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October 2001 Issue

On Mission With World Changers

On the second day of the World Changers project in Nashville, Tenn., this summer, the "Brush Bunch" arrived at their worksite to find a man sitting with their tools hoping for work. When the students told him they were helping repair homes as volunteers, he was surprised at their dedication — and willing to hear what they had to say.

It turned out the man had lost his job and family over the past four months, and had found himself with a loaded gun in his mouth the night before. "He told us that he did not understand why he couldn't pull the trigger," said student Cindy Hendrix of Murphy, N.C. "But we knew why."

The man received Christ that morning, and by the end of the week he had gotten a job and begun reconciling with his family. "At first I was worried about the roof and the construction on the house," added Brodie Downs, a student from Warrenton, Va. "But I know now the real reason why we came."


On Mission With International World Changers

Hands clasped and heads bowed, the two basketball teams prayed at center court. Suddenly, a loud Arabic chant erupted from the mosque across the street.

A few players from the visiting team glanced up. It was the first time they had ever heard the guttural Islamic "call to prayer." Several men sitting on the sidelines gathered their bottle of water for washing before prayers and headed to the mosque. Most opted to stay and watch the Americans play the local team, but mainly they wanted to hear why this group of youth visited the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.

International World Changers (IWC) spread throughout the city in late July in an effort to "change the world" through Jesus Christ. More than 110 Southern Baptist youth from twenty states combined forces for this project through the international missions organization for youth, sponsored by the SBC International Mission Board. The teens did everything from hosting basketball and volleyball clinics, to working with street kids, to doing construction work.

Daniel Deblasio from Nashville, Tenn., couldn't believe that basketball provided such an opening for him to s...

On Mission With M-Fuge

The words of Amazing Grace drifted through the humid air as Ruth Helton sat in the shade and watched ten teens scamper around on her roof.

"I told that boy right there he should be a professional roofer," said Helton with a laugh as she gestured to a young man hanging precariously over the edge of her small house in Nashville, Tenn.

"They've done such a wonderful job. I can't even put into words what this has meant to me. They don't complain about the heat or the hard work, and they even invited me to have lunch with them today!"

The teens were a part of M-Fuge, a ministry-oriented camp sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Helton's home was just one of twenty-two sites at which M-Fuge teams were stationed during the week of June 9-13. Besides construction work, the youth also chose from tracks in creative ministries, social work, and children's ministries like backyar...

On Mission With M-Fuge International

Despite the sweat, grime, and heat they encountered while doing mission work in Guadalajara, about seventy teens from four U.S. states left Mexico feeling blessed and just a little guilty about the extravagances they enjoy in the United States.

"It's like a blessing to me to be helping them," said George Ferguson, a teen from Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C. "I could have gone to the beach this week, but I chose to come here. It's rewarding to know that instead of doing what could have been more fun, I came and did what is actually going to do a lot more for me in the long run."

Co-sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention and the SBC International Mission Board, M-Fuge International is a weeklong camp for youth, grades 10 through college. M-Fuge International events were held this summer in Wales, Venezuela, England, France, and Mexico. Next year they will be held in five cities in Wales, ...

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship seems to see their organization as a kind of modern-day Noah's Ark of disgruntled Baptists. The creatures on the boat come in all doctrinal stripes and shapes. The CBF General Assembly in Atlanta this summer reveals just what a challenge it must be to keep this boat afloat.

In some rooms of this ark, you'll find Baptists who differ little from grassroots Southern Baptists. By the time you've turned the corner, however, you see a theological menagerie bearing almost no resemblance to anything you have ever seen in a Baptist church.

In one room, you'll find radical feminists worshipping "Mother God" and talking about how hard it is to call God "Father" or "Lord."1 In another room, the dean of a CBF partner school joins with a Jewish rabbi to argue that Jews do not need to have faith in Christ in order to be saved.2 Walk to the next room and you'll ...

Only 43 percent of Baptists believe that works don't earn salvation and 66 percent believe Satan isn't a real being, according to a new study released by the Barna Research Group and reported by the Florida Baptist Witness.

The study explored the religious beliefs of the nation's twelve largest denominations and determined that only 41 percent of adults in those denominations could be classified as "born again."

"The Barna report is a credible perspective on the state of Christian conviction in America today," R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the Witness. "The report is a striking indictment of the loss of doctrinal confidence and the erosion of biblical beliefs that marks American Christianity."

George Barna, president of the California firm that conducted the research, said the study was not intended to report the official teachings of any denomination. "The dat...

A Review

Theologians of the Baptist Tradition, Timothy George and David S. Dockery, eds. (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001)

Baptist Theologians! That must be a misprint. Aren't Baptists the ones who don't do theology? Aren't they the ones who say, "Hey, you believe your way and I'll believe my way. Live and let live, I say. Evangelism and missions unify but theology divides, right?"

So goes the impression many have regarding Baptists and theology. But with the publication of this 400-page volume from Broadman & Holman, such views appear at least misleading if not downright false.

Fourteen authors combine efforts to introduce readers to seventeen Baptist theologians while George and Dockery provide introductory and concluding chapters designed to put Baptist theologizing into historical context and point the way for the future of Baptist theology. A biographical sketch, along with an exposition of major theological emphases and ...

October Is Minister Appreciation Month

Minister Appreciation Month (MAM) is a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for their hard work, sacrificial dedication, and provision of multiple blessings. It is typically scheduled in October, but can be held at any time that is convenient for the community and church.

While MAM celebrations are most intense during October, appreciation and affirmation of our spiritual leaders is appropriate throughout the entire year.

Why is MAM necessary?

The nature of the service provided by pastors and their families is unique. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments - the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.

Pastors and their families live under incredible pressures. Their lives are played out in a fishbo...

Reactions To President Bush's Stem Cell Decision

Southern Baptist ethics specialists expressed disappointment at President Bush's decision to provide federal funds for research on stem cells already harvested from human embryos that have been destroyed.

In a nationally televised speech Aug. 9 from his Texas ranch, Bush announced he would allow funding for research on the more than sixty lines, or groups, of existing stem cells "where the life-and-death decision has already been made." The president said this would permit stem cell research "without crossing a fundamental moral line" of funding the destruction of human embryos.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said he was "deeply disappointed" with Bush's decision to fund even limited stem cell research.

"I fear that this first halting step in the direction of embryonic stem cell research will build pressure to cross the important moral barrier barring the kil...

One of the great failures in America's "War on Drugs" has been our repeated inability to recognize the scope of the problem. Many times over, we have realized only too late that drug abuse strikes closer to our own lives than we thought possible.

A Failed Effort

The few brave individuals who dared to discuss America's drug problem twenty-five years ago discovered that their opinions often fell on deaf ears. Indifference swelled from the notion that the "War on Drugs" belonged to that vocal minority, and not to everyone.

Then crime statistics grew rapidly, masses of people fell prey to painful drug addictions, and a cry went up from respectable citizens for relief from the growing dilemma.

Still, to many Americans it seemed a dirty business, far removed from the mainstream of a law-abiding society.

The government sought to remedy the drug curse with interdiction efforts. The plan called ...

Bruce Wilkinson's runaway bestseller, The Prayer of Jabez, is based on the prayer of a little-known Old Testament character. In I Chronicles 4:9-10 we find, And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, and it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

The book is a concise commentary on these verses, well illustrated with stories of answered prayer and deepened devotion from Wilkinson's own life. The book is profitable for both personal and group study.

Perhaps a caveat concerning the use of this prayer would be in order. Many theologians have criticized a certain wing of the Christian church for its unbiblical and almost superstitious use of the Lord's Prayer. Some Christians have believed that th...

As she retires from the presidency of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Patricia Ireland looks back on a career consumed with defending the most radical aspects of feminist theory. She has argued on the nation's airwaves and before congressional committees that gender is a social construct and sex roles are oppressive. She is a champion for lesbian rights, even leaving her husband for a time to live with a young female companion. Along the way, she has engaged in some of the harshest rhetoric against evangelical Christians and their "anti-woman" views about biblical manhood and womanhood.

A news brief in a recent issue of World magazine, however, reveals a softer side of this feminist activist.

World cites an interview with Ireland in National Journal magazine in which Ireland is asked whether there are any conservatives she admires. Ireland mentions Barry Goldwater who, as World notes, "in his later years became a ...

Thinking About All Saints Day

We are a society that has well defined what it would kill for. A tee shirt reads, "Just hand over the chocolate and nobody gets hurt," another "I'd kill to stop gun control." One of my favorite tee shirts reads, "The Nobel Peace Prize — I'd kill for that." But I remain unimpressed as to what people would kill for. I am more interested in what they would die for.

Consider Paul's words to the church in Philippi:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 3:12-14 and 1:21 NIV).

Paul states here what, ...

The congregation was not certain that the new pastor could do all that the previous, older pastor had done. The Pastor Search Committee decided to put him to the test. After services, everyone went out to the local lake for a picnic. After loading all of the picnic supplies into a large boat, the congregation climbed aboard and began to cross the lake to an island. Halfway across the lake a member stood up and said, "Oh no, we have forgotten the hot dogs. Someone will have to swim back and get them." Realizing he was being put to the test, the new pastor got out of the boat, walked across the water, and retrieved the hot dogs. Most of the congregation was stunned but one critic said, "See, I told you, they didn't even send us one that could swim."

Critics are everywhere. They sit so far back in the church, by the time they hear it, it's already a rumor. They weren't born again — they were born against. At the beginning of every meeting you feel...

Forced Abortions And Sterilizations In China

A Chinese county has been ordered to conduct 20,000 abortions and sterilizations before the end of the year after communist family planning chiefs found that the official one-child policy was being routinely flouted.

The impoverished mountainous region of Huaiji has been set the draconian target by provincial authorities in Guangdong (formerly known as Canton).

Although the one-child policy is no longer strictly enforced in many rural areas, officials in Guangdong issued the edict after census officials revealed that the average family in Huaiji has five or more children.

Many of the terminations will have to be conducted forcibly on peasant women to meet the quota. As part of the campaign, county officials are buying expensive ultrasound equipment that can be carried to remote villages by car.