February 2010

Missionary ministers to Winter Olympic athletes

February 10 2010 by Mickey Noah, North American Mission Board

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Since his teen years, North American Mission Board resort missionary Derek Spain has worked himself up from parking lot attendant, ticket taker and track sweeper at the winter Olympic Training Center at Lake Placid, N.Y. 

Now he deals in cowbells, hand-warmers and Bibles — whatever it takes to share the gospel with — and minister to — the dozens of world-class Olympic athletes who either live in Lake Placid or pass through — plus the thousands of fans who come to see them compete.

NAMB file photo

Derek Spain, seen here in 2005, is headed to the Winter Olympics to be a chaplain to athletes.

Spain has not only served as a NAMB resort missionary since 2001, but is also special ministries consultant for the Baptist Convention of New York, pastor of Lake Placid Baptist Church and director of North Country Ministries, a ministry focused on the athletes in Lake Placid.

“Some of them live here year-round, either at the Olympic Training Center or in town,” says Spain. “Some of the athletes we only see for a few weeks a year. They could be in figure skating, hockey, ski jumping, snowboarding, ski racing or bobsledding.”

Spain said Olympic athletes are high achievers, set high personal goals, are dedicated to their sport, and disciplined in their workout, eating and sleeping regimens. They must be in order to compete at a world-class level.

“They do have struggles, though,” says Spain. “As they get older and into their 20s and 30s, they are traveling all over the world, living in an unsupervised environment. So there are the challenges and temptations of the world. Even Christian athletes struggle with the issue of pride as they compete for their nation. There’s a temptation to be prideful about what they’re accomplishing personally.”

Spain heads up North Country Ministries, made up of members of his Lake Placid Baptist Church and Southern Baptist mission teams that travel to Lake Placid from other churches throughout North America. Through the ministry, Spain has opened doors to share Christ through serving and volunteering at winter sports events in the Lake Placid area.

“We take these opportunities to use creative evangelism tools to talk to others about God,” he said. It may be a “goodie bag” filled with candy, gum, Chapstick and maybe a gospel tract. It may be handing out free cowbells for spectators to clang when their team does well. (A long-time tradition in Europe, cowbells help make up for the fact that it’s tough for fans wearing gloves and mittens to make much noise at winter Olympic venues!)

As part of North Country Ministries, Spain conducts nightly Bible studies in Lake Placid, attended by Olympic athletes when they’re in town. That’s how Spain got to know John Napier, a member of the U.S. bobsled team that will compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Feb. 12-28.

Spain first met Napier several years ago when Napier’s father, William, was dying of cancer and Spain ministered to the family in the hospital. Young Napier was a teenager but at eight years old, he had inherited the love of bobsledding from his father and mother. He competed in his first international competition at 16, and raced in his first World Cup at 17.

“I later ran into John at the Olympic Training Center and invited him to our Bible Study. Several weeks passed and he began to come regularly. About a year-and-a-half-ago, he started coming every week,” Spain recalls. Eventually, Spain led Napier, already a Christian, into a closer walk with Christ.

“Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen in John’s life a real hunger and desire to follow Christ. It’s become very personal to him, and he has seen the transforming power of God change his life from the inside out,” said Spain, who baptized 23-year-old Napier on a recent Sunday morning.

Napier says Spain has been an “awesome spiritual guide for us as athletes in Lake Placid Baptist Church. Derek is always at the top of the track volunteering his time and just showing you that Christ is everywhere. He’s always here to support the athletes and minister to us.”

Napier said it takes good hand-eye coordination and good reaction time to drive the sled: “Driving is not only seeing, but it’s about feeling what the sled is doing under you.”

After the Winter Olympics closes on Feb. 28, Napier will return to his “day” job as a soldier in the Army National Guard. Spain, who also will be in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, will return after the close of the games to Lake Placid to resume his ministry as a NAMB resort missionary and a Baptist pastor.  

Helping with the Olympics?
Are you a North Carolina Baptist serving at the Olympics? Or do you know someone who is? Let the Biblical Recorder know by e-mail: dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or phone: (919) 847-2127. We’d love to share some photos and information about your mission.

2/10/2010 5:43:00 AM by Mickey Noah, North American Mission Board | with 0 comments

UPDATE: Interrogation continues of Haiti detainees

February 10 2010 by Baptist Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Ten Baptists being held in Haiti continue to undergo interrogation by a judge in Port-au-Prince, although leaders of the Utah-Idaho Baptist State Convention told Baptist state editors Feb. 10 they may be freed by Feb. 11.

Conversations with leaders of the Idaho Baptist churches where the volunteers are members indicated a charter plane is on standby to carry them home Feb. 11 if progress in negotiations continue as well as in the past 24 hours.

According to various media reports, the leader of the group, Laura Silsby, and several others were questioned by Haitian Judge Bernard Saint-Vil on Feb. 8, while others were to be questioned Feb. 9.

The 10 American volunteers are charged with child kidnapping and criminal association for attempting to transport 33 Haitian children to an orphanage they were opening in neighboring Dominican Republic.

The Baptist group, who were arrested Jan. 29 at the border between Haiti and the DR, had traveled to Haiti in response to the severe devastation caused by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Further proceedings likely will involve parents of five of the 33 children, Reuters reported.

The Associated Press reported Feb. 8 that Haiti’s prime minister, Max Bellerive, said his country may permit the Americans to be tried in a U.S. court, but no government actions otherwise have been reported to that effect.

USA Today reported that one of the group’s two new Haitian attorneys, Aviol Fleurant, predicted after the Feb. 8 hearing that the Baptist volunteers will be released. Fleurant claimed that the group had “a document” authorizing their care of the children.

“The Americans acted with heart” and “had no intention to violate the Haitian law,” Fleurant said.

The attorney initially retained for the Americans was dismissed in a dispute over payment, according to media reports. There were no reports of conflict among the Baptist volunteers in accounts posted by Reuters and The New York Times on Feb. 9, contrary to several earlier media reports.

“I am trusting God to reveal all truth and that we will be released and exonerated of charges,” Silsby told reporters after the Feb. 8 proceedings with Saint-Vil, the Haitian judge, “and we are just waiting for the Haitian process, the legal process, to complete.”

“Help us,” detainee Carla Thompson said to New York Times reporter Ian Urbina in a Feb. 8 news story.

The reporter noted that Thompson and at least one of the four other women on the Baptist volunteer team were being held “in a scorching jail cell about 8 feet by 5 feet” with “a dirty concrete floor.”

No other details about the women’s quarters were relayed in the article. Thompson’s feet were bandaged “from infected mosquito bites,” Urbina wrote in The Times.

The other detainee quoted in Urbina’s story, Corinna Lankford, said, “I have faith in God. But maybe the U.S. government could help a little more. No one is giving us any kind of information about what is going on.”

Urbina wrote that the detainees said guards and other prisoners were treating them well.

One of the women, Charisa Coulter, 24, a diabetic, has received insulin from an unidentified missionary after going without the medicine for a week.

“It has mostly been missionaries not the government that has been providing us with food and medicine,” Silsby told Urbina.

When not in court, the New York Times reporter wrote that the women prisoners were reading the Bible and also passing their time by “napping, praying and snacking on frosted flakes and Pringles provided to them by missionaries.”

The detainees are:
  • Laura Silsby, 40, of Meridian, Idaho, group leader, executive director and founder of an organization named New Life Children’s Refuge and member of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho.
  • Charisa Coulter, 24, of Kuna, Idaho, vice president and co-founder of New Life Children’s Refuge and member of Central Valley Baptist Church.
  • Corinna Lankford, member of Central Valley Baptist Church.
  • Nicole Lankford, 17, Corinna Lankford’s daughter.
  • Carla Thompson, 53, missions coordinator at the Central Valley Baptist Church.
  • Paul Thompson, 43, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho.
  • Silas Thompson, 19, of Twin Falls, Paul Thompson’s son.
  • Steve McMullen, 56, of Eastside Baptist Church, Twin Falls.
  • Drew Culberth, 34, of Topeka, Kan., a part-time youth pastor at Bethel Baptist Church.
  • Jim Allen, 47, of Amarillo, Texas, of Paramount Baptist Church and cousin of Paul Thompson.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.)
2/10/2010 5:35:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 1 comments

NAMB commissions 30 missionaries, chaplains

February 10 2010 by Mike Ebert, North American Mission Board

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Against the backdrop of a land as rugged and wild as it is spiritually lost, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) commissioned 30 new missionaries and chaplains Sunday, January 24, many of whom will serve Alaska and it’s northern neighbor, Canada.

The service took place at First Baptist Church (FBC) Anchorage, which was Alaska’s first Southern Baptist church, started in 1943 by a small group of GI’s stationed at nearby Fort Richardson. The church has a long history of starting churches in Alaska.

“It’s a real privilege for us to have this group of missionaries here at this point in your sending process — to be a part of that is a wonderful blessing,” FBC Anchorage pastor Ed Gregory told those in attendance. “Thank God for this privilege and for the fact that He is indeed at work across our land and we get to be in on it.”

“For 60 years the Alaska Baptist Convention has had a close relationship with first the Home Mission Board and now the North American Mission Board,” said David Baldwin, executive director of the Alaska Baptist Convention. “I want to say on behalf of the 105 Southern Baptist congregations scattered across Alaska — welcome. We are so happy to have this moment here tonight.”

NAMB photo by Mike Ebert

Michael “Bong” and Tina Abagon, center, were two of the 30 missionaries and chaplains commissioned by the North American Mission Board in a Jan. 24 service at First Baptist Church Anchorage. Michael and Tina serve in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Baldwin told the new missionaries, “You are in a friendly crowd. Probably every person here tonight has been touched by the Home Mission Board or the North American Mission Board because of the church planting and all that has gone into our state. We do not take that for granted.”

Larger than the size of Texas, California and Montana combined, Alaska’s land mass accounts for 16 percent of the United States’ total land area. Half of its population of nearly 700,000 is concentrated in the metro Anchorage area with 365,000 people. The next two largest cities are Fairbanks (31,000) and Juneau (30,000).

The vastness of Alaska’s size creates great challenges for the 105 Southern Baptist churches and missions trying to reach the state’s residents. Alaskan culture and lifestyle also bring challenges.

Many of the state’s citizens who transplanted from the “lower 48,” came seeking solitude and greatly value their independence, making evangelistic outreach difficult. On the other hand, many of the state’s native Alaskans live in remote villages that cannot even be accessed by car.

Luke and Sarah Stewart are Mission Service Corps missionaries ministering at an SBC mission church in the remote Eskimo village of Kobuk. In 2008, Stewart, his wife Sarah and their young family moved to Kobuk. Temperatures their first winter plunged to 65 degrees below zero. The village is inaccessible by car, so supplies must be flown in when weather allows.

Stewart said ministry in the village requires a slow approach and serving the village members while trying to share Christ as relationships develop.

“I am trying to be an encouragement to the believers and help them grow in their Christian lives,” Stewart said. “Beyond that, we are trying to serve the other people so they will see by the way we live and the way we treat them that we love them and that God loves them.”

Other missionaries commissioned to Alaska will serve in Kodiak and Girdwood. In addition to those commissioned who will be serving in Alaska, missionaries serving in Oregon, North Dakota, Hawaii, Washington State, Utah, Canada, California and South Carolina.

Carlos Rodriguez and his wife, Paola, serve in Seattle as church planting strategists who are starting congregations for Hispanics, Slavic, Russian and Ukrainian populations living in the area.

“The Northwest is the most un-churched area of the United States and Seattle is a very diverse area of the nation and very multi-cultural,” Rodriguez said. “Many of the Ukrainians and Russians come from a Christian background. Their parents and grandparents suffered for the Lord when they were a communist country. And some come from a Russian Orthodox background or communist background. Many of them have left the faith and are un-churched.”

Carlos and Paola relocated to Seattle five months ago after serving as language church planter strategists in Portland, Ore., for five-and-a-half years. Carlos said the area needs prayer for more church planters to start churches for the 1.5 million Hispanics living in the Northwest. In addition, Carlos asked for prayer in reaching the second generation Slavs, Russians and Ukrainians living in Seattle. Rodriguez said he and other SBC church planters in the region are in a race with Mormon’s and Jehovah’s Witness missionaries who are actively working the region for recruits.

The new missionaries arrived in Anchorage two days before the commissioning for a time of training and orientation hosted by NAMB leaders including Richard Harris, NAMB’s interim president, Frank Page, vice president for Evangelization, and Ken Weathersby, vice president of Church Planting. Tim Patterson, chairman of NAMB’s Board of Trustees, also attended the event.

The missionaries fanned out across the greater Anchorage area on Sunday morning, visiting with and preaching in local Southern Baptist churches.

Harris gave the newly-commissioned missionaries a charge: “Whatever else you are trying to accomplish in your ministry, as we send you out tonight, it is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ by way of life and by word of mouth.”

Harris encouraged those commissioned to approach people with “gentleness and respect.”

“You are going to confront all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds. Go to them in humility. Remember who you are. Remember whose you are.”

But spreading the gospel is not only a missionary responsibility. Turning to those from area churches who attended the commissioning service, Harris said, “Every year, three million precious souls are added to North America’s population. You say ‘I can’t reach everybody.’ No, but you can reach somebody and if you are willing to share, God will bring a harvest field into your life.”

In all, more than 5,300 missionaries serve with the North American Mission Board, most of them through partnerships with state Baptist conventions. In addition to the missionaries, NAMB is the endorsing entity for more than 3,300 Southern Baptist chaplains serving in military, hospital, professional, corporate, public safety and institutional settings.
2/10/2010 5:30:00 AM by Mike Ebert, North American Mission Board | with 0 comments

Haitian prays for strength to continue God’s work

February 9 2010 by Tristan Taylor, Baptist Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti Jan. 12, Port-au-Prince neighborhood Vallee de Bourdon was a beautiful place to live.

An otherworldly light filled the hillside community when the setting sun angled its rays through the surrounding lush trees. Like stadium seats, houses were stair-stepped up from the riverbed below. Stairways leading from one level to the other functioned as sidewalks on slopes too steep for roads.

IMB photo

Hubert Duchatelier’s home in a hillside community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was rendered uninhabitable by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Now, “… the neighborhood is almost completely destroyed,” said Hubert Duchatelier, a Haitian Baptist and father of five who has lived in Vallee de Bourdon for 13 years.

When the earthquake started, Hubert was on his home’s flat rooftop. From there, he had a view of the whole valley and saw the houses of his neighborhood shake and fall. When the quake ended, all he could hear was wailing.

His family was unharmed. So were his mother’s and sister’s households nearby. But his brother’s house, only yards away from his own, collapsed on the family inside. The bodies of his brother, Edgar, and four others are still buried beneath the rubble.

But Hubert is grateful that so many others have survived, given that most of the houses covering the hillside are only broken shells of concrete. Walls have collapsed, exposing empty interiors.

People continue to move along the stairways, but few stop at any houses. Some people sought shelter in other communities. Those who stayed have made do along the riverbed in sheet-metal shacks that used to house their pigs. Though difficult to live in, these leaky huts pose less of a threat than the houses if another earthquake occurs.

“We live like pigs here. I can say that because it’s me,” said Hubert, pointing out the mud, burning trash and wandering pigs. “This is not a way to live.”

After saving money for two weeks, Hubert was able to move his wife, Marie, and their five children between the ages of 2 and 12 out of their sheet-metal shack to a one-room house in Marie’s hometown of Saint-Marc. Every day, Hubert uses public transportation to travel nearly 46 miles from Saint-Marc to Port-au-Prince, where he works at the Florida Baptist Convention’s Confraternite Missionaire Baptiste d’Haiti (CMBH) guesthouse.

IMB photo

A hillside neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was heavily damaged by the Jan. 12 earthquake. Many residents have set up camp in nearby shacks where they kept their pigs before the earthquake.

Hubert recently received a theology degree from Haitian Baptist Theological Seminary after three years of study. Before the earthquake, he led Bible studies in his home, gave devotionals for his neighbors twice a day and shared the JESUS film along with International Mission Board missionaries Mark and Peggy Rutledge. Sometimes he stood in public and spoke against voodoo.

“I am not afraid of (voodoo),” Hubert says. “When (people) talk about that, I take out my Bible and read Psalm 91 to them and I tell them, ‘Don’t be afraid, because God is your shelter.’”

Hubert will have to make a new start — and find a bigger home — in Saint-Marc. But he has every intention of continuing his ministry. He plans to speak out about his faith and share devotions with his neighbors in his new community.

“You’re supposed to minister where you are. I plan to do the same thing in Saint-Marc,” Hubert says. “After this earthquake, if God saved your life, He saved it to continue His work.”

Haitians are interested in God’s Word right now, Hubert says. They believe God spared their lives, and they will listen carefully to people who talk about Him. Hubert asks for people to pray that his family will stay close to God.

“Tell the people in America to be praying, because I am going to start a new work for God where my family is now,” he says. “And for me to touch people’s hearts when they hear my teaching.

“And pray for me,” Hubert adds. “For God to give me strength to continue His work in good and bad times.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Taylor is a writer for the IMB in the Americas.)
2/9/2010 9:43:00 AM by Tristan Taylor, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Goodwill donates $100,000 for Haiti

February 9 2010 by BSC

Goodwill Industries of North Carolina presented a check for $100,000 to North Carolina Baptist Men recently to assist with relief work surrounding the disaster in Haiti.

Dennis McLain, president of the Goodwill Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina says their Board voted to give the contribution to N.C. Baptists because of the way the money will be used.

“You have a presence there and that ’s critical. The funds are used to pay for the actual provision of services to the individual. We do not get into the business of telling people what their needs are, we ask. And this organization (N.C. Baptist Men), through its volunteers, responds to the needs of the local community rather than dictating to the local community what their needs are.” (See related story.)

 Richard Brunson, executive director of North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) expressed gratitude for the sizable donation and said it would make a “huge difference. We’re spending money now on medical teams and supplies. When we get to this next phase it will go toward things like building materials. We’re going to send a lot of construction teams. We’re purchasing block-making machines so we can make blocks to build homes and churches that were destroyed by the earthquake.”

Brunson says NCBM plans a rebuilding effort similar to the one in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch where volunteers built 500 homes. He estimates it will cost approximately $2,300 per home. Each house takes a team one week to complete.

However, for the next few months, the most urgent need is medical. Since the earthquake, North Carolina Baptists have sent about 75 medical personnel to assist in Haiti.
2/9/2010 9:38:00 AM by BSC | with 0 comments

Many in N.C. may ‘Find it Here’ at Easter

February 9 2010 by BSC

Tradition and curiosity draw more non-Christians to church on Easter Sunday than on any other day of the year, with the possible exception of Christmas.

This Easter North Carolina Baptists join many other Baptist state conventions in cooperation with the North American Mission Board to sponsor “Find it Here,” to encourage churches to be intentionally evangelistic in their Easter service.

“Find it Here” asks pastors to involve their church in four activities between now and Easter Sunday, April 4:
  • Pray for the salvation of family, friends and neighbors;
  • Invite non-Christian family, friends and neighbors to Easter services;
  • Preach an evangelistic sermon and extend an evangelistic invitation on Easter Sunday;
  • Baptize new converts either Easter or the Sunday following.
Don McCutcheon, executive leader for the evangelization group at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) would like to know which churches are committed to the “Find It Here” effort. To sign up, visit www.finditherenc.org. For more information call (800) 395-5102 ext. 5557 or e-mail jlancaster@ncbaptist.org.

During the January meeting of the BSC Board of Directors, Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr., challenged every Board member to involve his or her church with “Find it Here.”

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Milton Hollifield, left, executive director/treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and Don McCutcheon, executive leader for the BSC evangelization group, prepare to hang a banner for “Find It Here,” a promotion to encourage churches to be intentionally evangelistic. Banners are available free to churches that sign up.

It is neither a program nor curriculum, Hollifield said. “Find it Here” is an emphasis that allows each church to design an intentionally evangelistic approach that best suits its community.

While the four components of “Find it Here” may seem “elementary and even unnecessary,” Hollifield said they represent the “foundational commitments that the churches of this Convention are failing.”

“I am calling on the churches of this Convention to join together in the “Find it Here” emphasis,” said Hollifield, adding an estimate that 5.5 million in North Carolina do not know Christ.

“It is the core value of the churches comprising this Convention to present the gospel to the lost and invite them to surrender their lives to Christ, but we are not accomplishing this most foundational command of our Master,” Hollifield said.

The web site features resources to help pastors carry out the “Find it Here” emphasis.

The site includes prayer resources, sermon outlines, an evangelism crash course video, and resources for discipling new believers.

After April 4, pastors are asked to report the results of their outreach efforts. North Carolina Baptist pastors will be mailed information about “Find it Here” which includes a DVD and promotional resources.
2/9/2010 9:33:00 AM by BSC | with 0 comments

Michael Oher talks football, ‘Blind Side’

February 9 2010 by Joni B. Hannigan, Baptist Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Michael Oher, offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, missed out on earning the NFL’s top honor for a rookie, but he made a pitch that Sandra Bullock should win the Oscar for playing the part of his adoptive mother, Leigh Ann Tuohy, in “The Blind Side.”

Days before Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida, Oher fielded reporters’ questions in an informal press conference after a presentation for NFL Rookie of the Year (ROY) Percy Harvin, wide receiver and kick returner for the Minnesota Vikings, was cancelled.

Oher, one of five ROY finalists, started every game in 2009, 11 at right tackle and 5 at left tackle. In his first post-season game against the New England Patriots Jan. 10, he did not allow a single sack in the 33-14 win.

Photo by Bob Carey

NFL Rookie of the Year nominee Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher speaks to the media Feb. 4 at the Media Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., about the honor of being nominated for the award.

Oher said the nomination was an honor.

“Coming from where I come from, it’s been a long road,” Oher said. “To come in and play right away and to have the type of season I had, it’s been a break for me and I had a lot of fun.”

The movie, “The Blind Side,” the story of Oher’s rise from poverty and instability — and his ultimate rise to the NFL — after he was taken in by a Christian family was a surprise box office hit last year, earning more than $150 million and an Oscar nomination for its star, Sandra Bullock.

Oher called the movie inspiring, answered a few questions, but made it clear he wanted to stick to talk about football.

“Sandra Bullock did a great job, and the other actors and actresses,” Oher said. “It was great.”

The comedic Jae Head, the young actor who played S.J. Tuohy — Michael’s “brother by another mother” — was another Oher favorite.

“Probably S.J., yeah, he did a great job, that’s my guy right there,” Oher laughed.

When Baptist Press asked him what his NFL teammates who watched the movie thought about it, Oher said they told him it was a “great story.” He also shared that some poetic license was taken with the story.

“It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me,” he laughed.

Pushed to explain, he said the football scenes were off. “I’ve been playing football since the eighth grade,” Oher said. “I’ve always started ... so I’ve always understood the game. “I’m a fan of the game.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, newsjournal of the Florida Baptist State Convention.)
2/9/2010 9:29:00 AM by Joni B. Hannigan, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Chaplain of the Year to pray in Congress today

February 9 2010 by Baptist Press

MOBILE, Ala. — Endel Lee, newly named as “National Chaplain of the Year” by the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, will deliver a prayer on Tuesday, Feb. 9, to open the day’s deliberations of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

BP photo

In Iraq, chaplain Endel Lee (center, wearing protective jacket) leads prayer before a convoy leaves base in 2005.

“I don’t consider myself a hero. I’m just a hero helper trying to provide spiritual care in trying and sometimes traumatic circumstances,” said Lee, a Southern Baptist chaplain endorsed by the North American Mission Board whose chaplaincy duties have extended into Iraq alongside U.S. troop, to New York City after 9/11 and along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

The opportunity to serve as chaplain of the day in Congress is part of the recognition Lee is receiving as the Chaplain Vincent Robert Capodanno National Chaplain of the Year during the Reserve Officers Association’s annual conference Monday, Feb. 8, in Washington.

Lee’s prayer will be aired live on C-SPAN at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Tuesday.

Currently, Lee serves as deputy chaplain with the Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North in New Orleans, commuting home to Mobile, Ala., on weekends. He counsels Marines and sailors, provides pastoral care in times of crisis, conducts funerals and coordinates a variety of spiritual and physical support for families in crisis.

Endel Lee

He also serves as disaster relief chaplaincy coordinator for the North American Mission Board, facilitating the recruitment, training, mobilization and management of Southern Baptist chaplains during times of personal, community, regional and national crisis.

Lee was an assistant professor of preaching and pastoral ministry in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Leavell College from 1998-2006.

Describing himself as “just a country boy from lower Alabama, just trying to be obedient to God,” Lee said he is honored for the opportunity to pray before Congress.

“The ministry that it represents, to vocalize a prayer on behalf of the Armed Forces and the leadership of our country, is a humbling opportunity — to speak to God on their behalf,” he said. Lee is a graduate of the University of Mobile who subsequently earned master of divinity, master of religious education and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

While a student at the University of Mobile (UM), Lee enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, accepting a direct commission after graduating from UM in 1985 with a bachelor of arts in theology. He married fellow UM graduate Kathy Perkins, whom he met in music class. (Today they have two sons, Hunter, 19, a current UM student, and Cody, 17.)

After obtaining his M.Div. from Southwestern, Lee transferred to the Navy Reserve as a chaplain in 1993.

“Chaplain Lee has seen significant periods of active duty over the past nine years,” according to a press release from the Reserve Officers Association. “Such duty began with Operation Guarding Liberty and service with the U.S. Coast Guard in New York City immediately after Sept. 11, 2001. “He then deployed in 2005 for Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Camp Fallujah Protestant coordinator and battalion chaplain, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Upon returning from that deployment, he participated in Hurricane Katrina response with the U.S. Coast Guard’s District 8 on the Gulf Coast.

“In 2008 he served with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group and then transitioned to his current assignment,” the release stated. Lee said he has “a deep passion to care for service members and their families. I was exposed to the military culture young in life, and you really need to know that military mindset to relate to people and their demands in that setting.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Adapted from a report by Kathy Dean, director of public relations at the University of Mobile.)
2/9/2010 4:51:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Updated: Statewide tour exposes women to Embrace

February 8 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

With “Embrace” still a new arrow in the Baptist State Convention (BSC) ministry quiver, its director Ashley Allen undertook a 10-stop February tour targeting each region to explain its purpose and to connect with churches interested in starting a chapter.

After her first couple of stops Allen, Embrace’s initial director and on the job since August 2009, said the level of interest has been “amazing.”

To a couple dozen Region 4 ladies at Lawrence Road Baptist Church in Hillsborough Feb. 4, she outlined the purposes and practicalities of Embrace in a two-hour presentation.

Emphasizing that Embrace’s three intents of evangelism, discipleship and missions are all scripturally based, she explained how the scriptures compel the ministry.

Allen, 30, expressed particular interest in Embrace becoming a vehicle in which older women connect with younger women in the church to share their life experiences as Christians, helping to guide, nurture and encourage each other.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Ashley Allen, left, discusses starting an Embrace chapter with Doris Sharper, center, and Margaret Dillon of Swan Station Baptist Church in Sanford.

Allen says that is the Titus 2 model, in which Paul says older women should “encourage the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, pure, good homemakers, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered” (HCSB).

She listed passages testifying that God has “qualified and called” women to minister.

For those not sure yet what the role of Embrace is in women’s ministry, the official definition is: Embrace is a ministry of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina that seeks to encourage women to walk humbly with Christ in their world and build strong families capable of creating a legacy of faithfulness.

With an estimated 5.5 million of North Carolina’s population unsaved, according to BSC estimates, the three intents of Embrace, evangelism, discipleship and missions, “should be our lives,” Allen said.

While more intensive training will be offered in April and October, this tour offered initial handles for women wanting to get started, and Allen offered some first steps.

First, she said, “pray for the Lord’s direction,” about starting a new ministry in the church.

Then she said women should seek the support of their pastor. If he is not willing to inaugurate Embrace in the church, they should “be willing to accept that decision” and assure the pastor they trust his vision for the church.

Ladies considering launching Embrace must ask themselves hard questions, Allen said. Who are they trying to reach? Who is absent and why? How has the audience changed? What are the audience’s greatest needs? What are barriers to ministry and how can they be removed?

Women of the church should be surveyed, and Allen offered a sample vehicle.

When “determining who God is calling into leadership” Allen said it is very important to discern leadership gifts as evidenced in service.

Ministry descriptions are important to provide an avenue for accountability. She said women should “set the POG” which is defining the purpose, objectives and goals of their ministry. She emphasized these elements should be compatible with the church’s mission statement.

“Start with what you have and undergird the ministry of the entire church,” Allen said.

Several events remain:
  • Region 7 — Feb. 10 at Harris Chapel Baptist Church, Hudson.
  • Region 8 — Feb. 9 at Woodlawn Baptist Church, Conover.
  • Region 9 — Feb. 11 at West Asheville Baptist Church, Asheville.
  • Region 10 — Feb. 12 at Holly Springs Baptist Church, Franklin.
Two other events were postponed from last week due to weather. They are at Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem (Region 5) at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 and at Rocky Hock Baptist Church in Edenton (Region 1) Feb. 27 at 10 a.m.
2/8/2010 9:55:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 2 comments

Weather woes keep members home

February 8 2010 by Dianna Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

Inclement weather.

It takes a lot to keep a Baptist church closed on Sunday, and on the rare occasion it happens, snow and ice usually are the main culprits.

“If it looks like it is bad, we cancel,” said Michael Townsend, pastor of Meat Camp Baptist Church in rural Boone. “I talk with the deacons of the church, get road conditions” and make the decision.

Since Dec. 18, Townsend said the church has canceled services at least three Sundays and a Wednesday night.

“One Sunday 20 inches of snow, the next Sunday we had ice,” he said, sharing that at another church that met on a day Meat Camp cancelled, a member slipped and broke her leg.

“This is winter like 25-30 years ago,” Townsend said. “The last 10-15 years has spoiled us.”

Meat Camp members and others in western North Carolina use Ray’s Weather web site and local radio stations to learn conditions in the area and to get the word out about church closings.

For Truett Baptist Association, with headquarters in Marble, the closings don’t “last very long,” said Mitchell Shields, director of missions. Most churches in the association take the safest route: “If it looks like or is icy, they will cancel services. That’s almost automatic.”

There are three churches where the church always meets but they encourage their members to play it safe.

“Our folks are used to that,” Shields said. “Most of our congregations are older people. They play it very safe. They just close the doors and don’t do anything on those Sundays.”

First Baptist Church in Murphy shows its service on cable television and four or five have radio programs.

Those churches encourage people to participate through those mediums.

While individual churches might have big events during December through February, Shields said the association tries to steer clear of those months when planning events.

The hardest part for most churches when not meeting is the missed offerings. Pastors and associational leaders encourage members to give regularly and not forget about the church just because services aren’t held. 
2/8/2010 9:52:00 AM by Dianna Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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