November 2015

Naghmeh Abedini suspends public life, cites marriage woes

November 17 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Naghmeh Abedini said recently in emails to her supporters that she would be suspending public advocacy for her husband, American pastor Saeed Abedini who has been wrongfully held in an Iranian prison since Sept. 2012.
In the announcement she identified marital difficulties as part of her decision, citing “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse (through Saeed’s addiction to pornography),” according to a report by Christianity Today.
The pressure of traveling the U.S., generating support for her husband, coupled with the trouble that existed within their marriage, has created a need for her to step back from the public spotlight, said the report.


Naghmeh Abedini

She has met with President Barack Obama and appeared before the United Nations as part of her campaign for the release of her husband.
“It is very serious stuff and I cannot live a lie anymore,” said Abedini. “So, I have decided to take a break from everything and seek the Lord on how to move forward.”
She has recently cancelled some speaking engagements and plans to stay off social media for the coming months.
Abedini later expressed regret for sending the emails, asking for privacy and prayer.
“I would appreciate for those who care about Saeed and our family to give us time for rest and healing and to respect our privacy,” she told Christianity Today. “I will continue to pray for my husband’s release and advocate for him as he suffers in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith. I would also ask others to join me in continuing to pray for his release.”
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina released a statement, expressing sympathy and continued support for the Abedinis:
“Naghmeh Abedini was a keynote speaker at the N.C. Baptist women’s retreat on Oct. 24. During her talk, she shared comments that included, but was not limited to, the impact of her husband’s imprisonment on her and her family. Just as we prayed for Naghmeh before and during the event, we continue to pray for her and ask others to do the same. She is a person of deep faith, and we support her in what she believes the Lord has called her to do."
Ed Stetzer, executive director for LifeWay Research, said there are five ways Christians should respond to the announcement:

  1. Take Abedini’s accusations seriously while not forsaking her husband.

  2. Continue to care deeply about religious liberty and the plight of Saeed, despite his alleged flaws.

  3. Pray for the Abedini family.

  4. Take domestic abuse seriously and address it with urgency.

  5. Remember that religious marriages aren’t always what they seem.

11/17/2015 12:40:55 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 1 comments

Jacumin to serve as NAMB ambassador to North Carolina

November 17 2015 by Tobin Perry, North American Mission Board

In an effort to thank every pastor and every church in North Carolina for their sacrificial support of the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) has asked Pastor Marty Jacumin to serve as the entity’s pastoral ambassador to the state.


Marty Jacumin

Jacumin will continue to serve as the senior pastor of Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, where he has served since 2007. Before that he also served on the church’s staff from 1998 to 2004. Throughout his time at Bay Leaf, the church has made missions a clear priority. He says in recent years the church has transitioned to becoming more of a missions-sending church.
NAMB has asked pastors from each state convention in the South to serve in ambassador roles in an effort to promote a unity of purpose with the Southern Baptist Convention. Besides expressing gratitude on behalf of NAMB leadership, these pastors will become a contact within the state for pastors who have questions. They will also help explain the Send North America strategy.
“First and foremost, I want to thank North Carolina Baptists for what they are doing with Cooperative Program giving and their Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® giving,” Jacumin said. “I want to use any bit of influence I have to thank North Carolina Baptists for what they’re doing.”
He also says he expects to connect N.C. Baptists with NAMB team members who can help them in their efforts to push back lostness in North America.
To contact Jacumin, email him directly at

11/17/2015 12:31:50 PM by Tobin Perry, North American Mission Board | with 0 comments

Democrats debate use of term ‘radical Islam’

November 17 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

In a debate the day following terrorist attacks in Paris, all three Democratic presidential candidates declined to use the term “radical Islam” to describe Muslim terrorist organizations when asked if they “agree with that characterization.”
One candidate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, argued there is “a war for the soul of Islam” between ISIS and Muslim nations.


CNN screen grab

No candidate mentioned abortion or same-sex marriage during the Nov. 14 debate in Des Moines, Iowa, though former secretary of state Hillary Clinton referred to the “alarming plans” of Republican presidential candidates and added immediately, “I mean, all of us support funding Planned Parenthood.” Her comment presumably referenced GOP proposals to defund America’s largest abortion provider after undercover videos allegedly showed Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of body parts from aborted babies.
The subject of fighting terrorism dominated the first segment of the debate, with a notable exchange occurring when moderator John Dickerson of CBS News asked the candidates whether they agreed with Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s statement that the West is at war with “radical Islam.”
Clinton responded “that you can talk about Islamists who are clearly jihadists” but said using the term radical Islam is “not particularly helpful” in the quest to build a coalition of Muslim nations to oppose ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). She said America is not at war with Islam or Muslims, citing former Republican President George W. Bush’s agreement with that point.
“We are at war with violent extremism,” Clinton said. “We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression. And, yes, we are at war with those people. But I don’t want us to be painting with too broad a brush.”
Sanders said “the term” used to describe terrorists isn’t “what’s important. What is important to understand is we have organizations, whether it is ISIS or al Qaeda, who do believe we should go back several thousand years, we should make women third-class citizens, that we should allow children to be sexually assaulted. They are a danger to modern society.”
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said he believes in calling ISIS “what it is”: “radical jihadis.” He warned against “falling into the trap of thinking that all of our Muslim American neighbors in this country are somehow our enemies.”
Clinton repeatedly used terms like “jihadi extreme terrorism” and “jihadi radicalism.” The apparent intentionality of their word choice contributed to headlines like Politico’s “Democrats carefully avoid saying ‘Islam’” and Fox News’s “Democratic candidates avoid term ‘radical Islam’ in debate.”
Sanders noted Muslim nations in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Jordan, must “get their hands dirty, their boots on the ground” and “take on ISIS.”
“This is a war for the soul of Islam,” Sanders said. “And those countries who are opposed to” ISIS are “going to have to get deeply involved [in the fight] in a way that is not the case today. We should be supportive of that effort. So should the U.K. So should France. But those Muslim countries are going to have to lead the effort.”
Among the candidates’ other comments on Islamic terrorism:

  • Clinton said ISIS “cannot be contained; it must be defeated.”

  • Clinton said the war against ISIS “cannot be an American fight, although American leadership is essential.”

  • O’Malley said the war with ISIS “actually is America’s fight,” but “it cannot solely be America’s fight.”

  • Sanders stood by his assertion in a previous debate that climate change is the greatest threat to American national security.

“In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism,” Sanders said. “And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world – this is what the C.I.A. says – they’re going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops, and you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict.”
The next Democratic presidential debate will occur Dec. 19 in Manchester, N.H.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

11/17/2015 12:25:57 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

LifeWay reopens search for new headquarters

November 17 2015 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

LifeWay Christian Resources is stepping away from the purchase of a 1.5-acre site in downtown Nashville to look at other sites for a new headquarters, LifeWay President Thom Rainer said in a letter to employees Nov. 16.
Rainer said the Southern Baptist entity does intend to complete the sale of its 14.5-acre campus, also located in downtown Nashville.


LifeWay’s bid for the 1.5-acre property was accepted in July for $12.7 million with a $4.9 million tax incentive, lowering the overall cost to less than $8 million. The site is owned by Nashville’s Metro Development and Housing Agency and is situated across the Cumberland River from Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL Tennessee Titans.
Rainer, in his letter to LifeWay employees, said, “The property is a great downtown location, and would be an exciting place for our new building. But, we have concluded it’s not the best location for LifeWay. … We simply have found other potential downtown properties that are a better fit for LifeWay’s future.
“We still anticipate closing on the sale of our property to [the development group] Uptown Nashville in the next few days,” Rainer continued. “And, we will let you know as soon as we can about where we intend to build LifeWay’s new headquarters.”
Once sold, the LifeWay property, near the city’s historic rail lines, will be redeveloped by Uptown Nashville into a mixed-use development including office, retail, residential, entertainment and hotel components, according to various reports.
LifeWay stated in July, meanwhile, that its new headquarters would encompass 216,000 square feet in facilities best suited for the ministry’s future. LifeWay’s current site encompasses several buildings, with more than 1 million square feet of office, warehouse and parking space. About 1,100 of LifeWay’s employees work in the downtown offices, utilizing about a third of the workspace. The Southern Baptist Convention entity also operates 186 LifeWay stores and a national conference center in Ridgecrest, N.C., with a total workforce of more than 4,000 in 29 states.
While LifeWay has not announced a sale price, The Tennessean daily newspaper stated that Uptown Nashville will pay “around $125 million” for the property.
LifeWay, the Southern Baptist Convention’s primary publishing entity, was founded in 1891 as the Sunday School Board in Nashville.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

11/17/2015 12:19:06 PM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Billy Graham exhibit opens at N.C. museum

November 16 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

The day before Billy Graham turned 97, the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh opened a 5,000-square-foot exhibit honoring the life of the famed Baptist evangelist. The free, privately funded exhibit opened Nov. 6 and will be on view through July 10, 2016.
Graham’s life story is featured in “North Carolina’s Favorite Son: Billy Graham and his Remarkable Journey of Faith.” The exhibit’s title is drawn from the 2013 resolution passed by the N.C. General Assembly honoring the life of Graham’s wife, Ruth Bell Graham, and naming Billy Graham “North Carolina’s Favorite Son.”


BR photo by K. Allan Blume
“My father was born, raised and lived in this state and he’s proud to be a North Carolinian,” said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of both BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse in Boone. 

“Billy Graham, a native son of North Carolina, is known for his positive impact in our state and around the world,” said Ken Howard, Director of the N.C. Museum of History. “The museum is proud to present his life story in this major exhibition in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA),” headquartered in Charlotte.
Visitors to the museum can retrace Graham’s steps through personal memorabilia, interactive displays and compelling multimedia that help bring his story to life. They will discover how a Charlotte dairy farmer’s son became a worldwide preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Glimpses of his family life and his leadership in the battle against segregation are part of the exhibit.
Highlights include a look at each of Graham’s 12 North Carolina crusades and other major evangelistic events such as Los Angeles, 1949; London, 1954; New York City, 1957 and South Africa, 1973. His influence among U.S. presidents and other world leaders are reviewed.
“My father was born, raised and lived in this state and he’s proud to be a North Carolinian,” said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of both BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse in Boone. “He is the son of a dairyman that God took and used around the world to touch many lives. He gives God glory for everything that was accomplished through his life, and that’s what you’ll see in this exhibit.”
Tom Phillips, vice president of BGEA and executive director of the Billy Graham Library, told representatives of the media the day before the exhibit opened, “Mr. Graham preached the gospel in his lifetime, personally, to more people than anyone in history – 215 million people in 185 countries. Hundreds of millions more have seen or heard his message for Jesus Christ through television, radio and other means.”
Highlighting Graham’s role in N.C. Phillips added, “You can’t separate the man from the message ... this a major part of the spiritual life of our state.”
In one section of the exhibit Graham is quoted saying, “I am a member of the human race; I am a world citizen. I have a responsibility to my fellow humans – whatever their religion, and I am convinced that only Christ can meet the deepest needs of our world and our hearts.”
Phillips recalled that three days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, in a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral, Billy Graham comforted the nation saying “My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and we will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we put our trust in Him.”
The N.C. Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh. It is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Church groups are invited to visit. For information or special group arrangements call (919) 807-7900 or visit

11/16/2015 12:23:36 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Blume: Do N.C. Baptists want to keep their newspaper?

November 16 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

The road ahead for printed newspapers is rough. Baptist state papers across the southeastern U.S. are cutting back, folding into other organizations or closing their doors, said Allan Blume, editor and president of the Biblical Recorder (BR).
Blume gave a special report to messengers of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina at the annual meeting Nov. 2-3 in Greensboro. In that report he sketched a dim picture for many printed news publications, but he painted a stroke of bright hope for North Carolina Baptists.

“Every state surrounding North Carolina has reduced their publication format in the past two years!” he said. “The Biblical Recorder has not yet cut back.”


Allan Blume

Blume went on, “We continue to look for ways to grow the Biblical Recorder because we believe North Carolina Baptists need a strong news source so our people will be informed and passionate about reaching our state, our nation and the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Serving local churches is at the center of Blume’s vision for the BR. “We want to help your church face our rapidly changing culture and adapt our ministries to the opportunities all around us,” he said. “We want to bring encouragement to your church family as they see the open doors of ministry surrounding them.”
If the news journal of North Carolina Baptists is to continue on its mission unabated, then church members and leaders must decide it has value for their local church ministries, said Blume. He asked messengers of the convention, “Would you say that we do not need the Baptist Children’s Homes to reach out to abandoned children?” relying on state and federal governments alone to care for orphans.
“Would you say we do not need N.C. Baptist Men to do disaster relief work?” he continued. “Let FEMA and the Red Cross do it? Absolutely not!”
Blume also quizzed about Fruitland Baptist Bible College, the College at Southeastern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, asking if it would be better to let secular universities train Baptist leaders.
“So, would you say, ‘We do not need the Biblical Recorder. Let the secular media inform the people in our pews’?” Blume added. “I certainly hope not!”
If people see no value in the paper, then the BR will approach its final days sooner or later, according to Blume. “I believe the Biblical Recorder is valuable to the people and churches of North Carolina,” he said. “We are your news agency, with a Christian worldview. We want to encourage and motivate the people in your church to serve God with a whole heart.”

A video was included in the presentation with endorsements from Baptist leaders across the state:

  • “The direction of the Biblical Recorder, the content of the Biblical Recorder has been radically, radically changed in recent years,” said Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. “I see it now as very valuable resource for North Carolina Baptists.”

  • Greg Mathis, pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, explained, “Here at Mud Creek we actually provide [the BR] for all of our staff, for all of our deacons and for all of our Sunday School teachers.”

  • Michael Smith, pastor of Fruitland Baptist Church in Hendersonville, said, “An informed Baptist is a good Baptist. … We feel like the Biblical Recorder is a tremendous investment.”

  • Pastor Rit Varriale from Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby, expressed his thanks to the paper, saying, “As we support the Recorder, we support the biblical mandate to go to our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world with the relevancy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Click here to view video now.

Blume told messengers about the various ways to receive news from the BR: printed edition, digital edition, website (which averages 20,000-30,000 unique visitors daily), weekly e-newsletter, mobile application (available in the Apple App Store and Google Play) and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Blume appealed to church leaders to consider subscribing church members and staff through reduced-price group plans for both the printed and digital editions. He also stressed the importance and convenience of the BRweekly e-newsletter: “Every N.C. Baptist with an email address should be receiving this.”

BR prize winners

The BR’s drawing at its booth during the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting awarded prizes to pastors, church staff and laity from all across North Carolina.
The BR gave a silver Apple iPad mini2 with wifi and 32 gb to Renee Gregory of Statesville. John McCray of Sparta First Baptist Church won the black Amazon Fire HD 8, 8” HD display with wifi and 8 gb. Nine dual square power banks (4,000 mAh) with the BR logo on it were awarded to: Jimmy Finch of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone; Bill Hare of North Kannapolis Baptist Church in Kannapolis; John Kirby of Abbott’s Creek Baptist Church in High Point; Dennis McDonald of Providence Baptist Church in Roxboro; Jason Miller of Dutch Cove Baptist Church in Canton; Jarrod Scott of Green Pines Baptist Church in Knightdale; Dennis Shaw of Yadkin Baptist Association in Yadkinville; Traci Stephens of Piney Grove Baptist Church in Williamston; and Jason Tate of Piney Grove Baptist Church in Williamston.

LifeWay Christian Resources donated a number of Bibles and books for giveaways:

  • Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Study Bible (Purple Leather Touch-Indexed) was given to Hernildo T. Concka of La Voz de la Egperanza in Charlotte.

  • HCSB Super Giant Print Reference Bible (Classic Mahogany Leather Touch) was given to Nancy Porter of Geneva Baptist Church in Camden.

  • HCSB Super Giant Print Reference Bible (Brown/Tan Leather Touch) was given to Larry Burns of Mulberry Baptist Church in Gastonia.

  • HCSB Compact Ultrathin Bible (Purple Leather Touch) was given to Rick Cockerham of Calvary Baptist Church in Salisbury.

  • HCSB Compact Ultrathin Bible (Classic Mahogany Leather Touch) was given to Doug Nalley of Plainview Baptist Church in Durham.

  • HCSB Compact Ultrathin Bible (Brown/Chocolate Leather Touch) was given to Joel Jackson of Dublin First Baptist Church.

  • A Godward Life by John Piper was chosen by Lee Cook of Sharon Baptist Church in Reidsville.

  • Expository Apologetics by Voddie Baucham Jr. was chosen by Joshua Scruggs of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

  • As the Sun Has Risen by C.S. Lewis was chosen by Chris Autry, who attends First Baptist Church in Aberdeen.

  • Reframe-From the God We’ve Made ... To God With Us by Brian Hardin was chosen by Renee Gregory.

  • Onward by Russell Moore was chosen by Josh Korth of Green Pines Baptist Church in Knightdale.

  • The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung was chosen by Rodney Clemmons of Red Hill Baptist Church in Polkton.

  • Faith on Trial by Pamela Binnings Ewen was chosen by Brenda Gaskins of Bunn Baptist Church.

Two Bibles were given away at the North Carolina Ministers’ Wives meeting Nov. 2. A Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Super Giant Print Reference Bible (Pink Leather Touch) was given to the woman who had been married the longest. Lila Murdock has been married to Paul, the interim pastor at Grandview Baptist Church in Waynesville, for 57 years.
An HCSB Compact Ultrathin Bible (Pink Leather Touch) was given to Ginnie Varnam, whose husband, Devon, is senior pastor of Tar Heel Baptist Church in Tar Heel. Varnam was the youngest wife in attendance.

11/16/2015 12:15:36 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 1 comments

In Paris, 'death, pain & terror' met by prayer, hope

November 16 2015 by Charles Braddix, IMB/Baptist Press

Friday the 13th became a day of infamy in Paris after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris left at least 129 people dead and 350 wounded.
“This has been the worst attack in Paris since World War II,” said Tara Chaney*, an International Mission Board (IMB) worker in France. “People are in a state of shock and mourning; however, there is also a sense of resolve. Parisians are slowly going about their lives. They want to prove to the terrorists that they have not won.”
IMB officials reported all of their personnel in Paris are safe, although four were at the national stadium that was one of six locations targeted by terrorists.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State claimed responsibility, yet many Muslims around the world took to social media to condemn the attacks, citing a difference between Islam and extremist dogma.
Mark Edworthy, IMB’s top strategist for Europe, said, “Some rush immediately to political or even ideological reasons behind the acts, but our workers understand the spiritual dimension of darkness in the world and the reality that violence can erupt anywhere and any time.”
Edworthy added that some would think the immediate response is that Paris needs to monitor more closely the whereabouts of known terrorists or some other “empty solution” to a very complicated problem. “But our workers have one driving thought: ‘Paris needs Jesus,’” Edworthy said.
“There are so many hurting people in our city,” said Rebecca Edwards*, a Christian worker in Paris. “Aside from those who have been personally affected by the loss of loved ones or the terror of being directly involved in the attacks, there are millions of people living in this city who do not have the hope that comes with knowing of the love of Jesus Christ.”
Friday night’s carnage included three separate explosions near the national stadium, where an international soccer match was being held. The deadliest onslaught, however, was at the Bataclan concert hall, where attackers took hostages and engaged in a standoff with police until nearly 1 a.m. Saturday.
French President Francois Hollande called the attacks “an act of war.”
Michael Harrington, a Baptist worker in France, said, “These were not shootings in dark neighborhoods, not government targets, not military quarrels. Rather, the shootings and bombings today happened in the places of Paris in which life occurs every day: cafés, restaurants, the stadium, a concert hall. The purpose was clear: death, pain and terror.
“Are the French people hurting? Without a doubt,” Harrington said. “Many will find their loved ones home and safe, but there are over 300 people that are not home, nor safe. Our hearts hurt. Our colleagues in the French Baptist Federation expressed solidarity in the face of hurt, pleading adherence to 1 Timothy 2:1-8, which calls for petitions, prayers and intercession.”
The federation’s website posted a response to Friday’s Paris attacks, saying, “Again this year, our country has now experienced the horror of terrorism: dark, cold, blind and blinded. France, where a state of emergency has been declared, wakes up in pain, grief and bereavement. Beyond outrage, sadness and incomprehension, the Baptist Federation shares compassion for the victims and families affected by these murderous attacks. It encourages all to mobilize our churches to actions of help and support in prayer. The Bible invites us to establish a footprint of prayer in truth and love, commitment and authenticity.”
In January this year two gunmen stormed the Paris office of the publication Charlie Hebdo, killing 11.
Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), said, “Our hearts are broken with the people of France over the tragedies in their nation. We are praying for them now and trust that thousands of our churches will pray in their worship services on Sunday interceding for them. This evil calls us to resolve again of our great need to advance the gospel to all peoples of the world.”
Frank S. Page, president of the SBC’s Executive Committee, said, “Yet again, my heart is broken for the people of France and truly for all people of civilized culture to hear of the barbaric and cowardly attack on the innocent civilians in Paris. It truly makes no sense and only deepens the divide. We pray for the families of those affected. God bless France!”
Trey Cassidy*, an IMB strategy leader in France, said, “We mourn with our French brothers and sisters that many did not come home after the attacks. It brings to mind the verse in John that our enemy is a thief who ‘comes to steal, kill, and destroy.’” He encouraged the Christian community to not wait and see how others will respond to this tragedy. “Let us, as the body of Christ, be the first to respond with comfort for those grieving and an offer to share our hope,” he said.


“Please pray for the people of Paris, France and Europe in the coming days,” said Wendy Meador, IMB’s prayer strategist for Europe. “Ask for healing for those injured and comfort for those who have lost loved ones. Intercede for wisdom for those in authority as well as for citizens, as they react and respond to this situation. Petition our loving Father to fill grieving, questioning hearts with peace that only He can give. Pray for field workers as well as local believers as they reach out to the hurting and pray that many will place their faith in Him, as they seek hope after this crisis.”
For prayer resources for France, go to
*Name changed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Charles Braddix is a writer for IMB based in London. Baptist Press staff contributed to this report.)

11/16/2015 12:07:57 PM by Charles Braddix, IMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Supreme Court to rule on Texas abortion law

November 16 2015 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Nov. 13 to rule on a Texas law that stands to sound the death knell for many abortion clinics.
The justices announced they would weigh a decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that upheld most of the Texas measure, which requires an abortion doctor to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in case a woman needs emergency hospitalization. The law also mandates abortion clinics must meet the health and safety standards of other walk-in surgical centers.
If upheld by the high court, the law would reduce the number of abortion facilities in Texas from what had been about 40 to fewer than 10.
Such a decision by the justices would have an impact in other states that have similar laws. The justices failed to act on an appeal of another Fifth Circuit ruling that affirmed a Mississippi law that requires admitting privileges for abortion doctors.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said after the high court issued its order, “We shouldn’t be surprised that the abortion rights lobby fights legislation that creates accountability for surgeons and clinics. The abortion industry has always operated at the expense of women and families.
“My prayer is that the Supreme Court will act in defense of the lives of women and the unborn in empowering states to cut through the political armor of the abortion industry and keep it accountable to the public,” Moore said.
After the announcement, Steven Aden, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said the Texas law provides “common-sense protections that ensure the maximum amount of safety for women. Abortionists should not be exempt from medical requirements that everyone else is required to follow.”
The Supreme Court has not issued an opinion on abortion since 2007, when it upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortion.
Earlier this year, the justices blocked implementation of the Texas law while the appeal process continues.
Oral arguments in the case, which is Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, are not expected until February or later.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

11/16/2015 12:00:43 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Gospel travels through friends from Virginia to Vietnam

November 16 2015 by Marie Curtis, IMB

The jet lag was wearing off for Jerry and Mary Logan and they were ready to explore the unknown territory of Ho Chi Minh City with their friends, Chum and Coi Truong.
Since fleeing Vietnam as refugees in 1979, the Truongs have made numerous trips back. But the trip from Fredericksburg, Va., to Vietnam in July 2015 was different. Not only were their American friends joining them, but this was their first time to return as believers in Jesus Christ.


IMB photo by Meg Rushing
Mary Logan was getting her hair done when Coi Truong said that she was still Buddhist. “From then on, my goal was to reach out to my friend and her husband with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ,” Mary says. 

Before leaving on the trip, Chum said he didn’t know how his family would react to the news that he and Coi had become Christians. He said it might take some time for them to consider the gospel, but the uncertainty didn’t stop him from speaking boldly to family members and neighbors in two villages.
“I want you to know that I have read the Bible and I believe that it is true,” Chum told family who gathered to hear him. “I know that there is only one way to heaven and that’s through Jesus.”
For the Logans, listening to Chum and Coi share their newfound faith with their family in Vietnam was an answer to many prayers.


The beginning of friendship

Though they recently went to Vietnam, Mary points out that this journey really began 35 years ago when her church, Spotswood Baptist Church, helped the Truongs, who were refugees, relocate to the U.S.
“That’s when Coi, Chum and I became friends,” Mary said. “Our children were close to the same age and they were able to play together. Coi would come to my house and make egg rolls, which we loved. We just developed a great relationship.”
When Coi opened a beauty salon, Mary started going regularly. To Mary, this was one more way to stay involved in Coi’s life, and their friendship grew. Today they enjoy the easy kind of relationship where Coi can pick the onions off Mary’s salad or tease her because she doesn’t like hairspray.
When someone says that they are good friends, Coi is quick to correct, “We are best friends.”


IMB photo by Meg Rushing
The Vietnamese house church that Mary Logan started in Fredericksburg meets at Chum and Coi Truong’s house. Regular attenders include Christians and non-believers.

For many years, Mary assumed that Coi and Chum were believers because they often came to church. But when Coi said they weren’t Christians, Mary became burdened for her friends.
“From then on, my goal was to reach out to my friend and her husband with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ,” Mary said.
So she started praying, asking God to do something great for His Kingdom and let her be a part of it. And that’s what He chose to do, Mary shared.


A new church

Mary read a couple of books that encouraged her – one was Radical by International Mission Board (IMB) President David Platt. Wanting to best know how to witness in the Vietnamese community of Fredericksburg, she called IMB.
Minh Ha Nguyen, a manager in IMB’s research department, suggested Mary start a Bible study group among Vietnamese in a home – which was proving to be an effective way to multiply the gospel among unreached people in the U.S. When Mary asked Coi if she would be interested in studying the Bible, she immediately agreed, and they made plans to meet weekly in Coi’s home.
“About that time, some friends walk in that she knew who were Christians, other Vietnamese friends,” Mary noted. “I asked [them] if they would like to join our group if we started a Bible study, and they agreed.”
So the group began with the Logans and two Vietnamese couples. In time it grew as Coi and Chum invited their friends. Vietnamese teenagers who were Christians interpreted Bible stories told by Jerry and Mary.
“Our hearts knew this was God’s will, and that He would accomplish His purposes through our obedience. We had no idea what to do or how to do it but trusted God to do through us what we could not do on our own,” Mary said.
Both Truongs were interested in reading the Bible but were hesitant to make a decision to surrender to Christ. The faithful witness of friends led Coi to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in March 2014.
“She was just a brand new creature in Christ,” Mary recalled. “She wanted to share her faith, she was so bold and she would just tell people.”
Chum took longer to accept the gospel, though he would stay up at night reading through the books of the Bible. He said he wanted to know for sure that it was truth. He had read the Bible for himself, studied it in a group where he could discuss it in Vietnamese and spent time with Christian friends. In February 2015, Chum declared he is changed and knows that Jesus is the only way to heaven.


The gospel reaches Vietnam

Soon after making their decisions to follow Christ, Coi and Chum began to share with family and friends in Vietnam. Over a video cellphone call after Bible study one night, Coi helped lead her brother to the Lord. Already they witnessed the gospel reaching their home country.
As summer 2015 approached, Chum and Coi invited the Logans to travel with them to Vietnam. Jerry and Mary immediately encouraged them to make plans to share their faith with family and agreed they would be a part of that.
Mary found clips from “The JESUS Film” in Vietnamese that she downloaded to a computer. They practiced sharing the gospel and coached Chum and Coi in how to share their testimonies. For them, this trip was about watching God move in the lives of their friends and spread His Word to unreached peoples of Southeast Asia.
For Mary, this was another answer to her continued prayer for God to do something great in His Kingdom.
“If we pray fervently and consistently for God to give us direction that many might come to know Him through us, He will make our path clear,” Mary said. “He shows His power as we step into the unknown with only faith to uphold us. We then experience the working of the Holy Spirit in us. To God be the glory!”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marie Curtis is a writer and editor for IMB who traveled with the Logans to Vietnam.)

11/16/2015 11:08:43 AM by Marie Curtis, IMB | with 0 comments

Maurice Hinson, longest-serving SBTS professor, dies at 84

November 13 2015 by S. Craig Sanders, SBTS

A world-famous pianist and musicologist who was the longest-serving faculty member in the history of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) died Nov. 11 after a battle with cancer. Maurice Hinson, 84, was the senior professor of piano at the seminary and had taught courses for 58 years.
Maurice Hinson was one of the greatest musicologists ever to serve among Southern Baptists, a world-class scholar whose authority was regularly invoked in the leading conservatories and schools of music around the world,” said SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr., describing Hinson’s “immeasurable” legacy.
“He was a wonderful Christian gentleman who combined his love for students with his love for music, having a very rare gift both as a pianist and as one of the great scholars of the piano as an instrument. He will be greatly missed.”

Hinson was an accomplished pianist by age 13, attending the Sherwood Music School in Chicago for three summers. The prodigy decided to pursue a career in teaching while enrolled in the Julliard School of Music in New York his senior year of high school. After graduating with his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Florida, Hinson served in the Korean War and found himself stationed away from the battlefield in France. It was there he studied under famed musician George Bolen at the Conservatoire National in Paris. Hinson resumed his formal education following his military service and earned his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Michigan. He began teaching at the seminary in 1957.
“The passing of Dr. Maurice Hinson marks the close of an unprecedented teaching ministry in the area of church music and worship at Southern Seminary,” said Adam W. Greenway, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry.
“Through the countless students he taught and the abundant published works he produced, Dr. Hinson made an indelible contribution to Christian ministry by helping the church of our Lord Jesus Christ more faithfully witness through music. Our deepest prayers and sympathy are with the Hinson family during this time of loss.”
In addition to being the longest-serving faculty member in the seminary’s history, Hinson was also the most widely published. Among his 14 books, the reference work “Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire” is a standard in the field and is currently in its fourth edition. He also wrote more than 100 articles in music publications.
Through the publishing company Alfred Music, Hinson produced more than 300 masterworks, which are edited collections of classical compositions to help students learn to perform difficult pieces from the likes of Beethoven and Mozart. Some of his most recent articles appear in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music in the United States.
“His contribution was fourfold as concert pianist, scholar, pedagogue – very famous in terms of the technique of teaching piano – and then church musician,” said Esther Crookshank, Ollie Hale Chiles Professor of Church Music at SBTS, who served alongside Hinson for 20 years.
Crookshank said she admired Hinson’s commitment to excellence and recounted numerous examples of his vibrancy in the classroom, including guest appearances in her classes in which he would analyze and perform from memory dozens of Beethoven’s most challenging sonatas. Hinson continued to display his energy even later in his life, complaining to colleagues as recently as January, shortly before his cancer diagnosis, that doctors had limited his participation in a senior tennis league to twice a week.
“Excellence characterized everything about him. He was a joy, so full of energy and effervescent. He really sparkled even as he was teaching,” Crookshank said. “He has been a gift to the world of music and to the church.”
Hinson was the first president of the Greater Louisville Music Teachers Association and president of the Kentucky Music Teachers Association. Among his other achievements, Hinson received the Liszt Commemorative Medal from the Hungarian government and the Medal of Excellence by the American Liszt Society for his research on the music of Franz Liszt; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Music Teachers National Association in the spring of 1994; the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Florida in 1990; and the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Michigan in the fall of 1995.
Hinson is survived by his wife Peggy of 64 years (the couple first met in kindergarten at age 5), daughter Susan Elizabeth Jordan, and four grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Jane Leslie Enoch.
A visitation for Hinson will be held November 15, 1-4 p.m., at Pearson Funeral Home, 149 Breckenridge Lane in Louisville, KY. His funeral service is scheduled for Nov. 16 at noon in Broadway Baptist Church, 4000 Brownsboro Road, where was a member for 29 years. A private burial will follow at Cave Hill Cemetery.
11/13/2015 2:42:12 PM by S. Craig Sanders, SBTS | with 0 comments

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