August 2001

Giving thanks for American food

August 17 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Giving thanks for American food | Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Giving thanks for American food

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor As a long time fan of Asian food, I had looked forward to exciting culinary adventures during a recent swing through Southeast Asia. It turned out to be a case of the good, the bad and the ugly. Most of the food was good, starting with shrimp and fish cake over egg and rice noodles in fish broth, which I had for breakfast at a Malay food stall in Singapore. There was excellent chicken satay with peanut sauce in Jakarta, authentic pad Thai and banana roti in Chiang Mai, and a first-class meal of dim sum and lemon duck in Hong Kong.

Some of the food was simply bad - like the gule kambing I ordered from a Padang stall in Jakarta, Indonesia. I knew that kambing meant "goat" and thought that would be fun, but I didn't realize that the goat parts in that particular dish came from inside the rib cage.

At an open-air restaurant that hung over the bay near Songhkla, Thailand, we had a mango salad that smelled (and tasted) just like the open-air market where piles of fish and squid rub shoulders with tables filled with local fruit and vegetables. The same place served steamed sea bass with garlic and lime - and most of the fish's internal organs intact.

The worst by far, however, was a fruit called durian. A church we visited fed us fresh fruit, and I enjoyed trying rambutan and mangosteen, along with some outstanding pineapple. But that left the durian - a big, yellow fruit with a thorny exterior that smells so bad there were signs in the hotel lobby prohibiting it from the building. I honored our hosts by choking down a bite of the stinky, slimy stuff, and felt sick for the rest of the day.

Other food tasted fine, but lacked something in visual appeal. Order fried chicken at Suharti's in Bandung, Indonesia, and you get the whole thing, complete with the head and neck. You won't overeat, however, because the yardbirds are so scrawny that there are not 10 good bites on them, and much of that is in the neck.

Order fish in Indonesia and it will invariably come whole. At a roadside place near Bandung, I ordered grilled fish with ginger sauce that would have been easier to eat if it hadn't kept looking at me - and if it hadn't been such a spitting image of the big goldfish swimming in the muddy pond beside our table.

My first stop on American soil was an airport Burger King in Los Angeles. When I said thanks, it was with a whole new feeling.

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8/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



The task is too big

August 17 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

The task is too big | Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

The task is too big

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor The last frontier of missions, it has been said, is collaboration. In many parts of the world, mission efforts are working to cross that frontier. A variety of denominational and independent mission-sending agencies are learning to move past provincialism and to work together in the daunting task of spreading the gospel to the unreached peoples of our world. Why? Because the task is too big for any group to tackle it alone.

And because the task is too important to let minor differences stand in the way of major efforts in evangelism.

This was a message I heard again and again on a recent study tour of mission work in Southeast Asia. It is a message that needs to be proclaimed from the housetops.

In 1971, I was introduced to "World A" as a BSU summer missionary in Semarang, Indonesia. "World A" is a descriptive term for the quarter of the world's population that has never heard about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. No one called it "World A" then, but anyone involved in missions knew it was a world in need of the gospel.

Thirty years later I had the rare opportunity of returning to that part of the world in the company of seven other interested Baptists, including Keith Parks, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board (IMB) and retired Global Missions Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).

We visited four different countries and six major cities, along with forays into outlying towns and villages.

We experienced populations devoted to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, animism and ancestor worship in various combinations and syncretistic forms.

We visited with local pastors, national mission leaders and representatives of several independent mission agencies, as well as CBF and IMB missionaries.

Again and again we heard about the staggering needs of "World A" and the large number of identified people groups that have yet to hear the gospel, or to have access to any portion of the Bible in their own language. We learned from a missionary linguist just how much time and effort is involved in learning a new language, creating an alphabet capable of putting it in written form, translating scripture into that language, and then teaching villagers, many of whom are illiterate, to read it.

And there is much to do. Within a 300-mile radius of Chiang Mai, Thailand, for example, researchers have catalogued some 360 known languages or distinctive dialects, and the number is growing. Most of those groups still have no scriptures in their own language.

The task is immense, and it is growing. Mission strategists began giving serious attention and unprecedented focus to unreached people groups in the early 1990's, but their number has continued to rise because mission efforts are not keeping up with world population growth.

And, despite a growing emphasis on unreached people groups, missions expenditures devoted to World A are still a very small fraction of total church giving. Statistics suggest that less than one tenth of one percent of all church income is used to bring light into the darkest parts of our world.

Missions spending directed to World A is growing, and that is good.

Cooperation between different "Great Commission Christian" groups is also growing, and that is good.

The task demands that believers learn to sacrifice not only their time and money, but also their pride and provincialism. Missionaries on the ground understand this. Churches and denominational bodies, steeped in tradition, have been slower to catch on.

Christians in general and Baptists in particular are learning new lessons and making new progress in collaborative outreach efforts, but we can do better.

We must do better: The task is too big for anything less than our best.

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8/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



Where is your church's 'front door'?

August 17 2001 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer

Where is your church's 'front door'? | Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Where is your church's 'front door'?

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-treasurer How did most of the members who've joined your church in the last five or 10 years first find out about your church and its ministries? What was their first point of contact with your congregation? In other words, where is your church's "front door," the most frequented route taken by non-members who eventually become members? Fifty or so years ago, the Baptist "front door" was definitely Sunday School. First-time visitors were channeled into age-level classes and signed up immediately. Most became full-fledged members. When Baptists went to church, that meant "Sunday School and worship." Thirty-five years ago, there were around 750,000 Sunday School members in our state convention churches. Today, enrollment has dropped about 15 percent to around 640,000. The Sunday School "front door" has definitely gotten smaller.

A couple of decades ago, the "front door" began to shift to the worship service. Many of our churches added second Sunday morning services to accommodate both members' schedules as well as provide an opportunity for a less-formal worship experience. Worship, in some places, became more celebrative and participatory. The worship "front door" pattern, although still dominant in many quarters, may have begun to wane in recent years.

The "front door" today, according to some church growth experts, is shifting to small group programs and activities that match people's on-going needs, everything from divorce counseling to classes on healthy lifestyles. Traditional Sunday School and preaching, in many cases, no longer draw non-Christians to church on a regular basis. Non-Christians may visit a time or two, sample what they see is available and come back if convinced there is something to meet their needs. If not, they'll go elsewhere. There are plenty of choices.

Churches throughout the ages have had to struggle with this issue: separating what matters from what we've always done. For the New Testament church, it was holding on to Jewish traditions. For many of our congregations, it's not wanting to let go of North Carolina Baptist traditions.

The real issue, of course, is not where the "front door" of your church is located. For many churches, perhaps the majority, the traditional, tried-and-true methods are still the best. Changing approaches merely to match the last church growth book you read or conference attended is certainly not recommended. But for a growing number of our congregations, traditional programs and activities simply have little or, at least, limited appeal. We must always remember the gospel is all that matters, everything else is a strategy.

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8/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 2: Affirming God's Worthiness

August 17 2001 by David Edgell , Numbers 13:1-2; 14:6-9, 26-30, 36-38

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 2: Affirming God's Worthiness | Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 2: Affirming God's Worthiness

By David Edgell Numbers 13:1-2; 14:6-9, 26-30, 36-38 Role models often influence others for good or bad. As a young child my role model was an older brother with a passion for discovery and exploration.

An aging wagon in our garage seemed like the perfect piece of equipment for a new coat of paint. The newly painted wagon would surely be the envy of the neighborhood and our pride and joy.

Visions of popularity soon came to an end when our spray can emptied with a small portion of the wagon remaining to be painted. My brother, and highly esteemed role model, acted quickly by devising a plan to remedy our dilemma. The spray paint could be opened and more paint removed if we only had a way to gain access to the remaining paint. Besides, we had always wanted to see the little ball inside of a spray can. A quick search of the garage revealed a bench vice and a hammer. These tools would be sufficient for just such a dilemma. My brother sought my approval and in my state of childlike faith I gave him my resounding, although, hesitant support.

As you can imagine, a fate of "explosive" proportions awaited our course of action. The second swing of the hammer propelled paint throughout the garage, into our eyes and generally covered everything in site.

Influence was a character trait that was exercised by my role model and our father drew the consequences of our actions to a memorable and painful conclusion.

Leadership has been defined in our day as "influence." We influence those we lead and each person is a leader for good or bad to someone in their sphere. But can leaders influence others without regard for obedience in the leader's personal life? Are leaders truly authentic if they disregard God's laws and principles in relation to their leadership task?

Joshua had been influenced by his role model, Moses. Numbers 11:28 informs us that Joshua was an "attendant of Moses from his youth." He had observed the courage of Moses as he had confronted Pharaoh and proclaimed God's judgment on Egypt. He had realized the price that comes from acting on God's behalf only to see others suffer as Pharaoh hardened his heart. Joshua must have stood in awe of God as Moses stretched out his rod and the waters of the Red Sea divided, making a path where there seemed only certain destruction. It was Joshua who sat in the tent of Moses and saw God "speak face to face with Moses as a man speaks with his friend" (Ex. 33:11).

God was even preparing Joshua for the challenges he would face in the land of Canaan as a military assistant to Moses at Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-16). Here he would act in faith and obedience to see God give victory and a promise to be written specifically for Joshua.

But Joshua's ultimate test of faith and obedience would be alongside 11 other men as they entered Canaan to spy out the land (Num. 13:1-14:10). It was after this event that Joshua showed courage in the midst of overwhelming odds. He had seen Moses' actions of faith, and when he was called upon to testify on the feasibility of the task at hand, it was Joshua who gave a challenge to obedience and action.

If leadership is influence, then we must influence those we lead by faith and obedience. We must trust God enough to obey Him and be willing to risk everything by following the example of our ultimate role model who risked everything that we might have life and see a true example of obedience.

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8/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by David Edgell , Numbers 13:1-2; 14:6-9, 26-30, 36-38 | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for Sept. 2: Living Large

August 17 2001 by Tom Greene , Exodus 20:1-6

Formations lesson for Sept. 2: Living Large | Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Formations lesson for Sept. 2: Living Large

By Tom Greene Exodus 20:1-6 The Ten Commandments - the very words, for many of us, denote harshness and repression. We are like the boys who were practicing their knot tying in the Boy Scout room of the church. In the course of practice they made a strange-looking knot neither of them had ever seen before. "Look," one boy said, "I've invented a new knot!"

"What are you going to call it?" asked his friend.

Thinking for a moment and remembering where they were; he responded:

"The thou shalt knot!"

I am afraid we are guilty of thinking of the commandments as a list of "thou shalt nots." But are the commandments really negative? Did God give them to the ancient Hebrews as an affliction, as a burden to bear?

The impression we get when we read the Exodus story of the commandments is far from negative. There, in the midst of a high drama, stand the people of Israel around the foot of Mt. Sinai and Moses in the clouds meeting with their God named Yahweh, who gives him the commandments.

These commandments are given as a blessing, a gift from the mighty One who has saved the Israelites. They are the rules of life that establish a bond between Yahweh and His people, and anyone who follows them will experience freedom and joy.

When God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, He was saying, in essence, "I love you. Look what I've done for you. Now I want you to have something wonderful, that will help you live joyfully and productively in the land I'm going to give you. Here, learn these sayings and live by them. They will bless your lives."

The Big One (Exodus 20:2-3) This beginning commandment is basic to the nine that follow. All the others depend on whether they keep this one. If they have other gods, it may not matter to them whether they steal or murder. This is the crucial and fundamental requirement that God makes of those who desire to enter into the special covenant relationship with Him.

The next step belonged to them. If they were to remain in His presence, they were to give up their hope in everything else and rest it all in Him; letting God be God in everything, in every way with no hold-outs, no reservations, no hidden agendas. Just listening to Him for their direction. In falling down and worshipping God alone, they discover the essential foundation for the building of the covenant community.

Making Our Own? (Exodus 20:4-6) A little boy was busy drawing a picture.

"What are you drawing?" asked his teacher.

"I'm drawing a picture of God," he answered.

"But no one knows what God looks like," said the teacher.

"They will when I get through."

The point of the second commandment is that we shouldn't be busy seeking a concrete manifestation of God at all. We should only fall down and worship Him. He is the God of all gods and He is too far beyond us to be represented by anything we might create. He is shrouded in mystery - simply beyond all human imagining and understanding.

There are two kinds of sin: the first is the sin of secular culture - ignoring God as though He does not exist. The second is the sin of religious culture - thinking that we possess God and have some special rights to His powers and benefits. We are warned away from the first sin, ignoring God, by the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me." We are warned away from the second, thinking we possess God, by the second commandment, "You shall not make for yourself a graven image."

Religious people have a way of thinking that God belongs to them. We assume that we know all about Him and what He wants and how He behaves. We may not make actual graven images of God, but we do reduce Him in our minds to mental images that are just as small and limited. J. B. Phillips' little book entitled Your God Is Too Small suggests that is what we do to God. We make Him too small, thus hindering our living large!

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8/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tom Greene , Exodus 20:1-6 | with 0 comments



Comment aside, Page to still run for presidency

August 17 2001 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

Comment aside, Page to still run for presidency | Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Comment aside, Page to still run for presidency

By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor Charles Page remains a candidate for president of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) despite a comment in June about possibly withdrawing.

Page, who is pastor of First Baptist Church, Charlotte, told the steering committee of Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina that he would step aside if a "strong layperson wished to run," according to a paraphrased statement in a June 19 news release from Mainstream. On July 10, Raymond Earp, a layperson from Beaufort and three-year president of N.C. Baptist Men, announced his candidacy for BSC president.

When first asked about the comment in an Aug. 15 interview, Page said he didn't say he would step aside and that he must not have carefully read the news release that Mainstream asked him to check for accuracy. Page called the Biblical Recorder office the next day, though, to say a fellow church staff member attending the Mainstream interview told him he did, in fact, make the comment.

"I made a mistake yesterday," Page said.

He said he didn't intend to make a blanket statement. First Church, Charlotte, has had three lay members - Allen Bailey, Henderson Belk and Bill Poe - serve as officers of the BSC. Page said if someone like them wanted to run, he would meet with the person and see if they had the same desires for the BSC, like bridge building. After that conversation, he said he would have no problem with stepping aside.

Page said he hasn't talked with Earp and doesn't know if he will. "Hopefully that will take place in time," Page said.

"The bottom line is I don't feel any strong feeling about withdrawing at this point in time," Page said.

Earp said he was unaware of Page's comment about possibly stepping aside when he announced his candidacy, and Earp said he would be glad to meet with Page.

In a Biblical Recorder article published July 28, Earp said he wants to lead N.C. Baptists to focus on missions rather than divisive theological issues.

Page said he has tried to stay out of denominational politics by focusing on serving as pastor and on being faithful. He wouldn't have run if Mark Corts hadn't called him to encourage his candidacy, Page said, noting that Corts is someone he respects. "The truth of the matter is I will serve the best I know how, but I'm not a bit interested in it."

Corts is the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and a leader for conservatives in North Carolina. Page's candidacy was announced at a meeting sponsored by Carolina Conservative Baptists (CCB). In the Mainstream news release, Page is quoted as saying he agrees with much of what CCB supports but is not a member of the group.

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8/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments



Following the flood

August 17 2001 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

Following the flood | Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Following the flood

By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor GRIFTON - More than 1,300 of the houses flooded almost two years ago during Hurricane Floyd have been rebuilt through the efforts of N.C. Baptists. And the work goes on. Work is now centered in the town of Grifton where flooding covered much of the town and where N.C. Baptists have converted a 50,000-square-foot warehouse into an operations center with kitchen facilities, bunk beds for up to 230 people, showers, bathrooms, equipment storage, an office and a sanctuary.

"We think we'll be around ten months or so," said Richard Brunson, executive director of N.C. Baptist Men, referring to the amount of work that remains. Relief work from Hurricane Floyd has become N.C. Baptist Men's largest project ever, he said.

About 100 additional houses are scheduled to be rebuilt in the Grifton area, and N.C. Baptist Men is committed to finish those houses, Brunson said.

Volunteers are needed on weekends (no Sunday work) and weekdays. For information on volunteering, see N.C. Baptist Men's Web site at www.ncmissions.org and click on disaster relief, then click on Floyd relief.

Helen Register of Turkey Baptist Church, Turkey, led a team to serve meals during a World Changers visit in July.

She said the relief center is well organized, making it easy to volunteer. She hopes the Eastern Baptist Association will send more teams.

"We really went to help the people and let them know we care," Register said. "We came back blessed."

Although N.C. Baptist Men has committed to rebuild the remaining 100 houses in the Grifton area, other homes need to be rebuilt. A new request for help comes to the operations center about every week, Brunson said.

Those homeowners are being put on a waiting list. If N.C. Baptist Men has enough funds after the others are completed, then those on the waiting list will be helped in the order they sought help.

"We're at a stage where we're not telling everyone who asks for help we'll be able to help," Brunson said.

Funding for the flood relief has come from about $3 million in donations received since the storm hit. The remaining amount should be enough to complete the houses that have been scheduled, Brunson said. The additional houses will likely need a church partner in order to be rebuilt.

Throughout Eastern North Carolina, about 800 partnerships between churches and homeowners have been established.

Church members from other Christian denominations are volunteering through N.C. Baptist Men. For example, the Moravian Church has donated money for the effort and has faithfully sent volunteers to work, Brunson said. Those volunteers stay at the operations center and are assigned to a house, he said.

The operations center was a manufacturing facility until the company went bankrupt in the late 1980s. By the time N.C. Baptist Men started using the facility for storage, the building was in need of major repairs and probably valued at only $50,000, Brunson said. A roofing company donated a new roof valued at $75,000, a window company replaced the broken windows, and volunteers have worked to make the facility useful for the relief effort.

Because the manufacturing company went bankrupt, ownership of the building is still in question. After the relief effort is complete, the building will probably be sold through bid. Brunson is hoping someone will buy the facility and donate it to N.C. Baptist Men.

"Strategically, it's in a good location," Brunson said, noting the facility is almost in the center of Eastern North Carolina.

It could be a good place for storing equipment and supplies, housing volunteers and providing training for disaster relief, he said.

"We've had thousands and thousands of people to stay there," he said.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - N.C. Baptist Men is one of the recipients of the annual N.C. Missions Offering. The week of prayer for this year's offering is Sept. 9-16.)

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8/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments



Missouri to consider requiring BF&M

August 17 2001 by Tim Palmer , Missouri Word&Way

Missouri to consider requiring BF&M | Friday, Aug. 17, 2001
  • is in sympathy with the Statement of Purpose (Article 2) of the Convention;
  • made a contribution to the mission and ministry budget of the Convention in the previous year;
  • affirms the 1963 or 2000 Baptist Faith and Message statement of the Southern Baptist Convention;
  • and which is a church in single alignment with the Southern Baptist Convention."

    Before discussing the proposed amendment, the committee on continuing review voted 4-3 to rescind an action it took in March proposing changes in Article 4. That version eliminated the words "single alignment."

    The revision approved last week would eliminate the current wording allowing MBC affiliation to "Any Baptist church in sympathy with the objects of the Missouri Baptist Convention and desiring to cooperate with the Convention in her program of single alignment with the Southern Baptist Convention?"

    Whether the "her" refers to a church or to the state convention became an issue last year after churches began to announce they were leaving the SBC. Hill said a substantial number of churches interpret it to mean that "her" refers to the state convention, leaving churches free to align or to not align with the SBC.

    Credentials committee chairman David Tolliver, pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church in Excelsior Springs, said he interpreted Article 4 to mean a church must be part of the SBC.

    Hill said such a requirement implies a "connectionalism," as opposed to allowing a local Baptist church to decide.

    He said how the constitution is changed has the potential of driving 100-200 churches from the MBC, which would "significantly hamper" the state convention's work.

    Hill said requiring MBC churches to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message also could drive churches out of the state convention, including fundamental-conservative churches that would oppose making the BF&M a doctrinal statement.

    (EDITOR'S NOTE - Palmer is managing editor of Word&Way, the state Baptist paper in Missouri.)

  • Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

    Missouri to consider requiring BF&M

    By Tim Palmer Missouri Word&Way JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Any church that wants to be a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) will have to be a member of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and affirm either the 1963 or 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) if a proposed constitutional amendment passes. The amendment will be introduced this fall at the MBC annual meeting in Cape Girardeau and voted on during the 2002 MBC annual meeting in Springfield.

    MBC executive director Jim Hill said the amendment, if approved, could cause hundreds of churches to leave the state convention over the principles of local church autonomy and opposition to creedalism.

    Meeting jointly July 26, the MBC committee on continuing review and the MBC credentials committee approved the proposed amendment. The credentials committee then met and issued a statement saying it will apply the requirement of membership in the SBC to churches that seek to have messengers seated at the 2001 annual meeting.

    The two committees were charged with addressing the issue of MBC membership requirements by the 2000 MBC meeting after two churches that had voted to leave the Southern Baptist Convention sent messengers to the meeting. Their messengers were seated, but the convention asked the two committees to study the issue and report back in 2001.

    The proposed amendment would add a new section to "Article 4 - Membership" in the MBC constitution. Section 2 would read: "Messengers shall be seated from any Baptist church which

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    8/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tim Palmer , Missouri Word&Way | with 0 comments



    Even if it means another night in a Mexican jail, 'I am willing'

    August 10 2001 by Miranda Lindsey , Baptist Press

    Even if it means another night in a Mexican jail, 'I am willing' | Friday, Aug. 10, 2001

    Friday, Aug. 10, 2001

    Even if it means another night in a Mexican jail, 'I am willing'

    By Miranda Lindsey Baptist Press JUAREZ, Mexico - It took 18 years of missions work in Mexico and a minor traffic accident before Brenda Toner saw the harsh side of the neighboring country. When she did see it, it was through the iron bars of her jail cell. "When those big, heavy metal doors to the jail closed behind me, I started to realize this was for real, and I couldn't believe it," said Toner, a housemother for Texas Baptist Children's Home (TBCH) in Round Rock, Texas.

    It was a typical, sweltering summer day in Juarez when Toner, a 20-year TBCH veteran, was driving a van full of teenagers, including her daughter, Barachel, to the Banito Orfantoria Juarez for missions work at the orphanage. As she entered the right lane, a minivan collided into her right panel.

    Fearing injuries, the passenger in the other vehicle was carried to the hospital while Toner was towed in the TBCH van to police headquarters. There, she began to realize the differences between two countries.

    "As soon as we reached the police station, [the other driver] tried to get me to give him money," Toner said. "That's the way they do it in Mexico, I guess."

    While the native driver continued to haggle with Toner for up to $850, she continually refused. Police officials urged the drivers to settle the dispute among themselves. When no resolution resulted, Toner was escorted into the police station.

    "I thought for sure the other driver would get a ticket because he had no license and no insurance," Toner said. "I had all the proper paperwork but ended up being the one in trouble."

    Once inside, she began a never-ending paperwork process.

    "From what I understand, they take you into custody as long as there may be a possibility of injury to the other party," Toner said.

    A lawyer came and went for the Mexican insurance company which had issued extra coverage arranged by the children's home, while Toner waited on word about the passenger's health. If the other party was out of the hospital by 4 p.m., Toner was told she could be released.

    The clocked ticked as Jerry Bradley, TBCH's executive director, began faxing necessary papers from Round Rock to the police headquarters. Meanwhile, Ada Loera, director of the Juarez orphanage, worked on Toner's behalf, paying $150 for the release of the uninjured passenger. But because no Mexican official was present, however, police said the release was void.

    When the 4 o'clock mark passed, Toner was escorted to a Volkswagen Bug headed to jail.

    "The whole time I kept thinking, 'When we get there, the lawyer will have the appropriate papers,'" she said. "I just knew this was all a mistake."

    But when they arrived at the jail, there was no lawyer, just two Mexican guards ready to show Toner to a cinder-block room with cement floors and no air conditioning.

    "That's when I knew no one was coming," she said.

    She was first told to remove all jewelry and then told to remove her shoelaces.

    "I thought they said shoes," she said. "When I started to take them off, the guards just laughed at me. That was the first time I felt truly helpless."

    Upon entering the cell, she saw her five cellmates - two men and three women who spoke no English. Then her eyes turned to the toilet.

    "It hadn't been flushed in what looked like weeks," she said. "Then I noticed there were no seats or beds, just a hard cement floor crawling with roaches."

    A gallon water jug sat in the corner with one cup for community use. The liquid was brown with filth, then Toner remembered what an inmate told her.

    "I asked how long someone usually stays here; he said usually 72 hours," she said. "My heart just sank. I didn't think I could last that long."

    Toner began to pray. She prayed for strength. She prayed for understanding. But mostly she prayed that she could refrain from eating, drinking or using the facilities.

    "It might have seemed like a small thing to most people, but I knew I would be very sick if I had to do any of that," she said.

    When evening approached, the guards carried a large trash bag filled with burritos to the cellblock. They handed them through the bars to the inmates but Toner declined.

    Twelve hours passed and the TBCH housemother hadn't consumed a thing or slept a wink. She barely sat. All the while, she would see inmates leave when their names were called, only to return a short time later.

    "I was told by someone that it was because they needed more money," Toner said.

    Finally, Toner was called into a room where an official surrounded by case files asked for $7,500 pesos, or 70 U.S. dollars, for her release. Holding the hand of her daughter who had arrived at the jail, Toner could only think of those inmates who were sent back.

    "I was crying. My daughter was crying. And I just remember thinking, 'I don't want to go back there,'" Toner said. "I wanted to do whatever it took to get out of there."

    She was soon released, although dehydrated, hungry and tired. The children's home van, however, remained impounded.

    Soon after the TBCH group returned to Round Rock, Jerry Bradley was forced to fly to Juarez to meet with the same insurance lawyer now accused of mishandling Toner's case.

    Three days later, he was still negotiating with Mexican officials and insurance personnel, despite the Mexican insurance coverage purchased for such incidences.

    "I think other agencies need to consider how they would handle things if this were to happen," Bradley said. "We never think it's going to happen to us. But we go to do positive things for the citizens, and one of our houseparents ends up in jail. It's something that everyone should think about."

    After 18 years of ministry to Juarez, a fender-bender stands in the way of TBCH's return. Bradley said he is unsure if the children's home will allow another agency vehicle across the border, and if it does, it will be with great caution and even greater coverage.

    As for Toner, she is ready to return to the place that has been part of her life for so long.

    "That orphanage has been one of our ministries for too long to stop now," she said. "And when it all comes down to it, the (jail) experience has only made me question just how much I'm willing to suffer for the Lord. And I am willing."

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    8/10/2001 12:00:00 AM by Miranda Lindsey , Baptist Press | with 0 comments



    Mission trips give N.C. Baptists perspective

    August 10 2001 by Melissa Pendleton , BR Intern

    Mission trips give N.C. Baptists perspective | Friday, Aug. 10, 2001

    Friday, Aug. 10, 2001

    Mission trips give N.C. Baptists perspective

    By Melissa Pendleton BR Intern What if North Carolina Baptist Churches had to minister to children without acrylic paints and wiggle eyes? What if all the workers had was the Bible?

    In some places that's all they do have.

    Janice Taylor, West End Baptist Church, Williamston, and Allison Lairmore, Forest Hills Baptist Church, Raleigh, know about places like that.

    Taylor, 70, answered a 50 year-old call from God and began traveling to Africa in 1998. Her first trip was to Kraalhoek, South Africa, a poor area.

    The Bible School that Taylor and the other missionaries held was comparable to Vacation Bible School here - only in Africa and without air conditioning. Taylor said that the group had grown to be so large, that one day they had to leave their cinderblock building and have class outside. The children were eager to learn about the Lord.

    All of the supplemental Bible school resources came from their home church. The missionaries even brought snacks for the kids to fellowship with because such luxuries were unavailable in the mission field.

    Taylor said she began with the creation story and worked her way to Jesus.

    Since her first mission trip, Taylor has traveled to Port Elizabeth in March 2001 and Manzini in February 1999 and February 2000.

    While Port Elizabeth is a more affluent area, the squatter villages of the poor areas are still present. These poor areas are a breeding ground for drug and alcohol abuse, theft, rape and other crimes, she said, and are in dire need of the gospel, she said.

    Taylor said one of the "heartbreaking things" she witnessed was during a visit to a local school in Port Elizabeth. A local teacher had asked Taylor to visit her classroom. The teacher told Taylor of how she had bought her students a loaf of bread so she would know they had at least one piece of bread to eat that day. None of them had eaten breakfast or lunch, and many had gone without food the night before.

    The children of these villages need food for their bodies, as well as for their souls. "The world has the children by high school, so the ministry must begin much earlier," Taylor said.

    The growth in Christian programs is evidence the children need the Lord, and Christians are working to help them find Him. Taylor said that during her 2000 visit to Manzini, Bible School began with two or three kids, and by week's end, there were 50 present.

    The Manzini program has grown so much that the church has had to train more teachers for the youth programs.

    Taylor brought back stories of success and hardship from her journeys. She also returned with the mantra, "Missions is my passion."

    Allison Lairmore is the associate pastor of preschool and children at Forest Hills Baptist. Like Taylor, she was called to Africa. Lairmore's mission work took her to Cape Town, South Africa, where she worked with other members of the Baptist State Convention Bible Teaching Reaching team.

    Lairmore was working in a "rather affluent church" when she said she was blessed with the opportunity presented by the entrance of "five women from a nearby squatter camp."

    Lairmore describes these women as "very poor, [with] very little education, and (they) could not speak English." But these women were welcomed and placed in conference groups, along with the others.

    After their meeting, Lairmore tried to ease a woman's burden by giving her markers and coloring paper, teaching pictures and games, memory verses and bags of "extras." But the woman wanted more than that. She asked, "How do I make the children want to come to learn about Jesus?"

    This woman's question made Lairmore ask herself questions like, "What if there were no new Bibles for my first graders or no trips to camp for my sixth graders? ... What would we do with a lack of education, knowledge and training?"

    She came to the conclusion that Christians should "focus in on children and do what's best for them." Lairmore said she now asks herself, "Is this the best way I can teach children the Bible?" She continues, "We are going to meet [the children's] needs best by investing in their lives." Their spiritual lives outside of slick, colorful books and big events need attention.

    One day the puffy paint and pipe cleaners may all disappear. Lairmore encourages teachers to take advantage of possible resources in every way, but to every now and then have a missionary day where windows are opened and the crafts put away. They should invite biblical figures to visit the Sunday School or VBS class, so that in the absence of busy activity, a child can invite Jesus into his or her heart, she said.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    8/10/2001 12:00:00 AM by Melissa Pendleton , BR Intern | with 0 comments



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