July 2012

In Taipei, parade of idols sparks prayer

July 25 2012 by

TAIPEI, Taiwan – It started off as a typical Tuesday morning in Taipei for Southern Baptist missionary Erin Pendleton*.
After cooking breakfast for her husband and sons and getting the boys off to school, Pendleton started down her to-do list for the day, which included a trip on her bicycle to buy a Dustbuster. The young mom cycled past familiar neighborhood sights such as vegetable and fruit markets, Starbucks and the modern subway system in Taiwan’s highly developed capital city.

Then she froze – partly because the road was blocked and she had to stop, but mostly because she was shocked by what she saw.

For 45 minutes, she watched a parade of idols, transported on floats, proceed down a main road in Taipei. Blue utility trucks decked in flowers and colorful tissue paper pulled the heavy idols in celebratory fashion.

Worshipers pray before an image of Guan Yin, the goddess of mercy, at Taipei’s Longshan temple, which was founded in 1738 and now contains images of more than 100 deities. Most Chinese temples blend a variety of religious traditions including Buddhism and Taoism.

The eerie music, loud firecrackers and haze of smoke caused her to shudder. She looked around at the crowd. Some people exuded the kind of enthusiasm she had seen in America at pre-game parades. Others looked bored. She was confused at first by what was happening but then realized she was seeing a manifestation of idol worship.

“Jesus, You are Lord!” she cried out in anguish to God.

“Show them, Lord,” she prayed, only to have her voice drowned out by the fireworks and music so loud that even those closest couldn’t hear her.

She returned home later that day, heartbroken and disturbed at the reminder of how modern Taipei is steeped in traditional idol worship.

The main religions – Buddhism, Daoism and animism – have a stronghold in the city’s urban culture along with secularism and materialism.
Pendleton learned from her Chinese language tutor Chen Li* that the parade was a joint celebration of five temples. The idols were being carried through the streets to raise awareness and promote more visits to the temples.

“That’s the one we worship in my home!” Chen suddenly exclaimed, pointing at one of the photos.

She and her parents have an “earth god” idol statue sitting on an idol shelf at their home, along with the ashes of her ancestors. Chen, a graduate of one of Taiwan’s most prestigious universities, chose this idol for herself. Each morning and evening, the 28-year-old helps her mother make the climb to the third floor where the idol shelf is located. She bows to both the ancestor’s ashes and the idol. She talks daily to the unhearing effigy about her problems.

Although the “earth god” is not considered a powerful idol, Chen likes him because of what she describes as his warm face; because he is here on earth rather than far away in the heavens; and because she believes he once smiled at her.

Chen has heard the gospel many times, and Pendleton* believes the young woman is interested in knowing Christ and is in the process of counting the cost. She’s very close to having the courage to turn from her family’s beliefs and follow Christ.

Pray that Chen will truly make this decision despite her family’s resistance, Pendleton asked, and that she will be a witness in her family so they may all believe in the living God.

*Names changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Emily Stockton is an International Mission Board writer living in East Asia.)

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7/25/2012 2:12:03 PM by | with 0 comments

Churches in Taipei sprout from student ministry

July 25 2012 by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press

RICHMOND, Va. – Taipei is a bit like a waffle – at least that’s how missionary Ward Ferris* sees it.

“A pancake, you pour the syrup on and it goes everywhere. But with a waffle ... you’ve got to intentionally pour it into each little waffle,” the International Mission Board worker explained.

“The same is true in the city – you have to be intentional and specific in designing your evangelism strategies that fit the context of the various communities,” said Ferris, who has lived in Taipei for nearly 10 years.

Taipei is a large, complex city with many levels and aspects to its culture. Even its population is complex – a divided demographic of the very young and the very old. The population of Taipei and the surrounding region is estimated at almost 7 million and is growing at about 1 percent a year, predominantly through migration of people from the rural, animistic, tradition-bound farming communities of Taiwan.

“In many cases, the unreached people of the world are coming to the cities ... as a place of hope,” Ferris said.

In Taipei, education is a key draw, with 46 colleges and universities in the Taiwanese capital. As a result, Ferris noted, there’s a large “Asian urban youth culture” which sees itself as privileged, with a secular mindset of having more education than the parents and grandparents who raised them.

Yet it is through this younger generation that new churches are being planted and spreading as Christian workers focus on university students by teaching English and conducting Bible studies.

Also, teams from the United States participate in cultural exchanges in which the volunteers teach about American holidays such as Christmas or Easter and, in doing so, gain opportunities to share about Christ.

“Almost all of the major churches that exist in our Chinese Baptist Convention were started by student ministry at one time,” Ferris said, “so we’re hoping to re-engage church planting using these students that are coming to faith in Christ to start churches.”

*Name changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE ­– Laura Fielding is a writer with the International Mission Board.)

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In Taipei, parade of idols sparks prayer
7/25/2012 2:10:25 PM by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

House panel OKs D.C. late-term abortion ban

July 25 2012 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – A congressional committee has approved a bill seeking to place a limitation on the District of Columbia’s unfettered abortion policy.

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted 18-14 July 18 to send the District of Columbia Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act to the full chamber. The vote on H.R. 3803 came along party lines, with Republicans in the majority.

The legislation would prohibit abortions in the District of Columbia at 20 weeks or more after fertilization based on evidence a baby in the womb experiences pain by that point.

If enacted, it would provide a restriction in a jurisdiction that has legalized abortion throughout pregnancy until birth. In its findings, the bill points out the D.C. council “repealed all limitations on abortion at any stage of pregnancy” in 2004.

Congress has authority over the District of Columbia under the U.S. Constitution.

Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land urged committee leaders in a July 18 letter to back the bill.

“[I]t is alarming that Congress ... allows this heinous practice of aborting pain-capable unborn children to continue in the nation’s capital,” said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “This atrocious practice must be stopped.”

Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), said in a written statement, “A vote against this bill amounts to a vote to ratify the extreme policy currently in effect in the nation’s capital. ... Under the Constitution, members of Congress, and the President, are ultimately accountable for this extreme policy.”

Democrats on the committee proposed three amendments to the bill, but all met defeat.

Seven states have similar pain-capable abortion bans, according to NRLC.
7/25/2012 2:06:48 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Discovering a life of discipleship

July 24 2012 by Brian Upshaw, BSC Congregational Services

The life of discipleship is filled with discovery. We must discover who Jesus is and what He expects. We must also discover who we are and how we will respond to Jesus’ call to discipleship.
The Great Commandment Matrix was designed by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Congregational Services Group as a tool to help churches and individuals discover their heart motivations behind their ministries and behaviors.
The matrix is based on Matthew 22:37-40 and Jesus’ declaration that love for God was the greatest commandment. Scripture tells us the second, to love your neighbor as yourself, is like it.
Jesus declared that all the law and the prophets – meaning everything else in scripture – depend on these twin commandments.
A disciple-making culture exists where lives are ordered around loving God and loving others. The matrix graphic provides four categories in which attitudes/behaviors can be classified:
This is claiming to have a high love for God but not demonstrating a love for others. The religion-centered person claims to love God but has overlooked the command that whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 3:21).

Like the Pharisee of Jesus’ day, the religion-centered person believes that keeping law or tradition puts one in right-standing with God. Here, even good things like Bible knowledge and prayer become idols.
This imbalance leads to legalism and self-righteous attitudes. For example, if you are in an argument with your spouse, you can ask him or her to forgive you because you are expected to do this as a good spouse.
This is claiming to have a high love for others without holding to a love for God. Historically, the Great Commandment has often been interpreted only through the lens of loving one’s neighbor.
While Christians are obligated to care for the poor, the hungry, the naked and the thirsty as Jesus indicated (Matthew 25:31-40), we cannot divorce such care from a call to those in need to love God exclusively.
This imbalance leads to a social gospel void of evangelistic and missional zeal. In an argument, you can ask the other person to forgive you because you want to make that person happy and appease him or her.
This is demonstrating neither a love for God nor a love for others. Even the most pious behaviors and benevolent actions can be done for personal gain or satisfaction. This imbalance leads to division and disunity as you only look out for yourself. In an argument, you can ask the other person to forgive you because you want to avoid further arguments and desire to just escape the situation.
This is demonstrating a love for God that compels us to love others. The Christ-centered disciple studies the Bible and seeks to apply biblical truth to your life.
This disciple is able to love others with word and deed because he is filled with the love of God. This disciple has an appropriate balance of focus on Jesus that leads to obedience to the Great Commission to make disciples. In an argument, you ask for forgiveness because you recognize you have sinned and you are called to love the other person as Christ loves the church.
Where is your discipleship centered? Use the chart above to consider the motives of your heart when it comes to being a disciple.
For more information contact Brian Upshaw at bupshaw@ncbaptist.org or go to http://www.ncbaptist.org/3D. You can also reach him at  (919) 467-5100, ext. 5632.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Upshaw leads the Church Ministry Team for Congregational Services at the Baptist State Convention of N.C.)
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7/24/2012 2:39:33 PM by Brian Upshaw, BSC Congregational Services | with 0 comments

Aurora church near theater massacre, aims to convey that ‘God is real’

July 24 2012 by Aaron Earls, Baptist Press

AURORA, Colo. – Less than a mile separates the movie theater in suburban Denver where 12 people were killed and Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church.

Aurora pastor Mitch Hamilton told the congregation Sunday that the bulletins for the service would not be of much use – they were printed Thursday and then “everything changed” just after midnight.

While none of Mississippi Avenue’s members were among the victims, four were in an adjacent theater and escaped unharmed despite bullets flying through the walls. Nevertheless, trauma permeates the suburban Denver community after the slaying of 12 people by a lone gunman, who also left 58 wounded.

A tearful 6-year-old girl came into Hamilton’s office with her mother and asked, “Pastor, why did my cousin die?”

Often visibly emotional during his sermon, Hamilton assured the congregation that even though their normalcy has been shattered, Christians can answer the question of “How do I take a step forward?”

In Aurora, Colo., pastor Mitch Hamilton of Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church preaches the Sunday morning service in the wake of a lone gunman’s killing of 12 moviegoers and wounding of 58 others.

Hamilton urged church members to do so resting in God’s presence and His promise to never leave them and trusting in the person of Jesus Christ.

While the church has offered public prayer services and counseling since the tragedy, Hamilton sees Mississippi Avenue members as being a key facet of reaching out to the hurting.

“We are equipping our members,” the pastor said, “to share with our community that God is real, that He loves them desperately and that He will walk this road with them if they will only turn to Him.”

As is often the case after a significant loss of life, Hamilton has been asked, “Where was God in all this?” His answer, quite simply, is that “God is here.”

“He is with each one walking this road and He offers His presence to any who will call upon Him,” Hamilton said. “He was with the injured and the medical teams as they sought to preserve life. He was with the first responders as they responded to the call to save lives.”

Moving forward, Hamilton said the greatest need for the community is prayer.

“The wounds that have been inflicted are too deep to be healed by words or resources. There are plenty who would offer both. We need the Spirit of God to fall on Aurora, draw her people to Him, and lead them into a personal relationship with Christ.”

Hamilton asked prayers for church members to have:

– opportunity to minister in the community.

– ability to share the love of Christ with hurting people.

– grace to care for those directly touched by the shooting.

On Sunday, Hamilton added, the church sang the modern hymn, “In Christ Alone,” its words having taken on new meaning in such close proximity to such a devastating act of evil – “No power of hell or scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Earls is a writer based in Wake Forest, N.C.)

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SBC chaplain ministers to Aurora survivors
7/24/2012 2:30:21 PM by Aaron Earls, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

SBC chaplain ministers to Aurora survivors

July 24 2012 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

AURORA, Colo. – U.S. Army Chaplain Jared Vineyard was only in his fifth day on the job at nearby Buckley Air Force Base when a dozen innocent victims were brutally murdered by a gunman early last Friday morning at the Century Theater in Aurora.

Captain Vineyard, a 36-year-old Southern Baptist chaplain, is using every bit of the grief counseling experience he gained as an Army chaplain in Afghanistan to console the family, friends and Navy colleagues of John Larimer, one of 12 victims killed. Another 58 people were injured in the melee.

Larimer, 27, was a Petty Officer 3rd class and had been assigned since last October to Buckley, where he worked as a cryptologic technician. Larimer was with another sailor injured in the attack at the midnight opening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest Batman movie.

“The shooting happened less than 10 miles from my house,” said Vineyard, who had spent his first three weeks in Aurora getting processed as a resident of the base and moving into his new home. Monday, July 16, was his first day on the job. It’s a week he won’t soon forget.

Photo by John Swain

Army Chaplain (Capt.) Jared Vineyard and his wife, Amanda, were recognized at the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans in June.

Vineyard, awakened at 4:30 a.m. Friday with news of the 12:39 a.m. shooting, took off for the base early and immediately began counseling with a dozen of Larimer’s fellow sailors. Vineyard is the only Southern Baptist among four chaplains at Buckley, a base staffed by the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines.

“On Friday, I did a lot of one-on-one grief counseling with the Navy guys, who all knew John personally. They were still in shock. I even counseled with some Army guys who also knew John,” said Vineyard. He and another Navy chaplain were on hand when Buckley AFB officers officially broke the news on base.

Friday night, it was Vineyard and other Navy personnel who picked up Larimer’s brother at the airport and drove him to the Aurora high school serving as the gathering place for victims’ family members. The parents of Larimer, from Crystal Lake, Ill., are making plans to bury their son in Illinois.

“With the friends and loved ones, you’re initially dealing with the shock factor,” said the chaplain. “They’re not looking for answers. There are no easy answers. The biggest thing to do initially is just to listen. They want to get things off their chests. They asked questions that have no easy answers – like ‘why did this happen?’

“We’ll have many more opportunities to talk with other people in the days ahead. I don’t know how this could happen,” says Vineyard. “But I know God is loving, good and still on His throne. There are questions but we can look to Him for answers – whether we get them or not. There’s peace in that.”

Vineyard, who won a Purple Heart in Iraq as an artillery officer before answering the call to the ministry and serving as a Southern Baptist chaplain in Afghanistan, said the people of Aurora, a suburb east of Denver, are still in shock days later.

“This is so close to Littleton (about 30 minutes away), and people here still remember that shooting. They’re shocked at yet another mass shooting so close by.”

Littleton was the site of the notorious Columbine High School massacre of 1999, when 12 students and a teacher were shot and killed by two Columbine students who also killed themselves.

Vineyard was one of thousands of local citizens, officials and pastors who attended a prayer vigil at Aurora’s municipal complex Sunday night. According to Vineyard, Aurora is known as an “All-American” city.

As Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan put it, “We’re still an All-American city, and we will be known by how we come together – not by this incident.”

Vineyard said there’s already been an outpouring of love and support by area churches, civic groups and businesses. “Everybody’s working together. While it is such a tragedy, it’s been amazing to see how people have come together on a united front just since Friday.

“It’s a time for Southern Baptists and all Americans to pray for the people of Aurora and Colorado,” Vineyard said. “It’s a time when Christ can shine through the tragedy –- an opportunity to show God’s love through the evil.”

At the June Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting, Vineyard and his wife Amanda were recognized by North American Mission Board leaders and messengers, and received a lengthy standing ovation.

Representing the SBC, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) has some 1,450 endorsed chaplains serving in the military. A total of 3,400 NAMB-commissioned and endorsed chaplains are ministering in corporations, healthcare, public safety and the military.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.)

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7/24/2012 2:22:30 PM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Huckabee launches ‘Chick-fil-A Day’ for Aug. 1

July 24 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Former presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says he is “incensed” at the way Chick-fil-A has been treated in recent days, and he is launching a nationwide Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day for Aug. 1, urging people to visit the restaurant that day or to make their support known via social media.

The company has been the source of criticism – and the object of calls for boycotts – since its president, Dan Cathy, was quoted in a Biblical Recorder article and in a radio interview as standing up for the biblical definition of marriage. Baptist Press re-posted the Biblical Recorder interview.

On July 23 the Jim Henson Company – makers of children’s shows such as “The Muppets,” “Sid the Science Kid,” “Dinosaur Train” and “Pajanimals” – announced it would not partner with Chick-fil-A again in the future. The Jim Henson Company, at various times, has supplied the toys for the restaurant’s kids’ meals.

“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,” a statement read. “Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD [Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation].”

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino went as far as saying he would work to block a Chick-fil-A from opening in the city. Although there are 1,600 Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide, Massachusetts so far has only two. Gay marriage is legal in the state.

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston,” Menino said according to the Boston Herald. “You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. ... And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the [expletive] the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”

The Freedom Trail is a path through the streets of Boston highlighting historic sites from the time of the Revolutionary War.

Huckabee says Chick-fil-A’s supporters need to speak up. He has launched a website, www.ISupportChickFilA.com, where people can “RSVP” that they intend to participate Aug. 1.

“No one is being asked to make signs, speeches, or openly demonstrate,” Huckabee wrote on his Facebook page. “The goal is simple: Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1. Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant.

“This effort is not being launched by the Chick-Fil-A company and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it.”

Huckabee concluded, “There’s no need for anyone to be angry or engage in a verbal battle. Simply affirm appreciation for a company run by Christian principles by showing up on Wednesday, August 1 or by participating online – tweeting your support or sending a message on Facebook.”

Huckabee said he has “been incensed at the vitriolic assaults” on Chick-fil-A since Cathy made his comments.

“The Cathy family, let by Chick Fil-A founder Truett Cathy, are a wonderful Christian family who are committed to operating the company with Biblical principles and whose story is the true American success story. ... The Chick-Fil-A company refuses to open on Sundays so that their employees can go to church if they wish. Despite the pressure from malls, airports, and the business world to open on Sundays, they still don’t. They treat customers and employees with respect and dignity.”

Asked about the company’s support of the traditional family, Cathy said in the Biblical Recorder story, “Well, guilty as charged.”

“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

Chick-fil-A’s stores are closed on Sundays and the company, he said, “operate[s] on biblical principles.” The media storm grew larger when a June 16 radio program was spotlighted in which Cathy underscored the need for children to have a mom and a dad.

“As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Cathy said on “The Ken Coleman Show.” “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”

The company issued a statement July 19 telling its customers that “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” and that its tradition is “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” It also noted it has applied “biblically-based principles” to business management and will continue to do so.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)

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7/24/2012 2:15:17 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Transforming women’s lives through discipleship

July 23 2012 by Ashley Allen, BSC Embrace Women’s Ministries

When Eva Rice moved from Winston-Salem to Sparta, N.C., she saw a need in her church for discipleship among the women.
Rice saw that the women were involved in Sunday School, but there was a lack of application of what they were learning. Rice began integrating in-depth Bible study into the women’s Sunday School classes while simultaneously organizing outreach events so that women could apply the things that they were learning.
“I did things that made them get out of the walls of the church,” said Rice, who has been the women’s ministry leader at First Baptist Church in Sparta for 19 years.
Getting out of the walls of the church includes ministry at the local detention center for women and intentional training in sharing their “story,” or testimony, with others.
It also includes women being involved in the community so that they can share what they are learning with other women.
In today’s church culture, “discipleship” has often been relegated to simply and solely meaning “Bible study” or “small group” or “Sunday School.” Though each of these areas of church ministry is critical and foundational to discipleship, it is not the totality of Jesus’ command to be His disciples.
True discipleship is not only studying and absorbing the Word of God, but also applying His Word to everyday life circumstances and situations.

Photo by Alexandra King

Women pray together during an Embrace event. Embrace Women’s Ministry through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina encourages women to reach outside their churches.

While Titus 2:3-5 gives a direct command for women to be discipled or taught in the things of God, many women are left wondering how to put this biblical mandate into action. Rice, who will turn 81 years old in September, became a Christian as an 11-year-old.
She was not taught to study God’s Word for herself. She was involved in many areas of her church, but was still uncertain how to study the Bible. However, when Rice was in her 30s the new pastor at her church taught her and others not only to study God’s Word, but to apply His Word to their lives.
The new pastor was learning from scripture and gathered people together “almost like a small group … and that really sparked my hunger for the Word, and I realized at that point what it meant to live it.”
As the Holy Spirit began to teach Rice how to appropriate the Word of God in her life, a passion was born to teach women to not only study the Bible, but also make its truths reality in their lives.
“There is so much more out there today for [women’s] spiritual growth … than there has ever been before,” Rice says.
“It is amazing what is available today. Like scripture says, we have no excuse for not being what God has planned for us to be.”
Today Rice disciples a group of women through a Sunday School class and through a Monday night Bible study. The ladies range in ages from 25 to 55 years old and come from a variety of stages of life. “I have watched these ladies grow,” Rice explains.
“They are excited about the Word. I want them to be excited. We do not need to feel like we are comfortable with what we are doing and just sitting on it.”
“When I started in-depth Bible study I realized that there was more to living the life we are to live than what we had. I don’t want to stay where I’m at.”
As she has discipled other women, Rice herself has been discipled.
“The person that is the disciple also becomes discipled.”
Discipleship among women is not limited to those ladies 18 years old and older. The mandate extends to discipling teen girls to grow in the likeness of Christ.
Cathy Moffett, 52, has served as the director of student ministries for the last four years at a Christian academy in the central part of North Carolina. When Moffett was a high school student, a history teacher offered to teach her students religious history.
The teacher was a strong Bible teacher and Moffett was captivated by the scriptures. She began to understand whole books in the Bible and how the text not only pointed to Christ, but also showed how to live the Christian life.
“Here I am some 35 years later still longing to understanding the Word,” she explains.
“That unquenchable desire to understand the Word is something that I want to give away.”
Moffett has been intentional in investing in the lives of teen girls by beginning with the overview of a book of the Bible, usually the Gospel of John.
She walks alongside the girls by asking questions related to the text and by allowing the Lord to speak to the student through His Word.
These questions include “What does the passage say about God, Jesus and how to respond to man?” She also teaches the teen girls to pray before opening His Word.
“We must recognize how small we are,” she says. “In the discipleship position we don’t know all that God wants to speak to a young woman. We are looking to join Him in what He is doing.”
As part of helping the teenage girls apply God’s Word to their lives, Moffett brings them with her to nursing homes, homeless shelters, and to tutor in various schools. She encourages the girls to share their testimonies as they are serving.
Additionally, Moffett reiterates to the teen girls that they must “reorient their lives so that everything that they do comes out of their walk with Christ.”
“Adolescents compartmentalize and think that they can have a life online that is different from one with their friends and one with their families,” she notes. She stresses to the girls the necessity of “sewing all of their life together” and that they cannot view anything as separate from their life with God.
Moffett encourages older women to give the moments of their lives away to younger women. “It is so important that we listen to what girls are saying. We learn a lot from them, too.”
For more information on how to begin discipling the women and teenage girls in your church, please connect with Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries by phone at (919) 459-5561. Email them at embracenc@ncbaptist.org or visit their website at embracenc.org.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ashley Allen is the director of Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries for the Baptist State Convention of N.C.)

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7/23/2012 2:00:35 PM by Ashley Allen, BSC Embrace Women’s Ministries | with 0 comments

Wheaton sues to strike abortion drug mandate

July 23 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Evangelical school Wheaton College has joined the list of religious organizations suing to overturn the Obama administration’s abortion/contraceptive mandate, asserting in a new federal suit that the mandate for religious organizations is unconstitutional and “runs roughshod over Wheaton’s religious beliefs.”

The lawsuit was filed July 18, bringing to 24 the number of suits nationally against a mandate that would require religious organizations to offer their employees insurances plans covering contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs. Those drugs, often called morning-after pills and emergency contraceptives, come under various names, including Plan B and ella.

Illinois-based Wheaton is represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which said the suit was filed in partnership with Catholic University, a Washington D.C.-based school which previously filed suit against the mandate in May.

“Wheaton’s religious beliefs forbid it from participating in, providing access to, paying for, training others to engage in or otherwise supporting abortion,” the Wheaton suit states. It was filed in federal district court for the District of Columbia. “... The government’s Mandate unconstitutionally coerces Wheaton to violate its deeply-held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties.”

The mandate, the suit says, violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. The mandate was handed down by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Churches are exempt from the mandate, but many religious organizations – such as universities and faith-based ministries – are not. The Obama administration has argued that under the mandate, the insurance company – and not the religious organization – would be the one paying for the drugs. But Wheaton, in its suit, rejected such logic. Subsidizing an insurance plan that would “facilitate access” to abortion-causing drugs violates its religious beliefs, even if the drugs themselves are paid for by the insurance company, Wheaton said.

“The government issued an administrative rule ... that runs roughshod over Wheaton’s religious beliefs, and the beliefs of millions of other Americans, by forcing it to provide health insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs and related education and counseling,” the lawsuit states.

In a statement, Wheaton College President Philip Ryken said the mandate presents a “clear and present threat” to religious liberty.

“Our first president, the abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, believed it was imperative to act in defense of freedom,” Ryken said. “In bringing this suit, we act in defense of freedom again.”

Catholic University President John Garvey said, “As the president of the national university of the Catholic Church, I am happy to express solidarity with our evangelical brothers and sisters from Wheaton College as they challenge the HHS mandate. Wheaton’s lawsuit is another sign of how troubling many people of faith find the government’s efforts to chip away at our first freedom.”

Among the other schools that have filed suit against the mandate is Louisiana College, affiliated with the Louisiana Baptist Convention. The Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, is representing the college.

Meanwhile, a federal judge on Tuesday (July 17) tossed out one of the lawsuits against the mandate, ruling the plaintiffs lacked standing. That suit was filed in part by Nebraska and seven other states. The Becket Fund’s Kyle Duncan cautioned against putting too much significance into the judge’s decision because he did not rule on the merits of the case. Duncan wrote about the decision in a blog post at NationalReview.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Read the Wheaton suit online at http://bit.ly/OmgRr2.)
7/23/2012 1:49:16 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Orphaned children tug at collegians’ hearts

July 23 2012 by John Evans, Baptist Press

ITHICA, N.Y. – Barrett Keene is walking from coast to coast to raise awareness about the plight of orphans – a journey “that’s crazy enough that people pause and say, ‘What is going on? Why is he doing this?’”

Keene, a Cornell University graduate student, traces the roots of his 3,500-mile journey to a trip to Central America when he taught English and agriculture to children of poor farmers.

“It just kind of hit me then that with children, when they’re having a tough time, it’s not their fault,” Keene said of the experience as an undergraduate at the University of Florida. “They don’t have any more responsibility for the ridiculous challenges of their lives than I do for the blessings of mine.”

Coupled with working at Southern Baptist churches in children’s ministry, Keene felt God developing his heart to serve orphans. That brought him into contact with the Global Orphan Project (also known as the GO Project), a Christian ministry that supports local church-owned orphanages around the world.

Barrett Keene, a graduate student at Cornell University, is taking his heart for orphans from Miami to San Francisco, raising awareness about some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

After a visit to the GO Project in Haiti, Keene knew he wanted to help their ministry in some way. Since his graduate school thesis involves interviewing students and teachers, he reasoned he could do that while walking across the country and sharing about orphans.

He’s logged more than 1,600 miles so far on the journey that began in Miami on Jan. 28 en route to San Francisco, speaking with an estimated 25,000 people in schools, churches and residences.

“When I speak to groups and when I preach to churches, I don’t really talk too much about the walk,” Keene said. “It’s not about the walk, and it’s not about me. ... It’s about the fact that God desires to use us despite the fact that we’re sinful and selfish and vile. He desires to use us to serve His children and to transform our hearts through that.”

Along the way, the Lord has provided for his needs. Company sponsorships took care of his food and equipment, and his friends bought him a support van they take turns driving. Families, including non-Christian ones, continue to open their homes to him, sparking opportunities to share why he’s on this journey.

“[God] adopts us as His sons and daughters, and how beautiful that is for us to be able to serve children here on earth and to really be able to bring glory to God in that,” Keene said.

Keene looks forward to returning to Haiti and seeing the orphans who are so close to his heart, knowing they will have no idea what he’s done, which “doesn’t matter.”

“It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s not about someone walking across the country. It’s not even about the GO Project. It’s about them having what they need to sleep and to eat and to be cared for.”

That’s where Jake Bareth comes in. A former worship leader and staff member at a Miami Southern Baptist congregation, Life Church. Bareth serves as the Haiti field director for the GO Project, overseeing the organization’s orphanage partnerships.

Bareth described orphans in Haiti as among the lowest in an already impoverished society. With no state-provided education or medical care, many orphans end up in gangs or performing menial tasks to survive. Compounded with the trauma of the January 2011 earthquake, the life of an orphan can leave deep psychological scars.

“No orphan has a happy story,” Bareth said. “They’ve all been through tremendously traumatic events that have caused them to end up in one of our orphan villages.”

One child would wake up screaming every night from a nightmare that his father, who died in the earthquake, was beating him. Other children at the orphanages hoard food, clothes and shoes out of a street mentality of not knowing where the next day’s necessities will come from.

“One thing that we say a lot is God designed the family; He didn’t design the orphanage,” Bareth said. “This is our best effort to take care of these kids, and we know that this is not the best place for them. But yet God still works in their hearts and God still repairs them and brings them joy and happiness.”

Bareth warns that if the church fails in its God-given mission to care for orphaned children, the consequences will be more than just the disappointment of failure.

“It’s not like, ‘Well, we dropped the ball on that one, so oh well, we’ll just go back to doing our Wednesday night worship service,’” he said. “If we drop the ball on this, real lives are at stake. These are real kids.”

Jake Sparks and Seth Joran understand the importance of that mission. College roommates who attend Bartlesville Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma, they are serving for six weeks this summer at a Zimbabwe orphan care center supported by InSight Ministries, an organization founded out of their church.

Sparks and Joran are serving in a partnership involving the church, InSight Ministries and an International Mission Board student missions initiative called OneLife.

“I had never really thought about doing missions,” Sparks said. “I’m an engineering student, so it was just never really on my radar.”

But after a mission trip last summer to Papua New Guinea, he sought another place to serve this summer and was connected with the opportunity in Zimbabwe. It marks a change since his early days in college when he was pursuing an engineering degree out of a desire to make money.

“Maybe as I’ve matured and grown older in college I’ve realized that there are other things that are much more important than that,” Sparks said.

Meanwhile, Joran was ecstatic when he found out he would be helping orphans. Having worked with children during high school, he developed a heart for children with dysfunctional or absent families. And he has a personal connection.

“Due to the fact that I too have lost a parent (my dad died in 2007), I have a point of common ground with these kids that some people do not have,” he told Baptist Press in an email.

While he and Sparks are now in Zimbabwe serving, he told Baptist Press before he left that he was looking forward to one thing in particular.

“God is going to do amazing things, and He is allowing me the chance to be a part of it,” he said. “God has glorified Himself and will glorify Himself.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – John Evans is a freelance writer based in Houston. For more information about Barrett Keene’s walk across America, visit gowalkamerica.org. For more information about opportunities for students through the International Mission Board, visit onelifematters.org.)
7/23/2012 1:40:53 PM by John Evans, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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