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December 2000 Issue

Bengali Hindus: Searching for a Deliverer

William Carey and Mother Teresa lived in very different eras. What they shared - what brought them both to India — was a deep burden of love for the Bengali people, among whom they lived and died.

Carey, the "father of modern missions," lifted the light of God's love in countless ways among the Bengalis: evangelism, Bible translation, education, social service, defending the oppressed. Mother Teresa, probably the 20th century's most famous missionary, rescued the sick, orphaned, and dying from the streets of Calcutta.

Many Bengalis received their love — and returned it. But despite their heroic legacies and the labors of many others, the light of Christ remains a fragile candle among today's Bengali Hindus.

The Indian state of West Bengal is home to most of the 68 million Bengali Hindus in India (another 11 million live next-door in predominately Muslim Bangladesh). They comprise one of the world's largest ethnolinguistic peop...

The Isaan: In Need of a Savior

Singing. Laughter. Jokes as they work. The most hilarious revelers during the Thai New Year celebration. Poverty. Constantly moving to find work. Despair. Hard, monotonous jobs.

These two extremes reflect one people: the 20 million Isaan of northeastern Thailand, a people group lost in spiritual darkness.

Monks chant repeatedly at Isaan funerals: "There is no hope, only suffering ... Dead, never to arise." But four Southern Baptist missionary couples and a few nationals are working to bring the light of Jesus to the Isaan.

Buddhism teaches the Isaan that good works and countless reincarnations will release them from this world's suffering, says missionary Mark Caldwell. Animism leads them to make offerings to spirits for protection from evil or in gratitude for blessing.

The Isaan region is the poorest in Thailand. Historically, the Isaan are poor rice farmers, but in the last two decades many have migrated to Bangkok and other cities for w...

The Darkness Will Be No More

Editor's Note: During the Week of Prayer for International Missions and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, Dec. 3-10, Southern Baptist congregations across the country will focus their prayers, thoughts and gifts on the cause of extending God's kingdom around the world. This year's theme - "The Unfinished Task: Dispelling the Darkness" - emphasizes the lostness of the world's multitudes and the ways Southern Baptists are seeking to bring them the Light of God's love. The goal for this year's offering is $115 million. The International Mission Board draws 35 percent of its income from the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists' unified budget. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering provides 48 percent. For a preview of a video focusing on Southern Baptist ministry and witness in Cancun, Malta, The Netherlands and Laos, visit Other resources for the 2000 International Missions Emphasis are available at

Darkness Turns to Dawning

Jesus made the contrast clear. There is no equivocation in distinguishing the truth found in Him alone from that claimed by all other religious and cultural traditions. He could not have affirmed it more strongly as His argument with the Pharisees reached a peak of confrontation.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life' (John 8:12, NKJV).

He put the global, eternal purpose of His mission to redeem a lost world into perspective when He quoted the prophet Isaiah: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned (Matt. 4:16, NKJV).

That light began its unquenchable illumination when the dawning of the resurrection morning overpowered the darkness that had enveloped the cross. As Paul spread the gospel from Jerusalem as far as Illyricum and to the regions beyo...

Lottie Moon: More Than Just the Name of an Offering

A skeptic nicknamed "Devil." A strong-willed child who climbed through a kitchen window, while her mother was at church, to cook a forbidden hot Sunday dinner. A schoolgirl who told her best friend she would rather read Shakespeare than listen to a sermon.

What were Southern Baptists thinking when in 1918 they named their annual offering for international missions after Charlotte "Lottie" Diggs Moon?

They were thinking of a woman who put away childish things and accepted the hardships of rural China over a privileged lifestyle in the United States. They were thinking about a woman whose eloquent letters home reflected a passion for telling the Chinese about Jesus. They were thinking of the person who convinced Southern Baptist women to observe a week of prayer and self-denial at Christmas in order to send more missionaries. And they were thinking of a woman who ultimately gave her own life, starving herself because her beloved Chinese had nothing to e...

Redeem the Time

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16 (NKJV)

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Colossians 4:5 (NKJV)

Notes on the Text

• Walk circumspectly means to exercise exactness in our walk. The King James Version translated this word circumspectly implying an acute awareness of our surroundings and applying prudence as we are about our business.

• Redeeming means simply to rescue from loss or ruin.

• Time translates kairos, the opportune time, the ripe moment. It is not chronos, which emphasizes time as a mechanism or movement.

• Evil means characterized or possessed of the trait of moral corruption and wickedness.


Integrity is the most important attribute of a Christian leader, O.S. Hawkins told students at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Hawkins, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Annuity Board, was on campus to participate in the seminary's second-annual Heritage Week, a series of special events celebrating nearly 150 years of ministerial training at Southern Baptists' flagship seminary. Keynote speakers for the week were Hawkins, Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and SBC President James Merritt.

Hawkins, on Oct. 12, said a lack of integrity will undermine a Christian leader who is gifted with intellectual skill, passion in the pulpit and vision for ministry. He said he went to seminary with men who "had a tremendous amount of intellect but had little integrity and are out of the race today.

"I've known others who had a lot of intensity and passion and the spirit of conquest and could really rally people,...

Football has had an enduring affect on my life. Maybe it stems from the matching scars I have on both knees from surgical repairs brought about from my gridiron days. One thing is certain: every fall I experience a strange phenomenon. Down the street from our house is the local high school football field. About the time school begins each year, as I hear the marching band practice, and see the football players sweating in their two-a-days, I begin to twitch, and feel an adrenaline rush. I find myself looking for someone to tackle, or at least to hit with a forearm! Something about playing high school football, although in my distant past of over twenty years ago, has never left me.

Now I have fought the urge to tackle a colleague or try to convince the secretaries in my office to lead a pep rally. But I have discovered that nothing in my adult experience causes me to reflect on my teenage years more than my annual habit of football nostalgia.

Football gave me a lot. Oh,...

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Two hitchhikers changed our church, Christmastime 1989. What they taught us was that we feel pity for the couple in Bethlehem long ago, but failed to offer the same sympathy to other common, yet "holy," families in our circle of ministry. I, for one, will long be grateful for the hitchhikers' lesson.

Familiarity breeds a dull Noel. Because there are only a few Scripture passages that describe the Christmas story, each December we may hear all of them four and five times. We enter Yuletide with yawns, perhaps envying the shepherds who heard the first rendition of "Peace on earth." What woke them in joy, puts us to sleep.

But Christmas 1989 rewrote the Christmas story for our church. A sharply dressed businessman from our church was crossing our state on I-80, that 450-mile stretch of highway that bisects Nebraska west from east. Somewhere west of Omaha, he passed a couple hitchhiking. They were obviously poor. The woman looked very cold — and ve...

Drinking = Dumb

USA Today reports that recent research reveals just how detrimental alcohol abuse could be for the three million American teenagers who abuse alcohol regularly. The research indicates that regular drinking by teens and young adults can permanently damage brain cells involved in learning and memory. Several independent studies have reached alarmingly similar co nclusions:

• One study shows that on average, teenagers who abused alcohol had a 10 percent smaller hippocampus (the region of the brain involved in learning and memory) than their peers.

• A separate study shows that teens who drink heavily perform noticeably more poorly on memory tests than their non-drinking peers.

• Brain scans of young women who drank heavily as teens but have since abstained from alcohol still showed regions of sluggish activity in the brain.

"We have...

When my wife and I were married, I was still in college and we were pretty poor. There were no streetlights in our neighborhood. I'll never forget when we came back from our honeymoon, on the first night there, when we went to bed Penny turned off all the lights. It was really dark. I said, "Honey, it's dark." She looked at me and agreed, "It is dark." I waited a little while and then said, "Honey, it's real dark." She looked at me and agreed again. Then I said, "It's dark, dark." She said, "Yes, you're going to be a Ph.D. that's good, 'it's dark, dark.'"

After a minute passed she asked, "Are you afraid?" When you're first married you don't want to admit all your neuroses but they're going to come out anyway so you might as well go ahead. So I said, "When I was growing up my mother always left the light on in the bathroom. I could see the light from my room and it gave m...