February 2011

CU students won’t soon forget India’s people

February 3 2011 by Campbell Communications

Unlike many of India’s popular movies, there are few happy endings in the slums of Calcutta, a city filled with street people where Campbell University students served over 250 children and adults on a mission trip sponsored by the Office of the Campus Minister over winter break.

From Dec. 27-Jan. 7, eight Campbell University students accompanied by Heather Webb, graduate assistant for international student services and Terry Tucker, ministry assistant for campus ministries, traveled to India to work with the international mission organization, Missionaries of Charity.

The group was there to do whatever it could for the people served at the mission centers of Dum Dum, for women, and Nabo Jibon, for men, and the legions of people, both adults and children, who are victims of India’s overpopulation and generational poverty.

“They are so poor because, among other things, over population drains natural resources,” said Webb. “And there is a long history of poverty due to the caste system.”

Campbell students Courtney Williamson, left, and Katherine Bellamy share photos with street children in Calcutta, India.

The caste system in India is a form of social stratification in which people are divided into classes according to their heredity.

They can never escape the class into which they are born.

The mission of Webb, Tucker and the students was to tend to the patients’ needs whether it was simple care and feeding, helping the sisters at the mission with administrative tasks or playing games and working puzzles with the children and adults, many of whom suffered from physical conditions such as blindness and club foot as well as mental disabilities. Some were both mentally and physically disabled, Tucker explained.

“Our object was to embody the presence of Christ by offering His love and kindness and by just being present with these people,” said Webb, who has served in India before.

For the most part, the Missionaries of Charity take care of their basic needs such as food and clothing, but the people, especially the children, still long for that human touch, said Tucker.

“One day, several students were just playing with the kids on the street and taking pictures,” Webb said. “The children were so happy just to be interacting with the Campbell students it broke your heart, and I wondered just how many times a day these children feel like they are nothing.”

Campbell students who participated in the trip are divinity students David Webb, Karie Parkes and David Anderson, junior Antonio Spears, junior Courtney Williamson, sophomore Katherine Bellamy, senior Alexandra Chin, and senior Amanda Morrison.

Each student was responsible for raising his or her money for the trip and additional financial assistance was provided by Spring Hill United Methodist Church in the form of a donation. With this money, the students bought toys, clothes and other items for people they helped.

Divinity student Karie Parkes said the trip opened her eyes to a world she never knew existed.

“It’s changed my life and the way I want to conduct my ministry,” said Parkes. “Mother Teresa advised people to ‘find their own Calcutta.’ That is what I want to do, look for my own Calcutta closer to home.”

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
2/3/2011 8:21:00 AM by Campbell Communications | with 0 comments

Book suggests ways to help returning vets

February 3 2011 by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service

Some 2 million Americans have served overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Now, thousands are coming home each month and trying, sometimes with difficulty, to settle back into civilian life.     

Churches are uniquely positioned to help returning veterans adjust and find meaning in their lives away from the battlefront, according to David A. Thompson, a retired Navy chaplain and co-author of the 2009 book, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon: Ministering to Returning Combat Veterans.

For two years, he worked as a military family life consultant, helping 8,000 soldiers and their families handle the transition back to civilian life. He says churches need to recognize what they have to offer and rise to the occasion.

Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Where do congregations have something distinctive to offer to veterans who are just now returning home?

It really comes down to meaning-making and wrapping people into a community and a brotherhood. Those are the two pieces that veterans long for.

Q: Why?

Soldiers have been in an experience of being intensely bonded together. They come back to the civilian life, and they feel like they’ve lost their place in life, their community, their brothers and sisters in arms. All of a sudden they’re back in a very individualistic society. There’s not the same level of care and commitment to one another. That’s a real big missing piece.

Q: What else do they crave?

They want to be doing something meaningful with their lives. I had one soldier come back and he said to me, “I’m back in a job at Best Buy. I’m selling big screen TVs to people who really don’t need them. Less than a year ago, 20 people depended on me for their lives. I was involved in doing things to help stop violence. I feel like I’m just wasting my life.”

Q: Where is our society not doing enough?

We’re asking them to come back sometimes to stuff that’s pretty boring and pretty deadening. We’re not challenging them. We’re not saying to them, “Have you thought of the Peace Corps? Have you thought of doing something for the cause of justice?” There are a lot of things we could hook them into.

Q: How can churches help veterans who face these kinds of struggles?

We could elevate people to capture a vision of doing something that’s meaningful. Then we could assist them in the transition by connecting them with training or with people engaged in certain kinds of work. In that, you become part of a band of brothers working for a great cause.

Q: Why are these circumstances largely unaddressed by organizations that exist to serve veterans?

Sometimes we, in our medical model, are zeroing in on all the people who need a hospital, or who need serious mental health interventions, which probably is about 20 percent of the veterans who are coming home. But 80 percent are this other kind of veteran, who really needs to end up getting a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.

Q: What do returning veterans have to offer congregations?

They’ve had a lot of responsibility in the armed forces. They show up on time, they’re terribly loyal, they don’t quit easily. Many of our churches grew as World War II veterans became part of those churches. Many of the churches we have today are standing because of that group that came back and is now in their 80s and 90s. Why not do that with this group?

Q: How can churches reach out to veterans?

The welcome mat has to be out in a way that’s saying more than, “Come and receive some help for basic needs.” It really needs to be a reciprocal relationship where veterans are giving something to the church, and the church is giving something to them. Then it’s a community.

Q: How do churches learn to create environments where people make significant sacrifices together for great causes?

I’d probably start with a small group of people — not just military people, but people in general who are struggling with the deadness of life that doesn’t have a lot of meaning and who are frustrated. I’d build a mini-community within the church community of people who want to explore options under this idea of meaning-making and community-building. That might lead to mentoring relationships. And we’d see where that goes.   

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
2/3/2011 8:18:00 AM by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

BSC Board focuses on vision forums

February 1 2011 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

A new year translates as new faces at the January Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) Board of Directors meeting.

The meeting Jan. 25-26 at Caraway Conference Center allowed new directors to wet their feet on Convention business and learn about various ministries in which N.C. Baptists are involved.

One focus of the meeting was the upcoming 14 vision fulfillment forums from February through July. Members of the Vision Fulfillment Committee (VFC) will study perceptions of the BSC’s effectiveness in funding and implementing Convention’s vision, as set forth in the Seven Pillars for Ministry, written by Milton Hollifield, executive director-treasurer (see column).

The BSC Board voted to create the VFC committee at its September 2010 meeting. It includes: Allan Blume, chairman, pastor, Mount Vernon Baptist Church, Boone; Aaron Wallace, vice chairman, pastor, Hephzibah Baptist Church, Wendell; Jairo Contreras, pastor and church planter, New Hope Church, Rutherfordton; Donna Elmore, member, Southside Baptist Church, Greensboro; Tadd Grandstaff, church planter and pastor, Pine Ridge Church, Graham; Al James, pastor of Carey Baptist Church, Henderson; Rick Speas, pastor, Old Town Baptist Church, Winston-Salem; Bobby Blanton, Board president; Ed Yount, Convention president; CJ Bordeaux, Convention second vice president; and Phil Qualls, newly elected Board vice president.

Visit www.ncbaptist.org/vf.

Other committees

Now that new directors are on the board, Blanton said he will be forming two committees soon that will deal with issues brought up at the November annual meeting.

One committee will consider the adoption of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 by the Baptist State Convention.

A second committee will examine the development of a policy related to alcohol consumption.

Executive Committee
Four members of the Board were elected to serve as at-large members of the Executive Committee: Lee Pigg, Hopewell Baptist Church, Monroe; Mike Ivey, West Cramerton Baptist Church, Cramerton; David Horner, Providence Baptist Church, Raleigh; Michael Barrett, Pleasant Garden Baptist Church, Pleasant Garden.  

Biblical Recorder
Gerald Hodges, chairman of the Biblical Recorder Board of Directors, said he is excited about the direction of North Carolina’s newsjournal.

The search team is accepting resumes for its vacant Editor/President position.

“It is a new day, a new direction,” Hodges said. “We need to put our money where our mouth is. We’ve said for a long time we want something different.”

He plugged a “Great 8” promotion which gives eight key church leaders a year-long subscription for $96.  

EDT report
In Hollifield’s report he focused on church plants and enduring temptation.

“God is doing some wonderful things,” he said. In 2010, the BSC added 145 new churches, most through church plants. In the last five years 613 churches have been added to the Convention.

He used most of his time to share how to endure temptation successfully using James 1:12-15.

He felt that the examples of spiritual failure lately warranted repeating it to board members.

“It’s important that we live godly lives,” Hollifield said. “You are a child of God; live like a child of God.”  

Partnership update
Michael Sowers, senior consultant in the office of Great Commission partnerships (GCP) highlighted the new partnership with Metro New York Baptist Association (see related story). More than 400 N.C. Baptists served the greater New York area.

Chuck Register, left, executive leader of the church planting and missions development team at the Baptist State Convention, talks with Bobby Blanton, who was re-elected president of the BSC Board of Directors during its January meeting. Phil Qualls, pastor of Apex Baptist Church, was elected vice president, and Teresa Jones was re-elected secretary for the seventh year.

A partnership with Boston is in the works. The Partnerships office is waiting on the North American Mission Board to complete its vision before the Convention begins to send teams. A strategy should be in place by fall.

The Moldova partnership begins in March with a pastor’s conference, women’s retreat and youth event. These events begin a three-year partnership.

Sowers highlighted a new ministry as well: Next Generation Missional Journey. This is a three-year journey for students who have completed sophomore year. Twenty students will get classroom time and interact with Convention employees dealing with missions, evangelism, etc.

Each year they will participate in service starting in North Carolina, then North American then internationally.

The Eastern Canada partnership is ending. The Board approved a 10-year commitment to the Greater Toronto Area. Sowers pointed out the extreme lostness in that particular area.

Teams are going to be needed to help with all the partnerships. Contact (800) 395-5102, ext. 5626, or msowers@ncbaptist.org.  

Dana Hall gave the North Carolina Baptist Men’s report, sharing some highlights from various ministries including Haiti: 744 salvations, 35,411 meals, 55,678 total patients, and 539 volunteers.

Baptist Men is being asked to provide a logistical team for a mobile medical disaster hospital.  
Baptist Men receives most of its funding through the North Carolina Missions Offering, which while not reaching the goal of $2.1 million, did bypass 2009 levels by more than 3.9 percent, totaling $1.87 million.  

Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute
“This is not the time to throttle down,” said David Horton, Fruitland’s president. “This is the time to move into a higher gear.”

Horton reported 20 full-time and four part-time students at the Monroe satellite. He mentioned others: Hispanic campuses in Winston-Salem, Statesville and Wilmington; and several others scattered across the state.

Horton said enrollment has jumped from 160 in 2009 to 265 in 2011. Fruitland is also working with The College at Southeastern, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and other college campuses to help students complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees.  

Christian Life and Public Affairs
Jarrod Scott, chairman, said it’s a new day in North Carolina. Fall elections has brought a change in leadership. Some of the key issues before the legislature this year: 
  • A Woman’s Right to Know — This law, if enacted, would provide information for women seeking abortions, including risks of abortion and options available if she should choose to carry the child to term. It would also require abortion providers to refer women to a web site or printed material with information and photos of the different gestational phases of her unborn baby, and if the doctor uses ultrasound during the procedure, the doctor must offer the woman an opportunity to see the ultrasound images.
  • Marriage Protection Amendment — North Carolina has a marriage law but not a constitutional amendment, which leaves the state vulnerable to the ruling of a judge who might advocate for same-sex marriage.
  • Privatization of Alcohol Sales — Those who support privatization of alcohol sales contend it will bring about a much-needed infusion of income to our cash-strapped state. Those who oppose privatization suggest that, after that initial payout, the state would draw far less from alcohol sales, that the price of alcohol would fall, and that this new affordability and increased availability (in terms of numbers of retail outlets and hours for purchase) would cause consumption to go up and make liquor more accessible to minors.
  • Choose Life License Plate — If approved, the cost of the plate would be $25 per year with $15 per year going to pregnancy resource centers. In the 24 states that have these specialty license plates, more than $12.3 million has been raised.
The committee will launch an educational campaign to help pastors reach out with compassion to homosexuals in their congregation and community.

In fall 2011, N.C. Baptists are being encouraged to participate in 40 Days for Life, a national movement in which churches conduct 24-hour, 40-day prayer vigils outside local abortion clinics. Visit www.40daysforlife.com.

The group also discussed adopting schools. Follow happenings at blog.ncbaptist.org/clpa.  

Christian Higher Education
“All our universities are experiencing growth numerically,” said Rit Varriale, chairman, who mentioned Wingate and Gardner-Webb universities specifically. He also highlighted special news at each campus.

The Board approved money for Baptist Theological Grants be put in a North Carolina Baptist Foundation endowment to disperse funds to students at Gardner-Webb and Campbell divinity schools. Through previous giving plans, the Convention had been giving $200,000 annually to help students at those schools. There are no longer Plans B and C that allowed churches to donate straight to the Convention and have money distributed to specific ministries or funds.

There is $300,000 left in the account. The money given was specifically given by N.C. Baptists to distribute to these schools.

The deans will be able to determine how to disburse money to the students. Only students from Baptist State Convention churches will be allowed to receive funds.  

Christian Social Services
Cameron McGill, chairman, discussed the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH), North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) and the North Carolina Baptist Hospital.

“The Bible has much to say how we treat the oldest and the youngest,” said McGill.”

Within the BCH, there were 74 professions of faith in 2010. He also pointed out the annual food roundup in April as well as workdays: Kennedy Home, April 30; Oak Ranch, May 7; Mills Home Cameron Camp and Odum Home, May 14.

McGill and Sandy Gregory shared ways the North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) helps churches and individuals with senior citizens.

NCBAM won a regional award for its service. So far NCBAM has received 1,600 calls in Thomasville seeking some form of assistance. More than 90 percent of those calls are from unchurched people.

NCBAM has materials available to give ideas to church members to help. They also have a 30-day devotion for an elderly person or caregiver. Staff members are available for training to help caregivers as well as seniors know resources available to them.

The hospital is “one of those things you hope you never have to use,” McGill said. Ministers receive discounts and the Mother’s Day Offering helps offset costs for people who can’t afford their care.

McGill also said a useful ministry is CareNet, which provides resources and counseling to individuals and churches.  

There are three upcoming conferences that will help with evangelization, said Randy White, chairman: state evangelism conference (Feb. 28-March 1); prayer conference (March 11-12); intentionally evangelistic church strategy (April 5-7).

White also said the Find It Here (FIH) emphasis is coming in April. “There are a lot of great things in store for the state of North Carolina,” White said.  

Congregational Service

Scott Faw, chairman, also referenced Find it Here: Embracing Christ and yielded time to Lynn Sasser to showcase FIH.

“God is not through with His church,” Sasser said. Materials are available at www.finditherenc.org.  

The Convention handles numerous web sites to highlight ministries and to increase web traffic, said Jon Hall, chairman.

Hall said a policy that was being considered in his committee is now being reverted back to the Convention staff because a board policy would be “unnecessarily restrictive.” The policy concerns mass e-mails. The committee believes the staff should be able to adjust this policy as needed.  

Business Services
Harvey Brown, chairman, said the committee has five objectives in 2011: Caraway’s capital campaign; Caswell master plan adoption; Hollifield study to examine business model and assess ministries; evaluate self-insured health insurance program; and complete 2010 audit and report to board.

Financial report
The Convention did not make its budget in 2010.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it was a tough year,” said John Butler, executive leader for business services. Receipts were down 7.36 percent yet the Convention ended the year about $100,000 in black. “That was a difficult thing to do this year,” Butler said. “It meant a lot of times our staff saying we can’t do this … or we’re going to scale this down.”

Butler said staff members have been creative to try to save money, including using technology to cut mileage. Using conference calls or computer communication helps save the Convention money.

There was an anomaly on the report with the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO). There was a tremendous decrease from 2009 to 2010, but Butler reminded board members that in 2009 there were essentially two offerings for LMCO because of the expected shortfall. The 2010 levels are near 2008 levels.  

At the end of the meeting, directors recognized staff members for service:
  • Five years: Sandra Allred, food services at Caraway; Mark Gray, team leader for church planting; Jeremy Jackson, associate for Camp Caraway; Maria Luoni, ministry assistant in multi-cultural ministries; and Brian Smith, maintenance worker at Caraway.
  • Ten years: Rick Hughes, church health team; and Martha Honeycutt, food services at Caraway.
  • Fifteen years: Russell Schwab, information technology.
  • Twenty years: Linda Flecken, administration assistant and HR representative at Caraway; and Judy Meredith, housekeeping at Caraway.
  • Twenty-five years: Rick Holbrook, director at North Carolina Baptist Assembly.
  • Thirty years: Mike Adams, maintenance at North Carolina Baptist Assembly.
(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
2/1/2011 6:37:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Caraway builds on ‘New Beginnings’ for campaign

February 1 2011 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

Most people who grew up in North Carolina in a Baptist church have a Caraway story.

A salvation experience. A call to ministry. A refreshing time of healing.

Caraway Conference Center and Camp near Asheboro has played a part in many N.C. Baptist’s lives. Now leaders of the $7.5-million capital campaign are praying those “New Beginnings” will spur its three-phase building plan. Feb. 27 is being recognized as an offering day for Caraway.

“I think our message is that Caraway desires to make a difference in the lives of adults and children,” said Jimmy Huffman, director for the last four years. “(Caraway) creates an opportunity to touch lives.”

Churches are encouraged to highlight the ministry of Caraway and its capital campaign. Huffman hopes people remember a new beginning in Christ or a new beginning in ministry. And surrounded by 1,000 acres of forest, Huffman said visitors can witness new beginnings each season.

Part of Caraway Conference Center and Camp’s capital campaign is to build a new hotel. There are three phases to the $7.5-million campaign. See video.

It was in college when Caraway first touched Huffman’s life. He served on staff at Camp Caraway. Since then he has also worked with the North Carolina Baptist Men and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) in various capacities. A master plan was developed with 20 years of suggestions from staff, individuals, churches and other groups. It identifies 25 projects to be completed over three phases of building. The capital campaign, which was introduced at the Baptist State Convention annual meeting in November 2010, will conclude in 2013 with Caraway’s 50th anniversary.

“We’ve lost some of our larger groups because they’ve outgrown us,” Huffman said.

Most of the events held at Caraway are “maxing out” the facilities, especially on weekends.

Huffman estimated 47 percent of guests last year were Baptist. Some are non-profit organizations or other religious denominations seeking retreat or training space. The variety of guests shows Caraway remains a vital tool for N.C. Baptists and its ministries.

Huffman said $30,000 had been collected, but he hopes once more churches have a special offering or highlight the campaign that donations will begin to arrive. The phases are not connected so if enough money comes in, Huffman said construction could begin quickly.

Caraway has no debt and hopes to be able to utilize volunteers for some of the projects, Huffman said.

There are plenty of opportunities for volunteers at Caraway now and in the future building projects.

Huffman said Caraway finished in the red in 2010. Operating within its current budget, there is no money for expansion or major improvements, Huffman said. That’s why leaders felt the need for a capital campaign. The last new building was the Rye building which was completed in 2007. It was the first new building in 20 years on the property.

Find out more at caraway.org or blog.caraway.org. The web site will have the ability for online donations soon.  

Three phases
  • Phase 1 — Expansion of the Conference Center. This expansion would include a 20-bedroom hotel, a 225-seat dining room, and additional conference space. Estimated cost: $3.8M.
  • Phase 2 — Building of an indoor multi-purpose recreational building, a 50-bed youth lodge with meeting space, new outpost camping area and bathhouse at the youth camp. Estimated cost: $850,000.
  • Phase 3 — Building a 250-seat auditorium, 30-bed mini lodge that is self-contained for dining, lodging and meeting, and a minister’s retreat cabin. Estimated cost: $2.85M.
Estimated Individual Project cost: Hotel — $1.5M; Auditorium — $2M; Youth Lodge — $500,000; Dining Room — $750,000; Recreation Center — $300,000; Mini Lodge — $750,000; Minister’s Retreat Cabin — $100,000.

Naming opportunities exist for all major projects based on a 50 percent contribution of the estimated building cost. Individual bedrooms in the new hotel may be named in a person’s honor for a donation of $15,000.

Under the Canopy of Caring there are a variety of levels of giving: White Oak — $100,000+; Red Oak — $75,000; Poplar — $50,000; Beech — $25,000; Hickory — $10,000; Loblolly — $5,000; Dogwood — $1,000 pledge for three years ($3,000); Maple — $100 pledge for three years ($300); Seedling — any one-time gift up to $300.

Gifts of stocks, bonds, real estate or other items of value can also be contributed through the N.C. Baptist Foundation (NCBF) designated for “Caraway — New Beginnings.” Contact Caraway at (336) 629-2374 or P.O. Box 36, Asheboro, NC 27204. Contact NCBF at (800) 521-7334 or 205 Convention Drive, Cary, NC 27511.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
2/1/2011 6:24:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Convention joins forces to adopt schools

February 1 2011 by BSC Communications

In 2008, more than 11,000 students entered first grade in Wake County public schools.

These students are set to graduate high school in 2020, and while that may seem like a long time from now (especially to their parents), it’s not to Anthony Higgs and his wife Symonetta.

The Higgs want to see every one of these students graduate. This is an ambitious goal, but they are already working through the Adopt-a-School Initiative to help make it happen.  

After seeing the success of Tony Evans in Texas with the National Church Adopt-a-School Initiative, the Higgs decided they wanted to bring Adopt-a-School to North Carolina, specifically Wake County where they live and attend Faith Baptist Church.

The ministry recruits and trains volunteers from churches and faith-based community organizations to go into local schools and serve as mentors and tutors for children at risk of failing or dropping out of school.

As the ministry started making an impact in the schools and in the lives of students and families, it caught the attention of State Superintendent June Atkins who asked the Higgs to begin implementing Adopt-a-School across the entire state.

For the Higgs, Adopt-a-School is an outgrowth of Another Step Forward Ministries (ASF). They began ASF in 1987 as a way to help minister to women in the community where Anthony pastored a church plant. He pastored that church plant for 19 years, and retired in 2006 in order to serve as president of ASF and help “take the ministry to another level.”

About a year later the Higgs began Adopt-a-School. Originally from the Bahamas, the Higgs moved to Florida in 1976 to help start a church in Delray Beach. They have served in full-time Christian ministry for more than 30 years.

The Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Board of Directors recently entered into an agreement to support and promote the work of ASF and Adopt-a-School.

North Carolina Baptists are encouraged to consider supporting Adopt-a-School, whether through prayer, financial support or hands-on involvement.

Adopt-a-School provides churches and organizations with training on the dos and don’ts of working in the public school system. After the training, the church decides which school(s) they want to adopt and then Adopt-a-School provides the church with a needs assessment from the school.

“We don’t want to go in and say this is what you need to do. We give them the opportunity to tell us what their needs are,” Anthony said.

The church then decides which needs it wants to help meet. Mentoring is a crucial component of Adopt-a-School.

The mentoring takes place during the school day on the school campus. Volunteers are asked to commit to at least one year of spending at least one hour a week with the student(s) being mentored.

“A lot of the students who are at risk for dropping out of school really don’t have consistency in their lives,” Symonetta said. “We need to be consistent; to show them that we are going to be faithful to the mission and the cause.”

Students often get to know their mentor very well and talk about issues with the mentor they do not want to talk about with their parents or teachers. Even so, Adopt-a-School is about allowing mentoring to strengthen families.

“We really stress in the training that we are not the parents of these children, and we do not want to take the place of the parents. We want to come alongside parents and help them out where they cannot meet the needs in certain areas,” Symonetta said.

Adopt-a-School helps the church “take their community back for the Lord,” Anthony said. Communities begin to see that the church cares and is willing to invest in other people. As mentors and volunteers show Jesus’ love through the relationships they build with students, parents and teachers, “it is a powerful thing, and makes an impact in everyone’s life,” Anthony said.

Visit www.asfministries.org.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
2/1/2011 6:08:00 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

N.J. church planter sees gospel change lives

February 1 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

About 100,000 people live in a strip of land that runs two miles east and west of the Hudson River and four miles north and south. The population includes college students, immigrants, Jamaicans, Jews, Greeks, Catholics, African-Americans, old people and young people. This slice of Fort Lee, N.J., is diverse and largely representative of a population that does not know Jesus Christ as personal Savior.

When pastor Won Kwak and the Maranatha Grace Church began meeting in the area, they did not rush in and try to attract a lot of attention. They went to community events, served the community, got to know people, and then slowly their presence was felt in the community.  

Kwak, a second generation Korean American, worked with a core team of leaders to start the new church in February 2010.

“My heart was not to reach out to any specific group but to just reach out to the people of the greater Fort Lee area,” Kwak said.

Kwak and the team prayed for God to make them a church reflective of their context and a church that teaches people how the gospel transforms all aspects of life.

God showed His faithfulness to Kwak and the church as they baptized 10 people in early December. Those baptized included a Filipino nurse who grew up Catholic, a single mom, a husband and wife who run their own business, and a woman now praying for her husband’s salvation.

The church meets at a high school about three blocks from the George Washington Bridge, so they held the baptism service at another church in the area.

Maranatha Grace is one of five churches financially supported last year by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).

The BSC entered into a partnership last year with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association to help minister in an area where only three percent of the population has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“We want to help North Carolina Baptist churches enter into partnerships with church planters like Won Kwak and help these planters advance the gospel in their communities,” said Michael Sowers, senior consultant for the BSC Office of Great Commission Partnerships.

“We want to come alongside churches and learn how we can fit into their strategy for reaching their community. In turn, we pray that North Carolina Baptist churches will see their partnerships with churches in New York and other areas as part of an overall missions strategy that touches the community, North Carolina, the nation and the world.”

The Office of Great Commission Partnerships is also helping connect North Carolina Baptists in Toronto, Boston and Moldova.

Maranatha Grace used some of the funds from the BSC to sponsor a Vacation Bible School for the community.

As a result, several families are now coming to worship services at the church. Most of those who came to the Vacation Bible School did not attend Maranatha Grace. Throughout the week “we made the gospel message as clear as possible,” Kwak said. “We sought to love the children.”

Won Kwak leads Maranatha Grace Church in Fort Lee, N.J.,one of the five churches North Carolina Baptists helped fund in 2010 through its new partnership with Metropolitan New York Baptist Association.

Kwak received Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior in high school, but never thought he would be a church planter; he never had any desire for ministry at all. Growing up as a pastor/church planter’s son, “I felt animosity toward my dad and the church,” Kwak said. “I didn’t like the fact that I grew up in church.”

By the end of his junior year in college Kwak was well on his way to preparing for law school — until God called him into pastoral ministry. “That came out of nowhere,” Kwak said.

Although he didn’t understand, Kwak obeyed. He served for awhile in bivocational ministry, working in the church while also working a full-time job. He worked in advertising, information technology and taught school.

Kwak’s first pastorate was in Flushing, N.Y., where he worked with youth and led the English-speaking ministry of a Korean church.

Kwak remembers the day he drove through a neighborhood on his way to work. He passed the neighborhood every day but “had never noticed it.”

He saw the Catholic churches and people on their way to services.

“I saw that every day but it never fazed me,” he said. Although “church planting wasn’t even a category in my mind,” Kwak couldn’t deny that God was calling him to plant a church.

He did plant a church, and the church eventually merged with another local church. Kwak said he learned many things from his first attempt at church planting, lessons that helped him when he started Maranatha Grace in Fort Lee last year.

“I had a better understanding of the gospel foundation that I didn’t have the first time,” he said. “The gospel was not as real to me then as it is now.”

Kwak also learned more about the amount of time and sacrifice required to be a church planter, and how to better gather resources and leaders when planting a church.

Kwak asked North Carolina Baptists to be in prayer for Maranatha Grace as they seek to equip leaders and to be intentional in their community outreach.

Your church can be part of ministry in the Fort Lee area, as well as New York City. To learn how, visit www.ncbaptist.org/gcp.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
2/1/2011 6:01:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Displaying results 31-36 (of 36)
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 >  >|