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June 2001 Issue

Amsterdam. Berlin. Brussels. Frankfurt. Paris. Madrid. Rome.

Premier cities like these in Western Europe conjure up images of vacation travel. Well-heeled tourists stand in line to snap photos of the Eiffel Tower, sample haute cuisine and spend fortunes on fashion and entertainment.

But for millions of immigrants and refugees who call these cities home, there is no glamour.

Instead of financial success, they find language barriers. Instead of a new life, they find alcohol and nightclubs. And instead of hope, they find spiritual darkness and despair.

Southern Baptists would like to change that.

With a vision for reaching these seven strategic gateway cities in Western Europe, a ministry group called "Tsilent Tsunami" (pronounced: silent soo-NAH-mee) has made inroads with the gospel. Tsilent Tsunami's team members are reaching out to pockets of immigrants and politica...

Katie Warnock came to Boston wanting to spend her spring break for a worthy cause, but she left the city a changed person.

The University of North Carolina freshman was one of about 650 students who participated in the Boston Plunge, a collegiate ministry initiative focused on sharing God's love with residents of Boston.

"The biggest thing that stood out in my mind was the perspective [the trip] gave me, ... riding the subway and seeing homeless people," said Warnock.

Warnock and several members of her group also spent a night at the Red Cross shelter during a severe snowstorm, talking to people and sharing their faith with those who had come in to spend the night.

Another time, on the bus, a drug deal took place right in front of some of their group members. "The bus was absolutely packed," Warnock said. "I didn't see it but I heard it take place ... . We were all sitting right there."

The three-week eff...

What do Sunday School classes, church doctrine, clean restrooms, and friendly greeters all have in common?

They're all factors that have helped attract unchurched people to the church — and kept them there. That's the conclusion of a seven-year study by dean Thom Rainer and a research team at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. The study, titled "Nine Habits of Churches that Reach and Keep the Unchurched," combines both old and new research, and includes surveys of more than 4,000 churches and interviews with more than 1,000 individuals.

A highlight of the study is new research into what Rainer calls the "formerly unchurched" — that is, people who had become Christians within the previous twelve months and were active in church. This new research includes interviews with more than 350 formerly unchurched people and examines factors that attracted and kept them i...

Youth appear to be abandoning churches in droves. According to some estimates, 88 percent of teens attending evangelical churches will forsake their church, if not their faith, by the time they reach age 18.1 But worse, according to those same estimates the departure rate among pastors' children appears to be no different. It seems if any group should buck the national trend, it would be these children. Instead, their exit from church and departure from the faith illustrate the crisis facing so many pastors' families today.

Years ago, when my wife and I attended a conference for church planters, she participated in a session designed to encourage pastors' wives. However, after the first meeting she was troubled at what she had encountered. She explained how some of the "veterans" in the group — those who should have been a primary source of encouragement for the younger women after years of fruitful and fulfilling ministry — ...

Redefining Humanity

By any method of reckoning, we have entered an age of nearly unbridled biotechnological expansion. Futurists almost universally claim that the 21st century will be what Jeremy Rifkin has called "The Biotech Century."

Richard Oliver, professor of business management at Vanderbilt University, has announced, "The Bioterials Age will complete the triumph of economics over politics, which was begun in the Information Age. It will unleash forces stronger than nationalism and more powerful than the combined armies of the world." To coin a word, Oliver's characterization of this new age sounds extraordinarily "Technopian," and the list of technologies which are of concern is daunting:

• The ability to clone humans.

• Pre-determination of the sex of children and their genetic makeup.

• Pharmacogenomics, which directs and tailors drugs to the genetic makeup of individual patients.

• Genetically der...

The "breathtaking" potential of genetic technology presents both ethical and public policy challenges in the wake of the mapping of the human genome, a Southern Baptist ethicist said on Capitol Hill.

Speaking to a group of congressional staff members April 6, C. Ben Mitchell called for the rejection of eugenics and the adoption of privacy legislation as some of the responses to a genetics revolution. Mitchell is a biomedical consultant to the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, as well as associate professor of bioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in suburban Chicago.

The mapping of the human genome, which was announced earlier this year, provides the "potential for understanding the genetic linkage" to 4,000 to 5,000 disease conditions, Mitchell said. It is "hard to overestimate" the benefits that could come from this development, but he is "not under any illusion that we will ...

When Ted Stone presented his motion to create a drug abuse task force at the 1998 annual meeting of Southern Baptists in Salt Lake City, the messengers responded with unanimous approval.

Stone, who had already logged 700 miles on his second walk across America, challenged the concerned messengers, "If the Christian church does not lead in this urgent and crucial undertaking aimed at solving this serious dilemma, who then will lead?"

The task force was chaired by Dr. Richard Land, president of the Christian Ethics and Liberty Commission, and included the leaders of the twelve SBC entities. Jimmy Draper, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, was appointed vice-chairman. Soon after the June meeting, Stone was invited to Nashville to meet with the officers and to make suggestions regarding future goals.

One of the original goals adopted by the task force was to encourage each of the SBC seminaries to include a substantial study of the drug problem and i...

Pornography Goes Mainstream

How does the unthinkable become thinkable? Through slow, persistent, and quiet change. At a time when abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are becoming widely accepted, you might wonder: What's left that could possibly be called "unthinkable"? The answer: pedophilia, the sexual exploitation of children.

Most Americans view pedophilia as an abomination. But gay activists are now openly advocating it, calling it "inter-generational intimacy." As Mary Eberstadt writes in a provocative article in the Weekly Standard, the "social consensus against the sexual exploitation of children ... is apparently eroding."

The process of erosion began at least fifteen years ago, when academics began questioning the almost universal condemnation of pedophilia. Soon, filmmakers and advertisers joined in, giving us movies like Lolita, depicting a sexual liaison between a twelve-year-old girl and a forty-year-old man. More recently, advertisers l...

Members of First Baptist Church, Hindman, Ky., say Mike Caudill was a dedicated soul-winner and preacher. But his recovery from the loss of his son, Casey, has strengthened their faith and fashioned the pastor into someone marked by such words as "loving," a "mentor," and "counselor."

Sixteen-year-old Casey collapsed near the Knott County Central High School baseball field after practice three years ago from a previously undetected heart ailment. After comforting so many who had been touched by death in the town of 800 - Casey was the seventh teen to die in a twenty-seven-month period — the pastor now was on the receiving end.

"I sit in awe of how God has blessed Mike's life," said Jarvis Williams, one of Casey's former classmates and now a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. "Most people would have quit the ministry.

"God can use not only the words of his heart but his u...

"We have to figure out how to manage all this stress."

Richard Swenson's first suggestion: live intentionally.

"If you don't fix these problems in your life, nobody else will," Swenson said in the second of his two lectures in Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Scudder Lecture Series, March 27-28 in Kansas City, Mo.

Swenson voiced the attitude: "There's the kingdom of God at stake. There's Jesus telling me how to walk. I'm not gonna let this culture terrorize me, bully me and push me around." Romans 12:1-2, he reminded, exhorts, "Do not be conformed."

"What does that mean? Be a clone?" Swenson asked, answering, "It means to be transformed by the gospel."

His second suggestion: lower your expectations by accepting human limits.

"It's not a spiritual crime to admit that we have limits in our life. It's a sign of maturity,&quo...

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary will host a gathering of alumni and friends for its annual Southern Baptist Convention luncheon Wednesday, June 13, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

Tickets for the event, which begins at noon following the Wednesday morning session of the SBC annual meeting, are $15 per person. Seminary President William O. Crews is slated to give a "State of the Seminary" address. In addition, seminary officials will recognize this year's recipient of the GGBTS Alumni Achievement Award.

For more information about the event and to reserve tickets stop by the GGBTS booth in the exhibit hall

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary alumni will meet Wednesday, June 13, for their annual lun...

Through SBC Campus Ministry And Cooperation

Two years ago Maarten van Gestel accepted an invitation to do a semester of doctoral research in physics at the State University of New York (SUNY)-Albany. He accepted the invitation hoping someone in America could help him know God. He had failed to find anyone in his Netherlands homeland who could explain the Bible to him.

Days after he arrived, Maarten heard about a weekly Bible study in the Physics Doctoral Studies department led by the Southern Baptist campus minister who was also the pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church, a local SBC church. For the few months he was in Albany, Maarten seized every opportunity on campus and at church to study God's Word. Through the cooperative outreach of the campus ministry and the church, Maarten received Jesus as Lord and was baptized at Crossroads on the Sunday before he returned to the Netherlands. The pastor of Crossroads then put Maarten in touch with the IMB missionary who serves as pastor of the International Baptist Church in Ma...

Political correctness was born in American colleges and universities. Imagine the outrage that would ensue if a college newspaper printed articles containing blatant prejudice toward ethnic minorities. Picture the scandal that would erupt if a college journalist published an anti-Semitic article or attacked the faith of an Islamic student. Such speech is considered hateful, discriminatory, and inappropriate for publication on any college campus. Apparently, however, one can remain within accepted boundaries of political correctness on the college campus while directing inflammatory and hateful speech toward Christians. It is possible to open a copy of The Harvard Crimson (the student-run newspaper at Harvard University) and read an editorial declaring Southern Baptists irrational and possessing a senseless belief system. It is also possible to open a copy of the Vanderbilt Hustler (the student-run newspaper at Vanderbilt University) and read an article dismissing people who believe i...

The Washington Times reports that in 1999 more babies were born out of wedlock in the United States than in any other year on record. That translates to a full one-third of all U.S. births (1.3 million) coming to unwed mothers, boosting the birthrate for single women ages 15 to 44 to more than forty-four births per 1,000 women.

Analysts attribute the increase to demographic changes and rising tolerance for couples to have children without marrying. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one reason unwed births have hit a new high is that the number of single women who are of childbearing age has also grown. An increased population of single women, however, is not the sole cause of the rise in unwed births, says Heritage Foundation analyst Robert Rector. Rector cites a lack of national and political willpower to tackle illegitimacy as a root of the problem.

Rector cited the failure of 1996 welfare reform legislation aimed at curbing the number of unw...

The annual time has come to recognize fathers — but it's typically a non-event. Father's Day stands opposite of Christmas and the two days are only separated by six months — but they are miles apart. Every other holiday gets more emphasis ... Valentines Day, Halloween, and National Pickle Day.

Does anyone really celebrate Dad anymore?

For a while stadiums were filled with men who called themselves Promise Keepers — men who openly celebrated their Christian manhood. But alas, it seems their masculine roar has been muffled.

In its place once again we hear the roar of the radical feminists calling men to get out of the way for the advancing host of "designing women" who are once again calling men names and insisting that they need to duck their heads and slink back into the shame of their gender. In light of recent advances in cloning, some radical feminists even suggest men are no longer needed to propagate the race!

He...

People will talk about anything in the world except money. It would get really quiet in church if you told people to turn to the person beside them and ask them how much money they made last week. However, we are good at spending it. One guy said, "I don't spend more than I make, I just spend it faster than I make it." My family says they don't overspend, but that I underdeposit. The problem is that it is difficult to get people to give. The easiest way to get 300 people to lie at the same time is to have them sing, "Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold," then pass the offering plate. Most people will give God credit but not cash. How does a pastor keep from feeling like his life's verse is, "So it was that the beggar died" (Luke 16:22a)?

Most fundraising projects aren't much fun. I heard about a pastor who had a building program going. He told each couple to pray individually that God would reveal to each of ...

Porn - On Christian College Campuses

A study conducted by the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families reveals that 80 percent of students at Christian colleges and universities have been exposed to pornography. Among this 80 percent, the average age of first exposure to pornography was 13. Although the overwhelming majority of these students said that pornography viewing damages relationships and is a sin against God, 42 percent felt inclined to view the material a second time. One student who participated in the study commented of pornography, "We (Christian students) are the same as any other college students in the sense that, because we're human we have those drives. Before you know it, you crave it. If we aren't careful we can let it get control of us."

Only 9 percent of the students gained their first exposure to pornography via the Internet. However...