September 2012

N.C. collegiate ministries teach students to be campus missionaries

September 17 2012 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Students at North Carolina’s oldest public university are learning that some things must change if they want to reach their campus with the gospel.
 
For too long the event-driven, “come and see” approach has been the primary means of reaching out to students, and campus minister Lee Sullens is finding that more personalized outreach is making a greater impact. 
 
“Baptist Campus Ministry works better if we go to others,” said Sullens, who coordinates the Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. “The best way we can reach our campus is one-on-one.”
 
Sullens is teaching students that if they really want opportunities to share the gospel, they must live out the gospel before their classmates.
 
To do this, Sullens is focusing BCM on helping students share their faith and make a difference among students living in their dorm. “God has given us the vision to plant a gospel-centered witness on every floor, of every dorm, in the next five years,” he said.
 
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Contributed photo

More N.C. college campuses are using a personal touch to reach students. Through Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM), students are being challenged to reach people in their path. BCM allows students to serve as missionaries in North Carolina, North America and around the world.


Dorm buildings are full of students not just during the week, but also during weekends, because UNC is very much a residential campus.
 
With 34 dorms on campus, Sullens and the BCM students need 264 small groups in order to have a group meeting on every single floor of every dorm.
 
“This helps us take the 26,000 population at UNC and shrink it down to a manageable size,” Sullens said.
“The students minister to people in their path. They get to know the people around them and they do life with them.”
 
Sullens knows the challenge he has set before his BCM students is a “God-sized mission.” “We know we can’t accomplish this on our own. But we believe God is going to do great things,” he said.
 
When the fall semester began this year about 20 small groups were ready to begin, up from the two that were meeting several years ago when Sullens first introduced this new vision to his students. 
 
Refocusing BCM was not easy. Sullens had to help students see the long-term vision.
 
Once they did, they embraced the challenge and are beginning to see the fruit.
 
“Students are sharing the gospel. They are pursuing hard after people for the sake of the gospel. You can see God moving students closer to Him,” Sullens said.
 
“We don’t evaluate based on numbers or how many people show up for a small group Bible study each week. We evaluate based on whether or not a small group would be missed if it were to disband. We want these groups to make such an impact that their lack of impact will be missed by people in their dorm,” Sullens said.
 
“Pipeline” is what Sullens calls the leadership training process that prepares BCM students to lead these small groups in their dorms. They learn to study their Bible, write Bible studies, witness to people and serve people.
 
They also learn how to start a small group, and how to then identify at least one person in that group who they can help raise up to lead another one. The goal is for students to be equipped to begin a small group by their sophomore year.
 
They continue being trained even after they start the small group, and by their senior year, they help teach other students.
 
“All it takes is some focus, direction and vision,” Sullens said.
 
Rick Trexler, BCM team leader for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), helps keep campus ministers and leaders focused on the overall vision of BCM in North Carolina.
 
“We want to help lead college students and others in the academic community to faith in Jesus Christ, and we want to help guide them in Christian growth and leadership,” he said. “We also want to connect them to the life and mission of the church.”
 
North Carolina Baptists have full-time ministry at 18 of the major colleges and universities in the state.
 
Volunteers who may be church staff, faculty or lay persons serve an additional 19 campuses. Each campus Baptist Campus Ministry is committed to seeing students live out the Great Commission.
 
At Appalachian State University in Boone, Baptist campus minister Jonathan Yarboro is helping students learn to think and live as missionaries to their college campus.
 
“During these four years students are immersed in a culture that doesn’t know Jesus,” he said. “If they are not engaging people who don’t know Jesus, they are wasting the opportunity God has given them.”
 
Students who participate in BCM are taught they have a story to tell, and it’s their responsibility to share with others how the gospel transformed their life.
 
They tell their stories as they earn trust and build relationships with other students.
 
Small groups specifically for freshmen help BCM students understand missional living.
 
“We begin shaping what it looks like to be a college student living [like] a missionary; we begin prodding them in that direction,” Yarboro said.
 
After their first semester, students are expected to begin exploring how they can be missionaries among a specific group of students, whether a club, sorority or club sport. One student who felt called to reach out to freshmen became roommates with the RA (Resident Assistant) in a freshman dorm.
 
Students are encouraged to share with their discipleship group how they see God at work on campus and how they are sharing their faith. These groups serve as accountability to help students stay focused on their mission. Serving is also an important aspect of living as a missionary. “We want to be a campus ministry that reaches people and cares about people’s needs,” Yarboro said.
 
BCM at Appalachian is based on Luke 10 when Jesus sends out the 72. Whenever they are welcomed into a town, Jesus tells them to eat what is before them, heal the sick and proclaim that the Kingdom has come near.
 
“You have to do all three of these things to be an effective missionary,” Yarboro said. “You have to remove boundaries, you have to help meet needs, and you have to share the gospel.”
 
Baptist Campus Ministry is made possible because of support through the Cooperative Program. The Cooperative Program helps the BSC to have a missionary presence on college campuses, and to develop students to be missionaries. 
 
To learn more about Baptist Campus Ministry, call (800) 395-5102 ext. 5560 or email rtrexler@ncbaptist.org. For a list of North Carolina Baptist Campus Ministries, visit www.baptiststudent.org.
9/17/2012 2:10:09 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



SBDR needs Isaac mud-out, roof repair vols

September 17 2012 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – Southern Baptist Disaster Relief  (SBDR) is seeking help with mud-out and assessment as it concentrates on clean-up, recovery and roof repairs for Hurricane Isaac victims, confident that meals are no longer needed.
 
With almost 228,000 meals prepared since Isaac struck the Gulf Coast, SBDR has shut down its feeding operations and is seeking help with clean-up and the installation of temporary, plastic roofs, said North American Mission Board (NAMB) disaster relief coordinator Bruce Poss.

“We need 15 more mud-out teams and 13 assessment teams from other state conventions immediately in Louisiana,” Poss said.

Ample housing and feeding accommodations are available for up to 500 SBDR volunteers, Poss said. Most of the recovery work, about 80 percent, will focus on mud-out, while 20 percent goes to roofing, he said, expressing hopes to complete the work within the next three weeks.

In addition to the numerous meals, SBDR reports the completion of 282 mud-out jobs, 224 chainsaw jobs and at least 140 roofing jobs. Almost 5,700 showers and loads of laundry have been provided, as well as childcare for about 100 children. Following 14,104 ministry and chaplaincy contacts and 173 gospel presentations, 24 have made decisions for Christ.
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Photo by Buck McCann/NAMB

Both of the North American Mission Board’s new mobile Incident Command Centers are deployed in the New Orleans area in response to Hurricane Isaac. From left, Louisiana Baptist Convention State Disaster Relief Director Gibbie McMillan, NAMB DR Team Leader Mickey Caison and Patrick Ryan, DR chaplain for the Missouri Baptist Convention, plan response strategy at the ICC located at First Baptist Church in Covington, La.


SBDR’s roofing work has included participation in a pilot plastic tarp installation project with FEMA, the Louisiana Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster (LA-VOAD) and the National Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster (National VOAD). SBDR is participating in the pilot with other volunteer organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Blessing.

Mickey Caison, NAMB’s disaster relief team leader based in a mobile NAMB command center at Lake Forest Baptist Church in New Orleans, said gray plastic roofing with the Southern Baptist Convention logo has been installed on damaged roofs in New Orleans and seven South Louisiana parishes, namely Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist, Washington, Livingston, St. Charles, St. James and St. Bernard.

“I’ll be surprised if we don’t do 700 or 800 homes before it’s all over with,” Caison said.

After Isaac hit on Aug. 29, FEMA projections indicated some 3,000-5,000 homes would need temporary plastic roofing to protect belongings and prevent further damage until permanent repairs could be made.

Caison calls the pilot a “win-win” project, because the program not only prevents homes from deteriorating further, but also enables impacted residents to stay in their homes, decreasing the need for shelters or temporary FEMA housing.

Two of NAMB’s 18-wheel tractor trailers deployed to Mississippi and Louisiana, loaded with a combined 640 roles of plastic sheeting, wooden furring strips and nails. Caison said all 640 rolls have been used.

“It’s just more economical, for both the families and for FEMA,” Caison said. “I’m pretty excited about how we can carry this program further. We’ve learned a lot during Isaac and in a few weeks in Washington, we’ll sit down with FEMA and talk about how it can be improved.”

Money for SBDR relief efforts is getting low, Caison said.

“Although this was not a Hurricane Katrina-type response, it has still been a very costly response,” he said. “Our DR funds are very low.”

In a video statement Fred Luter, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president and senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said Isaac impacted thousands of homes and left many in need of shelter, food and other basics of life.

“But I am happy to report that Southern Baptists were on the scene within hours, offering physical help and spiritual hope. Local churches have been the first to step up with assistance, and volunteers from Louisiana and several other state Baptist conventions have been serving tirelessly since Isaac hit. Their efforts are truly making a difference,” Luter said.

“The North American Mission Board has provided coordination and key pieces of equipment essential for communications and the distribution of resources. In times of crises, Southern Baptists come together as one to serve those in need.

“That need continues even now. We need your prayers for the victims and for the ones ministering to them, and we need your continued support of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief,” Luter said.

Kay Bennett, NAMB national missionary and executive director of the Baptist Friendship House (BFH) in New Orleans, also assisted in the Isaac response. While New Orleans proper was spared from most of Isaac’s destruction, Bennett said, the Baptist Friendship House on Elysian Fields Avenue did suffer a leaky roof, ruining the carpet in three of the center’s rooms. The center was without electricity for five days.

BFH distributed a truckload of food donated by Feed the Children – half of it at the center and half at Celebration Church-River Parishes campus in hard-hit LaPlace, about 22 miles west of New Orleans, Bennett said.


“In LaPlace, the floodwater came into houses during the night, so those folks woke up in water and lost everything they had,” she said.

From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters in partnership with the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.

SBDR assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, including the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or contribute to NAMB’s disaster relief fund here. Donations are also accepted at 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
 
To contact North Carolina Baptist Men, call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5599, or visit baptistsonmission.org.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.)
9/17/2012 1:55:52 PM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



54 new int’l missionaries appointed by IMB

September 17 2012 by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press

HENDERSONVILLE – As a college student traveling abroad in Cambodia, Hope Denaham* happened upon a 4-year-old girl in an alley.

“She reached her arms out to me, and I held her for an hour,” Denaham recalled. “I wondered if she had ever been held in her life.”

Denaham grew up internationally, but she had no desire to live overseas, much less serve as an international missionary. But her encounter with the little girl and the heartbreak of human need changed her.

“While holding the child in my arms, I knew that God was calling me to reach the broken and forgotten,” she said.

Denaham, who will serve in South Asia, was one of 54 men and women appointed as missionaries by International Mission Board (IMB) trustees during a Sept. 12 service at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, N.C. While their stories are unique, their call is the same: to take the Good News to the nations.

After returning from a second trip to Asia where she worked in orphanages and refugee camps, Denaham realized she could never go back to “life as normal.”

“I saw that His desire was for all peoples to know Him ... and my call was to share Christ with the lost,” she said.
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Photo by Michael Logan

New missionaries Justin and Catherine Kirkwood, center, who plan to serve European peoples, addressed the congregation during a service of appointment for 54 new IMB missionaries Sept. 12 at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, N.C. While their stories are unique, each new appointee has the same call: to take the Good News to the nations.


For Russ Finley,* who will plant churches in Central Asia, a passion to share the gospel grew out of his childhood struggle with severe learning disabilities.

“When I graduated from high school, I could only read and spell the simplest words,” Finley said. “I didn’t feel very valuable. I felt just the opposite. I let ... my learning difficulties control what I thought about myself.”

But through “God’s grace and power,” Finley not only completed college with two bachelor’s degrees, he also earned advanced degrees in social work and law. Since 1995, he has worked with abused and neglected children and authored legislation and policies to address children’s issues.

While justice for society’s weakest motivates both Denaham and Finley, the desire to share God’s love with those yet to hear is their driving force.

“I have seen Jesus’ love melt the heart of a former secret police agent in Eastern Europe and bring hope to the eyes of poor children in the Amazon jungle of Peru,” Finley told listeners at First Baptist. “In obedience to His call, I will be His heart among the people of Central Asia.”

For other new missionaries, like Beth Hollander* and Cassie Stoddard,* particularly significant was being appointed during a week when more than 1,000 current IMB emeriti missionaries attended a weeklong event at nearby LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center. Both came to Christ through the influence of IMB missionaries.

Hollander, who was born in Asia, didn’t hear the name of Jesus until she was 18. She attended Bible classes with an American host family while on a month-long stay in the United States as a college student. A former missionary taught the class.

Later, after she returned to Asia, an IMB missionary regularly visited the bread shop where she worked and invited her to church. But it was another short-term missionary to her country, who knew Hollander from her U.S. visit, who guided Hollander to accept Christ as her Savior. That missionary, Wayne Hollander,* is now her husband. Both were appointed to take the gospel to Southeast Asia.

While Hollander first heard the gospel in America, Stoddard was raised as an atheist in what she describes as “a country of great darkness.”

“When an IMB missionary shared the gospel with me, I believed and began to share with others in my city,” Stoddard said.

IMB President Tom Elliff reminded the audience that reaching the remaining 3,167 unengaged, unreached people groups will require more than the nearly 5,000 active IMB missionaries can provide.

“We are counting on the churches,” Elliff said. “The Great Commission is everyone’s job.”

Stoddard, who will serve in East Asia, agrees. For her, those with little or no access to the gospel are more than statistics or dark places on the map of global evangelization. Instead, they are real people with real names, including a college friend who died just last year.

“Like all of my other friends and family, she lived in a part of the world with very little access to the gospel, and she did not have a relationship with Christ,” Stoddard said. “Her death was a reminder to me of the urgency of the task God has given us. I want to take the gospel to the places in the world where Christ is not known.”

But taking the gospel to the hardest-to-reach places involves great challenges and personal sacrifice, Elliff acknowledged.

Referencing the recent death of Cheryll Harvey, a Southern Baptist representative in Jordan, Elliff said, “Maybe you are saying, ‘This is hard for me.’“

Preaching from Hebrews 12, Elliff challenged the new missionaries to look to Jesus in every situation.

“When you are asking, ‘Dear God, why am I here?’ look to Jesus,” he said. “Look to Jesus because of who He is, what He did and why He did it.

“Don’t quit! The answer in every instance is Jesus. He is the answer a lost world is waiting to hear.”

*Names changed.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tess Rivers is an International Mission Board writer.)
9/17/2012 1:42:38 PM by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



State, NAMB leaders to move forward ‘in unity’

September 17 2012 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

GRAPEVINE, Texas – State Baptist convention and North American Mission Board (NAMB) leaders “have determined to move forward together in unity to impact the lostness of North America,” according to a statement issued Sept. 14.

The agreement was shared during the annual NAMB-sponsored state executive directors meeting Sept. 13-14 in Grapevine, Texas.

Representatives of the state executive directors, led by David Hankins of Louisiana, met with NAMB President Kevin Ezell and other mission board execs as part of the two-day gathering near Dallas.

The session follows the creation of a special study committee in February during the Fellowship of State Executive Directors’ annual meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. The study committee’s assignment: to evaluate relations and cooperation between state Baptist conventions and NAMB.

Apprehension and uncertainty have marked the relationship between NAMB and a number of state conventions as the mission board has increased funding for its Send North America church planting and evangelism strategy prioritizing Southern Baptist missions efforts on those areas of North America with the greatest spiritual lostness and the smallest number of Southern Baptist churches. The shift has reduced joint funding for staffing for longstanding missions and ministries in the states.

The full text of the three-paragraph statement by representatives of the state execs and NAMB follows:

“On September 13, 2012, state executive directors met with North American Mission Board president Kevin Ezell. David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and chairman of the special study committee, presented a report that was enthusiastically received by the Execs. The result is that the Conventions and the North American Mission Board have determined to move forward together in unity to impact the lostness of North America.

“‘It is our desire that all of us can join ranks around the task of evangelizing and congregationalizing North America,’ said Hankins. ‘Southern Baptists can have confidence in our united effort.’

“Ezell added, ‘We are excited to be moving forward together in unity for the sake of the kingdom.’”

No further details were provided.

Members of the state execs’ study committee, in addition to Hankins, are Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; Cecil Seagle, executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana; Mark Edlund, executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention; Bob Mills, executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists; and Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

Emil Turner, then-president of the fellowship, added at the time that “this study committee can help get beyond anecdotal reports about difficulties that new work conventions face and arrive at quantifiable conclusions. The desire is to cooperate with NAMB in a way that helps strengthen new work conventions.” New work conventions are those where Southern Baptist outreach is not as well-established as conventions in the Bible Belt.

In addition to discussing the agreement during their Sept. 13-14 meeting with NAMB leaders, the 33 state executives in attendance discussed planning related to the Send North America strategy for church planting and evangelism.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.)
9/17/2012 1:36:51 PM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Southern Baptist teacher killed in Jordan ‘loved by everyone’

September 17 2012 by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press

IRBID, Jordan – A warm breeze whips sand around cars creeping down the main street of Irbid, Jordan. A man gestures to catch the attention of a carload of Americans, then lays his hand over his heart.

He knows there is only one place they can be going. It seems the whole city is mourning the death of Southern Baptist representative Cheryll Harvey.

“Even now, I can’t believe she has died,” said Eman, a young Jordanian woman, as she clutches a small cup of the bitter, Arabic coffee typically served at wakes.
 
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Muhannad, left, and his family share memories of Southern Baptist representative Cheryll Harvey in a classroom at the center where she taught. “I loved her as a mother, and she loved me as a son,” Muhannad said. He and his wife, Doa’a, second from left, who is expecting, plan to name their baby Cheryll if it is a girl.


Eman is among dozens at the wake, shedding tears, sharing stories and paying their respects to the woman who “loved everyone and was loved by everyone.” They are crowded in the small classrooms in Irbid where Harvey taught.

“Many people loved Miss Cheryll,” Eman said, “many, many.”

Harvey, 55, from Sudan, Texas, taught English and other subjects in Jordan for 24 years. She was found stabbed to death in her apartment Sept. 4. Robbery was the apparent motive, according to police reports.

But to students, friends and colleagues gathered at the center Sept. 10, no motive will ever make sense.

“I have not been able to sleep since I heard the news,” said Muhammad, a young man Harvey tutored at his home after a problem with his legs made him unable to attend classes.

“I did not sleep, either,” said his brother Ahmad, also Harvey’s student.

“Many of us have not slept,” echoed one of Harvey’s colleagues.

They smile as they remember Harvey, they recall the many hours she spent working.

“She was the most selfless person I knew, and the busiest. I don’t know how she did all she did every day,” another colleague said. “She started this center in 2000, and from the very beginning, people came and it grew and grew. And she spent so much of her time visiting the students in their homes. People just met her and loved her immediately.”

People like Muhannad, who met Harvey on the first day the center opened. Harvey reached out to the shy, young man who rarely talked. He invited her over for Friday lunch, and she “entered the heart” of his entire family.

Harvey ate with them nearly every Friday for the past 12 years, Muhannad said.

“I loved her as a mother, and she loved me as a son,” said Muhannad, who had her listed as “Mama” in his mobile phone. “But she didn’t just love me. Anyone who asked her for help, she would help.”

For several hours, Muhannad sits at one of the classroom desks, recounting detail after detail of Harvey’s gifts to Irbid, as if he can’t get them out fast enough.

“She helped me pass college and nursing school. She sat with me and my sister one day for hours in the hot sun while my sister applied for the army. She took a friend who had cancer back and forth on the long drive to the hospital two or three times a week,” he said.
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Students, friends and neighbors of Southern Baptist representative Cheryll Harvey gather to mourn Sept. 10 at the center where she taught in Irbid, Jordan. They drank bitter, Arabic coffee – customary for wakes – and shared memories of her. Harvey helped start the center and taught English there for 12 years.


Harvey’s closest friends were Jordanians. Most storeowners in the area knew her well; her dry cleaner wept when he heard of her death. And Harvey often spoke of staying in Irbid after she retired, Muhannad said.

“Everyone loved her. The children in my family would run to her and jump in her arms. She brought them chocolate, and she came over with gifts for them on all our holidays,” Muhannad said. “And we would always go to her house for Christmas and all her holidays.”

They would, and so would all her other students, plus every kid in a reasonable radius.

“One of her friends had many small children when Miss Cheryll moved to Irbid, and Miss Cheryll told them if they studied hard and passed their classes, she would take them on a trip somewhere,” Muhannad said.

Those kids took her at her word, and she kept it, Muhannad said. Now they are in high school.

“She is an angel, really. She is angel,” he said. “She is always smiling and always loving, not just my family, but many, many families. She’s a very honest worker, and she has helped me with all my life.”

Muhannad really means “all.” When he married, he took Harvey with him to meet the prospective wives and their families, an honor and role usually reserved for the son’s mother, aunt or sisters.

“She went with me to seven different girls’ families,” he said. “I loved Miss Cheryll and respected her and wanted her to approve of the woman I married.”

Now he and his wife, Doa’a, are expecting a baby. When Harvey heard the news, she exclaimed, “I’m finally going to be a grandmother,” Muhannad recounted.

“I have promised that if it is a girl, we are going to name her Cheryll.”

Muhannad’s mother, Wajcha, nods agreement.

“Cheryll was like my daughter. If she had been one of my own daughters, I couldn’t be more sad,” Wajcha said. “As much as I could possibly say she was respectable, she was more than that. Everything about her was good.”

Two days after the wake in Irbid, dozens more colleagues and friends gathered under a tent for a memorial service in Ajloun, the mountain town where Harvey taught for 12 years before moving to Irbid.
 
“What shall I say about this sister who left family and country to serve as a stranger for Jesus Christ among us? Her life was her school to us – the way she loved, lived and encouraged the people around her,” said a local pastor who spoke at the service. “She did it because she loved Jesus Christ.”

Another colleague agreed, telling the crowd that Harvey’s choice to leave parents, brothers and friends 24 years ago also is a testimony to her love for Jordan.

“Her body may be in Texas, but her heart is in Jordan,” he said. “She gave her life here.”

Everyone who knew Harvey will remember her for hundreds of little things, Muhannad said.

“Once she brought light to all the floors of her apartment complex – she bought light fixtures for every floor out of her own money,” he said.

She shed light in other ways, too, said Aziz, a fellow teacher.

“She understood and respected the culture, which is a big deal, to sacrifice and do that which is bizarre to you,” Aziz said. “She was a great person. The Bible says we have to be humble and simple, two things that make us believers, and she was both of those things.”

Mourners at both services left notes in a memorial book for Harvey, some in English and some in Arabic.

“She teach us not only English but how to live and how to love life,” one student wrote. “She was like a candle who burned herself to show others the light.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ava Thomas is a writer and editor in Europe for the International Mission Board.)

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9/17/2012 1:28:02 PM by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘Liquidity challenges’ may loom for Fla. convention

September 14 2012 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Baptists are assessing their future budgeting after being warned by auditors that their convention could face liquidity challenges as it moves toward a 50/50 split of Cooperative Program receipts.

“Without increased revenue or decreased expenditures, in the very near future, you will face liquidity challenges,” auditor Mike Lee told the Florida State Board of Missions in May.

Auditors said the Florida Baptist Convention (FBC) either must increase receipts by $2 million each year or decrease expenditures by $2 million to remain solvent, the Florida Baptist Witness reported.

Last fall, messengers to the annual meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention approved a seven-year Cooperative Program (CP) budget plan which would forward 50 percent of CP receipts from Florida churches to national and international missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention by 2018.

Messengers amended the proposed budget plan to eliminate the shared expenses designation from the split and incorporate shared ministry funding into the state convention portion of the budget. A second part of the amendment clarified that the 50/50 split was not contingent on increased CP giving by the churches. Florida currently forwards 40.5 percent of its CP receipts.

In two columns published by the Witness, Florida Baptist leaders have voiced divergent views for what to do in light of the liquidity warning.

Danny de Armas, who served as chairman of the Imagine If Great Commission Resurgence Task Force in Florida that made the 50/50 recommendation, wrote in favor of proceeding with the mandate.

“We should not allow our commitment to a 50/50 split to be paralyzed by the fear of our demise,” de Armas wrote July 26.

The liquidity report, he said, “should be a concern to all Florida Baptists and addressing it should be a top priority,” but the way to address it is to decrease convention expenses.

“In business, one of the surest roads to financial ruin is to operate under the myth that one can climb out of a financial crisis solely by increasing revenue,” de Armas, senior associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, wrote in the Witness.

“While increasing revenue will ease a crisis, it’s rarely within management’s control. Disappointingly, it seems our convention staff has sought to make implementation of the 50/50 split contingent upon a corresponding increase in giving,” de Armas added.

Cutting expenses, though, is a factor the convention can control, and it’s the only way to ensure that the 50/50 mandate is met, he said. The Great Commission is the motivation behind the mandate, de Armas wrote, and “the issue at hand is not priority or superiority; it is locality.”

“Most of the lost people in the world don’t live where we live,” de Armas wrote. “... Your Task Force concluded that less property, streamlined programming, and fewer employees would not mean we are ineffective or even less effective.” Addressing liquidity and achieving a 50/50 split are not incompatible objectives, he wrote.

Darin Kress, a member of the State Board of Missions serving on the budget-allocations committee, wrote a column published by the Witness Aug. 8, stating, “Florida Baptists should not apologize for making sure we have the necessary funding to expand our base of ministry here at home.”

The ministry base, he said, provides funding for the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, The Baptist College of Florida, church plants, evangelistic events, training and mission partnerships – all of which have international implications.

“The North American Mission Board estimated that only 4 percent of the people of South Florida are Christians,” Kress wrote. “As a percentage, there are fewer Christians in South Florida than communist China (5.0), and South Florida has the same percentage of believers as the especially repressive communist country of North Korea....

“Florida needs more churches, more funding, and a much wider base of ministry.”

Kress, pastor of Scott Lake Baptist Church in Lakeland, said the hope that accompanied the task force’s 50/50 recommendation was that Florida Baptist churches would increase their giving by .25 percent of undesignated receipts each year for four years.

The convention budget has been cut by 25 percent over the past few years, he said.

“Expenses have not just been reduced – they have been slashed,” Kress wrote. “Financial stress has been incurred.... Further budget reductions to the base will only hurt the evangelization of Florida – and, ultimately, the rest of the world. The base can only be expanded by increased revenue.”

In its report and recommendations to the convention in 2010, the Imagine If task force acknowledged that achieving a 50/50 split within four years “could create organizational and financial stress on the Florida Baptist Convention, and these stresses should not eliminate the necessity for reaching the desired goal within the four year window.”

“However, as a safety net, the task force further recommends that a contingency plan be developed by the State Board of Missions which will ensure implementation of the 50/50 division of funds in no longer than seven years, even in the event of such stresses,” the recommendation stated.

The task force did mention a need for increased giving by Florida Baptist churches, but the overall objective was to achieve the 50/50 despite financial stress.

During the May 25 State Board of Missions meeting at which the auditors’ warning was issued, the board decided to contact 661 Florida Baptist churches that have not contributed through the Cooperative Program for the past three years.

Tommy Green, a board member from Brandon, said 78 percent of non-contributing churches in Florida have fewer than 100 members, the Witness reported. Even if those churches stepped up their giving, it would not make the needed difference in the state convention’s budget, Green said.

“We have churches that have tremendous budgets that are not on board with the Cooperative Program,” Green, pastor of First Baptist Church in Brandon, said, according to the Witness. “... I don’t want to see the Florida Baptist Convention come to a point where we can no longer do viable ministry here in Florida for the sake of sending monies somewhere else.”

Green’s assessment was that the convention already has made drastic cuts and cannot realistically cut another $2 million per year.

Board members from each association planned to contact the specific churches within their associations in order to cover the 661 non-contributing congregations.

Among the potential reasons churches choose not to contribute to missions through the Cooperative Program, a board workgroup suggested, is an attitude of not wanting to support denominational bureaucracy.

John Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention, contested the charge that the convention’s work was bureaucratic, the Witness said.

“I don’t know where it [bureaucracy] is,” Sullivan said. “I give up just about 46 Saturdays a year to drive to preach in a church on Sunday. I spend more time out of my office than in. I spend more nights out of my own bed and in a hotel than I spend at home.”

The convention staff members elected by the board, Sullivan said, “are on the road all the time preaching.” He referred to an evaluation which found 58 board-elected staff members in 2011 recorded 4,118 gospel presentations; established 22,994 outreach contacts; recorded 2,464 professions of faith; and led 1,292 Bible studies and 1,461 worship services, the Witness reported June 13.

Florida Baptists are headed toward a 2013 Cooperative Program budget of $31.6 million, increasing the amount forwarded for national and international missions and ministries by 1 percent to 41.5 percent if approved by the State Board of Missions Sept. 21 and by messengers to the annual meeting in November.

The proposed budget was approved by the State Board of Missions’ budget-allocations committee Aug. 16. Sullivan said the convention is still on track to achieve a 50/50 split in the next seven years.

“The bad news is [CP giving from Florida churches] hasn’t gone up; the good news is it hasn’t gone down,” Sullivan said, according to the Witness Aug. 22.

Since 2005, the Florida convention, Sullivan said, has cut $10 million from its budget, downsizing staff by more than 50 employees. In 2014, as the North American Mission Board shifts its funding strategy, Florida agencies and institutions will have to “share the pain” of budget cuts, Sullivan said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press.)
9/14/2012 10:36:52 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



IMB launching new avenues for former personnel, prayer

September 14 2012 by Don Graham, Baptist Press

RIDGECREST – Creating more opportunities for Southern Baptists to be Jesus’ heart, hands and voice to a lost and dying world – that’s the idea behind two new International Mission Board (IMB) initiatives.

IMB trustees, meeting Sept. 11-12 at LifeWay’s Ridgecrest Conference Center, affirmed a new missions service opportunity dubbed the “Ready Reserve” as well as a new “school of prayer for all nations.”

The trustee meeting dovetailed with a weeklong event honoring more than 1,000 International Mission Board emeritus missionaries who gathered at the North Carolina conference center to reconnect with colleagues and learn about the changing face of global missions. Trustees volunteered their time to help make the event possible, even serving as bellmen to ferry luggage to emeriti’s rooms. On Sept. 12, trustees also welcomed 54 new missionaries during a special service at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C.

Ready Reserve
Though the Ready Reserve program is still under development, both trustees and emeriti voiced enthusiasm for IMB President Tom Elliff’s presentation of the concept, essentially a partnership between IMB and former field personnel. It’s designed to bolster Southern Baptists’ global missions efforts by drawing from the convention’s pool of retired and returned missionaries, capitalizing on previous field experience, language and cultural skills to meet specific strategic needs.
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Photo by Michael Logan

IMB President Tom Elliff speaks at the missionary appointment service Sept. 12 at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C. The mission boards trustees and emeritus missionaries were among those in attendance to honor 54 newly appointed missionaries.


“You have the capacity to be used in a unique fashion,” Elliff told emeriti during a meeting in Ridgecrest’s Spilman Auditorium. “Can you imagine all the skills that are in this room? We want to help you and others utilize these skills for the glory of God and for the expansion of the Kingdom.”

Elliff said Ready Reservists will serve as volunteers, using their talents and passion for missions to help mobilize, train and equip Southern Baptist churches, advocate on behalf of unreached people groups and advance missions strategies on the field and inside the United States. In some cases, Ready Reserve members also may be asked to serve overseas for short-term projects or to fill urgent personnel needs.

Anticipating a wave of potential Ready Reserve volunteers, Elliff explained that once the program’s details are finalized, IMB’s personnel office will directly communicate involvement opportunities with retired and returned missionaries.

“I cannot tell you the sense of excitement I have felt as I have talked with our emeriti [about Ready Reserve],” Elliff said. “It says to our field personnel, ‘If you have a need on the field, we’ve got people who are ready to come and help you.’”

Elliff added that the need for new service channels like the Ready Reserve is obvious. Noting that the earth’s population has exploded over the past two centuries (1 billion people in 1804, compared with 7 billion in 2012), Elliff said Southern Baptists must face the sobering fact that the world is not waiting on them.

“Every day, 151,600 people die – a city dies,” Elliff said. “6,316 people – a good-sized town – die every hour. Every minute, 105 people die — a small community. Every second, while you say the word ‘second,’ two people die – a small family. ... Apart from some great concentrated activity on our part that’s God-orchestrated, many of these people are going to die without ever hearing the name of Jesus.”

But no matter how great the need, Southern Baptists’ efforts are in vain, Elliff warned, without prayer.

School of prayer for all nations
Referencing Matthew 9:35-38, Elliff said Jesus gave His disciples a key command for missions, “… pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers ...,” an element that can often be overlooked in trying to accomplish the task itself.

“We dare not ignore this imperative any longer – the imperative of prayer,” Elliff told trustees, saying the time has come for IMB to leverage its influence and lead Southern Baptists to be a “blast furnace of prayer” for the nations.

“He would not call anyone He would not send,” Elliff said. “And if we pray to the Lord of the harvest and we said, ‘Lord, we are praying! Raise up a vast army of people who will work in Your harvest field,’ I’ll guarantee you everyone God calls, God will support.”

Elliff named Chuck Lawless, IMB vice president for global theological advance, to head the creation of the school, which will be headquartered at IMB’s International Learning Center (ILC) near Richmond, Va.

Elliff said he envisions Southern Baptists flocking to the ILC to learn about the kind of fervent, effective, Great Commission-directed prayer that can change entire countries for the sake of the gospel. He added that the “school of prayer for all nations” will be a “great complement” to existing prayer emphases provided by both the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and state convention prayer leaders.

“If you want to learn how to pray for the nations, this is where you can come,” Elliff said. “If you want somebody in your church to learn how to start a prayer ministry that will pray for the nations, this is the place to come. If you want to find a spot on this earth where 24 hours a day people are calling out to God for the nations of this world – it ought to be IMB.”

The next IMB trustee meeting will be Nov. 15-16 in Springfield, Mo. Springfield’s Second Baptist Church will host an IMB missionary appointment service Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Don Graham is an IMB senior writer.)

Related story
IMB honors emeriti missionaries for service
9/14/2012 10:29:29 AM by Don Graham, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Bill Causey, former Miss. exec, dies at 81

September 14 2012 by Baptist Press/The Baptist Record

JACKSON, Miss. – William W. “Bill” Causey Sr., longtime Mississippi Baptist pastor and retired executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB), died Sept. 6. He was 81.

Causey led the board from 1989 until his retirement in 1998. He earlier had served two terms as president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

Causey was pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Jackson from 1963 until he became the state convention's executive director-treasurer.

In 1957, he was called as assistant pastor of Parkway, where he served until being called as pastor of Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Meridian, serving there until his return to Parkway.

“Instead of preaching on a topic, I always tried to reach people for the Lord. You just never know who is going to show up at a worship service in need of the Savior,” Causey said in the last weeks of his life. He also said that he rededicated his life to the Lord each day.

MBCB Executive Director Jim Futral said, “It was my privilege to know Dr. Bill Causey as a fellow pastor, a denominational leader, an executive director-treasurer and as a friend. He was superb in every role.
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William W. “Bill” Causey Sr.


“No one prepares to become the executive director of a state convention. There is no school to attend, no online courses to take and no repetitious training to fully prepare you for the decisions you will face, you need to take, or the reactions that often must be quick and controlled,” Futral continued. “If a person is prepared to do the job, it is only because God prepared him. The Lord had prepared Bill Causey to lead and serve Mississippi Baptists.

“Though his journey here is complete, his life and legacy will cast a long shadow across our state for decades to come,” Futral said.

Mississippi Baptist Convention President David Hamilton, pastor of West Heights Baptist Church in Pontotoc, said, “What a tremendous legacy Dr. Bill Causey leaves. Not only was he an effective pastor for many years, but for nine years he blessed Mississippi Baptists as our executive director-treasurer. He modeled servant-leadership for us all.”

Causey surrendered his life to Christian ministry as a high school senior in Greenville, Miss., in August 1948 and was ordained by First Baptist Church there in February 1951.

He received a divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 1955 and pastored Hopewell Church in Harrodsburg. He later was named a distinguished alumnus of the seminary and served as a trustee for 10 years.

Causey earned his undergraduate degree from Mississippi College (MC) in Clinton in 1952. While in college, he was president of the Baptist Student Union, served on the student government executive council and was vice president of his graduating class. He lettered in football, baseball and track and was inducted into the MC Sports Hall of Fame. He was voted among his classmates as Most Influential and Most Versatile. He later received distinguished alumnus awards from the college in sociology and in Bible.

Causey also served as a trustee of the Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson for 21 years, among numerous community activities.

Causey is survived by three children, Billy Causey, Carol Turner and Carley Causey, all of Clinton, and two grandsons.

A worship and memorial service was held at Parkway Baptist Church on Sept. 11 followed by burial at Lakewood Memorial Park Jackson.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the staff of The Baptist Record, newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.)
9/14/2012 10:24:07 AM by Baptist Press/The Baptist Record | with 0 comments



Luter outlines goals during seminary visit

September 14 2012 by T. Patrick Hudson, Baptist Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Fred Luter Jr. discussed his goals with more than 100 Kansas City-area pastors and denominational workers after delivering a chapel message at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., on Sept. 11.

Luter said he plans to be an advocate for spiritual revival, essential to the SBC’s success, in comments at a luncheon co-hosted by Midwestern and the Blue River-Kansas City, the Clay Platte and the Kansas City Kansas Baptist associations, attended by area pastors and various staff members.

“It all starts with revival. Revival starts in the pulpit, with the preachers,” Luter said. “You can’t expect revival in the pew if it doesn’t first happen in the pulpit. So we need pastors and congregations to call out for revival … then let’s watch God do what He does best in this convention.”

Greater African American involvement in SBC life, increased financial giving and the retention of young people in church bodies are also Luter’s goals.
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Photo by T. Patrick Hudson

Scott Gordon, pastor of Claycomo (Mo.) Baptist Church interacts with Fred Luter Jr. following a luncheon where the new SBC president outlined several goals for his tenure as convention president.


“But I’m not just going to appoint you to a position because you’re African American,” he said. “You have to participate and get involved – in your association, state and in the national convention. You’ve got to be present.”

Luter is asking all churches to increase their Cooperative Program (CP) giving by 1 percentage point of their budget.

“You’d be amazed at the number of missionaries we can put on the field, the number of churches we can plant, and the number of students we can train if all of our churches give just 1 more percent to the CP.”

Luter said he also will consider Cooperative Program giving when making appointments.

“You’ve got to be able to give,” he said. “Don’t just have your hands out saying, ‘What can I get from the association?’ We’re asking you to give a percentage of your tithes and offerings to the convention, your local associations and your state convention.”

Regarding the retention of young people in the SBC, Luter said the message of Jesus Christ doesn’t change but the methods to reach younger generations must change.

“There’s no way we can reach this iPad, iPhone, and iPod generation with eight-track ministry,” Luter said. “We’ve got to change some methods to reach them.”

Luter, senior pastor of New Orleans’ Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, made Midwestern the first stop on the SBC president’s traditional seminary tour.

“Our nation is in trouble,” Luter said in his chapel message.

“And the question of the hour is: ‘What is it going to take to change things in America?’” he asked, answering his question with the theme of his message, “The Transforming Power of the gospel,” drawn from Romans 1:16-17.

Providing a long list of society’s ungodly behavior, Luter said it is all part of the world that every believer participated in prior to their acceptance of Christ as Savior.

“What did it take to change you?” he asked the audience. “You had someone share the gospel of Jesus Christ with you…and you accepted it and were saved! Your life was transformed by the power of the gospel. And if God can change you, and you, and me, then why can’t God change them?”

In describing the transforming power of the gospel, Luter noted the gospel is personal, powerful, practical and persistent.

“The Word of God is the only thing I know that can penetrate years of sin and save the lost soul. That’s powerful!”

The gospel’s practicality, he said, means it can be accepted by anyone.

“No matter your race, culture or heritage, it’s practical for everyone. If you’re red, white, black or brown, you can receive the gospel. If you speak English, Spanish, French, German or Ebonics, you can receive the gospel!”

There’s no factor in life that the gospel cannot overcome, he said, because the blood of Jesus covers it all and that makes the gospel practical for everyone.

“No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve gone through, you can always depend on the gospel. Oh my brothers and sisters, God’s Word is crucial if we’re going to transform our culture, society, states and cities. God’s Word will continue to exist when everything else in life has failed – it is persistent. What America needs is the Word of God!”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – T. Patrick Hudson is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)
9/14/2012 10:20:21 AM by T. Patrick Hudson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Facebook, others, urged to allow free speech

September 14 2012 by Anne Reiner, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Media giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple should voluntarily abide by the First Amendment’s free speech requirement and fulfill their role as “gatekeepers to new web-based communications platforms,” according to a new proposal from the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB).

NRB presented its proposal Wednesday (Sept. 12), underscoring its concern that new media companies have stifled religious free speech. NRB offered the recommendation in a new document, “Free Speech Charter for the Internet,” made public at a Washington, D.C., news conference.

“We are calling on the better angels of their nature to come up out of the shadows to dialogue with us and others about solving this problem because it will increase, I believe, not decrease,” said Craig Parshall, NRB senior vice president and general counsel, as well as director of the association’s John Milton Project.

Though media corporations are privately owned and have the property rights to their own devices, they do not have the right to demand individual users change their view or content upon condition of being published, NRB said.

NRB’s proposal could provide significant, large-scale change, said Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center.

“There are millions of Americans who will be responsive to this message,” Haynes told Baptist Press. “The more people who are seen as outraged and upset, the more likely these sites will change.”

NRB offered the proposal as a solution to the religious censorship problem it noted in last September’s report, “True Liberty in a New Media Age.” The new report calls on giant web-based corporations to enhance a free marketplace of ideas by “voluntarily adopt[ing] robust, free speech standards.”

NRB’s report included many examples of religious censorship throughout the Internet:

– The most recent instance of censorship cited occurred when Facebook took down a page created by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee that called for a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. This took place soon after Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s president, acknowledged his unabashed support for traditional marriage between a man and a woman. The page was removed for 12 hours but restored after a public outcry.

– Of its 425,000 apps, iTunes barred from its store the Manhattan Declaration, a Christian statement created in part by the late Chuck Colson that promotes traditional marriage and the sanctity of life. It took the same action against Exodus International, a Christian support system for individuals and families affected by homosexual issues.

– YouTube removed the video of a rabbi giving a documentation of the Old Testament view of traditional marriage and a series of documentaries of pro-lifer Lila Rose’s undercover work at Planned Parenthood clinics that showed employees supporting unethical or illegal practices.

“Successful platforms of communications are now becoming an engine of constraining speech,” said Frank Wright, NRB’s president and chief executive officer.

Though such media giants are not required to allow free speech under constitutional law, NRB is stressing the benefits for these companies if they do give voice to the complete marketplace of ideas. Instead of acting on the whim of the greater public, they will have set a standard by which to build free enterprise and speech for all, according to NRB.

“It is bad precedent to say we can censor what we don’t like,” said Brian Walsh, executive director of the American Religious Freedom Program, during a panel discussion after the release of the NRB document at the National Press Club.

NRB has sent individual letters to Apple, Google and Facebook regarding its proposal but has received no response.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Anne Reiner, a senior at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., is attending the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’ Washington Journalism Center this semester and serving as an intern with Baptist Press.)
9/14/2012 10:14:04 AM by Anne Reiner, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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