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December 2005 Issue

Three years ago, Oliver Graham* had the perfect job. A medical sales rep with top-dollar contracts, he boasted a good salary, flexibility, and great clients.

But when God got the Grahams' attention for overseas missions, all they could say was "yes."

"We had put out a fleece and God (answered) in two hours," says Oliver, who describes himself as a simple country boy. "We knew this 'going to missions' was serious business."

Now the Grahams are on the front row of what Oliver calls a "God thing" — an explosion of decisions for Christ in picturesque Q-city, China.

Since Oliver and his wife, Joy*, began mentoring six Chinese believers a mere twenty months ago, those believers have started more than fifty-f...

Historians identify William Carey's departure for India in 1793 as launching the modern missionary movement. But most would acknowledge that more has been accomplished in global missions following World War II than in the previous one hundred and fifty years.

However, with the disintegration of the communist power block in the last decade of the 20th century — along with advances in communication, travel, and technology — progress toward fulfillment of the Great Commission has accelerated more in the first five years of the 21st century than the last 212 years combined!

Chaos, conflicts, and political upheaval have combined to create an openness to spiritual answers that only the gospel can provide. A focus beyond nations to evangelize every people group has made the good news accessi...

In the fourth chapter of Matthew, we read the words of Jesus to His first disciples: "Come, follow me."

It is an invitation that has been extended throughout the centuries since He first approached a small group of fishermen standing by the Sea of Galilee. Countless numbers of people have responded to Jesus since that day, committing their lives to follow Him wherever He calls them to serve. Their stories inspire and challenge each one of us to respond as well by giving of ourselves, our time, and our resources so the nations of the world may come to know His wonderful name.

Missionaries Keith and Penny Stamps are an example of a couple who heard God's call and followed despite numerous challenges. Their story is unique, yet representative of so many serving across our world today. Growin...

Sunset paints a glorious reddish glow across the placid water lapping the beach at Khao Lak, Thailand.

The view calms the mind, quiets the heart — and packs in the tourists at posh resorts.

Used to pack them in, that is, before the tsunami roared ashore last December.

"It's hard to believe an ocean that beautiful could cause so much destruction," says missionary Mark Caldwell, gazing wistfully toward the horizon.

But destroy it did. Caldwell turns around and looks inland. He stands within walking distance of the places where at least one thousand bodies were recovered after the Indian Ocean tsunami thundered north into the Andaman Sea — and laid waste to this stretch of Thailand's southern coastline.

Rebuilding continues to move ahead in the b...

Burning incense makes the air sweet and hazy. Four American women — a missionary named Molly*, a journeyman named Susan*, and two volunteers — sit among a dozen or so African prostitutes in a circle of mismatched chairs and a couch. They all listen intently as the Old Testament story of Joseph and Potiphar plays from a cassette. From the hall outside comes the sound of Molly's toddler, Joshua*, playing with African friends.

In a home across town, Molly's husband, Mike*, pulls dishes from the cabinet and sets out two pans of lasagna to thaw, getting ready for the evening's house church. Christopher*, the couple's three-year-old, throws a ball outside with a neighbor.

...

Last month we celebrated Kingdom Moments involving key leaders in our Convention entities. We looked primarily at the event that took place at the Executive Committee when our entity heads stood together responding in a magnanimous way to the needs of those who had been ravaged by recent storms. This sacrificial decision to focus on the needs of others and the Kingdom of God should be an inspiration to all of us.

The second event that I mentioned briefly was the time of prayer that followed the Executive Committee meeting. This received far less attention by design. Those involved in the all-day prayer focus requested that the press not be invited. This was in no way an event that was done for public notice.

As I continue to meditate upon the significance of that day, I am still basking in the sheer...

Adrian Rogers, the longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis and one of the fathers of the grassroots movement that brought the Southern Baptist Convention back to its biblical, historical roots, died November 15. He was seventy-four.

Rogers died following a battle with cancer and double pneumonia.

Rogers came to Bellevue Baptist in 1972 and retired this year, and in his thirty-five years there helped build the church from a membership of nine thousand to more than twenty-nine thousand. His face and voice were known to millions of believers worldwide thanks to his Love Worth Finding television and radio ministry, which is carried in more than 150 countries.

But Rogers may be best remembered for his leadership in what is commonly called the Conservative Resurgence, the movement in which Southern Baptists elected a series of conservative leaders in response to evidence of theological liberalism within the denomination's seminaries a...

President George W. Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, thanked volunteers from the Tennessee Baptist Convention Disaster Relief operation and members of First Baptist Church in Pompano Beach October 27 for preparing more than twelve thousand meals since an early morning arrival the previous day.

Hurricane Wilma, a strong, Category 3 storm, left Florida October 24 after cutting a swathe through Alligator Alley and walloping structures and trees along the highly populated East Coast corridor stretching from Vero Beach to Miami, leaving millions without power.

At Pompano Beach, the Bush brothers for nearly an hour shook hands with relief workers and encouraged those who waited in long lines at a walk-up feeding station to take hot meals home.

"I appreciate you. I am glad you are here," President Bush said to workers. "Thank you."

To dozens of reporters, President Bush said he was grateful to see people helping each other out....

Struggling to Resume Worship and Ministry

They sang from a screen fueled by a borrowed generator. They hugged friends and waved to others across the sanctuary. And they asked the all-important post-hurricane question: "How did you do?"

It was the first time that First Baptist Church — significantly smaller in number but no less enthusiastic — met for worship since Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans.

The church is built up enough so that the floodwaters stopped at its doorstep. But the church didn't escape damage. Winds ripped away about a third of one building. Rain poured into Sunday School classrooms. Offices and church records were destroyed. Parts of the buildings that escaped damage soon showed signs of growing black mold. Weeks after the storm, there is still no electricity.

"Everything around us stood in four to six feet of floodwater for weeks. The grass is dead, the trees are dying," said David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist.

But when the f...

Christian Jihad Two Former Muslims Look at the Crusades and Killing in the Name of Christ by Ergun Caner & Emir Caner Christian Jihad is the story of a horrific journey of slaughter and conversion by the sword. It paints the picture of warriors, fighting in the name of religion. It is a journey into the darkest hour of Christianity — the Crusades. To most in the west, the Crusades are only a faded memory of events long past. But to the Islamic world, the "Crusaders" have never ended their attempt to take over the world. The authors, intent on providing more than a mere history lesson, examine the impact of the Crusades on today, question ideas like "just war," and urge Christians to learn from the past. (Published by Kregel, $12.99)

The following account is from Jay Johnston, the director of FAITH/ Evangelism and Discipleship for LifeWay Christian Resources.

While helping a friend jump-start his car in my driveway, I noticed that I had a nail in my front left tire. My first thought was, "WOW! God, you are so good to let me find that nail in the tire before it goes flat!"

The next day I took it to the local Super Wal-Mart where I usually have my car serviced. While I was waiting for them to repair the tire, I walked over to the grocery section of the store. It's a new store, and I had recently asked the store to carry two food items that our family uses. As I walked around looking for those two items, I found that they still did not have the products on the shelves, so I sought out an employee to make another request.

I came upon a man who was singing and seemed to enjoy his work in the fresh produce section very much. I walked up to him and said, "Hey, I like your s...

Christmas is an insane time of the year isn't it? So much so that some of us can't sleep. We stay awake deciding what gifts to give to our family and friends, and then wonder how we will afford it all. Little children are busy wondering what to ask for. Young Tommy, for example, looked longingly at his friend's dog. "My mother won't let me have a dog for Christmas." he said. "Maybe you're not using the right strategy," his friend replied. "What strategy do I use?" Tommy asked. "Don't ask for a dog," the friend said, "ask for a baby brother, then you'll get a dog."

Actually, what we Christians believe does sound bizarre. And since God sent His Son long before CNN or Fox News, He used shepherds, angels, and a star. A child is born, but a Son is given. This child was a Son before time existed. He is all of God and all of man. He possessed all the humanity of a child, but all the divinity of Almighty God. He b...

Gov. Bush Introduces Children to Narnia

It seems Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a C.S. Lewis fan. Just as the film version of Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is set for release in theaters, Bush is urging school children to read the book as part of his "Just Read, Florida!" initiative.

Bush launched the statewide reading program in 2001 with the goal of every child reading at or above grade level by the year 2012, and a Lewis quote was even chosen as the motto: "We read to know we are not alone."

"The opportunity to inspire the love of reading in a child is a great honor and an extraordinary responsibility," Bush said.

According to the Just Read, Florida! We...