August 2009

Starvation stalks millions in Kenya

August 31 2009 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

(EDITOR’S NOTE — World Hunger Sunday is just around the corner: Oct. 11. With the burgeoning hunger crisis in Kenya, the need for compassionate giving is great. Will you mobilize your church to help? Resources for observing World Hunger Sunday are available at www.worldhungerfund.com.)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Starvation continues to stalk millions of Maasai people in Kenya’s Rift valley, and Southern Baptists are launching a new round of hunger relief to help the neediest survive.

Almost a third of the people in Kenya’s Kajiado and Narok districts are in dire need of food, and the new round of relief efforts will stave off disaster for about 180,000 people, according to the Southern Baptist missionary coordinating the project.

“These areas of Kenya have not had rain since 2007. There simply is no grass. No grass means no food for the animals. Since Maasai depend almost entirely on their animals, some people began to die — mostly older Maasai,” project director Bob Calvert said. “Their animals were emaciated and could not be sold to purchase food, so things went from bad to worse. They could not eat because their animals were either dead or dying.”

BGR photo

Southern Baptist relief projects conducted in Kenya earlier this year rescued people from certain starvation. “No one else cared for us or could help us in Kenya,” said one church leader. “We give thanks to the Lord and to the people who gave the food to us in our time of need. They have saved our lives.” 


The new food distribution project is the seventh this year and will cost $472,100, bringing the total disbursed in 2009 from the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund for Kenya relief to nearly $1.1 million — a very significant drain on the fund, said Mark Hatfield, who with his wife Susan directs work in Sub-Saharan Africa for Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization.

“This past 12-month period has seen exceptionally little rain. What complicates the problem is the tribal groups, who live in what are normally dry areas, live with little to no margins in their lives for drought events. There are no reserves of either food grains or stored water to use during a drought,” Hatfield said. “Livestock, which is an essential element in a pastoralist’s life, ceases to be able to survive during a severe drought. Literally thousands of animals, which are the livelihood of the people, are dying off.”

The crisis is compounded by environmental degradation, poor agricultural methodology and corruption, Hatfield added. In 2008, a poorly conducted humanitarian survey identified no hunger concerns in the area — sending aid supplies toward other areas. While grain shipments are stranded by red tape in the port at Mombasa, inflation has sent the price of food soaring beyond the reach of poor families. The young and elderly are being left to fend for themselves while emaciated herds are taken off in search of grass and water.

The new round of relief will provide a month’s worth of maize meal and cooking oil to 29,280 families identified by church and community leaders as the poorest of the poor, regardless of religion, Hatfield said. The supplies will be distributed by 34 Maasai Baptist churches, ensuring that families know the food has been sent by Christians who care about people in need, as a demonstration of God’s love for all people.

The projects conducted earlier this year rescued people from certain starvation and impressed people because it was done without regard to religion, two Maasai pastors said.

“No one else cared for us or could help us in Kenya. There is no grass whatsoever, our cows have died, and we had nowhere else to go,” said one church leader, identified as “Pastor Elijah.” “We give thanks to the Lord and to the people who gave the food to us in our time of need. They have saved our lives.”

“We are so grateful for the food relief. It has allowed us to share the love of the Lord Jesus Christ to our neighbors without hope,” said “Pastor Jackson.” “They are amazed that we have given them food even though they are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

As crucial as this relief effort is, it will not be enough to sustain Maasai families until the next rainy season — if it even comes, said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response.

“Areas that were basically marginal at best have missed a whole year of growing food. This has created extreme situations in which huge population areas are going hungry,” Palmer said. “They have at least five more months before the next scheduled rainy season starts, if it starts.”

Calvert asked Christians to pray diligently that there would be sufficient money to purchase the foodstuffs and provide transport and that prices will not go up on the food or diesel. He asked for prayer that the transportation and distribution of food will go smoothly and for the health of those who are involved in the project. He also requested prayer that, as soon as the food is distributed, enough rain will fall to restore the grasslands so the herds on which the Maasai depend can recover.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.)

8/31/2009 10:59:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Hunt urges ‘personal’ GCR

August 31 2009 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

ROGERS, Ark. — Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt called on the denomination’s pastors Aug. 26 to seek “a personal Great Commission Resurgence” and lead their congregations to “embrace in the greatest degree ever the lostness of the world.”

Hunt spoke to more than 400 pastors and laypeople at the Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, Ark., during the first “listening session” for rank and file Southern Baptists held by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

“We will see significant change when the pulpits in America of Southern Baptist preachers make it a priority to embrace the importance of engaging others with the gospel,” Hunt said, adding that his own family has made a renewed commitment to personal evangelism, missions and sacrificial giving. “I am really desirous to help lead our denomination to embrace in the greatest degree ever the lostness of the world.”

He told about a young family at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who had quit jobs and sold their home to prepare for overseas missions service, only to be told, along with many others, that the International Mission Board did not have the funds to send them after the 2008 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions fell $9 million short of the previous year’s receipts and $29 million short of its visionary $170 million goal.

Hunt’s one-word commentary: “Unacceptable.”

“I was told in my early years to pray and tell the people,” Hunt said. “I’ve found Southern Baptists in my 33 years of pastoring to be a need-oriented people. Show them the vision, show them the lostness, and I’m telling you they will step up to the challenge.”

God gives times of economic crisis to create an opportunity to show Himself strong, Hunt added. Southern Baptists must remember the Bible’s assertion that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” and ask themselves, “What would God have me do?”

Sending more money to combat lostness must be a top priority for Southern Baptists, in the United States as well as overseas, Hunt said.

“I want to see us embrace church planting, especially in the major metropolitan centers of this nation,” Hunt said. “We will never win American to Christ until we get serious about planting churches in our major cities.”

Calling for churches to see themselves as “church-planting machines,” Hunt suggested a good place to begin with such an emphasis would be sending 10,000 church members to participate in the Crossover Orlando evangelism effort prior to the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention and have 18,000 messengers registered for the annual meeting.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.)

8/31/2009 10:58:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



GCR task force calls for input, prayer

August 31 2009 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

ROGERS, Ark. — Interest is “huge” in the Southern Baptist Convention’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and the group wants grass-roots Southern Baptists to share their thoughts and mobilize their congregations to pray for the task force’s work, its chairman said Aug. 27.

In statements to reporters following the task force’s Aug. 26-27 meeting, Ronnie Floyd said he was very pleased with the Aug. 26 listening session that drew more than 400 pastors and lay leaders from the region around Rogers, Ark.

“That was a good, engaging discussion,” Floyd said as he stood outside the task force meeting room in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Rogers. “The interest level was huge, and we already know that, out of the 400-plus people who were there yesterday, that over 270 of them committed to pray for the Great Commission resurgence, which brings us great pleasure.

“We’re gathering information. We’re listening. And we are trying to know enough in order to make the decisions that need to be made,” Floyd added. “As of right now, we don’t know enough but we’re getting there.”

The most important things Southern Baptists can do for the task force is to communicate with them and pray for them, Floyd said.

“The No. 1 thing the Southern Baptist Convention people can do for us is to send any idea they want to send — share anything they want to share — and more than anything in the world, they need to pray for us,” Floyd said. “We plead with them for their prayers, (to) get their churches involved in prayer.

Floyd suggested churches use registration cards akin to those placed on tables at the luncheon as a way of getting members involved in the task force’s work.

“The model you saw yesterday of registering people with a card and then us taking that and registering that in the website, if churches duplicated that, it would be huge,” Floyd said. He pointed out that the card asked for specific commitments to pray for members of the task force, for him as chairman, for other Southern Baptist churches and for leaders of SBC entities.

“When was the last time 3,400 — almost 3,500 people now, as of this morning late — prayed every day for the leaders of our convention?” Floyd asked.

Floyd said he is encouraging task force members to hold their own listening sessions like the one held in Rogers as they travel. “The whole deal is, we’re going to listen more than we talk,” he said.

Three members of the task force — Daniel Akin, David Dockery and John Copeland — were unable to attend this week’s session, Floyd said. The group’s next meeting will be Oct. 27 in Dallas, at a venue near an airport that has not yet been secured, Floyd said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.)

8/31/2009 10:56:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



GCR task force quizzed on range of topics

August 31 2009 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

ROGERS, Ark. — Questions raised during the Great Commission Resurgence task force’s Aug. 26 “listening session” ran the gamut from concerns about smaller-membership Southern Baptist churches and developing young leaders to touchier subjects like how calls for denominational reorganization fit in with the need for renewed missions passion.

More than 400 pastors and laypeople gathered at the Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, Ark., for a barbecue lunch provided by the church and a question-and-answer session with four task force members: chairman Ronnie W. Floyd; SBC President Johnny Hunt; Al Gilbert, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • SMALLER-MEMBERSHIP CHURCHES — T.O. Spicer, pastor of Sang Avenue Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ark., noted that Southern Baptists are a denomination of smaller-membership churches and asked what role those churches would play in a Great Commission resurgence. Hunt and Floyd both responded by affirming that their roots lay in smaller-membership churches and that a Great Commission resurgence would entail all churches, regardless of size, seeing themselves, not denominational entities, as the “missions-sending stations” of the SBC. Mohler noted that, “The church we are looking for is the church with a big heart, not big numbers.” If Southern Baptists don’t shift their focus and start looking at the heart, rather than numbers, “we are going to die of number infection,” Mohler said.
  • YOUNG LEADERS — Steve Moore of Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Ark., raised the question about the need for Southern Baptists to figure out how to “reach deeply” into America’s increasingly secular culture and develop young leaders. Mohler replied that he sees a generation coming into church leadership that wonders what the Southern Baptist Convention is about and is “way ahead of us” in commitment to the Great Commission. “The fuse on this thing is very short. Our credibility is on the line,” Mohler said. “If all we talk about is going back to an old form of denominational loyalty while a lost world is waiting, then shame on us.”
  • CULTURE CHANGE — Steve Jordan, pastor of Hickory Creek Baptist Church in Lowell, Ark., asked how churches could be helped to overcome barriers created by the profound changes in American culture. Mohler responded that Southern Baptists in the United States have not yet learned to do what their overseas missionaries learned generations ago “and that is to recognize what it takes to reach people who don’t look like us, speak like us, sound like us and believe like us.”
  • REORGANIZATION VS. GCR PASSION — Jeff Thompson, director of missions for Concord Baptist Association in Fort Smith, Ark., asked how the need for denominational reorganization expressed by the “Great Commission Resurgence Declaration,” which preceded the formation of the task force, related to the task force’s commission to inspire greater passion for the Great Commission. Floyd responded that the group’s goal is to bring a plan to the 2010 SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., that would outline “how we can more faithfully and effectively fulfill the Great Commission around the world, in our churches, in our state conventions, in our national convention and all we do together.” While the task force can “create actions” for the national body, it cannot do the same thing for other levels of Baptist work around the country, Floyd added.
  • NAMB & CP — Buddy Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Tahlequah, Okla., asked whether the task force might bring a recommendation to dissolve the North American Mission Board or merge it with the International Mission Board. He followed it with a question about the message being sent to Southern Baptists by the fact that several task force members’ churches do not give very large percentages to the SBC’s Cooperative Program. Hunt replied it was “poor journalism” that suggested the task force would consider disassembling the North American Mission Board. “There is absolutely no quote whatsoever to go with that. It is ludicrous,” Hunt said. The idea of combining the two mission boards was raised by others unrelated to the task force, he added. On the issue of Cooperative Program giving, Hunt noted that his congregation, First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., increased its CP giving last year by 11 percent. “When we judge a person’s commitment to the Great Commission by Cooperative Program, if we’re not careful, has the potential to elevate the Cooperative Program above the Great Commission,” Hunt said. A church ought to be judged on the dollars it is giving — rather than the percentage — and whether a pastor is leading his congregation to deeper levels of commitment to the Great Commission, he said.
Scott Gordon, pastor of Claycomo Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., returned later in the session to say he was perplexed by a “both/and” concern about the Cooperative Program: on the one hand that Cooperative Program giving should not be a measure of commitment to the Great Commission but at the same time that more CP giving was needed to send missionaries overseas. Hunt replied by asking, whether the “determining factor” of Cooperative Program commitment is a certain percentage or a commitment to increased giving. “If I lead our church from giving $30,000 to $525,000, is that growth in Cooperative Program giving or should 10 percent be the standard? And is that a biblical standard or have we, like the Pharisees, come up with laws outside the book that I preach?” Mohler said Southern Baptists are “way past” issues from 1845 or 1925 and need to ask themselves what faithfulness requires of them today. If Southern Baptists will “do the right thing” about getting more energy, money and people focused on unreached peoples, he said the Lord will take care of other priorities that need to be addressed.
  • ‘NO SACRED COWS’ — Patrick Payton, senior pastor of Stonegate Fellowship in Midland, Texas, closed the session with a statement, rather than a question. If the Southern Baptist Convention was a business, it would be dead, Payton said; all the employees would be fired and the enterprise would be started all over again. “I’m pleading with you to have no sacred cows,” Payton said. “It was a crisis that caused the Conservative Resurgence but people do not see the crisis we are in now. They do not see the fact that we are dead and dying.” He urged the task force to “bring the crisis to the table next year (in Orlando) and absolutely blow it up.”
Following the luncheon, the task force convened in a private session at the nearby Embassy Suites Hotel, with plans to continue its meeting through the morning of Aug. 27.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press. Audio from the luncheon is available online at www.pray4gcr.com/2009/08/gcr-luncheon-audio/.)


8/31/2009 10:53:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



18 churches aim to share one building in Hamburg

August 31 2009 by Anli Serfontein, Religion News Service/ENI

TRIER, Germany — Eighteen Christian denominations in Hamburg have launched an effort to share a single church building in a new seaside “Harbor City” residential development.

“It’s intended to serve the inhabitants of the Harbor City development, as well as tourists and people who work here, offering a place of silence and giving them the possibility to get in touch with God,” Antje Heider-Rottwilm told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper.

The 18 churches in “The Bridge” project decided to pool their resources in one ecumenical center. Participants include Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Old Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic churches.

There is currently a square glass-and-wood temporary building run by Heider-Rottwilm and her husband, Martin Heider. They belong to a 50-year-old ecumenical Christian community known as Laurentiuskonvent.

The churches have asked Laurentiuskonvent to found a group in Harbor City as a place of prayer, hospitality and involvement with local residents and churches.

When finished, Harbor City will provide homes for 12,000 people and work for another 40,000, and will resemble similar developments such as the London Docklands.

“Harbor City does not only need the presence of a sacred place for all confessions, but also people that live as part of an ecumenical community and who are involved as Christians in the area,” the manager of The Bridge, Stephan Dreyer, told the Hamburger Abendblatt.

The chapel currently offers daily prayers and reflections conducted by pastors from different denominations. Once completed, the ecumenical center will have an ecologically sustainable church, residential and office area. The ground floor will have a chapel, seminar rooms, an information area and a cafe. Upper floors will house apartments for community members and guests.

The ecumenical project is not intended to compete with downtown congregations. Rather, it intends to build a bridge to hundreds of Christian congregations and institutions in the city, and to help build a social network in the growing Harbor City district.

The project also sees itself as a “bridge” for ecumenical questions. In 2008, a Russian Orthodox priest, a Catholic cathedral dean and a Methodist superintendent discussed the meaning of fasting during Lent.

Last May, church leaders marked the 500th birthday of Protestant Reformer John Calvin.

8/31/2009 10:52:00 AM by Anli Serfontein, Religion News Service/ENI | with 0 comments



Hunt urges ‘personal Great Commission Resurgence’

August 31 2009 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

ROGERS, Ark. — Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt called on the denomination’s pastors Aug. 26 to seek “a personal Great Commission Resurgence” and lead their congregations to “embrace in the greatest degree ever the lostness of the world.”

Hunt spoke to more than 400 pastors and laypeople at the Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, Ark., during the first “listening session” for rank and file Southern Baptists held by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

“We will see significant change when the pulpits in America of Southern Baptist preachers make it a priority to embrace the importance of engaging others with the gospel,” Hunt said, adding that his own family has made a renewed commitment to personal evangelism, missions and sacrificial giving. “I am really desirous to help lead our denomination to embrace in the greatest degree ever the lostness of the world.”

He told about a young family at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who had quit jobs and sold their home to prepare for overseas missions service, only to be told, along with many others, that the International Mission Board did not have the funds to send them after the 2008 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions fell $9 million short of the previous year’s receipts and $29 million short of its visionary $170 million goal.

Hunt’s one-word commentary: “Unacceptable.”

“I was told in my early years to pray and tell the people,” Hunt said. “I’ve found Southern Baptists in my 33 years of pastoring to be a need-oriented people. Show them the vision, show them the lostness, and I’m telling you they will step up to the challenge.”

God gives times of economic crisis to create an opportunity to show Himself strong, Hunt added. Southern Baptists must remember the Bible’s assertion that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” and ask themselves, “What would God have me do?”

Sending more money to combat lostness must be a top priority for Southern Baptists, in the United States as well as overseas, Hunt said.

“I want to see us embrace church planting, especially in the major metropolitan centers of this nation,” Hunt said. “We will never win American to Christ until we get serious about planting churches in our major cities.”

Calling for churches to see themselves as “church-planting machines,” Hunt suggested a good place to begin with such an emphasis would be sending 10,000 church members to participate in the Crossover Orlando evangelism effort prior to the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention and have 18,000 messengers registered for the annual meeting.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.)

8/31/2009 8:26:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



GCR’s Floyd: Take ‘honest look’ at SBC

August 27 2009 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

ROGERS, Ark. — Southern Baptists need to quit believing what they read about themselves and realize that America is becoming more lost every day, the chairman of the denomination’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force says.

Task force members are being bombarded with information about where Southern Baptists are today, Ronnie Floyd told a group of more than 400 pastors and laypeople Aug. 26 at the Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, Ark., but complex statistics must be understood if the task force is going to be able to identify where the denomination needs to go.

“Our commission is to reveal the honest and true status of this denomination,” Floyd told the group at the opening of the task force’s first “listening session” for rank and file Southern Baptists. “We can’t go where we need to go if we don’t really understand where we are.... (Southern Baptists) probably need to stop believing all we read about ourselves and take an honest look at who we really are.”

While God is moving in “unbelievable” ways through Southern Baptist missions work overseas, Floyd said the reality is that many churches in the United States are plateaued or declining in membership and the denomination baptized fewer people in 2008 than far fewer congregations baptized in 1950. “We have more people and more resources than we have ever had and we are doing less with it to reach the lost, unchurched people of America,” Floyd said.

Southern Baptists need to re-establish the primacy of the local church and focus on creating a new generation of leaders who can take the convention to new levels of Great Commission effectiveness, Floyd said.

“We need to see that the headquarters of this denomination is not in Nashville or any state convention office but in one place: in every pulpit — whether they have 20 people in the facility or 20,000, that is the headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Floyd said.

“Our focus in this denomination must be to release the future generations to do greater things than any of us have done or could ever do,” Floyd said. “If we’re going to be honest today, we’re not even sure that generation behind my generation even wants what we have to offer. If we want to reach future unchurched Americans, we are going to have to create a generation of leaders who want what this denomination can do, has done and will do.”

At the same time, however, Floyd said Southern Baptists need to focus on taking the gospel to people groups around the world that have yet to hear.

“We want to see a resurgence to the Great Commission resulting in seeing the nations exalting Jesus Christ. That’s the heart of every one of us in our group. That’s where we start,” Floyd said. “As chairman, I have one commitment: I am going to keep our focus on getting the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, every people group in the world.”

Floyd told a story about George Fraser, an English missionary who worked among the Lisu people group in China for five years without seeing any results. Fraser was discouraged and on the verge of giving up, but his prayer supporters encouraged him to stay and wait for a breakthrough, Floyd said. Fraser saw 600 people saved and baptized over the course of the next four months. When persecution of the church began after the communist revolution, the Lisu believers were scattered and continued making disciples, to the point that today there are an estimated 300,000 Lisu believers in China.

“What if George Fraser had not gone to that unreached people group? What if he had not been sent?” Floyd asked. “Today in the world there are 1.6 billion people who have absolutely no access to the gospel at all. That’s what this task force is all about.”

Danny Akin news
An unspecified medical condition that will entail colon surgery prevented Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, from attending the Aug. 26 meeting of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force in Rogers, Ark.

A statement released Aug. 26 by the seminary reported: “Dr. Akin is currently under the care of a doctor and is resting at home, but is looking at colon surgery in the near future for a non-life threatening medical condition.”

Akins’ condition was noted at the outset of a luncheon and question-and-answer session open to pastors and media. In addition Floyd, SBC President Johnny Hunt and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. fielded questions from the audience.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.)

8/27/2009 2:34:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 4 comments



Hugo, 20 years ago, was disaster relief catalyst

August 27 2009 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Before Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Andrew in 1992, there was Hugo.

The Category 4 hurricane some 20 years ago was the most devastating storm to ever hit the East Coast.

Hugo’s death toll topped 100; it left 100,000 homeless and inflicted $10 billion in damages ($17 billion in 2009 dollars).

But there was a silver lining: Hugo is credited as the catalyst for today’s mammoth Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief response capability across the United States.

Hugo had already killed more than 50 people and caused $3 billion in damage in the Caribbean when it made landfall at Isle of Palms, S.C., on the night of Sept. 21, 1989. Then-South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell had ordered an evacuation of the state’s coast; historic downtown Charleston suffered extensive damage, as did Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach and Garden City. Hugo hit at high tide, creating a 12-14-foot storm surge. Utility poles bent at 45-degree angles. Ocean Boulevard in Surfside Beach was buried with four feet of sand.

But Hugo was not finished.

Photo by John Swain

In the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in September 1989, disaster relief volunteers with a Mississippi Baptist feeding unit fed some hungry South Carolina youngsters. Eleven state conventions, including the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, mobilized units to help in the aftermath of the storm.


After inflicting heavy damage on North Carolina’s beaches in Brunswick County and the Outer Banks, Hugo marched on to Charlotte — still as a Category 3 hurricane. Charlotte — 200 miles inland from the Atlantic — was clobbered with 105 mph winds. Power was cut, trees were downed, and schools were closed for two weeks.

South Carolina’s Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests were devastated to the extent that Campbell said the state had lost enough lumber “to frame a home for every family in the state of West Virginia.”

Cliff Satterwhite, today the South Carolina Baptist Convention’s disaster relief director, recalled, “After the eye came through Sumter National Forest, which was 80 miles inland, you could drive miles and miles and see trees cut off at 10 feet and up.”

Mickey Caison, adult volunteer mobilization team leader for the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga., was a 40-year-old pastor at Providence Baptist Church in the small hamlet of Macedonia, S.C., the night Hugo came roaring through.

“As the hurricane came in, we were in the eye of the storm 12-15 minutes,” Caison recounted. “At Macedonia, we were on the edge of the Francis Marion National Forest. Over 290,000 acres of trees were destroyed that night, about 80 percent. In the days afterward, they used everything from mules to helicopters to get the timber to the mills.”

Satterwhite, now 61 with 35 years’ service with the South Carolina convention in Columbia, was assigned to disaster relief the day after Hugo.

“South Carolina didn’t even have a disaster relief ministry in 1989 when Hugo hit. Hugo changed the landscape for everybody. They said, ‘We have a storm and you’re it,’” Satterwhite said, referring to his sudden assignment as the state’s disaster relief coordinator. Satterwhite would spend the next six weeks in a Columbia disaster command post, working 18 hours a day.

“Other state conventions had disaster relief but not South Carolina. We had zero units.”

In support of the state, 13 feeding units representing 11 state conventions — Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Kentucky — descended on South Carolina after Hugo. Most affected areas were isolated due to the thousands of downed trees. Before they were through, the other states’ feeding units would crank out 265,000 meals to feed Hugo victims.

Satterwhite said South Carolina went from zero units at the time of Hugo in 1989 to 129 units today — including three feeding units that can dole out 15,000 meals a day, as well as units for chainsaw work, recovery, mud-out, repair, showers, laundry, command centers, medical and communications.

Training for disaster relief volunteers in 1989 was spotty at best, Satterwhite said.

“Back then, people would throw a chain saw in the back of a pickup truck and take off for the coast — totally untrained, not knowing what to do but willing to help someone. Today, we wouldn’t think of a chainsaw team going out without hardhats, chaps and goggles. No one wore that stuff back then. We were flying by the seat of our pants during Hugo. A lot of DR work was unofficial.”

Post-Hugo disaster relief was focused in the Charleston area because that’s where the national media coverage was, Satterwhite said. “We concentrated on Charleston with five feeding units, and we used fish cookers, not the nice units with tilt skillets and convection ovens we have today.

“Today, South Carolina has 6,800 trained volunteers for disaster relief, and next to North Carolina, we have one of the largest fleets of units,” Satterwhite said.

Caison agreed that Hugo was pivotal in the development of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, calling the hurricane “a major benchmark.” Caison himself was so moved by the unprecedented Southern Baptist response to Hugo that he left his pastorate and went into SBC disaster relief full-time.

“It was a large disaster and attracted a lot of media coverage. The next major DR benchmark event was Hurricane Andrew in 1992, followed by the Mississippi floods in 1993, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, 9/11 and, of course, Katrina in 2005. But Hugo was the first and because of it, we’ve become more focused and specialized in our disaster relief ministry.”

Caison said disaster relief operations now exist in all 42 SBC state conventions, with 90,000 trained volunteers nationwide and more than 2,000 units overall.

“We’ve grown not only in size but in strength,” Caison said. “We have a deep commitment and passion for what we do and the spiritual component is very important.”

Because Hurricane Hugo was such a watershed event in Southern Baptist disaster relief, Satterwhite noted that 500-600 people are expected to attend a 20th anniversary reunion Oct. 9-10 when the state’s Baptists hold their annual disaster relief training session at Ashley River Baptist Church in Charleston.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)

8/27/2009 2:31:00 AM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



NCMO Prayer Guide

August 27 2009 by BSC Communications

In John 17 Jesus prays toward the fulfillment of His mission to reach lost humanity.
He also prays that His followers would join Him in that mission (see John 17:24). The North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) is one way believers can join Jesus in His work of taking the gospel to the world. This offering provides believers and churches the opportunity to both give to missions, and to pray toward missions. Since prayer is foundational to all we are and do as believers, it is an essential component of the NCMO emphasis.

Sun., Sept. 13

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer
 to God for them is for their salvation.”
— Romans 10:1
Pray for Pastor Neng Yang and the members of First Hmong Baptist Church, a new church plant in Albemarle. Pastor Yang and his people share the love and message of Jesus among a people group whose religious background includes animism, the worship of nature. This past year the congregation witnessed 43 people give their hearts to Jesus. Thank God for each of these new believers and pray for an even greater harvest in the days to come.

Mon., Sept. 14

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it
 is not accompanied by action, is dead.”          
— James 2:17
Pray for the disaster relief ministry of North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM). In 2008, NCBM volunteers responded to multiple natural disasters caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and wildfires. These volunteers provided 13,500 volunteer workdays of service to people in need and witnessed hundreds of people come to faith in Jesus.

Tue., Sept. 15

“Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
— Acts 13:3
Pray for Pedro Bueno, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Maranatha in Clinton.
Pastor Bueno has been instrumental in planting four Hispanic churches in North Carolina, all planted to share Jesus with the fastest-growing ethnic group in North Carolina. Pastor Bueno is also assisting Eastern Baptist Association in starting a Bible institute to train the next generation of Hispanic church planters and leaders.

BSC photo

Files pile up at Red Springs.


Wed., Sept. 16

“Freely you received, freely give.”
— Matthew 10:8
Pray for the ministry of the Red Springs Mission Camp in Robeson County. Pray for Larry Osborne, Teresa Osborne and Windell Hunt who lead the ministry. Pray for the safety of the NCBM volunteers as they repair homes for low income families. Pray for the spiritual health of the residents whose homes are repaired and pray for Eddie and Martha Williams as they oversee the construction and launch of a second mission camp in Shelby.

Thurs., Sept. 17

“And the Lord added to their number daily
 tose who were being saved.”
          
— Acts 2:47
Pray for Pastor Vijay Kumar Allampalli and the congregation of the Winston-Salem Asian Indian Fellowship. Aided by Kumar’s leadership, North Carolina Baptists have established multiple new church plants to reach Asian Indian people. Pray for the relational cultivating events planned by these congregations to reach even more Asian Indians for Jesus.

Fri., Sept. 18

“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’”
—  Matthew 25:45
During these tough economic times, when record levels of unemployment mean a lack of insurance for thousands of North Carolina families, pray for the medical/dental bus ministry of the North Carolina Baptist Men. This ministry, fully staffed with volunteer doctors, dentists and nurses, provides free medical/dental care to thousands of your North Carolina neighbors each year. Every patient receives prayer, spiritual guidance and the gospel of Jesus.

Sat., Sept. 19

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
— Jeremiah 33:3
Pray for Jeff Smith, a cowboy evangelist who works with the Cowboy Church Network, and Louis Gibson, pastor of Blue Ridge Cowboy Church in Fletcher. Blue Ridge is one of several dozen cowboy churches evangelizing and ministering to the cowboy community across our state.
In 2008, Blue Ridge witnessed 37 professions of faith in Jesus.

Sun., Sept. 20

“Then we shall not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.”

— Psalm 80:18
Pray for a heaven-sent revival to sweep across North Carolina. Pray for North Carolina Baptists to be bold with the gospel and allow God to use us to push back the spiritual darkness in our state.
Pray that North Carolina Baptists will give sacrificially to the 2009 North Carolina Mission Offering, providing the resources needed to reach our state for Jesus through church planting and the evangelistic ministries of North Carolina Baptist Men.

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8/27/2009 2:26:00 AM by BSC Communications | with 2 comments



Shuttle mission to include missionary history

August 27 2009 by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — When the space shuttle Discovery next takes flight, perhaps later this week, it will carry a piece of missionary history with it into outer space.

On board Discovery will be a piece of the plane used by members of Missionary Aviation Fellowship, who were killed more than half a century ago in Ecuador by Waodani tribesman, the ministry announced.

Astronaut Patrick Forrester contacted the Idaho-based ministry about carrying a memento from the plane that had been used by pilot Nate Saint and four other missionaries before their deaths in 1956.

Their story was depicted in the 2006 movie “End of the Spear.”

“Bringing attention to and renewing interest in missions would be a great result of this experience,” said Forrester, who was born the year after the missionaries were killed, in a statement. “My deepest intent is to honor Nate Saint, the Saint family and all missionaries around the world.”

The item from the battery box of the plane was approved by NASA and will be returned to Missionary Aviation Fellowship with a certificate showing it was part of a space flight.

Forrester, who has served as a short-term missionary, learned about the missionaries when he attended a concert of Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman, who told the audience their story. Some of the tribesmen involved in the killings were later converted to Christianity by relatives of the slain missionaries.

NASA announced Aug. 26 that the shuttle could launch Friday, depending on weather conditions. The trip to the international space station had been postponed due to a valve malfunction.

8/27/2009 2:25:00 AM by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



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