August 2012

Baptist group pulls ‘weeds of injustice’ from Jewish cemetery

August 29 2012 by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press

PARIS – His hands trembled when Benjamin* saw a letter his son-in-law received, stamped with the letterhead of the government offices of Paris’ fourth administrative district.

In fact he trembled all over, so much that he had to sit down.
 
It turned out the letter was just asking his son-in-law to renew his driver’s license. But it took the rest of the day for the 90-year-old Jewish man to recover from just the sight of the letterhead.

It was too much like the letter that summoned him away from his home 70 years ago during the Holocaust and landed him in a German concentration camp for five years. When he returned home, most of his family was dead.

Seven decades have passed, but the memory is still fresh for the Jewish grandfather.

“Sometimes it’s easy for us to think about the Holocaust in terms of, ‘That was a long time ago. That kind of prejudice doesn’t still exist,’” said Richard Hall*, a social scientist familiar with Jewish history. “But actually we are still in a generation when people can tell their children that the reason they aren’t allowed to wear striped pajamas is because their grandma or grandpa had to wear them in prison camps. The memory isn’t far removed at all.”
08-29-12jew.jpg

Photo by Michael Logan

For eight years, Baptists from the United States have cleaned Jewish cemeteries in Poland as a way to show love to Jews and rebuild relationships. The cemeteries have fallen in serious disrepair in the decades since the Holocaust.


And if that were not enough for Jews in Paris, there’s a message just for them carved into the front of the city’s imposing Notre Dame Cathedral, right in the heart of the city’s fourth district.

It’s been there 1,000 years. Ships 20 miles away on the Seine River could see it. Tourists from all over the world have their photo made in front of it.

The message is a statue called Synagogua, and it portrays the Jewish community as “damaged goods,” Hall said. Synagogua is a woman with a broken staff, broken tablets and a snake wrapped around her eyes to indicate she’s been blinded by evil.

She sits on the front of the cathedral opposite the statue Iglesia, a strong, stately crown-wearing woman representing the Christian church.

“For 1,000 years, the front of Notre Dame has been a billboard to the Jews of what Christians think of them,” Hall said. “That’s a hard message to overcome.” Especially, he said, when Christians seem to be oblivious to the fact that messages like that are still being presented today.

But John Simmons* is one person trying to turn some of those messages around by a simple act. He travels from his home in the U.S. to Europe to take care of Jewish cemeteries. There, he and his friends work on walls, pull weeds and clean headstones.

“To honor the dead is a very high good deed for the Jews, so to do that for them is a message of love,” Simmons said. “We just want to show love, to see the Jews and the Christians reconciled. We are pulling the weeds of injustice, of the things that happened, so the land can be renewed and restored and relationships can be reconciled.”

It’s something Christians should be aware of and working to overcome, Simmons said.

“We are just showing the love of Christ,” he said. “That is first and foremost.”

A six-minute documentary (http://vimeo.com/45358520) on Jews in Paris is available for individuals and churches that want to know how they can be more sensitive and show love to Jewish friends and neighbors.

“As Christians, we sincerely want to make the love of Jesus Christ visible to Jewish people,” Hall said. “Yet to do so means that we must now express His love in a way that speaks more loudly than the long history of hatred and distrust which Christians and Jews have inherited from the past.”

*Names changed.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ava Thomas is an International Mission Board writer and editor based in Europe.)

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8/29/2012 1:58:15 PM by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Jews ‘see God’ in Baptist cleanup of graves

August 29 2012 by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press

EUROPE – It was a dark day when David Eilenberg* faced the statue of Christ just outside the Catholic church and bellowed, “Where are you, Jesus?”

Silence.

That day, in the depths of the Holocaust, the Polish Jew hung up belief. Millions of Eilenberg’s fellow Jews died and were put in the ground before World War II ended.

Then six decades later, in the midst of their graves, he met Dirk Stockton* who was cleaning the cemetery, and something big changed.

“I have watched you and what you Baptists are doing in our cemetery,” Eilenberg told Stockton, reaching out to touch his chest. “I don’t believe in God, but I see God in you.”

It’s exactly what Stockton had hoped for, that wrong relationships might be put right through the love of Jesus Christ.

For a long time, Stockton had been wondering how Baptists could speak into the injustice done to Jews during the Holocaust, when 6 million Jews were systematically killed in camps in Poland alone.
08-29-12jewside.jpg

Photo by Michael Logan

Baptist volunteers seek to reconcile relationships between Christians and Jews by cleaning Jewish cemeteries, showing respect for the Jewish deed of honoring the dead.


“When I approached the Jewish community about bringing Baptist volunteers to clean and restore this Jewish cemetery, I was asked, ‘Why do you wish to do this?’” Stockton said. “I simply said, ‘Reconciliation.’”

That one word began an eight-year journey of renewing Jewish cemeteries and relationships. Matthew Jackson*, who also serves among Jews in Poland, said Stockton and others have done “an incredible amount of work in Jewish cemeteries in and around the city of Warsaw.”

Stockton said he believes it’s making a difference.

“I have heard this question many times, ‘Why would you, a Christian, do this for us, a Jew?’” Stockton said. “This question presents an opportunity to say simply, ‘Love. I love God, and I love my neighbor. I love the Jewish people and I honor them as the root of everything that I know about God, as you have given us the Scriptures.’”

His Jewish friends, he said, find it hard to believe.

“Some Jews have responded to me by saying, ‘If what you are doing, I told to people in Jerusalem, they would not believe,’” he said.

They find it even harder to believe that people would come all the way from the United States to help, but the volunteers’ intent is to show Christ’s love in a practical way, focusing on things Jews and Baptists share.

One commonality, Stockton said, is a command to “love your neighbor.”

“We are seeking to open a dialogue with both Jews and Gentiles about the true nature of God’s love,” Stockton said. “Love is not an abstract thought or a fleeting emotion. It is action. Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’”

It’s proven to be a striking picture for Polish Jews, he said.

“One survivor of the Holocaust told me, ‘What you are doing on earth, the angels are proclaiming and rejoicing about in Heaven,’” Stockton said.

A six-minute documentary (http://vimeo.com/45358520) is available for individuals and churches that want to know how they can be more sensitive and show love to Jewish friends and neighbors.

*Names changed.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ava Thomas is an International Mission Board writer and editor based in Europe.)

Related story
Jews are the world’s most migratory religious group
Baptist group pulls ‘weeds of injustice’ from Jewish cemetery
8/29/2012 1:41:03 PM by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Jews are the world’s most migratory religious group

August 29 2012 by Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON – Ever since their mad dash out of Egypt bound for the Promised Land, Jews have been on the move – and they continue to be, far more than any other religious group, according to a new study.
 
One in four of the world’s Jews has migrated from one country to another, compared to 5 percent of Christians and 4 percent of Muslims who have left their native lands.
 
The findings are part of a comprehensive new study on religion and global migration, released in March by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which tracked the journeys of the world’s 214 million migrants.
 
“The world Jewish community is consolidating,” said Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University who did not work on the study. “Jews are abandoning Third World countries where historically they had been persecuted and moving to large and generally free First World countries.”
 
No other major religious group approached the 25 percent migration rate of the Jews, said Phillip Connor, the senior researcher on the study. On average, he said, only 3 percent of the world’s population migrates.
 
What may be surprising to people, Connor said, is that overwhelmingly “people do stay put.”
 
As for the Jews, Sarna said, the vast majority of world Jewry lives in one of two countries. Of the 13.3 million Jews worldwide, 43 percent live in Israel and 39 percent live in the United States.
 
A major driver of Jewish migration: the establishment of Israel in 1948 and continued migration to that country. Sarna also noted the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Jews from the former Soviet Union for destinations in Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere.
 
A positive spin on Jewish migratory trends is that Jews, so often persecuted in their homelands, are safer in their new countries.
 
But “what we’re losing is one of the great themes of Jewish history,” said Sarna, referring to the collapse of Jewish communities in the Middle East, North Africa and other lands where they had lived for millennia.
 
Though Jews claim the most dramatic migration rates, their small numbers mean that the vast majority of migrants belong to other religious groups. Christians make up nearly half of all international migrants (49 percent) according to the study, though they make up a third of the world’s population.
 
Of all Christians alive today, 106 million have switched countries, and their top destination is the United States.
 
Of the 43 million foreign-born people living in the United States in 2010, an estimated 74 percent are Christian, according to the study’s authors, who combed census data and other studies to compile their findings.
 
Where are these immigrants coming from?
 
Mexico, a largely Catholic country, is the biggest “donor” nation of Christians to the U.S., with 12 million Mexican immigrants – both documented and undocumented – making their home north of the border.
 
As for other trends in migration to the United States, this nation is:
 
– The No. 1 destination for Buddhists. About 1.7 million foreign-born Buddhists live in the United States, many of them from Vietnam.
 
– The top stop for immigrants with no religion, about 4.4 million people, many of who come from China.
 
– Second after India for its number of Hindu migrants, who number 1.3 million in the U.S.
 
Among Muslims, the U.S. ranks seventh as a destination, after Saudi Arabia, Russia, Germany, France, Jordan and Pakistan. There are about 2 million Muslim immigrants now living in United States, according to the study.

Related story
Jews ‘see God’ in Baptist cleanup of graves
Baptist group pulls ‘weeds of injustice’ from Jewish cemetery
8/29/2012 1:35:50 PM by Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



N.C. Baptists, other states prepare to respond to Hurricane Isaac

August 28 2012 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- "We are as ready as we can be at this time," Gibbie McMillan, disaster relief director for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, said as slow-moving Hurricane Isaac plodded toward southeast Louisiana.

Projections call for Isaac to make landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River around 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, seven years to the day Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800 people.

Unlike Katrina, which surged to a Category 5 storm at one point, Isaac is expected to be a "Cat 1" storm with 85 mph winds at most. However, it may dump 10-20 inches of rain in some areas, and a 6- to 12-foot storm surge is possible for the New Orleans area. Serious flooding and widespread power outages from downed power lines are expected along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts.

McMillan said the computer models he's seen predict Isaac moving up the Mississippi River -- where water levels have been down due to summer drought -- to Baton Rouge on Wednesday and on to Natchez, Miss., by Thursday morning.

Potential Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) sites for feeding hurricane victims include Northshore Church in Slidell; First Baptist Church in Covington, La.; and Woodland Park Church in Hammond. On standby are four Louisiana feeding units, two Arkansas feeding units to cover New Orleans, two Oklahoma feeding units for Baton Rouge and two Texas (SBTC) units for deployment wherever needed. Also on standby are chainsaw, laundry and shower units from Louisiana and other state conventions. North Carolina Baptist Men's Disaster Relief Ministry was among those teams that remained on standby Tuesday evening.

Ready to roll to Camp Living Waters, a Baptist camp near Hammond, La., is a North American Mission Board tractor-trailer packed with plastic roof sheeting for use in repairing hurricane-damaged homes. McMillan said the camp will serve as the main staging site for Louisiana DR operations. A second NAMB 18-wheeler will go to Mississippi. Also ready to go to Louisiana is NAMB's new command center, which will serve as McMillan's headquarters during the SBDR response effort.

"We're just in a holding pattern, waiting to see where the damage eventually is," McMillan said. "There's much concern over the amount of rainfall, which could be as much as two feet in 24 hours in southeast Louisiana." McMillan also echoed state officials' concern that the northeast side of Isaac could push rainwater over into Lake Ponchartrain -- causing flooding in the New Orleans area -- and in Lake Maurespas near Hammond and in Lake Borgne near Slidell.

Although Mississippi will not catch the brunt of Hurricane Isaac, Jim Didlake, director of men's ministry and disaster relief for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, expects the state to receive severe rainfall and flooding.

Mississippi Gulf Coast staging and feeding sites are planned on the campuses of First Baptist churches in Long Beach, Gulfport and Pascagoula. "We also have some Baptist churches that have already opened shelters in those areas," Didlake said.

Supporting Didlake's DR team will be chainsaw, mud-out, shower and laundry units from Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas (BGCT). Mississippi DR alone has 65 chainsaw teams on alert as well as a number of mud-out teams.

"We just ask Southern Baptists to keep our folks in their prayers as we respond," Didlake said.

From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through a partnership between NAMB and the SBC's 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.

SBDR assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, including The Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or contribute to NAMB's disaster relief fund via namb.net/disaster-relief-donations. Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for "Disaster Relief."

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.)
8/28/2012 9:24:10 PM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Chaplaincy volunteers make a difference in disaster relief

August 28 2012 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

Each year as hurricane season comes and goes we’re reminded of the many challenges in the aftermath of a disaster. Some must replace a roof or refurbish a flooded home.
 
Others must confront the challenge of overcoming the tragic loss of a loved one.
 
Regardless of the scope of a disaster, in addition to help with physical needs, many survivors need emotional and spiritual support.
 
During his six years serving with North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), Gary Carringer has witnessed firsthand the emotional trauma that victims of natural disasters endure.
 
“There have been times when I just talked to folks because they needed someone to talk to,” Carringer said. “Spending time with people sometimes is the most important thing.”
 
He said the volunteers who serve in disaster relief also need spiritual care. “I’ve seen volunteers who thought it would be a piece of cake, but the disaster really affected them,” he said.
 
Carringer is certified in the disciplines of feeding and recovery with NCBM, but recently felt called to also pursue certification as a disaster relief chaplaincy volunteer. The primary role of disaster relief chaplaincy volunteers is to provide spiritual and emotional care to survivors and volunteers who serve in the aftermath of a disaster.
 
08-28-12chaplaincy.jpg

BSC photo by Buddy Overman

Denise Gupton, right, leads a session during a disaster relief chaplaincy training for North Carolina Baptist Men.


Carringer participated in basic training for disaster relief chaplaincy volunteers at the recent NCBM disaster relief regional training seminar at Ranger Baptist Church in Murphy. The two-day training focused on the basics of providing spiritual care in a crisis situation. 
 
Once volunteers complete basic training, they are eligible to serve anywhere NCBM responds to a disaster. Volunteers are required to recertify every three years and are eligible to receive advanced training.
 
New addition to disaster relief
The first NCBM chaplaincy volunteers began training in 2005 under the direction of Larry Jones, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina senior consultant for military and chaplaincy ministry. Since then, more than 300 chaplaincy volunteers have completed basic training, and 209 are active and ready to serve.
 
The chaplaincy ministry is available to all North Carolina Baptists, including men, women, clergy and laypersons.
 
“We are always eager to connect with those who sense a calling to this kind of ministry,” Jones said.
“We have been very pleased through the years that so many people have sensed that call and responded by getting that training.”
 
He added that it is important to make the distinction between “chaplains” and “chaplaincy volunteers” because most volunteers are not clinically trained professionals.
 
Making a difference
Gaylon Moss, NCBM disaster relief volunteerism coordinator, said the level of training chaplaincy volunteers receive equips them to fill a vital role in disaster relief operations.
 
“The chaplaincy program has helped us highlight the spiritual and emotional components of disaster response so that survivors and volunteers have someone to talk to about spiritual things,” he said. “It’s meant a lot to Baptist Men.”
 
NCBM is tracking more professions of faith since the chaplaincy program began. Jones believes that is a direct result of the spiritual focus of chaplaincy volunteers, which allows volunteers with other disciplines of disaster relief to carry out their assignments.
 
“That’s not to say that other volunteers were not sharing their faith and bringing people to the Lord before we came on board,” Jones said. “But it does say that there is a niche here for a group of people who have a specific focus of meeting spiritual needs.”
 
Jones listed several characteristics of a successful chaplaincy volunteer. At the top of the list is a sense of calling motivated out of a love for God and for others. “The days are long and the nights are short in a disaster relief situation,” Jones said. “Volunteers will only persevere with a love for God and for their fellow man.”
 
Volunteers are also encouraged to receive additional training, such as training through other organizations like the Red Cross, and to learn from veteran NCBM chaplains. Volunteers should be Kingdom-focused, flexible, reliable, able to lead devotions, able to pray in public and willing to share their faith. Sharing the gospel is a critical component of the chaplaincy ministry, and is a characteristic that separates NCBM from other relief agencies.
 
“That’s what makes us different,” Jones said. “It’s not just about fixing a roof. “It’s about fixing a roof in order to show the love of God and to give us a chance to share why we want the love of God to be known.”
 
For more information contact Larry Jones at ljones@ncbaptist.org. NCBM disaster relief efforts are supported through the N.C. Missions Offering. Visit ncmissionsoffering.org.
8/28/2012 3:04:23 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Isaac disaster relief prep focuses on Gulf Coast

August 28 2012 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – With Tropical Storm Isaac continuing to churn toward landfall as a potential hurricane on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning – somewhere along the Louisiana and Mississippi Coasts – Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) leaders already are planning where major storm responses will be deployed.
 
Isaac – potentially a Category 2 hurricane – likely will strike seven years from the very day, Aug. 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina battered Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, forever altering life in New Orleans and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast hasn’t experienced a hurricane since the 2008 trio of Dolly, Gustav and Ike.

“We’re still watching the tracks coming out of the weather centers and other computer models,” said Mickey Caison, disaster relief team leader for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in Alpharetta, Ga.

“We’re looking at a Louisiana strike now, although we still think Mississippi will be affected,” Caison said. “The farther west it goes, depending on how it turns when it hits land, we could be facing a major response in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi in the next few days.”

Preliminary plans call for mobilizing two of NAMB’s three 18-wheel tractor trailers – one to Hattiesburg, Miss., and the other to Covington, La., or even farther west depending on Isaac’s eventual landfall. NAMB DR staffers were busy loading the trailers today with plastic roof sheeting for use in repairing homes of hurricane victims.
08-28-12disaster.jpg

Photo by John Swain

North American Mission Board disaster relief staffers Beth Bootz, left, and Cathy Miller load a “mud-out” trailer with special equipment needed by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief mud-out teams responding to Tropical Storm Isaac, after it becomes a full-fledged hurricane Tuesday night or Wednesday. Isaac is predicted to make landfall along the Louisiana/Mississippi Gulf Coast area, perhaps as far west as Texas.


If needed, NAMB is prepared to deploy a command post trailer from Alpharetta to the Gulf Coast, and is sending a team to retrieve its second command center in Oklahoma, where it has been used for the past few weeks in responding to the recent wildfires in the Sooner State.

State conventions in Louisiana and other affected states will be deploying their own volunteers and assets, including mud-out trailers, shower and laundry units and feeding kitchens. Working with the Red Cross and Salvation Army, some SBDR feeding units can prepare and deliver thousands of hot meals a day during a disaster.

When asked to compare the potential of Isaac with Katrina, which reached Category 3 status and claimed more than 1,800 lives and $80 billion in damage, Caison said at this point, there’s no comparison.

“It’s not the same strength of storm. Isaac is a much weaker storm and won’t have the same level of storm surge,” he said.

“But it’s possible that Isaac will take more of the 2008 Gustav/Ike track instead of the Katrina track,” said Caison, meaning that Texas and southwest Louisiana will suffer the brunt of the hurricane and resulting flooding.

Caison believes Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is much better equipped for Isaac than for Katrina.

“We’re much better off than we were seven years ago,” Caison said. “I think we’re much better prepared. We have seven more years of experience, planning and development as well as better equipment and more trained volunteers. Southern Baptists and the nation in general are better prepared for a Gulf Coast hurricane response today.”

Last Friday, Aug. 24, was the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $25 billion in damage and killed 26 people in South Florida. Hurricane season does not end until Nov. 30.

From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through a partnership between NAMB and the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.

SBDR assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained, credentialed disaster relief volunteers in the United States, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or contribute to NAMB’s disaster relief fund via namb.net/disaster-relief-donations. Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.)
8/28/2012 2:55:17 PM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘This is God’s passion’: Training for N.C. churches to embrace UUPGs

August 28 2012 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

As Old Town Baptist Church continues on a journey that began a year and a half ago to share the gospel among a people group in Southeast Asia, they are discovering just how important it is to reach the nations for Jesus Christ.
 
“We have been talking a lot about how passionate we are about reaching this unengaged, unreached people group (UUPG),” said Mark Harrison, missions pastor at Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
 
“But I realize now that God wants to reach them infinitely more. This is not just something that is a passion for the International Mission Board (IMB) or a local church; this is God’s passion.”
 
Old Town will host the Embrace Southeast Asian Peoples USA Training Sept. 17-19.

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships and the IMB will sponsor the event.
 
North Carolina Baptists are on a journey to embrace 250 UUPGs by the year 2021.
 
08-28-12oldtown.jpg

Photo by Chris Carter

People of dozens of nationalities pass each other in London’s Stratford area every day. Reaching unengaged and unreached peoples will be the topic of a September event in Winston-Salem. The host church is working with the T people in Southeast Asia.


Churches ready to engage a people group are encouraged to attend the training, as well as churches already involved in working with UUPGs. Harrison said the event is also helpful to churches praying about how to get involved, as the training offers strategies for how to identify and reach unreached people groups living in the United States.
 
Training topics include mission strategy, strengthening the church task force, researching and praying for UUPGs, field training, effective witnessing methods, and learning from past mistakes. The deadline to register is Sept. 10.
 
When Harrison led a team from Old Town to work among a group they call the “T people” this summer, he was reminded of God’s great love for this people group.
 
For example, he saw how God brought an entire family to faith and is now using them to witness to others.
 
This particular family left their country about seven years ago and moved to a neighboring country in order to find work.
 
During that time the daughter met a Christian who invited her to a worship service. The daughter came to faith in Jesus Christ, and one by one, so did her mother and siblings.
 
The family recently moved back for the purpose of evangelizing and discipling  in their home country – the T people.
 
“Seven years ago God began a process to reach the T people. God already has a strategy and plan. It reaffirms for me that God wants this done more than we do,” Harrison said. “We need to be sensitive to see where He is working. We need to partner with Him.”
 
During the summer trip Harrison and the team watched, as time after time, God proved His faithfulness.
 
“God just ordered our steps,” he said. “This was a very important trip. Everywhere we went we met T people. At one restaurant every person on the wait staff belonged to the T people.
 
At another restaurant, the same thing happened. And one day we went to a dock to visit some fishermen and they were all T people.”
 
The team followed up with people who made professions of faith during their last few visits. They had an opportunity to share the gospel and one couple, a Muslim man and his Buddhist wife, both prayed to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.
 
The team also participated in a commissioning service for two men from a different people group in the country who feel called to live among the T people as missionaries. They are the first missionaries to the T people.
 
In October, Harrison and a team will help introduce these men to believers they have met in the T villages. 
 
“We’re not as much the strategists as we are the facilitators,” he said. “We are trying to connect with people and help connect the people who are already there. It’s very important to keep on praying for God to show us what He wants us to do.”
 
Since beginning this journey of embracing an unreached, unengaged people group, Harrison has prayed that Old Town would persevere to the end and be faithful to do all God asks them to do. “God has just touched the hearts of our people. They’re praying hard for the T people,” he said.
 
For more information about the training event, or to learn more about Old Town’s journey with the T people, visit www.ncbaptist.org/gcp.
8/28/2012 2:36:30 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



‘American Bible Challenge’ sets ratings record

August 28 2012 by Baptist Press

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The debut of “The American Bible Challenge” game show provided GSN its highest ratings ever, easily outperforming the previous record, the network says.

A total of 1.7 million viewers watched the game show Aug. 23, in which host Jeff Foxworthy asks Bible questions of three teams who play for their favorite charities. The show also features a gospel choir.
08-28-12game.jpg

The program airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific.
 
“The best-selling book of all time is now GSN’s most viewed program of all time, which proves that consumers are yearning for fun, family-friendly entertainment,” said Amy Introcaso-Davis, GSN’s executive vice president of programming and development. “We are incredibly proud of this show and are happy that it connected with so many viewers.”

The game show’s debut also helped GSN set a network record for total viewers for a night (2.3 million).

Baptist Press movie/television reviewer Phil Boatwright called American Bible Challenge the best game show he’s seen since “Jeopardy.”

GSN (Game Show Network) is found on cable and satellite systems nationwide. On Dish Network, it’s channel 116, and on DirectTV, it’s 233.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
8/28/2012 2:21:31 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



BSC leaders garner re-nominations for election

August 27 2012 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

The three top leaders for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) will be re-nominated at the annual meeting in November to their respective posts.
 
“Mark [Harris] has been a tremendous leader in our Convention, serving as first and second vice president and this past year as president,” said Marty Jacumin, senior pastor of Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh.
 
Harris, who is pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, will be re-nominated, along with C.J. Bordeaux Sr. and Timmy D. Blair Sr., Nov. 12-13 during the BSC annual meeting, which will be held at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex Special Events Center.
 
“[Mark] has traveled this state listening to the concerns of N.C. Baptists,” Jacumin said. “We are fortunate to have Mark serve us as president, and I look forward to his continued leadership.”
 
Bobby Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, praises Bordeaux’s servant leadership as first vice president.
 
“As an officer of this Convention, C.J. has not only assisted the leadership of our current president, Mark Harris, but has supported fully the work of our executive director-treasurer, Milton Hollifield,” Blanton said. “I think his faithful service is deserving of another opportunity.”
 
08-28-12candidates.jpg

Contributed photos

Current Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) officers – from left: Mark Harris, president; C.J. Bordeaux Sr., first vice president; and Timmy D. Blair Sr., second vice president – will all be re-nominated for office at the BSC annual meeting in November.


Bordeaux pastors Gorman Baptist Church in Durham.
 
Calling Blair “a loyal Southern Baptist, a Bible preacher and a soul winner,” Scott Faw, pastor of Moon’s Chapel Baptist Church in Siler City, plans to re-nominate Blair as second vice president.
 
Blair has been pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist in Angier for 24 years.
 
“He has consistently led his church over the years, and the church has seen steady growth,” Faw said. “Timmy is a friend to pastors and will serve North Carolina Baptists well this next year.”
 
About election, officers
Officers are elected for a one-year term and may be elected for two consecutive terms.
 
The president presides over the deliberations of the Convention and has responsibility of other duties as directed by the Convention. The president and vice presidents also serve as a nominating committee bringing recommendations for members of the Committee on Nominations to the Board for their election at its January meeting. The president and vice presidents also serve as ex-officio voting members of all Convention committees and of the Board and its Executive Committee. The Convention officers serve as ex-officio non-voting members of all subcommittees of the Convention committees and all committees and subcommittees of the Board.
 
Currently no other nominations have been announced in this year’s election.
 
Visit BRnow.org or ncannualmeeting.com for more information and coverage leading up to and including the election.
8/27/2012 2:15:58 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Association uses camp to teach God’s Word, show His love

August 27 2012 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

When Ashley Ricks graduates next May her attention will turn to wedding planning, moving and job searching, and for the first time in a long time her summer plans will not include Camp Cale.
 
Ricks, a senior at Campbell University, first came to Camp Cale as a 12-year-old camper. “I could see the love that the counselors had for the Lord and for the campers. I remember, it was my first year here, and the director asked me if I had ever thought about being a counselor,” she said.
 
From that point on, Ricks found a home at Cale. She came as a camper four years and a counselor six years, serving during high school and college. She served one year as lead counselor and one year as program coordinator.
 
This camp in the small eastern North Carolina town of Hertford, situated on the shore of the Perquimans River, is making a big impact in the lives of campers and counselors like Ricks.
 
08-27-12cale-(1).jpg

BSC photo by Melissa Lilley

Ashley Ricks, a Campbell University student, spent her summer at Camp Cale – again. Ricks has been coming to Camp Cale since she was 12 years old and has served on staff for several years in a variety of positions. Here, she oversees some children on the ropes course.


“Without this experience I don’t know who I’d be today. I can’t imagine my summers anywhere else,” Ricks said.
 
As a counselor Ricks has done it all, from leading devotions with the girls in her cabin and sharing her testimony, to learning to clean a bathhouse, teaching tract times such as the high ropes course, and managing the snack shop.
 
Most importantly, she has learned how to be a spiritual leader and how to keep her focus on Jesus.
 
“I had to grow spiritually,” she said. “I had to fill myself up so I could give it all out to the campers. It’s not about us. It’s all about the campers and showing them Christ.”
 
After 10 years, Cale is still as much a joy to Ricks as when she first arrived. “I want to help the campers love Cale as much as I do. I’ve seen campers come back like I did to serve as junior counselors and senior counselors,” she said. “God has called us to serve Him, and we should go out and serve whether it’s at a camp, in your hometown or across the world.”
 
Camp director Matt Thomas encourages his counselors to always look for the “teachable moments” and to build relationships with the campers so they can have an opportunity to share the gospel. 
 
“Camp would not have the same impact if we didn’t share Christ with the campers,” Thomas said.
 
Cale offers fun activities, such as archery, swimming and kayaking, but the priority is helping children and youth grow in their relationship with Christ.
 
“This camp lets them focus in a safe environment on God’s Word and encourages them to go back home and live for the Lord,” Thomas said. 
 
This year’s summer camp theme was “Creation Labs,” based on Psalm 51:10. “We want the campers to know that God is the creator of all things, and they are His special creation,” Thomas said. “God wants to have a relationship with them.”
 
Campers participate in two worship services each day and learn key scripture passages throughout the week.
 
Tracy Smith, pastor of youth and evangelism at Rocky Hock Baptist Church in Edenton and member of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Board of Directors, spent a week at Cale this summer as camp pastor.
 
“In this area I see a lot of religious people, but I see people who aren’t fully committed and surrendered and walking closely with the Lord,” he said. “The need is huge for a place like Cale. We need to get away from religiosity and be what God has commanded us to be; to teach these campers how to be participants in the Great Commission.”
 
Smith is encouraged to know that at Cale the Word of God is not watered down or compromised, and youth are challenged to stand firm in the Word.
 
“In the years to come, you will see great things come from this place,” he said. 
 
Although Cale’s main outreach is summer camp for grades 2-12, the long-term vision is for Cale to offer more opportunities for families and for conferencing, such as marriage conferences and men’s and women’s events. Construction on a new conference center building is underway and will be ready next year. The next phase in the camp’s physical development will include additional lodging facilities.
 
A ministry of the Chowan Baptist Association, Cale spans 10 counties and 68 churches. Thomas said expanding Cale’s ministry has been, and will continue to be, made possible in large part through the support of local churches.
 
Cale’s ministry is also made possible through the dedication of staff like Ricks and Thomas who want to see the next generation grow up in the knowledge of the Lord. 
 
Andrew Young came back to Cale this summer for his fourth summer as a counselor. He is grateful for the chance to pour into the lives of the youth, just as others did for him when he was their age.
 
Throughout the camp weeks he shared the gospel with the campers in his cabin, explaining concepts such as sin, forgiveness, grace and mercy, and let campers ask questions and shared his testimony of salvation.
 
Young said a former camper recently contacted him and thanked him for sharing his testimony several years ago at camp.
 
“The staff to camper relationship is one of the special things about Cale,” he said.
 
“I never realized the impact God allowed me to have on the campers while I was here. Sometimes you don’t know the impact you have until much later.”
 
A fall fundraiser is planned Oct. 20. Called “For Such a Time as This,” the capital campaign banquet starts at 6 p.m. Send donations to 377 Camp Cale Road, Hertford, NC 27944.
 
Call (252) 264-2513. To learn more about Cale visit www.campcale.com.
8/27/2012 1:58:34 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



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