August 2013

Facebook fundraising scams target Christians

August 13 2013 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Rick Warren is among the latest Christian leaders targeted by phony Facebook pages using his name to bilk money from supporters.
 
Criminals have established more than 200 fake Facebook pages soliciting funds supposedly in memory of Warren’s son Matthew, who committed suicide in April, Warren tweeted followers. The pastor of mega Saddleback Church in Lake Valley, Calif., told followers he had shutdown 179 of the pages as of Aug. 6.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Saddleback is indeed seeking donations for the church’s Matthew Warren Fund for Mental Health under the umbrella of the New Horizons Foundation of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Christians can avoid such scams by investigating such solicitations before making contributions, said LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer, whom criminals have twice targeted on Facebook, most recently this year.

“The biggest issue is that these scams don’t work if you don’t give money,” Stetzer told Baptist Press. “If someone asks you for money via a Facebook message, be skeptical. Check it out.

“In my case, I would never send someone a Facebook message asking for money, so if you get such a message, you need to ask, ‘Is this normal?’” he said.
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BP photo
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., has become the target of social media scams.


Warren established the fund for mental health sufferers in April after his son’s suicide. Criminals followed suit with scams, although no complaints have surfaced indicating individuals gave money through the fake appeals.

Phony Facebook pages look almost identical to official pages, but can often be discerned as phony, said Marty Duren, LifeWay’s manager of social media strategy.

“First and foremost, they ask for money,” Duren said. “Second, there is usually a far fewer number of ‘likes’ on the page than you might expect for a celebrity or well-known leader. Third, the main pictures (cover and profile) are usually stolen from the actual page.”

But their existence indicates some level of success, Duren said.

“I would guess, like the ‘Nigerian Prince’ email scams, there is some success at bilking people out of money,” he said. “If there [were] none, people would stop doing it. However, I do not know of specific data.”

Every Facebook page has a “settings” menu that accepts reports of suspicious pages, and Facebook will remove such pages after several complaints.

“Generally, everything one intends to put on the Internet should be treated as if it will be there forever,” Duren said. “However, pages and links that are removed will generally rotate out of search engine reach over time.”

Like Stetzer, Duren advises against giving money through Facebook.

“Don’t give,” Duren said. “You cannot stop a fake page from popping up or trying to convince you [to make] a financial gift. Almost no credible leaders will make financial appeals through Facebook pages. The best rule of thumb is, ‘Don’t give through Facebook.’”

Stetzer fought fake appeals in his name by tweeting followers about the problem.

“Each time, I tweeted and posted on Facebook, asking people to report the fake page,” Stetzer said. “It takes a little while for Facebook to act, sometimes a day or two, so I worry that some people were scammed in the meanwhile.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer.)
8/13/2013 4:04:02 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Calvinism and S. Baptists: a look at a heavily debated issue

August 12 2013 by Daniel L. Akin, SEBTS

Introduction

Many have read about the Calvinism debate among Southern Baptists, and some have followed related discussions on blogs. At the Biblical Recorder we have received questions from Baptists in the pews and many pastors asking what the discussion is really all about.
 
In an effort to clarify the Calvinism controversy, the Biblical Recorder is publishing an article by Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, that was first published in SBC Life in 2006. We believe Akin’s article will assist in bringing understanding to those who don’t have time to follow this issue and will encourage cooperation among Baptists.
 
In August 2012 Frank Page, CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, assembled a 19-member advisory committee to examine disagreement within the SBC on the matter of Calvinism and to advise him on developing “a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”
 
The committee was composed of Baptists who are Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Union University President David Dockery, chaired the committee. The report, which was released in May 2013, lists areas of agreement and disagreement between the two camps, saying “we do indeed have some challenging but not insurmountable points of tension.”
 
The report says, “We affirm that Southern Baptists stand together in a commitment to cooperate in Great Commission ministries. We affirm that, from the very beginning of our denominational life, Calvinists and non-Calvinists have cooperated together.”
 
The report also adds, “We must not only acknowledge but celebrate the distinctive contributions made by the multiple streams of our Southern Baptist heritage. These streams include both Charleston and Sandy Creek, the Reformers and many of the advocates of the Radical Reformation, confessional evangelicalism and passionate revivalism. These streams and their tributaries nourish us still.”
– BR Editor

Divine sovereignty and human responsibility: How should Southern Baptists respond to the issue of Calvinism?

Calvinism.jpg
Few issues are more likely to ignite a lively debate than a discussion of the relationships between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in this subject in Southern Baptist life, to the delight of some and chagrin of others. The Conservative Resurgence which began in 1979 was about the authority of the Bible. Those who believe the Bible to be the inerrant and infallible Word of God will take its doctrines seriously. Issues like predestination and election, free will and human responsibility will naturally require our careful study.
 
Thankfully, our theological discussions are not those of other denominations in our day. Issues like the deity of Christ, the exclusivity of the gospel, open theism, abortion, and homosexuality are settled for Southern Baptists because of our commitment to the clear teachings of scripture.
 
However, some issues in the Bible are more obscure. There is often a mystery and tension to what we find when we examine all that the Bible says on some subjects. This is clearly the case when it comes to understanding God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in salvation.
 
Unfortunately, there is more heat than light in many instances with shrill voices and unhealthy rhetoric – on both sides of the issue – getting too much attention. On one side you hear people saying that God hates the non-elect and damns babies to hell. They say that Jesus was a Calvinist and that Calvinism is the gospel. On the other side you hear voices stating that Calvinism is heresy and that Calvinists do not believe in missions and evangelism. Some even suggest that the Southern Baptist Convention could split over this issue though I am convinced this will not happen.
 
I believe we need to tone down the rhetoric. We need to seek biblical balance, theological sanity, and ministerial integrity in the midst of this discussion. Let me attempt to set the playing field for this important issue and then make some theological and practical suggestions as we work together for the glory of God and the cause of Christ.
 

A Look at Calvinism

The issue that is being debated today almost always revolves around the idea of Calvinism. To some, this is a theological landmine to be avoided at all cost, even if they are not sure what it means. For others it signals a recovery of biblical truth growing out of the Reformation of the 16th century and its emphasis on the great solas: scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, for the glory of God alone. John Calvin (1509-64) was the great theologian of the Reformation. An outstanding biblical scholar, he heralded the theology of both Paul and Augustine (354-430). Like Martin Luther (1483-1546), he emphasized the sovereignty of God, the sinfulness of man, and the necessity of grace for salvation.
 
Later in the 17th century, followers of Calvin would systematize his theology and go beyond what Calvin himself taught. This system would ultimately be codified through the now famous acrostic TULIP.
 
The history of Southern Baptists includes those on one side of the theological spectrum who have flatly rejected three or more of Calvin’s five points and those at the other who have enthusiastically embraced all of them, with many Baptists falling somewhere in between.
 
The reality is that the SBC has included “Five-Point Calvinists” and “Modified” Calvinists from the start. It should be stressed here that, from a denomination standpoint, in this discussion there is no “right or wrong.” Southern Baptists have always been diverse in many regards, and the theological realm is no exception. Neither the Southern Baptist Convention, nor its seminaries, endorse or promote a particular theological system or stance on areas not addressed in the Baptist Faith and Message.
 
Frankly, I don’t foresee that ever changing. So what follows is not an endorsement or promotion of Calvinism, but rather a review and condensed explanation of what some of our Southern Baptist brethren believe on the five points of the Calvinistic system. My hope and prayer is that a fuller understanding will help set the stage for what follows in the final section.
  • Total Depravity – This view holds that man is born with a nature and bent toward sin. Every aspect of man’s being is infected with the disease of sin so that he cannot save himself, neither can he move toward God without the initiating and enabling grace of God. Man is not as bad as he could possibly be, but he is radically depraved. Most Baptists would agree on this point, at least in some measure. It is hard to deny it in light of Romans 3:9-20 and Ephesians 2:1-3.
  • Unconditional Election – According to this view, God, in grace and mercy, has chosen certain persons for salvation. Those who hold this view believe that His decision is not based on human merit or foreseen faith, but in the goodness and providence of God’s own will and purposes.
Many would add, however, that the electing purpose of God is somehow accomplished without destroying human free will and responsibility. Accordingly, no one is saved apart from God’s plan, and yet, anyone who repents and trusts Christ will be saved. The French theologian Moise Amyraut (1596-1664) referred to this as God’s secret or hidden decree. There is an admitted tension in this position, but a tension that need not be viewed as contradictory. Calvinists commonly cite John 6:37-48 at this point.
 
Of course, this view is hotly debated among some Southern Baptists, with alternative interpretations of scriptural passages being offered and both sides genuinely believe they are operating from a biblical basis.
 
The reality is Southern Baptists will likely debate this point until the Lord returns, but there is certainly no need for division or ill will over it.
  • Limited Atonement – Most Calvinists view this as an unfortunate phrase, preferring the term “particular redemption” instead. The original stance of Calvin’s followers was that the intent of the atoning work of Christ was to provide and purchase salvation for the elect.
Thus the work of Christ would be limited to the elect, and His atonement was made for a particular people (e.g., His sheep, the Church, His Bride).
 
This is a real point of contention for many, and, in fact, most Modified Calvinists cannot embrace this teaching in its classic form.
 
However, let me offer a crucial observation that hopefully will foster some unity on this point. All Bible-believers limit the atonement in some way. To not do so is to advocate Universalism, the view that eventually everyone will be saved. Most Baptists would say the Bible teaches that the atonement is limited in its application, but certainly not its provision.
 
In other words, in His death on the cross Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; 4:10; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:9-10) making a universal provision. However, the application is limited to those who receive the free gift of salvation offered to them by their personal faith in Christ. One can see then that all evangelicals limit the atonement in some sense, but do so in different ways.
  • Irresistible Grace – Most Calvinists would see this as another unfortunate choice of words that stirs up unnecessary debate. Instead, they would prefer the phrase “effectual calling.” This doctrine asserts that those who are predestined to be saved are called to salvation (Romans 8:30) effectually or effectively. They are not forced to come but are set free to come and they do so willingly. Timothy George strikes the balance of this teaching with human responsibility when he writes, “God created human beings with free moral agency, and He does not violate this even in the supernatural work of regeneration. Christ does not rudely bludgeon His way into the human heart. He does not abrogate our creaturely freedom. No, he beckons and woos, He pleads and pursues, He waits and wins” (Amazing Grace, p. 74).
  • Perseverance of the Saints – Those God saves, He protects and preserves in their salvation. Baptists have historically referred to this as the doctrine of “eternal security,” or in popular terminology as “once saved, always saved.”
This is one point of Calvinism that almost all Baptists affirm. Sometimes misunderstood and falsely caricatured by those rejecting this doctrine, perseverance of the saints does not teach people can live any way they want and take advantage of God’s grace. Rather, because of the greatness of the gift of our salvation, true believers will be grieved when they sin and will pursue a life that is pleasing to the God whom they love and Who keeps them safely in His hand (John 10:27-29).
 
This is a summary of “five-point Calvinism” or what its advocates call “the Doctrines of Grace.” Though it is not as popular among Southern Baptists as it was in the past, there has been a rise in interest in its teachings. And one should honestly acknowledge many wonderful and significant Baptists in the past followed these doctrines. This includes men like William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Luther Rice, Adoniram Judson, Charles Spurgeon, John L. Dagg, Basil Manly Jr., and James Boyce. John Broadus and B.H. Carroll would also have considered themselves Calvinists, though both would have affirmed only four of the five points. They did not advocate particular redemption.
 
How then should Southern Baptists, with such a rich and diverse theological heritage, respond to this controversial issue at the dawn of the 21st century? As people of The Book who rejoice in a remarkable history, how might we move forward together in unity in the days ahead?
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Daniel Akin is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. The second part of Akin’s article will be featured in the Biblical Recorder’s Aug. 31 issue. This article is being used with permission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The article was originally published in the April 2006 SBC Life, news journal of the SBC’s Executive Committee.)
 

Glossary of theological terms

  • Calvinism – A theological tradition named after sixteenth-century French reformer John Calvin that emphasizes the sovereignty of God in all things, man’s inability to do spiritual good before God, and the glory of God as the highest end of all that occurs.
  • Doctrines of grace – Another term for the theological tradition commonly referred to as Calvinism.
  • Arminianism – A theological tradition named after seventeenth-century theologian Jacob Arminius that seeks to preserve the free choices of human beings and denies God’s providential control over the details of all events.
  • Supralapsarianism – The belief held by some Calvinists that God decided first that He would save some people then decided to allow sin to enter the world so He could save them from it.
  • Double predestination – The belief that God predestines some to salvation and others to damnation.
  • Atonement – The work Christ did in His life and death to earn our salvation.
  • Providence – The doctrine that God is continually involved with all created things so that He maintains their existence, guides their actions, and directs them to fulfill His purposes.
  • Pre-tribulational/pre-millennial – The view that God will rapture believers into heaven secretly during Christ’s first return prior to the great tribulation.
  • Amillennial – The view that there will be no literal thousand-year bodily reign of Christ on earth prior to the final judgment and the eternal state.
  • Pelagians – Those holding the theological beliefs of the fifth-century monk Pelagius, who believed that man has the ability to obey God’s commands and take the first steps to salvation without God’s assistance.
  • Open Theists – Those who believe that God does not know with certainty all future events.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – While most pastors would recognize and understand the theological terms used in this article, we have a growing number of readers who have not had formal theological training and might be unfamiliar with such terms and phrases as these.)
 

Quotes from members of the Calvinism advisory committee

“As the statement affirms, these tensions have been present within the Southern Baptist Convention from the very beginning of our life and work together. We are people who take theology seriously. But we are also people who take seriously our joy and privilege in working together in service to the Great Commission.”
– R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
 
“My love for the unity in essentials among Southern Baptists for the purpose of getting the [g]ospel to every human on earth has wrung my signature on this document from my heart. The most important aspect to me is the provision for honesty and integrity for all.”
– Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
 
“I believe [the advisory committee report] effectively articulates and models the way forward, taking seriously both our theological unity and diversity as a truly positive component of our ‘one sacred effort.’”
– Eric Hankins, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Oxford, Miss.
 
“This group had the difficult task of dealing with a subject that many Southern Baptists have very strong opinions about. My personal prayer is that this report will be an example of how believers can come together to impact the Kingdom of God and not personal agendas.”
– Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention; senior pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, La.
8/12/2013 3:06:00 PM by Daniel L. Akin, SEBTS | with 6 comments



New partnership stirs excitement around ASU ministry

August 12 2013 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) will partner with a network of churches in the Western part of the state in an effort to strengthen campus ministry at Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone.
 
The three-year agreement comes a few months after the BSC rolled out a new structure and strategy to impact lostness throughout the state. The BSC’s strategy includes an effort to increase campus ministry across the state by equipping churches and associations to impact more colleges and students for Christ.
 
“This is the first group that has stepped up to the plate,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC’s executive director-treasurer. “This is a group of churches that [is] taking responsibility to say, … ‘We’re going to work to provide a ministry on the campus of Appalachian State University.’”
 
Led by the Three Forks Baptist Association (TFBA) in Boone, a network of churches are working to create a self-sustaining non-profit organization that will support and guide campus ministry at ASU.
 
The BSC’s partnership funding and new structure and strategy will officially launch Jan. 1, 2014.
 
Some churches and associations, including those with TFBA, voiced concerns earlier this year when BSC’s leadership announced plans to no longer fund full-time campus ministers.
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ASU photo
With the Appalachian Mountains as a backdrop to its campus, Appalachian State University attracts students from all over the world, not just North Carolina. A new partnership will allow Baptist churches and the local association to work together to reach students on the campus.

 
In addition to ASU, the BSC’s decision directly impacted eight campuses in the state. Those other campuses include: East Carolina University, Greenville; North Carolina State University, Raleigh; University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill; UNC-Asheville, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Pembroke, and Western Carolina University, Cullowhee.
 
BSC leadership contended its purpose is to expand, not limit, the reach of campus ministry across the state.
 
“I want to reach more students,” Hollifield told the BSC’s Board of Directors when they affirmed the strategy in May. “I want to keep the students connected to the churches.”
 
That’s a challenge Seth Norris, pastor of Perkinsville Baptist Church in Boone, said he can support. This fall, the church is expecting about 30 ASU students to return to the congregation. Many of the students lead a tutoring program for at-risk middle school students.
 
“This is our Jerusalem,” said Norris, who pointed out that ASU has a slightly larger student population at about 17,000 than the town of Boone. “I look up and I see the signs for our university right in front of us. ... If we deny that, my question is ‘are we being faithful to the Great Commission?’”
 
Norris will help lead the new campus ministry partnership involving BSC and area churches. He is the chair of a task force that was formed by TFBA to create a non-profit organization that will rally support for ASU campus ministry.
 
Questions still remain on the details of the partnership. For now, the network plans to use funding received from BSC’s partnership agreement to help support a part-time campus ministry position through at least the 2014 spring semester.
 
By the end of the three-year partnership, the non-profit will be expected to be fully self-sustaining.
 
The non-profit will not be a ministry of the association, said Barry Nealy, TFBA’s director of missions. To avoid “turfism,” he said the non-profit will need to consist of representatives from associations and churches beyond TFBA. “If [TFBA] leads this ministry then other associations and churches may feel that it’s our territory, and they’re not invited to the party,” said Nealy, who is on the task force.
 
“And that may minimize the funding that [the non-profit organization] need[s]. … It would be very difficult to do this … unless we get some funds beyond our borders.”
 
“It’s a lot of work,” added Norris. “[But]… I’ve never seen our churches unite in the short time I’ve been in our association around anything like this before. It’s been just powerful to watch.”
 
Both Norris and Nealy admit they were initially troubled by the BSC’s new approach to campus ministry.
After the BSC’s Executive Committee approved the new strategy in April, the TFBA sent a letter to BSC leadership. The letter voiced concerns about losing their full-time campus minister Jonathan Yarboro.
 
Yarboro had led the campus ministry from a handful of students in 2006 to later filling a chapel on campus with more than 200 students. Many of those students have become actively involved in missions, and the ministry has partnerships with at least 13 churches in the area.
 
“When I first heard about [the new strategy], I was a skeptic,” Norris said. “We’ve seen so many beautiful things happening through campus ministry, so when I hear that the most visible work of the state convention in our area is having its funding removed, obviously I became a skeptic, initially. …[But] it’s becoming real and so my skepticism is now turning into encouragement.”
 
“There was a disappointment there,” added Nealy. “We just felt like this was an exceptional [ministry].”
 
“Maybe God has a better plan,” he said. “That kind of helped me turn the corner, recognize that this didn’t have to be negative, unless we all wanted to make it negative.”
 
Since then, Yarboro has accepted a position under the new strategy as the western region consultant for BSC’s new Collegiate Partnerships team. His duties as a consultant began Aug. 1.
 
In addition to consulting on campus ministry at ASU, Yarboro’s role has expanded to helping other campuses throughout the western part of the state.
 
Since Yarboro began his new duties, Mike Puckett, a former ASU campus ministry intern, has accepted a part-time, interim campus ministry position at ASU.
 
For now Yarboro, a third member of the task force, remains optimistic about the future of campus ministry.
 
“The excitement over what’s gonna happen … is building,” he said. “There are a lot of ways that we don’t know what the specifics are going to look like, but I think we can partner together to make things even better than what they have been.”
 
“We’re hoping that … Appalachian will become contagious [and] breathe some hope into some other areas.”
 
For more information contact Yarboro at (828) 264-7641, or jyarboro@ncbaptist.org.
8/12/2013 2:59:41 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



VBS impacts lostness, encourages discipleship, leaders say

August 12 2013 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

After serving in children’s ministry nearly 20 years, Cheryl Markland never tires of seeing a child understand something new about God.
 
“The greatest joy is seeing a child’s eyes light up when they grasp a new truth of who God is,” she said. “That gives me the greatest personal and professional joy, knowing that their life has been impacted for the Kingdom of God.”
 
Markland, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) childhood ministry consultant, believes the future of the church is dependent upon how well parents, adults and the church partner together to reach children.
 
“From Deuteronomy 6 on, if the parents did not teach the children well, the faith would die,” she said. “It’s still that way. “If adults are not teaching and modeling and joyfully serving, the faith will die.”
 
Teaching, modeling and serving requires adults, not just parents and church staff, to work together to reach the next generation.
 
Yet, a common challenge in children’s ministry is convincing adults that children can understand theological concepts and experience a relationship with God.
 
“People don’t understand that kids can go to these places,” Markland said. “When you understand the special relationships children can have with God, and when you could experience that with them, how could you not want to be there?”
 
Markland points to Vacation Bible School (VBS) as a model of cooperation that also demonstrates the potential for children’s ministry. VBS, which often requires adult lay leaders, parents, church staff and sometimes multiple churches to cooperate together for its success, also returns high numbers of professions of faith each year.
 
In 2012, 771 North Carolina Baptist churches reported their participation in VBS, with a statewide enrollment of 100,950 children and 2,252 professions of faith. Preliminary 2013 statistics will be available in December.
 
On average, the number of professions of faith reported from VBS is about 25 percent of the annual baptisms recorded by the Southern Baptist Convention.
 
This fact alone makes VBS an important outreach for the church and demonstrates that children can respond to the gospel. “There is a very clear presentation of the gospel during Vacation Bible School that we don’t do anywhere else,” Markland said. “Bible School is so intentionally evangelistic, the gospel is so clearly presented, that it has a huge impact on lostness.”
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Contributed photo
Faith Baptist Church members lead Vacation Bible School, one of the leading ways churches can reach the lost in their communities.

 
Ryan Chapman, children’s pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville, said the annual success of VBS speaks for itself. “If you just look at statistics, year after year VBS continues to be one of the largest outreaches among Southern Baptist churches,” he said.
 
“More people come to know Christ as a result of VBS than many other outreach opportunities.”
Chapman added that VBS pays dividends for the church in multiple ways, namely because it results in discipleship among the adults who serve.  
 
“VBS is one of those events where it takes a lot of people to come and serve. It takes the church to pull together as a body,” he said. “So you get a rally factor of the church serving together and out of that come relationships that are built among people who are serving, and out of those relationships come discipleship relationships.”
 
Chapman sees God moving through VBS every year through its impact on the lives of children, their families and the overall health of the church. He said many times the results go unnoticed because they happen weeks, months or even years later. 
 
“I’ve seen families who have come to church as a result of their daughter being involved in VBS or their son being involved in VBS who join the church a year later,” he said. “But then I see the discipleship and growth of our own people who serve and they begin to see that God can use them as they serve. You begin to see those relationships develop and the church becomes closer.”
 

Link-Ups

One way churches can partner together to impact lostness through VBS is by participating in link-ups, which is when one church helps another church host VBS by sharing its resources.
 
Every year Faith Baptist gives away its decorations and curriculum materials to various churches. Chapman connects with churches that need VBS materials through Faith members who know about a church in need or through the local association.
 
“It helps them and it’s a blessing to us to be able to serve. We are glad to pass along anything we can to help other churches any way we can,” he said. 
 
Gail Ledbetter, BSC VBS specialist, said link-ups are critical for many churches.  
 
“Churches that participate in a link-up share much needed resources such as curriculum, decorations and volunteers to assist another church in providing a VBS,” she said. “In most cases, without that help, a VBS would not have been possible.
 
“We praise God for that cooperation.”
 
In 2012, link-ups accounted for about 25 percent of North Carolina Baptist churches that participated in VBS. Chapman said it’s important for churches to partner together for the sake of the Kingdom.
 
“I encourage other churches to be good stewards of their resources,” he said. “It’s not just about our church. It’s about the Kingdom and doing Kingdom ministry.”
 
For more information about VBS, including church report forms and link-ups, visit www.ncbaptist.org/vbs
8/12/2013 2:45:36 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Duck Dynasty’s Si Robertson talks faith

August 12 2013 by Aaron Earls, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Viewers and ducks have a hard time resisting the call of the Robertson family. Duck Dynasty, the hit A&E television show, returns with season four in mid-August.

But before that, Si Robertson, one of the show’s stars, opened up to LifeWay Christian Resources about his faith and the reason he and the rest of the Robertsons have found success.

“Uncle Si,” as viewers know him, has a propensity for stretching the truth during his stories on the reality TV show. However, when he sat down with LifeWay for two exclusive video interviews, he was serious about what Christ can do – as serious as he can be.

“A lot of people say, ‘Hey, God doesn’t have a sense of humor.’ Yes, He does. God has a great sense of humor. Look at me. Look at Phil. Look at Willie. Look at Jase,” Robertson said with a laugh, referring to other members of the Robertson family.

“God has taken four guys that look like five miles of muddy road and made them famous in the TV world.”
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Duck Dynasty’s Si Robertson’s new book “Si-cology 1: Tales and Wisdom from Duck Dynasty’s Favorite Uncle,” is scheduled for release in September.


In preparation for the Sept. 3 release of his new book Si-cology 1: Tales and Wisdom from Duck Dynasty’s Favorite Uncle, Robertson attributes the success of their business and TV show to God.

“[People] ask us all the time, ‘How did you become so successful?’ That would be one answer: The Almighty is the one who has made this a success,” Robertson said.

The show, following the exploits of the Robertson family and their duck call manufacturing operation in Louisiana, has been a blockbuster for A&E. The season finale in April drew a record 9.6 million viewers. In the most coveted demographic of 18- to 29-year-olds, they topped every show on cable and broadcast.

A video interview released by LifeWay last spring with Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson went viral with almost 4 million views.

While Si Robertson has experienced God in his success, he also sees God as the one who is there during difficult moments.

“I wonder when people run into bad times, when they go to the doctor and they find out, ‘I’m dying of cancer,’ and they don’t believe in God, who do they turn to?” he asked.

“We are all mortal. We are all going in that grave,” he continued in the first of two short video interviews at LifeWay.com. “There ain’t but one way you gonna beat it.”

For Robertson, above all the success and fame, the gospel is the most important thing in his life.

“Like Phil always tells them, ‘If you’ve got something to offer me better than I just shared with you, I’m all ears,’” Robertson said. “[Jesus] beat the grave, and He promises you that since He beat it, if you believe in Him, He’ll make you beat it.”

In the second two-minute video, Robertson gives his own apologetic for believing in the resurrection of Christ: spring.

“In the winter, things are dead and dull, but then there is an explosion of life,” he told LifeWay. “That’s what He promises people who believe in His Son. That’s what all the Robertsons are banking on.”

The second video will be available at LifeWay.com/SiCology this week.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Earls writes for LifeWay Christian Resources.)
8/12/2013 2:26:33 PM by Aaron Earls, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Women’s track at ‘Send’ encourages wives

August 12 2013 by Carolyn Curtis, Baptist Press

PLANO, Texas – Fresh insights and authentic personal sharing characterized the women’s track at the 2013 Send North America Conference. Participants received encouragement and practical ideas they can use in their marriages and churches.

“We’re finding new heroes and role models in Southern Baptist life,” said Kathy Litton, the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) national consultant for ministry to pastors’ wives.

“I could see the positive responses of these church planting women serving with their husbands, often in remote locations, as they were met with compassion, understanding and wisdom by ministry wives who had been through similar experiences,” Litton said of the NAMB-sponsored conference at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, July 29-30.

The track included seven breakout sessions and workshops on topics as varied as “How to Start Well: Transitioning Your Family into Church Planting,” “An Open Dialogue with an Atheist” and “Loving Your Ministry Without Hating Your Marriage.” Women also joined their husbands for an array of other topics.

Litton said she felt God’s power in the smaller rooms where women could share openly and find support.
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NAMB photo by Susan Whitley
Church planter wives and ministry leaders Shauna Pilgreen, left, and Elicia Horton were joined by North American Mission Board LoveLoud missionary Lorna Bius, right, to discuss how the gospel drives their respective ministries during a breakout session at the 2013 Send North America Conference.


“Both hard things and heart things were expressed there,” she said. “Some wives felt tired and fragile. They needed to be equipped and supported.”

Attendees expressed gratitude that the event provided the opportunity to speak from their hearts, challenged them with cutting-edge solutions and kept the standards high with fast-paced yet deep presentations.

“The conference was short on clichéd thinking and long on usable 21st-century solutions, thanks to great preparation by speakers and authentic audience participation,” said Litton, who also leads www.flourish.me – an online community for ministry wives.

Women expressed joy at connecting with other church planting wives so they could share experiences by telephone and email when they returned home.

Tish Hedger of Bolivar, Mo., said Send was “an incredible encouragement, because we met so many other couples in the same season we’re experiencing.” She and her husband Joshua planted Freshwater Church with help from Second Baptist Church in Springfield. Now the Hedgers have planted two more Missouri churches with September launch dates.

“Like many young pastors’ wives, I had an identity crisis with unreasonable expectations for what a ministry wife should be like,” Hedger said, recalling her early ministry days. “I felt like I fell short. Eventually I came to a crossroads: Either be swallowed up by my fears or come to grips with how God equipped me as the woman I am.”

Naomi Song, wife of Timothy Im, said Send gave her more confidence for their church plant among Korean Canadians in Montreal, Quebec, admitting, “Sometimes I feel alone and insecure.”

They were pleased that the conference provided tracks in their language and for their culture. “Sometimes husbands and wives have different ideas, conflicts within the marriage,” Song said. “As Asians we have different perspectives than Western people.”

Angie Mitsamphanh of Memphis, Tenn., said Send provided her and husband Thi with encouragement as a couple. First International Baptist Church began with fellow second-generation Laotian Americans. Soon they were ministering to Vietnamese, Chinese and Cambodian residents, also second-generation Americans.

“Then God sent some wonderful first-generation Nepalese,” Mitsamphanh said. “Recently, He brought inner-city African American teens who want to follow Christ instead of the influences they learn on the streets.”

In addition to providing insight and encouragement to the wives of church planters and pastors, the track was helpful for women in multiple areas of ministry leadership.

Sylvia Sales, who provides Sunday School leadership for Friendship Baptist Church in Dallas’ The Colony, said she liked Christy Nockels’ presentation.

“She reminded us that we must understand who we are in Christ before tackling the ministry we’re called to do,” Sales said. Nockles is women’s worship team leader at Passion City Church in Atlanta.

Feliciana Watkins of St. John’s Baptist Church in Euless, Texas, said she liked advice from Mary Jo Sharp on conversing with nonbelievers. Sharp, a former atheist, teaches apologetics at Houston Baptist University.

“You need to be prepared with listening skills and good questions to lead a conversation to the gospel,” said Watkins, who serves as a missions coordinator at her church.

Sales and Watkins attended Send with Donnie Devereaux, also of Friendship Baptist in The Colony, and Charles Leslie, professor to all three at Southern Bible Institute in Dallas. In addition to work at their home churches, the four serve on Mission AMEN’s Uganda team, led by Devereaux. Mission AMEN, founded by Leslie, is dedicated to mobilizing the African American church to evangelize the world.

“I can apply what I learned at Send to my ministry work in Texas and on the mission field in Uganda,” Watkins said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Carolyn Curtis is a writer in Fort Worth, Texas. For more information or to become involved in NAMB’s Send North America strategy, visit namb.net/mobilize-me. For more on the Send North America Conference visit namb.net/send2013.)
 
Related stories
NAMB seeks ‘defining moment’ at Send 2013
Send Conference connects churches to vast mission field
Planters form partnerships at Send Conference
Ethnic ministry tracks popular at Send gathering
8/12/2013 2:10:10 PM by Carolyn Curtis, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



NCBM responds to flood, needs volunteers

August 9 2013 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

Teams of North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) volunteers are responding to a flood that damaged more than 800 homes and destroyed several of them Aug. 3, across random spots in the Newton, Conover and Hickory areas of Catawba County and in parts of Iredell, Alexander and Cabarrus counties.
 
More than 12 inches of rain fell in some areas within just a few hours, creating walls of water that overwhelmed drains, knocked out several bridges and closed more than a dozen roads. Creeks and rivers were clogged with trees, limbs and debris.
 
NCBM set up a command center at First Baptist Church in Newton the next day, sharing several rooms of the church’s educational building with American Red Cross workers. Assessment teams worked Sunday and Monday to identify situations needing help.
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BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Two North Carolina Baptist Men volunteers repair a water pipe in a Newton home in which the basement was flooded. James Strickland, left, is a member of Penelope Baptist Church in Hickory, and Scott Bell is a member of New Life Church in Conover.

 
Some homes received more than six feet of water and heavy damage; others took in only an inch or two of water.
        
Dacia Jones, site administrator at the command center, said they identified more than 600 homes needing repair.
 
“We need 200 volunteers right now,” she said Aug. 5. She is a member of First Baptist Church, Hickory.
 
Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director, issued email appeals to volunteers across the state, appealing for teams to come help.
 
One team responded to a damaged home that was designated “critical” in need: A woman suffering from cancer and struggling to keep her elderly mother with dementia. The basement of the home took in several inches of water, creating mold and potential for health hazards.
 
David Whitaker, Larry Gragg and Truey Benfield arrived and began removing damaged wall panels so they could be replaced. Whitaker and Gragg are members of Double Springs Baptist Church near Shelby; Benfield is from Ichter.
 
Volunteer Wayne Parker visited a fabricating shop in Newton which received about five feet of water. Owner Rowe Bollinger said a wall of water struck the shop with so much force it bent open a steel door and poured across the concrete floor and out bay doors on the other side, before flooding the basement of his nearby home.
 
Baptist Men coordinators said volunteer teams would likely be needed for several weeks to help families recover from the flood’s effects.
        
Such disaster response is possible because of the financial support NCBM receive from N.C. Baptists through their North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO). NCMO funding supports coordination, equipment, training and other aspects of disaster relief carried out year-round by more than 14,000 trained volunteers, plus 13 other ministries.
        
For more information about volunteering, contact Tommy Styers at (828) 244-5686 or styers@att.net.
8/9/2013 4:19:52 PM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Transportation safety crucial for churches

August 9 2013 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

INDIANAPOLIS – While police haven’t determined whether anyone is to blame for a bus accident that killed four and injured 33 Indianapolis church members en route from a summer youth camp, GuideStone Financial Resources recommends churches take specific safety steps before planning road trips.

“It’s not enough to address safety concerns on a case-by-case, trip-by-trip basis,” said Jim Welch, GuideStone’s director of property and casualty product development. “The church is responsible for putting protections in place for transportation for all ministries, on all trips. It requires leadership commitment, resources, time and consideration. Each is critical for success.”

Church-sponsored transportation safety is in the spotlight after a bus just one mile from its destination of Colonial Hills Baptist Church crashed July 27 on an interstate exit ramp, slamming into a concrete barrier and rolling over, ejecting some of its 37 passengers. 

A youth pastor, his pregnant wife, their unborn child and a church volunteer were killed as others were hospitalized, including one teenager with critical injuries.

The independent, fundamental Baptist church posted on its website a memorial to those killed, quoting scripture and affirming God has been “drawing people to Himself in saving faith through this situation, and we’re amazed by a God who brings beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:1-3). For these reasons and many more, we rejoice, even as we sorrow!”

Indiana State Police told USA Today that questions remained unanswered days after the tragedy.

“We are looking into seeing if [the church] has any records they’d be willing to offer up to show us,” USA Today quoted 1st Sgt. Tyler Utterback of the Indiana State Police. “It’s not a requirement.”
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sxc photo by John Nyberg
Experts recommend keeping vehicle records and building safeguards around ministry transportation whether vehicles are owned or chartered.


Keeping certain vehicle records and building safeguards around ministry transportation should be clear church priorities, Welch told Baptist Press, recommending precautions regardless of whether churches own or charter the vehicles.

“Before and after every trip, no matter how short, churches should inspect their vehicles,” Welch said. “Government data show that 70 percent of all van accidents happen within 25 miles of home. Dedicated teams (two or more qualified adults) should be responsible for these inspections, and churches should keep good records of these inspections.”

Make sure drivers are properly trained, screened and rested; make sure vehicles are properly inspected, maintained, operated and stored, and make sure church representatives and others involved have signed participation agreements and behave appropriately, Welch recommended.

“When it comes to drivers, handing the keys to the first available person is a big mistake. Drivers should be prescreened for clean driving and criminal records, have an established association with the church and have plenty of experience in general driving, as well as with the vehicle they’ll be handling,” he said. 

“Also be aware that if you own a charter bus or school bus, the driver must have a commercial driver’s license. You should order and review each driver’s motor vehicle record every year,” Welch said.

Participants, and guardians of participants under age 18, should sign agreements specifying the activity, waiving the church’s liability for trip injuries and granting the church authority to obtain any necessary medical treatment for participants, Welch said.

Check safety records of each type of vehicle before use and use the vehicles only as intended, he said.

Follow “common-sense safety requirements,” he recommends, including:
  • setting and enforcing capacity requirements for vehicles;
  • requiring all occupants wear seat belts at all times, if available;
  • requiring drivers obey all speed limits and traffic laws, be at least 25, be well-rested and have appropriate experience driving the particular vehicle they’ll drive for the church;
  • annually evaluating the health and fitness of drivers over the age of 65;
  • prohibiting drivers from using cell phones at any time while on the road and limiting other distractions, including noise, food, drink and electronics.
When chartering transportation, churches can be proactive by choosing only established, well-known companies with well-maintained equipment, Welch said.

“Check them out with the Better Business Bureau and ask for referrals if possible,” Welch said. “The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes rules and regulations for motor carriers. Churches should familiarize themselves with these standards so that they may use them to evaluate a specific carrier’s qualifications and behavior. 

“Charter companies should be willing to share information about driver training and certification programs and safety requirements.”

When possible, observe pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections and ask to see inspection records.

“It’s best to have the church attorney carefully review the contract prior to signing,” Welch said. “Never sign an agreement that has wording making the church responsible for injuries sustained while riding in a vehicle driven by a charter operator.

“Keep in mind that the church could still be held liable for injuries that occur at the trip destination or as the result of improper planning,” Welch said. “Churches should discuss trips with their insurance agent to make sure they’re properly prepared and covered.”

Maintain government required registrations and inspections, and regularly self-inspect vehicles, he said, covering such basics as tire condition and pressure, lights, engine condition, safety equipment, oil and gas levels and windshield wipers. Welch recommends stocking vehicles with safety supplies and equipment, including a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit and emergency flares.

Insure church-owned vehicles with commercial auto policies, not modified personal policies, and if chartering, take out policies for “hired and non-owned” vehicles, Welch said.

“Additionally, if churches transport large numbers of people (10-plus), they should consider carrying excess or umbrella liability coverage just in case the unthinkable happens,” Welch said. “The limits on auto policies could quickly be exhausted in the event of a larger-scale accident.”

Welch recommends as a resource the risk management experts at Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, GuideStone’s alliance partner, where free resources are available.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer.) 
8/9/2013 1:12:12 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Archives track Southern Baptists’ road to diversity

August 9 2013 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – In the 30 years Bill Sumners has served as an archivist and director of the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives (SBHLA), the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has changed to reflect the diversity of the age.
 
The change is reflected in the history recorded in the archives chronicling Baptists from the 1600s to today, from when African Americans were enslaved to the election of Fred Luter as the SBC’s first African American president.

The archives are vital to telling the story of how the SBC progressed from the past to the present, Sumners said.

“Certainly as we look at the changing picture of who Baptists are ... what Baptists were in 1960 and what they are in 2013 is very different,” Sumners said. “Well, how did we get there? What was the process? Who are the folks who moved us in that direction to be who we are today ... not that we’re perfect but that we have come a long way from where we were to where we are now.

“We want to be sure that those stories, those events, those people are documented in our story,” Sumners said. “Because of that it makes us understand who we are today. And that’s always been true. We don’t understand who we are unless we understand who we were before and how we got to where we are today.”
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Photo by Beth Byrd
Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives director Bill Sumners, left, assists University of Cambridge student R. Wagner as she conducts research for her doctoral dissertation. Last year, the archives hosted 240 onsite researchers and provided research assistance through 2,078 patron contacts.


That’s why Sumners and a small staff of four have worked to grow the collection from a few boxes of correspondence to what he calls “the most extensive, diverse and accessible collection of Baptist material in the world.”

“The major thing that we’ve been able to do is to create our place as the denominational archives. When I came in 1983 ... we had some of the early missionary correspondence, and that was about all we had as far as say denominational archives,” Sumners told Baptist Press. “We had about 50 boxes of missionary correspondence. Everything else was personal papers and things like that.”

Sumners is adding to the collection oral accounts of the integration of African Americans into Southern Baptist life and has documented recordings featuring Floyd Craig, former Christian Life Commission member; Elgia “Jay” Wells, former LifeWay Christian Resources’ director of black church relations; W.C. Fields, former SBC vice president for public relations; Richard Land, former president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Carlisle Driggers, former executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and Emmanuel McCall, who served on the Home Mission Board and developed Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s black studies program.

“Generally, I have interviewed individuals I had access to. We would like to do more, but time and resources are limited,” Sumners said.

Sumners joined the SBHLA as an archivist when the collection was part of the Dargan-Carver Library, jointly operated by the SBC Sunday School Board and the Historical Commission. The archives were relocated to the new SBC Executive Committee building when it opened in 1985, and Sumners became director six years later. He began early in his tenure to build the collection, beginning with various SBC records.

“Now we have just a sizable collection of material that document certainly the early work of our mission, our foreign mission efforts and our home mission efforts, plus the entities that have gone away and the ministry that they provided,” Sumners said. 

“It’s important as a denomination for us ... to understand our history, how we got to where we are today, and you can’t understand where we are today unless you go back and figure out what Baptists have gone through in the past,” Sumners said. “You know, why are Southern Baptists so committed to religious freedom? In order to understand that, you have to go back and look at what Baptists were going through in our colonial times. 

“While we were concerned about the separation of church and state, we have to understand there were times in America we had a state church. Baptists reacted very strongly against that and that legacy has continued until today,” he said. “Certainly religious freedom is a trademark.”

The archives include thousands of books, annuals of Baptist associations and conventions, comprehensive files of Baptist newspapers, audio and video recordings, photographs, pamphlets, archival records, manuscripts, microfilm reels of Baptist historical materials, and an environmentally controlled rare book room featuring rare Bibles dating from the early 1600s.

“Researchers can look on our online catalogue, look at our finding aids, and just have a really good feel of what we have here, whether it’s in our periodical, microfiche, archives, our book collection, pamphlets [or] our recordings,” Sumners said.

“The thing that we have tried to do here, and the thing that I have stressed on our staff,” he said, “is that our role in the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives is one of service and of course that’s what the gospel talks about anyway about being servants, and we take that role very seriously.”

The SBHLA serves SBC churches and entities, hosts onsite researchers from several religious denominations and disciplines and awards small research grants annually.

Sumners encourages and assists churches in archiving their history.

“We want to be sure churches have some help [they can use] to do that task,” he said. Several aids to help churches are listed on the archives website, www.sbhla.org, under the “helps” tab.

Sumners expands the archive annually. In the 2011-12 fiscal year, he added nearly 6,000 items, including periodicals, books, pamphlets, photographs, microfilm reels, audiovisual items, electronic resources, annuals and archival collections. He’s working to make the archives pan-Baptist, including materials from many Baptist groups.

Sumners expresses joy in managing the collection.

“To me that’s just an incredible feeling to know that God has put me in this place to do this task and to do it for a long, long time,” he said. “I can’t imagine doing something different.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer. Hear audio interview.) 
8/9/2013 1:06:09 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘Experiencing God’: New film recaps 23 years of discipleship

August 9 2013 by Polly House, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – A documentary about the impact of “Experiencing God” – a discipleship study that influenced a generation – is the first release of LifeWay Films.

Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King has touched and changed millions of lives and thousands of churches worldwide since its release in 1990. The workbook has sold more than 7 million copies, is available in more than 45 languages and has been used in almost every denomination.

Experiencing God has spawned dozens of other books and tools including the newly released Experiencing God at Home book and curriculum, Your Church Experiencing God Together, The Man God Uses, Fresh Encounter and the “Experiencing God Musical.”
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Documentary producer Neil Hoppe films a prisoner in Louisiana’s Angola prison telling of his life change in becoming a Christian and studying “Experiencing God.” The discipleship study is the focus of a new film recapping its 23 years of influence worldwide.


Now, the documentary focuses on some of the stories reflecting Experiencing God’s influence for more than two decades. LifeWay Films is a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“We’ve heard hundreds of stories about how Experiencing God served as a catalyst for someone to make a dramatic life change,” King, LifeWay’s discipleship specialist, said. “We pray that these three will represent well the influence Experiencing God has had over these 23 years.”

Neil Hoppe, producer and host of the documentary, and director Bill Cox traveled to Lynch, Ky., Angola (La.) state penitentiary, two villages in Honduras and Atlanta to film segments that chronicle the movement of God through the discipleship study. The film is available at LifeWay stores and LifeWay.com.

God at work in Miami & Honduras

Anthony Ponceti was living in Texas when he sensed God asking him to move to Miami.

Ponceti was shocked to discover why. Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega had been arrested on drug trafficking charges and sent to prison in Miami. Several months later, Southern Baptist evangelists Clifton Brannon and Rudy Gonzalez led the former dictator to Christ. Ponceti was asked to disciple Noriega following his conversion.

“I couldn’t do it,” Ponceti said. “My brother died because of drugs, and here is one of the biggest drug traffickers in the world.... Disciple him? No. I hated him.”

But having been through Experiencing God, Ponceti knew God had invited him to be a part of His work with Noriega. This was Ponceti’s crisis of faith. Would he obey?

Ponceti’s heart softened and he agreed to disciple Noriega using Experiencing God.


Joining God in Kentucky

Lonnie and Belinda Riley were so convinced of God’s plan through Experiencing God that they moved to the small coal-mining hamlet of Lynch, Ky., to begin ministering to the community. They had no plan, no support and no income. What they did have was assurance that God wanted them there and would take care of the details.

The Rileys, now serving in Lynch as North American Mission Board missionaries, have seen the opening of a food pantry and clothes closet and have led in such ministries as home repair and school assistance. They’ve also seen an influx of mission teams and monetary contributions that have helped revitalize the town.

In all this time, Riley said, he has never asked for anything except for God to show him the need. When he sees the need, he prays and God answers.


God’s work in Angola

After Burl Cain, warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, went through Experiencing God, he had a preposterous idea: What if he took Experiencing God into the prison and offered the class to some of the inmates?

Angola houses more than 5,000 inmates and at one time was considered the most dangerous prison in America.

But now, in part due to Experiencing God and the work God is doing in the prison, “50 percent of the inmates are Christians,” reported John Robson who heads the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s extension center at Angola. His work with inmates has led to hundreds receiving Christ, hundreds studying Experiencing God and many earning seminary extension degrees.


Where the story begins

The documentary closes with Henry and Marilynn Blackaby.

Experiencing God is Blackaby’s life message, the principles by which he has understood and walked with God. It was how he guided God’s people as a pastor.
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Henry Blackaby wrote Experiencing God as a way to tell the story of how he has always related to God and how he led the churches he served. The study, released in 1990, has sold more than 7 million copies and has been translated into more than 45 languages.


Blackaby, a native Canadian, was pastor of a large, affluent congregation in Southern California when he was approached by a Canadian pastor who asked him to consider returning to Canada and becoming pastor of a small, dying church in Saskatoon.

Blackaby was struck when he said, “The only hope for Canada is if Canadian pastors come back home.”

There, in that place of difficult ministry, the principles of Experiencing God took shape into what would become the resource that has led to countless changed lives.

LifeWay Films, producer of the Experiencing God documentary, offers films with the message of faith and hope. For more information, including information about site licenses and movie offerings, go to www.lifeway.com/films.

The original Experiencing God Bible study is available in Spanish as Mi Experiencina con Dios for adults, youth and kids in both leader and member editions. Experiencing God is currently published in more than 45 languages around the world, nine of them available as downloads at www.lifeway.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Polly House is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
8/9/2013 12:56:42 PM by Polly House, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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