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September 2001 Issue

Spreading Like Wildfire

All over the world, new Christians and new churches are multiplying in number — and changing the face of Southern Baptist missions in the process.

Consider two facts gleaned from Southern Baptist missionary reports on the year just past:

• Three church-planting movements played a major role in fueling a 37.4 percent increase in the total number of new churches over 1999.

• In East Asia, baptisms among just one people group exploded with 114,000 in one year. Just eight years ago, only eighty-five Christians and three churches existed in the province.

The emergence of church-planting movements — the spontaneous, rapid multiplication of new disciples and congregations — had a dramatic impact on International Mission Board statistics in 2000. Observers expect even more dramatic reports in the future.

Church-planting movements (CPMs) are taking root even in restricted-access countries and producing a plentiful harvest...

Essential In Reaching Africa For Christ
On the outskirts of the small Ugandan village sits a rock. It looks like an ordinary rock, but in fact this rock is so special it is considered the village's god. Once a week, villagers approach the rock, offering sacrifices of food and other valuables. After laying the sacrifices down, they must turn around and never look back. Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries Willie and Beulah Scott shake their heads sadly. "I've heard of such things," Beulah says. "But until you see it, you just can't believe that it actually happens." Willie clears his throat and leans forward in his chair, a tear in his eye.

A wrong telephone number, a substitute translator, and a total stranger turned out to be God's provision for a couple who traveled to China to share Christ in an unreached megacity.

Despite the extensive preparations preceding their visit, upon arrival the couple discovered they had the wrong phone number for their primary contact at one of the city's universities. So they set out on their own and arrived unannounced at the gate of the university just as its president was departing for a banquet. Upon encountering the visitors, he insisted that they join him. At the banquet, they met a number of university professors and department heads. The couple realized the timing of their arrival was no coincidence.

One of those department heads turned out to be a former college classmate of the couple's translator, who traveled from the U.S. with the couple as a last minute "substitute." The translator and the department chairman, who had not seen each other fo...

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh died without saying a word at 7:14 a.m. CDT on Monday, June 11, 2001 at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, minutes after a deadly flow of drugs was administered through a needle in his right leg.

Thirty-three-year old McVeigh, the first person executed by the federal government since 1963, thus paid the penalty for the April 19, 1995, attack in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and wounded hundreds more.

His very public death heightened the very public dispute over capital punishment in America. In his death, McVeigh became a symbol and a pawn in the arguments of those on both sides of the debate.

The Southern Baptist Convention crossed over the threshold into this debate when it approved a resolution affirming capital punishment during its annual meeting in 2000. We have been asked by several media types to explain why Southern Baptists have taken the position we have. After all, they remind us, some highly...

Words are powerful tools. They can be used as a shield or a weapon. They have incited revolutions, shaped nations, and thrilled readers. They are the stuff of which most human communication is made. Nowhere is this more evident than in the latest development in human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.

Scientists at Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technologies announced July 12, 2001 that they have begun experiments to clone human embryos to harvest their stem cells. Not only does this signal that the clone age has arrived on American soil, but ACT's use of euphemisms to describe their research is simply remarkable.

According to linguists Keith Allan and Kate Burridge, in their volume, Euphemism & Dysphemism, "a euphemism is used as an alternative to a dispreferred expression, in order to avoid possible loss of face: either one's own face or, through giving offense, that of the audience, or of some third party." In other words, a eup...

In The State Legislature

In 1994, Forrest Claunch (Midwest City) and John Sullivan (Tulsa) were elected to serve in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Through their service as freshmen legislators and later as veterans, they found themselves working together on several common issues. During an afternoon session, Sullivan came over to Claunch's desk, leaned over, and whispered, "You don't like Catholics do you?"

Claunch, a member of First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, was a bit startled by Sullivan's question. "No that's not true," said Claunch. "But that is not the question. What matters is this: If this place were blown up today and you stood before God, would He let you into Heaven, and can you explain why He should?"

Claunch said when he asked the questi...

For years, Christians have abdicated our rightful role in providing a solution for the drug problem that is destroying so many lives. Instead, we have asked the government to rescue us from this curse. Their strategy has called for new prisons, more law enforcement officers, and stronger laws. As a result we've only seen a measure of temporary relief through expensive interdiction efforts. These efforts have clearly failed.

We proclaim from our pulpits and in our witness that Jesus Christ is the solution to every problem — and rightly so. It follows, then, that victory over drug abuse and addiction can only be realized when Jesus Christ changes the person's heart. For this reason Christians should rush to the front lines in the battle against this social plight. Indeed, Southern Baptists, the largest evangelical denomination in the U.S., should be leading the way.

Beginning with the October issue of SBC LIFE, Ted G. Stone and Philip D. Barber will pr...

One Church's Commitment To Homeless Mothers And Children

Olivet Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Okla., was praised by city, state, and Baptist officials for staying and working in its community as the ninety-one-year-old church dedicated a four-plex facility for homeless women and children. The home, located at N.W. 9th and Ellison, in a once affluent, but now deteriorating part of Oklahoma City, is the fourth house opened for the homeless by Olivet.

The latest addition to Olivet's growing number of homes, is named for pastor Steve Kern's mother, Millie Bradley, who died in February. Bradley became a homeless mother with five children, when Kern was six months old and his oldest sister was eight, as the family was abandoned by Kern's father. Bradley later remarried, and the children were raised by their stepfather. Kern said with the addition of the four-plex, Olivet can now serve six homeless mothers and their children.

Over the past four years, 120 homeless mothers and children have been served in Olivet's ho...

See You At The Pole 2001

What started with a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas, at a DiscipleNow weekend in early 1990 has grown to phenomenal proportions. The students felt compelled to pray for three different schools one evening. Not knowing exactly what to do, they went to the school flagpoles and prayed for their friends, schools, and leaders.

Other youth leaders in Texas reported similar activities among their groups and together these youth leaders embraced a vision that students throughout Texas would follow these examples and meet at their school flagpoles to pray simultaneously. The challenge was named See You at the Pole at an early brainstorming session. They shared the vision with 20,000 students in June 1990 at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. From there:

• At 7:00 a.m. on September 12, 1990, more than 45,000 teenagers met at school flagpoles in four different states to pray before the start of school. A few months later, a group of youth ministers from al...

In a place as small as Delta, a western Colorado coal-mining town of 7,000, it wasn't hard for Keith Lucy to notice the startling number of teen pregnancies.

By 1995, Lucy had seen enough. Resolved to do something, he organized a coalition of city and health officials, educators, and ministers to establish Abstinence Awareness Week — which, conveniently, came the week before the high school prom.

Their first move: Above the town's busiest street, a yellow banner touting "Save Sex" went up — and so did the eyebrows.

"Initially, I think it had a bit of a shock effect," Lucy told in mid-June. "You don't normally see that across Main Street."

But then, Delta was hardly typical by Colorado standards. In the town and the rest of Delta County, nearly one in ten babies belonged to teen moms — a number double the state average.

So the locals — from school nurses to bu...

Home schoolers and public schoolers ... off with the gloves. Let's shake hands. There are millions of mothers who looked at the slovenly morality and weak A.B.C.s of America's schools and said, "Frankly, I can do it better."

And better they did!

Their home-schooled children have gone off to college and have done very well.

Their children won the national spelling bees while even the brightest of America's public schools stood back fumbling over syllables and "i before e" rules. Lately, spelling — and a lot of other disciplines — hasn't gotten the attention it deserves in many, if not most, public schools.

While public schools were encouraging third grade boys to explore their true sexual preferences, home-school children were working at math and the alphabet.

Public-school Johnny was good at video games but not at science.

He could play Space Invaders and trade Pokemon cards but, alas,...

Life is going too fast. It has even affected the animal kingdom. Three snails mugged a turtle. When someone asked the turtle what they looked like, the turtle said, "I don't know, it all happened so fast."

The theme today is "do more and do it faster." A restaurant promises lunch in fifteen minutes or it will be free. An emergency room promises treatment in twenty minutes or it will be free. People are reading The Fifty-Nine-Second Employee — a book about how to stay ahead of The One-Minute Manager. We have e-mail, overnight delivery, beepers, pagers, voice-mail, and cell phones. You can't go anywhere they can't find you. One guy told me to send a fax to him on his car phone-fax. Can we do that? Doesn't he have to pull over or something? Our world is into fast.

I'm trying to get organized. The experts tell me to handle a piece of mail only once. I'm afraid to touch anything. My computer doesn't understan...

Cohabitation Bad For Kids! A recent study by the Urban Institute, based on recent U.S. Census data, indicates cohabitation is bad for kids. For many teens, the study found, divorce is not the worst thing that can befall them. Having a boyfriend or a girlfriend move in with mom or dad is much worse. Emotional and behavioral problems, low school achievement, suspensions, and expulsions are several times higher among teens from cohabiting homes than even from single-parent families. Currently, 5 percent of American children live in cohabiting homes, and at the present rate of growth researchers predict at least 40 percent are likely to live in such arrangements by 2020. The evidence is indisputable: Traditional families, homes with married biological parents, remain the best environment for rearing children. Family Research Council, June 28, 2001