October 2001

Statesville pastor to run for BSC second vice presidency

October 29 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Statesville pastor to run for BSC second vice presidency | Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2001

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2001

Statesville pastor to run for BSC second vice presidency

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor Hampton Drum, a former president of the N.C. Baptist Pastors' Conference, has decided to run for Baptist State Convention (BSC) second vice president. Drum, a conservative, will oppose Larry Harper, a moderate who is seeking a second term as BSC second vice president.

Drum, pastor of South River Baptist Church in Statesville, said he decided to run after several pastors across the state called and asked him to consider it.

"After prayerful consideration, I agreed to serve," he said.

Drum's decision comes a few weeks after Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB) said it would not oppose Harper.

When asked if he thought CCB or Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC) would support him, Drum said he expected CCB would.

"I see that as mainstream North Carolina Baptists," he said.

"Others might not see it that way."

When asked about recent comments by a CCB executive committee member about conservatives taking over the BSC, Drum said that doesn't seem likely.

"I'm not so na�ve as to say conservatives are going to take over," he said. "I don't think that can happen in one fell swoop."

Drum said he's not sure if a conservative takeover would be best for the BSC right now.

"As the old saying goes, you don't want to throw out the baby with bath water," he said. "I don't want to change N.C. Baptists to be something that's not N.C. Baptist."

Drum said he was raised in the home of an evangelistic, N.C. Baptist pastor.

"I'm for keeping every part of N.C. Baptists that's involved in bringing people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ," he said. "I wouldn't do anything to change the evangelistic outreach of N.C. Baptists."

Drum said he doesn't have a problem working with moderates. He said he worked with moderates on the BSC nominating committee.

"At the same time I want to be honest and say that I would work to see our convention to become more conservative," he said.

Drum said he served on the nominating committee for four years.

"In that time I did nominate some conservative men," he said. "At the same time, some brothers in the room nominated some CBF" supporters.

Drum said he supports the BSC's four giving plans.

"I think a N.C. Baptist should be able to give how they want to believe," he said. "I think the plans provide that. I think that's only fair."

Drum said he opposes women pastors.

"I believe that the office of the pastor is reserved for a man. I believe the Bible bears that out," he said. "It would be against my conviction to elect a woman ordained as a gospel minister to (a BSC) office."

Drum said that there is a division within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). CBF formed in 1991 as a missions and ministry alternative to the conservative-dominated Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

"They are splitting because there is a group so far to the left that even the CBF folks can't have fellowship with them," he said. "That's something I don't want to see in North Carolina.

"There's a point you have to draw a line. If you don't draw a line, you dilute your testimony. I'm for unity, but at the same time we've got to keep our testimony and protect our integrity of who we are."

Drum said he wants to bring about "greater good" in the BSC.

"My desire is to see our state continue to reach out in missions," he said.

Drum said he helped build N.C. Baptists' first disaster relief van.

"Every part of North Carolina work I've done, I've enjoyed," he said.

Drum attended Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, Gardner-Webb University, Wingate University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

"I'm kind of a North Carolina son, sort of speak," he said.

Drum said he considers Greg Mathis, Mac Brunson and Kenneth Ridings friends.

"I admire what these men have done," he said.

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10/29/2001 11:00:00 PM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



CCB chooses not to oppose Harper

October 26 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

CCB chooses not to oppose Harper | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

CCB chooses not to oppose Harper

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor A conservative group has decided not to challenge Larry Harper's bid for re-election as second vice president of the Baptist State Convention (BSC).

Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB) announced in the November issue of its newsletter, The Conservative Record, that it will not oppose Harper, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh. He is considered a moderate.

Since the publication of the newsletter, Hampton Drum, a conservative and pastor of South River Baptist Church in Statesville, has announced that he will run for second vice president. He said he expects CCB to support him.

The CCB decision not to oppose Harper, included in a story criticizing the Biblical Recorder, is counter to earlier suggestions from CCB. A story announcing the presidential candidacy of Charles Page in the June edition of the newsletter said to "watch for additional announcements of other conservatives who will join Dr. Page in leading our state to continue our traditional ties to the mission of the Southern Baptist Convention."

At a regional luncheon in September sponsored by CCB, the scheduled speaker, Clarence Johnson, indicated that conservatives would run for the three BSC offices because conservatives needed to win all three to gain control of the BSC General Board. Johnson said he had some concern about running against Harper because he had been "at least fair" to conservatives.

CCB promotes two candidates in other articles published in the newsletter that focuses on the upcoming convention.

Jerry Pereria, pastor of First Baptist Church, Swannanoa, announced he would seek the presidency five days after Charles Page withdrew from the race because of a recurrence of cancer. Page's candidacy had been announced in the spring at a rally sponsored by CCB. Pereria said his views are similar to Page's. Pereria is a regional director for CCB, according to the group's Web site.

Raymond Earp, a layman from Calvary Baptist Church in Beaufort, announced his candidacy for president this past summer. Earp, a former president of N.C. Baptist Men, has been endorsed by Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina, a group advocating what it describes as traditional Baptist principles.

In the race for first vice president, Buddy Corbin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville, is seeking a second term and is being challenged by Bob Foy, a layman from Peninsula Baptist Church in Mooresville. Corbin has been endorsed by Mainstream, and Foy has been promoted by CCB.

Both Foy and Pereria joined the race after Mainstream interviewed candidates. Mainstream's steering committee chair, Don Gordon, said, "We are discussing our response to the emergence of other candidates."

The elections are scheduled during the annual meeting of the BSC, Nov. 12-14 in Winston-Salem's Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum.

(EDITOR'S NOTE-Assistant Editor Jimmy Allen contributed to this report.)

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10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Conservative group criticizes Recorder

October 26 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Conservative group criticizes Recorder | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

Conservative group criticizes Recorder

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor A conservative advocacy group is criticizing the Biblical Recorder's coverage of the group's Fayetteville meeting on Sept. 20 in which the speaker called for a conservative "takeover" of the Baptist State Convention (BSC). An article in Conservative Carolina Baptist's (CCB) newsletter appears designed to distance the group from comments by the speaker, Clarence Johnson, while not disavowing the remarks.

CCB leaders "know of no group or organization of conservatives whose leaders have voted to 'take over'" the BSC, according to the article. Johnson has "every right" to try to influence the direction of the BSC, it said.

"His words expose the frustration of many North Carolina Baptists who feel totally excluded from the leadership process," the article said. "Wise leaders will see that and respond compassionately before their sparks produce a flame that consumes everyone."

The article said the Recorder "has been filled with rhetoric" after the report about Johnson's comments.

"Can you find where the Biblical Recorder contacted one conservative in this state to ask if Mr. Johnson's words were his own or part of a larger movement?" the article asked. "We know of no conservative who has been contacted by the Recorder for clarification on the matter. Certainly none have been quoted. But, the Recorder contacted many others for their perspective regarding Mr. Johnson's comments."

Recorder Editor Tony W. Cartledge said there was no need to call CCB officials about comments made by a member of the CCB Executive Committee, selected by CCB to travel around the state speaking at CCB-sponsored meetings.

"We didn't call other members of Mainstream North Carolina Baptists to comment on Mainstream meetings we recently covered," Cartledge said. "Our coverage of the CCB-sponsored luncheon was exactly like dozens of other meetings we cover each year. The people we called for comment were responding to specific remarks made at the meeting, and two of them clearly identify themselves as conservatives."

Cartledge said he contacted two CCB officers regarding potential conservative candidates for the first and second vice-president's positions. One did not reply, the other said he had no information.

The CCB article called the Recorder's coverage "highly hypocritical."

"While some Baptists tout the matter of the priesthood of every believer, others take the words of one believer and apply them to everyone," the article said. "Are we seeing a new definition of this Baptist distinctive or are we just looking at raw politics?"

Cartledge said quoting a person's public comments has no relation to the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer.

"We did not suggest that Johnson has no right to interpret or promote his understanding of Baptist life," Cartledge said. "We simply reported Johnson's remarks, which were echoed by two pastors at the meeting, including one who serves as a CCB regional director."

The CCB said the Recorder needs to expose the "real takeover" of the BSC by moderates. "Do moderates dominate the General Board, the institutions, the Biblical Recorder Board and our committees?" the article asked. "Without question, the answer is 'Yes.'"

Cartledge said members of the Recorder board and other boards are selected by the BSC Nominating Committee and voted on by messengers to the BSC annual meetings.

"Like other agencies and institutions, we try to be fair in our suggestions for potential board members to support our mission, just as we try to be fair, objective and accurate in our reporting," he said.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Convention to include breakout sessions for first time

October 26 2001 by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications

Convention to include breakout sessions for first time | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001
  • "Prayer Evangelism: Praying Your Friends to Christ," led by Marty Dupree, state convention consultant in prayer and event evangelism, will discuss the role of prayer in evangelism and how to pray for lost people.
  • "Leading Change in Congregations," led by David Odom, director of the Center for Congregational Health, N.C. Baptist Hospital, will include discussions on what needs to change in a church, road maps to change, and change and God's will.
  • "FAITH Awareness: The Sunday School FAITH Evangelism Strategy," led by Rick Hughes, state Convention FAITH strategist and Mike Smith, pastor, Hillcrest Church, Kernersville, will explore the popular SBC program in churches of all sizes, disciple making and building a "Great Commission" church.
  • "Operation Inasmuch," led by David Crocker, pastor, Snyder Memorial Church, Fayetteville, will explore ways churches can participate in this popular hands-on mission project.
  • "Create an On-Mission Church through Volunteer Projects," led by N.C. Baptist Men staff, will look at ways churches can become involved in volunteer missions locally, nationally and internationally.
  • "Who, Me, in Missions?" led by the North Carolina WMU staff, will be a "drop by" missions fair involving 13 different mission interests and activities.
  • Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Convention to include breakout sessions for first time

    By Bill Boatwright BSC Communications For the first time, the Baptist State Convention annual meeting, set for Nov. 12-14 in Winston-Salem, will include six "break-out" sessions replacing the general meeting normally held on Tuesday afternoon. The six sessions, to be held from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13, were developed by the program committee to add variety as well as provide specific learning experiences for messengers and visitors.

    All of the "break-out" sessions will be held at the Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum and Annex Building.

    The six sessions include:

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    10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications | with 0 comments



    Missouri Baptist newspaper adopts self-perpetuating board

    October 26 2001 by Bob Allen and Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press

    Missouri Baptist newspaper adopts self-perpetuating board | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Missouri Baptist newspaper adopts self-perpetuating board

    By Bob Allen and Robert Marus Associated Baptist Press JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Trustees of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) news journal Word and Way have voted to become a self-perpetuating board, claiming a polarized political atmosphere among the state's Southern Baptists jeopardizes the paper's mission of providing a free press. The vote, finalized by a telephone poll Oct. 19, means that the board will no longer be elected by the state Convention. Trustees will instead elect their own successors.

    Word and Way is the fifth Missouri Baptist agency to move to a self-perpetuating board in just over a year to prevent takeover by conservatives now in control of the Convention's leadership-nomination process.

    The Convention's executive director, Jim Hill, resigned Oct. 4, saying he could not work with conservatives about to gain a majority on the MBC executive board.

    While several Southern Baptist institutions, primarily colleges, have declared independence from sponsoring state conventions to distance themselves from political pressure, the 105-year-old Word and Way is the first denominational newspaper to take the step.

    In a statement made public Oct. 23, trustee chairman Bob Johnston said the decision to amend the paper's charter followed "months of prayerful study and deliberation."

    "Increasingly, the trustees came to believe that the mission of providing a free press for all Missouri Baptists was in jeopardy," Johnston's statement said.

    That conclusion was supported, Johnston said, when the MBC nominating committee declined to nominate four Word and Way trustees eligible for re-election, even though three met the committee's announced criteria. Nominations for their replacements came without input from current trustees.

    "As a journal for all Missouri Baptists, and not just a select group, Word and Way must stay true to its mission of providing Missouri Baptists with information that is accurate, free of distortion and helpful in decision making," the statement said. "Word and Way has a long history of carrying out this mission, and it is the intention of those serving to keep the paper on track."

    Editor Bill Webb, who has been criticized by fundamentalist leaders, said editorial freedom, and not protecting current staff and trustees, was the board's main concern.

    In an editorial in the paper's current issue, Webb said the change was neither an "anti-MBC" nor "anti-SBC" decision.

    Webb said the paper desires "to remain an integral part of Missouri Baptist life." He said Word and Way would continue to support the Cooperative Program, and that trustees hoped the convention would continue to fund the paper through its unified budget.

    Word and Way is slated to receive $450,000 in a 2002 Cooperative Program budget being proposed at Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting Oct. 29-31.

    (EDITOR'S NOTE - Tim Palmer of Word and Way contributed to this story.)

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bob Allen and Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



    Three-day annual meeting planned

    October 26 2001 by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications

    Three-day annual meeting planned | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Three-day annual meeting planned

    By Bill Boatwright BSC Communications The Baptist State Convention annual meeting this month will return to the traditional three-day format, following an experiment with a two-day version in 1999 and 2000 that proved frustrating to messengers and program planners. This year's session will follow the traditional schedule, opening Monday, Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m. and concluding by noon Wednesday, Nov. 14. The meeting will be held at the Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum and Annex in Winston-Salem.

    The return to the Monday-to-Wednesday format, however, will be one of the few traditional aspects of this year's gathering. Messengers will meet in two different buildings, each located on the coliseum complex. A Wake Forest University basketball game on Monday evening caused the Convention to move the opening session to the nearby annex (where the exhibits have been in the past). This year the exhibits will be in the education building, next door to the annex. The Tuesday and Wednesday sessions will be back in the main coliseum building.

    Other changes will include breakout sessions on Tuesday afternoon replacing a general session, a special worship celebration on Tuesday evening plus heightened security.

    Election of the president is set for Tuesday morning around 10:30 a.m. and the two-vice presidents and other officers Wednesday morning at 8:50 a.m.

    Raymond Earp, a layman from Beaufort and former president of the N.C. Baptist Men and Charles Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, both announced their candidacies for president several months ago. Page, however, was forced to withdraw due to health reasons. Jerry Pereira, pastor of First Baptist Church in Swannanoa, announced his intent to run for president after Page withdrew. Page had also been scheduled to deliver the convention sermon.

    Current president Mike Cummings, director of missions in the Burnt Swamp Association, is ineligible to run for another term.

    Buddy Corbin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville and current first vice-president, will be opposed by Bob Foy, layman from Mooresville. Larry Harper, second vice-president and pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, is running for re-election unopposed as of Oct. 26.

    The opening session on Monday evening, to be held in the annex building, will include the first General Board report at 7:30 p.m. - the first time in recent years that business has been conducted during the opening sessions. The convention sermon by Woodrow Busch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Murphy, is scheduled for 8 p.m. The alternate will be Karl Minor, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dunn. Busch and Minor were originally scheduled as preacher and alternate for the 2002 convention.

    Parking for the Monday evening session will be in designated areas only between the coliseum and the annex. Convention messengers and visitors will need to inform the parking attendants that they are attending the state convention (and not the basketball game). All parking is free of charge. Convention participants will be able to park anywhere in the coliseum area on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Tuesday morning will open with the second General Board report at 8:40 a.m., followed by the executive director's address by Jim Royston. The Strategic Initiatives and Planning report is set for 10:15 a.m. and election of the president at 10:35 a.m. The Retirement Homes' Report is set for 10 a.m. followed by the first miscellaneous business session at 11:10 a.m. with committee on nominations and committee on committees reports at 11:40 a.m. The president's address, by Mike Cummings, will close the Tuesday morning session.

    No general session will be held on Tuesday afternoon. Messengers and visitors will be encouraged to attend one of the six "break-out" sessions from 3 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

    The entire Tuesday evening session, set to begin at 7 p.m., will be a multi-choir presentation of "Experiencing God: The Musical." The worship event is open to the general public and is free of charge.

    The Wednesday morning session will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the resolutions and enrollment committees' reports. Election of the first and second vice-presidents, plus the recording and assistant recording secretaries, is set for 8:50 a.m.

    The 2002 proposed Cooperative Program and N.C. Missions Offering budget will be presented during the third General Board report at 9:10 a.m. The second miscellaneous business session is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. followed by the Christian Higher Education report at 10:35 a.m.

    The Unity Committee report will be given at 10:55 a.m. followed by the presentation of the new convention officers and closing prayer.

    Another major change this year will be the increased security on the coliseum property.

    Coliseum officials have notified the state convention that officers will be stationed at all building entrances and exits. Backpacks, large bags or other similar containers will not be allowed in the coliseum area. Everyone entering the coliseum could be subject to being searched.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications | with 0 comments



    Knocking down walls

    October 26 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    Knocking down walls | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Knocking down walls

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor I took a few days of vacation last week to do some much-needed home maintenance and a little bit of renovation by serving as "grunt labor" for a carpenter friend. Our intention was to tear out a wall between our den and living room with the idea of creating a larger living space, allowing free interchange between the two rooms. We're certainly not the first to think of that - lots of folks have made similar modifications to take better advantage of available floor space.

    Unfortunately, when we started tearing out the wall, the cavity between the first two studs from the corner was home to a waste drain from upstairs. Between the next two studs was a big bundle of electrical wires. The third and fourth cavities were filled with water pipes carrying all the plumbing to the upstairs, along with some telephone wires.

    Uh-oh.

    We quickly realized that moving all of that plumbing and wiring would be prohibitively expensive. And to simply tear out what remained of the wall would leave a really odd-looking floor plan.

    So we compromised by fashioning an archway somewhere near the middle. It's not as open as we had hoped, but it does allow easier access and open communication between the rooms.

    It occurred to me that I was looking at a metaphor for N.C. Baptists. We have worked hard to knock down walls and open the lines communication between those who are more comfortable in the den and those who prefer the formality of the living room.

    In the process, we discovered that some differences, like plumbing, are largely intractable and unlikely to move. We have managed to increase our levels of appreciation, understanding and communication, however.

    We don't have a completely open wall, but we do have a good-sized opening for continuing conversation and cooperation.

    If we can keep the furniture from blocking the way, the future of our fellowship remains bright.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



    You make a difference

    October 26 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    You make a difference | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    You make a difference

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor The schoolteacher sat down in a colleague's office and began to cry. The divorced, hard-working mother of three had reached her wit's end. Her 16-year-old daughter, the oldest of her children and the source of relentless stress for some time, had been diagnosed with a variety of emotional and psychological ailments. The young woman took a handful of medications, but she was still difficult to live with, rebellious and disrespectful. And now she had announced that she was pregnant.

    That was one brick too many for an already-overloaded mom trying to feed and clothe three children on her modest salary, trying to provide guidance and security and homework help with little or no support.

    Nearing despair, she found a friend at school, collapsed into a chair and shared her burdens. What could she do? Some would consider abortion, but not this family. What were the options? Her daughter was neither prepared nor emotionally stable enough to care for a child. How could she add a baby to the heavy load she was already carrying?

    Her friend listened carefully and compassionately, then offered to help in the search for resources.

    Fortunately, the friend was married to a Baptist director of missions (DOM), who put in a call to Baptist Children's Homes (BCH) of North Carolina. After locating the proper official, he explained the basic situation and asked if BCH could possibly help.

    The answer was "Yes."

    "You need to know that the family can't pay anything," he said.

    "That's not a problem," he was told. As long as the young woman applied through an adoption agency, 100 percent of the expenses would be covered. She would have the option of putting the baby up for adoption but would not be required to do so.

    "But she also has some emotional problems and is on medication," the DOM added.

    "That's okay," said the BCH official. "We have relationships with a network of doctors and mental health professionals here. She will get appropriate care and supervision."

    "Now for the big question," said the DOM. "Do you have any room?"

    "Yes," came the answer. "We have several spaces open."

    He was referred to the Baptist Maternity Home in Asheville. Since it was established in 1970 the home has offered refuge and security to more than 900 young pregnant women seeking safety and hope during a most challenging time in their lives. Staff members at the home offer prenatal, delivery and postnatal support, strive to increase the self-esteem of each young mother-to-be, help her develop goals, plans and daily living skills, and teach basic parenting skills for those keeping their babies.

    Can you imagine the mother's joy and relief when she learned there was hope for her family? There is a place of security and help for her daughter, a place where life is cherished, where Christian values are lived out, where life skills are taught.

    That place exists because N.C. Baptists have cared enough through the years to establish and support Baptist Children's Homes.

    The annual Thanksgiving Offering for BCH is underway. Last year's offering exceeded $1 million for the first time ever, and this year's goal is $1.1 million.

    Reaching the goal will be harder this year, however. The economy isn't so good, and many people who have already promoted or contributed to relief funds following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks may feel they've done their share already.

    But the need is no less. Indeed, when the economy is bad and families are under greater stress, children are more likely than ever to need a safe and caring place.

    There are many of those children in North Carolina, little ones and big ones, boys and girls, quiet and loud, sweet and not so sweet.

    They need our help, and BCH is positioned to provide it - so long as needed funds for staff, supplies and other needs are available.

    The traditional "mile of pennies" might seem longer this year, and we'll need some folks to go the extra mile.

    Of course, the miles go quicker when we use bigger coins.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



    Family Bible Study lesson for Nov. 11: Good News to All Cultures

    October 26 2001 by David Edgell , Acts 8:26-40

    Family Bible Study lesson for Nov. 11: Good News to All Cultures | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Family Bible Study lesson for Nov. 11: Good News to All Cultures

    By David Edgell Acts 8:26-40 What makes you uncomfortable? Is it sharing your faith with a stranger? Is it talking to someone for whom you have little respect? Is it going to an area considered "unsafe" to witness for the Lord? We are often faced with overcoming fear. We affirm that God in His sovereignty has provided salvation for all. We affirm that it has always been God's will for the people of the earth to come to Him through faith. But we allow others to convince us that we must erect barriers to the gospel. We convince ourselves that someone else will complete the task. We allow fear of the unknown to paralyze us from sharing Christ with those of another culture or background. I saw this in a vivid way recently in Romania.

    I was participating in a mission trip to Eastern Europe and my team was working in the southern city of Slatina, Romania. Almost immediately upon arrival, we were informed by fellow Christians to be aware of the presence of gypsies. The gypsies have a bad reputation for stealing, scamming and begging for money. We were informed any money given to the gypsy children would be applied to something other that what was claimed and that giving money would result in being overwhelmed by other gypsy children. Most thieves in the city and the pickpockets on the public transportation would surely be gypsies. The advice given to the Americans was to be careful of the gypsies.

    Our first day witnessing on the streets in Slatina was a rich and a rewarding time. We were able to give out gospel tracts and share Christ's message of hope with numerous individuals as we made our way around the center of the downtown.

    One street corner provided an encounter with several men who had a shell game set up on a makeshift table. One man spoke to get our attention and asked us to join them. My translator became instantly standoffish and quietly indicated "gypsy."

    He looked in disbelief when I asked the man coordinating the game, "Do you like a game of chance?" I waited for a translation, but there was silence. I looked at the translator and he was unsure if I really wanted to speak with the men.

    "Go ahead, let's talk to them," I said.

    "Are you sure?" he responded.

    "Yes, they need to hear the gospel and it will be fun," I said.

    Unsure of my sanity, the translator began a conversation that yielded a strong challenge for these men to follow Christ.

    This encounter challenged my translator and me regarding our preconceived notions about people of other backgrounds. He later shared his sorrow over his hesitation and I had to confess that I had kept my hand on my money clip as I shared with the men.

    In Acts chapter eight, Philip crossed over several cultural barriers as he preached in Samaria. He preached to those whom the Jews had stated were beyond reach. His message focused on a repentance that was for anyone who would believe. He even joined in evangelistic efforts with Peter and John. Two men who had heard Jesus state that they were to go to "Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts. 1:8).

    Philip's ability to cross religious and cultural barriers was used by God to send him on a specific mission to a man whom God was preparing.

    This was what God had in mind when He inspired Solomon during his prayer at the temple concerning the foreigner: "Then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your name" (2 Chr. 6:33).

    Philip encountered a man returning from the temple reading scripture inspired by God. And it was Philip, the man prepared by God and who had been willing to share with the Samaritan people about God, that God used to reach this foreigner with the message of Christ.

    May we follow Philip's example and move beyond our comfort zones and be faithful to share the message of Christ with all people in the face of our fear. Then it may be that God will break through and use us to reach those He has prepared with His message of hope.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by David Edgell , Acts 8:26-40 | with 0 comments



    Formations lesson for Nov. 11: Living Prayerfully

    October 26 2001 by Tom Greene , Mark 14: 32-40

    Formations lesson for Nov. 11: Living Prayerfully | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

    Formations lesson for Nov. 11: Living Prayerfully

    By Tom Greene Mark 14: 32-40 George MacDonald says that anything large enough for a wish to light on is big enough to hang a prayer on. Blake was sure we could not sigh without our maker being nigh. And the apostle Paul tells us that God knows us at the depth of our groaning. All of which should convince us that our truest prayers may not be neat sentences, formally arranged, that are offered in church, but the curses, wishes, sighs and groans wrung from us by the anguish of our longing, fear and love. This was the situation in which Jesus found Himself. Reading the different translations one can catch in the horrendous overtones of the sentences the mysterious struggle of Jesus: "A sudden fear came over Him (Jesus);" "great distress (panic);" "I'm almost dying with foreboding ('scared to death' as we would say);" "He threw himself on the ground;" "prayed 'Abba' (dearest daddy); everything is possible to You ... take this ... away from Me ... but let it be as You, not I, would have it."

    As the disciples and their Master filed out of the Upper Room the last golden rays of pleasant sunshine departed from the skies of our Lord's soul. There in the garden, Jesus looked deeply into a cup of sorrow. What He saw was so ugly and loathsome, so horrible and hideous, that His anguished soul recoiled and trembled. A prayer rose from Him with a great, heart-piercing crescendo: "Father, if this is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me. But let your will be done rather than mine." Here in the night He experienced a terrible silence - but silence interpreted by love.

    Jesus exposed His heart to His disciples and revealed His lonely need. He unburdened His soul a little to the three disciples thinking that surely they would sympathize with the great spiritual issues that confronted Him. Opening the hurt and anguish He felt in these hours, He said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful even unto death."

    If Jesus, with all of His strength needed somebody with whom He can reach out in hope and there would be acceptance and perhaps understanding then we do too. There are dark nights of the soul, times of testing and loneliness. We need someone with whom we can turn and hope for a little encouragement and a little cheering along the weary way.

    When Jesus got up from the ground, His prayer was already answered. Dust mingled with the sweat of His brow, but there was no agitation, no recrimination, no disciple bashing, no God blaming, no self-descrying. Come what will, He was ready for it.

    What happened? He found fresh insight there, overwhelming reassurance, renewed courage and replenished peace of heart. You could feel the dramatic difference. The One who threw Himself to the ground between the rock and a hard place now got up and gently called on his sleepy followers to follow Him as He went out to meet whatever ... confident that God was in charge.

    That's what the TWA pilot, John Testrake, on the Lebanon airport runway found as he leaned out of the cockpit window with a terrorist's gun at the back of his head. He was asked to comment on his deplorable dilemma and that of his passengers. No chirpy optimism. No easy answers like some preacher had given. No pious promise. "God has been with us until now, and He will see us through to the end," Testrake said. Nowhere has there been a better statement of the powerful effect praying can bring in the face of the most dire dilemmas life can bring.

    Through his own "dark night of the soul" Jesus prayed. God heard and answered. The victory was won right there. Friends slept, but God neither slumbers nor sleeps. Jesus got up and faced forward reminding us that what counts most is not our faith but God's faithfulness. Not our trust but God's trustworthiness. Not our prayer to God but His prayer for us - a prayer that never ceases.

    And so prepared by prayer, we may face our times of trial and testing, sure that victory is on beyond.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tom Greene , Mark 14: 32-40 | with 0 comments



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