February 2014

Firmly planted … rooted in the gospel

February 25 2014 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Each year as we prepare to commemorate Christ’s resurrection at Easter, Southern Baptists are challenged to pray fervently and give sacrificially to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (AAEO) for the North American Mission Board (NAMB). NAMB’s 2014 theme is “Firmly planted … rooted in the gospel.” 
The expansion of our Lord’s Kingdom in North America is of the utmost importance. According to Acts 1:8, reaching our continent is part of our marching orders to reach all ethnic groups. NAMB researchers estimate that there are 260 million lost people in North America. In terms of lostness the top three countries in the world are China, India and Indonesia. The fourth, sadly, is the United States. NAMB president Kevin Ezell and the NAMB mission force are responding to this lostness in our continent by focusing intentional evangelism efforts in the 32 major cities that house the largest number of lost people.
North Carolina Baptist churches gave $5.8 million to the AAEO in 2013, which is slightly more than their 2012 contribution. The AAEO’s national goal for 2014 is $70 million. This year, 65 percent of the funds received will support church-planting missionaries, collegiate evangelism missionaries and other missions in North America. Twenty percent of the offering will be invested in NAMB’s farm system to fund the next generation of missionaries – it will specifically aid student missionaries and church-planting interns. The remaining 15 percent of the offering will provide health care benefits for NAMB missionaries.
When the churches receive the AAEO, they send it to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) in Cary. The BSC records the amount each church sends, combines it with the contributions from other North Carolina Baptist churches and then forwards the entire amount to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee (EC). In turn, the EC allocates these funds to NAMB, which oversees the distribution of the funds to the many missionaries and mission projects that the offering supports. NAMB’s goal is to plant 15,000 new churches over the next 10 years.
Are you willing to invest in intentional, specific prayer for North American missions and missionaries? Will you pray fervently that our missionaries will see a fresh work of God happen in the states, cities and communities where they are serving? Join me in praying that every North Carolina Baptist will be firmly planted … and rooted in the gospel in our efforts to reach North America. Please use the week of prayer (the first full week of March) to pray not only for NAMB missionaries, but also to pray about what you can do to serve in North America. You can pray, you can give and you can go.
But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23
2/25/2014 1:00:11 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments

Remembering a great man

February 11 2014 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

A large number of people came together at Woodhaven Baptist Church in Apex on Jan. 24 to remember and celebrate the life of a great servant of God. Just a few days earlier, Robert Stewart had finished his course in life and was promoted to be in the presence of his Lord and Savior. Throughout his life and ministry Robert Stewart was always working to bring people together. He was a most effective and influential leader of Baptist people. He was employed with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from 1978 until his retirement in 2003.
When I began my career with this convention in 1993, it did not take me long to realize what a great man I would be privileged to know and work with. He immediately reached out to me in friendship. Before I purchased a home and relocated my family to Cary, Robert and Jo Ellen Stewart invited me to stay in their home. People who knew Stewart were convinced that he cared about people, and he took time to demonstrate his concern for individuals. He was a great listener, and he was gifted by God with the ability to provide encouragement and hope when someone needed a friend to help them discover new possibilities.
Robert also invested his life in helping a multitude of churches develop and improve their programs of Christian education. It would be interesting to know how many miles he drove and how many conferences he led as he challenged churches to provide effective Bible teaching with the goal of making disciples and leading the lost to accept Christ. He was well equipped in all aspects of church life, and he could provide quality training on almost any church related subject. Stewart stands out as a true statesman who modeled for us that we can always accomplish more by listening to each other and working together.
When I learned that Robert was nearing the end of his earthly life, I began to reflect on the great man he had been and all that he did for Kingdom advancement because of his love for Christ and how he valued individuals. I thought about how family members and friends would soon gather for a memorial service and reflect on the life of this kind man who was such a godly person and a humble servant of Christ.
As I reflected on all that could be said about Robert, I said to myself, “there is no way to tell it all.”
Aren’t you glad that this earthly life is not the end? It is comforting and refreshing to visualize a place called heaven where God welcomes His servants home and says to them “Well done.” God Himself will reward His children for everything they have done for His honor and glory. 
“… there is laid up for me a crown of right-eousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day … – 2 Timothy 4:8
2/11/2014 10:04:01 AM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments