Missionary/Anthropologist's Fascination with Arab World Began in Sunday School
Long before he and his wife became the first Southern Baptist missionaries to Iran, George Braswell was captivated by the biblical story of the Persian King Cyrus releasing the children of Israel from their Babylonian captivity and by the story of the Iranian Magi bringing gifts to the baby Jesus.
"My Sunday school teachers, by emphasizing these great biblical stories, had a lot to do with my interest in the Arab world," said Braswell, author of the new Broadman-Holman book, Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power.
Braswell's book is a basic history of Islam offering comprehensive explanations of a Muslim's daily prayer ritual, social customs, ayatollahs, mosques, Mecca, Shi'ites, and jihad. It includes chapters on Muslims in America, including the Louis Farrakhan movement, and the historic relations between Christianity and Islam. The book draws from Braswell's many years interacting with Islam, including the six years he taught at the University of Teheran. He is currently a professor at Southeastern Seminary.
For Braswell, learning to understand the other culture's perspective is all part of sharing the Gospel in that culture. "It's somewhat like the Apostle Paul going to Athens and saying, 'I see you are very religious people.' My concern is that we acknowledge the religiosity of Muslims. We need to understand who they are and who they claim to be, so we can then say, 'Look, here's what the Bible says and this is what Jesus Christ means to me.'"
"Muslims speak very highly of Jesus," said Braswell, whose expertise was drawn upon to train Desert Storm troops in cross-cultural communication. "They say He was born of a virgin and view Him as a miracle-worker. So they know something good about Jesus, they just don't know enough. For example, the Koran calls Jesus the Messiah and the Word of God, titles it gives to Jesus not Mohammed. Understanding this, Baptists can say, 'Look at your own Koran! Look at what you're saying about Jesus. You're saying more than you ever said about Mohammed.'"
Regardless of the titles Muslims attribute to Jesus, Braswell is quick to note they cannot tolerate the death of Jesus on the cross. "You can't have a resurrection unless you have a crucifixion, therefore, Muslims deny two of the great components of our Biblical Christian faith — crucifixion and resurrection," Braswell said.
Bud, Suds, & Kids
by Bob DeMoss
Budweiser's cartoon frogs that croak "Bud-wei-ser" are a hit with the wrong audience: elementary kids. The fourth-and fifth-graders surveyed were more familiar with the Bud frog ads than with Tony the Tiger roaring, "They're grrreat!" about his favorite cereal, Frosted Flakes.
Further, the California-based Center on Alcohol Advertising consumer group (which conducted the survey) noted Bugs Bunny's famous, "Eh, what's up Doc?" barely leaped passed the Bud frog ad with kids (80% to 73%). And Smokey Bear's warning — "Only you can prevent forest fires" — is less memorable to youngsters 9 to 11.
Laurie Leiber, who conducted the research, noted, "After a single year of advertising, the Budweiser frogs have assumed a friendly place in our children's psyches between Bugs Bunny and Smokey Bear." Anheuser-Busch is unmoved. "Watching a beer ad does not cause a kid to drink," asserted Francine Katz, head of consumer awareness for the beer company.
Interesting. He's saying, in effect, the Bud ads do work on adults, but have no impact on kids who are far more immature and less discerning!
DeMoss is president of Entertainment Today, Inc., and offers a weekly fax featuring media reports to churches for $37 a year (719-635-3000).
Ex-Hootie Drummer is 'Where God Wants Him'
"I'm a hero to some and an idiot to others," said 28-year-old musician Brantley Smith, the original drummer for the rock group "Hootie and the Blowfish." As reported by Susan Hogan-Albach for Knight-Ridder, Brantley left "Hootie" because he sensed God wanted him to use his talents for ministry. He has spent the last few years working with youth at First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., while watching his friends sign with Atlantic records and sell 13 million copies of their debut album. "There's nothing in this world that can match the riches that come from a relationship with Christ," Brantley said. "For that reason alone, I would have quit 'Hootie' a thousand times over." Brantley added he didn't leave the group over a "falling out," rather, "I was leaving something I loved for something I loved even more — my relationship with Christ." Brantley plans to enroll in Southwestern Seminary this fall.
Moonwalker Duke Helps Others Walk on Earth
by Don Kirkland
"You never know how life's going to turn out," former astronaut Charles Duke said in a visit to First Baptist Church, Pageland, S.C., where he was baptized. "If I had told Granny Duke that one day I was going to walk on the moon, they would have put a net over me."
And it may have been good that Neil Armstrong was there for his famous utterance about one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind. "Probably all I would have thought to say," said Duke, "was 'Yaaaahoo, we're here.'"
Speaking at a service honoring 53 people who had been members of Pageland for 50 years or more, Duke admitted he once was "more a churchian than a Christian." After his moonwalk at age 36, Duke then wondered, "Now what?"
"I was never satisfied, always looking for the next adventure," he said. "I was in charge of my life, not Jesus. He was my Savior but not my Lord." Duke's personal life was in shambles when he turned to God. "He healed my marriage and my family, and I can truly say that we walk with Jesus. Walking on the moon was exciting, but it lasted three days. Walking with Jesus lasts forever."
Pastor of Burned Church Credits Baptists for Changed Outlook
Daniel Donaldson will never forget the date of December 30, 1995. It is the day his church, Salem Missionary Baptist in Fruitland, Tenn., burned to the ground. But through an outpouring of Southern Baptist support, Donaldson's congregation will have a new facility August 1st.
"Their actions have, in essence, told me, 'Even though your church was burned, it is now our problem,'" Donaldson said. "'At one time we might have turned our backs, but no more. Let's come together.'"
In addition to supplying volunteer construction crews, Southern Baptists are providing about two-thirds of the money necessary for the rebuilding, part coming from the Beulah Baptist Association and part from the "Arson Fund" initiated by former SBC President Jim Henry.
Southern Baptist churches can still contribute to the "Arson Fund" with designated gifts through their state conventions. For more information, call the Executive Committee convention relations office at (615) 244-2355. In addition, those wishing to be part of volunteer construction crews are encouraged to contact the Brotherhood Commission at 1-800-280-1891.