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February 2005 Issue

Exploring Western Canada to Plant New Churches

Dwight Huffman climbs up a hill and looks down on the town below. The cool Canadian breeze ruffles his hair as he surveys the environment, a vast wooded area untouched by development — until now.

What had been pristine wilderness is now slowly being transformed into the town of Chestermere, a rapidly growing community fifteen kilometers from Calgary. With the trained eye of a seasoned pro, Huffman makes a mental note of the community of about 5,000 and asks himself the best way to bring Christ to its residents.

"Chestermere is representative of many towns springing up around the province of Alberta. Some of these towns have no evangelical witness, but that's why we are here as Canadian Baptists. We want to discover the needs of the community and meet those needs in the name of Christ,&qu...

Each year, the North American Mission Board selects eight missionaries or missionary couples to represent the work of more than 5,200 missionaries who serve throughout the U.S. and Canada. Contact information, ministry profiles, and stories are available on the Web at The segments on this year's North American Missions Emphasis video also portray their work.

Jonathan Pettigrew doesn't remember anything about his 100-foot fall down a Colorado mountain in December 2002. He, instead, relies on the accounts of friends who watched over his lifeless body during the two-hour wait for rescue personnel.

Now, less than three years since his near-fatal descent of Cheyenne Canyon, near Colorado Springs, Pettigrew, the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) director at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), shares with college students many of the lessons he's learned throughout his miraculous recovery.

Pettigrew, a US/C-2 missionary with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), is being featured during the 2005 Week of Prayer for North American Missions, March 6-13. He is among nearly 5,200 missionaries in the United States and Canada supporte...

Derek Spain stands in the driving snow, bracing against the harsh wind and the 15 degree temperature. Strangers ask directions, and he gives a greeting, turns, and points them in the right direction.

After four hours he feels fatigued and is glad when he gets a chance to go inside to rest for a while. It's draining work to be outside in such cold temperatures, but he understands the symbolism of what he's been doing all afternoon. On one level he's serving as a volunteer for the ESPN Great Outdoor games, giving directions from the backside of a parking lot. But his real calling is to point the truly lost in the right direction of a relationship with Christ.

Spain is not a native to cold weather, having been raised in Dacula, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. And he ...

Do you hear the cry of Jesus as He wept for Jerusalem? Do you share His passion to gather the people under His wings like a mother hen provides for her chicks? A strategy for Jerusalem will always be born out of passion. When you have a passion you will develop a strategy! Where there's a will, there is a way! But devoid of passion, the best strategy is doomed to failure. We have been long on programs and strategies and short on passion.

How can we develop a passion for our Jerusalem? That should be the preeminent question on the heart and lips of every Kingdom-focused leader. First, you must hear the heartbeat of God. God's heartbeat is that every person from every people group would come to know Him as their rightful King. For that to happen, the people in your Jerusalem must be told the Good News o...

Your SBC Executive Committee

If you are like most Southern Baptists you may have heard about the SBC Executive Committee, but are probably unfamiliar with its makeup and function. Sometimes it is good to ask, "Who are you, and why are you here?" In the last issue of SBC LIFE we started a four-part series designed to answer such questions. In the first article, we examined the historical and legal context of the Convention, and then considered a brief summary of the Executive Committee's legal makeup and relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention. In this installment we will consider some of the roles and responsibilities the Convention has assigned your Executive Committee. What you are about to read summarizes what you have entrusted to your Executive Committee.

The Fiduciary Role of the Executive Committee

The Southern Baptist Convention has established a "fiduciary" relationship with the Executive Committee, which ...

In 1973, I married my high school sweetheart. At the time, I was a college student and was in my third year of pastoral ministry.

Looking back at those days, I realize that I knew very little about ministry and even less about marriage. But as my bride and I embarked on a journey as partners in life and ministry, we were idealistic and in love.

When I see students today, the reality of how young Sandra and I were when we started out hits me. I told her that I felt I would one day be a preacher. Suddenly, it occurred to me that she might not have plans for a preacher in her future. But I rejoice that she willingly embraced God's plan for our lives.

Changes, Challenges, and Commitment

Though I love being a pastor, I will be the first to confess that ministry in the twenty-first century is very demanding. The cultural, social, and moral changes occurring in our world today are reflected in the pews of our...

The political battle over same-sex "marriage" in California heated up December 6 when state legislators introduced competing bills — one legalizing "gay marriage," the other banning it within the state constitution.

The bills were introduced two weeks before a California state judge is scheduled to hear a case by activists seeking to legalize same-sex "marriage." That case, along with the two bills, means that California will remain front-and-center in the national "gay marriage" debate in 2005.

In fact, the issue shows no signs of disappearing nationally.

A New Jersey appeals court heard a same-sex "marriage" case December 7. Washington state's Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a same-sex "marriage" case in March. In Massachusetts — the only state with legalized "gay marriage" — the legislature is expected to consider a marriage amendment sometime in 2005. All tot...

If same-sex "marriage" is legalized nationwide in America, as some believe it will be, then the liberal views of teenagers and young adults are sure to play a large role.

This view is widespread among same-sex "marriage" supporters, who constantly cite polls showing what they claim are America's changing attitudes. Teens, they say, are embracing homosexual "marriage."

Deb Price, who works for The Detroit News, wrote a column last year about two high school students, Amanda Blair and Stephanie Haaser, who fought to change their respective schools' attitudes on homosexuality. Price, a homosexual, believes same-sex "marriage" may be inevitable.

"The gay-friendly generation of Blair and Haaser will eventually take control of the most powerful jobs in the corporate, political, and educational worlds," she wrote.

Others agree.

Recently, during a protest against marriage laws in Illinoi...

People today don't want to watch life happen — they want to experience it. This hands-on trend can be seen in the fields of education and entertainment. Even in the church, people are looking for practical ways to experience authentic faith. John Lewis, a forty-five-year-old lawyer and real estate investor from Jackson, Mississippi, says he wants to be among Christian families who are "raising a generation of people who know what it is to minister, to get up out of the pew and go meet people where they are."
Tsunami Disaster Relief: Compassion in Crisis

Minutes after feeling the earthquake on December 26, Ibu Tetty was in her house in the small village of Desa Nusa, about ten kilometers from the coast in Indonesia's Aceh province.

She was giving thanks that her home was still standing.

"But then I saw the people running up the hill," she says, pointing at the slope rising nearby. "'Why are you running?' I asked them. "They were screaming, 'Water! Water! Run!' There was no time to get anything from the house."

The frightened villagers climbed on top of homes at the top of the hill. "When the water came, it was rolling and rolling," Tetty recalls, spinning her hands frantically. "'Oh, dear God!' I was crying. People were screaming and crying, 'Forgive us, God! Have mercy on us, God!'"

With tears in her eyes, she looks toward the ocean. "Alhamdulillah (thanks be to Allah), all of my family is OK."

The view...

Tsunami Disaster Relief: Compassion in Crisis

He will never forget the lament of a daughter crying over the body of her dead mother — still half-buried under the wreckage of a transit station a week after the tsunami hit.

He will never forget the miles upon miles of flat, barren wasteland once filled with busy neighborhoods and villages.

And he will never, ever forget the smell of death — everywhere.

At the end of a long, heartbreaking day (January 4) of covering the utter devastation in Aceh province in Indonesia, Christian correspondent "Alan Brant" (name changed for security reasons) sat down on a couch, fought off exhaustion and tears, and reported what he saw on a scratchy cell phone line.

"It's just beyond comprehension," Brant said. "The Indonesian friends we were with were pointing out places where (before the tsunami) you could not see the ocean — which was a good ten kilometers away. Villages and houses were there. Now you can see the ocean....

Tsunami Disaster Relief: Compassion in Crisis

For days, maybe even weeks, many Christians will focus on the staggering human suffering in southern Asia.

You may be one of them. You've been moved by the heartrending stories of death and survival. You've shed some tears. Perhaps you've already contributed to relief efforts or plan to do so. You've prayed for the families who have lost loved ones.

But soon you'll grow weary of the avalanche of stories of sadness and loss. Your daily life will crowd back in with its many demands. The new year will bring new crises. The news inevitably will return to Iraq, the economy, and other matters — and your attention will shift away from the people of southern Asia.

Please, don't let that happen this time.

Throughout their annual Christmas season of giving to international missions, Southern Baptists focused specifically on South Asia. They have prayed for the hundreds of millions of people in the region. They have given to the Lot...

If you are particularly astute, you may have noticed a glaring absence in last month's issue of SBC LIFE. Starting in January 1996, for ninety issues, readers could find the name A. William (Bill) Merrell above the title Editor on page 2. In the January 2005 issue, Bill Merrell's name was missing from the masthead. The alteration was especially poignant for those of us in a position to take notice. The absence was not an oversight or an editorial error; rather it marked Bill's completion of one strategic and dynamic ministry and his bittersweet transition into another.
LifeWay's Combines Online Curriculum with Class Organization

LifeWay Christian Resources is taking its Sunday School and small group Bible study curriculum where it's never been before: online., LifeWay's new Internet-based adult Bible study resource, offers small group leaders access to a library of hundreds of Bible study lessons including current published lessons. In addition to the option of stock or customized lesson plans, daily devotional content is provided for email distribution or via a small group's Web page to group members. Leaders can also manage their group's contact information including names, email addresses, birthdays, and telephone numbers. Leaders can also send emails to individuals or the entire class with the click of a mouse button.

"While the needs of many churches continue to be met through the traditional printed Bible study curriculum that LifeWay offers, there are individual, and often Web-savvy, Bible study leaders who are looking for more than a printed quarterl...

Antony Flew, a legendary British philosopher and atheist, has changed his mind about the existence of God in light of recent scientific evidence.

Flew — a prolific author who has argued against the existence of God and the claims of Christianity for more than fifty years — first revealed his change of mind in a video of a discussion with several others at New York University organized by the Institute for Metascientific Research. The video, released in December, is titled, Has Science Discovered God?

Flew said he is now best described as a deist — a person who believes God created the universe but is not actively involved in people's lives today.

"I don't believe in the God of any revelatory system, although I am open to that," Flew said in an interview for the winter 2005 edition of Philosophia Christi, the journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. "But it seems to me that the case for ... [a] God w...

Messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention next June in Nashville, Tennessee, will have opportunities to attend intensive ministry training sessions and participate in an unprecedented door-to-door evangelistic effort.

The seminars will occur June 23-24 as a part of Fast 50 ... 50 Seminars for Growing Leaders, an event hosted by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

LifeWay will also serve as a co-sponsor of Crossover Nashville, June 17-19, along with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Crossover leaders anticipate more than 12,000 participants, including 10,000 volunteers who will conduct door-to-door evangelism June 18.

"LifeWay is committed to training and equipping and this is a great opportunity to use the excellent facilities and staff that we have to provide a remarkable opportunity for Southern ...

Our hearts go out to all the men and women serving our country in Iraq and surrounding areas. I was in earnest about getting over there to be with our soldiers as well as our missionaries. On the Friday in December, before I was to leave on the following Tuesday, they called and said it was not looking good and many areas were shutting down with no planes available.

We would have to cross open land and towns from Jordan into Iraq, and it was not secure enough right now for civilians. They could give us no guarantee of safety. The missionaries were also being put at risk by having us come — which we certainly did not want.

So what do we do? How do we encourage Christ in the lives of our loved ones? Below is how one life was encouraged.

Last night, one of our evangelism teams did a follow-up visit in a home where the fifteen-year-old daughter had given her heart to the Lord the week before. Her mom told us that she had read the gospel tra...

It is encouraging to have a wife that is on your team instead of on your back when times get tough. When Job had all of his problems, his wife supported him by saying, "Curse God and die." How would you like to be married to Mrs. Job? What happened to that relationship? I believe that it is the same thing that happens in today's Christian marriages. They assume that once they have children, making an investment in family is the same as making an investment in marriage. But it is not.

Many families are like Job's. When the crisis hits, they discover they no longer have a good relationship. When does life begin? When the kids leave home, and the dog dies! The empty nest can be the best time of your relationship. Unfortunately, many couples are making investments in the family and not the husband-wife relationship, while expecting the same dividends they once experienced in their marriage. So hear me clearly — your responsibility to your mate is separate and di...

New CDC Stats on Teenage Sexual Activity Show Parallel to True Love Waits Movement

Richard Ross sees something quite interesting about new data that sexual activity declined significantly for girls ages 15-17 and boys ages 15-18 between 1995 and 2002.

Ross, one of the founders of the True Love Waits (TLW) abstinence movement, noted: "The first TLW promises were made by one youth group in 1993" — promises made by teenagers in church settings to refrain from premarital sexual relations.

"In 1994, teenagers displayed over 110,000 promises of purity on the National Mall," Ross continued. "In 1995, teenage promises were becoming behavior. In addition, the national attention on TLW in 1995 was fueling the establishment of scores of abstinence organizations. Soon after came government support for those organizations.