October 2011

Quake stirs fear among Hindus, Buddhists

October 27 2011 by Neisha Fuson, Baptist Press

INDIA ­– “Prabuu. Prabuu. Prabuu,” the Nepalese man chanted with force in his lungs as the walls began to crack and the earth beneath him shook violently.

He stood from where he knelt in a door frame when the shaking subsided in northeast India, checked around his business to see if there was any damage and tried to contact his family.

A week later, the man shuddered as he remembered that night’s 40 seconds of terror in India’s Sikkim state when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Sept. 18.

The Nepalese word “prabuu” means “god” or “lord.” The man screamed out – as many Nepalese in the region did that night – to a generic god.

Most Nepalese are Hindu or Buddhist, adhering to works-based religions. In northeast India, it is commonly believed that the gods were displeased with their worship and sent the earthquake as punishment.

Chase Tozer, a Southern Baptist representative working in northern India, said most people remain in shock. Several hundred people in the area are immigrants who work on road and construction projects that were hit by the earthquake or landslides that followed. The workers are leaving in droves to return to their hometowns.
10-27-11quake.jpg

Photo by Neisha Fuson

People in the northern Indian state of Sikkim line the street in Mangan. Many people are afraid after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake and are living in fear of another earthquake that astrologers say is on the way.

Astrologers in Sikkim have told everyone another earthquake is coming, Tozer said.

According to Timothy, a national partner, people are living in fear that has intensified since the earthquake.

Posted on several roads in the affected area are signs that read, “Post disaster precautions: 1. Don’t panic. 2. Don’t listen to rumors. 3. Drink only water, no alcohol,” as if the basic lessons would help suspend or tame the fear and hopelessness that dwells inside people.

Instead of opening a door to reach the region’s Nepalese with the gospel, fear may hinder efforts as people believe they have to work harder to please their gods and be more devoted following the earthquake, Tozer said. It’s another spiritual barrier.

Joseph Silwal, a pastor in Sikkim, said society and tradition play a major role in the rejection of the gospel.

“Some people know the name of Jesus,” Silwal said. “They know the gospel, but the problem is their fear of society.”

For a Hindu or Buddhist, choosing to become a Christian is synonymous with choosing to abandon family, friends and culture. New Christians often are shunned, persecuted and left to fend for themselves.

Religious traditions have been evident as people try to deal with the earthquake’s aftermath.

At one village, Buddhist monks read, chanted and worshiped for 10 hours. A normal worship time lasts only an hour.

People would like to cremate the dead, but countless bodies buried beneath homes and mud are unrecoverable. Traditionally there is a special ceremony in which monks pray for the soul of the dead and then proceed with a cremation service. If a body is never found and given a proper ceremony, then the soul is never set free, according to Nepalese beliefs.

But Tozer and national partners know how they can lead the hurting to comfort.

“(I want to share) about God’s eternity ... and His role as Shepherd in our lives,” Tozer said.

He and his family witnessed firsthand the Lord’s protection as they changed travel plans and arrived at their destination one day earlier than anticipated. If they had traveled as planned, they would have driven on a road that was wiped away in the landslides.

Tozer hopes to share this testimony with people in the days to come.

“(God) will put us in the right place at the right time,” he said. “He knows what tomorrow brings, and He supplies our every need – all as our Shepherd.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Neisha Fuson writes for The Alabama Baptist, online at thealabamabaptist.org. Some names were changed for security reasons.)
10/27/2011 1:06:28 PM by Neisha Fuson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Teens leave churches seen as judgmental

October 27 2011 by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Why do young Christians leave the church?
 
New research by the Barna Group finds they view churches as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive and unfriendly towards doubters. They also consider congregations antagonistic to science and say their Christian experience has been shallow.
 
The findings, the result of a five-year study, are featured in “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith,” a new book by Barna president David Kinnaman. The project included a study of 1,296 young adults who were current or former churchgoers.
 
Researchers found that almost three out of five young Christians (59 percent) leave church life either permanently or for an extended period of time after age 15.
 
One in four 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church.” One in three said “Church is boring.”
 
Clashes between church expectations and youths’ experience of sexuality have driven some away. One in six young Christians said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” And 40 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Catholics said their church’s doctrine on sexuality and birth control is “out of date.”
 
Kinnaman called the problem of young dropouts from church “particularly urgent” since many churches are used to “traditional” young adults who leave home, get educated, find a job and start a family before age 30.
 
“Churches are not prepared to handle the ‘new normal,’” said Kinnaman. “However, the world for young adults is changing in significant ways, such as their remarkable access to the world and worldviews via technology, their alienation from various institutions, and their skepticism toward external sources of authority, including Christianity and the Bible.”
10/27/2011 1:03:41 PM by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



Judge blocks part of Woman’s Right to Know Act

October 26 2011 by BR staff

GREENSBORO – A new law requiring an ultrasound image be shown to pregnant women was blocked Tuesday by a federal judge.
 
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles’ decision highlights part of what is called the “Woman’s Right to Know” act passed in July by the N.C. Senate and House, overturning a veto by Gov. Beverly Perdue.
 
The new law was supposed to take effect Oct. 26.
 
“It is unfortunate that the abortion industry, embodied by the plaintiffs in this case, is so opposed to a woman meeting her child before deciding to terminate her pregnancy,” said Paul Stam, House majority leader, R-Wake, in a statement.
 
Eagles said providers do not have to show the ultrasound image to pregnant women nor do they have to describe a baby’s features or offer to allow the woman to hear the heartbeat. Other parts of the law, however, can be enforced. Women seeking an abortion are required to wait 24 hours before having an abortion.
 
Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed suit in September vowing to protect the rights of women and physicians.
 
A spokeswoman for the state attorney general’s office indicated that its attorneys were reviewing the ruling.
 
Another hearing on arguments is set in December.

10/26/2011 3:36:52 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



N.C. Baptists minister behind bars

October 26 2011 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

Substituting another meal for meatloaf doesn’t sound like a big deal to many people.
 
But on a September Tuesday at Johnston Correctional Institution in Smithfield North Carolina Baptists bought and prepared an alternative to the inmates’ least favorite meal.
 
“The food was piled up on their plates,” said Kelton Hinton, associational missionary for Johnston Baptist Association. “Many said ‘thank you.’ Some said ‘God bless you.’ I felt satisfied that they knew who we were and they appreciated their gesture.”
 
Feeding 650 inmates and staff took some planning, Hinton said.

Dade Sherman, former chaplain at the facility and member of Smithfield First Baptist Church, made the event happen. Smithfield First provided funds for the project. Clyde’s Chapel Baptist cooked the chicken, beans and potatoes. Woman’s Missionary Union groups in various churches supplied the desserts. Eight volunteers – from Smithfield First, Clyde’s Chapel, Micro First Baptist Church, Pisgah Baptist and Princeton Baptist – went into the prison to serve.
 
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BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Volunteers give manicures to inmates at Camp Mundo Vista. Women from five minimum security facilities across the state took part in the annual retreat that is held by the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina. Visit
photo gallery.

Sherman has helped spearhead several community-wide events over the years, including a law enforcement appreciation banquet in April and feeding faculty and staff at area schools. Hinton said volunteers have previously fed breakfasts or supper to prison staff.
 
With the severe cuts to the Department of Correction budget earlier this year, North Carolina lost 26 full-time chaplain positions from its medium and minimum security prisons. Sherman was one of those chaplains. He had served as a chaplain for 11 years. Some legislators justified the cuts by saying volunteers could provide these services to inmates.
 
An act passed in 2000 puts government in charge of ensuring prisoners are able to practice their religion freely. Because of the budget cuts, state officials fear lawsuits are certain.
 
But Johnston association is not the only group of N.C. Baptists working in prisons. Churches across the state have prison ministries. From providing Bible leaders to training people to join the workforce upon their release, N.C. Baptists are finding ways to minister to prisoners.

Prison retreat
Each year the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) hosts a prison retreat at Camp Mundo Vista for female prisoners in North Carolina. The funds are provided by the Heck Jones Offering. Even though the budget for North Carolina has been cut, the state still provided transportation for the inmates and staff to come on the retreat.
 
Because these prisons are minimum security, the inmates have more freedom to work off site as well as to get special permission to go to this retreat. They are accompanied by correction officers.
 
This year’s retreat brought 50 inmates and 10 prison staff. They represented all five minimum security women’s prisons. The retreat attracted 42 WMU-NC volunteers from across the state.
 
Deborah Lockey, youth and senior adult minister at First Baptist Church in Morehead City, provided the music, and Mary Ellen Bowman, a member at First Baptist Church in Wilmington and leader of Christian Women’s Job Corps, was the main speaker.
 
Bowman gave the ladies an overview of the Bible, explaining where the Old Testament and New Testament are and pointed out the index in the front that would direct them to certain pages.
 
“The things I do to myself … who do I blame?” Bowman said. “I realize how broken I am. Broken and spilled out – that’s the only place you can even be healed.”
 
Bowman talked about chaos in her home life.
 
“I didn’t realize I was going down, down, down,” she said. “I didn’t realize I walked with my head down. I was a mess.”
 
“I knew Jesus but life had defeated me.”
 
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Contributed photo
Men from Clyde’s Chapel Baptist Church in Wendell prepare chicken to take to the Johnston Correctional Institution in Smithfield. Volunteers recently took in a meal to feed 650 inmates and staff at the facility.

She gave the women a paper plate and a trash bag. She asked them to write things that have angered them or brought them down or even things that had excited or pleased them.
 
One by one the ladies came and distributed the trashbags with their baggage written on plates at the foot of the cross.
 
“I think it makes our job easier,” said Lt. Jeraldine Briggs, a corrections officer at Fountain Correctional Center for Women.
 
Briggs, who had come for a second year to the retreat, said the people who lead the retreat “are wonderful.”
 
Briggs participated in the fashion show they have for the ladies each year. The retreat offers them three days of devotions about God’s love for them and allows them to participate in a fashion show, talent show, arts and craft, and recreation.
 
“The first year you knew it has to be God,” said Gwen Minter, who works at Raleigh Correctional Center for Women. “They came with love. It’s like a revival.”
 
Minter said each prison has various ways to pick the women who participate, but they all have to be infraction free.
 
Joan Ascue, who has volunteered for 10 years, works with a former inmate to do seminars, usually at WMU-NC events. A member of Island Creek Baptist Church in Henderson, Ascue said when she was asked to volunteer, she thought, “What could I do?”
 
She’s been coming ever since. This year she had six women in her cabin. One gets out in 40 days and another in December 2012. The ladies are already talking about supporting one another through their final days in the prison and during their transition.
 
“I’ve met some of the most wonderful women,” she said.
 
Joyce Rogers called Camp Mundo Vista “holy ground,” for the volunteers, the prisoners and the prison staff.
 
A member at First Baptist Church in Asheboro, Rogers lives nearby and she and her Sunday School class have adopted the camp as a service project. Several members of her class volunteered to help with the retreat, including giving manicures to some of the ladies.
 
“I have often said I’ve been on mission trips all over the world but this is the best mission trip I’ve ever been on,” Rogers said.
 
“We find they’re just like us. Everybody has a story.”
 
Rogers hopes the inmates feel the love that God has for them through this service opportunity. She prays they come away knowing God’s love and that they are important to a caring, heavenly Father.

Hard job
Hinton said prison chaplains have a hard job. They have to help all the inmates with their religions, no matter their personal beliefs.
 
“In the absence of the chaplains, the program personnel have stepped up to the plate as far as coordination of speakers and groups coming in so the inmates are still being served, but it’s being handled by folks who are more in the educational arm,” he said. “I don’t know how long that will last.
 
They’re doing two jobs instead of one.”
 
Chaplains supervise when Muslims meet as well as Wiccans. They have to find the materials for services. “The chaplains have to serve everyone,” Hinton said, no matter their personal beliefs.
 
Hinton said the prison is a “unique environment.” Before this recent visit, Hinton said it never struck him that prisoners would get excited about trees.
 
“It just caught me,” he said of his encounter with an inmate who had recently transferred. The inmate was so excited because from his cell window he could see trees.
 
“It just gave me a little glimpse of what it feels like … not to have your freedom.”
 

Ideas for getting ministry started

  • Request a guided tour of local jails/prisons
  • Contact the chaplain or program coordinator to discern needs
  • Provide paperback New Testaments in English and Spanish for inmates
  • Donate quality reading material for libraries
  • Tutor in English and reading
  • Share your prison ministry experience with your church and association
  • Ask your church or association to put your local jail ministry as a line item in its budget
10/26/2011 3:24:36 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Pastor’s Conference to focus on powerful Word

October 26 2011 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

Hebrews 1:3 promises believers that Jesus Christ is always “sustaining all things by his powerful word,” which is a wonderful reminder of the awesome power of Jesus Christ. So powerful is His word that the physical universe is dependent upon it for survival. Not only does Jesus Christ sustain the universe through His spoken word, He also provides spiritual power to Christians through the Bible, His written word.
 
At every level of existence believers are sustained by His powerful word, and that profound truth is the theme of this year’s North Carolina Baptist Pastor’s Conference.
 
The two-day conference will be held Nov. 6-7 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro in conjunction with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Annual Meeting.
 
As in years past, great Bible expositors from within North Carolina and across the United States will speak at this year’s event.
 
Bobby Blanton, conference president and pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, said the theme has been the driving force behind all his preparations for the conference.
 
“I have confidence that the messages preached by the outstanding servants of God in this year’s conference will reflect the Holy Spirit’s desire to make application to the pastors attending in whatever their particular circumstance,” Blanton said.
 
“I’m hopeful that they will be challenged in areas needing addressing, while at the same time encouraged and sustained in areas of difficulty that they may be wrestling with in ministry.”
 
This year’s line-up of speakers includes:
  • Logan Carson, distinguished professor of Christian theology (Ret.), The College at Southeastern, Wake Forest
  • Greg Mathis, senior pastor, Mud Creek Baptist Church, Hendersonville
  • Lee Pigg, senior pastor, Hopewell Baptist Church, Monroe
  • Clayton King, founder and president, Crossroads Worldwide, 
Shelby
  • Larry Wynn, vice president of evangelism, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Ga.
  • John Bisagno, pastor emeritus, First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
  • David Dykes, senior pastor, Green Acres Baptist Church, Tyler, Texas
In addition to the various messages from God’s Word, the conference will feature a question and answer session that Blanton designed with younger pastors in mind.
 
“This is an opportunity to give our younger leaders some practical insights in ministry from two experienced pastors who have been there and done that,” he said.
 
Bisagno and Wynn, who have more than 68 years of combined experience in full-time pastoral ministry, will field questions from the audience during the session.
 
More than anything, Blanton prays the conference is a blessing and encouragement to all who attend, regardless of age or experience.
 
“The pastors who attend this conference often find themselves wrestling with a variety of emotions and issues that make them hungry to hear a sustaining word,” he said.
 
“I know that personally, whatever my particular situation at the time, God has used this conference through the years to teach me and to strengthen my relationship with Him. I pray that we will be challenged to desire more of God’s Word and to know Him more through His Word.”
 
The conference begins at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, and ends at 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7. For more information on the conference visit ncannualmeeting.org; click on Information and Pastor’s Conference.
10/26/2011 3:17:07 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Turkey quake: survivors ‘need aid fast’

October 26 2011 by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press

ERCIS, Turkey – In eastern Turkey, hard-hit by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake Oct. 23, the living are still being pulled from the rubble – a two-week-old baby, a pregnant mother, a grandmother, according to BBC News.

Officials say the death toll is at 366, with at least 1,300 injured. The death toll continues to rise, but rescue teams are still finding people alive under mounds of concrete and steel with the help of dogs, as well as texts from trapped victims, according to the BBC.

“Thankfully it appears that the loss of life may not be as significant as originally feared, although it is still very early,” said Tim Graham*, a Christian worker in the region.

The earthquake dealt the hardest blow to Ercis, a city near the Iranian border, although surrounding cities also sustained damage. An estimated 380,000 people – mostly Kurds – live in the area, which is situated near a fault line. More than 100 aftershocks were recorded after the quake, according to the Associated Press.

“The number of buildings destroyed is relatively small, but many others are likely damaged and may be uninhabitable,” Graham said.

Survivors of the earthquake need aid fast, said Charlie Hawkins*, another Christian work in the region.

“People have died. Many others are suffering,” Hawkins said. “Southern Baptists are helping.”

Gifts through the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon and other channels “allow us to respond to this earthquake and other disasters very quickly. Through your help, we are meeting immediate, real needs and showing the love of Christ,” Hawkins said.

“There will likely be ongoing needs in various locations,” Graham said. “Please pray for those involved in assessing these needs and determining how we can best serve the residents and show Christ's love in tangible ways.”

*Names changed.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ava Thomas is a writer/editor for the International Mission Board based in Europe.)

10/26/2011 3:13:36 PM by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Ed Yount grateful for time to serve

October 25 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Back when Ed Yount wanted to be a basketball coach he wrote to Dean Smith, head coach for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill men’s basketball team, and asked him for advice. He not only got a letter back, he got some advice that he has never forgotten: teach your young men how to do more than play basketball.
 
Yount did not grow up to be a coach on the court, but “God still lets me coach. It’s just in a different way,” he said.
 
While attending Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Yount began his ministry as a pastor and has pastored ever since. Yount, outgoing president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), has pastored Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover since 1993.
 
As a pastor, Yount invests his life into serving other people and to helping them fulfill the purposes God has for their lives. He helps people understand how to apply God’s Word to their lives and how to live out the gospel.
 
Although God has blessed Yount with a fruitful ministry, Yount said his calling into full-time, vocational ministry was a gradual one. Pastoring was far from his mind while working on his physical education degree at Lenoir-Rhyne University.
 
Yount began understanding God’s call on his life during his senior year. He completed his physical education degree and added a minor in religion. He went on to earn his master of divinity from Southeastern and doctor of ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
 
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Ed Yount
When Yount came to Woodlawn 18 years ago – when the church included about 165 people – he came with a conviction to stay until God called him elsewhere. “I made a commitment to stay there if that was what God wanted me to do. I felt like God had called me to that particular place for a long-term ministry,” he said.
 
Longevity has allowed Yount to walk with his congregation through transitions and challenges, and in doing so, to see God work through them all. “When you are with a church for this long you are able to grow with your people as you go through the challenges,” he said. “Make sure you love your people through the changes. People will follow you if they know you love them and really care.”
 
Longevity has also helped Yount learn how to involve other people in ministry. “As a pastor, you can’t do it all. Empower people to use their gifts, and then let them use their gifts,” he said.
 
More than 800 people now attend Woodlawn, the church has transitioned from one Sunday morning service to three, and more staff members have been added. Yount attributes the steady growth throughout the years to faithful devotion to scripture. “The church has been built on God’s Word. They study the Word of God,” he said.
 
Childhood friends have come to faith in Jesus Christ, and Yount is now their pastor. Yount said seeing lives transformed is “a testimony to the Word of God and what it can do in the heart of a believer.”
 
Yount has heard many stories and seen firsthand over the past two years how God is working in the hearts of North Carolina Baptists. “Hands down, what I have enjoyed the most about serving as president of the Convention is the people I’ve gotten to meet and the friends I’ve made. We have North Carolina Baptists all over the state who truly love the Lord. I have sensed God’s spirit among them.”
 
Before becoming president Yount served two years as BSC vice president. He has also served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, chaired the Giving Plans Study Committee, served as a member of the Board of Directors for Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute and as trustee for the International Mission Board.
 
Yount has also enjoyed preaching and visiting in smaller North Carolina churches, building relationships with next generation leaders, and having an opportunity to help communicate to North Carolina Baptists the vision Convention leaders have for impacting the state and the world with the gospel.
 
As president and as a pastor, challenges come from all different directions. The thing to remember is to keep seeking God’s heart and God’s Kingdom, Yount said.
 
“God has taught me not to look at anything else I see or hear, but to keep my focus right on the Lord. I have to fasten my heart and eyes on the Lord.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Elections for BSC president will be held Nov. 8 during the Tuesday morning session of the annual meeting in Greensboro. Visit ncannualmeeting.org. Find related stories about the Baptist State Convention of 2011 here.)

10/25/2011 2:16:05 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Boston planting team sees lostness ‘all around’

October 25 2011 by Carol Pipes, Baptist Press

BOSTON – Basketball takes teamwork. As the freshman boys basketball coach at Medford High School, Tanner Turley strives to teach his players the importance of working together rather than relying on one or two standout players to win games.
 
He has the same goal as pastor of Redemption Hill Church in Medford, Mass., five miles from downtown Boston.

Turley, a Nehemiah church planter missionary with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), moved to Medford last year with his wife Marsha to lead a church planting team that includes two other families – Jon and Leigh Chasteen and Josh and Jessica Miller – and US/C2 missionary Abbey Cook.
 
“It’s been a tremendous blessing to share the load of ministry with others who are likeminded, who have the same biblical vision for the church and who are committed to living out the gospel together in the context of a team environment and community of faith,” Turley said of the team planting model.
 
The Medford team initially focused on investing in the community.
 
“We spent a lot of time just practicing hospitality, trying to get to know our neighbors with the intention of both displaying the gospel to them and also sharing the gospel,” Turley said. “About a month after we arrived, we initiated our first community group.”
 
The small group met for prayer, Bible study and to encourage one another in the faith. The team watched as God brought people to them who were looking for a new church, as well as nonbelievers who visited their community group and heard the gospel for the first time.
 
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BP photo
From left, Josh Miller, Jon Chasteen, Tanner Turley and Abbey Cook are part of the church-planting team for Redemption Hill Church in Medford, Mass., five miles from downtown Boston. Turley, a NAMB church-planting missionary, has led the team since last year.

“Community groups provide a context where we can build up our core group and seek to make disciples with intentionality,” Turley said.
 
That first group quickly grew to two community groups and then three. In April they started gathering for Sunday worship services.
 
So what brings a Kentucky native to Boston to plant a church? Turley credits his time at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and joining a church-planting church – Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh.
 
“God used that to open my eyes to the need for new churches, not only all around the world but especially here in North America,” Turley said, so he began to pray about the possibility of church planting.
 
“I felt like the Lord put a couple of desires in my heart – to get outside of the Bible Belt and to get to a major city,” Turley said.
 
After a trip to Boston to watch a Red Sox game – he’s a big fan – Turley began to ask the question: Why not Boston?

“It was through that trip that God started to stir my heart for this city,” Turley said.
 
After much prayer, research and several trips to the city, Turley was sure the Lord was leading his family to plant a church in Medford. They packed their bags and moved to Medford in June 2010.
 
New England in general is one of the most unreached areas of the nation, Turley said, noting that most of the people they meet in New England have no understanding of who God is or who God is in Christ.
 
“We’re constantly reminded of the lostness that’s all around us,” he said.

“One of the things we really love about our community is the diversity that’s represented here,” Turley noted, referring to the college students who attend Tufts University, the young professionals who commute into the city as well as the residents who’ve lived in Medford all their lives – many of them Irish- and Italian-born.
 
“We have people from all different backgrounds, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
 
“First and foremost we want to see people come to faith in Christ, believe in Him and worship Him with their lives,” Turley said. “You have to be prepared to engage people no matter their background or worldview.”
 
Planting a church in this context certainly brings its own challenges, Turley said. “We’re forced to be on our knees, to depend on the Holy Spirit, to have confidence in the Word of God and not in our own wise and persuasive words.”
 
After a year on the mission field, Turley can’t imagine having accomplished what they’ve accomplished without his church planting team, which includes all Southern Baptists.
 
“Southern Baptists are a big part of our story,” Turley said. “We’ve learned so much about partnership through prayer and support from churches all over the U.S.”
 
Open Door Baptist is their main sending church, but they have about 10 churches that provide prayer and financial support. After a summer of engaging the community through service projects and sports events, Turley is excited about what God has planned.
 
“We cling to Christ’s promise to build His church and are trusting in His ability to grow the church and not our own ability.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Carol Pipes is a writer for the North American Mission Board. To view a video about Tanner Turley and other NAMB missionaries, visit namb.net/missionaryfocus.)

10/25/2011 2:07:36 PM by Carol Pipes, Baptist Press | with 1 comments



7.3 quake in Turkey mobilizes response

October 25 2011 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Southern Baptist disaster relief specialists are responding in the aftermath of a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck eastern Turkey the afternoon of Oct. 23.
The disaster killed at least 238 people and sent tens of thousands into the streets as apartment and office buildings collapsed or cracked, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The hardest-hit area was Ercis, an eastern city of 75,000 near the Iranian border, which lies on one of Turkey’s most earthquake-prone zones, the AP reported. The provincial capital, Van, about 55 miles to the south, also sustained substantial damage. More than 100 aftershocks were recorded within 10 hours of the quake, including one with a magnitude of 6.0.

The Baptist Global Response (BGR) disaster network has mobilized teams to respond to the earthquake, said Patrick J. Melancon, BGR’s managing director of disaster response and training. A five-member assessment team is on the ground now.

“Teams are within hours of arriving in the area with tarps and other supplies to assist survivors,” Melancon said. “The teams are a part of the network of responders trained by Baptist Global Response to provide both rapid response and longer-term assessments during a crisis like this one. These teams provide local response capability wherever the teams may reside.”

Damage in areas outlying the quake’s epicenter also is a concern and is being assessed as well, Melancon said. Estimates of loss of life are still pending as rescue teams attempt to find survivors in the rubble.

The area is primarily populated by Kurds with a total population of around 380,000, Melancon noted. Residents in Van and Ercis lit campfires and spent the night outdoors, while the Red Crescent began setting up tents in a stadium, the AP noted.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior writer and assistant editor Mark Kelly.)
10/25/2011 2:04:49 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Baptist Children’s Homes changed Kourri’s life

October 24 2011 by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications

Kourri perches herself on the rail of the small pier. With fishing rod in hand, the teen casts her line across the shimmering lake. The bobber attached to the line makes a soft “plop” as it impacts the water’s surface. Her father Steven smiles approvingly as he casts his own line.
 
The afternoon weather is a bit too warm for the fish to be biting. The bobbers resting atop the tepid lake water barely move. But that doesn’t matter to father and daughter. The two chat and laugh making the most of their special time together.
 
The lake is a familiar sight to Kourri, one that she sees every day. It is the beautiful centerpiece of Broyhill Home in Clyde where the 16-year-old has lived for two years. Kourri’s life, and her relationship with her family, has completely changed since coming to Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) mountain campus.
 
“I have a better bond with my dad. My bond’s getting better with my biological mom,” Kourri said.  “My stepmom is practically my real mom. And I love her.”
 
Before Broyhill Home, Kourri’s family lost everything due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Kourri moved with her father, stepmother and sisters from their home in Louisiana to North Carolina. But instead of a new start, turmoil developed within the family. The loss from the storm coupled with the lingering shadow of past family trauma took its toll. Kourri spiraled downward.
 
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BCH photo

Kourri has met her Savior Jesus at Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH). Her stay at BCH has been supported by North Carolina Baptists through the annual offering in November. Resources to promote the offering are available at bchfamily.org/offering.
“It was real bad,” Steven remembers. He knew his family needed help.
 
The family turned to Baptist Children’s Homes. “It’s just a good place for a child to come into a good, structured, Christian environment and learn. And the parents can learn, too.”
 
At Broyhill Home, things began to change as the Christian houseparents and staff cared for Kourri by showing her God’s unfailing love.
 
“We give these children unconditional love,” said houseparent Lou Arnsdorff. “It doesn’t matter what they’ve done.”
 
The teen’s heart was stirred by the witness of her houseparents and services at Woodland Baptist Church in Waynesville, her cottage’s home church. And in November 2009, the most important change in Kourri’s life occurred.
 
“Me and my best friend Shawna got saved,” Kourri recounts. Her smile widens as she talks about the day. “It was while we were in youth group. We were talking about Revelation and how everybody sins. We need to confess them and ask God for forgiveness.”
 
Since that day, houseparent Alicia Wilkerson has seen Kourri blossom. “She’s changed immensely – her attitude and desires. She’s one of the most loving children I’ve ever come across. Kourri will put anybody before herself.”
 
“The Lord means everything,” Kourri said. “He’s what keeps me going every day. And knowing He’s by my side makes me happy.”
 
That happiness radiates from Kourri wherever she goes and to whomever she comes across.
 
“She loves the Lord, and she shares that with everybody,” Arnsdorff said. “She wants them to know what a difference the Lord has made in her life.”
 
Through Baptist Children’s Homes, Kourri’s relationship with her family has been healed. The teen continues to live at Broyhill Home because Steven believes it is the very best place for his daughter.
“If I wasn’t here at Broyhill, or without any of these people in my life, I wouldn’t be the same person,” Kourri says. “I just wouldn’t be me. This is a new Kourri.”
 
Kourri’s life is changed because of the prayers and support of North Carolina Baptists. Seventy percent of the residents who come into Baptist Children’s Homes’ care are unchurched and unaware of Christ’s life-changing love. Participating in this year’s Annual Offering helps BCH share God’s love with boys and girls like Kourri. Visit bchfamily.org/offering to view Kourri’s video. Call (800) 476-3669, ext. 1209, to order free offering promotional materials for your church.
 

The Week of Prayer – Nov. 13-20

Set aside a week to pray for Baptist Children’s Homes and use this guide as you pray. BCH covets your prayers. As you pray, remember you are a part of “helping hurting children … healing broken families.”
  • Sunday. Pray for all children and families in North Carolina.
  • Monday. Pray for all the hundreds of children and families to whom we offer hope each year.
  • Tuesday. Pray for all the dedicated houseparents, residential care givers, and chiefs who give of themselves around the clock to care for our boys and girls.
  • Wednesday. Pray for our social workers who guide, encourage and challenge our children and families to be all that God intends.
  •  Thursday. Pray for those who live at BCH’s nine statewide homes for developmentally disabled adults.
  • Friday. Pray that you will be sensitive to hurting children in your community.
  • Saturday. Pray for BCH president Michael C. Blackwell as he leads the institution boldly into the future.
  • Sunday. Pray BCH’s residents will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
10/24/2011 2:40:37 PM by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications | with 0 comments



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