July 2013

Request to halt Calif. gay marriages denied

July 2 2013 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Sunday (June 30) denied an emergency request by Proposition 8 supporters to halt the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses in California.

When the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on a district court order last year, keeping same-sex marriage from moving forward, it said the stay would remain in place “until the final disposition by the Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court dismissed the case June 26, ruling that Proposition 8’s defenders did not have legal standing to appeal. That decision touched off a national frenzy over the idea that same-sex marriages could commence in California, but the court had not officially closed the case.

Under Supreme Court rules, the losing side in a legal dispute has 25 days to request a rehearing, and the court said it would not finalize its judgment in the case at least until after that waiting period elapsed.

The Ninth Circuit, however, lifted its stay Friday (June 28) and dozens of California residents proceeded with acquiring same-sex marriage licenses, including the two couples represented in the controversial case. The licenses were the first to be issued in the state in more than four years.

Proposition 8 defenders, including attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom and ProtectMarriage.com, on Saturday filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court arguing that the stay was lifted prematurely. 

The Ninth Circuit, Proposition 8 lawyers said, should have waited for a certified copy of the judgment from the Supreme Court before taking action. The Supreme Court still has not issued a certified judgment.

“Everyone on all sides of the marriage debate should agree that the legal process must be followed,” ADF senior counsel Austin Nimocks said. “The Ninth Circuit has failed to abide by its own word that the stay would remain in place until final disposition by the Supreme Court. When courts act contrary to their own statements, the public’s confidence in the justice system is undermined.”

Nimocks added that the more than 7 million Californians who voted to enact Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, “deserve nothing short of the full respect and due process our judicial system provides.”

Kennedy, though, rejected the appeal with no additional comment. The author of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, Kennedy also has jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit. He could have acted alone or referred the matter to the full court.

Proposition 8 supporters still can file their request with another Supreme Court justice or seek a rehearing with the court before the end of the 25-day window. 

Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, “Christians mistakenly may see this as simply more culture-war legal back-and-forth, of little import to anyone but television pundits. They’re wrong.

“We’re in the midst of a massive shift, culturally, politically and legally,” Moore told Baptist Press. “Churches must be ready to speak, with convictional kindness, why we believe the Christian vision of marriage and sexuality is right. And we must root ourselves in the wisdom of our Baptist forebears to learn how to articulate the natural right of religious liberty and soul freedom.”

With California’s marriage amendment invalidated, 29 states remain with constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman. 

Florida is one of those states, and Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla., is a Southern Baptist who has watched what has transpired in recent days related to the definition of marriage nationwide.

“Just like when the Supreme Court made the decision to alter the biblical belief of the sanctity of human life, we have now experienced a new belief of the sanctity of marriage,” Whitten told the Florida Baptist Witness.

Though the high court in the DOMA case ruled against traditional marriage, Whitten said “our position of marriage is defined by scripture and not by the Supreme Court.”

The decision, he said, should serve as a reminder that people who are voted into office and have the power to appoint Supreme Court justices are “vitally important” to America’s future.

“We are a people and we are a nation that no longer believes ‘In God We Trust,’” Whitten said.

The president of the National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, expressed disappointment in the Ninth Circuit’s decision to proceed without waiting for an official close to the case at the Supreme Court.

“It would appear that the desire to impose same-sex marriage by some public officials trumps integrity, fairness, propriety and even the rule of law. All Americans should be outraged,” Brown said, adding, “A tradition of lawfulness is one of the things that has made this country great.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. With reporting Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode and Joni B. Hannigan, managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness.)

7/2/2013 1:44:11 PM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Baptist seminary leaders respond to court rulings

July 1 2013 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Though the Supreme Court’s ruling against traditional marriage was a “dark day in American history,” it’s time to accept the reality and move on to discussing how to minister in a new context, Jeff Iorg and other seminary leaders are saying.

“Challenging new ministry situations are on the horizon,” Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary near the epicenter of the gay marriage movement, wrote in a blog post June 27. 

“For example, a child comes to your Vacation Bible School and receives Jesus as Savior and Lord. His same-sex married parents come for the family night program. How will you react to their presence?” Iorg wrote. 

“A person in a gay marriage commits himself to Jesus and requests baptism in your church. How will your church respond to his profession of faith?” Iorg wrote. “One person in a same-sex marriage becomes a Christian and wants to end their marriage. The couple has children. Do you endorse this divorce and risk the custody of the children being awarded to the unbeliever?”

Sharing the gospel must be the priority amid the cultural shift, Iorg said, and the church must uphold its convictions about moral purity and advocate for biblical marriage. Compromising isn’t the solution, he said. 

Another ministry challenge, Iorg wrote, will be helping Christians learn to navigate gay marriage as they encounter it in the public square.

“Christians work in companies, hospitals, schools and governmental agencies which must now legally provide services to gay married couples. Churches will be challenged to help their members think theologically about and behave ethically in these situations,” Iorg wrote.

Dark days, Iorg said, are opportunities for bright light.

Daniel Akin
In comments to Baptist Press, Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the Supreme Court decision striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act was disappointing, though not surprising.

“We have seen this coming for a long time. As for the future, the church’s mission remains the same: We will boldly proclaim the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ, heralding the truth that ‘whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved’ and that every person can be delivered from the slavery of sin that seeks to enslave us all,” Akin said.

Believers must continue to love and serve those with whom they disagree, Akin said.

“And we will continue to advocate God’s revealed plan and pattern for marriage and family, a plan that promotes human flourishing and a pattern that depicts the love that Jesus Christ has for His Bride, the church, which He purchased with His own blood,” Akin said.

Daniel Heimbach
Also at Southeastern, Daniel Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics, expressed disappointment that the new ministry context was handed down by the judicial branch of the federal government. 

“In the land of the free and home of the brave, disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage should be left to the people as instructed by conscience, tradition and faith,” Heimbach wrote in comments to Baptist Press. 

“But what the Supreme Court majority has done is enshrine into the Constitution a radical redefinition of marriage under which sexual difference makes no difference. This is a tragedy that exalts private desires over the public good and sentiment over God’s ordering of creation.”

The DOMA decision, Heimbach said, “brands faithful Christians as un-American bigots driven, not by faith or even reason, but by nothing more than ‘bare ... desire to harm.’“

“Such aspersion is not only completely false but demonstrates deeply rooted animus toward those who cling to faith in the wisdom and power of God,” Heimbach wrote.

Evan Lenow
Evan Lenow, assistant professor of ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in a blog post that June 26 is a date he will remember as “the day that marriage changed forever in American society.”

“What is next for our society? We can be thankful that the Supreme Court did not offer a new definition of marriage today. However, I still believe it is safe to say that we are heading toward the demise of marriage as the foundational institution of society,” Lenow wrote.

The term “marriage” is quickly losing its meaning, the professor said, noting that President Obama used his Twitter account to claim all love is equal when it comes to marriage.

“The logical conclusion of such a claim is societal acceptance of not only same-sex ‘marriage’ but also acceptance of polygamy, polyamory, incest and ultimately pedophilia,” Lenow wrote. “We may even live to see the day when the term ‘marriage’ has no significance whatsoever. If marriage collapses as a social institution, we will see more crime and poverty, and we will see less education and children.”

Despite this upheaval, Lenow said God’s design for marriage in Genesis 2, one man and one woman for a lifetime, has not changed. Christians, though, can expect a long and difficult road ahead, he said.

“We will likely be marginalized in the cultural discussion of marriage. We will be called bigots and homophobes. We may even experience discrimination for our views,” Lenow wrote, pointing to Jesus’ warning in John 15:18-19 that the world would hate His followers.

“Our task is to proclaim the gospel faithfully knowing that true change in society only comes when hearts are changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Lenow wrote.

Denny Burk
Denny Burk, associate professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discussed in a blog post June 27 whether proponents of gay marriage will allow any legal accommodation for the consciences of those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

“What if a Christian university were to decide to limit its married student housing to heterosexual couples? Will there be any accommodation for this under the new regime?” Burk wrote. 

“The more I have read, the more I have become concerned that very little accommodation will be forthcoming. Proponents of gay marriage are not interested in protecting the religious liberty of traditional marriage supporters,” Burk wrote.

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion in the DOMA case makes the problem worse, Burk said, because it renders a moral judgment against traditional marriage supporters. 

“Why would anyone want to be magnanimous toward those who seek to ‘demean,’ to ‘impose inequality’ and a ‘stigma’ on gay people, to deny gay people ‘equal dignity,’ to treat them as ‘unworthy,’ and to ‘humiliate’ their children?” Burk wrote. 

“That’s how the Supreme Court describes traditional marriage supporters. As that opinion moves into the cultural mainstream, it’s difficult to imagine why the majority would make accommodations for the consciences of those they regard as bigots.”

Christians need to be ready for a new reality, Burk said, including a culture that is increasingly hostile toward them. 

“Private citizens may someday face fines and other penalties for their convictions on marriage. Our churches may eventually lose tax-exempt status. Any number of negative outcomes are possible in the approaching conflagration,” Burk warned.

“Ours will likely be a costly love and a costly witness. But this is precisely the kind of discipleship that Jesus has called all of us to, and it will be worth it in the end (Matthew 16:25),” Burk wrote.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press.)
7/1/2013 1:51:25 PM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

N.C. graduates stand for prayer

July 1 2013 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

Pastor Marc Sanders sounds like a proud parent when he discusses the stand a group of North Carolina high school seniors – some of whom attend the church he leads – took during their graduation ceremonies in June.
In response to Chatham County school officials removing prayer from the commencement programs of Chatham Central and Jordan-Matthews high schools, seniors from both schools rose to their feet during their ceremonies and recited the Lord’s Prayer.
“We’re very proud of our students,” said Sanders, pastor of Sandy Branch Baptist Church in Bear Creek. “It went over very well in the crowd. People were standing and applauding.”
The public stand that the students took at the two high schools is reminiscent of the one a South Carolina high school valedictorian, Roy Costner IV, took earlier that month.
During the ceremony he ripped up his pre-approved commencement speech and recited the Lord’s Prayer.
The event quickly went viral on YouTube. (See related guest column.)
“That definitely inspired us,” said Cayley Oldham, one of the graduates from Chatham Central and a member of Sandy Branch Baptist Church.
“We want[ed] to do this, not just our valedictorian. … We all wanted to do something.”
Days before graduation, four students at Jordan-Matthews High School requested during a Chatham County Board of Education meeting that prayer be removed from commencement ceremonies. A national group, Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), also sent a cease and desist order to the Chatham County School superintendent, threatening to sue if the schools didn’t remove prayer from their graduation programs.
The schools responded by replacing prayer with a moment of silence and reflection.
“My phone blew up once this news got out,” Sanders said. “It just made me mad,” Oldham said. “It’s our freedom of speech and … if no one stands up and fights it [then] prayer is going to be banned everywhere.”


File photo
Marc Sanders, seen here at a previous Baptist State Convention annual meeting, has some students from his church who took a stand during their graduation ceremony in June.  Sanders, who pastors Sandy Branch Baptist Church in Bear Creek, urges believers to stay informed and become more involved in local politics in order to protect their rights.


With school officials across the country continuing to tighten restrictions on public prayer, Sanders said most schools aren’t equipped to stand up to lawsuits and threats from watchdog groups like FFRF.
“They don’t have money to spend on court cases, and so they’ll just bow to the pressure,” he said.
“… Everybody is afraid of getting sued. … Now [churches and religious organizations] have that added fear of the IRS and losing your tax-exempt status.”
It is time for believers to “wake up” and become more informed of their rights as American citizens, Sanders said.
“If it can happen in Chatham County, the rest of the state is fair game,” he added. “The biggest thing is … most people don’t know their rights.”
Last fall, West Marion Elementary School officials in McDowell County removed references of God from a first-grade student’s poem that she had written for a Veteran’s Day school program. According to media reports, the girl wrote the poem to honor her two grandfathers who served in the military.
“He prayed to God for peace,” the girl wrote in the poem. “He prayed to God for strength.” Many complained the school had broken the girl’s First Amendment rights by editing God out of the poem.
Despite these and other obstacles, Sanders challenges believers to not be intimidated, to stay informed and become more involved.
“The history of the church says the church is at its best when it’s persecuted,” Sanders said. “I think the problem is that a majority of our people in our pews are fast asleep and don’t see this coming for what it is. We never saw it coming in Chatham County.
“… Our churches need to be more involved in the public schools,” Sanders added.
“You can get in there and do things, but you have to be willing to try.”


Related column

Valedictorian goes rogue, recites Lord’s Prayer

7/1/2013 1:44:27 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

NCMO materials to arrive in July

July 1 2013 by BSC

A new approach to help churches promote the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), without having to order new materials, will begin this year.
Churches that ordered NCMO materials in either 2012 or 2011 will receive similar orders of 2013 materials from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). The materials will arrive in July.
The free packets include posters, videos, bulletin inserts and other materials to help missions leaders promote the offering within their churches. Churches can easily order additional materials as needed. Also, additional NCMO materials, such as a 30-day prayer guide, can be downloaded from the NCMO website at http://www.ncbaptist.org/.


The theme for NCMO this year is “Compelled by Christ: Proclaiming release, relief and redemption,” based on Luke 4:18. The NCMO is the BSC’s second major funding program for missions – following the Cooperative Program – with a goal this year of $2.1 million.
More than half the offering will be used for the 14 ministries of North Carolina Baptist Men. These ministries include: disaster relief, medical/dental ministry, mission camps at Red Springs and Shelby, volunteer mobilization, prison ministry and much more. NCMO is the main funding source for Baptist Men.
Volunteer teams were sent to Oklahoma after tornadoes destroyed towns there earlier this year. Since Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York last October, N.C. Baptist men and women have prepared more than 600,000 meals and completed hundreds of recovery projects to help storm victims.
NCMO also provides about a third of the budget used by the BSC’s Church Planting Team to plant new churches. In 2012 that ministry helped plant 101 new churches across the state, including many churches for a variety of ethnic groups.
In 2012, new churches that receive convention support made more than 111,000 evangelistic contacts and registered 3,036 professions of faith. Total weekly worship attendance in these churches averaged 5,848.
For more NCMO information, call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5547, or go to www.ncmissionsoffering.org.

7/1/2013 1:40:28 PM by BSC | with 0 comments

Pochek to be nominated at Pastor’s Conference as vice president

July 1 2013 by Special to BR

David Pierce, pastor of Belhaven Missionary Baptist in Belhaven, will nominate Robert Pochek as vice-president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Pastor’s Conference during the 2013 conference in November.


Pochek and his wife Susan have been married 24 years. They have two children, David, 22, and Jessica, 18. He is a native of Fairview Heights, Ill., where he grew up attending Gateway Baptist Church. He answered the call to vocational ministry at the age of 16.
Pochek has been the senior pastor of Raleigh Road Baptist Church in Wilson since July 2009. He has served in ministry positions in Missouri and Illinois during his 19 years of ministry.
Pochek holds a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, Mo., as well as a master of divinity degree and a doctor of philosophy degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. In June 2000 he served on the Committee on Committees at the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, Fla.

7/1/2013 1:35:57 PM by Special to BR | with 0 comments

Hobby Lobby gains a win in appeals court

July 1 2013 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court has handed Hobby Lobby a significant, though limited, victory in its legal challenge of the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled Thursday (June 27) the popular arts and crafts chain and Mardel, its sister Christian bookstore chain, had demonstrated they probably would prevail in demonstrating their religious freedom had been infringed on by the mandate. The judges reversed a federal court’s refusal to provide a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the controversial provision while the case proceeds. They also instructed the lower court to reconsider whether it should grant an injunction.

Hobby Lobby, which has 550 stores in the United States, and Mardel filed suit last year against the portion of the 2010 health care reform law that requires employers to pay for coverage of drugs defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as contraceptives, even if they can cause abortions. Members of the Green family – evangelical Christians who own Hobby Lobby and Mardel – do not oppose all contraceptive methods, only those that have abortion-causing qualities. They have said they will not obey the mandate.

These FDA-approved drugs include Plan B and other “morning-after” pills with a secondary, post-fertilization mechanism that can cause an abortion by preventing implantation of tiny embryos. The mandate also covers “ella,” which – in a fashion similar to the abortion drug RU 486 – can even act after implantation to end the life of the child.


A federal judge and a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court refused last year to block enforcement of the mandate, but the appeals court made the highly unusual move of granting an “en banc” hearing, which was held in May before a panel of eight active judges.

The 10th Circuit’s decision Thursday gave Hobby Lobby and Mardel hope they might gain relief from a penalty under the mandate that could reach $1.3 million a day while their lawsuit is active.

The ruling was “a milestone in Hobby Lobby’s fight for religious liberty,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the chain stores. “This is a tremendous victory not only for the Green family and for their business, but also for many other religious business owners who should not have to forfeit their faith to make a living.”

On Friday (June 28), the Obama administration issued a final rule on the abortion/contraception mandate. It did not provide a religious liberty accommodation to for-profit companies such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel, and religious freedom advocates said it failed to remedy the conscience problems for non-profit organizations that object.

In his opinion for the 10th circuit panel, Judge Timothy Tymkovich said Hobby Lobby and Mardel not only were eligible to sue under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) but “have established a likelihood of success that their rights under this statute are substantially burdened by the contraceptive requirement.” The federal court had ruled they had not demonstrated such a likelihood.

The 10th Circuit rejected the Obama administration’s argument RFRA’s protections do not extend to for-profit companies such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel. “Such corporations can be ‘persons’ exercising religion for purposes” of RFRA, Tymkovich wrote.

A majority of the panel also found Hobby Lobby and Mardel had satisfied the requirement that they show “irreparable harm” to be granted a preliminary injunction. No majority existed among the panel’s judges, however, for two other factors in considering injunctive relief – whether the “balance of equities” is in the companies’ favor or whether an injunction would be “in the public interest.” The 10th Circuit ordered the federal court to evaluate those two factors in deciding whether to grant an injunction.

Hobby Lobby and Mardel sought an injunction before July 1, when the mandate and its hefty fines are scheduled to take effect for the two companies. 

The case is Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.

Hobby Lobby seeks to honor God “by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles,” according to its statement of purpose. Its stores are closed on Sundays. The Oklahoma City-based chain contributes to Christian organizations selected by the Green family that seek “to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the world,” according to its website. 

More than 60 lawsuits have been filed against the abortion/contraception mandate, and Hobby Lobby is one of only seven for-profit companies that have failed to win an injunction or restraining order blocking enforcement of the controversial requirement while their suits proceed in court, according to the Becket Fund. Courts have granted injunctions to 21 for-profit corporations. No action has been taken in four lawsuits by for-profit companies.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has signed on to five briefs defending the religious freedom of entities challenging the mandate at the appeals court level. One was in the Hobby Lobby case.

The leading religious freedom spokesmen for Southern Baptists and American Roman Catholics urged all members of Congress in a June 21 letter to pass legislation designed to bolster conscience protections in health care, including for the abortion/contraception mandate. The letter from Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, and William Lori, archbishop of Baltimore and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ad hoc committee for religious liberty, sought support for the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, H.R. 940 in the House and S. 1204 in the Senate.

The abortion/contraception requirement will be implemented for Christian institutions and other non-profit organizations beginning Aug. 1. It will take effect when each organization’s health plan begins a new year. The mandate’s start-up date for for-profit organizations was Aug. 1 of last year.

The abortion/contraception mandate – also known as the HHS mandate because of its issuance by the Department of Health and Human Services – gives those who object to it, the ERLC says, three options, all unacceptable: (1) Violate their consciences by obeying it; (2) violate the law, which could produce hefty fines; or (3) stop providing health coverage, which could force workers to purchase insurance with provisions they object to and possibly open the employers up to penalties.

The Obama administration proposed a rule change in February to address conscience objections to the abortion/contraception mandate. Religious liberty advocates said it appears to protect churches and church ministries but does not relieve the burden on religious institutions and individuals who object.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)

7/1/2013 1:21:42 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Missionary to Tokyo’s homeless dies

July 1 2013 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

SEOUL – Josh Park, an IMB missionary in Japan known for his zeal in sharing the gospel with the homeless and anyone he came in contact with, died Friday (June 28) in Seoul after a lingering battle with cancer. He was 61. 

Appointed as missionaries to Japan in 1993, Josh and his wife Grace shared their story and ministry with Southern Baptists as part of the 2011 Week of Prayer emphasis on Tokyo’s homeless. 

Josh’s heart for the homeless started with a cup of coffee on a cold, wet morning and expanded to training men and women living on the streets to reach their own people for Christ. He partnered with a local Japanese pastor and they started Yoyogi Park sidewalk chapel.

The Korean-born missionary from California spent countless hours in the parks and train stations where most of Tokyo’s estimated 4,000 homeless sleep. He never left home without tracts, some snacks, a Bible and his backpack. 

He’d stop to chat with anyone who wanted to interact. That’s when he’d pull out a thermos of hot coffee, some rice balls to eat and convert his backpack to a stool, sitting down to talk bluntly about there being only one God. 

He stopped to talk with everyone, giving out his phone number and inviting them to sidewalk church in the different parks. 

This simple gesture saved Kiyoshi Sugioka’s life. He met Josh in the park and didn’t really care about his “message” but was polite to the missionary by taking his phone number. Later, when Sugioka contemplated suicide, he reached into his wallet and found Josh’s number. He called it and asked if they could meet.

“He introduced me to God and Christ,” Sugioka recalled. “It was a world I didn’t know. I felt like I was born again.”

Mark and Wendy Hoshizaki, IMB missionaries in Japan, worked with the Parks in reaching the homeless. They said this type of evangelizing was typical of Josh. He wasn’t afraid to challenge traditional beliefs in Japan about multiple gods and he always did it with his trademark smile. He was at his best in one-on-one ministry.

“Josh and I spent a lot of time going around and witnessing to the homeless, and there’s no one quite like Josh. He truly had a gift,” Mark said. “He touched and influenced a lot of people here. He left a great legacy.”

When the Hoshizakis shared on Friday about Josh’s death with those he ministered to, there was shock and sorrow among the homeless community. One man Josh had been training to be an evangelist said he was sad, not just because the missionary had been a great man but because he had so much more to learn from him.

This spirit of evangelism is the image of Josh that will always remain in IMB missionary Carlton Walker’s memory. Even while in the hospital in Korea, Josh witnessed to the man in the bed next to him and prayed with him to receive Christ. 

“Most of us best remember Josh as one who equipped Great Commission Christians to effectively reach the Japanese homeless,” Walker said. “Josh could have built a colossal ministry of caring for and feeding the homeless, but he chose instead to focus on the souls of those without earthly homes.”

Josh’s reasoning was that many of the homeless hear a gospel message when they are fed, but very few hear God’s plan of salvation explained to them personally in a way that they can understand. That became his single focus.

“He was an inspiration to us all in keeping the ‘main’ thing, the main thing,” Walker said. “He will be deeply missed.”

Josh earned a doctor of ministry degree in 2012 from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California. He is survived by his wife and three adult children: Peter, Paul and Sarah, all of California. Funeral services will be 9 a.m. Monday at the Korea University Funeral Home in Seoul.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Susie Rain is a writer living in Southeast Asia. To read more about the ministry of Josh and Grace Park, click here and here.)

7/1/2013 1:15:08 PM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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