December 2013

Baptist Men reports on ministry efforts

December 4 2013 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Two years ago Carroll and Cheryl Voliva’s home was destroyed when Hurricane Irene ripped through their town of Bayboro just east of New Bern.

“We didn’t know what we would do or how we would rebuild,” Cheryl said.

But not long after, N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM) volunteers came to Bayboro and built the Volivas a new home.

“We had no idea what God would provide for us through them,” Cheryl said. “He has provided many hearts filled with love and generosity.”

Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director-treasurer, shared the Voliva’s story with messengers during his report to the 2013 annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

BSC photo
Richard Brunson

They are just one example of the thousands of families and individuals who have received help from NCBM volunteers during times of disaster.
This year, volunteers continued helping with disaster relief needs in Pamlico County related to Hurricane Irene. Since 2011, 122 homes have been rebuilt and 8,490 volunteer days recorded.
“We must live in a way that people will see Jesus,” Brunson said.
“When will you share the Good News? Will you share the Good News during times of disaster and in the midst of needs?”
Disaster relief is just one of the ministry opportunities provided through NCBM.
Brunson also shared about the medical/dental buses, which have served more than 3,700 people this year.
“There are many people who have never met a dentist,” Brunson said. “But they come and meet a person who also cares about their spiritual needs.”
Through the aviation ministry, 168 flights were made possible this year. The aviation ministry provides transportation for people in emergency situations, such as medical or a natural disaster.
Brunson told the story of a recipient of the aviation ministry named Richard, who spent 15 years living as a recluse because his face was so severely damaged during a gun accident.
Brunson said that with help from the aviation ministry, Richard was able to travel for medical appointments to prepare him for a 36-hour surgery that would save his face and give him a new lease on life.
Thanks to the volunteer pilots who love Jesus Christ, “Richard also heard about the life-changing message of the gospel,” Brunson said.  
This year was a record year for Deep Impact mission weeks, which are weeklong mission camps for middle and high school students.
This year 1,606 students and adult leaders served in mission projects in 13 locations such as Cuba, Honduras, New York and Charlotte, as well as in the communities surrounding Red Springs and Shelby, where NCBM sponsors mission camps.
The Shelby and Red Springs mission camps house hundreds of North Carolina Baptist volunteers who come to serve in the name of Jesus Christ.
Brunson also reported on NCBM involvement in national and international ministry efforts.
Nationally, volunteers continued to serve in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, the Appalachian coalfields and the Rocky Mountain region.
Internationally, volunteers are sharing the love of Christ in countries such as Haiti, Kenya, India, Honduras, Armenia, Guatemala and South Africa.
“Our purpose is to help men, women, children and youth see that God wants to use them to be missionaries for Him,” Brunson said.
“God is still working and still healing. He’s rebuilding broken lives and relationships. Thank you for praying, giving and going.”
To learn more about N.C. Baptist Men, visit
12/4/2013 12:46:28 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Convention institutions, agencies bring reports

December 4 2013 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

As a 12-year-old, Kimani arrived at the Baptist Children’s Homes Broyhill Home campus weighing 32 pounds and wearing size three toddler clothes.

“I came from an unloving family who abused me and made me sleep in a closet. I would go two-three days without eating,” Kimani shared with messengers during the 2013 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting in Greensboro. “When I came to Broyhill they immediately showed me love.”

Kimani, now 18, experienced hope and healing during his time at Baptist Children’s Homes. He went to school for the first time and, most importantly, heard about Jesus’ love and received Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.

“I was hopeless, and now I have hope,” Kimani said. “I never thought I’d be alive today. If it weren’t for Broyhill none of this would have been possible.”

The theme for this year’s Thanksgiving Offering for Baptist Children’s Homes was “Blessed,” based on Mark 10:16, and the goal is $1,475,000.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Michael Blackwell, president of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH), raises hands with someone helped through BCH and North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry during the Baptist State Convention annual meeting.

Messengers also heard a report from the N.C. Baptist Foundation, which focused on highlighting ways North Carolina Baptists can be good stewards of the material and financial resources the Lord has provided.

Although their salvation is secure in Jesus, Foundation president Clay Warf said many people are not ready to meet death because they are not yet prepared as Christian stewards. “We’re not ready to go on until we have a plan for what is going to happen to our stuff, and what is going to happen to help meet the needs of our loved ones and Kingdom work,” Warf said.

Through endowments and charitable trust funds, Christians can ensure that they continue making a difference in ministry and missions for years to come. Believers should also be good stewards as they prepare documents such as their last will and testament.

The N.C. Baptist Foundation is ready to assist North Carolina Baptists with financial services, investment planning, gift planning and church growth investment funds.

In 2012, the Foundation made 203 presentations to churches and opened 78 new accounts.
Paul Mullen, who recently retired as church and community relations director, brought the N.C. Baptist Hospital report. Since 1923, N.C. Baptist Hospital has sought to provide excellent care to patients.
“We are so very grateful for a long-lasting partnership with North Carolina Baptists,” Mullen said. “We fully anticipate that this relationship will become more dynamic, more alive, in the years ahead.”

The hospital continues to prove a national leader in health care, being ranked among the “Best Hospitals in America” by U.S. News and World Report in 12 different specialty areas. The hospital is ranked as the No. 1 cancer hospital in North Carolina and No. 12 in the nation. Nearly 300 physicians are recognized among the “Best Doctors in America” and 2,800 nurses are recognized by Magnet (American Nurses Credentialing Center).

“That’s a testament to the compassionate care being provided every day,” Mullen said. Mullen also introduced Leland Kerr, who is moving into the role of liaison for FaithHealthNC.

Kerr previously served as pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Shelby. He is also a former director of missions and officer of the BSC.

FaithHealthNC is one of the signature achievements of the medical center and the partnership with North Carolina Baptists,” Mullen said. “Leland is just the right person to take this ministry forward.” Through FaithHealthNC, participating congregations appoint volunteer congregational care coordinators who facilitate care for members and their neighbors during times of illness.

“My entire adult life has been spent in ministry,” Kerr said. “We believe the partnership between FaithHealthNC, the churches and the Convention will produce a strong bond that results in the shared mission of caring and healing.”

Also bringing a report to messengers was Biblical Recorder editor Allan Blume, who encouraged North Carolina Baptists to be aware of all the many ways God is using churches and individuals to impact lostness. “If you are reading the Biblical Recorder, you will be better informed and better supporters of the Cooperative Program and Kingdom work,” Blume said. “We are telling stories of God at work.”

The Biblical Recorder shares how God is working in North Carolina and around the world through its print edition, digital edition, website and weekly e-newsletter. The Biblical Recorder also has available a free smartphone app.

“Your people need to know what is going on. The Biblical Recorder is your partner in the process of keeping information in front of your people,” Blume said. “We cannot exist and help you if your people are not aware of our ministry. Please tell your church family who we are.”
12/4/2013 12:38:17 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Brewton-Parker elects Ergun Caner president

December 4 2013 by Baptist Press Staff

MOUNT VERNON, Ga. – Ergun Caner has been elected as the 16th president of Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga., a four-year coeducational college affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
The college's 30-member board of trustees unanimously elected Caner on Monday (Dec. 2), filling the position being vacated by Mike Simoneaux, who came to the college as interim president in March 2011 and was elected as president the following July.
Simoneaux, in a Brewton-Parker news release, said Caner "brings a wealth of experience to the presidency with more than three decades in Christian higher education leadership, Biblical teaching, preaching and apologetics."

BP photo
Ergun Caner

“This appointment will excite Georgia Baptists and Southern Baptists who will sit up and take notice that Brewton-Parker College and its trustees are serious about its stand on the infallibility of the Scriptures and its decision to honor Jesus Christ in every area," Simoneaux said. "I have no doubt that the college will grow and strengthen exponentially under his leadership."
In 2010 when Caner served as the dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he was accused of embellishing factual statements in a popular testimony where he claimed that he received terrorist training before converting from Islam to Christianity. After viewing these online videos, Liberty trustees found “discrepancies related to matters such as dates, names and places of residence” but “no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager.”
He resigned as dean during the 2010 controversy but continued teaching; an investigation by Liberty found no evidence of Caner deliberately lying as accused.
In quoting an unnamed Brewton-Parker trustee, the press release stated: "We didn't consider Dr. Caner in spite of the attacks; we elected him because of them. He has endured relentless and pagan attacks like a warrior. We need a warrior as our next president."
Trustee Lynda Yawn, who chaired the search committee, said the decision was accompanied with prayer.
"Having prayerfully considered the job description and the current needs of the college, the search committee implemented a search process considering internal and external applicants," Yawn said in the news release.
Trustee chairman Bucky Kennedy, in the news release, voiced his belief that "our best and brightest days are in front of us. [Caner's] visionary leadership and passion for students are remarkable and refreshing and his character and love for God are admirable and inspirational."
Caner, born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1966, is the oldest son of a devout Turkish Muslim leader. The family immigrated to the United States in 1969. Through the persistence of a high school friend in Ohio, Caner converted to Christianity and became a minister shortly thereafter.
Caner comes to the position from Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Texas, where he had served as provost and academic dean since 2011. Previously, he was dean and a professor at Liberty Seminary in Lynchburg, Va.
Caner holds a B.A. in biblical studies from Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky., an M.A. from Criswell College in Dallas, an M.Div. and a Th.M. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and a Th.D. from the University of South Africa.
His brother Emir Caner is president of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga. Together the brothers have written numerous books on world religions including "Unveiling Islam," which won the Gold Medallion Award in Evangelical Christian Publishers Association in 2003.

Brewton-Parker, founded in 1904, is one of three colleges affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention. The college offers four baccalaureate degrees. Fall 2012 enrollment totaled 629, according to the current school catalog.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler and BR staff.)
12/4/2013 12:16:18 PM by Baptist Press Staff | with 1 comments

Moldovan leaders pray for ‘strength to stay’

December 3 2013 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

He scanned the crowd gathered for the revival service and his gaze rested on a man with a beard. Pastor Andrei Ciobanu wasn’t quite sure why, but he knew something was different about him.

The man came that night ready to question everything he heard, but instead he listened and left a changed person. That night he came to know Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.

The man went home and began praying for his son, Mihai Caraivan, to come to faith in Christ. He prayed for a year and a half before his son repented and trusted in Jesus. Not long after, Caraivan’s father heard from pastor Ciobanu.

“I went to him and said, ‘Give me Mihai,’” the pastor said. Pastor Ciobanu began mentoring the 19-year-old, encouraged him to attend the Bible college in Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, and set him on a path of vocational ministry.

As pastor Ciobanu and his translator shared this story with the 10-member mission team from Dublin First Baptist Church in Dublin, N.C. – all gathered in a two-room concrete home on the last street in a southern Moldovan village – he was in a world of his own, reliving that special night more than 20 years ago.

The team crowded into one room of the home because the single mom and her two daughters did not use the other room; they could not afford to heat it.


BSC photo
Moldovan women prepare food for a volunteer mission team from North Carolina. Through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships, churches can pair with churches in Moldova to train leaders and pursue ministry opportunities. One church who has established a partnership is First Baptist Church in Dublin, N.C.

Pastor Ciobanu is no stranger to this family. The single mom is Caraivan’s sister-in-law. The translator that evening? Caraivan, all grown up now with a family of his own. And the two-room house near the Romanian border? Caraivan’s childhood home. His parents lived there until his father was called to help with another church in a neighboring village.
Even after his dad came to know Jesus, Caraivan wanted nothing to do with God. He left home, but returned after running out of money and options for work. “My dad prayed that whatever it took, God would save me. I was completely broken,” he said. 
When Caraivan began working with pastor Ciobanu he rode his bike 10 miles to the church in the Vadul lui Isac village.
An electrician by trade and also a youth pastor, Caraivan has invested his ministry in reaching out to youth. “When you change a young person’s life, they still have a full life ahead,” he said. “That is why I’m still in youth work.”
In October, the Dublin mission team spent a week serving alongside Caraivan and Ciobanu and saw firsthand the fruit that has come from their ministry together, as youth and college-age students are looked to as leaders in the church. From helping lead in worship services to serving in after-school activities with children, the church values the next generation of Christ followers.
The Dublin mission team devoted much of their week in Moldova to building relationships and exploring future ministry opportunities. Dublin has committed to a long-term partnership with pastor Ciobanu and the church, and this was their first time to work with the church.  
Although the first time for Dublin members, the trip to Moldova was number three for Tiffany McGill whose husband, Cameron, is pastor of Dublin First Baptist. She had traveled twice in 2012, once with a Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) Embrace women’s ministry trip and another time on a vision tour with her husband through the BSC Office of Great Commission Partnerships.
Moldova, which is divided into 33 districts and is the poorest country in Eastern Europe, is bordered on the north, east and south by Ukraine and on the west by Romania.

Courage to stay

At this time last year Pastor Ciobanu was very sick and doctors gave him only months to live. Although they told him to go to the United States, he would have none of that; he wanted to continue serving until the end.
Now, after a liver transplant, Ciobanu is healthy and working in the village where he grew up. He has pastored the same church for 20 years.
“One year after being saved I had a vision. I cannot explain it,” he said. “But I heard this loud voice saying, ‘There remains so little time. You need to enter the work.’”
Ciobanu is trying to motivate leaders and church members, but it’s a challenging task. In his village of 3,000 people, about 1,000 work out of the country because of Moldova’s poor economy. Many Christian leaders are tempted to leave Moldova because of the economic situation.
Moldova is less than two percent evangelical. Ministry is challenging because Orthodox beliefs are so ingrained in the minds of Moldovans that having a personal relationship with God, and the assurance of salvation, are completely new concepts to many people.
“Everyone thinks they are already a Christian,” Ciobanu said. “They think the priest is distributing the grace of God, and the priest is resolving all the problems of sinners.”

Engaging in partnerships

Dublin has embraced an Acts 1:8 mission strategy known as “Here, there and everywhere,” with the Moldova partnership being the open door from God to serve globally in Kingdom work.
Dublin is also engaged in a partnership with a church in Woodside, Queens and will participate in the “Coats for the City” outreach in New York City later this year. Next summer, Dublin will send 50 people to serve in New York City. 
“Partnership missions has caused me to re-examine my calling from the Lord and helped me see our church transition from “in-reaching” to “far-reaching,” said Cameron McGill. “Partnership missions has made me a better pastor who is now more committed to the Great Commission than ever before.”
Chuck Register, BSC executive leader for church planting and mission development, described Dublin First Baptist as the “model church” for North Carolina Baptists when it comes to strategic missions partnerships. “Simply put, when it comes to Acts 1:8, they get it,” he said. “Their Kingdom partnerships in New York City and Moldova are touching hearts and transforming lives with the gospel.”
Locally, Dublin is also seeking to make a Kingdom impact. Instead of moving forward with a sanctuary expansion, next year the church is planning to launch a second campus 25 minutes east in the White Lake area.
“Dublin has become a church on mission,” McGill said. “I’m excited about our future mission work – here, there and everywhere.”
12/3/2013 2:58:21 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Boy’s Academy to open on Hollifield property

December 3 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

The Hollifield Leadership Center on Lake Hickory, owned by North Carolina Baptists since 2000, will become the home for a new ministry to troubled boys in 2014. A branch of worldwide Teen Challenge is purchasing the property for a ministry to be known as North Carolina Boy’s Academy (NCBA).

John Steigerwald, executive director of NCBA, believes God has led him to the 30-acre property. He said it is an ideal location for the organization’s vision.


Contributed photo
John Steigerwald, seen here with his wife, Deralyn, is the executive director of North Carolina Boy’s Academy.

Boys from all walks of society will spend 12 to 15 months in a customized, life-changing program that is biblically based. “The boys can come from an under-resourced family; they can come from an affluent family,” he said. The target group is “boys that have behavioral issues; boys that have truancy issues; boys that are experimenting with drugs or alcohol – it could be any young man who has difficulty growing and discovering what it means to be a young man.

“We’ll do assessments on them before they enter the program, develop a relationship with them, introduce them to Jesus, disciple them into a biblical image of masculinity and manhood, give them the tools to grow and discover who God has designed them to be and help them recognize they have a purpose in life.”

The NCBA ministry started earlier this year in March when Steigerwald sensed God’s call to start a boy’s academy in the central portion of Western N.C.

“In my mind I thought we needed access to a lake [for fishing and other water activities], so I wanted it to be somewhere in the Troutman area,” he said. “My strategic plan called for a location south of [Interstate] 40 and north of Charlotte, somewhere along the I-77 corridor.”

In a discussion with a pastor in the Mooresville area, Steigerwald asked the pastor if he knew of any properties for sale that could be used for the boy’s academy. The pastor replied, “Yes, there’s one on Lake Hickory. We have held staff retreats on property owned by the [Baptist State Convention].”
“My brilliant follow-up question was, ‘Is it north of 40 or south of 40?’”

Steigerwald said his friend told him the property was north of Interstate 40, which caused him to “mentally dismiss it” because he preferred the property to be south of Interstate 40. But the property would not leave his mind. “I didn’t know the name of it, but I thought, how difficult would it be to find out the name of property on Lake Hickory owned by the Baptist convention?” Within a few minutes of surfing the Internet, he was able to identify the property as Hollifield Leadership Center.

“When I looked at the pictures on the website, it was absolutely beautiful. ... I thought for sure, certainly these guys have ‘photoshopped’ these pictures! I called a couple of friends, told them about the property and said, let’s go down … and see if it is all that it is marketed to be.”

Steigerwald met the real estate agent and Larry Phillips, director of Hollifield Center. “Larry gave us a tour of the property, and we thought to ourselves, ‘Wow, this is an ideal setting,’” he said.

After negotiations with John Butler, the convention’s executive leader for business services, they came to agreement on an offer. The Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina accepted the offer in its July 11 meeting.


BR file photo
One of the features of Hollifield Leadership Center is its proximity to water. The North Carolina Boy’s Academy has purchased the facility and will begin in September 2014 with its first group of boys spending 12 to 15 months in a biblically based program.

Steigerwald said, “We want the property to be used for the glory of God, and certainly the convention and John [Butler] communicated they wanted the property to be used for the glory of God, so we settled on the terms.” The closing will be this month.

Founded in 1958 by David Wilkerson, Teen Challenge is well known in N.C. and around the world. They operate about 1,000 programs in 93 countries and 250 programs in the U.S. They operate several adult male programs in N.C. and a girl’s academy in Raleigh, but no adolescent programs for boys.

Capacity for the Lake Hickory academy will be about 50 boys. With the potential of two parents for each boy, they will be personally working with about 150 people. “The program is a residential boarding school,” he said.

The boys reside at the academy for 12 to 15 months, and parents are required to visit six times a year to see their son’s progress.

“We will do experiential learning, discovery learning ... some of the therapeutic activities include rowing, fishing, working with horses,” he said. “There’s a horse farm just around the corner from the property. And after reopening, they will operate an equine-assisted learning program that helps boys discover how to be effective communicators and how to honor and respect others in a trusting relationship. When you have a 1,500-pound animal, you better learn to honor and respect it.”
The goal is to welcome the first group of boys September 2014. There will be a staff of about 10 people. There are two components of the program. The academic component involves an evaluation of each boy’s learning level.
The second component is the spiritual element of the program. The boys are broken up into small groups of seven or eight. They are pastored and discipled in biblical principles.
Steigerwald contends that culture puts bad images of masculinity in the minds of youth. He said, “Just think about the last 40 years. What are some of the images of masculinity that come to mind? Years ago there was “Father Knows Best” – programs that honored men and gave an image of what it means to be man. Today what do you have? Movies and TV shows give images of men who are not leaders and lack courage.”
One of the mantras at the academy is “strength for service.” He said each boy is asked, “What does it mean to be a courageous man? It means to persevere through adversity and use the strength God has given us to serve others. We anchor it in Philippians 2:7-8. Jesus humbled Himself and did not look out for His own interests, but He served others.
“Teen Challenge has bridged the denominational barriers. In our relationship with the Baptist convention in North Carolina and John Butler, we are finding a beautiful partnership in order to extend the Kingdom.” The facilities are currently available for small conferences and church retreats for about 12-30 people and will continue to be available when the academy opens. Steigerwald said, “The doors will open in February, but when boys arrive in September there will still be facilities for guest groups. We do hope area churches will take advantage of our facilities. We not only want to build leaders for tomorrow; we want to strengthen the ‘front line’ leaders of today. My heart is to be there for pastors as well.”
Funds from the sale of Hollifield Center will go toward the New Beginnings capital campaign at Caraway Conference Center and Camp near Asheboro.
North Carolina Boy’s Academy invites readers to “like” its page on Facebook and visit the website,

Facebook: North Carolina Boys Academy
Global Teen Challenge:

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12/3/2013 2:40:44 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Can you have ministry without regrets?

December 3 2013 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

Eddie Thompson, Baptist State Convention consultant for family evangelism and discipleship, taught a breakout session on ministry without regrets at the Baptist State Convention Nov. 12 in Greensboro.
Thompson has served as BSC senior consultant for marriage and family since 2008. He pastored churches in Monroe, Apex and Charlotte. Thompson has also served as president of Faithful Families, a ministry dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the family. For more than 20 years, he and his wife Janet have led marriage and family conferences.

BSC photo
Eddie Thompson

Thompson said, “Around the age of 50, most individuals begin to really realize the number of regrets they’ve made through the years. We’ve collected many of them over 50 years, so how can we make powerful decisions now that make an impact for our ministries and our families?”
One of the biggest problems in ministry today, Thompson said, is teaching and modeling how to forgive in both the family and ministry dynamics. “The family is where most of our regrets occur. The prime disciplers of children are mom and dad. What if we learned then how to model forgiveness through discipleship in our own homes?”
Thompson said that one of the pastor’s greatest responsibilities is to equip the saints for ministry. “I do not believe that most of our equipping comes from the pulpit. The greatest equipping will come from life-on-life experiences with family and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
“So, listen to your wife and watch out for long-term stress, pastor. Most importantly, become an expert at identifying and handling conflict. Denial is a place where we go when we don’t want to deal with problems. Conflict can easily take over your homes and your church if you don’t stop it in its tracks.”
12/3/2013 2:30:45 PM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Impacting lostness via collegiate partnerships

December 3 2013 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

Although students represent the largest population on college campuses, collegiate ministry must aim to reach the entire academic community.

“The academic community includes students, staff, faculty members and their families,” said Chuck Register, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) executive leader for church planting and missions partnerships. “In the academic community there are many people who desperately need Christ.”

Register spoke during a breakout session at the BSC annual meeting about how the new BSC Collegiate Partnerships Team will seek to equip churches to minister on college campuses as part of the Convention’s new five-year strategy to impact lostness through disciple-making. 

“The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina was created to assist the local church to do ministry,” he said. “We are moving to a paradigm that will better help us assist the local church to do ministry in the academic community.”

Register praised the efforts of everyone involved in campus ministry under the previous model and thanked them for their faithfulness. He said the new paradigm will allow North Carolina Baptists to increase their presence on more campuses statewide. “With this old paradigm we’ve only been able to impact 32 campuses on a consistent basis,” Register said. “The beauty of this new paradigm is that we now have the potential to impact 202 campuses across the state.”

The Collegiate Partnerships Team, which includes three regional campus ministry consultants and two international ministry consultants, will help churches and associations develop and implement a contextualized, localized ministry model to engage college campuses with the gospel.  

“The new paradigm is to assist local churches to reach college campuses in their community,” Register said. “We want to come alongside local churches and associations to help make the greatest impact on campuses statewide.”

Consultants will also facilitate collegiate ministry networks. These networks will include clusters of churches, or clusters of churches and associations, that unite for the purpose of pooling resources and to covenant together to impact local colleges and universities. In addition, consultants will offer coaching, leadership development and resources about various campus ministry models.

“We can talk to churches and associations about developing a holistic campus ministry strategy that might involve multiple models on the same campus and it may be a strategy that involves more than one campus,” Register said.

As with the previous model, the Collegiate Partnerships Team will sponsor collegiate conferences in the spring and fall, and student missions mobilization will remain a priority.

“We believe that the number of students engaged in missions will increase under the new model,” Register said.

Collegiate Partnerships will provide a platform by which the BSC and local churches can partner together to effectively reach every college campus in North Carolina.  

“Our goal is to provide effective and contextualized approaches to reaching students, faculty and staff on college and university campuses across the state,” Register said. “This new model gives North Carolina Baptists a tremendous opportunity to reach many people for Christ.”   
For more information about the BSC five-year strategy visit To learn more about the new collegiate partnerships model contact Rick Trexler, collegiate partnerships team leader, at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5560, or
12/3/2013 2:17:30 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Impacting lostness through developing rural strategies

December 2 2013 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

With 5.8 million lost people in North Carolina, the depth of lostness extends to every city, town and neighborhood across the state. 

Lostness is everywhere, not just the eight population centers of North Carolina,” said Lester Evans, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) team leader for associational partnerships. “We are not off the hook in rural areas. Lostness is just as great there, and every soul is important to God.”

Evans spoke during a breakout session at the recent BSC annual meeting that focused on helping rural churches develop a contextualized strategy for impacting lostness, as well as understanding the dramatic increase in lostness in North Carolina.


BSC photo
Lester Evans

Immigration is one factor, as people groups continue migrating to North Carolina from non-Christian cultures. Another factor is the rise of secularism, which has combined with immigration to create a distinctly post-Christian culture. 

“You are encountering people who have never heard about Jesus, particularly those who have come from other religious backgrounds,” Evans said. “They don’t get up on Sunday morning and decide to go to church. It’s just not on their radar.”

The changing cultural landscape means believers must find new ways to engage non-believers, and this will only happen as churches are intentional about becoming healthy disciple-making churches, and as believers understand their role in fulfilling the Great Commission.

“If we see becoming a believer as the end of the journey, then our service to God becomes going to church and going home,” he said.

“Becoming a believer is the beginning of the journey. The Great Commission happens in the lives of every believer as we reproduce ourselves.”  

As part of the Convention’s new five-year strategy to impact lostness through disciple-making, Convention staff are ready to assist local churches across the state to become healthy disciple-making churches. In addition, Convention staff will work with local churches and associations to form local strategy teams to develop strategies for impacting lostness. 

A strategy team may include members of a local church, or members from several churches, who come together to gather information about unreached people groups in a specific area and then develop a framework for reaching those groups.

Prior to forming a strategy team, pastors and associational leaders should lead churches through a season of prayer, asking God to give believers a burden for reaching the lost.

Then, leaders should enlist people who have a passion to reach the lost to assist in establishing a local or regional strategy team.

“The strategy team will develop a framework to impact lostness that is contextualized to your area,” Evans said. “Be intentional in implementing the plan. If you’re not intentional it will not work.”
Evans said although both failures and successes will come, North Carolina Baptists should not stop at the failures. “Take the risks, celebrate the success and then evaluate the process,” he said. 

Above all, Evans said to make a plan and remember the goal.

“The end result is reproducing disciples,” he said. “That’s what we are all after – disciples who can reproduce themselves.”

12/2/2013 6:05:02 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Women asked to lead by mentoring, modeling in everyday life

December 2 2013 by Emily Blake, BR Editorial Aide

“As we invest in the lives of others, we should be teaching and training them to be like Christ,” said Ashley Allen, director of Embrace Women’s Mission and Ministries for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). “We provide an example of what it means to follow Christ, but we should not be making them to be like us.”

At the BSC annual meeting held Nov. 11-12 in Greensboro, Allen led a breakout session called “Follow Me As I Follow Jesus: Mentoring in the Everyday.” Allen’s focus was to encourage and instruct women in discipling one another through mentorship.

She spoke from many passages of the Bible including Deuteronomy 6, which commands the Israelites to teach and live daily according to God’s commands – even to the extent that they bind the scriptures to their bodies and their homes.

BSC photo
Ashley Allen

Mentoring happens when a spiritually or chronologically older Christian teaches and trains a spiritually or chronologically younger Christian through actions and words so that the younger believer grows in their relationship with the Lord and emulates the Lord Jesus in their daily life, explained Allen.

There are several examples of this in the Bible and it seems to be one of the more common forms of discipleship displayed in the New Testament.

Titus 2:3-5 gives women criteria both for mentors and also for what they should be teaching younger women. It says mentors are to be reverent in their behavior, not gossips, not addicted to much wine and able to teach what is good.

Mentors are to teach women love, purity, kindness, sensibility, hard work and submission to their husbands.

Allan pointed out the many pitfalls and problematic issues that women face in the modern, American world. Postmodernism and a lack of role models often leave young women feeling as though there are no absolutes to guide their lives.

Everything is seen as open to interpretation. Society has a great influence in the home and church, and Christianity seems to be declining. Peer pressure, feminism and a sense of entitlement are just a few of the other factors that can create problems for a new female believer.

Young women need relationships with older Christian women more than ever. They need to spend time watching women model biblical Christian living, and they need a source of wisdom they can rely on.

Appealing to the older women in the group, Allen said, “Young women desire to be mentored. They just don’t know how to approach you. It’s usually up to the older woman to invite the younger woman to be mentored.”

(EDITOR'S NOTE – Ashley Allen may be contacted at or (800) 395-5102, ext. 5559.)
12/2/2013 5:57:43 PM by Emily Blake, BR Editorial Aide | with 0 comments

Asheville church planter helps hearing congregation reach Deaf Malagasy

December 2 2013 by Don Graham, Baptist Press

It’s like learning to swim by being pushed off the high dive – and Mason Barrett just got shoved. The 33-year-old real estate agent sits wide-eyed in a tiny, crowded living room in Madagascar’s capital city, trying desperately to understand what anyone around him is saying. Hands fly in a flurry of conversation, mostly get-to-know-you type questions: What’s your name? Are you married? Were you born deaf? That last question might sound strange if this wasn’t one of the thousands of Deaf communities that Barrett has come to serve. He’s part of a team from Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga., that has traveled more than 9,000 miles for a single purpose: sharing Jesus with the Deaf Malagasy.  
Tucked away off Africa’s eastern coast, Madagascar is home to roughly 110,000 Deaf, less than 1 percent of whom are disciples of Jesus Christ. Most follow a centuries-old tradition of ancestor worship. There may be a “veneer of Christianity,” says missionary Matt Spann, a Texas native who leads the International Mission Board’s (IMB) Madagascar team, but “they fear their ancestors more than they fear God.” That’s what Warren has come to change.
Sending a hearing church to evangelize the Deaf may seem a fool’s errand, especially since Warren has absolutely no experience with Deaf ministry. Roger Henderson, Warren’s missions pastor, said the decision left many scratching their heads – including the very people he tasked with choosing which unengaged, unreached people group (UUPG) Warren would embrace.

Blessed mistake

Cue a young men’s discipleship group Henderson affectionately refers to as the “Ten Angry Men.” They were “angry” because of the lack of Christ-centered leadership they saw in many of today’s Christian men. Sorting through the more than 3,800 UUPGs identified by IMB, the Ten Angry Men researched and prayed through their top picks, eventually voting on their selection in Madagascar. The process went smoothly, save for a “slight hiccup” – they didn’t realize the UUPG was Deaf.

IMB photo by Joann Bradberry
Genetics are most likely responsible for the stunning color variance in the eyes of this Deaf Malagasy student in Antsirabe, Madagascar.

“All throughout the Bible, God uses our weaknesses to display His strength – from Moses to David to Paul,” says Vesta Sauter, who leads IMB’s global Deaf work with her husband, Mark. “I think He knew exactly what He was doing when He chose Warren Baptist to bring the gospel to the Deaf of Madagascar.”
And just like God gave Aaron to his tongue-tied brother when He ordered Moses before Pharaoh, He gave Warren Baptist a man named Phillip Easterling. 
Easterling, 51, is a pastor and church planter from Asheville, N.C. He’s also Warren’s way of gaining access to Madagascar’s Deaf community, a job Sauter says is notoriously difficult for the hearing.
Easterling was born deaf. He started Asheville Deaf Church, which he currently pastors, and has helped Southern Baptists plant Deaf congregations all over the world.    
Sauter says Easterling was a critical addition because the Deaf are used to being ignored, abused and marginalized by the hearing. But Easterling’s intimacy with Deaf culture instantly breaks down those walls, lending acceptance to the hearing members of Warren’s team.
“It’s such a blessing that Warren had foresight and [was] sensitive to God’s plan,” Easterling said. “They don’t know about deafness or Deaf culture … but they basically adopted me so that I could be a liaison, a bridge, and begin to share the story of His love and salvation.” 

Mind the gap

Back in the tiny, crowded living room in Antananarivo, Easterling watches as Barrett and the rest of Warren’s team struggle to communicate with their hosts, a middle-aged couple named Didi and Jeannette. News about their American guests has spread quickly, and the couple’s house is overflowing with more than 20 visitors.
Easterling tries to translate both sides of several conversations. But after 20 minutes, he stands abruptly and leaves Warren’s team members to fend for themselves. 
“He walked out on us so we would be forced to communicate with them,” Barrett says. “We are starting to be able to connect. If anything, it’s inspiring. You want to learn more.”
But there is a huge language gap between small talk and explaining why Jesus died on the cross. Warren’s crew gets a taste of just how big that gap is while visiting one of Antananarivo’s three Deaf schools. Henderson has challenged each member of Warren’s team to tell a Bible story using Malagasy sign. Some of them, like John Stevenson, stayed up late the night before crafting and rehearsing their story.
Stevenson, 32, looks nervous but smiles as he steps in front of his audience, a group of 18 students ranging from elementary to high school. It’s an intimidating crowd. Most already know Malagasy sign well enough to determine whether they’ll listen to – or laugh at – Stevenson after the first few signs. His introduction is flawless, signing his newly adopted sign name, “Dimples,” by pointing to his cheek with an index finger, then curling the finger like the letter “J.” But it’s downhill from there.

IMB photos by Joann Bradberry
Phillip Easterling, left, signs with one of the teachers at a Deaf school. Born deaf, Easterling pastors Asheville (N.C.) Deaf Church.

Stevenson bravely stumbles through Luke 6:48-49, Jesus’ parable about anchoring one’s faith like a house built on solid rock. The students are patient and courteous, trying their best to understand Stevenson’s broken signs. Some nod or smile while others stare blankly – a few giggle. But Stevenson takes it all in stride. It may be embarrassing, but this is what he’s come here to do.
The rest of Warren’s team struggle through their stories too, and are rewarded with polite applause. 
“It’s very, um – spontaneous!” the school’s director says with an impish smile when asked about Warren’s performance.
By the time Easterling steps up, the students’ eyes are glazing over. But they immediately snap to attention when Easterling launches into his own Bible story. It’s a payoff that comes from a deep understanding of sign.
“You almost get a little jealous,” Stevenson admits, “because you have to take a back seat and let God work through Phillip (Easterling). And you want to get there, too.”

Digging in

Henderson believes God will equip Warren to overcome these kinds of barriers. He says this first trip is just the beginning, a litmus test of sorts. In a week, Warren’s team has managed to learn a surprising amount of Malagasy sign and forge genuine relationships – confirmation that Henderson and the Ten Angry Men aren’t crazy. God can use a hearing church to share Jesus with the Deaf.
Besides, Warren won’t be making the journey alone. That’s because the church is supported by ministry partners like Easterling, the Sauters and Matt Spann. Intimate with Malagasy society and language, Spann is helping Warren navigate cultural nuances and church-planting pitfalls, not to mention providing logistical support for incoming teams.
“In our preparation for embracing the Deaf Malagasy, Matt Spann stepped forward and helped us understand the culture of Madagascar and the history of evangelical work there,” Henderson says. “Matt also arranged our transportation and hotels, even told us how to navigate the airport and handle visas – all the things that you don’t know when you’ve never been there before. It was very reassuring to know that whatever happened, there was a base of support from a Southern Baptist missionary.”
Ironically, it is Warren and thousands of other Southern Baptist churches across the United States that make this support possible through their giving through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
“Warren’s support for Lottie Moon not only is directed toward an area like Madagascar, but to all IMB missionaries throughout the world who are reaching the lost,” Henderson said. “When you go out there and meet them face-to-face, it puts a real, live person to the offering. And that tangible connection is just so gratifying, especially when you’re trying to evangelize a UUPG!”
Henderson says he has high hopes for what God will do through Warren Baptist’s generosity – in Madagascar and around the world.
“It was an unimaginable challenge that a church that does not have a Deaf ministry, a church that does not have Deaf members, that we would choose to embrace the Deaf Malagasy,” he said. “But there was no doubt that that is where God was leading us.”
Through IMB’s Embrace initiative, you and your church can take the gospel to an unevangelized people group. To learn more, go to
Give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions through your local Southern Baptist church or online at, where there are resources for church leaders to promote the offering. 
See how others are being Totally His … heart, hands, voice at
(EDITOR’S NOTE –Don Graham is a senior writer with the IMB.)
12/2/2013 5:42:20 PM by Don Graham, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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