Tennessee Temple, Piedmont International University to merge

March 3 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

In an historic move the trustees of two Baptist colleges, Tennessee Temple University (TTU) in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Piedmont International University (PIU) in Winston-Salem, N.C., voted unanimously to merge the institutions.
Established only a year apart in the mid-1940s, the two universities share a common mission that dates back to their founders, Charles Stevens of PIU and Lee Roberson of TTU. They were friends who shared similar founding visions. Roberson once told Piedmont’s Chancellor Howard Wilburn, “Dr. Stevens and I were great friends, and we established Piedmont and Tennessee Temple within months of each other. The two of us had a gentleman’s agreement that if either school ever faltered, the two should come together.” The current merger, born from this common ancestry is nothing short of “providential,” according to Steve Echols, TTU’s current president.


Tennessee Temple University's campus is located Chattanooga, Tenn.


“Little did our founders know that their pledge of support to each other would find fruition nearly 70 years later,” said Echols. “Merging with Piedmont is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Piedmont International University is a well-respected, outstanding Christian institution of higher education whose impact through the years for the cause of Christ is immeasurable. We are proud to return to our roots and unite as one.”

The merger will be finalized April 30, 2015, pending the approval of the Transnational Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits both universities.
TTU online students can expect decreases in their tuition rates and a seamless transition, according to PIU officials. Online programs will be transferred in their entirety to PIU. Residential students who move to Winston-Salem will experience a drop in tuition, room and board of approximately twenty-five percent. Several TTU board members will join PIU’s board, and some of TTU’s faculty and staff will move to Winston-Salem.


Piedmont International University is located in Winston-Salem, N.C.

PIU’s president, Charles Petitt, said the merged school will have far greater potential together than either school can realize alone. He described the merger to be more like a marriage than the death of a spouse where one mate is gone and the other is left with only the assets.
In a marriage one mate may have to move and change a name, but no one disappears, he said. While TTU is moving and PIU will retain its name, neither school disappears.
TTU’s legacy will be preserved through the continuation of Temple Baptist Seminary as a school of PIU. Petitt said he is proud to have a diploma from Temple Baptist Seminary hanging on his office wall.
The Tennessee Temple Scholarship has been established that will provide one-third of tuition for programs offered at Piedmont. It will be available in perpetuity for TTU students, applicants, current faculty and staff, and alumni, as well as for their children and grandchildren.

Beyond the continuing legacy that will be preserved through the merger, Echols notes that TTU constituents can take heart that the lives changed through the ministry of the school will glorify God forever.

This is PIU’s third merger in less than a decade.


Piedmont International University's president, Charles Petitt, said the merged school will have far greater potential together than either school can realize alone.

In 2004, the college merged with Spurgeon Baptist Bible College of Mulberry, Fla., creating the Spurgeon School of Online Education. In 2008 PIU merged with Atlantic Baptist Bible College of Chester, Va. and established the Atlantic Scholarship for Ministry Training
Fruitland Baptist Bible College (FBBC) in Hendersonville, N.C. and PIU have articulation agreements that allow academic credits to transfer easily between the institutions. FBBC is owned by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
David Horton, president of FBBC said, “I congratulate the administrative leadership and trustees of Tennessee Temple University and Piedmont International University in this exciting venture that will be of benefit to both schools and ultimately to the kingdom of God. I have the highest respect for each of these sister academic institutions, and look forward to continuing a great relationship with them.”
PIU is located near downtown Winston-Salem close to historic Old Salem. Originally called Piedmont Bible Institute, the name was changed to Piedmont Bible College, then Piedmont Baptist College, and finally became Piedmont International University in 2012.
The spring semester enrollment for TTU is reported to be 650 students. Approximately 220 of those attend on-campus classes while the remainder study online.
PIU reports that approximately 500 students are enrolled. A spokesman said the number of online and on-campus students overlap. Some live on campus but take all of their classes online. Roughly half of those enrolled are at the graduate level.

3/3/2015 10:04:20 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 2 comments

NRB attendance up 15% at wide-ranging convention

March 3 2015 by NRB Communications

More than 4,300 communicators from radio, television, publications and websites representing millions of listeners, viewers and readers gathered for the National Religious Broadcasters’ (NRB) International Christian Media Convention Feb. 23-26 in Nashville, Tenn.

Participants heard from key religious leaders and potential presidential candidates, focused on militant Islam and current cultural topics and gained insights into emerging facets of communications.

Attendance was up 15 percent over the 2014 convention, NRB President Jerry A. Johnson reported at the final session, Feb. 26 at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

Among Christian leaders and Bible teachers addressing the evening sessions were Ronnie Floyd, Robert Jeffress, Priscilla Shirer, Alistair Begg and Billy Kim.

Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, said Christians must awaken from their slumber and come together in prayerful unity to seek God for the “next Great Awakening in America” toward fulfilling the Great Commission across the globe.


Photo courtesy of NRB
Jerry Johnson, National Religious Broadcasters president, underscores "our first mission is to advance biblical truth" during the NRB's Feb. 23-26 meeting in Nashville.

Johnson, in his annual “state of the association” address, urged members to remain strong by holding to a right perspective on the Bible, on human life and on marriage, as well as remaining committed to excellence and an understanding of what it means to be created in the image of God.

A longtime Southern Baptist leader, Johnson took the helm of the NRB in November 2013 after two stints as president of Criswell College in Dallas and other leadership positions with various SBC entities, boards and committees.

“We are communicators and our first mission is to advance biblical truth,” Johnson said in speaking from Genesis 1 and emphasizing the “inspiration, the authority, the infallibility, the inerrancy and the sufficiency of Holy Scripture.”

Concerning the importance of biblical marriage, Johnson noted, “The National Religious Broadcasters dare not pitch their tent toward Sodom or sit at the gate.”

Challenge of Islam

Concerns about militant Islam were voiced by a number of speakers throughout the convention, with most of the Feb. 24 daytime sessions focusing on the biblical, cultural and security challenges of Islam.

Best-selling author Joel Rosenberg, at a Feb. 26 dinner, said America is in danger of destruction in the face of not just the rise of apocalyptic Islam but also the mounting death toll of unborn children.

Rosenberg and his family moved from the United States to Israel last August and now have dual citizenship. He and his wife Lynn started the Joshua Fund in 2006 to mobilize Christians to aid Israel and its neighbors in the name of Jesus.

Rosenberg pointed to three “mortal threats” to the United States:

  • “America is not simply in a season of decline but is heading towards collapse, towards implosion.”

  • “America is not simply at rising risk of attack by Iran and the Islamic State (ISIS) but is heading towards the risk of annihilation.”

  • “America is not simply heading towards a season of strained relations with Israel but is headed towards total abandonment of the Jewish state.”Drawing from God’s commission of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 33:1-9), Rosenberg encouraged broadcasters, as watchmen on the wall, “to listen to the word of the Lord, to watch for threats and to warn the people come what may."

Sudanese Christian honored

Mariam Ibraheem, who spent six months in prison in Sudan for refusing to renounce Christ, received the NRB President’s Award on Feb. 25.

Jerry Johnson said Ibraheem had been “prosecuted by her government for crimes of so-called apostasy and adultery because she married an American Christian man.”

Sudan, which is governed by Sharia law, holds that apostasy – the abandonment of the Islamic faith – is a crime punishable by death.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of Me,” Johnson read from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:11.

Through a translator Ibraheem thanked “all the Christians around the world” who did not ignore her in her plight. She promised to pray for them “just like they prayed” for her.

Presidential contenders?

Prospective 2016 Republican presidential candidates Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee opened and closed the NRB convention, respectively Feb. 23 and 26.

Walker, son of a Baptist pastor, said his faith guides him in his political and private life, and it undergirded him amid statehouse opposition during his first term in office. He said he is “still trying to decipher” if running for president “is God’s calling.”

Walker touted the virtues of the traditional family, saying, “Strong families start with strong marriages,” and he underscored the importance of protecting innocent lives.

Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor who recently ended his six-year program on Fox News to consider a possible presidential bid, said he visited the Golan Heights in Israel, just 250 yards from the Syrian border, where he could hear the explosions from that nation’s ongoing civil war.

Huckabee said too many Americans – especially Christians – are on the sidelines watching “with the world on fire.”

“We can’t afford to be anything less than firefighters,” he said, noting there are many “pyromaniacs” on the loose.

“We are at war. It’s not that we are facing one; we are in one right now,” he insisted.

Social issues

David Platt, president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board and author of a new book Counter Culture, said on Feb. 26 Christian communicators cannot speak out on some social issues yet remain silent on others based on how they will be received by the culture.


Photo courtesy of NRB
David Platt, president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, addresses the National Religious Broadcasters annual meeting in Nashville.

Platt said he is encouraged by the church’s involvement in fighting such problems as poverty and sex trafficking but is “simultaneously concerned by the lack of zeal on issues that are just as just as important, if not more so, like abortion and sexual immorality and so-called same-sex marriage.”

“On these issues, so many Christians and church leaders are strangely quiet,” Platt said.

Ryan Anderson, a Heritage Foundation fellow specializing in marriage and religious freedom issues, said America’s cultural health is declining in most categories.

Of 31 cultural indicators in the Washington think tank’s latest Index of Culture and Opportunity, most “are heading in the wrong direction,” Anderson said, including the marriage rate, unwed birth rate, fertility rate, single-parent households, teen drug use, sexual abstinence among high school students, religious attendance, labor force participation, unemployment rate and student loan debt. Among the exceptions are the abortion rate, divorce rate and school choice enrollment.

NRB members also focused on a range of cultural issues with panel discussions Feb. 26 on homosexuality, marriage, pro-life issues and religious liberty and free speech concerns.

Also during the meeting:

  • New research reported during the NRB sessions included surveys on same-sex marriage and Christian media influence.

A survey released Feb. 24 found that 81 percent of Americans agree that government should “leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage” in their daily lives, at work and in the way they run their businesses. The survey, commissioned by Family Research Council in partnership with NRB, also found 61-percent support for the right of states and citizens to uphold traditional marriage.

A survey by LifeWay Research for NRB released Feb. 25 found that two-thirds of weekly churchgoers and evangelicals say they tune in to Christian radio and television on a regular basis, yet two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) rarely or never watch Christian television.

  • Roma Downey, known for her role as the compassionate angel Monica in the TV series “Touched by an Angel,” and her husband Mark Burnett provided a nine-minute preview of their latest production, “A.D.: The Bible Continues,” during the Feb. 23 opening session. The next evening, NRB members screened the entire first episode.

A.D., a 12-part series that will launch Easter Day on NBC, is a follow-up to their widely acclaimed production “The Bible.” Burnett said A.D. will tell the story of the early apostles and the religious and political leaders of their day.

“Normally, it is tough to get the mainstream media to tell our story,” Burnett said. “This is not narrow-casting cable, this is NBC,” he continued, noting the network launched an ad campaign for the miniseries on Super Bowl Sunday.

  • In the second annual Digital Media Summit on Feb. 25, focusing on how digital technologies can be used by Christian communicators, Robert Edmiston, one of the speakers, held his smartphone aloft to demonstrate the unprecedented opportunity Christians have to share the gospel with the world.

“This is where people are gathering,” Edmiston said. “And we need to be there. We need to be presenting the message of Jesus” to them. A member of the British Parliament’s House of Lords, he oversaw the 2011 launch of yesHEis, a website of more than 7,000 items to help Christians share their faith.

  • A Film & Entertainment Summit also was held Feb. 23. Among new films and documentaries screened during NRB was “[+]MORE,” a documentary by Awana.

  • The NRB board of directors adopted resolutions on religious liberty, prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, the FCC’s “heavy-handed regulation of the Internet,” the FCC’s auctioning of television broadcast spectrum and racial and ethnic reconciliation.

  • Actor Chuck Norris was honored with the NRB Chairman’s Award, with NRB chairman Bill Blount, president of Blount Communications Group, noting Norris’ “promotion of positive family values” and the example of his Christian faith. Norris starred in the network TV series, “Walker Texas Ranger” and has been the lead in 24 motion pictures. He also is a New York Times best-selling author and a columnist on

  • Mike Kellogg, longtime host of Moody Radio’s “Music Thru the Night,” was inducted into the NRB Hall of Fame, while John Ankerberg of “The John Ankerberg Show” received the William Ward Ayer Award for Distinguished Service.

Next year’s NRB meeting will also be held at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, scheduled to meet, Feb. 22-25, 2016.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – This report was compiled by NRB communications staff, with contributions by writers Tom Strode, Erin Roach and Dwayne Hastings.)

3/3/2015 10:01:22 AM by NRB Communications | with 0 comments

365 Days: Prayer warriors stand on knees in Ukraine

March 3 2015 by Marc Ira Hooks, IMB Communications

KHARKIV, Ukraine – As the sun topped the horizon of Kharkiv’s central square this morning (March 2), a group of people huddled together on their knees, praying for their city. While the moment passed without celebration or fanfare, it marked the 365th consecutive day the group has gathered.
They came from different parts of the city and were a mix of evangelical denominations and Orthodox believers, but they focused on one goal – to pray for peace in their city, which is located very close to the region where Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists battle for control over eastern Ukraine.


IMB Photo by Marc Ira Hooks
As passers-by make their way to work, Christians from many confessions gather together to pray for their city. Using well-worn pieces of foam to protect their knees, the group prays not only for Ukraine, but Russia, and those who are at war in Ukraine’s east.

Last year, protesters clashed in the streets of Kharkiv. “When we heard that people started fighting, we came here to the center of the city and we kneeled here,” Nadia, the wife of a Ukrainian pastor, said. At the time it was predicted by some that Kharkiv would be one of the first cities to fall to pro-Russian separatists. However, a year later, the group continues to pray for peace in their city and is grateful that God has continued to protect them from the fighting. “Our city is under the wing of the Lord,” Nadia said. “There is peace and I praise God for that. But our hearts are broken for cities where war takes place.”
One pastor, Alexander, believes the group is having an impact on the entire city by meeting on the central square each morning. “People are worried and discouraged. And all the news is controversial,” Pastor Alexander said. “I believe that our ministry here will bring people peace, to bring truth, to bring hope to God’s people.”
“We see that we need these prayers. And that our country needs these prayers,” Nadia said. “That is why we are still here.”
An International Mission Board worker, who serves in Kharkiv and regularly attends the daily prayer meetings, says the group has committed to meet daily for at least the next six months and does not know if or when the group will stop meeting. For now, they will continue to gather each morning as they pray for their city and for peace.


Pray for Christian workers and believers in Ukraine as they minister to their communities. Pray for a resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. Pray that lives will be changed and that people will follow Jesus during this time of war.
The UN Refugee Agency has reported that more than one million Ukrainians have been displaced as a result of the war in eastern Ukraine. Countless others have suffered property damage due to rocket and missile attacks.
For more information on how you can be involved, go to or send an email to
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marc Ira Hooks is an IMB correspondent based in Europe.)

Related Stories:

War in eastern Ukraine aids church planting in the west
Ukraine’s ‘EuroMaidan’ protests escalate

3/3/2015 10:00:36 AM by Marc Ira Hooks, IMB Communications | with 0 comments

Evangelism workshop tells ‘The Story’

March 3 2015 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Whether it’s a good book, movie or a friend’s latest adventure, everyone loves a good story. They have a way of connecting and engaging people.
On Feb. 10 more than 50 pastors, church staff, lay leaders and volunteers attended a training workshop to learn how to use not just any story to connect and engage people, but “The Story.”



BSC photo by Chad Austin
Marty Dupree, center, leads “The Story” training Feb. 10 in Fayetteville. Dupree is adult evangelism and discipleship consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Marty Dupree, adult evangelism and discipleship consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, led the daylong training event for The Story at Temple Baptist Church in Fayetteville.
“The Story is an evangelism tool for sharing the gospel, and it’s a discipleship tool that helps people understand the Bible as a whole,” says Dupree. It connects God’s grand story of redemption in the Bible – creation, fall, rescue, restoration – to the life stories of individuals by showing how they can join God’s redemptive plan.
The tract offers a relational approach to witnessing that encourages Christ-followers to use everyday conversations with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and others to point them to the Bible for answers to life’s most pressing questions. During his presentation, Dupree shared several examples of how he has used The Story to share his faith with a passenger sitting beside him on an airplane, a server at a local restaurant and a fellow sports fan at a college football game.
“If you engage people conversationally with the gospel, they are often open and willing to talk with you about it,” Dupree said.
“Although many people we come in contact with will say they don’t have any particular spiritual beliefs, many are still interested in talking about the Bible, who God is and the big questions of life.”
Barry Lawrence, pastor of Fusion Church in Spring Lake, attended The Story workshop and said he found the training “invaluable.”
“The Story is a method that’s pertinent for our world today because many people don’t have a church background,” Lawrence said.
“So when we share the gospel, we can begin at the beginning of the story in Genesis.”
The Story can be used one-on-one or in group settings.
Lawrence said he plans to preach a sermon series based on the themes of The Story leading up to Easter.
Theron Hawkins, pastor of True Vine Community Baptist Church in Fayetteville, wants to use The Story in small groups as a way to equip his congregation to be more prepared to share their faith.
“The Story shows how stories can be used to reach people for the cause of Christ,” Hawkins said. “There is a need to tell people your story and tell people about His story.”
More regional training sessions are planned across the state throughout the year. For more information about The Story training events, visit
To learn more, visit


3/3/2015 9:55:43 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Evangelism urgent, seminary presidents say

March 3 2015 by Charissa Crotts, SBTS Communications

An increasingly secularized American culture sees evangelism based on the exclusivity of the gospel as a threat, said two Southern Baptist seminary presidents in a Feb. 10 panel discussion at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The school hosted the panel with President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, as part of Southern’s Great Commission Focus.
“In the eyes of many, a belief in the particularity of the gospel is a threat to world peace,” said Mohler.
Mohler specifically referenced the recent National Prayer Breakfast, where President Barack Obama said religions that claim to be the only way to God are dangerous. Mohler mentioned that William Saletan, agreeing with Obama, wrote on that Islamic terrorists and exclusivist evangelicals were in the same category.


SBTS photo
R. Albert Mohler Jr., left, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, discuss the urgency of evangelism during a Feb. 10 panel discussion at Southern Seminary held during the school’s Great Commission Focus.

In this changing culture, Mohler noted two questions that he previously found useful in starting gospel conversations. He learned from Evangelism Explosion, a ministry that teaches people to share the gospel, and asked their questions: “Do you know for sure that you are going to be with God in heaven?” and “If God were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ what would you say?” However, those questions no longer work, he said, because people no longer fear hell. Now Mohler asks, “What are you living for?” and “How is that working for you?” People usually answer these, while often rejecting someone who tries to talk directly about spiritual things.
Akin, former dean of the School of Theology and vice president of academic administration at Southern, said the gospel has always been scandalous but “in this day and age, it’s becoming a hostile scandal.” He said Christians should expect opposition, not only on gender issues but also to the gospel itself, but they must not let fear of rejection stop their evangelism. After all, Christians are not ultimately the ones being rejected.
“If we present Christ, then it’s Christ who is either seized upon as the Savior or who is rejected,” Mohler said.
The presidents also discussed how much people must understand about Christ to be saved. Akin said someone must understand that Jesus lived a sinless life, died in our place, and rose from the dead, and Mohler said someone must also grasp the divinity and lordship of Christ. Though Christ is the heart of the message, both speakers said that failure to understand sin is what prevents most people in this culture from believing the gospel.
“If sins are the problem, then moralism is the answer. If sin is the problem, then only Christ is the answer,” said Mohler, who said he knew about Jesus growing up but did not feel the weight of his sin until he was 10 years old. He realized then that he did not just commit sins but that he was a sinner.
Akin and Mohler said that Christians must consider the context of the person they are evangelizing and remember that the gospel is counterintuitive. As Romans 10 says, people must hear it before they can respond.
Mohler said, “The glad responsibility of every single believer, if faithful, is to share the gospel because the idea of a non-evangelistic disciple is just not found in scripture.”
Proclaiming this message takes practice, said both leaders. Mohler said that learning a basic outline of the gospel helped him not forget any of the components. Akin recalled a man teaching him to use the Romans Road, a method of explaining the gospel using only verses from the book of Romans.
Mohler and Akin encouraged attendees to evangelize without fear because it is the Christian’s responsibility to be faithful and it is God’s responsibility to save.
“It’s the Word of God that he blesses, not our presentation of it,” said Akin.

3/3/2015 9:45:03 AM by Charissa Crotts, SBTS Communications | with 0 comments

Kingdom moves forward in Moldova partnership

March 2 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Aaron Wallace heard leaders of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) talking about the launch of a partnership between N.C. Baptists and the Baptist Union of Moldova in 2012, and it piqued his interest. Wallace, lead pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, saw this as a great fit for his church.

A vision trip to the small Eastern European country convinced him to lead Hephzibah in a partnership with a northern region of Moldova on the Ukraine border. On the trip he met Moldova Baptist leaders, church planters, pastors and regional coordinators.
But when he met Peter Mikhalchuk the connection to Moldova came alive. Pastor Peter, as he is commonly called, is an enthusiastic, deeply committed pastor who has served the northern region for more than two decades. His testimony includes opposition to his ministry from communists.
When he began the work there was only one evangelical church for every 25 villages in the north. Today there is one church for every five villages.


Contributed photo
When the Hephzibah Baptist Church team departed Moldova, all 250 students from the camp overwhelmed them with cheers and high fives. Larry Lindsay, right, a Wake County high school teacher and coach, enjoyed the moment.

“One of the reasons we chose northern Moldova is that we wanted to work with a pastor who has a vision,” said Wallace. “We wanted to work with churches that are willing to have ‘some skin in the game.’ We didn’t want to carry the whole load financially, but work with people would be willing to sacrifice. They have faithfully done that.”
He added, “We found Pastor Peter and other leaders in Moldova to be very well equipped. We’re getting to join what God is doing, and we get to be part of the vision and direction of these pastors. Every time we go we see the kingdom moving forward.”
Wallace understands that pastors in the states may be reluctant to commit to a partnership with leaders in another country. “For a lot of people the hesitation with missions is they get over there, the pastor is distant and things are not organized,” he said. That is not what he has seen. “Our experience is that there seems to be such a passion for outreach and discipleship. We feel like everything we’re investing in is productive.”
Effective partnerships are not simply a relationship between two pastors. Lay leadership is a critical ingredient says Wallace. That’s where Steve Johnson enters the picture.
Johnson, a member of Hephzibah, became a Christian after he retired from the Raleigh Police Department.
“When I was a police officer, I was one of those guys that people said, ‘I hope he gets saved, but I just don’t know,’” he said. Johnson had a dramatic conversion, and now wants his life to impact others for Christ.
“You never repay the Lord [for salvation] but you can always say ‘thank you.’ My hope is just to say ‘thank you’ every day to Him for what He has done for me,” he said. “The Lord placed on my heart the need to be a witness for Christ.”
He began to witness and to train others to be a witness. The desire to better understand the Bible led him to enroll in Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. “I got the MDiv in evangelism and biblical languages. So I’ve been teaching evangelism and going on mission trips,” Johnson said.
When the potential for a partnership with Moldova surfaced, Wallace called Johnson, who had been on short term trips to Eastern Europe. “Aaron knew I had a heart for Eastern Europe so he invited me to go on the vision trip,” said Johnson.
Now he coordinates the partnership that includes medical clinics, youth and sports camps for ages 16-22 and preaching events in churches. Johnson believes Hephzibah’s work adds strength to the pastors in Moldova. “We’re trying to help pastors have a better standing in the community in the face of the Orthodox Church. Pastors show the villagers the love of Christ. We help with medical missions and camps, then we leave, but [the pastor] stays and has better standing in the community.”
A nine-day medical clinic is held each year covering 14 villages. The first year 550 Moldovan villagers were examined for a variety of medical needs including blood pressure and diabetes. Prescription medications that are not normally available are distributed by Ukrainian doctors who partner with the North Carolina team. During the 2014 clinics 650 people were served.
The greatest expense of the clinics is the medicines. The church works with medical professionals in Moldova, sending money ahead of the teams so the medicine can be purchased all year long and stored up for the clinic. “There are no medical doctors in the villages and even if they have a doctor, they don’t have access to the medicines, so that makes the clinics important and effective,” Wallace said.
Last year 115 people came to know Christ through the medical clinic and camps. Johnson said the local pastors are heavily invested in reaching teenagers. “The pastors bring the youth to the camp. Then they spend a week in the camp with the youth. Then they go back to their communities with a relationship with these kids that they built at the camp.”
Pastor Peter reports that most of the decisions for Christ happen the week after the camp when they returned to the churches. “That shows that its not about presenting Christ and walking way,” Johnson added. “It’s about that long term desire to have discipleship that continues on in relationship-building.”
Wallace said, “Our goal is long term discipleship. We want to help pastors [reach] people but also lead those people to be disciple-makers.”
When Hephzibah church got involved in the partnership, there were nine regions in Moldova that needed to be adopted by churches in North Carolina. Seven of those regions now have committed relationships in progress. Two regions are yet to be adopted. The church’s goal is to help other churches build a partnership with a church in Moldova.
Wallace said the needs are great in Moldova. Realizing the limits of his church in reaching everyone, he has an offer for North Carolina Baptists. “If any pastors or church leaders in North Carolina want to see what missions looks like in Moldova, we would like to invite them to go with us,” he said.
“We’ll be glad to go a few days earlier and introduce them to the leaders and show them the needs. There are still two regions that have not been adopted in the partnership,” Wallace added. “We’ll be glad to show them what a medical clinic looks like. Please let us use our mission trips as a vision trip for you and your teams. There are other pastors across the state who are involved in Moldova and will be glad to help, also”
Partnership missions has strengthened Hephzibah church. “We have watched our church grow through partnerships over the last four years,” said Wallace. “Last year we had more than 160 people who went on a partnership trip to Moldova or Canada. When you look at the giving of the church, I believe 80 percent of our people are financially involved in the mission of the church and praying for missions. That’s been huge for us.”
Chuck Register, BSC’s executive leader for church planting and missions partnerships, said, “The church-to-church model that Hephzibah is exhibiting is at the very heart of what we are seeking to accomplish through the office of Great Commission partnerships. It’s where a church in North Carolina develops a church-to-church partnership with a congregation of a different people group or a different country that the most is accomplished for the Kingdom.”
The BSC-Moldova partnership was designed to establish relationships between churches and to see churches in the state adopt all nine regions of Moldova. Register added, “There are two regions left in Moldova where we are prayerfully trying to facilitate additional church-to-church partnerships. If there is any way that we can resource such a partnership, we would love to assist North Carolina Baptist churches.”
The partnership will continue as long as churches in North Carolina are actively engaged with churches in Moldova.
For more information on how your church can join the partnership, contact Steve Johnson at or Steve Hardy, at the Office of Great Commission Partnerships at

3/2/2015 3:17:29 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Millers Creek Church celebrates worship through art

March 2 2015 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

Worship comes in different forms. While many equate the term with music heard during a church service, others say the word has a broader meaning.
“Worship is much more than music,” said Andrew Heathershaw, worship pastor at Millers Creek Baptist Church in Millers Creek.


Contributed photo
Linda Joines’ entry – “We Have Come to Worship Him” – to her church’s art exhibit displays the three wise men as they follow the star to Jesus. Millers Creek Baptist Church is hosting an exhibit featuring “Encounters with God” March 29-April 19.

The church is hosting an art exhibit March 29-April 19. The theme – “Encounters with God: Biblical Scenes of Worship and Transformation” – was aimed at offering artists a broad definition of items to display.
“I was just trying to find ways to expand our congregation’s idea of worship,” Heathershaw said.
While this is the first art exhibit the church has done, Heathershaw said he hopes it is not the last.
One of Millers Creek’s church members has been working closely with Heathershaw on the project. Linda Joines has been a member of the church for 14 years. She found the church after her retirement from Lowe’s Home Improvement headquarters.
She wanted to be involved in ministry, and Millers Creek offered her that opportunity. She sings in the choir, teaches Sunday School and volunteers with various ministries at the church including adopted grandmother to Heathershaw’s children.
“I’m in all these classes with all these wonderful people who have natural talent,” said Joines, who belongs to an artist group that meets once a week. She began painting after she retired. It was something she had always wanted to try.
Since oil was the first medium Joines used, she finds it hard to choose another, but for her submission into the church’s exhibit she went with acrylic.
Her painting is a silhouette of the three wise men on their camels following the star from Matthew 2:1-12.
“I’m a perfectionist, a realist,” Joines said. “It has to look like something.”
Normally, Joines said, it takes her a long time to complete a painting because she wants every detail to be perfect. This piece was different.
“I was really relaxed,” she said. “I was not concentrating” as much as usual.
She liked the painting so much she’s already chosen it as this year’s Christmas card. Joines said she works with three or four art groups and has been amazed at their responses.
Joines said only two topics are off limits at the art classes she takes – religion and politics. She received a little pushback when she tried to let the group know about the exhibit, but they were able to send out an email announcing the call for submissions.
Another member who has training with museum exhibits is helping with the frames and displays. The church often has opportunities for musicians to share their art with the congregation but this is a different kind of talent, Heathershaw said.
The church, which is the site of Millers Creek Christian School also has submissions from students of all ages.
Submissions have varied from oil paintings to stained glass and mixed media. Art will be displayed in the main hallway of the church with labels next to each piece indicating the artist’s name, title of the piece and a verse of scripture that inspired the art. Heathershaw hopes artists will dig into the Bible to find many instances of worship.
“We’re hoping that as people look at [the art] that they will be inspired,” Heathershaw said. “I would hope that it would grow from here.”
The exhibit will be open during church office hours and before and after church services.
The church is taking submissions up to early March. Contact (336) 838-4446, ext. 26, for more information about submissions or visiting hours.

3/2/2015 3:11:28 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments

Raleigh radio show hits syndication

March 2 2015 by Christian News Service

The USA Radio Networks announces it has signed Steve Noble to its growing number of syndicated talk show hosts. Steve is host of CALLED2ACTION currently broadcast throughout North Carolina.


Steve Noble

The show will air from 4-5 p.m. Eastern Monday through Friday beginning March 2.
A housepainter, turned Christian activist, turned Christian radio show host, Noble contends he wants to be the last evangelical Christian anybody expected to meet: resolute in his allegiance to a biblical worldview while also being curiously likable and winsome.
“I am thrilled to join the USA Radio Network family because we share a common vision to have a profound impact on our nation by offering a different kind of dialog,” said Noble. “A dialog that will necessarily create some uncomfortable exchanges, but also one that is bathed in humility, patience, and yes... even love.”
A Biblical Recorder story from June 2013 featured Noble’s efforts with California pastor Greg Laurie’s Harvest America campaign. Noble is a North Carolina Baptist. 

3/2/2015 2:57:32 PM by Christian News Service | with 0 comments

Same-sex parents: ‘possible,’ ‘not moral’

March 2 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Same-sex couples could soon have their own biological children by utilizing a reproductive technology being developed by researchers at Cambridge University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. But Christian bioethicists have classified the potential new technology as rife with moral problems.
Exuberance over such technologies is “all expressed in terms of what the adults want and desire,” Paige Cunningham, executive director of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, told Baptist Press. “I would like someone to say, ‘What about the children?’ They don’t have any voice in how they are constructed. They don’t have any voice in how they are the subject of an experiment like this.”
The Cambridge and Weizmann Institute researchers have discovered how to take skin cells from an adult, transform them into what are known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) and then develop those iPS cells into the precursors of human eggs and sperm, various news sources have reported. The production of iPS cells is not new, but their potential development into eggs and sperm is.
The next step of the research process will be to develop the precursor cells – known as primordial germ cells (PGCs) – into mature sperm and eggs. The maturation process will involve inserting the PGCs into a human or animal ovary or testicle, or developing a laboratory process to achieve the same effect.
If the research proves successful, an egg could be developed from the skin cells of a male and then combined with the sperm of another male to produce an embryo. A surrogate mother would have to carry the resultant baby to term. Alternately, a female’s skin cells could be developed into sperm and combined with an egg from another female, with one of the two female partners carrying the baby to term.
The same process, if developed successfully, could allow a single person to contribute both an egg and sperm and produce a child without a second parent.
“We have succeeded in the first and most important step of the process, where we succeed in reaching the progenitor cell state for sperm and egg (though it is very important to emphasize that we have not achieved mature sperm and eggs),” Jacob Hanna, one of the lead researchers in the project, said according to The Daily Beast. “So we are now focusing on completing the second half of this process. Once that is achieved this may become useful for any individual with fertility problems.”
If lesbians someday use this technique to become parents, they will only be able to produce female offspring unless a Y chromosome is somehow imported into their genetic material – because female genetic material does not contain the Y chromosomes necessary to produce baby boys.
“We’re talking about manufacturing children in all of these [scenarios],” David Prentice, vice president and research director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C., said. “If you get into that mindset, you might envision having not a sperm bank, but a Y-chromosome bank where you can just add a Y chromosome to some of these cells – find the right mix that you want of traits and add that Y chromosome in there. It’s of great concern.”
Producing rather than procreating a baby is “intrinsically wrong,” Cunningham said.
“When we start constructing children by using some cytoplasm from this cell or the nucleus from that cell and start mixing things up, we are no longer welcoming [the children], but we are creating them, in many cases to fulfill a desire or need of our own,” Cunningham said.
Another danger of developing babies from PGCs is that the research process may involve the destruction of embryos as scientists seek to develop a human by trial and error, Cunningham said. She also expressed concern about the need for surrogate mothers in some cases.
“The introduction of a variety of third parties into the process of creating a child” is “not the way that children were intended to come into being,” Cunningham said. “Just because technology makes it possible doesn’t make it moral.”
Developing babies from PGCs could produce children with genetic defects as well as cause psychological harm not quantifiable with science, Cunningham said.
“Anytime you start messing around with genes, there is a high likelihood of harm,” Cunningham said.
Biological same-sex parents could be a reality by 2017, The Daily Beast predicted. The research was published in the Jan. 15 issue of the journal Cell.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

3/2/2015 2:48:09 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

GenSend hooks Hunt on urban church planting

March 2 2015 by Jim Burton, North American Mission Board

Perhaps this is only supposed to happen in movies. But with a little help from Google and one click of a mouse, Sarah Reese Hunt found her life’s direction and then her husband.
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) can’t guarantee the same result for every college student. But NAMB can guarantee that checking out Generation Send (GenSend) can be life-changing for college students and the cities they serve as summer missionaries.
Hunt, a native of Louisville, thought she had her life figured out. After high school mission trips to the Philippines and Guatemala, she became further engaged in missions during her senior year in high school in a Louisville community called Portland. The area is rough, Hunt said, but she was able to minister by tutoring inner-city kids and doing Bible studies with the girls through a Salvation Army boys and girls club.
“I had been overseas,” Hunt said, “but 25 minutes down the road from me people were broken.”
The tutoring pointed her toward education as a college major at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. During a church-planting emphasis week there, her plans began to change beyond a “traditional” church ministry role.


NAMB Photo by Susan Whitley
2015 Send North America Week of Prayer missionary Sarah Reese Hunt holds a photograph of herself with fellow GenSend missionaries while they served in Portland, Ore. Hunt is completing her studies through Liberty University and plans to be part of a church planting team in Denver.

“If I am the cornerstone of the church and the church is the vessel that I want to accomplish My purpose with,” Hunt said paraphrasing the words of Jesus, it would make sense to be a part of the church’s mission.


GenSend Portland

Seeing the GenSend initiative on the Web, she applied and was accepted for assignment to another Portland – in Oregon. GenSend is the student portion of NAMB’s Farm System, assisting churches in the discovery, development and deployment of everyday missionaries.
After arriving in Oregon in the summer of 2013, Hunt and the Lord “woke me up to the need for healthy bodies of believers to exist within America. Coming from the South, it’s hard to fathom that within America there are places where healthy [church] bodies don’t exist. When you see the darkness and the idolatry and the lostness ... the gospel is not planted like it needs to be planted.”
Hunt’s assignment sounded relatively simple: Go, live and learn how to do life in Portland. The formula NAMB gave the team she joined also was simple: Identify the city, invest in relationships, invite people into your biblical community and increase through sustainable discipleship.
The objective was not so much to start a church in one summer as it was for the students to learn how to be a biblical community and to discover the foundations of church planting.
In addition to Portland’s liberal socio-political bent, Hunt said she often encounters religious pluralism espousing multiple pathways to know God. Consequently, she doesn’t find hostility toward the gospel. Mostly, it’s apathy.
“Oh, you’re a Christian,” people will say. “Good for you.”


NAMB Photo by Susan Whitley
Sarah Reese Hunt, a 2015 Send North America Week of Prayer missionary, studies with friends on the campus of Liberty University in Virginia. Hunt has served as a GenSend missionary in Portland, Ore., with the North American Mission Board and as a campus mobilizer at Liberty.

That response represents what Hunt calls a facade of tolerance.
“I had never been exposed to that where I was looking into the face of a real person who believes that [pluralism],” Hunt said. “Going overseas did not prepare me for the culture shock I’d find within our own country.”



Spending the summer in Portland hooked Hunt on urban church planting, and she wanted other students to have the same experience. She became a NAMB GenSend mobilizer. Her assignment: Recruit 10 students from her university to go back to Portland, one of 32 cities in NAMB’s church planting initiative across North America.
Hunt returned to Portland for the summer of 2014 with a team. Three other GenSend teams went there as well. With 42 students on the ground, two teams focused on two areas of urban Portland: Saint Johns and the Pearl District. Neither is impoverished as some envision inner cities to be. Hunt worked in the Pearl District, an area she describes as “super wealthy” with many young urban professionals. The students’ work was foundational for church planters who would eventually be coming to those areas.
“The Lord has convicted me that being part of church is what we’re called to do,” Hunt said. But like most Millennials, she believes that church can’t be the way it’s been for so long.
One of those differences is how Millennials view the church. They see it as the body of Christ forming authentic biblical communities.
“The body of Christ is a very biblical term,” Hunt said. “My devotion needs to be to His [Jesus’] bride, the church. Church planting is how we bring the bride to places where she’s not.”


Denver is similar to Portland in many respects except, for Hunt, there is one major difference: Her husband Jonathan Hunt is co-planting with a lead church planter through Send North America: Denver.
Hunt met his future wife during NAMB’s Send North America Conference in 2013. He was a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary student in Louisville and attended Highview Baptist Church, as did her family. But they didn’t know each other then. The couple became engaged in the summer of 2014 and married later in the year.
Sarah Hunt, in addition to changing her marital status, changed her major at Liberty to women’s ministry and hopes to focus on developing girls and women as disciples. In a church planting context that can mean any number of ministry avenues for women.
“Everyone needs the gospel,” Hunt said. “The white, middle-class suburban churchgoing little girl needs the gospel just as much as the little girl on the streets of Pacux, Guatemala, who is starving.
“The gospel is the foremost need.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jim Burton is a writer in Atlanta. To learn more about the Week of Prayer for North American Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, with a 2015 goal of $60 million, and how your church can be mobilized to help reach North America, visit NAMB’S GenSend initiative is on the Web, along with a video, at

3/2/2015 2:15:40 PM by Jim Burton, North American Mission Board | with 0 comments

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