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February 2007 Issue

Little Anatoliy Odnoralov often came home after school with a bloody nose — the result of just another day as a Christian at his school in the North Caucasus region of the old Soviet Union.

"Since early childhood, I knew the price for my convictions," he said.

Anatoliy was the third-born son of an ordinary shoemaker. He and Anatoliy's mother were faithful believers in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, they were believers living in a godless, atheistic nation dedicated to the persecution of Christians.

As the family grew to thirteen, the senior Odnoralov continued to draw his family together, reading them stories from the Bible and urging them to pray. With his meager cobbler's pay, he would later purchase some musical instruments — a guitar, an accordion — and tau...

To Reach People in Northern Michigan

Evangelistic deer hunts. Christian fish fries. Wild game dinners at church. North American missionary Ken Wilson has a lot of tools in his Gospel-sharing tool box to win people to Christ amid the thick woods and crystal-clear lakes of northern Michigan.

"Well, our motto is whatever it takes, we get 'em anyway we can," said Wilson. While he actually was referring to deer as he stealthily walked through the woods with his bow — dressed head-to-toe in camouflage gear — he uses the same strategy for winning souls for Jesus.

As an associational missionary for the Northwest Baptist Association, also supported by the North American Mission Board, Wilson — a fanatical outdoorsman — knows he lives in a hunting and fishing paradise.

"I don't think God could...

When the North American Mission Board and the Arkansas Baptist Convention appointed Diana Lewis as state ministry evangelism director almost fifteen years ago, it was something akin to throwing the wily rabbit into the proverbial briar patch.

A native of Springdale, Arkansas, the Ouachita Baptist University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate all too well knows the bittersweet taste of Arkansas.

"I am a missionary in Arkansas, my home state, so it's a lot of fun for me," Lewis explained. "I get to travel all over my home state and work with churches that are conducting ministries in the local mission fields.

"Arkansas' nickname is 'The Natural State.' We have lots of beautiful state parks, lakes, rivers, mountains, and farmland. We go from the ...

"The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering makes the thing that is impossible among us ... possible."

It's profound and ironic that North American missionary Thira Siengsukon (pronounced See-eng´-su-kone´) — Chinese by birth, Thai by culture, and for whom English is a second language — could so eloquently yet concisely utter just fourteen words that so accurately reflect what the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is all about.

The fifty-seven-year-old Siengsukon, director of the Lao School of Ministry at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, is also an Asian missionary strategist and church planter for the North American Mission Board and the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists.

Siengsukon and wife Montira are t...

In many ways, 2006 was a great year in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention. Last year, Southern Baptists reaffirmed their belief that we can do more together than we can do on our own. For the first time, gifts to the Cooperative Program topped 200 million dollars! The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (2005-2006) resulted in $137.9 million for global missions. And in 2006, for one of the few times in our history the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for the North American Mission Board exceeded our goal, which was $56 million. As of January 17, 2007, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering topped $58 million! As Chairman of the Board of Trustees for NAMB, I want to say a special word of thanks to every Southern Baptist who invested in our Annie Armstrong Offering this year. We had a difficult 2006, but your North American Mission Board is pressing on into 2007 with great enthusiasm and with a great sense of anticipation at all that God will do through our agency ...

For the Southern Baptist Convention

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is asking Southern Baptists to repent of their "self sufficiency" and plead with God for a spiritual revival during 2007. He also is calling upon the Convention to seek reconciliation over divisive issues that distract from the objectives of missions and evangelism.

"Let us confess our arrogance, our self sufficiency, our sinfulness," Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, South Carolina, said in a statement to Baptist Press. "Let us follow the advice of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says: If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

"The year 2007 stands as a year of opportunity before us," he added. "What will we do with it? Will it become a year in which our Lord will be proud and happy with us? Will we waste our opportunities...

An invaluable amount of manpower, experience, insight, and maturity would be absent from volunteer missions in the United States and around the world if senior adults were removed from the equation, two mission board officials say.

"Right now in Southern Baptist disaster relief and even much of volunteerism, senior adults are major players. We see them in virtually every venue we go to," Jim Burton, senior director of partnership mobilization at the North American Mission Board, told Baptist Press. "In disaster relief, senior adults have embraced the task and are serving at all levels of leadership as well as service."

The eldest generation brings a valuable work ethic to volunteerism, Burton said, and given their life experiences they possess a level of maturity that helps them be more effective on the field.

"We believe that volunteerism is the answer to the question of significance that a lot of people ask in life," he sa...

The Work of Summer Missionaries in the Mountains of Peru

Nestled in the Andes Mountains of Peru, most of the people in Santiago de Chocorvos hadn't had the chance to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

But that changed in the small village with the arrival of three Southern Baptist summer missionaries.

Kathryn Oder, Lindy Moser, and Elliot Jeffries came to Santiago as part of the REAP South program (Rapid Entry Advance Plan). The International Mission Board-related program steers missionaries into rural areas in the mountains and jungles of Peru and Bolivia where they can interact with unreached people groups.

And Oder, Moser, and Jeffries did plenty of interacting.

Waking up at seven in the morning and not getting home until after dark was common for the summer missionaries. Their days consisted of telling others about Christ, praying with people, holding regular church services, and visiting surrounding villages — but it was their ministry to children that had the greatest...

Southern Baptists have determined to focus their energies and resources through a process we have called Empowering Kingdom Growth. Tom Elliff challenged us to recognize that the foundation of all that we do is the home, and thus we looked at the Seven Pillars of a Kingdom Family. Our two mission agencies reminded us that Kingdom-centered people must have a missional heartbeat. They challenged us to join our energies and resources to accomplish the Acts 1:8 Challenge.

As I travel across our Convention, I am beginning to sense that the Kingdom passion is beginning to catch fire. I am hearing much conversation on being Kingdom people and on being Acts 1:8 churches. Nonetheless, many of the churches that have taken the Acts 1:8 challenge seemed to have missed the obvious...

Through the Cooperative Program

Missions is a well-established component of Bethel Baptist Church's overall ministry program. The arrival of a new pastor has sparked a fresh awareness within the Chicago-area congregation of about one hundred and twenty people of their shared commitment with other Southern Baptists.

"I believe that as Southern Baptists — being the independent-minded people we tend to be — to have strategized back in the 1920s to voluntarily work together to provide security and consistency for our missionary effort was one of the most visionary and spiritually blessed things we as a Convention have ever done," said Wright Eavenson, Bethel's pastor since March of 2006.

"And for us as Southern Baptists to have actually maintained it all these decades, it has to be a God thing."

The pastor noted, "Because we voluntarily cooperate through the Cooperative Program, we have a worldwide missionary force that is able to accomplish things no o...

Helping Christians Break Free from Financial Bondage

For too long the issue of personal stewardship has been neglected in many churches and the results have been detrimental in a consumer-driven society where Americans are pressured to spend, often more than they earn, Ashley Clayton, associate vice president for stewardship at the SBC Executive Committee, said.

"Easy money, credit card debt, and consumer debt have become a big problem not just in American culture but frankly in Southern Baptist culture," Clayton said. "What we're finding is the conditions inside the church are not much different than they are outside the church. Christians are overspending and are in as much trouble as non-Christians."

Church leaders including pastors and staff are not immune to the problem, he added, so the Executive Committee has entered an alliance with Crown Financial Ministries to help Southern Baptists grasp the crucial knowledge they need to implement God's perspective on managing their money.

A...

Expanding the Abstinence Message in Africa

While True Love Waits was holding its first national event in July 1994, a second smaller but perhaps even more powerful True Love Waits observance was taking place half a world away.

On the same day that more than 210,000 covenant cards were being displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C, missionaries Larry and Sharon Pumpelly organized a parade in downtown Kampala, Uganda, to introduce the True Love Waits abstinence-until-marriage message to a continent that was being decimated by AIDS.

Twelve years later, True Love Waits has been credited by government leaders in Uganda for a remarkable decrease in the HIV/AIDS infection rate from 30 percent of the population to about 6 percent.

As True Love Waits makes plans to expand its work in Africa through LifeWay's "A Defining Moment" major donor campaign, a small team of ministry representatives recently journeyed to Kenya and Uganda to learn more about how the ab...

The Moore household has a new prayer partner, and her name is Nancy Pelosi.

I suppose "partner" isn't the right word since the speaker of the United States House of Representatives doesn't know anything about our kitchen-table intercession. Nonetheless, my young boys will soon learn how to pronounce the words "Speaker Pelosi" as we partner together to ask God's blessings for her.

It's not that I'm a Pelosi supporter. Indeed, while the California congresswoman and I would probably agree at several points, I find her position on the most defining issue of the day — the abortion of unborn babies — to be not just wrong-headed but profoundly evil.

Nonetheless, my wife and boys and I will be praying for her. And I hope a wave of Southern Baptist churches and families will join us.

It is easy for Christians to pray for political figures who court our votes. There are several organizations out there devoted t...

Still Works for Rick Gage

Billy Graham is recognized around the world for the monumental success and impact of his citywide crusades. These crusades have been so popular over the past fifty years that one in six Americans has heard Graham speak in person.

According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, one out of every one hundred people who made a commitment to Christ at a Graham crusade is now in full-time ministry, and 70-80 percent of those saved at a crusade have remained steadfast in their decision to follow Christ.1 But what will become of crusade evangelism as Billy Graham's career draws to an end? Some have suggested that this model of evangelism is no longer effective or valid. Will the crusades Graham made so famous become passé?

Obstacles

According to James Merritt, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, several major spiritual challenges have created obstacles for groups attem...

I'm not sure what it's been like where you live, but we have had some serious storms around Daytona recently. The tornado on Christmas day was the last one. But we all know that weather storms are usually not as hard as personal storms that we go through. Often times our Lord will try to reach us anyway that He can in order to help us change direction and give us peace and that abundant life that only He can offer. He said, "But unless you repent you will all perish as well" (Luke 13:3). Consider this testimony from Dr. Gerald L. Hodges, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in New Albany, Mississippi.

A couple of semesters ago during our visitation, an electrical storm was moving through our county. The rain, wind, and lightning were so bad that I asked our team leaders to take this opportunity to practice with their teams because I felt like the weather was too bad to send people out in it. However, earlier that day someone had called me and given me the name...

The children begged for a hamster, and after the usual fervent vows that they alone would care for it, they got one. They named the hamster Danny. Two months later, when Mom found herself responsible for cleaning and feeding the creature, she located a prospective new home for Danny the hamster. When she told the children the news of Danny's imminent departure, they took the news quite well, which somewhat surprised her, though they did offer some comments. One of the children did remark, "He's been around here a long time - we will miss him."

Mom agreed saying, "Yes, but he's too much work for one person, and since I'm that one person, I say he goes." Another child offered, "Well, maybe if he wouldn't eat so much and wouldn't be so messy, we could keep him." But Mom was firm. "It's time to take Danny to his new home now," she insisted. "Go and get his cage."

With one voice and in tearful outrage...

Stem Cells from Amniotic Fluid
by Tom Strode

Scientists have announced the discovery of cells that have much the same potential as embryonic stem cells but without their ethical drawback, even as the House of Representatives prepares to vote again to fund experiments that destroy human embryos.

A team of researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Children's Hospital in Boston found the stem cells in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women, according to The Washington Post. Unlike embryonic stem cell research, the extraction of the cells from the fluid that surrounds an unborn child does not require the destruction of a tiny human being. These cells have the...