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October 1996 Issue

Slowly, the low whisper intensifies, gradually enveloping the cool stately chapel. In the middle of the aisle stand seven men huddled in prayer, seemingly unmoved by the reverent stir of those around them.

From the balcony to the choir loft, streams of people quietly make their way down to the carpeted altar in front of the wide pulpit.

Sounds of crying and sobbing echo spontaneously across the crowded sanctuary.

In the rear of the chapel, clusters of women kneel, encircled in prayer. Couples bow their heads, embracing one another while sitting on the hard wooden pews.

At the front of the sanctuary, men and women line the altar crouched on their knees, burying their faces in their hands.

Behind the pulpit, seminary faculty lean on their knees face down in the same choir loft chairs where they proudly sat a week earlier in their colorful robes and hats signifying their achievements of academic excellence.

"Back to the cross — back to the cross — Jesus, You're calling me — back to the cross," begins resonating louder and louder in melodic rhythm as people rise from their seats...

The blatant obscenities of some things are so obvious that writing about them seems superfluous. Silence, however, would be unforgivable.

Recently, several professional basketball players reached the ends of their contracts and became free agents. That means they could sell their sports talent to the highest bidders. And, high bidders there were.

Michael Jordan will be the National Basketball Association's highest paid player next year. He agreed to a one-year contract worth at least $25 million. Shaquille O'Neal was offered $120 million for seven years, which means he will receive only $17.14 million a year. Juwan Howard agreed to a seven-year contract for $105 million. Gary Payton is scheduled to receive a paltry $85 million over the next seven years. And the list goes on.

Let's put this into perspective. Michael Jordan, by consensus the greatest player in professional basketball, will receive more for playing a kid's game next year than Lady Di ...

"Have you taken the Experiencing God course?," I recently heard one excited Christian ask another. Well, it's a trendy question these days. I think I know the heart of Henry Blackaby well enough to know that he produced the book so that people could experience God, and not experience Experiencing God.

Why do I get this feeling that people are into experiencing the book rather than letting the book lead them to experience God? Needless to say, church life can shallow out in the Baptist whirl. When it does, even studying about experiencing God, is at least a step in the right direction.

The church always has a great many with a natural — maybe even separated — compulsion for the mystical pursuit of God. These very "Christ-yearning" souls are, like Mary of Bethany, eager to be at the feet of Christ enraptured by the necessity of God. Take that necessity from their lives and they will shrivel and die.<...

Innovative Pastor Believes Longevity is the Key to Successful Ministry

More Southern Baptist missionaries have emerged from "The Church on Brady" than just about any other church in the denomination, though the congregation is located in a poor section of East Los Angeles and has few material resources. Still officially the First Southern Baptist Church of Los Angeles, the church was on the verge of closing its doors when it called a twenty-four-year-old graduate student to be its pastor. Tom Wolf, and his wife Linda, agreed to come only if the church would call them for a minimum of seven years, an unusual request to a church used to pastors coming and quickly leaving for greener pastorates. Long before the term "seeker services" had ever rolled off any preacher's tongue, Wolf brought an innovative style to a dying congregation and turned it into a thriving church that literally reaches around the world. After twenty-three years of successful ministry, Wolf's ministry took another radically innovative turn as he voluntarily steppe...

The Church On Brady Isn't The Only Mission-Minded Church in the Neighborhood; Small Hispanic Congregation Assists 62 Churches Internationally

Nobody told Aquiles Acosta that you can't reach the world from a remote church in an economically depressed area of Los Angeles. Nobody told him that you can't do it without a big budget, a swollen staff, or fat facilities. He just looked at the Word and believed that it really meant "go into all the world," and so he set about training lay people to become church leaders and encouraging them to support mission churches across the globe.

With a congregation of less than 200, this modern day Shubal Stearns has led the people of El Camino Truth and Life Baptist Church to plant or enhance 62 churches. Although they have a modest budget and an unpretentious building shoehorned into a lower income neighborhood, El Camino financially supports church planters and congregations as near as other parts of LA and as far away as Greece.

"I would quit tomorrow if I could," said Acosta. "But it's a deep calling of God to do this. I have done like ...

In the United States, 60% of the hungry households have someone working. This photo by Don Rutledge moved many Southern Baptists to a deeper understanding of the causes and effects of poverty and hunger. Pictured is Bailey King, a sharecropper who worked long hours to feed 13 children. In the background is his wife, Luvenia, preparing breakfast. Photographer Rutledge, by the way, retired recently after serving Southern Baptists for 30 years at the Home and Foreign Mission Boards.

Hunger Facts

For 20 percent of the world's population, having enough clean water to drink and bathe in is a life-or-death issue.

Almost 800 million people in the developing world are undernourished, consuming too few calories to sustain...

Are the Days of Mass Evangelism Over?

Have you ever played cerebral torment? Try this one:

Which is correct: nine plus seven is fifteen, or nine plus seven are fifteen?

Okay, let's try another: by removing six letters from the following you are left with one word (English only, please!). What is the word?


Give up? Here are the answers: First, nine plus seven equals sixteen, not fifteen! Next, remove the letters "SIX LETTERS" and the remaining word is "BANANAS."

Most people don't get these right because they rush to discover the answer before seriously engaging the question. Here's another:

Historically, what has God used more than any other approach, except one-on-one personal evangelism, to reach the lost?

The answer: Mass evangelism, which has endured as a timeless method ordained by God in Scripture and used with incredible effectiveness throughout history. In fact, itinerant evangelists can be found from the New Testament (Eph. 4:11) until today.

The most effective times of evangelism in history also featured ...

Evangelist Carl Carrigan Is On the Front Lines for Christ
Wear a flashy sport coat to church next Sunday, something in a polyester plaid, and prepare to be called an evangelist. Maybe this stereotype began with John the Baptist and his coat of camel hair. Or maybe with George Blaurock, an Anabaptist and reformer whose last name means blue coat. Southern Baptist evangelists don't much resemble John the Baptist or George Blaurock. Nor do they mimic all their habits. But evangelists' hardships are as timeless as their message. They may eat honey, but they don't eat locusts. And none of them break the ice on frozen rivers for baptismal services, as Blaurock did.
'... they know that Buddha's dead ...'

When Steve Marshall anticipated taking his first mission trip, he imagined sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ among the physically and spiritually impoverished living in village huts.

The North Carolina man never dreamed God would give him opportunity to witness to Cambodia's elite Buddhist monks as well.

Yet, during his first afternoon in Battambang, Marshall, 27, found himself spontaneously standing before an English class that included several robed monks. He and his wife, Stacey, had gone for a stroll to explore the city and stumbled upon the class. The teacher, a Cambodian, asked the American to read aloud from the students' lesson book. Marshall gladly obliged.

Then another mission team member handed Marshall a Bible. Marshall hesitated and quietly asked, "Are you sure it's OK to read this with the m-o-n-k-s here?"

As soon as he began to read the creation account from Genesis 1, Marshall knew that reading the word of God befo...

While American Christians sit comfortably in their church buildings Sunday after Sunday with no fear of reprisal, their spiritual brothers and sisters in many parts of the world suffer horribly for their faith. Persecution is a way of life for followers of Christ in some countries. For example:

Mehdi Dibaj, Haik Hovespian-Mehr and Tateos Michaelian — Protestant pastors in Muslim-dominated Iran — were murdered by unknown assailants in 1994, according to government authorities. Hovespian-Mehr had led an international campaign to free Dibaj from death row on charges of apostasy for converting from Islam to Christianity decades earlier. Michaelian had replaced Hovespian-Mehr after his death.

Salamat Masih, a 15-year-old Christian, lives ...

You know raising children is not going to be easy if it all starts with something called labor. Sometimes a woman will endure as many as fifteen hours or more of labor to have a baby. However, it's no piece of cake for the men either. Remember we are the ones in the waiting room with our in-laws for those same fifteen hours and there is no epidural for that. After the birth occurs, you bring home the perfect Gerber baby. Then it really sets in and you realize you are responsible for another human and the labor continues. This "perfect" baby throws up at both ends and is totally dependent on you. You feel unprepared. Like John Kennedy, for example, who sat down in the Oval Office, glanced up at the men who helped put him there and said, "Now what are we going to do?" Don't worry, there will be plenty to do. At first, you are mostly just cleaning up and feeding. Feeding is the process of putting the fruit on top of the vegetables in the spoon and sticking it in befor...

'Scam' Alert from Evangelist's Organization

The Nicky Cruz Outreach organization is warning Baptist churches to beware of a con artist claiming to be affiliated with their organization and asking for money. Churches in California, Arizona, Florida and other states have been ripped off by a man who claims to be Jesse or Jerry Cruz, always saying that he is the related to Evangelist Nicky Cruz. The real Cruz is known for his affiliation with David Wilkerson, author of The Cross and the Switchblade.

The fraudulent Cruz usually tells the story that he has been on a trip with students from Columbia University in New York, but when they wanted to party and he did not join them, he was left behind. He claims to need money either for an Amtrak ticket or his hotel room and offers First Baptist Church in New York City as a contact number....