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December 2008 Issue

This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions, November 30 through December 7, focuses on missionaries who serve in South America as well as churches partnering with them, exemplifying the global outreach supported by Southern Baptists' gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This year's theme is "GO TELL the story of Jesus," and the national offering goal is $170 million.

International Mission Board missionary Eric Reese taps on the interior ceiling light, illuminating the cab of his Chevy pickup. He doesn't need to see inside his vehicle. But after six years of working with the urban poor in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he knows those outside the cab need to see in.

Eric slows the truck to a stop. A man steps toward the open, driver-side window and cocks an AK-47.

"Calma, calma," Eric says. "We just finished an evangelistic presentation. We&#...

Sweat dripped from Dut's short, slender body as she hollowed out a grave in the floor of the Colombian rain forest.

Only minutes earlier the Nu* Indian woman had given birth to her ninth child, a boy, but something was wrong. The baby's head was misshapen, pointed — a temporary defect doctors would recognize as the result of an intense labor.

But there were no doctors here. Dut was ignorant and alone, save for several of her young children who had tagged along with their mother as she ventured into the bush that day.

They watched as Dut laid their brother's tiny body in a shallow hole and began to cover him with dirt. The newborn shrieked in protest, his arms and legs struggling against the handfuls of cool, damp soil that pressed against his skin.

His cries weakened as a wave of earth washed across his face, followed by another and another. Abruptly, the jungle fell silent. Without pause Dut stood, brushed the caked blood and grime f...

Missionaries who raise their own support are often called "faith" missionaries in contrast with those sent out by denominational agencies such as the International Mission Board (IMB), which provides support and benefits.

However, the IMB does not generate income to support the more than 5,300 missionaries overseas receiving financial support. We are totally dependent on the gifts of Southern Baptists.

It takes faith to believe God will provide $170 million through a once-a-year missions offering named after a 19th-century missionary. It takes faith to trust Southern Baptists to have a mission heart and allocate a percentage of their church gifts to the Cooperative Program.

Last year, the International Mission Board sent out 841 new missionaries — none were delayed in leaving for their field of assignment because they couldn't raise funds. They followed God's will, confident God would provide for their needs through our churches.

...

Vá e conte! This simple Portuguese phrase has taken me to places in the world I would never have dreamed possible. It means "go tell."

I first learned Portuguese many years ago as an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary to Brazil. Now, as president of your North American Mission Board (NAMB), I may have fewer opportunities to speak Portuguese, but that one phrase, "vá e conte," still carries me to places in my walk with Christ that I would not have dreamed possible, even though I now live out that command to "go tell" in English.

Having obeyed that command in an international setting, and now doing the same here in North America, the Lord has given me a unique perspective on how the two phrases are related. Yes, we serve the same Lord. Yes, we obey the same Great Commission. But there is more to it than that, and I believe the story of Justin Garrett* is a perfect example.

Justin was an agnostic st...

As a member of Girls in Action, her view of the world soared far beyond the community where she lived. She dreamed of one day serving God in North Africa. Years later, as a physician, she delivered not only physical healing but also spiritual healing by teaching people about God's love.

When he went to RA (Royal Ambassadors) camp, he met his first missionary and heard God's call to missions service. Now he lives in a place where to even tell of his presence might bring harm to his family.

When they decided on early retirement from their secular jobs, this couple knew God had a place for them to serve where their life skills could be used to help others come to faith in Christ. Working in South America with a people group in need of job training, they find it easy to share their work skills as they tell people about the carpenter who gave His life on the cross for them.

The one thing all these people have in common is that at some point in their lives, the...

I submit five reasons why the virgin birth is a doctrine we can count on — five reasons it makes sense to believe the Word of God on this matter.

Have you ever thought what it might have been like to live in the time of kings and queens and knights? We know little of what it is like to live under a monarchy or "rule of a king" except through history books, novels, and popular movies. We do know that the king was absolute ruler and that appropriate "pomp and circumstance" followed him wherever he went.

Imagine for a moment that you are living in a small village during the rule of a wise and beneficent king. One day it is announced that the king is coming to visit your small village. What preparations would need to be made? We can only imagine that all the villagers would work together to ensure that the city was spic-and-span and that everyone was prepared for a visit with royalty.

Let me bring the picture to a more recent e...

International Mission Board

No one knows how the legend came to Yang Jauh village.*

Hidden away on a remote South Pacific island, the village is home to an ancient people known as the Sayang.* For centuries they have survived in isolation, bound by the promise of an ancient legend that foretells the arrival of a white-skinned foreigner bearing a "precious" gift.

That promise was fulfilled the day Southern Baptist missionary Michael Martin* came to Yang Jauh and began sharing the Gospel. It was the first time anyone in the village of more than ten thousand people had ever heard the name of Jesus Christ.

What about the millions of other people across the earth waiting, like the Sayang, to hear the Good News for the first time? Who will tell them? What will it take to ensure that every tribe, tongue, and nation hears the story of Jesus?

This is the question that drives Martin and more than 5,500 other Southern Baptist missionaries as they serve God on the frontlines of lostne...

When people are educated about missions, they pray better, give more, and go more eagerly, says Kansas pastor Ray Kempel.

"We can give to any cause. We can give to all kinds of good organizations," said Kempel, who has led First Southern Baptist Church in Hutchinson for twenty-three years. But he noted: "We need to educate people to the fact that we're not giving just to meet physical needs but also their spiritual needs. That's what our giving to the Cooperative Program is — it's an investment in spiritual needs."

"Missionary Moments" are part of each Sunday morning and evening worship service. Either a deacon reads a missionary vignette from the booklet available via the SBC Executive Committee or a Missionary Mom...

In the Bambara culture of West Africa, pride often prevents people from admitting they're hungry. But evidence abounds.

Mud-wall granaries stand empty.

Five-year-old Mariama* sprouts reddish fuzz on top of her head — a sign of malnutrition.

When asked what his family has been eating lately, Mamadou* plucks a green leaf from a nearby tree.

"It tastes very bad," he admits, "but ... it keeps you alive."

And when a sack breaks at the grain distribution site for a Southern Baptist hunger relief project, a village elder drops to his knees to gather grain out of the mud with his fingernails.

"I just know that when Christians come to work in a place, we can't close our eyes to this hardship," Steven Roach, an International Mission Board worker, said.

So he invited a team from the South Carolina Baptist Convention and requested Southern Baptist World Hunger Funds to help stave off starvatio...

The Chronological Study Bible Burgundy, Jacketed Hardcover The only study Bible that presents the text of the New King James Version in chronological order — the order in which the events actually happened — with notes, articles, and full-color graphics that connect the reader to the history and culture of Bible times and give the reader a dramatic, "you are there" experience. Features include translators' notes, full-color illustrations of places, artifacts and cultural phenomena, contextual articles that connect Biblical times and world history and culture, daily life notes, time panels, and charts that show the flow of Biblical history and in-text and full-color maps. (Thomas Nelson, $44.99)

I am so blessed to be able to connect pastors and leaders by encouraging them to develop strong relationships and cultivate cooperation with other conservative evangelical Christians around the world as we continue to witness to the lost about the saving power of our Lord Jesus.

As I travel, I see clearly that God is at work all around the world. Read this testimony by Ann Lovell, a missionary/reporter in South Korea, of what is happening there. Globally, so many are finding and sharing Christ, and I was blessed to see their hearts on fire for soul winning.

Young-Nam Oh came to Christ while studying in the United States, but he did not learn to share his faith until he attended a FAITH evangelistic course sponsored by Tae Hung Baptist Church in Taejon, South Korea.

"In a short time," Oh said, "I learned to witness efficiently."

While a student of evangelism, Oh made a list of the people he wanted to tell about Jesus. On...

There is always someone who promises good news, whether it's a TV preacher promising a miracle or junk mail that promises a big sweepstakes win. Our politicians have just promised that the government will live within its means even if they have to borrow to do it. Most of us could use some good news. Our 403B has become a 101F. After months of negative economic growth, we are broke. I admit I'm discouraged. I finally had a check clear and the bank bounced. I invested in paper towels and revolving doors. I was wiped out before I could turn around. If the economy doesn't improve, I'll have to eat that fruitcake I received for Christmas last year instead of giving it to a deacon. The Christmas carol we all sing this year may be I Heard the Bills on Christmas Day.

Even good news from an official agency may let you down. Woodrow and Lois Nelson discovered that their lottery ticket matched the winning numbers. They were ecstatic over winning $12 million. Unfortunatel...

Mission Colleyville — Reaching the Hispanic Community for Christ

The seventh annual Mission Colleyville October 25 resulted in 285 decisions for Christ and forty baptisms on the spot as 3,722 people from more than nine hundred families registered for free toys and heard a presentation of the Gospel.

"It was a more effective meeting this year than in years past, in my opinion," Freddie Gage, cofounder of the event and staff evangelist at First Baptist Church in Colleyville, Texas, said. "The Holy Spirit of God came down and touched many people through the preaching of Homer Martinez," a Hispanic evangelist based in Dallas.

Gage&#...