August 2010

Pakistan crisis grows, straining funds

August 26 2010 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The scope of human suffering in Pakistan is staggering — and only expected to worsen, Southern Baptist relief workers reported Aug. 23 from that flood-ravaged country.

More than 17 million people have been driven from their homes, and the Southern Baptist response may require $1 million in hunger and relief funds — but total donations so far have barely topped $31,000.

The Indus River will not reach peak flood stage for several more days and it could be two weeks before the river returns to normal levels because high tides in the Arabian Sea are slowing drainage of floodwater, Pakistan’s chief meteorologist told reporters Aug. 24. Millions of people have lost homes, possessions, crops and livestock, and the United Nations has estimated up to 3.5 million children are at high risk of deadly water-borne diseases.

Even in desperate straits, however, some Pakistani flood survivors have demonstrated generosity toward others in need, said Francis Horton, who with his wife Angie directs work in southern Asia for Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization that works closely with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in crisis situations like the one in Pakistan.

BGR photo

More than 17 million people in Pakistan have been driven from their houses — losing homes, possessions, crops and livestock.

Horton said his team came across a group of 85 people, mostly women and children, who were setting up camp on a roadside after fleeing their flooded village for higher ground.

“They had arrived during the night and were camped on the edge of the highway, near an overpass,” Horton wrote in an e-mail. “They had no food and very little water. We put together a plan to get back to them with some cooked food within the next few hours.

“Angie and I, along with our friends from Indus Christian Fellowship and another couple that had come with us, bought 26 pounds of chicken curry and 150 pieces of fresh bread and 30 cans of water and hired a truck to deliver it,” Horton said. “When we arrived back at the site, we enlisted the leader to help organize and distribute the things, which he did.

“The most amazing thing happened — something I have not seen happen before in a food distribution,” Horton said. “With food left, the leader said, ‘That is enough for us. Give the rest to someone else who needs it.’

“I could not believe it,” Horton said. “There are some people in desperate conditions here in Pakistan. We saw people who had lost most of what they own, living in makeshift tent camps. We saw trucks loaded with entire villages of people and their few belongings. And this group of people, as desperate as their need was, wanted to help others.”

In another location, residents of one camp fought with residents of another camp across the road when the second group received food, water and children’s shoes from a relief team, Horton said. With monsoon season far from over and a second flood crest moving down the Indus River, the disaster in Pakistan — and the human suffering — will continue to grow, Horton said.

“The mass of humanity this flood has moved is astounding,” Horton wrote. “The breadth of this disaster is staggering — and it continues. The second crest of the river is supposed to arrive in lower Sindh this week, which will cause even more flooding.

“There are several places where landowners have broken the levies in order to divert water away from their land,” Horton added. “This has caused floodwaters to race toward towns and villages that would have otherwise remained dry.”

Pakistan’s army and humanitarian organizations have set up tent camps to receive internally displaced people, but many families are simply living on the roadside, under trees on a flat piece of ground that looks like it will remain dry, Horton said. He has conducted disaster relief workshops with Pakistani believers, and BGR partners in the country are discussing the possibility of going with villagers when they return to their homes to help with longer-term rehabilitation efforts.

The immense scope of the disaster means Southern Baptist relief efforts could cost as much as $1 million, but donations are lagging far behind the $446,706 that already has been disbursed from existing hunger and relief funds, said Jim Brown, U.S. director for Baptist Global Response.

“Southern Baptists have always given generously to hunger and relief needs. They are a people who care about people in need,” Brown said. “As of Aug. 24, we have received a little over $31,000 to help with this response.

“The scope of this response could put a strain on the hunger and relief funds to the point that we may not be able to adequately respond to a hurricane in the Americas or another major crisis like an earthquake in East Asia,” Brown added.

“We are asking Southern Baptists to join us in urgent prayer for the people of Pakistan and neighboring countries who are suffering so badly because of this flood,” Brown said. “This situation creates an opportunity for people to experience firsthand the love of God, who might never even meet a Christian otherwise. We’re also asking people to pray that the Lord would move on people’s hearts to give generously, so others can understand how to have the full and meaningful life God created them to enjoy.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press. To give toward the flood response in Pakistan, visit the International Mission Board or Baptist Global Response.)
8/26/2010 5:17:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Taking the lead: WMU-NC at top of missions game

August 25 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor

Staying true to missions.

That’s how Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) has stayed at the top in enrollment among Baptist state conventions affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

“We have a lot of people who want to start it because it’s what they grew up with,” said Ruby Fulbright, WMU-NC executive director-treasurer. “It’s been good.”

In a report of statistical leaders released recently, WMU-NC leads the nation in enrollment. It is the only church program area in which North Carolina was listed as a national leader. 

The 2009 SBC statistics list WMU-NC’s enrollment at 99,041, topping Georgia (81,249), Alabama (72,324), South Carolina (73,284), and Texas (60,784 — which includes both conventions).

In 2009 WMU-NC added 149 groups in 69 churches, and “more and more churches” are including WMU-NC in their budgets, Fulbright said. 

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Ruby Fulbright

Fulbright estimated 2,500-2,600 BSC churches have WMU in some “fashion” — in other words, the church might have Girls in Action or GAs and Women on Mission. WMU offers missions education for all ages. They do not keep figures for total number of organizations.

WMU-NC partners with other churches to promote missions education.

More than 300 churches affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina have some form of WMU-NC. They have even helped Methodist and Presbyterian churches with basic curriculum.

Fulbright credits “listening” for WMU-NC’s growth. Before and during the move out of the BSC staff building in 2008, leaders listened to pastors, director of missions and women across the state to find out what they wanted in WMU-NC.

She describes the response as “amazing.”  

Through the turmoil
In North Carolina, Fulbright and WMU-NC have been on a “demanding, soul-searching, sometimes painful” journey since they exercised their autonomy and assumed total responsibility for their payroll and program. 

“Our biggest struggle is financial but continually God provides,” Fulbright said In 2009, WMU-NC dipped into its reserves but so far in 2010, they’ve met budget, despite a harsh winter and cancelled church services during WMU emphasis week. At its annual meeting in April, WMU-NC cut its budget 10 percent, freezing salaries and decreasing staff benefits.

In spite of cutbacks employees have stayed, and volunteer leaders have taken on more responsibility within the organization.

Fulbright said the “show of dedication and commitment to our cause … is comforting … even when they’re not sure if the paychecks coming.”

Fulbright has been surprised through the whole ordeal to learn “the whole world is watching.” She’s received notes from outside North Carolina saying: “We’re watching to see how you are handling this. Fulbright often says, “We’re building this airplane while we fly.”

“Our faith is more authentic when the world sees us live it out day by day in relationships, work, on good and bad days,” Fulbright said.  

Unlikely leader
Moving from place to place while growing up, Fulbright said her family were members of missions-minded churches. She was at GA camp in Texas when she felt called to missions.

She and her husband, Ellis Sr., were missionaries with the International Mission Board.

“I believe so much in what we do because of all the support we received as missionaries,” she said. And it is missionaries she sees as the biggest supporters of WMU-NC.

For a long time, Fulbright declined the leader position, feeling she was not executive director-treasurer material. In May, Fulbright passed her eighth year as leader of WMU-NC.

She said the challenge then and now is the same: “wanting to engage more people in missions.”

WMU-NC faces the same image challenge as national WMU. Fulbright emphasizes that WMU “is not little old women sitting around reading a magazine.”

The wise counsel of God and Christian brothers and sisters has always been important to Fulbright. She’s seen many women who “have stood strong for us” in spite of opposition. She sees women finding creative ways to be involved, and she appreciates the support of certain pastors, directors of missions and fellow missionaries.  

Planning celebration
WMU-NC is getting ready to celebrate a special anniversary. On Jan. 8, 2011, the organization will be 125 years old. A special celebration is planned in connection with its annual Missions Extravaganza at Ridgecrest Conference Center. April 8-10. WMU-NC will share a 125-day prayer guide in commemoration of the event.  

Heck-Jones Offering
The harsh winter kept many churches from meeting during the WMU Focus Week and some plans to highlight the offering were postponed or cancelled. The Heck-Jones Offering that supports WMU-NC has suffered.

Through July, offering income was approximately $289,000 toward the 2010 goal of $1.3 million. Offering materials are available at (866) 210-8602 or  

What’s happening?
WMU-NC spent five weekends from May through July on college campuses training around 350 associational leaders.

They stayed in the dorms and shared bathrooms at Chowan, Gardner-Webb, Wingate and Campbell universities and Mars Hill College.

“It was kind of fun,” Fulbright said.

This summer women have been on mission trips to New York, Massachusetts, and Raleigh.

WMU-NC is developing its professional and young women’s networks.

The young women’s network is related to SHINE efforts.

Jan High, leadership development consultant, has been integral in helping with the professional women. Eastern and western events are in the works for professional women.

WMU-NC has names and contact information for about 100 women across the state who have expressed interest in this network.

“Right now we are still trying to get things geared up,” High said.

Contact (919) 882-2344, ext. 206, or

Related story
Young women should let their light SHINE
8/25/2010 5:35:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor | with 1 comments

Young women should let their light SHINE

August 25 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

When ladies involved in Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina started asking how to reach and keep women ages 18-35, they talked and prayed a lot.

What emerged is SHINE, a new group within Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC).

The acronym represents Serving God, Helping others, Inspiring believers, Networking community and Experiencing Christ.

“We just talked a lot about how we can challenge inspire and teach young women to fulfill the Great Commission and just to be a light in places of darkness,” said Diane McClary, a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary student involved in SHINE.

SHINE was originally just an event last year in Charlotte  — based on Matthew 5:16 — “let your light shine before men.”

BR file photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Club SHINE, held during the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina’s annual Missions Extravaganza, was meant for women ages 18-35 to network. During the weekend event SHINE volunteers, sporting pink T-shirts, helped with set up/take down, music and logistics.

It was a retreat for young women but the idea took on a life of its own and now local WMU leaders want to start SHINE groups in their areas.

SHINE: myMISSION NC is a cross between a small group Bible study, prayer group, and missions organization. The group encourages missional living.

SHINE builds on a national WMU effort called my MISSION fulfilled. It emphasizes reaching women where they are and offers Bible studies and articles for women at various life stages.

Ruby Fulbright, WMU-NC executive director-treasurer, said the key to growth has been giving the women “permission to try to chart their course rather than fit them into our WMU mold … giving them permission to rise to the top.”

“It’s not your grandmother’s WMU,” said Deanna Deaton, South Carolina WMU associate, who is a former North Carolina resident and a facilitator of the SHINE Facebook fan page.

Deaton knows there is an awareness gap for young women about WMU missions and education opportunities.

A key rallying point is to form a ministry partnership with a local non-profit. WMU-NC is encouraging churches or associations or even women in that age range from various denominations to start these groups to encourage community missions.

“When you start all this it’s just messy,” said WMU associate Julie Keith. “It’s so much harder than you think.”

That’s why SHINE leaders put together a packet of information to help.

Because ages 18-35 covers “just about every stage of life,” Keith said, reaching all these women where they are can be challenging.

“It’s been such a blessing,” to be involved in developing SHINE, McClary said. “This is sort of the next generation of WMU. We really want young women to be on board with the greater movement of WMU.”

Keith hopes SHINE develops into a diverse group linked with the older professional women network for mentoring purposes.

“I hope that we can be the catalyst for that,” she said. “If people are passionate about it they’ll find a way.”

Contact WMU-NC at (919) 882-2344 or Also visit the SHINE Facebook page.  

Upcoming event
Little River Baptist Association’s WMU has organized SHINE: refuel, a two-day retreat Sept. 24-25 in Harnett County with breakout sessions and hands-on mission projects.

Dorothy Barham, associational WMU director, points out that the event at Antioch Baptist Church has been planned by younger women with some guidance from WMU leaders. 

“Missions is what WMU is all about,” Barham said. It’s “not necessarily doing exactly as we’ve always done” in order to reach a younger generation.

Visit; click on WMU for registration form. Register by Sept. 1 for $25.

They will be offering child care if it’s needed. Barham said they were still looking for volunteers — kitchen, registration, etc. — to make the event happen.

Related story
Taking the lead: WMU-NC at top of missions game
8/25/2010 5:24:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Cyclist seeks to break record for BCH children

August 25 2010 by BCH Communications

Endurance cyclist and Bakersville resident Chris Boone will attempt to break the North Carolina cross-state record by pedaling his bicycle 564 miles in less than 40 hours Sept. 7-9.

In addition to his goal to set a new record, Boone is using the opportunity to raise support for the boys and girls living at Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH).

“Chris’ efforts are an inspiration to every child and every staff member at Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina,” said BCH President Michael C. Blackwell. “This ride is a testament of will, desire and the incredible lengths one is willing to undertake to make a difference in the lives of children.”

BR file photo by Norman Jameson

Chris Boone

Boone’s endeavor is being promoted as “RideNC2010” and is organized as a part of BCH’s 125th anniversary. He will leave the post office in the mountains of Murphy and travel non-stop to his finishing destination of Manteo located at the Outer Banks.

Boone currently holds the city-to-city/point-to-point record, as certified by the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association, for riding the 470-mile length of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Cherokee, N.C., to Rockfish Gap, Va., in 29 hours and 36 minutes.

“I believe God has given me a gift for riding a bike, and I don’t want to use that gift selfishly,” said Boone, 44, a member of Rebels Creek Baptist Church. “I hope the children at Baptist Children’s Homes are inspired to find their own gift, run with it, and use it to make themselves better.”

As Boone trains for the ride, BCH staff is securing RideNC2010 sponsors hoping to raise $250,000 or more. BCH operates residential homes in 18 communities across the state.

“I hope everyone who hears about Chris’ efforts will root for him, pray for him, and show financial support by becoming a RideNC2010 sponsor,” Blackwell said. “It is through that financial support that we can offer hope and healing to Baptist Children’s Homes’ boys and girls.”

Boone’s riding team will include as many as 20 support staff members and a caravan of vehicles. One of his most important team members is his wife Lisa who is director of nursing for Hospice of Mitchell County. She will oversee her husband’s health and nutrition along the ride literally handing him food and beverage through her vehicle window while he is cycling.

“She was with me for my Parkway ride and knows what it takes for me to get across the state,” Boone said. “My riding team will experience everything I experience and be right there with me.

“They will be my family during the ride.”

To meet the time goal of less than 40 hours Boone must maintain an average cycling speed of 15 mph through both mountains and flats. This includes all scheduled stops for quick bike maintenance, bathroom breaks, and a clean change of clothes. At that rate Boone would complete the ride in approximately 36 hours.

At ride’s end, Boone hopes he will be hold a new cycling record, but most of all he hopes his efforts will succeed in transforming lives.

“I want the children to see that there are people out there who are willing to help them by stepping up to meet their needs,” Boone said.

To support Boone’s efforts call Ride-NC2010 coordinator Lewis Smith at (828) 421-9300 or give online at Baptist Children’s Homes will provide updated news and information during the ride on its page on Facebook. Every 10 minutes the radio will send GPS coordinates of Boone’s current location allowing individuals with internet access to track his whereabouts at the following web site.   

What is RideNC2010?
Chris Boone, below, plans to break a state cycling record by traveling 564 miles on bicycle from the North Carolina mountains to the coast in less than 40 hours. He hopes his efforts will raise at least $250,000 to help children living at Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s (BCH) statewide homes. Chris’ ride, named “RideNC2010,” is a part of Baptist Children’s Homes year-long 125th anniversary celebration. BCH was established Nov. 11, 1885, with its first campus in Thomasville. Today, BCH provides residential homes in 18 communities across the state.  
8/25/2010 5:17:00 AM by BCH Communications | with 1 comments

World Vision wins right to hire, fire based on religion

August 25 2010 by Daniel Burke, Religion News Service

World Vision, the Christian humanitarian organization, can fire employees who disagree with its theological tenets, a federal appeals court ruled Aug. 23.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that World Vision is a “religious corporation” and therefore exempt from a federal law that bars faith-based discrimination.

“I am satisfied that World Vision has met its burden of showing that the ‘general picture’ of the organization is `primarily religious,”’ wrote Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain. “World Vision is a nonprofit organization whose humanitarian relief efforts flow from a profound sense of religious mission.”’

Three employees, two of whom had worked at World Vision for 10 years, were fired in 2006 because they did not believe in the divinity of Jesus or the doctrine of the Trinity, O’Scannlain wrote.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars religious discrimination, but carves out an exemption for companies engaged in a religious purpose, the court ruled.

Judge Marsha S. Berzon dissented from the majority opinion, saying Congress did not intend to allow all religiously motivated nonprofits to be exempt from the law.

“That interpretation would severely tip the balance away from the pluralistic vision Congress incorporated ... toward a society in which employers could self-declare as religious enclaves from which dissenters can be excluded despite their ability to do the assigned secular work as well as religiously acceptable employees,” Berzon wrote.

The decision comes as President Obama is weighing whether the government should help fund religious charities that refuse to hire people of other faiths. White House officials have said the Justice Department is studying the matter, and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis until a final decision is rendered.

World Vision praised the Ninth Circuit ruling in a statement. “Our Christian faith has been the foundation of our work since the organization was established in 1950, and our hiring policy is vital to the integrity of our mission to serve the poor as followers of Jesus Christ.”
8/25/2010 5:16:00 AM by Daniel Burke, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

Deacon killed while preparing missions house

August 23 2010 by wire reports

MORGANTON — Joe Ingram, deacon chair of Catawba Valley Baptist Church in Morganton, died Aug. 17 when a trailer broke loose and ran over him in the yard of the church’s missions house.

Ingram, 67, was preparing the house and yard for a missionary family to move into Aug. 20.

Church pastor Mike Odom found Ingram underneath the trailer at the house, within sight of the church. Burke County Emergency Medical Services Lt. Jason Black said it was unclear how Ingram ended up under the trailer, which was approximately 40 feet downhill from a red pick-up truck.

It had been filled with wood and yard debris, Black said.

Ingram was chairman of deacons and a Sunday School teacher at Catawba Valley.

“It’s going to be a terrible loss for the church and the people,” said fellow deacon Ralph Ballew.

Ingram is survived by his wife of 43 years, Ann Pearson Ingram; three children and four grandchildren.
8/23/2010 8:05:00 AM by wire reports | with 2 comments

Crouse trades blueprints for sermon notes

August 23 2010 by Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder

To some, Justin Crouse’s decision might have made little sense.

For more than seven years, Crouse worked his way up from the mailroom in the Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse corporate offices to the point where he was drawing blueprints for new stores. With annual sales of more than $47 billion, Lowe’s is the second-largest hardware chain in the world.

The job was a good one, stable and relatively secure.

Crouse had also served as youth minister at West Yadkin Baptist Church in Hamptonville since February 2008. When the previous pastor left in 2009, the church asked Crouse to step in as interim and then called him permanently. Going full time made Crouse an even busier guy.

“It was time intensive,” says Crouse, 30, who is evidently a master of understatement.

Crouse always had to walk the balance beam between work and ministry. Countless bi-vocational ministers around the world can relate with Crouse’s situation.

“For two years, I did both — I did the store plans and served as youth pastor,” Crouse remembers. “The store planner job was mentally intensive during the day, and then I would come home and work some nights until I went to bed, trying to study and research for youth lessons. It was tough. You come home and you’re just mentally drained, and you sit down and flip on your other computer again.”

In the midst of all that, Crouse continued to coach football at local schools. Something had to give.

In May Crouse stepped down from his role in the Lowe’s home office in Mooresville. And while he stayed with the company, the 2002 graduate of Piedmont Baptist College now works part time on the loading dock in the chain’s Elkin store.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Crouse clocks in at 5 a.m. and typically finishes by noon to allow time for his ministry duties.  

Any questions?
His wife, Jessica, was cautious but supportive of what her husband was about to do. Asked if anyone else questioned the move, Crouse simply laughed.

“For me, I knew it was what God wanted me to do,” the young pastor says.

Photo by Ginger Wagoner

Justin Crowe, right, shakes hands with Brad Myers following worship service at West Yadkin Baptist Church.

“In that respect, it was an easy decision for me. Several people said, ‘Are you sure this is what you want to do? Are you sure this is a good decision? You’re giving up this and giving up that.’ I said, ‘I’m safer giving that up than I am holding on to it.’”

The decision to scale back at Lowe’s was not made lightly. Crouse began work as a temporary employee in the mailroom in October 2002, and he eventually joined the store environment and operations departments. He helped set up new stores, which led to designing the layout for locations about to be opened.

“It was a great job,” Crouse says. “It could be stressful at times, but it was a really good job. I came in, did my work and went home. I had a really good experience.”

As busy as he had been, actually shepherding a flock in his first full-time pastorate is yet another huge leap in responsibility. Ready or not, Crouse was willing to take the plunge.

“There were second- and third-hand conversations where people said, ‘Is he ready for that?’” Crouse admits.

“Satan would put thoughts in my mind, ‘You’re not ready for this. You’re just 30 years old,’ that type of thing. I finally got to the point where I said, ‘You know what? If I wait until I’m ready, I’ll never do it.’

“It doesn’t matter whether I’m ready or not, anyway. Moses wasn’t ready when God told him to go. It’s whether God’s ready for me, not whether I’m ready for God.”

Full-time ministry had always been a goal of Crouse’s, although he probably didn’t expect it to happen as quickly as it did. He’d been an interim pastor at a church in Wilkesboro and he’d served as music leader for a Charlotte congregation. Step by step, he was being prepared.

“The Lord’s really made it clear to me that I need to work on His timetable and quit trying to force my timetable on Him,” Crouse says.

As Crouse closes in on a year at the helm of West Yadkin Baptist, members of the congregation have been there for their new pastor and he’s been there for them. He calls the last several months “wonderful.”

“I think things are going well,” Crouse concludes. “I don’t have any agenda, other than to promote harmony and hold the body together.” 
8/23/2010 8:00:00 AM by Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder | with 0 comments

Associations: Changing lives with NCMO funds

August 23 2010 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

Pastor Francisco Ortiz is quite healthy, but thousands of North Carolina Baptists help him step into the pulpit each Sunday.

His small but growing congregation is “Iglesia Bautista Hispana Cristo el Salvador,” or Christ the Savior Baptist Church, in Jefferson. Most of the Spanish-speaking members are from Mexico, Ortiz said. 

They meet Sunday afternoons in the building of partnering Fletcher Memorial Baptist Church in Jefferson and are receiving start-up funds from Ashe Baptist Association, the local fellowship of 44 Baptist congregations.

Ashe, in turn, received the funds to help the new church from North Carolina Baptists through their North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO). 

Each year 10 percent of the North Carolina Missions Offering is distributed to the state’s 79 Baptist associations from which they came for use in area missions and ministry projects.

Here are samples of the diverse and life-changing ways associations put those NCMO funds work.  

NCMO: New churches
The Cooperative Program provides two-thirds of the funds used by the Baptist State Convention for church planting.  

The NCMO supplements Cooperative Program funds by providing the other one-third.

Together, these funds supported 98 new churches in 2009. 

But associations also use NCMO funds to start other new churches locally.

Greater Gaston Association
, based in Gastonia, was one of the leaders in church planting — they worked with 19 new church plants in 2009, said Larry McElreath, associational missionary.

“Some of these received NCMO funds,” McElreath said.

“Thousands of people’s lives were impacted with the gospel message. Without these funds, we as an association could not have made much of an impact in the community.”

NCMO funds also helped Greater Gaston send out summer missionaries to hold Vacation Bible Schools and Backyard Bible Clubs.

“I am more thankful every year that we have an opportunity to be part of the NCMO. I believe that doing together what we can’t do alone makes a huge difference in Kingdom growth,” McElreath said.

New church plant in Pinehurst, new Hispanic ministry in Robbins, plus lifestyle evangelism training for pastors.

Sandy Creek: New cowboy church and purchase of witnessing tracts for use in public events.

Raleigh: New church plants: The Creek Church in Cary and The Passage Church in Wendell. 

New churches are needed throughout the Raleigh area as the capital city’s population has topped 400,000, exceeding the populations of cities such as New Orleans, St. Louis or Cincinnati.  

NCMO: Outreach, ministry
Yancey: Witnessing booth and diaper-changing station in downtown Burnsville for the Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair last year.

“We had 33 professions of faith,” said Harvey Sharpe, missions director.

Catawba River: Ministered at the Historic Morganton Festival last September, partnering with volunteer teams from Hull’s Grove Baptist Church, Vale.

“Hull’s Grove sent their Horseshoe Ministry Team and we passed out over 600 horseshoes, each with the person’s name stamped on it. While they waited (on the stamping), we were able to share the gospel message,” said Phil Oakley, associational missionary. He said 28 people prayed to receive Christ that day.

Catawba River also used NCMO funds to support their annual Christmas toy store.

In 2009 the association helped 504 families and gave toys to 1,069 children and 49 people prayed to receive Christ.

Randolph: Held a Sports Expo in March which drew a whopping 1,200 hunters and fishermen for a meal and evangelistic message.

“Sixteen were saved and about 13 made rededications to Christ at the event,” said Steve Sells, director of missions.

Robeson: Supported Hispanic mission in Raeford, constructed wheelchair ramps and repaired roofs on area homes.

Supported three college students for 10 weeks to work with Vacation Bible Schools, youth camps, outreach projects, ministry in multi-housing areas.

“NCMO has been the primary funding tool for our summer missions effort in Metrolina Association,” said Bob Lowman, missions director.

Green River: Sponsored worship services during the summer at two campgrounds in the Chimney Rock recreational area.  

NCMO: Missions trips
Stanly: Sent dozens of area Baptists on their first missions trips, including some to overseas.

New South River: Helped high school seniors make mission trips with Baptist Student Union, sponsor a youth crusade, bought resources for churches.

West Chowan: Sending missions team to Quebec, Canada, this summer.

Beulah: Sending missions team to Rhode Island; supporting a local pastor and his family serving two years in Turkey. Sent pastor on missions trip to Peru.

“Each of these has produced Kingdom purpose results and we are so grateful we were able to help,” said Danny Glover, associational missionary.  

NCMO: Meet needs
South Fork: Funded local missions projects by Baptist Men.

“So far, we have helped purchase a used mobile home and renovate it for a woman,” said associational missionary Bob Wise. Her previous house was in such poor condition that Social Services deemed it unsafe; the agency took the woman’s children.

Three Forks: Local missions projects, including home repairs, handicap ramp construction, roof repair and providing food and heating costs to needy families. “The majority of our funds are set aside for our Oct. 2 Operation Inasmuch Community Blitz Day,” said Barry Neely, associational missionary.

Macon: Planted garden to feed needy families; ministered to carnival workers.

Surry: Supplemented support for their Surry Christian Counseling Center, seeing more people because of high unemployment. “Thanks for helping us to help our community with Christian counseling,” said Billy Blakley, associational missionary.
8/23/2010 7:50:00 AM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

North Carolina hotspot for human trafficking

August 23 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

While news reports, movies and documentaries spotlight sex tourism in Asia, the No. 1 destination for American men looking for sex with a child is — America.

Speakers in a daylong awareness event about human trafficking Aug. 11 in Greenville for medical, social work and law enforcement workers reeled off a long list of similarly shocking statistics.

With five interstate highways slicing through North Carolina, this state is well located for its earned reputation as a hotspot for human trafficking in both the sex and farm labor arenas.

Knowledge of how far this trade in human beings reaches is only beginning to surface, due in part to the efforts of Pam Strickland, founder of the Eastern Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now coalition, and a member of Oakmont Baptist Church in Greenville. She learned of the problem in a 2006 missions conference and has been motivated ever since to stop it.

With its interstate system, immigration and labor intensive agricultural jobs, North Carolina is a ripe area for human trafficking, which is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Pam Strickland, founder of the Eastern Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now coalition, and a member of Oakmont Baptist Church in Greenville, helped organize a human trafficking seminar.

You see victims in restaurants and fields, in yards and processing plants. You don’t see them as domestic slaves or in brothels in neighborhoods much like your own. But they are there, enslaved by men who promised them transportation to America and good, honest work in exchange for a high fee.

Life did not turn out that way and they instead find themselves strangers in a strange land; their documents confiscated; unable to speak the language; no money to flee and in debt to their handlers at levels they will never overcome.

Human exploitation is Woman’s Missionary Union’s area of special study the next two years.

Human trade has become more lucrative than drug trafficking, according to law enforcement officers at the conference. Drugs are sold and consumed.

A human body can be resold many times and those who trade in human slave labor are said to profit by $32 billion annually.

Even at just $30 a “trick” in a North Carolina brothel, a victim can earn $75,000 to $250,000 a year for her pimp. As many as 17,500 persons are trafficked into the U.S. each year and from 100,000 to 300,000 persons in the U.S. are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. That includes web based pornography.  

You see them every day and don’t notice them, according to conference presenters. What are some signs that people are being held against their will, even though they are not physically restrained? Look for security measures around a house that don’t fit the neighborhood, like barbed wire designed to keep people in, not out.

Does your foreign waiter’s name tag reflect a likely name from his or her country? State Trooper Mark Nichols, a member of New Bethel Baptist Church in Garner, said he was eating at a Chinese restaurant and his waitress had a French name and she had “not a clue” what her name was or what the word on her name tag meant.

Are they working excessive hours with no time off? Do they have any knowledge of the surrounding area? Victims are kept moving so they cannot establish relationships in a particular area.

Are they fearful, anxious, submissive?

There are barriers to identifying and stopping trafficking, including the stereotypes about undocumented workers and women who have been prostituted. There are language and psychological challenges; fear, shame and self loathing by the victims; and lack of awareness of resources even by those who would like to help.

If you suspect a person is a victim of human trafficking, call the hotline at (888) 373-7888. North Carolina has several rapid response teams that can move quickly when such human bondage is verified.

The root cause for human trafficking is demand for cheap labor and for access to the bodies of women and children. Strickland said if there was no buyer, there would be no seller and consequently, no victims. Learn more at her web site

We need to be talking about sex, pornography and human trafficking in church,” Strickland said. “We know that men who are behind selling and buying sex and pornography are sitting in the church pew.”  

A large part of her drive is to decrease the vulnerability of children to being trafficked, as 300,000 American children have been forced into the sex trade. Runaways often end up in the trade, enticed and embraced by pimps who haunt youth shelters.  

Sensuality only talent
Girls everywhere are becoming sexualized because their main role models identify sexuality as their primary talent, not their intellect or spirit or work ethic or dependability.

When sexuality runs into conflict with the law, as in the Super Bowl incident with Justin Timberlake aggressively ripping off Janet Jackson’s bustier, Jackson and the network were punished in the marketplace, but Timberlake was not.

There is a double standard. Girls obviously too young to have chosen a life on the streets are arrested for prostituting, but their customers are too often told only to “go home to your wife.”

One in five girls, and one in 10 boys will be sexually abused in the U.S., according to presenters. That doesn’t mean they will be raped, but it means they will endure unwanted sexual touch.

A 2006 survey revealed an estimated 650,000 kids in the U.S. have exchanged sex for drugs or money. Many were “marketed” in their own homes before they ran away. Or they were abused by mom’s boyfriend, but he paid the rent so mama wouldn’t throw him out. Then the child had to use the only method she knew to survive once she hit the street.

International human trade is shocking, but distant. Knowing that thousands of humans are in physical bondage in North Carolina is frightening because it is here, and it includes our children. The only way not to see signs of human trafficking in any community in North Carolina is simply not to look for it, said presenters.

And the best person to help put a stop to it is anyone who will call the human trafficking hotline. 
8/23/2010 7:36:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 5 comments

Early puberty study has spiritual implications

August 23 2010 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Some girls are reaching the onset of puberty at an earlier age than in the past, according to a new study; and parents and churches can play key roles in helping such girls mature emotionally and spiritually, Christian experts say.

The study, which appears in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics, examined 1,239 girls ages 6 to 8 and found that 10 percent of whites, 23 percent of blacks and 15 percent of Hispanic girls had breast development by age 7.

Earlier development, the researchers said, puts girls at higher risk for behavioral problems as adolescents and for breast cancer as adults. The risk of cancer increases with a longer lifetime exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Bill Cutrer, professor of Christian ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said early puberty onset is more prevalent in heavier girls.

The obstetrician/gynecologist explained that fatty tissue makes estrone, a weak estrogen, so young girls with a tendency toward obesity would develop breast changes sooner.

It is a phenomenon observed primarily in industrialized nations, he said, adding that in third world countries where malnutrition is rampant, girls develop later.

He also said it was important to note that the age of menstruation has not changed, so whatever has contributed to earlier breast development “hasn’t seemed to alter that part (menstruation) of the pubertal clock.”

Cutrer said the study has implications for ministry.

“Some of the references cited in this Pediatrics article found an association between earlier maturation and lower self esteem, worse body image, eating problems, suicide attempts, depression, influence by ‘deviant peers,’ earlier sex and earlier norm breaking behaviors,” Cutrer said.

Churches can help girls appreciate themselves as made in the image of God and help them view their bodies as gifts and use them as temporary vessels for His glory, he said.

It’s also important to have conversations with boys about how to interact with girls.

“If the boys can learn to treat young girls with respect and not sexualize and objectify them (as society tends to do) perhaps the girls can mature in a more healthy fashion and avoid all those terrible consequences,” Cutrer said.

“Our youth leaders simply must know this stuff and act aggressively to prevent the early bloomer from being ostracized, isolated, intimidated or belittled,” Cutrer said.

“Girls maturing at a younger age will naturally call attention to themselves and heighten boys’ interests. That makes it important for parents (especially fathers) to help their sons deal with their feelings and teach them how to respectfully treat younger girls,” said Jimmy Hester, developer of the “True Love Waits” campaign.  
8/23/2010 7:34:00 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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