December 2011

Church planting snapshots

December 20 2011 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

(EDITOR’S NOTE – In his travels across North Carolina, Mike Creswell, who is a senior consultant for the Baptist State Convention, visits churches who receive Cooperative Program money. Here is a look at four churches attempting to share the gospel with their communities.)
 
Paradigm
 
Terry Hollifield is seeking unchurched people, but in a targeted way. Think of Paul addressing the Greeks of Athens.
 
The Paradigm Church Hollifield leads as pastor meets in the second floor of a strip shopping center near Asheville’s Biltmore Square Mall; downstairs there’s a sandwich shop and a martial arts center (paradigmasheville.org).
 
Hollifield says Paradigm is specifically seeking people who are unchurched or dechurched – especially those who have embraced other, non-Christian views. Paradigm’s aim is to clearly present the Good News of Jesus Christ, but is being innovative in its approach.
 
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Kelly and Terry Hollifield, from left, talk with a visitor to Paradigm Church in Asheville. The church began in October 2010 and meets in a shopping center. Paradigm not only receives support from the Baptist State Convention, it gets help from Pole Creek Baptist Church in Enka where Hollifield was minister of education.

He says he is actually targeting himself, as he once was, growing up in “the new Asheville,” before the gospel changed his life and led him into ministry. He served as minister of education for six years at Pole Creek Baptist Church in nearby Candler; Pole Creek now supports his church-planting ministry.
 
“We invite people from all backgrounds, all belief systems, skeptics, you name it. We discuss things that really matter. We discuss the most important things in life like truth, the nature of God, and who God is, and has God spoken, and how do we know that?” he said.
 
Along with more traditional Bible studies, Hollifield seeks to answer such questions in small group meetings around the city. He wants to start a conversation about beliefs and answer questions from a biblical, Christian perspective, not just preach.
 
Many people in the Asheville area reject Christianity for New Age ideas or embrace spiritual truths from Eastern religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism, he said. “Asheville is interesting. People are asking the right questions here. Sadly, though, the church hasn’t done a very good job of answering them, engaging them with the Bible, who Jesus is,” Hollifield explained.
 
After a Sunday service, Hollifield throws the service open for questions and assures those present that any question is OK. An open atmosphere is needed for sharing Bible truths, he believes.  
 
“Here, people are seeking, but they want to do so in an environment where I’m not going to shove truth down their throat. They want to talk about it. So we try to do that. It is a reflection of the culture here.”
Since Paradigm launched Oct. 10, 2010, the church has grown steadily, mostly as people engaged in small groups eventually become confident enough to attend a Sunday service.  
 
River of Leland
 
Mention “Thunder Alley” in relation to most churches and maybe you’d be talking about the pastor’s preaching style.
 
But for River of Leland, a new church in Leland, near Wilmington, Thunder Alley is where they meet (riverofleland.com).
 
It’s a 20,000-sq.-ft. bowling alley. When co-pastors John McIntyre and Travis Currin looked for meeting space, the new, modern and well-placed bowling alley looked promising.
 
Owners/operators Ricky and Ginger Roberts were delighted to be asked to host a new church. As Christians and longtime staffers with a Christian family ministry, they were already exploring how to help churches.  
 
The name-emblazoned River of Leland van and trailer parked outside are reminders of the set-up duties that come every Sunday with such meeting locations. Still, the facility’s lobby area has served well. The church is casual dress – who dresses up to go to a bowling alley? – and strong, contemporary music.
McIntyre grew up near Wilmington and served several churches, including Southside in Wilmington, before committing to starting a new church. Currin grew up in Angier.
 
The best problem the church faces now is that the seating space in the bowling alley is near capacity. Soon they’ll need a bigger meeting space. They’re hoping a new shopping area, delayed by the recession, will be completed when they’re ready to move. Home groups, an important part of the church, have grown from three to eight just this year.
 
As Greater Wilmington continues to grow, McIntyre and Currin want River of Leland to grow as well, helping bring increasing numbers of people to faith in Christ and helping start multiple new churches.
 
Reflection Church
 
Head out North Center Street in Hickory on a Sunday morning and you’ll come to one of many strip shopping centers that dot the area.
 
Some of the Sunday morning traffic heads left to a gym for a physical workout. Even more people head to the right for the spiritual workout available in two Sunday morning services at Reflection Church (reflectionchurch.com). Lead pastor Ken Case and his staff recently contracted for more space in their former restaurant building by taking out a wall; steady growth was the reason.
 
Contemporary worship and casual dress do not obscure the truth delivered in Case’s plain talk and Bible-based sermons, usually delivered verse-by-verse and organized in series.
 
Home groups, studies and other activities are designed to bring people to faith in Christ and then to reflect Him in their lives, hence the church’s name.
 
Revo Church
 
Church planter Nathan Cline was living in South Carolina two years ago when God began to call him to start a new church. Over the next year he developed a core group of some 30 people who also wanted to “spark a revolution of life change through Jesus,” hence the name, Revo Church (discoverrevo.com).
The church started Sunday services Feb. 27 with several hundred people present; already they are considering moving to another location.  
 
But their first meeting place has been impressive — the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in downtown Winston-Salem. Though actually a refurbished building, the center looks crisply new and modern. It opened September 2010 and is equipped with an auditorium.
 
The casual observer may question whether one more church is needed downtown; other church buildings are visible from the arts center.
 
But Cline answers that of young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 in the city, 83 percent are unchurched, unreached, unevangelized. That is their primary target group, he says.
12/20/2011 2:39:32 PM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Westfield Baptist joins hands in the harvest

December 20 2011 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

Pastor Joel Stephens tells his church members they’re supporting nearly 10,000 missionaries across Asia, Africa and all around the world and across the country.
 
He tells them they’re helping start new churches in California, New York City and all over North Carolina – nearly 30,000 new churches a year – and start more new churches across North America than any other church group.  
 
It’s the world’s largest Christian missions program that averages baptizing a new believer every 35 seconds.
 
Stephens tells his members they are helping educate 16,000 future pastors and missionaries through six of the country’s top seminaries.
 
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BSC photo by Mike Creswell

Joel Stephens encourages members of Westfield Baptist Church to give to the Cooperative Program through their personal tithe and special offerings. A new prayer guide is being sent to churches this month to help them pray throughout the “53 Sundays” of 2012.

Stephens holds M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of those six schools, located in Wake Forest.  
 
His members rescue and care for abused children, support the largest Christian youth program in North Carolina and have a hand in supporting scores of Christian ministries.
 
How does a church of 200-plus members manage all that? “It’s the Cooperative Program,” Stephens says.
 
Westfield Baptist Church sits at a crossroads in the rural Westfield community near Pilot Mountain, north of Winston-Salem and not far from Mount Airy, the mythical Mayberry in the long-running TV show.
 
Stephens is well-traveled and has an earned doctorate, but he turns to his farming background to explain the Cooperative Program to his members.
 
He recalls how farm families pitched in to help other families at harvest time, because one farm could not manage the challenge alone.
 
Churches today, he says, are like those farms.
 
“Our crops are not soybeans or corn: the harvest we look for is spiritual – a harvest of souls saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. But no one church has the resources to bring in this harvest individually. We need to employ the same principle of pooling our resources,” he says.
 
He tells members that it starts with their personal stewardship. “Out of gratitude and obedience to God for what He has done for you, you give a portion of what He’s provided you back to Him by giving to Westfield Baptist Church.  
 
“This is commonly called a tithe and represents 10 percent of your income. Westfield Baptist Church then takes the amount you give and combines it with what others give to the church.
 
“Each year, during our annual business meeting in September, our congregation decides what percentage of our total receipts that we will forward to the Cooperative Program.
 
“Our church currently sends 11.33 percent,” he says, explaining how the funds are sent to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and 35.5 percent goes on to the Southern Baptist Convention.
 
“This is not about great institutions or about a great denomination. It’s about the Great Commission. It’s about souls. It’s about the harvest. Due to the faithful giving of SBC churches like Westfield, we were able to pool our resources and engage in Great Commission ministry all over the globe.
 
“To God be the glory!” he says.
 
A new prayer guide called “53 Sundays” is being sent to North Carolina Baptist churches during December. Produced by the Baptist State Convention’s Cooperative Program office, the guide will help churches pray for missionaries they support through their Cooperative Program giving. The guide includes devotionals on prayer by Chris Schofield, Baptist State Convention consultant who works with churches on prayer and spiritual renewal.
12/20/2011 1:55:25 PM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Oglesby uses aviation ministry to impact lives

December 20 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Bob Oglesby’s dad is a pilot and his son is a commercial pilot, but it wasn’t until much later in life that Oglesby moved into the cockpit and learned to fly.
 
He always had an interest in flying and even flew some with his dad. In 1994, when Oglesby felt like he could afford the cost of getting his pilot’s license, he turned to his son. “My son was my instructor. He’s the one who taught me to fly,” Oglesby said.
 
Oglesby, who described himself as “semi-retired,” went in with a few others to buy an airplane and in 1999 made his first flight.
 
“I wanted to be able to use that airplane to help people out,” Oglesby said.
 
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Contributed photo

Bob Oglesby looks back at his passengers Karenina and her daughter Juliana. Oglesby was a part of an Angel Flight mission transporting the mother and daughter from Stafford, Va., to their home in Winston-Salem.

Not long after buying the plane Oglesby found a way to do just that when he attended an Angel Flight orientation near Winston-Salem. Angel Flight is a non-profit organization that helps coordinate volunteer pilots with patients needing transport in order to receive specialized medical care.
 
Soon after the orientation, Oglesby learned about the N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM) aviation ministry. NCBM works with Angel Flight and also coordinates a fuel fund to assist pilots in making flights. Individuals, churches and other groups may donate to the fund.
 
With help from the fuel fund, Oglesby is able to fly about once a month with Angel Flight. “I do it because I enjoy flying and I want to share that with others. I want to use that resource to help other people,” he said.
Oglesby usually flies in North Carolina or to neighboring states, such as South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. He and other volunteer pilots can see from the Angel Flight website the available flights and then sign up for the ones they are willing to take.
 
All the flights are unique, as each passenger is unique, and Oglesby prays with each passenger. Sometimes he flies with people expecting a good report from a check up with a cancer specialist. “Those are some of the really good flights,” he said.
 
Other flights are not as easy, as Oglesby has transported cancer patients who eventually lose their battle with the disease. Oglesby shared about a recent flight that was particularly unique – and humbling. His task was to help transport Captain Greg Amira from Beaufort, S.C., to Winchester, Va.
 
Steve Purello, President/CEO of Mercy Flight Southeast, flew Amira from Beaufort to Winston-Salem, and from there Oglesby flew him the rest of the way.
 
Oglesby was scheduled to fly into Winchester, but he planned to reroute to nearby Martinsburg, W.Va., when he learned the Winchester airport was closing early. Just 15 minutes into the flight to Martinsburg, air traffic control alerted Oglesby that the Martinsburg air show had experienced a fatal crash. The airport was closed and Oglesby would need to reroute again. Oglesby turned his sights to Front Royal, Va., a small airport near Winchester.
 
“Captain Amira was dog tired when he got on the plane. He slept the whole way,” Oglesby said.
 
Amira was in Beaufort that day participating in a Wounded Warriors event. Amira was wounded while serving in Iraq when his convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device.
 
Amira served in the United States Army until he went on the reserved list and went to work as a vice president for Morgan Stanley at the World Trade Center.
 
When the first tower was hit on Sept. 11, 2001, Amira left his office in the second tower and went to help the victims. He was injured while trying to help people escape, and a fireman had to help him out of the building after it collapsed.

While waiting for help, Amira was buried in rubble after the second tower collapsed. It took rescue workers hours to get him out.
 
A few years after 9/11 the Army reactivated Amira because they wanted him to help supervise special projects. He served less than one year before getting injured.
 
“Helping transport Captain Amira was a distinct honor and privilege,” Oglesby said. “He is an American hero.”
 
Flights like that, Oglesby said, are extra special. Oglesby is grateful to God for allowing Him to serve others. For more information about NCBM Aviation Ministry visit: baptistsonmission.org/Projects/Type/Aviation.
12/20/2011 1:45:56 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



N.C. couple thankful for opportunity to share meaning of Christmas

December 19 2011 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

Jane was in the middle of explaining how God had called her family to one of the toughest areas in Central Asia when the Skype connection went dead.
 
A few minutes later she and her husband, Jack, called back. Their backup generator kicked on and the conversation resumed. Jane and Jack, who are unable to use their real names for security reasons, seemed almost apologetic about having a generator in a place where most of the locals at that moment were without power and sitting in the dark. Still, through Southern Baptists’ support of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative Program, this IMB (International Mission Board) couple is able to do their work with as few interruptions as possible. Jack and Jane, both of North Carolina, are two of nearly 5,000 IMB missionaries serving overseas. Most live in challenging parts of the world where there is little to no access to electricity, running water, Wal-Mart – and most importantly – access to the gospel.
 
For more than a year, the couple and their two children have lived in a Central Asian city. Because of the risks involved with living there, few details about the people, the city and their work can be shared in this story. It’s a difficult and spiritually dark place where fathers have been known to kill their own sons or daughters for converting to Christianity.
 
“That is a big issue here – persecution,” Jack said.
 
“What do you do? How do you handle it? How do you spread the gospel in the midst of persecution? I mean violent persecution – even from family.”
 
The couple already had to move earlier this year out of one house into another because of security issues. Leaving their house to run a simple errand can even become a logistical nightmare.
 
Being there, however, has already created some unexpected ministry opportunities for the family – especially during the Christmas holiday season.
 
“The holidays have been a huge way to talk about [faith],” Jane said. “You can actually prepare a little speech,” she added, noting her struggle to learn the local language.
 
“You can memorize three or four sentences of why you’ve done what you’ve done – whether it be decorating your house or whatever.”
 
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In recent weeks the couple has put up a Christmas tree with all the lights and decorations. But step outside their door, Jack said, and it’s “just another day.” 
 
“We play Christmas music to get us in the mood, but once you hit the street ... it’s not a holiday season at all.”
 
Living in this part of the world as missionaries wasn’t always something the couple thought they’d be doing with their lives.
 
“We never – as children, as teenagers, after we were married – had any intention of being in any sort of ministry role much less anywhere other than small town North Carolina,” Jane said.
 
“We were set up on the family farm with our house, and our jobs and our cars and set to do small-town life. It’s very different than we thought our lives would look like, but we don’t doubt that this is what God had planned.”
 
Early next year, Jack plans to begin teaching a local believer what a church would look like in that part of the world. Jack and Jane also will continue their language lessons.
 
“Language learning has definitely been more challenging than I was anticipating,” Jane said.
 
“It’s been a hard thing. You’re pumped up ready to be here, and you get on the ground and can’t speak a word. [But] we’ve seen a lot of God’s goodness and bringing people across our path … who have been a huge encouragement to us.”
 
Jane remembers telling one local friend – while practicing the language – about how Jesus rose from the dead three days after being crucified.
 
“Her eyes just got so wide, and she looked at me and she [said] ‘Back to life? After death, he came back to life?’ The truth of such an unbelievable story was really hitting her.”
 
Jane spoke of another woman with whom she continues to build a relationship.
 
“She’s not open right now to having a copy of [the Bible] in her home,” Jane said.
 
“We’re praying she would be willing to take a copy of it and read it herself. She’s very close. Every time we talk about it … I think she is getting close. That’s encouraging to me to stick it out and try to pursue these relationships.”
 
Jane remains thankful for support from Southern Baptists. It allows her family and other IMB missionaries to live among their people group and build ongoing relationships.
           
“[Without the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,] we wouldn’t be able to have the conversations we’re having with people … to be able to tell somebody ‘yea, Jesus is alive’ and them be shocked because they have never heard.”
 
That support also gives missionaries the opportunity to provide logistical support and advice for churches with a desire to engage – or “embrace” – unengaged, unreached people groups and build relationships over time.
 
Southern Baptist churches – including many N.C. churches – continue to seek to help engage people groups with no church planting strategy and less than a 2 percent evangelical presence.
 
Relationships must be built in order to talk about deep spiritual issues, Jane said.
 
“You can’t build relationships with people … over the Internet or by just sending funds for food distribution,” she said. “You have to have a relationship with these people [for them] to be comfortable … to ask you questions.”
 
“If there is nobody here [to build those relationships] they’ll never know,” she added.
 
“They’ll never hear [the gospel]. How can they hear it unless somebody tells them?”
 
For more information about this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering go to imb.org and click on “Your Lottie Moon offering resources.” Or for more information about embracing an unengaged, unreached people group, go to call2embrace.org. You can also read more stories at BRnow.org; under “Resources,” click “2011 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.”
12/19/2011 4:14:35 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Coach: Career opened opportunities to make a difference

December 19 2011 by Roman Gabriel III, Special to the Recorder

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Former three-time Dallas Cowboy Super Bowl champion Bill Bates is proving that life after football has provided him with an even greater opportunity to influence thousands of young people. Roman Gabriel III who will be providing a sports perspective in this and future Biblical Recorder issues, spoke with Bates about his passion for coaching, his faith, his family, and a successful football career that provided a strong platform through coaching to make a difference in the next generation of young people – including Tim Tebow, now the quarterback for the Denver Broncos.) 
       
Q: Bill, I’m so excited to talk with you … you were able to play for one of the great teams in NFL history, three Super Bowl victories, how closely do you follow the Cowboys?
 
A: As much as I can, but I now live in Jacksonville, Fla. I coached with the Jaguars, five years with the Cowboys, and I was able to coach my kids in high school here in Jacksonville. I coached them at Nease High School where I also had the privilege of coaching Tim Tebow.
 
Q: What was it like to coach Tim?
 
A: Timmy is a phenomenal person. He is a great leader ... how he handles life and how he takes care of himself. He’s one of those guys people want to be around. Everyone just gravitates to him. That is good from a football standpoint and for a team. You want your players to gravitate to him … especially when it’s the QB position.
 
Q: He seems to have a great balance and perspective about life and his career?
 
A: He’s committed to football, but even more importantly, [he’s] committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, which is what it’s all about ...That kind of leadership is hard to find.
 
He has “it.” People just want to be around him. He’s big, fast and strong, which helps as a QB. He is a great leader, and Denver has a great QB.
 
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Former three-time Dallas Cowboy Super Bowl champion Bill Bates is proving that life after football has provided him with an even greater opportunity to influence thousands of young people.

Q: I had the privilege to be coached by my father in college. What was the experience like to coach your own children?
 
A: To be able to coach my kids in high school and be a part of their lives created so many great memories. 
 
Q: It had to be even more meaningful to experience winning with your two boys. What was that experience like for you?
 
A: We won the state championship their sophomore year, Tim Tebow’s senior year, and went back to the state championship twice more. Now they’re both playing college football – Graham at Arkansas State, and Hunter at Northwestern. My daughter (Brianna) is playing sorority volleyball at Florida. I am very blessed to have the memories of being able to coach them. That’s what it’s all about. I’ve had that opportunity to coach so many players. If just one thing I said to them helped them it made it worth it.
 
Q: [The Cowboys] were so great. Tell us what it was like to play on such a dominant team. 
 
A: Obviously it was a dream come true. The one thing about our team was that we were so competitive, competed every opportunity we could, a great will to win. We competed on each and every occasion … Obviously we had so many great players.
 
Q: Bill, tell us about Bill Bates Cowboy Ranch in Texas.
 
A: In 1989, I had no idea I would play as long as I did, so I knew I had to start some business that I could fall back into once I stopped playing. We started this corporate party dude ranch and have been doing it for 20 years now in Mckinney, Texas. Having a lot of fun, providing a lot of great church and family events, hopefully being able to change people’s lives in a positive way in helping create some good memories for parents and kids.
 
Q: Of course if our readers want to know more they can look you up at billbatescowboyranch.com. You obviously had a great football career. How has that experience allowed you to make a difference in others lives today as a Christian?
 
A: My platform and career gave me the ability to reach more ears … hopefully change the lives of at least one person, a platform that allowed me to share what happened to me … the direction I was headed in until I met the Lord Jesus Christ … to be able to hopefully see someone else have the opportunity to find the Lord. 
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel is an evangelist and motivational speaker. His Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio can be heard in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. It’s all about faith, family and sports. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook page: Roman Gabriel III Fan Page; connect with him on Twitter: romangabriel3rd; email him: soldoutrg3@gmail.com or call 910-431-6483. For more stories from Gabriel, visit here.)

12/19/2011 4:07:32 PM by Roman Gabriel III, Special to the Recorder | with 0 comments



Planting hope in Cambodia’s ‘Killing Fields’

December 16 2011 by Landry Lyons

KRATIE, Cambodia (BP) – Afternoon light filters through the windows as Cambodian villagers map out the future of their communities.

This day was more than 30 years in coming. The villages haven’t been rebuilt since the horrific Khmer Rouge years that tore communities apart. An estimated 2 million Cambodians died between 1975 and 1979 in a genocide dramatized in the popular 1984 film, “The Killing Fields.”

Today, however, both former Khmer Rouge members and their survivors sit together on a wood floor with a sheet white 3-by-2-foot paper to sketch out schools, wells and health centers they’d like to see one day.

The group has gathered to learn about community development from representatives of a Southern Baptist international relief and development organization, Baptist Global Response, who conduct such sessions around the world to help communities catch a hopeful vision of the future and understand how to make it a reality.

“Community development is the development of people – communities and people in the communities,” said Pam Wolf, who works with her husband Ben in leading BGR work in the Asia Rim.

Visiting the communities in Cambodia is like taking a step back in time. The only way to reach many villages is on muddy roads. Electricity doesn’t make it out to most villages. Hospitals are scarce. Many rural Cambodians long to see their communities develop.

The goal of community development, Ben Wolf said, is for people to work together to improve their communities and see their needs met.

The community itself facilitates the change, not outsiders giving handouts, Wolf emphasized. Most villages are used to having NGOs come in, drop off supplies and leave.

These villagers live in Cambodia’s Kratie [Kra- chay] province. The name in Khmer means “poor knowledge.” A Christian worker who attended the training said he knows of only two high schools in the entire province. Teachers are scarce and many times haven’t even completed a high school education themselves. Most students study only to the ninth grade.
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BGR photo.

Participants in a community development training discuss what they'd like their village to look like in 15 years.


Though the villagers may not be educated by academic standards, the men and women learn how to evaluate what their community looked like 15 years ago, what it looks like now and what they see their community looking like 15 years from now if things continue as they are with no intervention. They learn how to identify the problems and needs of their communities, prioritize them and make a practical plan for effecting change.

Water is a constant worry in this area. Though some of the villages lie near the Mekong River, the villagers haven’t found a foolproof method for purifying the water.

By the end of the session, the trainees have mapped out steps they can take to improve and find new water sources. Some drafted a plan and developed action points for digging a well.

The participants dream and plan for more high schools, electricity and bridges over rivers. One man dreams that one day there will be a toilet for every house. Others cast visions for all-day markets and health clinics.

Every BGR training session concludes with a practicum in which participants have a chance to go to a local community and meet with the local leaders to put into practice what they have learned, asking questions to learn about the community and then asking the leaders to draw what the village looks like on a piece of paper. Through this, the leader and trainees can see what needs the community has, opening the door for future visits.

Aung, a trainee from a nearby village of 800 people, feels he can share what he learned in the training. He’s already talked with the leaders of his village and introduced the vision-mapping tool he learned.

The main need in Aung’s village is food. He’s realized his village has resources he can use to make a plan for creating more ways to get food. Aung said his small group discussed starting a cow-raising project for income and fresh meat.

The Wolfs’ lessons also resonate with a 20-year-old named Borey from the village of Poipet, where heavy rains make dirt roads impassable, keeping some children out of school and behind in their lessons.

Borey – the only person in Poipet to graduate from high school – recognized the need for supplemental education. He decided he’d teach children in the evenings to help them catch up in their studies. Every evening after he finishes working in the fields, Borey gathers children ages 5 10 and gives them lessons for an hour.

Through the training sessions led by the Wolfs, Borey realized he already was practicing a core principle that was being taught: The people of a community are the primary initiators of change for their community. His grandfather is the leader of their village, and Borey plans on talking with his grandfather about how they can apply what he’s learned in the workshop to help their community.

“I want in the future for my village to have a school, church and for people to have food, health and children to be clever,” Borey declared.

“This is the attitude we get excited about,” Ben Wolf said. “If we can especially get young people involved in community development, we can see a future for healthy, vibrant communities – communities that are stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

The Wolfs, while in Cambodia, also had an opportunity to meet with provincial authorities and discuss their role in the community development process. Community development cannot happen without the understanding of those in authority, Wolf said, even if they are not directly involved.

Wolf encouraged the provincial officials to use their influence to encourage the community taking ownership of its future.

“As leaders, you might be the change agent in the community,” Wolf told the provincial authorities. “You may be the one who is getting the community to take responsibility for themselves.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Landry Lyons is an international correspondent for Baptist Global Response.)

Related story
Khmer Rouge survivor nurtures his village
12/16/2011 1:09:11 PM by Landry Lyons | with 0 comments



Khmer Rouge survivor nurtures his village

December 16 2011 by Landry Lyons

POIPET, Cambodia (BP) – David leans back and coughs into a handkerchief. His asthma ails him, but not as much as the nightmares that still torment him more than 30 years after the Khmer Rouge genocide in his Cambodian homeland.

Though the nightmares, like the scars on his back and feet, may never fade, David is learning how to help his village leave the past behind and move forward.

David was 17 when Pol Pot took control of Cambodia. Families were uprooted and separated – man from wife, mother from child. Communities were scattered; many family and friends were never reunited.

David’s brother was shot in front of him. David was separated from his family and forced to work in a labor camp. There, David saw a pregnant woman thrown into a fire because she was having morning sickness and couldn’t work. He also saw people bludgeoned to death.

In the camps, everyone had to wake up at 4 a.m. and work until 7 p.m. They were barely fed, sometimes not at all. Once, in his hunger, David ate a crab scurrying along the ground. For this, the boy soldiers of the Khmer Rouge tied him up and beat him. They took him to out a mountain to kill him but saw several monkeys that they shot for food. The boys decided to spare David’s life so he could help them carry the monkeys back to the camp.

David carried the monkeys, grateful for the second chance.

Later, David and 10 others managed to escape the camp and set out to find the Thai border. Along the way, they stumbled onto land mines and booby-traps planted by the Khmer Rouge.

Only three in David’s group made it to the Thai border.

In the refugee camps in Thailand, several missionaries told David the good news about God’s love, and he decided to follow Christ. David said he saw God’s hand of protection on him and how He sent the monkeys to save him from an early death.

David made his way to a refugee camp in the Philippines before being granted refugee status in the United States. There he made a life for himself, but it was difficult to forget the past. He consulted one doctor after another, asking how to stop his nightmares. No one had an answer.

Even though he had found refuge in America, David felt the Lord leading him back to Cambodia. He eventually sold all his possessions and returned to Cambodia to share the love God had given him.

Today, David helps his own people put into practice principles he is learning from community development training conducted by representatives of a Southern Baptist international relief and development organization, Baptist Global Response.

Ben and Pam Wolf, BGR area directors for the Asia Rim, are teaching individuals and communities how to launch initiatives to improve their quality of life and experience God’s love for themselves.

David grows rice, cassava and sugar cane on his farm. He sells the crops locally. He rotates his crops in the field to improve harvest yields, something most Cambodian farmers don’t do. David also raises pigs and ducks that he slaughters to sell.

David sees a need for food in his community and plans to set up a training farm adjacent to his own where others can learn sustainable farming practices. He also has established a mill for local farmers to process their grain.

In the coming year, Baptist Global Response will partner with David, connecting him with farming experts who can help with animal and agricultural training so that David can train men and women in his community. Ben Wolf said David’s farm – and his life back in Cambodia – “are real-life examples of BGR’s motto, ‘connecting people in need with people who care.’”

“Farming experts are hard to find in Cambodia because most were exterminated by the Khmer Rouge,” Wolf noted, “but God is raising up a new generation to help their countrymen discover the new lives God created them to enjoy.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Landry Lyons is an international correspondent for Baptist Global Response.)

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12/16/2011 12:12:40 PM by Landry Lyons | with 0 comments



Panel: Baptist academia face major challenges

December 15 2011 by Tim Ellsworth

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) – Southern Baptist universities and seminaries face significant challenges in the near future in areas such as theology and science, globalization, and their relationship to churches, Union University President David S. Dockery said in an address in conjunction with the Evangelical Theological Society’s mid-November meeting in San Francisco.

“I don’t think we’ve ever faced bigger challenges than those that we face at this particular time,” Dockery said in a video address seen at the San Francisco-area Golden Gate Baptist Theological in Mill Valley.

“But I don’t think that we need to get sidetracked by our focus on these challenges,” Dockery said. “If we do, we run the risk of losing sight of the hope that we have in the gospel and the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ as head of the church to guide us forward.”

Dockery, along with R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Chris Morgan, dean of California Baptist University’s School of Christian Studies, addressed recent developments in Southern Baptist academia and issues such institutions face going forward. Jeff Iorg, Golden Gate Seminary’s president, moderated the discussion.

Among developments that have shaped Baptist colleges and seminaries, Dockery cited the Southern Baptist Convention’s embrace of inerrancy as a foundational commitment and not just a passing trend. That conviction has then led to a greater engagement by Southern Baptist scholars with the broader evangelical world, he said.

Mohler also praised Southern Baptists’ advances in intellectual engagement, with several university and seminary professors now being published by prominent publishers. “The age of Baptist parochialism is over,” Mohler stated in reference to Southern Baptists’ “low wattage,” in-house brand of intellectual engagement for much of the 20th century.

Dockery noted the changes in educational offerings at Baptist institutions – with colleges offering more graduate degrees and seminaries providing undergraduate degrees. He said continued collaboration between the seminaries and the colleges and universities that want to relate to the SBC could foster a constructive conversation about the work of Southern Baptist academic institutions.

Dockery added that he is encouraged by a stronger relationship between academic institutions and churches in recent years.

“We have moved from an ingenious programmatic emphasis toward a greater emphasis on the gospel and theological conversations within the commitment to the full truthfulness of the Bible, our Trinitarian commitments, the centrality of the gospel, a renewed sense of the lostness of men and women around the world and the need for a missional understanding of our calling in the academy,” Dockery said. “I think that has been a very significant development.”

But even with the improvement in the church-academy ties, Dockery said the connection between educational institutions and churches still needs to be stronger.

“I think it’s important that we recognize that we work hand in glove in this regard,” he said. “We need to develop an ongoing theology of the church in order to do theology for the church.”

Mohler echoed Dockery’s sentiments about church accountability, stating, “Church control isn’t pretty, but it is deadly necessary. Otherwise, the institutions are lost.”

Morgan, likewise, underscored the role that the university plays in developing leaders for the church.

“As we think through what it means to raise up leaders for church life – which is the point of a seminary and the point of a university, to raise up Christian leaders in various vocations for the sake of the Kingdom – then I think the church-saturated nature of that has to recapture us,” Morgan said.

While Morgan said pastors should be developed through the writings and teachings of professors, he said the university should also play a role in the development of the Christian businessman, the Christian nurse and Christians in other professions.

“The university can be in the middle of forming their worldview,” he said.

Dockery said that universities, which focus on liberal arts, and seminaries, which focus on theology, would do well to learn from each other.

“We would do theology better with a broader understanding of a liberal arts framework, and certainly at the university level, we would do our work much better with a theological focus and a theological grounding, so that together we are working in conversation to develop a generation that can have a mind for truth and a heart for the things of God,” Dockery said.

Dockery said educational institutions also must work together to address issues related to theology and science, beginning with a common commitment to a historical Adam and Eve. He also referenced the rise of Christianity in Africa and Asia, saying that Baptist colleges and seminaries have much to learn from theologians on those continents.

“I think it will be very, very important for us to understand our educational task in a more missional way, an understanding that must be grounded in the uniqueness of the gospel,” Dockery said. “So many of the scholars and leaders who are focusing on the issues of globalization are willing to punt on that particular doctrinal issue. We must never do so.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)
12/15/2011 2:07:07 PM by Tim Ellsworth | with 0 comments



Indy’s ‘Send’ initiative launched by NAMB

December 15 2011 by Tobin Perry

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – Pastor John Newland said he’d go anywhere – Asia, Africa, the Middle East, wherever the Lord led him. A life-changing mission trip to the Middle East had made him restless to make a difference. He couldn’t help but see the vast pockets of lostness in the cities of the world.

Then news came that some of the International Mission Board missionaries he had worked with on the trip had been killed on the mission field. Newland hit his knees in prayer. Content to stay but willing to go, Newland’s heart turned to the great unreached cities of North America.

He started regularly praying for the cities and looking for opportunities to serve in one of them. Soon Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis called him to serve as its pastor.

“I felt that God hadn’t just called me to pastor Fall Creek but to reach this city with the Gospel,” Newland said. “I came to the conclusion that I’m probably not going to be a good church planter personally, so I want to champion church planting. And I’m probably not going to grow a megachurch.... So if we’re going to reach this city, I’m going to have to stand up on a platform and scream for church planters and church planting partners to come and help us reach this city.”

That’s exactly what he’s doing in Indianapolis. Fall Creek – which had started half of Indianapolis’ Southern Baptist churches before Newland’s arrival – has launched three more churches in the last five years. Now, as chair of the Send North America: Indianapolis coalition, Newland is leading an effort to bring a new generation of church planters and church planting partners to Indianapolis to help him reach the city with the gospel.

Send North America is the North American Mission Board’s strategy to mobilize and assist churches and individuals in hands-on church planting in 29 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Through Send North America, NAMB will come alongside Southern Baptist churches that are not directly involved in church planting and help connect them to a church plant. And NAMB will partner with Southern Baptist churches already planting churches to help them increase their efforts.

The Indianapolis coalition will connect Southern Baptist partners from across North America to church planters with a passion to start evangelistic Southern Baptist churches in the city.

One of the 11 largest cities in the United States according to 2010 U.S. Census statistics, Indianapolis is home to more than 820,000 people. Two million live somewhere in the metro area. Yet local Southern Baptist leaders believe only 1 in 5 Indy residents go to church each weekend. While Southern Baptists have been in the city since 1953, today you’ll only find one Southern Baptist church for every 18,000 people in the metro area – as compared to one SBC church for every 1,732 people in nearby Kentucky.

Newland believes church planting is the key to reaching the city and turning those numbers around.

“The size of churches in Indianapolis – at least Southern Baptist churches – is dreadfully small,” Newland said. “If we’re going to reach this city with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we’re either going to have to get way better than we currently are or we’re going to have to start new work – or both.”

With so few people in Indianapolis churches, the city is full of opportunities for evangelistic church planters. For example, despite the fact that the population of downtown Indianapolis (inside the Interstate 465 loop) jumped by 35,000 people in the past decade, Southern Baptists have only one current church plant in that area. The foreign-born population of the city, meanwhile, has doubled as well – leaving a dramatic need for new church plants among non-English speakers.

To meet these growing church planting needs, the coalition is looking for 90 church planters to join them in Indianapolis throughout the next five years.
nambindy-2-.jpg

Photo by Jim Whitmer.

Church planter Charlie Fehrman and John Newland, pastor of Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis, talk over the needs for church planting in the city. The Send North America: Indianapolis coalition, which Newland chairs, is praying God would call 90 new church planters to the city in the next five years.


Yet despite the vast spiritual needs of the city and church planting opportunities, sharing Christ and starting new churches in the city is tough work. Tony Manning, for example, started a church to reach the affluent family-orientated nearby suburb of Fishers in 2009. Ironically, it’s his community’s clean-cut personality that may be one of its biggest barriers to reaching the city with the gospel.

“I’d say the need for Jesus in Fishers has been overlooked by the people,” said Manning, who is no relation to the famous NFL quarterback who calls Indianapolis home. “They’re really good people who are family-based. If they have needs, they’re used to buying or renting what they need.”

They’re also incredibly busy. Many in their community have calendars full of “good” activities – from family time to youth sports to community groups, Manning said. But in the process, they’ve crowded out spiritual matters.

While most people know Indianapolis as the home of the Indianapolis 500, few might realize that it has quietly become a North American transportation and sporting-event hub in the Midwest. The capital city of the state dubbed “The Crossroads of America,” Indianapolis has more major Interstates crossing it than any major city in the nation – and therefore it’s the headquarters or shipping center for a variety of major companies. It’s also the home of the NCAA, the National Federation of State High School Associations and 10 professional and amateur sports teams.

The Greater Orlando Baptist Association already has signed on to be a part of Send North America: Indianapolis. Yet more outside partners are needed to fuel the church planting necessary to reach the city, Newland said.

Churches that want to partner through Send North America: Indianapolis can visit namb.net/indianapolis and click on the “mobilize me” button.

“We’re desperate for those partners who are going to come alongside and provide hands to the plow, energy for the horses and vision,” Newland said. “We need people with vision for their own communities to come and share with us and help us and pray with us, to give us a new perspective on how to reach our community.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry is the North American Mission Board’s regional communications coordinator for the Midwest.)
12/15/2011 2:01:21 PM by Tobin Perry | with 0 comments



Scroll fragments could ‘shed light’ on O.T. text

December 15 2011 by Benjamin Hawkins

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – The potential contribution to Dead Sea Scroll scholarship of nine scroll fragments owned by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was underscored when several SWBTS professors discussed their research to date during the Society of Biblical Literature’s 2011 meeting in San Francisco.
 
dead-scrolls.jpg
“Southwestern’s scrolls contain readings of Old Testament passages that are nowhere else attested,” Ryan Stokes, assistant professor of Old Testament, noted after the SBL’s three-day mid-November meeting. “We are just beginning to comprehend their importance for the field, but we expect them to shed light on how we came to have the Old Testament text that we have today.”
 
Southwestern Seminary currently houses the largest collection of fragments owned by an institution of higher education within the United States. The seminary will host an exclusive exhibit of the scrolls from July 2, 2012, to Jan. 11, 2013. To learn more about Southwestern Seminary’s exclusive “Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible” exhibit, visit http://seethescrolls.com.
 
At the SBL meeting, Southwestern professors introduced the scroll fragments to the academic community, demonstrating the seminary’s commitment to contribute to the field of biblical scholarship.
 
Steven Ortiz, associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds and director of Southwestern’s Tandy Institute for Archaeology, introduced the session focusing on the scroll fragments.
 
In addition to Stokes, Southwestern faculty members who presented research were George Klein, professor of Old Testament; Eric Mitchell, associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology; Ishwaran Mudliar and Joshua Williams, assistant professors of Old Testament.
 
Ortiz said scholars at SBL noted the potential contribution that Southwestern’s scroll fragments have for Dead Sea Scroll scholarship.
 
“The accumulation of data and how it was presented showed that these were some important fragments,” Ortiz said. Southwestern’s professors displayed an in-depth knowledge of the particular fragments they researched, Ortiz said, as well as setting forth the implications the fragments have for a broader field of research.
 
“With the initial announcement of Southwestern’s acquisition , all the emphasis was placed on the purchase of the scrolls,” Ortiz said. “So that is the only thing that people knew about Southwestern’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments.
 
“After this presentation, the perception has shifted, and now they’re seeing that Southwestern is serious about becoming a center for biblical research, as the Dead Sea Scrolls affect biblical scholarship.”
 
Ortiz said Southwestern professors will continue this contribution to biblical scholarship by placing the seminary’s fragments within the larger corpus of the scrolls. They also have contacted scholars outside the seminary who are researching other unpublished scroll fragments. In time, the seminary will publish its scroll fragments in a major peer-reviewed journal on Dead Sea Scroll research.
 
During the SBL meeting, Southwestern also invited scholars from outside the seminary to present research related to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Ortiz noted that Southwestern was “very fortunate to have top scholars on the panel,” including Bruce Zuckerman, director of the West Semitic Research Project and associate professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Southern California. Zuckerman led a team that photographed Southwestern’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments last September. During SBL, Zuckerman discussed the imaging technology that allows scholars to publish ancient texts in high-definition as well as to read otherwise illegible texts.
 
Peter Flint, professor at Trinity Western University and co-director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute, and Sydnie White Crawford, professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, also participated, discussing the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relevance to biblical studies.
 
In particular, Flint argued that Southwestern’s scroll fragments, alongside others, have revealed which biblical texts were most widely read by the Jewish community that preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls and hid them in the caves near Qumran. As such, the scrolls not only illuminate the biblical text, but they also inform scholars about those who copied and read the scrolls 2,000 years ago, during Jesus’ lifetime.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Benjamin Hawkins is senior news writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas www.swbts.edu/campusnews. To read the Baptist Press story on Southwestern’s acquisitions of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments, click here.)

12/15/2011 1:51:41 PM by Benjamin Hawkins | with 0 comments



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