SBC LIFE

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December 2010 Issue

North African Believers Persevere Amid Personal Attacks

They broke into the church at night to finish the job they'd begun weeks earlier.

Hard-line Islamists wanted to shut down a Kabylie church in North Africa that had recently moved into a largely Muslim neighborhood. Twice they'd successfully stopped services by barricading the church's doors; they'd even threatened to kill the pastor. But each week the Christians returned to worship.

This time the Islamists poured gasoline over everything — chairs, Bibles, equipment — and set it ablaze.

Karim* could see the glow of the flames from his rooftop. Five years earlier, the Kabylie pastor started the church in his home with just three people. It grew to more than four hundred members. They had relocated to a larger building only two months earlier, but now that was gone.

Attacks like this are a frightening reality for thousands of Kabylie Christians. They're also evidence of the Gospel's rapid growth and the depth of the Kabyles' faith.

"Jesus was persecuted; we will be persecuted...

Hamit Kaya's* ministry has a distinct rhythm: tea before medicine, medicine before words.

Kaya is the first indigenous church planter to the Zaza of eastern Turkey. Once a month he travels to his hometown and its surrounding villages. He uses his medical training to minister to villagers' physical needs, while using his understanding of the culture to communicate God's love to the Zaza in a language they can understand — the language of relationships.

"The first day-and-a-half of our trip, he drank copious amounts of tea and visited with group after group, individual after individual, deepening friendships and trust all the while," explains a Southern Baptist worker who has traveled with him.

"He is practically required to visit everyone each visit or relationships will suffer and the intimacy of friendships will fall away. People become offended."

...

Rather than looking forward to freedom, Noon dreaded the day of her prison release.

During the almost two years that she had served time in Thailand for drug possession, no one had visited her or had even written her a letter. She realized that when prison officials set her free, she would have no home and no place to go.

"Everyone in my family, my relatives, they rejected me and forgot me," the quiet 25-year-old remembers.

But then another prisoner, a Christian, told her about God. The Christian prisoner also began to teach Noon how to pray.

"The first prayer I prayed was 'If you are God, please bring someone to visit me,' because for almost two years, no one visited me or wrote a letter to me," Noon says. "I said, 'God, if you want me to know your grace, answer me and let someone come to visit me.'"

One week after her plea t...

When Osvier Acosta Ferrero, 72, and Ricardo Tadeo Soria Perez, 58, pedal down dirt roads on their bicycles, they're not out for exercise. They're praying for Cubans who need Christ.

These Cuban Baptists sing hymns as they cycle for miles, traveling to rural communities to lead Bible studies. "If someday God sends us to another country, we'll go," Osvier says. "We have the joy of evangelization, always asking God for wisdom, a love for people, and the joy of proclaiming His Word."

Their zeal is typical among Christians in Cuba who are seeing one of the most rapid rates of church growth in the world.

How vast is that growth? Cuban Baptist churches numbered 210 in 1960. Over the next thirty years, that total increased to just 238. In the 1990s, a church-planting movement began sweeping the island nation; today, there aren't enough churches to hold all the bel...

No one in the clinic's waiting room is smiling — except Anna Banda.

She chats happily with people at the Circle of Hope clinic on the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia. There are few — if any — empty seats as they wait to be tested and treated for AIDS.

One mother leaves the clinic carrying bottles of medication in one hand and an infant in her other arm. A trash can overflows with empty medication boxes people have discarded before leaving the facility.

Banda knows all too well the pain these people are feeling.

Nearly six years ago, Banda was dying of AIDS. She shows a photograph of herself during her darkest days. In the picture she is not smiling. She sits on a bed with her shoulders slumped, staring blankly into the camera. She appears frail, sad, and near death.

At that stage of the disease, many people die within days or months — sometimes a y...

I could have titled this article "The Miracle of Cooperation." I even thought about titling it "When God Adds Up." I want to share with you some important aspects of cooperative ministry and, yes, the Cooperative Program.

We know, don't we, that most Christians keep most of their money for their own needs? We know that across the board most churchgoers give less than 2.5 percent to church or to any type of charity. Therefore, it is quite clear that the majority of what they have stays with them for their own needs.

We know that most churches keep the vast majority of their resources for their own ministries. The amount of money that churches have been sending to the Cooperative Program has steadily decreased for many years and now unfortunately is below 6 percent. Therefore, it is quite clear that most churches are keeping an increasing amount of money for their own ministries...

An Interview with Bryant Wright President of the Southern Baptist Convention

Editor's Note: On the evening of September 21, 2010, following his address to the SBC Executive Committee, SBC LIFE had the privilege of visiting with and interviewing Bryant Wright. What follows is a condensed version of that conversation.

What is your vision for your ministry as president of the SBC?

As I mentioned today, it's that we would return to our first love, Jesus Christ. That is the starting point. I realize that's not a measurable goal, but it is the heart of what I would love to see ...

You're lying on a thin, foam mattress in the suffocating stillness of a hut. You know it's going to be a long, hot night.

Someone has just shut the only door to your hut, and you're hoping for any bit of breeze to come through the one small window. You lie awake, listening to the faint sound of a battery-operated radio spouting off in some foreign language, and suddenly the sound of a donkey braying right outside startles you. Not too far away, you can hear the sound of several dogs in a territorial match. There's no relief to be found, no rest. You know if you can just make it 'til the cool air comes in the early morning, you might be able to sleep an hour or two.

But what makes your discomfort totally worth it is knowing that just a few hours earlier, you were sitting around a campfire, telling stories from the Word of God. And you saw the locals begin to understa...

Rallying the twenty-one churches of Rockcastle Association of Kentucky Baptists, Director of Missions Randy McPheron called for "21 Days of Prayer for Spiritual Awakening" last summer. An estimated two thousand people participated in praying daily for revival.

"As a new DOM, I believed we could accomplish more for the Kingdom if we came together," said McPheron, a longtime pastor who became the Rockcastle DOM a year ago.

"So, I presented the theme, 'Better Together: In Heart, in Hand, in Him,' and outlined our goals for a year. A segment of this vision called for a 21-church revival effort this fall."

Church members were given prayer guides that included a daily devotional written by each pastor in the association and a list of prayer needs for each church.

The 21 Days of Prayer for Spiritual Awakening were divided into three weeks:

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Missions, Ministry, & CP

IN MARYLAND

"Without missions, a church is just a social club. Without missions, there is nothing you can justify to members. Without missions, there is nothing to give to the church. Without missions, it's just about you."

Samuel Rozolem, pastor of Nations United Baptist Church, is unwavering: "I believe that's the only reason a church exists, to do missions."

To Rozolem, the Cooperative Program is a vital missions channel for the multi-national Nations United in Silver Spring, Maryland, less than twe...

Teaching That Transforms: Facilitating Life Change Through Adult Bible Teaching Richard R. Melick, Jr., & Shera Melick; Text-Driven Preaching: God's Word at the Heart of Every Sermon Daniel L. Akin, David L. Allen, & Ned L. Mathews, editors; The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Colossians and Philemon Murray J. Harris
Glorifying God ~ By Being a Biblically Sound Church by Mark Dever; Glorifying God ~ By Producing Mature Believers by John Revell

We live in desperate times. Our lives, our families, our churches, our communities, and our nation reflect the ruinous effects of our sinful ways. To some degree we all have pursued the things of the world and stand guilty of worshipping the created, not the Creator (Matthew 6:24; 1 John 2:15).

Where do we place our trust? Have we abandoned our faith in the Lord? In many of our lives, our passion for Him has grown cold. We are guilty of bearing false witness before the God of the universe.

However far we may have wandered from the calling God has placed on our lives, God has not moved. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Apart from the cover provided by Christ's work of atonement, there is no hope for a stiff-necked people (Isaiah 13:11; Revelation 2:4). God's judgment is swift and sure; His wrath is without compare-only the blood of His Son holds back His sword of ju...

SBC Day of Prayer and Solemn Assembly by Mark Kelly; Resources for Day of Prayer by Carol Pipes

She didn't go anywhere without her house shoes.

Sheri Shockey's wide feet fit in nothing but her blue men's slippers.

She walked out the front door of the Brinkley Heights food pantry in Memphis, carrying a brown paper sack full of food. A man greeted her as he passed, "You ought to come and join us for church one day."

"Oh, I can't do that — I don't go anywhere without my house shoes." She looked down.

"Well, then, you can come in your house shoes."

That was the beginning of what Sheri refers to as "a new chapter of life," which began three years ago.

Less than a decade ago, Sheri was living the American dream — a nice house in the suburbs, membership at a local church, a family, and a successful job as a nurse in one of the leading pediatric hospitals in west Tennessee. She even took t...

What happens when we prioritize evangelism? Consider this account from Stuart Bell, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Centerton, Arkansas.

We are sold on doing intentional evangelism.

This semester, a couple of my staff members challenged me with a new approach on Sunday nights asking, "If we really do 'exist to fulfill the Great Commission,' then:

1. What is our primary thing? To share the Gospel.

2. What is our primary way of doing this as a church, including discipling our people to be soul winners? Our evangelism strategy!

3. When is the best time to reach people? Sunday afternoons, so that visits can be done during the daylight hours and folks are home.

4. Why can't we make our evangelistic outreach the thing on Sunday nights for twelve weeks? We can!"

So we adjusted our evening schedul...

It finally happened to me.

I've been speaking fulltime for ten years, and pastors usually ask me to talk about stress, relationships, or habits. All of the things "shrinks" like me are supposed to know about. One of my messages is about habits and how our spirit has been redeemed, but our body still comes from Grandpa Adam. I tell a funny story about a church giving me a welcome basket filled with Snickers. At 10 p.m., in a lonely hotel room, a man of God like me cannot handle the temptation of Snickers. I pray, but my prayer soon devolves into a blessing for the Snickers — or sometimes many Snickers. Given my "Adam suit," the Snickers always win. Almost every week I try to help people understand the power of the Adam suit. However, last week, I was reminded that it's even more powerful than I thought.

I speak at the FBC Dallas "Power Lunch" the first Th...

Black Leaders Appeal to President and Congress; Planned Parenthood: The Business of Abortion; Maryland Suspends Another Doctor; Louisiana Penalizes Clinic