Should parents stunt growth of disabled children?

November 9 2015 by Gaye Clark, World News Service

Many parents have lamented their children growing up, with a joking wish they would stay “little” forever. But when Mark and Jenn Hooper asked pediatric endocrinologist Paul Hofman to stunt their disabled 6-year-old daughter’s growth, they were quite serious.
The Hoopers’ case is getting attention now as parents in the United States and elsewhere are looking to growth attenuation therapy as a way to make it easier to care for their disabled children. Charley Hooper, now 10, will remain just 4-foot-3-inches tall for the rest of her life. While disability advocates say stunting Charley’s growth is a violation of her human rights, her parents insist the treatment improved her quality of life.
Doctors in New Zealand diagnosed Charley with severe cerebral palsy, spastic tetraplegia and intractable epilepsy after she was born not breathing and a botched attempt at resuscitation left her with irreversible brain damage. Charley will never hold her head up, sit, crawl, talk or even laugh.
“They even took her smile,” Jenn Hooper said. “Charley will never open her own birthday present or get excited on Christmas morning.”
Her parents cared for her at home and included her in all family activities and outings. But they dreaded what would happen when she was fully grown.
“We knew that as soon as Charley was too big to lift without a hoist she was housebound,” Hooper told Radio New Zealand. The Hoopers wanted Charley to continue living at home, but they feared what seemed inevitable: institutionalized care.
Then the Hoopers learned about an American child named Ashley, who was very similar to Charley in her disabilities. Ashley underwent growth attenuation therapy, a controversial treatment of estrogen designed to stunt her growth and help with her seizures. She also had a hysterectomy to spare her the pain of menstruation as well as mitigate any potential risks of estrogen therapy.
“I thought, this is brilliant – amazing,” Hooper said.
But when Hofman, Charley’s doctor, approached the New Zealand board of ethics with her case, they rejected the treatment plan.
“There are well-developed ways to manage severely disabled people in New Zealand and to assist family members,” the panel wrote.
Despite initial objections, the board eventually agreed that if Charley began growth attenuation treatment outside New Zealand, Hofman could continue her therapy when she returned home.
After she started treatments, the Hoopers said Charley’s seizures stopped and her stiff limbs became more pliable. She even seems to smile now, when sunshine hits her face. While the treatment hasn’t eliminated all of their challenges, the Hoopers are pleased with the results. But not everyone shares their enthusiasm.
The idea of stunting a child’s growth and performing an elective hysterectomy brought a firestorm of objections from disability advocates such as the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, which called growth attenuation therapy “a totally unacceptable option.”
Bioethicist Art Caplan sympathizes with families like the Hoopers, but still believes the procedure is wrong.
“Permanently freezing a person into childhood is not the solution,” he said. “Families need more help, more resources and more breaks from the relentless pressure of providing care.”
But the doctor who provided Ashley’s treatment in the United States, Douglas S. Diekema, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, defended the practice as ethical and humane. Diekema serves as director of medical ethics at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on bioethics. He coauthored the book Christian Faith, Health, and Medical Practice.
One of Diekema’s articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association outlined Ashley’s case in 2006 and included strict criteria for evaluating future patients. Speaking at a medical ethics conference, Diekema said no one “froze” Ashley. Although she will remain short, she will continue to otherwise age normally. While critics say the treatment benefits the parents, not the child, Diekema said it helps both.
“Sometimes interests may be so intertwined that they may be difficult to separate … and parental interests should carry some weight,” Diekema said.
In a recent survey conducted by the Pediatric Endocrine Society, 34 doctors said they had prescribed the treatment to at least one disabled child. But it remains controversial. Diekema believes in cases where “reasonable people” disagree about what is in the child’s best interest, parents who love their children dearly and are primarily responsible for their care should decide.
The most serious objection to growth attenuation therapy is the accusation it violates a child’s dignity and creates a slippery slope for future patients.
“Treating people with dignity may require treating them as individuals with individual needs. A beloved family member whose interests are looked after – that constitutes dignity,” Diekema said. He insists the risk of a slippery slope doesn’t necessarily mean action should be avoided.
The Hoopers remain clear about where the responsibility for their choices begins and ends.
“We’re responsible for our little girl, for deciding what we can do best for her in our family,” Jenn Hooper told a New Zealand news agency. “Nobody else has to consider the slippery slope of the entire disability population and the world when they make a decision on their child.”

11/9/2015 12:05:43 PM by Gaye Clark, World News Service | with 0 comments

Patterson calls Baptists back to evangelism focus

November 6 2015 by Alex Sibley, SWBTS

Southern Baptists will “see an upturn” in baptisms, giving, Sunday School attendance and church membership when they become more intentional about evangelism, Paige Patterson said.
Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, noted that one cannot look at the numbers and deny a general downturn within Southern Baptist life. Patterson joked that the solution to such unfortunate realities is often to form a committee to study and then report on what churches have done wrong and need to do differently. Even if these suggestions are followed, he said, there more than likely will still be a downturn in the end.


SWBTS photo
"The truth is that we'll see an upturn when we get back into the highways and hedges and start giving the gospel to people," Paige Patterson told students during a chapel service on the seminary's campus in Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 4.

“The truth, as usual, is far more simple [than the hypothetical committee’s suggestions],” Patterson told students during a chapel service on the seminary’s campus in Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 4. “The truth is that we’ll see an upturn when we get back into the highways and hedges and start giving the gospel to people.”
Patterson said Southern Baptists’ focus on evangelism is the reason they have become the largest non-Catholic denomination in the United States.
“It was very simple,” he said. “Everybody understood his obligation to take the gospel to everybody else, and a large percent of them were doing it. We shared our faith, and God blessed it.”
Patterson noted scripture presents metaphor after metaphor, particularly in the teaching of Jesus, that focuses on evangelism. And in these metaphors, one key aspect always stands out – the intentionality of the evangelist. The parable of the sower in Matthew 13, for example, says the sower “went out to sow.” The parable of the good shepherd says the shepherd left his 99 sheep in order to search for the one who had gone astray. The metaphor of Christ’s followers being “fishers of men” calls to mind the fisherman who must get himself to the lake and cast his net into the waters.
“I’m saying this to you this morning,” Patterson said, “because so many of you have not intentionally gone into the field looking for the lost sheep; so many of you have never been out there in the boat fishing for men. … Now if the Lord Jesus defined His own mission as seeking and saving the lost, and if He turned right around and said to us, ‘As the Father has sent me, in the same way send I you,’ can there be any question in anybody’s mind that the chief reason we are left on the earth once we have been born again is to take everybody we can to heaven with us?”
Church leaders can do everything other than evangelism that they want to do, Patterson said, but none of it will avert the downturn in Southern Baptist life.
“The decline is going to go on unless we make up our minds that we will be faithful witnesses for Christ; we will accept the intentionality of getting out of bed and going out and sowing the seed; we will accept the intentionality of getting in the boat and going fishing; we will accept the intentionality of being the good shepherd, looking for the sheep that has gone astray.
“And if we do that,” Patterson said, “there’s a heavy price to be paid, but oh my goodness, what will happen will be unbelievable, because God will see and reward from heaven.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Alex Sibley is the senior writer/copy editor for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

11/6/2015 1:24:48 PM by Alex Sibley, SWBTS | with 0 comments

Racism Satan’s tool, Floyd tells Baptists

November 6 2015 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Racism is from Satan and his demonic forces, and the only hope for its defeat is the church of Jesus Christ united across societal divisions, Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd told a culturally diverse group of Baptists in Mississippi Nov. 4.
“I believe that the issue of racism is from Satan and the demonic forces of hell,” Floyd told hundreds gathered at Mission Mississippi’s racial reconciliation celebration at the Jackson Convention Center. “Racism is completely opposite from the message of Jesus Christ; it is completely opposite of the message of love, it is completely opposite of the message of dignity, value and the sanctity of human life. It is completely opposite of the message of reconciliation.”
Floyd spoke to Southern Baptists, National Baptists and others at the event aimed at exhorting and energizing pastors and the church to demonstrate the love of God in ending racism in Mississippi and the nation.
“One of the reasons I came to this city was to notify Satan and his demonic forces that … enough is enough,” Floyd said. “The power of God is greater than the forces of evil, even the evil of racism, because greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.”


Cross Church photo
SBC President Ronnie Floyd and Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., delivered joint keynote addresses at Mission Mississippi’s racial reconciliation celebration at the Jackson Convention Center Nov. 4.

He called pastors to action, shunning passivity and silence.
“It is now [that] the church of Jesus Christ must rise; we must rise together as one,” he said. “We are not black churches, we are not white churches, we are not Latino churches, and we’re not Asian churches, and we’re not any other kind of church. We are the church of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. That’s who we are and our hope for racism to end in this country is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“It is the church who must be for the city of Jackson and whatever city you’re from, it must be the church that is for the city,” he said. “Each pastor must rise up and be the prophetic voice relating to the issue of racism, calling it what it is, praying against what it really is, and if the price is high, price is high.”
Floyd and Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. (NBC), delivered joint keynote addresses following a panel discussion with 20 additional pastors (10 Southern Baptists and 10 National Baptists). The NBC is the largest group of black Baptists in the U.S. with as many as 7 million members.
Young joined Floyd in calling the church to action.
“I believe that it is God’s providence that has brought us here today,” Young said. “I am absolutely prayerful that when we leave this place, that those of us who are here will have decided that we’re going to spearhead a movement in this country that is relative primarily to the church, that we will no longer be satisfied to be persons who will simply declare the gospel with our lips, but we’re going to demonstrate it with our lives.
“Because in the final analysis, … Jesus says that the church … [we] alone are the salt and the light of the world,” Young said. “And if the church is not light, and if the church is not salt, then the world itself is left to nothing but darkness and decay.”
Young called Floyd a friend, a “tremendous brother” and a “courageous leader” who led in convening the pastors from across the U.S. for the event.
“It has been a tremendous delight of mine and perhaps one of the greatest blessings and privileges God has bestowed upon this country preacher, when He allowed me to meet Dr. Ronnie Floyd,” said Young, who grew up on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta. “This gentleman is the real deal. He is an outstanding Christian gentleman.”
Floyd presented the church as one body of Christ, descended from one man and comprising one race.
“Mississippi, in America, there is only one race, the human race. We all come from one man, Adam. Every nationality comes from Adam. Every ethnicity on this earth comes from Adam,” Floyd said, referencing Acts 17:26–28. “The scripture says from one man He has made every nationality to live on the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each of us. For in Him we live, and move and exist.”
Floyd quoted lines from the late Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” in which King lamented a “deep fog of misunderstanding” and “dark clouds of racial prejudice” in America.
“Sadly and regrettably, after 52 years since that letter was written, this deep fog, filled with racism, subsequent injustices and misunderstanding has not lifted fully,” Floyd said. “In fact in the last 18 months in our country, it has become like a fire that has received a fresh blowing mighty wind. And rather than the fire coming from heaven from the power of the Holy Spirit on our churches, the fire is raging from the DNA of our hearts.”
Event host, Mission Mississippi President Neddie Winters, joined Floyd and Young in calling the church to action.
“It is time for the Christian community, for the church of Jesus Christ, to do what it professes to do,” he said. “Stand, and live, and act like Christians, and be the salt and light for our society. Too long have we been silent on this issue as a church, and as a community.”
The nonprofit Mission Mississippi presents itself as working “to encourage and demonstrate grace in the Body of Christ, across racial lines, so that communities throughout Mississippi can see the practical evidence of the gospel message.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

11/6/2015 1:19:27 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Houston voters celebrate ‘bathroom ordinance’ defeat

November 6 2015 by Bonnie Pritchett, Southern Baptist TEXAN

Houston voters convincingly defeated a controversial equal rights ordinance that critics said threatened religious liberties and put into jeopardy the safety and dignity of men and women in private places like bathrooms. Proposition 1, also referred to as the “bathroom ordinance,” failed by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent.
“I think it’s significant,” Ed Young, pastor of Houston’s Second Baptist Church, told the TEXAN when asked about the margin of victory. “I think there are enough people in the city who still have and will vote godly principles. A lot of people did some soul searching and said this is enough.”
Young joined others at the Houston Area Pastors Council “watch party,” where everyone seemed cautiously optimistic the organization’s work would pay off.
After 18 months of legal battles including a court trial, two Texas Supreme Court decisions, appeals and a move by the mayor’s office to subpoena pastors’ sermons, council members felt they had done what they could do. The rest was in God’s hands.


Southern Baptist TEXAN photo
Pastor Khanh Huynh, pastor of Vietnamese Baptist Church, addresses supporters after election results indicated the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was decisively defeated.

The year-and-half-long battle over Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) created a divide within the fourth-largest and one of the most racially diverse cities in the nation. If passed, the ordinance would have required businesses and public areas to permit individuals to use the restroom of the gender with which they self-identify. Critics cited religious liberty concerns as well as potential safety concerns if, for example, a male sexual predator claimed to identify as a woman in order to have access to women and girls in public restrooms.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, an open lesbian and advocate for HERO, responded to the defeat of the ordinance by criticizing its opponents.
“This is a campaign of fear-mongering and deliberate lies. Deliberate lies,” she said. “They just kept spewing an ugly wad of lies from our TV screens and from pulpits. This is about a small group of people who want to preserve their ability to discriminate.”
A similarly divisive ordinance was passed in Fayetteville, Ark., last year. In December 2014, Fayetteville residents voted to repeal the measure only to have the same ordinance, with slight modifications, approved by the city council and the mayor six months later. And residents approved it.
“These kinds of conflicts really pit communities against each other,” said Ron Lomax, director of missions for Washington-Madison Baptist Association in Fayetteville, Ark.
Lomax could only speculate as to why residents would vote for one ordinance and not the other, but he noted that without a change of guard nothing new could go into or out of city council. The coalition of churches and civic leaders, as in Houston, that rallied to repeal the ordinance also fought to get two of their own elected to the Fayetteville city council. Only one was successful.
Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastors Council, emphasized the need to do the same nationwide because the fight in Houston is not unique. Civic engagement, he said, should go hand in hand with other ministry within the community.
And, for now, the racially and culturally diverse pastor coalition that fought an 18-month-long battle saw the fruit of their labor.
“This has been a long battle,” Welch told the group after the initial results showed an overwhelming defeat of the ordinance. “There is no way we humanly could have persisted through and carried this to the conclusion without the hand of God. So I want to give Him all the glory.”
The fate of Proposition 1 was being watched from across the nation. In the days before the election President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton threw their support behind the proposition. On the other side of the issue, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, issued a press release recalling some of the darker days that the Houston pastors walked through in their effort to repeal the ordinance. He recalled his comments from a year ago when the sermons of five Houston pastors were subpoenaed as part of a lawsuit.
“I argued then that the preaching of the church of God does not belong to the government, and we will not hand it over. Not now. Not ever,” Moore stated. “Here, the people of Houston have spoken and said the same is true of the conscience. The defeat of this proposition ensures that the consciences of men and women will not be steamrolled, and that unsuspecting citizens will not be put into vulnerable situations.”
Going forward, the pastors reminded the crowd of why they fought this good fight. Khahn Huynh, pastor of Vietnamese Baptist Church, said, “Churches, this is the beginning. We need to rise up and preach the gospel. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – He loves the sinner but He hates sin. And that’s our language. That’s our message. We are not hating on people, but we are standing on His Word. The gospel is a gospel of hope.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bonnie Pritchett is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN at, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

Related Story:

Pro-family voters score ‘massive victory’

11/6/2015 1:14:01 PM by Bonnie Pritchett, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments

Indiana Baptists called to ‘lift Him up’

November 6 2015 by Steve McNeil, State Convention of Baptists in Indiana

Gathering around the theme “lift Him up,” messengers to the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana (SCBI) voted to continue for a second straight year forwarding a record percentage of Cooperative Program (CP) receipts to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes.
Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis acted as host to the Oct. 12-13 gathering, though the meeting was held at The Palms Conference Center in nearby Plainfield, Ind., in order to accommodate needs for seating and exhibition space. Some 204 registered messengers and 69 visitors represented 129 churches and church plants.
The theme was drawn from John 12:32, where Jesus stated, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all people to Myself.” Four major addresses touched on various components of the theme: the annual sermon by Russ Lievers, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Clarksville, Ind.; SCBI executive director Cecil Seagle’s report; the convention message by Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB); and the president’s address by Darin Garton, pastor of Oak Creek Community Church in Mishawaka, Ind.
The 2016 convention budget of $4,058,824 anticipates $2,392,010 in CP receipts from churches, $857,000 from NAMB and $64,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources.
The convention will forward 39.5 percent of CP receipts to SBC national and international missions and ministries, a percentage first adopted at the 2014 SCBI annual meeting to mark the largest percentage of CP receipts ever forwarded out of state. The convention will use 60.5 percent of CP receipts for in-state missions and ministries. The budget includes no shared expenses with the SBC.
Messengers re-elected to a second term the convention’s entire slate of officers, led by Garton as president. Other officers included: first vice president, Bob Parnell, pastor of Black Oak Baptist Church in Gary, Ind.; second vice president, Roger Kinion, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Greenfield, Ind.; and recording secretary, Sara Burk, a member of Grace Baptist Church in Evansville, Ind.
A resolution of appreciation expressed thanks to Fall Creek and its pastor, John Newland, for hosting the annual meeting.
The 2016 annual meeting will be held Oct. 10-11 at The Palms Conference Center in Plainfield.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by Steve McNeil, communications team leader of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana.)

11/6/2015 12:56:23 PM by Steve McNeil, State Convention of Baptists in Indiana | with 0 comments

Church’s gift cards aid international women, homeschoolers

November 6 2015 by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS

International women students and the homeschool community at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) have been given gift cards totaling nearly $5,400 from First Baptist Church in Minden, La.
The gifts were part of First Baptist’s month-long emphasis on “every member a missionary” and Cooperative Program giving for Southern Baptist missions in Louisiana, nationally and internationally.
Leland Crawford, FBC Minden’s pastor, and his wife Rose delivered the cards along with canvas school bags filled with school supplies for each of the 93 homeschool children on campus during the seminary’s mid-October trustee meeting. Crawford, an NOBTS alumnus, serves on the NOBTS trustee broad.
International students and student wives representing 11 countries – South Korea, Egypt, Romania, India, Colombia, El Salvador, Brazil, Taiwan, Argentina, Burkina Faso and Haiti – received the gift cards during a the reception hosted by Rhonda Kelley, wife of NOBTS President Chuck Kelley. The gift cards were valued at $15, $20 or $25.
“My international friends and I were super excited and thankful for the gift cards,” Romanian student Maria Tone said. “They were such a blessing and came at the right time. We praise God for always providing.”
The 218 “Cards of Blessing” marked the third year FBC Minden has provided gifts to NOBTS students. Each year the church has targeted a different group of students. In 2013, First Baptist delivered 60 home-cooked meals to seminary families. In 2014, the church distributed gift cards to NOBTS single students.
Rose Crawford said her memories of being a student wife at NOBTS and raising three daughters prompted her vision for the church’s initiative. God was faithful though the days were lean, she said.
“We struggled financially … the Lord always supplied all our needs,” she said. “We didn’t have extra, we didn’t have excess, but we had what we needed.”

11/6/2015 12:52:52 PM by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS | with 0 comments

Pew data confirms faithful remnant

November 5 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

The latest data release from the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study is significant but not surprising. For students of scripture and church history, it confirms with empirical data what God’s people have known to be true for millennia: the Lord’s modus operandi is to preserve a faithful remnant amid the sinful world. It was true in the times of Noah, Elijah and the Apostle Paul, and telephone surveys of 35,071 American adults confirm it’s still true today.
The title and subhead on a Nov. 3 release from the Pew Research Center aptly summarize all 265 pages of data: “U.S. public becoming less religious. Modest drop in overall rates of belief and practice, but religiously affiliated Americans are as observant as ever.”
Among those surveyed, 23 percent described themselves as “religiously unaffiliated,” up 7 percentage points from a similar survey in 2007. Among the religiously unaffiliated – deemed the “nones” to describe their response to the question of religious affiliation – fewer than two-thirds (61 percent) said they believed in God. That represented a 9-percentage-point drop since 2007.
The net result is an adult population that “has become slightly less religious,” according to Pew. That reality is reflected by overall declines in daily prayer, attendance at religious services and belief in God.
A significant cause of the decline in religiosity is that the Millennial generation is “far less religious than their elders” and has begun to replace the shrinking Silent and Baby Boomer generations in the U.S. population.
At the same time, Pew found, “religiously affiliated people appear to have grown more religiously observant in recent years.” scripture reading, sharing their faith with others and participation in prayer and scripture study groups are all up modestly among the religiously affiliated.
Of course, the “religiously affiliated” are not all Christians. About 69 percent of them identify with groups and denominations traditionally identified as holding orthodox Christian beliefs, with the remainder belonging to non-Christian religions and Christian offshoot groups with beliefs diverging from historic Christianity. And not all who self-identify as Christians are committed. Still, the emerging picture is a Christian population steady in its devotion and spiritual disciplines among a culture drifting from faith in God.
The findings, while significant for the scope of Pew’s research, are not novel. This is how God has allowed humanity to operate since the Fall of Genesis 3. He permits the sinful world to decline in its devotion to Him while preserving a faithful remnant.
God preserved Noah’s family amid a world flooded with sin. He chose Abraham’s clan amid a Canaanite landscape that included Sodom and Gomorrah. He preserved Israel amid the violent and perverse peoples surrounding the Promised Land, Ruth and Boaz amid a Jewish population that “did what was right in their own eyes” and the prophets Elijah and Elisha amid a kingdom led to idolatry by wicked monarchs.
Following the Babylonian exile, the faithful remnant was constituted by those who anticipated the Messiah amid a culture the prophet Malachi said “profaned the covenant of [its] fathers” (Malachi 2:10). This remnant later included a virgin named Mary who believed God when He said she would conceive a son by the Holy Spirit.
In New Testament times and beyond, the church was a persecuted remnant amid pagan Roman culture. By the fourth century, Christianity had become an officially recognized religion, but faithfulness declined, leading a committed remnant to found the monastic movement, which for all its flaws was devoted to Christ in contrast to the cultural Christianity surrounding it.
More than a thousand years later, the Protestant Reformation represented the effort of a committed remnant to preserve the doctrine of justification by faith alone amid European moral and religious decline. Later still, the Puritans of England and New England saw themselves as God’s faithful remnant, as did the missions movement sparked by William Carey in the 19th century, the student volunteer movement of the 20th century and the early 21st century’s wave of missions-driven evangelical youth.
At each of these junctures, God’s people had the opportunity to wring their hands at the decline around them. Yet God has consistently encouraged them as He encouraged Elijah on Mount Horeb: You’re not alone. Everyone has not “bowed to Baal.” Keep following Me (1 Kings 19:18).
That’s why Pew’s findings should neither surprise Christians nor cause us to panic. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity to stand firm, knowing that God has long accomplished His purposes through a remnant. And Jesus promised that neither the gates of Hell nor the rise of the “nones” would prevail against His church.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

11/5/2015 12:10:12 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Southern Seminary donor Matt Bevin elected Kentucky governor

November 5 2015 by S. Craig Sanders

Matt Bevin’s landslide victory in Kentucky’s Nov. 3 gubernatorial election is “good news” for the state because of his strong Christian values, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in response to the surprise electoral results.
“It’s good news for Kentucky that someone with Matt Bevin’s values has been elected convincingly,” Mohler said. “Matt Bevin is a man of character; he is a Christian who loves the gospel of Jesus Christ.”


SBTS photo by Emil Handke
Kentucky governor-elect Matt Bevin speaking during Southern Seminary's Heritage Week Oct. 9, 2012, prior to the dedication of the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization.

Bevin, a businessman who has never held political office, won with a nine-point margin over Democratic nominee Jack Conway. He becomes only the second Republican governor for Kentucky in four decades and won despite a barrage of negative ads and polls suggesting he trailed Conway by five points.
Mohler said Bevin’s victory, along with Ohio rejecting the legalization of marijuana and the city of Houston voting down a non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT rights, illustrate “Americans are not following lockstep with the moral dictates of the elites.” Mohler suggested Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, may have lost because he refused to appeal a federal judge’s ruling in February 2014 striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
“I think it was confirmation of what many voters believe about Jack Conway in terms of his basic alliance with a liberal set of values on so many moral questions,” Mohler said. “On that issue, he could no longer dodge the question but had to decide if he would defend Kentucky’s constitutional amendment or not and he chose not to. And I think with Kentucky voters that will be what is most remembered about Jack Conway’s tenure as attorney general.”
Conway's campaign and his super PAC also targeted Bevin's character in a series of TV commercials, calling him both a “hypocrite” and a “liar.” Mohler defended Bevin in interviews with the Associated Press, KET, and Courier-Journal, saying Bevin is “a man of unquestioned character and proven integrity.”
Bevin's relationship with Southern Seminary began after the tragic loss of his oldest daughter, Brittiney, who was killed in a car accident in front of the seminary's campus on Lexington Road in September 2003. Brittiney had expressed a desire to serve in international missions and the night before her death had written a “dangerous prayer” in her journal that God would “place broken hearted people in my path and fill me with you so that I can let your love heal their pain.”
Reflecting on a friendship with Bevin that began after this tragedy, Mohler said the family’s grief was “transformed into a massive commitment to Christian missions.” In October 2012, Matt Bevin partnered with the seminary to endow the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization, which deploys students for missions work to fulfill Brittiney's dream to reach the nations. Through Bevin's support, the center has expanded its international and domestic missions trips, hosts missionaries in residence, offers training events, and produces a global missions summit each spring.
When the center opened three years ago, Bevin said he was “confident” Southern Seminary “is an institution that will steward this in a way that will serve God best.”
Bevin and his wife, Glenna, have nine children, four of whom were adopted from Ethiopia. They are members of Louisville's Southeast Christian Church and their children attend Portland Christian School.
Bevin will be inaugurated as governor Dec. 8. More information on Southern Seminary's Bevin Center is available online at

11/5/2015 12:03:53 PM by S. Craig Sanders | with 0 comments

Grateful couple in Nepal aid global missions

November 5 2015 by IMB

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal in April, killing more than 9,000 people, quickly thrust the Asian nation into the spotlight. Relief agencies and volunteers arrived in the country’s capital city of Kathmandu and outlying villages to offer help to Nepalis whose lives were forever changed.


IMB file photo
A mother carries her child through the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal, after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in April. Because of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and Cooperative Program, Christian workers already were there, teaching believers how to share the gospel and start new churches. A Nepali couple wanted to express their gratitude for how the workers have been investing their lives in discipling and equipping believers, including them, so they gave a donation to global missions in the Christian workers’ honor.

Christian workers such as Carl Russell* and Marcia and Drew Neely*, however, had already been at work in this predominantly Hindu country long before the world was watching the tumult.
They help teach believers in a church in Kathmandu how to share the gospel with other people and how to start new churches. They also meet regularly with believers to disciple and pray with them.
In Nepal, the number of believers is small, with less than 1 percent of nearly 28.8 million people trusting in Jesus. So when Nepali believers Amit and Kiran Thapa* saw that Christian workers were willing to invest their lives in helping to disciple and equip them as well as their church and other believers, they wanted to express their gratitude.
The Thapas made a financial donation in honor of Russell and the Neelys to International Mission Board. Their gesture from Asia reflects the gifts of thousands of other individuals and churches to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering aiming to make Kingdom work possible in Nepal and other unreached areas globally.
Amit and Kiran Thapa not only gave sacrificially, but their lives represent many among the world’s peoples who have been impacted for the gospel because Southern Baptists continue to support international missions through each year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering as well as their churches’ year-round gifts through the Cooperative Program.
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(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story was provided by the communications staff of the International Mission Board. Nov. 29-Dec. 6 is this year's Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention with the theme "Because of Who He Is" from Psalm 96:3. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions in tandem with Cooperative Program gifts from Southern Baptist churches support international workers in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission. Gifts to the Lottie Moon offering are received through local Southern Baptist churches or online at, where there are resources to promote the offering. This year's goal is $175 million.)

11/5/2015 11:55:20 AM by IMB | with 0 comments

Marriage heroes honored by church’s young couples

November 5 2015 by Jane Rodgers, Southern Baptist TEXAN

Young marrieds and senior adults are the two largest Sunday School departments at Travis Avenue Baptist Church. When the younger couples hosted a celebration of more than 70 couples and 30 widows or widowers married at least 50 years, it was so special to Fieldon Williams that he arrived sporting two black eyes and staples in his forehead from a fall that sent him to the emergency room days earlier.
Williams and his wife Colleen, married 55 years, joined fellow members of the church, young and old, for wedding cake, punch, nuts, mints, conversation and fellowship. Several couples brought wedding albums for others to peruse.


Photo by Adam Tarleton
Intergenerational fellowship was part of a marriage celebration at Travis Avenue Baptist Church, as younger couples asked questions of older couples around a roomful of tables, with one generation passing its wisdom to the next.

“We’ve got everything you need to have to have a southern wedding,” associate pastor Bernie Hargis joked at the gathering in Fort Worth, Texas.
Hargis served as the event’s emcee, opening the program with prayer and recognition of the church members who had persevered in marriage. He then introduced a video by senior pastor Michael Dean, who was out of town and unable to attend.
“You are our heroes,” Dean said in voicing congratulations to those who had been married a half-century or more.
“The rest of us look to you as an example of what God intends for marriage to be,” Dean said. “In our culture today, marriage is not held in high esteem. Many are trying to redefine marriage. But you can see in this room the evidence of God’s blessing on His good and perfect design of a man and woman for a lifetime for His glory.”
Applause had resounded when Hargis recognized couples in the room who had been married 50-54, 55-59, 60-64 and 65-69 years or more, including Volera Kirkpatrick, a widow who had been married 70 years.
Matt Sessoms and his wife Kristin, wed seven years, voiced appreciation to the marriage veterans. Sessoms, a marriage and family counselor, commended their “longevity of commitment.”


Photo by Adam Tarleton
Ed and Laura Gene York show off their wedding album. The Yorks were married 67 years ago after Ed’s military service in World War II in France and Germany.

Noting that many marriages last but two years, Sessoms said his work involves helping couples establish a “foundation for longevity.” He told older couples, “You are testifying to us that commitment does work and following God’s plan does matter.”
Janis and Ray Raley, a couple married 30 years who joined the church as newlyweds, also addressed the Oct. 11 event.
“Many of the couples we are honoring today are among the very earliest investors in our marriage, and they continue to do so today,” Janis told the crowd.
“You have qualities in your marriages that we notice and we admire. You possess a calm during the storms of life,” Ray added. “You have counted it all joy. You have a quiet confidence. It’s not emotionless. It’s not stoic. But it’s a quiet presence. The Bible talks about being surefooted in the Psalms. You have seen God work so many times in plenty and in your struggles.”
Ray also praised the couples for their commitment to serving in the community and their fellowship with one another.
“You pray for each other. You hold confidences very dear and hold them fast,” Ray said. “You guys just love being together. It’s wonderful. You invest in the lives of those coming behind you.”
Intergenerational fellowship followed around the roomful of tables as younger couples asked questions of older couples, with one generation passing its wisdom to the next. The evening concluded with prayer and a group photo of all those married 50 or more years.


Photo by Adam Tarleton
Members of Travis Avenue Baptist Church’s senior adults class who have been married 50 or more years gather for a photo during a celebration hosted by the church’s young marrieds.

Meredith and Michael Hughens, members of the Travis Avenue newlywed class, handed out nametags. Asked what they hoped to gain from the older couples, Meredith replied, “There’s endless kinds of wisdom to learn from these folks. We’ve made it a year, and I feel we have learned a lot in a year. I can’t imagine how much you learn in 50-plus years.”
Referencing Psalm 71:18, Wes Black, the church’s minister to senior adults, summed up the goals of the celebration: “Scott Floyd, our church counselor, and I are looking for ways our older adults can pass along their faith to the next generation, and this is one way to facilitate that.”
If the smiles and laughter around Travis Avenue Baptist Church that day are any indication, the celebration of marriage provided just that.
“When you get married, you get married for life,” said Ed York, who has been married to Laura Gene for 67 years. “Just talk” when the ups and downs of life hit, he advised.
“Continue talking to the Lord. Attend church. Be with other Christian people,” Laura Gene added. “And keep holding hands.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jane Rodgers is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN at, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

11/5/2015 11:48:24 AM by Jane Rodgers, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments

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