April 2015

Ky. doctor offers theological training in Southeast Asia

April 29 2015 by Myriah Snyder, Western Recorder

A Kentucky Baptist doctor is using his medical practice as a form of “tent making” to support his true calling: training national pastors on the mission field.
 
Kit Putrakul, an emergency room doctor originally from Thailand but now working in Manchester, and his pastor, Andrew Dyer of Corinth Baptist Church in London, recently spent two weeks in Southeast Asia conducting expository preaching and discipleship seminars.
 
The seminars drew approximately 60 leaders from various countries in Southeast Asia. Many traveled long distances to attend. Three years ago, Putrakul oversaw a similar event in Cambodia.
 
“We talked about doctrinal philosophy for expository preaching, why preaching matters, and why God’s word being true makes the pastor’s responsibility simply to tell people what God has said,” Dyer said.

 
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Kit Putrakul and family

The team wanted to convey that “the pulpit must not drive us to the text, but the text must drive us to the pulpit,” Putrakul added.
 
The team held 12 sessions, and Dyer preached every night, providing an example of expository preaching. Putrakul helped with training sessions and translating.
 
The ultimate purpose of the seminars was to “help equip pastors to better teach the word to their people” and to teach small group, relational discipleship so the nationals can “better make disciples and fulfill the Great Commission,” Dyer explained.
 
“In a lot of ways, I feel unequipped to be there,” Dyer said. “There was so much that I needed to learn from them.”
 
Buddhism heavily influences the region, and many of the pastors attending have experienced imprisonment for their faith. The day before some of the Laotian pastors came to the seminar, five of their colleagues were arrested for “practicing medicine without a license,” Dyer said.
 
The pastors had simply prayed over a woman dying of cancer. After she passed, the authorities arrested them and set the bail for around $1,300 American dollars, he said.
 
Describing it as “kind of a Paul and Silas attitude,” Dyer recalled how the pastors were adamant about the bail not being paid. The pastors reportedly had stated, “God has sent us here to this prison, we know we’re in His will and His plan, and He’s going to take care of us while we’re here. We’re just going to take advantage of the situation and share the gospel.”
 
Putrakul has been working with missions for more than 10 years. A former Buddhist monk, he was saved after coming to America for medical training. God allowed him to return to Southeast Asia for a time, before calling him back to America.
 
He and his wife are now members of Corinth Baptist.
 
“In order to be a better advocate to all these national pastors, God had opened a door for me to work as an ER physician,” Putrakul said.
 
However, he travels to Southeast Asia two to three times a year. Additionally, he oversees the curriculum that provides theological training to untrained pastors.
 
“The need is great in the world, but the gospel is going forth. Christ is building His church,” Dyer said. “I think it’s just a great encouragement for Kentucky Baptists to join Him.”
 
Individuals interested in being a part of a mission trip to help train pastors in discipleship and expository preaching in Southeast Asia may email inquiries to kputrakul@cciint.org.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article appeared in the Western Recorder, westernrecorder.org, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Myriah Snyder is a news writer for the Western Recorder.)

4/29/2015 11:29:22 AM by Myriah Snyder, Western Recorder | with 0 comments



SBC pastors join healing efforts in Baltimore

April 28 2015 by Mike Ebert, NAMB

Joel Kurz watched in disbelief as the Baltimore neighborhood where he has pastored since 2008 erupted in violence and flames on April 27.
 
“The CVS Pharmacy that was looted and set on fire is the place where our sick and elderly people go for their medicines,” Kurz said. “As you walk up and down the street, every strip of stores has broken glass. Many of them have been looted and damaged.”
 
Kurz pastors The Garden Church, a congregation he started shortly after he and his wife, Jess, moved to the community. It is a racially mixed church. About half of the members are African-American and about half are white. They meet in the neighborhood Elk Lodge.

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Facebook photo
Members from The Garden Church and others help clean up debris on April 28 from violent protests in Baltimore the night before.

 

“One of our members knows the family of Freddie Gray,” Kurz said. “So it has been an emotional issue and a personal issue in our church from the beginning.”
 
Baltimore has been a community in unrest since Gray, a 25-year-old African-American, died April 19 of injuries sustained while in police custody. That unrest flared into a full-out riot in some parts of the city Monday afternoon and evening.
 
But Kurz says the conflict that grew to lawlessness and violence Monday night has been just below the surface for quite some time.
 
“Since we have lived here there has been an undercurrent of unrest,” Kurz said. “The citizens have not trusted the police and the police have not trusted the citizens.”
 
Kurz started Tuesday, April 28, in prayer with fellow pastors before heading out to the streets to help with cleanup efforts and to hopefully begin the process of healing as well.
 
Fellow Southern Baptist pastor and church planter Brad O’Brien was one of those linking arms with Kurz. O’Brien was at the local Ace Hardware at 8 a.m. buying trash bags and work gloves.
 
“I am joining a group of pastor friends this morning and we are heading out to the streets to help with cleanup,” said O’Brien.
 
A group of Southern Baptist pastors is having a prayer meeting right now and we are hitting the streets at 9 a.m.,” O’Brien said.
 
O’Brien and his wife, Jenna-Marie moved to Baltimore a little over two years ago and planted a new church. That church eventually joined with Lee Street Baptist, a 158-year-old congregation, to form Jesus Our Redeemer Church. O’Brien and his church were featured in the North American Mission Board’s presentation at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting last June in Baltimore. The congregation is located four miles Southeast of the CVS Pharmacy that was burned by rioters Monday evening.
 
When rioting broke out yesterday O’Brien called church members and asked them to pray for the community with their families and friends in their homes. Violence has not touched his neighborhood where the church is located, but peaceful protesters have been present.
 
“I have been preaching through the book of Proverbs and discussing friendship,” O’Brien said. “We have been talking about how we can be the best friend to our community right now.”
 
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and sent Maryland National Guard troops to support police efforts to patrol the streets and bring calm. A 10 p.m.-5 a.m. citywide curfew begins April 28.
 
O’Brien said there is a close-knit group of Southern Baptist pastors in Baltimore who gather regularly for prayer and other activities. That is the group that will be on the streets helping with cleanup today. He asked that Southern Baptists join them in prayer for the city.
 
“We know that if the gospel can resurrect our dead hearts then it can bring hope to this community,” he said. “Our hope is not in our mayor, not in our police chief or the governor. Our hope is in Christ alone.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mike Ebert writes for the North American Mission Board.)

4/28/2015 3:56:11 PM by Mike Ebert, NAMB | with 0 comments



Platt simulcast moved

April 28 2015 by Baptist Press staff

A “security threat” against International Mission Board President David Platt’s Secret Church event April 24 forced Platt’s Radical ministry to move the simulcast from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., to an undisclosed alternate location just hours before it began.
 
The threat was a small taste of what “our brothers and sisters in Christ experience in other countries,” Platt, former pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, said as the event opened according The Alabama Baptist. Threats cannot stop God’s church and His Word from accomplishing their purposes, Platt noted, and that all attempts to hinder the church ultimately help spread the gospel more.

 
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A Secret Church spokeswoman did not tell The Alabama Baptist the nature or source of the threat because an investigation was ongoing.
 
The topic of the simulcast was “Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action,” according to radical.net. Among the topics covered was how Christians should engage culture amid challenges like same-sex marriage, abortion, pornography and extreme poverty.
 
The Church at Brook Hills received a threatening phone call at 10:30 a.m. the day of the simulcast, the Alabama Baptist reported. Law enforcement officials inspected the church’s facilities and did not find anything suspicious, but the congregation’s leaders decided to evacuate the approximately 150 people in the building at the time as a precaution, AL.com reported.
 
“It appears to be safe, but it feels like it’s prudent to not solicit any other action from anyone,” Church at Brook Hills communications director Chris Kinsley told AL.com.
 
The 2,000 people who had planned to attend the Secret Church event at Brook Hills were contacted by Radical regarding alternate means of viewing the simulcast.
 
The simulcast is still available online through radical.net.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/28/2015 12:39:50 PM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



David Trobisch lends Bible Museum a scholarly edge

April 28 2015 by David Van Biema, Religion News Service

In 2006, New Testament scholar David Trobisch abandoned such lofty outlets as Oxford Press and the Journal of Papyrology and Epigraphy for a more mainstream venue: Free Inquiry.
 
In that feisty secular humanist journal, Trobisch identified the likely editor of the New Testament as second-century Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna and suggested that Polycarp, not Luke, wrote much of the book of Acts.
 
Trobisch shared the magazine’s cover billing with Christopher Hitchens and the atheist animal rights theorist Peter Singer.

 
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Photo courtesy of Museum of the Bible
David Trobisch, collections director for the Museum of the Bible.

None of this would be unusual – serious New Testament scholars constantly probe its cloudy origins, wherever that leads – if Trobisch were not now prominently employed by one of the most famously conservative Christian families in America.
 
The Green family of Oklahoma City – the plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby case – financed the 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible set to open in 2017 just off the National Mall in Washington.
 
It will showcase biblical artifacts from the 40,000-piece Green collection, one of the largest in private hands. As director of the collection, Trobisch does not run the museum (its director is Cary Summers), but in addition to enlarging, curating and cataloging the trove, he participates in the crucial conversation about which items will go into the museum, and how.
 
A former Heidelberg University professor, Trobisch also acts as roving ambassador to the worlds of high academia and top-rate museums. His presence poses a conundrum to the Greens’ critics: As believers that the Bible is God-given and inerrant, could the family – and the museum that is their brainchild – be more open to dispassionate scholarship than previously assumed?
 
A tall, gently spoken 56-year-old whose russet hair is now mostly gray, Trobisch splits his time between Germany, where his wife, son and two grandchildren live, and a home in Springfield, Mo. In the U.S. he considers himself part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a mainline denomination that allows gay clergy.
 
He is a cradle cosmopolitan who grew up speaking four languages in Cameroon, where his parents worked as Lutheran missionaries.
 
Trobisch eventually gravitated to New Testament criticism, the close study of ancient manuscripts for clues as to how the  27-book New Testament came together.
 
He met the Greens when he asked permission to look at their 850 ancient New Testament documents. Soon, he was advising the family on acquisitions (“My strategy was to buy fewer items but only the highest quality”). In February, he was hired as director.

 
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Photo courtesy of Museum of the Bible
Museum of the Bible Board Chairman Steve Green, with one of the more than 44,000 rare biblical texts and artifacts his family began collecting in 2009. Green has assembled a team of academics, designers, technology professionals and other experts to create a museum dedicated to a scholarly and engaging presentation of the impact, history and narrative of the Bible. The museum is scheduled to open in Washington D.C., in Fall 2017.

Trobisch’s responsibilities extend beyond researching and caring for the collection. He recently revamped the content in the Greens’ 1,000- item Bible exhibition “Passages.” He also created one-off exhibits in places such as the Vatican, Jerusalem and (very quietly) Cuba. Next up? Philadelphia (in time for Pope Francis’ visit), Berlin, Beijing and Moscow.
 
One day in early April, Trobisch was alighting in New York after a three-week trip involving at least six countries on four continents, having discussed Green extension museums with professionals from Africa and Asia. He considered a Bible for sale in Istanbul, hired a curator in Germany and helped open the latest Passages in Santa Clarita, Calif.
 
The museum’s burgeoning relationship with blue-chip institutions is partly attributable to Trobisch’s prestige and contact list. When several manuscripts which had been deposited by the Bible Society at Cambridge University Library were in danger of being auctioned, the Greens bought them and left them with Cambridge. There was no quid quo pro, but Cambridge owns the Codex Bezae, which Trobisch calls “the fourth most important manuscript of the New Testament.” The strengthened relationship increases the chances the Washington museum might someday show it.
 
Trobisch might have expected some philosophical friction with the Greens, who famously turn to the Bible for everything, including business decisions. But he says Hobby Lobby chain president Steve Green is open to new scholarship.
 
“We agreed that if I say something about the Bible he disagrees with and I can show him the quote, he will concede. If I cannot support it by a quote, I will concede.”
 
Green’s bedrock belief in God allows him some flexibility and even curiosity.
 
“He’s a Bible freak,” Trobisch said. “Like me.”
 
Trobisch disagrees with some in  “the media and my scholarly peers” that his employment by the museum represents a faceoff of “fundamentalism against sound scholarship.” Instead, he said, it constitutes “two parties standing at opposite ends of the Christian spectrum talking to each other and working together. This almost never happens in the U.S.”
 
Time will tell how that conversation will play out in the museum. Steve Green envisions the museum as “nonsectarian,” saying, “The Bible can speak for itself.”
 
Trobisch calls it a “theological belief: It might be true, it might not be true. But that’s not what my team is concerned with.”
 
Were the museum to be revealed to be “some kind of missionary activity,” he said, “It would be an enormous disappointment. I could not identify or work for a museum that wanted to do that.”
 
But he foresees harmony. Recently he and other scholars met the museum designers in Washington and discussed such questions as the Bible’s use by the Founding Fathers, “who in public perception are treated as good Christians, but when you look closer, it doesn’t hold up.”
 
Ideally, he said, the museum would present a “story that is challenging, but that is not threatening, based on evidence we can show; and if we can’t show it, we keep quiet about it.”
 
For now he is clearly enjoying himself. “I spent 25 years in the university, where you manage poverty,” he said. “You have really good ideas, and no money to support them. When I reintroduce myself to my scholarly friends, I say, ‘If someone asked you to do this job, would you want to do it?’”

4/28/2015 12:31:36 PM by David Van Biema, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



Filipinos have ‘2020 Vision’ for church planting

April 28 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Plant 100 new Filipino churches in North America during the next five years.
 
That’s a key component of the evangelistic strategy to be presented at the Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America’s annual meeting June 15-16 in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Columbus, Ohio.
 
The group will gather for a dinner fellowship Monday, June 15, at a local church to be announced. A basketball game pitting pastors against laymen will follow. The annual meeting Tuesday, June 16, will begin at 2:30 p.m. in Elijah Pierce Rooms A-B at the Hilton Columbus Downtown.

 
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Speakers at the meeting will include Ken Weathersby, the SBC Executive Committee’s vice president for convention advancement, and Jeremy Sin, a North American Mission Board national church planting catalyst working among Asian people groups.
 
“We’re having a hard time keeping up with the growth of Filipinos coming over to the USA and Canada in terms of churches that would intentionally reach them,” fellowship president Peter Yanes said. “We haven’t produced that many indigenous workers for the past years, and we’re just starting to realize that now as we little by little develop our own people and prepare them to reach out.”
 
Of the approximately 4 million Filipinos in North America, Yanes estimates that fewer than 50,000 are evangelical Christians. That’s just over 1 percent.
 
One strategy for increasing the number of Filipino church leaders is to “import” them from the Philippines, said Yanes, who serves as a North American Mission Board church planting catalyst and ethnic strategist for the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey. The Filipino Fellowship hopes to partner with U.S. churches that will sponsor church planters and pastors who emigrate from the Philippines.
 
The cultural transition to North America often is smooth for Filipino immigrants, Yanes said, because the Philippines are highly westernized, with English used for education and business. Filipinos have long communicated with one another in English to overcome the language barrier between various subgroups who speak different dialects of the Tagalog language.
 
In addition to sponsoring “imported” church leaders, the Filipino Fellowship has seen an increasing number of second-generation Filipinos serving as pastors and church planters.
 
“When the second generation [of Filipino immigrants] goes to seminary or Bible college here, most of the time they end up working with established American churches and not necessarily Filipino-American ones,” Yanes said. “Right now, for the past two or three years, we’re seeing new church plants by the second generation – those who were born here and grew up here. We’re excited about that.”
 
The Filipino Fellowship’s vision is to harness the leadership of first- and second-generation immigrants to plant 20 churches per year in the U.S. and Canada for the next five years. Known as the “2020 Vision,” the strategy aims to increase the total number of North American Filipino churches to more than 300 by the year 2020.
 
The 2020 Vision will be detailed in the final report of Executive Committee President Frank S. Page’s Asian American Advisory Council, of which Yanes is a member. The report is expected to be submitted by late May.
 
“The theme of what we’re going to do on June 16 is unfolding this five-year strategic approach and how we can serve and reach our own people in North America,” Yanes said.
 
To register for the annual meeting, email Yanes at psyanes@bronline.org. The fellowship has a Facebook page and will post updates on the June gathering as the date approaches.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/28/2015 12:24:46 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Christians pray for peace, unity in S. Africa

April 28 2015 by Nicole Lee, Baptist Press

While anti-immigrant violence was tearing their city apart, 150 believers at a small Baptist church stood together to ask God to bring peace to their country.

An elder at the church in Johannesburg, South Africa, called out the ethnic groups by name: white South African, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Mozambican, Zimbabwean and a dozen more. Everyone stood – black and white, young and old, joining hands across the aisles and singing together, “We are one in the spirit.”

“It was beautiful,” an International Mission Board (IMB) worker said. “We saw beautiful unity within the body of Christ today.”

Christians throughout South Africa are calling for further displays of solidarity against ethnic violence in their country, aware that historically their churches have not always been a strong voice for unity – some supporting the violence, others refusing to get involved.
 

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Photo courtesy of Stephen Haber
Victims of xenophobic violence in South Africa wait for aid at a makeshift camp outside a suburban Johannesburg church.

“South Africans, both white and black, usually observe without interfering,” the worker said, “so pray that the church would find boldness to both speak out and defend those being attacked. Pray that the church would not be passive right now.”

Although South Africans and immigrants normally live and work side-by-side, historic racial hostilities run just beneath the surface in this multiethnic society. The latest firestorm erupted in late March after the Zulu king publicly called for foreigners living in South Africa to “go home,” blaming them for a sluggish job market and increased violence in the country.

In an apparent reaction to the king’s comments, Zulus in a township near the city of Durban reportedly responded with riots and violence, killing five, injuring hundreds, looting and burning businesses and running people out of town. Since then the xenophobic attacks have moved to South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, and its surrounding areas, causing widespread panic as thousands of immigrants have fled their homes.

Another IMB worker and his family helped at a makeshift camp that sprang up practically overnight next to a Methodist church near their home. The church led in organizing efforts to assist victims of the attacks, and several IMB workers volunteered their time and resources to help.

The church cared for more than 1,000 people who were housed in tents in the middle of the suburb where it is located, the worker said.

In addition to meeting the physical needs of those in the camps, volunteers and members of a local Baptist church found opportunities to share the gospel with the people seeking refuge there.
 

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Photo courtesy of Stephen Haber
Volunteers provide bags of food for victims of xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Christian workers and national believers alike are praying that such actions will be undertaken by more churches as they rise to the challenge of demonstrating peace, taking a stand against fear and hatred, and boldly sharing the gospel.

Even when the violence subsides, thousands who have lost homes and businesses will have to rebuild their fragile lives from nothing.

“The immigrants that I know are very fearful for what is going to happen to them next,” the IMB worker said.

Melanie, a South African Christian blogger, reminded her readers of the words of scripture in Leviticus 19, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. … Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

“Our country is broken,” she noted. “Our country is hurting and afraid. What we need is a revolution – not a physical revolution but one in people’s hearts!”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Nicole Lee is a writer for the London Bureau of Baptist Press.)

4/28/2015 11:03:14 AM by Nicole Lee, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Associational leaders to encourage, equip

April 28 2015 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) will work to encourage, inspire and equip its members in kingdom work at its June 14-15 meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

The SBCAL will meet in advance of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting, and will retain its 2014 theme of “Ready Churches, Ready Harvest,” based on Matthew 9:37. The theme is designed to complement the SBC theme of “Great Awakening: Clear Agreement, Visible Union, Extraordinary Prayer” and its prayer emphasis, said Johnny Rumbough, conference team leader and executive director of missions for the Lexington Baptist Association in South Carolina.

Associational leaders will enjoy worship, sermons, educational breakout sessions and fellowship June 14 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and June 15 from 8 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at the Downtown Hilton.

Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, will address associational leaders Sunday, July 15, at 3:45 p.m., with special greetings from O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources. Ken Weathersby, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention advancement, will preach during 10 a.m. Sunday worship; Gerald Roe, a Christian Studies professor at North Greenville University (NGU) in Tigerville, S.C., will speak during the Sunday general session at 1 p.m.

Monday’s speakers will include Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler Jr. at 8:30 a.m., and Ken Hemphill, NGU director of the Center for Church Planting and Revitalization, during the 11:15 a.m. general session. Breakout sessions scheduled concurrently both days will focus on DisciplePath, a new study from LifeWay Christian Resources; Missionsfest, a partnership of the Woman’s Missionary Union; bivocational ministry and conflict management.

In advance of its Columbus meeting, the SBCAL is conducting a Week of Prayer & Mission Emphasis May 17-24. Free resources, including bulletin covers, prayer cards, posters and a sermon series, are available for download at 2015ame.basicshift.com, through a partnership with the North American Mission Board.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

4/28/2015 10:49:04 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Nepal churches cope with fatal earthquake

April 27 2015 by Susie Rain, IMB Connecting

NEPAL – Notes of a praise song carried from one end of the field to another. As the song ended, another started from a different direction. The two singing churches provided a sense of peace amidst the screams of neighbors sitting in open fields seeking a safe place from the aftershocks and tremors April 26, the day after Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
 
The quake hit just 50 miles outside of the capital city of Kathmandu and reached as far as India, Bangladesh and the Chinese region of Tibet. It was the strongest in the region in more than 80 years, killing at least 3,800 people and leveling buildings and homes. The death toll is expected to rise in days to come as rescue efforts expand from the cities to the countryside.
 
Aftershocks continue to rock the area. The largest hit Sunday afternoon, registering in at 6.7-magnitude and causing panic and fear for thousands of locals and tourists packing the streets and open fields of Kathmandu. Government officials advised everyone to stay outside until their homes and buildings can be checked.

 
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IMB photo
Residents drive by some of the destruction from an earthquake in Kathmandu that is now reported to have killed some 3,800 people.

The Associated Press reports say another M5.1 earthquake struck near the border of India and Nepal on the morning of April 27.
 
International Christian worker Bekah Rivers* said local churches and believers are responding as the “hub” for the communities by providing access to shelter, clean water and food. People constructed tents from poles and tarps or anything that would provide protection from the cold night and possible rains. Even a group of volunteers from a North Carolina Baptist church joined the ranks of those sleeping outside their hotels. The volunteer team is reported to be “shaken up, but fine” and helping with immediate needs around them.
 
“Some pastors and discipleship trainers’ homes were damaged and even destroyed yesterday, yet they are taking care of their community,” Rivers said. About 30 people are staying in the field near the area where their team pitched tents.  “Each time there is a tremor, everyone screams. We had earthquakes all night and much of the day.”
 
Like most of the Christian population in Nepal – about 1 percent of a 28.8 million mostly Hindu nation – Rivers and her husband, Glenn, were at church on Saturday when the earthquake hit at 11:56 a.m. local time. The power went out, followed by a long and violent tremor. Panic ensued, and people in the church began to pray and cry out to the Lord for their protection and safety. The congregation dashed to the one and only exit.
 
“We stood up and had time to hang onto each other but were then thrown to the ground,” she said. “I would describe trying to get out like being on a trampoline with people carrying it and you’re trying to walk from one side of it to the other – completely off-centered and unsettling, nearly impossible. We both prayed, ‘Lord, please let us get out of this building.’”
 
Another Christian worker, Marcia Neely,* described her exit from the building as if she were surfing on waves, instead of solid ground.
 
In a rural church gathering miles away, the same thing was happening. The quake hit in the middle of the closing prayer, only the fate was not as good as in the Rivers’ church. This training center suffered a lot of damage. Discipleship trainer Ramila Karmacharya reported injuries and fatalities.
 
“I just got an update that 17 dead bodies have been found in this church which we have trained and supported,” she said via Facebook. “We appreciate your prayers for this church. … Pray for the pastor, his family and the whole church family. The pastor lost three of his own family members.”
 
The damage to rural areas has yet to be added to the news reports and death toll. Roads are damaged, and getting to these areas is difficult. Government officials estimate 80 percent of the houses in rural areas have been destroyed. The quake occurred at a depth of 9.3 miles, which is considered shallow and more damaging than a deeper quake. News from remote areas near the quake’s epicenter, where many more may have died, has been scant. International Christian workers warn that the days to come might be the hardest as reports continue to come in.
 
“The rural village homes will be damaged far beyond repair, and the death toll at this point is probably limited to the city centers,” Neely said. “All of the places where we work in … it’s devastating to think about what they are experiencing.”
 
Christians in Nepal ask for you to join them in prayer.

  • Pray for basic shelter, water and food. These necessities are a high priority right now since no one is allowed back in their homes. The nights are cold, and monsoon season can start any day.

  • Pray for God’s people to deeply know His comfort and peace during this time. Pray they will share the One who is our Hope and our Firm Foundation with those around them.

  • Pray for people in Nepal and surrounding areas during the continuing aftershocks and aftermath of this disaster. Southern Baptist assessment teams will begin surveying the damage April 27 to find the best ways to respond.

  • Thank God for the safety of the North Carolina volunteer team and other Christian workers. Pray for their stamina as they minister to those around them.

To make donations for first response items such as basic survival needs of water, shelter, food and healthcare, go to BGR’s “Where Needed Most” Fund.
 
North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) Disaster Relief is partnering with Hungarian Baptist Aid to assess the needs of those affected by the earthquake, according to Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director. You can donate to this effort by making a check payable to NCBM, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512 and designate your check for “Nepal Earthquake Relief.” You can also give by credit card by calling Kecia Morgan at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5613.
 
*Name changed
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Susie Rain is an IMB writer based in Asia. Caroline Anderson also contributed to this article. BR updated the story on April 27 according to wire reports, and will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.)
 

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4/27/2015 11:57:14 AM by Susie Rain, IMB Connecting | with 0 comments



ISIS Executes 35 Ethiopian Christians

April 27 2015 by Jamie Dean, World News Service

The Ethiopian government declared three days of mourning after officials confirmed Islamic State (ISIS) militants executed at least 35 Ethiopian Christians held captive in Libya. As with other mass killings, the terrorists on April 19 released a video of the murders.
 
An Ethiopian government spokesman said the slain Christians likely were migrants trying to reach Europe.

 
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Associated Press photo
A group of captured Ethiopian Christians taken to a beach before they were killed by Islamic State militants, in Libya.

The grisly video bore the grim trademark of ISIS footage in February that showed the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach. The Egyptian government ordered airstrikes against ISIS targets in response.
 
The new 29-minute video showed black-clad ISIS militants executing two groups of Ethiopian men identified as Christians in separate locations in Libya. The terrorists shot dead the first group of captives. In a separate scene, they beheaded the second group on a beach in eastern Libya.
 
Addressing “the nation of the cross,” the film’s narrator declared: “We swear to Allah, the one who disgraced you by our hands, you will not have safety, even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam.”
 
Ethiopian officials said they would meet April 28 to discuss a possible response to the executions, but it’s unclear whether the autocratic government could or would mount a significant retaliation against ISIS.
 
Meanwhile, the attack showed the Islamic State’s ability to continue to strike targets outside Syria and Iraq, and it came a day after Afghanistan’s president said the group was responsible for a suicide bombing at a Kabul bank that killed at least 33 people.
 
The murders also underscored the dangerous passage for Ethiopians and others desperate to flee impoverished and embattled nations for the possibility of jobs and security in Europe. Authorities feared as many as 700 African and Middle Eastern migrants died after a ship leaving Libya capsized in the Mediterranean on Sunday.
 
For migrants still living in Libya, a deeper fear now lurks, especially for Christians seeking to provide for families depending on them back home. On Monday, Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom mourned the loss of “innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their faith.” He also called on Christians to pray for the assailants: “We pray for these men and women, self-confessed religious people, that they may be reminded of the sacred and precious nature of every life created by God.
 
But for now, ISIS militants have made clear their intention to continue a rampage against all faiths outside of their extremist vision.
 
“Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, between truth and falsehood,” the video’s narrator said. “Until there is no more polytheism and obedience becomes Allah’s on its entirety.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jamie Dean lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD.)

4/27/2015 11:51:16 AM by Jamie Dean, World News Service | with 0 comments



SBC women’s events to share ‘Radiant’ focus

April 27 2015 by Shannon Baker, Baptist Press

Ministers’ wives attending the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) are invited to a trio of women’s events based on the theme, “Radiant.” These events include a Pastors’ Wives Conference, a Ministers’ Wives Luncheon and a Women’s Expo.
 
The Pastors’ Wives Conference, held during the morning session of the Pastors’ Conference on Monday, June 15, from 8:45 a.m.-11:45, will feature teaching sessions, table discussions and a live poll.
 
Speakers include Christine Hoover of Charlottesville, Va., addressing “Four Anchors Every Pastor’s Wife Needs;” Lori McDaniel of Rogers, Ark., on “Living on Mission;” and Naghmeh Abedini on the persecuted church and its effect on pastors’ families.
 
Hoover is the author of “The Church Planter’s Wife,” McDaniel serves as a women’s consultant for the International Mission Board, and Abedini is the wife of imprisoned Iranian American pastor, Saeed Abedini.

 
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Kathy Litton, the national consultant for ministry to pastors’ wives for the North American Mission Board, will conduct a live poll of the audience on the subjects of marriage and ministry. Kristin and Eric Yeldell of First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., again will lead music for the session.
 
The conference is hosted in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. There is no cost for the event and registration is not required. Women who serve in any facet of local church leadership, missions and denominational work are invited to attend.
 
The annual SBC Ministers’ Wives Luncheon will take place on Tuesday, June 16, at noon, also in the Regency Ballroom.
 
The luncheon’s guest speaker is Angie Smith. She is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award-winning group Selah) and author of I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy as well as the popular blog entitled, “Bring the Rain.” She holds a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Vanderbilt University and lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, Tenn.
 
The guest musician is TaRanda Greene, who began her career with the Southern Gospel group, The Greenes. She has traveled with the Bill Gaither Homecoming Tour and has been a guest vocalist at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. After joining The Greenes, she met her husband Tony. In 2010, Greene found herself a widow and a single mother of two girls, a story she now shares through music and testimony.
 
Luncheon tickets are $15 and can be purchased at www.lifeway.com/Event/womens-event-sbc-ministers-wives-luncheon or by contacting Mary Cox at mary.cox@northmetro.net.
 
A Women’s Expo displaying resources for ministry to women will be open in the foyer to the ballroom prior to both events. Pastor’s wife and author, Diane Nix, wife of Preston Nix, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor of evangelism and evangelistic preaching, will direct the expo.
 
Pastors’ Wives Conference organizer Susie Hawkins said rather than attaching itself to the Pastors’ Conference theme, as in years past, the Pastors’ Wives Conference will now carry the same theme as the Ministers’ Wives luncheon.
 
“We want to encourage women to be radiant in their personal spiritual walks, marriages and ministries,” said Hawkins, wife of O.S. Hawkins, president and chief executive office of GuideStone Financial Resources.
 
Mary Cox, president of this year’s luncheon, explains this year’s theme, which is drawn from Exodus 34, where the Israelites saw that Moses’ face was radiant.
 
“Why was his face so radiant and shining so brightly?” asked Cox, wife of Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church. “Moses had been with The Lord!”
 
Cox said she hopes women who attend these events will feel they also had been with the Lord. “‘Radiant’ reminds all of us that it starts with our relationship with the Lord. When we spend time with Him, we are radiant from the inside out!”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shannon Baker is the director of communications for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, formerly known as the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Tammi Reed Ledbetter contributed to this report. She is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, texanonline.net, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

4/27/2015 11:44:31 AM by Shannon Baker, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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