December 2013

2013 year in review

December 31 2013 by BR staff

It was another year full of memorable events in the state of North Carolina, across the nation and spanning the globe. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) set in motion a new five-year strategy called “Impacting Lostness,” with a focus on disciple-making. The strategy is reshaping the staff structure of the BSC and sharpening the plan for reaching the state with the gospel.
 
Many tragic events, such as the Boston bombings, directly affected 200 plus lives and further impacted America’s consciousness concerning security and terrorism. Notables such as Howard Hendricks, Pat Summerall and George Beverly Shea passed away during the year. After tornadoes damaged livelihoods in the Midwest and after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, Baptists on Mission quickly responded to the physical and spiritual needs in these disaster areas. These stories are a few of the many in our Year in Review edition selected by the Biblical Recorder staff. Comprised of four categories – personalities, cultural issues, Southern Baptist Convention and Baptist State Convention of North Carolina – the items we chose are not exhaustive but rather vitally important for churches. These “need to know” stories affect churches and how they interact with their communities and government.
YearinReview12-31-13.jpg
 
We believe it is our responsibility at the Biblical Recorder to inform churches in the most important matters so that Baptists may continue Jesus’ Kingdom work through the Acts 1:8 model.
 

Personalities

Saeed Abedini – Iranian-American pastor, Saeed Abedini, has been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012. In January 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison because of his Christian activities. Since his arrest, Abedini has endured beatings causing internal bleeding, and has had medical care withheld. In November, he was transferred to an “even more dangerous” prison. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have pressed for his release, and the Senate unanimously passed a similar resolution Nov. 14. He remains imprisoned in Iran.

M.O. Owens – The 100-year-old Owens does not let age slow him down from doing ministry. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary installed a New Testament Studies Chair in his name in 2012. This past November, Owens was presented with a lifetime achievement award during a special recognition at the recent Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting in Greensboro. In 1925, Owens was present with his parents at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Memphis, Tenn. when the Cooperative Program was first adopted.

Frank Page – Since 2010, Page has served as the president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. After losing his daughter Melissa in 2009, Page wrote a book examining the biblical truths that carried him and his family through that difficult time. The book, Melissa: A Father’s Lessons from a Daughter’s Suicide, is an attempt to help churches address suicide biblically and effectively. Much of Page’s time is spent traveling to encourage pastors and leaders to work together to fulfill the Great Commission.

Robertson family – The Robertson family has been featured on A&E’s reality television series, “Duck Dynasty.” Known for their duck call business named, “Duck Commander,” the family has become a household name across the nation. The Robertsons are known as a strong Christian family that attempts to display their faith in each episode. A&E indefinitely suspended the patriarch of the family, Phil Robertson, in mid-December for comments he made about homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine. The suspension was lifted a week later.

Fred Luter – In 2001, Luter became the first African-American to preach the convention sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention. He also previously served as second vice-president and became the first African-American to serve as the first vice-president of the SBC in 2011. After his historic election to the presidency in 2012, he was reelected June 2013 and will continue as president until the 2014 SBC annual meeting.

Russell Moore – Moore formerly served as the dean of the School of Theology, senior vice president of academic administration and professor of Christian Theology and Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. On June 1, 2013, he became president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. In this role, Moore addresses issues of religious liberty, human dignity, family stability and civil society. He has been a strong advocate of immigration reform and religious liberty in the public square.

Steve Green – CEO of Hobby Lobby, Steve Green has challenged the Supreme Court’s ruling on whether for-profit businesses can be treated like religious entities. These actions came after the Obama administration’s mandate that employers include free contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans. Obamacare will cost Hobby Lobby up to $1.3 million a day in fines if the company does not comply.  Green said, “Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.” The case is now before the Supreme Court.

Mark Harris – Pastor of First Baptist Charlotte, Harris held a private gathering Sept. 12 in Clemmons, to officially announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. He is in a race that now has at least three other Republicans who are vying for the seat held by Senator Kay Hagen. He completed his second term as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in 2013.

Rob Peters – Peters was elected as the senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, effective June 2013. Calvary is one of the state’s largest congregations. Previously he served as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Weston, Fla. This church grew from 300 to more than 1,100 in worship attendance during his ministry. This story was one of the most visited pages on the BRnow.org website in 2013.

Billy Graham – American evangelist and ordained Southern Baptist minister, Billy Graham launched an event called “My Hope America.” My Hope is a video-driven outreach designed to help Christians clearly present the gospel with life-changing testimonies and a powerful message from Graham. Believers were encouraged to use their homes as a base for inviting friends to hear the gospel message.  The emphasis was coordinated with Graham’s 95th birthday celebration on November 7.  There have been many testimonies to the effectiveness of this gospel-centered event with 100,000+ decisions registered. Officials say statistics are still being compiled.

Michael Blackwell – Baptist Children’s Home (BCH) president/CEO since July 1983, Blackwell celebrated 30 years with BCH in July. He has led BCH to become child-centered and family-focused, addressing needs with specific, goal-oriented programs of service. He has directed the successful completion of two major capital campaigns, and the creation of public-private partnerships to better serve youth and families. The Biblical Recorder honored Blackwell as one of the 30 most influential Baptists in North Carolina’s 20th century.

In Memoriam

Matthew Warren – Matthew Warren, son of Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA., committed suicide in April. Warren, 27, had a long struggle with mental illness, according to a release from Saddleback. Since the event, Rick and Kay Warren have been open with their son’s suicide, sharing about God’s presence in the midst of tragedy. (April 5, 2013)

Pat Summerall – Summerall was an American football player and television sportscaster, having worked at CBS, Fox and ESPN. He was inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 1999. Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, Jack Graham, said, that with all the accolades and applause that Summerall received for his sports broadcasting work, his walk with Christ is what mattered the most to him. He was 83. (April 16, 2013)

Buryl Red – Red was the founding musical director and conductor of The CenturyMen, a men’s choir made up of Baptist church music directors from around the world. He is perhaps best remembered as composer of “Celebrate Life,” a musical created with lyricist Ragan Courtney, considered a landmark in church music released in 1972. He was 76. (April 1, 2013)

Howard Hendricks – Hendricks was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary for over fifty years and a popular speaker for Promise Keepers, a men’s ministry that holds conferences to disciple and evangelize men. He mentored many Christian leaders including Tony Evans, David Jeremiah, Joseph Stowell and Chuck Swindoll. He was 89. (Feb. 20, 2013)

Don Rutledge – Traveling throughout the United States and to more than 140 countries over more than 40 years, Rutledge, 82, told the global story of missions through his camera lens for several generations of Southern Baptists. He captured quiet moments of humanity and missions ministry in hundreds of classic photographs taken for the North American Mission Board and later for the International Mission Board. (Feb. 19, 2013)

Chuck Smith – Smith, 86, was the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, a fellowship of some 1,600 like-minded congregations in the United States and abroad. He was called “one of the most influential figures in modern American Christianity” by the Los Angeles Times. His openness to cultural styles helped him reach younger audiences and inspire a trend toward seeker-sensitive congregations. (Oct. 3, 2013)

George Beverly Shea – Canadian-born American gospel singer, recording artist and hymn composer, Shea, 104, toured with Billy Graham and his crusades since 1947. He regularly appeared on The Hour of Decision radio program. The Hour of Decision had become the largest audience of any religious radio program in history. (April 16, 2013)

Cultural Issues

Adoption – Adoption has been a topic of importance for Southern Baptists for years. Russell Moore, an adoption proponent, and other Southern Baptists have spoken about the social and economic priorities of adoption while ultimately rooting the subject in scripture.

Boston bombing – During the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs killed three people and injured approximately 200 others. The suspects – brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev – were later involved in a firefight with police.Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot by police and then run over by his brother, who was injured but escaped. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was later apprehended. Church planters in the area witnessed new faces appearing in their churches for prayer and worship in the days after the bombings. Even though an tragic event, it became an effective ministry platform for shining the light of Christ.

Exodus International shuts down – Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality announced in June that it will shut down after three-plus decades of ministry. Alan Chambers, former director of Exodus, has been organizing a new initiative called Speak.Love., aimed at hosting thoughtful and safe conversations on faith, gender and sexuality.

Fort Caswell incident – Clyde Wesley Way, a chaperone during a church youth trip in July, organized a game of strip poker at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell, which is owned and operated by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He was a volunteer student ministries team leader for the Stanly Baptist Association. Charges included 16 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, four counts of employing or permitting a minor to assist in an offense involving a lewd act and four counts of indecent liberties with a child. According to the Brunswick County Sherriff’s office, the case is still under investigation.

Boy Scouts and Trail Life – In May 2013 at their national annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, the Boy Scouts of America adopted a policy admitting homosexual youth as Scouts. In response the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution on the matter stating that families and churches should decide whether to sever ties with the Scouts and suggested the Royal Ambassadors program as an alternative. The resolution also called for a change of leadership at the national Scout level. Some churches have responded by cutting ties with the Scouts while connecting with Trail Life USA. Trail Life launched in September as a Christian adventure, character, and leadership program for young men in grades K-12. The program focuses on outdoor experiences that help young men grow on a personal and spiritual level and as role models and leaders.

Hollywood and the Bible – In recent years, the Bible has inspired many Hollywood directors and producers. Recent and future films include: “The Bible” (2013 miniseries), “Exodus” (2014), “Noah” (2014), “Son of God” (2014), and “Resurrection” (2015). These productions could become great instruments to lead non-believers to revisit and rethink scripture.

Christian Hip-Hop – Lecrae, Trip Lee, KB, Propaganda, Shai Linne and Tadashii. These are quickly becoming “household names” within the Christian world. Hip-hop has been such a hot topic among Christians that it led Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to write a blog. Mohler concluded, “The good, the beautiful, and the true are to be combined to the greatest extent possible in every Christian endeavor, rap included.” Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said “Rap is more like a form of preaching accompanied by music or percussion. … I see rap as potentially helpful in both theology and politics. My thinking was challenged on this some years ago… when I was joined by a Christian rock band called Sound Theology. I confess that the music did not exactly charm my already ancient ears. However … more were brought to Christ through their music than through my preaching.”   
 
Kermit Gosnell found guilty – Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted in May of first-degree murder and could face execution in the deaths of three babies who authorities say were delivered alive and then killed at his Pennsylvania clinic. According to a 281-page jury report in 2011, the babies involved in the first-degree murder charges were only a few of hundreds at least six months into gestation who were killed outside the womb after induced delivery.

Social media – In September 2013, Henry Blackaby suffered a heart attack and became disoriented. Due to social media’s power, Blackaby’s information was passed along the Internet and it became instrumental in finding him. Social media has become a tool that presents the gospel and asks for prayer. YouVersion Bible App, for example, has reached 100 million downloads and its Bible App for Kids was downloaded one million times in its first week of launch. The Great Commission has various applications in the present and future age of social media.

Housing allowance unconstitutional – U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled on Nov. 22 that the housing exemption violates the First Amendment because it “provides a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.” The case, decided in the District Court for the Western District Of Wisconsin, will likely be appealed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in Chicago.

Southern Baptist Convention

Calvinism Committee – After nearly nine months, the Calvinism Committee released its report in May 2013. The 19-member advisory committee said that despite theological diversity, Baptists share the same Great Commission purpose. Four central issues were concluded: Southern Baptists (SB) must stand without apology upon truth; that SB must work together with trust; that SB must provide a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world; and that SB must be united even in times of tension. They said it is their responsibility to speak truthfully and respectfully so honest conversation can happen.

Cooperative Program – The Cooperative Program (CP) saw a lot of attention this year, both at the state level and in broader Southern Baptist life. Frank Page, the SBC’s chief executive officer gave considerable emphasis to the 1 Percent Challenge, calling for churches to raise their CP gifts by one percent with the goal of increased annual giving of $100 million dollars. As of early December, the CP reached 94.15 percent of the budget goal.

Glorieta Conference Center sold – The trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources approved the sale of Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico to a group called Glorieta 2.0. The non-profit organization has pledged to continue using the property as a Christian camp and conference center. But a lawsuit has been filed against LifeWay, claiming that LifeWay trustees lacked authority to sell the property without approval at two separate SBC annual meetings.

One Million Men campaign – The One Million Men Challenge was launched at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Houston. Inspired by Jay Dennis, pastor of Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., the goal of the movement is to give churches a workable plan that helps men find freedom from sexual sin. The initiative seeks commitments from 1 million men to live pornography-free. The challenge also offers churches resources and specific steps to freedom.

SEND North America Conference 2013 – More than 4,000 participants attended the North American Mission Board’s SEND Conference July 29-30 in Plano, Texas, rivaling the attendance at the SBC annual meeting. The strategy of SEND North America is to penetrate lostness in North America and to see 15,000 churches planted in the next 10 years. The popularity of the two-year-old conference has garnered much attention among SBC leadership.

Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

Competing candidates at annual meeting – For the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the 2013 annual meeting was the first time since 2005 that two candidates were nominated for the offices of president and second vice-president of the convention. Bobby Blanton, senior pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, and C.J. Bordeaux, senior pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham were nominated for the office of president. Bordeaux won the office. Marc Sanders, senior pastor of Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Bear Creek and Cameron McGill, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dublin were nominated as second vice president. McGill won the seat.

Convention staff restructures – The Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina approved a new structure for the Convention staff to more effectively implement a five-year strategy focused on impacting lostness through disciple-making. This is the result of a two-year study that was born out of a series of forums conducted in 2011 by the Vision Committee. The previous restructure was in 2009.

Disaster relief, nationally and internationally – Through the work of N.C. Baptist Men there were many opportunities to respond to natural disasters in 2013 including the May tornadoes in Oklahoma, Colorado flooding, North Carolina flooding, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Also, work continues from the damage of hurricanes Sandy and Irene in 2012.  The North American Mission Board dispatched a group of chaplains to grieving families after fires in Arizona killed 19 firefighters.

Front Street bus accident – On Oct. 2, senior members of Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville were traveling home from a conference when a bus tire blew out while traveling on Interstate 40 in Jefferson County, Tenn. Eight people died and 14 others were injured in the wreck. Many people involved were able to unite in worship throughout the aftershock and point to the gospel despite their grief.

Hollifield Center sale – The Hollifield Leadership Center has operated in the red, draining mission dollars from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s budget. In July the Executive Committee accepted an offer on the Lake Hickory property for $2.5 million. The center was purchased in 2000 for $3 million to use for retreats and training by churches, para-church ministries and other non-profit organizations. In 2014 the center will become North Carolina Boy’s Academy – a home for troubled teenage boys. The center will continue to be available for use by church groups.

Impacting Lostness – The new five-year strategy will focus on impacting lostness through disciple-making. The strategy calls for a commitment to both strengthening churches and planting churches through facilitation of a disciple-making culture that utilizes a relationship-driven model of consultation. The state’s eight most populous cities will be the launching point for much of the strategy since these areas have the greatest concentration of lostness.

Most read stories on BR website in 2013

We measured the page views on BRnow.org and learned that these were the most frequently read stories in 2013.
  1. Church planting, strengthening churches forefront of restructuring plan by Shawn Hendricks, BR, posted April 12
  2. Duck Dynasty’s commander talks faith by Dianna Chandler, BP, posted March 15
  3. Kendrick brothers take breather from movies by Joe Westbury, BP, posted January 22
  4. November annual meeting candidates announced by Dianna Cagle, BR, posted May 21
  5. Calvary Baptist calls Rob Peters, by BR staff, posted April 29
  6. Duck Dynasty’s Si Robertson talks faith by Aaron Earls, BP, posted August 12
  7. Skateboarder finds harmony with faith, sport, music by Roman Gabriel, BR, posted April 11
  8. Calvinism & Southern Baptists: a look at a heavily debated issue by Danny Akin, SEBTS, posted August 12
  9. Hispanic diversity needn’t hinder gospel opportunities by Keith Collier, BP, posted July 24
  10. FCC may drop ban on TV nudity, expletives by Michael Foust, BP, posted April 15
12/31/2013 12:46:28 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



The Sunday of Life: abortion, adoption

December 31 2013 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

“I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, on his website.

“Because I’m reminded that … there are babies warmly nestled in wombs who won’t be there tomorrow. I’m reminded that there are children … who’ll be slapped, punched and burned with cigarettes before nightfall.”
 
Since 1973, many Americans have observed Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (SOHLS) as a day to celebrate the intrinsic value of all human life.
 
Moore said, “But I also love Sanctity of Human Life Sunday when I think about … the ex-orphans all around adopted into loving families … And I love to see men and women who have aborted babies find their sins forgiven, even this sin, and their consciences cleansed by Christ.”
Sanctity12-31-13.jpg
 

Sanctity of Human Life: abortion

Forty-two years ago, Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”) filed a lawsuit claiming that a Texas law criminalizing most abortions violated her constitutional rights.
 
The Supreme Court ruled on Jan. 22, 1973, that the states were not allowed to outlaw or regulate any aspect of abortion performed during the first trimester of pregnancy, and they could only enact abortion regulations related to maternal health in the second and third trimesters. Also, abortion laws were meant to protect the life of the baby only in the third trimester.
 
SOHLS is held on the Sunday in January that falls closest to the day on which the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions were handed down by the Supreme Court.
 
This year SOHLS will be Jan. 19.
 
A recent article noted that abortions are on the decline in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study used voluntary data from 44 states, New York City and the District of Columbia.
 
From 2001 to 2010, the number of reported legal abortions in the U.S. fell by nine percent. The number of teenagers getting abortions dropped most significantly, probably due in part to the overall drop in teenage pregnancies. For that 10-year period, the abortion rate among teenagers fell about 30 percent.
 
For 2008, the CDC reported 825,564 abortions in the U.S. Because the CDC’s statistics are dependent upon voluntary information, the Guttmacher Institute reports that these numbers are much higher, likely around 1.21 million.
 
SOHLS also provides an opportunity for pregnancy centers to share about the work they do. They utilize life-affirming resources to empower communities and families to choose life for their unborn children.
 
Enter Amber Lehman.
 
Lehman was raised by a single mother in Wilmington. Around the age of 13, she became sexually active and by 15, she was pregnant.
 
Lehman made the decision to abort the child.
 
Later she became very promiscuous and decided to join a friend by becoming a “call girl,” an escort to wealthy men.
 
In 1998, Lehman began attending a local church even though nothing changed in her life, she said. At this church, she watched a church play where the death of Jesus was portrayed.
 
Lehman realized right then how much God loved her despite her past. She took as many friends back to see the play as she could. All the partying stopped. Her life had been changed.
 
The church Lehman attended hosted “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday,” where she sat listening to the pastor talk about abortion and the great loss of life that it causes.
 
She soon showed up at her pastor’s office with a profound sense of guilt. Taking Lehman under his wing, the pastor plugged her into the church’s ministries.
 
Lehman later moved to Wake Forest to attend The College at Southeastern where she received a bachelor of arts degree in biblical studies. 
 
After applying for a 10-hour-a-week fundraising position at First Choice Pregnancy Solutions (then named Pregnancy Support Services of Wake Forest), Lehman eventually interviewed for the executive director position and was chosen due to her fervor for this cause. The position was changed to CEO in 2010, and she has been serving in this role ever since. Also known as FCPS, the organization’s mission is to communicate accurate and truthful information to those affected by an unplanned pregnancy as well as provide physical, emotional and spiritual support.
 
Lehman said, “Perhaps if people saw Christians serving relentlessly ‘the least of these,’ Christians who would sincerely say, ‘We are here for you and you can choose life with confidence of our support.’ Then women would see hope of support and acceptance when they are considering an abortion.”
 

Sanctity of Human Life: adoption and foster care

With a strong focus on life in general, SOHLS has also seen a day when both adoption and foster care have been advocated.
 
Many women and men in America struggle with infertility. Specifically for women, the CDC estimated that number to be approximately 6.7 million.
 
“[Infertility] is a very delicate subject and the first thing pastors should be doing is assuring couples of God’s love,” said Ryan Anderson, William E. Simon fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
 
“If couples can’t conceive through an act of love, we have to ask the questions, ‘Are there other children who are in need of love? And can you realize your vocation as a parent by adopting or providing foster care?’”
 
Founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Tony Merida has noted that most believers consider adoption and orphan care in a couple of circumstances: when they cannot have children, or when they want to help local and/or state children’s homes.
 
“These are good things to do,” he said. “But I turned into an adoption advocate, an adoptive dad and eventually a writer on the subject (Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care) not because of infertility but because of theology.”
 
He said, “Believers understand that God is Father. But what kind of father is He? He is an adoptive Father! None of us were born Christians. If you are a believer, it is because God has adopted you into the family … All races brought together by God’s adoption of spiritual orphans.”
 
Approximately 500,000 children are in foster care in the U.S.
 
This number haunted David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. In 2009, Platt contacted the Department of Human Resources in Shelby County, Ala., and asked how many families were needed to meet their county’s foster and adoption requests.
 
Being told that they needed 150 families, Platt shared the conversation with his church and more than 160 families signed up.
 
Platt said, “We don’t want even one child in our county to be without a loving home.”
 
Russell Moore has been an outspoken advocate for adoption and foster care. With two adopted sons of his own, Moore said, “We’ll always need Christmas. We’ll always need Easter. But I hope, please Lord, someday soon, that Sanctity of Human Life Day is unnecessary.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Some of Amber Lehman’s story was adapted from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s OUTLOOK Magazine from fall 2011 and Shanna Lehr’s blog, “Flourish.”)
 
Resources:
12/31/2013 12:27:52 PM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



Stan Coffey, founding SBTC president, dies

December 31 2013 by Rob Collingsworth, Southern Baptist TEXAN

AMARILLO, Texas – Stan Coffey, longtime Amarillo pastor who served as the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s founding president, died Dec. 26 after an extended illness. He was 68.
 
Coffey served Southern Baptist churches in Texas, New Mexico and Arkansas for 40-plus years. He was pastor of The Church at Quail Creek in Amarillo (formerly San Jacinto Baptist Church) for nearly 35 years, from 1975-79 and from 1984 until his death.
 
Coffey, who played a significant role in the founding of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, gave considerable support to the fledgling convention as pastor of the large Church at Quail Creek.
 
After the convention was formed he was tapped as its first president, serving from 1998-2000.
StanCoffey12-31-13.jpg

Stan Coffey

 
“Prior to the existence of the SBTC, Stan Coffey pastored the largest church in the reformation group pushing for the formation of a new convention,” SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards told the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the state convention. “Being a man of conviction, Stan was willing to put his reputation on the line for the cause of biblical inerrancy and cooperative work among Baptists. He paid a high price for his efforts with challenges to his health and ministry. Through it all he remained faithful to win people to Jesus.
 
In comments to the Amarillo Globe-News, Richards said Coffey’s “contributions were immeasurable” to the state convention. “What he did in the early stages of the SBTC will be told for all eternity.” Coffey helped Southern Baptist causes “until his final days,” Richards said.
 
“Earth’s loss is heaven’s gain,” Richards told the TEXAN. “Pray for the family and church during this time of sorrow.”
 
Coffey was a recipient of the SBTC’s W.A. Criswell Award for Pastoral Evangelism and the H. Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award for his work during the SBC’s Conservative Resurgence and his key role in the founding of the SBTC.
 
Coffey also served Southern Baptists in a variety of other positions; he was a trustee of the North American Mission Board, a member of the SBC Executive Committee; and president and vice president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.
 
Known as a passionate evangelist, Coffey’s church was consistently recognized for its high number of baptisms – nearly 10,000 during his 35-year tenure.
 
Gene Jeter, a deacon and 40-year member of the Church at Quail Creek, told the Globe-News, “What I loved about Stan is that he always preached the gospel of Christ.” Coffey “always gave everyone an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Thousands of people have accepted Jesus Christ through his preaching over the course of his career.”
 
In recent years, Coffey spoke out as a prominent voice for biblical values. During the recent debates over same-sex marriage, he consistently pointed to Scripture as the definer of marriage. His convictions politically were rooted in his longstanding commitment to biblical inerrancy.
 
Last summer, Coffey became a public advocate for what he regarded as compassionate immigration reform, including involvement in a coalition of evangelicals who launched an ad campaign urging Republican House members to support immigration reform that included a path to citizenship.
 
Coffey was the author of several books, including “Building the Greatest Churches Since Pentecost”; “Comfort, Peace and Hope: Help for Hurting Hearts in the Time of Grief” and “The Return,” according to business profile site ZoomInfo cited by the Globe-News.
 
The Return, Coffey’s last book, focused on biblical prophecy. The funeral home obituary noted that Coffey had conducted conferences on prophecy across the nation, with engagements booked well into 2015.
 
Coffey’s other pastorates included First Baptist Church in Albuquerque, N.M.; three Texas churches, County Line Baptist in Morton, Hurlwood Baptist in Lubbock; and First Baptist in Josephine; and Trinity Baptist Church in Texarkana, Ark.
 
Raised in Sweetwater, Okla., Coffey was saved at age 6 and took his first pastorate at age 20. He earned degrees from Wayland Baptist University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and California Graduate School of Theology.
 
Coffey is survived by his wife Glenda, a son, Scott Coffey of North Carolina; a daughter, Natalie Coffey Archer of Amarillo; and nine grandchildren.
 
Former Amarillo Mayor Trent Sisemore who formerly served on staff with Coffey at The Church at Quail Creek, told the Globe-News, “Stan was my pastor, mentor and friend. For 26 years, I had the honor and privilege of serving as his music minister. He was a humble, meek, godly man, but was an eloquent spiritual giant in the pulpit. He was one of the great leaders of the SBC.”
 
The funeral was today (Dec. 30) at The Church at Quail Creek. Burial will be at Buffalo Cemetery in Erick, Okla.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rob Collingsworth writes for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, online at www.sbtexas.com. Baptist Press editor Art Toalston contributed to this article.)
12/31/2013 12:20:33 PM by Rob Collingsworth, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments



Earl Potts, retired Ala. exec, dies at 93

December 31 2013 by Baptist Press staff

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A. Earl Potts, retired executive director of the Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions, died Dec. 25 in Birmingham. He was 93.
 
Potts led the state convention from 1984 until his retirement in 1990. He had been pastor of McElwain Baptist Church in Birmingham 21 years before joining the State Board of Missions as director of church ministries in 1970.
 
Rick Lance, executive director of the mission board, said in a statement to The Alabama Baptist newspaper, “I join the family of Alabama Baptists in mourning the passing of one of God’s great ambassadors. His life was rich in relationships and he left an indelible impression upon us as Alabama Baptists with his legacy of leadership.”
EarlPotts12-31-13.jpg

Earl Potts

 
“Earl Potts was a salt-and-light type influence on people, pouring himself into the ministry of others in an intentional way,” Lance said. Potts “brought wisdom and grace” to the position, the current exec said. “His wise leadership and his graceful servant heart were evident during those years as executive director.”
 
Potts’ wife Louise died of cancer in 1984, within a month after he was appointed as the convention’s executive director. “Potts faced his new duties without his spouse, but moved forward with courage and faithfulness to his calling,” his funeral home obituary stated.
 
Potts’ son David is president of Judson College, a convention-affiliated college in Marion, Ala. Potts also is survived by a daughter, Libby, two granddaughters and four great-grandchildren.
 
As executive director of the Alabama convention, according to his obituary, Potts’ achievements included “establishing disaster relief, fostering of a significantly strengthened Alabama Baptist Historical Commission (including the appointment of the first woman to serve as an agency head), substantially improving funding the retirements of Baptist ministers, strengthening human relationships across previous boundaries, and the reorganization of ministries at the State Board of Missions to more effectively serve the ‘Great Commission’ purposes.”
 
He was a native of Randolph County, Ala., and a 1946 graduate of Howard College (now Samford University), another convention-affiliated college in Birmingham. He earned his divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 1949.
 
He had made a profession of faith in 1931 at Shawmut (Ala.) Baptist Church and was ordained to the ministry there in 1939.
 
As an Alabama pastor, in addition to McElwain Baptist Church, Potts had led New Hope Baptist in Fredonia, Union Grove Baptist in Crossville and Mt. Hebron Baptist in Collinsville, and he was on the staff at Woodlawn Baptist in Birmingham.
 
At Samford, Potts served as director of ministerial placement and as an adjunct faculty member of the Beeson Divinity School. In 1993, he was among the founders, with then-Auburn University President Wilford Bailey and historian Wayne Flynt, of The Alabama Poverty Project (now called Alabama Possible), a 501(c)3 organization that seeks, according to its website, “to educate communities and develop solutions that reduce systemic poverty in Alabama.”
 
Potts served in recent years on the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission and wrote a book, “By the Grace of God: Memoirs and Recollections of an Alabama Baptist,” in 1997.
 
A Dec. 27 article in the Birmingham News said Potts was “known for compromise and efforts to be fair to all sides in the denomination’s theological controversy, and was credited with helping Alabama avoid some of the bitter acrimony that was common in other state conventions.”
 
The newspaper also described Potts as “a moderate leader who helped turn back efforts by conservatives to reduce funding to Samford in 1994 after the school voted to elect its own trustees.”
 
In 1998, Potts voiced opposition to amending the Baptist Faith and Message to more clearly strengthen its stance on the family. Potts, whose daughter was divorced, believed the revision to the BF&M, as phrased by the Birmingham News, “was insensitive to those who did not fit the ideal of family set forth by the statement. Potts favored an amendment that would have taken into consideration single-parent families, and widows and widowers.”
 
Potts’ funeral service will be Friday, Jan. 3, at McElwain Baptist Church. The family asks that memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, be made to Alabama Baptist ministries, the A. Earl Potts Scholarship at Judson College or the Louise Green Potts Scholarship through The Baptist Foundation of Alabama.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston from reporting by The Alabama Baptist (www.thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention, and the Birmingham News.)
12/31/2013 12:09:54 PM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



A&E reinstates Phil Robertson after backlash

December 30 2013 by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

He’s back. Suspended from A&E’s popular “Duck Dynasty” reality show following his controversial comments about sexuality and race, Phil Robertson will return to the show.
 
In a statement to media outlets, the cable network said Robertson will rejoin the series, and because he didn’t miss any filming, his leave will have no effect on the upcoming season.
 
“While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs,” the statement said. ”As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A&E Networks also feel strongly about.”
 
PhilRobertston12-30-13.jpg

Phil Robertson

The network suggested it will move forward on another initiative touching on the issues raised during the controversy.
 
“We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty,” A&E said. “These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.”
 
Robertson, who leads a reality show about members of a family that run a hunting supply company in Louisiana, was suspended by A&E after an interview with GQ magazine was published. Robertson, 67, was asked: “What, in your mind, is sinful?”
 
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” Robertson said. “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
 
The GQ interviewer says Robertson is free to say whatever he wants out in the wild, “maybe a little too free.”
 
“It seems like, to me, a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer,” Robertson said in the interview. “I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
 
His comments on race also sparked a backlash. “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once,” he said. “Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash.”
 
After his suspension, the family said it couldn’t go on without its patriarch, saying it would work with the network to find a solution.
 
The suspension imposed nine days ago encapsulated a debate between sexual tolerance and religious tolerance. Tobin Grant argued that evangelicals thrive on controversy like “Duck Dynasty,” because it illustrates how evangelicalism is embattled and thriving.
 
“Duck Dynasty” is not only a television show. Spinoffs include books and merchandise. Cracker Barrel apologized to its customers after removing some merchandise in the latest controversy.
 
The Robertsons are interested in being “gospel spokespeople,” Phil Robertson’s son Alan Robertson said earlier this summer.
 
“We’re kind of the John the Baptists of the 21st century,” he said. “It’s how you imagine, with the wild hair and the locusts.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sarah Pulliam Bailey joined RNS as a national correspondent in 2013. She has previously served as managing editor of Odyssey Networks and online editor for Christianity Today.)
12/30/2013 3:34:09 PM by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service | with 1 comments



Baptist Children’s Homes to establish orphanage in Guatemala

December 30 2013 by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications

Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) is taking steps to widen its mission and vision internationally.
 
BCH is partnering with North Carolina Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission and International Indigenous Community Development (IICD) to establish the Good Shepherd Children’s Home, an orphanage in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala. The orphanage will serve children who belong to a people known as the Quiché – the largest indigenous Mayan group in Guatemala. “As we seriously began considering options for serving children internationally, we were approached out of the blue by Guatemalan missionaries Roger and Vicki Grossman,” says BCH Chief Operating Officer Keith Henry. “It was clear that God was preparing the way.”
 
Commissioned by the International Mission Board (IMB), the Grossmans are a husband and wife team who operate a medical clinic for Guatemalan villagers. During a trip to the U.S. a few years ago, the couple attended a worship service led by Michael Blackwell featuring BCH boys and girls.
Orphanage12-30-13.jpg

NCBM photo
Helping Guatemalan children have a safe place is the goal of the Good Shepherd Children’s Home.

 
Recently, the Grossmans were offered a vacant building in Xela free of charge. The couple remembered Blackwell’s presentation and believed BCH would be an ideal partner in the establishment of the orphanage.
 
“Everywhere you turn, you see children tossed aside like rubbish,” explains Roger. “God has blessed us with the connections and resources to help.”
 
The Good Shepherd Children’s Homes will be an affiliate of BCH.
 
BCH is providing the benefit of its 128-years of childcare expertise to implement the appropriate policies and procedures at the new orphanage. BCH’s involvement ensures that Quiché children will receive the highest quality of care.
 
Henry and Brenda Gray, BCH executive vice president of development and communications, traveled to Xela last summer to survey the building and see conditions firsthand.
 
“The need is overwhelming. Eighty-five percent of the Quiché girls are pregnant or have children by the age of 14. Malnourishment, neglect and abandonment are rampant,” Henry says. “The building for the orphanage is structurally sound, but there are a lot of improvements to be done before we can open.”
 
Baptist Men is already organizing volunteer teams to tackle the necessary work.
 
Projects include masonry work, plumbing, kitchen and living area renovations, electrical work and painting. The goal is for the home to be ready to accept children in early 2014.
 
“The work of our North Carolina Baptist Men is unparalleled,” Brenda Gray says. “They have the hearts and skills to ensure the orphanage will be the home these children desperately need. We encourage groups, who desire to go and help, to contact us immediately.”
 
A number of people are involved in significant ways, but one special family whose sacrifice nears the top of the list is the Moons. Anthony, Darcy and their two children have sold their Missouri home and belongings to serve at Good Shepherd Children’s Home.
 
The couple was first introduced to the Quiché people in 2011 when they traveled to Xela on a church mission trip.
 
“We fell in love with the country the moment we arrived,” Darcy Moon says.
 
The Moons made several more trips to the area. Each time, their connection became stronger and they began to pray about God’s will for their future.
 
“Our prayers were answered in October 2011, when our family was offered the opportunity to become full-time missionaries in Guatemala,” Moon says. “It’s our vision to see these precious children and the people there to know Jesus Christ.”
 
The Moons will serve as the onsite directors for Good Shepherd Children’s Home. The family of four, and their dog Lily, arrived in Xela on Nov. 21. A living area located inside the orphanage serves as the Moons’ new home.
 
Blackwell, who led a successful partnership between BCH and an orphanage in Sao Paulo, Brazil in the early 1990s, is unsurprisingly excited.
 
“To be able to expand BCH’s vision of sharing hope...changing lives and extend the hope of Christ to the children of Xela, Guatemala is a blessing beyond words,” says Blackwell. “Like a biblical pillar of fire, God has led in this journey, and we will follow Him for the sake of His honor and glory.”
 
More detailed information about work being done can be found under the Guatemala projects section at www.baptistsonmission.org.
12/30/2013 3:25:51 PM by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications | with 1 comments



Resource opens door to use Olympics to share gospel

December 30 2013 by Marc Ira Hooks, International Mission Board

Athletes from around the world will soon converge in Sochi, Russia, for the 22nd Olympic Winter Games in February 2014, and millions across the globe will gather around their television sets to watch. For Christians, this creates a unique opportunity to share the gospel, not only at the games but within their own communities.
 
While it is important to use the Olympics as an opportunity for ministering to, and sharing the gospel with, those in the host city of Sochi, and to be a witness to people from the many nations who will gather there, it is equally important for Christians to use the Olympics as an opportunity to spread the gospel around their own communities.
 
To help meet the challenges of this task, the Engage Sochi team has prepared a resource kit called “Engage Your Community.” The packet has been designed to help Christians use the Olympic Games as a way to share the gospel regardless of where they are.
 
The games are one of few reoccurring events that cause people from around the globe to put their differences aside and bond together.
Sochi12-30-13.jpg
 
Both the Olympic motto and Olympic creed remind us that to be human is to continue in our struggle against the negative forces of this world.
 
The Olympic motto’s challenge of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Faster, Higher, Stronger) are concepts that stir feelings of greatness within us. And yet, the Apostle John reminds Christians that greatness comes not from what the world sees, but who we are in God’s eyes and through our relationship with Jesus Christ (1 John 4:4-6).
 
The Olympic creed reads, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
 
As those who have put our faith in Jesus, we are a people who are “more than conquerors.” We have been promised victory, and the prize for that victory is not an earthly medal that will fade and tarnish over time, but a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
 
“The message we have to share is so much more precious than winning a gold medal, something only a few ever get the chance to do,” said Marc Ira Hooks, co-director of Engage Sochi. “We are talking about something that every person can have – a personal relationship with God. And the Olympic colors help tell that story.” Hooks noted that the colors used in the Olympic rings are the same colors that Southern Baptists have used for years to share the gospel.
 
“We are very excited about this project,” he said. “The second the torch is lit in Sochi, people from around the word will be tuned-in to what is happening in Sochi. What better way to start a conversation?”
 
Prepared by the Engage Sochi team and written by church leaders across America, the “Engage Your Community” resources kit contains Olympic outreach ideas, sermon outlines, and small-group lessons for every age group.
 
The kit also includes sheet music for the Engage Sochi theme song, “Where the Sea Meets the Snow,” written especially for the project by Nashville worship leader and songwriter Jeff Bourque.
 
“This is not just a thing for churches in the States,” Hooks added. “Churches from around the world will be using these materials to help reach the people in their communities share the message of Jesus with their friends and neighbors.”
 
Hooks said the packet is available in Russian and will be used by Russian-language churches across Russia and Europe. In addition, churches in other countries will host special Olympic-themed services and events using these materials.
 
To download the “Engage Your Community” packet, visit http://engagesochi.org/resources.
 
An online version of the color-based evangelism presentation is currently available in English and in Russian. Other language translations and a downloadable mobile app will be added in early 2014.
 
The online presentation can be found at http://engagesochi.org.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marc Ira Hooks is an International Mission Board writer based in Europe. He also serves as co-director and Olympic event coordinator for Engage Sochi.  He can be reached at Marc@EngageSochi.org.)
12/30/2013 3:14:10 PM by Marc Ira Hooks, International Mission Board | with 0 comments



Newly elected president Bordeaux on life and ministry

December 27 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

C.J. Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, is a North Carolinian to the core. Born in Whiteville, Bordeaux has seen what church ministry looks like from childhood. His father, Garland, was a pastor of small churches for 55 years prior to his death in 2007. “My dad was a church planter before we ever heard the term ‘church planter,’” he said.
 
Bordeaux preached his first sermon at the age of 12 in a youth service at White Lake Baptist Church in Elizabethtown where his dad pastored. Later it became the first church he was called to pastor. He attended Chowan College for a short time before entering the Army, where he met his first wife, Linda. Her father was a Baptist preacher in Texas. “We got married and were sent to Germany. There I felt God’s call to preach, but Linda already knew it,” Bordeaux said.
 
They left the Army in 1976 and returned to N.C. “On Friday, December 31, 1976, I announced my call to preach at a watch night service. A day-and-a-half later on Sunday, January 2, I preached at Emmaus Baptist Church in Pittsboro, and I’ve been busy preaching ever sense,” he said.
CJBordeux12-03-13-(1).jpg

C.J. Bordeaux

 
He and his wife entered Campbell College and three months later White Lake called him as a part-time pastor. He also served Bear Creek Baptist Church and Maysville Baptist Church.
 
“We had been at Maysville two months when Linda began her last semester at Campbell,” Bordeaux said. “On Thursday, January 8, she was in a car wreck and was killed on her way home from Campbell. We did not have any children. We were married about seven years. It was a very tough time in my life – a very trying time.
 
He had entered Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary only a few months before the accident.
“It was good that classes didn’t start back until later in January, because it gave me some time to get myself together,” he said. “I went to Texas and stayed three weeks with her family and came back right at the drop-add time to continue. It was so hard to do. My life had been turned upside down.” He finished that semester at Southeastern, but never returned.
 
While preaching a revival at her church, Bordeaux met his present wife, Donna. Her husband had died and left her with a 3-month-old son.
 
“I was really struggling – spiritually, emotionally, mentally and in every way,” he said. “When you’re 26 years of age and a widower, it’s unusual. [Donna] was a big inspiration.”
 
They fell in love, and 32 years later they are faithfully serving the Lord together. Bordeaux transferred to Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., where he finished the master of theology and doctor of ministry programs.
 
He served as pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Lumberton for 10 years and West Monroe Baptist Church for 12 years.
 
“The burnout rate is incredibly high in ministry, and I was on the borderline of becoming one of those guys,” he said. “West Monroe was a wonderful ministry, but I lost my zeal for preaching.”
 
Bruce Martin, pastor of Village Baptist Church in Fayetteville asked Bordeaux to join his staff as an administrative pastor, where he also preached every Sunday night.
 
“I began to regain that fire for preaching. Then the Lord brought me and Gorman Baptist Church together,” he said. He has been at Gorman for more than five years. “I love what I do there. I have two young staff men. They are helping this old man regain some energy.”
 
Bordeaux served as the N.C Pastors’ Conference secretary-treasurer for four years, and later as president. His involvement in the state includes service on the Committee on Committees and the Giving Plan Study Committee. He has completed two terms as the convention’s second vice president and two terms as first vice president.
 
He served eight years on the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, including two years as secretary. “I really, really enjoyed that time of service,” he said. “It’s so great to meet people from all over the United States and other parts of the world.”
 
Bordeaux is excited about the direction of the BSC, but concerned that many are not aware of the broad ministries of the convention. “I wish all N.C. Baptists could see what I have seen in this convention,” he said. “I see guys coming on the [BSC] board of directors for the first time. After their first meeting they walk out and say, ‘Man, I didn’t know we did all of that.’
 
“I wish we could have an annual meeting where we just show every department of the convention and what they do. Maybe that would open some eyes,” he said. “We do so much more than people realize. Those who want to be critical are critical because they don’t know.”
 
He admits that there was a time when he was very critical of the state convention. “We’ve fought a lot of battles together along with Mark Corts, M.O. Owens and others. ... and we saw this convention changed through the efforts of these men. I couldn’t be sitting here 10 years ago. What a change! God has given us the strength to stay the course.
 
“I deeply love to serve in our convention. The things that I was critical of years ago are so different now,” he said. “The face of this convention changed with the election of Milton Hollifield. I love him, I respect him, I have learned so much from him. He is a godly man.”
 
Bordeaux is concerned that many young leaders are not involved in the work of the BSC. “We have some brilliant young people in this state, and they have a hot heart for Christ. They just love Jesus,” he said. “They think they don’t need the convention because they are so involved in their church. ... We need their input. As president I would like to say to them, ‘Guys, we need your fire, your energy and your excitement.’”
 
There is the impression among most Baptists that much authority accompanies the president’s position. However, the president of the convention’s board of directors has much greater power to influence the work of the BSC.
 
“I understand that the president of the convention doesn’t have any power, but he does have the opportunity to be heard,” Bordeaux said.
 
“I’ll go speak in any church of any size if they invite me, but I really want to talk to small church pastors who feel like they don’t have a voice and help them be encouraged to impact the lostness of their community.”
12/27/2013 12:44:25 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Appalachian families receive 23,000 backpacks

December 27 2013 by Joe Conway, Baptist Press

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – Thousands of children and families throughout Appalachia are having a brighter Christmas because of efforts by Southern Baptists in nearly a dozen states. 
 
"It's been fun watching God do God things," said Bill Barker, describing the collection and delivery of more than 23,000 backpacks stuffed with clothing, school supplies and toys for children across Appalachia.
 
Barker, director of the North American Mission Board's Appalachian Regional Ministry, said the bulk of the backpacks came from Georgia Baptists, but churches from Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and several other states also participated. The backpacks and their contents are valued at around $75 each.
 
This particular ministry journey began for Barker with a children's sermon 12 years ago. He spoke, for the first time as a missionary, in a church in north Georgia in 2001. Prior to his presentation to the congregation, the pastor unexpectedly asked Barker to deliver the children's sermon.
 
AppalachianMinistry12-27-13.jpg

NAMB photo by Amanda Blair
Cedaridge Ministries hosted 1,600 recipients for a backpack and food distribution. The site was one of 19 where donated backpacks were given to families as part of the North American Mission Board's Appalachian Regional Ministries annual outreach.

"I used the Scripture from Romans 10:15," Barker said. "'How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the Gospel of good things.' I had the children take off their shoes, and we talked about the Gospel. Then I told them there are children I serve who don't have any shoes or school supplies.
 
"The Woman's Missionary Union leader was so struck by that fact that as a Girls in Action project that year the church collected 300 shoe boxes of school supplies that we distributed in McDowell County, W.Va."
 
The vision for this year's significant increase came from John Waters, president of the Georgia Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Statesboro. Waters said God placed on his heart the number of 20,000 backpacks to aid the ministry. Georgia associations and churches responded to the vision and exceeded that number by 1,000, with hundreds more received from Baptists beyond the state.
 
In the span of a dozen years, thousands of children have received gifts from churches through the Appalachian Regional Ministry. And Barker's garage became a warehouse, as it remains to this day.
 
In its second year, the project that would become today's backpack distribution grew from one church to dozens of churches participating from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. By 2011, more than 5,800 children received gifts throughout the Appalachian Regional Ministry's territory.
 
"A little in the hand of the Lord is a lot," said Keith Decker, director of Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg, Ky. The Cedaridge site hosted 1,600 recipients for a backpack distribution Dec. 14, 1,000 of them children. In addition to the backpacks and welcomed boxes of food, the Gospel was shared throughout the day. A total of 60 people came to faith in Christ as a result.
 
Crystal Hall is a single mother and struggles to provide for her children in the best of times.
 
"I'm here because I need help," Hall said. "With Christmas coming up I'm thankful for anything we can receive." Hall said she appreciated the dignity she and her children received, adding that it allowed her to not feel ashamed to ask for help.
 
"If we don't get involved," Decker said, "these families may not have any help. This is what He has called us to do."
 
The North American Mission Board's disaster relief team assisted with logistics and volunteers to help load, transport and deliver the backpacks. Seven semi-trucks full of backpacks were unloaded at 19 distribution sites. All of the loading and unloading was done by volunteers.
 
"I can't say enough about all of the help, the donations, the volunteers," Barker said. "The generosity of Georgia Baptists has been amazing. The volunteers, the help from the NAMB team, especially the disaster relief team -- it's been great. To say I am humbled would be an understatement."
 
One unanticipated benefit of this year's effort has been the sense of unity the project facilitated at every level.
 
"The Georgia Baptist Convention promoted the effort this year in cooperation with the GBC WMU," Barker said. "The GBC was purposeful in making it an associational project. As we received backpacks I heard again and again from directors of mission that nothing had unified their associations like this project in years. Pastor after pastor said that this project brought their churches together in powerful ways."
 
Even with 23,000-plus backpacks and others helping in outreach this year, needs remained. Barker shared with a congregation about the project's limitation, saying three requests in New York and Pennsylvania would not make this year's list. There was simply not enough to fill those needs.
 
"A few weeks later I received a letter in the mail," Barker said. "It was from a new widow who heard me speak. She said she knew her late husband would want to help, so she sold his woodworking tools and shop contents. In the letter was a check for $5,000." The three locations were added to the distribution list.
 
Barker said plans are already taking shape for next year, and Baptists in Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia are inquiring about joining with Georgia and Appalachian Regional Ministry.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. Learn more at namb.net/arm.)
12/27/2013 12:35:13 PM by Joe Conway, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Nigeria & Islamic terrorism: U.S. seeks to stem the bloodshed

December 27 2013 by By Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

RALEIGH, N.C. – The U.S. State Department's designation of Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru as terrorists will heighten awareness worldwide of the groups' atrocities but will require the cooperation of the government in Nigeria to save Christians from terrorism there, a Southern Baptist Nigerian relations expert said.
 
"It has sent a very strong signal to the organization that it will not be treated with kid gloves if it attacks U.S. and Western interests," said Adeniyi Ojutiku of Raleigh, N.C., co-founder of Lift Up Now, a Christian-based grassroots organization addressing political, economic and social challenges in his homeland Nigeria.
 
"In this whole effort, in designating them as foreign terrorists, the expectation is that the Nigerian government will collaborate with the U.S. government," Ojutiku told Baptist Press.
 
AdeniyiOjutiku12-27-13.jpg

BP photo
Adeniyi Ojutiku 

"But the Nigerian government either lacks the political will to do what is expected of them in that collaboration, or they actually use the Boko Haram as ... an opportunity to cover other serious issues of bad governance."
 
The State Department in November has designated the two groups as Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Specially Designated Global Terrorists in an effort to counteract the al Qaida-linked groups that have killed and displaced thousands of Christians in sectarian violence. The groups are blamed for 14,000 deaths since 1999, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Most victims have been Christians.
 
"In the past two years, Boko Haram has become the primary perpetrator of religiously related violence and gross religious freedom violations in Nigeria," USCIRF said in its 2013 official factsheet on Boko Haram's violence in Nigeria. "Boko Haram's targets include churches, individual Christians, Muslim critics, and persons engaged in behavior deemed 'un-Islamic,' as well as northern elders, schools, police stations, government buildings, newspapers and banks."
 
The new designations will give the U.S. government authority to fight Boko Haram by freezing any assets the group may have in the United States, denying the groups access to the U.S. financial system, prohibiting persons from knowingly providing material support to the groups, and assisting law enforcement in efforts to pursue the groups and investigate and prosecute individuals associated with the terrorists, Ojutiku said.
 
“But I don't think it will do much if ... the Nigerian government is not standing up and doing its own part," Ojutiku said. "There are some aspects that the Nigerian government must do in pulling its own weight."
 
The Nigerian government, Ojutiku said, must strengthen its democratic institutions, advance economic reform, control corruption, professionalize its security forces, effectively counter the threat of terrorism and respect the human rights of all its citizens.
 
Ojutiku, a member of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., requested prayer for the safety of Christians in Nigeria.
 
"We know that Christians must pray," he said. "We know that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty in terms of pulling down strongholds. This is a stronghold and we must draw strength through Christ."
 
Boko Haram has already responded to the designations by restrategizing and restructuring to avoid government detection, said Ojutiku, who has about 2,000 Lift Up Now supporters in Nigeria who keep him abreast of the group's activities.
 
"The organizations keep evolving ... in terms of their goals and their strategy, which makes it a little difficult to sequester them and to deal with them," Ojutiku said. "Depending on the situation, they associate with people who have some common interests in destabilizing the government and in maintaining chaos, because it's in the midst of this type of chaos that they are able to operate more effectively. That's how they operate."
 
On the same day the State Department announced the designations, Boko Haram abducted a French priest in Cameroon who was caring for about 10,000 Nigerian Christian refugees fleeing terrorism, Morning Star News reported.
 
Boko Haram appears to have limited their assault against foreign interests, Ojutiku said, making them less visible to the U.S. government.
 
"They are not doing that as much as they used to," Ojutiku said, "because now they see that there's a global focus on their activities, so their activities are more local.
 
"They have become more dangerous locally in that regard," he said. "So there are some people who speculate that  actually might be in cooperation with oil pirates who are doing oil bunkering in Nigeria so that they have an indirect access to funds."
 
According to USCIRF, Boko Haram's religiously motivated violence since January 2012 has resulted in more than 650 deaths. Included are attacks against 50 churches, killing at least 366 people; 31 attacks on Christians or those perceived to be Christians, killing at least 166; 23 targeted attacks on clerics or senior Islamic figures deemed sympathetic to Christianity, killing at least 60; and 20 attacks on "un-Islamic" institutions or those engaged in activity deemed "un-Islamic," killing at least 74.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' staff writer.)
12/27/2013 12:20:13 PM by By Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Displaying results 1-10 (of 50)
 |<  < 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5  >  >|