March 2011

W-S church prepares to adopt

March 18 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Just a few months ago, around Christmas time, pastor Rick Speas stood before Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and shared with them a number that, by the time Christmas 2011 rolls around, should be at least one less.

That number, which according to the International Mission Board (IMB) is now 3,726, represents the number of unengaged, unreached people groups in the world.

While an unreached people group (UPG) has a negligible percentage of Christian believers, an unengaged, unreached people group (UUPG) is a people group essentially void of any evangelical witness. That means 41 percent of the world’s population, or 2.8 billion, have no one to tell them about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Old Town is making plans to adopt one of these unengaged, unreached people groups. The church would actually consider itself “the missionary” working to engage this people group with the gospel. Speas said once Mark Harrison, Old Town’s missions pastor, explained to him about unengaged, unreached people groups and the need for churches to adopt them, making sure Old Town got involved was a “no-brainer.”  

Unreached people groups
Some of the countries with the most representation of unreached people groups include Afghanistan, Algeria, India, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey.

The IMB describes a people group as one that shares a “common self-identity.” Language is a primary factor in determining people groups. Other factors include a common history and customs.

The 10/40 Window, a rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude, is home to some of the largest unreached people groups. This geographical area is home to the majority of Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. The top 50 least evangelized megacities (those with a population greater than one million) are also in the 10/40 Window.  

Lasting impact
Harrison said while the church is doing many good things for missions, they want to invest resources in what is best. “To be most effective it’s necessary to focus our attention in a particular direction for a concentrated period of time, so that we will see a deeper and more lasting effect over time,” Harrison said. “We want to see maximum results.”

IMB file photo

More than 3,700 people groups are considered unengaged or unreached by the International Mission Board, including in Tibet, see above. Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem is purposely considering adopting one of the groups for a long-range partnership.


One way they will do this is by adopting an unengaged, unreached people group. “We want to engage this group wherever they live,” Harrison said. Old Town will engage their people group locally and build relationships with them. They will seek to minister to members of this people group who live throughout the state and North America, as well as minister to them wherever they may live overseas.

Engaging in this missional strategy will help Old Town, as Harrison said, concentrate their energy toward a specific focus in order to have more of a “rifle than shot gun” impact; more of a laser than a searchlight approach.

Keeping up with the needs of too many different missionaries in too many different places can become overwhelming. The church cannot possibly do ministry in every area of the world where every church member has a passion to do ministry. “My role is not to be the church travel agent,” Harrison said.

In the long run, Old Town will be more effective, and more effective at making disciples, by focusing intently on a particular people group and pouring their efforts into ministry among this group.

Harrison wants the congregation to “develop a heart” for the people group they adopt. From learning the culture to learning how to pray for them to engaging locally and internationally, the effort to adopt a people group will not be limited to church leadership — the entire church body will be involved.

“This will not be a vision of just a select few. We want to build this focus into the hearts and minds of as many as possible. Twenty years from now we hope the children in our church will still be working with this people group,” Harrison said.  

Can’t do everything
As a missions pastor Harrison knows the needs are great, and they are many. “There are a lot of things we could do, but we can’t do everything,” he said. “You can dabble in all kinds of things; there is a never ending stream of requests.”

To help filter through requests, Old Town maintains a criteria that any missions efforts they participate in, whether local, statewide, national or international, must fit what they call the “Missional Matrix.” This Matrix helps the church determine whether an activity is missional. To fit the profile, the activity must be Kingdom-focused, gospel-centered and church-based.

Kingdom-focused ministry involves God’s people in a hands-on demonstration of God’s love by meeting physical needs, such as hunger, poverty or sickness. Gospel-centered ministry intentionally engages people’s spiritual needs. “The greatest need for every person is to hear the gospel. Missions is not missions if we don’t share the message of salvation,” Harrison said.

Church-based, Harrison explained, means the goal is to engage the local church in God’s mission so that the church multiplies. At the same time, church members are challenged to embrace missions as a lifestyle, outside what the local church organizes and supports.

“If all we ever do is what the church organizes, we are not really a missional church. We hope that our church’s mission actions are catalytic, moving people to a greater involvement in the wider mission of God,” Harrison said. “We hope people will get involved here, and then get involved in whatever else God is calling them to do.”  

A church engaged
After Harrison and Speas met with the church leadership and deacons, they shared the idea of adopting an unengaged, unreached people group with the congregation. Speas said getting the congregation on board with the vision was never a challenge because the congregation already thinks outwardly, as Old Town has a long history of leadership dedicated to making missions a priority in the church.

Old Town is in the education stage in their journey of adopting a people group. They are making a concerted effort, through Sunday School classes and other small groups, to pray for unreached people groups and to pray about the group God would have them adopt. Church members have been asked to pray for open hearts to recognize people groups already living among them. Small groups are also studying David Platt’s best-selling book Radical and thinking more about what God is doing locally and globally and how they can be more involved.

Harrison and Speas expect to have the people group picked out sometime this year. The process may also include leadership visiting certain areas in the world.

“Ultimately, God will bring all this together for us,” Harrison said. “We are trying to be obedient one step at a time.”

To learn how your church can adopt an unreached people group, visit www.ncbaptist.org/gcp.

Related story
7 steps to adopting a people group

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
3/18/2011 11:46:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



7 steps to adopting a people group

March 18 2011 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A people group shares a basic identity and view of the world. Individuals within a people group frequently have the same language, culture, history, customs and family/clan identities.

From a missions perspective, a people group is the largest group through which the gospel can flow without encountering significant barriers of understanding and acceptance.

An unreached people group is comprised of less than 2 percent evangelical Christians.

Your church can play a key role in bringing an unreached people group to Christ. Adopting a people group helps churches take an active and direct role in missions.  

Pray for God’s guidance
  • As in any spiritual endeavor, your search for an unreached people group to adopt must begin with prayer.  
Discover church’s natural affinity (DNA)
  • Do you already have a connection to an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary? Have you sent out a missionary from your church? Do you have a parent or children of missionaries who are members? Has a team been on a mission trip where they felt a connection to the people group(s)?
  • What are the skills and spiritual gifts of your church members?
  • What people groups live near your church or its members? Check out www.peoplegroups.info to find people groups in your area. Determine your church’s expectations
  • Do you want to commit to pray for an unreached people group? To be a prayer partner, call (888) 462-7729 or find prayer resources at imb.org/compassionnet.
  • Is your church ready to pray and connect with a missionary on the mission field by going on multiple volunteer trips?
  • Is your church ready to pray and become the “missionary” to an unreached people group that has no missionary working among them? Are you ready to study the culture, develop the strategy and take ownership of reaching a people group that may never hear about Christ unless you go?  
Identify a missions champion
  • Has God laid a particular people or part of the world on the heart of one or more church members?
  • Are they ready to find ways to take the gospel to those who have little or no access to it?
  • Who in the church will be the point person to communicate with those on the field?
  • Is this person willing to be trained in security measures to allow communication to restricted areas where there is a lack of openness to the gospel?
  • Can this person help influence the congregation to focus prayer for your unreached people group?
  • Are they willing to lead teams and work with church and IMB field leaders?  
Investigate opportunities
  • Do you feel led to reach a megacity or a rural area or something in between?
  • Are there volunteer opportunities available that might help you discover the people or area of the world where God is leading you? Explore opportunities at going.imb.org.
  • Has your state convention or local association adopted an unreached people group?
  • Assign teams or individuals to research various people groups and areas at peoplegroups.org.
  • If you feel led to a specific area but have not yet selected a people group, contact an IMB mobilization specialist assigned to your state at (800) 999-3113, ext. 1667, or go to the “Lead Your Church” section at imb.org, and find “Church Services.”  
Celebrate God’s direction
  • Once you have determined your adopted people group, follow God’s leadership, find ways to bring the whole church into the process and meet with church leaders to plan a celebration time.    
Communicate, follow through and keep commitments
  • Learn from field personnel.
  • Connect with other churches to multiply your efforts.
  • Communicate with field personnel as your team trains and prepares.
  • Keep your commitments. Building trust is vital. Follow-through will lead to more opportunities.
  • Evaluate your role every year. If God leads you in another direction, communicate this to the field and other churches that have joined in this effort and develop a strategic exit plan. To learn more about adopting a people group, go to the “Lead Your Church” section of imb.org
Related story 
W-S church prepares to adopt

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
3/18/2011 11:37:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



In Ethiopia, Muslims burn 69 churches

March 18 2011 by Melanie Clinton, Baptist Press

ASENDABO, Ethiopia — Muslims have killed at least one Christian and wounded several others in anti-Christian violence in western Ethiopia, according to International Christian Concern (ICC), an organization that helps persecuted Christians worldwide.

ICC also is reporting that Muslims have burned down 69 church buildings, 30 Christian homes, a Bible school, a Christian orphanage and a church office.

The anti-Christian attacks started March 2 after Muslims allegedly accused Christians of desecrating the Quran, the Islamic holy book. Violence continues to affect residents of the area. During the initial days of the attacks 3,000 Christians were displaced; ICC reports those numbers now have climbed to 10,000.

Although Ethiopian Orthodox churches are predominant throughout the country, at least the first 55 churches burned belong to evangelical denominations, according to Sam Parkman*, a Christian worker who served in Ethiopia from 2007-10.

Mike Turner*, an International Mission Board (IMB) strategy leader in North Africa, said none of the 55 churches identified thus far are Baptist. The denominations of the 14 other churches have not been reported.

“What’s happened in Asendabo is unfortunate, and we are brokenhearted for the people who have been affected by the attacks,” Turner said. “But it is not unexpected, because the Lord Himself said we would face hard times and struggle with hardships as we boldly follow in His steps.”

Photo by Charles Braddix

Christians are urged to pray for displaced believers in western Ethiopia, where Muslims have killed at least one person and burned 69 churches in anti-Christian violence.


ICC reported that military forces have been sent to curtail the attacks in Asendabo and surrounding areas. Federal government officials removed the local administrator, a Muslim, for his failure to protect the Christians. Voice of America reported that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi blamed the attacks on a little-known Muslim extremist group called Kwarej. Some reports indicate 130 Muslims believed to be involved in the violence have been arrested.

Asendabo also was the scene of anti-Christian violence in 2006, when Muslims killed more than a dozen Christians and destroyed several churches.

“Islamic radicals are fighting to establish an Islamic state in Christian-majority Ethiopia,” ICC’s regional manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, asserted. “… Christians will continue to be killed unless the government of Ethiopia starts taking serious measures to stop Islamists from carrying out similar attacks.”

Turner, however, disagrees that Muslims have an agenda to take over the country. “While I have seen Islam advance in (Ethiopia),” he said, “I do not have any concrete evidence to support the notion that radical Muslims are trying to make Ethiopia an Islamic state by using violence or any other means.”

Although Turner said he has no firsthand knowledge of what happened in Asendabo or why, he speculated the attacks could possibly be credited to staunch Muslims who are unhappy that Protestants in their area are growing in number.

Parkman said Muslims in Ethiopia are getting more vocal in hopes of boosting their numbers. “They’ve stepped up their voice by doing events, like rallies,” he said. “… Also, violence seems to be getting more and more frequent.”

Turner also said evidence of Islam is increasing. “You can see that visibly just from the number of mosques going up,” he said. “And the more you get into the culture and engage people in conversation, (you discover) there are more Muslims than there used to be.”

Nearly 40 percent of Ethiopia’s 90.8 million people are Muslim, according to the CIA World Factbook. An estimated 43 percent are Ethiopian Orthodox and 18.6 percent are Protestant. From the fourth century until 1974, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was the official state church.

“There are strong Islamic bases all around Ethiopia,” Turner said, referring to nations like Sudan and Somalia. “But it has historically been a ‘Christian’ nation. If that was going to ever change … you’re talking about a massive revolution that frankly I just don’t see on the horizon anytime soon.”

Meanwhile, ICC reports churches in western Ethiopia are struggling to provide members with basic necessities like food and clothing. Organizations like ICC and missions agency SIM are providing emergency relief.

Parkman’s wife Rebecca*, encourages believers to pray that Ethiopian Christians will be “strong in the face of persecution” and “not back down” from their faith.

“The church of Jesus Christ is going to continue to face opposition, whether in Asendabo or Atlanta, Ga.,” Turner said. “Hard times will come, because the Bible tells us they will. … Church buildings can be destroyed, but ultimately it is the body of Christ that must look squarely in the face of opposition and be encouraged by God’s Word that He has already overcome this world.”

*Name changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Clinton is a writer for the International Mission Board based in Africa.) 

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
3/18/2011 11:31:00 AM by Melanie Clinton, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



WFU Baptist Medical Center announces names

March 17 2011 by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center today announced a change in the names of its integrated clinical structure, educational and research enterprises, and a new visual identity (logo).

The new name of the integrated clinical operation is Wake Forest Baptist Health, which includes North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Brenner Children’s Hospital, and other affiliated entities. This name honors the hospital’s Baptist heritage of quality and compassionate care, leverages the powerful academic reputation of Wake Forest, and captures the Medical Center’s health-focused mission.

The institution’s educational and research enterprises will be known as Wake Forest School of Medicine.  Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is the new name for the medical center campus in Winston-Salem, and is also the name that you will see in the newspaper and on TV.

In addition, Lexington Memorial Hospital has also announced a change in its name. Lexington Memorial will now be known as Wake Forest Baptist Health — Lexington Medical Center. Davie County Hospital will also change its name to Wake Forest Baptist Health — Davie Hospital.

The purpose of these changes is to unify the medical center’s physical identity, reflect integration of its clinical, educational and research mission, and signify the institution’s goals for the future.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Chief Executive Officer John D. McConnell, M.D. explained, “We aspire to be a preeminent, internationally recognized academic medical center of the highest quality that will be known worldwide for its care as much as its cure. To do that we must have a unified brand that reflects our vision, as well as our mission to improve the health of the region, state and nation by providing the highest quality of patient care, discovering the next generation of diagnostic and treatment advances, and educating the medical and scientific leaders of tomorrow.”

In the midst of change, the Medical Center’s partnerships with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina remain the same. Donny Lambeth, President of North Carolina Baptist Hospital (NCBH), stated, “We have tremendous appreciation for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and our relationship with the Convention remains unchanged. The BSCNC, for instance, continues to elect trustees to the NCBH board. These trustees are providing invaluable leadership during times of transition.”

“We remain very grateful for the Cooperative Program’s support of our ministries through our pastoral care division. We count it a privilege and calling to extend the ministry of North Carolina Baptists, continuing the legacy of our Baptist founders,” Lambeth said. 

“The ministry of the Mother’s Day Offering continues to help our patients in serious financial need pay their hospital bills in the name of Christ’s love,” Lambeth stated. “As part of our gratitude, we continue to provide a subsidy for the hospital bills of N.C. Baptist ministers and their families for care we provide.”

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
 
3/17/2011 10:26:00 AM by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center | with 0 comments



Baptists struggle to reach disaster zone

March 17 2011 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

TOKYO — Across the upper half of Japan, life is either in tatters or at a standstill. With some roads impassable and fuel almost nonexistent in the north, relief and rescue workers have struggled to reach the areas where they are needed most.

This disaster is like nothing Makoto Kato has ever seen. Kato, the Japan Baptist Convention’s executive secretary, said the area affected by the disaster is large, but the biggest problem is simply getting there.

Photo by Csaba Lukacs

Baptists from North Carolina and Hungary unload boxes of food at an evacuation shelter in Japan.


“People are hurting because of a lack of food, water and electricity,” Kato said. “The devastating part is that we can’t get there yet.”

While multiple Baptist churches have sustained structural damage and church members are still missing, Kato said the most urgent concern is the nuclear power plants in the stricken region.

“The fear and suffering sustained from earthquakes and tsunami is being multiplied by the panic of radiation exposure,” Kato said. “We pray for the Lord to provide His peace, comfort and hope. We pray that those victims suffering alone in the cold will quickly be rescued.”

The pileup of disasters — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis — has multiplied the complications. Some 70,000 people had already been evacuated from a 12-mile radius; about 140,000 remain in the new 30-mile warning zone, according to news reports. More than 500,000 people have been made homeless by the quake and tsunami. Many endured snow and freezing temperatures Wednesday, as government supplies began to reach the worst affected areas.

A four-member team from the Japan Baptist Convention and Japanese Baptist Union was forced to turn around when they tried to enter the disaster zone to check on the 21 churches affiliated with the two entities. Special government permits are needed to travel the expressway and to enter disaster zones. Another main route to the earthquake- and tsunami-affected areas goes through radiation evacuation zones. Back roads are open, but fuel is scarce so traveling long distances is almost impossible.

Two North Carolina Baptists, however, managed to make it to the outer edges of the tsunami disaster zone for a quick 12-hour survey. Jack Frazier of Willow Springs, N.C., and John Adams of Salemburg, N.C., are part of a Baptist World Aid “Rescue 24 International” team made up of search and rescue workers from the United States and Hungary. Frazier and Adams went as representatives of North Carolina Baptist Men. N.C. Baptist Men has the only search and rescue team of any of the Southern Baptist disaster relief entities.

Frazier said the devastation is heartbreaking. Cars washed up on top of houses. A building knocked off its foundation. Loose debris piled high in fields ruined by the rush of water.

“We went for search and rescue, but quickly realized the Japanese government had that under control,” Frazier said. The government has deployed 100,000 troops to lead the aid effort. “So, we drove around evaluating the damage and found an evacuation center.”

Around 400 people had taken refuge in the center. Frazier said there was no electricity or gas in the area. When the Rescue 24 team arrived, the evacuation center was low on food.

“All they had was a half of a box of bananas and a half of a box of oranges for 400 people,” Frazier said.

The Baptist team went from store to store, trying to find food to help. Frazier said the line just to get into the local 7-Eleven store numbered around 200. They finally came across a truck unloading groceries at the back of a store and convinced them to sell more than the “rationing” amount so they could feed the 400 people.

“We stuffed our van with as much food as it would hold,” Frazier said.

Survivors in the shelters in the earthquake and tsunami areas said they are short of food and water, according to news reports. The Japanese army is using helicopters to bring in basic supplies. With the country’s power supply depleted by the damaged nuclear plants, many shelters have no heat. Frazier concurred that the ongoing nuclear crisis makes it hard to get much aid or relief work done at the moment.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rain is an IMB writer/editor living in Asia. The International Mission Board has established a relief fund for the Japan earthquake. Donations may be sent to: Office of Finance, International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Ave., Richmond, Va. 23230. In the memo line write “Japan Response Fund.” Or visit http://imbresources.org/index.cfm/product/detail/prodID/3352 to give online. For further information call the IMB toll-free at 1-800-999-3113. North Carolina Baptist Men is also collecting funds to help with recovery efforts. Make check payable to N.C. Baptist Men, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. Designate your check Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Fund.)

EXTRA: Mark and Sharon Bennett, Southern Baptist missionaries to Japan, were homeschooling when the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake shook Japan March 11. After the initial quake, the Bennetts joined many of their neighbors outside as the aftershocks began. The video they shot of the initial damage and ensuing cleanup is posted on CNN’s iReport. (http://ireport.cnn.com/people/bennettinjp) The Bennetts are recording their post-earthquake experiences on their blog.  

Related stories
Baptists struggle to reach disaster zone
N.C. Baptists called to prayer for Japan
Nuclear threat complicates Japan relief efforts
Japan’s Christians pray, muster funds for relief
Missionary family bonds with neighbors
2 families relocate as Japan crisis heightens
Guest column: Begin helping by praying
N.C. Baptists respond to quake, tsunami

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
3/17/2011 4:14:00 AM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



N.C. Baptists called to prayer for Japan

March 17 2011 by Traci DeVette Griggs, BSC Communications

North Carolina Baptists are urged to pray for the people of Japan as the country continues to be rocked by aftershocks of an 9.0 earthquake and deadly tsunami.

The aftershocks reach beyond infrastructure decimation and the likelihood of thousands of lives lost. Explosions at the nation’s nuclear power plants and plummeting Japanese financial markets are compounding these crises.

Immediately following the disaster, N.C. Baptist Men sent two key members of its international search and rescue team to help assess damage and design a strategy for how N.C. Baptists could be of assistance.

The two members are John Adams, pastor at Salemburg Baptist Church with former military experience, and Jack Frazier, a Cary firefighter and team leader of Haiti 2010 earthquake relief effort. The men have had a wide range of experience serving on the front lines of disaster relief including the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the Philippines’ flood in 2009.

Contributed photo

N.C. Baptist volunteers with volunteers from Hungary and Japan.


Despite the fact that teams were on call and ready to be deployed in the days following the disaster, the doors are not swinging open for N.C. Baptists to go in to provide assistance.

Gaylon Moss, Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Coordinator for N.C. Baptist Men, says a combination of factors contributed to cancellation of planned disaster relief teams: “The Japanese are very organized in their search and rescue efforts, difficulty getting into the area, the nuclear chaos that has ensued. So a number of complicating factors preventing us from sending additional volunteers. We’ve been meeting with the Japan Baptist Convention and other faith-based groups to determine how we can coordinate and cooperate for future response.”

Makoto Kato, executive director of the Japan Baptist Convention, has called for prayer. Kato wrote, “The immediate heartfelt prayer support and encouragement from you, our Christian brothers and sisters around the world, is greatly appreciated. On behalf of the Japan Baptist Convention, I want to express our deepest gratitude.”

Kato reports that churches located along the Pacific coastline of Japan sustained heavy damage and many church members are unaccounted for. The disaster has disrupted communications, plus a limited fuel supply, power outages and obstructed roadways make it difficult to track down missing people.

At this point, N.C. Baptists can assist by setting aside intentional times of prayer for the people of Japan as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering through this horrific trial.

Moss asks that we also pray for the Baptist Conventions in Japan “that they would be a light in the darkness and be able to serve in this time of difficulty.”

You can also give through Baptist Men and they will forward 100 percent of your donations to the Japanese Baptists.

Click here for more information.    

Related stories
Baptists struggle to reach disaster zone
N.C. Baptists called to prayer for Japan
Nuclear threat complicates Japan relief efforts
Japan’s Christians pray, muster funds for relief
Missionary family bonds with neighbors
2 families relocate as Japan crisis heightens
Guest column: Begin helping by praying
N.C. Baptists respond to quake, tsunami

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
3/17/2011 4:08:00 AM by Traci DeVette Griggs, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Boys, girls pedal to change other children’s lives

March 17 2011 by BCH Communications

The autumn temperatures were nearly perfect as boys and girls on bicycles, and some even on tricycles, whizzed around a quarter-mile track this past October. Jay Westmoreland, longtime member of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, and a team of volunteers clapped and cheered for the children as they completed another lap for the event known as “Bike for Change.”

The group of dedicated children collectively rode over 200 miles that morning and later presented a check to Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) for $25,737.47.

Created in 2003, Bike for Change was conceptualized by Jay Westmoreland as an outreach of First Baptist Church of Charlotte (FBC) to provide a tangible mission opportunity for the children of FBC. Each year, the participating children learn of the needs of Baptist Children’s Homes’ residents, pray for them, and promote Bike for Change as a way to provide financial assistance. 

“Bike for Change is a terrific way to teach our church’s children about the importance of missions outreach and helping others in the name of Jesus,” Westmoreland explained. “When our church’s children learn of the situations Baptist Children’s Homes’ residents have endured they realize how blessed they really are. They want to roll up their sleeves and help.”

For FBC’s event, the church’s children ride their bicycles in a designated area for a predetermined amount of time.

Church members support the children’s efforts by participating in a special offering. At the end of morning worship, children stand at the sanctuary exits and collect the offering in their bicycle helmets as members leave.

“It has brought great awareness to our church about the tremendous needs of Baptist Children’s Homes’ residents,” Westmoreland said. “Our children have ignited a passion within our church, and the church members have responded accordingly.”

Mark Harris, senior pastor at First Baptist Church, says Bike for Change has increased interaction between the children and other age groups at the church.

“I have known few other events that have created more intergenerational ministry impact than Bike for Change,” Harris explains. “First Baptist is making a greater impact because of Bike for Change.”

As the successful results of Bike for Change spread, other Baptist churches in North Carolina decided to participate. In 2009, Elizabeth Baptist Church of Shelby joined with First Baptist’s event. Children from Corinth Baptist in Ellenboro and Providence Baptist in Charlotte came aboard to help in 2010.

Additionally, other churches were encouraged to create Bike for Change events at their own locations. Mt. Moriah Baptist in Raleigh held its first event on October 2, 2010, and multiple churches from the South Mountain Association in Vale came together in August.

“It has been a blessing to see other churches participate,” Westmoreland said. “It’s my desire to see more North Carolina Baptist churches duplicate Bike for Change.”

In order to help Bike for Change expand, Westmoreland is providing guidance to any church wanting to begin its own event. A new web resource, www.bikeforchange.org, was created last year in partnership with Baptist Children’s Homes.

“It’s been exciting to witness the growth of Bike for Change and to see churches come on board,” says Baptist Children’s Homes president Michael C. Blackwell. “When the children in our care see other boys and girls their age go out of their way to help, it makes an unbelievable impact.”

Blackwell says Bike for Change produces results that go beyond making a difference financially.

“Nearly 70 percent of the children that come into Baptist Children’s Homes’ care have no faith base whatsoever,” he said.

“The children who participate in Bike for Change are Christ’s hands and feet in action. They are a powerful witness to boys and girls who desperately need to know God’s love.”

Since the beginning of Bike for Change in 2003, elementary age bikers have logged an estimated 1,600 miles and have raised more than $118,000. Those proceeds provide warm beds, hot meals, clothing, and a home where the children are safe. Most importantly, it empowers Christian houseparents to introduce the residents to the love of Christ.

Savanna, age 15, became a believer after moving to BCH and is thankful for Bike for Change.

“Every prayer that you have prayed and every dime that you have given to this ministry makes a difference,” Savanna stated in a “thank you” letter she wrote last year to Bike for Change participants. “I should know. I am a life that has been forever changed because of your actions.”

As spring approaches, Westmoreland hopes even more churches will organize Bike for Change events this year.

“It’s hard to beat the blessing of seeing children reaching out to help other children,” Westmoreland said. 

“I believe Bike for Change is the perfect initiative for church leaders who want to involve their children in a heart-changing ministry.”

More information about Bike for Change is available at www.bikeforchange.org or by contacting Jay Westmoreland at bikeforchange@bchfamily.org.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
3/17/2011 3:58:00 AM by BCH Communications | with 0 comments



Elliff gets unanimous approval from IMB trustees

March 16 2011 by Erich Bridges, International Mission Board

DALLAS (BP) — By a unanimous vote, Thomas (Tom) D. Elliff was elected International Mission Board president March 16 by IMB trustees meeting in Dallas.

Elliff, 67, a longtime pastor, Southern Baptist Convention leader and former missionary, will lead one of the largest evangelical missions agencies in an era of rapid change at home and around the globe.

The greatest mission challenges, he said, are the world’s overwhelming spiritual lostness and the urgency of mobilizing churches to take the gospel of Christ to all peoples.

IMB photo

Thomas (Tom) D. Elliff was elected International Mission Board president March 16 by IMB trustees meeting in Dallas.


“We must realize that we’re in a world that is hostile to the message of the gospel, yet there are so many people who are longing to hear,” Elliff said. “That’s why we must go to the uttermost now. Frankly, I think we live in a generation of students who are asking, ‘Why do we keep hearing about these unreached people groups? Why don’t we just go reach them?’ I believe we are seeing, even in our own convention, a groundswell of men and women of all ages who have the heart and are willing to go to the unreached now.” 

Addressing questions about his own age, Elliff added: “I’m not coming as an ‘interim.’ I’m coming with a vision — and I will serve as long as God gives me grace and energy.”

Elliff succeeds Jerry Rankin as president of the mission board, which serves Southern Baptists and the 5,000 missionaries they send worldwide. Rankin retired July 31, 2010, after 17 years as IMB president. Executive Vice President Clyde Meador has served as interim president during the search for a new leader.

“This is the result of many months of missionaries praying, Southern Baptists praying and our trustees praying,” said IMB Trustee Chairman Jimmy Pritchard, who led the presidential search committee. “God has answered our prayer.”

Rankin, who recruited Elliff to a high-level IMB assignment during his tenure, agreed.

“Tom brings an amazing combination of qualities to the task,” Rankin said. “He has a deep personal walk with the Lord that inspires and challenges others. His heart for missions grows out of a personal calling. His understanding of mission strategy comes from years of involvement as a missionary, pastor and senior executive team member at IMB. He has great communication skills, genuine passion to reach a lost world, the favor and respect of missionaries and IMB staff, and he is well-connected with the churches and Southern Baptist Convention leadership.”

Born in Texas, Elliff is a fourth-generation Oklahoman and third-generation pastor. He served with his wife, Jeannie, as a missionary to Zimbabwe in the early 1980s. They resigned in 1983 after their daughter, Beth, was seriously injured in a car accident there. He was twice elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, in 1996 and 1997. He has led several key churches in the denomination, including First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, Okla., where he was pastor from 1985 to 2005.

Elliff then served as IMB senior vice president for spiritual nurture and church relations from 2005 to 2009. In that role, he taught and counseled missionaries and helped mobilize churches throughout the convention for missions involvement. Since then he has led Living in The Word Publications, a writing and speaking ministry he founded in 2005. He is the author of numerous books about prayer, spiritual awakening and family life.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Bridges is an IMB global correspondent.) 

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
3/16/2011 7:18:00 AM by Erich Bridges, International Mission Board | with 0 comments



Nuclear threat complicates Japan relief efforts

March 16 2011 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

TOKYO — The danger of radiation from damaged nuclear reactors has greatly complicated Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts in Japan, one member of the assessment team reported March 15.

BP photo

Relief groups are on a wary standby as Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan (standing in March 14 meeting) and other officials of the Asian nation struggle to manage the compounding crisis of a battered nuclear industry along with the 9.0-magnitude earthquake March 11 and subsequent tsunami.


A third explosion at a nuclear plant March 15 exposed fuel rods for several hours, sending radiation levels soaring to 163 times previous levels, the United Nations reported. The government responded by ordering people living within 19 miles of the nuclear complex to stay indoors to avoid exposure.

“The crisis at the nuclear power plant further complicates the situation,” said one member of the Baptist Global Response (BGR) disaster relief assessment team who arrived in Tokyo March 12. “Presently our ability to respond to the tsunami is minimal because access to the coastal areas is severely curtailed as the government responds to the crises in the area. We are concentrating our assessment on non-coastal areas where damage was caused by the earthquake.”

The Japan disaster relief situation is unlike any other in recent history, noted Pat Melancon, BGR’s disaster management specialist.

“When most disasters occur, a single event is normally accompanied by a fairly set list of accompanying effects. Floods will leave mud, destroy crops, damage homes, contaminate water supplies and cause sicknesses,” Melancon said. “When earthquakes occur, you see some of the same results, with additional problems like interrupted transportation, widespread structural damage or destruction and the like.

“The Japan event, however, is different. Here we have three catastrophic events: the earthquake, which did much damage in areas not being featured in the news; the tsunami, which hit the low coastal areas of Japan especially hard; and now an additional unfolding event — the demise of nuclear power plants.”

In a complex humanitarian crisis, different events affect the total situation in such a way that a response to one event must be considered in context with the others, Melancon noted.

“Each situation affects the others. The response becomes very complex,” Melancon said. “You have to identify the most current critical factor in the response that will diminish the severity of the combined events and begin with that response. Eventually all the issues will be addressed.

“This event is unlike any other in recent history,” Melancon said. “BGR will respond methodically, with the aid of Southern Baptists and other Christians from around the world. To do this effectively, we need your prayers and support.”

“We all grieve about the images we are seeing on television,” said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response. “Our inclination is to jump on a plane and go. When we have a disaster response, we usually tell people they can help by praying, giving and going. Right now, the best way they can help is by praying, giving and waiting.

“This will be a very long-term response,” Palmer said. “We need to let our experts, trained people and Japanese partners lead us in our efforts.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is senior writer for Baptist Press. Baptist Global Response is located on the Internet at www.gobgr.org. The International Mission Board has established a relief fund for the Japan earthquake. Donations may be sent to: Office of Finance, International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Ave., Richmond, Va. 23230. In the memo line write “Japan Response Fund.” Or visit http://imbresources.org/index.cfm/product/detail/prodID/3352 to give online. For further information call the IMB toll-free at 1-800-999-3113. North Carolina Baptist Men is also collecting funds to help with recovery efforts. Make checks payable to N.C. Baptist Men, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. Designate your check Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Fund.)

Related stories
Baptists struggle to reach disaster zone
N.C. Baptists called to prayer for Japan
Nuclear threat complicates Japan relief efforts
Japan’s Christians pray, muster funds for relief
Missionary family bonds with neighbors
2 families relocate as Japan crisis heightens
Guest column: Begin helping by praying
N.C. Baptists respond to quake, tsunami

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
3/16/2011 4:20:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Japan’s Christians pray, muster funds for relief

March 16 2011 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

TOKYO — Japanese Christians, although a small minority of the battered Asian nation’s populace, gathered in churches and Bible studies Sunday to pray for those still missing after the March 11 earthquake — now listed as 9.0 in magnitude — and tsunami.

Teresa Seelen, a Southern Baptist missionary, worshipped at one church where believers spent the entire service praying for friends and family by name, as well as collecting a love offering for disaster relief following the country’s strongest-ever earthquake and the tsunami’s walls of seawater that destroyed vast numbers of neighborhoods and villages along Japan’s northern Pacific coast.

“Through tears, they called out names and lifted them to God,” Seleen said of the members’ prayers. “We prayed for courage for the believers to reach out with the gospel. … It was precious to see the generosity of this small group of believers.”

BP Photo by Kimberly Burns

Families in Japan are struggling to find food in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.


With most stores and gas stations closed, the main task for many in the hardest-hit areas Sunday was just getting by. Scores lined up at the few gas stations and grocery stores that were open. International Mission Board missionary (IMB) Sharon Bennett said shelves were largely empty amid the rush to get food.

Christian organizations gathered Sunday to figure out a game plan for distributing aid strategically as they minister to the needs of the Japanese. A Baptist disaster relief assessment team is on the ground evaluating needs and opportunities for response.

Japanese authorities were continuing to operate on the presumption March 14 that meltdowns may be underway at two nuclear reactors after the earthquake and tsunami.

However, government officials said there are so far no indications of hazardous emissions of radioactive material into the atmosphere. About 180,000 people have been evacuated from the area.

No International Mission Board personnel live within the area affected by the evacuations, said Renae Oue, another IMB representative in Japan.

IMB missionaries to Japan spent most of their weekend shoveling tons of sand and sludge with their neighbors. Almost every street near the home of Sharon Bennett and her husband Mark in northern Japan was buckled, cracked and covered with gray sand. A few children played in the park as adults worked together.

The Bennetts were homeschooling when the largest earthquake in Japan’s history hit. They took shelter under a table and watched as items fell off shelves and walls.

“I prayed out loud,” Mark Bennett said. “In my heart I was preparing for the worst. I honestly thought the house was going to come down on top of us. After 20 years in Japan, this was the worst and longest earthquake I have ever felt. I was preparing myself to meet the Lord.”

The Bennetts went outside after the initial quake, joining others in their neighborhood as the aftershocks started. Their block literally moved in one direction while the park across the street moved in the opposite.

“I felt like I was standing on a small boat,” Mark Bennett said.

Two of their boys were in classes at the local elementary school when the quake hit. The road was so buckled that no cars or public transport could get through, so Mark Bennett, like millions of others throughout the country, walked through the rubble to the school as aftershocks continued to shake the area.

When Bennett arrived at the school, he found his two younger children standing outside with classmates, waiting for parents. The trio walked through gray sludge and debris to get back to their house.

During the walk home, “we watched as wave after wave of aftershock did more damage to the roads and our park,” Mark Bennett said. “Four concrete power poles fell onto a house a block from us — but we arrived safely home.”

A seemingly endless barrage of aftershocks shook the country all weekend. The U.S. Geological Survey reported more than 140 such quakes — magnitude 4.5 and higher, including a 6.2-magnitude quake Sunday morning.

While Japanese officials mounted efforts to avert a possible nuclear crisis, rescuers continued to frantically scramble to find survivors. Rescuers dug through mud and rubble, rescuing survivors and recovering bodies. So far, more than 3,000 people have been rescued but many more thousands are still missing. Japan’s National Police Agency says that in one coastal town, Minamisanriku, around 9,500 people — half the town’s population — are unaccounted for.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rain is a writer for the International Mission Board living in Asia. The International Mission Board has established a relief fund for the Japan earthquake. Donations may be sent to: Office of Finance, International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Ave., Richmond, Va. 23230. In the memo line write “Japan Response Fund.” Or visit http://imbresources.org/index.cfm/product/detail/prodID/3352 to give online. For further information call the IMB toll-free at 1-800-999-3113. North Carolina Baptist Men is also collecting funds to help with recovery efforts. Make check payable to N.C. Baptist Men, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. Designate your check Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Fund.)

Related stories
Baptists struggle to reach disaster zone
N.C. Baptists called to prayer for Japan
Nuclear threat complicates Japan relief efforts
Japan’s Christians pray, muster funds for relief
Missionary family bonds with neighbors
2 families relocate as Japan crisis heightens
Guest column: Begin helping by praying
N.C. Baptists respond to quake, tsunami

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
3/16/2011 4:14:00 AM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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