September 2017

Gaines to Executive Committee: Do you see lostness?

September 20 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Prayer and evangelism will enable the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to abide and continue its work in an increasingly eclectic society, SBC President Steve Gaines told the Executive Committee (EC) during its 2017 fall meeting in Nashville.

Photo by Morris Abernathy
Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines exhorted pastors and laity to pray, love the lost and spread the gospel during his Sept. 18 address at the SBC Executive Committee meeting in Nashville.

SBC leaders and laity must see and love the lost so much that it creates a burden that the lost be saved, Gaines said in his address Sept. 18 at the SBC Building. He exhorted the Executive Committee, other Southern Baptist leaders and SBC employees gathered before him, to understand and love the disadvantaged, and to show them the love of Christ.
“I want to tell you this,” said Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. “The future of the Southern Baptist Convention depends on whether or not we will prioritize prayer and evangelism. I don’t care where you are on the theological spectrum, if you don’t believe in prayer and evangelism, there’s no hope.
“We’ve got to embrace it.”
Gaines anchored his address in Paul’s ministry in Athens highlighted in Acts 17:16-33, briefly shared his personal testimony of repentance, and referenced the familiar sermon of the beloved late pastor E.V. Hill on “Why I Don’t Want to Go to Hell.”
“Do you see the fact, and do you sense the fact, that lost people are really going to hell, and they’re not getting out?” asked Gaines, as he shared descriptions of hell from Hill’s famous sermon. “Do you sense lostness like that? Do you see lostness?”
When Paul entered Athens, Gaines noted, he was repulsed by the idolatry he encountered. He saw the lostness in the city. He sensed it. He called it out, and he shared the only gospel capable of overcoming lostness. Like Paul, and like Jesus who gave Paul the heart and the eyes to see and sense lostness, Southern Baptists must be bold and share the gospel to save the lost, Gaines said.
“I don’t care how many degrees you have; you could have as many degrees as a thermometer,” he said. “You have not preached the gospel if you don’t give people a chance to respond to it, then and there.”
Gaines also exhorted Southern Baptists to understand the downtrodden and to show compassion to those who didn’t grow up under the nurturing environment others might have enjoyed.
“Do you see someone and you say, ah, ‘would you just get a job?’ Or do you see a little boy who’s growing up in some very difficult times?’” asked Gaines, as he told a hypothetical story drawn from true societal ills. Unlike others, he noted, this child often went to school hungry and dirty, and had no one to help him with homework when he returned home at the end of the school day.
“He didn’t have any books at home like some of the other children, and he couldn’t learn to read. And because he couldn’t learn to read, he couldn’t really process in school,” Gaines said. “And so he drops out, he gets in a gang, and all of a sudden, we see somebody, and we say, ah ‘If he’d just get a job.’
“I’ve got news for you; God sees him differently than that,” Gaines said.
Remembering personal stories of repentance, coupled with the personal sadness of being lost, could help Southern Baptists prioritize sharing the gospel and praying for the salvation of lost souls, Gaines said.
“If somebody hadn’t seen my lostness, sensed my lostness and shared with me how I could be saved, I wouldn’t be standing up here,” Gaines said. “I know that I’d be divorced. I know that I would be a drunkard. I know that I would have lived a life cursing people, hating people. I would have been a racist.”
Gaines led listeners in praying that God would enable them to see, love and evangelize the lost, and closed his sermon by invoking the familiar hymn, “Love Lifted Me.”
“But I was sinking deep in sin; I was far from the peaceful shore. Very deeply I was stained within, I was sinking to rise no more,” Gaines said of himself. “But the master of the sea, heard my despairing cry, and from those waters – I’ve been in those waters – He lifted me.
“Now safe am I.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

9/20/2017 12:41:02 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Best ways to give in times of crisis

September 20 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Mickey Caison has seen it many times in his disaster relief career. Well-meaning folks collect a truckload of food and clothing, drive perhaps hundreds of miles to a disaster zone, but can find no place to deliver the goods.

CBS screen grab
After the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, donated clothing rotted in piles on the beach before relief workers burned them, the ashes floating out to sea.

Deciding “let’s put a trailer on the lot and fill it up with goods to take to Texas, is the most ineffective way of providing support,” Caison told Baptist Press (BP) from Houston, where he is coordinating the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) response to Hurricane Harvey’s destruction there.
“We’re actually seeing vehicles – vans, pick-ups, rental trucks, there have been 18 wheelers – that are riding around trying to find some place to give goods that they’ve collected in other places,” Caison said. “Out of the goodness of their hearts, they were moved to action in meeting needs.” But they failed to consider such details as actual needs, warehousing, distribution and whether the same goods could be purchased locally, he said.
More effective responses include donating cash through trusted channels and providing supplies expressly requested by churches and other organizations, Caison told BP. Southern Baptists may also receive official response training in advance of disasters, allowing them to volunteer in such areas as feeding or debris removal.
Buying gift cards and bank cards that allow survivors to purchase their own choice of goods is also an option, as it gives the recipient dignity while stimulating the local economy.
“It’s so much better to be done that way,” he said, “and more effective in meeting the [fluctuating] needs of clients.”
Jeff Palmer, CEO of Southern Baptist international relief partner Baptist Global Response (BGR), also recommends cash donations. He applauds the convenience and effectiveness of donation channels provided by Southern Baptists, including the Cooperative Program, disaster relief ministries of individual state conventions, the Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief Fund and such North American Mission Board (NAMB) outreaches as Send Relief.
These channels are “the best way to help if you want to give a financial contribution,” Palmer told BP. “And we’re [BGR] mobilizing [trained] volunteers, we’re mobilizing resources that are close to the source.”
While BGR is not an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), it does heartily promote and endorse the SBC’s Cooperative Program (CP). BGR’s partnership with Southern Baptists in meeting global human needs is fundamentally undergirded by those who give through their local churches to the CP and to the Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief fund.
It’s much more effective to buy goods near areas where a particular disaster occurred, Palmer noted, as it drastically reduces shipping costs and stimulates the local economy. Coordinating responses with Baptist partners in disaster zones improves distribution by making sure the neediest people are helped, Palmer said.
Ill-planned, impromptu responses are as common after disasters overseas as stateside, according to the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington.
Donating cash to organizations coordinating water purification systems, for instance, is 1,166 times less expensive than shipping water to a disaster zone, and generates no plastic trash, according to CIDI. It costs $350,000 to purchase 100,000 bottles of water in Miami and ship to the Dominican Republic to hydrate 40,000 people for a single day. Conversely, investing in local water purification projects can hydrate the same number of people for just $300 a day, CIDI said.
“Generally after a disaster, people with loving intentions donate things that cannot be used in a disaster response, and in fact may actually be harmful, and they have no idea that they’re doing it,” former CIDI Director Juanita Rilling said on the Sept. 3 edition of CBS Sunday Morning. “The thinking is these people have lost everything, so they must need everything.”
People send anything, Rilling said. After the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, donated clothing rotted in piles on the beach before disaster workers were forced to burn them, the ashes floating out to sea. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, mothers in the U.S. collected breastmilk to send to the island, creating the nightmare of keeping the milk fresh and certifying its safety.
“This is heartbreaking,” Rilling said. “It’s heartbreaking for the donor, it’s heartbreaking for the relief organization, and it’s heartbreaking for survivors. This is why cash donations are so much more effective.”
People have sent ball gowns, animal costumes, high-heeled shoes, coats to warm climates and used tea bags, Rilling said.
When unrequested “stuff” arrives, Caison has a saying for it.
“Stuff stands for strategic things useless to frantic folks,” said Caison, who retired in August as executive director of NAMB’s disaster relief and is working in Houston as a consultant.
“In Hurricane Hugo in 1989, people would bring clothes and dump them into our parking lot at the church, and I literally hauled two truckloads of clothes to the landfill because they were on the parking lot, they got wet and nobody wanted them because they’d become mildewed and molded,” Caison said.
“During 9/11, I saw pallets of socks stacked on street corners. The mayor said our firemen need socks and literally the nation hauled socks to New York City,” Caison recalled, “where you had less than 300 acres that were affected and the rest of the city was operational. But socks came from all over the country. They didn’t know what to do with them, so they unloaded the socks on the sidewalk.”
SBDR has efficiently sponsored such donation projects as food buckets for Haiti, shipping to the island 150 containers filled with specifically requested items, distinguished even by specified stock keeping unit (SKU) numbers.
“If that’s not being asked for, then donations to your favorite response organization can be given. All of us have a convenient way; churches can take up offerings,” he said. “In reality, it’s going to take years for this community to recover. That means, three, four, five years from now, people are going to be volunteering, and we’re buying lumber to help people get back into their homes.
“It’s not the first two weeks and everything’s back to normal,” Caison said. “Thousands of these families are going to be struggling for years to get back into their homes, and if we don’t help them, they’re not going to be able to get back into their homes. Those donations that come in now help us do that.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

9/20/2017 9:03:28 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NCMO gifts help church planting efforts

September 19 2017 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Every Easter, three congregations located hundreds of miles apart join together in a single service to worship and celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

BSC screenshot
When individuals give to the North Carolina Missions Offering, some of those funds go toward planting churches all across the state.

The congregations are part of three different church plants known as Lifezone Fellowship. Pastor and church planter Noel De Asis planted the first Lifezone Fellowship in Durham in 2010 and later planted additional churches in Fayetteville and Jacksonville.
The Easter worship services held at the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell illustrate the unity and diversity of the body of Christ.
The gathering also illustrates the importance and the need for multiplying church plants in North Carolina.
“Different churches reach different people,” says Mark Gray, who leads the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Church Planting Team.
“And statistics repeatedly demonstrate that new church plants are one of the most effective ways to reach new people with the gospel of Christ.”
Gray’s team works with churches, Baptist associations and church-planting networks to facilitate the launch of new churches.
Since 2007, the state convention has helped more than 1,000 new churches across the state get started, which is an average of more than 100 new churches that are started annually.
In 2016 alone, the convention worked with 99 new churches – 67 new church plants and 32 new affiliate churches. These churches receive training, coaching and support to help them reach their communities for Christ.
The North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) is vital to the convention’s church planting efforts. NCMO provides nearly one-third of the BSC Church Planting Team’s budget each year. This year, 28 percent of the funds received through the offering will go toward planting new churches in North Carolina.
“We are thankful for the generosity of North Carolina Baptists whose gifts help make church planting possible through the NCMO,” Gray said.
From July 2016 to June 2017, new churches have reported more than 4,400 professions of faith.
And many of the new churches are seeking to reach individuals from North Carolina’s growing international population.
Of the new churches that the BSC Church Planting Team worked with in 2016, 70 percent were non-Anglo congregations with a primary language other than English.
Those churches are representative of the Lifezone Fellowship congregations, whose members come from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
“That’s the beautiful thing about Christianity,” said one Lifezone member who attended this past year’s combined Easter worship service at Fort Caswell.
“We can all come together as one, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about culture, black, white or whatever.
“It’s all about Jesus Christ.”

2017 NCMO: Church planting from NC Baptist on Vimeo.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – To watch a video about Lifezone Fellowship, visit To learn more about the North Carolina Missions Offering, visit

9/19/2017 1:46:12 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Pastors, leaders need to make faith at home a priority

September 19 2017 by BSC Communications

Mark Holmen is a husband, father, speaker, author and consultant. He currently serves as executive director of Faith at Home Ministries based in Crosslake, Minn., which seeks to equip congregations to make the home the primary place where faith is nurtured and lived out. Previously, Holmen served as senior pastor of Ventura Missionary Church in Ventura, Calif.

Mark Holmen

Holmen and Doug Bischoff, who serves on the pastoral staff at First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas, will be sharing on “How to Make Family Ministry a Reality in Your Church” at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Faith at Home Fall Conference Series Oct. 13-14 at Caraway Conference Center in Sophia, N.C.
Holmen took some time to answer a few questions regarding his ministry and the upcoming conference.

Q: In light of the current cultural trends, what are the biggest obstacles for families today?

A: Busyness. The impact social media is having on us. The trend to quit and move on to someone else rather than remain.   

Q: What challenges do pastors face in helping families see the need to be disciple-makers of their homes?  

A: Parents want their kids to know, love and follow Jesus and yet they truly believe the best way to accomplish this is by outsourcing it to churches with good programs and leadership for their children and teens. Many parents today were not raised with parents who were their primary spiritual influence nor did they experience faith being discussed and nurtured at home, so this becomes a significant challenge because allowing the church to take the lead seems like the best and most natural option for parents.

Q: How should a church consider structuring its staff and events around encouraging and equipping families to be the primary disciple-makers of their homes?  

A: It’s all in! Every staff member and ministry is responsible for having some sort of faith at home focus so that the people who engage in our church are consistently and repeatedly being inspired, motivated and equipped.

Q: What encouragement would you give to a pastor who is not sure where to begin with family ministry in their church?

A: I wouldn’t call it family ministry but instead make faith at home a component of the church’s discipleship strategy. I would also utilize the Faith Life survey ( to provide the evidence that would support the need for a faith at home strategy.
When pastors and church leadership really see what is and is not happening in the homes of their church attendees, this becomes game-changing data and information.

Q: Why should pastors and staff members come to the Faith at Home Conference?  

A: American Christianity is declining, and even for those who attend church it is becoming a one-hour, consumeristic expression whereby we “act” like a Christian for an hour and then live our lives a completely different way the rest of the week. All pastors want their people to be 24/7 faith-at-home-focused followers of Christ and not just one-hour consumers of church.
Yet, when you ask them, “What is your strategy to make the home the primary place where faith is lived and nurtured?” they usually don’t have much to say. This Faith at Home Conference will change that. It will give every pastor and leader that comes what they need to develop a customized and sustainable faith at home initiative that will be woven into their discipleship process.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – For more information or to register for the Faith at Home Network Fall Conference Series, visit

9/19/2017 1:43:06 PM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Camp Change teaches children biblical stewardship

September 19 2017 by Krista Pierce, Special to the Recorder

In this age of entitlement, many people argue societal norms tell us we are owed certain privileges simply because we exist. Parents have unknowingly fed this sense of entitlement by providing children with far more than what is necessary, and they are now seeing undesirable behaviors associated with this idea of deserving something for nothing.
That is what inspired financial planner Amanda Burke and Rebecca Lindhout, minister of children and education at Antioch Baptist Church in Mamers, to work together to create Camp Change, a five-day counter-culture course in the basics of finance, geared toward children ages 6 to 12.

Contributed photo
Children at Antioch Baptist Church’s Camp Change learn about basic finance. The Mamers church teaches children ages 6 to 12 what it is like to earn money, to spend money and to use their financial resources to glorify God.

Burke and Lindhout designed Camp Change to teach children what it is like to earn money, to spend money and to use their financial resources to glorify God.
“Current culture teaches our children instant gratification,” said Burke. “At Camp Change, we show children what it’s like to earn money, just how much it costs to run a household and also to spend responsibly and to give. Teaching children these core principles early on will help them develop the necessary skills to be faithful stewards later in life. Education is key.”
Lindhout saw Camp Change as an opportunity to teach biblical principles like tithing but also to address a deeper spiritual matter – contentment.
“Camp Change was born out of conversations with parents about great kids who are greatly discontent and entitled,” Lindhout said.
“We talked about how enough is never enough and how there’s always that one more thing that our children think they need to have to be happy. We thought, ‘how did we get here?’”
Lindhout said she and Burke started with a list of questions: What would it take for our kids to understand the value of a dollar? How would their futures realign with God’s purpose for them if our children learned responsibility to God and others through their finances? How much peace would our families experience if our children knew what it means to be content apart from “things?”
“What we were trying to teach them was to be responsible stewards of what God has given them by teaching them contentment with God means we don’t have to fill our lives with things,” Lindhout said. Things aren’t “where we find our sense of peace and contentment, wholeness and goodness.”
Burke said as a financial planner, she sees how early ideas about money shape each person’s financial future.
“Children often demand more than the necessities from parents,” Burke said. “Because of this idea of entitlement, they never fully develop into financially stable adults later in life. And parents are feeling pressured to conform to the cultural standard of providing children with much more than they need.”
Camp Change was held each day for a week in June from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registration was capped at 30 campers who started each day with a time of worship. Lessons about money were enhanced with games and creative activities.
Lindhout said the curriculum for the camp was put together from a combination of resources, such as Financial Peace Junior, MoneyPalooza!, Kidpreneurs, Piggy Bank University and “a lot of it was just self-created.” They taught students “in very kid-friendly ways, very adult concepts like responsibility and gratitude.”
Throughout the week, students played Moneypalooza!, a free budgeting resource and board game from Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, in which they earned a commission for their “jobs” around the church and had to decide how to use their money. To win the game, students had to pay God first through tithing 10 percent, put money into savings and spend responsibly. By the end of the week, many students opted to give a percentage of their earnings to the church for the installation of a playground.
A major theme of Camp Change was educating children on the concept of needs and wants.
“Children don’t fully understand the financial obligations their parents must meet to keep a home functioning,” Burke said. “If we can shape our children’s expectations and model healthy financial behaviors, we can begin to change our culture.”
At the end of the week, campers used a portion of their earned commission to spend on a field trip to Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh where campers had fun learning and playing in the Moneypalooza! exhibit, among others.
Lindhout said they plan to host the camp again next summer. “We felt God working and saw what works and what didn’t work. Our goal for next year is to create more of our own material.” Burke is also excited about the camp and is already meeting with leaders to discuss next year’s camp. “The goal is to double the numbers,” Burke stated. “ We just need more volunteers next year.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Krista Pierce is a stay-at-home mom and former journalist. She is a member of Antioch Baptist Church in Mamers. Laura Crowther, Biblical Recorder editorial aide, contributed to this story.)

9/19/2017 1:38:44 PM by Krista Pierce, Special to the Recorder | with 0 comments

Mitchell County churches partner for community VBS

September 19 2017 by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer

A few weeks before the Great American Eclipse brought thousands of people from all over the country to cities in its path of totality, another galaxy-themed event drew more than 100 children from around Mitchell County to the Buladean Community Center in Bakersville, N.C.

Contributed photo
A community wide Vacation Bible School drew more than 100 children from around Mitchell County to the Buladean Community Center in Bakersville, N.C.

For the fourth year, Big Rock Creek Baptist Church in Bakersville, N.C., partnered with three other local churches of different denominations for a community-wide Vacation Bible School (VBS) July 31-Aug. 4.
Samantha Anderson, a member of Big Rock Creek, served as VBS coordinator. She met with pastors and members from Big Rock Creek, Buladean Presbyterian Church, Middle District Free Will Baptist Church and Roan’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church to plan the “Galactic Surveyors” event. The churches first began organizing community VBS a few years ago, after the nearby Buladean Elementary School permanently closed. The building became a community center. “The school building was vacant. We thought it would be a good way to keep the community spirit alive,” Anderson told the Biblical Recorder. “At least we could bring kids in the community together.”
Anderson’s own two daughters attended VBS and now go to school with students from other churches who were also at VBS.
“It’s a blessing that they understand that we’re all in this together regardless of the name of your church. … They understand that we all are believers in Christ,” she said.
Anderson said the partnerships between community churches are “stronger than ever.” Because the churches were of different sizes, coordinators opened up volunteer positions for members to choose. “When you put people in places they feel they can best use their talents, they’re much more excited,” she said.
Each of the four churches were responsible for one night of food, and all four contributed to order pizza on the final night. Scott Jenkins, pastor of Middle District, reflected on the week in multiple Facebook posts and said, “Praise God for churches that can work together for the great goal of furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ. … It truly blesses my soul to see churches coming together to further the Kingdom of God on earth.”

9/19/2017 1:38:12 PM by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer | with 0 comments

Marion pastor: Tabernacle teaches discipleship

September 19 2017 by Mike Conley, Special to the Recorder

A western North Carolina bi-vocational pastor has spent countless hours crafting a unique, illustrative tool for teaching the Bible. Terry Cheek, pastor of Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Marion, built a scale model of the Old Testament Tabernacle.
“The theology of the Bible is illustrated in the Tabernacle,” he said.

McDowell News photo by Mike Conley
Terry Cheek, seen here with his wife, Lori, uses the Tabernacle model to teach evangelism and discipleship at his church, Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Marion.

The Tabernacle was the mobile center of worship that God instructed Moses to build for the children of Israel. It was considered to be God’s presence among His people. The Israelites used it through their wilderness wandering. It is described in detail in the Book of Exodus and other parts of the Bible.
“Over 40 chapters in the Bible are devoted to it,” said Cheek. “This goes back 3,500 years, approximately. When Moses was on Mount Sinai, he got the image of the Tabernacle.”
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them,” reads the Book of Exodus. “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.”
The Tabernacle was a place where sacrificial offerings were presented to God by the chief priest. In the innermost section was the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was housed.
Exodus 25:22 says, “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”
This portable, tent-like structure was transported by the Israelites on their journey through the desert wilderness, and they took it with them when they conquered the promised land of Canaan. Joshua had it placed at Shiloh, where it remained for more than 300 years. The Tabernacle was eventually replaced by King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem as the dwelling-place of God.
This model of the Tabernacle began 10 years ago as a result of Cheek’s studies at Covington Bible College in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“When I was in seminary, I had to have a subject for a doctoral dissertation,” he said.
Cheek began to think about the Tabernacle and how it shows the typology of Christ. He thought this would make a great subject for his dissertation and a model of the Tabernacle would help him illustrate its important lessons.
He began researching the Tabernacle, learning what it looked like based on the Bible’s descriptions. At the same time, he wrote his doctoral dissertation, which ended up having more than 57,200 words.
“I was doing this simultaneously,” he said. “I got an A for all of that.”
Cheek graduated from the seminary in 2008. The model sat around for a few years.
“Recently I was thinking, what would make a good teaching tool for discipleship in the church?” said Cheek. “Lori mentioned the tabernacle. I thought about how the three points of salvation, sanctification and service would make a good springboard for an illustrated model for discipleship and the Great Commission in the local church.
“My wife and I got out the model, made it presentable and after working on the message, we decided to present it to the church.”
Lori made cloth covers for the model. Cheek said Lori has contributed a lot to this project and helps him transport it. It is 54 inches long and 34 inches wide.
He also has some acacia wood, which is repeatedly mentioned in the Book of Exodus when describing the construction of the Tabernacle. In the King James Version, it is called shittim wood. His sample of this wood comes from the Sinai area, where the Tabernacle was built 3,500 years ago.
Through this model, Cheek is able to not only talk about what the Tabernacle meant to the Israelites, but also how it is symbolic of what Jesus did for us through His life and sacrifice. It is extremely useful for children’s sermons, Bible studies, revivals and Vacation Bible School lessons.
“There’s nothing allegorical about it,” he said. “It’s all very sincere. I find it very helpful.”
For example, the Tabernacle had only one entrance, which was a narrow gate. For Cheek, this helps him illustrate an important lesson about coming to God.
“When you come through that gate, you know that Jesus is that straight and narrow gate,” he said.
“I feel the Old Testament typology of Christ doesn’t receive the attention today that it got a generation ago. It’s so rich with the theology of scripture. There is so much the local church can learn from it today.”
Cheek said the Tabernacle illustrates salvation through the animal sacrifice and how it relates to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. The furnishings and the layout of the Tabernacle are pictures of sanctification and the priesthood.
“Then in the book of Hebrews, we understand that now we are the priesthood of Christ. This relates to our testimony, the Great Commission and the call of discipleship.”
In June, Cheek presented his model of the Tabernacle to the congregation at Calvary Missionary Baptist Church for the first time and preached on its meaning.  The Sunday morning message is available on his website,
“I am really excited to see the response,” he said.
He also showed his model on Christian TV station WGGS in Greenville, S.C.  
He and Lori appeared on Niteline, a primetime variety program that features gospel music, biblical teaching, practical helps for Christians and prayer and counseling by trained phone workers, according to the station’s website.
Cheek said the station heard about him and his model and wanted to put it on the evening show. That opened other doors, including a presentation at Washington Baptist Church in Greer, S.C.
“It is amazing what God’s Word has revealed through this study,” said Cheek. “Lori and I now see God using the Tabernacle model as a ministry of discipleship to the local church and evangelism to the community through the local church.”
Cheek has served for 12 years as an electronics technician for N.C.’s Marion Correctional Institution.
Contact him at or call (828) 460-6120. His website is
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mike Conley is a staff writer for McDowell News, where this story originally appeared. K. Allan Blume, Biblical Recorder editor, contributed to this story.)

9/19/2017 1:33:24 PM by Mike Conley, Special to the Recorder | with 0 comments

Uganda seminary leaders report growth

September 19 2017 by BR Staff

Bill Greenwood, a retired pastor from Kernersville, N.C., served as an adjunct professor at Uganda Baptist Seminary (UBS) in Jinja, Uganda, in 2015. He and his wife, Sheryl, recently hosted a gathering for Jack Frost, founder and former principal of UBS, and Anthony Shelton, current UBS principal. The Sheltons were on stateside assignment and have since returned to Uganda.

Contributed photo
From left, Misti and Anthony Shelton with their daughters Karis and Sophia, Sheryl and Bill Greenwood and Evelyn and Jack Frost. The Sheltons returned to Uganda in early August.

Frost and his wife, Evelyn, returned to the United States in 2015 and retired from the International Mission Board (IMB) last year. They returned to Greensboro, N.C., and are members of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church. Jack founded UBS in 1988 as a ministry of the IMB Baptist Mission of Uganda and the Baptist Union of Uganda. Evelyn served as the nurse on campus.
Frost told the Biblical Recorder that the seminary continues to see significant growth under Shelton’s leadership. When Frost left Uganda, only the diploma and certificate of theology were accredited by the Uganda National Council for Higher Education. The bachelor of theology was still in consideration.
“It was earlier this year that they accredited the degree of bachelor of theology,” Frost said. “That happened formally after we came back and the Sheltons were leading on.”
About 280 bivocational students are enrolled in the seminary. More than 40 percent of students come from nearby countries: Kenya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Students go to UBS three times a year for four-week terms.  
Shelton and Frost said many students return to their home villages and start churches and Bible training centers, which UBS oversees, for leaders who cannot travel to Jinja. According to ministry reports, UBS has more than 1,000 alumni serving throughout East Africa. They have led thousands to Christ through outreach ministry and planted more than 100 churches.
UBS maintains a partnership with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C. John Ewart, associate vice president for Global Theological Initiatives and Ministry Centers at SEBTS, periodically leads a group of professors in Jinja to teach classes. Greenwood said UBS welcomes volunteer pastors as visiting professors, as well as medical professionals to volunteer in the clinic.
The IMB funds salaries of two missionaries who manage UBS’ administration and upkeep, but it does not cover other operating expenses. UBS relies on gifts from churches and individuals to cover professors’ salaries, food, lodging, transportation and scholarships. Most of the faculty and staff are Ugandan, Frost said.
“Many of the students are farmers,” Greenwood said. “Most have four to six children and take in an orphan or two.” They depend on donations to keep tuition costs as low as possible.
To support UBS, go to and indicate your gift to go to Uganda Baptist Seminary. Pastors interested in serving as volunteer professors can email For more information about the seminary, visit their Facebook page and website,  

9/19/2017 7:58:38 AM by BR Staff | with 1 comments

Baptists lend hand to ‘Dreamers’

September 18 2017 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Hispanic Christian communities in North Carolina are pulling together in support of young undocumented immigrants as they deal with uncertainty caused by the Trump administration’s announcement Sept. 5 that it would phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Luis Tejera, campus pastor for Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, met the following week with more than two-dozen students and young adults that were shielded from immediate deportation by the Obama-era policy.
They were concerned, Tejera said, but the group of “Dreamers,” as they are commonly called, understood the “dynamics of the situation in the political arena.”
The DACA program relied on White House administrative discretion to allow 800,000 young adults to live and work in the United States, since they were brought into the country illegally as children, through no fault of their own.
A six-month delay was included in the phase-out process to keep protections in place for DACA recipients while lawmakers develop replacement legislation.
Tejera also said the group from Hickory Grove was aware that “God is in control” and is striving to “wait in Him.”
David Duarte, Hispanic campus pastor for Daystar Church in Greensboro, expressed his support for Dreamers during a Sunday morning service Sept. 10. He also provided informational documents about immigration to attendees.
“It was a hard hit to our dreamers,” Duarte told the Biblical Recorder. “They’re facing a lot of insecurity.
“My biggest concern is the sense of security people have. This is really affecting the way we minister to Hispanics.”
In early 2017, two Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) staffers began helping churches discover how to serve people in their communities with immigration-related needs through education, raising awareness of missions opportunities and referrals to legal advocates for adjustment of citizenship status issues.
Larry Phillips, BSC immigration ministries strategist, holds a certification from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Access Programs (OLAP), which allows him to assist applicants in the immigration process.
Antonio Santos, BSC Hispanic strategy coordinator, is also applying for the OLAP certification and, with Phillips, conducts general training sessions for congregations. “The convention has seen the need to help our churches understand the immigration issue from a biblical standpoint,” Santos told the Recorder.
“It’s a venue for them to do ministry, to reach out to a segment of the population that usually flies under the radar.
“It also allows local churches to build bridges with people living in fear and anxiety, develop trust with the community and provide a social service that will create opportunities to share the gospel.”
Phillips and Santos will lead two breakout sessions – one each in Spanish and English – discussing practical applications of a biblical understanding of immigration during the BSC annual meeting Nov. 7 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C.
Southern Baptists across the United States, including Félix Cabrera, lead pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, Okla., and co-founder of the Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance, have signed onto letters from the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) to President Donald Trump and congressional leaders that called for legislation to protect DACA recipients.

9/18/2017 3:16:09 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

IMB hosts emeriti celebration at Ridgecrest

September 18 2017 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

People in ministry often joke about retirement because serving God remains a lifetime commitment.
For 31 new emeriti missionaries from the International Mission Board (IMB), God plans to continue to use them, if they are willing.

IMB photo by Chris Carter*
Diane Pace, from left, Sali,* Bev Vaughn and Ann Verlander squeeze together for a selfie at Ridgecrest Conference Center during the Celebration of Emeriti for former missionaries of the International Mission Board. The ladies served together in West Africa. *Names changed

“You, like Paul, found many ways to stay in place,” said Drew Carson,* a leader with the IMB, to the emeritus missionaries gathered Sept. 11-14 at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain, N.C.
“Paul could have left … but he chose to stay the course,” Carson said, referring to 1 Corinthians 16:8-9, a text he says has been an encouragement and exhortation to him the last couple of years. “Your ministry of staying the course has also helped the IMB stay the course.”
The gathering, called Celebration of Emeriti, occurs every five years. This year’s event brought together about 950 emeritus missionaries. Around 1,200 were originally scheduled to come to the four-day event, but weather and health issues kept some away. Hurricane Irma’s path through Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee forced several airports to close, resulting in many canceled flights.
Combined, the emeritus missionaries in attendance served 25,297 years. There are approximately 18,500 IMB alumni, of which  2,250 have emeritus status. Before IMB’s 2015 Voluntary Retirement Incentive (VRI), a missionary could retire using three pathways:

  1. Retire at 65 regardless of years of service (had to have 15 years to be emeritus).
  2. Retire at 62-64 with 25 years of service and receive IMB medical coverage until age 65.
  3. Retire at 55-61 with 25 years of service and receive no medical coverage.

Since the VRI, emeritus status is reached by serving 15 years and being at least 55 years old (husband or wife). Also, the age plus years of service must equal 80. (This policy went into effect Jan. 1, 2016.) Alumni include all mid- and long-term former missionaries.

Feel the music

Pearl Vernon,* who served 31 years in the Middle East, was one of the recent emeriti recognized in a service Sept. 11. Vernon, who is living in her home state of Florida, learned that Irma damaged the garage in the mission house where she is living, causing her vehicle to be totaled.
While she was in the Middle East, she worked in music and drama. “I knew God wanted me to serve overseas,” she said, but she waited eight years for the right request – a music and drama teacher.
While she had been a band teacher at her hometown high school, Vernon wasn’t sure she would be able to have a band in the Middle East, but she took a few instruments in case an opportunity arose.
A colleague on the mission field shared a newspaper article about a member of the ruling family looking for people with music backgrounds. That article led to Vernon being “in on the ground floor of the National Music Conservatory, and that paralleled my development of the music program at the school.”
The conservatory offered the only comprehensive music program in the Middle East. “I could have been enveloped in the music,” Vernon said. “I could have very easily lost my way as far as why I was there. God impressed upon me … I was there to share Jesus, and music was my avenue.”
She introduced a “talk time” to her students, which consisted of her sharing a parable or biblical story, and the students spent time discussing it.
When Vernon knew she was leaving, she wanted the talk times to continue. She was pleased when her successor sent her the schedule with talk times included.
“God built this program,” she told them. “You leave Him out of the equation, the program will fall.”
Back in her hometown, Vernon is looking for a position in music. She says she would love to teach at the college level again. “I know, without a doubt, God will, when the path and the time is right, ... it will just open up,” she said. “When He’s ready for something, the doors open, and you go through.”
Meanwhile, she is active in her church, where she started a handbell choir.
Vernon laments that “America is not the place I left,” but she hopes she can be a light within her community for God’s truth.
“He can use a musician,” she said. “He can use a plumber. Whatever your skills and talents are, He can use that to increase His Kingdom.”

Serving in South Asia

Darren and Yvonne Cantwell* who were serving in South Asia when they retired recently, now live in Alabama. He serves as the pastor of mobilization at a church in Alabama.
Growing up in Tucson, Ariz., Darren learned about people groups and reaching the nations with the gospel while he was in college. He talked to his pastor and was introduced to the IMB Journeyman program, where he served in Scotland. He attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas, where he met his wife, Yvonne.
She was raised as a missionary kid in Indonesia. Her parents served 29 years with IMB, and she would often talk about her parents’ work. “In my mind, that’s what it was, my parents’ work,” she said. But after spending time in Taiwan as a summer missionary, she felt called to share the gospel across cultures.
She was a student at Samford University at the time. When she graduated, she worked at the national Woman’s Missionary Union in Birmingham for a while before going to SWBTS.
In an interview with the Biblical Recorder, Yvonne reminisced that it was her senior year in college – Dec. 31, 1979 – that she signed a public profession of her call to missions. When she met Darren in seminary seven years later, they discovered a card he had signed one day later – Jan. 1, 1980 – indicating that he would go anywhere God called him.
When the wall came down in Berlin in 1989, Darren wanted to go, but God kept closing the door to all the jobs for which they applied.
“We prayed, ‘Lord, where in the world do you want us to go?’” he said, admitting that was a dangerous prayer.
They served in Pakistan for eight years before God called them to their next assignment. In 1999, they moved to Richmond, Va., to work at IMB as candidate consultants. After three years and several requests, the couple moved to the Pacific Rim to work with Muslims in Southeast Asia.
After five years, Darren and Yvonne were having a visa issue and had to move to Singapore where Darren was asked to be interim regional leader for that region. He later became the South Asia affinity group leader after a reorganization.
“We never thought it would be possible to go back, but the Lord opened that door,” said Darren. They were concerned about uprooting their children again, but the Lord moved them to South Asia in 2009, and they began serving in 2010.
“Every time, the Lord kind of brought these things to us, we never sought out any of these changes,” he said.
Last year both had a word from the Lord that it was time to step aside. “For me,” Darren said, it was about letting “the next generation lead.”
They were on stateside assignment for a year while Darren was working on his dissertation.
He was then offered the job in Alabama. Yvonne described coming back to America as a “cross-cultural experience.” Darren says they are still in the “honeymoon stage” where everything works, like electricity and plumbing.

Staying the course

Carson thanked the retired field personnel.
He recalled the 2004 murders of Christian workers Larry and Jean Elliott, Karen Watson and David McDonnall in Iraq. Such a tragedy brought his third-grade daughter from death to life. She decided that day to follow God.
In mentioning many barriers and adversaries that face mission personnel, Carson said the IMB tries to train workers “how to walk wisely but confidently.”
Still, he said, the “greatest adversary we have is in our own hearts.”

‘Breathtaking’ service

One day (Sept. 12) after attending the memorial service for a “dear brother” in Alabama, David Platt, IMB president, addressed the emeriti in the dining hall.
He shared of his brother in Christ, Jonathan Bean, who was on staff at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, where Platt served prior to the IMB.
He said Bean, who had been battling cancer for the last seven years, is “probably the one person who’s taught me more about missions than anyone else in my life.”
Being among so many retired missionaries makes Platt feel grateful for where God has him.
“This is what matters,” he said. “You have given your lives. I look over 170 years [of IMB history], and I see a legacy of faithful gospel proclamation. That … is breathtaking.”
He shared out of 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 and pointed to being faithful as the one criteria to judge success as a believer and a missionary. “We trust God,” he said. “We plead with God for fruitfulness.”
Platt described the local church as God’s agent for sending missionaries. IMB exists to equip churches to send out more missionaries, marketplace missionaries, retirees and others.
“We have limited ability to send out fully supported missionaries around the world,” he admitted.
But in the IMB, there’s a new push to be limitless, to exhaust all avenues of sending people to spread God’s message.
He introduced IMB’s vice presidents to the missionaries, who spoke about how IMB partners with Southern Baptists in global engagement, training, mobilization and support services. Platt talked about a plurality of leaders. “It’s never just about the Spirit of God in one person,” he said.
In another address to the emeritus missionaries, Platt preached out of Esther 4 describing himself as a dwarf standing on giants’ shoulders. “I praise God for His grace represented all around this room,” he said. Reflecting on his three years as president, he shared a couple of truths God has taught him.

  1. God is sovereignly orchestrating all of history for the accomplishment of His purpose.
  2. Each of us has a part to play in the accomplishment of that purpose.

“Nothing is outside His control,” he said, pointing to Acts 17 where God has determined boundaries. “People are longing for hope.”
Naming several world leaders, including President Donald Trump, Platt said God has them all in the palm of His hand.
With the financial realities of the IMB, Platt admits some problems needed to be addressed: using the sale of properties to pay for expenses; the chronic problem of not meeting its budget; and using reserve funds to offset the cost of sending more missionaries. “We asked everyone to … go to the Lord … put a blank check before Him,” Platt said. They implored each person to seek God individually to make those tough decisions. He talked about the challenge, heartache and emotions and pointed to Romans 8:28. “All things, even the things we don’t understand,” he said, work together for His purpose.
Esther risked her life for her people, just like IMB missionaries are asked to do.
“We’re saying we’ll do whatever it takes,” he said. Platt encouraged those making a transition. “Where you live right now is not an accident,” he said. “He has put you where you are.”
He encouraged the retired missionaries to be mobilizers in their churches, “leveraging all that God has entrusted to you.”

Keep running

In the last session Sept. 14, Platt called on the retired missionaries to keep running the race. He shared from the “meaty” chapter 15 from 1 Corinthians.
“You and I are not here on this earth for very long,” he said. “Don’t waste it.”
He reminded them that there are many lost “right now, separated from God.”
“Biblical Christianity is about laying down our rights,” Platt stressed. “It’s about sacrificing comforts.
“Keep running the race all the way until the end. Make His gospel known, knowing that your labor is not in vain.”
* Names changed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dianna L. Cagle is production editor at the Biblical Recorder, Baptist news journal for North Carolina.)

9/18/2017 3:08:24 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments

Displaying results 41-50 (of 105)
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10  >  >|