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Articles by Mickey Noah

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The multi-state outbreak of some one hundred confirmed tornadoes in March 2012—which claimed nearly forty lives—was the second highest number of tornado deaths of any March in US history. Though it was not as deadly as the storms that ravaged Alabama and several other states in April 2011, it left devastation and suffering in its wake as it rushed through scores of communities.

On Friday, March 2, twenty-one of the thirty-nine deaths came in Kentucky, where three separate EF-3 tornadoes ripped through forty-six of Kentucky's 120 counties, injuring another three hundred people.

Also on that Friday, a massive EF-4 tornado barreled down the main street of Henryville, Indiana, a small town of six thousand. Thirteen people were killed across the state. Some one hundred Indiana Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers arrived in Henryville a few days later to start cleaning up the town.

"It was unlike anything I've ever seen in my life," said Toby Jenkins, pastor of Henryvill...

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief mobilized more than fifty recovery teams throughout Alabama following the tornadoes of April 27. That day saw the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in seventy-nine years, ripping a 200-mile swath across the state from Tuscaloosa to the Georgia state line, killing 249 Alabamians.

In all, killer tornadoes claimed 350 lives in six states. In addition to Alabama’s fatalities, the death toll from this round of tornadoes across the southern states was thirty-four in Mississippi, thirty-four in Tennessee, fifteen in Georgia, five in Virginia, and fourteen in Arkansas.

In the two weeks following the April 27 destruction, SBDR feeding units prepared and delivered more than 162,000 hot meals. Alabama feeding units have operated in Rainsville, Tuscaloosa, and Birmingham, while Kentucky Baptist Convention volunteers have fed victims in Henager, and Florida Baptist volunteers have fed victims in Double Springs. A Texas feeding unit also was deployed in Tuscaloosa, the hardest-hit city in Alabama, and a South Carolina ...

Trustees of the North American Mission Board approved sweeping changes Wednesday, February 9, altering the focus, strategy, leadership, and organizational structure of the Southern Baptist entity. The changes come almost five months to the day after trustees voted last September 14 to approve Kevin Ezell as NAMB’s president.   The package of changes approved by trustees involves four primary areas: NAMB’s national strategy; a regional approach to how NAMB will do its work; an organizational restructuring that will align NAMB’s staff chart with its new strategy; and four new vice presidents who will give leadership to key ministry areas.

Among the hundreds of places North American Mission Board church planting missionaries work and minister across the United States and Canada, none is more dangerous than Laredo in south Texas, where Chuy and Maria Avila live and serve.

Laredo — with a population of 300,000 in the city proper — sits on the north bank of the Rio Grande, right across the river from Nuevo Laredo in Mexico. The Laredo-Nuevo Laredo metro area has a combined population of more than 700,000 American and Mexican citizens. It's a mecca of cold-blooded murder, drugs, and chaos.

Nuevo Laredo to Laredo is a thoroughfare for an estimated $20 billion drug market operated by drug cartels between Mexico and the U.S. With the drugs come unchecked violence and bloodshed. A recent local shootout between Mexican Federal Police officers and drug cartel members left a dozen dead and over twenty wounded. It's routine for Laredo citizens to hear gunfire echoing across the Rio Grande from the Nuev...

There are local Southern Baptist associations, and then there is Oregon Trail Baptist Association in Nebraska, where North American Mission Board missionary Doug Lee works to plant new churches. His association takes up the whole western half of Nebraska.

For the last twelve years, Doug — supported by his wife, Brenda — has served as director of missions for the vast association, based in North Platte, Nebraska. Geographically, the Oregon Trail Association is huge — spanning four hundred miles by two hundred miles.

In the east, there are farming communities. Ranching is king in the northwest — the Sandy Hills region-the western panhandle, and in the southwest corner of Nebraska.

North Platte, where the Lees are based, is the sixth largest city in Nebraska, but only has 24,000 people. The only other "major" cities in the Oregon Trail Association are Grand Isla...

Attending a beginning sign language course as part of the deaf ministry at 38th Avenue Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1979, Howard Burkhart liked his teacher so much he married her.

Because of Tina McMillan (Burkhart) and her attentive pupil, Howard — both students at the University of Southern Mississippi at the time — untold hundreds of the hearing and hearing-impaired from Mississippi to California have not only been taught how to communicate, but how to receive Christ as their Savior.

Today, the Burkharts' ministry — based in Benicia, California, just north of San Francisco — extends far beyond the deaf community, although that remains their first love. Howard, 52, is a church planting strategist in the San Francisco Bay and San Diego areas and a missionary for the North American Mission Board.

The Burkharts recognize that the Cooperative P...

Robert Maul is the Indianapolis 2011 version of the widow best known for her "mite," whom Jesus described (Luke 21:1-4) as having put in more than all of them. For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.

A 62-year-old, tall, slender African American, Robert foraged the sidewalks, curbs, and streets of Indianapolis, pocketing lost coins — picking up a penny here, a nickel, or dime there. His painstaking work — all on foot — would add up to a sacrificial $25 contribution to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. By the way, Robert was homeless.

Poor in the pocketbook but not in spirit, Robert is a former heroin addict who liked to fight. He served five different sentences in an Indiana penitentiary. He slept under bridges and interstate overpasses. But through the ministry of North Ame...

Organizers of the "Buckets of Hope" initiative for Haiti relief estimate that 150,000 food buckets will be shipped to Port-au-Prince to help combat hunger in the earthquake-devastated country. Several Baptist state conventions announced a goal for the number of buckets their state's church members will contribute including Kentucky with 10,000 buckets; Tennessee with 7,000 buckets; the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia with 6,000 buckets; Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina with 5,000 buckets each; Arkansas with 4,000; and New Mexico with 2,100.

"Exciting things are happening to the Buckets of Hope campaign in Colorado," Mike Gaines, disaster relief director for the Colorado Baptist General Convention, said, adding that churches there are turning Buckets of Hope into outreach efforts.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, also has supported the project by enco...

The Good News raced across Louisville like a thoroughbred at Churchill Downs June 20 when three thousand Southern Baptist volunteers braved 95-degree temperatures for Crossover '09, an evangelistic effort prior to each year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

A total of 1,012 professions of faith were recorded at two festivals and twenty-eight block parties that topped a list of ninety-five events, including door-to-door community visits. The outreach involved 1,800 volunteers from 107 local SBC churches along with 1,200 volunteers from out of town.

Charles Barnes, coordinator for Crossover Louisville, said more Louisville-area Baptists were involved in the effort than for any other event with the exception of a Billy Graham crusade eight years earlier....

Even the historic, 135-year-old Churchill Downs — home of the Kentucky Derby — will be among the ministry venues as Southern Baptists engage in Crossover Louisville '09.

Now in its twenty-first year, Crossover is an evangelistic thrust to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ the week before the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in each year's host city.

Crossover Louisville '09 will kick off with Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) on Sunday, June 14, and will culminate the June 19-20 weekend prior to the June 23-24 SBC annual meeting at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Crossover will be jointly sponsored by the SBC's North American Mission Board, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and the Long Run Baptist Association in Louisville.

"Our objective is to share Jesus and have a lasting impact on metro Louisville," said Charles Barnes, longtime Baptist lay lead...