Refugee crisis opening door for gospel witness

September 9 2015 by Nicole Lee, Baptist Press

The discovery of an abandoned refrigeration truck full of corpses on an Austrian highway on Aug. 27 and the body of a 3-year-old toddler washed up on the shores of Turkey on Sept. 2 have epitomized the tragic circumstances faced by masses of humanity trying to escape conditions in their home countries and find refuge in Europe.
With more than 350,000 refugees crossing into Europe in the first eight months of 2015, this human migration is believed by many to be the greatest in Europe since World War II. But International Mission Board (IMB) workers in the Middle East and Europe say this crisis is an unprecedented opportunity for hope.
Acts 17:26-27 says God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us,” said Franklin Lewis,* a theological consultant in Eurasia.


IMB photo by Patrick Royals.
Austrians bring much-needed clothing and other personal items to a refugee camp in Traiskirchen, Austria. The village about 20 miles south of Vienna is the location of one of the official refugee camps in Austria.

Lewis explained, “This scripture gives us hope that the tragic events we see unfolding before us also reflect God’s sovereign hand in bringing the people displaced into contact with the gospel, that they might come to know Him. In that sense, this crisis is not only tragic, it is also an amazing opportunity for people to come to know Christ.”
This is the reality followers of Christ are witnessing as hundreds of thousands of refugees make their way through towns, countryside and train stations in Europe, where Christian laypeople and volunteers offer water, food, clothing and conversation. Many refugees are hearing the gospel for the first time.
“God is working through war and suffering to move peoples into places where they can encounter Christ,” said James Keath,* an IMB strategy leader in the Middle East. During the last year, followers of Christ have seen people from seven different Syrian people groups, including Sunni, Orthodox and Shiite, come to faith, begin to meet as house groups and even reproduce groups in their refugee communities.
“Syria is the humanitarian catastrophe of our day, but it is also one of the greatest opportunities of our day for gospel advance among some of the least reached peoples on earth,” Keath said. “In every country around Syria and now throughout Europe, we have the ability to openly engage Syrians like never before. And those working among refugees are finding not just broken lives but open hearts.”
In some places refugees pass through, like Serbia and Macedonia, churches are helping to distribute water, food and clothes, but the contact in those places is usually brief. Most refugees don’t want to be detained until they get to a better destination – perhaps Germany, Austria or Sweden – somewhere that is more economically sound and generous to refugees.


IMB photo by Patrick Royals.
A member of the Christian International Community Church of Vienna hands out scripture material at an outreach event held at a refugee camp in Traiskirchen, Austria. The camp is about 20 miles south of Vienna.

IMB worker Wayne Vinton* described one encounter in Macedonia. “We met some refugees on bicycles and spoke with them briefly and offered some water, as they were thirsty,” he said. “We discussed some options of providing water along the road, but now that the border guards are watching for them, many are trying to cross at places away from the main border crossing, hoping to be undetected.”
Many refugees have been stuck in Budapest, where they await transport to another European Union country. IMB workers are joining forces with Hungarian relief workers to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The majority of the refugees are from Syria, where 4 million have fled the horrors of ISIS terrorists and the effects of four years of civil war.
IMB worker Jennifer Freedman* spoke with a man in Budapest who explained what they are running from.
“Da’esh [ISIS] was in our village … and they hit me, and they gave me 30 lashes on my back,” the man said. “My son – he saw a beheading. We had to leave. That’s not life, that’s not living. I want a better life for my kids than Da’esh, I want my kids to go to school, to be educated. So we left.”
His family’s 1,800-mile journey was long and arduous, taking almost two months, and their hoped-for destination is Sweden. They plan to take a taxi to Vienna, since they have been thwarted at the Budapest train station while EU officials grapple with the biggest humanitarian crisis the EU has faced as a unified body.
“The situation here is chaotic,” said Trey Shaw, an IMB church planter in Budapest. “The numbers coming in are by far more than Budapest can handle. The nonprofits are trying to do what they can, but there is more work than workers.”
Shaw’s church plant, Agora, is helping refugees at Budapest’s Keleti train station, collecting clothes and partnering with two nonprofit organizations to minister where they are able.
Hungary has reportedly seen 50,000 new arrivals in the last month. Unsure of what to do with the influx of people, the country is looking to the rest of Europe to help with the crisis.


IMB photo by Jennifer Freedman.
Refugees at Keleti Train Station in Budapest, Hungary, search through bags of donated clothing while awaiting permission to board trains to Germany.

Germany has begun accepting refugees who arrive there without having already been registered at their point of arrival in the European Union, so many of the refugees in Hungary are already making their way to Germany. Austria has welcomed thousands of refugees as well, but European nations are reportedly threatening to close their borders because they are overwhelmed by the large numbers of refugees seeking to enter Europe.
Wesley Selway,* a teacher in Germany, said his small city near Cologne is one of many that have been asked to create a place to house 150 refugees while they are processed into the country. City officials transformed a local gym into a refugee center, and Selway and his wife Miranda* are among those allowed inside to help with new arrivals. More than 800,000 are expected to arrive in the country by the end of 2015, and though Germany can meet their immediate physical needs, the refugees need something more.
“They need relationships – people to talk to them, engage them. As the relationship builds, they’re more receptive to spiritual conversations,” Selway said. “God is bringing them here, and there’s an opening there for them to be engaged with the gospel.”
Selway says God has designs to use this crisis among the German believers. As the community sees the church in action, they are more responsive to listening to what followers of Christ have to say.
“We [the church] are connecting with all these German people who have like-minded hearts to help people, and we’re getting into conversations with them, and that to me is a God-given gift,” he said.
Troy Staubach,* an IMB strategy leader in Europe, sees that as a trend in the days to come throughout Europe. “I believe that God is using a tragic situation to bring the gospel to many and also to give the church a real opportunity to be the body of Christ for the hurting,” he said.


  • Pray for IMB workers and national Christians as they are ministering to refugees.

  • Pray for physical strength and stamina and for more churches to take the responsibility to love the refugees and introduce them to Christ.

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of the refugees that they will be willing to listen and open to learning about Jesus.

  • Pray for EU governments as they try to determine how to accommodate the influx of refugees.

  • Pray specifically for German city officials near Cologne who are trying to help but are overworked. Pray for supernatural strength, and pray they will see the power of the gospel and experience it in their lives as churches display God’s character.

Other ways to help

To help buy language workbooks, clothing and evangelical materials, people can give to the “German cluster relief work.” Donations can be mailed to: International Mission Board, Attn: Finance/Global Hunger Relief – German cluster relief work, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.
Gifts can also be given online, by clicking here. In the comments section of the form enter “German cluster relief work.”
*Names changed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Nicole Lee is a writer for the London Bureau of Baptist Press.)

9/9/2015 12:10:48 PM by Nicole Lee, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Judge orders Davis freed from jail

September 9 2015 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

A federal judge freed Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis from jail Sept. 8.
David Bunning, a federal judge in Ashland, Ky., ordered Davis’ release after he became convinced the deputy clerks in her Rowan County office had obeyed his order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. He ordered Davis to jail Sept. 3 when she again refused to comply with his previous order to grant licenses.
In a two-page order, Bunning said Davis’ release was on the condition she not “interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples,” according to the newspaper. He would consider “appropriate sanctions” if Davis interferes, Bunning said.
Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis, did not confirm immediately whether Davis would obey Bunning’s order, The Courier-Journal reported.


Image captured from CNN video
Kim Davis

Deputy clerks in Davis’ office began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Sept. 4. After Bunning sent Davis to jail for contempt of court, five of the six deputy clerks told the judge Sept. 3 they would comply with his order.
Liberty Counsel had asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in two filings to provide for Davis’ release. On Sept. 8, it requested the Sixth Circuit Court block Bunning’s contempt of court order. The day before, the legal team urged the appeals court to halt enforcement of Gov. Steven Beshear’s order for all county clerks to issue licenses bearing their names to gay couples.
Davis’ jailing is the latest repercussion from the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Citing her Christian beliefs about marriage, Davis halted the issuance of licenses from her office to all couples after the opinion.
Some Republican presidential candidates have rallied support for her cause. An “I’m With Kim” rally –  sponsored by candidate Mike Huckabee –  was scheduled for 3 p.m. EDT Sept. 8. Huckabee and another GOP candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, reportedly were to meet with Davis in jail the same day. Since her jailing, crowds have gathered outside the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Ky., to support her.
After a Sept. 7 visit with Davis, Liberty Counsel lawyer Harry Mihet said, “She exudes gentleness and is at peace. Her spirits remain high. She was brought to tears when she heard that so many people outside the jail and around the country are praying for her.”
Davis –  Mihet said in a written statement –  wanted to share a Bible passage with the public from 2 Timothy 1:7-8: “God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in the suffering for the Gospel and the power of God.”
Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, defended Davis Sept. 6 on ABC’s “This Week” television program.
Citing instances when Democratic officials ignored bans on same-sex marriage in the past, Huckabee said, “So when is it that liberals get to choose which laws they support? But a county clerk in Kentucky ... , acting on her Christian faith, is criminalized, jailed without bail, because she acted on her conscience and according to the only law that is in front of her.”
Despite Davis’ request for the Kentucky legislature to pass a bill to protect her rights of conscience while maintaining her clerk’s job, Beshear has declined to call a special session, according to the Associated Press. The legislature is not scheduled to convene until January.
Religious freedom advocates, including leaders of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, have called for Beshear, a Democrat, and the state legislature to act to resolve the dilemma. The government could solve the impasse by providing accommodations for county clerks with conscientious objections, they have said. Among the accommodations suggested in Davis’ case by Liberty Counsel are removing her name from marriage licenses and permitting the county’s chief executive to issue licenses.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in June heightened concerns among religious liberty promoters regarding the threat legalized gay marriage poses to Christian individuals and institutions, as well as other defenders of biblical, traditional marriage.
The opinion prompted some county clerks to resign their jobs rather than issue licenses to gay couples, while others have held onto their jobs while refusing to provide licenses. In the private sector, some businesses were closed even before the Supreme Court ruling as a result of the owners’ refusal to compromise their belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Wedding vendors –  including florists, photographers and bakers –  have been especially vulnerable in states where gay marriage was already legal.
Davis, a Democrat, has been described in news reports as an Apostolic Christian. She actively participates in her church and leads a weekly Bible study at a local jail, according to a legal document filed with the federal court.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

Related Stories:

Judge sends Kentucky county clerk to jail
Clerk loses, resists high court on marriage licenses
Lawyers for Ky. clerk seek new way to block marriage licenses

9/9/2015 12:02:57 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘The Response’ slated for Charlotte

September 9 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Content Editor

The prayer movement known as “The Response” is coming to North Carolina. The groundswell event was born earlier this year when Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana called for a Day of Prayer for his state. Several months later, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina followed with a day of prayer gathering in Charleston.


Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, attended the S.C. prayer meeting. He said, “Believers from all over that state streamed into Charleston for a prayer event like few I have ever witnessed. It was incredible. What no one could have known was that four days later, in that same city of Charleston, nine followers of Christ were murdered at their Wednesday evening Bible Study.
“Many folks I have spoken to about that tragic week still point to how God moved and prepared leaders to respond. No one can argue but that the love of Christ and the forgiveness shown by the families of the victims radiated throughout our nation.”
North Carolina’s The Response prayer gathering will be Sept. 26 at the Charlotte Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Organizers hope the meeting will draw thousands to Charlotte for focused prayer for the state and nation. Participants are asked to register online at Similar events are scheduled in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi according to the website.

9/9/2015 11:56:54 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

NGU leaders asked to address president’s departure

September 9 2015 by Baptist Courier staff

North Greenville University (NGU) officials have been asked to appear before the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) Executive Board Oct. 15 to explain the university’s actions surrounding the departure of its former president, Jimmy Epting, in January.
Dwight Easler, SCBC Executive Board chairman, has asked the university’s board chairperson and vice chairperson, along with the interim president, to attend the fall meeting of the Executive Board in order to “give explanation of actions taken, and future actions to be taken to improve accountability and processes.”
In a Sept. 3 letter to Executive Board members, Easler said he and Richard Harris, interim SCBC executive director-treasurer, met for two hours with NGU leaders Aug. 31 and asked them to “address … the many rumors about what has transpired at NGU.”


“We are engaged and very concerned about this situation,” Easler, pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in Gaffney, wrote. “We want to assure you that we desire godly integrity, appropriate accountability, cooperation and healthy collaboration with our universities.”
Easler said the Executive Board will delay payment of Cooperative Program funds to North Greenville until the board’s budget and finance committee can determine an “appropriate recommendation” to the board.
Easler said Executive Board leaders will have “other dialogues and meetings” with NGU until the full Executive Board meets.
The university announced in January that Epting would take a sabbatical for the remainder of the school year and would retire at the end of the semester. A video titled “Epting Exposed” surfaced on YouTube on Aug. 27, raising questions about the circumstances that led to Epting’s departure. It was unclear who posted the video.
The same day the video became public, NGU’s board of trustees issued a statement that the school’s leaders “are expected to lead Christ-centered lives” and that current administrative staff and faculty members reflect the Baptist university’s “legal, moral and ethical expectations” and are held to “the highest of standards.”
Epting’s 23-year tenure as North Greenville’s president began in 1991 when he was named the seventh president of the school, located in Tigerville, S.C., just north of Greenville.
The full text of the letter from Easler to the SCBC Executive Board follows:
Dear Friends,
Many of you have contacted me about the ongoing situation at North Greenville University. We are engaged and very concerned about this situation. We are in discussions with the leadership of North Greenville University in regards to the departure of Dr. Epting, especially in light of the recent video that was placed by someone on YouTube. As your Executive Board chairman, I want to update you on some actions we are taking:
1. On Monday, August 31, Dr. Richard Harris and I met for over two hours with the interim president, the NGU Trustee Chairman and Vice Chairman. We asked them to address actions they have taken, actions they plan to take and the many rumors about what has transpired at NGU.
2. I have also asked these three NGU leaders to come to our full Executive Board meeting on October 15 to give explanation of actions taken, and future actions to be taken to improve accountability and processes. At this meeting there will be an opportunity for you to ask your own questions.
We will continue to have other dialogues and meetings with NGU until the full board meets. Until we can conduct the full Executive Board Meeting in October, Marshall Blalock, the Budget and Finance Chairman, has authorized the delay of payments to North Greenville until the full Budget and Finance Committee can determine an appropriate recommendation to the Executive Board. We want to assure you that we desire godly integrity, appropriate accountability, cooperation and healthy collaboration with our universities.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – The Baptist Courier at is the newsjournal of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.)

Related Story:

NGU states expectations of administration, faculty

9/9/2015 11:48:31 AM by Baptist Courier staff | with 0 comments

Young Asian American lay leaders focus of ‘A2CP2’

September 9 2015 by Shannon Baker, Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network

More than 40 Asian American lay church leaders, mostly younger professionals, gathered at Global Mission Church for the first “A2CP2” conference sponsored by local Baptist churches and the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
“A2” stands for “Asian American” and “CP2” stands for “Church Planting/Cooperative Program,” explained Paul Kim, Asian American relations consultant for the SBC Executive Committee, Aug. 29. He organized the event with Robert Kim, language church strategist for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network in Columbia, Md., and Chaplain (LTC) Felix Sermon with the U.S. Army in Woodbridge, Va. Sermon serves as the A2CP2 state coordinator for Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.
The A2CP2 Leadership Network Conference, held in Silver Spring, Md., is designed for laypeople, especially for next generations of Asian American college students and young adults, to learn about SBC life, church planting and pastoral ministry from the Asian American relations consultant and other local church leaders who are involved as bivocational ministers.


Photo by Shannon Baker
More than 40 Asian American lay church leaders, mostly younger professionals, gathered at Global Mission Church, Silver Spring, Md., on Aug. 29 for the first “A2CP2” conference. The event was sponsored by local Baptist churches and the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.

During the event, Paul Kim, pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass., shared a video that was presented at the first Korean Baptist World Mission Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2014. The video showcased how first generation Asian believers who led at Berkeley (Calif.) Baptist Church moved to poverty-stricken cities in the world to plant churches, start orphanages, and provide medical care for the sick.
“Several young professionals left their jobs in the U.S. to serve alongside these churches,” Kim explained, urging the participants to get involved in Southern Baptist efforts. “You can do even greater things than this.”
Kim noted, “God has allowed you to be born in this nation –  as a second or third generation Asian –  to be ‘fishers of men,’“ he said, noting they should be proud of their culture and heritage.
Pointing to a 58-page summary report of findings of the involvement of Asians in the Southern Baptist Convention, Kim said there are nearly 1,800 Southern Baptist churches, including Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian and Vietnamese Baptist churches.
Comparatively, other reports revealed there are about 3,300 Hispanic churches and about 4,000 African American churches in the SBC.
Kim noted Southern Baptist churches are “mostly smaller churches” with 90 percent of all SBC churches having 250 members or less. And churches with 250 or less members give twice as much to the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified plan of giving to fund Southern Baptist missions and ministry.
  “Smaller churches drive CP!” he said, before showing the video, “Forged By Faith,” highlighting CP’s history. “Smaller churches are Plan A in the Cooperative Program strategy.”
Also on the program, three Southern Baptist lay leaders shared their testimonies about following Jesus.
Joon Yim, M.D., now director of pathology at the Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, did not grow up in church. He shared his journey of working really hard to succeed in school, college and eventually at medical school, only to realize his ambition had become a stumbling block that prevented him from experiencing God fully.


Photo by Shannon Baker
Paul Kim, Asian American relations consultant for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, introduces information about the Southern Baptist Convention during the inaugural “A2CP2" conference at Global Mission Church, Silver Spring, Md., on Aug. 29.

He soon met spiritual leaders in his life who were “quite accomplished people who had laid worldly opportunities down to follow after Jesus,” he said. “My idol had been my ambition and my future, which I ultimately surrendered to God.”
Over time, Yim, now a member of WorthyLife Church in Washington, D.C., said he realized that commitment to God required a commitment to a local body of believers. He faced the choice: do I forgo medical school, which required a move, or do I leave church?
He knew in his heart he would choose medical school –  his own ambition –  and moved to study at UCLA’s medical school. There, he acknowledged, he experienced the lowliest time of his life.
“People underestimate the importance of church,” Yim noted. “Where does it say one’s location should be based on one’s job or school instead of Christ’s mission?”
It was during this time when God really spoke to him about repentance and full surrender. Accordingly, he wrote a letter to his former pastor in repentance, only to discover the “seemingly random” letter was confirmation to the pastor to start a new church in Los Angeles.
“By the grace of God, I was a part of the church again,” Yim said. He went on to choose a medical profession that would not require an excessive amount from his schedule so he could stay involved in ministry.
“Though my best [medical school] rotation was surgery, I wanted a field that would give me flexibility and time to minister at the church,” he said, explaining he also chose a smaller hospital in which to do his residency.
Yim says since then God has opened doors for him to minister to other medical students through his position as an adjunct faculty position and as a pathologist. “There’s so much God can do through these students with their professional careers,” he said.
David Tan, Ph.D., who earned a doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins University and is employed at the United States Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center in Washington, D.C., also shared his testimony.
Also a member of WorthyLife Church, Tan attended youth group growing up but he was far more engrossed in playing video games –  so much so that he found himself delaying a visit to see his mother who had been rushed to the hospital.
“Through this incident, I became very concerned about my hardened heart,” Tan said. He shared even though he wanted to change, he felt increasingly helpless. “No one could rescue me except for Jesus.”
Tan, originally from Singapore, became a Christian and saw his addiction to video games broken. His grades at school dramatically improved. But then he spent two years in mandatory service in the Army, a time he calls his wilderness experience.
“I realized I had gradually become like my old self before I had become a Christian,” he said, indicating he was merely going through the motions of Christianity but was not experiencing its depth. He eventually studied at the University of Michigan for his undergraduate degree and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for grad school.
While at grad school, Tan got involved at Antioch Baptist Church where he found spiritually-mature leaders who took the time to disciple him.
“This family of God was very concretely living out Christ-centered relationships” despite their very busy schedules, he said.
Over time and several life changes –  marriage, moves back to Singapore and then back to the U.S. –  Tan finished his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University, all while maintaining his relationship with his mentors. He served in ministry on the Johns Hopkins campus and now serves, with his wife, at Georgetown University ministering to the many Asian American and international students who study there.
“I am attempting to shine God’s light on this campus” in the same way leaders in his life has done over the years, he said.
Felix Sermon, in his remarks, shared how he is the product of Southern Baptist mission work in the Philippines and working hand in hand with International Mission Board missionaries in planting churches. He now serves as a North American Mission Board missionary as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. He also serves as the volunteer Asian American (A2CP2) state coordinator for Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.
Sermon explained chaplains serve in prisons, healthcare, corporations and in public safety and disaster relief efforts as well as in the military.
Presently, there are more than 3,600 Southern Baptist chaplains (military and civilian) under the leadership of Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Douglas L. Carver, a retired United States Army officer who served as the 22nd Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army. Carver was the first Southern Baptist chaplain to be promoted to the position of Chief of Chaplains in more than 50 years.
“We are Southern Baptist pastors in uniform,” Sermon said, urging his listeners to consider chaplaincy work. He detailed the requirements to be a NAMB military chaplain: undergraduate and master of divinity degrees, active duty experience, ordination, as well as age and fitness requirements. Candidates must also be members of Southern Baptist churches.
Next year, Global Mission Church will host a second annual A2CP2 conference, which will include testimonies and skits about Cooperative Program giving and church planting as well as a panel discussion.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network in Columbia, Md.)

9/9/2015 11:35:46 AM by Shannon Baker, Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network | with 0 comments

Conference aims to build faith-filled families

September 9 2015 by BSC Communications

Families struggle to keep up with life’s demands. Husbands, wives and parents may understand the need to foster spiritual growth at home, but feel too busy, ill-equipped or ill-prepared to do so.
As a ministry to strengthen families the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is hosting the Building Faith-Filled Families conference, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24 in Raleigh at Christ Baptist Church and Friday, Sept. 25 in Wilmington at Southside Baptist Church. The events are designed to help pastors, church staff and lay leaders partner with families to help them be more devoted followers of Christ and disciple makers in the home.


Leaders promise attendees will learn at least four things:
1. Why family ministry is important.
Mark Smith, family pastor at Lakeview Baptist Church in Hickory and author of two books on the family, will cast a vision for family ministry within the local church, explain how churches and families can work together and share some practical advice to help equip and encourage family members to embrace their role as disciple-makers in the home.
2. Why marriage is the foundation for family discipleship.
Although biblical, traditional marriage is facing many challenges from today’s culture, marriage remains the foundation for family discipleship. Eddie Thompson, BSC senior consultant for marriage and family, will share how marriage is related to spiritual growth and why marriage is considered the “frontline” of discipleship. Thompson will also offer practical advice for husbands and wives and will demonstrate how spouses can pray with and for one another.
3. How to disciple children.
Deuteronomy 6 describes a pattern of how parents should teach their children about God and His statutes through the daily rhythms of life. During the conference, Cheryl Markland, BSC senior consultant for childhood ministries, will share how to disciple children at home.
Markland’s presentation will include ideas on how to plan and incorporate devotions and worship times together as a family, as well as how to have “family faith talks.” Markland and others will model what a family devotion time might look like. Markland will also cover children’s learning styles and how that impacts family devotions and worship.
4. How to develop a family discipleship plan.
Most families already celebrate significant milestones, such as birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. Learn how to celebrate these and other milestones as spiritual markers in a family’s faith journey.
Merrie Johnson, BSC senior consultant for youth evangelism and discipleship, will discuss generational disciple-making and how to partner with families to develop a family ministry plan. Johnson will also share advice and resources to help single parents in the disciple-making process. The conference speakers, content and format will be the same at both locations. Registration is open through Wednesday, Sept. 16 and the cost to attend is $15 per person or $20 per couple.

9/9/2015 11:27:29 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Third shift church to serve 24/7 workforce

September 8 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

As the daytime sky melts into deep shades of orange and purple, more than 21 million Americans embark on their nightly commute to work. These are shift workers, and they make up nearly 18 percent of the workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You can find shift workers in factories, warehouses, power plants, 24-hour stores and now in a growing number of white-collar industries, like computer programming and financial services. Mike Klapp, lead church planter of Third Shift Church in Fayetteville, wants to find them in another location as well: corporate worship.
Klapp and his family recently moved back to Fayetteville after living in Wake Forest for more than four years, where he pursued two degrees at The College at Southeastern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Klapp plans to start a church that is uniquely oriented to serve shift workers.
To reach that goal, they are currently planning a weekly Bible study set to begin Sept. 10. They are also making efforts to meet their neighbors and others in the city with the intent of sharing the gospel.


So far, Klapp said, outreach is going well. He passes out informational cards about the upcoming church plant everywhere he goes, and he’s made a special attempt to get to know his closest neighbors. “There are people who have lived in this neighborhood for 15 years,” he said, “that have never had a neighbor come to their door to introduce themselves.” You can imagine their surprise when the Klapp family knocked on the door with a fresh loaf of Panera bread and a warm introduction.
As he ministers to his neighbors, Klapp carries a unique burden for a group of people that are often overlooked in church programming simply because of vocational time constraints. “We are reaching out to an unreached people group,” he said.
Shift work makes it difficult for many people to attend traditional, Sunday morning worship gatherings. Employees often work on weekends or nights. Many Christians are faced with the decision to either go home for much needed rest, or shuffle bleary-eyed into a church gathering after working the previous night.
Klapp sympathizes with shift workers because he is one of them. He works weekends at the Walmart Distribution Center in Hope Mills; Klapp recently transferred from the Henderson location, where he clocked in nights and weekends for more than three years.
The goal of the church plant is to “provide a Christ-centered community for believers who work non-traditional schedules,” according to its website. Klapp wants to offer a manageable, weeknight, meeting schedule that will allow the church to serve and to make disciples of shift workers.
Discipleship is going to be the heart of our church,” he added.
The River Community Church, also in Fayetteville, has partnered with Klapp to support the new ministry in their city. The River provides funding and administrative support, along with mentoring by lead pastor Todd Brady, executive pastor Chad Lingerfelt and discipleship pastor Kevin Maxwell.
Since Third Shift plans to meet at unconventional times, The River has also offered its facilities for the church plant’s worship gatherings.
Klapp also partners with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). Michael Boarts, BSC strategy coordinator for the Fayetteville region, and Richard Lee, BSC urban consultant for the church planting team, periodically meet with Klapp to provide training and support.
BSC supports Klapp through funds provided in part by the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO). The special offering is emphasized during the month of September. It supports N.C. Baptist Men, local associations, mobilization ministry projects and church plants like Third Shift.
Klapp was recently able to attend – along with his wife and 25-30 other church planters from across the state – a North Carolina Church Planter Training event at Caraway Conference Center in Sophia because of funds provided through the NCMO.
These church planter “boot camps” usually last three to four days and include a wide range of training on important topics related to church planting. The next training event is scheduled for Sept. 23-25 at the BSC building in Cary.
The theme for the 2015 missions offering is “So They Know,” taken from John 13:34-35 and the goal is $2.1 million. Nearly $600,000 of the total NCMO goal is budgeted to support church planting efforts like Third Shift Church. Since 2007 BSC has helped start 927 churches across the state, averaging more than 100 new church plants annually.
With help from local churches, the state convention and resources provided by NCMO, Klapp wants to see Third Shift not only thrive but also spur a movement of ministry toward the large percentage of America’s workforce that begins their day at nightfall and week’s end.
Visit Third Shift Church’s website at, and NCMO at

9/8/2015 11:20:15 AM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Merida calls Christians to ‘ordinary’ life, gospel focus

September 8 2015 by Micheal Pardue, BR Book Review

There are many opinions about how Christians should engage culture in America. There are, however, no voices that believe it is acceptable to live passively amid the moral void around us. Lostness is pervasive and Christians seem to be doing little to steer the culture in a different direction.
Tony Merida has written Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down as a call for Christians to examine their lives and consider how they might combat the darkness with the daily orientation of their lives – their ordinary lives.


From the earliest moments of the Church, Christ has used ordinary people to further the message of His Kingdom. The early Church carried out their mission as ordinary people. It became the central focus of their lives and they oriented their actions around the commission that Christ had given. Merida denies the idea that God can only use “super Christians.”
The priorities of Christ must become the priorities of each member of His body. Merida centers his book on five areas where Christians can focus their everyday efforts to have a temporal and an eternal impact: (1) neighbor love, (2) kingdom hospitality, (3) care for the vulnerable, (4) courageous advocacy and (5) God-centered humility.
The call to love those who are in need reoccurs throughout the book. Merida names this “neighbor love.” Carefully walking through the parable of the Good Samaritan, Merida advocates for “mercy ministry under the shadow of the cross.” He says needs around the world are great and many people are suffering. “Until we pick them up from the road,” says Merida, “they won’t hear the good news.” He also provides a list of ideas to engage cross-focused ministries of mercy. He reminds his readers that “mercy ministry radically impacts the world.”
Merida discusses hospitality at length as it is demonstrated in the biblical storyline. He argues that we must put five things to death: pride, paybacks, sensationalism, partiality and self-indulgence. These are not only counterproductive, but also prevent Christians from showing the hospitality modeled by Christ. He calls on Christians to open their doors to those who are in need: foster children, victims of human trafficking, aged-out orphans and sojourners. What a difference our lives could make if this became our ordinary mindset.
Adoption is one of the great themes of the Bible. Though often ignored, the good news for every Christian is that God the Father chose you to be His child. This should give Christians a significant reason to care for the vulnerable. Merida pleads with Christians to take part in the care of those who are unable to care for themselves. He provides a wonderful scriptural accounting of God’s care for orphans. He provides a fresh and practical reminder of the accountability the body of Christ has for those who are powerless.
Along with his wife, Kimberly, Merida asks Christians to advocate for the poor and powerless. They remind their readers that while we live in a country of relative peace and security, most of the world is not afforded that luxury. Many are subjected to unmentionable horrors and they have no one to speak on their behalf.
Those who have the privilege of standing behind the Great Advocate as He pleads our case to the Father should, in turn, advocate for those who have no voice.
Merida’s fifth focus is God-centered humility. By examining the life of William Wilberforce, he identifies four areas that led this humble man to greatness: conversion, scripture, prayer and the glory of God. The British abolitionist’s focus on these areas made him keenly aware of needs around Him and made him a force for good, justice and the cause of Christ.
When we look at the world around us, our hearts are broken. We see hardship and persecution. We see myriads of people who suffer and die in obscurity. They have no advocate, they have no justice, and they experience no peace. Merida reminds us that “in your longing for justice, realize that you’re really longing for Jesus. For when Christ returns, we’ll have perfect justice.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Micheal Pardue is pastor of First Baptist Icard, Connelly Springs.)

9/8/2015 11:12:48 AM by Micheal Pardue, BR Book Review | with 0 comments

Turning to Christ, teen heals from anger & abuse

September 8 2015 by Karen Pearce, Baptist Press

Seventeen-year-old Justin Spencer was with a team of Texas Baptists when an unexpected thing happened. Standing on the front porch of a house in Chalmettte, La., listening as his teammate Hailey gave a gospel presentation, his heart quickened.
When Hailey asked the resident if he wanted to pray to receive Christ, he said no. But Justin said yes.
He waited until lunch break when he could talk to his youth pastor, Chris Godby, and then they prayed together: “I know that I’m a sinner, I know that I’m not perfect, I know that my sin separates me from You,” Justin said in repeating Godby’s words. “I believe that You sent Your Son to die on the cross for me to give me a way to be united with You and right now I place my faith and trust in You and want You to be the boss of my life.”

“And right after he made a profession of faith, he was like, ‘I want to tell people,’” Godby said.
The youth pastor helped Justin practice sharing his testimony and the gospel and they went out together door-to-door. That afternoon Justin led four boys to Christ. A couple of weeks later he attended a youth retreat at Pineywoods Baptist Camp and led a friend to rededicate her life to the Lord. Now he regularly shares Christ with his peers in the skate park.


Submitted photo
Justin Spencer (right) turned to Christ after Hailey Lindsey (center) shared the plan of salvation door-to-door during a mission trip and youth pastor Chris Godby (left) helped Spencer pray.

“I’ll skate and then sit down for a few and someone will be talking to me about what I did and then out of nowhere I’ll say, ‘Do you know Jesus? Let me tell you about Him,’” Justin said.
“It’s great that I’m able to relate to some of these guys. Sometimes it can be testy because some are atheists, agnostics, anti-Christian – a mix of people. But if you let God speak through you, He’ll work because God’s Word never returns void.”

Atypical evangelist

Justin is only a teen, but in his short life he’s known poverty and abuse, abandonment and violence. He’s never met his real mom – she was imprisoned for child abuse when Justin was three months old and, although she’s free now, she won’t pursue a relationship with him.
He lived with his father, who was also physically and emotionally abusive, until he was 14, growing up in anger. He watched his sister become a victim of violence, eventually defending her as well as himself and getting kicked out of the house. He got into drugs and alcohol, leading to an arrest.
He moved in with an aunt who has now adopted him and in that home he began to seek answers.
“I was sitting on the couch one day and I wanted some drugs and then I realized that drugs was just a way to run from my problems, that drugs weren’t a stress-reliever, but a stress-postponer, and that I needed something to help me carry that burden,” Justin said. “I believe that God was pulling me towards His love.”
He resisted at first because of his tragic upbringing.
“I figured if God was really real then He wouldn’t have let me grow up and watch my dad break my sister’s nose and beat her to the kitchen floor. I grew up believing God wasn’t real because a god is supposed to be caring and not let his children see things like that,” Justin said.
But eventually a friend invited him to Magnolia Creek Baptist Church in League City, Texas, where he met Godby, the youth minister who helped change Justin’s image of Christians and God.
“I always got the impression,” Justin said, “that Christians were really conservative, rude people. They were boots and wranglers and I was skinny jeans and skateboards, and so I couldn’t relate to them and couldn’t do anything they would agree with.
“But when Chris walked out of the sanctuary and smacked me on the shoulder and said, ‘Hey man, how ‘ya doin’?’ I was blown away. He was talking to me, hanging out with me, shooting me texts, wanting to know if I wanted to hang out and stuff, and it was super cool.”
Little by little God began to reveal to Justin that it wasn’t just Chris who liked him. It really hit home when they were in Chalmette – outside in 100-degree heat, canvassing neighborhoods, working to exhaustion.
“I felt so happy in spite of the conditions,” Justin said. “The thing that kept sticking out to me was that God loves me and I couldn’t wait to talk about Him some more. Realizing God loves me was something that really pulled me towards salvation.”
God continued to work in Justin’s life at the youth camp at Pineywoods and there some of his past began to make sense.
“I realized that God is very intentional in everything He does and nothing He does is an accident. He didn’t step in and prevent me from seeing the things I saw, not because He didn’t love me, but because He did and He wanted me to grow close to Him, and He wanted to use me with other kids that have problems. It was great seeing that God had a plan for me even though I didn’t love Him at the time,” Justin said.

Looking ahead

As Justin finished talking, his little brother came in and plopped down on the sofa beside him. Justin has five adopted siblings in total, ages 8 and under; there is no other male adult in the home.
“I’m an absolute role model for them, and that’s pretty cool to me,” Justin said.
Since that fateful day in Chalmette, Justin said, “I’ve become more patient and less angry. I’m more friendly and can actually talk to people.”
Before his conversion, meeting new people or new situations caused him to stutter, but God has given him fluency now.
Justin feels God calling him into urban ministry long-term, maybe with homeless people or low-income kids. He and Chris are brainstorming about what a skate ministry might look like as well.
He plans to get baptized with his cousin Whitney and studies scripture with a small group from church and with Chris, who has become a mentor. Chris is teaching him to play guitar and he’s teaching Chris to ride a long board.
Justin’s prayer requests often center on his family. His sister is close by but still struggles with issues from childhood. He has just discovered another biological sister and is hoping to meet.
He is asking God to soften his biological mother’s heart and cause them to be reunited because he just wants to know her.
His father has had multiple strokes and is permanently disabled. Justin visits with him and has forgiven him. Even though he is mentally impaired, the times together have helped Justin heal.
“For the first time, we’ve been able to have a conversation. It gives me something to remember about him that’s not terrible,” he said.
Justin is grateful for his adopted mother and the stable home he has. He admires her love and sacrifice for him.
Now that he knows God and knows he is loved, Justin is full of hope for the future.
“My problems don’t seem like big problems anymore,” he said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen Pearce is a correspondent for Baptist Press.)

9/8/2015 11:06:25 AM by Karen Pearce, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘Coats for the City’ covers N.Y. with warm witness

September 8 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Hindu and Muslim shopkeepers in New York City caught a glimpse of something extraordinary on a cold, blustery day, according to a December 2014 Biblical Recorder report. North Carolina Baptists had travelled more than 500 miles to hand out jackets, parkas, raincoats, pull-overs and other coats to underdressed N.Y. residents. The shopkeepers were impressed that Christians would work so hard to help local residents in need, the report said.
The Great Commission Partnerships office (GCP) of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is partnering once again with the Metro New York Baptist Association (MNYBA) to organize an outreach event Nov. 12-15 called Coats for the City.
The event’s website said the goal is to distribute 30,000 coats, along with a Bible or copy of a movie about the life of Jesus, called “The Jesus Film,” to impoverished residents in each of New York City’s boroughs.
To achieve the goal they are asking N.C. Baptists to donate new or gently used coats from now until Oct. 5. There are 12 drop-off sites across the state (see list below), and a booth will be dedicated to coat collection at the BSC annual meeting Nov. 2-3.
Donated coats should be sorted into men’s, women’s and children’s styles and placed into heavy-duty plastic bags, according to the event’s website. GCP also requests two-dollar donations with each coat to help cover the cost of Bibles and copies of The Jesus Film.
Coats and cash aren’t they only items N.C. Baptists can donate to those in need.
Time and presence are valued gifts as well. Volunteers may travel to N.Y. to help distribute the coats, along with hot coffee, tea and other warm beverages. Each volunteer needs to arrive in New York City by the evening of Nov. 12, according to GCP. A training session is scheduled for Nov. 13, as well as preparation for distribution the following day.
Each volunteer should be prepared to pray and share the gospel with people they encounter on Nov. 14.
The MNYBA has lodging available for 40 volunteers and can arrange other housing as needed. Volunteers will be responsible for their own transportation and lodging cost.
In the multicultural borough of Queens, church planter Boto Joseph, local church members and volunteers set up tables loaded with coats and welcomed long lines of local residents in 2014.
“It’s Christmas, and we’re celebrating the birth of Christ by giving out free coats,” he said, according to a report by Mike Creswell, BSC Cooperative Program consultant.
Dale Fisher, associational missionary for the Caldwell Baptist Association, said “We were set up in front of a neighborhood market and kept having to dust snow off the coats that were on display. It was amazing to see community residents come out in the snow to select coats and hear the gospel of Christ presented to them. … At the Queens location, it had been announced that coats would be available at 9 a.m. that Saturday morning, but people were waiting in line around 7 a.m.
“This is tremendous project that helps to meet physical and spiritual needs. It’s a pleasure to participate in this worthwhile mission opportunity.”
“This looks great,” said a well-bundled Robert Steele from Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, who brought five volunteers to N.Y.
“We’re giving coats to Hindus and Muslims, people literally from all over the world. We’re giving them coats and hot tea and, more importantly … the love of Christ in a demonstrable way.”

2015 Coats for the City collection centers:

Western North Carolina
Buncombe Baptist Association Collection Center:
Buncombe Baptist Resource Center
227 Hazel Mill Road, Asheville, NC 28806
(828) 252-1864
Collection Times: Mon.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sandy Run Baptist Association
Collection Center:
Sandy Run Baptist Association Resource Center
186 Puzzle Creek Road, Bostic, NC 28018;
(828) 245-2613
Collection Times: Mon.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Catawba River Baptist Association (CRBA)
Collection Center: CRBA Resource Center
1812 US 70 East Hwy., Morganton, NC 28655
(828) 437-0137
Collection Times: Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m., 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Truett Baptist Association
Collection Center: Truett Baptist Association
2235 NC 141 Hwy, Marble, NC 28905
(828) 837-5401
Collection Times: Mon.-Thurs. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Caldwell Baptist Association
Collection Center: Caldwell Baptist Association
208 Nuway Circle, Lenoir, NC 28645
(828) 758-4081
Collection Times: Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Central North Carolina
Rowan Baptist Association
Collection Center: Enon Baptist Church
1875 Enon Church Road, Salisbury, NC 28147
(704) 657-3284
Collection Times: Mon.-Thurs. 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Pilot Mountain Baptist Association
Collection Center: Pilot Mountain Baptist Association
1105 Long Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27106
(336) 759-7622
Collection Times: Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Metrolina Baptist Association
Collection Center: Metrolina Baptist Association
328 West Carson Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28203
(704) 375-1197
Collection Times: Mon.-Thurs. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Tar River Baptist Association
Collection Center: Tar River Baptist Association
92 NC 56 Hwy E, Louisburg, NC 27549
(919) 496-7172
Collection Times: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Eastern North Carolina
First Baptist Church Dublin
Collection Center: First Baptist Church Dublin
7275 Albert Street, Dublin, NC 28332
(910) 862-2277
Collection Times: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Bladen Baptist Association
Collection Center: Bladen Baptist Association
137 Mercer Road, Elizabethtown, NC 28337
(910) 862-3496
Collection Times: Mon.-Thur. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
South Roanoke Baptist Association
Collection Center: South Roanoke Baptist Association
606 Country Club Drive, Greenville, NC 27834
(252) 756-4332
Collection Times: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

9/8/2015 10:53:06 AM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

 |<  <  8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17  >  >| 
Displaying results 111-120 (of 6846)