March 2019

‘Total destruction’: Alabama Baptists clearing debris

March 6 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

As a tornado ripped through Baptist deacon Barry Gullatte’s home in eastern Alabama, he and his family could feel themselves being sucked out of the bathroom where they took shelter.
 

ABC News screen capture from YouTube
A March 3 tornado in Beauregard, Ala., left at least 23 people dead, including at least four children, according to media reports.

Thankfully, the entire family emerged from the tornado uninjured, said their pastor, John Meadows of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Salem, Ala. And “almost immediately” upon exiting their house, he noted, their church was there to help.
 
“We’re just out there on the spot with” all three Pleasant Grove families who had their homes damaged, Meadows told Baptist Press (BP). “There’s been bringing in food. There’s been ... giving not only moral and spiritual support, but physical support.” A fellow church member even allowed the Gullattes to live in a spare house she owned while theirs is repaired.
 
Such reports of ministry and cleanup continue to emerge in the wake of a deadly system of tornadoes in Alabama on March 3. The storms left at least 23 people dead, including at least four children, and others still missing, according to media reports.
 
Four tornadoes in Alabama have been confirmed. The strongest was some 1,600 yards wide and stayed on the ground for nearly 27 miles, according to media reports, devastating the small community of Beauregard.
 
In addition to local church ministry efforts, Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) volunteers have been on the ground since Sunday. Though the hardest-hit area of Beauregard has been closed, DR teams have put tarps on roofs in outlying regions, used chainsaws to clear people’s property and, in one case, went into the restricted zone to help search and rescue workers clear debris, said Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief strategist Mark Wakefield.
 
Local officials have asked the Alabama DR teams to provide laundry units in Beauregard and possibly in nearby Smiths Station in the days to come, Wakefield said. Feeding units also may be called into service.
 
“Sometimes [tornado survivors] just need to talk or need somebody to pray with them,” Wakefield told BP, “somebody to listen to their story. [DR] chaplains are looking for that.”
 
About 70 DR workers were on the field March 4, Wakefield said, and about 50 March 5.
 
Yet even “before we had any relief” from official DR teams, Meadows said, “we had members of the church out boarding up windows and helping try to get things sort of halfway straightened again – just doing everything we can to try to help.”
 
Providence Baptist Church in Beauregard was serving as a Red Cross shelter and reunification point for families in the community.
 
Bill King, director of missions for the local Tuskegee Lee Baptist Association, told BP the Beauregard area is “just total devastation.”
 
“Pray for those who’ve lost their homes,” King said, “that they’ll be able to find housing or rebuild.”
 
Though the heaviest damage was in Alabama, a tornado touched down March 3 near the South Carolina Baptist Building in Columbia, S.C., as well.
 
“Fortunately we did not have any damage other than some limbs [and] leaves in our parking lot,” South Carolina Baptist Convention executive director Gary Hollingsworth said March 4 via email. “I literally just heard about 20 minutes ago that the national weather folks have officially said an EF-1 touched down ‘north of the zoo!’ That’s pretty much us! I think there was some tree damage about three blocks from the building so that is likely where it touched down.”
 
In Georgia, Bethesda Baptist Church in Ellerslie experienced some minor structural damage from the storm system, Georgia Baptists’ Christian Index news journal reported.
 
President Trump has said he will visit the most heavily damaged area of Alabama March 8.

3/6/2019 10:32:13 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



University of Mobile president Tim Smith resigns

March 6 2019 by University of Mobile & Baptist Press Staff

Tim Smith, president of the University of Mobile since May 2016, has resigned, according to a news release issued by the university.
 
Smith “cited personal reasons” for his resignation, the university’s March 1 news release stated, providing no further information. A university spokesperson contacted by Baptist Press cited the news release as the only information being made available.
 

BP file photo
Tim Smith

Trustees announced after a March 1 meeting that interim leadership for the university was named and a nationwide search for a new president will begin.
 
Current trustee chairman Fred Wilson was named interim president with David Conner becoming trustee chairman.
 
President Emeritus Mark Foley, who led the university for 18 years until his retirement in 2016, “will serve as a consultant while the search begins for the university’s fifth president,” the news release stated.
 
The university, founded in 1961, is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention and has more than 1,600 students in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs.
 
Wilson has served on the trustee board for more than 12 years and was beginning his third term as chairman. He retired in 2017 as a partner in P.J. Lumber Co. of Mobile where he handled international sales and export marketing.
 
Conner is an attorney with Blackburn & Connor P.C., headquartered in Bay Minette, Ala.
 
“The Board of Trustees is committed to building on the university’s forward momentum,” Wilson was quoted as saying in the news release. “Immediately having leadership in place who are already knowledgeable about the university will enable University of Mobile to continue its mission without missing a beat.”
 
Smith, who led the University of Mobile for nearly three years, previously was provost at Anderson University in South Carolina from 2015-2016, serving there in 2014 as vice president of strategic initiatives. He led Union University’s nursing program in Tennessee from 2005-2014.

3/6/2019 10:27:29 AM by University of Mobile & Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



DR, Baptist church give aid after deadly tornado

March 6 2019 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

The small community of Beauregard is facing the grief of at least 23 deaths, including children, after a tornado struck the southeastern Alabama community on Sunday afternoon, March 3.
 
Search efforts for about a dozen people who had not been accounted for were continuing Monday amid the debris.
 

Photo from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
The small community of Beauregard, Ala., is facing the grief of at least 28 deaths, including children, after a tornado struck the southeastern Alabama community on Sunday afternoon, March 3.

Providence Baptist Church in Beauregard was serving as a Red Cross shelter and reunification point for families in the community.
 
“Disaster relief (DR) volunteers are hard at work already,” reported Mark Wakefield, disaster relief strategist with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
 
Three Alabama DR teams are on site, with others on standby, Wakefield told Baptist Press from Providence Baptist Church.
 
One DR team was assisting in search and rescue, another was tarping roofs and the third was working with chainsaws to clear debris.
 
“The community is doing a phenomenal job” in rallying to help tornado survivors, Wakefield added. “Dozens and dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of volunteers are showing up to help, or bringing supplies or bringing in heavy equipment.”
 
Despite the horror of such disasters, Wakefield said, “It’s remarkable to be in a place where people take care of each other.”
 
Providence Baptist posted on its website around noon: “Thank you for the response! We are at capacity today with supplies. If you would like to donate please give blood or give a monetary donation to Providence Baptist Church Disaster Relief or American Red Cross - Lee County.”
 
A person who answered the phone at the church said no one was available to answer media inquiries.
 
“Multiple children” lost their lives in the tornado, the AL.com news website reported. “The youngest victim was 6 years old, but it is not clear how many children are among the dead.”
 
All the deaths occurred in an area one-quarter to a half-mile wide and a mile long, according to various reports.
 
“Small communities are very tightly connected,” Sam Porter, national director of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, told Baptist Press, “so it’s going to be very devastating.
 
“Everyone knows everybody in those kind of places,” Porter said. “It’s not just one family, but the whole community has lost 23 people.”
 
Chaplains are part of the DR teams involved in disaster responses, Porter said, noting, “They’re going to get great spiritual, emotional care from the Alabama teams.”
 
Tornadoes from the storm system also were reported in Georgia and Florida.
 
The unincorporated Beauregard community is located six miles south of Opelika.
 
The deadliest tornado outbreak in Alabama history remains the April 27, 2011, storms which claimed 246 lives.

3/6/2019 10:23:25 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



National CP 5.98% above YTD budget projection

March 6 2019 by Baptist Press Staff

Contributions to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee in February were 5.98 percent above the projected budget for the first five months of the current fiscal year and 0.47 percent above the amount received during the same period last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee Interim President and Executive Vice President D. August Boto.
 

As of Feb. 28, gifts received by the Executive Committee for distribution through the Cooperative Program (CP) Allocation Budget totaled $85,669,790.34, or $397,478.32 above the $85,272,312.02 received through the first five months of the 2017–2018 fiscal year. The fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. The February YTD total is $4,836,457.01 above the $80,833,333.33 YTD allocation budget projection to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America.
 
The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ channel of giving, begun in 1925, through which a local church can contribute to the ministries of its state convention and the missions and ministries of the SBC through a unified giving plan to support both sets of ministries. Monies include receipts from individuals, churches and state conventions for distribution according to the 2018-2019 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
 
Meanwhile, year-to-date designated giving of $90,343,819.87 was 1.55 percent, or $1,381,434.87, above gifts of $88,962,385.00 received in the first five months of last year’s fiscal year. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities. Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief, Disaster Relief and other special gifts.
 
CP allocation receipts for SBC work for the month of February totaled $21,121,123.26. Designated gifts received last month amounted to $57,563,813.04.
 
State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist Convention national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.
 
The convention-adopted budget for 2018-2019 is $194 million and is disbursed as follows: 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board, 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board, 22.16 percent to theological education through the six SBC seminaries and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The SBC Executive Committee distributes all CP and designated gifts it receives on a weekly basis to the SBC ministry entities.
 
Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the timing of when the cooperating state Baptist conventions forward the national portion of Cooperative Program contributions to the Executive Committee, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions, the number of Sundays in a given month, and the percentage of CP contributions forwarded to the SBC by the state conventions after shared ministry expenses are deducted.
 
CP allocation budget gifts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state convention offices, to the state Baptist papers and are posted online at cpmissions.net/CPReports.

3/6/2019 10:10:32 AM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



John Stonestreet calls Christians to engage culture

March 5 2019 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Author and speaker John Stonestreet challenged and encouraged Christians to engage today’s culture with clarity, conviction, confidence and courage without compromising biblical principles during a pair of keynote addresses at the 2019 N.C. Baptist Disciple-Making Conference.
 

BSC photo
We’ve got to address the culture in which we live, and we’ve got to do it with clarity and we’ve got to do it with understanding,” said John Stonestreet Feb. 26. “It’s not an option.”


Stonestreet, who serves as president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview in Colorado Springs, Colo., told conference attendees that engaging the culture is part of discipleship and is every believer’s responsibility.
 
“We’ve got to address the culture in which we live, and we’ve got to do it with clarity and we’ve got to do it with understanding,” Stonestreet said. “It’s not an option.”
 
The daylong conference drew approximately 700 attendees to Green Street Baptist Church in High Point on Feb. 26. Attendees included pastors, church staff members, ministry leaders and congregants from churches across North Carolina.
 
The event included main sessions with Stonestreet, as well as a variety of breakout sessions with other ministry leaders and church practitioners.
 
In a cultural landscape that’s becoming increasingly antagonistic to biblical truth, Stonestreet warned dismissing culture as evil and trying to retreat from it.
 
“The Bible doesn’t teach that the world is a bad place,” Stonestreet said. “The Bible teaches that the world is a good place that has fallen thoroughly.”
 
Stonestreet said shifting cultural values have placed increasing pressure on Christians and the church to compromise their historic biblical convictions, often pitting God’s truth and God’s love in opposition to one another.
 
“What we’re told is, ‘If you love your neighbor, you’ve got to change your mind about what God says,’” Stonestreet said. “Or, ‘If you love God and want to be faithful to what God says, then you can’t be loving to your neighbor.’
 
“We cannot understand our faith as if God’s morality and God’s gospel are somehow in conflict with one another.”
 
Stonestreet said scripture informs us that truth and love are revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, who calls Christians to be ministers of reconciliation.
 
“Reconciled ones are called to be reconcilers,” Stonestreet said. “And it’s to be done in the context of this cultural moment where God has placed us.”
 
Stonestreet shared four truths for believers to remember and cling to as they seek to engage the culture around them. They are that Christ is risen, Christ is Lord, Christ is making all things new and God has sovereignly determined that we would live at this precise moment in history.
 
It’s no accident that we are living in this cultural moment, Stonestreet said, noting that the apostle Paul tells us in Acts 17 that God determines the exact times that people would live and the boundaries of their dwelling places.
 
“God wanted us to live in this time and in this place and not in another time and another place,” Stonestreet said. “God actually gives us our cultural moment and does not put us in another cultural moment.
 
Stonestreet also shared four questions that Christians and churches can ask about culture as they seek to engage it. They are:

  • What’s good that we can promote, celebrate and preserve?

  • What’s missing that we can contribute?

  • What’s evil that we can stop?

  • What’s broken that we can restore?

Stonestreet told attendees that God wants to use them to engage culture and encouraged them to live out their faith wherever God has placed and called them.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Video recordings of Stonestreet’s addresses from the conference are available at vimeo.com/channels/disciples.)

3/5/2019 12:45:20 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



More concerns aired as sex abuse discussion unfolds

March 5 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Amid ongoing discussion of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, one SBC Executive Committee (EC) leader has resigned from the EC and another has noted some “stumbling out of the gate” as the convention seeks to confront abuse.
 

BP file photo

Meanwhile, two other EC members, including vice chairman Rolland Slade, have been seeking to hear abuse victims’ personal testimonies. Additionally, statements continue to be issued by victims of sexual abuse and churches named by SBC President J.D. Greear in his Feb. 18 report on abuse.
 

Bylaws workgroup chair resigns

 
Georgia pastor Ken Alford resigned March 1 both from the EC and his chairmanship of the bylaws workgroup, citing a desire “to show that I am not insensitive to the concerns of victims of sexual abuse and their advocates.”
 
In a March 2 statement released to Baptist Press (BP), Alford noted claims the workgroup’s Feb. 23 report amounted to a “whitewash” and a “rush to judgment.” Alford also responded to criticism he should not chair a workgroup examining the “moral failure” of sexual abuse since he had a personal moral failure 17 years ago.
 
BP reported in 2002 that Alford resigned his then-Florida pastorate and his then-chairmanship of the North American Mission Board trustees because of an “improper relationship.”
 
Despite being a “forgiven child of God” with a restored marriage and ministry, Alford said, “I understand why critics of the bylaws workgroup report would question why someone who had a personal moral failure in his past would chair a group dealing with another type of moral failure, namely the horrific crime of sexual abuse. I truly ‘get it.’”
 
In his 1,700-word statement, Alford also clarified, “The bylaws workgroup actually conducted no investigation, because we were not authorized to do so, and we did not ‘clear’ any churches, because that determination was not a part of our responsibility. We simply sought to ascertain if the information that President Greear had shared with us was sufficient to warrant further inquiry” concerning any church.
 

‘The same goal’

 
EC chairman Mike Stone, in a column published March 4 in BP, acknowledged missteps by various groups of Southern Baptists “in our zeal, emotion and righteous anger” over sexual abuse.
 
“But there is one thing that is beyond dispute in my mind: we seek the same goal,” wrote Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Ga. “I haven’t spoken to a single member of the EC that isn’t willing to do all we can to address this evil and to seek the convention’s approval to do some additional things we currently don’t have authorization to do.”
 
A perception by some that the bylaws workgroup’s Feb. 23 report “appeared ‘rushed’” was “an inaccurate but fair perception,” Stone wrote.
 
The bylaws workgroup “doesn’t have the authority to do an investigation and did not claim to do one,” Stone wrote. “And given the limited scope of authority and information, the preliminary report to the EC was as thorough as it could have been. But an on-looking world, especially victims, doesn’t necessarily understand the limits of the workgroup’s authority and shouldn’t be expected to do so.”
 
Stone, himself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, added that “no churches were ‘cleared’ even though media reports characterized the study that way ... In fact, if additional information comes to the committee, as has already occurred, it may indicate further inquiries are in order to determine if the actions of the church reflect the faith and practice of Southern Baptists.”
 
Thomas Hammond, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said in a March 3 news release he has obtained new information on at least one of the churches listed by Greear: Trinity Baptist Church in Ashburn, Ga.
 
“With respect to Trinity Baptist, Pastor [Rodney] Brown confirmed to me yesterday what he’d stated to Baptist Press: that a staff member [allegedly] admitted to being a sexual abuser, and furthermore, remained in a leadership position at Trinity. Today, I also learned from the pastor that the perpetrator has been dismissed and instructed not to return. It is my expectation that there is more work to be done at Trinity and more healing to be experienced by the victims; I am committed to both efforts.”
 

‘Hope for real change’

 
Slade and fellow EC member Jared Wellman each told BP they have been seeking to ensure the EC hears from sexual abuse survivors.
 
Slade, pastor of Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon, Calif., spoke with five sexual abuse survivors the week before the Houston Chronicle published a series of articles on sexual abuse and Southern Baptists last month, he said. Then on Feb. 26, Slade tweeted his support of Greear’s “10 calls to action on sexual abuse” and invited victims to share their stories via email.
 
“The testimonies that have come,” Slade said, have left him “amazed at the strength, courage [and] grace” of survivors. “It really strengthened my resolve to make sure that ... victims’ and survivors’ voices are heard.”
 
Slade tweeted March 3 that his wife Adrienne “joined me in the pulpit” that day “and shared her testimony of survival from sexual abuse in the church.”
 
Wellman, pastor of Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, also noted his support of Greear on Twitter Feb. 26, shared his email address and invited victims to share their testimonies. Wellman told BP he was seeking to address what he perceived as “a growing gap between the EC and sexual abuse survivors.”
 
“The response has been incredible,” Wellman said in an email. “I am doing my best to read and respond to each person individually, but it’s taking time because I want to make sure each victim receives a personal response. I feel they deserve that. Those who have reached out are sharing their stories with the hope for SBC leadership to implement real change to protect cases like theirs from ever happening again. I want to stress how graceful and generous the emails have been. There is hope for real change.”
 

Churches, victims respond

 
Another church on Greear’s list, Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Ky., has expressed “disagreement with being included on the list” and said it is “eager to have this issue resolved in order to remove the suspicion surrounding our church and the godly people the Lord has gathered here.”
 
Sovereign Grace supports an SBC constitutional amendment on abuse recommended by the EC Feb. 19, “including the four criteria that would evidence indifference in addressing sexual abuse and in caring for survivors of abuse,” the church told BP in a statement. “Sexual abuse is a grievous sin that does unspeakable harm to its survivors and their families, and we are grateful for the attention being brought to this issue by the SBC.
 
“We believe just as strongly that [Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville] and its leaders are in full compliance with this proposed amendment. We were surprised to find our church’s name on the list produced by the SBC president. We had not been contacted by anyone in SBC leadership concerning this issue, nor are we aware of any credible evidence that supports our inclusion on this list,” the church stated, noting it is eager to dialogue with the bylaws workgroup.
 
The bylaws workgroup stated Feb. 23 it believes “further inquiry is warranted” regarding Sovereign Grace based on the information Greear provided.
 
Within the larger Sovereign Grace Churches network, the Louisville congregation stated, “we are not aware of a single pastor guilty of – much less charged with or convicted of – sexual abuse or conspiring to cover up abuse.”
 
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told the Chronicle last month he “erred” in previous support of Louisville Sovereign Grace pastor C.J. Mahaney, former leader of the Sovereign Grace network, which was alleged in a lawsuit to have covered up sexual abuse.
 
“I wrongly believed that an investigation had been done,” Mohler said in a Feb. 15 release, “and relied on that assurance and the court dismissal of the civil suit, along with my personal knowledge of C.J., when I issued my statement of support in 2013. I deeply regret this.”
 
Meanwhile, Debbie Vasquez, who claims she was abused as a teen by the pastor of another church on Greear’s list, has refuted that pastor’s statements to BP. Texas pastor Dickie Amyx told BP previously he and Vasquez had a consensual relationship when she was 17 and he was about 30, leaving her pregnant. Vasquez told the Chronicle she was molested by a pastor when she was 14, the first of many assaults that she said ruined her teenage years.
 
The EC’s next scheduled meeting in June 10 in Birmingham, Ala.

3/5/2019 12:38:23 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



LifeWay’s Brad Waggoner named acting president

March 5 2019 by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources

LifeWay Christian Resources Executive Vice President Brad Waggoner has been named acting president and CEO of the Southern Baptist entity until a new president is named.
 

Brad Waggoner

Waggoner will serve in the role previously held by Thom S. Rainer who announced his retirement in August 2018, a LifeWay news release announced March 4.
 
LifeWay trustee board chairman Jimmy Scroggins shared his appreciation for Rainer and his faithfulness to serve the Lord. “On behalf of the board, let me say how thankful we are for Dr. Rainer’s courageous leadership over the past 13 years.
 
“Since announcing his retirement, he has continued to serve during the presidential search process with unwavering determination to prepare the way for the next leader,” Scroggins said. “In recent weeks, Dr. Rainer expressed a desire to move forward with his retirement effective February 28, 2019.
 
“I cannot begin to express my respect and appreciation for Dr. Rainer,” continued Scroggins, pastor of the Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla. “He has led LifeWay through some challenging times and difficult circumstances, and he has done so with integrity and wisdom. His leadership has allowed LifeWay to expand its reach to the global church. Our prayers are with him as he begins a new season of ministry.”
 
Rainer has served as the ninth president of LifeWay since February 2006. “I love LifeWay and the incredible men and women who serve the Lord with joy, purpose and hard work as they provide resources for churches and biblical solutions for life,” Rainer said. “I am looking forward to the new era of LifeWay and what God will do with new leadership. I have full confidence the 10th president of LifeWay will lead this organization into its greatest era.”
 
Scroggins said, “the search committee’s work is on track, and we look forward to naming a new president in the near future.” He explained that according to LifeWay’s bylaws, in the absence of a president, the executive vice president is to serve as acting president.
 
“I’m excited to announce Dr. Brad Waggoner has agreed to fill this role as the presidential search process continues,” Scroggins said. “LifeWay is fortunate to have an experienced leader like Dr. Waggoner already in place to guide the organization during this transition.”
 
Since 2010 Waggoner has served as LifeWay’s executive vice president and COO, overseeing daily operations and helping provide strategic leadership of the organization.
 
“It is an honor and privilege to take this role, even for a short season,” Waggoner said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to have served alongside Dr. Rainer these past several years. The courage he has displayed to make difficult decisions during his tenure and do the right thing for this organization has been a source of encouragement to me.
 
“LifeWay is in an incredible time of transition but also a time of great opportunity,” Waggoner noted. “LifeWay is a global leader in providing relevant, trustworthy, biblical resources and events for all ages. We will continue to fulfill LifeWay’s mission, build on the path set before us and serve to the glory of God.”

3/5/2019 12:34:35 PM by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



Nigerian reaches Africa through Minneapolis

March 5 2019 by Brandon Elrod, NAMB

Philip Nache could have given in to despair. Boko Haram, the jihadist militant group located in Nigeria, had threatened his life, martyred a convert to Christianity and continued to intimidate Christians.

But despite the danger, Nache expected to return to his people, where he’d spent nearly 20 years ministering, pastoring and planting churches. He had come to the United States to attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a moment of divine timing that coincided with Boko Haram’s first threats on his life.

As he contemplated whether and how to return to Nigeria, another divine appointment redirected his steps.
 

NAMB photo by Daniel McCullough
Annie Armstrong Easter Offering 2019 Week of Prayer missionary Philip Nache and his wife Jummai answered the call to move to Minneapolis in order to serve the African immigrant population. Nache experienced persecution at the hands of Boko Haram in Nigeria before traveling to the United States to become a church planting missionary.

 
“At that time, God opened the door for me to come to Minneapolis,” Nache said. “When I was told about the need here in the Twin Cities, I was still thinking of Africa, but after praying, I felt convicted to go to Minnesota.”
 
So, he decided to plan a visit. When he arrived, he was surprised by what he saw.
 
“It’s like I was in Africa – the northern part of Africa. Because I [saw a] basket full of people – Africans,” Nache recalled of his first vision trip to the city.
 
Seeing fellow Africans opened his mind and heart, and Nache’s disposition toward Minneapolis changed. He sensed God’s leading and prepared to go.
 
Nache saw how the nations had come to North America. This year he is a 2019 Week of Prayer missionary for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.
 
When he moved his family to the Twin Cities, Nache discovered a hunger for new churches among the various African populations. They lacked the means to make it happen until Nache arrived with the support of Southern Baptists.
 
“One pastor came to me,” Nache recalled, “and said, ‘Oh, there are a lot of South Sudanese and Ethiopians and so many Africans that are there. I’ve tried even to start a church with them, but I couldn’t because of resources.’”
 
That believer asked Nache if he was willing to reach out to those populations even though many of them were Muslim. Nache’s response was simple, “Why not? This is [why] God has brought me.”
 
Nache joined a group of believers, started reaching out to their neighbors and began house-to-house fellowships. And that’s how God opened the door and established His church, Hope of Nations Gospel Church.
 
Hope of Nations has gone to two services, one for South Sudanese and another for northern Nigerians. Nache and many of his church members have a vision to reach not only their immediate neighbors but the whole world.
 
While in Nigeria, Nache pastored and planted churches, and now God continues to use his ministry in Minneapolis to reach the nations of Africa. In the Twin Cities, Nache said, “we are able to identify potential pastors who desire to go and reach out to their people and plant churches in their own countries.”
 
One such example is Khemis Artema, a refugee from South Sudan. Artema traveled through refugee camps, where he endured physical suffering and lack of medication, before arriving in the United States. Nache said that Artema remained faithful to the Lord through those trials, and now he disciples him so that he can return to South Sudan and plant a church.
 
“They [Artema and his wife] thank God,” Nache said, “that the Lord established this church and they’re able to know scripture along with their children.”
 
Hope of Nations sent Artema on a short-term trip to South Sudan, which was the trip that solidified God’s calling for him to return. Nache continues to disciple and train future missionaries like Artema.
 
“Our desire is to keep multiplying and reaching out to more people groups, especially people from Africa,” said Nache. He sees donations to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering as a key part of that vision going forward.
 
“I must say that without the help of the Annie Armstrong support that we are getting from the North American Mission Board,” said Nache, “honestly speaking, I don’t think this work will be possible…So, I seriously appreciate and thank God for this offering. Thank God for the churches all over North America that are helping to support this work.”
 
Gifts made to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering go directly to support and resource North American missionaries in the field. To learn more, visit anniearmstrong.com.
 
3/5/2019 12:22:18 PM by Brandon Elrod, NAMB | with 0 comments



Stephanie Orr to chair Tellers Committee

March 5 2019 by Baptist Press Staff

Stephanie Orr has been named chairman of the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention’s Tellers Committee, SBC President J.D. Greear announced March 4.
 

Stephanie Orr

Ray Carr, pastor of Baptist Center Church in Clayton, N.C., has been appointed vice chair.
 
Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C. area, told Baptist Press, “I could not be more pleased to have Stephanie Orr as our chair for the Tellers Committee. I personally know of students whose lives she has impacted in her role as the registrar for the Baptist College of Florida who are now at our church and have been a huge blessing to us. She and her husband Mike have served our convention faithfully for years and I’m confident that her leadership will be an invaluable asset to Southern Baptists in this role.
 
Greear added, “Pastor Ray is a proven leader who has the experience both in the local church and in Southern Baptist life to be an incredible resource to our annual meeting. Under Stephanie and Ray’s leadership, I’m confident we will have a smooth, efficient annual meeting in Birmingham which will allow our messengers to stay focused on keeping the Gospel above all.”
 
Orr is a graduate of The Baptist College of Florida, and she serves as the registrar there. She is also a board member of the Florida Baptist Children’s Home. Her husband Mike is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Chipley, Fla.
 
“What an exciting opportunity to serve our Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) as the chair of the Tellers Committee,” Orr said. “I am truly humbled and honored at the chance to work side by side with some of the SBC heroes of the faith. May the Lord continue to bless our efforts as we desperately seek the lost and share the Good News with them.”
 

Ray Carr


Carr was born and raised on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean. He accepted Christ after visiting a church started by Southern Baptist missionaries. Carr earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been a pastor since 1991, served two terms as president of the St. Vincent Baptist Convention, has been the chairman of the National Advisory Council for Evangelism Explosion, and since 2012 has been the pastor of Baptist Center Church in Clayton, N.C.
 
“I am humbled and honored to serve as vice chair of the Tellers Committee for the upcoming SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.,” Carr said. “I look forward to working with the other members of the committee as we seek to advance the gospel.”
 
Greear plans to announce the remainder of his appointments to the Tellers Committee next week.

3/5/2019 12:14:54 PM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



N.C. mission volunteer dies in Puerto Rico

March 4 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Paul Fisher, the leader of a North Carolina Baptist mission team replacing roofs in Puerto Rico, died Feb. 28 in a swimming accident near San Juan. He was 36.

Submitted photo
Paul Fisher, right in brown shirt, pictured here after fixing a roof damaged by Hurricane Maria, died Feb. 28 while leading a mission team in Puerto Rico. He is survived by his wife Carrie, left in hat and neon shirt.

 
Fisher and his wife Carrie were heading up a team assembled by North Carolina Baptists on Mission (NCBM) to fix homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
 
On Feb. 28, the team completed their work for the day early and went to the beach to swim.
 
A riptide pulled Fisher underwater as he was in the process of rescuing a team member, and he drowned despite the team’s 30-minute effort to resuscitate him, according to an email from Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director.
 
The Fishers “were just a wonderful, amazing couple who were willing to go wherever God was leading them,” Brunson told Baptist Press.
 
Paul and Carrie Fisher had opted not to buy a house in Charlotte, N.C., where they both worked – Paul in construction and Carrie as an administrator for a mission organization – so they could do missions full time, Brunson said.
 
They both resigned their jobs earlier this year and moved at the beginning of February to New Bern, N.C., to serve for at least the next three years as assistant site coordinators for North Carolina Baptist rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Florence.
 
Carrie Fisher told Brunson in an email March 1, “The Lord is my strength and my portion and deliverer. His grace is sufficient.
 
“Paul loved Jesus more than anyone I ever met. I know where he is. I am positive he heard the Lord saying, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’”
 
Funeral arrangements were pending at publication.
 
To date, North Carolina Baptists on Mission have replaced roofs on 225 Maria-damaged homes in Puerto Rico. Fisher’s team decided to repair one more in his honor March 1 before traveling home March 2.
 
“They felt that would be what Paul would have wanted,” Brunson said.

3/4/2019 2:16:41 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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