September 2018

After duck boat tragedy, parents’ faith gives comfort

September 19 2018 by Ben Hawkins, The Pathway

When Michelle Chaffer, a mother of 10, first heard of the death of 17 tourists on a “duck boat” in Branson, Mo., in mid-July, she was sad to hear of so many lives lost. But she saw no need to be concerned for her parents, Bill and Janice Bright, who had driven to Branson earlier that day to celebrate their 45th anniversary. And Michelle’s sister had heard from them after they checked into their hotel.
 

Photo from Facebook
Janice and Bill Bright lost their lives in the Branson duck boat tragedy, but their faith gives comfort to their daughter Michelle.

This changed the following day.
 
“It was late morning. My aunt called, and she was hysterical. She couldn’t find my parents,” Michelle recounted.
 
Since her aunt lived in southern Missouri, she had planned to meet the Brights in Branson but couldn’t contact them. And, unlike Michelle and her sister, she knew the couple had planned to ride “the duck boats” during their trip.
 
Michelle immediately made several calls to find her parents. Then, one of her friends began to send pictures and news from Branson. One picture showed vacant cars in the parking lot outside the duck boat office. They were decked with flowers in honor of those who had died or were missing.
 
Amid the cars, Michelle saw her dad’s van.
 
“It was shocking,” said Michelle, a member of First Baptist Church in Higginsville, Mo. “I don’t really know what was going through my head. I couldn’t believe it, but I knew it was true.”
 
Amid the shock, her church family responded with the love of Christ. Michelle learned about her parents’ death while working at the church for a children’s summer program. So they knew immediately what had happened.
 
“They gave me space to talk on the phone,” Michelle recounted. “They prayed for me and they followed me home.” Then they waited outside her home until she had the chance to tell her 10 children what had happened to their grandparents. In the days and weeks that followed, church members provided meals, did the laundry and other chores and helped Michelle clean her parents’ house.
 
“They made sure that my children were supported and taken care of,” Michelle said. “They really helped me in ways that I didn’t even know I needed help.... They were here, and – when my brain couldn’t even think – they were helping me get things done. There’s just not enough words to say how thankful I am to them.”
 
First Baptist pastor Greg Fine conducted the Brights’ funeral on July 26. Although they weren’t members of the church, Bill and Janice had been visiting since moving to the town a couple of years earlier.
 
“Pastor Greg did just an amazing job with the service,” Michelle said, “and the gospel was preached – which I’m very grateful for. Not all my family members are saved.” Roughly 175 people attended the service, which included time for people to share their memories of Bill and Janice.
 
Michelle said her dad was a hard worker. “He did what he needed to do to take care of the family. He was a master mechanic, and he was just always helping people with their cars. It was hard work but he always loved helping people in that way.
 
“And he loved his grandkids,” Michelle added, sharing how her dad, prior to the tragedy, was teaching her 16-year-old how to drive. “He wanted, in the last few years, to really just soak them up and spend as much time with them as he could.”
 
As for her mom: “She was just the sweetest lady ever. She loved her grandchildren. She loved babies. She was always a homemaker, always taking care of kids, always looking out for other children. I remember, growing up and going to Girl Scout camps or field trips, she always brought extra clothes or an extra lunch for some other kid who didn’t have enough. She was really just a sweet lady.”
 

Michelle Chaffer

In a Facebook post, Michelle also shared a message of hope in the aftermath of this tragedy.
 
“Truly my heart and my brain cannot grasp what has happened,” she wrote. “It’s too much. I do take comfort in knowing that my parents are together. They accepted Jesus as their Savior in August of 1989. They were baptized on the same day I was. Our life on this earth is but a vapor, compared to eternity. My parents went to Branson to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. They are now on a permanent vacation in the best destination, heaven.
 
“When tragedies like this happen,” she added, “many people ask, ‘Why would God allow this to happen?’ Bad, tragic events have taken place in this world ever since Eve ate the fruit [in the Garden of Eden].... But God is always good! He made a way for things to be made right again when He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins.”
 
Michelle asked for prayer for her family, that God would give them strength as they grieve in days to come and that she would be sensitive to her children’s needs during this time.
 

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ben Hawkins is associate editor of The Pathway, mbcpathway.com, news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/19/2018 11:06:31 AM by Ben Hawkins, The Pathway | with 0 comments



DR ramps up as Florence floodwaters rise

September 18 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Rising floodwaters have cut off the supply chains of some Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) efforts following Hurricane Florence, and others are increasingly threatened. But that’s not slowing down ministry to North Carolina communities hit by the storm.
 

CNN.com screen capture
Rising floodwaters have cut off the supply chains of some Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts following Hurricane Florence, and others are increasingly threatened.

As Baptist state conventions and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) work together to mount a disaster relief effort, the response is “a true testimony to the effectiveness of the partnerships throughout all state conventions,” said David Melber, president of Send Relief, NAMB’s crisis response arm.
 
As of Sept. 17, disaster relief units from at least nine state conventions had set up feeding units or were preparing to do so for storm victims and emergency workers, according to a report from NAMB, which coordinates multi-state disaster responses.
 
Florence came ashore Friday (Sept. 14) and dumped more than 30 inches of rain in some regions, resulting it at least 23 deaths in the Carolinas as of Monday (Sept. 17). The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression and is moving northeast into Virginia.
 
Dozens of church buildings have suffered damage along a 150-mile stretch of coastline from Southport, N.C., to New Bern, N.C., with additional church damage as far inland as Fayetteville, N.C., some 140 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
 
Serious structural damage to five buildings was reported at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell, a camp facility owned by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina reported storm damage at two of their campuses, including floodwater at their facility in Kinston, N.C., that appeared higher than 2016 flooding which caused $1.5 million in damage following Hurricane Matthew.
 
Wilmington, N.C.’s 117,000 residents are on “an island” surrounded by floodwater, said Roy Smith, network missionary for the Cape Fear Network of Baptist Churches. A feeding unit scheduled for setup at First Baptist Church in Wilmington can’t be reached by DR workers, he said, and chainsaw crews also cannot enter the city.
 
Members of Wilmington-area Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church have been removing downed trees from houses and patching roofs with tarps, Smith told Baptist Press. But they were on pace to run out of tarps Monday, with no way of leaving the area to buy more.
 
Thirty-five miles northwest, Atkinson (N.C.) Baptist Church also found itself on a flood-surrounded island and is sheltering stranded travelers in its fellowship hall, Smith said. However, the city only has enough food to last one more day.
 
Smith, the North Carolina convention and NAMB said officials are considering airlifting food and supplies to regions surrounded by water. As soon as trucks can enter, they are positioned to do so, Melber said.
 
Smith requested prayer “that God will provide some way to get supplies in – both food and water to families that don’t have them and tarps and things for the disaster relief crews.”
 
In New Bern, N.C., Temple Baptist Church is serving as a staging site for Baptist and other DR workers. A feeding unit began Monday serving 20,000 meals per day, Temple pastor Jim Pennington said. National Guardsmen slept in the church’s sanctuary Sunday night.
 
Pennington requested prayer that a shipment of additional food would arrive Tuesday before rising floodwaters add New Bern to the list of inaccessible communities.
 
As locals recover from storm damage, Pennington said, believers have supplemented their offers of physical help with spiritual encouragement, as in the case of a man whose house was destroyed and partially swept away shortly after he canceled his homeowner’s insurance policy.
 
Drawing on Jesus’ stilling of a storm in Mark 4, Pennington told the man, “God’s promise to you is that He will get you to the other side of this.” Sobbing, the man responded, “I needed that.”
 
Another area feeling Florence’s effects is Southport, where “significant damage” to Beach Road Baptist Church’s facility likely will take weeks to repair, according to the Biblical Recorder.
 
Farther inland in Fayetteville, flooding was not as severe, said Jeff Isenhour, pastor of Arran Lake Baptist Church, a congregation of 700. Still, a section of the ceiling in its auditorium had collapsed.
 
Nonetheless, Arran Lake has been outwardly focused, buying breakfast at a local Waffle House for approximately 50 emergency workers Sept. 16 when called upon to help by the North Carolina Forest Service. “We were going to” prepare food and coffee ourselves, Isenhour said, “but our power was out.”
 
Despite the destruction, Baptists have much to anticipate as they spread the love of Christ in the Tar Heel State, Pennington said.
 
“It’s amazing how God is going to use this to reach our community for Christ,” he said. “I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/18/2018 12:44:25 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



J.D. Greear at NOBTS: Mobilize ‘ordinary people’

September 18 2018 by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS

God’s plan for reaching the world involves raising up and sending out “ordinary people” in the power of the Holy Spirit, Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear said at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Sept. 13.
 

Photo by Chandler McCall, NOBTS
SBC President J.D. Greear preaches from Acts at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Sept. 13.

“The measure of success for any church ought not be its seating capacity” but “its sending capacity,” Greear said during a chapel sermon drawn from Acts 7.
 
Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and church leaders emphasize the sending out of “ordinary people” as an essential aspect of the call to follow Jesus. As a result, the church has sent out 1,016 people to 248 Summit-sponsored church plants and to other ministries.
 
Greear said Summit reaches a high percentage of college students, millennials and young professionals, leveraging their enthusiasm, skill and mobility for the gospel. Summit challenges students to consider serving for two years in one of its church plants after graduation.
 
“We tell them unashamedly, ‘Give us two years and we will transform the world with you,’” Greear said.
 
Greear challenged believers to adjust their understanding of the call to ministry. Rather than “something a few sacred people experience in some kind of mystical moment,” the call to ministry is embedded in the call to follow Christ.
 
“Jesus said, ‘Follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men,’ which means when you accepted the call to follow Jesus – your salvation – it means you also accepted the call to missions,” Greear said. “The question is no longer if you are called, the question now is simply where and how are you called.”
 
Sending out so many leaders has not been easy, Greear said. Those who leave often are among Summit’s most committed members. However, the practice has been strategic for the Kingdom of God, he said, citing a recent study that for each person sent out to a Summit church plant in North America, worship attendance there grows by 20 people.
 
Turning to Acts 7:54-8:4, Greear illustrated God’s use of ordinary people in the story of Stephen’s martyrdom. This tragic injustice, followed by a wave of persecution, jolted the church and led to the spread of the gospel.
 
Believers should draw four convictions from the passage, Greear said: God wants to use me; the Holy Spirit fills me; I must be like Jesus to others; and Jesus is worth it.
 
Greear pointed to Acts 8:1 as the most important verse in the account because it tells who was involved in the gospel advance. While the disciples remained in Jerusalem, the believers who were scattered by the persecution were used to carry the gospel to new places.
 
A turning point in the early church, Luke makes it clear that the disciples were not involved, Greear said. “From that point on, it is ordinary people who are going to be at the forefront of the gospel movement.”
 
“Ordinary believers have always been the tip of the gospel spear,” he said.
 
Greear said he encourages believers to see their skills as a tool for the spread of the gospel. The knowledge and skill believers use for their livelihood can create opportunities for gospel witness even in difficult places around the world.
 
“To follow Jesus means whatever you do well, do it well to the glory of God,” Greear said. “And then, do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.”
 
Before the sermon, Greear acknowledged the challenges facing the Southern Baptist Convention and referenced NOBTS President Chuck Kelley’s “Baptist Blues” sermon earlier in the semester.
 
“I understand that there is a lot of reason for discouragement, or potential discouragement,” Greear said. “In fact, Dr. Kelley, I listened to your message a few weeks ago. There are a lot of things he was talking about that I resonate with – my concerns with declines in baptisms, my concerns with lots of things that are going on.”
 
In spite of such challenges, Greear pointed to the hope and power available through Christ. Speaking of Jesus’ impact on the disciples, Greear said, “He managed out of that group to build the greatest movement the world has ever seen. That same God is alive and at work in our churches, and by the grace of God, in the Southern Baptist Convention today.”
 
To view the entire sermon, visit nobts.edu/chapel and click on the archives link.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gary D. Myers is director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/18/2018 12:44:12 PM by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS | with 1 comments



Nursing fellowship, at 35th anniversary, elects new leader

September 18 2018 by Trennis Henderson, WMU

Launching a new era of leadership while celebrating 35 years of ministry, Baptist Nursing Fellowship (BNF) has elected Lori Spikes as the new BNF executive director.
 

Photo by Pam Henderson, WMU
Lori Spikes, a former Southern Baptist missionary, was elected as Baptist Nursing Fellowship's executive director during BNF's Sept. 7-2 annual meeting.

Spikes, a longtime Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) missionary to Chile, is a registered nurse with 40 years of experience in various settings. She currently serves as a volunteer triage nurse at Mission First, a primary care clinic for low-income, uninsured individuals and families in Jackson, Miss.
 
Baptist Nursing Fellowship, a ministry partner with national WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union), was established in 1983. It provides continuing education, missions opportunities and fellowship for Baptist nurses serving in the U.S. and on mission fields around the world.
 
This year’s Sept. 7-9 annual meeting, which highlighted the theme, “Glorifying God with Mind and Voice,” drew more than 50 participants from 16 states to Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega, Ala.
 
Announcing Spikes’ nomination as executive director, BNF President Kaye Miller told the group, “After much prayer individually and collectively, the Lord led the executive committee to a unanimous vote on the candidate.”
 
Noting that the committee compiled a needs list, a want list and a dream list for determining the new leader, Miller added, “On that dream list, there was one item and it was ‘missionary.’ It’s my great privilege to introduce to you today the woman that the Lord has put on the committee’s heart.”
 
Spikes, who most recently chaired BNF’s resource development committee, was as an IMB Journeyman nurse in Honduras from 1980-1982. She and her husband Jim served in Chile for 20 years where her work included serving as a parish nursing volunteer, coordinator of volunteer medical teams and administrative assistant. They also served with the mission board’s American Peoples Diaspora in Europe and Canada for five years before returning to the U.S. in 2015. Spikes holds a bachelor of science in nursing degree from Samford University in Alabama.
 

Photo by Trennis Henderson, WMU
Baptist Nursing Fellowship President Kaye Miller (left, at podium) leads a prayer of dedication for new Executive Director Lori Spikes (seated, at right) as BNF members gather around Spikes who was elected to the leadership role during BNF's Sept. 7-9 annual meeting.

Describing Spikes’ skill set as “team leadership, budgeting and finance, strong verbal communications and experienced in global strategy,” Miller said, “She’s bilingual in Spanish and English and boy can she plan an event. Isn’t it amazing when God provides? I think BNF is in wonderful, wonderful hands.”
 
Spikes said it is “rather daunting to see what the task is ahead, but also knowing it is a God thing, God is going to provide what is necessary in all areas.”
 
She said her new leadership role “is a way I can continue my missionary desire and experience to reach out to those in need and to encourage and help this group go forward.”
 
Noting that “our core values are fellowship and missions and supporting missionary nurses,” Spikes said goals for BNF include organizing annual international and stateside medical mission trips as well as “reaching out to nursing students to give them that desire and dream that God has given them this gift of nursing to help their fellow man and to share the love of Jesus Christ.”
 
Citing the need to make more nurses and other health care professionals aware of BNF resources and benefits, Spikes emphasized, “There are a lot of Christian nurses who could benefit from the fellowship and who could change their world where they live.”
 
Future BNF ministry projects include a medical mission trip to “God’s Love from a Diaper Bag” ministry to single mothers and families in Jenkins, Ky., in May 2019 and an international mission trip to Thailand in October 2019. For more information about Baptist Nursing Fellowship, visit wmu.com/bnf.
 

Anniversary celebration

Photo by Pam Henderson, WMU
Ellen Tabor, founding president of the Baptist Nursing Fellowship, was among 50-plus participants who gathered Sept. 7-9 to celebrate the organization's 35th anniversary of ministry.

 
As BNF celebrated 35 years of ministry, the three-day meeting included worship and Bible study sessions, missionary field reports, continuing education sessions and hands-on missions projects such as writing notes of encouragement to student nurses, prayerwalking and assembling activity books for chemotherapy patients.
 

Ellen Tabor, BNF’s founding president, was among the attendees. She and her husband Charles served for 20 years as Southern Baptist missionaries to Korea and Macau.
 
Tabor, who will mark her 90th birthday in October, noted that her initial dream for BNF, “which we have kept the whole time, was that we would invite nurses who have a calling from God to use their nursing skills to advance His work whether in America or on the mission field.”
 
“My approach is see wherever you’re working with your health skills, see where you can help that person’s life be better in managing their health and being able to live healthy lives,” Tabor said. “Also, if they do not have the dimension of spiritual health, that they will want to be connected to the salvation experience of knowing Christ.”
 
Wanda Lee, former president and retired executive director of national WMU, led Bible studies highlighting the meeting theme of glorifying God.

 

Photo by Pam Henderson, WMU
Baptist Nursing Fellowship, marking the 35th anniversary of its founding, held a birthday celebration on the opening night of its Sept. 7-9 annual meeting attended by 50-plus participants from 16 states at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Alabama.

“Your life is a reflection of your thoughts,” Lee said to her fellow nurses. “What consumes your mind controls your life.”
 
Affirming that “our minds are wonderful gifts from God,” she added, “They can be used for much good. ... We’re commanded to love God with all of our selves, including our minds. You make up your mind about what you believe and then you have to allow it to impact your life.”

Citing Philippians 4:7-8, Lee said, “The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds when we fill them with the things of Christ.”
 
In glorifying God with one’s voice, she said, “What we allow our minds to dwell on ultimately comes out of our mouths. We are called to glorify God with one voice.”
 
Emphasizing the need for believers to seek common ground and glorify God in one accord, she said Ephesians 4:5 declares that “the one thing that can bring us together is when we acknowledge this one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”
 

 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Trennis Henderson is the national correspondent for the Woman's Missionary Union. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/18/2018 12:43:38 PM by Trennis Henderson, WMU | with 0 comments



Kid vaping epidemic cited in FDA e-cig fines

September 18 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Nicotine-rich e-cigarettes commonly clothed in pastel brights with perky flavors have reached epidemic use among kids, a federal agency said in levying industry penalties to limit youth access.
 
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters and fines to more than 1,300 retailers “who illegally sold JUUL [pronounced like “jewel”] and other e-cigarette products to minors” in a nationwide, undercover investigation of brick-and-mortar stores this summer, the FDA said in a Sept. 12 press release.
 
“We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said at agency headquarters. “I believe certain flavors are one of the principal drivers of the youth appeal of these products.”
 
The brand cited, JUUL, holds more than 70 percent of the e-cig retail market expected to reach $3.8 billion by year’s end, according to CBS. Just as with conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes use, accomplished by a process known as vaping, is legally limited to adults. But more than two million middle- and high-school students used e-cigarettes in 2017, Gottlieb said.
 
Joannie DeBrito, director of parenting and youth at Focus on the Family, gave Baptist Press these tips parents can use in preventing teen vaping, which are paraphrased here:
 

  • Talk with your teenager and express your concerns about their health. If you have observed vaping behavior, be honest about what you have seen and if you suspect vaping, tell your teenager why you suspect it.

  • Remind your teenager that it is your job as a parent to encourage healthy habits that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

  • Talk in terms of your concern about the vaping behavior, not about the character of your teenager.

  • Discuss the fact that advertisements make vaping look attractive, but the potentially harmful effects are not attractive at all.

  • Set a good example of healthy living and refrain from smoking or vaping yourself.

 
“Present the dangers of vaping in straightforward language, being careful not to use scare tactics,” DeBrito said. “Teenagers respond best to honest, open communication.”
 
The Southern Baptist Convention has long recognized the dangers of nicotine use. In a 2005 resolution On Reducing Teen Smoking, messengers committed to work with national advocacy and medical groups, including the American Cancer Society and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, to reduce tobacco use especially among teens.
 
Messengers encouraged churches to increase efforts to educate youth about the dangers of tobacco use, and committed themselves to greater involvement in the public square to reduce smoking and tobacco use.
 
In addition to cancer, e-cigarettes are known to adversely affect behavior, memory, heart rates, concentration, the nervous system, the respiratory system and blood pressure, DeBrito said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/18/2018 12:42:59 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘Unbroken’ follow-up opens as audience favorite

September 18 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Unbroken: Path to Redemption” was an audience favorite, but a low earner at $2.4 million and a fourth place showing among new releases on its opening weekend, according to industry insider reports.
 

Audiences rated the movie an A in CinemaScore polling, the highest among new releases on more than 1,500 screens. The top grossing film of the weekend, “The Predator,” rated a C-plus in CinemaScore polling and monetarily led a field of 13 new releases.
 
Billed as the next chapter of the 2014 box office success “Unbroken,” the Pure Flix film unfolded World War II hero Louis Zamperini’s acceptance of Christ as his savior at a 1949 Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles. Evangelist Will Graham played the role of his grandfather.
 
“My script was not made up,” Will Graham said on NBC’s Today Show days before the film’s Sept. 14 opening. The message he preached in the movie was “actually the same words. And listen to what (the sermon) was titled, ‘Why Does God Allow Communism?’ … But it was really dealing with the evil in this world. …  Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”
 
On a weekend slate of 48 domestic films, Unbroken: Path to Redemption ranked ninth, averaging $1,451 per screen in 1,620 theaters, Box Office Mojo said.
 
“Outside the top five is where we find Pure Flix’s Unbroken: Path to Redemption, which fell to the lower end of industry expectations,” Box Office Mojo said Sept. 16 of the film it had predicted would gross $5 million in its opening weekend.
 
The film’s predecessor, the 2014 Unbroken, grossed $30.6 million in its opening four-day weekend in December of that year after opening on Christmas. Angelina Jolie directed the film that focused on Zamperini’s struggles as a POW in Japan, but stopped short of telling of his redemption after the war’s end.
 
Will Graham praised the 2014 film, although he considered it decidedly an unfinished story of Zamperini, who died months before Jolie’s film was released.
 
“Angelina Jolie’s movie Unbroken … was a great success and we’re so thankful,” the evangelist said on the Sept. 10 broadcast of Today. “Because it did so well, Universal said, ‘Let’s now do the second part of it. This part now focuses on his life after the war and how he really … ended up being broken in life.”
 
Both films are based on Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book. See previous Biblical Recorder story on the 2018 release here.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/18/2018 12:42:40 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



N.C. Baptists ‘shine bright’ in aftermath of Hurricane Florence

September 17 2018 by Biblical Recorder Staff

As rainfall from Hurricane Florence continued to drench much of North Carolina, Southern Baptist response teams were already at work feeding residents, ramping up recovery efforts and planning to provide long-term aid.
 

The storm made landfall early Sept. 14 as a Category 1 hurricane near Wilmington, N.C., producing damaging winds and precipitation that is expected to total more than 40 inches.
 
Hundreds have been stranded by widespread flooding, while 17 people died as a result of Florence, according to news reports at press time.
 
Dozens of N.C. Baptist church buildings were inundated with water, in addition to the Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) site in Kinston, called the Kennedy Home.
 
BCH evacuated four of its campuses, moving residents to the Mills Home campus in Thomasville. The Kennedy Home sustained $1.5 million in damage two years ago from flooding related to Hurricane Matthew.
 
Blake Ragsdale, BCH director of communications, told the Biblical Recorder Sept. 15 that if rains persist as projected and nearby waterways flood, “there’s no telling what kind of damage it could cause.”
 
Multiple churches have reported their steeples were toppled by strong winds. Five buildings at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Fort Caswell retreat center sustained structural damage from rain and wind gusts, according to a convention spokesperson. The convention reported a power outage at the Caraway Conference Center and Camp near Asheboro. No damage was reported at Truett Baptist Camp in Hayesville.
 
Baptists on Mission (also known as North Carolina Baptist Men; NCBM) had launched a feeding operation at Temple Baptist Church in New Bern as of Sept. 17, with more than five others expected to be operational within days. Planned sites included First Baptist Church in Wilmington and Hyde Park Baptist Church in Lumberton, as well as sites in Kinston, Jacksonville and Hope Mills, according to NCBM.
 
Virginia’s General Baptist Association set up a feeding station at Second Baptist Church in Washington. Disaster relief teams from the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and Missouri Baptist Convention have also established operations in North Carolina. Leaders from the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Alabama State Board of Missions, Florida Baptist Convention, Baptist General Convention of Texas and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention have offered help, NCBM said. The South Carolina Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia are evaluating damages in their respective states, and have pledged to join disaster relief efforts in North Carolina if possible.
 
“What we’re doing right now is getting the feeding units in place – that’s the immediate need,” said Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director.
 
“There will be plenty of room for teams from other states to help us with chain saw work, mud-outs and other work. We’re going to welcome all of those states – we need all of them eventually. I’ve told them, ‘Please come help us.’”
 
NCBM is working with Emergency Management, Red Cross and Salvation Army to strategically locate sites for large feeding kitchens to try to help as many people as possible, the organization said. NCBM plans to use the site at Temple Baptist as a hub for future upcoming recovery operations.
 
“Eventually, there will be construction work, but that’s determined by grants and funds that federal and state agencies make available,” Brunson told the Recorder. “As soon as we get the recovery part in gear, we want to make contact with churches that had damage to their facilities, so we ask churches to contact us or the Biblical Recorder so we can get them on our list.”
 
Jim Pennington, pastor of Temple Baptist, ventured out in the storm’s aftermath in a kayak to help stranded residents. He told Baptist Press that he and other boaters “moved several families and their household goods” out of harm’s way.
 
Some members of Temple Baptist lost their homes to floodwaters, Pennington said. Yet many decided not to evacuate. “We see it as an opportunity for our church to really shine bright in a dark hour,” he said.
 
Giving to the North Carolina Missions Offering is emphasized in September. Part of the budget for the offering goes toward disaster relief work along with other ministries of the NCBM and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
 
Give online at baptistsonmission.org; designate giving specifically toward Hurricane Florence. If your church or association has Hurricane Florence stories or photos to share, please contact editor@brnow.org.

9/17/2018 4:51:22 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 0 comments



N.C. field minister program begins second year

September 17 2018 by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS

On Sept. 5, 52 inmates entered the gymnasium at the Nash Correctional Institute for the second convocation service of the North Carolina Field Minister Program (NCFMP).
 

SEBTS photo
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, addresses the second convocation service of the North Carolina Field Minister Program Sept. 5.

The program started in August 2017 with partnerships between the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS), Game Plan for Life and The College at Southeastern.
 
“This program is unique in the sense that it is both confessional and inclusive, inviting all men of faith to participate in an unapologetically Christian education program,” said Seth Bible, director of prison programs at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).
 
Jesse, a sophomore in the program, gave testimony to how he had seen the Lord use the NCFMP in his life. He also admitted that it took courage to step out of his comfort zone and start the program.
 
“I was in a situation where I didn’t know if I wanted to leave because I was comfortable. Did I want to pursue what I knew God had called me to do?” he said.
 
Twenty-eight inmates are returning for their second year while 24 students are entering into their first year of the program.
 
Reuben Young, NCDPS Interim Chief Deputy Secretary of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, spoke to attendees of the lifechanging work of the NCFMP, saying that it “changes lives of those behind the wall and beyond the fence.”
 
“I’m convinced that your efforts will continue to widen a path that has been dark for far too long,” said Young.
 
Joe Gibbs, founder of Game Plan for Life and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, gave testimony to how he became convinced of God’s existence.
 
He gained this assurance through creation, the Bible and God’s work in him and others.
 
Gibbs reminded inmates that God is one of “second chances,” and that “what we’re going to leave on this earth is the influence we’re having on others.”
 
SEBTS President Danny Akin focused his message on Hebrews 12:1-3 using the theme “Run Hard After God.” His encouragement to students was to not only start well but finish well in their studies and in life.
 
Akin gave three points in explaining how the passages teach us to run hard after God. 
 
First, he told students to find encouragement as they run.
 
“There are brothers right alongside you that are in the race with you,” said Akin as he encouraged students to rely on one another.
 
Second, Akin explained that there are some essentials students need as they run this race, which includes laying aside every weight, laying aside sin and running with endurance.
 
“Whatever you have to do to get rid of anything that can slow you down in this very strategic time of your life, kick it to the curb, that you can run the race without those weights,” said Akin.
 
Third, he encouraged students to look to Jesus as the perfect example to follow because He is the author and finisher of their faith.
 
“As you study and as you serve, keep your eyes glued to Jesus,” said Akin. “He got you in the race, He’ll keep you in the race, and He will get you to the finish line.”
 
Two notable additions at the Nash Correctional Institution for this program are a library and a modular unit to host more classes.
 
The funding for the library is provided by the Keesee Foundation, and books will be purchased and housed in the current classroom at the Nash facility. The modular unit is funded through Game Plan for Life.
 
Certain requirements have to be met before inmates can be admitted to the NCFMP. An inmate must have at least 15 years remaining on his sentence, have a high school diploma equivalent or higher education and must be in good standing with the prison.
 
During a six-month process leading up to the beginning of fall classes, inmates in the Nash Correctional Institution have the opportunity to apply, provide references, meet for a face-to-face interview and complete a college preparedness exam. After this process has been completed, up to 30 men are chosen for admission. The goal is that a maximum of 30 students will be admitted each semester until capacity is reached with 120 students.
 
The goal of the NCFMP is not only to give men hope and purpose while serving out their sentences but also for them to use what they learn in the classroom to impact the culture within the greater prison system of North Carolina.
 
Upon completion of the Bachelor of Arts in pastoral ministry, graduates will be grouped into teams and assigned to various prisons in the state, where they can hold a range of positions. These can include providing counseling, mentoring new inmates, suicide watch and performing funerals.

9/17/2018 4:51:03 PM by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS | with 0 comments



Cooperative Program: Friends share life-giving faith

September 17 2018 by Baptist Press Staff

“Let me introduce you to a friend,” folks say.
 
Every Southern Baptist has innumerable friends who are sharing the gospel in unique ways and in unique settings.
 
You may not know any of these friends personally, but they share a bond with all Southern Baptists who support their outreach through the Cooperative Program (CP).
 
CP is the channel by which Southern Baptists, through their churches, provide the financial means necessary for state, national and international missions and ministry to lead people to faith in Christ.
 
Baptist Press (BP) has asked the four CP catalysts of the SBC Executive Committee – Chad Keck, Matt Crawford, Curtis Cook and Nate Millican – to introduce some of their CP friends. From U.S. urban contexts to Asia, here are their stories.
 

Chad Keck, CP catalyst for the Midwest region and pastor of First Baptist Church in Kettering, Ohio

 
Let me introduce you to my CP friends Tony and Beth Loseto, church planters in Cleveland with the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) SEND network. Cleveland is a city where only 8.5 percent of the people claim an evangelical faith and almost half the population claims no religious affiliation at all. Tony grew up in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland, and in 2013, he and his wife returned there to plant Gateway Church.
 
The primary focus of Gateway is to serve the community in Jesus’ name and to evangelize the lost with the gospel of Jesus. They desire to take the gospel outside the church and into the hurting lives of those in their city.
 
Tony shares one example of how God has been working in the life of his neighbor Jerry.
 
“Jerry had been saved many years ago but had never become involved in any church. After several attempts Jerry finally agreed to come to one of our home Bible studies.
 
“Through that small group, Jerry grew in his faith. That deepening walk with Jesus created a desire for him to share the gospel with his own family. His adult daughter began attending our church with her own family and heard the gospel with clarity in a way she had not heard it before. Jerry’s daughter recently put her faith in Christ and has been baptized as a follower of Him.
 
“We are praising God for His work through the gospel in a multi-generational way through the ministry of Gateway.”
 
Tony first learned about the Cooperative Program as a member of Parma Baptist Church (now Pleasant Valley Church) in the Cleveland area. His understanding and appreciation was deepened as a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Boyce College in Louisville, Ky.
 
Tony talks about CP as being like “scaffolding” for their church plant.
 
For Gateway Church, it provided the early support needed for the work to build up to capacity. It has allowed him to be fully devoted to the work of ministry, sharing the gospel, and developing relationships with the community and believers in the church. CP has made a vital impact on the work of reaching Old Brooklyn with the gospel.
 
When Tony thinks about the people and churches who give faithfully through the Cooperative Program, he thinks of the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).
 
Church planting with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has reflected the truths of scripture through partnership from the very beginning that demonstrates a belief that resourcing efforts to see the gospel reach the lost is always worth it.
 

Matt Crawford, CP catalyst for the South region and East Campus pastor for City Church in Tallahassee, Fla.

 
Byron Cutrer II is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in New Orleans. I’ve known Byron for nearly 20 years. It’s been incredible to witness God use him and his family in ministry.
 
While Byron was a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, he was called to lead Faith Baptist Church, with about 25 attendees in uptown New Orleans.
 
This elderly congregation – who joked that their youth group was in their 60s – had a strong spiritual heritage but their numbers had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
 
About a year ago, Faith Baptist called Byron as a transitional pastor to help them make critical decisions about the future. Under his leadership, the church has engaged in NAMB’s Replant program. Faith Baptist has stepped out in faith, hiring a children’s ministry coordinator in order to actively pursue the next generation for the sake of the gospel.
 
According to Byron, “Specifically, we pray for baptisms. ... God has already answered that prayer. We had one baptism a few weeks ago, and we will probably have a couple more in a month or so.” And after beginning Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God curriculum, Sunday School attendance has doubled.
 
Through NAMB’s Replant program, Faith Baptist has benefited from CP funding. “We’re really grateful,” Byron said. “Where we’re at in our context is so unique; we’re on the front lines of charging the gates of hell. ... For our people [in the SBC] to know that there are some hard-to-reach places, that they’re being represented there – it’s making a difference.”
 

Curtis Cook, CP catalyst for the Northeast region and pastor of Hope Fellowship Church in Cambridge, Mass.

 
Dane Helsing is a church planter in Belmont, Mass., who, along with a team, started Beacon Community Church nearly three years ago. From the beginning, the plant has been supported by CP funding through NAMB’s Send Network.
 
In fall 2017, a visiting professor from China named Michelle saw a flier about the church. When she walked through the doors that Sunday, the first thing she shared was, “My English teacher in China from the U.S. once told me about Jesus. Is this a place where I can learn more about Jesus?”
 
Dane replied that she had come to the right place!
 
Over the next nine months, several members of the church invested time sharing the gospel and answering questions, and eventually Michelle placed her faith in Jesus Christ. On Father’s Day, she stood before her church family and spoke of her faith in Jesus Christ before she was baptized. As she shared, “The more degrees and money I earned, the emptier I became.” But now, Michelle’s deepest longings have been filled and she has found lasting satisfaction in Jesus Christ.
 
As Beacon Community Church prepares to celebrate its third birthday, Dane spoke of how they have been blessed by the Cooperative Program.
 
“Our church exists because of the thousands of dollars that the Send Network and numerous Southern Baptist churches who have so generously partnered with us [give]. We couldn’t do what we are doing in reaching out to people like Michelle without this partnership. We are so thankful.”
 

Nate Millican, CP catalyst for the West and pastor of Foothills Baptist Church in Phoenix

 
I’ve asked my friend David York* to share about his work with a Muslim people group in Asia.
 
David York: In our part of the world, I get to oversee a mentoring program for new personnel Southern Baptists are sending to the lost world. This program lasts for the duration of their first term, and through it we traverse a vast array of challenging territory: language and culture acquisition, adjusting to life overseas, strategies for engaging the lost in a cross-cultural ministry setting, abiding in Christ as we’re going and growing into Christ-likeness.
 
When I have the privilege of getting face time with these new families, it doesn’t take long to realize Southern Baptists are sending us some of their best! These are faithful brothers and sisters who long to put down deep roots spreading out to the farthest corners of global lostness so that Christ may be known and cherished among the nations, especially among those who’ve never heard the gospel before.
 
Recently our team received one of these precious new families you’ve entrusted to us.
 
They were affirmed and sent out by their home church. After a season of stateside preparation and orientation, and then a year of language study in what we call a landing city, they arrived in the province of our focus people group just under two months ago. Tom Callahan*, the husband/father of this family, has been eagerly connecting with established churches to cast vision and mobilize new partners as he continues studying the language diligently. His wife Cara* just started homeschooling their three adorable children again after a one-year hiatus in an international school.
 
Their arrival has been tremendously encouraging to the rest of our team, and we’re getting caught up in their zeal as they stand on the front end of a new career centered on engaging the lost with the gospel, making disciples of Jesus, and planting churches who will catch the same vision. There are few things in this life that brighten their eyes more than getting to put their hands to what Jesus called the “Greater Works” (John 14:12), the nuts and bolts of the Great Commission.
 
A few weeks ago, Tom and I went out sharing the gospel in the streets together. After having modeled an approach for him a few times, I let him take the lead as we settled in next to a group of four students at a roadside food stall. It was getting dark outside, the street lights were buzzing, the traffic wasn’t slowing down, the street musicians were making their rounds and the grilled chicken was tender and spicy. The students were enthusiastically anticipating the beginning of their freshman year at the university. They were all from different parts of this country, but each hailed from the same majority faith.
 
It took Tom a few minutes to get his bearings, but he soon began to navigate skillfully and intentionally through an interactive “get-to-know-you” stage of the conversation that he ultimately steered toward more important, eternal and epic truths. Within about 40 minutes he’d landed on the gospel and shared our life-changing, soul-saving message with a young man who’d never heard it before.
 
Tom met with him again, and the young man professed faith in Jesus, saying, “What should I do now?” What Tom did was simply put into practice some very basic evangelism patterns and principles we observe Jesus using in His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the Well of Jacob in John 4. Like Jesus, Tom was being intentional in an informal setting through an interactive conversation in which he was taking the initiative to introduce Jesus, the Messiah. (Those are the five “I’s of our basic method of evangelism.)
 
It is difficult to put into words the joy and gratitude I felt in that moment. But I’ll try. I prayed and worshipped the Lord Jesus while Tom leaned in with everlasting truth.
 
Consider just how profound and majestic the Father’s ways are! God is orchestrating what we couldn’t even imagine through His Spirit working in and through us to glorify His Son, Jesus the Messiah! Through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists are affirming and entrusting; we’re receiving and equipping; the lost are hearing and believing; and Jesus’ name is becoming increasingly famous on the other side of the world. That’s the fruit of our partnership in the gospel.
 
Thank you for sending people like the Callahans to the lost world. Thank you for supporting them and us by acknowledging God’s call and the priorities of Great Commission obedience.
 
*Names changed.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – October is Cooperative Program Emphasis month in the Southern Baptist Convention. Learn more at sbc.net/cp.)

9/17/2018 4:50:14 PM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



Getty worship conference strikes a chord

September 17 2018 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty hosted their first-ever worship music conference last year. The inaugural event drew more than 4,000 attendees. The second annual “Sing!” conference, Sept. 10-12 in Nashville, Tenn., garnered nearly twice as many pastors, worship leaders and other Christians eager to hear dozens of speakers and artists.
 


Getty Music photo by Alli Rader
Keith and Kristyn Getty lead the 2018 Sing! Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

The Gettys developed the gathering to help church leaders “build a biblical understanding and creative vision for congregational singing,” according to the event’s website.
 
The program schedule featured well-known pastors and theologians such as John Piper, Alistair Begg and John MacArthur, along with worship leaders and performing artists including Trip Lee, Shane & Shane, Bob Kauflin and John Patitucci. It also featured numerous breakout sessions and auxiliary events, all focused on the biblical Psalms.
 
J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Biblical Recorder he believes the conference is timely and important.
 
“Worship is central to the Christian life,” Greear said. “The quality of our preaching, the effectiveness of our ministries and the reach of our missions will never exceed the depth of our worship. I’m so grateful that God has raised up the Gettys at this time to call the church to a Christ-exalting, gospel-rich theology and practice of worship.”
 
Greear spoke in a plenary session about the presence of evil and suffering in the world, topics he said are the background for many of the Psalms and issues for every generation, especially younger generations. Greear recounted the suffering of Job in the Bible and drew four lessons from the Psalms that God teaches His people.
 
First, he said God has an infinite perspective on suffering and injustice. People think of God as a “slightly bigger, slightly smarter” version of themselves, Greear said. “To understand infinite justice, you need infinite perspective,” he explained.
 
“The questions are fine. The doubts are OK. They’re not new in our generation. The psalmists asked them, but what the Psalms labor to do is show the right posture we have to have in asking those questions.”
 
Second, Greear said God’s purposes are guaranteed.
 
“Satan’s strategy to destroy God’s people only serves to further God’s purposes. ... The best illustration, of course, is the cross itself. Because at the cross God took Satan’s worst attack and turned it into the greatest thing that’s ever happened for humanity – salvation. Believer, you can rest assured that God is doing the same thing with your struggles.”
 
Third, Greear said God’s promises are everlasting.
 
“The psalmist encourages us, as we lift our eyes to the coming restoration in the length of eternity, because in the light of eternity the life we’ve lived so far will seem like a few seconds in a never-ending day.”
 
Lastly, Greear said God’s presence is pledged. “When I feel abandoned, I know that I’m not, because Jesus was abandoned for me so that I will be eternally embraced,” he explained.
 
“I know the Father will never turn His face away from me because He turned His face away from Jesus in my place. Like Job, I may not know what my suffering means, but I know what it cannot mean. It cannot mean that God has forsaken me or that He has lost control.”
 
Attendees traveled to the event from more than 30 countries, according to a spokesperson for Getty Music.
 
More than a dozen people received scholarships to cover a significant portion of the costs to attend.
 
The international focus represented Getty Music’s “desire to expand our reach internationally and serve the global church through training, resources and teaching,” the spokesperson said.
 
The 2019 Sing! Conference is scheduled for Aug. 19-21 in Nashville, Tenn. Getty Music also plans to host similar events in multiple locations across Europe in 2019, possibly including London, Paris and Belfast.
 
“These will be a part of our global Sing! initiative to help transform the way churches and individuals think about worship in the home, church and as individuals,” said the spokesperson.
 
David Platt, outgoing president of the International Mission Board and teaching pastor for McLean Bible Church in the Washington, D.C., metro area, preached from Psalm 67 in a plenary session.
 
Platt spoke about the connection between God’s blessing and God’s mission.
 
“God blesses His people for the sake of His praise among all peoples,” he said, calling the idea “absolutely critical to understanding Christianity and the purpose of your life.”
 
He explained how God communicates that message throughout the whole Bible, giving short illustrations from the biblical stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and the Exodus, the Levitical law, Joshua and the fall of Jericho, Daniel in the lions’ den and more.
 
Platt also warned about the dangers of material prosperity, noting how modern day Americans represent the most wealthy population to have ever lived.
 
“We are prone to disconnect God’s blessing in our lives from God’s purpose for our lives,” he said. “Christianity is not ultimately about us, but that His glory would be known among all nations.”
 
In conclusion, Platt exhorted listeners to realize that “all the peoples of the earth will one day give Him praise. ... If you know where all of history is going, then get in on it.”
 
Find out more information about the Sing! 2018 conference and future events at gettymusicworshipconference.com.

9/17/2018 4:49:00 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



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