July 2012

Caraway celebrates 50 years

July 31 2012 by BR staff

Former Camp Caraway staff members brought their families to a special event July 21 at Caraway Conference Center and Camp near Asheboro. Directors, counselors and others gathered to reminisce and celebrate 50 years of Camp Caraway.
Located on nearly 1,100 acres, the camp began as a ministry for RAs (Royal Ambassadors) in 1963.
“There were staff members from the very first summer up to this summer,” said Jeremy Jackson, Caraway’s associate director, who estimated about 130 people attended the event. About half of the people were former staff members. Some chose to stay overnight in cabins to extend their time together.
During the program several speakers shared their Caraway experiences. They also dedicated the Clyde Davis Sr. dining hall and showcased the stones commemorating past Camp Caraway directors that will be placed near the flagpole.

Camp Caraway photo

Former and current Camp Caraway staff members gathered recently with their families for a special time of remembrance.

Many who are familiar with Caraway’s history know of Bill Jackson’s involvement in getting Caraway started, but Director Jimmy Huffman also highlighted Davis’ involvement in finding a location and “in making Caraway a reality,” Jeremy Jackson recalled. “Both men were heavily involved in making Caraway a reality.”
A slide presentation shared photos and information about Caraway over the years. During the program the Bill Jackson historical wall also was recognized.
“It was just a neat experience,” said Jackson, who described a camp ritual of eating moon pies and drinking grape soda. And like other camp experiences, participants swapped stories sitting around the campfire.
Caraway is in the process of raising support for a $7.5-million campaign to build a new three-story facility that will be used to accommodate more guests. In September 2011, Caraway dedicated the Powell/Warren Mountain House that serves as a minister’s retreat.
Jackson said the most common story shared during the event involved boys who began a faith walk with Jesus or made other decisions for Christ at the camp. On the Caraway website, Kendell Cameron, pastor of First Baptist Church of Mount Holly who directed the camp from 1990-1993, said “My favorite moment each week was the commitment service at the chapel on the lake. I loved watching 200 campers converge on that beautiful, holy spot. Ultimately, what made that spot holy for me was not the beautiful vista, but the view of watching boys make commitments for Christ.”
For more information about Camp Caraway, visit campcaraway.org.
7/31/2012 2:55:57 PM by BR staff | with 1 comments

Democratic platform to endorse gay marriage

July 31 2012 by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – The Democratic Party’s new platform is set to include a plank endorsing the legalization of gay marriage, marking the first time that either major party has taken such a position, several media outlets reported Monday (July 30).

A 15-member platform draft committee approved the pro-gay marriage language over the weekend, according to Politico.com. One source told the news site it was “not controversial.” The language won’t become official until the full platform committee meets Aug. 10, Politico.com said.

Rep. Barney Frank, D.-Mass., who is gay, told the Washington Blade newspaper that the party’s position has been established by President Obama – who endorsed gay marriage in May – and by House leaders. A Democratic National Committee staffer also told the Washington Blade the proposed language rejects the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman and gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s gay marriages.

The Democrats’ 2008 platform did not endorse gay marriage explicitly, saying, “We support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation.” The Republicans’ 2008 platform endorsed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. It said, “Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)
7/31/2012 2:41:14 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Miss. wedding refusal not indicative of SBC

July 31 2012 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. – The inability of an African American couple to wed at predominantly white First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Miss., is not indicative of Southern Baptists, denominational leaders said.

The pastor’s decision to change the wedding venue, after a few members’ reaction because of the couple’s race, is an unfortunate, isolated incident from which pastors can learn, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Fred Luter said.
“We just have to be aware that the enemy will use anything he can to come against our churches and our ministries with something like this. And so we’ve always got to be aware that the enemy is out to kill, steal and destroy,” said Luter, the first African American elected as SBC president. “It’s unfortunate that it happened, but we’ve got to learn from it, and be able to go on and do what God has called us to do.

“What we can learn from it is that we need to talk to our membership about issues. I think if the pastor would have talked to more members about this … when this situation occurred … it probably would not have happened the way it happened,” Luter said.

Jim Futral, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, said the state and nation have long worked toward racial healing.

“Mississippi Baptists both reject racial discrimination and at the same time respect the autonomy of our local churches to deal with difficulties and disagreements under the lordship of Jesus,” Futral said. “While there may be hurts, wrongs and mistakes that must be addressed, the context for this to happen is in a historical church with a genuine caring pastor and thoughtful leaders who are seeking to do right.”

Roger S. Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations with the SBC Executive Committee, said the SBC affirms in Article 15 of its doctrinal Baptist Faith and Message that racism is against God’s will.

“The convention’s position on race relations is clear: ‘In the Spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism,’” Oldham said. “We are all saddened when any sin, including the sin of racism, rears its head in our midst. It is equally unfortunate when a group within a church seeks to determine church policy without giving the church an opportunity to discuss the matter and take formal action as a congregation.”

First Baptist Crystal Springs is in the headlines because a black couple, Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson, was forced to move their wedding to a second location just one day prior to the event. The church’s pastor, Stan Weatherford, conducted the wedding July 21 at a nearby African American church, telling the Wilsons some members of the 150-year-old First Baptist objected to the wedding because it involved a black couple.

“This [the wedding of a black couple] had not, had never been done here before, so it was setting a new precedent. And there were those who reacted to that because of that,” Weatherford told WLBT-TV in Jackson. “I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church and I certainly didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea. I wanted to make sure that their wedding day was a special day.”

According to news reports, “five or six” church members, who had not been identified as of press time, objected to the wedding. Weatherford’s job was on the line, according to the Wilsons.

They “had decided that no black couple had been married at their church and that if he went on to … marry us, then they would vote him out and he would be put out of the church,” Charles Wilson told WLBT.

The couple had been attending the church – she one year and he one month – but had not officially joined. Te’Andrea’s father was a member of the church and her uncle was a custodial employee, according to news reports.

Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said that while there may be valid reasons a couple may be denied a church wedding, “the race or ethnicity of that couple is never a valid reason.”

Numerous members of First Baptist Crystal Springs have expressed dismay that a few members could bar the wedding. At the July 29 service, a church deacon read a joint statement from the church’s deacons.

“Our many ministries here are open to everyone and have been for many years. We would never consider doing otherwise,” the deacon said, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger newspaper. “In the coming days and weeks our congregation will gather as a body of believers to pray and seek God’s blessing and direction as we move forward. We will ask for forgiveness where God reveals it is necessary and for His guidance as we look to the future of our congregation.”

Weatherford has stated he was looking for a “win-win” situation in moving the wedding to another venue.

“I was prepared to just go ahead and do the wedding here, just like it was planned and just like we had agreed to,” Weatherford told WLBT. “I was just looking for an opportunity, an option to be able to address a need within our congregation and at the same time minister to them.”

Luter sympathized with Weatherford’s position.

“I felt for the pastor because being a pastor myself, I know how awkward situations like that can be, whereby you have a handful of folks who have influence and will cause issues that the other folks are not aware of,” Luter said. “From all the indications that I’ve seen and read, the majority of the members were in support of this marriage happening at the church and it’s just so unfortunate that it came to this.”

Luter encouraged pastors to stand firm in serving the Lord.

“So I just want to encourage those pastors out there to, I even want to encourage pastor Stan Weatherford who went through this, just … learn from this as we all need to learn from this, and go on,” Luter said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened, but we’ve got to learn from it, and be able to go on and do what God has called us to do.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer.)
7/31/2012 2:32:33 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

Olympic diver’s empty life undergoes ‘radical change’

July 31 2012 by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

LONDON (BP) – David Boudia should have been happy.

At age 19, he competed in his first Olympics in Beijing. USA Diving’s male athlete of the year in 2008, Boudia was heading for what proved to be an immensely successful diving career at Purdue.

But the happiness was elusive.

“Throughout the journey through 2008, I was chasing after so many things that never lasted,” Boudia said. “At the end of the Olympic Games in 2008 I walked away and I looked around, and I was like, ‘All right, was that it?’”

His experience in this year’s Olympics in London promises to be different because Boudia is different. He became a Christian during his time at Purdue and has since discovered the joy in pursuing things that are eternal rather than temporary.

Boudia’s emptiness after the 2008 Olympics continued through his freshman year and into his sophomore year at Purdue. He jumped into the college party scene. He made a lot of friends and a lot of self-described “silly choices.”

One day, the depression got so severe he couldn’t even get out of bed.

“I woke up from a nap and felt like I’d hit a wall,” Boudia said. “I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what my purpose was. I didn’t know why I was feeling the way I was feeling.”

David Boudia

A diving teammate at Purdue directed Boudia to his coach, of all people. Boudia called Adam Soldati and went over to his house, where he sat and listened to Soldati and his wife Kimiko talk about the Lord.

Soldati said the hopelessness he saw in Boudia is common among elite athletes.

“They’re grabbing onto and they’re holding onto their sport to ultimately define them, to give them a sense of identity,” Soldati said. “God has put that in us to run after and to seek satisfaction, but ultimately that’s going to be found in His son Jesus, period.”

The Soldatis told Boudia that God created the world, but that men rebelled against Him and tried to find satisfaction in everything except Him. They told him how God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life, died on the cross to bear the punishment for people’s sins and rose again from the dead.

“We just gave him the gospel,” Soldati said.

They asked Boudia a lot of questions, trying to get him to understand what was going on in his heart. They tried to get him to see what he was chasing after, and where he was trying to find happiness and satisfaction. They also explained to him the cost involved in becoming a Christian.

Boudia listened, and he kept listening. Over the next several days, he continued to meet with Soldati, who continued to share the Bible with him. Boudia began to read the Bible for himself. A few weeks later, he made a profession of faith and was baptized. He’s now a member of Faith Church in Lafayette, Ind.

The conversion marked a distinct shift in Boudia’s life. He’s always been prone to frustration when his diving hasn’t been perfect. Now he’s learning how to take his thoughts captive when he gets frustrated. He’s discovered how much he needs to repent of sin as it relates to his diving and practicing.

Instead of being obsessed with his own performance, Boudia has changed his focus to others. He said his top goal heading into this Olympic competition is to love God and love others.

“Whatever happens at the end of this Olympic Games is completely out of my control,” Boudia said. “God is totally sovereign over everything.

“It’s such a radical change,” he continued. “I’ve known these competitors from around the world, and they’ve known what I’ve done and how I acted throughout the years before I met Christ. The next thing they know, here’s David talking about Jesus or saying ‘Praise God’ or something like that, and they definitely notice.”

Soldati has certainly seen the change in Boudia’s life.

“He’s just come so far, and God has grown him,” Soldati said. “He’s at such a different place right now than he was four years ago.”
Winning bronze
Boudia and his teammate Nick McCrory, a pre-med student at Duke University, won a bronze medal July 30 in the men’s synchronized 10-meter platform event.
Boudia and McCrory put together six solid dives for a score of 463.47 points to finish third behind the teams from China (gold) and Mexico (silver) and ahead of the hometown team from Great Britain.
Boudia said he has been greatly encouraged by the messages of support he’s received from his home congregation, Faith Church in Lafayette, Ind.

“I get so many messages, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or text messages, letting me know that they’re praying for me,” Boudia said. “The coolest ones are that they’re not praying for the victories. They’re praying that God’s name would be revealed and lifted on high. Now I have a crazy opportunity. I’m going to be in front of thousands of media people and I get to speak the name of Jesus and praise Him for what He’s done.”

He still has to compete in the men’s 10-meter event. Preliminaries begin Aug. 10.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth, in London covering the Olympics for Baptist Press, is editor of BP Sports.)

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7/31/2012 2:07:46 PM by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Scherer fails to medal but ‘happy with my performance’

July 31 2012 by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

LONDON – U.S. shooter Sarah Scherer, 21, advanced to the finals of the women's 10-meter air rifle competition July 28 at the Royal Artillery Barracks in London before settling for a seventh-place finish overall.

“I'm very happy with my performance,” Scherer said after the competition. “It was one of those things where I had some struggles, but I gave it my all. I overcame them. I really put everything that I had out there.”

China's Yi Siling took gold in the event. Scherer's U.S. teammate Jamie Lynn Gray finished fifth.

The competition started with 57 shooters, with the top eight advancing to the finals. Scherer's score of 397 in the qualifying round (out of a possible 400 points) was good enough for a fifth-place tie with four other shooters. The five who tied advanced to a shoot-off, with the top four moving on to the finals.

Scherer, who was an alternate in the 2008 Olympics, vowed at that point that she would dedicate herself to training and making the 2012 team.

“Every single day you put in your full effort, and that's all you can do,” she said. “The rest is up to the Lord. I'm here, and I've done well. I think I prepared well, and I'm happy to be here.”

Photo by USA Shooting

Olympian Sarah Scherer said her performance in the athletic world doesn’t define who she is; instead, her definition is from Christ.

Her road to London was unexpectedly complicated when her brother Stephen, who was a member of the U.S. men's shooting team in 2008, committed suicide in 2010. “The number one way I got through that,” she said, “is because I have a very strong faith in the Lord….”

“I know that my brother was here four years ago, and I'm following his footsteps and kind of carrying on with the work he accomplished,” she continued. “What he accomplished encourages me every day.”

Scherer, a junior at Texas Christian University (TCU), attends Southcliff Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. She said her church family has provided significant support for her throughout her Olympic preparation and experience.

“The college ministry I'm a part of, they're all rooting for me and everything,” Scherer said. “So many in the congregation are praying for me, and that's an amazing peace and comfort to have.”

It was during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where Scherer saw her brother reap the fruits of countless hours of training and practice.

Shooting had been a bonding activity for the Scherer siblings for eight years at that point. When Stephen picked up the sport, his little 9-year-old sister Sarah wanted to join him. They were practically inseparable, both inside and outside of the shooting range. Such was life for the Scherers as they grew up in a single-parent home, with their mother Sue doing the best she could to provide for her family.

Scherer, like other shooters, wears a heavy leather outfit to support her physically as she aims and fires at 40 quarter-sized targets from 10 meters away.

But because of her brother’s self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2010, Scherer did not have her brother cheering from the sidelines.

After Stephen’s suicide, Sarah contemplated giving up shooting entirely. There were too many haunting reminders.

But through God’s grace and the love and support of family and friends, Sarah has found the strength to continue her own shooting career. She does it with a heart full of hope and confidence that she and her brother will one day be reunited.

“Knowing that my brother had a faith in Christ and lived for Him, that’s the biggest thing for me,” Scherer said. “Because of that decision and that choice my brother made, and that trust that I have, I’m 100 percent sure of where my brother is. I know that he’s in a much better place, and that I’ll see him again in heaven. That’s the number one comfort that I’ve really experienced coming from my brother’s faith.”

In the months that followed Stephen’s death, Sarah found encouragement from scripture. Her church family surrounded her and her mother with prayers. Sarah’s collegiate small group was especially helpful as she grieved her brother’s loss and wrestled with the difficult questions. Why, God?

“Sarah’s small group was kind of an anchor that continually brought her back to what she knew to be true from God’s Word, even when she was at her lowest points,” said Spencer Plumlee, one of Southcliff’s pastors who was the college minister at the time.

Friends emailed or texted her with encouragement, often at just the time Sarah needed it the most. Her small group leader talked with her and listened to Sarah’s questions. Through all these things, Sarah saw the hand of God upholding her. She heard the voice of God telling her, “I’m here for you. Yes, this is a tough time, but I have a plan, and I’m in control.”

“Leaning on Christ through this time has been the only way that I’ve gotten through it,” she said.

The times she felt like quitting the shooting team at TCU, she got confirmation from God that He still had work for her to do among that community.

So she kept at it, and her diligence paid off. As she prepares to compete in London, Scherer knows the Olympics may resurrect painful memories of her brother. This was their dream, not just hers, and now he’s no longer there to share it with her.

But she’s also fully aware of the work God has done in her life, bringing her through trials and tragedy and preparing her for the biggest athletic event of her life. Whatever the outcome, Scherer continues to cling to her Lord.

“My performance in the athletic world doesn’t define who I am,” she said. “My definition is from Christ.”

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7/31/2012 1:52:17 PM by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

N.C. couple ministers to South Asian refugees

July 30 2012 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

The white gunnysack keeps slipping out of my hands. My arms feel like wet noodles in this Bangkok heat and humidity.
It feels like I’m carrying 70 pounds of rice, but it’s really just 10 – plus spices, cookies, canned meat and an odd assortment of extras from the “world hunger food closet” at Calvary Baptist Church in Bangkok.
A group of us – including North Carolinian and International Mission Board missionary Carrie Chappell are taking the food to a refugee family. With the help of Southern Baptist World Hunger Funds, Calvary Baptist established a food closet supplied with a few comfort foods from various countries.
Volunteers from the congregation distribute the food during their free time.
“We decided early on that we didn’t want to have the refugees come and stand in a distribution line,” says Chappell, whose husband, Martin, was the associate pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, N.C., from 1991 to 1999. 
“We wanted to really connect one-to-one,” she adds. “We want to have personal contact and meet each family in their home.”
Today, the Chappell family still maintains a close relationship with the Chowan Baptist Association and its many churches. Chappell says she hopes this story will educate others on the needs of the refugees they work with in Bangkok.

IMB missionary Carrie Chappell shops in the local market for fresh fruits and vegetables to take to Bangkok’s International Detention Center. Southern Baptist World Hunger Food Funds provide a special gift bag for Christians to take to refugees and asylum seekers in the detention center.

Relationships with the refugees are a key part of their ministry.
“Jesus is so compassionate that we want to share His compassion with others,” she explains. “This often starts with a bag of food and a listening ear. They just want someone to talk to … someone to share their stories with. They want to know that somebody cares about them.”
While walking the backstreets of Bangkok, Chappell spies one member of the family we are looking for – a smiling William* – waving to us. The man quickly invites us out of the scorching sun and into the oven he calls home.
This concrete block room is no bigger than a child’s bedroom in most American homes, yet a family of five lives here. It isn’t quite what you expect when you think of refugee life.
The iconic image of refugees is rows of white tents in a sprawling emergency camp, not a dingy apartment in a mega-city. But the reality is only one-third of the world’s 15.4 million refugees live in camps. Like most of the world’s population, refugees have steadily moved into cities and towns. Urban refugees are among the fastest-growing population segment globally.
Thousands of people like William and his family live in Bangkok, where the United Nation’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has an office. They estimate that 90 people seek asylum each month in Thailand, fleeing some form of persecution or war.
William lifts his chin to show us a shiny scar from a knife wound. His 13-year-old son peels back his shirtsleeve to reveal a scar from a bullet. They’ve been threatened for being Catholic. The family fled to Bangkok in the hopes of not only safety but for a better future. What they didn’t know was that urban refugees often face dangers and hardships those in the traditional camps never experience.
Thailand is one of the few countries that does not honor the international human rights laws protecting those who flee persecution and seek asylum outside of traditional camps.
Instead, urban refugees are considered illegal migrants.
William explains they knew it would be difficult to leave everything behind in the South Asian country where they once lived – the family business, their home, dishes, clothes, friends and family — but no one warned them about the isolation, depression, fear and hunger that most suffer when seeking asylum, especially outside of the large refugee camps.
William says his family lives in constant fear of being arrested, so they stay in the small cement-block room they rent.
In an urban environment, the UNHCR cannot always provide services, protection or support as easily as it can in a camp. Filling this gap is the reason our group is traipsing around Bangkok carrying a gunnysack of food. Chappell explains that asylum seekers are not allowed to work or earn money. Once the UN has granted them refugee status, they receive a small stipend for rent until they leave for their new host country or are repatriated to their old one.
Navigating through the UN paperwork can take years. In the meantime, families like William’s struggle to survive. For the first time in their lives, these doctors, bankers, accountants and business owners turn to begging to feed their families.
Calvary Baptist realized the urban refugees’ needs were an opportunity to minister to “the nations” in their own backyard.
‘That’s how I met Jesus’
Providing social interaction is one reason Chappell and church members from Calvary visit refugees’ homes. She invites the family to church, mentioning several families attend a small group in their language.
Calvary’s church has many small groups studying the Bible and offering each other support in language groups from Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Some of the small group leaders are trained pastors who are also refugees.
For believers, Calvary’s ministry provides a safe place to worship their Savior. For those who have never heard, the church introduces them to the gospel.
When it’s time for us to go, no one wants the visit to end.
Our new friends walk with us to the main road and promise to drop by Calvary on Sunday.
Back at the church, we meet a group of refugees sweeping the parking lot and raking leaves. They do this every week as a way to say thank you and serve the Lord. A 19-year-old who was baptized a few weeks ago asks if we have just come back from visitation. I give a tired nod and his smile grows wide.
“Someone came to our house,” he says. “That’s how I met Jesus.”
*Name changed
7/30/2012 3:01:14 PM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Women’s conference to focus on God’s redeeming love

July 30 2012 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

During the time leading up to the Babylonian exile the Israelites continually turned away from God, refusing to repent of their sins and to follow God’s commandments. The exile could have marked the end of the Jews. 
“Jerusalem was decimated and the temple was burned. It seemed like that was it,” said Kelly Minter, a popular writer, speaker and worship leader whose latest women’s Bible study is on Nehemiah.  “But we know God was gracious because God brought the Jews back.”
Minter is the featured speaker for the 2012 Women’s Prayer and Evangelism Conference, Sept. 7-8 at Ridgecrest Conference Center. The conference theme is “Redeeming Love,” which Minter explains can be seen throughout the book of Nehemiah.
“God was not just going to send Nehemiah to build, but to help him rebuild,” she said. “God is a rebuilder. He helps rebuild the lives of His people.” 
Her latest women’s Bible study focuses on God’s redeeming love for His people, and how God has called believers to be ministers of that redeeming love. “It requires a sacrifice; it requires a cost,” she said. “I love Nehemiah’s heart and compassion for his people, and his willingness to sacrifice.”

Kelly Minter

Throughout the conference Minter will encourage women to seek what the Lord has put on their heart to do, and to then be obedient.
“This will be a great opportunity for us to get a bigger perspective of Kingdom living and who Christ has called us to be,” she said. “I won’t say it will be easy. But it will be an encouraging, inspiring call to action.”
This year’s theme Scripture passage is Psalm 103:1-5, which addresses different situations in life, such as praising God and remembering all the good the Lord has done: pardoning iniquities, healing diseases, redeeming His people and crowning them with loving kindness and compassion, and satisfying the years of His people with good things.
Breakout session leaders will share their personal experiences and what God taught them in order to encourage others going through similar situations. They also will share how God’s redeeming love impacts their lives, said Ashley Allen, director of Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries. “While there are women who have professed Christ as their Lord and Savior, we desire for them to fully experience what this relationship means in every aspect of who they are as women,” she said.
Paula Hemphill, women’s missional strategist for the International Mission Board, will lead a breakout session titled, “The God who heals all your diseases: What about when God doesn’t heal?”
As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Hemphill has learned the importance of making sure that each day is lived for God’s glory. “All of us should be asking, ‘What really is my contribution to this life? Am I really living abundantly?’” she said. “Jesus came to give us abundant life.”
“I have a ministry to other women who are going through cancer,” Hemphill said. “I have felt the nausea and sickness, but I have also sensed God’s power and presence. As He has touched me through illness, He has given me the capacity to share Christ’s love, whether in cancer centers or in chemo chairs. People are listening,” she added. “They often listen best when we are not at our best. It’s often during times of pain and suffering that we really have the most powerful message.”
Kimberly Merida, adjunct instructor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Justice Advocate with International Justice Mission, will lead a breakout session on “The God who redeems life from the pit: Even the pit of human sex trafficking.”
Merida and her husband Tony, who pastors Imago Dei Church in Raleigh and is the author of Orphanology, are parents to five adopted children. Kimberly Merida has traveled overseas to areas where children and youth are repeatedly exploited. Her desire is to help women understand the issue of human trafficking nationally and globally, and how they can help make a difference in the lives of others.
“Our God is a great God, and He calls us to action,” she said. Often women do not act because they are afraid, or because the despair of the situation is so overwhelming they don’t know what to do. Merida encourages women to be prayer warriors and to remember that God is the redeemer and restorer. “We must pray according to who He is – we tend to minimize that,” Merida said. “God is jealous for His people.”
To register or for more information visit ncbaptist.org/wpec. A detailed listing of all the breakout sessions is also available on the website.
7/30/2012 2:55:45 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Tobin Heath’s passions are Christ & soccer

July 30 2012 by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

LONDON – Tobin Heath’s love affair with the sport of soccer began early in life – when she started playing at age 4 at the local YMCA.
“I had an incredible sense of joy in the game,” she said. “I didn’t want to do anything else.”

Her passion for soccer continued to develop throughout her youth, as did her skills. She became one of the top soccer players in the country, and she is making her second Olympics appearance as a member of the U.S. women’s team.

Soccer isn’t the only passion that began in Heath’s youth. Her relationship with Christ also started early in her life and has deepened through the years.

“I was brought up in the church, and from an early age I was lucky enough to be shown great examples of Christ’s love through my parents and my family,” Heath said.

Though she had a strong foundation in a Christian family, leaving her New Jersey home for college proved to be a turning point in her life. She realized that her faith didn’t stay at home, but that she had to embrace it for herself.

She did that during her freshman year at the University of North Carolina, when she said she really found her identity in Christ. She immersed herself in Scripture and began a closer walk with the Lord that has continued and that others have noticed.

Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISI Photos

Tobin Heath (17) of Sky Blue FC helped her team defeat the Atlanta Beat 3-0 during a Women’s Professional Soccer match in May. Heath is a committed Christian who wants to use her Olympic platform to glorify God.

Stephanie Cox, a teammate of Heath’s on the 2011 World Cup team, said Heath has a laid back personality that reminds her of a surfer.

“She talks kind of slow sometimes and is very relaxed,” Cox said. “But then you start to get her talking in front of people or in our Bible study, and she gets on a roll. She’s passionate. It’s really captivating.”

Heath said the women’s Olympic team has every expectation of winning a gold medal in London. On a personal level, she said she simply wants to enjoy the journey and do what she can to allow her teammates to be successful.

“You don’t really know what your role is going to be at the Olympics until you actually get there,” Heath said. “There are so many special moments and stories and challenges that go along with the tournament itself. I’m excited for the journey and for what we’re going to face along the way.”

She said her Christian faith has allowed her to derive great enjoyment in playing her sport because she knows that God has entrusted her with a gift.

“I realize that I couldn’t have gotten where I am without Him, and He continues to be my everything every day,” Heath said.

She wants to use that gift to bring glory to the Lord, whether that means playing the best that she can on the field or loving, encouraging and ministering to her teammates along the way.

“Just as important as winning a game is winning lives for His Kingdom,” Heath said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports (www.bpsports.net) and director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)

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7/30/2012 2:47:53 PM by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

U.S. archer Wukie learns to trust God

July 30 2012 by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

 LONDON – Jacob Wukie had little reason to feel confident heading into this year’s Olympic archery trials.
Stomach problems had plagued him for weeks, significantly cutting into his training plans. In his preparation for the trials, Wukie had hoped to shoot 350-400 arrows a day. One week, he only shot 500 arrows total.

“I just had to learn to be OK with not being able to give it all I had and trust that the Lord would be glorified through that,” Wukie said.

Despite the lack of training, Wukie kept advancing through the trials. On the last day of the third and final round, his closest competitor faltered, and Wukie made the Olympic team by the slimmest of margins.

When he stepped onto the field to compete in London, Wukie certainly wanted to win. But more than that, he says he wants to represent Christ well on one of the world’s biggest athletic platforms.

“For me, my worth is in the fact that I am saved. I’m a Christian. I’m in Christ,” Wukie said. “That’s where my worth comes from. My goal is to glorify God and to do His will.

“Right now, I’m shooting archery,” he continued. “I believe that wherever we are, we’re supposed to do everything to the best of our ability. So I’m working as hard as I can in training in archery to be the best that I’m able to be.”

U.S. Olympic archer Jacob Wukie says he wants to win, but more than that he wants to represent Christ well on one of the world’s biggest athletic platforms.

Wukie has learned to trust God with the results of his archery competitions, whatever the outcome may be. The 2012 Olympic trials marked a stark contrast to the trials four years earlier, when Wukie had spent countless hours preparing for the competition, only to find himself overmatched and unready for that level of competition.

That helplessness caused a great amount of anxiety and frustration.

“Even though I intellectually believed that God was in control and had a good plan for my life, and that all things work together for good for those who are Christians, I kind of proved to myself that I didn’t actually believe it, because I was so worried about all of these things that had gone wrong,” he said.

Wukie placed 17th when only the top 16 archers advanced, effectively ending his chances at making the 2008 Olympic team in Beijing. Prior to those trials, Wukie had prayed that God would change his heart and teach him to trust in His leading and His plans.

“After a couple of months I realized that the Lord had changed my heart, that I was excited about whatever the future was, even though I didn’t know what it was,” he recalled.

A week later, the national coach informed him that another archer had pulled out of the competition and that Wukie was back in the top 16. He continued with the Olympic trials, ultimately finishing fourth and serving as an alternate to the 2008 Olympic team.

“Just through everything that the Lord had brought me through at that point, I knew that I was where He wanted me to be,” Wukie said. “I wasn’t on the team and didn’t end up competing in Beijing, but He had taught me to trust Him.”

That lesson was an invaluable one for Wukie, and one he will carry with him into the 2012 Olympics, where he is a full-fledged member of the U.S. team.

“Whether I win or don’t, whether I win the gold medal or go out my first match, my prayer is going to be that God will be glorified in my performance and in how others see me,” Wukie said. “I’ll pray that others around me will be able to see the Lord through me and my actions and my performance.”

Wukie, who also competes on the U.S. archery men’s team, received a silver medal on Day 1 of the Olympics, along with Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski. The U.S. team was bested by Italy in the final. He begins competing July 31 in the individual sport.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports (www.bpsports.net) and director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)

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7/30/2012 2:37:36 PM by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Immigrant-rich, multicultural London is ideal missions ground

July 27 2012 by Elaine Gaston, Baptist Press

LONDON – For more than 200 years, London has been a repository for some of the globe’s most remarkable cultural treasures.
In an hour’s stroll through the British Museum, a visitor can view Greek statues from the Parthenon; colossal stone-winged lions from an Assyrian palace; the Rosetta Stone, the world’s key to unlocking the language of the pharaohs; and a plethora of other incomparable, priceless treasures.

Yet other treasure has found a home in London outside the secure walls of a world-class museum.

That treasure is on the streets, in the neighborhoods, riding the buses and underground trains, heading to an Olympics venue, working in the restaurants or attending the schools.

It’s the people.

There’s Asuntha*, for instance. Her Sri Lankan husband brought her to London just after they were married. As is common in this sort of arranged marriage, she didn’t know him well, and family difficulties followed. A few years and two daughters later, her husband left her, a bank repossessed her home, and she had to move into government housing.

But Asuntha stayed in London, living in a small flat above a gym, to build a better life for her girls. Her girls attend British schools and speak flawless English. She knows that by staying in London, her girls will have a more promising start to life than they ever would have had back in their home country.

Asuntha is one of an estimated 100,000 Sri Lankan-born U.K. residents, the majority of whom live in London. They bring with them not just their culture but also their religions, which include Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.

In a 2007 article, New York Magazine likened modern-day London to the New York City of the early 1900s, its great age of immigration. For decades, different ethnic groups have found reasons to immigrate to London.

Turkish Cypriots began to settle in the city’s Camden area in the 1950s. Now in the Haringey area there’s a concentration of about 30,000 to 40,000 Turkish speaking people – and more than 200,000 in all of London.

On day 63, the Olympic flame arrived in Surrey County making its way through 17 cities and villages before moving to London. Joe Cross, 14, carried the flame through Dorking as one of the 8,000 inspirational torchbearers.

Pakistanis, because of historical and colonial links with Britain, have flowed into London in large numbers, especially in the 1960s. Now there are more than a million in the U.K. The largest number of Portuguese outside their native country live in Stockwell, numbering 27,000.

Clothing factory work attracted Vietnamese refugees in Hackney in the early 1980s. Wars and conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere have brought more refugees to London in the last decade.

Most recently, workers from the European Union (EU) have flowed into Britain since it opened to member states in 2004. Originally the government predicted 13,000 EU workers would enter Britain annually; but instead, 329,000 arrived in the first 18 months of the policy, many from Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia and the Czech Republic.

The result? The city has become a “multilingual capital,” according to the London-based National Centre for Languages.

School children in London speak more than 200 languages and more than 40 percent of all London school children speak a language other than English at home, the center estimates.

In east London, the percentage of elementary school students that speak only English as a second language is as high as 78 percent, figures show.

A spiritual dynamic of this ethnic tapestry is expressed in the diversity of religions finding their footing in London. Mosques are evident in many parts of the city as well as in outlying towns. Hindu and Sikh temples dot the cityscape where once only Christian churches stood.

Instead of being a “melting pot,” first coined for the assimilation of newcomers to the United States into a homogenous whole, London labels itself as “multicultural,” a place in which different cultural identities are maintained, ideally within a unified society.

On the eve of the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Surrey county, Christians gathered from Redhill and Reigate to pray for the United Kingdom during the Games. Prayers were offered for the government, for London and for the church both locally and nationally.

It was this multicultural aspect of London that brought International Mission Board (IMB) missionary Patrick Sims* to the city in 2002.

“London is an amazing place to get to relate to people from all over the world,” said Sims, IMB strategy leader for London. He and his wife Sarah* lead a team of missionaries reaching out to the city. Members on the London team often speak the languages and understand the home cultures of these more recent London residents, both newcomers and second- and third-generation immigrants.

“Today in most major cities around the world, you will find many cultures,” Sims said. “I think it’s just magnified in London, a city whose indigenous are the minority in their own capital. I think maybe the unique element here is the massive amounts of each of the groups that are here.”

Rachel Carter*, an IMB missionary in London, got to know Asuntha, the Sri Lankan mother of two girls, through a preschool group Carter’s son attended. It was there that she noticed two South Asian women, one wearing an Islamic headscarf, standing apart from the English moms.

“I would try to stand next to Asuntha and I would talk about the weather or whatever I could think of,” Carter said.

As their friendship deepened, Asuntha shared her difficult times with Carter.

“She said I was the only one she could talk to,” Carter said. “Building relationships with Muslims and Indians is so much easier here than even with some British women. It is an incredible opportunity for Christians to befriend people (from so many places). It’s so noticeable when you’re just a genuine, humble, kind, caring person.”

*Names changed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Elaine Gaston, a Woman’s Missionary Union writer, lived in London with her family in the mid-1990s. To download a copy of the WMU International Mission Study on London in which this article appears, visit www.newsfromeurasia.com/?p=629.)

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7/27/2012 1:11:30 PM by Elaine Gaston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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