments

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