November 4 2015 by
Terry Barone and Holly Smith, The California Southern Baptist
With the theme, “Until It’s Finished,” California Southern Baptists celebrated 75 years of ministry in the Golden State, adopted a budget with an increased percentage to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and re-elected their president during their annual meeting Oct. 27-28 at Valley Baptist Church.
The California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) annual meeting in Bakersfield, Calif., highlighted historical references to the beginning of the organization at First Southern Baptist Church at Shafter in 1940. The Tuesday evening session celebrated the event with a 10-minute historical documentary followed by vignettes from CSBC entities – California Baptist Foundation, California Baptist University and Jenness Park, the convention’s camping facility in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Frank S. Page, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, challenged California Southern Baptists to look to the future. He said, “We have divine power and provision as believers, but I ask you tonight, what are you praying for? I’ve heard prayers about the last 75 years. What are you praying for the next 75 years?”
Honored that evening with Heritage Awards from the California Baptist Historical Society for their “rare and dedicated service” to CSBC were Robert Rooks and Sid Peterson, longtime pastors who also served in various denominational positions. The two joined more than 70 who have received the award since its inception in 1982.
Messengers approved a 2016 budget of $15.9 million, which includes a Cooperative Program (CP) objective of $6.8 million. The total budget is an increase of $29,485, or 0.2 percent, over the 2015 spending plan of $15,872,081.
The 2016 budget includes a half-percent increase for Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries, moving to 34 percent, or $2,312,000, if the goal for 2016 is achieved. The CP objective also allocates 5 percent for California Baptist University, 1 percent for California Baptist Foundation and 60 percent, or $4,080,000, to CSBC ministries for church starting, healthy churches and missions discipleship.
Randy Bennett, director of missions for Kern County Southern Baptist Association and a member of Daybreak Baptist Church, Bakersfield, was re-elected president, over Joe Slunaker, associate pastor of Hemet Valley Baptist Church in Hemet and an adjunct professor at CBU. Bennett received 223 votes, with 63 for Slunaker.
Abel Galvan, family life minister at First Southern Baptist Church in Anaheim, and Bob Gallina, pastor of Green Hills Baptist Church in La Habra, were nominated as convention vice president. Galvan was elected with 152 votes over Gallina’s 137 votes.
Mark Nunn, minister of music at First Baptist Church in Grass Valley, was elected music director for the 2016 annual meeting. Beth Ketcheside, CSBC executive assistant and a member of Crosspoint Church in Fresno, was elected recording secretary.
Others addressing messengers at the convention were Fermin A. Whittaker, CSBC executive director; Roger Spradlin, host pastor; and Bennett, CSBC president.
Whittaker said, “I know the enemy is powerful, but my God is all-powerful. I want Christians to stop surrendering and to stop running!
“Be who God has created you to be – be who He has placed in your heart. Don’t surrender a second of your life to the enemy.”
While Spradlin urged messengers to “preach the Word,” Bennett encouraged them to “live by faith, and not by sight.”
Messengers and guests heard from Peteris Sprogis, bishop of the Union of the Baptist Churches in Latvia, with which the convention recently began a partnership. He encouraged California Southern Baptists to join Latvian Baptists in a “church planting movement.”
The only business addressed was a motion referral from the 2014 annual meeting directing the convention’s committee on resolutions, credentials and membership to propose a “clear and open review process” for congregations wanting to affiliate with the state convention. Committee chairman Alan Littlejohn, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Desert Hot Springs, presented recommendations for the application process and the application itself.
Minor discussion followed and centered on information being posted online and the role of the association in CSBC membership. A few voiced objections to posting personal information about churches or staff online saying it would be inappropriate to post on the Web.
David Wilson, pastor of Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Redondo Beach, said, “I’m trying to understand some of this. Normally they (churches) affiliate through the association.”
Littlejohn responded, “We’re not trying to circumvent the process at all. A lot of times churches don’t come through associations. Several churches have come (directly) to the state convention to associate. The affiliation process at various associations is by no means the same.”
He noted the committee’s preference is for churches to affiliate with an association, but pointed to Baptist polity whereby associations, state conventions and the national convention all are autonomous and a church can choose which entity or entities with which to affiliate.
He added the intent of the recommendations was for the state Convention to get “a process in place.”
Messengers approved three resolutions. One of the three called for “Christians to avoid lawsuits.” The resolution referred to Christians or Christian entities suing other Christians or Christian entities. The resolution, which passed with no discussion, called for Christian brothers and sisters involved in lawsuits to “pursue Christian mediation and/or arbitration” and called on the CSBC and its staff to develop “a systematic way for referring individuals and entities to Christian mediators and/or arbitrators.”
The 75th anniversary drew 427 messengers and 188 guests.
The 2016 annual meeting is scheduled Oct. 25-26 at Russian Baptist Church in West Sacramento.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Terry Barone is communications group leader for The California Southern Baptist and Holly Smith is managing editor.)
11/4/2015 11:20:39 AM
November 4 2015 by
Baptist Press staff
Terry Barone and Holly Smith, The California Southern Baptist | with 0 comments
Messengers to the Baptist Convention of New York (BCNY) voted not to change the convention’s name and asked the body’s executive board to report next year on “the best plan to significantly increase” BCNY giving to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) missions and ministries.
Gathered Sept. 27-29 at All Nations Church in Henrietta, N.Y., messengers also voted to increase the portion of Cooperative Program receipts forwarded to SBC causes by 2.5 percentage points. In addition to 83 registered messengers, 23 guests were present for a total of 44 churches represented.
At last year’s annual meeting, messenger Edwin Attaway of First Christian Church in Brushton, N.Y., proposed that the BCNY’s constitution be amended to change its name to The Great Commission Baptists of the Northeast, a name he said would better reflect the presence of cooperating churches in Connecticut, Massachusetts, northern New Jersey and New York. Messengers voted at the time to refer the motion to the executive board for consideration at this year’s annual meeting.
After discussing the proposal, the executive board recommended the convention’s name not be changed – a recommendation messengers accepted without opposition. BCNY executive director Terry Robertson said at least three factors contributed to the convention’s decision:
Some New York Baptists did not believe “adequate thought” had been given to the name change and were “not ready to give up the Baptist Convention of New York name.”
The convention’s attorney, in light of nuances in New York state law, advised against retaining the current legal name while doing business as The Great Commission Baptists of the Northeast. Some New York Baptists had suggested that using both names would be the most effective way of accomplishing the change.
The proposed name change “could have been confusing” to churches that cooperate with either the Baptist Convention of New England or the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania-South Jersey.
Robertson said the issue of a name change likely will arise again, particularly in light of concerns about the current name among some of the approximately 80 cooperating churches in Northern New Jersey, eight in Connecticut and two in Massachusetts.
Also during a business session, messenger Sean Pierce from River of Life Church in Guilderland, N.Y., moved that messengers “ask the executive board to report back to this body next year the best plan to significantly increase our giving to the SBC, including the possibility of dramatically increasing the percent we send on over the next few years.” The motion was adopted by a voice vote.
In other business, the convention adopted a 2016 budget of $2,070,400, an increase of 12.11 percent from the current year.
Included in the 2016 budget: $752,000 in anticipated Cooperative Program (CP) giving from BCNY churches, for 36 percent of the budget; $1,235,000 in anticipated funding from the North American Mission Board; and $60,000 anticipated from LifeWay Christian Resources.
The convention will forward 27.5 percent of CP receipts to the SBC’s national and international missions and ministries, up from 25 percent in 2015. The budget includes no shared expenses with the SBC.
Re-elected as the convention’s 2015-16 officers were: president, Scott Gillette of Amherst Baptist Church in Amherst, N.Y.; vice president, Brian Robinson of Fillmore Community Church in Buffalo, N.Y.; recording secretary, Van McClain of Grace Community Chapel in Ballston Spa, N.Y.; and assistant recording secretary, Matt Evans of New Life Baptist Church in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Dan Trippie, pastor of Restoration Church in Buffalo, delivered the annual sermon. Worship was led by Travis Blye, worship leader at Northside Baptist Church in Liverpool, N.Y.
Among the annual meeting’s guest speakers were Ashley Clayton, vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship at the SBC Executive Committee; an International Mission Board missionary who cannot be identified for security reasons; Steve Cantor of the North American Mission Board; Don McLeod of GuideStone Financial Resources; and Ken Welborn, founder and president of Foreign Service Fellowship International.
Next year’s annual meeting will be held Sept. 25-27 at Word of Life Conference Center in Schroon Lake, N.Y., with a theme of “being relevant in a hostile world.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the staff of the Baptist Convention of New York.)
11/4/2015 11:16:54 AM
November 2 2015 by
Seth Brown, BR Content Editor
Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments
On a Sunday evening, when most pastors were finishing up their weekly preaching duties, the 2015 N.C. Pastors’ Conference was only beginning. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro was the setting for the Nov. 1-2 gathering that took its theme from Isaiah 55:10-11: “It Shall Not Return Void.”
Longtime pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, David Horner preached the first message of the event from 2 Corinthians 4:1-7, encouraging fellow pastors to be “immersed in the scriptures,” to be overwhelmed by God’s glory and to “prevail in prayer.”
Horner was followed by Alvin Reid, who holds the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism and serves as professor of evangelism and student ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). Reid’s research emphasis has been the Jesus Movement of the early 1970s, and he offered three observations about the nature of such movements.
First, he said a Jesus movement is a movement of the Holy Spirit. “Jesus said ‘you will receive power,’ but He didn’t say you will receive glory,” said Reid, decrying attempts by some pastors to manufacture revival without dependence on God.
Reid also said a Jesus movement is about Jesus, noting the obvious simplicity of such a statement. In a reference to the ministry of the apostles and early church in Acts, Reid emphasized, “Sometimes they did miracles; they always preached Jesus. Sometimes people were healed; they always preached Jesus. Sometimes people were delivered; they always preached Jesus. Paul always preached Jesus. The early church always preached Jesus.”
Reid finished by saying a Jesus movement is about the mission of God. “The mission has not changed,” Reid said, referring to Acts 28:31. “The gospel goes forth unhindered, and we are still spreading that gospel.”
Proclaiming the Bible
SEBTS president Danny Akin preached from Ephesians 4:1-16, offering 10 guidelines for 21st century churches. Among his points was a strong admonition to teach church members biblical doctrine. Referring to an increasingly anti-Christian American culture, he said, “It is no longer a luxury to know what you believe; it is an absolute necessity.”
Gary Jennings, pastor emeritus at East Taylorsville Baptist Church in Taylorsville, said there are three things that pastors need to know: (1) know you’re born again, (2) know you’re called by God into ministry and (3) know you’re where you need to be and stay there until God moves you.
He went on to preach from Matthew 4:18-22, saying, “We must be very careful to do those things that he’s commanded us to do, and work – blood, sweat and tears – long hours, hard work, because that’s what it’s going to take to win a lost world to Jesus.”
“All scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” reads 2 Timothy 3:16. It’s a well-known passage among preachers, and it’s one of the verses that framed the message by Richard Davis Phillips, senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C.
In the verses that precede 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul warns Timothy about false teachers among his congregation. Phillips extended that same warning to pastors today, calling upon the persevering power of the Bible. “Instead of something new and innovative and worldly we find Paul recommending to Timothy that resource that he has had all along – the word of God – because it is sufficient for times like these.”
Phillips said “the Word” is sufficient because of what it is and what it does. “Here we have the very revelation of God,” said Phillips. “The fundamental endeavor on which we are banking,” he added, “is the power of God to go forth through the teaching and preaching and witnessing of the word of God for the life and work of the church.”
Loving the scriptures
D.A. Carson, research professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., called pastors to consider Psalm 1 in three readings.
The first reading focused on the content of the Psalm, outlining each verse. Carson then explained the importance of meditating on God’s Word in the second reading, saying, “What we need more than anything is to think God’s thoughts after Him.” He emphasized careful attention to the life of the mind and its influence on integrity, “You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.”
Carson concluded by turning his focus fully to godly character. Passages like Psalm 1 that put forward absolute statements about good and evil may feel overwhelming to some Christians, because they feel the burden of their moral incompetence. Yet, the Bible also includes narrative stories about men and women that express sincere godliness mixed with deeply flawed morals. Carson encouraged Christians to look to Christ’s cross for resolution to the daily tension between righteousness and sin, quoting from famous hymnist John Newton: “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”
Greg Lawson, pastor of Union Chapel Baptist Church in Zebulon and SEBTS professor of Christian education, preached from Ecclesiastes 12:9-14. Two points shaped Lawson’s message: (1) fear God and keep his commandments, and (2) judgment is coming.
“We’re not to fear anyone nor anything except Almighty God,” said Lawson. “Those who have not learned a proper fear of God are tormented by a thousand lesser fears,” he added, saying it was a foundational statement in his life and ministry.
Lawson also explained two judgments from the scriptures, the judgment of all people and a judgment of Christian works referenced in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. “Is it your kingdom come or is it God’s Kingdom come?,” he asked, calling ministers to lay a ministerial foundation that is glorifying to God.
Johnny Hunt, 25-year pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., concluded the pastors conference with a message from Psalm 119:81-88 titled “Wineskin in Smoke.”
Explaining what the psalmist means by “I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,” Hunt said the Christian soul often feels fragile and brittle like a leather satchel that’s been dried by hot, smoky drafts.
The Christian life is full of trouble, Hunt said, but it is not without hope. “Never question in the dark what you’ve learned in the light,” he added, quoting the popular 19th century Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon.
“Questioning, but not without answers” and “trusting, but not without truth” are two other ways Hunt describes the psalmist in the passage. “Keep remembering,” he said, “God is faithful, and His word is faithful.”
To view highlights from conference sermons, go to vimeo.com/ncbaptist. See more photos in the Biblical Recorder's photo gallery.
Next year’s pastors’ conference president Cameron McGill extended a welcome to all veterans to attend the 2016 N.C. Pastors’ Conference Sunday evening session, where military service men and women will be honored.
Chip Hannah was elected as vice-president and Dale Robertson, secretary-treasurer. Presidents are elected two years in advance. Timmy Blair Sr. will serve as the 2017 Pastors’ Conference president.
11/2/2015 7:26:47 PM
November 2 2015 by
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor
Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 1 comments
Debby Akerman, former president of national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), said the greatest celebrations focus on God.
When God created light in Genesis, He said it was good. She said, “Celebrate who He is and what He does.”
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Phyllis Elvington, right, teaches during a breakout session during Carolina Women Oct. 16. See more photos online at BRnow.org/Photo-Gallery.
Akerman and Phyllis Elvington, Bible study leader, author and speaker, were the main speakers for Carolina Women’s Celebrate Missions retreat Oct. 16-17 at Fort Caswell Baptist Assembly on Oak Island. The retreat was a joint effort of WMU of North Carolina (WMU-NC) and South Carolina WMU (SCWMU). Almost 330 women from the two states participated in the event.
Missionaries Kathie Aiken, who serves with Appalachian Regional Ministry, Debbie Wieland, director of York County, S.C., Christian Women’s Job Corps, and Jill Harvell, an International Mission Board missionary, shared stories from the field as well as led the ladies through the WMU prayer calendar to pray for other missionaries.
“The South Carolina women loved their experience at Fort Caswell,” said Donna Britt, SCWMU Women on Mission associate. “The Lord blessed as we focused on ways to Celebrate Missions in our everyday lives and around the world.”
Akerman said celebrations are a time for giving gifts.
“God gives us so much,” she said. “God’s plan … to be exalted above all nations.”
She said celebrations have a praise component.
“When we celebrate missions, we celebrate the heartbeat of God for a world filled with ‘whosoevers’ waiting to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ,” she said referring to John 3:16. “Our choice [is] to choose obedience or disobedience. We need to go and tell. There are more people waiting to hear.”
Elvington said celebrating missions involves seeing the Lord. Using Isaiah 6:1-4, Elvington said believers have forgotten Who they serve. “We’ve made church and everything about it all about us,” she said. “What can it do for me? What can it do to help me out?”
Instead, Elvington stressed that “we were created to worship and serve a living God.”
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Gail Hodson, right, as Aretha Franklin, gets some help from some of the Carolina Women to sing about being a sanctified woman. Plunkett previously served as the South Carolina Woman’s Missionary Union president. She also appeared as Dolly Parton and taught a breakout session. See more photos online at BRnow.org/Photo-Gallery.
Church is “where we practice before we go out and be Christ before the world,” she said. It’s not about worthiness before the Lord, she stressed, but instead about standing forgiven before Him. “When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, you need to obey,” she said. “If you hesitate, God will go somewhere else.”
She challenged them to pray prayers of confession each day focusing on three areas: commission, omission and no mission.
“You have to be able to discern when God is speaking to you and when His people are speaking to you,” Elvington said, sharing four basic ways to hear God speaking: through His Word, through prayer, through church and through circumstances.
One of the topics Elvington broached involved the International Mission Board (IMB). The IMB announced recently that it has asked missionaries to consider leaving voluntarily through early retirement. She urged the ladies to pray for these missionaries and to seek ways to help those in transition.
Margaret Harding, WMU-NC associate for adults, was delighted with the comments on the evaluations they received. Some wanted to find an accountability partner; some emphasized sharing the gospel where they are; others said their church needed to emphasize missions more and pray for the missionaries.
The women collected an offering ($2,653.47) to be divided between the states and $310 towards disaster relief.
Crosswalk Drama Ministry, which is made up of Holly Needham and Leigh Ann Thomas, performed dramas relating to church life and being daily Christ followers. They, along with Beth Greer, who led the music, Akerman, Elvington, and others led breakout sessions on a variety of topics.
Harding and Britt both expressed interest in planning another Carolina Women in 2017 to alternate years with Carolina Girls, which inspired the women’s event.
Carolina Girls is scheduled to meet Oct. 21-23, 2016 at First Baptist Church in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The event is for Acteens, teen girls and their leaders. Contact Julie Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit wmunc.org.
11/2/2015 7:25:23 PM
November 2 2015 by
Carol Layton, Baptist Children’s Homes
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments
The family’s craft box held things like white Styrofoam meat trays, broken buttons of many colors, the cardboard ring from a roll of masking tape, scraps of fabric from satin to corduroy, the Sunday comics, and bits of brown twine from packages delivered to this working-class home on Long Island’s south side. Renee Gregory’s mother taught her children to use these kind of items in ways other than their intended purposes.
“With seven kids and one working parent, it was a necessity,” Gregory recalls. At craft time, her brothers and sisters would race to dig into the box – even though it never contained anything shiny or new.
“It influenced my approach to life,” she said. “I don’t look at things the way they are, but I look and see what they could be.”
Last April, Gregory became the first director of Fancy Finds, a new aspect of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) that supports the organization’s ministries to children, families, developmentally disabled adults and aging adults through the North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM). Fancy Finds is a new resale store that will offer older or previously discarded furniture and home décor items that Gregory will creatively restore and transform into renewed vintage-style pieces.
Renee Gregory repurposes furniture for Fancy Finds, a new ministry of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH). Proceeds from sales of items will go to help BCH.
“The process is known as repurposing,” Gregory explains. “It is the essence of what BCH does every day – breathing new life and purpose into people in desperate need.”
Proceeds generated by the store go back into the BCH ministry. In addition, Fancy Finds opens up opportunities for others to support BCH and volunteer. The store is dependent on people donating older, gently-worn furniture and accessories.
“BCH has friends who may not be able to financially support the ministry, but they may have furniture in their garage or attic that they can donate,” Gregory says. “Volunteering is another way they can plug in.”
Fancy Finds will need volunteers to help operate the resale store. Gregory is also willing to teach volunteers how to repurpose both donated items as well as pieces customers wish to have restored for themselves. She has already passed on her repurposing talents to young moms and teenagers in BCH’s care as a part of Fancy Finds’ outreach.
In addition to Gregory’s early-developed “do-it-yourself” skills, preparation for her new position began in 2004 when she moved to North Carolina from Long Island. She quickly developed community by volunteering at one of her favorite places to shop – the Habitat Restore in Statesville.
Volunteering with Habitat allowed her to help others as well as regularly check out new donations. (Things like dusty old dressers with broken drawers that Gregory envisioned as chic and trendy kitchen islands.) The volunteer position eventually became a career where she served eight years as assistant manager and learned the ins and outs of running a non-profit resale store.
“There is something about old furniture that grabs me – the craftsmanship that you don’t see today – and then being able to give those pieces new life.” Gregory also sees a connection between repurposing items and God’s refashioning and restoration of broken things in her own life.
“I have learned that God does make all things new – actually even better than new. So, when I look at a piece of furniture – no matter how broken and worn, no matter what it’s been through, I have faith that it can be made new.”
Gregory and BCH hope to open the Fancy Finds store in early 2016. In the meantime, the additional services Fancy Finds offers that are not dependent on a brick and mortar location are already underway. Gregory offers repurposing classes for church functions, family events and even employers seeking a team-building activity for staff. She has also established Fancy Finds’ Estate Sale Service for people who need to downsize their home or liquidate a loved one’s estate. All fees for services go back into BCH to support those the ministry serves daily.
“What appeals to me most about Fancy Finds is knowing I will be helping others – not only by working in the store, but through the lives and futures that will be changed by the ministries of Baptist Children’s Homes. My lifelong love of repurposing now has a higher purpose and that’s very fulfilling for me – and also a lot of fun!” Not surprising coming from a woman whose Barbie house was made from kindling and its backyard pool from a trash bag and a few old bricks.
Fancy Finds’ first community event takes place on Sat., Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at BCH’s Wall Home located at 8487 North N.C. Highway 109 in Winston-Salem.
Gregory will have some of Fancy Find’s first repurposed items available. Snacks will be available and BCH’s children will be on hand.
For more information about Fancy Finds, visit fancyfinds.org.
11/2/2015 7:24:30 PM
November 2 2015 by
David Roach, Baptist Press
Carol Layton, Baptist Children’s Homes | with 0 comments
A partnership between a former Kentucky Baptist university and an organization that supports female pastors illustrates what some see as an advance of the biblical egalitarian movement. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), in contrast, supports preserving the complementary roles of men and women in the home and church.
In September, Campbellsville University (CU) in Campbellsville, Ky., hosted the inaugural Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) lectures, named for an organization that advocates, based on its interpretation of scripture, equal authority and leadership roles for men and women in families and churches. Campbellsville also joined CBE as an organizational member, according to a CBE press release.
While Southern Baptists affirm equal standing and worth of men and women before God in the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M), the Southern Baptist Convention’s confession of faith, they also distinguish between the roles God has assigned them.
Article XVIII of the BF&M states, “The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”
Article VI of the BF&M states, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by scripture.”
The position stipulating the fundamental equality of men and women as well as a distinction between their roles in the church and home is known as complementarianism.
Campbellsville trustees voted last year to abandon a longstanding covenant agreement with the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) that granted the convention authority to elect the university’s trustees. The convention, a ministry partner with the SBC, subsequently changed its historic practice of sending a portion of Cooperative Program gifts received to the university. Campbellsville signed a partnership agreement with the American Baptist Churches in Indiana and Kentucky Oct. 22, according to a KBC news release.
“News that Campbellsville University has become a member of the organization called Christians for Biblical Equality once again sheds light on their decision to distance themselves from Southern Baptists and Kentucky Baptists,” KBC executive director Paul Chitwood told Baptist Press. “CBE rewrites the Bible’s teaching in passages like Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3 and Colossians 3. My greatest concern for Campbellsville is that the Bible has stopped being the final authority and is being replaced with human wisdom. That isn’t a good foundation for a Baptist education.”
CBE President Mimi Haddad delivered the inaugural CBE lecture at Campbellsville and argued that according to scripture, gender should not be a factor in the selection of church leaders.
“Not only is leadership service, but it is about character,” Haddad said according to a CU news release. “We should be looking for people not based on gender, but on spiritual gifts.”
Haddad later clarified her position stating, “Before the fall, Genesis makes clear that men and women are created in God’s image for shared dominion-authority (Genesis 1:26-28).
Throughout scripture, women exhibit spiritual, legal and political leadership despite able men, in their communities, whom God could have used.”
Following the culture
Bruce Ware, a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary theology professor who has defended complementarianism in books and articles, said egalitarianism is popular because “it accords closer to cultural values and institutions than does the complementarian position.”
Ware said, “Since the Christian subculture has a prevailing shallow understanding of biblical teaching, it isn’t surprising that people – even well-meaning and sincere Christian people – follow their intuitions, as aided by egalitarian literature that seems to confirm their status quo beliefs. The challenge, then, is to re-present biblical teaching on this issue that challenges people’s intuitions while showing them from God’s Word the beauty and wisdom of God’s design of men and women, equal in essence but distinct in role and function.”
According to a survey of 58 North American denominations published by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2011-12, 26 were egalitarian and 17 complementarian. Fifteen either were not classified or were labeled as something other than egalitarian or complementarian. The SBC was listed as “either,” with a note that the view of gender roles “varies by congregation.”
From a financial vantage point, CBE’s total revenue for 2013 – the most recent year for which statistics were available – of $734,216 was nearly three times the 2014 revenue of the complementarian Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), according to records from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. CBE’s 2013 expenses were nearly four times the 2014 expenses of CBMW.
‘Growth of complementarian conviction’
Yet among younger evangelicals and the leadership of the Evangelical Theological Society, some have pointed to a resurgence of complementarianism.
Southern Seminary professors Denny Burk and Jim Hamilton argued that the SBC’s six seminaries, all of which require professors to adhere to the BF&M, have played a significant role in bolstering complementarianism among young ministers.
“The SBC enrolls more students in its seminaries than any other denomination in America,” Burk and Hamilton wrote in a 2007 article in the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. “Thus, the influence of the SBC’s seminaries on emerging generations of ministers is worthy of note, and the SBC faculties who teach these young ministerial students affirm a complementarian doctrinal position.”
The number of students enrolled in SBC seminaries has increased substantially since Burk and Hamilton made that claim.
Owen Strachan, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, said in written comments, “The sea change at the SBC seminaries alone has meant a major uptick in the representation and reception of the complementarian position at numerous schools. If you consider the major numerical presence of M.Div. students at Southern, Southeastern, Southwestern [seminaries], and the surging enrollment of Midwestern, you recognize that a large percentage of all ministers-in-training are at unflinchingly complementarian institutions.”
Among ETS leadership, Christians for Biblical Equality documented the number of complementarians serving on the ETS nominating committee over the years. According to a chart CBE provided to BP, at least 73 percent of ETS nominating committee members were complementarians between 1998-2011 while 18 percent were egalitarians and the gender stance of 9 percent was unknown.
Attendance at conferences reflecting the competing views on gender also may reflect a resurgence of complementarianism.
A CBE spokeswoman said the CBE annual conference attendance “ranges from 250-350,” with a record attendance expected at the 2016 conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 14-17. CBMW reported an attendance of 1,500 at its first national conference in Louisville, Ky., in conjunction with the 2014 Together for the Gospel conference. In previous years, some CBMW events have drawn 500-600, with one event drawing 800-900, CBMW reported. The 2016 CBMW national conference will be held April 11-12 in conjunction with the next Together for the Gospel biennial conference.
Strachan, associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said both sides of the gender debate will continue to be articulated among evangelicals, but he said he is “thrilled by the growth of complementarian conviction among evangelical scholars and pastor-theologians over the last thirty years.”
Strachan continued, “This is beyond heartening to me and many others. In the SBC and in sister denominations like the [Presbyterian Church in America], the future looks unabashedly complementarian. Compare that to 1987, when CBMW didn’t exist, and many of the SBC schools had lost their grip on biblical theology.”
Several key SBC leaders, Strachan said, have been crucial in defending complementarianism.
“We’ve learned from figures like Paige and Dorothy Patterson, Al and Mary Mohler, Danny and Charlotte Akin and numerous other leaders that complementarity is not only true, it is good,” Strachan said.
Burk and Hamilton noted that opinions about the appropriate role of women in local congregations vary among complementarians. While some believe 1 Timothy 2:12 and related passages prohibit women from teaching the Bible to any coed adult group in the church, others say “a woman can teach a mixed audience as long as she does so under the ‘headship’ and authority of the pastor/elders and her husband.” Burk and Hamilton adopted the former view.
All complementarians believe the office of pastor is reserved for men, though there is disagreement over what positions on a church staff should be classified as pastoral roles.
‘Who ends up swallowing whom?’
Haddad, of CBE, rejects all attempts to limit pastoral roles in the local church to males based on her interpretation of scripture. She also disagrees with the suggestion that American cultural values consistently align with egalitarianism. She said equating popular culture and egalitarianism “makes unfair comparisons between all egalitarians and Western culture as a whole.”
Christians – egalitarian as well as complementarian – often stand for biblical truth and against the tide of culture on many issues, she said.
“Yet patriarchy holds sway in Western culture. Consider that men still earn more than women for the same work in most Western countries,” Haddad said in written comments. “And, working women consistently return home for the ‘second shift’ to assume responsibility for cooking, housework and overseeing their children’s homework. Additionally, men hold most leadership positions politically and professionally.”
Haddad continued, “Consider the wide and ungodly objectification of women in media and the film industry, particularly in the West. On Valentine’s Day this year the film ‘50 Shades of Grey’ was launched, and it glorified the sexual abuse and slavery of women. Reflect also on the vast number of girls trafficked or killed annually. At present, nearly 200 million females are missing from the planet, representing the largest human holocaust in all of history – an event fueled by Western complicity, (demand and funding) coupled with the devaluation of females sustained by religious teachings and practices. Female subjugation is alive and well in every culture including our own, wreaking havoc, harm and abuse on girls and women despite what might seem like a Western nod at women’s equality.”
Yet Haddad shares with complementarians a hope that the rising generation of evangelicals may be willing to devote careful study to the Bible’s teachings on gender.
“In teaching at graduate and undergraduate schools with both complementarian and egalitarian students, it does seem as if today’s students are less biblically literate or literate in general compared to previous years,” Haddad said. “...I am concerned about this, but I also take hope in that students today are passionate about social justice and the global suffering of humanity. As a result, they are motivated to do the biblical, historical and social science research to understand and address this challenge.”
Strachan hopes young believers’ careful study leads to complementarian conclusions because “denying” the reality of distinct gender roles “in the home and church sets you up for theological and spiritual disaster.”
“Every figure, church and denomination that has publicly endorsed homosexuality – ‘gay Christianity’ – and transgenderism has without exception been egalitarian,” Strachan said. “This does not mean that every egalitarian endorses these sins, but it does mean that embracing egalitarianism puts you in tension. ...The history of Protestant liberalism has taught many of us that when you make a grand bargain with the culture, there’s little confusion as to who ends up swallowing whom.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
11/2/2015 7:23:58 PM
November 2 2015 by
Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A
David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
Author, coach and record-holding golfer Walter Armstrong III sustained a decade-long career in the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) in the 1970s and ’80s, eventually earning a lifetime membership to the PGA Tour. Armstrong posted a rookie scoring record of 280 at his first Master’s Tournament in 1973.
After his playing career ended, Armstrong began work as a golf instructor, youth golf pioneer and an author of several golf books, including: In His Grip, The Mulligan, Practicing the Presence of Jesus and Finishing The Course.
I spoke to Wally upon his visit to Boone, N.C., for a youth golf clinic at Mount Vernon Baptist Church. We talked about his time on the PGA Tour, his walk with God, his love of the game and his passion to inspire that love in youngsters all over the world.
Wally Armstrong was on the cover of Golf in 1993. He is known for using common, fun props in teaching the basics to aspiring golfers.
Q: How did you come to the game of golf?
A: I grew up in Indiana – in the cornfields – looking for golf balls to make a few bucks on this little nine-hole course. I started caddying for the club champion; he took me under his wing and really gave me a flavor for the game of golf.
I just love the competition side of it, and he took me to the golf tournaments. I started playing high school golf and won the state championship my senior year. I had a golf professional friend Ellis who told me, “If you really want to excel in golf you need to go to the Southeastern Conference.” I looked at several colleges, and the University of Florida offered me a scholarship. I was pretty good, but I decided that I wanted to be a coach, so I got my graduate degree in health and human performance.
Q:Did you go through the tough PGA Tour School in an attempt to turn pro?
A: I made three attempts at the old Tour School, where they had 2,000 guys trying out for 24 spots. I finally qualified my third year. I was able to stay on the PGA Tour and play in over 340 tournaments in my career including all the majors, playing with arguably the best players of all time – vintage ‘70s champions: Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller and Gary Player – lot of hall-of-famers.
Q: You had a once in a lifetime experience early in your life. What was it like caddying for the great Gary Player?
A: It was really kind of a freaky thing. God really set it up. I caddied for him in three tournaments. Unfortunately in the third tournament, Gary had a contract with a banana company, and I forgot to take the bananas out of his bag. They stayed in there for over a week and I ruined all of his rain gear and gloves – and that was the end of my caddie career.
Q: What happened after the banana incident with Gary Player?
A: Earlier in the week when I was caddying for Gary in New Orleans, he said, “Wally if you really want to make a difference for Jesus Christ in many lives, then you should be playing on the PGA Tour and not caddying.”
Well, when I returned to Indiana there was a brand new golf bag full of irons, woods, gloves and golf balls that Gary had sent me. Ten years later I was playing a practice round with Seve Ballesteros and Gary Player at the Master’s Tournament.
I know that God gave me a game to sustain that type of competition.
Q: What kind of Christian presence among PGA players was available back then on the tour?
A: I was fortunate to be a part of starting a PGA Tour chapel service.
Wally Armstrong demonstrates his golfing technique to some children in Boone, N.C.
A couple of us started going, and a number of players trusted Christ: Larry Mize, Bernhardt Langer and Scott Simpson. We just had a tremendous group of men and women.
Q: Who was the golfer that was an inspiration for you as your game developed?
A: Arnold Palmer was the king, especially growing up in Indiana. In the early ’60s it was Nicklaus, Player and Palmer, but Palmer was the peoples’ favorite. I just loved watching him play the game.
You said something when you spoke [at Mount Vernon] ... that you saw Arnold Palmer’s final Masters appearance. You floored the audience when you said you spotted Jesus in the flesh at the Masters.
Well, yes, that was very interesting. I had driven up early that morning to Augusta, Ga., from Orlando to follow Arnold Palmer. I ran into a friend of mine, Jim, and we were following Arnold.
He asked me to come up after the round to the clubhouse and meet his granddaughter.
So I came around and there was Jim, Rachel and a large group of people surrounding Ben Crenshaw and this tall spectator – real handsome guy – with a hat, khaki pants and golf shoes.
The people were all pointing at the spectator. I said, “I don’t know who that is Jim.” He said, “You evidently didn’t see ‘The Passion of Christ.’ That’s the actor who played Jesus; that’s Jim Caviezel.”
The people that could see his face, knew he was Jesus, but they couldn’t remember his name, so they said, “Look there’s Jesus talking to Ben Crenshaw over there.”
The whole thing about it, Roman, is that he didn’t have sandals or a beard; he was like everybody else, a golfer. That was just an amazing picture to me. It was a picture about how I learned to follow Christ as my Savior and my friend.
He was like a fellow golfer, and it does say in the scripture He’s like our brother, our advocate.
Q: Are you excited by the youth movement toward golf today on the PGA Tour and at local golf clubhouses and facilities?
A: There really is a big movement toward youth golf today. At the club level you have team competition that is really sweeping the country: chip putt and drive. But these are already golfers; my heart is to reach young people and expose them to the game of golf, those that are not playing.
I want these young people to be exposed to it like I was and “catch the bug.” The only way to do that is to get out where the kids are. We’ve got to use existing avenues to do that.
I have had the privilege of inventing the national school golf program. It’s called “Starting New at Golf” (SNAG). About 16 years ago I came up with this game that can be played anywhere, with small Velcro targets and elastic golf clubs, and it’s safe.
About 5.5 million kids in schools have learned through this system. It’s also a life skills program, a real blessing all over the world.
We can take the game wherever the kids are and that’s what I’m working on now, especially getting the game of golf in churches. A lot of those kids had never touched a golf club or played the game of golf. They had a chance to learn about the love of the game and about golf, and meeting Jesus through it.
For more information, go to wallyarmstronggolf.com. Follow him on Twitter @wallyarmstrong.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Hear his Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook: Roman Gabriel III; connect on Twitter: @romangabriel3rd. Contact at (910) 431-6483 or email: email@example.com.)
11/2/2015 7:15:58 PM
November 2 2015 by
Paige Turner, IMB
Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A | with 0 comments
Smoke from the kitchen wafted up through the red floorboards and a single window offered little reprieve from the sun’s relentless warmth. Mark Harrison could see the top of a shiny, gold pagoda across the road and hear the occasional honk of a truck driving by.
But Harrison’s focus was on the family he had come to visit.
It wasn’t the North Carolina pastor’s first visit to this home in a remote Southeast Asian village tucked among lush, green mountains. He had visited the family during other trips to the villages of T* people. Although the youngest sister and her husband had become Christians, her parents and three sisters never seemed interested in the gospel.
So Harrison hadn’t planned to stop that day. Tired from traveling all day, he was headed to the rickety wooden boat that would take him back across the river.
But when a local T believer called him, Harrison, missions pastor at Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, knew he needed to go with him to visit this family again.
Mark Harrison, missions pastor of Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, shops in the market on one of his trips to Asia.
Early on, Harrison and Old Town had decided to focus their strategy to reach T people on encouraging and discipling local believers to share the gospel.
“They [local believers] know the language. They know the culture. They understand the ins and outs of everyday life. They have access to the people,” Harrison said.
After more than a dozen trips to T people villages in the past five years, Harrison and Old Town members have seen T people turn from Buddhism, believe in Jesus and then lead others to faith in Jesus.
Yet believers are still few among this unreached people group that is staunchly Buddhist. Less than 1 percent of the nearly 1.5 million people believe in Jesus. “The T people are deeply rooted in their animistic and Buddhist background,” Harrison said. They’re very attracted to the gospel, he added, but hesitant to let go of their heritage.
Counting the cost
That’s the story at the home of the four sisters. As Harrison scooted closer to help the oldest sister tie a knot on the bracelet she had made – a beaded bracelet telling the story of creation and salvation – he asked if she’d ever thought about trusting in Jesus.
“She was very interested in the gospel, but could not say yes to Jesus. She wanted to choose both,” Harrison said. “She wanted all the benefits of following Jesus, and yet [to] maintain her religion.”
The woman is afraid family and friends will reject her if she leaves Buddhism.
“You are so close to experiencing the love of the Living God,” Harrison said tenderly. “I pray you will have courage to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, no matter the cost.”
Ever since they committed to sharing the gospel among the T people, Harrison and Old Town have prayed for them to have courage to leave Buddhism.
When the church began praying about engaging an unreached, unengaged people group, Southeast Asia missionaries such as William and Mallory Ritz* helped guide them to the T people and helped them learn about the people group and Southeast Asian culture.
“We help build partnerships between our Southern Baptist churches in America – with our national partners and existing field personnel,” William said.
“We want to help our churches in America develop strategies toward reaching, equipping and training,” he said.
Old Town’s strategy to partner with local believers is working. Before stopping at the sisters’ home, Harrison visited a young believer named Met,* a motorcycle repairman whom Old Town had helped disciple.
“As our teams go to his village we always stop by his house to encourage him and nurture him along in his faith,” Harrison said.
Met had invited a former Buddhist monk to his bamboo hut to meet Harrison. When he came to have his bike repaired, the former monk explained, Met shared the gospel and led him to faith in Jesus.
“It’s exciting to see that a man from the T people background, through the influence of another T person, made a commitment of his life to Christ,” Harrison said. “This is an incredible evidence of the activity of God.”
As T believers continue helping Harrison and Old Town learn about their people and culture, Harrison and Old Town in turn help them learn to share their faith.
Before visiting Met, Harrison began his busy day with Thura,* a local believer with whom he had spent time a few months earlier, teaching him to share the gospel.
Thura shares the gospel although his father, the village leader and a Buddhist, doesn’t want him to.
Thura asked Harrison to teach and pray with Nanda,* who had believed in Jesus after Thura shared the gospel with him. The men sat at an outside restaurant until the glares became too much. The foreigner – and the Christian conversation – were not welcomed.
So they crossed the dirt road to Nanda’s home. On the porch Nanda’s young daughter swung her legs back and forth in her plastic chair, gently resting her head on dad’s shoulder as he told how he turned from Buddhism to trust in Jesus.
And as he talked, answered prayers unfolded before Harrison.
“The seed of the gospel has taken root in their hearts and is now growing,” Harrison said.
He could leave with confidence, believing the new family of faith established there could continue to grow and sow the seed of the gospel among their neighbors.
Holding the rope
Southern Baptist missionaries are able to serve in Southeast Asia through the International Mission Board (IMB) because local churches give through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (LMCO).
“Global missions is not a compartmentalized program of the church for a select few people; it is the purpose for which we all exist. Every church and every believer has a part to play in fulfilling Christ’s commission,” said an IMB press release.
“Today, globalization and urbanization present new opportunities for more men, women, singles and families to be active in international missions than ever before.
“As IMB equips churches to send ordinary Christians as missionaries to unreached people and places, it also partners with churches to send limitless missionary teams of business and medical professionals, students, retirees, teachers and others to work together in global cities.”
The IMB is calling churches to reflect on how they might contribute to the sending endeavor by marking Nov. 29-Dec. 6 as a week of prayer for international missions. The prayer week is part of the months-long international missions emphasis that leads up to the Feb. 29 deadline for sending LMCO gifts to IMB.
The theme for the 2015 LMCO states the reason for Southern Baptist missions: “Because of who He is.”
As churches plan their services and special events for the rest of the year, IMB has released resources, including a full video sermon from IMB President David Platt, free of charge to help church leaders LMCO.
To view or download these resources, go to imb.org/plattsermonhelps. To find out more information about LMCO, visit imb.org/lottie-moon.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Paige Turner is a writer living in Southeast Asia. BR Content Editor Seth Brown compiled additional information for this story from IMB press releases.)
11/2/2015 1:30:53 PM
November 2 2015 by
Rick Houston & Seth Brown
Paige Turner, IMB | with 0 comments
Cameron Clark was down on his hands and knees with a power saw, cutting rows in the ruined hardwood floors of a house just outside Johnsonville, S.C., so they’d be easier to tear out.
The town of 1,500 residents is in Florence County, about 30 miles west of Myrtle Beach. Persistent heavy rains in early October preceded Hurricane Joaquin, bringing estimated damages of more than $1 billion to the Bahama Islands and southeast United States. Before the last raindrop fell, North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), also known as Baptists on Mission, began the process of deploying resources to affected areas.
The response to what The Weather Channel called a “1,000-year rain event” is what brought Clark to this home. Though not destroyed outright, the home had to be completely gutted by Clark and a team of volunteers from virtually every corner of the state of North Carolina.
Clark was covered from head to toe in sweat and sawdust, but he didn’t appear to care in the least. He kept right on working and joking, keeping those around him at ease. If ever there was a picture of faith in action, this was it.
“All through my life, God spoke to me through people, church and life experiences,” said Clark, a member of Osborne Baptist Church in Eden, N.C. “I didn’t listen to most of it because it was just people talking.”
“[A]ctions, not words, made an impact on me,” Clark added. “I feel like mission work is a way to impact people’s lives through God’s work. I know I want to make a difference. Maybe I will, but my main goal is to impact the people we come in contact with.”
Clark made the journey from Eden with Wayne Hammock, who served as something of a crew chief for the team. Like many others, Hammock can remember the date he gave his life to Christ. It was March 19, 1999.
Around the same time an older gentleman from his church began inviting him to participate in one of the church’s trips to the state’s eastern coast in the wake of Hurricane Floyd. One after another, he came up with excuses for not going, in order to continue work on a shop he was in the process of building. One Thursday afternoon, Hammock got an answer of his own. “God spoke to me, and He said, ‘You’ve got people who don’t even have a place to live after this storm. You’re putting your time in a hobby shop,’” Hammock remembered.
The church had adopted a family whose house was destroyed in the storm, and after his conversation with God, Hammock was there to serve at every opportunity. Rarely has he stopped since. He lost count of how many times he has served as an NCBM volunteer, so often that when he points to the trailer filled with tools hooked to the back of his truck, he calls it “my joy.”
“That’s my way of serving,” Hammock said. “A pastor, I guess, will tell you that he feels closer to God when he’s in the pulpit. I feel the closest to God when I’ve got that trailer and I’m going to a destination where I can help somebody.”
Some of the volunteers at the site were veterans of numerous recovery operations, while others were on their very first. They were nervous, hoping not to get in the way but still wanting to help. Some worked behind a desk, and felt less than valuable. Surely, they would’ve been more help staying at home. Not so, insisted Hammock. Not so at all.
Hammock responded to the suggestion by telling the story of a recent training session. At lunch, volunteers gathered around an NCBM feeding unit. At the end of the serving line sat a young man in a wheelchair, handing out bottles of water.
“He was serving, and his service was just as important as any [heavy equipment] I drive,” Hammock added. “There’s something for everybody. If it’s your heart to serve, I think God’s going to find somewhere to use you.”
Home base for the volunteers was Johnsonville First Baptist, located just a few miles from the home where the group worked for almost two full days. They slept in the church’s family life center or in campers. Meals were provided by one of NCBM’s three primary feeding units.
As humbling as the work happened to be, the effort expended unraveling logistical entanglements back at Johnsonville First Baptist was impressive. Work orders had to be processed. Water and clothing were distributed to local residents in need. Thousands of meals were served.
In the midst of it all was Terry Hall, a New Bern audiologist who is the disaster relief ministry coordinator for NCBM. After putting in nearly 50 hours a week at work, Hall answers multitudes of emails and phone calls as the head of a ministry like this one. And that’s just when he’s at home, not to mention when he’s responding to an emergency.
“It’s just been a challenge, trying to balance the work, the family and this,” Hall said, the emotion thick in his voice. “But you know what? We can do it, because the good Lord provides.”
More than 2,500 NCBM volunteers have utilized their skills and hard work to aid flood victims in northeast South Carolina. Relief efforts to date have been focused on removing mud, tearing out ruined materials from homes and temporary roof repair on more than 200 homes. They also have prepared and distributed more than 11,600 meals.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” said Gaylon Moss, NCBM disaster relief coordinator. “We’ve been communicating with South Carolina Baptists, and we want to help them as they transition from this cleanup effort to a rebuild effort.”
Weeks after the rain has stopped, there are areas where floodwater has only recently begun to recede. Relief teams are still trying to decide which regions are in greatest need.
Along with NCBM, teams from the North American Mission Board and more than a dozen Baptist state conventions have travelled to South Carolina to help in the recovery.
“We’re grateful for the teams that participate and help out. We’re so thankful that they’ve showed up en masse,” said Moss. “And we’re going to need them for the long haul,” added Richard Brunson, executive director of NCBM.
Visit baptistsonmission.org to find out how to volunteer or donate to NCBM.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rick Houston is a writer who lives in Yadkinville. Seth Brown is the content editor for the Biblical Recorder.)
11/2/2015 1:24:45 PM
November 2 2015 by
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor
Rick Houston & Seth Brown | with 0 comments
Naghmeh Abedini never would have chosen for her husband to be arrested in Iran. She wouldn’t have chosen to live without seeing him for more than three years. She would have never chosen for her children to grow up without their father.
But during this time she has learned a valuable lesson about abiding in God.
“We always think about [abiding] as resting in God, but it’s really about obedience too,” Abedini said. “It’s so simple but so hard.”
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Naghmeh Abedini speaks to a women’s retreat at Caraway Conference Center in October. See more photos at BRnow.org/Photo-Gallery.
Abedini was one of the main speakers for “Obedience by Faith,” a two-day women’s retreat hosted by Embrace, a ministry of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) geared toward reaching and equipping women. The theme was based on Hebrews 11:8.
Around 250 women attended the weekend retreat Oct. 23-24 at Caraway Conference Center and Camp near Asheboro. They heard from Abedini and Teresa Brown, wife of the former pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte. Brown’s husband, Joe, is currently pastoring Northside Baptist Church in Charlotte, an independent Baptist church. Kim Merida and Erica Keith from Imago Dei Church in Raleigh led the music.
Abedini has been a Christian for 30 years, since she was nine years old. Her parents were Muslim. It took 13 years but her parents also decided to follow Christ.
She was afraid of airplanes but through prayer she went to the Middle East a couple of months after 9/11. It was while she was in Iran that she met Saeed, who was born and raised in Iran. He came from a radical Muslim background and was recruited by Hezbollah. He had been a Christian for two years when Naghmeh met him in 2002.
He was working with around 150 college students and ministering in house churches.
They started doing ministry together and married in 2004. By 2005 when the climate for Christians got more hostile, the church had grown to almost 2,000 people stretched across 30 cities in about 100 house churches.
The couple fled to the United States and had two children. In 2009, they went back to Iran and started an orphanage with the encouragement of the Iranian government. Two or three times a year between 2009-2012 Saeed traveled to Iran to work with the orphanage.
In June 2012, Saeed was heading back to Iran for three weeks to finish the orphanage. In July she learned that he was not allowed to leave the country, and a frantic call on Sept. 26 in the middle of the night from Saeed’s mom revealed that five guards had come to take him away.
“I really feel like the abiding happened when Saeed was taken,” she said. “I remember that instant I felt such … a deep, dark place of despair. I didn’t know what I was going to tell my kids.”
Authorities had questioned him before and always let him go, but this time the family didn’t know if he was alive.
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Phyllis Foy, left, a North American Mission Board missionary, leads a breakout session Oct. 23 during Obedience By Faith, a women’s retreat sponsored by Embrace. See more photos online at BRnow.org/Photo-Gallery.
Naghmeh remembers her mother coming and kneeling by her bed asking how she could help.
“There is a moment … it’s just you,” she said. “No one can help you. You can’t get comfort from another human being.”
Abedini said abiding has two meanings: remaining and obeying. She shared out of John 15 with the ladies.
“A lot of times suffering … makes us desperate for God,” she said. “The storms of life really put you in that panic mode. All we really have to do is abide in Him; He will produce the fruit.”
Since Saeed has been in prison, Naghmeh has been in front of the media with interviews on television and radio and stories in newspapers.
While Saeed has remained imprisoned he has been subjected to beatings and threats on his life. He’s been asked to deny Christ. Naghmeh can’t visit him because she will be arrested as well.
“I’ve been thrown into the political realm,” she said referring to her addresses to U.S. Congress as well as parliaments in several countries. Her most recent high-profile visit was with the United Nations, and on Sept. 26 she participated in a Boise, Idaho, rally to raise awareness of Saeed’s imprisonment. Rallies took place across the country.
She believes God has used Saeed’s situation to give her a platform to share the gospel.
She told the U.N. how they can solve the world’s problems: “God solved it on the cross. Who else preaches dying to self?”
Once believers abide in God, Abedini said the fruit comes. She urged the women to abide in God’s love by keeping His commandments.
“Don’t go with your feeling; don’t go with your heart,” she said. “Don’t go with anything with your flesh. You’re in a world war with your flesh every morning.”
“We are seeing radical hate transform the world. We need to rise up as Christians and say, I have radical love, and it only comes from Christ.”
She asked for continued prayers for her family and for other prisoners and those who are persecuted.
Referring to Hebrews 13:3, she said, “the persecuted body just needs to know they are remembered.”
Not usually one to share her personal stories, Brown spoke of her 12-year journey with cancer.
“Early on I was in a place I didn’t want to be,” she said. “I was in a place I wasn’t sure I would survive.”
After a routine hysterectomy in June 2003, doctors discovered Brown had cancer. Diagnosed with stage four uterine cancer, she found herself in an unfamiliar place.
“I was a pastor’s wife. I was used to praying for everybody else, and now when this stranger called cancer invaded my life, my name went to the top of everybody’s prayer list,” Brown said.
During one of the 33 days of her first round of radiation, Brown said it was in the stillness of a darkened room while she “was strapped to a table with this intimidating machine going around my body” that she “began to feel just a little bit sorry for Teresa.”
She asked God, “How can I possibly serve You better with cancer than I can being healthy and whole?”
It was in that stillness of the room lying “helpless and hopeless before Him” that she began to focus her attention on God. She was too weak to do much, so she had to get still.
“When we take our eyes off God, and we … focus them on anything else, we end up gaining what we can live without, and we end up losing what we need most to survive,” she stressed. “I believe the ‘heart cry’ of all of our lives … is to experience that God, to be in His presence … to feel Him like we felt Him when He was new to us” she said referring to people’s salvation experience.
Brown offered three ways women could be obedient to God: demonstrating gratitude, changing latitude and adjusting attitude.
“I believe there is a place inside the heart of each woman in this room to stop striving,” Brown said.
Since her diagnosis in 2003, Brown has never been free of cancer. She’s gone through six major surgeries, radiation twice and chemotherapy three times.
“Every day I get up I choose joy,” she said.
She encouraged the women to get on their knees and get in God’s Word.
“It’s not all about me,” she said. “It’s not about using God to satisfy all of my needs but in allowing God to use me to satisfy His … it’s not about living an easy life but living a Kingdom life, allowing God to use our ordinary, daily circumstances as holy encounters to glorify Him.”
She cited “Yes, Lord” as her best definition of obedience.
Brown encouraged the women to be vitally connected to Jesus.
“If we live a disconnected life from our heavenly Father, then we have no voice,” Brown said.
“We have no voice with God. We have no voice in our community. We have no voice in our neighborhood, and we have no voice in our homes.
People have to see you walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
“The way we abide is we stay put, and we fellowship with the One we fell in love with so long ago. We talk to Him and we listen to what He has to say through His Word and through other people.”
Ashley Allen, BSC’s Embrace consultant for the last six years, said this year’s theme came out of her personal quiet time two years ago. She was going through a Precept Bible study with Kay Arthur on Hebrews.
“I had to read Hebrews over and over and over again,” she said, “yet, it was chapter 11 that I kept getting stuck on” because of the roll call of faith.
“It dawned on me for the first time ever that faith is not simply a noun but it’s a verb.”
The person that stood out on that roll call was Abraham. God had promised him a son and that his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky.
Abraham was advanced in age, and rather than wait on the Lord to fulfill His promise, Abraham decided to figure out how to make God’s promise happen for him.
“When he waited and trusted the Lord, the Lord did exactly what He had promised,” Allen said. “As we read His Word, He tells us exactly what it is He wants us to obey.”
For more about Embrace, visit embracenc.org.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – To get updates on Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini, visit facebook.com/NaghmehAbedini or follow her on Twitter: @NaghmehAbedini. The next Embrace event is scheduled in March 2016.)
11/2/2015 1:15:24 PM
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments