May 2011

Church planting focus of NAMB mission statement

May 13 2011 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — To simplify and re-focus its ministry assignments — as directed by the Southern Baptist Convention last summer in Orlando — North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees adopted a six-item mission statement during their May 11 meeting in Alpharetta, Ga.

The new mission statement reflects NAMB’s priority shift to church planting.

“The North American Mission Board exists to work with churches, associations and state conventions in mobilizing Southern Baptists as a missional force to impact North America with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelism and church planting...,” the trustee-approved revised ministry mission statement reads.

The new statement — consolidating NAMB’s former ministry assignments from nine to six — cites the six primary areas of work the missions entity will employ to accomplish its Great Commission-driven strategy:
  • assist churches in planting healthy, multiplying, evangelistic SBC churches in the United States and Canada
  • assist churches in the ministries of evangelism and making disciples
  • assist churches by appointing, supporting and assuring accountability for missionaries serving in the U.S. and Canada
  • assist churches by providing missions education and coordinating volunteer missions opportunities for church members
  • assist churches by providing leadership development
  • assist churches in relief ministries to victims of disaster and other people in need.
Leadership development is an addition to NAMB’s mission statement. Ezell announced that responsibility for NAMB’s evolving leadership development area will be placed under Larry Wynn, the board’s vice president for evangelism.

Photo by John Swain

North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell makes a point during the May 11 trustees meeting in Alpharetta, Ga.

“We will give new focus to revitalizing churches, encouraging pastors and developing a leadership network,” Ezell said. “And we want to establish relationships with existing and ongoing ministries who also do leadership. We want to come up with a best-practices program.”

The proposed mission statement supersedes an earlier one adopted in 1995 and will go to the SBC Executive Committee for consideration at its June meeting. If approved by EC members, the statement will be voted on by SBC messengers at the June 14-15 annual meeting in Phoenix.

“We are excited about completing the infrastructure to launch our ‘Send North America’ strategy,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell told the trustees. “These are exciting days. We’ve made a lot of progress since Los Angeles,” Ezell said, referring to his initial meeting as president with the NAMB board last October.

Trustees voted to re-elect Tim Dowdy, pastor of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga., as chairman for a second term. Dowdy has served on the board since 2004. Also re-elected to second terms were Doug Dieterly, an attorney from Lakeville, Ind., as first vice chairman, and Ric Camp, pastor of Sonrise Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala., as second vice chairman.

In other business, trustees approved Ezell’s nomination of Steve Bass as vice president of NAMB’s West Region. Bass, 54, had been serving as state missionary for the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention since 1996. Ezell also announced the appointments of Stan Albright as NAMB’s national director for associations and Micah Millican as director of church planter relations at the missions entity in Alpharetta, both effective June 1.

Ezell also announced that NAMB cooperative strategies team leader Walter Mickels has been named as associate vice president for the South Region states of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Carlos Ferrer, NAMB vice president and chief financial officer, in his financial report, said Cooperative Program revenue was down $24,000 compared to budget, while receipts from the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions so far are $56,000 higher than projected. Ferrer said NAMB’s total year-to-date revenues of $29.9 million were down by $615,000, or 2 percent, and that all NAMB teams are operating under budget.

“We’re thankful to God for where we are now,” Ferrer told the trustees. “These numbers are really, really good with the economy the way it is.”

Other trustee committee reports reflected that NAMB currently has 4,875 missionaries and 3,524 endorsed chaplains. The trustees’ church finance committee reported that NAMB had a total of $134.4 million in outstanding loans (428) to churches on its books as of April 30. In line with NAMB’s stepped-up priority of planting more churches, the committee announced a new program under which it will make $15 million available for new church planting-related loans.

Ezell said NAMB also is revamping its ministry evangelism effort — also to be under the oversight of Wynn — which will be rolled out at the next trustee meeting in October. “We want a presence of ministry evangelism in every major ‘send’ city, including foster care, adoptions, crisis pregnancy and disaster relief. We also want to do a better job of making these ministries known.”

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

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5/13/2011 9:38:00 AM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘Reuse & recycle’ for VBS decorations

May 13 2011 by Polly House, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Even though a Vacation Bible School (VBS) decorating team may never have set foot in New York City, decorating for a Big Apple Adventure could be a piece of cake. “You probably already have, have had or will be able to find or borrow almost everything you need for great decorations that scream New York City,” said Bruce Edwards, minister of education and evangelism at Airline Baptist Church in Bossier City, La.

Edwards led a breakout session called “Decorating Out of the Box” during a VBS preview at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn.

“I want to encourage you to reuse and recycle,” Edwards said. “You don’t have to make decorations so sturdy that they will last until Jesus comes. Be ready to tear apart decorations you’ve used before and repurpose them for this year’s VBS.”

The same could be said for old prom or bridesmaid dresses. They could become part of a display representing Broadway. Add to this some sparkly shoes and a homemade top hat and you have instant glamour.

“Remember that you are decorating for the children, not for adults,” Edwards said.

Skyscrapers don’t have to be 10 feet tall to make an impact, just taller than the children. “To my kids in Bossier City, Shreveport is like New York City,” Edwards said. “They have buildings 12 stories tall.” One idea is to make a church hallway like a subway tunnel. Registration can happen at the tollbooth. Colored tape can become the red line, the green line, etc. These lines can lead to different age group classrooms or activity areas. A few pieces of PVC pipe can become a turnstile. 

New York is known for its ethnic neighborhoods, and Edwards said many decorations can come from things people already have in their homes or can save from eating out. Pizza boxes can be the start of Little Italy. The carryout boxes from a Chinese restaurant can be the beginning of Chinatown. Add some lanterns, scarves, posters, whatever one has. Central Park can start with a bench and even a tropical ficus tree.

Edwards uses Decorating Made Easy, available through LifeWay’s VBS site Send your VBS photos to

(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 or call 919-847-2127.)
5/13/2011 9:32:00 AM by Polly House, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Follow-up key for churches

May 13 2011 by Polly House, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Year after year, churches indicate their greatest need for Vacation Bible School (VBS) is help with follow-up.

“What takes place after VBS is just as important as anything that happens during the week,” said Mike Smith of the leadership and evangelism area of LifeWay Christian Resources. “You have opportunities after VBS that didn’t even exist before.”

Smith led a session on “VBS and Beyond: Evangelistic Follow-Up” during a VBS preview earlier this year at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn. He said the first step to successful evangelistic follow-up is to have a VBS follow-up director.

“This person is just as important as the VBS director,” Smith said.

“The follow-up director makes certain every child is remembered after the week. This is especially important for children who are not already a part of the church family. The weeks soon after VBS may be the only time a church member is welcome in the home of an unchurched family. It can be a time of introducing what the church has to offer to the entire family.” Smith highlighted some notable statistics from 2009 VBS.

“These numbers are just from the churches that actually reported their information to their state conventions and to LifeWay,” he said. “We know there are many that don’t send in a report.” By the numbers:
  • Number of churches reporting: 24,427
  • VBS enrollment: 2,840,380
  • Professions of faith: 88,410
  • Sunday School/Bible study prospects discovered: 264,716
  • Prospects enrolled in Sunday School/Bible study: 49,541
  • Prospects added to the prospect file: 206,392 
Smith also listed a number of follow-up strategies and ideas for churches and explained how they can help:
  • Have a fun and evangelistic family night. “This may be the only time some of the unchurched parents will ever step foot in the church.”
  • Follow up with the Children’s Music Series. “The children always love the music at VBS and the CMS is a great way to keep them excited about music.”
  • Use the aids in the VBS administrative guide. “This gives resources, PowerPoints, training ideas and follow-up plans.”
  • Gather accurate and sufficient information on every VBS participant. “Get as much as possible, and be honest why you need it. Tell them you plan to follow up.”
  • Determine your follow-up ahead of time. “Establish your strategy before VBS ever begins.” Immediately after VBS, activate your follow-up teams. “People will never be more open than they are right then.”
  • Send information about the church directly to the homes. “You really can’t trust the kids to make it home with the information.”
  • Connect everyone in the family with the appropriate Sunday School class. “If they get connected with a small group like Sunday School, statistics tell us there is an 83 percent chance they will still be connected after five years, but only a 16 percent chance if they aren’t.”
  • Celebrate the results of VBS during a Sunday morning worship service. “Have the whole service be about VBS. Do the music, have testimonies and have a VBS-themed sermon.”
(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 or call 919-847-2127.)
5/13/2011 9:25:00 AM by Polly House, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

IMB, NAMB presidents discuss penetrating lostness

May 12 2011 by Erich Bridges, Baptist Press

RICHMOND, Va. — Southern Baptists’ two mission boards have differing ministry assignments but one overarching vision: Mobilize every church to evangelize the lost, make disciples and plant new congregations.

“Working together, we can do more than we can do apart,” said Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), who met with Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), April 25 to brainstorm ways to partner in realizing that vision.

“We’re keenly aware that Southern Baptists have two different mission boards with two different ministry statements,” Elliff said, “but we’re making a determined effort to forge a new and stronger relationship.”

The mutual goal of the two mission boards, Ezell said, is to “work together seamlessly, because we’re all trying to penetrate lostness — just in different parts of the world. There’s really no reason we can’t do that together.”

North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell, left, met April 25 with International Mission Board President Tom Elliff to brainstorm new ways to partner in reaching the lost. “Working together, we can do more than we can do apart,” said Elliff. Taking the gospel to the millions of spiritually lost people in the United States and around the world “is going to take all hands on deck.”

Elliff, a former pastor, missionary and Southern Baptist Convention leader who was elected IMB president March 1, and Ezell, also a veteran pastor who was elected to lead NAMB last September, met one-on-one and with top IMB leadership at IMB’s offices in Richmond, Va. The two executives talked about “dozens” of ideas, as Elliff put it. Both men stated that it was an exploratory starting point of discussions, but they indicated potential projects could include missionary training, sharing church-planting strategies — and joint initiatives aimed at engaging members of unreached people groups living in North America.

“We put a lot of things on the table,” Ezell said. “To me it would be foolish of the North American Mission Board not to use the expertise of the International Mission Board in helping us when significant percentages of the ethnic groups in our major cities are largely unreached.

“What we want to do is penetrate lostness. Obviously there are some things we do distinctively apart. But there are some things we need to do distinctively together,” Ezell said.

NAMB’s overarching goal, Ezell said recently, is to “mobilize and equip thousands of churches — along with the (Southern Baptist) associations and existing church-planting networks — to engage in church planting.”

Elliff indicated his top priority as IMB leader immediately after his March election, using part of his acceptance speech to challenge Southern Baptists to embrace all of the estimated 3,800 people groups overseas that are both unengaged and unreached by the gospel — and to do it in one year following the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June.

The ultimate goal: “that every people group on this globe (will have) some church committed to take specific steps to strategize, to pray over, to learn about and discover some way that the gospel witness can be shared with those people.”

According to new mission research, an additional 584 unengaged, unreached people groups can be found in North America. That number is likely to increase as people from every corner of the globe continue to immigrate to the United States and Canada.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am for us to able to work together like this, to be partners in the best sense of the word,” Ezell said. “Tom has always been a hero of mine. I’ve always looked up to him as a pastor, and I’m honored to be able to work with him.”

Elliff said the respect is mutual. “Kevin’s years of pastoring have given him great insights on effective ways to mobilize our churches for reaching the lost, discipling and church planting.”

It will take “all hands on deck,” Elliff noted, to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the millions of spiritually lost people in the United States and around the world.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Bridges is an International Mission Board global correspondent.)

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5/12/2011 7:32:00 AM by Erich Bridges, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Two-thirds of Americans say bin Laden’s in hell

May 12 2011 by Nicole Neroulias, Religion News Service

While Americans have debated whether Osama bin Laden’s body belongs at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, most agree on the final destination of his soul: in hell. A new poll released May 11 reports that most Americans (82 percent) believe bin Laden distorted the teachings of Islam to suit his own purposes, and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) agree he will be “eternally punished for his sins in hell.”

Evangelical Christians, at 80 percent, are most convinced bin Laden will spend eternity in hell, according to the poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service a few days after the al-Qaida founder was shot by U.S. troops in Pakistan.

In contrast, only about two-thirds of Catholics, white mainline Protestants and minority Christians — and less than half the religiously unaffiliated — agree that bin Laden’s in hell.  

(The PRRI/RNS poll didn’t yield representative samples of Muslims or other minority faiths.)

Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion professor and author of “God Is Not One,” said the numbers struck him as low, particularly among evangelicals. But the “eternally” part of the question may have prompted hesitation among some respondents, he said, compounded by questions about hell raised by megachurch pastor Rob Bell’s recent book, “Love Wins.”

Americans are more conflicted over whether Christian values are consistent with the raucous celebrations that broke out after bin Laden was killed. About 60 percent of respondents — ranging from seven in 10 minority Christians to just over half of white mainline Protestants — believe the Bible’s message, “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,” applies to the death of bin Laden.

Clark West, an Episcopal chaplain at Cornell University, said the Bible sends mixed messages on such celebrations — examples of rejoicing over an enemy’s downfall, as well as the admonition from Proverbs.

“Scriptures can be found both supporting and critiquing such celebrations,” he said. “There can be healing for a trauma survivor in recovering a joyful sense that evil will not have the last word, but human events like the killing of bin Laden should not be confused with the divine vanquishing of evil.”

But for 9/11 survivors and victims’ families, “quiet prayer and attentiveness,” rather than raucous celebration, may provide a greater sense of healing, he said.

In other findings:
  • A slim majority (53 percent) of Americans say the U.S. should follow the Golden Rule and not use any methods on our enemies that we would not want used on our own soldiers — down from 2008, when 62 percent agreed.
  • Support for the Golden Rule principle was strongest among minority Christians, Catholics and religiously unaffiliated Americans (all with majorities above 52 percent), but less so among evangelicals (47 percent) and mainline Protestants (42 percent).
  • Younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 (69 percent) are more likely to believe the Bible passage about not celebrating “when your enemies fall” applies to bin Laden than do those age 65 and older (47 percent).
  • Religiously unaffiliated Americans (57 percent) are significantly more likely than Christians to say the use of torture against suspected terrorists can never be justified. Catholics, at 53 percent, are the Christian group most likely to say torture can never be justified.
  • Majorities of white evangelicals (54 percent) and minority Christians (51 percent) believe God had a hand in locating bin Laden, compared to only a third of white mainline Protestants and 42 percent of Catholics.
  • A slim majority (51 percent) of Americans believe God has granted America a special role in human history, led by two-thirds of evangelicals and nearly as many (63 percent) minority Christians, compared to 51 percent of Catholics and white mainline Protestants.
Prothero said he was most surprised by the Golden Rule responses, which indicate that half the country is willing to disregard Christianity’s most commonly expressed teaching — at least, when it comes to wartime.  

“There is this sense that America is supposed to be a Christian nation ... but that tends to be more of a slogan than a reality,” he said. “Are you willing to think about the Bible when it comes to torture and terrorism and bin Laden, or are you just throwing biblical principles out the window and going with your gut and your anger and your revenge?”

But even if Americans seem conflicted on this fundamental Christian teaching, the widespread agreement across religious and political lines that bin Laden “distorted the teachings of Islam” indicates a growing knowledge about Islam, he said.

“There’s an awareness out there about the distinction between Islam and Islamic extremism,” Prothero said. “It’s an important conversation that we’ve having right now.”

The PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll was based on telephone interviews of 1,007 U.S. adults between May 5 and 8. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

(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 or call 919-847-2127.)
5/12/2011 7:27:00 AM by Nicole Neroulias, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

‘Send Montreal’ is launched

May 12 2011 by Adam Miller, Baptist Press

MONTREAL, Quebec — It’s still possible to visit 1,000 Quebec communities and never see an evangelical church — a staggering fact that Canadian church planting leaders face as they gather momentum for the Send Montreal church planting effort.

Baptist leaders from Canada and the United States met to discuss plans for “Send Montreal” in mid-April in the first of many local/regional gatherings to convene around the church planting strategy “Send North America,” an initiative of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) being launched this year.

Photo by Adam Miller

John Mark Clifton, right, a former Montreal church planter and pastor in Kansas City, Mo., talks about a strategy for mobilizing Southern Baptist churches to partner with Montreal church planters Francois Verschelden, center, and Ron Young.

Send Montreal coalition members set a goal of starting 225 churches in Montreal and other communities in Quebec by 2020, which would include 199 French-speaking churches.

The coalition assigned two church planters, Quebec native Francois Verschelden, pastor of Connexion in Montreal, and Ron Young, pastor of Renaissance Bible Church in Rawdon, the task of designating 25 initial locations for new works in the province.

The group also gave priority to identifying key people and churches in Canada and the United States who can join the team in planting, partnering and sending.

“I believe some of Quebec’s greatest indigenous leaders have yet to be discovered, and it’s our job to unearth them,” Jeff Christopherson, church planting leader for the Canadian National Baptist Convention and NAMB’s vice president for the Canada region, said during the April 14-15 sessions. “It’s inconceivable to a lot of people that there could be that many communities in one province without the gospel. It’s our job to make these realities known.”

Particularly in the Montreal metropolitan area, the unchurched population exceeds 99 percent of its 3.2 million people. But the secularization of Quebec, whose citizens ousted the dominant Catholic rule and replaced it with a resistance to organized religion in the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, has extended to all outlying areas.

With a population of nearly 6 million (Quebec’s total population is 7.3 million), the French-speaking Quebecois are considered the largest unreached people group in North America. They also could be among the hardest to reach, but they’re the key to the province.

“If we are going to reach Quebec, then we have to reach the vast majority, which is French-speaking,” Verschelden said.

Photo by Ted Wilcox

The Montreal cityscape of Old World Catholic architecture and modern structures sprawls toward the Fleuve Saint Laurent. Once a Catholic stronghold, Montreal has become a socialist, secular metro region with distinct Quebecois culture of refinement and lostness.  

A general aversion to organized religion and a disinterest in anything that isn’t French Quebecois has made church planting efforts an uphill struggle for Southern Baptists and other evangelical groups.

The hardness of the Quebecois spiritual soil has at times removed it from the purview of many evangelicals who’ve opted rather to plant English-speaking churches.

“My parents are French Quebecois. My relatives have been here since 1642,” Gerry Taillon, executive director of the Canadian National Baptist Convention, said. “This is the most spiritually needy and hardest part of Canada and the most religiously apathetic. But I also believe God is doing many things here and I believe our job is to partner together and start a critical mass of churches in this province.”

As NAMB gears up to launch Send North America at the Southern Baptist Convention in June, Toronto and Vancouver will join Montreal as areas of special need with a priority of uncovering indigenous leadership and mobilizing churches to partner with church planters through these key Canadian metropolitan areas.

In addition to Verschelden, Young, Taillon and Christopherson, the Send Montreal gathering included Peter Blackaby, a CNBC mobilization catalyst; Jacques Avakian, a national missionary with NAMB; John Mark Clifton, a former Montreal church planter and pastor of Wornall Road Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo.; and Mark Hobafcovich, a member of NAMB’s multi-ethnic team.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller writes for the North American Mission Board.)

(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 or call 919-847-2127.)
5/12/2011 7:16:00 AM by Adam Miller, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Native people ‘speak their minds’ at summit

May 12 2011 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Native people gained a voice at the North American Native Peoples Summit.

“This is the first time Native peoples have had a setting in which they were free to speak their minds,” as Stan Albright, director of missions for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, put it.

“And what’s on their minds is their desire to lead their people to the Lord,” said Albright, one of 13 members of the leadership team who organized the summit.

About 200 people — mostly Native peoples but also those who want to work with them in sharing the gospel — from 31 states and four Canadian provinces attended the April 27-28 gathering at Cross Church in Springdale, Ark.

“We want to help our Native people help each other ... (to) work together to reach our people for Jesus Christ,” said Emerson Falls, pastor of Glorieta Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and president of the Fellowship of Native American Christians who also served on the event’s leadership team.

Photo by Karen L. Willoughby

Native singers from Montana and British Columbia were among the featured musicians at the North American Native Peoples Summit in Springdale, Ark. Soloist Tonya Plummer-Bemis, from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in eastern Montana, was joined by drummers Stephanie and Peter Adams of Tsawout Assembly of Praise on Vancouver Island, B.C.  

Other leaders concurred: The summit may signal a new day, a fresh start, in Native American ministry across the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Every piece of the puzzle (of developing the summit) was put together by the Holy Spirit,” said Randy Carruth of Amiable Baptist Church in Glenmora, La., recognized as the person at the center of new momentum among Southern Baptists in reaching Native peoples in North America. “It’s not about one person. It’s about listening to the Holy Spirit. We can do more in unity ... to reach the world better than ever before.”

Though developed to bring Natives and non-natives together in ministry, the summit became a time of inspiration, encouragement and motivation for the Native peoples. “On one end (before the summit) they were saying one thing, that we’d get opportunities to meet people and help people, and when we get here, we learn we are our own resources,” said Eugene Baker, pastor of the Native American Totah Baptist Church in Farmintgon, N.M., near the Navajo reservation.

“That goes along with what I’ve been thinking,” Baker said during one of several “networking breaks” during the summit. “The Lord gives me a vision ahead of meetings like these — we just had one in Oklahoma City and then in Albuquerque — and the meetings give me assurance I’m on the right track.”

One result of the summit: Members who attended from a Wisconsin Native church led their congregation in voting unanimously the following Sunday to become the first Native church in Wisconsin to become a Southern Baptist congregation.

The summit provided times for Natives to speak from microphones scattered across Cross Church’s fan-shaped worship center.

“How do we reach our own people? Be like Jesus,” said Mark Olsen, a Native from Kodiak, Alaska. “Let them see the love in us.”

Bez Bull Shows of Crow Agency, Mont., who moved to Riverton, Wyo., to enter a Set Free ministry for deliverance from drugs and alcohol six months ago, gave his testimony. “I went home for a visit and started rounding up people from the res,” Bull Shows said. “Now we have prayer circles and meetings in several homes.”

Jimmy Anderson, pastor of Many Springs Baptist Church in Holdenville, Okla., was one of several who noted that missionaries on the reservations did make an impact, contrary to what many people think. They reached the people who are leaders today, he pointed out. “The early missionaries got the Gospel out and churches started on a scriptural basis,” said Anderson, who has been involved in Native ministry at the local, state and national levels since 1956. “They helped get the churches organized.

“This summit was worthwhile and really needed,” Anderson said. “One thing we need is a burden to see the scope of the need among our own people. We’ve heard it before but I think we need to keep hearing it.”

Part of the problem in reaching Native Americans in the past was that the “dominant culture” expected Natives to adopt a non-native culture, said Jim Turnbo, area missionary in the New Mexico Baptist Convention and another member of the summit’s leadership team.

For example, Turnbo said, mission teams come in with a plan for Vacation Bible School to start promptly at 9 a.m., though the Natives might not arrive until after 10:30 a.m. “We try to do the Holy Spirit’s work for Him,” said Ron Goombi, a Native who was reared in Nebraska and ministers there today.

“Who we are: God’s people,” said James Eaton of New Mexico. “Endurance is what we’ve gotten from our history. We’re a praying people.” Richard Delores of New Mexico added, “Fervent prayer and fasting and being committed to the task at hand (is what is needed now).”

“God wants to use us to be a gateway people, to be a blessing to all those who call this nation home,” said Mark Custalow, a Native from Virginia who talked about Natives starting “story circles” with whatever stories they already know from the Bible and learning more as time goes on.

“I think we really needed to do this conference,” said Alan Dial, Native church starting strategist in Anchorage, Alaska. “I don’t think Southern Baptists as a whole grasp the breadth of lostness. Native people have needed a voice to tell that story to their Southern Baptist brothers and sisters.... If we’re not praying for each other, we’ve already given up the fight.”

Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church, was one of three keynote speakers during the summit, along with Henry Blackaby and his son Richard, both known for their interest in Native peoples.

“I don’t know anything about reaching Native Americans — yet,” Doug Sarver, Cross Church’s minister of global missions, said when he was introduced at the summit. Cross Church plans to plant 50 churches over the next three years, Sarver said, and more than 2,000 signed up recently to participate in short-term mission trips in 2012.

“Is it OK to say ‘yet’? Maybe the Lord will lead us to connect with you,” Sarver said.

Ivory Coast native Bakary Doumbouya, missions pastor of First Baptist Church in Alma, Ark., said he came to the summit “to see what God was doing on the reservations and how Native people are coming together to see God’s moving on the reservation. Also, to network, to see what the needs are and to build awareness among non-Natives as to what is happening.

“There’s such a great amount of lost people among Natives; they need our prayers and they need our outreach,” Doumbouya said.

The next Native American event will be the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Fellowship of Native American Christians on Monday, June 13, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Phoenix Convention Center North Building’s Room 226A as one of the events related to the SBC’s 2011 annual meeting. Anyone with an interest in ministry with Native Americans is invited to participate, said Falls, the fellowship’s president.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message, Dakota Baptist Connections and The Montana Baptist.)

(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 or call 919-847-2127.)
5/12/2011 7:05:00 AM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Floods yield ‘unprecedented’ opportunities

May 11 2011 by Martin King & Connie Davis Bushey, Baptist Press

METROPOLIS, Ill. — A Southern Illinois pastor sees the record flooding along the Mississippi River as an unprecedented chance to impact his community with the gospel.

“We won’t have an opportunity like this to minister to our friends and neighbors for another 500 years,” Joe Buchanan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Metropolis, said May 8. “We must be prepared spiritually and physically to minister to hurting people in Jesus’ name.”

Buchanan said the upcoming week’s deacons meeting would have one agenda item: “Find someone who needs help, and help them.”

The pastor was speaking to three Southern Baptist congregations worshipping together — First Baptist Metropolis; Eastland Baptist Church in Metropolis, whose building was surrounded by floodwaters, and First Baptist Church in Brookport, a community under voluntary evacuation orders.

“Thousands of people are in desperate need. Many have lost everything they own, their homes and even their livelihoods. It’s time for the church of Jesus Christ to step up,” Buchanan said. After nearly two weeks of record flooding in Southern Illinois, waters of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers have started to recede, leaving mud and debris throughout communities, homes and churches.

At least eight Illinois Baptist State Association churches in four regional associations have sustained flood damage.

First Southern Baptist Church in Cairo, under a mandatory evacuation order, hasn’t experienced water damage but hasn’t held worship services for two weeks. Roger Ferrell, director of missions for the Clear Creek Baptist Association, was eager to get back to the church to finish work on a mission center that will house volunteer mission teams.

“We hope to have shower facilities and bunk bed accommodations ready at First Cairo by the first of June for mission groups to use as their hub as they minister in our association,” Ferrell told the Illinois Baptist. “We have many, many people who will be cleaning up for a long time, and we need mission teams to come help us this summer.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew a hole in a levee along the Mississippi River May 2 to save Cairo from flooding. The town sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and the entire town remains under evacuation orders.

Waldo Baptist Church, east of Metropolis, was serving as a Red Cross shelter for more than 30 people, most of whom lived in a mobile home park that was completely under water.

Photo by Marty King

Robin and Susan Ramage volunteered at Waldo Baptist Church, east of Metropolis, as the church served as a Red Cross shelter for more than 30 people. “One little boy said one of the meals was like Thanksgiving or Christmas because we were serving sliced ham,” Susan Ramage said.

“We’re providing shelter, food and spiritual support for people who aren’t accustomed to much,” Susan Ramage, a Waldo volunteer, said. “One little boy said one of the meals was like Thanksgiving or Christmas because we were serving sliced ham.”

A disaster relief chaplain from Third Baptist Church in Marion, Ill., was leading children at the shelter to make witnessing necklaces. When she finished, a mother who had been listening from across the gymnasium asked her how she could be saved. She led the woman to make a profession of faith in Christ.

Hard-hit Clear Creek and Union Baptist Associations have established assistance funds that will be used to minister to their churches and members as well as minister to their flooded communities. For contact information, go to

Down river in Tennessee, more than 100 homes were flooded and evacuated in Lake County, according to Jason Allison, chief deputy of the sheriff’s department and pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Tiptonville.

Flooding also was reported in Dyer and Lauderdale counties in Tennessee, including 75 homes and businesses in Dyersburg.

The Mississippi River in Tiptonville crested at 48.4 feet May 8, a foot higher than during the 1937 flood, Allison said, adding that the high mark was three feet less than predicted.

Waters have dropped in some places but may still rise in other areas and could remain for several weeks.

“It’s answered prayer,” Allison said of the lower than expected crest. “This is what we were praying for.”

In response to the disaster, members of Lakeview Baptist started serving meals and operating as a shelter April 25. The church has served as many as 300 meals a day to flood victims and workers including law enforcement personnel. The church also housed several people who stayed overnight, Allison said.

Needs have declined as flood victims have evacuated to live with family and friends away from the area and to a high school in Tiptonville being operated as a shelter by the Red Cross, Allison said.

In addition to providing meals, church members have placed sandbags and helped residents pack up household items.

Jerry Leggett, associate pastor at Second Baptist Church in Union City, said he has lived there all of his life and was shocked at the flooding despite the construction of many levees over the years since the flood of 1937.

The educational space and fellowship hall of New Mitchell Grove Baptist Church in Halls was flooded. The parking lot of Southside Baptist Church in Dyersburg was flooded, though the church building was safe. The congregation met at the Municipal Courthouse in Dyersburg May 8.

Allison, the Tiptonville pastor, predicted the crisis will continue for a couple of weeks. He asked Tennessee Baptists for continued prayers and thanked them and others who have helped.

“We’re a small, tight-knit community here,” he said, adding that the help “means so much to us here.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — King is editor of the Illinois Baptist, newsjournal of the Illinois State Baptist Association; Bushey is news editor of the Baptist and Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.)

(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 or call 919-847-2127.)
5/11/2011 10:00:00 AM by Martin King & Connie Davis Bushey, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Welch joins Tennessee Baptist Convention

May 11 2011 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bobby Welch, strategist for Global Evangelical Relations (GER) with the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) since 2007, has been named associate executive director/church growth with the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC) and will continue to assist the SBC Executive Committee in Global Evangelical Relations in a reduced role.

According to the Tennessee Baptist and Reflector, Welch, as associate executive director/church growth, will be responsible to develop, coordinate, promote and equip Tennessee Baptist churches in a statewide strategy of church planting, church revitalization and evangelism. The TBC Executive Board unanimously elected Welch to the position May 10.

In a letter to EC members, Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, said he and Welch have been in “conversation for quite some time about this possible new arrangement.”

“Dr. Welch came to me some months ago with the possibility of joining with another, wholly compatible ministry,” Page said, “so that he might continue the Global Evangelical Relations ministry on a much-reduced basis and still help Baptists in evangelistic ministry. From the moment he spoke to me, I truly believe that this could be a win-win situation. We have not worked out all the details and will keep you apprised as we do so.”

Page said Randy Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, “is fully aware and supportive” of Welch’s continued work with Global Evangelical Relations.

“He and I have been in contact and will be working together with Dr. Welch in the arrangement of all the details and the implementation of them in such a way that both ministries will continue to be blessed by his courageous and effective leadership,” Page wrote. “I know that Dr. Welch would appreciate your prayers in these coming days. Pray for those who are involved in the GER ministry as many will continue to help build relationships across this world with like-minded brothers in Christ.”

The position of strategist for global evangelical relations is part of the Executive Committee’s implementation of a vote by messengers at the SBC’s 2004 annual meeting in Indianapolis to build relationships with evangelistically oriented Baptists and likeminded evangelicals across the globe. The SBC initiative began with a July 2005 gathering in Warsaw, Poland, in which a contingent of nine SBC leaders met with a dozen Baptist representatives from Poland, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Moldova to explore ways to partner more effectively in evangelism, church planting and theological education.

In his four years in the position, Welch has worked on behalf of Southern Baptists to build an overseas network of relationships with likeminded evangelicals. He has also spoken in churches, local associations and state conventions, urging Baptists to be active in witnessing in their family, work and neighborhood settings. In addition, he has championed biblical stewardship and the Cooperative Program channel of Southern Baptist support for national and international missions and ministries.

Welch said he is looking forward to the new arrangement.

“After conversations and some adjustments on behalf of Dr. Page, Dr. Davis and me, it is clear this combination is a fit for all and a win/win for the Great Commission and lost souls,” Welch said. “We are confident and extremely excited about the future outcome for both TBC and GER.” Davis told TBC board members the creation of the new position — associate executive director/church growth — “is a major shift that will have major implications.”

Every Tennessee state convention division involved in evangelism, whether Sunday School, church planting or Vacation Bible School, will report to Welch, Davis said. Davis reminded the board that while the population of Tennessee has doubled in the last 30 years, the number of people reached with the gospel by Tennessee Baptists has declined by 30 percent.

Roc Collins, pastor of Indian Springs Baptist Church in Kingsport, Tenn., served as chairman of the three-member search committee that recommended Welch. Collins said it’s important that Welch continue serving in his GER role.

“He has created many relationships around the world that we need to maintain,” Collins said.

Davis agreed.

“Bobby has been the face of SBC global evangelical strategy. To walk away would be damaging to those international relationships,” Davis said.

Welch, Southern Baptist Convention president from 2004-06, served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., for 32 years. As SBC president, he led a two-year “‘Everyone Can!’ Kingdom Challenge” calling Southern Baptists to witness to, win and baptize 1 million people in a year. While pastor at First Baptist Church, he was the co-creator of the FAITH Sunday School-based evangelism strategy, which came into wide use in Baptist churches across the country.

Asked what his new responsibilities would be, Welch said, “Dr. Davis has asked me to specifically focus upon evangelism, baptisms and discipleship.” The TBC’s pastors and churches “have always had a clear desire for these things, but there is now a heartfelt expression to do more ... to have more baptisms resulting from transformed, committed lives and healthy empowered churches.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Baptist Press staff, with reporting by Lonnie Wilkey, editor of the Baptist and Reflector.)

(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 or call 919-847-2127.)
5/11/2011 9:56:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Weeks later, Japan survivors: ‘Please help us!’

May 11 2011 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

ISHINOMAKI, Japan — The handwritten note practically cries out: “Living here! Please help us!”

The volunteers from Tokyo Baptist Church almost miss the dirty scrap of paper, attached to the battered door. It blends in with the rubble and debris left behind by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Tokyo Baptist Church team members join in prayer with members of Nankodai Christ Church in Sendai, Japan, on the evening before heading into the tsunami area for one of the Tokyo church’s weekly relief missions.

Major parts of the house are gone, washed away a month ago by the crushing tsunami waves. Not really believing anyone will answer, volunteer Satomi Ono calls out to see if anyone is there.

A young mother cautiously pokes her head around the corner. When she sees the volunteers’ warm smiles, relief rushes over her and she excitedly yells to her father. They are the only two left in their family. Her two children were swept out of her arms in the tsunami wave. Her mother and husband also died on that fateful day.

The young woman invites the team inside. Despite broken dishes standing up in the mud-caked floor, Ono can see that the pair had worked hard, cleaning their disaster-stricken home. Piles of papers, toys, rotting clothes and splintered wood are ready to be bagged and deposited on the street for garbage crews.

The volunteer slides off her backpack and asks if there’s anything they need, noting to herself that nothing in this ramshackle house appears to be salvageable. Ono explains that her church has a distribution site not more than a 20-minute walk down the road. The church’s goal is to help people not living in the government-sponsored evacuation centers.

Ono’s team canvasses the surrounding neighborhood to get the word out.

Ono empties her bag of relief supplies and looks up to find the young woman and her father staring, overwhelmed, at the bounty — some instant noodles, candles, batteries and underwear.

“There is a God!” the woman exclaims through tears.

“Yes,” Ono replies, tears now streaming down her face. “I believe He brought us to your house. He has not forgotten you.”

Not forgotten
Residents of Ishinomaki who still have a house standing are expected to “tough it out” or “make the best of it” in true Japanese fashion, persevering in homes wrecked by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Just 150,000 of the millions affected live in the evacuation centers where the Japanese government supplies food, clothing and shelter.

The first few weeks after the disaster were the worst. More than 5 million homes were without electricity and nearly 1.5 million had no access to water. Kerosene was non-existent, making it impossible to stay warm when a snowstorm hit hours after the tsunami.

Grocery stores had no food, only empty shelves. Driving 200 miles south to the unaffected area was not an option because of the severe gas shortage — and the fact that most family cars had been swept away by the tsunami.

Due to the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, supplies didn’t reach the evacuation centers for days. Weeks after the quake, rationed goods finally reached those camped out in their homes. Relief organizations and churches like Tokyo Baptist had a hard time mounting a quick response because special government permits were required to enter the disaster zone and gas to make the trip from Tokyo was almost impossible to come by.

Once the church’s assessment team arrived in Ishinomaki, it didn’t take long to realize disaster survivors living in their houses were slipping through the cracks and needed help fast. The initial team pulled into a restaurant parking lot to unload supplies to cook a hot meal. Before they could even open the back of the truck, a line had formed.

Local men helped the volunteers unload and older women offered their services in cooking soup over wood-fires. The line of people who were snaked around the parking lot pleaded with Yoko Dorsey, co-leader of the TBC Northeastern Japan Go Relief team, to “hurry up” the cooking process. Not only was this the first hot meal in two weeks, most had not eaten in five days.

“They kept telling us, ‘Anything is fine, even raw food. Give me food now!’“ Dorsey recalls. “Most of the people were still wearing the same muddy clothes weeks after the tsunami. It’s all they had. It broke my heart.

“I told everyone that we wouldn’t forget about them, that we would be back,” Dorsey says as a man and woman walk up beside her. Dorsey lets out a yelp and they embrace in a tearful three-way hug.

“I told you we’d come back and we brought vegetables and meat today,” Dorsey says, creating a buzz of excitement in the line. “God wouldn’t let me forget you.”

A young man cheerfully helps gather the produce his family needs from food and supplies brought to Ishinomaki, Japan, by a relief team from Tokyo Baptist Church.

At the coaching of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief specialists, the volunteers focus their attention on this Ishinomaki neighborhood 250 miles from their church in Tokyo. The destruction and trauma is so great that it will take years for the area to recover. The church plans to be here for the long haul, making volunteer trips twice a week and adapting their ministries as the community’s needs change.

Meeting needs
Currently, the church concentrates on meeting physical needs — clothes, food, preparing hot meals, cleaning houses — and developing relationships. They set up a makeshift store in the parking lot with piles of clothes, toilet paper, diapers, school supplies, toys and nonperishable foods. Members of the community go through the free “store” as they wait for the hot meal to be prepared.

For one woman, these piles of supplies are just too overwhelming. She stares blankly at clothes stacked waist high. Volunteers Ging Catabay and Lucilyn Kaneko offer to help. As soon as Kaneko places a hand on the elderly woman’s shoulder and asks what she needs, tears flow. Ashamed, the woman tells the pair that the only thing she’s worn for the last three weeks is what she’s currently wearing. Everything she owned was washed away. She needs a complete wardrobe.

Catabay and Kaneko gently guide the woman through the clothing section, grabbing socks, underwear, bras, shirts and jeans, as she describes how her house was destroyed. When she says some of her family is still missing, the volunteers listen intently, knowing it’s important for survivors to talk about their trauma.

“Why did this happen?” the woman cries. “I have no more hope.”

Kaneko reassures her: “There is hope in spite of everything. There is a God who loves you and His name is Jesus Christ. God used us to help Him provide for your needs and the needs of your neighbors.”

The volunteer grabs a Bible and marks the Book of John. She asks the elderly woman to read the passage and to come back next week to talk again.

“You’re coming back?” the elderly woman asks, surprised. “It’s so far!”

“We’ll be here every week,” Kaneko answers. “Come back and talk to us. We can discuss that book and the hope it offers.”

The woman smiles and walks away, bags bulging with new clothes and a Bible under her arm. She immediately pulls out her phone and tells her daughter to let all of the neighbors know there’s someone who cares about their plight. They are not forgotten.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rain is an International Mission Board writer/editor living in Southeast Asia. The IMB has established a relief fund for the Japan disaster. 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 you can give online by going to and clicking on the “Japan response” button. For further information, call the IMB toll-free at 1-800-999-3113.)

(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 or call 919-847-2127.)
5/11/2011 9:44:00 AM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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