August 2011

Pastors’ Conference offering doubles goal

August 17 2011 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The offering at the 2011 SBC Pastors’ Conference reached nearly $200,000, or twice the announced $100,000 goal, an organizer of the event has announced.

The June 12-13 conference, held under the banner of “ASPIRE: Yearning to join God’s Kingdom activity,” was designed to help pastors see “the big picture of what God is doing in the world” and rise above preoccupations with temporary issues, Pastors’ Conference President Vance Pitman, church planter and lead pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas, said at the time.

The event, held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Phoenix, focused on the need to plant churches in North America and take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The offering was to be divided 75 percent to finish translating the “JESUS” film into the language of an unreached people group in the Arabian Peninsula and 25 percent to conduct overseas pastors’ conferences using national leadership to assist church leaders in about 20 countries.

BP file photo

Vance Pitman, president of the 2011 SBC Pastors’ Conference speaks during the evening session of the 2011 conference Sunday, June 12. Pitman solicited sponsors for the event so money taken up in the annual offering could go toward missions endeavors. Almost $200,000 was raised.

“Through the offering at ASPIRE, God provided just under $200,000,” said Travis Ogle, teaching pastor at Hope Baptist Church. “When we were planning the event, we felt it would be a shame to see Southern Baptist pastors come together and Kingdom advance not come out of it. We wanted to celebrate God’s activity and let the pastors know that something they were part of is going make a difference around the world.”

Ogle said he had contacted Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board, to let him know a check for $150,000 is on its way to fund the movie translation. The $50,000 balance will be used by Hope Baptist Church to help finance pastor training in four locations in Africa, North Africa and Southeast Asia in conjunction with missionaries, Christian mission organizations and national Baptist groups.

“We have partners around the world, some in closed countries, who help us train pastors from dozens of countries each year,” Ogle said. “These events reach between 2,500 and 3,000 national pastors, and for most of them this is the only form of theological and leadership training they receive all year.”

As an encouragement to other pastors to make church planting commitments, video recordings of all Pastors’ Conference sermons have been made available free of charge at the conference’s website (, Ogle said.

“Thanks to the North American Mission Board’s sponsorship in this effort, the sermons from ASPIRE have been downloaded in more than 120 countries thus far,” Ogle said. “We’re praying God will continue to use these messages to touch the world with the gospel.”

Speakers at the conference included Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.; Ken Whitten of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla.; Afshin Ziafat of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas; Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta; Bob Roberts of Northwood Church in Keller, Texas; Peter Ndhlovu of Bible Gospel Church in Africa in Lusaka, Zambia; Paul Gotthardt of Life Baptist Church in Las Vegas; Darrin Patrick of The Journey Church in St. Louis; Gregg Matte of First Baptist Church in Houston; evangelist Bob Pitman of Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Johnny Hunt of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.; John Piper, preaching pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

In years past, the Pastors’ Conference offering was used to recoup meeting expenses. To enable the offering to be used for mission causes this year, Pitman recruited sponsors to cover conference expenses. A list of those who contributed can be found at

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is a senior writer and assistant editor for Baptist Press.)
8/17/2011 9:35:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Peachtree’s missions mindset pushes CP

August 17 2011 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

MURPHY — It would surprise some people how Peachtree Memorial Baptist Church is part of a worldwide missions program.

After all, the church’s modern building with a steep-sloped roof sits alongside Highway 141 several miles out of Murphy, in the community of Peachtree, surrounded by the mountains and rolling hills of Cherokee County.

This is the far west of our state. From Peachtree Memorial, it’s three times as far to Raleigh as it is to Atlanta, Ga., or Knoxville, Tenn.

BSC photo by Mike Creswell

Pastor Chester Jones has led his Murphy congregation to give 10 percent of its offerings to the Cooperative Program.

But with missions eyes, Peachtree Memorial’s 500 members can see far beyond the local mountains to places like eastern North Carolina, New York City, China and Argentina.

It is a vision for missions and a sensitivity to missions, that drive the church’s giving, not just tradition, says Pastor Chester Jones.

However, missions does have a long tradition in Cherokee County, he pointed out.

He recalled how Baptist ministers Evan Jones and Hymphrey Posey ministered to the Cherokees in the early 1800s through a mission school. Jones translated the New Testament into the Cherokee language.

“We’re a missions-oriented group of believers. Our people have been faithful. We have believed that we can do more together than any of us can do individually. We feel like we cover a broader spectrum of dollars through the Cooperative Program than any other source or means,” Jones said.

“Consistently, this has been a missions-minded church for many, many years and our goal for the past 10 years has been to give through the Cooperative Program 10 percent of our offering plate dollar and we’ve done that almost every year. Two years we gave 12 percent,” he added.

One recent year the members felt they had to address a local situation that called for money, but the next year they moved back to 10 percent of their budget for the Cooperative Program.

“We do believe in the Cooperative Program,” Jones said.

Through their Cooperative Program giving, the church supports a wide range of ministries across North Carolina, that includes starting 125 new churches in 2010; the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina; Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute; a youth program that reached more than 7,000 young people this year; evangelism and church growth ministry, prayer ministry, women’s ministry, partnership missions and many kinds of pastor and church staff support; plus helping send missionaries across North America and around the world, and furthering education at six Southern Baptist seminaries including Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
8/17/2011 7:21:00 AM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Two countries, one faith: Students spread gospel

August 17 2011 by Marie Beaufain, Baptist Press

GEORGE, South Africa — In the fleeting warmth of the early afternoon sun, he sat facing the campsite teeming with youth — 61 of them — from all walks of life. Making their way to the dining hall, they crowded behind the thin glass of the windowpanes, a cloud of different colors and dialects — fitting for a project based in the Republic of South Africa, a self-described “Rainbow Nation.”

From his chair in the lawn, International World Changers crew leader D. Ray Davis turned his gaze from the building below.

“There’s an African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone,’“ he said. “‘If you want to go far, go together.’

“I think the IMB and missionaries have realized we can’t do this job alone.”

The occasion was International World Changers in George, South Africa, where Davis, International Mission Board (IMB) associate vice president of church and partner connections, served as crew leader. International World Changers (IWC) is an IMB-sponsored ministry that sends out teams of students to locations all over the world during their holidays from school.

However, this 11-day project in July took a new approach to mission work by halving the number of American students usually admitted and partnering them with an equal number of South African youth, an idea that was the brainchild of IMB missionaries Jeff and Lynne Holder, who hosted the event.

“We really wanted to help strengthen the work of the existing churches … instead of just doing our own thing,” Jeff said. “(We wanted) to come alongside our Baptist partners and assist them in training and church planting.”

And while the Americans were assisting the local churches, nationals were able to provide the team with cultural know-how and act as translators when necessary.

Photo by Nicole Clark

Octavia Skippers, right, an International World Changers participant from Cape Town, South Africa, ministers to young women in a neighborhood called Blanco.

How the two groups would actually interact, however, no one knew.

“We had never done this before. … It’s winter in George and we thought it might rain — and I think today’s the first day it hasn’t,” Lynne said, laughing. “(There were) questions of whether everyone would get along or (whether) the language would be an issue.”

Their prayer from the beginning was to be as people who’ve met before. What they didn’t know was how fully their request would be satisfied. Within a day, the team was tighter than old friends, bonding over tea as they exchanged traditions and different turns of phrase. Always offering a smile or a hand to hold, they called themselves a family — though, from the world’s perspective, they looked anything but the same. Not only were there Americans alongside Africans, but there were representatives of many ethnic groups in the still somewhat separate society of South Africa: Coloured, Xhosa, White, Indian and Afrikaner.

“Children of God always fit in perfectly …” said Octavia Skippers, a 20-year-old IWC participant from Cape Town, South Africa. “If two things fit together, it would be the family of Christ: many parts, one body. And that’s what we are.”

No longer simply Jeff or Lynne, the whole camp adopted new titles — uncle or aunt, brother or sister.

The team split into four subgroups, the focus of which was to reach out to young adults in different struggling communities in and around George. A local church from each area partnered with a team of about 15 World Changers to engage the youth through fun activities like bead work and nail painting for the girls and sports ministry for the boys, who flocked to the sound of the constant thud and punt of a pickup soccer match.

Each subgroup continued to visit the same community throughout the week to build relationships and minister to the new friends they found there. And while much progress was made through their work, with many new or renewed commitments to Christ counted in every community, these World Changers ministered to one another as well.

“A lot of the South African team members are people God is using in my life and it’s because they’re trying to live like Jesus did …” said Brandon Stotts, 17, from Longview, Wash.

“They’ll never know how grateful I am for them.”

Even when times got rough — the first few rainy days flooded the tents where they were staying and made the cool weather that much colder, not to mention gave everyone the sniffles or worse — the team’s affirming attitudes were unaffected. Back at the camp, each night was brought to a close with devotions and a time for the students to share both their successes and struggles. Whether it was issues of addiction or abuse, divorce or disease, color and culture made no difference. They shared in their brokenness and together were healed.

“It was amazing to know that I’m not the only one (going through these things),” Skippers said. “We can shed tears together, we can overcome things together.”

Lynne said: “Even though they live in different parts of the world, they still face the same struggles and issues and heartaches. And I think it’s been good for both sides to see that.”

On the last day, leadership from the South African side announced plans to continue their ministry in George through short return trips on a six-month schedule. “We can’t just leave this place and not come back. We want to see the fruits of the seeds we laid for these people,” said Julia October, 19, a South African student from Cape Town.

Bronwin Robertson, 19, who hailed from one of the communities where the IWC team had been working, took it as a call to action. “I’m going to fight for God in my area,” he said. “My work starts now.”

Goodbyes had already begun and the American team was packing their bags, possibly never to return again, but through the relationships that were built with local believers, their work would live on.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Beaufain is a writing intern for the International Mission Board’s global communication team.)

Related story
Student aims to make her own life count
8/17/2011 7:12:00 AM by Marie Beaufain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Student aims to make her one life count

August 17 2011 by Marie Beaufain, Baptist Press

GEORGE, South Africa — She’s an ordinary girl: brown eyes, brown hair, white sneakers. What makes her stand out isn’t her voice, though her earth-shattering alto is easily distinguished in a room filled with song. It’s not her sense of humor, and the way she introduces herself as Julia Roberts instead of Julia October, her actual last name. It’s not even the fact that she’s sick, diagnosed with autoimmune disease lupus since she was 14 years old.

It’s her love for the Lord.

“I’m such a happy person because I know that in everything I do it’s God’s plans for my life, and not my plans,” October said. “I love Jesus with all my heart and I trust Him each and every day.”

October, 19, along with her brother Kyle, was one of 31 South Africans who partnered with American young adults during International World Changers (IWC) in George, South Africa July 1-11. IWC is an International Mission Board-sponsored ministry that sends out teams of students to locations all over the world during their holidays from school.

“I’ve actually always wanted to do missions, so I took this as an opportunity that God was saying, ‘This is something that I want you to do,’” she said.

Because of her illness, traveling isn’t often in the cards for the Cape Town native — especially the ends-of-the-earth travel stereotypically associated with mission work. So when the opportunity opened up in George, a fast five-hour drive from home, she jumped on it.

Photo by Nicole Clark

South African student Julia October sings during worship time at the camp where the International World Changers stayed in George, South Africa.

At first, the combined cold and wet of the Southern Cape region aggravated her illness and had her missing much of the first night’s festivities. But with a little bit of rest and a whole lot of encouragement from the team, she pushed through the pain and was present the majority of the week.

“I think Julia really pushed herself to the limit that week,” said Liesl Reynolds, South African crew leader for the trip. “If I did not make her rest at times, she would not have done so.” The team of 61 students split into groups to reach four communities that week — Thembelethu, Touwsranten, Mossel Bay and Blanco, where October was stationed.

As relationships grew throughout the week, the teens began opening up. On many occasions the girls would sit in a circle, exchanging stories, struggles and hands as they painted one another’s nails.

Then October would begin her story, asking the girls whether any of them knew what lupus was. When they shook their heads no, she would explain.

People diagnosed with the disease have too many white blood cells, which attack and destroy each other, as well as important tissue along the way — hence the joint pain commonly associated with lupus.

She was diagnosed in the ninth grade.

For several months, she fell into depression, coping with different symptoms of her sickness and side effects from the medication. Then, she said, she felt God speaking to her in the darkness.

“He said: ‘You need to rely on me. … You are My child and you need to sort yourself out,’” October said.

Poetry and lyrics became her escape, and her sadness slowly reshaped into praise. She said she was still on the road to recovery as she arrived at the camp in George. But by the middle of the week the sun had come out, and its warmth, combined with the warm fellowship and encouragement of her teammates, worked to revive her spirit.

“I really started coming out of my shell again and showing people how I really am and how much I love God,” October said. “I could talk about Him all the time.”

After a week spent among the broken homes and hearts in the shantytown where she ministered, October said she knew mission work was what she wanted to do with her “One Life,” which was the theme of the event. Now, she said she is planning to attend seminary after graduation in December.

“God brought me through so much … and I know why I have (lupus) now: because I can start a conversation with somebody and tell them what God has done in my life through my illness,” October said. “This life I’m living now? It’s not for me. I was put on this earth for a purpose, and that purpose is to be a disciple of Christ and to lead people to Him. … Everything’s not about you and me; it’s all about God.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Beaufain is a writing intern for the International Mission Board’s global communication team.)

Related story
Two countries, one faith: Students spread gospel
8/17/2011 7:02:00 AM by Marie Beaufain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

N.C. chaplain creates Bible board games

August 16 2011 by Laura Moore, BR Editorial Aide

Embarking on an Old Testament adventure has never been easier than playing one of Doug Baltzegar’s board games.

Retired corporate chaplain Doug Baltzegar is the mastermind behind three Bible story based games geared towards children.

The board games focus on the Old Testament stories of Joseph, rebuilding the Jerusalem wall in Nehemiah, and the Exodus out of Egypt.

Doug Baltzegar hopes his board games teach children and adults biblical and moral lessons. The board game above is based on the story of Joseph in Genesis. Baltzegar has players move around the board reading scripture and drawing from a stack of cards that move players.

“They’re called edu-tainment games,” Baltzegar said emphasizing that they are both fun and educational for children.

“I try to include a little humor and make them biblically accurate,” he said.

In “The Life of Joseph” game, players walk through Joseph’s journey with him as he goes from a slave to a ruler in Egypt. “The Joseph game is really a game about forgiveness,” Baltzegar said as he talked about how the board games offer children an opportunity to learn biblical lessons and principals while also learning Old Testament history.

The games are for age six and up involving both corporate and individual moves, and some cards require players to read scripture passages.

A member of First Baptist Church, Lowell, Baltzegar also taught religion courses such as Old and New Testament at Gaston College.

His creations have enabled him to combine his passions for Old Testament history and games.

The board games were field tested on students at Gaston Christian schools.

Baltzegar said, “All three games are copyrighted and protected by law,” which is a huge accomplishment for the small business owner who started Me2Games, LLC, in 2010 to sell his Bible based games. Already, the games are in at least four states after only selling for about a year.

Priced between $16.99 and $18.99, several stores are selling the board games in the Gastonia area.

The games can also be purchased at
8/16/2011 7:21:00 AM by Laura Moore, BR Editorial Aide | with 0 comments

Sept. 10 deadline to submit resolutions

August 16 2011 by BSC Communications

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) Memorials and Resolutions Committee is now receiving resolutions for consideration.

North Carolina Baptists have until September 10 to submit resolutions.

Resolutions approved by the Committee will be presented to messengers attending the annual meeting in November (Nov. 7-8 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro).

Resolutions approved by the Committee will be printed in the Biblical Recorder prior to the annual meeting, and will also appear on the annual meeting web site ( and at Resolutions should be sent to: Committee on Resolutions, c/o Business Services, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, 205 Convention Drive, Cary, NC 27511.
8/16/2011 7:20:00 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

In London, IMB workers reach out during riots

August 15 2011 by Trent Parker, Baptist Press

LONDON — International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries are looking for ways to serve Londoners in the midst of widespread rioting and looting in London and across England.

IMB photo

Rioters throw bricks and bottles at the police on Clarence Road in the Hackney area of London. As violent riots spread in England, International Mission Board missionaries have sought to reach out to their neighbors with help and the gospel.

“London is usually an incredibly safe city, but these riots bring to light the nature of sin in all humanity,” said Chris*, an IMB missionary in London. “Please pray that out of these shocking circumstances people will hear and understand the gospel.”

Missionaries Stephen* and Barbara* helped lead a prayer vigil in north London Aug. 7 during the initial protests. Stephen, Barbara and other IMB missionaries said they hope to bless and encourage the people of their communities in the midst of shock, disbelief and fear. They are actively seeking open doors to share the gospel. And they invite believers to join them in prayer.

Riots, arson and looting have spread from the capital to other parts of England in the days following the death of a police-shooting victim, Mark Duggan. Peaceful protests of the shooting turned violent after Duggan's death.

Homes and businesses have been ransacked and burned in parts of London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and Bristol. British authorities are taking measures to stop the unrest and are beginning to clean up streets strewn with debris from looting.

*Last names withheld for security reasons.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parker is a writer for the International Mission Board in Europe.)
8/15/2011 7:07:00 AM by Trent Parker, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Luter leans ‘80%’ toward presidential nomination

August 15 2011 by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist Press

ROCKWOOD, Tenn. — Ever since his election as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at the annual meeting in June in Phoenix, Fred Luter has heard the same question repeatedly.

“Will you allow yourself to be nominated as president of the convention next year?”

Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, heard the question once again in early August prior to speaking at a summer Bible conference at First Baptist Church in Rockwood, Tenn.

Luter gave his standard answer that he is excited people are encouraging him to consider the nomination and that he is praying about the possibility to see if God is leading him in that direction.

But during the course of an interview with the Baptist and Reflector, Luter acknowledged he is about “80 percent” leaning toward the idea.

BP file photo by Gibbs Frazeur

Fred Luter preaches the convention sermon at the 2001 SBC Annual Meeting in Luter’s hometown of New Orleans.

Luter stressed he is still seeking input from close friends, as well as leaders at Franklin Avenue where he has served as pastor for 25 years. He said it would be important to have his church’s support should he decide to allow his name to be placed in nomination.

But Luter also acknowledged that the most important input will come from the home front. “I’m henpecked,” he joked.

“I have to have my wife’s input. Elizabeth will probably be the toughest one to convince,” Luter laughed. “It is an awesome responsibility (to serve as SBC president). I don’t want to take it lightly or for granted.”

Luter has given serious thought to the idea, which was voiced through Twitter following the annual meeting.

Among those who advocated Luter for the presidency was Union University President David Dockery, whose post read: “Good day for SBC: 1st VP Fred Luter. Hope he will be elected president next year in New Orleans.”

Luter knows his election as president would be a milestone. He would be the first African American to be elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“You cannot get around the fact that I am an African American and we have never had an African American president,” Luter said.

While it would be a historic vote if he is elected, Luter already has achieved several milestones. He is the first African American to preach a convention sermon and the first to serve as a trustee at LifeWay Christian Resources. In addition to his current role as first vice president, he also is a former second vice president of the convention.

Luter hopes he will be elected for his accomplishments over the years — if he allows his nomination.

Luter recalled that when he preached the convention sermon, then-SBC President James Merritt was asked if Luter was asked to preach because of his race. He noted that Merritt replied that the reason he was chosen was “because he was a respected preacher.”

Luter is proud that Southern Baptists recognize him for what he has accomplished during his 25-year ministry at Franklin Avenue, a church that began as a mission and is the only church he has ever served.

Luter also is an ambassador for the Cooperative Program. “Our church would not be where it is today if it was not for the Cooperative Program,” he emphasized.

As a result Luter has led his church to increase its giving through the Cooperative Program (CP). In 2007, the church gave $44,000 through CP. In 2010, that amount had increased to $261,798, according to Southern Baptists’ Annual Church Profile.

“I am a strong supporter of the Cooperative Program. It still works,” Luter affirmed.

If he decided to allow his name to be placed in nomination, Luter said his goal, if elected, would be to “bring us together as a convention” so that “we can truly be the body of Christ.... We need to major on the things that have made this convention great through the years — evangelism and discipleship.”

Luter said he hopes to make a decision about the presidency shortly after the first of the year. In the meantime, he is content in working with and assisting current SBC President Bryant Wright.

Luter said he knows the future is in God’s hands. “I’ve been faithful to my calling, to my church and to my convention. God rewards faithfulness,” Luter said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector, newsjournal for churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.)
8/15/2011 7:00:00 AM by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Al Gilbert leaves Calvary for NAMB post

August 12 2011 by From staff and wire reports

Al Gilbert announced today that he is leaving Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, which he has led as senior pastor since 2002.

“Calvary is a special place and it has been a great honor to serve God with you,” Gilbert said in a letter to church members. “You have loved and encouraged us and will always have a special place in our hearts. This has been a very difficult decision for us, but we have seen God’s hand opening a door for ministry.”

Gilbert will start at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in mid-September as executive director of Love Loud, the ministry evangelism arm of NAMB.

Gilbert explained to his church members that his wife’s parents have been in declining health. KK’s mom fell and broke a hip before Thanksgiving 2010, and she has been in Atlanta a great deal since the incident.

“We have continuously cried out to God for wisdom and direction,” he wrote. “While praying over how to meet KK’s parents’ needs, I realized God is leading us to a place where KK can care for her parents and I can continue to influence the people of God to be on mission.”

Al Gilbert will start in mid-September as NAMB’s executive director of Love Loud.

Gilbert compared his new assignment to a similar ministry at Calvary. Love Winston-Salem is a year-round attempt to partner with schools, recreation centers and Christian ministries. He said there will be an emphasis throughout all regions to find ways to reach neglected neighborhoods with evangelism, compassion and missions.

NAMB’s Executive Committee approved Gilbert Aug. 9, and the Board of Directors was informed via email today. Gilbert met with the church’s staff and deacons before mailing a letter to church members.

Calvary’s deacons already have started the process to find the church’s next spiritual leader. Gilbert said an update would be given at the church’s Aug. 31 multi-campus celebration.

Currently Gilbert is on his second term on the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive Committee. Before coming to Calvary, Gilbert served as special assistant to the president of the International Mission Board.

Gilbert, a Georgia native, has led Calvary to be a top giver to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. In the last four years Calvary, along with Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, have collectively given $4 million to the offering.

A recent Baptist Press story reported that Calvary gave $513,679 last year.

“For over 40 years, we’ve been sending short-term teams to the field,” said Steve Hardy, associate missions pastor at Calvary. “As our folks go to the field, they see the effects that Lottie Moon giving has in the ability of our missionaries to do what they’re called to do. When our people give, they know why they’re giving. They see the direct results of it.”

That missions mindset is what attracted attention to Gilbert for this position.

“Al Gilbert brings high energy and real passion for taking the gospel to the world,” said Larry Wynn, NAMB vice president for evangelism and leadership development. “He is a leader in SBC life and a practitioner of loving people to faith in Christ.”

Wynn said it was Gilbert’s intentional approach to ministry evangelism that convinced him and NAMB president Kevin Ezell that Gilbert was the obvious choice to give direction to Love Loud.

“When I came to NAMB, Kevin and I started talking about ministry evangelism. The SBC had conducted a Love Loud initiative, and we thought through what that might look like as an expansion of ministry evangelism,” said Wynn. “You know you can do ministry, and then you can do ministry evangelism. Southern Baptists are good at building bridges, but we don’t always bring the gospel across the bridge. We want to make sure we are offering hope with the help. Meeting people’s needs in life events like crises medical situations, crises pregnancy, or adoption opens the door, but when we offer help in those situations we also need to share hope in Christ. We need to make sure we do both.

“We started looking for a practitioner who could help lead Love Loud, and Al was a natural choice. He has been a pastor, a church planter, a leader in the SBC, and served with the International Mission Board. He was the perfect fit for us to lead the team that Kevin has put together. His leadership of Love Loud, both in evangelistic church plants and with growing the ministry evangelism efforts of existing churches, will bring true vitality to the work.”

Love Loud will include many areas of ministry those familiar with evangelism efforts through NAMB would recognize including medical and dental work, crisis pregnancy, hunger, and Campers On Mission, among others. Love Loud will also embrace new work including adoption and foster care ministries.

“As we dream into the future we may see God lead us into other areas of ministry evangelism,” said Wynn. “This is certainly not an exhaustive list. For instance, you may see elements of Love Loud as part of Crossover efforts, particularly in a city like New Orleans that still has so many needs. You will also see elements of Love Loud in our church planting efforts. The thought is not original with me, but church planting is not just about growing a church, it is about loving a city. Love Loud will help church plants and existing churches connect with their cities. It would be fair to say that Love Loud is an expansion of ministry evangelism. We will look to do more than we have ever done in helping churches love people to Jesus.”

The Gilberts have four children and 11 grandchildren.    
8/12/2011 7:52:00 AM by From staff and wire reports | with 0 comments

Filipino hospitality helps students share

August 12 2011 by Shiloh Lane, Baptist Press

SAMAR, Philippines — Evelyn Riviera has a question for the five American university students gathered around her front door.

“Is it true that Americans don’t eat rice?” she asks. “They just eat bread?”

Her visitors laugh. Sitting on wooden benches under her thatch awning in the Philippines, they make small talk, chatting about American culture and Filipino food. In the course of conversation, the University of Mobile students tell Riviera a story about Christ healing a cripple. She’s never heard the story.

The volunteer mission team’s approach to sharing their faith is simple. They don’t hold Vacation Bible Schools or medical clinics. They don’t attract crowds with music or spectacles. Instead, they arrive in a village and they ask to stay for several days, just hanging out and building relationships.

The five-member team lives like the people they came to minister to — sleeping in hammocks, taking bucket baths and washing their clothes in pans of water. They travel from village to village in boats on the Oras River. They visit people who live so deep in the jungle that no roads reach their homes.

Taking advantage of their day off in Aroganga, a village on Samar Island in the Philippines, Megan Hunter, left, and Nicole Hill wash their laundry. During their three weeks of ministry along the river, Hunter and Hill, with their team from the University of Mobile, provided a key evangelism presence for church planting efforts on Samar.

This method of witnessing allows villagers to open their homes with true Filipino generosity.

In the first village the team visits, they stay in a family’s home. They chat with the parents, play with the children and become part of the community. Team leader Megan Hunter, whose home church is First Baptist Church of Fairview in Cullman, Ala., says she cherishes the time hanging out with several Filipinos outside their home. They relax and laugh and talk about Jesus.

“It was a lot of fun to study the Word of God with them, to hear their questions, to see it kind of start to click with them,” Hunter says. “But most of all, (I loved) just the community that we had there with those people — all crowded in that one little room around a light bulb. We didn’t have a TV. We didn’t have games. We didn’t have any of that. We had each other and the Word of God.”

The team members find most people will listen to stories from the Bible. However, the villagers have trouble comprehending the gospel message.

Most of the country’s population adheres to a mix of Catholicism and animism. In many of the homes the team visits, there are calendars depicting Mary and Jesus and shrines containing idols of the “Santo Nino” (Christ child). In the Filipino belief system, people earn their way into heaven. They believe they must compensate for their sin by giving to the poor or helping people in need. They don’t easily grasp the idea that God would give anyone salvation as a gift.

In their next visit, the team bumps headlong into the area’s traditional belief. In the cinderblock home of another villager, Adam Morris of Bayside Baptist Church in Harrison, Tenn., explains salvation. He tells a man that a person receives salvation by asking forgiveness and dedicating their life to Jesus Christ.

“Because Jesus is God and because He is perfect, He is able to forgive sins,” Morris says. “Does all that make sense or do you have any questions about it?”

The man does have a question.

“If I ever want to go to heaven, what do I need to do?” he asks.

Morris repeats that the man simply needs to ask for forgiveness, but the villager wants a more involved answer. He says he always prays. He is always nice to his neighbor. What more can he do?

Samantha Parrott of People of Mars Hill in Mobile, Ala., says most of their listeners ask the same question: What can they do to get into heaven?

Nicole Hill of Chunchula, Ala., says she learned to relinquish control to God. They shared the gospel. Now God will do the rest.

“We could tell them all day long what we believe, but God is the one who will help change their perspective,” she said. “I trust God that He’s going to do that.”

Although few people seem to understand the message, the Alabama students see signs of hunger for the gospel in their listeners. Jacob Fowler of Capshaw Baptist Church in East Limestone, Ala., shared a Bible story with a man who immediately asked to hear another one. He recalls a woman who, after one Bible study, said she had never heard such a message in all her 60 years.

From conversations with these people, it seems to Morris the villagers simply feel honored the team traveled so far to share a spiritual message.

“The fact that we cared enough to come all the way around the world to share this message with them that we believed so strongly in — that in itself, spoke to them,” he says. “Through that, we got to share the gospel with them.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Lane is a writer living in Southeast Asia. For more stories specific to Asia, like this one, visit
8/12/2011 7:37:00 AM by Shiloh Lane, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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