February 2016

Platt: IMB to handle added VRI, HRO costs

February 29 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

The International Mission Board (IMB) is “fairly confident” it will be able to handle additional costs incurred by a larger than anticipated reduction of its workforce in the organization’s “reset” to balance its budget, according to IMB President David Platt.
 
The 2016 budget already had a $23 million deficit, based on an anticipated 600-800 personnel taking the Voluntary Retirement Incentive (VRI) and Hand Raising Opportunity (HRO). But 1132 missionaries and stateside staff opted to take the incentives, Platt announced Feb. 24.
 
“Our 2016 budget as approved by trustees in November 2015 was projecting an approximate $23 million deficit for 2016, but that deficit is explained … almost completely by the one-time VRI costs that will be covered by reserve funds,” he said in a Feb. 24 press conference.
 
IMB had not yet determined the additional amount of money needed to cover the costs of the 983 missionaries and 149 stateside staff choosing to take the incentives, Platt said, but emphasized the entity can likely sustain the higher one-time expenditures.
 
“When it comes down to it, we’re hopeful,” he said, “fairly confident that in the end, our budget projections are going to be fine, in light of all the variables at play.”
 
Specifically, 702 missionaries and 109 stateside staff took VRIs, and 281 missionaries and 40 stateside staff took HROs in the plan to create a balanced budget for the organization that had operated with a $210 million deficit over the past six years by utilizing reserves and selling property. The VRI was offered to eligible retirement-age personnel and the HRO was available to everyone in the IMB.
 
With the plan, IMB will have a balanced budget in 2017, Platt has said.
 
IMB has monitored VRIs to make sure no missionaries are left vulnerable by the reduction in force, Platt said, and will make adjustments and relocations where needed.
 
“We want to make sure that people are serving, and as much as possible, they’re not serving in isolation or in ways that are unhealthy for them personally or for the work,” he said. “Even in the coming months, there will be a sense in which we’re getting our feet under us on some of those levels, giving the most time and attention to the most critical areas, and then, kind of triaging from there.”
 
Platt has long said that God may be reshaping global missions to incorporate a variety of avenues to spread the gospel internationally.
 
“Maybe God has designed the globalization of today’s marketplace for the spread of the Glory among the nations,” he reiterated in the press conference. “And there are limitless opportunities for people to work overseas, study overseas and retire overseas. … As we’ve trusted the Lord to speak and to lead, this is where God has we trust led.”
 
The work is larger than IMB, he said.
 
“With 2.8 billion people who’ve never heard the gospel, a God who desires their salvation so much that He sent His son to pay the price for their sins, truly this God is not calling just 500 or 1,000 more people to go, but tens of thousands of more people to go,” Platt said. “The last thing I wanted to do when I stepped into this role, was see hundreds less people on the field. I want to see thousands more people on the field. And I believe we can, if we work together.”
 
IMB will spread the gospel by continuing to support the approximate 3,800 international missionaries who remain in the field, while surrounding them “with students, professionals and retirees who are leveraging their studies, vocations and relocations for the spread of the gospel,” Platt said.
 

Communications office

Although the IMB placed on the table the options of VRIs and HROs, nearly all of the departures were ultimately voluntary, Platt has emphasized.
 
The exception is the closing of the IMB communications center in Richmond, resulting in the layoff of 30 stateside staff members, and the transition of 10 additional staff to other positions.
 
In an earlier meeting with Baptist state news editors, Platt explained his reasons for closing the communications office, which will operate through April 29.
 
“It became clear that a global network approach with a digital mindset aimed at limitless growth inevitably meant a diminished need for media production in a centralized home office. Not that we won’t still do media production at different levels – and we will still do things that are not 100 percent focused digitally – but shifting leadership and production of media to field-based mobilization teams made up of about 50 missionaries around the world who are dedicated to that, that would eliminate the need for approximately 40 communications positions in Richmond.”
 
The move frees more money to mobilize missionaries, said Platt, who hailed the communications staff as “some of the kindest servants and leaders in the Richmond office” who have been “nothing but incredible to work alongside.”
 
The IMB handled the closing of the communications office in a way to respect staff privacy, Platt told editors, and is working to help the employees make a smooth transition to the next phase of their lives.
 
“We’ve been working nonstop on implementation of this mobilization team structure while simultaneously working with our staff in human resources on potential open job positions, for personnel in the communications positions that were eliminated,” Platt noted to editors. “And I am fully convinced that it would have been dishonorable, irresponsible and unprofessional to communicate even hints of various changes externally prior to properly finalizing and communicating those changes internally with personnel who are directly affected by them.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

Related Stories:

Nearly 1,000 missionaries leave IMB
IMB reduces, reorganizes communication team

2/29/2016 11:11:34 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 1 comments



Men’s Game Banquet sees 191 professions of faith

February 29 2016 by Alex Sibley, SWBTS

Nearly 2,000 men and boys gathered for the Men’s Game Banquet on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. United by a love for the great outdoors, 191 responded to the gospel message by surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ.
 
The Feb. 20 banquet in Fort Worth, Texas, featured free barbeque, exhibits, door prizes, and speakers Paige Patterson and David Morris, who shared hunting stories regarding some of their most prized trophies. But the clear focus of the evening appeared to be the gospel.
 
David Morris, Tecomate president and CEO, gave the first presentation, sharing, among other things, his experience of taking down an elephant. “[But] as much as I love hunting,” he said, “it is not my first love. My first love is Jesus Christ.”

 
2-29-16SWBTSmen.jpg

Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson shared hunting stories and some of his trophies – including a cape buffalo, a roan antelope, and a lioness – displayed alongside him on stage Feb. 20 during the Men’s Game Banquet. In addition to sharing the gospel, Patterson noted America’s No. 1 problem today is that one out of every three children grows up without a father. Before the event ended, nearly 200 men made a profession of faith.

Morris explained that, for many years, he was hesitant to submit to God’s authority for fear that God would force him to abandon his aspirations and become a vocational minister. Nevertheless, conviction brought by the Holy Spirit eventually led him to surrender, he noted.
 
“And instead of taking away the things that He had put on my heart to have a passion for [like hunting], He expanded my horizons,” Morris said. “It was from that point that I began to hunt all over the world and have TV shows and hunt big deer and have ranches things that I never dreamed. God’s plans for us are way bigger than ours.”
 
During his presentation, Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary, encouraged those in attendance to go on safari in Africa. He shared some of his own experiences from his time on that continent, and some of his trophies including a cape buffalo, a roan antelope, and a lioness displayed alongside him on stage. Noting that such a trip presents an opportunity for family bonding, Patterson then transitioned into something of a more serious nature.
 
Citing a study conducted by the Dartmouth College medical school, Patterson said America’s No. 1 problem is not immigration, drugs, alcohol, gang warfare in the cities, or even issues with the government. Instead, the No. 1 problem in America today is that one out of every three children grows up without a father.
 
“We found out that as important as Mom is and she is critical Dad, to a little boy, is absolutely imperative,” Patterson said. “And what Daddy does, the kid’s going to do. No wonder we’re in trouble in America.”
 
Patterson also shared with the men that many of them are on their way to hell. Acknowledging the numerous reasons that one should want to avoid hell, Patterson pointed to one of particular significance.
 
“[That Dartmouth study] said that even the harshest of masters, the sons honor,” he said. “[So] as you file off into hell, look behind you: your boy will be there. He may be 13, he may be 33, he may be 53, but he’ll be following you to hell, and his son will follow him.”
 
In order to be made right with God, Patterson, alluding to Psalm 51:10, said one needs a new heart. He explained, “Only God can create in you a clean heart, but He can do it, and He can do it today.”
 
Patterson invited those who wanted to surrender their lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ to pray a prayer of salvation. And nearly 200 men acknowledged they made that decision.
 
The following day, Patterson reflected, “While I thank my incredible crew last night for preparing the nets, it is God who prepared the fish! To our Lord goes the ultimate praise.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Alex Sibley is the senior writer/copy editor for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on the seminary’s website at swbts.edu.)

2/29/2016 11:03:40 AM by Alex Sibley, SWBTS | with 0 comments



Pro-life roses at capitol: Oklahoma Baptists’ 25th year

February 29 2016 by Chris Doyle, Oklahoma Baptist Messenger

Oklahoma has been declared the “number one” state on Americans United for Life’s “Life List” – a recognition by the nation’s oldest pro-life organization based on how well Oklahoma law protects life.
 
The achievement can be attributed to the many years Oklahomans have encouraged state government leaders to support pro-life legislation, including Oklahoma Baptists’ 25 years of involvement in Rose Day.
 
Each year, hundreds gather at the statehouse at the beginning of the new legislative session to support the lives of unborn babies by meeting with their state senators and representatives and presenting them red roses representing the sanctity of the unborn. Attendees are encouraged to bring roses to present to their representative, senator, the lieutenant governor and governor.

 
2-29-16oklahoma1-(1).jpg

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating meets with Anthony Jordan, then-pastor of Northwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, during the 1995 Rose Day pro-life rally at the Oklahoma capitol. Jordan now is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

This year’s Rose Day on Wednesday, Feb. 3, began with rose distribution from 9:30-11:30 a.m. To commemorate Oklahoma Baptists’ 25-year involvement with Rose Day, Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, delivered the keynote address at the 11:45 a.m. pro-life rally in the House chamber.

 
“I have been involved since 1985 with the pro-life movement here in Oklahoma,” Jordan recounted. “We started having small groups meeting on the steps of the capitol. Then in 1990 we had a Rally for Life that had thousands upon thousands. In fact, Connie Chung on CBS News said 20,000 people were there. People with the capitol said it was the largest gathering ever in the history of capitol.”
 
Even though the 1990 Sunday afternoon rally appeared to be a great success, Jordan noticed a different result when he met with some key legislators after the event.
 
“They acted like [the Rally for Life] had never happened,” Jordan said. “The impact of it was to rally Oklahoma pro-lifers, but it didn’t make any difference in the legislature.”
 
Jordan said he and other Oklahoma Baptist leaders tried to figure out how to have a greater impact.
  “Two sweet Catholic ladies for several years had been going to the capitol handing out roses, so we talked with them, and we ended up joining them with Rose Day,” Jordan said. “It’s an opportunity to be inside the building, interfacing with the legislators and with our executive branch leaders and to press on them our absolute determination that the unborn has the right to life.”
 
Organizers have seen the Rose Day crowd “grow and grow and grow” every year, Jordan said. “We not only fill up the House chamber and the galleries, but we also have to send [rally attendees] over to the Senate chamber.
 
“It is a tremendous opportunity for pro-lifers to go to our legislators, look them in the eye and tell them of their commitment to the unborn and call on our legislators to protect the unborn in Oklahoma,” he said.
 
Rose Day has had an impact not just for Baptists and Catholics in the past 25 years but also on other Christian denominations that have become part of the annual rally.
 

2-29-16oklahoma2.jpg

Rose Day attendees filled the Oklahoma State Capitol Rotunda in 1995. Oklahoma Baptists began participating in the annual pro-life rally four years earlier, this year marking 25 years of petitioning legislators in behalf of the unborn.

Jordan emphasized the significance of the recognition of senators and representatives who attend the Rose Day rally.
 
“I think it’s important that people understand that Rose Day is not just a time to come and rally and shout and say we are pro-life,” he said. “It is an opportunity to allow the legislators to stand up and put them on record as being pro-life. Then, when pro-life bills come up, we are able to come back to them and say, ‘You know, you were at Rose Day. You stood up and said you were committed to the life of the unborn.’ Rose Day gives us the opportunity to be able to press for legislation that will make a difference.”
 
Underscoring the need for vigilance, Jordan said, “You can never give up. The enemy is in opposition, always seeking to take us out of the public arena, to shut us up. … We must be a voice for the voiceless. I have committed as long as the Lord gives me life and breath I will speak for the unborn, and there are others who have made that same commitment. It’s imperative we not lose our energy.”
 
Jordan also noted other concerns that threaten the pro-life movement, including the judicial system.
 
“I think of the challenges that we face in regard to many of these pro-life bills that have been passed [when] they are killed by our Supreme Court here in Oklahoma,” Jordan said. “I think judicial reform is a very important part of looking at the future. We need judges who rule from law and not simply from their own imagination and don’t create laws. They are not legislators. That’s to be done in the legislature.”
 
Another concern is how abortion can be possible through pharmaceutical drugs.
 
“We are at a point in the pro-life movement where the battle is going to move from the clinic to the pharmacy,” Jordan said. “The way you win there is you have to win in the public arena and in the minds and hearts of young people. We have to show them.”
 
When a young woman goes to one a pregnancy center and is provided an ultrasound – “the fact of the matter is nearly 98 percent of those who see that unborn child in their womb choose to give life,” Jordan said. “We have to help people understand this is a child.”
 
Jordan said he is “praying for the day when the Congress of the United States will pass a law and will go to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court will support it and will protect the unborn child, period.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chris Doyle is associate editor of the Baptist Messenger at baptistmessenger.com, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)

2/29/2016 10:31:46 AM by Chris Doyle, Oklahoma Baptist Messenger | with 0 comments



50 voices from the past convey marriage counsel

February 29 2016 by Annie Corser, SBTS

Although marital problems may pose seemingly unprecedented challenges for husbands and wives, a new book offers timeless reflections on marriage from major figures in church history.
 
Professors Robert L. Plummer and Matthew D. Haste include biblical reflections and personal application with each of the 50 historical selections in In Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past.
 
Plummer is professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; Haste is associate professor of ministry studies at Columbia International University Seminary and School of Ministry in Columbia, S.C.

 
2-29-16marriage.jpg

The idea for the book began with Plummer’s interest in collecting the main ideas from other marriage books he was reading.
 
“My thought was, I wish I could just take one paragraph out of that because that’s the main point, and just read that because I don’t really have a whole lot of time. I just really wanted the meat of something,” Plummer recounted.
 
“When I would read something like Luther’s famous essay on the estate of marriage, I would realize that it was written 500 years ago, but it was really good. … I really liked the feeling of being connected to the historic witness to the church.”
 
Held in Honor embodies the Ephesians 4 concept of God raising up leaders and teachers throughout history as personal witnesses of the challenge and beauty of a God-centered marriage.
 
“Most people in this life will be married,” Plummer said. “And I think that as people approach marriage, and as they are married, most people are woefully unprepared for that. … This is a way to provide accessible, interesting, real advice and quotes regarding marriage,” he said.
 
Marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the church, Plummer added. Therefore, honoring the testimony of the church and the stance it has held throughout time is an important facet of the book.
 
Haste said he and Plummer “focused on what the church has said about marriage and, ideally, demonstrated the definition of marriage that has been consistent for two millennia. There has been an appreciation of and an honoring of marriage since the ascension of Christ, and before, of course, among the people of God.”
 
The relationship between the two authors began when Haste was an M.Div. distance learning student enrolled in Plummer’s online Greek class. Halfway through his Ph.D. studies, Haste and his family moved to Louisville and Southern became more like a family.
 
It was during this time Plummer and Haste’s relationship grew stronger.
 
“I had him in a doctoral seminar,” Plummer said, “and he was doing his dissertation on something related with marriage and history. So I asked if he was willing to be a coauthor [on the book]. … Most people do an online program and they don’t get to know their professors. So here is a student who did an online program, got to know me, pursued further study, we got to know each other quite well, and we did a project – we wrote a book together.”
 
Working on the book encouraged Haste to remember that his responsibility as a husband exceeds any other responsibility.
 
“Whether it is through reading a marriage devotional or just reflecting on Scripture or whatever means you might pursue, I would just encourage husbands and wives to keep the call of marriage before them,” Haste said. “It is a daily duty. You don’t have vacations. You don’t have breaks. I think we all need to be stirred up by way of reminder.”
 
Selected quotes from Held in Honor:

  • “When we see the face of God, we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because His.” C.S. Lewis (1898–1963)

  • “The affection of Christian husbands and wives must be established upon a firmer basis. The husband must love his wife, not only for the charms of her person, the sweetness of her manners, or even the affection he knows she bears him but, above all, because their supreme Benefactor, the Lord of heaven and earth, has said, ‘Husband, love your wives.’” Henry Venn (1725–1797)

  • “The pure woman is adorned with the Son of God as with a bridegroom. She is clothed with holy light. Her beauty lies in a well-regulated soul; and she is fragrant with ointment, even with a good reputation. She is arrayed in beautiful clothing, even in modesty. She wears about her precious pearls, even pure words. And she is radiant, for her mind has been brilliantly lighted up.” The Clementine Homilies (c. 250)

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Annie Corser is a writer for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

2/29/2016 10:26:37 AM by Annie Corser, SBTS | with 0 comments



The world needs Christians of integrity, says D.A. Horton

February 29 2016 by Annie Corser, SBTS

Integrity leads Christians to preserving the beauty of the gospel, said D.A. Horton during a Feb. 16 chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
 
“The reputation of Christ and the beauty of the gospel is far more glorious and worth fighting for than those momentary things that the enemy wants to leverage to disqualify those that God is leveraging for leadership within the body of Christ,” said Horton, church planting resident for The Summit Church, a multisite church based in Durham, North Carolina.

 
2-29-16SBTS.jpg

SBTS Photo by Emil Handke
Writer and speaker D.A. Horton preaches a sermon on Psalm 51 at a Feb. 16 chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Expositing Psalm 51, Horton’s message, “Reclaiming Integrity is Our Value,” focused on the importance of integrity leading to the confession of sin, the confrontation of sin, and Christians modeling compassion to the godless.
 
Horton and his family are preparing to relocate to Los Angeles to plant a church in partnership with Summit Network. He previously served as the national coordinator for Urban Student Missions at the North American Mission Board (NAMB); the executive director of ReachLife Ministries, the nonprofit ministry of Reach Records; and as an urban church planter, pastor, and lead teaching elder in Kansas City, Missouri.
 
Horton identified with the spiritual crisis in Psalm 51, when his 10-year-old daughter asked him about his sexual purity on the way to school one morning. Horton said he had to admit that while he was an unbeliever, he was sexually immoral. He used that example to remind there are consequences to a believer’s actions and that only Jesus has the ability to redeem fallen behavior.
 
“The gospel reminds me: I’m not the one that cleanses myself,” he said. “The gospel reminds me I’m the one that dirtied myself, but all of the reason I now express gratitude to my Savior who thoroughly washes me with that shed blood. He is the one who says we can be reused for his glory even through our momentary lapses, even through our sinfulness, even that period of tension with unconfessed sin that hardens our heart much like that cream of wheat.”
 
Horton reminds Christians that they have much in common with nonbelievers because they came from sin. Christians are the only ones who can show that forgiveness comes from God.
 
“Our world is in desperate need of Christians who will lead with integrity by confessing their sins to God, confronting their shame with the gospel in order to model compassion to the godless,” Horton said.
 
Audio and video of Horton’s message is available at sbts.edu/resources.

2/29/2016 10:19:32 AM by Annie Corser, SBTS | with 1 comments



BSC committee extends deadline for recommendations

February 26 2016 by BSC Communications

North Carolina Baptists still have time to submit recommendations for individuals to serve on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Board of Directors, committees and boards on institutions and agencies.
 
The Convention’s Committee on Nominations has extended its deadline for submitting these recommendations to April 14. More information about the nomination process is available online at ncbaptist.org/recommend, where you may make a recommendation or download copies of the recommendation form.
 
The Committee on Nominations looks for diversity among the recommendations to represent all North Carolina Baptists. The committee hopes to elect members who attend churches of varying sizes and who have a wide range of professional and educational backgrounds. It also hopes to represent all of North Carolina’s ethnicities, geographical areas and age groups, as well as to include lay members in addition to ministers.
 
Input from North Carolina Baptists regarding nominations of individuals to serve is essential for the ongoing missions, ministries and disciple-making endeavors of the BSC.
 
BSC bylaws require the Committee on Nominations to recommend nominees to the convention from churches of various sizes. The convention’s bylaws state that it is desirable for the Committee on Nominations to nominate at least 25 percent of the board and committee members from churches with a membership of fewer than 400. The bylaws also limit churches to no more than six individuals from a single church serving on all convention boards and committees, and they limit BSC Board of Director membership to one member from any church.
 
An individual may only serve on a single committee or a single board at one time so that a larger number of North Carolina Baptists can engage in the work of the Convention. For this reason, it is important for North Carolina Baptists to make more recommendations for the Board of Directors and Convention committees.
 
Contact Cynthia King at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5501, or cking@ncbaptist.org.

2/26/2016 12:09:13 PM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Platt to missionaries: God is worthy of surrender, sacrifice

February 26 2016 by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Southern Baptist Texan

Asked to confront the lostness of the world, 26 new missionaries were approved by International Mission Board (IMB) trustees Feb. 23 and commissioned later that evening at the International Learning Center outside of Richmond, Va.
 
The event was broadcast via livestream, allowing friends, family members and churches a chance to hear the testimonies of the new group of missionaries. Only darkened silhouettes were shown in order to protect the security of Southern Baptist personnel who will be serving in dangerous destinations.

 
2-26-16imbcommissioning.jpg

Photo by Warren F. Johnson
David Platt, International Mission Board president, leads 26 new missionaries in a time of prayer during their missionary appointment service Feb. 23 in Richmond, Va.

Of the new missionaries, seven are going to Central Asia, five to South Asia, 11 to North Africa and the Middle East, one to Europe and two to sub-Saharan Africa.
 
IMB President David Platt turned to Luke 9:57-62 to describe what it means to follow Jesus as he challenged new missionaries. “Apparently, the call to follow Christ is not simply a call to pray a prayer,” he said. “It’s a summons to lose your life.” Platt noted the passage tells believers to love Jesus in a way “that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate in comparison.”
 
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have found someone who is worth losing everything for,” he said. “Jesus is this good, this great, and this glorious that He is worthy of the surrender of our lives.
 
“Don’t doubt for a second in the valleys you walk through, the challenges you face, the questions and confusion you have, ‘How did I get here? Why is this happening?’ Don’t doubt for a second He loves you so much. He’s worthy of your total affection.”
 
Before closing the appointment service in prayer, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin related a message from the president of Brazil’s mission board who asked him to thank Southern Baptists for their witness. “His great, great, great grandfather was led to Christ by a Southern Baptist,” Akin said, adding that the gospel was repeatedly shared with each generation that followed.
 
“Today there are more than 12,000 Baptist churches in Brazil with over 1,000 international Brazilian missionaries,” Akin said. “That’s because of our giving, our sacrifices, our sending, and your going.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, at www.texanonline.net, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. This article first appeared on the TEXAN website.)

2/26/2016 12:03:48 PM by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Southern Baptist Texan | with 0 comments



Amid digital-age porn, kids need ‘safe place’

February 26 2016 by Grace Thornton, The Alabama Baptist

Traylor Lovvorn saw porn for the first time when he was 8.
 
It set him on a path that ripped his family apart for years before God healed him and put them back together.
 
It breaks his heart. It sobers him. And it makes him wonder what’s about to happen in the next few years.
 
“Today’s 8- to 12-year-olds, when they are first exposed to porn it is not a Playboy or Penthouse centerfold – it is much more graphic and hardcore,” Lovvorn said.
 

Those early childhood viewers of hardcore pornography are now entering their 20s – and “the church is not ready,” he said, describing the implications as massive and the numbers staggering.
 
These days nine of 10 boys and six of 10 girls are exposed to hardcore porn before age 18, he said.

 
2-26-16protectchildren.jpg

Melody and Traylor Lovvorn emphasized that exposure of children to hardcore digital pornography is not a matter of if, but when, in a parenting seminar on “My Secure Family: Equipping Parents to Protect Children in the Digital Age.”

It’s in response to this epidemic that Lovvorn and his wife Melody started Undone Redone, a ministry to help protect and heal families from the devastating effects of pornography and sexual addiction and sin.
 
The Lovvorns, of Birmingham, Ala., led a seminar on “My Secure Family: Equipping Parents to Protect Children in the Digital Age” at Samford University in partnership with its Ministry Training Institute and The Alabama Baptist newsjournal to open the conversation.
 
“As a parent, we have got to be the safe place where our children feel safe to come and ask their questions and to be curious” for when – not if – they are exposed to porn, Traylor Lovvorn said.
 
“Otherwise our children are left to traverse the landscape by themselves. I know we’re busy and sometimes it’s easier to let the phone or device be the babysitter, but we’ve got to be engaged with this.”
 
Melea Stephens, a licensed professional counselor from Birmingham who also spoke during the Jan. 23 seminar, said it’s important for parents to give their children a way to categorize porn so they know how to respond when they are exposed to it.
 
“For example, I know of one little girl who was first exposed to porn at a neighbor’s house when she was 6. Because she didn’t have a way to categorize it, she started acting out what she saw. She started acting things out on her siblings,” Stephens said.
 
Porn warps children’s sense of safety and their development because they don’t have a compartment for it, she said. “To give them a way to compartmentalize porn is a first way to help them deal with it.”
 
Traylor Lovvorn said trying to insulate children from the world is like having a pool and – instead of teaching them to swim – building a fence around it and pretending it’s not there.
 
“We are pretending the world isn’t broken, and we’re trying to keep them from seeing that it is,” Lovvorn said. “Life is messy. It’s broken. We have to have the conversations. I’m not talking about ‘the talk.’ I’m talking about an ongoing conversation that lasts. Think about the onslaught of information they are inundated with. We are foolish to think that one conversation is adequate.”
 
Some parents respond to threats like porn with fear-based reactions such as denial, Lovvorn said.
 
But denial sends the message that you don’t care whether your child is facing the world’s brokenness alone, he said.
 
But the other end of the spectrum – hyper-vigilance – communicates to your child that he or she isn’t trustworthy, Lovvorn said.
 
“We need to set boundaries but we need to talk about the ‘why,’” he said. “We need to have a grace-based response rather than a fear-based reaction.”
 
And that grace-based response provides the compartment that Stephens said is so important.
 
One resource for talking with children is a book called Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, which is meant to “porn proof” young children, she said.
 
“Instead of eliciting curiosity, it helps defuse some of that by teaching them that there are bad pictures out there and why they can be bad for them,” Stephens said. “It [porn] is not some major secret ... so when it comes up they are more like, ‘Oh, I know what that is,’ and know how to deal with it.”
 
It helps them know how to take their thinking brain and make it the boss of their feeling brain, Stephens said.
 
Traylor Lovvorn illustrated this idea with the story of some young children who decided for themselves to change the channel when something inappropriate came on even when no authority figure was around to tell them they shouldn’t watch it.
 
“It was a beautiful picture of how they can learn that it’s not just a rule, it’s the heart behind the rule,” he said. “It’s about shepherding their hearts and training them early so that they can understand and think for themselves.”
 
Starting the conversation early, Melody Lovvorn noted, also helps set up a safe place for children to return to talk as they grow up and face more real threats.
 
“If we have those conversations, they know ‘Mom and Dad are preparing me and I’ve got this safe place to go back to,’” she said. “One of the things I told my boys was, ‘In middle school, if you get a picture from a girl and it’s naked photos, this is how we want to handle it,’ and then I gave them a plan.”
 
As parents, the Lovvorns want to “create safe fences” but also teach their children to “think and be aware of the Holy Spirit telling you when something is not right.”
 
Teaching them to think is the most important thing, Traylor Lovvorn said. But he also offered some practical helps to be that “safe fence” as children grow up.
 
One of them is Circle, a device that helps parents monitor and filter devices and even set bedtimes in the house to cut off Internet access via phones and laptops.
 
Another is an app found at teensafe.com that allows parents to view their child’s texts, see the location of their child’s phone and see what apps he or she has installed on the phone.
 
“Kids say things like, ‘You have no right to do this,’ but we do,” Stephens said. “You are their parents and it’s your responsibility to help them navigate the world.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Grace Thornton is a correspondent for The Alabama Baptist at thealabamabaptist.org, newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention.)

2/26/2016 11:56:57 AM by Grace Thornton, The Alabama Baptist | with 0 comments



Orphan finds heavenly Father, shares story

February 26 2016 by Jessica Vanderpool, Arkansas Baptist New

She was born with no name. She doesn’t know her own birthday. She was emotionally and physically abused, even raped. She lived, for a time, as a street child in Kampala, Uganda, her heart filling with hatred.
 
Anitha Kobusingye says her story is not unique among children in Africa. In fact, it wasn’t until coming to America for college that she discovered her story was different.

 
2-26-16ArkBaptist.jpg

Once a street child in Uganda, Anitha Kobusingye shared her testimony at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock in honor of Black History Month. Kobusingye is a member of Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Ark.

But Kobusingye, who now attends Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Ark., refuses to be considered just another African sob story. Her story, she insists, is about God’s love, power and provision. It is about how He intervened in her life to use her for His glory.
 
Kobusingye shared her testimony at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock in honor of Black History Month. Kobusingye’s Feb. 11 speaking engagement at the college also served as a book release for her autobiography Born Anonymous, written with Grand Avenue member Larry Bone, whom she met when she was a student at Arkansas Baptist College.
 
When he introduced Kobusingye to the group gathered in the college’s gymnasium, Arkansas Baptist College President Fitz Hill explained that even the story of how she came to Little Rock is nothing short of a miracle. He said he met her while he was on a mission trip in 2009.
 
Kobusingye shared with the crowd that they had met at her high school in Rwanda, and Hill had given her his business card and offered to help her if she ever made it to the United States. Although she did email Hill after his visit, she didn’t know how to fully explain herself via email.
 
Then, in 2010, Arkansan Lynda Weir visited the high school while on a mission trip. Weir met Kobusingye and found out about Hill’s offer to help the girl and further discovered Hill lived in Weir’s own Little Rock neighborhood and was president of Arkansas Baptist College. With help from Weir and Hill, Kobusingye raised enough money to come to America and received a full scholarship to the college.
 
“I’m not really here to entertain you guys and to be another sad African story. That is not the point. The point is that I am here to glorify God and to just remind us what God is capable of doing in our lives,” Kobusingye said, noting that regardless of where a person comes from, everyone has a story and has gone through difficult things in life.

 
2-26-16ArkBaptist2.jpg

Anitha Kobusingye’s Feb. 11 speaking engagement at the Arkansas Baptist College also served as a book release for her autobiography “Born Anonymous.”

“So it’s not about – really about – where I come from, but it’s about, how does God intervene in those stories to make them successful ... miracles?”
 
She described what it was like to live as a street child. Her mother had died giving birth to her in Uganda, and she did not know her father, though she later discovered he was a soldier who was killed in the Rwandan genocide.
 
She was taken to Sanyu Babies’ Home in Kampala and was adopted, but her adopted family treated her as a maid and abused her, so she ran away to live on the streets of Kampala.
 
“(These are) toxic, overcrowded, noisy, dirty streets where nobody cares about you,” she said, noting she ate from trash cans, begged and stole in order to have food.
 
She admitted to the audience that she doesn’t know how she survived.
 
“But this is the thing – when God chooses you to put you through something, He knows how you’re going to survive through it. It’s not my job to know,” she said. “And sometimes God makes us pass through difficult times so that we may become the best witnesses of that exact thing.”
 
She said now she can connect with street children due to their common experiences.
 
According to her autobiography, through a series of events, Kobusingye found her grandparents, and she went to live with them in Rwanda. She was accepted into a Christ-centered high school called Cornerstone Leadership Academy, where she would eventually meet Hill. It was there that she became a Christian and sought Jesus as her heavenly Father.
 
“My story to you this morning is that, yes, I’ve been there. I’ve been at the worst. But I’ve been at the best ... because Jesus became my Father,” she told the audience.
 
Right after graduating high school, she started Lighthouse Children’s Home for street children, according to her autobiography. Though she started with nothing, God kept sending provisions, some of which came from Arkansans.
 
But her journey was only beginning. Before long, she was on a plane to America to attend Arkansas Baptist College.
 
In an interview with the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN), she expressed that in Arkansas she has connected with many Baptists and found them to be supportive and a blessing.
 
Kobusingye now works at a public elementary school with special needs children.
 
She shared with the ABN that when she went to Fort Smith, she was once again in an unfamiliar place. She had no idea where to go to church – until she plugged into Grand Avenue Baptist.
 
“It’s another home,” Kobusingye said. “It has helped me personally to be stable and to be settled.”
 
Brad Lewter, lead pastor at Grand Avenue, described Kobusingye as “a leader and her love, determination and passion is something we should all seek to emulate.”
 
As Kobusingye concluded her talk at Arkansas Baptist College, she noted that her autobiography is about Christ and about the people He has brought into her life and how people of all nations with all kinds of gifts can work together as the kingdom of God.
 
“I may be coming from Africa. There is someone coming from Asia or someone coming from America, but we all have stories that actually come together to create the Kingdom of God – because it’s my story and your story that bring us together to share. That is why we are sitting here,” she said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jessica Vanderpool is senior assistant editor of the Arkansas Baptist News at arkansasbaptist.org, newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist Convention.)

2/26/2016 11:49:30 AM by Jessica Vanderpool, Arkansas Baptist New | with 1 comments



Israeli ambassador: Terrorists fueled by ‘hope’

February 26 2016 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The poison spread by militant Islam is rooted in hope among Mideast terrorists, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said Feb. 23 during Proclaim 16, the National Religious Broadcasters’ (NRB) International Christian Media Convention.
 
Dermer, along with Fox News legal analyst Jeanine Pirro, voiced the warning during the convention’s Media Leadership Dinner at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.

 
2-26-16NRB1.jpg

NRB photo
Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, speaking to religious broadcasters, calls on evangelicals for support “because the Middle East is collapsing. It’s collapsing everywhere. Militant Islam is rushing into a void.”

The “biggest mistake people make in dealing with terrorism” is to “think terrorism is a product of poverty or despair. It is a lie,” said Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States since 2013.
 
“Terrorism is driven not by poverty or hopelessness,” Dermer said. “Terrorism is actually driven by a fervent sense of hope, a hope that these fanatics will be able to achieve their fanatical goal – and what creates that fanaticism is a totalitarian mindset.”
 
The glorification of killers in some societies produces more terrorist candidates in younger generations, Dermer told the audience of NRB member organization leaders and guests.
 
“Until we deal with the poison that you see throughout the Middle East that is poisoning the minds and hearts of a generation of young people, you’re not going to have peace,” the ambassador said.
 
Dermer told the Christian leaders his country “needs your support today more than ever because the Middle East is collapsing. It’s collapsing everywhere. Militant Islam is rushing into a void.”
 
Many people “cannot fathom a religious war,” Dermer said. “It’s hard for them to imagine that people are willing to kill and be killed for their religious beliefs.”
 
Yet, he said, there is a “religious war going on in the Middle East,” a war in which “the greatest victims in terms of numbers are Muslims who do not accept” the fanatics’ views. In addition, Christians “are being wiped out” in that region, he said.
 
The world’s “most important challenge” in addressing militant Islam is “to prevent these fanatics from having nuclear weapons,” Dermer said. “Everything must be done to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of these fanatics.”

 
2-26-16NRB2.jpg

NRB photo
Fox News legal analyst Jeanine Pirro tells religious broadcasters, “[T]he genocide that is going on in the Middle East is not that far away.... “What we are confronting today is something that is urgent, imminent and real.”

Israel opposed the nuclear deal negotiated by America and other major powers with Iran, a committed foe of Israel, because it “didn’t think [the agreement] blocked a path to the bomb. We thought it paved it,” Dermer said. “And our main concern was, and still is, not that Iran is going to violate the deal to get the bomb, but it can get the bomb by keeping the deal.”
 
Pirro, host of “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” told the broadcasters NRB’s mission to “defend free speech” makes them allies.
 
“[T]hat is where you and I are in the same business,” Pirro told the NRB leaders.
 
“Everyone agrees” that the advance of militant Islam is a threat to the United States and its freedoms and is “a poison that has to be stopped,” said Pirro, a former district attorney and judge in Westchester County, N.Y.
 
“[T]he genocide that is going on in the Middle East is not that far away,” she said. “Your job is to make sure that on radio you talk about what is happening.”
 
If the broadcasters don’t, Pirro said, “you’re going to get slapped in the face, and you’re not going to be able to talk about whatever it is you want to talk about.
 
“What we are confronting today is something that is urgent, imminent and real.”
 
Pirro added that the U.S. Constitution is being “chipped away” by creeping Sharia-ism. The all-encompassing nature of Sharia law means it “cannot coexist with the Constitution.
 
“And the irony of today’s liberalism – that is considered accepting of everything and anything – is that it is sanctioning discrimination against Christians,” Pirro said.
 
The First Amendment is “the cornerstone of this nation,” she said. “Free speech in America is not negotiable, no matter what the threats are, no matter who’s making those threats, no matter what the consequences that we might fear are, and no matter what someone else’s feelings are.”
 
The sponsors of the dinner were the Center for Security Policy, which promotes national security; Heart to Heart, which provides support for Israel’s blood supply and ambulance service; Salem Media Group, a leading radio, Internet and publishing company; and Trinet, a web strategy and Internet consulting firm.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

2/26/2016 11:43:47 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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