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October 2005 Issue

"What a devastating occurrence, but also a divine opportunity," said Bobby Welch, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, after visiting hurricane-ravaged Mississippi on September 1-2.

Welch visited Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams in Biloxi and Hattiesburg, three churches along Mississippi's Gulf Coast and two relief centers in Jackson.

"Southern Baptists have their greatest opportunity to say 'Jesus' to the lost people of the Gulf Coast states and to this nation in our response to what is an unprecedented natural...

A potential boost of $10 million for hurricane relief efforts could come from the strength of Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program.

Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, announced September 12 a recommendation to redirect beyond-the-budget SBC receipts to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The Southern Baptist Convention's forty-three thousand churches met the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for 2004-05 on September 12, providing the needed base of funding for the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, the six SBC seminaries, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and other SBC operations.

Chapman said he would recommend that all Cooperative Program gifts...

"What we are now calling "ground zero" covers the continental United States, as the dispersion of Hurricane Katrina survivors is bringing this disaster to each of our communities," said Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization at the North American Mission Board.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for Southern Baptists to rise to the occasion and model our passion for missions to the world."

Over the Labor Day weekend, NAMB President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord announced two initiatives designed to help damaged SBC churches recover and to offer assistance to people displaced by the storm — Houses of Hope for displaced victims, and Adopt a Church for affected SBC congregations.

Reccord participated in a meeting with Presiden...

Despite the devastation on the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary campus, President Chuck Kelley said he plans for the main campus to be fully operational in August 2006 and is hopeful that some activities will be held on campus as early as January 2006.

Extension center classes will continue as scheduled.

"New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is here to stay, and we are getting back to work," Kelley said during a September 1 meeting at the seminary's Atlanta-area North Georgia Campus. "We will have a semester. We will have a December graduation."

Kelley said the August 2006 date is contingent on a number of factors. Trustees must approve the target date during their fall meeting. The date also is contingent on the recovery efforts throughout the city; the s...

Through Southern Baptist Survivor Information Database

The Southern Baptist Convention is offering a free online service to aid those displaced by Hurricane Katrina to reconnect with their family and friends.

The Survivor Information Database, at www.SBC.net, is available for those searching for persons displaced by the hurricane and for those who were displaced to alert family and friends as to their condition and location.

The service should be a good means of communication, according to Chris Chapman, director of information systems for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and manager of the Web site.

"All of the information in the database is available to the public, so people using the Survivor Information Database should only include phone numbers, e-mail, or personal information that they want published," he said...

The Empowering Kingdom Growth — Acts 1:8 Challenge strategy is focused on the local church. We are praying that God will use this emphasis to help us to defeat "Spiritual My-opia" by renewing our mission passion. God has given the "Keys of the Kingdom" (Matthew 16) to His church. The church has been entrusted with the incredible good news of the Kingdom and, thus, is the primary instrument by which God advances His Kingdom on earth. The original Acts 1:8 challenge was answered as the Holy Spirit empowered the early disciples to plant biblically-based local churches in an ever-expanding sphere of influence throughout the known world, beginning in Jerusalem and extending to the ends of the earth.

Churches today have the privilege and mandate of taking up the...

Talk about stem cell research seems to be popping up everywhere these days. Stem cell research figured prominently in the last presidential election and is in the news almost daily. In June 2005, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution regarding stem cell research. The House of Representatives has passed a bill on stem cell research, and the Senate is now considering it. Why all the press? Is this something we really need to be concerned about? Shouldn't we just leave it up to the scientists? No, and here is why.

Stem cell research offers hope for the treatment of conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and spinal cord injuries. As Christians, we must insist that the treatment of diseased or injured body parts is a desirable objective. Whether the treatment involves insulin-producing cells for people with diabetes or new nerve cells for persons with spinal cord injuries, the need for help and hope is real. But before wholeheartedly embracing all form...

Making Disciples in the Home

Pastor, how much time do you spend each week in prayer — for your sermon, the church, the salvation of the lost who have visited your church, those marriages that are struggling, your own spiritual growth? Unquestionably, prayer is essential to the effectiveness of a pastor's ministry. We pray for wisdom, direction, insight, protection, and victory — and rightly so.

But consider this sobering prospect: what if God were ignoring those prayers? The possibility of such a scenario should horrify us, shaking us to our very core — what if all of our energies devoted to prayer were wasted? Yet, according to God's Word, if we do not fulfill our biblical responsibilities to our wives, our prayers are in fact "hindered." Consider 1 Peter 3:7:

Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered (HCSB).

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Editor's Note: Because of their particular timeliness and relevance, we have included a sampling of the resolutions passed at the Southern Baptist Convention.

RESOLUTION NO. 5
ON EXERCISING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH

WHEREAS, The United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religious expression for all citizens; and

WHEREAS, Freedom of speech is a cherished liberty which our Baptist forebears defended at great personal sacrifice; and

WHEREAS, Freedom of speech includes protection of political speech, including speech pertaining to social and religious values; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists and other evangelical voters exercised their freedom of speech and their religious freedom during the 2004 general elections to help encourage and implement biblical values in American culture; and

WHEREAS, Christ...

"Everyone Can" — and Heaven Waits!

God desires to touch and change lives, and He does that through us. As you will see from this account by Mrs. Agnes Smith of Thomasville Road Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida, He will work through us — if we will just make ourselves available.

Several years ago our church became committed to soul-winning and offered evangelism training courses. My husband, Roger, and I took the training, and since, sharing the good news of Jesus has been a lifestyle for us both.

Let me share two stories from the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville last June. When we finished all of our responsibilities, we decided to tour the Country Music Hall of Fame. On arriving, a young lady met us and gave us a guide pamphlet. She was very friendly and began to talk to us about what we were dong at the SBC (we were still wearing our name tags) because so many had been coming in to tour the hall. We told her, and then I asked her if she knew how a person could go to heaven. She ...

Racism Erased by Acts of Kindness

Joe McKeever, director of missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans, passed along the following story from his friend Jim Graham in Asheville, North Carolina:

"Yesterday I spoke with a dear cousin who lives in Long Beach, Mississippi. Incredibly, they lived through Camille and in spite of that experience, decided to 'sit this one out.' Obviously we have been apprehensive about her. What a relief to hear her voice and to know she was OK.

"What she told me brought tears of joy to my eyes. She said, 'Jim, Christian groups are all over this area and from places as far as Michigan. They are feeding, clothing, and ministering to people in every conceivable way.'

"For the God-deniers, this black, dark, ugly, mean storm has no bright side. But for those living in the 'light,' God is and will be s...

When I was a kid and went on campouts there were always the ghost stories. On those dark creepy nights, with the breeze whistling through the leaves, I would start thinking I wanted my Mom. One time, we were camping right by a cemetery with the tree branches rustling over the tombstones, and I was scared. Finally, the counselor said we were going to sing a little song, and I thought we would be singing comforting songs about Jesus. And then they started singing: "Did you ever think when the hearse rolls by that you would be the next to die?" Not very encouraging is it? It gets worse. "They'll wrap you up in a nice clean sheet. They'll put you down about six feet deep, and all will go well for about a week, and then your coffin begins to leak. The worms crawl in ...." By then I was thinking, "Mama, I'm coming home." We don't want to deal with death.

A startup transportation company was delivering a dog to DFW airport when they found the d...