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February 2001 Issue

Volunteer Ministry to Seafarers in American Samoa

It wasn't long after Rob and Sandra Stip arrived at the Pago Pago Seafarer's Center in American Samoa in 1998 that they fully understood why God had called them there. They were comfortable with their role sharing the gospel of Christ through hospitality ministries and discipleship. But they soon saw how God had uniquely equipped them for ministry in ways they had never imagined.

The children of the community found a loving environment where they could learn about Christ and successful living. Unpaid Asian seafarers learned Rob Stip knew government agencies well enough to effectively pressure their employers to play fairly. And abused indentured workers at a nearby garment factory came in desperation to the Stips and ultimately saw conditions change for the better.

"When we first came here we thought we were going to be passing out Kool Aid and pool sticks," said Rob Stip. "We didn't realize we would be involved in...

From American Samoa to Montreal, Quebec, more than 5,000 North American missionaries are involved daily in fulfilling the Great Commission. During the Week of Prayer for North American Missions and throughout the year, remember to pray for these featured representative missionaries — as well as their counterparts across the continent. Ginger Smith (church and community ministries) Each night about 230 people find shelter at the Brantley Baptist Center in New Orleans, and Ginger Smith is usually on hand to help them get the physical and spiritual care they need. She leads men and women in a drug and alcohol treatment program, does counseling, oversees literacy classes, leads Bible studies, and supervises the women's unit in the facility. She asks for prayer that she would be sensitive to the needs of those around her, and patient as the center undergoes renovations.

Dear Brother,

I wish with this letter I might send you a large palm-leaf and a very attractive pitcher of iced lemonade, for I think if you had these, you might have more patience to consider the numerous items which I will now have to present to you, but as these comforts, or rather necessities during this intensely hot weather, cannot be sent through the mail, I will have to ask that you either provide them for yourself or — consent to be a martyr.

- Letter to T.P. Bell from Annie Armstrong, June 30, 1894

So began the letter Annie Armstrong wrote to then secretary of the Sunday School Board, T.P. Bell, on June 30, 1894. I could just picture "Miss Annie," fingers tapping quickly the keys of her well-worn typewriter, trying to add some humor to the somewhat routine task of gathering and giving information. I could also picture Mr. Bell opening the letter and chuckling at her words.

As the ...

The North American Mission Board has more than 5,000 missionaries serving in the United States, Canada, and the U.S. territories.

The largest number of missionaries are starting new Southern Baptist churches, about 1,700 churches each year. Mission pastors serve English-speaking and language churches in rural and urban settings. Southern Baptists in North America worship in 210 languages among 112 language groups in more than 7,000 ethnic congregations.

Other NAMB missionaries share the gospel message by ministering to people's needs in church and community settings, including senior adults, nonreaders, non-English-speaking people, substance abusers, families, people in the criminal justice system, homeless people, disabled people, migrant workers, and even vacationers.

A number of missionaries serve Southern Baptist associations as associational missionaries or other mission staff, and many NAMB missionaries are volunteers who ha...

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee challenged a crowd of nearly 200 diplomats, embassy officials, and other guests Dec. 12 to act as "thermostats" rather than mere "thermometers" — setting the climate of righteousness in leadership rather than merely reflecting shifting values.

"I believe that's real leadership," he said. "It doesn't mean that we're necessarily going to impose our set of values on another. It means that we so value individuals that we are simply not going to attempt to see people manipulated, used, and in some way given a perspective of life that denies them ... the respect that every human being deserves."

The Arkansas governor was the guest speaker for a special dinner for the Washington diplomatic corps hosted by the Christian Ministries to the Nations, a subsidiary of the North American Mission Board led by missionary Cecil Mahendranath.

Gov. Huckabee was unable to attend the dinner in person...

Needs Multiplying, Resources Scarce

As the Serbian people face their first winter with a new democratically elected government, evangelicals are scrambling to minister to a nation left nearly bankrupt, according to a key evangelical ministry based in Belgrade.

Jasmina Tosic, co-director of Bread of Life, a ministry that has largely focused on refugee aid during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, laid out a plan to meet the physical and spiritual needs of more than 15,000 Serbian families this winter. The Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund is among Bread of Life's sources of support.

But, Tosic wrote in the ministry's newsletter, Bread of Life has received only a few offers of outside help for the plan.

"We are putting our trust in God and find ourselves continuing as written in Haggai 'giving careful thought' about our past and future," Tosic, a member of First Baptist Church, Belgrade, wrote.

The organization's winter ministry plan includes:

• ...

Key voices on all sides of the Southern Baptist theological debate are saying that Orlando was a watershed convention. From the perspective of conservative leaders and messengers, the revisions to the Baptist Faith and Message Statement (BF&M) officially recognized the theological position embraced by an increasing majority of Southern Baptist messengers meeting in convention over the last twenty years.

The question now before the rank and file of our people is "What did we really do in Orlando?" In short, we revised the wording of our commonly accepted statement of faith to clarify who we are as Southern Baptists and where we stand on the Bible and on how we interpret and apply what we believe it says.

It was especially significant that the convention debate never got past the efforts of a few messengers to defeat the proposed revision of two statements in Article I on "The Scriptures." Three words were omitted from the opening statement a...

Genetic Technology and the Beginning of Life

On the dawn of a new era in genetic technology, most people are anticipating the potential benefits of drugs tailor-made for individuals, gene therapy, cures for terminal diseases, and predictive testing. Yet there are some who fear the possible abuses of science and technology, even the creation of a "brave new world." So, as scientists, politicians, and ethicists argue about the technology, where should Christians direct their focus?

First, Christians should take the lead on the social and legal policies required to keep pace with breaking technology. Getting involved on the ground floor can be key to future decisions affecting our world. Second, Christians should understand and use new technology, wherever possible, to undo existing policies not in agreement with biblical principles.

Currently, an opportunity exists for Christians to apply this focus to cloning technology. Specifically, most doctors and lawmakers recognize cloning as a technological breakthr...

Churches' Emergency Funds Targeted by Gamblers

One of the most rewarding tasks the Rev. Don Moore relishes is the chance to do a corporal work of mercy.

Heeding the words of Jesus to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and generally help those in need, the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Evansville, Ind. considers good works the evidence of Christian faith.

But over the last five years, Moore has begun to suspect an increasing number of those who come to him in need are trying to scam his church for money to feed gambling addictions.

Since Casino Aztar spun its first roulette wheel on Dec. 7, 1995, the number of requests for help from the church's emergency fund has more than tripled.

Many of the requests, Moore said, come from people who have gambled away the money they needed for rent, groceries, or heating bills. But instead of asking for money for food or baby formula, they want cash.

And they're willing to tell the wildest tales to get it.

"I think almo...

The National Basketball Association has dunking sensation Vince Carter. College basketball boasts coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski. But the Upward Basketball League lays claim to a far greater presence on the basketball court — 120,000 girls and boys learning about Jesus and jump shots.

Through this unique ministry, more than 600 churches this year will have the opportunity to teach children fundamental basketball skills while also sharing with them about salvation.

"Upward Basketball is not a traditional basketball league," said Shane McKenzie, Upward Unlimited vice president of operations. "Its primary focus is outreach. It's not about championships. It's not about trophies. What we're about is changed lives and creating opportunities to share the Lord."

The Upward Basketball season consists of eight games and ten practices. Boys and girls in grades one through six are encouraged to participate. There is a fee for a child t...

True Love Waits Goes to the Web

On February 14, students around the world are being asked to sign and e-mail True Love Waits commitment cards over the Internet by logging into www.truelovewaits.com. When they log onto the True Love Waits home page, teens will find a pledge card, which can be filled out and e-mailed to TLW headquarters. A live counter will show the totals as they are tallied. The 2001 Internet campaign, which gives students outside the United States equal opportunity to participate, is called "Seize the Net."

The covenant cards teens are asked to sign read: "Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate, and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship."

Those participating in Seize the Net activities have used the following guidelines, according to True Love Waits officials in the Nashville, Tenn., office.

Youth leaders and students...

Many churches have wanted to take full advantage of Internet capabilities for communications and evangelism, but significant costs, perceived hassle of ongoing maintenance, or lack of qualified personnel to manage a Web site has kept Internet use from getting past churches' planning meetings and into reality.

LifeWayLINK, a new service by LifeWay Christian Resources' eBusiness Group, is changing that. High quality, free Web sites are available for SBC churches. The service is user-friendly, eliminates the typical online barriers faced by ministries, and is available at no cost. Now any church with a computer can promote the gospel online, interact with potential and existing members, access resources around the globe, and take advantage of seemingly endless online capabilities.

"LifeWayLINK is the newest component of our growing eBusiness portfolio of Internet products and services," said Ted Warren, LifeWay chief operating officer. "Churches and o...

U.S. Policies Inadequate, Says Global Religious Freedom Panel

The United States government's policies toward religious persecution overseas remain inadequate two years after passage of the International Religious Freedom Act, according to a recent report from a commission established by the law.

In an eleven-page report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom complimented the State Department's fact-finding but expressed disappointment with its policies involving persecution of religious adherents. Among the criticisms of the State Department for its September report on religious liberty overseas and the department's handling of the issue the last two years were:

• A failure to add to the seven countries of particular concern designated in 1999, even though others were recommended by the commission.

• A refusal to take further action this year against any of the "countries of particular concern" (CPCs) already cited, though religious freedom has continued to decline in count...

A total of 2,754 new believers has been added to the kingdom of God through a partnership evangelism project involving Baptists from the United States and South Korea.

W.H. "Dub" Jackson, who helps organize partnership evangelism projects for the International Mission Board, led a team of 121 Southern Baptists from the United States to South Korea. There, the volunteers paired with Korean believers to host thirty-seven evangelistic campaigns in local churches.

"The experience is better in every way than any of us could have ever hoped for," said Alan Tungett, a LifeWay Christian Resources employee who led one team. "There are very few things in my Christian life that can compare with what our team has experienced over the last few days."

Partway through the outreach, Tungett reported his team already had witnessed nineteen people accept Christ. One of the new believers did not have a Bible,...

We are God's messengers and the culture is in trouble! Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining shook from foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed . . .
- from God's Grandeur

Hear the counsel of God for the last days of Gomorrah:

Fear not I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name and you are mine.
- Isaiah 43:1

Several years ago Robert Bork suggested that we were Slouching Toward Gomorrah. For reasons of political correctness Bork could not call his book — even in metaphor — Slouching Toward Sodom where the Sodomites lived. I too, to be as politically correct in examining the message of Genesis 18, want to focus on Gomorrah, and leave Sodom to people who want to brave the storm. They were twin cities, however. So, I'd like to ask how Gomorrahites or the Gomorraheans woul...

From Death to Life

An FBI agent in Texas recently apprehended a criminal in a bribery scheme and then led him to Christ.

In an undercover operation entitled Operation Cobra Nest special agent Don Sherman secured the conviction of four people for defrauding a Savings and Loan of $18 million. Despite the operation's success, however, Sherman reports that his life fell apart in the midst of the stressful operation. In search of answers, Sherman received Christ at a Zig Ziglar motivational seminar. He was subsequently baptized "undercover" in a private room before a group of ten witnesses rather than risk blowing his cover by being baptized before the 3,500-member Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas.

Defendant Roger Hoffman, who accepted a plea bargain in the Operation Cobra Nest case, said his life, like Sherman's, fell apart, in the midst of the ordeal. Hoffman recounts that Sherman was the only person w...

I was up early one Thursday before God had turned on the lights. I had procrastinated a little in my message preparation and believe, like the old country preacher, that procrastination is one of the main doctrines of the church. Some tasks have to be put off many times before they slip your mind completely. By Thursday, the Noon Business Lunch had completely slipped my mind. I woke up realizing that I had to speak. I had told the pastor of my church I would speak. I was supposed to speak about God for thirty minutes.

I had just started to study when I heard the sound of little feet. My youngest, Breanne, who was four at the time, walked into the room. Have you ever noticed that kids are backwards when it's time for them to get up? When you want them up, they are as responsive as church members at offering time. And when you don't want them to get up, they are like church members at benediction. I couldn't believe Breanne was up. She came and sat right on my study materia...