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February 2008 Issue

Spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ in the Green Mountain State

When Dewey and Kathie Aiken survey the landscape of Vermont, they see much more than the beautiful red and yellow leaves of autumn, the traditional maple syrup-making in March, and 150-year-old churches with white steeples piercing the blue skies of summer.

Instead, the couple is haunted — literally unable to sleep some nights — when they ponder the lostness of the majority of Vermonters and the urgency to reach the tiny New England state's population of 623,000 with the Gospel. It's estimated that only two percent are committed believers in Christ.

"Vermont is a beautiful state, and it's full of beautiful people," says Kathie. "But we know that beneath the facade there is a lostness. Something is missing in people's lives. I see the sadness in so many of their f...

A Big Job in Big Sky

Because his mission field is based in Big Sky, Montana, where Lone Mountain stretches eleven thousand feet high, Brad Lartigue reports to work every day sky-high — geographically and spiritually.

For twenty years, Lartigue has served as a North American Mission Board missionary — the last seventeen as a resort missionary in Big Sky during the ski season in winter and at Yellowstone National Park in summer. Big Sky is nestled near three interconnected mountains, high in Montana's Gallatin National Forest.

"My place of work is basically the outdoors," he says. "Our sanctuary is in the mountains that rise above us, among the trees and the animals that God has created. That's where worship happens for us.

"I believe that my area of special ministries in reso...

For most Americans, and even for world travelers, Hawaii is the ultimate exotic tourist destination. After all, it's paradise.

But for Southern Baptist missionaries Chris and Monica Woodall, Hawaii is not just a paradise, but islands inhabited by the lost and hurting.

While visitors crowd Waikiki Beach in Honolulu for sunning and shopping, surfers invade Oahu's North Shore for some of the world's most dare-devil surfing, and tourists enjoy the green flora, dark-sand beaches and blue Pacific waters of Maui, the Woodalls see Hawaii's underbelly.

"When you get behind the glitz of Waikiki, you find a lot of needs," Chris says. "When you get away from there and get back into the communities, it's just like anywhere else in the world. There are real people who have...

Why did communist guerillas in El Salvador put Daniel Caceres so high on their murder "hit list" in 1980?

Was it because his brother was a top officer in El Salvador's army battling the guerillas? Was it because Daniel had been a successful businessman, or because he was an evangelical Christian leader in the civil war-torn nation?

Now, twenty-seven years later, Caceres (pronounced "Ka-sé-res") says he doesn't care or want to know why he was targeted.

"Back then, the communists were killing pastors and priests all the time," he recalls. "A lot of people died in El Salvador, close to one hundred thousand people, especially the clergy, lawyers, and businessmen."

Caceres, now 58, was born in El Salvador as was his wife, Marta, and t...

For nine years now, Jon Hodge has been in the neighborhood-changing business, and while he's changing neighborhoods, he's also working — with God's help — to change hearts, minds, and souls.

Based out of Bartlett, Tennessee, just northeast of Memphis, Jon and Linda Hodge are national missionaries for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), an assignment that takes Jon to middle Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, southern Illinois, and Alaska.

Hodge manages a big chunk of NAMB's nationwide World Changers ministry. Created in 1990, World Changers is a pre-packaged mission experience that enables students — middle schoolers to collegians — and adults to donate a week of their summers to rehabilitate substandard housing and share Christ.

Last summer, some twen...

One of the most painful memories from my childhood was the daily ritual of "choosing up sides" for a sporting event to take place during school recess. I was a late bloomer, and my growth spurt didn't kick in until I was in junior high. The two team captains would take turns selecting either their best friend or the best athlete.

As the process continued, the pace slowed and the whispers grew louder and the anxiety mounted. No one wanted to be the last person chosen.

Do you ever feel like you have been left out when it comes to the ability to serve God's Kingdom? I have great news! Every believer is gifted and chosen by the King Himself to serve alongside Him for the advancement of the Kingdom. This article is too brief to answer all the questions you might have concerning spiritua...

Emmanuel Baptist Church

From its birth in 1956, Emmanuel Baptist Church in Farmington, New Mexico, has maintained an outward focus that spawns pastors, missionaries, and new churches, as well as a congregation actively participating in missions.

"I've never before been in a church that had that kind of missions heart, and yet that's why it's been a strong, stable church in the Four Corners area all these years," said Pastor Kirby Kennedy, referring to the region where the state lines of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona meet, sixty miles northwest of Farmington.

"When they give, they feel they have a hand in all the mission work Southern Baptists do — in New Mexico, North America, and around the world," the pastor continued. "This ch...

The ultimate concern in a discussion of the Bible is its authority.

Captivated by the Cross
by Morris H. Chapman

As much as I love Christmas, it is Easter that most thrills my soul. The message of Easter — the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus — remains the central event in human history. My heart is held captive by the hope and the deliverance of the empty tomb. The early believers often greeted one another with the salutation, "Jesus is risen." The response was an affirmation of shared faith, "He is risen indeed."

I am equally captivated by the cross. Without the cross, there is no redemption. Without the cross, there is no lasting peace. Without the cross, there is no reservoir of joy. The cross rema...

Inspiring Examples of Longevity in Ministry

Nearly every time he goes out in public Perry Sanders is treated like a local celebrity.

On a recent trip to the mall in Lafayette, Louisiana, he counted sixty-two people who approached him thanking him for his influence in the city. Even on duck hunting outings he cannot escape recognition. In December, a man approached Sanders after he had finished a morning of hunting to tell him how he had admired Sanders for years.

So what does Sanders do? Was he an actor, local news anchor, or athlete? Actually, he arrived at celebrity status in a very unconventional manner. He was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Lafayette for forty-seven years before retiring in 2006. He also had a television program in the area that broadcast Gospel preaching for more than fifty years.

"It's a wonderful thing to stay a while where you can see people develop and grow in the Lord and develop and mature," Sanders said.

Ben Jones of Jacksonville, Florida, and Rich...

Heaven, hell, sin, and redemption aren't just words at Louisiana's Angola Prison. Warden Burl Cain makes certain every inmate has the opportunity to know the transforming power of the Gospel.

Once called the bloodiest prison in America, the Louisiana State Prison at Angola now has a new reputation as a place of hope for more than five thousand inmates who live out their life sentences without parole. Many inmates know they'll leave the prison walls only when they die, yet despite their circumstances, there is joy in their hearts.

Credit for this unprecedented transformation is given to its one-of-a-kind warden, Burl Cain, who governs the massive prison on the Mississippi River delta with an iron fist and an even stronger love for Jesus.

The hallmark of Cain's twelve-year administration is his relentless effort to help each inmate discover value and purpose in life and experience true freedom of the soul, even when the inmate's life is spent ...

A Prime Opportunity to Spread the Gospel

In the hours before the Tournament of Roses Parade, more than seventy volunteers led twelve people in making decisions for Christ among thousands who staked out a spot to view the festivities along Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard.

Volunteers from churches across the country, including a number of evangelists, participated in a variety of New Year's Eve initiatives spearheaded by San Diego businessman Martin Davis for the twelfth consecutive year.

Two mime teams performed more than thirty-five times throughout the night at various spots along the crowded street. After each performance, evangelist Darrel Davis shared the Gospel.

"It's a unique environment," said Davis, who traveled from North Carolina to join the parade ministry for the first time this year. "When I heard about this opportunity I knew the Lord was calling me to help. There is a lot of seed planting going on here. We gave them a lot to think about."

At a tabl...

March marks the season of HOPE. As believers, our hope is in the resurrected Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Below is a great testimony from Dr. Roger Ferguson of First Baptist Church in Owasso, Oklahoma, of some desperate people looking for hope and finding it because someone was available and willing to share the hope found in Christ.

FAITH Evangelism is a great tool for mature believers to be encouraged by and to present to others for their encouragement toward the Gospel. We teach people to memorize the outline exactly as it is presented. Then they can match it to their personality and customize it as the Spirit leads and the situation demands. As a leader, I try to model the...

In February our culture focuses on relationships. This month I am in more hotels than the Gideon's Bible doing Valentine's banquets and marriage conferences. It brings to mind many years of marriage counseling. It always surprised me that people paid good money to fight over things that really didn't matter. I felt more like a referee than a psychologist.

Relationships are difficult, especially for men. Last year my wife said she wanted to go somewhere she has never been before. I took her to the kitchen. She took me to the guest bedroom.

Of course, men can always find a guy worse than they are. One man forgot Valentine's Day, and his wife was quite angry. She told him that the next morning she better find a gift in the driveway that goes from zero to 175 in six seconds. The next morning there was a big gift-wrapped box in the driveway. She ran outside, and upon opening it, she found a brand new bathroom scale.

Now, because I'm an equal-opportu...

Alarming Rise in Teen Births

The birth rate among teenagers in the United States rose in 2006 for the first time since 1991 along with the number of births to unmarried women, according to preliminary data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rise comes in a culture where Jamie Lynn Spears, the star of a hit Nickelodeon children's show, is expecting a baby at age 16, popular clothing stores like Abercrombie & Fitch are promoting shirts with messages like "Make Love, Not Babies," and "Awkward Mornings Beat Boring Nights," and funding for abstinence education in public schools is under fire.

CDC figures indicate the birth rate for girls aged 15-19 rose 3 percent, from 40.5 live births per one thousand females aged 15-19 in 2005 to 41.9 births per one thousand in 2006. The CDC said this follows a fourteen-year downward trend in which th...