By Dr. James Willingham
All that has taken place on the nation level, the approval of homosexual unions as marriage, political correctness (which means no more free speech, etc.), the fines and law suits against Christians for their views on marriage, is but the precursor of things to come. The end of jobs by computerization, automation, and robotics along with their removal to other nations for cheaper labor is also the indicator of a planned effort to bring down religion as a key factor in this land, any religion, except that which approves of the present PC views and practices. And then there are the efforts of SBC leaders (so-called) who are supposedly trying to save the SBC mission programs by getting rid of the DOMs on the local level, followed by the state conventions, and after that the SBC (an expense, you know). The result will be and is on the way to becoming the end of the programs for missionaries, the largest in history. Continue reading
Last night, The Weekly Standard tweeted “Print Free or Die” with a picture of the prophet Muhammed, whose physical iconography is the purported reason that the terrorist attacks were carried out in the first place.
Always willing to play the part of social media provocateur, I readied myself to re-tweet that image myself, ready to join in the chorus of those wishing to thumb their nose in an act of First Amendment defiance toward the offended party. As a liberty-loving conservative, I believe one hundred percent in the free exchange of offense. The condition of freedom enlists the possibility, and perhaps requires, that all shall be ready to be offended. Continue reading →
This is an edited transcript of The Briefing podcast from early Thursday morning, January 8, 2015.
The war on terror took on a savage new face yesterday when two gunmen entered the headquarters of a French satirical newspaper known as Charlie Hebdo and opened fire, killing 12 people—10 people connected with the newspaper and two police officers.
The Washington Post reported this morning, “France’s deadliest terrorist attack in modern memory unfolded with chilling precision here Wednesday as gunmen speaking fluent French burst into a satirical newspaper’s weekly staff meeting and raked the room with bullets, leaving behind what one witness described as ‘absolute carnage.’” Continue reading →
Rep. Frank Wolf, human rights champion, calls on evangelicals to intensify the fight for religious liberty.
Interview by Timothy C. Morgan/ January 6, 2015
After 34 years in Congress, Frank Wolf, the renowned gadfly for human rights and religious liberty, retires in January. But this 75-year-old won’t be browsing Golfsmith for clubs. He’s more likely to fly back to East Africa, where witnessing severe famine in Ethiopia changed the course of his life in the early 1980s.
As co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Wolf has traveled the world’s hot spots; adopted Gao Zhisheng, the dissident lawyer from China; criticized the State Department’s inattention to human rights; and fought to end to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Continue reading →
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ivory Coast was the country of focus for the 2014 International Mission Study by Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). Find resources to support the study at wmu.com/IMS and imb.org/ims.
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (BP)– As I pored over news stories to prepare for the trip to Ivory Coast, not much of the nation’s recent storyline encouraged optimism.
Abidjan, a city formerly known as the “Paris of West Africa,” seemed littered with tales of violence that left marks in bullet-pocked walls and on people’s hearts. Accounts of bloodshed and strife caused by a decade of civil war filled my background notes. Even the airport I flew into, reconstructed and modernized now, had been looted and damaged during fighting, which culminated in the Battle for Abidjan in April 2011. Continue reading →
Next week, I’ll be headed to Charleston, SC, where this year’s annual Partnership Mission Coordinator’s meeting will take place. Mission leaders from across the nation will converge on this historic city for several days to learn from one another, and collaborate in ways that will help us better equip churches to be more effective on mission.
Over the years, much debate has ensued over the usefulness of what we call “short-term missions.” Since much ink has been spilled over this particular issue already, I won’t belabor that particular point, but will refer you to a great resource on the subject put together a few years back by Robert Priest, my academic colleague at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. If you are interested in the history of short-term missions (the current expression of which dates back to around 1949), and a thorough and honest evaluation of its global impact, there is no better resource. Continue reading →
ALMYRA, Ark. (BP) — Some might say trusting God comes easily for the farming families who make up the majority of the members of Almyra First Baptist Church.
They watch rice emerge from flooded fields, soybeans grow in carefully weeded rows, and cotton blossoms nearby. They know from this that God gives the increase in His time, when they’re obedient to do His work, says Doug Hibbard, who has served as pastor of First Baptist in Almyra, Ark., the past four years. The congregation averages about 55 in Sunday morning worship.
“These are people who want to hear the Word, and want to do what they can do to serve,” Hibbard said. “Because of what they do for a living, many of them can’t go [on mission trips,] but they want to be supportive of what Southern Baptists are doing around the world.” Continue reading →
As we near the coming of the Lord, we should be more focused than ever before. As our 50,000 plus churches and congregations partner together in gospel causes, the time is now for us to rise up like never before.
I want to ask you to consider these four things with me in 2015.
1. Personally, collectively, and cooperatively, we need to own the Great Commission.
As Southern Baptists, our missional vision is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations. There is not one of us that can escape this vision, not because it our vision as Southern Baptists, but because it is the vision of Jesus Christ for each of us as His disciples.
When I challenge us to own the Great Commission, I mean we must own this responsibility personally. Continue reading →
One of the largest church networks in Indonesia, Mawar Sharon Church, lost 46 Members in the recent crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501.
On December 28, Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 was traveling from Surabaya, Indonesia, to the island country of Singapore when it encountered inclement weather and crashed into Karimata Strait. On board were 137 adult passengers, 18 children (including one infant), two pilots, and five crewmembers. All are believed to have perished in the crash. After nearly a week of searching, only 30 bodies have been found.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, and only seven percent of the population is Christian. Yet almost one-third of the victims in the crash were Indonesian Christians Continue reading →
SOUTH ASIA (BP) — A group of Southern Baptist pastors squeezed their way into a small area with crowds of Hindu faithful to watch the ritual slaughter of goats at the Kali temple in Kolkata, India. Those with cameras were swatted with batons by temple security guards adamant the group not capture images of the beheadings.
That scene, combined with earlier scenes of idol worship and ritualistic cleansing in other South Asian cities, was a clear reminder of why these pastors — which included Fred Luter, who was Southern Baptist Convention president at the time — had journeyed there. The Old Testament was played out right in front of them, real and tangible, even brutal. But they had come to tell South Asians that the fulfillment of the Gospel in Jesus changed everything — for all. Continue reading →
SOUTH ASIA (BP) — Six years ago, I ventured to India. This fall I returned.
Nearly four years had passed. A lot had changed. A lot had stayed the same. The city where I served two years had grown. New malls replaced old abandoned ones. The streets were still packed with two-wheelers and rickshaws maneuvering through tight spaces. Colors and patterns combine in a glorious kaleidoscope of textiles. Sweet spices and sweat fill the senses. No matter how many roads had been built or how many walls had been painted, India was still India.
And the people — I returned as a guest, treated like royalty. Each person we visited prepared chai and snacks. Some prepared entire meals. All welcomed us with open arms and reminisced about our friendship when I was there. Continue reading →
Well over one hundred years ago, a single missionary named Lottie Moon, serving in China, began writing letters challenging the church back here to send and support more workers to go there. After her death on the field, her challenge was heeded in the formalization of an offering in her name. Even if you’re not a Southern Baptist who has given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, her life is a reminder of why we must give to send and support missionaries serving among unreached peoples in unreached places.
But my aim is to show you not simply why we must give, but also why we must go . . . however, whenever, and wherever God leads. I use the word must in light of Romans 1:14, where Paul speaks of his eagerness to preach the gospel:
I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
Did you hear that? Continue reading →
For decades, missionaries did not consider a people group “reached” until 20 percent of the population was considered “evangelical.” Today, the statistical benchmark is 2 percent.
What brought about this change of definition? And how has it impacted missions strategies?
Dr. Robin Hadaway, professor of missions at Midwestern Seminary recently wrote an essay for the Southwestern Journal of Theology, in which he recommends a “course-correction” away from the two-percent threshold and back to something like 10 or 20 percent. Hadaway relies on extensive missionary experience as he considers this question; he has been involved in a variety of mission efforts on three continents, and he is a fluent speaker of Arabic, Swahili, and Portuguese. Continue reading →
by Mike Nichols
During the past few months, rhetoric from both sides of the Michael Brown shooting has been stated and restated, renewed once the grand jury found the officer who shot Brown should not stand trial.
That rhetoric was again stated and amplified by Eric Garner’s death and subsequent similar outcome through a Staten Island grand jury. We have shouted screamed at one another, to our equal irritation. We have done nothing to resolve our difficulties, not settled our differences, and failed to find answers that are satisfactory to anyone.
During these four months, FBI statistical averages tell us that 1,452 more young black men died violently, and 1,350 of them died as the result of violence against them by other black men.
During that same four months, people in the U.S. have become polarized in their opinions and thoughts about people of other ethnicities. Many white people have blamed the black community, particularly their leaders who continue to cry out for civil rights justice, for obscuring their own difficulties with charges of racism and institutional bias. Continue reading
NASHVILLE (BP) — An Arizona woman’s unambiguous response to the first view of her baby offers only one of many life-saving reasons for the existence of the Psalm 139 Project.
A mobile unit operated by Arizona Baptist Children’s Services is equipped with an ultrasound machine provided by the Psalm 139 Project of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Photo from Arizona Baptist Children’s Services
The client of New Life Pregnancy Center in Tempe, Ariz., was non-committal at best when she received a positive pregnancy test, Debbie Gillmore, the center’s director, told Baptist Press. The woman declined the center’s gift of a baby hat, saying, “No. I’m not so sure I want to go through with this,” Gillmore recalled.
Though she scheduled an ultrasound appointment, the center’s attempts to contact her with a reminder failed. Yet, the woman, acknowledging her anxiety, arrived on time for her appointment.
The ultrasound technician displayed on the monitor her unborn child, arms and legs moving. When the beating heart appeared on the monitor, the woman blurted out, “There it is,” Gillmore reported in a written account. Continue reading →
NASHVILLE (BP) — President Obama’s opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba may fuel an already-vibrant evangelistic movement there, or it may fuel a repressive regime, Southern Baptist leaders and pastors said in voicing divergent opinions to Baptist Press.
“Our prayer is that the Cuban church planting movement continue to expand. The Cuban people are very receptive to the Gospel,” Kurt Urbanek, IMB strategist for Cuba, said in a statement to BP.
“We praise the Lord Jesus Christ for the spiritual awakening in Cuba which has seen over 500,000 Cubans come to saving faith in Baptist churches during the past 13 years,” Urbanek noted. Continue reading →
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — The phrase “Whatever it takes” is one of the North American Mission Board’s operating values. Staff members are reminded that the mission agency exists to serve Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist churches. Giving back to the community in service was a tangible demonstration of this value as staff participated Dec. 12 in the annual NAMB Day of Service.
Staff from the NAMB’s Alpharetta, Ga., office joined local ministries in a variety of service activities at Peace Baptist Church of Decatur, Clarkston International Bible Church in Clarkston and No Longer Bound of Cumming. Continue reading →
Joe Schmidt is the co-founder of Canvas on Demand, a company that puts your personal photos on canvas. Taking it from a startup in 2003 to being one of the fastest-growing companies in America in 2008 earned him a finalist spot in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2010, Joe sold the company to Cafepress.com, where he continued his role as its chief marketing officer until 2013. Today, he serves as the founder of the Audacity Factory, a think tank/incubator focused on applying internet marketing and technology to underserved humanitarian needs. His first project out of the organization is ENDcrowd.com, an innovative approach to funding the fight against human trafficking.
How would you describe the origin of Audacity Factory? Continue reading →
On May 31, 1792, William Carey preached a sermon that has come to be called the deathless sermon because it changed the entire Christian world. Preaching from Isaiah 54:1-2, Carey declared that we must, “Expect great things from God” and “Attempt great things for God!” Radical things happened at that meeting—the Baptist Mission Society was formed, the modern missions movement was launched, and William Carey became its first missionary.
The radical experiment
In 2010, David Platt challenged the Church at Brook Hills to engage in “The Radical Experiment,” to spend a year praying for the world, reading the entire Bible, giving their money to those in need, spending time in a context beyond Birmingham, and building community. Platt later published the book Radical, which became a New York Times best seller. Continue reading →
Summit, I’m consistently blown away with how generous you have proven to be over the past two years. When we began our “All-In” initiative in 2012, we pledged together to give over $30 million toward the mission of God at our church. We still have a few weeks left in December, and I think we can get to $33 million.
As a church, it has always been a joy to me that we give so much of our money away to missions. We give toward missions opportunities directly, as we recently did by helping to re-launch ReCity, an organization that serves the most disconnected youth in our community. We also give to the International Mission Board (IMB), the agency through which we send out most of our church planters. Continue reading →