November 2016

IMB taps 5 megacities for global initiative pilot

November 17 2016 by Keith Collier, Southern Baptist TEXAN

“There’s no lack of church buildings in London, but the average congregation is fewer than 20 people,” missionary James Roberts noted.
 
Roberts is part of an International Mission Board (IMB) team in London strategizing a comprehensive missions approach to reach this city of 8.6 million. More than 50 non-indigenous communities, each with 10,000 people or more, have been identified in London, making it truly a global city.

Submitted photo
London is one of five cities in the Global Cities Initiative being piloted by the International Mission Board.


London is one of five cities in the Global Cities Initiative being piloted by the International Mission Board.

More than 300 languages are spoken in London, and 37 percent of the city’s population was born outside the U.K., one-fourth of whom have moved to London in the last five years.
 
A city that once served as fertile ground for great Christian preaching and churches, London has grown fallow over the last 50 years.
 
In 1963, 3.2 percent of London’s population claimed to have no affiliation with religion. In 2015, that number had soared to 44.7 percent. The Anglican Church alone saw a 33 percent drop during this span.
 
Recognizing global migration patterns from rural to urban settings, IMB has named London – along with Dubai, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and a major city in South Asia (unnamed for security purposes) – as focal points in piloting a Global Cities Initiative (GCI).
 
The five GCI cities were selected based on their potential for global influence as well as their vast numbers of unengaged, unreached people groups. The goal is that as members of the people groups are transformed by the gospel while living in the cities, they will return to their homelands as indigenous missionaries.
 
In London, the GCI initiative involves using the city’s 280-plus underground tube stops as key points for missional communities. The team’s “God-sized vision” includes having a missional community near every stop. The plan is in the initial stages of mapping the areas and conducting demographic research to aid in future evangelism and discipleship.
 
“We want to engage people groups; we want to see London reached,” said Roberts, the IMB’s senior city manager, adding that their strategy includes the “goal of starting new groups, doing evangelism and training leaders, with the hope of starting new churches.”
 
IMB President David Platt’s vision of “limitless missionaries” requires “multiple pathways” for engaging lostness all over the world. In addition to career missionaries, IMB is looking for Christian students, business professionals and retirees willing to move overseas to aid mission teams in one of the five GCI cities. These life stages, combined with numerous opportunities for education and employment, serve as platforms for either short-term or long-term missions engagement.
 
“Our hope for [students and business professionals] who come with GCI is not only will they help engage with us in what we’re doing in the city, but they will start ministry in their areas of influence,” Roberts said.
 
Retirees, for example, can be “incredible because they have resources, time and a ton of wisdom. They’ve been walking with God longer than most of us, and they have a different perspective. We can release them into the city and engage them in all different kinds of ways.”
 
IMB also wants partner churches in the United States that will select a city and mobilize its members who might be interested in connecting with a CGI team. The mission board has access consultants in each city to help business professionals discover potential job openings and an abundance of opportunities for gospel engagement.
 
For more information on the Global Cities Initiative, visit imb.org/gci.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keith Collier is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, texanonline.net, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

11/17/2016 10:06:17 AM by Keith Collier, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments



Trump impact expected on markets, long-term growth

November 17 2016 by Roy Hayhurst, Guidestone

The election of Donald J. Trump may have surprised political observers but his election and the continued control of Congress by fellow Republicans could increase the odds for his major policy plans to be adopted over the next two years.
 
Financial markets are likely to remain volatile over the near term – and possibly for months, said David S. Spika, CFA, global investment strategist for GuideStone Capital Management.
 
Markets rallied in the days after a Trump victory, even after signaling sharp declines as a Trump victory was becoming evident on Election Day evening.
 
“The uncertainty will be high; he has never been in political office before, and that will create volatility for investors,” Spika said. “It may also prevent the [Federal Reserve] from raising rates in December as planned. We don’t really know how the markets will react to that, but that’s something else to keep in mind.”
 
Spika cited Trump’s proposals for personal income tax cuts, corporate tax reform, higher defense spending and a reduction in the regulatory burdens in the financial and energy sectors as potential catalysts for economic growth.
 
Some Trump policies, however, including renegotiating or repealing existing trade pacts as well as new tariffs and quotas, could negatively impact economic growth as trading partners might impose similar restrictions on U.S.-made goods.
 
“As investors, it’s prudent to stay calm in periods like this,” Spika said. “Back during the Brexit vote [when British voters elected to leave the European Union], those who stayed calm and didn’t overreact did fine. ...
 
“Investors should focus on their long-term asset allocation and remain calm,” Spika said. “This is a strategy that can help you meet your long-term goals.”
 
To watch a video and read commentary on the election’s impact on the market, click here.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
 

11/17/2016 10:05:50 AM by Roy Hayhurst, Guidestone | with 0 comments



Restroom law likely safe despite N.C. election saga

November 16 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Regardless of who emerges victorious in North Carolina’s still undecided governor’s race, some of the state’s Baptists believe a controversial law limiting transgender restroom access will remain in force.
 
Incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican who has defended the law known as House Bill 2, trails Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat and staunch House Bill 2 (H.B. 2) critic, by some 5,000 votes with more than 58,000 provisional ballots to be adjudicated and potentially counted, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
 
A smaller number of absentee ballots also remain uncounted, and about 90,000 votes in Durham County are being challenged by McCrory, who claims there was “malfeasance” in tabulating them. The governor additionally claims “irregularities” around the state, according to the News & Observer.
 
The election results are scheduled to be certified Nov. 29, The Washington Post reported. But legal challenges and recounts could stretch into December, according to the News & Observer.
 
H.B. 2 is a statewide anti discrimination law which does not include sexual orientation or gender identity among legally protected classes. The law also requires individuals in state buildings to use restrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates.
 
The election’s outcome “should not affect [H.B. 2] at all,” said Mark Harris, a Charlotte pastor who has run for both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives as a Republican.
 
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a vocal H.B. 2 supporter, was reelected by a 52-45 margin, and the legislature that drafted and passed H.B. 2 retained a veto-proof Republican majority.
 
The legislature’s composition makes any repeal of H.B. 2 unlikely, Harris said. If a Cooper administration refused to defend the law against legal challenges – which Cooper has already done as attorney general – the legislature could hire its own legal counsel.
 
“Some in the media would love to say” a McCrory loss would be “due to H.B. 2,” Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., told Baptist Press (BP). However, “the evidence proves” that such a claim is inaccurate.
 
“If you look at the results of the election,” Harris said, “H.B. 2 probably did more to help turn out conservatives and Christians and help put them over the finish line than hurt anybody in this election.”
 
McCrory may have lost up to 30,000 votes because of a toll road he supported in the northern Charlotte area, Harris said, noting that region played a significant role in the governor’s struggle to win reelection.
 
Mecklenberg county commissioner Jim Puckett, who represents the area in question, told the Charlotte Observer that “compared to tolls, H.B. 2 is a non-issue in north Mecklenberg.”
 
Paul Stam, speaker pro tempore of the North Carolina House of Representatives, told BP election results appear to confirm public support of H.B. 2.
 
“Seventy-one House Republicans voted for H.B. 2,” Stam, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee from 2005-09, said in an email. “Two of them lost reelection. But they were replaced by two other Republicans, in one case a pastor from Sanford [N.C.].
 
“No senator who voted for H.B. 2 was defeated, notwithstanding millions of dollars spent to defeat them,” Stam said. “Republicans increased their supermajority in the assembly by one. The outcome of the election for governor will matter. But no matter who wins that election, H.B. 2 will not be eviscerated if the Baptists of North Carolina speak up.”
 
Still, the pro-transgender rights organizations Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality North Carolina said H.B. 2 “cost McCrory his reelection” and “dragged down several state candidates.”
 
“We are confident that once the results are certified, Roy Cooper’s victory will be confirmed,” HRC President Chad Griffin and Equality North Carolina executive director Chris Sgro said in a statement. “By electing Roy Cooper their next governor, North Carolinians have sent a powerful message across their state and this country that the days of anti-[lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer] politicians targeting our community for political gain are over.”
 
A federal trial over the legality of H.B. 2 was slated to begin this month but has been postponed until at least late summer as both sides await a U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning transgender restroom access in Virginia, the Greensboro News & Record reported.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

11/16/2016 1:26:39 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Protests at FBC Dallas draw spotlight

November 16 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Protesters picketing First Baptist Church in Dallas will have no effect, pastor Robert Jeffress said Nov. 15 on national TV.
 
“Look, these people, these protesters, aren’t opposing me or our church,” Jeffress said of the 50 or so protesters who picketed the church for a second night Nov. 14 because of the pastor’s apparent public support of Trump during the contentious presidential campaign. “When I see these protesters, it kind of reminds me of a flea striking its hind leg against Mount Everest, saying I’m going to topple you over.

Screen capture from Fox News
First Baptist Church pastor Robert Jeffress appeared on Varney & Co. Nov. 15 in reaction to anti-Trump protesters who have picketed outside his church.


“Ultimately, they’re protesting the eternal Word of God, and guess what, they’re not going to be successful in toppling the Word of God.”
 
Jeffress defended Trump on the Nov. 15 edition of Varney & Co. on Fox Business.
 
“I think it’s very ironic that these people are so upset about Donald Trump becoming president,” Jeffress said on the broadcast. “Donald Trump is the only Republican nominee who has ever even acknowledged the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community in his acceptance speech. I’m not sure exactly why they’re so upset.”
 
One of the protest organizers, Dallas ordained Baptist minister and community activist Dominique Alexander, characterized First Baptist Dallas as “the mother mecca of the hate that lives inside of Dallas” in comments to the media Nov. 12, the first night of the protests outside the megachurch of 12,000 members.
 
Jeffress told Baptist Press that both he and Trump are being unfairly characterized as racist.
 
“Donald Trump has been unfairly labeled as a racist simply for wanting to secure our borders and stop the flood of illegal immigrants entering our country,” Jeffress said.
 
On Varney & Co., Jeffress focused on the LGBT community, saying he has gay friends.
 
“We’re not a hateful church at all. My wife and I have many friends who are gay. We welcome LGBT people to attend our church,” Jeffress said on Fox. “But just because we hold the position of Judeo Christianity for thousands of years that marriage should be between a man and a woman, just because we hold that position, suddenly we become haters. That is rank hypocrisy.”
 
The protesters have said they may congregate outside First Baptist on Sundays as well.
 
Jeffress is a member of Trump’s 25-member Evangelical Executive Advisory Board with at least seven other Southern Baptists. While he never officially endorsed the real estate mogul, he vocally supported Trump as the candidate with the best chance of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton. On the church’s website, Jeffress has clarified that he did not encourage his church to vote for any particular candidate.
 
“First Baptist Church of Dallas does not endorse or oppose any candidate for political office,” a press statement reads on the church website. “Instead, any information, videos, appearances, posts, etc. related to any political topic are provided for informational purposes only, and represent the personal views or opinions of the individual expressing them, but do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of First Baptist Church of Dallas.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

11/16/2016 1:26:17 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Study: What are Americans thankful for?

November 16 2016 by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends

When Americans count their blessings at Thanksgiving, God will get most of the credit, a new study shows. And money might be the last thing on their minds.


Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63 percent) say they give thanks to God on that day, according to LifeWay Research. Fifty-seven percent give thanks to their family. About a third (31 percent) thank friends. Eight percent thank themselves, while 4 percent thank fate.
 
Most Americans are thankful for family (88 percent), health (77 percent), personal freedom (72 percent) and friends (71 percent). Fewer give thanks for wealth (32 percent) or achievements (51 percent), the study shows.
 
“The blessings that matter most are the ones money can’t buy,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.
 
In a representative online survey of 1,000 Americans, researchers gave respondents 10 options to be thankful for – from family and health to achievements and wealth.
 
Their responses were shaped in part by demographics.
 
Those 65 and older are more thankful for family (92 percent) and health (86 percent) than fun experiences (48 percent). Those under 25 are thankful for fun experiences (70 percent) and their achievements (61 percent) but still cherish family (77 percent).
 
Americans with bachelor’s degrees (45 percent), graduate degrees (46 percent) or evangelical beliefs (41 percent) are more thankful for wealth. Those who didn’t go to college (23 percent) or who don’t have evangelical beliefs (31 percent) are less thankful for wealth.
 
Women are most likely to give thanks for family (91 percent), health (83 percent) and friends (75 percent). Men are slightly less likely to give thanks for family (84 percent), health (71 percent) and friends (67 percent).
 
Overall, giving thanks seems alive and well in America, despite the stresses of the recent election season. Only 2 percent say they are thankful for none of the 10 options provided.
 
“Many Americans have felt discouraged about events of the past year,” McConnell said. “But they still find a lot to be thankful for.”
 
When asked to rate what they are most thankful for, family wins in a landslide. Six in 10 Americans (61 percent) say they are most thankful for family. Thirteen percent say health, while 9 percent say personal freedom.
 
Few choose safety and security (3 percent), memories (3 percent), friends (2 percent), opportunities (2 percent), achievements (2 percent), fun experiences (1 percent) or wealth (1 percent) as what they are most thankful for.
 

Past Thanksgivings

Americans have celebrated days of thanksgiving in the fall since 1621, when the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation held a feast at the end of their first harvest. In 1789, President George Washington set aside Nov. 26 of that year as a thanksgiving day in honor of “that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”


States celebrated Thanksgiving Day on different dates until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln set aside the fourth Thursday of November as an official federal holiday. Lincoln credited God for the nation’s blessings: “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
 
Still, Thanksgiving isn’t for everyone. Seven percent of Americans say they don’t give thanks on Thanksgiving Day. Another 4 percent say they don’t thank God, family or any of the other survey options.
 
Americans living in the South (72 percent), African-Americans (83 percent), those attending religious services at least once a month (84 percent) and Christians (80 percent) are among those most likely to thank God. Protestants (90 percent) are more likely to thank God than Catholics (67 percent). Those with evangelical beliefs are most likely to thank God (94 percent). One in 4 nones – those with no religious affiliation – also say they thank God.
 
Catholics (65 percent) are more likely to thank their family than Protestants (49 percent).
 
Those with evangelical beliefs are half as likely to thank family (32 percent) as those without evangelical beliefs (62 percent).
 
Those in the Northeast are more likely to thank themselves (14 percent) than Midwesterners (7 percent) and Southerners (6 percent). Men (9 percent) are more likely to not give thanks than women (5 percent). Those younger than 25 (14 percent) are also more likely to skip giving thanks than those 65 and older (5 percent).
 
For more information on this study, visit LifeWayResearch.com.
 
Methodology: LifeWay Research conducted the study Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, 2016. The survey was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Initially, participants are chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. Persons in selected households are then invited by telephone or by mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel. For those who agree to participate but do not already have internet access, GfK provides at no cost a laptop and ISP connection.
 
Sample stratification and weights were used for gender by age, race/ethnicity, region, metro/non-metro, education and income to reflect the most recent U.S. Census data. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
 
LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine.)
 
 

11/16/2016 1:25:19 PM by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends | with 0 comments



Thornbury calls for ‘Jesus freaks’ in Page Lecture series

November 16 2016 by Harper McKay, SEBTS

During two days of lectures at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College in New York City, challenged the commonly used phrase “cultural engagement,” advocating for Christians to change the way they interact with the world around them.
 
“I believe if that if we plan to swim in the culture that we find ourselves … we may need to start shifting our paradigm of how we’ve been talking about this whole business of cultural engagement,” he said.

SEBTS photo
Gregory Thornbury lectures at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.


Thornbury was the guest speaker for the 2016 Page Lectures, a series that brings prominent theologians to campus each fall to discuss a subject of concern to the Christian community. On Nov. 1-2, Thornbury gave two lectures to students, faculty and staff on the topic of “Joseph Got It Done,” using the Old Testament story of Joseph to show how Christians should respond as bearers of good news in the culture.

In his first lecture, Thornbury argued that transformation of the culture might not be an option any longer. Christians in America will increasingly find themselves in a situation where Christ and culture are in paradox. “That may be a difficult transition for us to make as our influence and power recedes in the public square and as we have humiliated ourselves in 2016 in the eyes of the world,” he said.
 
To answer how to live in this kind of environment, Thornbury offered the example of Joseph who was as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove. “He was not the redeemer of Egypt, but because of who he was and because of the chops he had, he was able to position himself in a place where he … had a chance to save, to insulate the people of God for a generation until redemption could come,” he said.
 
Thornbury argued that this should be the narrative of Christians in America – that they should thrive in the culture just as Joseph did in whatever circumstance he faced. “We have to be gamers. We have to keep the ball in play,” he said. “We may not transform culture, but we can be significant contributors and shine a light in the firmament as we hold forth the word of light.”
 
“Our job, I believe, in this generation as a Joseph generation is to keep the ball in play, to keep the name of Christ being named in places where it might reach the halls of the Pharaoh,” he said.
 
Thornbury’s second lecture expounded on ideas he introduced in the first lecture, specifically that the spiritual battle is not between Christianity and secular atheism but instead Christianity and mysticism.
Drawing from conversations he has had with people in New York City, Thornbury believes that we live in an “age of profound credulousness and openness to all sorts of enchantments and mystical explanations about things, with the exception being traditional Christianity.”
 
Thornbury said that while Christians are busy trying to be increasingly scientific, the world around them is opening to various supernatural and transcendental explanations. In this world of openness to spirituality, Thornbury says Christians often adopt “soft thought” and stand off in the shadows rather than standing out as followers of Christ. According to Thornbury, Christians need to “let their Jesus freak flag fly” as they contribute and take part in the culture they live in, giving people a place to land when they search for supernatural explanations of the world. As opposition to Christianity grows, Christians should not insulate themselves from the culture but be part of it as people who are strange and different.
 
“We need to lean into the fact that we are the outsiders, embrace the fact that we are freaks,” Thornbury said. “That’s what we need to be teaching this generation. What we are seeing in our culture right now is a vast array of experiments against reality. Where will the church be when all the experiments have played out and exhausted themselves?”
 
The Page Lecture Fund, established in 1982, is named for George A. Page of Plainfield, Ind.   
 

11/16/2016 1:24:34 PM by Harper McKay, SEBTS | with 0 comments



Trump rebukes alleged racism among supporters

November 16 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

In his first major interview since Election Day, President-elect Donald Trump said he is “saddened” by reported incidents of racial harassment committed in his name and urged perpetrators to “stop it.”

Screen capture from CBS News


Trump also commented on potential Supreme Court nominees, abortion and same-sex marriage among other social issues.
 
When interviewer Lesley Stahl of CBS’s 60 Minutes asked Trump about reports of African Americans, Latinos and homosexuals being harassed in his name, Trump replied he was unaware of such episodes occurring on a large scale though he “saw one or two instances.”
 
Trump then said he would tell violent or prejudiced supporters who are harassing members of minority groups, “Don’t do it. That’s terrible, because I’m going to bring this country together.”
 
Thousands of anti-Trump protesters demonstrated for the fifth consecutive day Nov. 13 in major U.S. cities, with some protesters turning violent over the weekend in Portland, Ore., according to media accounts.
 
Reports also surfaced of vandalism, harassment and violence committed in Trump’s name. A Nov. 14 CNN article, suggested 12 cases of racial or religious harassment were linked with Trump supporters.
 
Among the reports, CNN alleged “Trump!” was written on the door of a Muslim prayer room at New York University and that “Trump” and “whites only” were among graffiti discovered at a Minnesota middle school.
 
Other media outlets reported similar episodes, including a Trump victory parade announced by a Pelham, N.C., chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and racist vandalism of a sign advertising a Spanish-language service at a Silver Spring, Md., Episcopal congregation.
 
“I am so saddened to hear that,” Trump said regarding reports of racial harassment. “And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
 
Trump told those protesting his election, “Don’t be afraid,” and said people “have to be given a little time” following a divisive election to come to terms with the results.
 
President Obama, in a Nov. 14 White House news conference, expressed a similar sentiment, stating that after a “bitter election ... it takes a while for people to reconcile themselves with that new reality.”
 
Trump also claimed supporters of his former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton are granted more license to protest than his supporters would have been.
 
“If Hillary had won and if my people went out and protested, everybody would say, ‘Oh, that’s a terrible thing.’ And it would have been a much different attitude,” Trump said. “... There is a double standard here.”
 
Among other issues discussed by Trump:
 
– A Supreme Court justice will be nominated quickly to fill the vacancy left by the death of former associate justice Antonin Scalia, Trump said. All justices he appoints “will be pro-life” and “very pro-Second Amendment.”
 
If the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion ruling is overturned, the president-elect said, the issue will be left to the states.
 
– In response to a question about fears among homosexual Americans, Trump said same-sex marriage “was settled in the Supreme Court” by the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling of 2015. Legal issues related to so-called marriage equality have “been settled, and I’m fine with that.”
 
– Trump said he will build a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, as promised in his presidential campaign, with some portions being a wall and others potentially a fence.
 
– Deportation of illegal immigrants will focus on “people that are criminal and have criminal records,” Trump said. “After the border is secured and everything gets normalized,” the administration will determine a policy regarding illegal immigrants “who are terrific people.”
 
– The Affordable Care Act, Trump said, will be repealed and “simultaneously” replaced with a bill that provides “great health care for much less money.”
 
– Trump said he and GOP congressional leaders agree that three legislative priorities should be “health care,” “immigration” and “a major tax bill lowering taxes in this country.”
 
The 60 Minutes interview also featured Trump’s wife Melania and his four adult children.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

11/16/2016 1:23:53 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



N.C. Pastor’s Conference celebrates God and country

November 15 2016 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

As Cameron McGill, pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church and president of the 2016 North Carolina Pastor’s Conference (NCPC), welcomed attendees to the Nov. 13-14 gathering at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C., he said, “Our soldiers and our Savior have much in common, and we honor them both tonight.”

Photo by Steve Cooke
Tom Martin recounts a story of survival and God’s grace. He was a scout pilot in the Vietnam War. His plane was shot down in enemy territory and he received burns over a significant portion of his body.


McGill struck a chord in his opening words that resonated throughout the conference, a two-tone tribute to God and the United States of America.
 
The event’s theme – “Worth Fighting For” – featured messages and testimonies tinged with patriotic pride and biblical zeal from North Carolina pastors, lay people and military veterans.
 
Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, sent out a call to action for the American public, the American pew and American policy makers. In his sermon, Harris said the recent electoral win by president-elect Donald Trump was the result of God’s people praying fervently in a spirit of desperation, and he implored them to continue.
 
“I have seen more in the last six months … a nation that was becoming desperate, and a nation that was being called to its knees, and a nation that began to pray in prayer meetings like I have not seen spring up in many, many, many years.
 
“I truly believe with all of my heart that it’s because people are beginning to recognize the desperation that we we’re facing. I mean, let’s be honest about it … neither one of [the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates] were our first choice.”
 
Harris said he spent the final six weeks leading up to the election visiting ministry leaders in key states across the country.
 
“As I saw pastors coming together in all of those swing states, I began to recognize that here are men of God who are recognizing that this is a desperate situation. This is a desperate time, and we must cry out to almighty God, and they were doing it.


“Don’t you and I ever make the mistake of thinking that what happened over the course of this past week has anything to do with our strength, our numbers or our power. It has to do with the power and the work of almighty God. And it’s Him that we must trust.”
 
Harris continued, “It’s very clear that the question of the American public that must be asked is, ‘Why are you in perpetual backsliding?’ The question for the American pew is, ‘Why are you just sitting there?’ You need to come in brokenness and prayer before almighty God. We’re beginning to see that happen, and this is not the time to stop. This is just the time to get started.”
 

‘We must be salt and light’

Timmy Blair called Christians to take the gospel into the surrounding culture, rather than confining their faith to the four walls of a church facility.
 

Photo by Steve Cooke
Three officers for the 2018 North Carolina Pastor’s Conference were elected by acclamation: Matt Capps , center, senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, president; Chris Griggs, left, lead pastor of Denver Baptist Church in Denver, vice-president; and Jonathan Blaylock, right, pastor of West Canton Baptist Church in Canton, secretary-treasurer.


“We must be willing to carry the gospel wherever we go,” said the 2016 president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and senior pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier. Blair emphasized that such action might come with consequences.
 
“Paul was willing to pay a price for the cause of the gospel,” he said. “We must be willing to say in our pulpits, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel,’ come what may. Put the pressure on me if you will. Pass the laws if you want, but I’m here to tell you as a preacher of the gospel, ‘We are not ashamed of the gospel.’
 
Blair continued, “We must not only say it in our pulpit. We must be willing to also say it in our home, at our work, around the break room. Wherever it is, we must be salt and light. … Last week, 81 percent of evangelicals stood up and said, ‘We’re not ashamed of the gospel,’ and they did so going into those booths with the gospel principles of the Bible in their heart. And they voted – not for a candidate. They voted for a platform.”
 
Blair shared stage time with his son, Brandon, as they preached tag-team sermons to highlight the importance of family. Another father-son duo, Hampton and Ethan Drum, also took turns preaching as part of the conference.
 
Ethan Drum said the local church was the primary institution “worth fighting for.” Ephesians 1:3-14 means the people of God are “… compelled to have supreme allegiance to [God] and His family, the church,” Drum urged.
 
Vietnam veteran Bobby Welch encouraged churches to recover an evangelistic fervor that has tangible results.
 
“Everything has a scoreboard,” said Welch, who is a former two-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention and retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla. “There is a measuring rod for everything,” he added.
 
Welch discouraged the use of church discipleship or membership classes before baptizing new converts.
 
“Nobody sends people through a class to see if they’re really saved,” he said. “You don’t get saved because you go through a class and copy your mother’s answers.”
 
Referring to the popular biblical narrative of Philip baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, Welch said, “You don’t know what happened to that Ethiopian eunuch. He may have become a Presbyterian. He may have become a Muslim. You don’t know what happened to him after he left there, but you know this – he got saved and he got baptized.
 
“Baptism is not a guarantee that a person is saved, but it is a definite indication that they’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “You get baptized because you intend to do better and live for Jesus.”
 
Tom Wagoner, lead pastor of Central Baptist Church in Dunn, called churches to remember the power of God in the lives of His people.
 
“If God can raise a man from the dead,” said Wagner, “He can raise a dead church up.”
 
In a short testimonial, Tom Martin shared his experience as a scout pilot in the Vietnam War. He said with God’s help he survived being shot down in enemy territory. The crash left Martin with burns over a significant portion of his body. Former Navy Seal Kevin Holland also told a harrowing story of survival after being shot in the chest while executing a covert operation deep in the hills of Northern Iraq. Each of the testimonies highlighted God’s redemption despite the great physical and emotional pain brought on by war, military conflict and personal failure.
 
C.J. Bordeaux, director of missions for the Pee Dee Association, shared the story of how God sustained him after losing his wife in 1981. He encouraged attendees to lean on the family of God.
 
“I hope you never lose a wife or a child, but can I tell you something?” Bordeaux said. “Your church is important.”
 
Three officers for the 2018 NCPC were elected by acclamation: Matt Capps, senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, president; Chris Griggs, lead pastor of Denver Baptist Church in Denver, vice-president; and Jonathan Blaylock, pastor of West Canton Baptist Church in Canton, secretary-treasurer.
 
The 2017 NCPC will be held Nov. 5-6 at the Koury Convention Center prior to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting.
 
11/15/2016 10:41:24 AM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



Disaster relief having impact on communities

November 15 2016 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

More than 60 people devastated by Hurricane Matthew have responded to the gospel, thanks to the ongoing relief efforts by North Carolina Baptists.
 
Members of the Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention’s (BSC) Board of Directors heard updates and testimonies about Hurricane Matthew relief and other reports during their meeting held Monday, Nov. 14 in Greensboro prior to the BSC Annual Meeting.
 
Since Hurricane Matthew dropped heavy rains that resulted in widespread flooding in eastern North Carolina, North Carolina Baptists have logged, 11,100 volunteer days, prepared 440,000 meals and completed 600 recovery jobs, said Robert Simons, president of North Carolina Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission.
 
Simons said more than 60 people have come to know Christ as a result of the relief efforts, which he said are ongoing. Simons said long term rebuild projects are planned for Lumberton, Red Springs and Windsor.
 
Alan Taylor, director of missions for the Robeson Baptist Association, shared how he has seen God work through North Carolina Baptists who have responded in Lumberton, which is one of the areas hit the hardest by Hurricane Matthew.
 
“If you need something done in a crisis, it’s time to call Baptists,” Taylor said. “The stories are endless of the opportunities that have taken place.”
 
Taylor encouraged churches to get involved by partnering with families and churches to help people put their lives back together. Baptists on Mission will be coordinating efforts to help churches partner with families and other churches to help meet needs that still exist.
 
“If we are to be the Church of Jesus Christ, we must get involved,” Taylor said. “The Great Commission starts where you are and goes to everywhere that you would ever go.”
 
Beverly Volz, director of accounting services for the BSCNC, also shared a budget update with the committee.
 
As of Oct. 31, the BSCNC has received approximately $23.6 million in Cooperative Program funds from churches, which is about 3.2 percent behind budget this year’s budget but roughly even when compared with year over year giving.
 
Volz and other convention leaders acknowledged that Hurricane Matthew had impacted Cooperative Program giving, but they encouraged churches to seek God’s will in how He would lead them to designate funds to help meet the many needs brought about by the storm.
 
“There are a lot of hurting people, and I want these churches to be led of God in what they do in missions giving,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer.
 
Hollifield also said he and Associate Executive Director-Treasurer Brian Davis have been reaching out to pastors in the 17 different Baptist associations that were impacted by Hurricane Matthew to determine if they had any specific needs.
 
“We are very concerned about pastors who are working diligently to minister in their churches and communities,” Davis said. “We were concerned that pastors were vulnerable since so many people depend on them on a regular basis and even more people do so during a crisis situation.
 
“What we’ve found is that churches and others have rallied around pastors, as pastors have rallied around others.”
 

11/15/2016 10:36:50 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Leaders expect long recovery after Matthew flooding

November 15 2016 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Content Editor

Now that more than a month has passed since Hurricane Matthew, “most people are over the initial shock,” said Alan Taylor.
 
“With any disaster, it always hits the people who are least able to handle it,” he said. “Robeson County is already a poor county. These folks don’t have anything.”

Contributed photo
Chainsaw teams are still being used in some areas across the state even though a shift is being made to finish tearout and begin reconstruction. See story on page 6 about a fundraiser.


Taylor, director of missions for Robeson Baptist Association in Lumberton, said about 20 percent of students aren’t in the school system there anymore. Another 20 percent are in a different school.
 
“It’s a long-term challenge and a long-term opportunity for the church to do what the church is supposed to do,” he said.
 
While some people’s lives are returning to normal, leaders are saying recovery in some areas is going to last at least three years. Manna One, Baptists on Mission’s largest feeding unit, shut down its service Nov. 9 as leaders shift focus to the recovery process.
 
Taylor said the area of west Lumberton was the most affected by the flooding. West Lumberton Baptist Church lost two buildings. In his association, Taylor said only one pastor has to rebuild after the damage.
One of the most discouraging and shocking events for Taylor was the unexpected death of a 33-year-old pastor from Fairmont First Baptist Church. “He got that church focused on reaching people and doing ministry,” Taylor said.
 
He has been encouraged by the aggressive response of some of the churches to the needs in their area.
 
“None of these people had flood insurance because they couldn’t afford it,” he said. “With some of the people, you’re meeting needs of ongoing poverty. If it had happened in an upscale area of Raleigh, the feeding unit might have been there for a few days, but they would have handled the issue and moved on. So many people lost everything they have.”
 
The flooding destroyed “a chunk of Section 8 housing,” Taylor said, “on top of everything else.”

Contributed photo
Prayer, like from this First Baptist Church in Hendersonville team, is most needed, said Alan Taylor, director of missions for Robeson Baptist Association. While this team was serving in Eastern Baptist Association, more volunteers are needed throughout the state for tearout and recovery efforts after the devastation left by Hurricane Matthew.


Taylor said they have seen salvations occurring when they have done distribution and elsewhere.
 
“Churches are getting desperately involved in their communities,” he said. “They are really touching people’s lives … people who are helpless, and who are, unfortunately without Christ, hopeless.”
Dating back to the first century, Taylor said Christians respond to crisis. “We do our best work in the middle of a crisis,” he stressed.
 
“We eat crisis for breakfast.”
 
Baptists on Mission, also known as North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), is looking at opening a site in Lumberton that could house up to 100 people.
 
Even though Red Springs Mission Camp is located in Robeson County, the commute to Lumberton takes teams anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. The county is the largest – measured by land area – in North Carolina. That site would then be sending teams to help in Bladen County.
 
“I don’t think enough people know the valuable resources that we have … and [are being] used for the Kingdom of God through North Carolina Baptist Men.”
 
Taylor mentioned that workers there were mainly hourly and had not worked for three or more weeks. Any money the association has received has been converted into store gift cards so people can take care of daily needs.
 
“The most traumatic thing is taking the van and driving through some areas that I hadn’t seen yet and, block after block after block, everyone’s world piled up next to the road to be picked up and thrown away,” Taylor said.
 
“You know from the house, they don’t have anything else. Their whole life has been there. That’s discouraging. We better figure out a way to help them.”
 
According to Gaylon Moss, NCBM disaster relief coordinator, more than 700 people were expected Nov. 11-12 to provide tearout teams and chainsaw work across 12 locations: Kelly, Elizabethtown, Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Hope Mills, Kinston, Lumberton, Fair Bluff, Red Springs, Tarboro, Warsaw and Windsor.
 
The work in North Carolina has drawn in other states to volunteer as well. He said teams from Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia are currently providing tearout and chainsaw teams.
 
As of Nov. 10, Moss estimated 84,000 volunteer hours; 440,000 hot meals produced; 1,900 laundry loads; 5,000 showers; and 536 recovery jobs completed. 
 
Paul Langston, NCBM mission mobilization consultant, expressed his appreciation for Richard Weeks. Weeks serves as the director of missions in Eastern Baptist Association, where Langston previously worked.
 
“Cashie Baptist Church in Windsor was a recovery site before Matthew,” Langston said. After Matthew, there was 14 inches of water in the fellowship hall. Church members and volunteers cleaned it up the Oct. 16 weekend so the church could reopen as a Baptists on Mission recovery site.
 
In an Oct. 30 email from Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director, said a small church in West Virginia recently donated $15,000 to the organization.
 
“I was so touched to think about how churches and Christians give sacrificially to help hurting people in Jesus’ name,” Brunson said. “I am so thankful for this and other churches and individuals who pray, give and go.”
 
Brunson posted the news on Facebook, and he was contacted by a woman who grew up in that church in Mt. Nebo, W.Va.
 
The people there were impressed with a group who responded to their flooding devastation earlier this year.
 
Taylor requested prayer before anything else.
 
He also encouraged groups to come help. Teams are needed to remove furniture, floors, walls and more. Some sites are providing meals lodging and meals free to those who volunteer. Youth are also welcome. Call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5596, or visit baptistsonmission.org/HurricaneMatthew.
 
Partnerships with flood-affected families or churches are available. Contact Kailyn Eskridge at keskridge@ncbaptist.org.
 
Send money to NCBM, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. Designate for Hurricane Matthew. For online donation go to: baptistsonmission.org.
 

11/15/2016 10:29:55 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



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