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February 2002 Issue

On the Shores of Prince Edward Island

It's a long way — both geographically and culturally — from the mountains of East Tennessee to the rolling hills and red-sand beaches of Prince Edward Island.

But it is to this eastern Canadian province that Joe and Linda Ledford are called to touch lives with the gospel — whether through organizing a local church Sunday School, working with children and youth, or coordinating volunteers, and ultimately church-planting.

They didn't plan it this way, having left family, friends, and cherished careers three years ago to follow God's call on faith. But theirs has become a contagious commitment — prompting a renewed enthusiasm for Great Commission ministry at their new church home, Community Baptist Church in Charlottetown.

"They gave up security and everything this world had to offer for Christ," said Chad MacKenzie, a local lobster fisherman who has made a commitment to Christian ministry in part because of his relatio...

From American Samoa to Montreal, Quebec, more than 5,000 North American missionaries are involved daily in fulfilling the Great Commission. During the March 3-10 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. Marc and Sandra Johnston, Florida Marc Johnston has served as resort ministries director for the Greater Orlando Baptist Association since 1994. Last year the couple worked with 1,500 volunteers, many of them college students who witness through creative arts and other ministries in the Orlando area — which attracts 46 million visitors each year. Pray for Marc and Sandra as they seek guidance about the best way to provide housing for greater numbers of volunteers.

Ask missionaries what the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering means to them, and they'll readily admit that it is the lifeblood for their service.

When Southern Baptists place their money in the offering plate, they are in essence placing it in the hands of a missionary. Every dollar given to AAEO goes to support missionaries on the field.

The North American Mission Board works in partnership with state conventions to distribute monies given through the AAEO to missionaries and their efforts.

Since the offering was named for Annie Armstrong in 1934, more than $800 million has been received by the North American Mission Board to use in reaching people in the United States and Canada for Christ.

The 2002 National Goal for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is $52 million.

The largest expenditure of AAEO funds, about 75 percent, is for salaries (the majority of missionaries are jointly funded by state conventions and NAMB), health benefits, or...

The New York Times, December 4, 2001

John Gore swore that once he retired from his job as a traveling salesman, he would roam no longer. The pins on his hat say otherwise.

"That's Hurricane Floyd, Fran, Hugo, Mitch," he said last week, pointing out some of the relics of his travels. "And now," he said, his finger resting on a pin purchased in Times Square, "the New York twin towers."

He is one of roughly 1,000 Southern Baptists who have traveled hundreds of miles in recent weeks on their own dime to clean the homes of people who live near the World Trade Center so the residents can move back in.

Gripping a mop, Mr. Gore showed a visitor one room his team had just finished at 600 Gateway Plaza that would have passed any inspection. Down the hall, four other volunteers were still trying to restore order to a twelve-year-old's room that was a jumble of dust-coated toys, key chains, and baseball cards. A baby t...

Some may ask, "How does cleaning homes after floods or providing meals for disaster victims help the cause of Christ?" The following letter is from Mike Nelson, the director of the Disaster Relief Ministry at Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, NC. The construction team joined NAMB's Disaster Relief efforts in the clean up of West Virginia homes last summer. His letter demonstrates the vital link between this ministry and open doors for evangelism.

First Baptist Church of Pampa, Texas knows the joy that comes with serving the Lord through missions. For thirty years, the church has been an example of how a local body of believers can participate in making disciples of all nations.

This legacy of missions extends back to the early 1970s when seemingly tragic circumstances gave rise to a surge of evangelistic zeal. On December 23, 1973, a fire destroyed the church's auditorium and several surrounding portions of their building. During the thirty-three months it took to rebuild, however, the church saw an increase of decisions for Christ and made it a point to increase missions giving.

Over the next decade, First Baptist continued to grow both in numbers and sensitivity to missions. By the mid-1980s, it was giving one-third of its budget to missions. In addition to Cooperative Program giving, the church sponsored a foreign mission trip every summer, sent its youth on an annual mission trip, operated a bus ministry to...

Thirteen Muslim men sat in a circle, machetes at their side. Three of them were religious leaders, four of them village heads. For years, Islam had been a part of their village, a part of their lives. Yet on this day in this Southeast Asian country, they sat quietly and listened as two Christian men patiently shared the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The two Christians had befriended the Muslims months earlier and had since been meeting on a regular basis. But for some reason, this day seemed different.

The two Christian storytellers decided not to mince words. The pathway to heaven, they said, does not go through Muhammed or Allah. Jesus Christ, they emphasized, is the only way.

The thirteen men remained quiet, nodding their heads. Finally, one of them spoke up.

"We know what you have said is truth," he said.

Mark, the leader of the Christian team and a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was a bit shocked. "Are the...

According to a British news report, the Royal Navy has discovered an innovative cost-cutting measure. In teaching recruits to fire guns at the HMS Cambridge training facility near Plymouth, live rounds are no longer used. Instead, sailors-in-training are given phony shells; they are to then load the fake shell, aim the gun, and exclaim, "Bang!"

As one might imagine, naval recruits consider it a joke, but a Royal Navy representative (presumably with a straight face) insisted that live firing was not necessary in training, given that real shells cost too much in comparison to the value received in firing them.

Actually, the HMS Cambridge is itself a bit of a phony. It is not a ship, but a ship-like structure built on dry land adjacent to the sea.

There is a great danger in the 21st century that Christian higher education may become the academic equivalent of the HMS Cambridge: a feeble imitation of what it purports to be, sending graduates into a secula...

A young Air Force Reserve officer stood during a weekend, drug- abuse education program and addressed his concerns to those attending the session. "I want you to know about a decision we have made in our home. I had heard much about the serious drinking problems among our nation's young people but never considered the problem's impact on my family. Then one night as I sat at the dinner table with my family, I recalled a newspaper article on the issue and wondered whether one of my own was a potential alcoholic.

"I had been a social drinker for years. For me it was a normal routine. I began to examine myself, though. 'Suppose one of my sons was vulnerable to the alcohol problem, and just suppose he assumed it was safe to drink because of my example. If he developed a problem that eventually destroyed his life, would I be able to bear the guilt that surely would rest on my shoulders?'

"That night, after the children were asleep, my wife and I...

A Review

While most Christians can readily recite the Lord's Prayer, Ken Hemphill offers a guide for using the prayer as a pattern throughout each day. In The Prayer of Jesus, Hemphill describes Matt. 6:9-13 as "an ongoing prayer outline" that equips the believer to "pray without ceasing."

Hemphill is quick to admit having struggled to develop consistent prayer life. "You'd think if anyone would have a handle on prayer, it would be a preacher turned seminary president," says the leader of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

After describing reasons that prayer doesn't seem to work for many Christians, Hemphill deals with each phrase in Jesus' model of an effective prayer. Near the end of ninety-four pages of study, he offers practical suggestions for applying every word of the prayer of Jesus, focusing on the attributes and provisions of God.

By studying The Prayer of Jesus with another Christian, pertine...

Illustrating God's Word

To browse the pages of his prayer journal is to peek inside his mind, to see his inspiration take form in blues and greens and reds and all shades in between.

He's the creative type, an artist. But forget the stereotypes of artsy folks in berets sipping espresso in some trendy sidewalk cafe.

Kevin Kilhoffer is an ex-bull rider, so break out the campfire coffee and lose the espresso. He still looks like he could go eight seconds, with his cowboy hat, handlebar mustache and Wranglers, though he traded the rodeo for love twenty-three years ago when he married his wife, Belynda.

His doodling talents have made him a feared man at Enogex, a division of Oklahoma Gas & Electric Energy Corp., where he works as an operations technician. His sketches of funny or embarrassing situations in which co-workers have found themselves — such as a colleague's outdoor barbecue party gone bad — have become legendary around the Enogex office in Elk City.<...

Toward Biblical Balance

As wonderful as grace is, it has provoked some of the most heated controversies in the history of the Christian church, historian and theologian Timothy George writes in the preface of Amazing Grace, a study guide for the recent Southern Baptist doctrinal study.

George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., strives to offer more of a devotional than academic study of the complex yet basic facet of Christian faith, believing that "God's grace should provoke wonder and worship among all God's children."

While George admits that he approaches a study of grace from the perspective of a Baptist who is a Reformed theologian, his LifeWay Press book is drawing attention from a range of Southern Baptists, including those who oppose Calvinism and many who endorse George's view of historical Baptist theology.

"Amazing Grace is perhaps the best balance of the tension between freedom and s...

Chattanooga Police Sergeant John A. Baker made his final pitch for his faith to his fellow police officers on Dec. 15 — the day of his funeral.

At his funeral at Grace Baptist Church, a tape was played of a Sept. 27 sermon Baker delivered to some 250 officers at the Country Place Restaurant.

Baker knew he had a cancer "death sentence," and the message he delivered at the Country Place restaurant resulted in twenty-nine police officers accepting Jesus Christ.

Lee said Baker "has successfully accomplished his last mission. He has accepted his transfer. He is now pounding his new beat on the streets of gold."

Hundreds of officers gathered at the church also heard tapes of hymns sung by the officer in the emotional rites.

Baker died Dec. 12 after a short bout with cancer in his pancreas and liver. The thirty-six-year-old Southern Baptist police officer is survived by his wife, Zina, and two small sons.

Paul Lee,...

Door to door soul winning works," claimed David Burton, director of the Evangelism Division of the Florida Baptist Convention, as more than 100 people converged on the streets of Clearwater as part of the Inner City Soulwinning [ICS] Seminar held Nov. 16-18.

Burton, who led the event, said the teaching and witnessing was one of his most incredible experiences. Burton taught, witnessed and observed as veteran witnesses and novices led people to Jesus. Burton added, "One of the keys to ICS is the marriage of discipleship principles into the training which took place Friday and Saturday mornings prior to our going out on the streets." He reported that in about six hours 403 people made professions of faith.

This was the first inner city evangelism seminar totally organized and funded by a Southern Baptist state convention. The North American Mission Board has been leading similar national events, called Inter City Evangelism or ICE, across America for nearly fi...

In 1963, workmen, while laying the foundation for the new YMCA in Jerusalem, discovered the skeleton of a man whom they said had a very high forehead and was about 2,000 years old. There are lots of old skeletons about but this particular one came with the implication it might have belonged to Jesus. Unfortunately for the 1963 skeleton, other construction workers were digging again in Jerusalem near the site of Joseph of Arimathea's tomb in 1970. Once more they came up with a skeleton. This one actually had nails driven through his hands. Again, the doubters implied that this might have been Jesus' skeleton. These skeletons proved only what we already knew, a lot of people died at the beginning of the first century.

The number of old skeletons that have been found — and those yet to be discovered — are many but too many reports of this kind only confirm the truth of Christianity's great miracle. We must come out at the same place as Martin Luther did. John Os...

How do you motivate people? One pastor had an interesting approach. A depressed and overweight man came to him because he couldn't lose weight or find a date. The pastor said, "I can help you. At eight in the morning be ready to exercise." He said, "I've tried all the exercise programs and they don't work," to which the pastor replied, "This works. Be ready at eight." The pastor was adamant so he was ready at eight. When the doorbell rang he went to the door and a gorgeous woman in an exercise suit said, "The pastor told me to tell you that if you can catch me you can marry me." And then she took off. He huffed and puffed after her but he couldn't catch her. This routine continued for several months and he lost about fifty pounds. He was a lean, mean, running machine. He knew today was the day he would catch her. He was ready early and couldn't wait for the doorbell to ring. When it rang he ran to the door and jerked it open and sa...

Religious Bigotry In Costumes

Teachers at a Massachusetts high school admit they were on high alert to protect Muslim students from discrimination during a recent school event — yet they allowed and supported anti-Christian expressions.

At Sharon High School's Halloween party, students were given prizes for creative costumes. According to Catholic League spokesman Patrick Scully, teachers awarded prizes to two male students dressed as pregnant nuns and another dressed as a priest who impregnated them.

Scully calls the incident an outrageous display of religious discrimination. He adds that school officials offered an apology — but that is not enough "because where there's wrongdoing, you have wrongdoers," he says. "There's been absolutely no attempt to discipline these teachers. It would be one thing if the students voted on the best costume or funni...