October 2015

Annual Meeting to emphasize disciple-making

October 7 2015 by Chad Austin BSC Communications

Messengers and attendees at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) will be encouraged and challenged to “echo” the love and message of Jesus to others during this year’s meeting.
“Echo: Reproducing Gospel Life in Others” is the theme for this year’s annual meeting, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 2-3 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. The theme is based on 2 Timothy 2:2 which describes the disciple-making process and how it is passed on from generation to generation.


In the theme verse, the Apostle Paul admonishes his young apprentice Timothy to take the truths of God that he had learned from Paul and teach those truths to others who would, in turn, teach them to others, as well. The passage reveals a pattern for disciple-making that involves investing one’s life in others so that the gospel and its application to life is continually reproduced in subsequent generations.
This year’s theme aligns with the BSC’s strategy of impacting lostness through disciple-making and was selected by members of the BSC Committee on Convention Meetings after much prayer and deliberation.
“The theme of the 2015 Annual Meeting has been derived with the desire for all churches within the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to ‘echo’ the very words of Paul,” said Josh Phillips, chair of the Committee on Convention Meetings. “The BSCNC has become very intentional in its approach to disciple-making. The theme of these year’s Annual meeting is intended to promote and support the direction that our great convention is heading.”
Timmy Blair Sr., BSC president and pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier, will deliver the annual president’s address sermon on Monday evening. Lee Pigg, senior pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe, will deliver the convention sermon Tuesday night.
Messengers will also hear an update from BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. during the Tuesday morning session.
In addition, representatives from a variety of BSC ministries, as well as other ministries and organizations, will be on hand in the exhibit halls to answer questions, network and explore ministry partnership opportunities.
Throughout the entire schedule of annual meeting activities, attendees will be equipped and encouraged to make disciples in the everyday rhythms and routines of daily life. Several breakout sessions conducted by convention staff members, pastors, denominational leaders, lay leaders and others will provide biblical and practical ideas about how to “echo” the gospel and reproduce gospel life in others based on the example of Jesus and the words of Paul.
Breakout sessions will cover topics that include evangelism, church renewal, church revitalization, missions, prayer, small groups, women’s ministry and more.
More information about this year’s annual meeting is available online at ncannualmeeting.org. Visit the website to make room reservations and check out the complete annual meeting schedule. Make plans now to attend this year’s annual meeting in Greensboro to learn how God can use you to be an “echo” for His name and reproduce gospel life in others.

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10/7/2015 9:52:36 AM by Chad Austin BSC Communications | with 0 comments

S.C. Baptists prepare for ‘marathon’ of work

October 7 2015 by Butch Blume, The Baptist Courier

A South Carolina Baptist disaster relief official is predicting it will take years for the state to recover from the extensive flooding of the past two days.
“This is much bigger than [the recovery from] Hurricane Hugo,” said Randy Creamer, disaster relief coordinator for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Creamer said the flooding that has prompted 10 counties or municipalities to declare states of emergency has caused more widespread damage than did Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into the state’s coastline in September 1989.
Creamer said the recovery will be “a marathon, not a 100-yard dash.”


He said Baptist relief workers set up a feeding operation on Oct. 5 in Richland County, one of the state’s hardest-hit areas, to provide meals for first responders and workers from the county and the City of Columbia.
Creamer said a number of Baptist associations across the state, including Columbia Metro Association, have “taken the lead” in setting up shelters for people displaced by floodwaters. “There’s a lot going on out there that I won’t hear about for a few weeks,” Creamer said.
As the floodwaters recede in the coming days, Southern Baptist teams from churches and associations across the state will coordinate with Creamer’s office to provide disaster relief services – including feeding tents, laundry facilities, and mud-out and chainsaw operations – to affected areas.
In the meantime, Creamer suggests directors of missions and pastors look for opportunities to help those affected by the floods in their own communities. “Take care of the needs there, in your own Jerusalem,” he said.
Creamer also encouraged South Carolina Baptists to pray for victims and to consider donating money to help with the state convention’s recovery efforts. Those interested in helping were asked to visit scbaptist.org/donations-for-flood-disaster-relief. Also, see related story.
“We’ll burn through a lot of expense in the next few days buying food and helping support our teams,” he said.
Tommy Kelly, pastor of Varnville First Baptist Church and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, asked Christians to reach out to victims personally. “Find those who need help, and offer help, and do it in the name of Christ,” he said.
At least nine South Carolinians have died since a slow-moving rainstorm began on Friday. Some parts of the state saw more than 20 inches of rain. Hundreds of stranded people have been rescued from flooded homes and buildings.
Statewide, as of Monday morning, nearly 400 roads and 150 bridges have been closed, including 100 roads in Columbia. More than 26,000 are without power. Nearly 1,000 people are in shelters. Boil-water advisories are in effect for up to 40,000 people in Columbia and West Columbia.
Many churches in the Columbia area were forced to cancel services on Sunday. The offices of the South Carolina Baptist Convention were closed on Oct. 5.
At a news conference Monday morning, Gov. Nikki Haley said the danger “is not over” just because the rain has stopped, adding that it is still “a vulnerable situation.”
On Sunday, Haley said, “We are at a thousand-year level of rain. That’s how big this is.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Butch Blume is managing editor for The Baptist Courier, the news magazine of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.)

10/7/2015 9:47:44 AM by Butch Blume, The Baptist Courier | with 0 comments

Floyd makes multi-language appeal to SBC St. Louis

October 7 2015 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

Ronnie Floyd, in just over 3 and a half minutes, speaks volumes about ethnic inclusiveness within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Floyd speaks in English and, through a translator’s voice, in Spanish and Korean in a new video to invite Southern Baptists to the SBC annual meeting next June in St. Louis.
More than 3,200 Hispanic churches and church-type missions are among the 40,700-plus Southern Baptist congregations across the U.S. and its territories.
Korean churches and church-type missions number more than 840, according to the SBC’s current statistics.
“With these two language groups comprising hundreds and hundreds of our churches, we want and need them to join us in St. Louis,” said Floyd.
“With 20 percent of our churches being non-Anglo and our nation becoming filled with ethnicities from across the globe, we must understand that reaching all ethnicities with the gospel is imperative to reach America and the world for Jesus Christ.” Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, said in written comments. “This is why we want not only our Anglo churches to come to St. Louis, but all of our non-Anglo churches to join all of us.”
Across Southern Baptists’ ethnic spectrum, there are 3,500-plus African American churches and church-type missions, along with more than 430 that are Native American; 444 Haitian; 228 Chinese; 223 Multi-Ethnic; 185 Filipino; and 20 additional ethnic, language and racial groups with fewer than 100 churches each.


Guillermo Soriano, who is leading a new SBC-wide Hispanic Pastors and Leaders Network, said Floyd’s Spanish-language invitation to the convention’s 2016 annual meeting will be well-received among Hispanic Baptists.
The United States has become the second-largest Hispanic country in the world, Soriano noted, so “the presence and involvement of Hispanic Americans in our SBC” could become “one of the most effective ways” of revitalizing Southern Baptist churches that are declining or dying – “toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission with the Great Commandment.”
Soriano, who serves as North Carolina Baptists’ Hispanic evangelism and discipleship consultant, said the SBC annual meeting can be a key “opportunity to meet each other in order to build a ministry network for Kingdom purposes. Hispanic Americans would learn and understand much better our SBC structure and opportunities for inter-cultural collaboration. It could generate a disciple-making process with multigenerational implications and results.”
Paul Kim, now serving as the Asian American relations consultant with the SBC Executive Committee, commended “the creative vision with passion of Dr. Floyd” to invite non-English-speaking churches into broader involvement in Southern Baptist life.
Kim, who founded and led Boston’s Antioch Baptist Church (formerly Berkland Baptist Church) for 30 years as senior pastor, said the “first-ever Korean invitation to my fellow Korean pastors and churches … reflects the personal interest and heart of Dr. Floyd for Korean pastors and churches, saying, ‘I care for you!’ It touches our hearts.”
The video’s release comes “several months ahead to ask us to pray for the 2016 SBC meeting in St. Louis [with its theme] ‘Awaken America’ through a prayer movement for the Holy Spirit to revive our nation,” Kim added.
Floyd, in the video, states, “I am calling every pastor, every church leader and every layperson to come to St. Louis for our 2016 Southern Baptist family reunion. We have never needed to be together more than in 2016.
“With our ever-changing culture and the world becoming more dangerous by the day, now is the time for us to come together. Plus, God is moving among us mightily,” Floyd says. “Bring as many people as you can. Until we all arrive [in St. Louis next year on] June 14-15, I want to challenge you to Agree … Unite … and Pray. Yes, we need to ask God to Awaken America and to empower us to reach the world for Christ.”
Floyd also encourages Baptists to arrive in St. Louis in time to participate in the June 11 Crossover evangelistic thrust, held each year in the SBC annual meeting’s host city.
Bobby Sena, the Executive Committee’s Hispanic relations consultant, voiced a word of thanks to Floyd in a statement to Baptist Press. “Thank you for your commitment to serve all the members of the SBC family,” Sena wrote. “The videos in different languages send a powerful and positive message to the ethnic groups and show your heart and mission to the SBC! Proud of you, Hermano.”
Félix Cabrera, lead pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, said, “Dr. Floyd since his first day as SBC president showed commitment not only with his words but also in actions with Hispanic Southern Baptists.” Cabrera commended Floyd for involving Hispanic Baptists in key platform roles during this year’s SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, and in the nomination of Hispanic pastors and leaders for various SBC committee assignments.
It is “not a surprise that he is taking time to let us know that we are not only part of the SBC but also that we are valued and important,” said Cabrera, who is among the leaders of a Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance committed to advancing sound doctrine as set forth in the SBC’s 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.
Floyd’s Spanish- and Korean-language videos continue a series of initiatives by SBC leaders to broaden ethnic involvement in the convention. In 2011, for example, messengers embraced a 10-point set of recommendations for steps by the SBC president and convention entities “to foster conscious awareness of the need to be proactive and intentional in the inclusion of individuals from all ethnic and racial identities within Southern Baptist life.”
For churches intent on sending messengers to the SBC annual meeting, two messengers can register from each cooperating church that contributes to convention causes during the preceding fiscal year. Additionally, the convention will recognize 10 additional messengers from a cooperating church under one of the following options:

  • One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts which the church contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the convention’s Executive Committee for convention causes, and/or to any convention entity.

  • One additional messenger for each $6,000 the church contributes in the preceding year through the normative combination of the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for convention causes or to any SBC entity.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/7/2015 9:43:24 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Conference on transgenderism responds to challenges

October 7 2015 by Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS Communications

The transgender movement presents an unprecedented theological and cultural crisis for the church, said Southern Baptist scholars at an Oct. 5 pre-conference event, “Transgender: Transgender confusion and transformational Christianity,” at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The preconference preceded the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) annual conference, which is being held at the seminary Oct. 5-7 in Louisville, Ky. The preconference, co-sponsored by ACBC and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), is believed to be the first time evangelicals have held such an event to discuss the transgender movement.
“We have underestimated the challenge that we’re facing, and we have underestimated it in ways that betray the fact that the lessons of church history are so quickly forgotten,” said Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. “The challenge that is now presented us by this comprehensive moral revolution taking place around us is tantamount for the kind of theological challenge that the church faced in the Trinitarian and Christological controversies of the first [few] centuries.”
The preconference featured Mohler, Owen Strachan, president of the CBMW and professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College. Burk and Heath Lambert, executive director of ACBC and associate professor of biblical counseling at Southern Seminary and Boyce College, recently wrote Transforming Homosexuality, and Burk is author of What is the Meaning of Sex?


Photo by Emil Handke
A panel of R. Albert Mohler Jr., Denny Burk, James M. Hamilton Jr., and Owen Strachen discuss the transgender movement during the ACBC/CBMW preconference, Oct. 5. SBTS

In his plenary session, Mohler – whose new book about the sexual revolution, “We Cannot Be Silent,” addresses the moral revolution facing Christianity – argued that the transgender movement represents the cultural dilemma about gender and sexuality even more clearly than homosexuality. The moral revolution has expanded so rapidly as to put the “very existence of biblical Christianity” into question, he said.
“The transgender revolution presents a more acute and more comprehensive challenge than merely the issue of homosexuality,” Mohler said. “Because of the identity questions rooted in creation, the transgender revolution represents a challenge on an altogether different scale.”
Strachan presented two competing worldviews on gender during his address, juxtaposing the constructionist perspective – that all gender differences are socially cultivated and not inherent to each person – with the essentialist perspective – that gender differences are part of God’s creation design and that men and women are essentially different. One’s God-given sex, Strachan argued, does define and determine how one should live.
“We cannot be whatever we want; we cannot make ourselves whatever we would wish to be,” he said. “Our body is not supposed to be whatever we make of it. Our frame is intricately woven. How different a perspective is that than a transgenderist perspective? Our bodies are woven by God, as with a beautiful loom of creation.”
Reading the creation story in Genesis 1 as formative for gender identity, Strachan argued that manhood and womanhood are both unique and intentional. The differences are not incidental, he argued, but part of God’s purposes in creation. Therefore, girls should be encouraged to be girls, and boys should be encouraged to be boys, he said.
“We, unlike the culture, are not asking our little boys to change,” he said. “Many boys simply need a father who takes notice of them, who throws his iPhone against the wall and gets on the floor and plays with his boy and doesn’t abandon his son. That’s what the church needs more of, I think, and that’s what the culture needs more of.”
Strachan strongly opposed claims that Paul’s theology of manhood and womanhood emerge from the apostle’s confusion regarding sexual orientation. Far from being bound by his time and culture, Paul was witnessing the very creation order of God, Strachan said.
“The apostle Paul isn’t behind the times. The Apostle Paul doesn’t need education. The Apostle Paul was a living apostle of Jesus Christ who died in the name of Christ. And I will trust a slain apostle before I will trust a blogger anytime.”
Strachan encouraged the conference attendees to hold firm to their convictions, leaning on their confidence in the provision and power of God himself.
“Know that God has not messed things up. The church is not a crisis PR firm, cleaning up the messes Jesus has made. That is not our role,” he said. “God does not need new PR; God needs people who will preach the truth in love.”
During his talk, Burk emphasized the human side of the transgender debate, urging that Christians should have a posture of compassion and love toward transgender people who suffer the effects of the Fall.
“How are we going to respond in the face of this kind of conflict? This is a very real challenge,” Burk said. “Our first response should not be outrage; our first response should be heartbreak.”
Christians should be sensitive to the pain and confusion transgender people feel when they experience a conflict between their perceived gender and their biological sex. Christians should long for their redemption, recognizing that surrendering biblical truth doesn’t lead to genuine wholeness, he said.
“We aren’t being loving, we aren’t being compassionate, we’re not leading them to Christ when we in any way diminish the authority of scripture,” he said. “This is the Word of Life. When this Word speaks, God speaks. … We are not loving people if we lead them to a perspective on Scripture that goes that way.”
While popular opinion about gender continues to swing away from biblical teaching, Burk said Christians will continue to be reviled and mocked publicly by those who oppose a distinctly Christian worldview, which appears more strange and unusual at each stage of the moral revolution. The church’s faithfulness to Christ and his Word will be tested in unprecedented ways in the coming years, he said.
“For Christians to oppose those dogmas with the Word of God doesn’t just make us wrong, in the eyes of many it renders us haters and bigots and people who should be banished to the margins of polite society,” Burk said. “This is a real test for us because the stakes are so high.”
Following the three plenary sessions, Mohler, Burk, Strachan and James M. Hamilton Jr. professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary, participated in a panel moderated by Lambert.
Using the oft-debated passage about women and head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11, Strachan argued Paul had strong categories for manhood and womanhood rooted in creation. Christians should encourage and cultivate God-given gender differences in their communities, Strachan said.
“We want to be very clear to transgender people that we love them, that we share common humanity with them, and every single person in here – the most conservative person in here – has to own being a man or a being a woman,” he said. “We all must choose that regularly by the Spirit.”
During the panel, Mohler suggested that even without Christian theologians speaking out against the transgender movement during a conference, the revolution would not continue unopposed.
“If we did not have this conference, if we just shut up,” Mohler said, “I don’t believe that those who are pushing the revolution would be at peace, because I don’t think it’s just us. I believe that the conscience in them is crying out, a knowledge that they cannot deny.”
ACBC is an evangelical organization that has certified biblical counselors for 40 years. The live stream for the ACBC annual conference on homosexuality is available at sbts.edu/live.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Andrew J.W. Smith writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

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10/7/2015 9:37:35 AM by Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS Communications | with 0 comments

Pastor, daughter share gospel in Cuba

October 7 2015 by Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Witness

One Florida Baptist father is going to great lengths to make sure his children understand the importance of sharing the gospel. In fact, he and his daughter went all the way to Cuba.
Brenda Harden, 11, can now say she got to bring the Good News to a third-world, communist country.
It’s not a claim many people can make, especially a child.
Howard Harden, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Homestead, Fla., and proud father of Brenda, said while it wasn’t his first trip to Cuba, it was his favorite.
“I’ve been to Cuba eight times, but it was more fun to go with my daughter and share the gospel and translate for her,” he said.


Photo courtesy of Howard Harden
Howard and Brenda Harden

In a trip that lasted 12 days and spanned the entire island nation, the young Harden shared Christ with nearly 200 people using the EvangeCube, a puzzle-like cube that helps explain the gospel. As a result of her efforts, at least eight people made professions of faith.
Harden wrote some simplified talking points for his daughter to memorize, as well as the Bible verses to go along with the EvangeCube presentation, and then served as her translator.
Harden said having his daughter there opened up doors for them to share the gospel and gave them opportunities that they might not have had otherwise.
This was especially true with the children of Cuba.
“The other kids wanted to know what the EvangeCube was all about and they asked me to [present it],” Brenda said. “A lot of kids got to hear about it.”
In Guantanamo, near the First Baptist Church, the Hardens noticed many children milling around in the street. Pastor Harden suggested they go over and start the EvangeCube presentation to see if some of the children would stop and listen. In no time, a crowd of 40 children and adults had gathered to hear the gospel presentation.
“We were praying the police would not catch us,” Pastor Harden said. “Street preaching is illegal in Cuba.”
Brenda also met with a children’s evangelism club at the First Baptist Church of Santiago de Caney. Brenda and the Cuban students visited homes where unchurched children lived so that the children in the club could see someone their own age sharing the gospel.
“The kids were surprised to hear an 11-year-old talking about God,” Brenda said.
Aside from sharing the gospel door-to-door and at churches, the Hardens met up with the Strength Team, the traveling ministry group that displays feats of strength to share their faith, midway through their trip. When children showed up for the Strength Team’s presentation, Brenda was able to share the EvangeCube before the team performed.
Strength Team member Jon Andrickson said he was impressed with how Brenda handled herself. Andrickson noted he was most impressed with how naturally Brenda shared her faith and how diligent she was to get the presentation right.
“She puts it in words that kids her age can understand and she practiced it,” he said. “I saw her practicing.”
Andrickson said some of the churches they visited were house churches, because they had not been established before the communist regime came into power. Conditions were not always ideal, as the homes were hot and crowded.
“She did an amazing job and never complained about being hot or tired,” he said. “I was very proud and impressed with her.”
Brenda said she was concerned about a couple of aspects of the trip, like going through customs and the “bad water,” but for the most part she had faith in who was in charge.
“I knew God was with me, and He would guide me and I had nothing to worry about,” she said.
Pastor Harden said it was amazing to see God work in the lives of the Cuban adults as well as the children. He said many came to him and told him that if Brenda could present the gospel at her young age, then they could do it too.
“I think the grown-ups were more touched than the children, to be honest,” he said.
Harden said he intentionally involves all four of his children in evangelism at home, so speaking to people and sharing her faith were not foreign concepts to Brenda.
“I didn’t really have to train her in terms of evangelism because we do prayer evangelism here,” he said. “She was simply doing abroad what she was already doing here.”
Harden believes all the practice she received sharing the gospel in Cuba will serve her well at home.
“By the nature of this trip, it gave her the opportunity to grow in her ability to share the gospel because she did it so much,” he said. “It will help her share the gospel with classmates.”
Harden also hopes Brenda will not be the only one of his children who goes to Cuba.
“My prayer is that He would allow me to take each of my children on two mission trips before they are grown,” he said. “If we’re going to teach our kids to have a heart for missions, we need to take them on mission trips.”
Harden is very intentional about making sure his children understand the importance of missions.
“How can people say they can afford Disney, but they can’t afford a mission trip?” he asked. “Yes, you can afford it. Make it a priority. For us, it’s a priority.”
Andrickson said seeing Brenda on the mission field has motivated him to want to take his own daughter on a trip.
Harden thinks children who have been born again have a lot to offer and should be given the chance to use their spiritual gifts.
“Children are the church of today, not tomorrow,” he said. “Why would I put them on the shelf and not use them until they’re teenagers or adults?”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Nicole Kalil is a reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness.)

10/7/2015 9:29:26 AM by Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Witness | with 0 comments

IMB personnel face hard decisions

October 6 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Michael and JuliAn Domke are missionaries who wrestle with a painful, unexpected decision. He is the International Mission Board’s (IMB) team leader for church planting in Kiev, Ukraine. They were appointed in 2008 and moved their family from Florida to Eastern Europe, anticipating a long, fruitful ministry there.
Do the math. Domke is more than 50 years of age and has served with IMB for more than seven years.
That puts his family among IMB personnel who received an unexpected offer Sept. 10 to take early retirement by the end of the year. The Voluntary Retirement Incentive (VRI) is the first step in a plan recently announced by the mission agency’s president, David Platt, to resolve the organization’s financial troubles.
Their initial response was a one of nervous uncertainty. “What are we going to do if we go back [to the United States]?” he asked. The Domkes are convinced God has called their family to Ukraine. “God has done a lot of things to get us here,” he added.


Contributed photo
Michael and JuliAn Domke are among the missionaries who must decide if they should accept the early retirement plan.

Since his energy is focused on the call to make disciples in Ukraine, Domke did not know that IMB spent $210 million more than Southern Baptists gave to international missions in the past five years.
But with the facts in hand, it did not take long to face the bottom line. “I have the gift of administration,” Domke said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that this ain’t gonna work. When you hear that every six months you eat up another month of reserves, and we only have a couple of months left, you just have to make some decisions.”
Domke does not believe the IMB leadership is acting hastily. “I think what our [IMB] president is doing is wise. If I was in his shoes, I would probably do the same thing. You fix things today that are broken, so you can be stronger tomorrow.”
When missionary personnel received the news Aug. 27, several members of the IMB team in Ukraine gathered to pray. “This has forced me to live more by faith. It’s been a faith issue for me. That’s not a bad thing,” said Domke.
“Nobody wants to go through difficulty, but anybody that’s been there will tell you that it seared something in their lives, once they got on the other side of it. The difficult things I have been through in my life – serving in the military, the passing of my Dad, the passing of my Mom – those things are markers in my life where God’s done amazing things. I think that’s what God wants to do. So I’m resolved. I believe what [IMB is] doing is the right thing.”
The Domke family expressed sadness that Southern Baptists’ mission force will be reduced, but they believe, “That’s the reality of where we are. You can’t keep missionaries on the field today for the same amount of money you could 10 years ago. God’s still God, and I’m still a servant, and we’ll do what we need to do. I believe God’s going to make us stronger and draw us closer,” he added.
Raised as an unbeliever in Michigan, Michael Domke met Christ as personal savior in the military. He was discipled in Jacksonville, Fla., and enrolled in Liberty University where he met JuliAn. He served two Southern Baptist churches in Jacksonville for 19 years – two years at First Baptist Church, Ocean Way, and 17 years at San Jose Baptist Church, filling a variety of staff positions. Serving as the church’s missions pastor, Domke knew God was calling his family to international missions.
He believes the gospel travels along relationships. “I’m here because of a relationship back in Florida.” While serving at San Jose church, a 60 year-old man from Ukraine needed a job. “The man did not speak English. He applied for a job, and I hired him as a janitor. Through that relationship, the senior pastor and I decided we needed to go to Ukraine to see how we can help this man’s home church. We began a five-year partnership with that church, and now, 12 years later, I’m here.”
The relationship model is part of the discipleship strategy in Ukraine. Working with struggling churches, Domke uses the T4T strategy (http://t4tonline.org/) to build relationships with unreached people.
There was a time when IMB had dozens of missionaries working in Ukraine. Today six IMB units serve in the capital city of Kiev. Two units are part of the seminary education team that equip internationals in church planting. “They have a really neat work with national church planters,” Domke said. They assist Ukrainian Baptists in sending out their own missionaries.
“They can go where we can’t ... for a lot less money. I really see this as key for advancing the gospel in the former Soviet Union,” he said. The nationals are better equipped and more effective than Americans who have tried to enter these countries.


The logistics team


Contributed photo
Kanoot and Sarah Midkiff have no doubt about their call to international missions. The couple lives in Ukraine with two teenagers.

Two other units serve in logistics and church planting. One of those families is Kanoot and Sarah Midkiff, with their two teenage children, Fisher and Faith. They are logistics coordinators who are serving their fourth year as apprentices – first term career missionaries. Both were born in North Carolina, lived in the state most of their lives; were called to missions through N.C. Baptist churches; and both of their parents are still active in N.C. Baptist churches.
The Midkiffs sign contracts for colleagues, locate and rent apartments, purchase and sell vehicles, keep visas and other legal documents current for personnel and coordinate work with national staff. They build relationships, share Christ, serve in local churches and assist volunteer teams from the U.S.
The changes at IMB may expand the Midkiffs’ responsibilities. “Most of our colleagues have served eight to 20 years,” Kanoot said. “Two families recently reached retirement, and we helped them pack up. There is another family planning to retire in December, so we’ve begun with that process. Maybe the Lord is preparing us to say good-bye to others, now. This just wasn’t on our radar screen. But, this isn’t the first time we faced a financial crisis in considering our call to international missions.”
When the Midkiffs were in the early stages of pursuing missionary appointment in 2009-2010, IMB announced the resources were not available for all who were in the application process. They were delayed. At that time Kanoot was serving as minister of missions at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone.
As the church approached the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (LMCO), he said the church placed dozens of pairs of empty shoes on the altar of the church to represent missionaries who would not be able to go overseas unless financial support increased.
“IMB is like a family, and we feel very close to the [Richmond] staff who are making these decisions, and to our colleagues and their feelings,” Kanoot added. “Someone has to make these decisions, and we’re thankful that God has put leaders in place to support us all the way through and to pray through this.”
“We’re concerned for others, but we don’t know how all of this will affect us,” Sarah said. “My life verse keeps coming to my mind – Romans 8:28. God has assured us that ‘All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.’
“We have no doubt that we were called here, but we don’t know if God will move us to another place – God knows. We would like to be here for many years, but God has a plan. I just want to be open with the Lord and say, ‘wherever you want.’ Our [IMB] president often says our lives need to be like a blank check before the Lord.”
Last year Russia invaded Ukraine. Many mission agencies began withdrawing personnel. Sarah said, “Our kids were praying, ‘Lord, please allow us to stay here.’ IMB personnel stayed. That was another way God worked in our children’s lives.”
Ukrainians were impressed that IMB missionaries did not leave in spite of the conflict. The Ukrainians were very stressed – “solemn” during the height of the conflict, Kanoot said.
“Some were so stressed by the uncertainty of the future that they did not want to even plant their gardens. That’s serious here, because if they don’t plant their gardens in the spring, they may not have enough to eat come fall and winter.”
The couple celebrates 20 years of marriage this fall. Kanoot was a journeyman with IMB in Ukraine in 1994. “Sarah’s the reason I left Ukraine to come home and get married,” he said.
They prayed about where Kanoot should attend seminary. “Our home church at that time was Calvary Baptist in Winston-Salem. I remember that Gary Chapman was preaching on a Sunday evening,” Kanoot explained. The sermon was about God’s call on each believer’s life. Sarah left the service convicted that she should get a seminary degree, also.
“Someone sent us some articles in the Biblical Recorder about the partnership with Ukraine. As I read through it, I saw an article in another section about a social work program that was being offered at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.” Sarah had a degree in social work from Appalachian State University. She got the application process started and got a call back. The woman asked Sarah if she would come to the seminary and work for her.
“We’ve seen God answer prayer, so we know He can provide for our needs and the needs of IMB,” Kanoot said.

Trust God’s heart

As Southern Baptists look at the financial needs for missions, Michael Domke has a request. “I would encourage people to get involved with missionaries. I’m not saying it would solve everything, but that’s what I miss on the [international] mission field – involvement with people from America.”
Frequently missionaries leave their international field because it’s too difficult, he said.
“It’s lonely. No matter how you slice it, it’s just not easy. One of our former IMB presidents used to say, ‘It’s not the elephants that will get you, it’s the termites.’ In other words, it’s the little things that will get you to leave the field. The things that help us are the relationships.
“We’re an organization because we have to be; because we can work better that way, but we’re still people. If you don’t know a missionary, there’s something wrong – there’s a disconnect, and that’s a problem,” Domke added. He asks Baptists not only to give to LMCO, but to build relationships with specific missionaries.
“I’m blessed to be Southern Baptist. I am so blessed to be part of the IMB. I don’t take that for granted.”
The Midkiffs said they are very grateful for the churches that support them through the Cooperative Program and LMCO, also. “I want to say how thankful I am for the faithful and sacrificial giving of Southern Baptists over all these years,” Sarah said.
“To see all of the missionaries who have lived cross-culturally for so long and the reputation that we have as Southern Baptists – that we care about taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, for that I am very thankful. I’m proud to be an IMB missionary. It was a dream of mine when I was a young woman. I’m thankful to have had this opportunity, however long it lasts.”
With much emotion, Kanoot added, “God has been so gracious to us and so generous. I’ve been thinking about this song: ‘God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind. So when you don’t understand, when you can’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.’”

10/6/2015 2:37:02 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Billy Graham exhibit to honor state’s ‘Favorite Son’

October 6 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

The North Carolina Museum of History will open a special exhibit to honor the life of Billy Graham Nov. 6, the day before the famed evangelist’s 97th birthday. The exhibit will include memorabilia, displays and multimedia that document his early days as a farm boy in Charlotte, his family life, his friendships with dignitaries and his leadership through national and international crises like 9/11.
From November 2015 through July 2016 the 5,000-square-foot, privately-funded exhibit, “North Carolina’s Favorite Son: Billy Graham and His Remarkable Journey of Faith” (billygraham.org/landing pages/northcarolinamuseumexhibit), will be displayed at the museum in Raleigh.
Graham has been touted as one of the world’s most revered people. Last year marked the 58th time he was voted one of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World” through a Gallup poll.
When N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory visited Billy Graham at his home in 2013, he presented him with his latest title: “North Carolina’s Favorite Son.” The state’s House and Senate each passed subsequent resolutions to officially declare this distinction, as well as to memorialize Graham’s late wife, Ruth Bell Graham.
After the “Favorite Son” designation became official, it became obvious to some state leaders in Raleigh, that there was little in the way of public recognition for Graham. This group went before the museum directors and petitioned to have a display to honor their special native.
“It seemed appropriate to pay homage while he is still living,” said David Bruce, assistant to Billy Graham. “And now, anyone who visits the North Carolina Museum of History will have a chance to see the influence this man from our state has had worldwide.”


Photo from office of Gov. Pat McCrory
Gov. Pat McCrory visited with Billy Graham, center, and his son, Franklin, in Graham's Montreat home in 2013 after recognizing Graham as North Carolina's "Favorite Son."

“They realized there was not very much reflection of our state’s faith element, and that a display about the life of Billy Graham would satisfy much of that,” Bruce explained.
“There are definitely reflections of notable people like politicians, but this adds a missing and very important piece.”
The honor bestowed on Graham is ultimately not to draw attention to the famous preacher, but to make the name of Jesus more famous, Bruce added. “Any great honor Billy Graham receives points to his message, his integrity and his faithfulness. It’s really a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The exhibit has been about a decade in the making according to Tom Phillips, vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and executive director of the Billy Graham Library, based in Charlotte. Other than the Billy Graham Library, an exhibit like this has never been done.
“A lot of people go to an historic museum to look at the whole picture of a state’s history. In doing so, North Carolina Museum of History visitors will discover the spiritual history of our state through the lives of Billy and Ruth Graham,” Phillips said.
Each year an estimated 80,000 eighth graders across the state visit the museum. Thousands travel to Raleigh to visit various historical sites and important landmarks, including large numbers of students. The museum’s most recent fiscal year counted 421,184 total visitors.

And like Bruce, Phillips is counting on this exhibit to inspire the next generation of North Carolinians.
He said, “The legislature voted for Billy Graham to be the state’s Favorite Son. Billy Graham is an evangelist. His whole life is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ for commitment. So, to tell his story, there is no way around the reality of gospel proclamation and invitation.”
“I believe this exhibit will encourage all young people that God has a plan for their lives, and that He can call them to do great things, like He did with Billy Graham,” Phillips added.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to share the spiritual heritage of one man and his wife ... and how God can work through one couple totally committed to Him.”
“My prayer is that they will walk away with the understanding that they don’t have to be pastors, missionaries, or world famous evangelists to fulfill God’s call. They can do that wherever God places them,” said Phillips. “People are so busy these days; they don’t stop for much. My prayer is that each visitor can ‘be still’ as they tour the exhibit and that God’s Spirit will break through and change lives.”
There is already talk about taking the display on the road to regional museums, according to Phillips.
Some denominational offices and seminaries have also expressed interest in having some or all of the display visit their facilities in the future.
The museum (ncmuseumofhistory.org) is located at 5 East Edenton Street, across from the State Capitol, in downtown Raleigh. Admission is free, although some special exhibits require a fee.

Possible statue, stamp

McCrory was in Charlotte Oct. 2 to sign a bill, passed by the state House and Senate, to pave the way for a Billy Graham statue to be placed in the National Statuary Hall in Congress.

McCrory signed the bill at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.
Congressional guidelines require that a person’s statue for Statuary Hall may only be installed posthumously.
A seven-member panel will be created to pick a sculptor and secure the necessary funds. Another bill that passed in the N.C. House – Billy Graham for Postage Stamp – petitions the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee of the United States Postal Service and the Postmaster General of the United States to issue a commemorative stamp honoring the evangelist.
Unlike placing a statue in the United States Capitol Building, in 2011 postal officials ended the requirement that commemorative stamps cannot feature someone who is still alive.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Allan Blume is the chief editor of the Biblical Recorder.)

10/6/2015 1:53:16 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Toronto Baptists cast vision for more N.C. partnerships

October 6 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Scores of baseball fans poured into the Rogers Center in Toronto, Canada, Sept. 22 to watch the hometown Blue Jays play the New York Yankees. The majority of the cheering crowd had one thing in common; they wore iconic blue and white colors, accompanied by a stark red maple leaf that showed their loyalty to the Jays.
Aside from their allegiance to the hometown baseball team, many Toronto residents have little else in common.
The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) boasts a population of more than six million, including people from 200 ethnic groups speaking 160 languages, according to census data.
Despite the appearance of uniformity in the baseball stadium, Toronto happens to be the most culturally diverse city in the world.
A small group of fans tucked away in the upper deck of the stadium had something in common other than excitement about the game, though. The spectators weren’t layered in blue and white, nor were they Toronto residents.


BR photo by Seth Brown
Mike Seaman, former student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, talks about Trinity Life Church, the congregation he helped start two years ago.

They were N.C. Baptists that want to see the gospel of Jesus Christ spread throughout the diverse population in the Toronto area.
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) identified Toronto in 2011 as one of three target cities in Canada for the Send North America initiative, an effort to mobilize Baptists to plant new churches in strategic North American population centers. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) also began a partnership in 2011 with the Canadian National Baptist Convention, alongside NAMB, to emphasize and facilitate strategic, church-to-church partnerships with the goal of planting new churches in GTA.
BSC and NAMB hosted a Toronto Vision Tour Sept. 21-23, led by Send City Missionary Brett Porter, that highlighted current GTA ministries for N.C. churches to consider joining in partnership. Seven church leaders from across the state, along with two from Ohio, traveled across GTA and heard reports from multiple church leaders and NAMB staff.

Ministering in a multicultural city

Jason McGibbon, NAMB church planting team member in the West region of Toronto, outlined various ministries collectively called The Hamilton Fellowships in a suburb of Toronto. One of the ministries grew out of a non-profit bicycle restoration shop called New Hope Community Bikes.
Chandler Horne, NAMB church planting apprentice, leads a weekly worship service called “shop talks.” He said, “We’ve been called to do discipleship with cyclists and their friends.” Cycling for many Canadians is more than a hobby, according to Horne; it’s a way of life. Many families rely on bicycles for basic transportation, like getting to work and grocery shopping.
The ministry, Restoration Hamilton, employs the ever-present object lesson of restoring bicycles. Horne said it’s “our way of celebrating the restoration that God is doing in the city and in people’s hearts … a way to relay to them the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Other partnership opportunities include church planting efforts in the East region of GTA. Matt Hess, who planted Fellowship Pickering in 2014, said he has a goal of 12 church plants in 10 years. Dave Strobel, who serves in the GTA Midwest region, outlined ways N.C. churches can partner on the Toronto Church Planting website, like helping to put on sports camps, day camps, family festivals and barbeques. “We need help meeting people, surveying, building relationships and sharing our faith,” he added.

Church targets downtown park

Mike Seaman, former student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, relayed information about the church that he helped start two years ago, Trinity Life Church in downtown Toronto. He said the goal is not simply to plant a church, but “to be a body of Christ that multiplies into more bodies of Christ across the GTA.”
The Biblical Recorder reported Feb. 14 about Trinity Life church planter Daniel Yang, his Hmong background and his journey to Toronto. He said their strategy is simple: “Helping people to discover their destiny and identity in Christ.”
One of the ways Trinity Life implements its strategy is through community outreach. They began by ministering in Regent Park, the largest project-housing complex in Canada.
City organizers were already in the process of revitalizing the crime-ridden area when Trinity Life came alongside the Toronto Boys and Girls club to serve the park in practical ways, like cleaning and event planning. “We started living on mission,” said Seaman, “and people were attracted to that.” He added, “They were attracted to something different – a church doing something in the city.”
Short-term mission teams have come from partner churches to serve with Trinity Life in various ways, like helping to carry out a citywide event in which Trinity Life participates.
Seaman said a Muslim leader recounted after an event, “We’re so glad Trinity Life Church is here. We don’t know how we’d pull off events like this without you guys.” Teams have also helped coordinate an evangelistic outreach tool called Big City, Big Questions.
“How can we encourage you to grow in your walk with Jesus as we live on mission together?” is the driving question for Trinity Life mission teams, said Seaman. Trinity Life emphasizes that partnerships are beneficial to both parties, not just the church plant. Partner churches have also sent interns for longer, semester-length terms.

N.C. churches set partnership goals

Thomas McDonald, student pastor at West End Baptist in Willliamston, N.C., said his goal for the trip was “to take the information … back to West End Baptist. I want to be able to share with them how we can partner with Toronto to further the kingdom of God. That is what it is all about.”

He also named some possible avenues for partnership, including prayer, financial giving or taking mission teams to GTA. “Acts 1:8 tells us to take it to the uttermost parts of the World,” said McDonald, “this includes Toronto!”
“Far too often smaller congregations are content to passively engage in missions,” said Jason Currie, pastor at First Baptist Church, Grifton, N.C.
He believes “giving to Lottie Moon and praying a few times a year” are not enough. He wants to see small churches become more active in direct missions engagement “by networking together with other congregations.”
“Toronto is strategic for N.C. Baptists because of the diversity of nations that live in the Greater Toronto Area,” said Steve Hardy, team leader for BSC Office of Great Commission Partnerships. “It allows us to reach out to a great number of people groups in one geographical location.
“It is also a city of significant influence on all of Canada and North America because of the half-million university students and the governmental impact of the city. If we can establish a foothold for the gospel in Toronto, we can influence all of North America.”
The Jays lost their Sept. 22 bout with the Yankees, but the game is just beginning for NAMB’s Send initiative in Toronto. They’re working hard to recruit N.C. churches to join their team, and step up to the plate of missions engagement. The game plan is simple: Baptists want to take the gospel to the nations, and the nations are in Toronto.
Visit torontochurchplanting.com or contact the Office of Great Commission Partnerships at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to learn more about how churches can partner with ministries in the Toronto area.
(EDITOR’S NOTE Seth Brown is content editor for the Biblical Recorder.)

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10/6/2015 1:47:06 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Conference to highlight power of God’s Word

October 6 2015 by Liz Tablazon, Biblical Recorder

The 2015 Pastors’ Conference, which will be held before the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting Nov. 2-3, is going back to the basics. The theme “It Shall Not Return Void” accompanies the vision of reassuring pastors of the power of God’s Word. It is based on Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void; but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Micheal Pardue Sr., Pastors’ Conference president and pastor of First Baptist Church of Icard, wanted to provide a diverse group of speakers who share a common love for God’s word and a common love for preaching and pastors. The eight speakers come from different ministry backgrounds and range from seminary presidents to retired pastors.


Pardue hopes the conference will point pastors back to the centrality of the word of God.

“I’m excited because I think we have assembled one of the best group of preachers that I remember, in my time going to the pastors’ conference,” he said. “I think the pastors in our state would be hard pressed to find this quality of preaching without traveling a great distance. I think pastors are going to be encouraged and really have an opportunity to hear quality, biblically-based sermons from some of the most respected pastors and theologians around.”
Speakers include J. Gregory Lawson, professor of Christian Education at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) and senior pastor at Union Chapel Baptist Church in Zebulon; Danny Akin, SEBTS president and professor of Preaching and Theology; Alvin Reid, professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at SEBTS; David Horner, senior pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh; Richard D. Phillips, senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C.; D.A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and co-founder of The Gospel Coalition; Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga.; and Gary W. Jennings, retired pastor and former pastor of East Taylorsville Baptist Church in Taylorsville.
The conference will be on Sunday, Nov. 1, 5:45-8:35 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 2, 8:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. It will be held at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro for the second time. The conference is free to attend, and no registration is required. For more information, visit ncannualmeeting.org.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Liz Tablazon is the circulation and social media manager for the Biblical Recorder.)

10/6/2015 1:38:19 PM by Liz Tablazon, Biblical Recorder | with 0 comments

N.C. rally to give Christians a ‘voice’

October 6 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

An Aug. 29 rally on the steps of the South Carolina state capitol drew 12,000 people to hear pastors and national leaders that included Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. The speakers denounced abortion and gay marriage, and they called for a spiritual awakening across the America.
The crowd was the largest assembly of people ever on the grounds of the S.C. state capitol according to organizer Chad Watson, chairman of We Stand with God (WSWG). He is also pastor of Glory Land Baptist Church in Hartsville, S.C.


Watson said the response to the S.C. rally was so strong that it trended at the top of social media for several days and got the attention of pastors in many states including North Carolina. Now a similar rally is set for Sat., Oct. 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Hallifax Mall in Raleigh. It is also sponsored by WSWG.
The full slate of speakers is unconfirmed at press time, but is likely to include some presidential hopefuls such as Gov. Mike Huckabee.
The organization’s website says, “WSWG believes that citizens must stand unified in the spirit of our Founders who chose the Bible as the litmus test for law and personal rights.
“Therefore, WSWG will exalt the Bible as its final authority for faith and practice. Finally, WSWG will coordinate with public officials so that the voice of the people may be heard.”
The event is an attempt to “rally God’s people together,” according to Watson. “It’s an outlet for concerned Christian citizens to say to our country, ‘Christians cannot obey a law that contradicts God’s law.’
“Christian citizens need to express their conscience on matters of morality, Biblical marriage and religious liberties.”
The foundation of the movement is Acts 5:29, “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”
“God’s people have been put in the dilemma of deciding whether they would obey God or man,” Watson said.
He believes the voice of Christians is being stifled in America.
Voters in S.C. supported biblical marriage by a 78 percent vote, and 61 percent of voters in N.C. approved biblical marriage.
Watson said 36 states have voted in favor of biblical marriage, yet the courts struck down every state amendment on marriage.
“SCOTUS stepped over the constitution of United States and the constitutions of 36 states, so we know our church constitutions are not going to protect us,” he added.
“We want to send a message to government leaders that we cannot go along with laws that disobey God, so we will not disobey God.”
Many pastors believe the country is at a “do or die situation for religious liberties,” Watson said. “God’s people have the numbers to turn this thing around. We are where we are because of our complacency and silence. It’s time to speak out.”
For more information on the rally visit WeStandWithGod.org.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Allan Blume is the chief editor of the Biblical Recorder.)

10/6/2015 1:24:24 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

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