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August 1997 Issue

"Hello, brother."

A common greeting for two Christians, but extremely uncommon from a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard to a former NAACP president.

"My wife answered the phone when Johnny Lee Clary called to tell me he had surrendered to the ministry," said Wade Watts, pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church, McAlester, Okla., and former state president of the NAACP.

"Handing me the phone, my wife whispered, 'It's that old Ku Klux Klansman,'" Watts recounted.

But when Clary said, "Hello, brother," Watts said, "That sounded mighty strange to me" after all the years of harassing phone calls from Clary, who had risen to the top of the anti-black terrorist organization and had once set fire to Watts' church building.

Clary said his prejudice toward blacks began when, at age 5, he saw a black man in front of a Del City, Okla., grocery store. "I thought he was a white man covered in cho...

"It's like the gay Super Bowl," said one participant in a lesbian "Coming Out" party. The much-hyped and anticipated episode of Ellen was the homosexual event of the year, and the media joined in the celebration. The episode was carried by 224 of the 225 stations that normally feature the show.

The Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual activist group, offered a "Come Out With Ellen" party kit complete with invitations, posters, and a trivia game. According to the group, over 1,300 requests had come from party hosts in the United States and other nations, including Finland and Japan. This was to be an international experience.

The event was one of the most cynically manipulated events in the history of television. The prime-time revelation of "Ellen Morgan" as a lesbian came after weeks of media frenzy and adulation — and after actress Ellen DeGeneres proclaimed her own lesbianism. The whole event was calculated and ma...

"I think God has called us to minister to all people and we can't leave anyone out," medical missionaries with the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) told students and faculty at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Their presentation focused on support ministries for people seeking freedom from homosexuality, families of homosexuals, and people with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Fred Loper and his wife, Lavada, were guest speakers on the seminary campus during the Christian education division's annual "special event day" March 25.

The HMB's only medical missionaries, the Lopers emphasize establishing dental, medical and other types of health care ministries in the United States. They began teaching HMB missionaries about HIV/AIDS as they encountered people with the virus in the late 1980s.

Their ministry as health educators and their interaction with people suffering from AIDS led into a lar...

Seventy-four million viewers elect Ellen Morgan as lesbian of the year, so here's to Ellen, who is basking in the notability of her celebrated role. But I can't help but wonder if she has ever read any of the writings of Oscar Wilde. He was the sodomite (that was the old word for gay) of the 1890's. In his Ballad of Reading Gaol, one is amazed at the distance the culture has come (or the depth to which we've descended) in over a century.

Recently, at the Haymarket Theater in London, I saw a performance of one of Wilde's insane romantic farces. The play was so hetero I was amazed that Wilde was the homosexual of the year back in the gay '90s which were not all that gay. But back then, gay wasn't proud, it was humiliating.

The differences between Oscar and Ellen, of course, are immense. Ellen came out of the closet and Wilde got caught. When Ellen came out of the closet there were lesbian celebrations from coast to coa...

Ministers of the gospel need the presence of God in their work, but God will only grant it on His terms, Adrian Rogers declared.

The three-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., preached on "arkeology" from selected texts in 1 and 2 Samuel related to the Ark of the Covenant in a May 8 chapel at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.

In spite of efforts by Israel then, and ministers today, God will not be utilized, plagiarized, organized, trivialized, or formalized, Rogers said, listing five principles ministers must understand about God's presence.

"If you're going to serve the Lord, these are things that God has taught and is teaching me, and I pray God will teach you," Rogers told the seminarians.

Describing the ark as a representation of the presence of God with Israel, Rogers noted in 1 Samuel 4 Israel went to battle with her enemy, the Philistines, without the ark and only considered its need when things were going poorly. In spite of "fetching" the ark, the nation suffered a great loss to the Philist...

Reflecting God's Compassion to Those Who Hurt

As a paramedic, Edgar Escobedo has done swift water and open water rescues, mountain rescues, and tactical rescue responses. He has been on SCUBA diving teams and for awhile worked with Skylife of Central California, airlifting critical care patients via Bell 222 helicopters.

One dramatic mountain rescue involving Escobedo was televised on Rescue 911. A man had fallen off a cliff and was wedged in some rocks, below. The bright blue and white Skylife helicopter flew an hour and a half north, into the Forest Service Heliport next to Bass Lake in Sequoia National Park. "When we arrived, they were bringing the man up from the cliff. We revived him before we moved him to the helicopter.

"What made this rescue so interesting," he says, "is that I am a medic with the Marines Reserve Unit, and this man served with me at Camp Pendleton. By the time we got to the hospital, he was awake and talking. I didn...

Final Report Summary of the Implementation Task Force


On June 19, 1997, the entities and ministries mandated by the Southern Baptist Convention in approving the Covenant for a New Century were "in place and functioning." The Implementation Task Force on behalf of the Executive Committee and with the assistance of the Program and Structure Study Committee and the various staffs and boards of SBC agencies, guided the process of restructuring. The task force was assigned:

To analyze, study and take actions necessary, including monitoring the transitional actions of all SBC entities, to facilitate the orderly and timely transitions approved by the SBC in adopting the Covenant for a New Century (Minutes, SBC Executive Committee, September 18-20, 1995).

The task force wa...

An Interview with the First President of the North American Mission Board

Robert E. (Bob) Reccord resigned in March 1997 as chairman of the Implementation Task Force. Appointed as chairman in September 1995 by the SBC Executive Committee, he helped guide the SBC restructuring process which reduced the number of SBC agencies from 19 to 12 and created the new mission agency NAMB.

Ordained in 1973 by Calvary Baptist Church, Evansville, Ind., Reccord has a broad ministry background that spans almost 25 years. He has been senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Va., since October 1992.

On June 19, the newly appointed trustees of NAMB elected Reccord as the board's first president. Reccord agreed to share his perspectives on the new ministry in an interview with SBC LIFE.

SBC LIFE What is your vision for NAMB?

Reccord My vision is to give every person in North America the opportunity to respond to the ...

A Summary by Nina Shea

The shocking untold story of our time is that more Christians have died this century simply for being Christian than in the first nineteen centuries following the birth of Christ.

Christians today are the most persecuted religious group in the world and that persecution is intensifying. Atrocities against Christians include torture, enslavement, rape, imprisonment, murder, and even crucifixions.

Mounting evidence indicates a worldwide trend of anti-Christian persecution based on two political ideologies -- communism and militant, politicized Islam. Around the globe, leaders of these two ideological movements have consistently persecuted Christians.

Massive International Persecution

In the Lion's Den details extensive accounts of Christian persecution from communist and Islamic countries, including: China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ni...

Thousands of Christians abroad will be tortured today at the hands of ruthless oppressors. Their offense — faith.

Thousands of babies in the U.S will be murdered today at the hands of mercenary abortionists. Their offense — inconvenience.

In spite of the magnitude of these cruelties, and despite the emotional pleas of those who defend the innocent, those who call themselves Christians in the U.S. have remained, for the most part, strangely silent.

Some non-Christians have shown more passion than the majority of Christians. A.M. Rosenthal, syndicated columnist for the New York Times, has raised his voice on the issue of persecuted Christians. Michael Horrowitz, a Jew, has lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill regarding persecuted Christians, and has sounded the same alarm in the public square. But, as James Dobson observed concerning the church's response to partial birth abortion and the persecution of Christians, "The silence from the ma...

James and Carla Torrence Lead MorningTide in "On-site, Real-time" Prayer

Carla Torrence describes it simply as "something God wanted us to do." There is no question in her mind or in the mind of her husband, James, that they are right where God wants them — serving His people in His church. "It's a great place to serve," said James. "I really feel called to do this. There are other things that I'm involved in at Providence and I love them, but I have no doubts this is my primary call from God."

They're talking about their work as coordinators of MorningTide, the Sunday morning prayer time where members of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., pray in shifts from 8 a.m. to noon. Each Sunday they pray for specific aspects of Sunday School, morning worship, and church activities. They also pray about the sermon, the music, and the people who sit in the congregation.

A century ago, Charles Spurgeon set the example. As he preached, a group of men were praying in the boiler room beneath the pulpit of the church. Today, James and Carla Torrence follow in their footsteps.

Their calling to this unique ministry came several years ago before they even joined...

Did you know that if you isolate yourself from other people, you are two to three times more likely to die an early death? You are more likely to contract terminal cancer if you are isolated from others. If you are divorced, separated, or widowed, you have five to ten times greater chance of being hospitalized for a mental disorder than if you are married. If you're discouraged with your marriage, focus on the positive — it's keeping you out of the mental hospital.

Have you ever noticed that when you hear about someone doing something awful — some great tragedy — there is one word that usually surfaces — "loner" — someone living life by themselves, living life alone? Living alone can make you crazy. You will go crazy and won't even realize it. Married people can't go crazy without realizing it, because their mate will tell them, "You're crazy!"

There are several good ways to stay sane. You can go see ...

Sociologists Sharon K. Houseknecht and Jaya Sastry from Ohio State University examined data collected from four industrialized nations (the United States, Sweden, Italy, and the former West Germany). They focused first on the family structure and then on six measures of children's well-being (academic achievement, child poverty, infant mortality due to abuse, juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, and suicide). The study found that where family decline was greatest, the well-being of children was most threatened. They conclude, "Children are better off when they live in a society in which traditional family patterns are strong."