November 2008

October CP giving above '07 by 20 percent

November 4 2008 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — October contributions of $17.8 million through the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) Cooperative Program (CP) were 20.40 percent above CP gifts received in October 2007, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Morris H. Chapman.

As of Oct. 31, 2008, CP gifts were $3.0 million above the $14.8 million received in October 2007. Meanwhile, designated giving of $3.9 million during October was 27.56 percent, or almost $844,000 above gifts of $3.1 million received last October.

For the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget, the October total of $17.8 million is 103.80 percent of the $17.1 million budgeted to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America.

During the last fiscal year, Southern Baptists topped the $200-million mark for the third year in a row and overall giving to national causes surpassed the $400-million benchmark for a second straight year.

The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists' method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of state and regional conventions and the SBC.

It is separate from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund of which 100 percent of monies go to aid the needy in the general public.

The Cooperative Program total includes receipts from individuals, churches, state conventions and fellowships for distribution according to the 2008-09 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.

Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund and other special gifts.

State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.

11/4/2008 3:51:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 1 comments

Southern Baptist pastor freed, hospitalized

November 4 2008 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

SAN DIEGO — Southern Baptist pastor Manuel Jesus Tec is free after 11 days of torture at the hands of unknown kidnappers who abducted him in Tijuana, Mexico, on Oct. 21. Tec currently is recuperating at an undisclosed San Diego hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Tec, 59, was released around 6 a.m. Oct. 31, following extensive negotiations, according to Johnny Tec, the pastor's 30-year-old son.

"Dad was hurt," Johnny Tec said, adding that his father endured significant physical and psychological trauma during the ordeal.

BP photo

Manuel Jesus Tec

Tec was whipped with barbwire whenever he started praying or talking to his captors about God, Johnny Tec said.

"They became angry whenever he tried to pray," Tec said. "He was kept in a cage on what he thinks was a ranch someplace. He had no food or water. His whole head was covered in duct tape the whole time except for his nose and mouth. Most of the time, his eyes were also covered with duct tape and on one occasion, they threw acid in his eyes."

Tec said the family was instructed to meet one of the kidnappers under a Tijuana bridge around 3:30 a.m. Oct. 31. Complying with the instructions, one of the pastor's sons arrived at the bridge and was told his father would be delivered in five minutes. After two hours passed and the kidnappers had not produced his father, the son returned home alone.

Johnny Tec said the kidnappers had loosely buried his father under gravel and sand and shot at him with "some kind of machine gun," according to what the pastor later recounted to his family. Fortunately, none of the bullets pierced the half-buried pastor and the kidnappers departed.

Tijuana policemen — possibly hearing the gunshots — found Tec, pulled him from the sand and gravel and carried him to a local community hospital in Tijuana.

Around 8 a.m. Oct. 31, the Tijuana hospital called the family and told them Tec had been admitted. The family arranged for Manuel to be transferred by ambulance to an undisclosed hospital across the U.S. border in San Diego.

"It was heartbreaking when we finally first saw him in the hospital," Johnny Tec recounted, "because he was afraid of us. The kidnappers took advantage of the fact that he had not eaten and was hallucinating. They would tell him that my brother and I were going to continue beating him. We had to gain his trust back because he was afraid of us."

Also at one time during his capture, Tec had been told that his entire family — his wife Maria and all five children — had been killed by the kidnappers, Johnny Tec said. "He thought we were all dead. One by one, we had to reintroduce the family to him so he would realize that we're all OK.

"Dad's making fast progress. As he gets better, he's remembering more about what they did to him. He's been through a lot of bad stuff," Johnny Tec said. "He's really excited to be back and thanks all the Southern Baptists for their prayers."

The strange 11-day ordeal began around 5 a.m. Oct. 21, when armed kidnappers abducted Tec as he was crossing over the border from San Diego to Tijuana. His wife and son Giovanni were with him but not taken or hurt. Tec is pastor of a new Hispanic church plant in San Diego, Iglesia Familiar y Vida.

Johnny Tec said the family still has no idea why his father was kidnapped. Tijuana is known as a dangerous border town, where the kidnapping and murder of white-collar professionals by gangs is almost a daily occurrence.

"I don't think we'll ever know why he was targeted," Johnny Tec said. "My dad just thinks God wanted us to become closer as a family."

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)

11/4/2008 3:48:00 AM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Evangelical vote will test leaders’ assertions

November 3 2008 by The Institute on Religion and Democracy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As evangelical voters head to the polls Tuesday, their choice in the presidential election could reveal whether they have continued to look to traditional social issues like sanctity of life and marriage, or have reduced the importance of those issues in favor of poverty and environmental issues, as some of their leaders have asserted.
Polling released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life for the week of Oct. 26 reports 65 percent of white evangelicals supporting Sen. John McCain and 22 percent of white evangelicals supporting Sen. Barack Obama. In 2004, exit polls showed President George W. Bush with between 70 and 75 percent support from white evangelicals, while Sen. John Kerry drew identical support to Sen. Obama.
Additionally, white mainline Christians are evenly split, with Pew reporting 46 percent support for Sen. McCain and 47 percent support for Sen. Obama.
Non-Hispanic white evangelical voters aren’t the only ones who show a gap in their voting preferences. A Gallup poll published Oct. 27 reveals a 46-43 percent preference for Sen. McCain among Hispanic evangelical voters who are in church at least once a week.
Overall, religious voters of all kinds appear poised to mirror their preferences from the 2004 presidential election. The Fifth National Survey of Religion and Politics, conducted by the University of Akron, found that “preferences of the major religious groups in the summer of 2008 closely resembled the patterns at the comparable stage of the 2004 presidential campaign.”
IRD President James Tonkowich commented: “Frequency of church attendance continues to be one of the strongest gaps in support between Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama. The more often voters are in the pews, the more often they are likely to favor Sen. McCain.
“Statements by evangelical leaders such as Jim Wallis or National Association of Evangelicals Vice President Rich Cizik about the competitive nature of the Evangelical vote appear largely unfounded.
“Despite some evangelical leaders’ attempts to shift attention from traditional social issues to what they term a ‘broadening agenda’, we are not seeing a significant difference in evangelical support between polling in the 2004 election and polling for the 2008 election.
“Cizik, especially, seems to be speaking more to his own wishes of how evangelicals would vote rather than any actual polling of evangelicals in the pews.”

11/3/2008 9:22:00 AM by The Institute on Religion and Democracy | with 0 comments

Small plans turn into big mission for Arden church

November 3 2008 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor

Barbara Barrier never had the desire to go far to serve God.

She was content to remain near her church — Arden First Baptist.

“The Lord just placed it on my heart,” said Barrier after hearing the excitement surrounding a trip to Perry County, Ala.

Contributed photo

Jordan Scruggs, right, works on a craft at Bible Club. See photo gallery online for more photos.

What started as a youth mission trip to help Sowing Seeds of Hope grew to more than 70 church members in July. The church averages about 200 people on Sunday mornings.

“The people in the church just connected to the needs in Perry County,” said Jeff Porter, Arden’s youth and education minister.

After a scouting trip, Porter said the youth trip turned into something more.

“We were looking for an opportunity where the youth would have to be more involved,” Porter said. “We wanted the youth to have an investment in the trip.”

So, the youth planned the Bible Club and led morning devotionals during the trip. They decided who was going to do each aspect of Bible Club before they even left.

The church was able to do multiple projects with many different skill sets because of the number of people that volunteered to go.

“We tried to touch many different areas of the community,” Porter said.

Porter said they even had a group to prepare meals at a local elementary school, including a bagged lunch for each participant.

“I worked in a thrift store which doesn’t sound like a biggie,” said Barrier, but without air conditioning in July in Alabama, things got uncomfortable fast. “We took all the stuff out of the store (size of a grocery store).”

Her group painted and restocked the store with 500 bags of clothing and linens donated from North Carolina. At $1 per grocery bag the store did brisk business upon re-opening after the group left.

“I guess because I had never been, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she said. “The key word was flexible.”

When they first arrived and saw the amount of work to be done in a week’s time, “it was overwhelming,” Barrier said, with the big question, “Where to start?”

Most of the teams were involved in their own projects so did not see the work being done at other sites.

Along with the thrift store, several other projects were completed: one major construction project; three smaller construction projects; a reading program, with 20 children receiving a book bag filled with school supplies; visited two nursing homes; cleaned school cafeteria and library, also hooked up cafeteria washing machine; painted and staffed fitness center; made several hundred phone calls for ministry to confirm needs within Perry County; and held a block party for more than 500 people on the courthouse grounds.

Before leaving for the trip, Porter said the group had three orientation meetings to prepare.

Contributed photo

Tanner Jones gives a piggy-back ride to one of 130 children who attended a Bible Club sponsored by Arden First Baptist Church in Perry County, Ala.

They discussed poverty and race issues and examined “stereotypes that we might bring into that environment,” Porter said.

One of America’s poorest counties, Perry County has a child poverty rate of more than 50 percent and an unemployment rate higher than 10 percent.

The group also toured the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham on the way down.

Barrier, who has been an administrative assistant at the church for 36 years, called Marion, Ala., a city of contrasts, with run-down houses next to finely-maintained, historic homes.

The group stayed on the campus of Judson College near the original sites of Howard College (now Samford University); The Alabama Baptist, the state’s Baptist paper; and the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board).

Barrier, who until this trip had been involved in local missions, now has her sights and prayers focused on returning to Perry County in 2009.

In the meantime, she’ll still help with her church’s ministry providing meals to a local hospitality house and area shelters and with special events like Trunk or Treat.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Sowing Seeds of Hope is a ministry of the Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.)

11/3/2008 9:03:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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