September 2016

Suits in Ohio, Minnesota join list of Title IX challenges

September 21 2016 by Bonnie Pritchett, WORLD News Service

Lawsuits recently filed in Ohio and Minnesota have joined the burgeoning docket of cases challenging the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance on gender identity and restroom use in public schools. The suits illustrate the issue’s divisiveness – the Ohio school district refuses to accept the federal government’s demands, while the Minnesota district accepted the redefinition of “sex,” prompting parents to sue.
 
Families in Virginia also are challenging a local school district’s decision to adopt new definitions of gender and sex, and last week the state supreme court agreed to hear that case in the coming months. An unidentified student and that student’s parents, along with a school district resident, sued the Fairfax County School Board after it voted to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in its nondiscrimination policy. A lower court upheld the policy, and the families appealed.
 
Attorney Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represents the plaintiffs, argued the school board’s decision violated state law prohibiting local entities from establishing nondiscrimination policies more comprehensive than state law, which does not include the district’s three additions.
 
Due to parental backlash and the advancement of a similar case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the school board voted in July to temporarily suspend the policy pending further review. In a statement released after a closed-door session, the board said “it needs additional time to evaluate the legal issues surrounding the regulation, including a case now pending before the Supreme Court on this topic from a Virginia school district.”
 
The other case involves a transgender student’s lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board, which wants to keep locker rooms separated by biological sex. The U.S. Supreme Court indicated in August it would hear that case.
 
Meanwhile a group of Minnesota parents added their lawsuit, Privacy Matters v. DOE, to the growing list of plaintiffs outraged by what their attorneys call a “legally baseless directive” and their school district’s submission to the federal demands.
 
Before school started this year, the Virginia School District, about 60 miles north of Duluth, Minn., amended its nondiscrimination policy to include protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The changes came following the May release of a Department of Education and Department of Justice “guidance letter” directing all publicly funded schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their choice.
 
As a result, a male student who identifies as female joined the girls’ track team and began using the girls’ locker room to change for workouts. In the subsequent lawsuit, filed by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the student is referred to as “Student X.”
 
“Early in the season, Student X changed fully or partially in a restroom stall, but then after changing he would sit on a bench in the locker room while Girl Plaintiff A and other girls changed their clothes,” the lawsuit states.
 
Before long, Student X began changing in front of the girls, “stripping down to tight women’s boy short-style underwear” and “would dance in a sexually explicit manner – ‘twerking,’ ‘grinding’ or dancing like he was on a ‘stripper pole’ to songs with explicit lyrics,” according to the lawsuit.
 
When district administrators refused to rectify the situation, parents sued. The lawsuit, filed Sept. 7 in district court, asks the court to suspend the local policy and invalidate the Department of Education’s Title IX interpretation.
 
In Ohio, the Highland Local School District has refused to comply with the DOE directive. In a lawsuit challenging the guidance, the district said it will not allow “a student who professes a gender that conflicts with that student’s biological sex to access intimate facilities like overnight accommodations, locker rooms, showers, and restrooms designated for and used by students of the opposite sex.”
 
ADF filed a motion in July on behalf of the district’s Board of Education, asking a federal court to prevent the DOE from withholding federal funds from the district while the lawsuit is pending.
 
“Defendants and their agents are openly and aggressively threatening to revoke those schools’ federal funding simply because they are trying to balance the rights and interests of all students,” the lawsuit states.
 
Noncompliance could cost the Highland Local School District up to $1 million a year in federal funding – much of that earmarked for special education and lunch programs for underprivileged students, according to the district.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bonnie Pritchett writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission.)
 

Related articles:
11 states sue White House over transgender directive
Iowa churches counter gender identity law
He, she, huh?: Pronoun campaign ‘cultural Marxism’
Changing genders isn’t morally wrong, Americans say
Transgenderism is growing ministry focus
Sexual identity report lauded as pastor resource
Transgender restroom bill applied to Mass. churches
 

9/21/2016 7:40:53 AM by Bonnie Pritchett, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



Teen is youngest legal euthanasia victim in Belgium

September 21 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

A terminally ill 17-year-old has become the first minor to die of euthanasia in Belgium, the French news agency AFP reported Sept. 18.
 
Belgium lifted age restrictions on euthanasia in 2014, becoming the first country in the world to allow terminally-ill children of any age to choose death, as long as certain conditions are met.
 
Neither the teen’s identity nor medical condition prior to the procedure were disclosed by Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission charged with considering such requests, AFP reported.
 
“Fortunately, there are very few children who are considered [for euthanasia] but that does not mean we should refuse them the right to a dignified death,” euthanasia commission chief Wim Distelmans told AFP.
 
Commission member Jacqueline Herremans confirmed to the AFP that the procedure was conducted in accordance with Belgian law, which requires – among other stipulations – requests from a recipient who is conscious, capable of making rational decisions and suffering from physical instead of only psychological pain.
 
Belgium is among at least five countries including the Netherlands, Luxembourg, India and Colombia that allow euthanasia, distinguished by the physician dispensing a death-causing agent directly, according to the online resource newhealthguide.org.
 
Active euthanasia is illegal across the U.S., but physician-assisted suicide, distinguished by patients themselves administering a prescribed lethal medication, is legal in California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state. Passive euthanasia, in which patients refuse treatment or require pain management to hasten death, is legal across the U.S., newhealthguide.org said.
 
Belgium’s law requires that child recipients of euthanasia be deemed “in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and which will cause death in the short term,” AFP said. Requests must be made by the minor, studied by a team of doctors including an independent psychiatrist or psychologist, and approved by a parent.
 
Other Belgian minors have requested euthanasia but were denied, Herremans told AFP, describing the approval procedure as “very controlled,” “often very long,” and particularly difficult when it concerns minors.
 
Euthanasia killings totaled more than 2,000 in Belgium last year among all ages, AFP reported.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

9/21/2016 7:40:23 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Christians massacred in Central African Republic

September 21 2016 by Morning Star News, East Africa correspondent

Muslim militants slaughtered 26 civilians in a predominantly Christian village in the Central African Republic on Sept. 16, the worst violence in the embattled country in months, sources said.
 
Rebels from the former Seleka group attacked the village of Ndomete, about 220 miles north of the capital city of Bangui, at 8 p.m. and went door-to-door killing Christians, a source in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo told Morning Star News.
 
Fighting between Seleka, officially disbanded in 2013, and Christian “anti-Balaka” militias has increased in the past year, but government and U.N. officials said Friday’s attack targeted civilians. Violence between Muslim and Christian militias hit nearby Kaga-Bandoro, where the Central African Republic’s U.N. peacekeeping mission reportedly quelled the violence over the weekend, but an area Christian leader cast doubt on the country’s ability to bring order.
 
“If the government is not going to beef up the security, then we are going to defend ourselves,” he said. “We shall not keep quiet as our brothers are dying.”
 
Hostility between Muslims and Christians worsened in 2013, when Seleka deposed then-President Francois Bozize and installed Michel Djotodia, a Muslim. Djotodia announced the disbanding of Seleka in September 2013, but the rebels have since rampaged throughout the country, killing Christians and political enemies, leading to the formation of Christian militias to counter them.
 
Human Rights Watch has documented executions, rape and looting by ex-Seleka fighters. On May 28, 2014, rebels killed 11 people in a grenade and shooting attack at the Church of Fatima in Bangui.
 
In February former prime minister Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected president, bringing hope that political and religious conflict would subside, but rebel and militia fighters are still active outside the capital.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Morning Star News is a California-based independent news service focusing on the persecution of Christians worldwide. Used by permission.)
 

9/21/2016 7:39:58 AM by Morning Star News, East Africa correspondent | with 0 comments



Platt to deliver convention sermon at Annual Meeting

September 20 2016 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

David Platt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, will deliver this year’s convention sermon as part of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) annual meeting, scheduled Nov. 14-15 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.

David Platt


The theme of this year’s meeting is “Impact: Compelling the Lost to Come to Life” based on Luke 14:23, which reads “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled’” (NKJV).
 
Platt will preach during a special “Impact” worship service, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on Tues., Nov. 15. The service will also include musicians from The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, who will lead attendees in worship.
 
“I’m looking forward to gathering together with you, worshipping that night, diving into the word and encouraging one another as we work [and] partner together for the spread of the gospel from North Carolina to the nations,” Platt said.
 
The “Impact” worship service will mark the culmination of the two-day annual meeting in which messengers will be challenged to impact their world for Christ. Throughout the meeting, messengers and attendees will hear ministry reports and testimonies about how the lost are coming to faith in Christ and reaching others with the gospel, here in North Carolina, across the country and around the world.
 
The “Impact” worship service and all of the sessions of annual meeting are free and open to the public.
 
BSC President Timmy Blair Sr., pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier, will deliver the annual president’s address on Monday night (Nov. 14), and Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, will share an update on the convention’s strategy of “impacting lostness through disciple-making” on Tuesday morning.
 
Messengers will also elect new convention officers, adopt a Cooperative Program budget and conduct other convention business during the annual meeting. Messengers and attendees can also learn practical ways they can have an impact for Christ through a number of breakout sessions scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
 
Other events scheduled in conjunction with annual meeting – such as the Heavenly Banquet, Great Commission Partnerships breakfast and sessions on partnerships with Boston, New York and Toronto – will spotlight how N.C. Baptists can be involved in missions on the local, state, national and international levels.
 
Through the various ministry reports, testimonies, breakout sessions and related events, messengers will learn about the changing landscape of North Carolina and how to minister and reach others in communities that are becoming increasingly diverse. Individuals from parts of the world that have little or no access to the gospel are now calling North Carolina home, which has created a tremendous opportunity for a global gospel impact.
 
“Acts. 17:25-27 makes clear that God is orchestrating the movement of peoples that they might seek Him and be found by Him,” Platt said. “God is doing that in North Carolina. He’s bringing the nations to you in all sorts of specific ways, in specific communities and in specific cities.
 
“I just want to encourage you to continue to open your eyes to the opportunities that are right around you for the spread of the gospel to the nations right there in North Carolina, and then to connect that work in North Carolina with what God is doing in those actual nations far from North Carolina.”

Visit the annual meeting website – ncannualmeeting.org – to make room reservations, register for other related events and check out the complete program schedule.
 

9/20/2016 8:34:37 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Baptists on Mission celebrates 40 years of ministry

September 20 2016 by Emily Rojas, BSC Communications

The year was 1976, and Ed Bullock had just been appointed as the executive director of a newly formed auxiliary of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) – a ministry called N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM). Now, 40 years later, N.C. Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission, has a legacy to celebrate.


With 17 ministries to its name that span from agricultural missions to sports and recreation ministries, NCBM has been able to serve in a variety of different fields. Since 1997, NCBM has distributed more than 6.2 million meals and treated more than 58,000 patients on its medical/dental buses. NCBM and its ministries are possible because of the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) – 41 percent of the funds received in the offering go toward NCBM. NCBM is funded almost entirely by the NCMO, and NCMO support helps the ministry share God’s love with hurting people through word and deed.
 
Lynn Tharrington has worked for NCBM since 1971 – a time when the office was still the BSC’s Brotherhood department, existing to do mostly missions education for North Carolina Baptist churches. Tharrington has served alongside all three of the auxiliary’s directors, allowing her to see firsthand the effect that acts of service can have on the lives of others over the course of her 45-year career with NCBM.
She recalled a time when NCBM was embarking on its first disaster relief mission – helping with cleanup after tornados ripped through Red Springs, N.C., in 1984.
 
“At that time, nobody had ever heard of disaster relief,” Tharrington said. “But God did have that vision. He knew what He was preparing us for.”
 
Jim Burchette, a volunteer with NCBM since it was the BSC’s Brotherhood department, said that before the tornado devastated Red Springs, no one saw a reason for disaster relief missions. At that time, NCBM was operating its new disaster relief program out of a trailer.


“People would see the trailer and say, ‘What’s that for?’” Burchette said. “They would say, ‘We don’t have disasters here, we don’t need that.’ And then the tornado came, and they saw that they did need it.”
Since then, Burchette has seen NCBM expand. Though he never worked in disaster relief himself – he volunteered with disaster relief training and international missions – he has seen God’s hand at work through the disaster relief teams as NCBM continues to grow.
 
Today, the disaster relief ministry – far from its beginnings in a trailer – now possesses an entire fleet of relief units. This fleet includes field kitchen units, recovery units, shower units, laundry units and many more.
 
Richard Brunson, the current executive director of NCBM, said that it’s been a blessing to see God expanding NCBM since he began working in his position in 1992. Though the ministry has developed, he said the focus of NCBM remains the same.
 
“Our job is to help churches involve their members in missions,” Brunson said. “We want to challenge all men, women and students to be involved in missions.”
 
Brunson said a large part of NCBM’s growth over the years had to do with helping Baptists understand that they can be missionaries in their day-to-day lives. Many people give to missions and pray for missions, but they often don’t see themselves as missionaries, Brunson said. NCBM helps change that mindset.
 
“We wanted to change the story from missions education to missions involvement, with every Christian being a missionary,” Brunson said. “All Christians are called, gifted and sent.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – N.C. Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission receives a major portion of its funding from the North Carolina Missions Offering, ncmissionsoffering.org, which makes the disaster relief ministry and others like it possible.)
 

9/20/2016 8:34:09 AM by Emily Rojas, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Pray for 30 Days: Q&A with Chris Schofield

September 20 2016 by BSC Communications

For the fifth consecutive year, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is calling on all N.C. Baptists to unite together in 30 days of focused prayer for revival and spiritual awakening during the month of October.

Chris Schofield


Chris Schofield, director of the BSC’s Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening, has authored a devotional prayer guide for October’s “Pray for 30 Days” emphasis.
 
The devotional is titled, “Impact,” with aligns with the theme of this year’s BSC annual meeting, scheduled for Nov. 14-15 in Greensboro.
 
Individuals may download a copy of the devotional or purchase a printed copy by visiting prayfor30days.org. Many additional resources are also available at the website, including resources in Spanish.
 
Schofield recently took some time to answer some questions related to this prayer, spiritual awakening and this year’s prayer emphasis. His responses are below.
 
Q: Why is prayer a necessary first step for believers individually and the church collectively to have an impact on the world for Christ?
 
A: Prayer is at the heart of our relationship with Christ. If we are not setting our hearts and our lives and our focus on Him in prayer, then we’re certainly not going to be able to be with Him where He is. Jesus prayed for that in John 17:24.
 
He asked the Father that those “whom You gave Me may be with where I am, that they may behold My glory.” If we’re ever going to impact the lost world, we’ve got to be with Jesus, and we’ll never be with Jesus if we’re not walking with Him through prayer.
 
Q: This year’s devotionals are based primarily on Joel 2. What led you to this passage, and why is it a fitting passage for the times we’re living in today?
 
A: I always pray that the Lord would lead me to a passage to work through. Joel 2 is a pivotal text on God’s people departing from Him in their sin, being judged by Him for their sin and Him offering them the opportunity to return to Him in godliness and holiness to avert the devastation that’s coming. In fact, it’s one of those great pictures in scripture of when God demonstrates His great mercy through a locust plague and brings a deeper level of judgment and chastisement because of His love for His people.
This is where we are as a nation, but more so, this is where we are as the church in America. We have departed from Him.
 
We have depended upon our own methodologies, our own strategies and our own ways, and we’ve taken our focus off of Him.
 
We are called to be holy as He is holy. Joel 2 reminds us of the reality that revival will only come God’s way, and His way involves rending our hearts before Him in repentance and relationship.
 
Q: How do you hope believers will be challenged and encouraged through these devotionals and the 30 days of prayer in October?
 
A: The beautiful message of Joel 2 is that there is hope.
 
From the very beginning, you see devastation from the locust plague, but what we see in chapter two is God saying, “I love you so much that I’m not going to let you continue in your sinful ways.”
 
In this text, we also see a northern army that’s coming to destroy them.
 
But God’s people have the opportunity to blow the trumpet and sound the alarm because He is a gracious and merciful God.
 
From the very beginning it’s a word of encouragement to His people that the verdict is not out yet. There’s still that opportunity for His people to return to Him and be restored.
 
Restoration can come only by the hand of the Lord. If God is against us, then nobody can be for us. But if God is for us, then nobody can be against us.
 
This passage allows us to see the mercy of God come as He hears the cries of His people when they turn from their wicked ways and He gives them another chance. There is great hope in that message.
 
I pray that God’s people will see that His character is truly being demonstrated through this text in that day, but also in this day. God is saying to us, “You are My people. I want you to come back to Me, and if you will return to Me, then I can restore the years that the locusts have eaten.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Visit prayfor30days.org for more information about the “Pray for 30 Days” emphasis. At the site, you may also register to receive daily devotions via email or sign up to receive daily prayer prompts via text messages. Resources are also available in Spanish at orepor30dia.org.)

 

9/20/2016 8:32:48 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments



N.C. missions offering prepares the way

September 20 2016 by Emily Rojas, BSC Communications

For almost a year now, North Carolina Baptists on Mission, also known as N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM) has been conducting a mission in South Carolina in response to the devastating floods that swept the area in early October 2015.

NCBM Photo


Since October, a team of NCBM volunteers has been diligently working to rebuild and clean up homes, as well as prepare meals, provide showers and do loads of laundry in an effort to serve and assist the victims of the floods in the affected areas.
 
At first, the teams responded to cleanup efforts, as those needs were the most immediate. However, in January 2016, the rebuild efforts began when a rebuild site opened in the Johnsonville/Hemingway area of South Carolina.
 
Betsy Humphries, whose home in South Carolina was damaged by the floods, said she lost one-third of her belongings when the floods came. “I could never, never, if I live to be a 1,000, repay all those who have been a part of the repairs and fixing this for me,” she said. “I don’t have words to say.”
 
This disaster relief ministry is possible because of the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) – 41 percent of the funds received in the offering go toward NCBM. NCBM is funded almost entirely by the NCMO, and its mission is to share God’s love with hurting people through word and deed.


Recently, NCBM has also done disaster relief work in West Virginia and Louisiana after torrential floods also affected parts of those states. Relief teams have been working in West Virginia since June, and NCBM teams recently began work in Louisiana in late August. In both states, NCBM volunteers are showing God’s love to people though fixing their homes, cleaning up their communities and providing them with showers and food.
 
“I see this rebuild as one of our biggest ministry tools,” said Bill Martin, NCBM’s on-site coordinator in South Carolina. “Many times, it opens the door to share why you’re here. This is an opportunity for your church to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
 

9/20/2016 8:32:19 AM by Emily Rojas, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Red Bags – gifts from an open heart

September 20 2016 by Carol Layton, NCBAM

“I lived bad for a long time.”
 
Sonny Westmoreland’s direct gaze, glistening eye and the raw way he adds, “I put my wife through some hard times,” bespeak a man whose deliverance is not taken for granted. Like his testimony, Westmoreland’s life demonstrates a grateful man who does good wherever he can – not for atonement but in thankfulness for it – and in hope of sparing others.

NCBAM photo
Sonny Westmoreland keeps Red Bags stashed in the trunk of his car – ready to share with friends or strangers. One family reported using a Red Bag during emergency transport to a hospital. “Her daughter told me they were real pleased they had the Red Bag,” he said.


Retired for 18 years and widowed for five, 80-year-old Westmoreland does not let grass grow under his feet. Or his neighbor’s for that matter. He stays active helping others – like the frail neighbor whose yard he mows each week, or the numerous walk-a-thons he participates in each year – chiefly the annual Relay for Life where he walks one lap for each year since his successful treatment for lung cancer. Last year, that was 29 laps – seven and a quarter miles, with only one lung. He also is an active deacon at Haymore Memorial Baptist Church in Mount Airy and a weekly volunteer at a local food pantry and clothes closet.
 
Westmoreland also “opens the doors, turns on the lights, and makes the coffee” two evenings each week at a local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. “I used to go seven nights a week, but now just two – but not to keep from drinking. God gave me that program. Now, it’s my obligation to be there for others. You can’t do a lot for people at AA; they have to do it for themselves. But they have to have a place to go; so I keep the doors open for them.”
 
Westmoreland is frank about the addiction to alcohol that threatened his marriage and life. After his “Savior, Jesus Christ,” Westmoreland credits his wife Polly for seeing him through. “We met on a blind date when I got back from Korea. I kept my drinking secret until we married, and then I couldn’t any longer.”  
 
In May 1972, after 15 years of turmoil, Westmoreland found himself in the Alcohol Recovery Center (ARC) in Butner, N.C. Retelling a memory from those first days of sobriety still casts a shadow across his face.

NCBAM photo
Sonny Westmoreland was married to Polly for 53 years. “I’ve never done enough to deserve the good that God has done to me – the wife and the life he gave me.”


“They made a movie of the get-acquainted session on the first day and showed it to us later. I was disgusted to see my nasty, rude attitude.”
 
Afterwards, Westmoreland dropped to his knees and prayed, “If You’re really up there, show me what to do. I never want to be that person again.”  
 
Family dynamics were part of the treatment, so Polly was asked to stay at ARC for 28 days. “I had given her some pretty hard times, so I told them, ‘She won’t come.’ But she came on Sunday and stayed 28 days. Our kids were eight and nine.”
 
Polly became a Christian as a teenager, but Westmoreland’s road was longer. After two years of sobriety, he began attending church with Polly. “One Sunday, when they had the altar call, I felt I had to go up. I was baptized in a lake on the side of Turner Mountain in the summer of ’74.”
 
Because of relocations and loss of contact, it took Westmoreland 40 years to complete step nine of AA’s 12 steps to recovery – “make direct amends to all persons harmed.”  “I sure dreaded going to some people. The last man on my list was a good man who taught me to never give up on anybody. I’m grateful God gave me the chance to make amends with him after 40 years. Now I can say that, by the grace of God, every person on my list accepted my apology.”
 
Westmoreland’s bucolic home – built with his own hands – sits atop a ridge in the foothills of North Carolina. A vista of undulating green fields softens into the haze of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon. Inside, Polly’s touch is still evident – the cozy rocker, the personalized cookie jar, and her worn Bible – an apt sequel – resting on the sofa’s end-table. It’s easy to imagine she might emerge from the kitchen with a warm smile and a tray of coffee.
 
The five years since Polly’s passing have been marked by many firsts – the first Christmas, the first anniversary, the first steps of great-grandchildren. Firsts now come further apart. But this year brought another one – the first time he’d planted green beans without her. Last Christmas, he opened the last of the 27 quarts he’d canned while she gave directions. “That last summer, she wasn’t up to it, so she talked me through it.” The tender green shoots peeking through the cold soil will provide another first later this summer.
 
“We had the best 39 years anyone could ever have.” The fact that Sonny and Polly were married for 53 years doesn’t dim his appreciation for the years when he says he “came closer to giving her the husband she deserved.”
 
Life has offered Westmoreland exceptional opportunities for despair: addiction, cancer, and most recently, widowhood. But he has declined each one – choosing instead to keep his chin up and be a blessing.  His service to others is powerful because it stems from a heart connection – like his Red Bag ministry. “I see Red Bags as a way to honor Polly. She worked in a doctor’s office 45 years. If she were living, she would be right here with me, getting them in the hands of people who need them.”
 
Westmoreland first learned of Red Bags when Martha McDowell, central regional director for North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) shared “Priority #1: Prevention” programs at his church. “I could see the need for these right away,” says Westmoreland.
 
He pitched Red Bags as a ministry outreach to his pastor and fellow deacons and they jumped on board. Westmoreland also purchases bags and routinely shares them with others.
 
Deacon Eric Southern, an EMS supervisor, and Westmoreland have spoken on a local radio program sharing medication safety tips such as storing medicines in one place and making them accessible to emergency responders. Westmoreland appreciates that each Red Bag comes with the plan of salvation. “If they are not a Christian, this Red Bag will give them another chance,” concludes Sonny Westmoreland – ever the lover of a good second chance.
 

What’s a Red Bag?

Red Bags for medication management are part of NCBAM’s “Priority #1: Prevention” programs that include smoke detectors, grab bars and fall and fire prevention strategies. Red Bags make it convenient to store medications in one location and to transport medications to doctor visits. The bright red color makes it easy for emergency responders to spot – and receive a quick answer to the question they often ask first, “What medications are you taking?” NCBAM Red Bags include the plan of salvation and an insert where the purpose and dosage of each medication can be written. Red Bags are available from NCBAM for $3 each with a minimum 50-bag order. Call (877) 506.2226 for more information. Visit ncbam.org.
 

9/20/2016 8:31:26 AM by Carol Layton, NCBAM | with 0 comments



Churches called to action for Global Hunger Sunday

September 19 2016 by BGR and BR staff

When Southern Baptists observe the annual Global Hunger Sunday the second Sunday in October, they will be called to act out the powerful love of Jesus, who the Bible says was “moved with compassion” for people in desperate need.


Scripture recounts several instances, like the one recorded in Matthew 14:14, when Jesus saw a large crowd, was moved with compassion for them and took powerful action to meet their needs. The Greek word translated ‘compassion’ refers to tender emotions, deeply felt feelings or a deep churning in a person’s spirit.
 
We might call it “gut wrenching.”
 
That kind of compassion compels a response, and Baptist Global Response (BGR) offers multiple ways to get involved. BGR, a Southern Baptist humanitarian aid organization, has published a new media kit to help churches promote Global Hunger Sun., Oct. 9.
 
The kit contains a poster, a slide, a promotional video, three versions of a bulletin insert and three hunger-related sermon outlines. Southern Baptist churches can use these resources to raise awareness about Global Hunger Sunday, an annual giving event for Global Hunger Relief (GHR).
 
Formerly known as the World Hunger Fund, GHR is an initiative of the Southern Baptist Convention that funds hunger projects in North America and around the world.  
 
BGR serves as the administrator for GHR funds used in international food assistance and hunger-related projects.
 
BGR Executive Director Jeff Palmer says church involvement in GHR is a crucial part of efforts to end hunger.
 
“Every one of our GHR-funded projects overseas comes from a locally approved strategy,” he says.
 
“The church in the United States is critical to our ability to respond to massive hunger needs globally. Through the prayers of the saints for those suffering, the gifts from our membership that fund our ministries and the partnership of Christians who join us in hunger projects, BGR brings a wider influence of Southern Baptist and kingdom resources to those in great need.”
 
Established in 2006, BGR uses these resources to connect people in need with people who care. It also works with international disaster relief efforts and community development.
 
But, hunger relief remains one of BGR’s top priorities.
 
Through GHR and Global Hunger Sunday, Southern Baptists help BGR work toward its goal to feed as many undernourished as possible. In 2015, the organization gave food assistance to 173,000 people.
 
“BGR fully integrates the meeting of physical needs with spiritual needs, which, I believe, is at the heart of those individuals and churches who give to Global Hunger Relief,” Jill Waggoner, lead brand strategist for GHR, said.
 
“We live in a time of global awareness on an unprecedented scale. The people in our churches, I believe, seek to care for those in their communities and around the world who are in desperate circumstances.”
 
In past years, churches have planned creative events and campaigns to raise funds for a special offering on Global Hunger Sunday, said Mary Frances Satterwhite, BGR office director.
 
Some host meals to raise awareness for hunger, designating all money charged per meal to the offering. Churches and individuals can also order “bread banks” from the Woman’s Missionary Union to collect change and cash.
 
They can utilize the bank, which looks like a loaf of bread, as a tool to start conversations about world hunger.
 
Those interested in helping the hungry this year can find the Global Hunger Sunday media kit on the resources page of BGR’s website, gobgr.org. GHR has also published its own resources for the giving event.
 

9/19/2016 2:54:41 PM by BGR and BR staff | with 0 comments



Military-focused event to build ‘spiritual resilience’

September 19 2016 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Military service men and women endure rigorous training and demonstrate rugged heroism, but that doesn’t make them invincible. In fact, they are subject to unique and sometimes extreme difficulties because of their vocation, according to Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest.

Submitted photo
Military personnel are sometimes subject to extreme difficulties because of their vocation. An upcoming conference – Spiritual Resilience Conference – is designed to encourage these men and women as well as those who work with them.


“Those who serve in our military are heroes and persons who make incredible sacrifices,” he said in an email to the Biblical Recorder. “They also are normal human beings who are vulnerable, under enormous pressure and subject to sorrow and hurt in so many ways.”
 
Akin is one of the speakers for an upcoming conference meant to encourage those in the military community who may be suffering. The event is called the “Spiritual Resilience Conference,” scheduled Oct. 28-29 at Braggtown Baptist Church in Durham.
 
Eric Burmahl, lead pastor of Braggtown and conference organizer, wrote on the event’s website, “Resilience. It is a word that is used often in the military context. You hear references such as ‘we bend but do not break.’ That sounds very noble but many in the military community (current and veteran) are struggling.
 
“In addition to [the] demands of duty, our active/guard/reserve forces are experiencing multiple deployments, sexual assault, suicide and broken marriages. Many of our veterans are not receiving the care that they need from our [Veterans Affairs] system, are homeless, are abusing substances and are dealing with the effects of post traumatic stress disorder.”
 
Akin said, “This conference is designed to love [the military community], serve them and minister to their souls the healing and strengthening truths of Scripture. I am honored to be a part of it. It gives me, in a very small way, the opportunity to say thank you!”
 
In addition to Akin and Burmahl, other speakers include Bobby Welch, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Douglas Carver, retired U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains (Major General) and executive director of chaplain services for the North American Mission Board; Larry Purcell, SEBTS associate dean and professor of leadership and discipleship; Wes Modder, retired military chaplain and president of Freedom to Stand Ministries; Sonny Hernandez, military chaplain; Michael Berry, senior counsel and director of military affairs for First Liberty Institute; and Jonathan Dowty, author and military fighter pilot.
 
Berry said in an email to the Recorder that Christians should join the military and remain there long-term.
 
“There is growing hostility to religion and religious freedom in America,” he said, “and the military is no exception.”
 
Berry continued, “If our service members are to be spiritually resilient, they must be free and unafraid to live out their faith. Our brave military men and women must understand that resilience only forms when there is challenge. Therefore, they must not only be physically fit, morally fit and mentally fit, but they must be spiritually fit.”
 
Conference attendees can hear Berry expand on the topic during his talk, “Christian Rights in the Battle of Religious Liberty.”
 
Visit bbcdurham.com for more information.
 

9/19/2016 2:54:09 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



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