July 2011

In London, students plow ‘hard ground’

July 7 2011 by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press

LONDON — Hudson Smith wasn’t too bothered by the paint that had splattered on his nicest pair of jeans, saying, “I was up for whatever was needed.”

Smith, one of 70 students who traveled to London the first week of June for outreach through International World Changers, didn’t know he’d be painting a fence in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of London’s Kingston area.

Just like he didn’t know he’d end up sitting next to Tadeusz on the bus ride home.

“I struck up a conversation with him about God, and he said he had been praying to the universe to show him the truth,” said Smith, a student at Louisiana Tech University. “I told him I thought that I was the first answer to his prayer, because I could show him the truth.”

For more than an hour, with his Bible open on his paint-stained jeans, Smith shared the gospel with Tadeusz, a Polish immigrant to England. Tadeusz was so engaged in the conversation that he purposefully missed his bus stop just so he could keep talking with Smith.

Hudson Smith, right, a student at Louisiana Tech, talks with an international student in London at a coffeehouse as part of the International World Changers’ outreach in the city.

“I gave him my email address and asked if we could keep the conversation going. It reminded me of why I’m here — no matter what it feels like, God is always moving around us, working in people’s lives,” Smith said.

The 70 students traveled to London as part of the International World Changers overseas student missions experience sponsored by the International Mission Board. Some were from Smith’s church — Calvary Baptist in Rustin, La. — and others were from churches in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.

All of them spread out to spread the Gospel in London.

“On the surface, the city is dark, but God is stirring hearts,” said Donielle Yancey, a college leader with Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C. “People are open to having conversations. We feel like a lot of our conversations were tilling the hard ground to get the rock out so the Gospel can be planted in it.”

Yancey’s team spent time on college campuses, striking up conversations with students about their spiritual state.

“It was definitely challenging, but they were more open than I thought they’d be — and very honest,” said Jessi Tomlinson, a student at the University of South Carolina and a member of Shandon Baptist. “It definitely challenged me to know the Word better and know answers to questions that people of other faiths have.”

With less than 2 percent of London’s university students claiming faith in Christ, the student populace is considered an unreached people group, said Susan Goodman, a Southern Baptist missionary who ministers to students in London with her husband Michael.

“Go to any campus, and you’ll quickly see Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindu — you can share with any faith you’d like to there,” Susan Goodman said.

In addition to campus ministry, the World Changers group held barbecues in impoverished neighborhoods, helped with homeless ministry and did sports camps for kids. They also performed street drama and handed out water and bacon rolls at a weekend party.

“The conversations were amazing during the course of the evening,” Michael Goodman said. “We shared the gospel about 250 times during that outreach. Some of these students we met that night then came to our outreach events during the week.”

Those connections will be followed up, Goodman said. He and Susan host a weekly Bible study for students seeking to understand more about God.

“The volunteer team ... really gave our work a boost,” Susan Goodman said.

Jay Mudd, student pastor at First Baptist Church in Leesburg, Fla., said the harvest sometimes came in unexpected ways.

“Two boys about 12 years old were sitting in a tree, watching us build a porch, and they asked why we were there,” Mudd said. “I told them I didn’t come to build a porch, and if they’d come back to talk to me about it later, I’d buy them a drink.”

They came, bringing eight more kids with them.

“The others weren’t interested in hearing what I had to say, but these two — Luca and Dan — didn’t break their gaze when I was telling them about what it means to be a friend of God,”

Mudd said. “I asked them what kept them from being a friend of God, and they begin pouring out all their sins — graffiti and a whole host of other things I could’ve done without hearing.”

Mudd shared the gospel with them, and Luca said, “I want that relationship.” Mudd was able to connect the boys with a local pastor, who is following up with discipleship.

“It was a good day and a great week,” Mudd said. “God did amazing things.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Thomas is an International Mission Board writer/editor based in Europe. International World Changers offers student teams and individuals the opportunity for a hands-on missions experience. For more information, visit www.thetask.org/iwc.)
7/7/2011 7:19:00 AM by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Faith celebrates Fourth

July 6 2011 by BR staff

For more than 10 years Faith Baptist Church in Faith has been helping its town celebrate independence.

Libby Malpass, Jean Little, Phyllis Beck, Karon Goble, Charlene Shoemaker, and Bobbie Huneycutt (seated) stamp Faith Baptist Church information in pamphlets for free giveaway during a weeklong celebration of July 4. See photo gallery.

The small town — population 600 — hosts a weeklong celebration each year, a tradition born during World War II when a parade was organized to celebrate returning veterans.

“All of that brings thousands of people into our small town,” said Ann Barton via email.

Barton, along with other church members, set up a booth in Faith Legion Park.

The church planned to give away 600 Bibles along with patriotic bracelets, pencils, coins with the 10 Commandments, fans, etc.

“We also have a Prayer Request basket where people can write prayer requests and leave them and our church members pray over those requests each night before leaving,” Barton said.

Members gathered recently to stamp Bibles and to pray over the materials that will be distributed. Various classes and groups in the church volunteer nightly — except Sunday — to give away these “trinkets” as well as water.

What does your church do to celebrate July 4 or to share the gospel? Share your news with Biblical Recorder readers: (919) 847-2127 or dianna@biblicalrecorder.org.
7/6/2011 6:58:00 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Old Town Baptist narrows in on ‘unbroken ground’

July 6 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

In the area known as the outskirts live the tribal groups, who tend to be animistic and somewhat open to the gospel.

The majority of the population, which practices Buddhism and is highly resistant to the gospel, lives in the central plains and river valley regions.

Mark Harrison moved his fingers across the map, pointing out each region. Colored stones outline the different areas. The map is a gift from friends living in Southeast Asia.

Old Town Baptist Church, where Harrison has served as missions pastor for three years, is considering adopting an unengaged, unreached people group (UUPG) living in Southeast Asia. The specific people group they are praying about lives in a country that is 89 percent Buddhist; less than .07 percent of this people group is evangelical.

Whereas an unreached people group (UPG) has a negligible percentage of Christian believers, the UUPG is essentially void of any evangelical witness and is less than two percent evangelical. About 3,800 UUPGs live throughout the world.

Harrison believes the church is close to selecting the people group they will adopt. He is praying that their vision trip next month to Southeast Asia will bring even more clarity.

“We’re praying that if this is what God wants us to do He will affirm that while we’re there,” Harrison said. “I don’t know what that affirmation will look like. But I do know that God will affirm His will through the body. It needs to be the church body taking responsibility for this.”

Old Town is already further along on their journey than they were just a few months ago. If there’s one thing Harrison has learned in recent months about how to adopt an unreached people group, it’s to start at home.

“This process starts where you already are. You don’t have to go out and look for something else. Just look at the connections God has already established for you,” he said.

Several years ago during an International Mission Board (IMB) regional meeting Harrison met a missionary from Southeast Asia, from the country where Old Town is praying about adopting a people group. Since Harrison already had planned a mission trip to that region, he extended his trip in order to visit the missionary and learn more about the work being done in that country.

Harrison and the missionary continued to keep in touch. Last year, Harrison and Jason Ledford, pastor of families and discipleship, traveled overseas to help the missionary lead evangelism training.

As the partnership continued, conversations turned to adopting a people group. And as it turns out, one of the UUPGs in the missionary’s country has refugees from a related people group living in Winston-Salem. Through a local refugee ministry, members of Old Town have already been ministering to these refugees.

Harrison said whichever people group they adopt, their goal is to create local, national and international points of connection. While they want to minister to members of this people group living in their homeland overseas, they also want to minister to refugees living in North Carolina, North America and throughout the world.

Harrison is helping the congregation start to think more in terms of “engaging” a people group and not just “adopting” them.

“We want to be hands-on involved in making sure that this people group hears the gospel and that there are sufficient opportunities for them to respond to the gospel,” he said. “For us, missions is demonstrating and verbalizing the gospel so that people can respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. We want to be very intentional.”

Reaching an UUPG of any size is going to require cooperation among churches. “I don’t have any illusions we’re going to reach them alone,” Harrison said. He prays that however God leads, whether to this country in Southeast Asia or somewhere else, that Old Town would help bring together other churches for the sake of reaching an UUPG.

Old Town is ready to follow Paul’s example in Romans 15:17 of “going into that unbroken ground where the light has not penetrated,” Harrison said. They want their efforts of serving among unreached people to result in new believers who are discipled and trained to reach their own people.

Although Old Town is still in the process of selecting an UUPG, excitement about what is to come is already building, due in large part to efforts from church leaders to keep this a priority before the congregation.

From worship services to Sunday School classes to small groups, repetition is key.

Harrison joked that whenever he speaks to the congregation they already know he’s going to say something about UUPGs.

“If they don’t know what you’re going to say, you probably haven’t said it enough,” he said. “You have to oversaturate people.”

While adopting a people group is a good thing, Harrison doesn’t want Old Town’s missions efforts to end there. He sees this as a way to help build a stronger missions mindset into the congregation.

“Our church has a long history of mission involvement, which has grown through Pastor Rick’s leadership. Yet, on this continuing journey, we are still growing in our understanding of and obedience to God’s call,” Harrison said.

Rick Speas, Old Town’s pastor, is excited about all God is allowing the church to be part of for His Kingdom.

“As I see more and more of our church members becoming active in going, praying and giving to God’s mission, I am extremely humbled,” Speas said.

“We are eagerly anticipating whatever God is going to do next, and we are excited to be on this journey with Him for the heart of the nations. I sense that God is doing here what He did in Antioch when He placed a burden for the nations upon the leaders, and then they sent a team out to go and preach the gospel.”

Harrison didn’t expect the stronger missionary mindset to blossom as quickly as it has. Take, for example, dedicated deacon and Sunday School teacher Ray Grantham.

Grantham is a faithful missions supporter. He supported calling a missions pastor instead of an associate pastor because he wanted to see the church focus turn more outward.

He always encourages others to go and serve in missions, but in his 19 years at Old Town, never really thought about going himself. “I was a great missionary spectator,” he said. “I was comfortable that I was doing my fair share.”

In helping the church prepare for this people group engagement process, the church staff encouraged small groups to read David Platt’s Radical.

“You shouldn’t read it … but you should,” Grantham said.

It’s a book that asks the hard questions and makes readers seriously evaluate life’s priorities.

The book talks about not just raising money and encouraging others to go so we don’t have to — which Grantham said hit close to home.

Grantham is excited about Old Town adopting a people group because it’s an opportunity for the entire church body to participate in one way or another.

This year Grantham will join the Southeast Asia team for his first ever mission trip.

This year, beginning next month, this lawyer is committing to take time off from the law firm every Friday so he can be involved in missions in the community.

“I’m going to put my stake in the ground in 2011 and just go do it,” Grantham said. “We’re called to make ourselves available.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — This is the second article in a series following Old Town Baptist’s journey in adopting a people group. Visit imb.org to learn more about people groups that need to hear the gospel.)

Related story
W-S church prepares to adopt
7/6/2011 6:46:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Mark Creech ministers to legislators

July 6 2011 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

“If we are to save our great nation, Christians must light the light of evangelization and light the light of cultural engagement.” This was the message of Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, in an Independence Day service at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone. Speaking about the spiritual liberty that comes through Christ, Creech encouraged the congregation to take their faith into the schools, the halls of government, the voting booth, the arts, sports, media and science and make Christ known in these areas until He is rightfully Lord of them all.

“Our nation is in peril today because there is a disconnect between the principles of Christianity and the principles of civil government,” Creech said. His passion as director of the Christian Action League (CAL) is to reconnect these principles and encourage the body of Christ to be active in doing the same.

Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, spends time at the General Assembly keeping Christian values before state leaders.

The slogan of CAL is: “The only lasting cure for evil and injustice is Christian Action.”

The organization was formed as a response to the repeal of prohibition. Originally named “The Allied Church League,” it was birthed in 1937 by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) with the intent of forming a statewide interdenominational organization that would address the state’s alcohol policy. In 1958, the organization’s mission was expanded to address other issues of public policy affecting the religious culture of the state. With the change in the charter, the name was changed to the Christian Action League. In addition to the alcohol issue, today CAL addresses issues such as the definition of marriage, gambling, pornography, and abortion, as well as a host of other critical social issues. CAL is still funded in part with a gift of $10,000 from the BSC annual budget and from gifts from local churches and individual contributors. Conservative evangelical churches from 17 denominations participate in CAL. It is governed by a board of directors and a board of advisors made up of members from across the state.

In addition to educating Christians on the current issues and motivating them to action, one of the most important aspects of the ministry is Creech’s interaction with the North Carolina General Assembly. When asked to describe his job he said, “My job is to proclaim the gospel to those who make our laws and to bring the Christian worldview to bear on the legislation that they consider.”

As an ordained Southern Baptist minister, Creech pastored churches for 20 years. He sees his current role as a continuation of that ministry. “In many respects, I feel like I’m still pastoring. Some legislators refer to me as their pastor. I am able to sit with them in their offices and talk about the Lord as the opportunity arises.”

He says the call to leadership of the CAL in 1999 came as the result of an increasing burden for the moral meltdown taking place in our country. He became so burdened that he began addressing social issues from the pulpit. “I found people in the pew were craving that sort of information.”

Today, Creech speaks to churches across the state about the two great mandates from Christ: the call to fulfill the Great Commission and the call to be salt and light in our world. “You can’t effectively evangelize without seeking to have a cultural impact and you can’t have a lasting cultural impact unless you are seeking to evangelize.”

In his almost 12 years of working with the General Assembly, Creech has worked to build good relationships with the legislators. They see him as trustworthy and often call on his expertise and the research of the CAL staff. “Research is a premium with lawmakers. If there is legislation that we feel is inconsistent with our Christian values, or if it is consistent with our values and we want to help get that legislation passed, I am poised to testify on that issue.”

Creech is available to speak to churches or other groups. Contact (919) 787-0606 or office@christianactionleague.org. Visit christianactionleague.org.  
7/6/2011 6:30:00 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Transformational church helps association forward

July 5 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

If numbers told the whole story the projected outlook wouldn’t be very good for Transylvania Baptist Association.

Eighty percent of churches in the association are plateaued or declining, according to Associational Missionary Chuck Campbell.

With the help of a new concept called Transformational Church, the future is looking much brighter for this association.

Campbell is helping churches in the association take the results from LifeWay Christian Resources’ latest study and apply them to a process of transformation.

“Becoming more missionary-minded is what Transformational Church is all about,” Campbell said. This process has helped churches in his association, “quickly see how they can re-cast the vision.”

As a church health consultant Campbell is familiar with working alongside churches. Transformational Church is different than any other approach he has tried.

He said it gives churches a “look in the rearview mirror” and helps them understand where they will end up if the direction doesn’t change. 

Churches in Transylvania are looking for answers, and through this process, are asking hard questions, capitalizing on strengths and moving forward in their efforts to make disciples.  

What is Transformational Church?
Last year Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s missiologist in residence, co-authored the book Transformational Church. The book is based on LifeWay’s research study to discover the characteristics of churches that are truly seeing lives changed by the power of the gospel.

The study included a survey of more than 7,000 pastors and hundreds of on-site interviews. The research pointed to these seven elements that are present when a church is making disciples and seeing life transformation:
  • missionary mindset
  • prayerful dependence
  • relational intentionality
  • vibrant leadership
  • worship
  • community
  • mission
Transformational Church is about moving from a scorecard of “bodies, budget and buildings” to one of discipleship and spiritual maturity. Rainer and Stetzer write that, “a Transformational Church is not simply a ‘good church’ or a church that does good things. Neither is it necessarily a big church that offers excellent programming, preaching, and worship. A Transformational Church focuses on the gospel’s ability to change people.”

An assessment tool is available to help measure the health of churches and to explore strengths and weaknesses. A DVD discussion guide is also available as a supplemental resource to the book. 

Chuck Campbell

Does it make a difference?

Most churches in Transylvania have experienced success throughout the years.

Yet, people change and communities change, and what worked in the past doesn’t always work in the future.

Campbell has seen churches become more aware of the community around them and the people in the community who do not know Jesus as their personal Savior. Sometimes a church doesn’t even know who lives around them.

Transformational Church can be a true wake up call for churches; a reminder that if church priorities are not Kingdom priorities, the church may eventually cease to exist.

“Transformational Church is not a plug and play. It goes beyond a process to a lifestyle,” Campbell said. “This is how we do life; it’s not how we do church.”

Transformational Church has proven effective in Transylvania in large part because the change comes from within.

“It helps leaders birth action priorities, and then they gain ownership of them,” Campbell said. “I’m not saying this is what you need; they are saying this is what we need.

“Ultimately, I am just the coach and turn the process over to them.”

Ownership also comes when church leaders seriously consider results from the assessment and begin to make changes based on the facts and not on how things have been in the past.

Too often churches rely on things done in the past without ever considering who lives in the community today and what approach will be most effective today.

Campbell encourages pastors to walk leaders through the DVD series and to give a copy of the book to every deacon.

He said healthy churches also have much to gain through Transformational Church.

One of the greatest benefits for churches is a discovery retreat. Church leaders meet with a coach, like Campbell, and walk through the assessment results and begin developing action priorities that point toward change.  

Although change is coming in Transylvania, it’s not instant success. “It’s not an overnight turnaround,” Campbell said. “Be patient, be in there for the long haul. Every church is different in how fast it will go through the process.”

Campbell said change is coming because churches are realizing they have been measuring their own fruitfulness, but never the fruitfulness of the people they disciple. “You know you’ve made a disciple when the one you are discipling is fruitful,” he said.  

Where to start?
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) wants to help churches interested in Transformational Church. Through a partnership with LifeWay, Congregational Services staff members have been trained as Transformational Church consultants and are available to work with North Carolina Baptist churches at no charge to the church. Although churches may choose to work directly with LifeWay, there is a charge for church consultation through LifeWay.    

“Our staff is available to walk with you through every step of the process as you begin the journey of becoming a Transformational Church,” said Lynn Sasser, executive leader for congregational services. “We are here to help you introduce the process to church leaders, facilitate a discovery retreat, provide accountability and consulting, and help prepare your church members for the journey.”

Sasser said he is praying that churches across the state will embrace a new scorecard that focuses on disciple-making and transformed lives.

Visit www.ncbaptist.org/transformationalchurch.com.

Related story
LifeWay leader applies transformational church
7/5/2011 11:07:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

LifeWay leader applies transformational church

July 5 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Many churches across the nation are declining or plateaued, and it’s not hard to find research indicating as such. Yet, this does not negate the fact that the church is still God’s chosen instrument to tell the world about the hope and salvation found in the gospel.

In light of this truth, LifeWay Christian Resources published a book last year based on research about transformational churches; churches truly focused on, as authors Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer write, “the gospel’s ability to change people.”

The research points to seven elements that help define a transformational church: missionary mindset, prayerful dependence, relational intentionality, vibrant leadership, worship, community and mission.

David Francis, director of Sunday School & Discipleship at LifeWay, recently met with leaders from across the state to talk about how to apply these transformational church elements to the Sunday School ministry. The weekend conference was held at Apex Baptist Church in Apex.  

Seeking open groups
Sunday School was always intended to work with an open group concept.

In other words, “an open group expects new people every week,” Francis said. “If you can get this one idea permeated through a few Sunday School classes, it will mean everything.”

An open group makes sure that newcomers feel included from the moment they arrive.

The Sunday School lesson for that week should stand on its own, so that whether or not a person has been to the class or will ever come again, they can still learn from the lesson. An open Sunday School class also contacts every member every week, thus practicing relational intentionality.

Sunday School classes with the most impact are the ones that create an environment where the classroom is a safe place to invite others. The truth no one likes to admit is that some classes do not want new people; they are content with the group they have and the focus is more inward than outward.

“We are secretly hoping no one comes,” Francis said.

A transformational Sunday School does everything with the expectation that guests will come. Even seemingly little details make a difference to newcomers, such as the door near guest parking that needs to be fixed and the small classroom preschool space.

Transformational classes, and churches, are those with church members living close to the church and getting involved in the community.

“It’s hard to reach the community when you don’t live in the community,” Francis said.  

Need a balance
Francis reminded participants that Sunday morning Sunday School classes are different from discipleship groups or small groups.

He said small groups are typically thought of as groups meeting during the week, off the church campus. Although that may be the case, the defining characteristic of a small group is that it primarily seeks biblical community.

David Francis

Discipleship groups, however, primarily aim for biblical content to be the focus of the group; equipping is the main purpose of the group.

Small groups and discipleship groups are best able to fulfill these intended purposes when they function as closed groups, meaning once the group begins for a certain time period (quarter, semester, etc.) newcomers must wait for the new time period before joining.

Francis said it’s up to Sunday School to “strike a balance” between small groups and discipleship groups. Sunday School is not intended to be everything a small group or discipleship group is intended to be — each has its own unique purpose and is most effective when leaders understand what they are trying to accomplish through the group.

Missionary mindset
All groups function at one of three levels: a class, a community or a commission. Sunday School classes functioning at the class or community level are more focused on class members and meeting the needs of those members.

Classes at the commission level are the ones really centered on the missionary mindset. Their focus is the Great Commission. While they care about the needs of others, they also focus on lost people and seek opportunities to share the gospel.

Their evangelism strategy is not just being nice to people or being attractional; they are intentional in sharing the gospel.

Francis further explained that at the class level members talk about what they learned, and at the community level members talk about what others did for them. Yet, at the commission level, the mindset is: “What did we do for others?”  

The Three S’s
A transformational Sunday School is one that includes scripture, stories and is led by a shepherd.

“The Sunday School’s one textbook is the Bible,” Francis said. “Curriculum is the plan for teaching the Bible.”

Francis encouraged Sunday School teachers and leaders to remember that everyone they meet has a unique story. As leaders, the task is to draw out those stories and then help people connect with one another’s stories.

A gift for teaching is certainly important in a transformational Sunday School class; but as Francis pointed out, gifted shepherds may be more important. “A shepherd will tell you who they are teaching and not what they are teaching,” he said.

“Shepherds pray for people. Prayer is the ultimate secret weapon. As you pray for people you really get to know people.”

Baptist State Convention of North Carolina consultants are available to meet with N.C. Baptist church pastors about the transformational church process. Contact (800) 395-5102, ext. 5649.

Related story
Transformational church helps association move forward
7/5/2011 6:19:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

2011 General Assembly big for pro-lifers

July 5 2011 by BSC Communications

When the complexion of the North Carolina General Assembly changed after the last election, pro-life Christians around the state expected to see movement on some bills that have been languishing in the legislature for years. Their hopes were not denied. Four key pieces of legislation passed both House and Senate.

However, one of the most important of those bills was vetoed June 27 by Gov. Beverly Perdue. In Perdue’s objections and veto message (available at the General Assembly website), she said the Woman’s Right to Know bill “is a dangerous intrusion into the confidential relationship that exists between women and their doctors.”

One of the bill’s sponsors, Ruth Samuelson, tweeted her disappointment (@ruth_samuelson) by saying that North Carolina is now one of a minority of states which do not require special informed consent for abortion.

Samuelson vowed to find votes to override the veto in next month’s special legislative session. The bill is shy one vote each in the House and the Senate. 

The Legislative Research Office estimates this new law could have saved eight babies from abortion every day in North Carolina. That’s nearly 3,000 fewer abortions each year simply because women are given more information and more time to consider alternatives.  Other bills:
  • Choose Life License Plate. This bill has been a true perennial; sprouting for 10 years in the General Assembly and each year it has been rejected or left languishing in a committee. It was among a long list of specialty plates being considered this year including Stock Car Racing, Guilford Battleground, First in Forestry, and Support our Troops. But the Choose Life plate was the most contentious. Amendment after amendment attempted to gut the bill or place restrictions on it, but in the end it squeaked through the door just as the legislature was about to adjourn. Why all the angst over a license plate design?  Perhaps it’s because a percentage of the income from the plates goes to Pregnancy Resource Centers, which provide abortion alternatives.
  • Unborn Victims of Violence Act/Ethen’s Law. The opposition was intense for another pro-life bill designed to designate an unborn child as a victim when the mother suffers from a violent act. However, the bill passed and has been signed into law. L.A. Williams, writing for the Christian Action League, recounts testimony from Representative Edgar Starnes from Caldwell County, who supported the bill. “If it is a crime to kill an unborn deer in North Carolina, it should be a crime to kill an unborn child,” he had earlier told the body, describing a drunk driving case in his district some 25 years ago in which a woman was hit head-on and lost her full-term baby as a result. When the district attorney tried to charge the drunken driver with the death, the judge dismissed the case because North Carolina law does not recognize unborn children as worthy of protection. Starnes said that same year a hunter charged with killing a doe out of season had his charges tripled when it was determined the animal was carrying twin fawns.
  • State Funds Cut to Planned Parenthood. Many news stories have been cycled about the contentious budget battle between Perdue and state lawmakers. Perdue vetoed the budget but legislators quickly retooled, gathered a few more votes, and over-rode the veto. Lost in the scuffle was the story that this budget successfully removed all state funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. According to Planned Parenthood, that cuts four percent or just over $434,000 per year from their budget. The budget also prohibits coverage for elective abortions in government health insurance policies, and repeals the state abortion fund.
Sign up for periodic updates on this bill and other important issues of concern to N.C. Baptists on the Christian Life and Public Affairs blog: clpablog.org.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Traci DeVette Griggs, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s creative team leader and liaison to Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee, wrote most of this report. Biblical Recorder Assistant Managing Editor Dianna L. Cagle contributed.)  
7/5/2011 6:16:00 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Though deaf, WorldChanger says plenty

July 5 2011 by Scott Stephens, Baptist Press

DUNCAN, Okla. — D Street was a center of commotion: A group of students had replaced the quiet of the morning with the sounds of a home under renovation.

One student, however, didn’t hear it that way.

James Knottel, the 18-year-old from First Baptist Church West in Lawton, Okla., came to Duncan to take part in a World Changers project with more than 200 other teenagers. Knottel is no ordinary teen. He is deaf.

Photo by Scott Stephens

James Knottel, 18, from First Baptist Church West in Lawton, Okla., works on replacing a window at the home of a family whose members — like him — are deaf. Knottel participated in a mid-June WorldChangers project in Duncan, Okla.

World Changers is a ministry of the North American Mission Board that provides students and adults with opportunities to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others through construction and ministry projects. In Duncan, 265 students and adults worked on 21 worksites during the week of June 13-18.

“My first day I was clueless,” Knottel recounted.

“I didn’t know what to do. I was scared.” He even wrote his group leader a note saying that he wanted to go home. After some encouragement, though, he decided he would persevere.

The next morning, the WorldChangers crew working on the D street house — calling themselves “the Dandy Sanders” — made their way to their jobsite for the first time. Knottel hesitantly walked to the front door with the rest of the crew to meet the homeowner, Lisa Jungheim.

Knottel’s uneasiness turned to joy: Jungheim also was deaf and her entire family knew how to sign. Knottel went from being a student who couldn’t communicate well to being the only student who could effectively interact with this family.

After meeting the Jungheims, Clifford McGhghy, the Dandy Sanders crew chief, said, “The first thing I noticed (about James) is that he would talk all day long, but I told him he had to go to work.” And work he did. Knottel and others on the crew replaced 10 windows and scraped and repainted the exterior of the house.

Though Knottel’s World Changers experience taught him what it takes to paint a house and how to replace a window, that wasn’t what most affected him.

“I now understand that I need to be satisfied with what I have and what God has blessed me with,” he said. “I need to be satisfied in whatever my situation is. I need to help people, to help my city. I want to build up that city to build up the Kingdom.”

After serving for a week at World Changers, it became clear to Knottel that God was calling him to mission work fulltime. When he saw a map of the places in the world where the gospel has yet to have taken root, he was ready to go.

“I can’t use my deafness as an excuse to sit at home when that side of the map was so dark,” Knottel said. “If I stay focused on God, I know He will help me.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Stephens is a student missionary and missions communications specialist serving with World Changers. For more information about World Changers, visit www.world-changers.net.)
7/5/2011 3:46:00 AM by Scott Stephens, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

FBC Cary among top ‘Annie’ givers

July 1 2011 by Tobin Perry, North American Mission Board

PHOENIX (BP) — The North American Mission Board (NAMB) honored more than 160 representatives of small and large churches who were among the top givers to the 2010 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions during a luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention.

NAMB invited the top givers in each Southern Baptist association, in terms of both total and per capita giving.

“One of the great blessings of being the president of the North American Mission Board this past year is the opportunity to go to different states and see our missionaries,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell told the luncheon guests June 14 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

“My eyes have been opened to their impact. You have every reason to be very proud of the missionaries you support,” Ezell said.

“They are sacrificially serving. We know they are doing it on the Lord’s behalf, but it’s an incredible testimony to your faithfulness.”

First Baptist Church in Cary, whose pastor, Jay Huddleston, attended the luncheon, demonstrated that faithfulness by surpassing their offering goal by $20,000.

“We are an Acts 1:8 church,” Huddleston said. “We believe in not only reaching the area where God has planted us — but Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. … (W)e know that our nation needs the gospel. That’s why we put such an emphasis on the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.”

Also among the pastors whose churches were honored by NAMB was a bivocational pastor whose missions roots go back to his own conversion as a young “military kid.” Steve Thompson, pastor of Birmingham Baptist Church in Birmingham, Mo., was saved through the ministry of a Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) missionary in the Philippines.

“Missionaries — whether they’re international or North American — have always been special to me,” Thompson said. “Although I’m a product of IMB’s ministry, that bleeds over into support for missions in general.”

The luncheon attendees were introduced to two of NAMB’s church planting missionaries in challenging assignments in North America.

The missionary stories seemed to make their mark on many of the pastors in attendance, bringing some to tears.

“I’ve been to many, many luncheons and banquets, but this one I think has blessed me more than any,” Huddleston said. “This isn’t theoretical. This is real life. These are testimonies of lives that have been touched and changed.”

Southern Baptists gave more than $54.3 million to the 2010 Annie Armstrong offering. Ezell announced that Alabama churches had once again given more than any other state to the offering. North Carolina churches gave the second most to the offering.
7/1/2011 6:57:00 AM by Tobin Perry, North American Mission Board | with 0 comments

IMB & NAMB partnership to transcend borders

July 1 2011 by Erich Bridges, Baptist Press

RICHMOND, Va. — Recently planted seeds of a new partnership between Southern Baptists’ two mission boards are already beginning to sprout.

Previously, the International Mission Board (IMB) and North American Mission Board (NAMB) carefully observed the geographical separation between their two ministry assignments. But national borders no longer define the task of missions in a globalized world marked by the rapid migrations of people groups in need of the Gospel.

Messengers to the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix gave final approval to ministry assignment changes for both boards emerging from “Great Commission Resurgence” recommendations adopted at last year’s SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. One of the assignment changes directs the IMB to “provide specialized, defined and agreed upon assistance to the North American Mission Board in assisting churches to reach unreached and underserved people groups within the United States and Canada.”

IMB Photo

A Meskhetian Turkish immigrant family arrives in the United States in this 2006 file photo. A ministry assignment change approved by Southern Baptist Convention messengers this year enables the International Mission Board to help the North American Mission Board in assisting churches to reach unreached and underserved people groups within the United States and Canada. The excitement evidences by Turkish family exemplifies the hopes of many immigrants, refugees and other internationals coming to North America from around the globe. What they need most, besides friends, is the gospel. National borders no longer define the task of missions in a globalized world marked by the rapid migrations of people groups.

NAMB and IMB mobilization leaders met while in Phoenix to discuss some of the directions that cooperation will take in the days ahead. Plans coming into focus include:
  • joint ethnographic mapping of the top 100 North American cities.
  • creation of a unified information database to help identify unengaged, unreached people groups in North America and provide resources to reach them.
  • multiple training opportunities to help churches and individuals plant churches among unreached groups.
“We’re recognizing the diaspora of peoples and the globalization of the world, and we’re seeking the unreached and least-reached peoples wherever they are on the globe, including North America,” said Ken Winter, IMB vice president for church and partner services. “What the convention in Orlando recommended, the convention in Phoenix has now approved — and we’re moving forward with it.

“We’re beyond the ‘Can we do this?’ stage. Now we’re identifying the strategies to assist the churches,” Winter said.

The urban face of North America in particular is changing as the world rushes toward the United States and Canada. According to current mission research, 584 unengaged, unreached people groups can be found in North America, many of which live in urban areas. These groups have less than 2 percent evangelical Christians among them, and no evangelical church or group has a viable plan to present the Gospel to them in ways they can understand and respond to it.

“We’re no longer training people here in America just to engage people groups overseas,” said Aaron Coe, NAMB’s vice president for mobilization. “We’re training people to engage people groups here in America and overseas.

“We have IMB missionaries working among peoples overseas, but we also have many of those peoples living within the boundaries of North America,” Coe said. “We can strategically work together as we look at reaching those people groups overseas as well as here at home. We’re just at the beginning of what that could look like, but you might have missionaries that come home and move to a city where their people group lives. For instance, if you’ve worked with West Africans in Mali and there’s a high concentration of West Africans in a place like New York City, that might be an option for you. …

“We’re excited about the potential,” Coe said, “because we’re on the same team working toward the same thing, and there are a lot of resources we can share. We’re going to be far more effective and efficient because of it.”

Speaking of New York, it will be the first of three North American locations for “EthnéCITY: Reaching the Unreached in the Urban Center,” a gathering designed for pastors, missionaries, church planters, missions leaders, students or anyone who might be described as “interested in exploring what it will take to engage the diaspora of unreached people groups in the urban centers of the world.” Dates and sites: Oct. 20-22 in New York; Nov. 17-19 in Houston; and May 3-5, 2012, in Vancouver, Canada. To find out more or register, visit http://ethnecity.com.

Strategists from Southern Baptist churches, associations, seminaries, state conventions, NAMB and IMB gathered May 9-10 to trade ideas about the challenge of engaging unreached people groups in U.S. urban centers. In April, NAMB President Kevin Ezell met with IMB President Tom Elliff to brainstorm ways to partner in mobilizing Southern Baptists to evangelize the lost, make disciples and plant new congregations.

“We’re overjoyed that leadership in both IMB and NAMB are determined to be good stewards of the resources that are entrusted to them,” Elliff said. “One of the evidences of that is a new and refreshing openness to utilizing the strengths each organization brings to the table for reaching a lost world.”

Ezell added, “It just makes sense to Southern Baptists that their two missions entities would work together like this. North America is too big and too diverse for us to say we can’t benefit from IMB’s expertise. We want to say to every church, ‘If God has put a people group on your heart somewhere in the world, help us reach them here at home as well.’”

Top leadership of both mission boards intend to meet again later this year to continue joint planning. In the meantime, IMB is surveying retired and former missionaries who might serve as resources, mentors and participants in reaching the unreached of North America. They’re also developing ways missionaries currently overseas can interact with U.S. churches to share ideas for engaging peoples in North America, including a monthly webinar that connects people across the globe for dialogue.

“We’re trying to create learning communities,” said IMB mobilizer Terry Sharp, who works with Southern Baptist state conventions and associations and facilitates urban strategies. “It’s so much fun seeing how God is opening these doors, seeing barriers broken down and the way people are getting it now.

“For some reason, because we as a convention have said, ‘Let’s do this together,’ people are saying, ‘I’ve been overseas and this people group is on my heart. Help me discover where that same group is here in America.’”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Bridges is an International Mission Board global correspondent.)
7/1/2011 6:35:00 AM by Erich Bridges, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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