November 13 2014 by
Margarat Colson, IMB/Baptist Press
She wasn’t supposed to live.
Born more than a half century ago to a 17-year-old mother, the newborn was not expected to survive more than a few days, if that long.
Her mother, not yet a Christian, turned to the distraction of television, where a preacher inspired her to pray. She bargained with God that if He would save her baby, then her daughter could serve Him as a missionary.
As the baby grew stronger and was finally released from the hospital weeks later, nurse after nurse told the young mother the fragile infant should be named, “Miracle.”
The prayer guided the daughter’s life from that day forward.
“As a child in elementary school, I remember lining up my dolls on the floor, all over the bed, just everywhere in my room,” said the woman, reflecting on her childhood.
“I would pretend that they were from everywhere – even here in North America – and had never heard the name of Jesus before. I would stand in front of them and tell them about Jesus.”
Even as a young adult, “The Father grew me, as He still is growing me, and gave me a great love for the nations,” she said.
Fast forward decades later to today, and that miracle baby, Pam Whitehead, is a missionary.
IMB Photo by Mark Sandlin
Old and young alike join in the challenge for The Lighthouse at Conestoga Mission to give $100 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Every time another $4 is given, a word from John 3:16 is added to the board. When the goal is reached, the entire verse is posted. "I wanted the goal to be one they could reach, but challenging at the same time," explains Pam Whitehead.
While she’s not physically serving in a remote village on the other side of the world, she senses a call from God not only to live and serve in North America, but also to serve internationally.
“The Father called us (Pam and her late husband, John) to Conestoga,” an impoverished mobile home park in Monroe, Ga., where she has been serving the past 10 years.
“After the Father called John home (in 2010), He was still calling me to Conestoga,” Pam says.
“The Father told me when He called us to Conestoga that He would still be sending me to the nations, which He has,” she explained.
To Allen Hill, an International Mission Board (IMB) trustee and interim director of missions for Appalachee Baptist Association, where the mobile home park is located, Pam’s missionary zeal is unmistakable.
“Pam has a heart for the world, not just for Conestoga Mobile Home Park,” he said. She has been on numerous mission trips throughout the world, including serving on mission teams to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, in 2008, and in London, England, in 2012.
Wherever she finds herself – either walking among the people who call Conestoga home or walking among people groups who are at home throughout the world – one thing is certain.
She will be praying.
“Prayerwalking is a lifestyle for me,” Pam said.
She defines prayerwalking as “praying on-site with insight – asking the Father to use all of our senses to lead us in how to pray – asking that we see through His eyes and with His heart of compassion.”
In addition to actual prayerwalking, the missionary says she also has tried “virtual prayerwalking” by looking at pictures, objects and even videos as she is praying.
“Then there is prayer-driving,” she added, “when we can’t actually prayerwalk the location or maybe physically you cannot prayerwalk – but you can prayer-drive!”
One missionary family for whom Pam and the Conestoga Christians regularly pray is the Kelley* family serving in South Asia. In 2008, as the family of four was preparing for service through IMB, they met and became fast friends with Pam.
A year later, Pam joined Joanna Kelley* and eight other women on a prayer journey to the country where the Kelleys would eventually serve.
“This was a time of God confirming my call to our country, even in our waiting,” Joanna said.
The Kelleys moved to South Asia in 2011, and Joanna says the prayers of Pam and the Conestoga Christians continue to strengthen and encourage them.
“We know that, because people are praying specifically for our people, God is opening doors for us, setting divine appointments and preparing the path for His people to respond to the gospel,” Joanna explained.
The believers at The Lighthouse at Conestoga Mission ask fellow Christians to join them in praying for missionaries like the Kelleys. Here are a few other prayer requests Pam shared:
Pray for more people who need to know Jesus to move into the trailer park.
Pray for believers who live in the trailer park to grow in their faith and boldly share Jesus with others.
Pray for volunteers to come to the trailer park to prayerwalk, help with Vacation Bible School and children’s camp, preach, make door-to-door visits, etc.
Pray for Pam’s strength, energy, rest, good health, wisdom, discernment, spiritual growth and obedience to God.
Pray for a doublewide trailer for the mission to meet in.
Ask God to provide the mission with a minivan for ministry.
For more information about the ministry or opportunities to serve, email Pam Whitehead at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Margaret Colson is freelance writer who lives in Georgia. This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention is Nov. 30-Dec. 7 with the theme of “One Sacred Effort – Find your place in God’s story” from Matthew 28:19-20. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions in tandem with Cooperative Program gifts from Southern Baptist churches support approximately 4,800 international missionaries in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission. Gifts to the Lottie Moon offering are received through local Southern Baptist churches or online at imb.org/offering, where there are resources to promote the offering. This year’s goal is $175 million.
‘These people give everything they have’
11/13/2014 12:22:47 PM
November 13 2014 by
T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS/Baptist Press
Margarat Colson, IMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments
On the heels of a major October announcement by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary about launching The Charles Spurgeon Center for Biblical Studies, the school held its second annual Spurgeon Lectures on Biblical Preaching on Nov. 4-5.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s president, served as guest lecturer and was inducted by Midwestern’s president, Jason K. Allen, as the school’s second Spurgeon Fellow.
“We desired, from the earliest days of consideration for The Charles Spurgeon Center for Biblical Preaching, to have a lectureship each fall that would anchor the fall academic semester, that would be given to preaching, and that would bear the name Charles Spurgeon,” Allen said. “Hosting Dr. Mohler for these lectures is a great honor. He is a friend to Midwestern Seminary, to me personally, and he is a man who stands for biblical, expositional preaching – much in the same way Spurgeon did.”
Conferring Mohler as a Spurgeon Fellow, Allen recognized him “for his ongoing leadership in defending the inerrancy of scripture and in educating the next generation of pastoral leaders in expository preaching.”
In his first lecture, Mohler presented an argument entitled, “The Foolishness of Preaching: Why Expository Preaching is such a Bad Idea.” He noted that from the time of the Reformation through the present, the “sidelining of expository preaching has not been by accident.”
Elements within movements such as pietism, revivalism, and pragmatism, Mohler said, caused a shift toward displacing expository preaching from the pulpit. He added that during the same period, another trio of “isms” further negatively affected how God’s Word was preached.
Liberalism deemed the Bible as irrelevant, out-of-date, and not worth preaching because pastors ultimately didn’t know what to do with it. Existentialism suggested that the congregation had needs, which God’s Word wasn’t considered sufficient to meet, that the pastor must try to accommodate. Consumerism and the Church Growth Movement placed an emphasis solely on growth resulting in messages focused on the felt needs of the congregation.
“One of the greatest effects, of all these things put together, is the loss of authority in the pulpit,” Mohler said.
Mohler listed several challenges that make expository preaching appear to be a terrible idea, including: people don’t listen to long messages anymore; no one knows the Bible anyway; preaching is “preacher-centered;” expository preaching will kill a church; and not every text of scripture needs to be preached.
In light of these arguments, at the crux of his message, Mohler agreed expositional preaching is a bad idea, even a foolish one. “And yet this is the foolishness we are called to because it is the foolishness that saves,” he said. “Expository preaching is a horrifyingly bad idea, except for one thing, it turns out it is God’s idea.
“What happens when the Word of God is preached [expositionally] is that God does something with his Word that is beyond what the preacher is able to do,” Mohler continued. “If you are not preaching the Word, there is nothing the Holy Spirit has with which He can take that Word from their ears to their hearts.... At the end of the day, it is exposition or nothing.”
In his second lecture, Mohler detailed the context in which Spurgeon ministered and likened the challenges he faced to those of modern-day pastors.
Mohler noted that theism was drastically changing peoples’ understanding of God in the Victorian Age – the period when Spurgeon ministered. By the end of the Victorian Era, he said, Christianity had primarily been replaced by other beliefs, including Darwinism and Communist thought.
“Most Victorians, when they did go to church, were far more concerned with aesthetics than with truth,” Mohler said. “There was very little doctrinal preaching to be found in any sector of the Church of England.”
Spurgeon took an active role in engaging the intellectual ideologies of the day, Mohler added. Often, he was the lone voice speaking against the growing liberalism in society and within the church.
“Heresy became the mainstream understanding of biblical inspiration and biblical authority in the Church of England, and it was bleeding over into the non-conforming churches,” Mohler said.
“As liberalism ... was spreading to the ranks of the Baptists, Methodists, and so many others, there were few who were willing to confront these theological adjustments.... Charles Spurgeon was the most significant and often singular figure both understanding and addressing these challenges,” Mohler added.
The ministry challenges Spurgeon faced aren’t entirely different from those modern-day believers face, Mohler said. Some of these challenges include: modern age ideologies must constantly be considered, as they will continually confront future generations; the modern age provides a great opportunity for gospel proclamation; the modern age changes consistently – something will always follow; and the modern age requires uncompromising biblical preaching.
“The people are hungering for a Word from the Lord, not for a word from Charles Spurgeon,” Mohler said, directly quoting Spurgeon.
In addition to the two lectures, Mohler and Allen held a lunchtime dialogue on the topic of expository preaching.
To view the Spurgeon Lectures and luncheon discussion, click here.
(EDITOR’S NOTE - T. Patrick Hudson serves at Midwestern Seminary as executive assistant to the seminary’s president.)
11/13/2014 12:11:23 PM
November 13 2014 by
S. Craig Sanders, SBTS/Baptist Press
T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS/Baptist Press | with 0 comments
John M. Perkins, an 84-year-old evangelical pioneer in race relations, sees “a pivot place in history” among churches in racial reconciliation and economic justice.
“This is the first generation of people who are beginning to understand that.” It’s a generation that “values diversity,” Perkins said at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in this year’s Julius Brown Gay Lecture on Christian ethics.
“There’s an underlying movement today that now people are wanting to do mission with people, and they want to learn from people,” Perkins said, and they see the diversity of human beings as “a value in life.”
Perkins, a Mississippi native, fled to California as a teenager when his brother was murdered by a town marshal. After he professed faith in Christ in 1957, Perkins returned with his wife and children to Mendenhall, Miss., where he established a ministry to provide both Bible training and community development programs such as health clinics, thrift stores and housing cooperatives. He is the founder and president of the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation.
Civil rights leader John M. Perkins delivers the Julius Brown Gay Lecture on Christian Ethics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Oct. 27.
In 1989, Perkins was among the founders of the Christian Community Development Association to spread this philosophy of rebuilding poor neighborhoods with biblical principles. He also is the author of several books, including “Let Justice Roll Down” and “A Quiet Revolution.”
Southern Seminary’s Julius Brown Gay Lectures are among its most prestigious lectureships, dating back to 1895. The lectures have brought some of Christianity’s most significant figures to the seminary campus, most notably Martin Luther King Jr. in 1961. The opportunity to deliver the lecture at Southern Seminary, Perkins said, was “one of the honors of my life” in his longstanding work in biblical reconciliation.
Perkins lectured on “Theology and Race in American Christianity” to a standing room-only crowd of Southern Seminary students and African American pastors with the Kentucky Baptist Convention who attended an afternoon pastors’ conference.
Racial reconciliation and justice are fundamental aspects of Christ’s redemptive work, Perkins said in his Oct. 27 lecture.
Anything outside of developing a church that is intentionally multicultural is “a disgrace to the gospel,” Perkins said. “It belittles the gospel to have a church based on race. It’s a slap in the face of a God who created from one human being all the nations that reside upon this earth and a gospel that its intention was to reconcile people to God and to each other.”
The solution to racial divisions, Perkins suggested, is to “come back to the Bible and totally believe it.” He emphasized the need to understand the reconciling work of Christ in the incarnation with a sense of economic justice rooted in the creation account.
“The big issue is an economic issue. Justice is how we manage the earth’s resources,” Perkins said. “There is no biblical trace that God gives us ownership. The earth is the Lord’s, and He gives it to us as a stewardship.”
On the topic of community development, Perkins said he believes “every church should have a nonprofit because it broadens your movement out into the midst of your members and other folk who might be poor,” though noting that nothing can replace the local church’s efforts in benevolent ministries.
In a panel discussion following the lecture, Perkins added to his comments that racial justice is an economic issue, noting that “all resources come from God” in creation, with mankind called to steward those resources.
“Work is the best welfare program in the world,” Perkins said. “People need more than charity. What do they need? They need a job. It provides you the greatest affirmation – you earned it.”
Perkins also shared insight into the “three R’s” of his philosophy for community development: relocation (into communities of need), reconciliation and redistribution, which he said is not spreading the wealth but in calling to biblical action those who control the means of production.
“God’s love for humanity is the motivation for redemption,” Perkins said. “It’s His love, it’s His justice, His tender care, His land from which we get the food to live.”
Joining Perkins in the panel discussion on racial reconciliation were T. Vaughn Walker, WMU Professor of Christian Ministries and professor of black church studies; Jarvis Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation; and Curtis Woods, the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s (KBC) associate executive director for convention relations.
Walker, who became the first African American faculty member at any of the six Southern Baptist Convention seminaries in 1986, said racial reconciliation in Southern Baptist churches today remains a difficult issue because of the changing cultural landscape.
“This is a multicultural world. If we’re still playing the black-and-white game, we’re going to be far behind where the real game is,” Walker said.
Williams, whose research in the New Testament includes a focus on gospel-centered racial reconciliation, emphasized the importance of defining terms when discussing the issue.
“When we start talking about what’s the foundation underneath the problem of injustice, the problem of racism, I think it’s Adam’s transgression,” Williams said regarding the universal power of sin. “The greatest hope I think every single human being needs is to be transformed by the supernatural power of the bloody gospel that focuses on a Jewish Messiah who died and resurrected for Jews and Gentiles to make them one new man in Christ.”
Woods spoke on behalf of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, which organized a conference for African American pastors following the lecture and panel discussion. He noted the efforts of KBC leaders to preach in a diversity of churches if they are invited to preach God’s Word.
“We believe in gospel-centered racial reconciliation,” Woods said. “We are sincerely wanting to see the church to look like heaven before we get there.”
Audio and video of Perkins’ lecture are available at sbts.edu/resources.
(EDITOR’S NOTE - S. Craig Sanders is the manager of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. RuthAnne Irvin is a writer for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)
11/13/2014 11:51:49 AM
November 12 2014 by
Baptist Press Staff
S. Craig Sanders, SBTS/Baptist Press | with 0 comments
Southern Baptist representation in Congress dropped as a result of the Nov. 4 election.
The House of Representatives will include 30 Southern Baptists when the next Congress convenes in January. That will be four fewer than in the current House. The Senate will remain the same at six Southern Baptists, with one Southern Baptist replacing another.
Rep. James Lankford, who has served four years in the House, easily gained election to the Senate seat from Oklahoma vacated by a fellow Southern Baptist, Sen. Tom Coburn. Coburn announced in January he would step down at the end of the year, leaving two years remaining in his term.
Lankford, a Republican, outpolled Democrat Connie Johnson in the special election with 556,382 to 237,531 votes or 68 to 29 percent. Lankford, the GOP Policy Committee chairman in the House, was the director of the Falls Creek Youth Camp for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma for 13 years before his 2010 election to Congress. He is a member of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
In the House, Southern Baptist Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida lost in his re-election bid Nov. 4. Two others – Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia and Steve Stockman of Texas – failed in GOP primaries for the Senate earlier this year. Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas left his seat to run for lieutenant governor, a race he won. Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama retired, effective the end of this term. Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana left his membership in Community Baptist Church in South Bend, Ind., earlier this year.
Southern Baptists held 40 seats in Congress after the 2012 election, reaching what appears to have been the largest Southern Baptist contingent ever on Capitol Hill.
Baptist Press has learned of the following Southern Baptists, all Republicans, who won first-time election to the House:
Mark Walker won in North Carolina’s 6th District, defeating Laura Fjeld, a Democrat, with 146,329 to 103,085 votes or 59 to 41 percent. Walker served for about 15 years in a variety of pastoral roles. Most recently, he was associate pastor of music and worship at Greensboro’s Lawndale Baptist Church, where he is still a member.
Jody Hice took Georgia’s 10th District seat, winning against Democrat Ken Dious with 130,572 to 65,676 votes or 67 to 33 percent. Hice served churches in Georgia for nearly 25 years, most recently as pastor of The Summit Church in Loganville. Hice remains a member of the church.
Steve Russell replaced Lankford in Oklahoma’s 5th District by defeating Al McAffrey, a Democrat, with 95,557 to 57,721 votes or 60 to 36 percent. Russell is a member of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City.
Following is a list, as compiled by Baptist Press, of the ballot results for members of Southern Baptist churches who sought re-election to Congress. (The vote totals are from CNN’s website. Some races had more than two candidates on the ballot, but only the top two finishers are included.)
South Carolina: Lindsey Graham, Republican, seeking third term, Corinth Baptist Church, Seneca, defeated Brad Hutto, Democrat, 665,605-475,532, 54-39 percent.
House of Representatives
Arizona: Rep. Trent Franks, R., 2nd District, seeking seventh term, North Phoenix BC, Phoenix, defeated Stephen Dolgos, Americans Elect., 123,141-39,180, 76-24 percent.
Arkansas: Rep. Rick Crawford, R., 1st District, seeking third term, Nettleton BC, Jonesboro, defeated Jackie McPherson, D., 122,722-62,902, 63-32 percent. Rep. Steve Womack, R., 3rd District, seeking third term, Cross Church, Pinnacle Hills, defeated Grant Brand, Libertarian, 151,093-39,143, 79-21 percent.
Florida: Steve Southerland, R., 2nd District, seeking third term, Northstar Church, Panama City, lost to Gwen Graham, D., 122,939-125,132, 50-50 percent. Rep. Daniel Webster, R., 10th District, seeking third term, First BC of Central Florida, defeated Michael McKenna, D., 142,967-89,267, 62-38 percent. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R., 16th District, seeking sixth term, First BC, Sarasota, defeated Henry Lawrence, D., 168,990-105,357, 62-38 percent.
Georgia: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R., 3rd District, seeking sixth term, Orchard Hills Baptist Church, Newnan, won without any major party opposition, according to CNN. Rep. Austin Scott, R., 8th District, seeking third term, First BC, Tifton, won without any major party opposition, according to CNN. Rep. Doug Collins, R., 9th District, seeking second term, Lakewood BC, Lakewood, defeated David Vogel, D., 145,856-34,866, 81-19 percent. Rep. Tom Graves, R., 14th District, seeking second term, Belmont BC, Calhoun, won without any major party opposition, according to CNN.
Kentucky: Rep. Harold Rogers, R., 5th District, seeking 18th term, First BC, Somerset, defeated Kenneth Stepp, D., 171,080-47,617, 78-22 percent.
Louisiana: Rep. John Fleming, R., 4th District, seeking fourth term, First BC, Minden, defeated Randall Lord, L., 152,670-55,224, 73-27 percent.
Mississippi: Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R., 1st District, seeking third term, Calvary BC, Tupelo, defeated Ron Dickey, D., 101,451-43,039, 68-29 percent. Rep. Gregg Harper, R., 3rd District, seeking fourth term, Crossgates BC, Brandon, defeated Douglas Magee, D., 115,396-46,506, 69-28 percent.
Missouri: Rep. Sam Graves, R., 6th District, seeking eighth term, First BC, Tarkio, defeated Bill Hedge, D., 124,547-55,132, 67-29 percent.
New Mexico: Rep. Steve Pearce, R., 2nd District, seeking sixth term, Taylor Memorial BC, Hobbs, defeated Rocky Lara, D., 94,607-51,976, 65-35 percent.
North Carolina: Rep. George Holding, R., 13th District, seeking second term, Christ BC, Raleigh, defeated Brenda Cleary, D., 152,430-113,481, 57-43 percent.
Oklahoma: Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R., 1st District, seeking second term, South Tulsa BC, Tulsa, won without any major party opposition, according to CNN. Rep. Frank Lucas, R., 3rd District, seeking 12th term, First BC, Cheyenne, defeated Frankie Robbins, D., 133,070-36,112, 79-21 percent.
South Carolina: Rep. Jeff Duncan, R., 3rd District, seeking third term, First BC, Clinton, defeated Barbara Mullis, D., 116,021-46,556, 71-29 percent. Rep. Trey Gowdy, 4th District, seeking second term, First BC, Spartanburg, defeated Curtis McLaughlin, L., 125,930-21,849, 85-15 percent.
Texas: Rep. Louie Gohmert, R., 1st District, seeking sixth term, Green Acres BC, Tyler, defeated Shirley McKellar, D., 114,925-33,409, 77-23 percent. Rep. Al Green, D., 9th District, seeking sixth term, Cullen Missionary BC, Houston, defeated Johnny Johnson, L., 77,979-7,886, 91-9 percent. Rep. Mike Conaway, R., 11th District, seeking sixth term, First BC, Midland, defeated Ryan Lange, L., 107,752-11,607, 90-10 percent. Rep. Randy Weber, R., 14th District, seeking second term, Sagemont BC, Houston, defeated Don Brown, D., 89,876-52,420, 62-36 percent. Rep. Bill Flores, R., 17th District, seeking third term, Central BC, Bryan, defeated Nick Haynes, D., 85,085-42,696, 65-32 percent. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R., 19th District, seeking sixth term, First BC, Lubbock, defeated Neal Marchbanks, D., 89,701-21,350, 77-18 percent.
Virginia: Rep. Randy Forbes, R., 4th District, seeking seventh term, Great Bridge BC, Chesapeake, defeated Elliott Fausz, D., 121,134-75,214, 60-37 percent.
If you know of other incoming Senate or House members who are members of Southern Baptist churches, please e-mail email@example.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Compiled by Tom Strode, the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
11/12/2014 1:39:19 PM
November 12 2014 by
Margaret Colson, IMB
Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s story package about the lives and ministries of the Christ-followers at The Lighthouse at Conestoga Mission in Monroe, Georgia, is the culmination of a year’s journey by writer Margaret Colson and photographer Mark Sandlin. They immersed themselves into the lives of the Christians at Conestoga Mobile Home Park and came away changed by the experience.)
They are the forgotten people. The individuals you might not even notice if you passed them on the street.
They are in every community. On the fringes of neighborhoods dotted with white picket fences. At the end of gravel roads that seem to go nowhere. The people who wash your dishes at the chain restaurant. Change your car’s oil. Scramble your eggs at the local diner.
They are the forgotten people to almost everyone except Pam Whitehead, who affectionately refers to them as “my people.”
Her people live in Conestoga Mobile Home Park in Monroe, Georgia, where a singlewide trailer serves as home base for the Southern Baptist missionary to minister to the real needs of her people as she shares about Jesus.
Desperation and darkness
When it comes to housing options, Conestoga, for many, is the last step before homelessness.
There, the potholed community road, knee-high weeds and household belongings tossed aside with every eviction seem to reflect the desperation and darkness that most park residents have known.
Pam Whitehead holds a poster used to fundraise for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Christians in Conestoga Mobile Home Park made the goal of raising four dollars for each word in John 3:16.
Just a few years ago, the mobile home community – sitting just a few miles from a charming and picturesque downtown – was notorious for violence, drug trafficking, transience, even satanic rituals.
Still, Pam, a preschool teacher, and her husband, John, a juvenile probation officer, were unexpectedly drawn to the park.
The couple, along with prayer teams, began praying over the park and its residents in 2002.
“The Father opened the doors wide through two and a half years of prayerwalking,” according to Pam.
The Whiteheads began slowly building relationships with the residents and by 2004 were planning a yard sale, block party, drug program, Easter egg hunt and family fall festival.
It didn’t take long for John, who had once described the park as the “doorstep to hell,” to say he was in over his heart with the ministry.
The couple continued to minister to the people in the park, offering church services for the first time in April 2005.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly until five days before Christmas in 2010, when John Whitehead unexpectedly passed away.
Tears of sorrow would flow, only to be replaced with tears of joy, as the now-widowed mother of four young adults, including her youngest son with Asperger’s syndrome, sensed God’s call to continue the ministry.
Local pastors began taking turns preaching at the mission on Sunday mornings; when they’re unavailable, Pam leads a group Bible study.
“Pam is a person of vision and a person of commitment,” according to Allen Hill, interim director of missions for Appalachee Baptist Association and a former International Mission Board (IMB) missionary to the Philippines.
Not for the faint of heart
Slowly, with the ministry presence in the park, conditions began improving.
“Probably everybody thinks the people in Conestoga are nothing but a bunch of thieves, drunks and drug addicts,” says Barbara, who lived in the park for several months with her husband.
“And they’re not. There are a lot of good Christian people that live there who are trying their best just to pay their bills and put food on the table, just like everybody else.”
Still, this ministry is not for the faint of heart.
Since her husband died, Pam has faced many challenges and frustrations. Undaunted, she smiles and calls each experience “another adventure.”
When the roof collapsed on the doublewide trailer where the ministry was housed, Pam simply moved the congregation elsewhere. For seven months, the Conestoga believers intermittently met either outside or in the home of a member, before being given a fixer-upper singlewide for the ministry – dubbed The Lighthouse at Conestoga Mission.
The day Pam was bitten by a resident’s pit bull, she seized the opportunity to share God’s Word with the dog’s owner, Linda. It was a small open window for the intrepid missionary because Linda moved a few weeks later, with no forwarding address.
That’s the way it is in the park. People come. People go. No explanations. No forwarding addresses.
“I never get to tell my people, ‘Bye.’ They are just gone,” Pam says.
She has learned to make the most of any time she has with the residents.
In the past 10 years of the mission’s existence, many Conestoga residents have become Christians. Still others have recommitted to a faith that had grown cold through too many of life’s harsh winters.
The Conestoga Christians are learning to take the little that they have – what might be considered nothing by many standards – and do something for God.
With Pam’s encouragement, the believers have “adopted” a family serving in South Asia with IMB. They pray specifically for each family member as well as the people group the family is trying to reach with the gospel.
Giving from nothing
“It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are,” says Pam. “You can still have a heart for the lost and the nations, and you can act on that, following the Father.”
Since 2007, The Lighthouse at Conestoga Mission, through Pam’s persistent leadership, has set an annual goal of raising $100 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. For these residents, that’s huge.
“I wanted the goal to be one they could reach, but challenging at the same time,” explains Pam.
Although it usually takes the group six months to meet the goal, in 2014 they collected $100 in about two-and-a-half months; and the sacrificial gifts, usually given in the form of loose coins, continued rolling in for a few more weeks.
The giving is joyful.
“One of the little boys in the park came running in one day, screaming and hollering and waving his hand, saying, ‘Miss Pam, I have 50 cents! I have 50 cents, and the people over the ocean can hear about Jesus!’” recalls the enthusiastic missionary.
“Little is much in the Father’s hands,” she says.
By the end of April, the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters given by the Conestoga Christians totaled $128, an all-time high.
“It’s like the widow’s mite in the New Testament,” says Hill, who now serves as an IMB trustee.
“So often we just give what is ‘left over,’ but these people give everything they have.”
Give for the sake of the gospel in all nations.
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Colson is freelance writer who lives in Georgia.)
11/12/2014 1:16:35 PM
November 12 2014 by
Baptist Press Staff
Margaret Colson, IMB | with 0 comments
Kelly Boggs, editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message, announced Nov. 11 he has accepted a position as a development director at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, his alma mater in Belton, Texas.
Boggs made the announcement during the annual meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Nov. 10-11 in Lafayette.
Boggs also told Baptist Press (BP) that, in conjunction with his move, he will end his 14-year relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. His weekly First-Person column, which has addressed a cultural issue in the weekly news cycle, has appeared in BP on Fridays since November 2000.
Boggs has been editor of the Baptist Message, the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s newsjournal, since January 2006. He also has served as director of the office of public affairs for the Louisiana convention the past two years.
Earlier, Boggs was pastor of churches in McMinnville, Ore., and in Leander, Copperas Cove and Burnet, Texas.
He is a 1985 graduate of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and a native of Georgetown, Texas.
“It’s been an honor to write for Baptist Press,” said Boggs, who plans to continue submitting columns periodically. “For 14 years, I’ve tried to write something that would cause people to think biblically about the controversial issues of the day.
“In our own spheres of influence, it’s important for each of us to be able to communicate, with grace, where we stand,” Boggs said.
Roger S. (Sing) Oldham, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Martin, Tenn., and current vice president for convention communications and relations with the SBC Executive Committee, said, “As a pastor, I looked forward to reading Kelly’s articles each week in Baptist Press. I routinely found something timely that I could use as a sermon illustration or in witnessing conversations with people in the community. He has a keen intellect and is an effective communicator.
“It was special privilege to get to know Kelly when I came to my role with the Executive Committee,” Oldham added. “Many Baptist Press readers look forward to his weekly columns and, along with us at Baptist Press, will greatly miss him.”
11/12/2014 1:05:01 PM
November 12 2014 by
Paul F. South, The TEXAN/Baptist Press
Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments
As a drill instructor, Brandon Graham barked orders, broke recruits and turned out battle-ready Marines. He was fierce, tough and fearless, with crass language and harsh treatment all part of the package.
That all began to change, though, when driving to work one day Graham had what he calls a “Damascus Road experience” that left him weeping on the side of the highway.
The journey there, however, began long before he got in the car that morning. Graham, a 34-year-old Oklahoma native who now serves as assistant pastor at RockPointe Church in Flower Mound, said news that he and his wife would become parents is what first pointed their lives in a new direction.
“My wife and I began going to church before our first child was born in an effort to ‘clean ourselves up,’ as if going to church would make us better parents,” Graham said. “It was while attending church in San Diego that God began to work on me. ... The scripture was coming alive for the first time in my life.”
Shortly after their return to church, the Grahams received devastating news. Brandon’s close friend, Marine Sgt. Mark Adams, had been killed in action in Fallujah, Iraq.
“His death rocked me to the core,” Graham said. “For the first time in my 25 years of existence, I realized I was mortal. The Marines train the fear of death out of you. A Marine infantryman is taught, ‘We don’t die; we just go to hell to regroup for a counter-attack.’ Death was never an option.”
God used Adams’ death as well as the unshakable faith of Adams’ parents in the wake of the tragedy to get Graham’s attention.
“I began to wonder what else there was in this life, other than doing 20 years, getting out and getting another job somewhere. I really started to search. There had to be more out there than just this.”
For Graham – the man accustomed to harsh language, loud orders and the thunder of a .50-caliber machine gun – a still, small voice deep in his spirit on his daily commute provided the answer to his search and a new mission.
“I was driving to work on California State Highway 163 in San Diego,” Graham said. “I heard God speak to me in a way I’d never heard before. I won’t use the word ‘audible.’ I didn’t hear it out loud but in my spirit. It was one of those things that was not of me. ‘It’s time,’ it said.
“I just broke down. It was such a humbling experience because I knew what ‘It’s time’ meant. God broke my spirit right there and called me to salvation. I prayed to receive Christ right there. I just said, ‘I don’t know what you have for me. I don’t know what you want me to do, but I’m going to follow you.’”
Graham initially argued with God. With a young family, this was not the best time to leave the Marine Corps. And for a few moments, he resisted.
“I was overwhelmed, but I couldn’t not follow him,” Graham said. “I said, ‘God, whatever you call me to do, I’ll do it. I’m yours. I surrender my life to you, and whatever you say, I’ll do.’ That’s what I consider my moment of conversion.”
That evening, some six hours after his roadside encounter, Graham received a tearful phone call from his wife Crystal, who had just completed a devotional.
“We need to talk,” Crystal said.
Brandon imagined the worst: a divorce, trouble with one of their kids, something dire. But the Graham family had new orders.
“I just finished a Bible study, and the Holy Spirit clearly told me you’re supposed to go into the ministry,” Crystal said, with no idea of what had happened six hours earlier. For all she knew, Brandon said, he was still a “reprobate.”
He recounted the roadside testimony, and together they wept.
Graham completed his military commitment but not before his fellow Marines noticed a transformation.
“All of a sudden I started carrying my Bible. I was reading it in my duty hut. Other [drill instructors] were going out to party, but my desire was to be home with my family,” Graham said.
“I really started to transform from the inside out. The old was truly dying away. I’d like to say my language got perfect overnight. It didn’t. But people could see a distinct difference right away.”
That change led Graham to help a backslidden fellow drill instructor return to faith. Graham was also able to come alongside another believer in Company E as a source of encouragement.
The change was obvious not only to new drill instructors and recruits but to a Marine in combat half a world away.
“I made sure I treated my guys with the utmost respect. I made sure they got plenty to eat, plenty of sleep. It’s very rare. But part of it was because of the mercy and grace extended to me by Christ,” Graham said.
When dealing with new recruits, Graham would share Heb. 12:11: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (NIV)
Graham had signed a recruit’s Bible and included that verse. Later, he received an email from the recruit, now home from battle.
“While he was at war, when things got tough, he kept going back to that verse. And he knew he was going to be OK,” Graham said.
Years removed from Graham’s roadside conversion, when he argued with God about the cost of discipleship, he’s OK, too.
According to senior pastor Ron Holton, Graham, who is also studying for an advanced master of divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, fills a utility role at RockPointe. Graham’s tireless work ethic and sterling integrity have made an impression on the pastor.
“There’s not a specific thing that he does,” Holton said. “But he is just so talented. He has the confidence that if you were looking for an example of a person that said, ‘God, just use me, and I’ll do whatever’ – that’s Brandon. Brandon’s not afraid to try.”
These days, Graham’s mission is simple.
“The older I get and as each day goes by, I really focus on making each day count and making each day purposeful, so at the end of 70, 80 years or however many God has for me, I’m not looking back and wishing I’d done something different.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Paul F. South is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, where this article first appeared.)
11/12/2014 12:52:11 PM
November 12 2014 by
David Roach, Baptist Press
Paul F. South, The TEXAN/Baptist Press | with 0 comments
Some 90 representatives of Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminaries will make presentations this month to the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), the world’s largest society of evangelical scholars.
ETS will meet in San Diego under the theme “Ecclesiology,” a term referencing the study of the church. Presentations during the Nov. 19-21 sessions will cover a broad array of topics, including biblical studies, systematic theology, ethics and church history.
“Southern Baptists are vitally involved in ETS,” society president Tom Schreiner, a New Testament professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press in written comments. “I remember in my early years at ETS that ... Southern Baptists were virtually absent. Thankfully, that has changed, and I hope that our presence edifies other evangelicals present, and that their presence with us strengthens us as well.”
ETS has 4,400 members, all of whom pledge their agreement with the statement, “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.”
Though the society includes associate and student members without voting privileges, full members typically are seminary and college professors and pastors who hold an advanced theological degree beyond the master of divinity.
At least 64 of the presenters from Southern Baptist seminaries are professors. With 612 total presentations to be delivered, SBC seminary representatives constitute about 15 percent of the program.
Among other presenters are representatives of the International Mission Board and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission as well as professors from colleges and universities affiliated with state Baptist conventions.
Southern Baptists scheduled to highlight the program include Schreiner, who will chair the society’s business meeting and center his presidential address around reflections on the Reformation doctrine of sola fide, Latin for “by faith alone,” a reference to the belief that salvation comes by trusting only in Christ; and Gregg Allison, ETS secretary/treasurer and professor of Christian theology at Southern, who will be one of three plenary session speakers. Allison will address the Holy Spirit’s role in a biblical doctrine of the church.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson and Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. will participate in a panel discussion of “God, the future, and the contemporary” moderated by Southwestern provost Craig Blaising.
Schreiner underscored the importance of this year’s church theme.
“Our theology of the church is important because the church is one vital place where our theology is lived out,” Schreiner said. “Our study of what it means to be the people of God isn’t just an abstraction. The way we order our life together and the way we relate to one another in the body of Christ shows the world what we truly believe. As evangelicals we believe that scripture teaches us what it means to be a church, and we study together so we can live out joyfully what God has called us to be.”
Among the papers to be presented by Southern Baptist seminary professors are “‘Big-Tent’ Calvinism: Embracive of Evangelicalism?” by Christian George of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; “Persecution and Martyrdom Yesterday and Today” by Rex Butler of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; “Is Same-Sex Orientation Sinful?” by Denny Burk of Southern Seminary; and “Practicing Church Discipline” by Rick Durst of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
Midwestern provost Jason Duesing expressed enthusiasm at his seminary’s strong presence on the ETS program.
“The mutual scholastic sharpening that takes place among evangelicals at this meeting is something I am glad we support and from which we as a faculty benefit a great deal,” Duesing, who is among Midwestern’s ETS presenters, said.
A list of Southern Baptist seminary professors making presentations at ETS follows.
ETS papers to be presented by Southern Baptist seminary professors:
Rick Durst, professor of historical theology: “Practicing Church Discipline: Why Deconstructive Criticism Works Better than Constructive Criticism.”
Paul Wegner, professor of Old Testament studies: chairing the “Old Testament Prophets and Apocalyptic Literature” session.
Earl Waggoner, associate professor of theology and church history: member of the “Christianity and Culture” consultation.
Jason G. Duesing, provost and associate professor of historical theology: “A Roman Catholic Cousin: An Evaluation of Anglican Episcopal Ecclesiology.”
John Mark Yeats, undergraduate dean and associate professor of church history: “A Part of Which Church?: Jewish Converts, the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Amongst the Jews and Evangelical Cooperation,” panel discussion of “Membership Has Its Privileges.”
J. Alan Branch, professor of Christian ethics: “Pro-Homosexual Arguments Regarding Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and Homosexuality as an Immutable Trait: A Brief Christian Ethical Analysis.”
Christian George, assistant professor of historical theology and curator of the Spurgeon Library: “‘Big-Tent’ Calvinism: Embracive of Evangelicalism?” and panel discussion.
Thomas P. Johnston, professor of evangelism: “Multiform Itinerant Ministry for a Healthy Local Church.”
John Lee, assistant professor of New Testament: “Compatibility of High Christology and the Uniqueness of God in Mark’s Gospel.”
Sung Jin Park, dean of Korean Studies and assistant professor of biblical studies: “The Prosodic Characteristics of the Divisions by the Tiberian Accentuation System.”
Rustin J. Umstattd, assistant professor of theology: “The Lord’s Supper: A Case for Reclaiming the Symbolic Meal from a Symbol of a Meal.”
Rex D. Butler, professor of church history and patristics and John T. Westbrook Chair of Church History: “Persecution and Martyrdom Yesterday and Today: Christian Suffering in the Early Church and the Contemporary World.”
Daniel A. Warner, associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology; Don & Helen Bryant Chair of Old Testament and Archaeology; co-director of the Mike and Sara Moskau Institute of Archaeology: “Amplification of Canaanite Cult based upon Refined Archaeological Methodologies,” panel discussion.
Adam Harwood, associate professor of theology; McFarland Chair of Theology; director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry; editor, Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry: “Did Millard Erickson Revise His View of General Revelation and Human Responsibility in Christian Theology, Third Edition (2013)?”
Rhyne Putman, assistant professor of theology and culture and associate director of the Institute for Christian Apologetics: moderator for presentations on “Systematic Theology: Scripture and Hermeneutics.”
Robert Stewart, professor of philosophy and theology; Greer-Heard Chair of Faith and Culture; director of the Institute for Christian Apologetics: panelist for “A Conversation on Origins: BioLogos, Reasons to Believe, and Southern Baptists.”
Charles Quarles, professor of New Testament and biblical theology: “Matthew 27:52-53 as a Scribal Interpolation.”
John Hammett, senior professor of systematic theology; associate dean of theological studies; John Leadley Dagg Chair of Systematic Theology: “Believer Baptism: Human Act of Obedience and Divine Means of Grace.”
Daniel Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics: Christian ethics moderator.
Steve McKinion, associate professor of theology and patristic studies: “Can War Be Just? The Ancient Church and Pacifism.”
Ken Keathley, professor of theology and director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture: Molinism moderator.
James Dew Jr., associate professor of history of ideas and philosophy; dean of the College at Southeastern; vice president for undergraduate studies and academic support: panelist.
David Jones, associate professor of Christian ethics; associate dean for graduate program administration; director of the Th.M. program: “Rescuing Rahab: The Evangelical Discussion on Conflicting Moral Absolutes.”
Nathan Finn, associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies and director of the Center for Spiritual Formation and Evangelical Spirituality: evangelical ecumenism moderator.
Mark Rooker, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew: “Are There Signs of Late Biblical Hebrew in Isaiah 40-66?”
Owen Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history: “The City on a Hill: Park Street Church and its Influence on New England Christianity.”
Oren Martin, assistant professor of Christian theology: “The Land Promise in New Testament Theology: Absent, Postponed, or Fulfilled?”
Mark Coppenger, professor of Christian apologetics: “Spiritual Skepticism Over Art in the Local Church.”
Bruce Ware, T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology: “Presentation of a Festschrift in Honor of John Feinberg.”
Stephen Wellum, professor of Christian theology: “Presentation of a Festschrift in Honor of John Feinberg,” “Rejoinder: A Review of Kingdom Through Covenant,” panel discussion.
Gregg Allison, professor of Christian theology: “Presentation of a Festschrift in Honor of John Feinberg,” “Plenary Session 1: Holy God and Holy People: Pneumatology and Ecclesiology in Intersection,” “Grenz & Tradition.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president: “Contemporary Challenges and the Doctrine of the Future,” panel discussion.
Thomas Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and professor of biblical theology: “Some Reflections on Sola Fide,” “Response: Paul and the Law,” two panel discussions.
Eugene Merrill, distinguished professor of Old Testament interpretation: “The Theology of the ‘Chronicler’: What Difference Does It Make?”
Donald Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality: “‘True and Gracious Longings’: Jonathan Edwards & the Personal Spiritual Disciplines.”
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies: “Is Same-Sex Orientation Sinful?” and panel discussion.
Eric Johnson, Lawrence and Charlotte Hoover Professor of Pastoral Care: “Old Self, New Self, False Self, True Self: The Complexity of the Christian Self.”
Ken Magnuson, professor of Christian ethics: “Irreversible Error: The Constitution Project Report on Capital Punishment Considered.”
Jonathan Pennington, associate professor of New Testament interpretation: “Responding to a ‘Review of Reading The Gospels Wisely.’“
James Hamilton, professor of biblical theology: “Reflections on What Is Biblical Theology? A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Patterns,” panel discussion.
Peter Gentry, Donald L. Williams Professor of Old Testament Interpretation: “Rejoinder: A Review of Kingdom Through Covenant,” “Parameters for Correct Interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27,” panel discussion.
Shawn Wright, associate professor of church history: “Baptists and a Plurality of Elders: An Historical, Biblical, and Practical Apology.”
Michael Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality: “Writing the Life of Samuel Pearce: Andrew Fuller’s Edwardsean Biography,” “Inerrancy and Inspiration in the Fathers.”
Mitch Chase, adjunct professor of Old Testament interpretation: “Literary Design in Hebrews 11: Possible Inclusios and the Theme of Death and Deliverance.”
Robert Plummer, professor of New Testament interpretation: “‘Normal’ Greek Word Order: Caveats and Nuances.”
William Henard, assistant professor of evangelism and church growth: “Ecclesiae Renovations: Church Revitalization as an Ecclesiological Necessity.”
Paige Patterson, president: “God, Salvation, and the Future in John’s Revelation,” panel discussion on “God, the Future, and the Contemporary,” “Church Discipline: Why Baptism and the Supper are Essential to an Effective Program of Pastoral Oversight.”
Dorothy Kelley Patterson, professor of theology in women’s studies: “Women and the Church: Does the Bible Speak Clearly on How a Woman Serves the Church?”
Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost and Jesse Hendley Chair of Biblical Theology: “Typology and the Nature of the Church,” “Grenz & ETS,” “Overview of the Book + Theological-Hermeneutical Response (Book- Kingdom Through Covenant),” moderator of “God and God Incarnate: God and the Future.”
Robert Caldwell, assistant professor of church history: “‘What is Christ to Me, if He is Not Mine?’: Andrew Croswell, Antinomianism, and the Gospel of Free Grace in the First Great Awakening,” respondent to “The Dark Side of Evangelical Ecumenism: Downplaying Ecclesiology, Destabilizing Orthodoxy, and Downgrading Denominations,” moderator of “American Christianity: American Evangelical Ecclesiology and Soteriology.”
Candi Finch, assistant professor of theology in women’s studies: “Patriarchy, Design of God or Tool for Oppression? Examining Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza’s Critique of Patriarchy/Kyriarchy and Traditional Ecclesiology.”
Tamra J. Hernandez, research assistant to Dorothy Patterso: “Implications of Believers’ Church Ecclesiology for Practicing Theological Interpretation of Scripture.”
T. Dale Johnson, instructor of biblical counseling: “Hubmaier and Conversion Therapy: A Case for Religious Liberty in Counseling.”
John D. Laing, associate professor of systematic theology: “On Parsing the Knowledge & Will of God, or Calvinism & Middle Knowledge in Conversation,” moderator of “Systematic Theology: Soteriology and Hamartiology.”
Stefana Dan Laing, assistant librarian at the Havard School for Theological Studies: “Causation and Theology in Patristic Historiography: The Church Histories of Eusebius and Theodoret.”
Evan Lenow, assistant professor of ethics; Bobby L. and Janis Eklund Chair of Stewardship; director of the Center for Biblical Stewardship; director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement; chair of the ethics department: “Abortion and Self-Ownership.”
Miles S. Mullin II, associate professor of church history: “Evangelicalism as Trojan Horse: The Failure of Neo-evangelical Social Theology and the Decline of Denominationalism.”
Stephen O. Presley, assistant professor of biblical interpretation: “A Loftier Doctrine: The Use of Scripture in Justin’s Second Apology,” moderator of “Ecclesiology: Theologians 2.”
Gregory Smith, associate vice president for academic administration and associate professor of Bible: moderator of “Ecclesiology: General Studies 1.”
Steven W. Smith, vice president for student services and communications and professor of communication: “Recapturing the Voice of God: Sermons Shaped by Reanimation of the Genre of the Text.”
Harvey Solganick, professor of humanities: moderator of “Systematic Theology: Ethics 2.”
S. Aaron Son, professor of New Testament: “One Flesh and the Unity with Christ: Ecclesiological Implications of Paul’s ‘One Flesh’ Concept.”
Ryan E. Stokes, assistant professor of Old Testament: moderator of “Old Testament: General Studies 2.”
John W. Taylor, associate professor of New Testament and chair of the New Testament department: “Follow the Money: The Church as a Community of Obligation in Paul.”
Terry Wilder, professor of New Testament; Wesley Harrison Chair of New Testament; editor of Southwestern Journal of Theology: moderator of “New Testament Backgrounds: Introduction to Messianic Judaism.”
Jim R. Sibley, adjunct professor : “Has the Church put Israel on the Shelf? The Evidence from Romans 11:15.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE - David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
11/12/2014 12:43:50 PM
November 11 2014 by
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor
David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
It’s not often that ministers’ wives are able to gather together and fellowship.
The North Carolina Baptist Ministers’ Wives gather each November for its annual meeting just before the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina convenes its annual meeting. The Nov. 10 meeting brought together 83 ladies.
Although not a pastor’s wife, Beth Greer (lifeandgodliness.com) told the women she has “a heart for you.”
Greer, who lives in Lexington, S.C., led worship and served as the speaker. “[Jesus] knows you. He knows your struggle. He knows the people in your church. He knows who your pastor is. He knows and He cares and He is moving and He’s always at work … for His glory, his purposes and for your good. Whether you see it, feel it, no matter what people say. He’s in charge.”
Greer was raised in Brazil where her parents were missionaries. She teaches preschool at a church four days a week. She and her husband, Tom, have been married almost 30 years and are members of First Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C. They have two daughters; both are students at the University of South Carolina.
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
From left: Harriett Lovett, secretary/treasurer 2014-2016; Chrissie Redding, Central #1 representative; Lisa Miller, president; Ginnie Varnam, president elect 2015-2016; Jan Tyson, vice president; Amy Harmon, 2015 retreat chair; Diane Smith, 2015 retreat vice chair; Dakota Spurling, Western #2 representative; Kim Gates, 2015 retreat vice chair; Cheryl Reeves, Western #1 representative; and Betty Smith, Eastern.
Greer shared a story of two women she met while in Moldova. They are from another country and shared a Bible with a group of people. Each one would take a page and memorize it – front and back.
“When they get back together they exchange papers so they can literally eat the word of God and live it,” she said.
Minister wives need to know God is at work, Greer said.
“Whether you and I see it, feel it or experience here in this country, God’s at work,” she stressed. “God reigns; He knows our life.”
She shared mainly from Psalm 139.
“He’s intimately acquainted with all of my ways,” she said. “There is a hedge of protection around you that cannot be penetrated unless God gives permission.”
Everything that women face “has to sift through the Hand of God,” she said.
Too many women are walking around as if defeated. “We forget that the power that raised the Son of God is in us,” she said.
Too many are carrying burdens God never intended for them to carry.
“Instead of laying them … on the altar, what happens is we put strings attached to them because we don’t think Jesus is going to do His work,” Greer said. “God is always at work, whether we see it, feel it … listen, your relationship with Jesus is not based on how you feel. It’s based on the person of Jesus Christ. Praise Him.”
Jesus was always Plan A for God, Greer said.
She encouraged women to look to God to find their worth.
“What I have to do, on a daily basis sometimes … I rebuke that thought that I’m not worthy, that I’m not loved, that I’m not fashioned after [God],” she said.
Thankfully when God looks upon His children He doesn’t see the people but Jesus and His blood covering over the multitude of sins, Greer said.
She urged women to look to the “pure Word of God,” because it “is all we need for life and godliness.”
Officers at the summer retreat met to discuss open offices, most of which have been filled. The organization has three vacant offices: publicity chairperson, 2016 retreat chair and 2016 retreat vice chair. Officers are: Lisa Miller, president; Jan Tyson, vice president; Ginnie Varnam, president elect 2015-2016; Harriett Lovett, secretary/treasurer 2014-2016; Amy Harmon, 2015 retreat chair; Diane Smith and Kim Gates, 2015 retreat vice chairs; Becky Blakely and Julie Pierce, scrapbookers. Regional representatives include Betty Smith, Eastern; Chrissie Redding, Central #1; Gina Powell, Central #2; Cheryl Reeves, Western #1; and Dakota Spurling, Western #2.
The summer meeting also raised the budget for the July retreat and November annual meeting to try to attract more ministers’ wives.
Total deposits/receipts (11/11/2013-11/10/2014) are $9,771.35 with expenses totaling $10,040.84. Balance to date is $7,063.45.
The events the group plans each year – retreats for minister wives and new minister wives and the annual meeting – make up most of the financial report. The group receives money through retreats, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), offerings at its annual meeting and the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina. The expenses are related to its meetings along with deposits for retreats and a booth at the BSC annual meeting.
11/11/2014 4:20:31 PM
November 11 2014 by
Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments
On Monday, Nov. 10 at the North Carolina Baptist State Convention (BSC) annual meeting, Lynn Buzzard led a discussion related to potential challenges facing churches in light of the recent actions of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding same-sex marriage.
Buzzard, a retired professor from the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University, said that like Ezekiel we may see our culture as a valley of dry, dead bones.
"Yet God says to Ezekiel, 'Now, speak to the Spirit and ask Him to give life to the bones.' God gives life to bones," he emphasized.
Buzzard walked through five different levels of issues same-sex marriage creates.
Churches need to begin by "clarifying church policy about solemnizing gay marriage," said Buzzard about the first level. This requires how churches can clarify, protect and prevent gay marriage from entering their local churches.
Policies should also include statements about what a Christian understanding of marriage is and why same-sex marriage is inconsistent with God’s view of gender and the family.
At level two, he said, church policies and practices should adopt official stances toward gay and lesbian individuals both inside and outside the church. “Are they welcome to come [to worship] or not welcome to come? Are they welcome to come if they aren’t allowed to promote their agenda? But welcome otherwise? What’s the policy going to be about people in the church who are well known, but gay? How’s the church going to minister to someone who comes to the church and says, ‘Yes, I have homosexual impulses and those kinds of orientations.’ How do we respond?” asked Buzzard.
The Gospel of John talks about truth and grace, said Buzzard. “Remember, it’s not grace without truth or truth without grace. It’s both.”
At the third level, Buzzard said churches need to recognize the impact of gay marriage and radical agendas on freedoms of religion and conscience. These are more radical, agenda-driven movements by same-sex marriage proponents.
Buzzard emphasized that level four is by far the most important. This is the church's biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
"A lot of marriages in churches are in trouble because we don't teach about it. ... Before we start listing all the bad marriage policies of someone else, we should start listing them in our own communities."
The culture and world is full of materialism, relativism and hedonism, said Buzzard. "If you think fifteen minutes of Sunday school can undo the hours of movies, music and professors, then you're wrong.” This is why in level five that churches need to recognize the nature, scope and impact of radical shifts in culture.
Buzzard provided a few helpful points for churches and church leaders:
Policies need to be shaped by doctrine.
Don't blindly copy but think through your policies.
Don't adopt policies you won't follow.
The rule itself is not the highest level of God's order. God is.
Frame your policies in positive terms.
Directors of missions across North Carolina have received resources developed by BSC staff in consultation with Buzzard, titled, “Samples and Templates for the Development of Position Statements on Marriage, Wedding Policies and Facility Use Policies.” This resource was provided to use as they assist church leaders with legal issues.
“The gospel cannot and should not be reduced to a policy. There will be great opportunities to share the life transforming truths of Jesus, while standing firmly upon the teachings of scripture about marriage, as we engage our communities and culture,” said Brian Davis, BSC associate executive director-treasurer.
He said, "We cannot attract people to our understanding of marriage simply by pointing out bad marriages. This is true of anything. If someone is engaged in destructive behavior, it doesn’t do much to simply pass resolutions against their destructive behavior. If something is ugly, people aren’t going to see that it’s ugly until they see something beautiful."
Buzzard asked, "How do we disciple and equip ourselves and believers to thrive in a cultural captivity?”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Churches can download the resource, “Samples and Templates for the Development of Position Statements on Marriage, Wedding Policies and Facility Use Policies” at http://blog.ncbaptist.org/clpa/.)
11/11/2014 4:11:59 PM
Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments