August 2015

Midwestern receives $7M gift toward student center

August 26 2015 by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS

In what President Jason Allen called an answer to prayer for one of the “most significant institutional needs” since Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (MBTS) inception in 1957, the school has received a $7 million pledge from an Oklahoma family for a new student center.
 
Allen said he could not adequately express gratitude to God for His providence in uniting the seminary with Harold and Patricia Mathena of Oklahoma City who have pledged $7 million to MBTS as a lead gift toward an approximately $14 million student center.
 
“This is one of the largest gifts in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention and in the history of theological education in North America as a whole,” Allen said in announcing the Methenas’ gift Aug. 25.
 
“This gift is an answer to over two years of prayer on my part and, in a very real way, to Southern Baptists’ prayers since 1957 when, in our seminary’s founding documents, the Board of Trustees expressed their desire to build a facility for student and family life as soon as possible,” Allen said.
 
“It is clear to me in the way God has worked throughout this process that His special favor is upon Midwestern Seminary,” Allen said. “And through the singular generosity of the Mathenas in committing to this $7 million lead gift, we are able to pursue a student center here at this strategic juncture in Midwestern Seminary’s life.
 
“This new building is an urgency given our record enrollment growth the past two years,” he said.
 
Allen said that after nearly a year of master planning for the campus, it became apparent that in addition to the need for faculty relocation to the heart of campus and more single-student housing, the most pressing need for MBTS is a student center. However, without a lead gift to kick-start the effort, it would be impossible.
 
This is where God had already begun to move for a solution. Through a series of events and common friendships, Allen was introduced to the Mathenas. This past year, preaching opportunities at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and at other Oklahoma and Missouri venues enabled Allen to get to know the Mathenas more personally.
 
“This is a remarkable story of God’s providence, wherein He kept allowing our paths to cross,” Allen said.
 
Harold Mathena – who founded Mathena, Inc., an oilfield mud-gas pressure control solutions company and who has been a bivocational pastor/evangelist – noted that it took quite some time for him and Allen to meet in person. All along, however, conversations with his wife, family, pastor, godly advisers and friends were planting seeds that would eventually confirm the decision to make the gift.
 
Speaking of the interactions he had with others before meeting Allen, Mathena said, “I mentioned these conversations to say that I have observed in Scripture, and in my everyday experiences, that God blesses a man, whether in ministry or in business. God’s good hand rests upon a man. I have observed that struggling churches, ministries and businesses can be salvaged and turned around by a man whose heart is stayed on God.”
 
In February, Mathena met and sat down with Allen and his wife Karen for the first time during a meal in Oklahoma City.
 
“I had the opportunity to hear what God was doing and what Dr. Allen believed that God was going to do with this great institution in equipping and preparing young men and women for ministry in the local church,” Mathena said. “God began speaking to my heart about how we could help and be a part of Jason’s vision.”
 
Mathena continued, “Weeks and months passed and one day in July, Jason and Charles Smith [Midwestern Seminary’s vice president of institutional relations] came to our house and shared with us the need for a student center at Midwestern. God impressed upon us that this was something we would enjoy being a part of, and so now we are pleased to pledge a gift of $7 million toward the total cost of building the student center at Midwestern Seminary.”
 
The proposed student center of approximately 40,000 square feet will hold a gymnasium, recreation and fitness areas, cafeteria, bookstore, student commons area and space for additional staff or faculty offices.
 
In discussing a timeframe that a student center could be operational on campus, Allen said, “There is still much, much work to do, including raising the additional funds needed. As we plan to accomplish this project debt-free, we are praying God will raise up men and women across the SBC and beyond to partner with us.”
 
For more information about MBTS and the proposed student center, contact Charles Smith in the office of institutional relations at ir@mbts.edu.
 
The Mathenas’ $7 million gift is among a number of key junctures at Midwestern in recent months, including:
 
– The distinction of being one of 12 schools cited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) as experiencing enrollment growth of 50 percent or more during the past five years.
 
“The closer one evaluates this ATS report, the better the news gets for Midwestern Seminary,” Allen told the seminary’s trustees in mid-April. “Among seminaries with enrollments totaling 500 or more students, Midwestern Seminary is recognized as the fastest-growing institution in North America.”
 
Admissions office statistics showed Midwestern’s headcount and course hours sold for Spring 2015 as growing by nearly 20 percent over the previous year.
 
– The completion of nearly $3 million in construction projects this summer, including renovation of Midwestern’s administrative wing which will house the Charles Spurgeon Center for Biblical Preaching (spurgeoncenter.com) and the 19th-century British preacher’s library of more than 6,000 books as well as hundreds of artifacts, letters and assorted materials. The Spurgeon Center’s dedication will be Oct. 20.
 
– A Sept. 28-29 symposium titled “The SBC and the 21st Century” with an array of featured speakers, including Ronnie Floyd, Frank S. Page, Paige Patterson, Thom Rainer, R. Albert Mohler Jr., David S. Dockery, John Yeats, Anthony Jordan, Jim Richards, Paul Chitwood and Tim Lubinus.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Pat Hudson is executive assistant to the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Baptist Press editor Art Toalston contributed to this article.)

8/26/2015 12:22:38 PM by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS | with 0 comments



Long-term investors urged to focus on objectives

August 26 2015 by Timothy E. Head, GuideStone Financial Resources

Aug. 24’s stock market drop, on the heels of disappointing performance over the last few days, led to headlines and some investor concerns. But long-term investors should continue to consider their objectives and time horizons, advises an investment strategist.
 
David S. Spika, global investment strategist at GuideStone Capital Management, LLC, has offered commentary explaining the nature of current volatility, as well as offered perspective on the current market.
 
“As volatility rises, the best course of action is to ensure you invest with active managers who possess a strong track record, stay focused on the long term, and remain well diversified,” Spika wrote, likening market volatility to a roller coaster.

 
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Many observers have expected some level of correction to occur at some point given that markets had been on a long-term growth pattern since the market trough in 2009. The S&P 500 Index, spurred on by quantitative easing and a near-zero Fed Funds rate, had gained more than 200 percent since 2009 and has not had a 10 percent or greater correction in more than three years, Spika observed.
 
Active management firms, like GuideStone Financial Resources, are thought by many to be better suited for volatile markets, which create more dispersion and lower correlations among stock prices, giving our sub-advisors a better chance to identify companies that are undervalued, Spika said.
 
GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins echoed Spika’s insights.
 
“Long-term retirement investors should keep their focus on their goals, and not on short-term market fluctuations,” Hawkins said. “Participants should focus on being appropriately diversified, their long-term investment objectives and time horizon and less on day-to-day market moves.”
 
When dealing with a period of volatility, GuideStone recommends keeping four principles in mind:

  1. Always focus on your objectives, not your emotions. Specifically regarding retirement participants, these assets are to serve needs for a long period of time. Make sure your objectives and actions are consistent with your time horizon. Investors can choose to use GuideStone Advisors’ GPS: Guided Planning Services to assist in determining an age-appropriate investment allocation.

  2. Avoid making impulsive decisions. “Guard against making ad hoc changes in your portfolio,” Hawkins said. “Making changes based on short-term market movements is almost a guarantee for failure as it promotes ‘buying high and selling low.’” The performance of your account moving forward will be determined based on results of the financial markets in the future, not the past. Selling today cannot avoid yesterday’s losses in a down market. Likewise, in an up market, you cannot buy yesterday’s performance by investing in the hottest fund.

  3. Don’t count losses (or gains). Consistent contribution to a retirement plan affords investors a systematic way of taking advantage of investment opportunities as markets ebb and flow.

  4. Maintain realistic expectations about market behavior. Financial markets in the short term tend to fluctuate in response to social, political and economic events. However, historically, the markets stabilize and return to profitability over the long term, focusing on the underlying fundamentals.

“The next few weeks may be choppy for investors, but long-term investors should continue to focus on their objectives and less on the minute-by-minute headlines,” Hawkins said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Timothy E. Head is executive officer of denominational and public relations at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

8/26/2015 12:04:30 PM by Timothy E. Head, GuideStone Financial Resources | with 0 comments



Planned Parenthood protests draw Southern Baptists

August 25 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Southern Baptists were among an estimated 50,000-75,000 pro-life activists who protested at Planned Parenthood clinics across America Aug. 22, calling for the defunding of the nation’s largest abortion provider.
 
Protestors in more than 350 cities across 47 states, according to statistics reported by LifeNews.com, joined what The Washington Post called “the largest-ever rally against” Planned Parenthood. Organized by a coalition of at least 60 pro-life groups known as ProtestPP, the demonstrations came in the wake of eight undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) allegedly showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of baby parts obtained through abortion.
 
The latest video shows a woman identified as Melissa Farrell, director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston, speaking of “alter[ing] our process ... to obtain intact fetal cadavers.” The video then cuts to Farrell stating, “It’s all just a matter of line items.”
 
Joe Horan, associate pastor of worship at Old River Baptist Church in Dayton, Texas, protested at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast with his wife Sara after learning about the gathering from an online article by pastor and author John Piper. Some 600-700 anti-abortion demonstrators gathered at the Houston protest, according to Horan’s estimate. He told Baptist Press (BP) the CMP videos “peeled back the curtain for us on how dark [the abortion industry] really was and how dark our culture was in America.”
 
For the Horans, the videos took abortion “from being a political issue to being a very moral issue again and something we couldn’t put off as ‘just a political thing,’” he said.

 
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Photo by Scott Colter
Nearly 600 protesters gathered at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 22.

Upon arriving at the demonstration, “we really wished we would have brought our girls because it was such a family atmosphere,” said Horan, a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The crowd included many young families and was diverse both in terms of age and race, he said.
 
Students from at least four Southern Baptist Convention seminaries attended protests, according to reports received by BP.
 
Garland Honeycutt, director of missions for the Avery Baptist Association in western North Carolina, told BP he and some 235 other protesters in Asheville “peaceably assembled ... to make a statement that western North Carolinians and Christians in western North Carolina are pro-life, and we are hoping this will put enough pressure on our representatives in Congress to actually defund Planned Parenthood.”
 
Media reports have indicated Planned Parenthood receives some $500 million annually from the federal government.
 
Honeycutt said he “did not expect to see” about 70 pro-choice protestors gathered in opposition to the demonstration. “It was just very shocking to see there was that number of folks who were supportive of the abortion industry through Planned Parenthood and willing to stand with them despite all of the videos that have been released by the Center for Medical Progress.”
 
Sharayah Colter, a staff member with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was among nearly 600 protestors at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Fort Worth.
 
“Further than I could see in every direction,” people were “holding signs that said things like ‘All lives matter’ and ‘A person’s a person no matter how small,’” Colter told BP in written comments. “Off and on while we stood there for two hours, groups joined in singing ‘Amazing Grace’ and other hymns and praying together in small groups for expectant parents, unborn babies and an outbreak of revival in our nation.”
 
Like Honeycutt, Coulter was struck by the response of some Planned Parenthood supporters.
 
“Afterward, as I was posting about the morning on Twitter, I noticed some pro-choice folks were posting into the #ProtestPP hashtag, so I decided to try to civilly engage them in conversation,” Colter said. “It became clearer to me then by the name-calling and mockery in their responses that truly what we need is revival in America. Hearts are icy, not just to the fate of unborn babies, whom these folks said they do not consider to have ‘personhood,’ but to God and everything He is. The folks I was speaking with declined to let me tell them about hope found in Jesus Christ and told me their lives are just fine without Him. The response breaks my heart as much as the Planned Parenthood videos have.”
 
Phillip Bethancourt, executive vice president for Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told BP he protested at a Nashville Planned Parenthood clinic with three of his four children, ages 6, 5 and 3.
 
“Nashville is an abortion destination in the South because of Tennessee’s abortion laws,” Bethancourt said in written comments. “To see over 300 people – of all ages, races and denominations – joined together outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Nashville for a time of prayer and worship was a powerful and inspiring moment. I hope my boys, who came with me to the event, will look back when they are older and see that 2015 was a turning point for protecting the sanctity of life.”
 
Planned Parenthood vice president Eric Ferrero told The Washington Post the demonstrations were “meant to harass our patients, who rely on our nonprofit health centers for basic, preventive health care. The people behind these protests have a clear political agenda: They want to ban abortion, and block women and men from accessing basic reproductive health care.”
 
But Denny Burk, a Boyce College professor who joined some 500 people to protest at a Louisville, Ky., Planned Parenthood clinic, wrote on his blog that the demonstrators with him appeared decidedly gentle.
 
“It was interesting to watch pro-lifers protest,” Burk wrote. “Pro-lifers are not radical, protesting kinds of people. They are a little less ‘occupy Wall Street’ and a little more ‘I miss Mayberry.’ In other words, these pro-life protestors tended to be boring and normal – which means they don’t know what they are doing when it comes to protesting. Several times the emcee tried to organize a chant, but we never could get it together. It was kind of sad, but it was also kind of humorous. There’s something endearing about the fact that we drew so many inexperienced protesters. That fact alone is an important one.”
 
Burk expressed a motivation for protesting likely shared by the tens of thousands who joined him across America.
 
“I went to this protest because abortion-on-demand remains the greatest human rights crisis of our time,” Burk wrote. “Over 57 million human babies have been killed legally in our country under the regime of Roe v. Wade. Planned Parenthood is on the cutting edge of this slaughter. It must end.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

8/25/2015 11:34:23 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Declining High Point church morphs into four new congregations

August 25 2015 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

Albertson Road Baptist Church was once a strong congregation, drawing members from around south High Point to its building, located not far off U.S. 29. But in more recent years, the church was ailing as local factories closed. Many white residents moved away and many Hispanics and Asians moved in.
 
“We wanted to reach them but we didn’t speak Spanish,” recalls Debbie Ford, an Albertson Road member for some 30 years.
 
The church’s first building on Blandwood Drive was built in 1948, and two others in the 1950s. One of these was a sturdy sanctuary able to seat several hundred.
 
By 2013 the church’s situation was critical. Only a small number of mostly older members remained. One member was paying the church’s bills the others could not cover.
 
Perhaps, the members thought, they should just sell the facilities and close Albertson Road Baptist for good. But David Phelps, then serving as interim pastor, suggested a better way.

 
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BSC photo by Mike Creswell
From left, some of those associated with the transitioning church pose for a photo with the new, multi-site sign. On the left side of the sign are: Daniel Quick, pastor of the new African-American congregation; Peter Te, with the Burmese congregation; Lucrecia Quick, wife of Quick; Ngai Lamcing (yellow) with the Burmese congregation; Wayne Osborne (bright blue) and W.E. Thompson (light blue), long-time members of Albertson Road Baptist Church. On the right side of the sign, from left: Benito Lopez, pastor of the Iglesia Bautista Esperanza Viva (Living Hope Baptist Church) meeting here; Billy Scism, pastor of the new Blandwood Community Church meeting here; Jimmy Sowers, on the staff of Piedmont Baptist Association who oversees the property; Larry Doyle, director of missions, Piedmont Baptist Association; and David Phelps, who served 18 months as interim pastor of Albertson Road Baptist as they made this big transition.

“I tried to help them understand it was time to do something different,” he said. The members should indeed step aside, but not to sell out.
 
He proposed an idea: why not turn the property over to Piedmont Baptist Association to use in ministry?
 
Phelps talked to Larry Doyle, Piedmont’s director of missions, about transferring the three buildings and land to the association. Discussions followed, and the transfer was complete by the end of 2014. About the same time, several new church groups were looking for places to meet.
 
The old Albertson Road sign was taken down. Now a sign announces this is a “Lugar de Reunión,” a meeting place housing five ministries: a new Anglo congregation, new Hispanic congregation, new Burmese congregation, new African-American congregation and a ministry to High Point’s homeless and poor.
 
The building is now used seven days a week. Along with multiple services, prayer meetings and the like, there are also fitness classes, food distributions and a gardening program. On Saturdays, they serve pancakes to local residents.
 
During months with five Sundays, all the groups come together for a joint, multi-cultural service. The first such event was a unique experience for those who attended. One former Albertson Road member told Piedmont Association staffer Jimmy Sowers that this gathering is how Heaven will be one day when all the people groups of our planet gather. Sowers oversees the use of the property for Piedmont Association.
 
Groups assembled again for the May 31 fifth-Sunday service, but with a different purpose: to honor the former Albertson Road members. Eleven of the members and former interim pastor Phelps came forward during the service to receive plaques of appreciation for their years of service and the legacy they were passing along to future Christians in the area.
 
Doyle told them a permanent marker will be installed in the building which will be a certificate of recognition from Piedmont Baptist Association, “awarded to members of Albertson Road Baptist Church, for running the race God set before you and for the legacy you left to future generations of Christ followers.”
 
“We cannot tell you how such a legacy will be carried on,” Doyle said, “but you will see in years to come lives changed as people come to Christ. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the legacy you left us.”
 
At least seven different ethnic groups now live in the surrounding community, Sowers said. “One day we hope to have a church for each group.”
 
In a message translated from English into Spanish and Burmese, Doyle referred to the race described in Hebrews 12 as a relay race in which a runner passes along a baton to another runner to carry it on. That, he said, is what the Albertson Road members have done in handing over their building for others to use.
 
Member Wayne Osborne told the groups he used to come home from school when he was a boy and go straight to work on the Albertson Road building. “I’m glad God still has this property,” he declared, “and not the devil. Thank you for taking our place.”
 
Another member said he and his wife were married in the church many years ago. He pointed to the second pew on the right where he rededicated his life to Christ 30 years prior.
 
“I’m kinda sad we’ve lost our church, but I’m glad to see what’s happening here and I think it is probably for the best, because the community has changed so much over the years. I think this will be a good thing. It’s sad to see the changes, but they are good changes,” said Debbie Ford.
 
“I feel pretty good about it. It’s sad we had to leave like we did, but it looks like we’re heading in the right direction,” said Claud Clodfelter, a member for some 10 years.
 
Sowers puts the transition this way: “God directed this, God honored this, and God is blessing it,” he said during the service. He likened the new multi-platform ministry to a community-based mission board, sending missionaries out to the assorted people groups in the area. “It will be fun to watch what’s going on in the future,” he added.
 
Across North Carolina hundreds of Baptist churches are declining and face the same near-death situation Albertson Road Baptist faced as communities around them change. The High Point church transfer shows how a dying church can become resurrected into four new churches, turning a potential funeral into a celebration.

8/25/2015 11:27:44 AM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Ministry teaches English, offers fellowship

August 25 2015 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

Students faithfully come to Pine Valley Baptist Church to learn English.
 
The Wilmington church has seen its class sizes swell from under 30 to nearly 125 during its Monday evening classes September through May. The average number hovers above 80.
 
“They seem to really enjoy coming together,” said Sue Foss, the director of Pine Valley’s English as a Second Language-Refugee Outreach Ministry (ESL-ROM). One woman has perfect attendance for the last five years. Several students received perfect attendance awards in May.

What started as a basic English as a Second Language (ESL) program in 2008 has since changed because of the needs of the international residents in the community.
 
A local refugee agency refers its political refugees to Pine Valley and other ESL classes in the area.
 
When the classes first began, Foss said most of their students were Hispanic men. But the added referrals from the refugee agency and the commitment of the Pine Valley volunteers has led to growth.

 
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Children are offered Bible study, craft time and recreation. Foss said they’ve even offered a dance time as well as guitar lessons. “They’re engaged the whole time,” she said.
 
The church has one van that makes two trips and a bus that seats 20 people. The ministry reaches into at least four apartment complexes.
 
Volunteers run the entire ministry. From transportation to child care, Foss said she’s been thankful for God’s provision.
 
“God seems to really have His hand on this program,” she said. “He’s met every need we’ve ever had.”
 
What started as a snack of cookies and a drink has grown into a meal for the participants in the program. One of the volunteers also served on the kitchen committee and asked if leftover food from Wednesday night meals could be stored and used for this ministry. Church members started bringing donations for this as well as to provide for other needs. Occasionally one of the students will provide food as well.
 
The ministry has not only helped the internationals in their community but church members as well.
 
“Within our church it has been very instrumental in helping people accept people who are of a different culture,” Foss said. “Members have come to love [and] accept them.”
 
Some of the internationals have joined the church, and one is on the ballot for deacon in September.
 
“What’s happened is we’ve formed a community with them,” Foss said.
 
Foss said ESL-ROM has “probably been the most fulfilling ministry I’ve ever been in. The workers have a sweet spirit. They step in when there is a shortage … sometimes doing double and triple duty.
 
“The love our workers have for these people … seeing our church come to love these people. It’s been a life changing experience for me.”
 
When the obstacles come, and they will, Foss said she knows she can rely on God to provide. “It seems that Satan has tried to attack our program in every way possible every year, but God is mightier,” she said.
 
Now there is a Hispanic and a Burmese congregation meeting at Pine Valley as well. “It’s just been really great seeing those two ministries grow,” Foss said.
 
Ministries like ESL-ROM can be found at churches across North Carolina. Foss received basic training through Wilmington Baptist Association. She hopes to make time to pursue further training.
 
Donnie Wiltshire, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) special ministries consultant, says the BSC offers two different types of training for churches and individuals doing literacy missions.
 
The first is a basic 14-hour workshop. This is offered to churches or associations to train three different ministries: ESL, tutoring children and youth and adult reading and writing.
 
It gives time to help people organize a ministry, teach them the nuts and bolts of the ministry and learn how to use the ministry to reach people for Christ. Wiltshire estimates between 8-12 of these workshops are offered each year.
 
The basic workshop is designed for beginners and leads to certification through the North American Mission Board.
 
“Training is essential,” Wiltshire said.
 
“There are many reasons for this but two of them are that all of these ministries have a highly technical side, especially ESL. It is important to develop skills to be able to teach English to immigrants. But even more importantly, literacy ministries often fail to become pathways to Christ unless volunteers have been trained to use it as such. That is why we stress training and our training always stresses faith in Christ.”
 
The second is the annual Literacy Missions Conference that provides advanced training in all areas. This year’s conference, “Faithful to the Task,” is based on 1 Corinthians 3:5b-6. It is scheduled Oct. 16-17 at Caraway Conference Center in Sophia.
 
Session leaders include Glenda Reece, Doris Edwards, Tom and Carla Pless, Ann Knowles, Dick Pacetti, Kathy Boyd, and others; 16 concurrent sessions will be offered. Ken Tan, BSC leadership development consultant, and Wiltshire will also share what resources are available.
 
Registration begins Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. with orientation at 3:15 and seminars at 3:30. Dinner is at 5:30 and is followed by seminars at 6:45. Oct. 17 begins with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. with seminars at 8:30 a.m. and 1:20 p.m. with lunch in the middle. The total cost for one night on campus, three meals, snacks and registration is $90 for a double room and $105 for a private room. Commuters cost $30 each day. To register, visit ncbaptist.org/index.php?id=1531.
 
“Literacy Missions can be a vital ministry for reaching people for Christ at the point of their need,” Wiltshire said. “Internationals are desperate to learn English and American culture.”
Immigrant children struggle in school. Adults unable to read struggle with job application forms as well as other paperwork required for themselves and their children.
 
“A church can meet these needs that individuals have,” Wiltshire said. He also stressed that literacy ministries open the doors for churches to introduce Christ and make disciples.
 
Wiltshire estimated that the Hispanic population in North Carolina is close to 10 percent of the total population. Those Hispanics “need to learn English so they can find jobs to support their families,” he said.
 
Communities near colleges attract visiting scholars who fail to have a grasp on the English language and American culture.
 
“ESL can open the door to those communities to share Christ, to win converts, and to send missionaries back to their home countries – and all these as a result of teaching English,” Wiltshire said.
 
Wiltshire said the training is available to help churches start a ministry either locally or at the annual conference.
 
While literacy missions does require a commitment on the part of churches and leaders, Wiltshire said it doesn’t “require large amounts of money. Low budget ministry can be highly effective.”
 
Check with the BSC or your local Baptist association for an ESL or other class near you.

8/25/2015 11:20:22 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments



Don Davis talks Tom Brady, Deflate-Gate, NFL ministry

August 25 2015 by Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A

Don Davis held an 11-year career in the National Football League (NFL) that included four teams: New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots, where he was a two-time Super Bowl champion. Davis believes his long tenure in the league can be attributed to his call to minister to athletes. After retiring as a player for the Patriots, he transitioned to an assistant strength and conditioning coaching position under the leadership of well-known head coach Bill Belichick. Davis also served as the team’s chaplain.
 
Sensing a call from the Lord to pursue full-time ministry, Davis began directing NFL programs for Pro Athletes Outreach in 2008. The outreach program is a conference-based ministry for professional athletes. He was hired as regional director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) in 2010. Davis also speaks regularly for organizations like Iron Sharpens Iron, as well as local churches. He hopes his integrity will allow many to see God shining through him.
 
Q: It’s been awesome to see how God has used you as an NFL player, coach, chaplain and now NFLPA representative.

 
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A: It really has, my passion and purpose in God’s plan have aligned. Because of that it’s giving me a tremendous amount of focus, so I am in a sweet season of life right now.
 
Q: You won two Super Bowls as a player with the Patriots. What is the “Deflate-gate” situation like right now inside the Patriots’ locker room as they prepare for the 2015 season?
 
A: The number one enemy of greatness is distractions. Belichick is the reason why the New England Patriots have been on top for so long. They tend to be there in the end of the year for the championship because they have been able to handle and eliminate distractions. This is a huge distraction because it has to do with one of their star players in New England, Tom Brady. It’s all anyone wants to talk about. It takes away from the preparation of the work that goes into the season. Whenever you focus on the past you can’t move into the future.
 
Q: What is Belichick’s specific message coming off a Super Bowl championship year?

A: His message is that whether you won the Super Bowl or not is irrelevant. That was last year. Belichick hates hearing words that defend Super Bowl champions, because you’re not defending anything. The team is starting all over again. The Patriots have been in these kind of situations before, and it will all pan out in the end.

 
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Q: I have had the opportunity to talk with Brady on several occasions, and last year I noticed a new maturity in his life. You have spent time around him as a teammate and chaplain, where is he in his spiritual journey?
 
A: When it comes to Brady, I think there’s been some growth when it comes to faith. He claims Catholicism. It’s his background. Our background, experience and what we’re exposed to all three come together as our spiritual experience. Those things come together to form our spiritual foundation. There is a spiritual foundation with Brady.

Q: What is the biggest challenge to spiritual awakening and growth for a professional athlete?
 
A: The athlete – including Brady – is no different from anyone else. There are things that you want. There are things that you wish you could have, and there’s a lot of distractions out there. So what you find yourself doing is seeking things that are solid, and sometimes the only thing that is solid is our relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to pray for Brady and all the other athletes, that they would come to know who Jesus is and exactly what He wants to do with their life.
 
Q: What spiritual opportunities are available during the season for players and families?
 
A: A Bible study is available for the players. Many teams try to make that available weekly, if not more often. Then you have chapel services before each game made available for every NFL team. There’s usually a couples’ or wives’ Bible study available as well.
 
Visit realdondavis.com to find news and updates about Davis’s ministry in the NFL.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Hear his Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio in 200 cities nationally or live at afr.net. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook: Roman Gabriel III; connect on Twitter: @romangabriel3rd. Contact at (910) 431-6483 or email: soldoutrg3@gmail.com.)

8/25/2015 11:12:11 AM by Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A | with 0 comments



Baptist State Convention officers to be re-nominated

August 25 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

All three current officers of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) will be nominated to serve second terms at the 2015 annual meeting in Greensboro.
 
Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte announced he will nominate Timmy Blair again for the office of president when North Carolina Baptists gather at the Koury Convention Center, Nov. 2-3. Blair is the pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier.
 
“Timmy is a husband, father, pastor and convention leader who has effectively led us,” Harris said. “He has served as president during the first years of implementation of the new [BSC] structure, and has been available to speak to questions, concerns, and other items which you would expect to come up in any major transition.”

 
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BSC file photo by K Brown
From left: Joel Stephens, Cameron McGill, Timmy Blair and Milton Hollifield. Stephens, McGill and Blair will all be renominated for their respective offices at the Baptist State Convention annual meeting in November.

Blair has encouraged churches to increase Cooperative Program (CP) support, said Harris, helping provide “huge strides” in CP giving this year. “But more than what Timmy has done, I appreciate his phenomenal spirit, his balanced approach, and his ability to listen and weigh-out decisions. He has served us well, and I am excited to nominate him!”
 
Cameron McGill, pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church will be nominated for the office of first vice-president. In a statement to the Biblical Recorder, he said, “I am excited about the direction of the BSC and believe, as always, that the best days are still ahead.”
 
Jonathan Taylor, associate pastor at Westwood Baptist Church in Roxboro said, “I am honored to be nominating Cameron McGill for a second term as first vice-president of our convention.” The two met when McGill was the pastor of Taylor’s home church 15 years ago. “We have become brothers in the ministry, and I am thankful for the way God is using this dear servant to grow His church in Dublin,” said Taylor. “Cameron loves Jesus, is a committed husband and father, a dedicated pastor and a faithful preacher of God’s Word.”
 
Joel Stephens, the current second vice-president and pastor of Westfield Baptist Church, will be nominated for another term by Shannon Scott, pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Raleigh.
 
Scott mentored Stephens while a student at Southeastern Seminary and continue the discipling relationship after Stephens graduated. “He was an exceptional student and eager to learn beyond the degree work,” Scott said. “I have witnessed his work as a pastor in the foothills town of Westfield. He has given faithful, steadfast leadership in a time when most strive to move to larger and more prominent church fields.
 
“He is one of our best preachers, with a heart and life given to missions and yet faces the trials of pastoring with great grace. He understands what many of us face, and is with us in the race for souls,” Scott added.
 
In another announcement, Scott Faw, pastor of Moon’s Chapel Baptist Church in Siler City, said he will nominate Timmy Blair to be the president of the N.C. Pastors’ Conference for 2017.
 
“Timmy is a friend to pastors all over this state and he will serve us well,” Faw said.
 
The president of the Pastor’s Conference is elected two years in advance, allowing the president ample time to schedule speakers for the program. Cameron McGill is the president elect for 2016. The conference is the Sunday evening, Monday morning and Monday afternoon prior to the first session of the BSC annual meeting that begins on Monday evening, Nov. 2.

8/25/2015 11:01:51 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Arabic Christian Conference planned in South Carolina

August 25 2015 by Baptist Press staff

“You will one day stand trial in God’s courtroom. Are you prepared?” said attorney Bruce Kugler, a featured speaker at the upcoming Sept. 4-7 Southeast Arabic Christian Conference at White Oak Conference Center in Winnsboro, S.C. The conference is expected to draw Christians involved in Arabic ministry from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Florida.

 
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Bruce Kugler

As Kugler, a lawyer for more than 25 years, read and studied the Bible, many legal terms and concepts began to catch his attention. He noticed the Bible presented God as the “Supreme Judge of the World” and that everyone will one day appear before Him in a heavenly courtroom. Kugler stated, “I basically explain the gospel from a legal perspective.” He rejects the notion that good people go to heaven, and bad people go to hell. According to Kugler when people are tried in God’s courtroom the standard for “not guilty” is absolute perfection – a standard that no one can achieve. “If that is the standard I would definitely be found guilty; there are no good defenses.”

He suggests that the only reason a person can enter heaven after they die is on a legal principle that Jesus Christ paid the death penalty on the person’s behalf. Basically, the person enters a plea agreement with God and accepts a pardon. “Only the guilty need a pardon – not the innocent,” says Kugler.
 
At Valparaiso School of Law in Valparaiso, Ind., where he earned a Juris Doctorate, Kugler received honors in scholarship and was a member of the executive board for law review as an articles editor. He is admitted to the State Bar of Texas and Illinois Bar and was formerly a trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice. Kugler is now a member of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE) and resides in Illinois.
 
The presentation is the basis of a documentary film that has aired nationally on major Christian television networks including the TCT Network, NRB TV Network, and TLN Network. Internationally the film has been aired in India, Nicaragua, Argentina and Guatemala. Copies of the Arabic version of the film are being distributed by the Palestinian Bible Society in the West Bank and Israel.
 
The Arabic version of God's courtroom is also scheduled to be aired on the Aramaic Broadcasting Network (ABN) in September. ABN was the first Arabic Christian channel to be launched in North America to reach people in the Arabic language. ABN has air satellite in North America, Australia and New Zealand.
 
The film can be viewed in its entirety at godscourtroom.org. Individuals and churches can also request a free DVD of the English or Arabic version of the film by contacting Pastor Zohair “Steve” Hanna at (864) 907-8414 or stevezhanna@yahoo.com.

8/25/2015 10:52:28 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



Abedini hopes to inspire obedience at Embrace conference

August 24 2015 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Naghmeh Abedini said she has learned to “run to Jesus” as she continues to pray and petition leaders worldwide for the release of her husband from an Iranian prison after nearly three years.
 
“Trials and hard circumstances push us to go to God and live a life of faith in trusting Him despite the circumstances,” said Abedini, whose husband, American pastor Saeed Abedini, was arrested in Tehran for his Christian faith in the summer of 2012 and imprisoned shortly thereafter.
 
Abedini will share practical lessons she has learned about abiding in Christ in the midst of trying times with attendees at the 2015 N.C. Baptist Women’s Retreat, scheduled for Oct. 23-24 at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro.

 
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She was a featured speaker at the June 15 Pastors’ Wives session of the Pastors’ Conference at the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Abedini is also scheduled to attend a prayer vigil at the Boise, Idaho, state capital Sep. 26 to mark the three-year anniversary of her husband’s arrest.
 
Abedini and Teresa Brown are the keynote speakers for this year’s conference. The event’s theme is “Obedience by Faith,” taken from the Old Testament example of Abraham, whose life is also summarized in Hebrews 11:8.
 
“We sometimes think that faith is something we hope for or wish for,” said Ashley Allen, who leads the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Embrace women’s ministry and serves as the host and organizer of the annual women’s retreat. “However, faith is allowing God to reveal Himself to us in His Word, and then we step out in obedience in response to His revelation.”
 
In addition to four plenary sessions featuring Abedini and Brown, the conference will include a number of breakout sessions that will examine what the Bible teaches about walking by faith and explore modern-day examples of women living in obedience to the Lord.

“Obedience is the mark of a true believer,” said Brown, who is an author, speaker and Bible teacher. “As children of our heavenly Father, it should be the sincere desire of each of us to follow the example set by Jesus Christ, to take every thought and action captive which does not glorify God.”

 
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BP photo by Bill Bangham
Naghmeh Abedini tells the story of her husband, Saeed, who was arrested in Iran three years ago for his faith. Abedini spoke at the 2015 Pastors' Wives Conference, held June 15 at the Hyatt Hotel Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio. She will be at a North Carolina women's retreat in October.

As a pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother, Brown brings a unique perspective to this year’s retreat. Her husband, Joe Brown, recently came out of retirement to pastor Northside Baptist Church in Charlotte, following a 26-year ministry as senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church, also in Charlotte.
 
Brown is also a cancer survivor, so she understands what it means to walk with God through sickness and trials.
 
“God has taught me that I cannot live dying,” Brown said. “But each new day, whether it brings pain or healing, contains an abundant measure of joy, the opportunity to be a blessing and a reason to rejoice.”
 
Like Brown, Abedini has found comfort in knowing that God has a greater purpose for the trials she and her family are facing.
 
In advocating for her husband’s release, Abedini said God has opened doors for her to share the gospel in front of the United Nations; the European, German and Dutch parliaments; the U.S. Congress and in interviews with major media outlets.
 
“I have had to let go of all my fears and even desire to stay home and cling to my babies during this difficult time, and follow the Lord,” Abedini said.
 
“He is looking for obedience out of faith to show Himself strong to the world around us.”
 
Additional information about this year’s women’s retreat, including registration details, is available online at ncbaptist.org/womensretreat15.

8/24/2015 12:36:06 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Chick-fil-A blocked from Denver airport for now

August 24 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A committee of the Denver City Council has stalled what was expected to be routine approval of a Chick-fil-A restaurant at the Denver International Airport after at least four council members expressed disapproval of the company’s alleged opposition to same-sex marriage.
 
During an Aug. 18 hearing, council member Robin Kniech said she was concerned about a local franchise generating “corporate profits used to fund and fuel discrimination,” The Denver Post reported. Councilman Paul Lopez compared the pro-family stances of some Chick-fil-A leaders to presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments about immigration and other issues, calling opposition to the airport restaurant “really, truly a moral issue.”
 
The council’s Business Development Committee will take up the matter again at its Sept. 1 meeting. At issue is whether to approve a seven-year lease for a Chick-fil-A that would be operated by a 60-40 partnership involving Atlanta-based Concessions International and Denver’s Delarosa Restaurant Concepts. Chick-fil-A would receive seven percent of the restaurant’s profits, according to The Post. If the committee rejects the lease, an individual member could still introduce the matter to the full council.
 
Delarosa President Mike De La Rosa told the committee all hiring would be conducted based on a nondiscrimination policy protecting individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to The Post.
 
None of the committee’s 13 members, 10 of whom were present, defended Chick-fil-A, The Post reported.
 
Denver International Airport’s (DIA) senior vice president of concession Neil Maxfield said a 2013 survey of airport users identified Chick-fil-A as “the second-most sought-after quick service brand at the airport.” DIA has estimated the restaurant would generate $4.1 million in sales its first year, with more than $600,000 paid to the airport in concession fees. Most other fast-food concessions would generate less in seven days than Chick-fil-A is expected to generate in six, according to The Post, a reference to the chain’s policy of closing on Sundays.
 
Most council opposition focused on now-CEO Dan Cathy’s 2012 support of traditional marriage, with some opposition also targeting “donations made by charitable arms to groups opposing LGBT causes,” The Post reported.
 
Even the liberal website Mother Jones came to Chick-fil-A’s defense.
 
“This stuff happened four years ago, and the company halted contributions to anti-gay groups a year later,” Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum wrote. “Cathy presumably still doesn’t support gay marriage, but I really don’t think that should be a precondition for winning a bid with a government agency.
 
“And when several council members go beyond that, raising questions about ‘Chick-fil-A’s religion-influenced operation,’“ Drum continued, “all it does is confirm the worst hysteria from the right wing that merely being Christian is enough to arouse the hatred of the left. That’s just wildly inappropriate.”
 
Acton Institute commentator Joe Carter wrote, “The behavior of the city council needs to be called out for what it is: anti-religious bigotry. This is unacceptable behavior, for the government officials are misusing their power to impose their views on citizens.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

Related Stories:

Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy: We have made no concessions
‘Guilty as charged,’ Dan Cathy says of Chick-fil-A’s stand on faith

8/24/2015 12:27:00 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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