Month: April 2003

Women’s conferences equip hundreds

IRVING, Texas ? Equipping women to implement successful women’s ministry programs in local churches is the key to meeting needs and revitalizing the spiritual walk of women. As the theme “Make me, mold me,” attests, the 2003 regional conferences hosted by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention encouraged Texas Baptist women to allow God to create and shape their ministry.

The first of its kind, the convention offered three separate conferences for women: Mar. 7 at Ameila Baptist Church in Beaumont; Mar. 28-29 at Parkhills Baptist Church in San Antonio; and Apr. 11-12 at First Baptist Church in Post, Texas. Registration for the event totaled over 500 women from across the state including 135 in Beaumont, 278 in San Antonio and 111 in Post.

“We are trying to help women understand at the local church level [how] to organize themselves not only to meet the needs in their church, but also in their communities,” said SBTC Women’s Ministry Consultant Shirley Moses on a KBMT Channel 12 News report during the Beaumont conference, adding that women’s ministries is not a new concept. “Women have been ministering to other women since the beginning of time.”

During the Mar. 28-29 conference in San Antonio, Moses added that even though God has always used women in the church, there is something special about the nature of God’s movement among women today.

“Women are beginning to branch out and do things in ministry that even 10 years ago they wouldn’t have thought they’d been able to do,” Moses said. “[God] wants to do something through you to be a part of his kingdom. And being part of that is indescribable. If you ever once experience it, you’ll be there when he calls.”

Moses encouraged women to be obedient to the call of God in creating a personal ministry at home, in their neighborhood or in the local church. Using Jeremiah 18:6, which states: “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in mine,” Moses used the acronym M.O.L.D. to illustrate to women “how to get in shape for ministry.”

Making the right move

The first letter in the acrostic signifies an initial response to God’s call.

“Ladies, you are going to have lots of opportunities to disciple the women around you and help them to get in shape for ministry,” Moses said, noting that Jeremiah “made the right move” when God said “Arise” to the prophet.

Moses stated that a call can often be discerned by burdens placed on a woman’s heart.

“What has God given you a burden for? Write down the first thing that comes to your mind. Is God asking you to lead a Bible study or is he asking you to join the choir? Or maybe working with the children or possibly be involved in a mentoring relationship in your church?” she asked. “So when you hear that still small voice telling you to make a move, God is saying ‘I’m getting ready to do something. Will you make the right move and join me in doing something around you.


Referring to the Jeremiah 18:3-4 and the process of creating pottery, Moses said the beauty of the pot depends of the ability of the clay to yield to the potter’s hand. “Have you ever seen someone making pottery? He moves the wheel with his feet, but he never takes his hand off of the clay. The most important quality of the clay is that it yields and yielding is the very first step in our lives toward obedience,” Moses said. “We must learn that God is there. He wants to help us, but he is not going to do it until we learn to yield and obey.”

Moses said her first test of obedience in shaping herself for ministry came not long after she became a Christian. Burdened to start a Bible study in her home church, Moses petitioned the board of deacons to purchase 80 books for a women’s study.

“They didn’t really believe I’d be able to get rid of all 80 books, but they allowed me to do it. I started publicizing it, and I knew the Lord wanted me to take it to the community,” Moses recounted. “The day before the Bible study, I [handed out] 79 books.”

Moses said she still felt God stirring in her heart that one more book needed to be given away. As she was walking out the door to lead the study, her phone rang.

“It was the girl down the street said she said, ‘Shirley,

Building a budget for Texas

How do we balance the special needs of our neighbors with the limits of our public resources? If you have the answer and can convince everyone you’re right, you’ll be a hero in Austin during this session of the state legislature. For the first time in years, Texas faces the struggles of budget cutting. This fairly rare experience in our state makes the problem more difficult. Texas special interest groups have previously experienced the blessing of contending for limited but increasing revenue. This year they struggle to keep part of a shrinking pie. During a visit to the capital I saw several groups pacing the hallways in advocacy for one budget line or another. One small group of special needs folks were arrested during a sit in at the Governor’s office. All the causes have champions and no cuts will be popular with everyone. However, some biblical principles should guide our thinking about the budget process.

The emotional rhetoric of political debate should be tempered by mercy and reason. In Col. 4:6 we are instructed to speak graciously to one another, our language seasoned with the healing, preserving, distinctive salt of gospel truth. I saw a recent headline that referred to some proposed social ministry programs being “slashed.” The difference between a cut or reduction and a slash is violence. Did the writer intend to imply malicious intent on the part of the committee that proposed the budget? If so, he knows something that is not evident to anyone who has met the members. Budget cuts are not hostile acts toward, children, the disabled, retired people, teachers, or improvement projects. Christians at least should avoid applying evil motives to all those with whom we disagree.PAN class=body>

Next, we must take care of our own. I Tim. 5:8 says that we should do exactly that or be guilty of denying faith. How’s that? Even false religions teach that we should provide for our families and our neighbors. If Christians don’t do that, our behavior compares badly with even a noble pagan. Thus we deny the truth of the gospel because our conduct is worse than that of an unbeliever. One representative said last week that some of the budget problems would be solved if people who can will take responsibility for their own needs and for those of their families. It seems so obvious. But do we carefully examine the emotional claims of those who need and want strangers to care for them? We don’t and we often can’t. That makes the role of our state representatives even more crucial.PAN class=body>

We also must teach the truth in our public policy. Social programs must carefully avoid making people dependent on public aid for long periods of time. It simply is not true that responsible, autonomous beings can should on others to continually solve their problems. It creates a culture of servitude and helplessness that brings defeat to the family and reproach to the culture. I don’t buy into the myth of the welfare Cadillac but I have also seen the spiritual cancer of an entitlement mentality. If it is wrong for you and wrong for me, we are equally wrong imposing it on our neighbors. Social programs must be aimed at assisting families to once again be capable of meeting their own needs. Where that is not true, a program is a curse disguised as a blessing.

Families must also be left with resources adequate for their own needs and for ministry after they have paid for public projects at the local, state, and national level. This is also a challenge. Rising taxes of all types creates a cynical, hopeless attitude in those who regularly pay them. “If government (no longer ‘us’ but now ‘them’) is going to take 20-30% of my income, let them take care of everything,” the reasoning may go. If we have an opportunity to get some of that money back in a program or entitlement, we feel that we are due. Again, better that we could have kept some of that for our own use and ministry. If we are to care for our own and if we are to care for “the least of these,” leave us the resources and heart to address those needs.

At the same time, we are wrong, greedy to make public policy decisions solely based on what will prosper us personally. It is not the role of government to take from others so that I might be more comfortable. Some things are right and appropriate quite apart from how they impact my family. Our faith is in God; we depend on him and not on public money for the things we need.

Finally, casino gambling is not a solution. It will increase family break ups, personal bankruptcy, crime, and general strain on public services. It is a regressive form of taxation just like the state lottery. Those who are most likely to play will do so at the expense of their family needs. It is not the beautiful people with disposable income that frequent the casinos. It is not general hilarity that ensues with each pull of a slot machine. Something far more sinister is behind the temptation, the desperate need to hit it big. Tragedy is far more likely than triumph. Revenue, at least the state’s portion, from gambling is seldom as great as advertised. The strain on human services is always discounted. Additionally, it is an unseemly way for us to save our state budget.

I don’t know what should be cut and what should not. I pray that our state legislature has the guidance of God as it debates the budget in coming weeks. Join me in that. If you want to contact your representative or senator to assure him of your prayers or to express an opinion, go to help. A list of legislators can be searched by typing in your precinct number or zip code. You can find his office phone number or send an e-mail from there. I hear that phone calls are the most effective way of getting your message heard. Do that. Advocate for biblical priorities as these men and women set the course for our s

New spring break destination: Amarillo

AMARILLO, Texas?Spring Break Trip. Those words automatically paint a mental picture of a place where the ocean is blue, the sand is white and the sun seems to shine 365 days a year, far away from work and school.

Mission Trip. These words focus our mind’s eye on ministering to people in a strange land where languages and customs make sharing the gospel a challenge.

For most people these two types of trips aren’t even mentioned together in planning sessions. Spring Break is a time to get away from school. Missions Trips are meant to get away and practice the Great Commission across the globe. Some youth ministries, however, are beginning to look for ways to use the yearly weeklong respite from school and work to do something productive, something that could affect eternity.

The youth group at Lifeway Fellowship in Amarillo decided to spend their Spring Break sharing the love of God, not in a jungle, but in their own backyard working with Second Baptist Church. Chris Hurt, student pastor at Lifeway Fellowship, said the group has participated in mission trips before, including a trip working in the inner-city of Dallas-Fort Worth. This year the group stayed at home to conduct a sports camp to attract young children and teens to the church to learn about sports, discipline and the love of Christ.

The groups arrived at the church each morning, split up and canvassed the neighborhoods around the church to invite kids to come and participate in the camp. During the day, the kids worked on different soccer and basketball skills by participating in basic drills ? ball handling, dribbling, passing, etc. After the drills, the campers gathered for a time of Bible study where the gospel was presented.

Hurt said he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout of the camp, with about 40 attending each day. But by the end of the week that number swelled to about 200.

After lunch, the group of 40 Lifeway Fellowship students and sponsors made their way to the next mission project. From 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. the group ministered to residents at the Amarillo Garden Community apartment complex. The group spent a few minutes at the beginning canvassing the area, inviting kids to come and be a part of the Backyard Bible Club. Their mission for the BBC was the same as mission efforts across the world: make the love of Jesus known to those who may not know.

“We went out and played with the kids and told them about Jesus,” Hurt said.

The Lifeway group was one of three different groups on six properties across town the same week. Jeff Parsons, multi-housing ministry facilitator for the Amarillo Baptist Association, said this was the first year for Spring Break mission efforts in Amarillo. The multi-housing ministry is about a year-and-a-half old. Last year, Parsons said, the ministry wasn’t ready to do this type of mission work. This year they were ready to give the local kids a chance to minister.

Hurt said his group took a mission trip to St. Louis last year. The destination of the trip was kept secret from the kids to spice things up a little. Campers weren’t told the location of the mission trip until it was almost time to go. When this year’s Mystery Mission Trip signups began, kids rapidly signed up.

“You should have seen their faces when we told them we were staying in Amarillo,” Hurt said. As the week went on, however, he said the group was glad they decided to stay home.

As with any mission trip the week wouldn’t have been complete without a little rest and relaxation. On Friday the group was rewarded for the service with a trip to Oklahoma City, where the group went to one of the area malls and enjoyed time off with one another.

The sacrifice the kids made proved to be fruitful. Hurt said over 30 kids made some type of decision for Christ at the Second Baptist Sports Camp. Four others made decisions at the Backyard Bible Club at the apartment complex.

Since the mission, some group members have returned to the complex to check on the children that attended the week’s events. Both groups seemed to find some satisfaction in the interaction.

Sarah Cullum is a 19-year-old college student at Amarillo College. She wants to be a social worker, which she believes is her calling. Cullum grew up at Lifeway Fellowship. As she prepares for her career by taking classes in school, Cullum knew that she needed some hands-on experience that a trip like this could give her.

Her job was to help with the arts and crafts with the kids at the apartments. But her job responsibilities weren’t limited to gluing construction paper hands on paper plates. She wanted to show God’s love to the kids. “We just loved on the kids and played with them,” Cullum said.

Cullum said she was surprised when the first group of 40 kids showed up that first day. She wasn’t expecting quite that big a turnout. It surprised her at the willingness of the kids at the apartment community to participate in the festivities.

“The kids jus

Happy Mothers’ Day

A couple of years ago, I wrote a tribute to my mother in the May issue. She continues to be an inspiration and a blessing to me and my family. There is another “mother” to whom I wish to pay honor, my wife, June.

She was an entering freshman. I was a transferring senior. Her daddy had told her not to marry the first guy she met. At registration we both were called into the Dean’s office for an entrance interview. I was the first guy she met. He said he was glad to see her, I echoed his remark. He said he hoped to get to know her better, I echoed the remark. By that time, the Dean was not happy with my participation. When June’s interview ended, he said he was delighted to have her on campus. I agreed. The Dean threatened me that I if I did not refrain from being so impertinent, I would not even get into the college.

Three days later, I asked June out on a date. We went door-to-door soul-winning and capped it off at What-A-Burger. Three weeks later I asked her to marry me. Four months later we were married in a little country church. She was a teenage bride.

It did not take long for June to become a teenage mother. Rachel was our first child. I was pastoring my first church in Crowley, Louisiana. We were so poor that the people in the church on food stamps brought us boxes of groceries. We lived in a house trailer and drove a car my parents had given us. June cared for our first little gift from God with tremendous love.

Four years later, Rebekah came along. Rebekah had her days and nights mixed up. For six weeks June was up when I went to sleep and she tried to sleep while I was out of the house. We were a struggling young couple with incredible dreams and not much else.

For fifteen years I saw June teach the girls about Jesus. She prayed with them, read to them and played with them. She instilled truth and love. She poured her life into them. Although she rarely resorted to corporeal punishment, she unashamedly wept over them. The part the girls hated most was when June made them kiss to make up after a disagreement. I watched a mother with an incomparable love seek to prepare her daughters to be women of God.

When we least expected another child, Nathan appeared. He is our late in life blessing. Born in fetal distress, I saw my wife willing to give him up if that was our Father’s will. Through His mercy, we have our son today. June has home-schooled him, played ball and tickle fought with him, and inculcated a code of manners reminiscent of the 19UP>th century. June prays over him, reads scripture to him and has loved him to Jesus.

As I have watched my wife for almost thirty years, it has been a testimony of God’s sovereign grace to see what He has done. She continues to pray over our daughters and now a son-in-law. She continues to invest her life in Nathan, saying, “He is little only once.” She has been a mother without peer as far as I am concerned. Proverbs 31: 28b says that a virtuous woman will be praised by her husband. I am doing nothing more than my scriptural duty, but it is truly an inexplicable blessing to have a wife who has been such a tremendous mother to my children.

Men, if you have a dear wife who has borne your children, you need to let her know how special she is. Bless her, for her role has no equal on this earth.

Happy Mother’s Day, June!

SBTC president recounts accident and renewed heart

DALLAS, Texas–After three sleepless nights of sitting alone in the dark “stewing” over injuries due to a near-fatal motorcycle accident, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention President George Harris picked up a large-print Bible commentary. With a magnifying glass he read Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Harris realized that his Nov. 23 motorcycle accident, temporarily leaving him without sight and the ability to speak, was strikingly similar to the near-death experience King David endured urging him to pen a song of “thanksgiving for deliverance from death” found in Psalm 116.

At a recent SBTC Executive Board meeting, Harris, who recently retired from the pastorate of Castle Hills First Baptist Church in San Antonio, shared his testimony and results of his accident.

During a ride through the hill country in South Texas, Harris saw the taillights of other cyclists in front of him blink on. In what he describes as “reflex,” he stepped on his brake, failing to use his hand brake as well.

“Before I knew it I’d lost it,” Harris recounted. “Life becomes meaningful when you see your bike crossing the guard rail, and you aren’t on it. I had enough sense to know I wasn’t going to ride that motorcycle to its end, so I let it go. But the minute I hit the ground, I catapulted in the air and came down on my face.”

Harris suffered 84 broken bones in his face with the roof of his mouth breaking in four different places. His teeth were pushed back, his eyes were pushed down into his head and his skull was fractured. Other than injuries to his face, Harris sustained no other injuries. He noted that even his jacket went unscathed.

Harris spent 17 days in the hospital and another eight weeks at home recovering from the accident and numerous reconstructive surgeries to implant 11 facial plates.

Although he stood before the board without a scar on his face, Harris said the weeks following his release from the hospital would bear the fruit of much pain and confusion.

“At home, I wrestled with the tracheotomy, and I had difficulty breathing. I couldn’t speak and couldn’t see because my eyes were damaged. For eight weeks I slept in a recliner” Harris said, adding that he was “perplexed with God.”

“One night I couldn’t sleep, and I was having a talk with the Lord. I said ‘Lord I don’t see where Rom. 8:28 has anything to do with this,” he said referring to the verse which states, “All things work together for good.”

“’Lord, this is the way I feel, allow me to say this. Either I don’t love you or you have something you really want to show me in all this.’ I was angry. I couldn’t sleep, talk, eat. That night I sat there and stewed with the Lord,” he said. “The next night the same thing. I hated nights, because it seemed every night was a month long.”

It was on the third night that Harris finally heard an answer from God. Reading Psalm 116, he saw God working in the life of David in a similar situation.

“I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call upon him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2:

Harris said he realized the Lord heard and answered his internal cries for help during the aftermath of the accident by sending two men. One man traveling with the church group was a policeman from San Antonio.

“He knew I was in critical condition and put pressure on my face and neck to hold the bleeding down,” he said, adding that the off-duty officer called an ambulance as well. “That guy took one look at me and knew I needed to be air-vaced. That young policeman probably kept me from bleeding to death.”

While en route to the hospital via a helicopter, Harris said a young doctor knew Harris would probably not survive unless an emergency tracheotomy was performed.

“God again heard my cry. He took an old practice that many of the doctors didn’t know about. He pried my mouth open and crammed [the trache] down my throat, and he performed a tracheotomy on my throat in the hall,” Harris said. “I came to the realization that the Lord loved me, and I was going to call upon him the rest of my life.”

“The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and he saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” Psalm 116:6-7

After experiencing the mercy and grace of God referred to verses 3 and 4, Harris said he recognized that “God had to bring us down to a lowness before we can ever rise to what he wants us to do.”

“We are nothing without him. We need to quit relying upon our degrees, finances, and talents. It’s only when we become so low that he is able to reveal to us his attributes – his graciousness, faithfulness, mercy,” he said.

Harris also noted that in verse 12 David is unsure of how to respond to such mercy and grace.

“In the final outcome, David says ‘I’ll take up the cup of salvation.’” Harris noted. “Salvation is not just forgiveness of sin – it is preservation from our difficulties.

Along with the sovereign had of God, Harris also expressed appreciation to his wife, Lynda, who also sustained him with loving care at home.

“Did you know there is a difference between taking a vow and paying a vow?” He asked, referring to verse 14 which states “I will pay my vows to the Lord.”

“For about eight weeks she paid those vows, listening to me cough, cleaning my trache, rushing me to the hospital. That was the ‘for worse’ part of the vow,” he said. “The psalmist says ‘I’ll pay my vow.’ He has come through the death experience.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord, truly I am your servant.”  Psalm 116:15-16a

Harris said that even while he was in flight to the hospital he felt the presence of God.

“I never felt fear, even when two guys said ‘We’re going to lose him.’ I sensed the presence of God,” he said, adding that the presence of God would prepare him for the dark nights ahead during his recovery phase in which Harris would “discover what I had preached and heard about and talked about.  I’m not interested in going to somebody’s church for cultural performance of religion where there is not power or presence of [God.]”

Although Harris has regained his eyesight and ability to speak, the months following the accident rendered him unable to fulfill many speaking engagements.

“I’d been very busy. I haven’t had an open date from June to Nov. and had 18 engagements that I had to cancel, but God laid this on my heart and I am no longer open to taking engagement.” he said.  “I’d rather sit in the dark, blind and mute and meeting with [God] than to go through the motions of playing church.  The ritual of going through church had left my soul empty.  Those nights, instead of being angry with God, I experienced something in 50 years of ministry I hadn’t experienced—the power of prayer and the sweetness of being still.”

Hemphill responds to concern

FORT WORTH?The day after announcing his retirement as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ken Hemphill released a statement acknowledging that many people had expressed “conflicted feelings” relating not only to his departure, but for two professors whose tenure status remains unsettled.

“Grief, anger, confusion may be just a few” of the “conflicted feelings,” Hemphill said in the April 8 statement that also was recorded on the seminary’s telephone extension 8250. “Such feelings are not only related to my departure but have been elicited by concern for Drs. Bullock and Stookey.”

Karen O. Bullock is a professor of church history and serves as associate dean of the Ph.D. program. Stephen M. Stookey is an associate professor of church history. Some students have expressed concern that no action was recommended regarding tenure for the two professors at the recent board meeting.

Hemphill said the seminary has a process of tenure review that is being followed. “Any of us have the right to differ with the conclusion reached, but none of us should judge the motives of those involved. No man can see into the heart and God’s Word prohibits such human speculation.”

He praised both professors for having made a great investment in the lives of numerous students. “I encourage each of you to tell them of your love for them, and to relate to them the impact that they have had on your life,” Hemphill stated.

Academic Affairs Committee Chairman Denny Autrey of Lindale, Texas, said, “There was no report from administration” offered to the trustees regarding tenure for any faculty member. Thus, no action could be taken in regard to tenure for the two professors, he explained.

“The provost did present an updated proposal concerning tenure for all faculty,” Autrey told the Southern Baptist TEXAN. “That was discussed with academic affairs and the bylaws committee,” he said, adding that the full board received copies of the proposal.

The board voted to review the manner in which tenure is granted to faculty and report on the review at the next semiannual meeting of trustees. “We will revisit that issue in the fall meeting,” Autrey confirmed.

Hemphill said in his release, “We cannot publicly discuss the specifics of any personnel matter. This serves both the interests of the individual and the institution.” He went on to commend the two professors for having made “a wonderful investment in Southwestern,” stating that they “will always be a part of our legacy.”

He added, “I know them well enough to know that they share my conviction that God works through every circumstance for good to those who love him and are the called according to his purpose. I know they will continue to serve God faithfully. Such is their character and calling.” He told those interested in the situation, “You will best honor them by being faithful to your calling.”

Hemphill said, “In days of difficulty and challenging circumstances we can either become bitter or beautiful. As you crush a rose petal you serve only to release its beautiful fragrance. I pray that would be true for all who are feeling somewhat crushed by recent events.”

He spoke of having read in John 12:27-28 of Jesus glorifying God the Father at a time when his own soul was troubled. “Jesus had a singular focus. Glorify thy name,” Hemphill recounted, adding, “The ringing answer from the Father, ‘I have glorified it and I will glorify it again.'” He urged others to “stay the course” and glorify God’s name in the process.

Captain’s mother rallies believers to pray

EL PASO?Paul Harvie considers herself blessed to have grown up in a Christian home where she was taught to pray from an early age. “As I grew older and studied the Bible myself, I came to realize God’s amazing promises.” She believes prayer is powerful and effective because God promised to answer prayer. “God cannot lie. We can count on Him!”

A lifetime of personally experiencing the power of prayer strengthened her belief in the immeasurable potential of prayer. So when the prayer coordinator of El Paso’s Exciting Immanual Baptist Church learned that her son would be deployed to Iraq, her natural response was to recruit scores of people to pray for him.

“Almost daily, I pray Psalm 91 for David, inserting his name in the text and reminding God of His wonderful promises to those who love Him,” Harvie said. “Many times a day I claim God’s promise that ‘no weapon formed against David shall prosper,” she added, drawing from Isa. 54:17

As the mother of an Army captain stationed with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, Paula Harvie knows the comfort of having fellow believers committed to keeping a prayer shield of protection over American troops. “I’ve seen profound gratitude in the eyes of young soldiers in our congregation. They find it very reassuring to know that their home church will cover them with prayer.” The anxieties of loved ones are replaced by the peace that passes all understanding, she said.

Months before the war broke out, the church began interceding for troops, families, the nation and the Iraqi people. A special prayer board lists the names and pictures of family members and friends who have been deployed. Members are encouraged to participate in an hour of prayer on Sunday afternoons or stop by on their way to work during weekday mornings. “These special times are wholly devoted to the war with Iraq, the welfare of our troops and their loved ones, wisdom for our leaders and revival in our nation.”

Harvie recognizes that America is an imperfect land. “We have much need for humbling ourselves before God and asking for forgiveness for our national sins.” Still, she views the current conflict as a just war, adding, “t1:country-region>America is the instrument of God’s judgment on an evil leader and his wicked cronies.” She believes God has given the nation “resources, manpower and opportunity to carry out his judgment on a diabolical regime.”

The sacrifice her son is expected to make to liberate people that don’t always seem to appreciate those efforts caused Harvie anguish during the darkness of a long night just after the war had begun. “In fact, these people hate our sons so much that they take every chance they get to insult them, attack them and kill them,” she determined.

“As I was reflecting on the unfairness of it all, the Lord reminded me that he, too, sent his Son to liberate hateful, mean-spirited people who didn’t want to be liberated from the tyrant who was holding them in bondage, either.” Those ungrateful people treated God’s Son unfairly, too, she added, ultimately killing him.

“Suddenly I understood a deeper dimension of Romans 8:8,” she said, quoting, “‘But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while were still sinners.’ The human race treated the Son of God no better than the Iraqi death squads have treated our troops. But God loves them as much as he loves us. He wants people everywhere to know his love and to experience his liberation from the worst tyrant of all, Satan.”

As soon as the conflict is over, Harvie said, “The Church needs to flood Iraq with Christian businessmen, construction workers, engineers, teachers and medical personnel who will demonstrate through their professional skills the compassion of God to a broken nation desperately in need of his love.”

Harvie is aware that the intensifying hatred of the Muslim peoples toward America could make it difficult for American missionaries to share their faith in those lands. That calls for prayer to change the hateful atmosphere. “When our church prays for Iraq, we always pray that God will open that land to the gospel and that from Iraq the good news of Jesus Christ will spread to the other nations of the Middle East. We’re asking God for a spiritual breakthrough and a harvest of souls unparalleled in the history of missions.”

Before her son left for Kuwait and Iraq, she encouraged him and his Christian friends to prayer walk those nations as they served their country. “I said they should consider themselves God’s missionaries on special assignment and to claim for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ the very lands their feet would tread!”

Doctor preaches gospel and practices medicine

LEWISVILLE, Texas ? Combining medicine and ministry, Ray Bandy, M.D., sees his calling as both physician and preacher as interrelated as Matthew 4:23 described Jesus’ ministry. “And Jesus went about…preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” Bandy serves full-time as senior pastor-teacher at Trinity Southern Baptist Church in Lewisville, as well as medical director for the Lewisville-based Christian Community Action Adult Health Center.

“Medicine and ministry are tremendously interrelated because the illustrations and applications in healing the body and healing the soul are inseparable,” Bandy said, adding that the patients he treats at the health center are “walking, talking sermon material.”

In addition to medical healing, Bandy has been used to cause some spiritual healing by helping resurrect a church seven years ago; a church that had failed in three prior attempts of starting. Two years later, the church increased in size forcing it to double its education space. In 2001, the church completed a new auditorium.

“We started with only six cars in the parking lot and maybe 15 to 16 folks coming. Both the Denton Baptist Association and the Baptist General Convention of Texas were thinking about selling it, but the church wanted to keep going.”

Now the church has a clean bill of health, humming along about 225 in worship and an average of 180 in Sunday School.

A heavenly call

At age 45, Bandy admits that his calling into a dual career wasn’t always so clear. Growing up on a farm in southwest Missouri, Bandy was saved at a revival at age seven and was raised in a Christian family.

He describes his mother as a dedicated Christian and a strong Bible student who raised five children who all now serve in Southern Baptist churches today.

But a call into the ministry? “I never even had a thought about becoming a preacher.” Instead, he wanted to play baseball. He earned a full scholarship to Crowder College. During those years, Bandy said he realized he “wasn’t going to be the next Mickey Mantle,” and began praying about what God wanted him to do. Since he had a talent and love for science, he studied medicine. Leaving behind his baseball scholarship, Bandy transferred to Southwest Baptist University Bolivar, Mo., where he received an academic as well as spiritual education from dedicated Christians.

It was on a Sunday evening during the middle of the worship service that Bandy had an experience never to be repeated but also never to be forgotten. To this day, he can explain it no other way than God sent him his undeniable calling. “During the service, a spiritual being, maybe an angel or messenger from God, appeared to me above and in front of me and said ‘You are going to preach.’ I heard a literal voice and it shocked me. I looked around because I thought surely others saw it and heard it but no one else did.”

Being a man of science, Bandy states it is ironic that God would use such a supernatural way to call him into something he’d never even considered. “I can’t explain it, other than as a result of that experience, I know I cannot ever give up on my call. The force of the command was so strong that it has never been a question of whether or not God has called me to preach.”

For eleven years, Bandy assumed God was calling him into medical missions. He finished his medical studies at the University of Missouri Medical School, did his residency and taught at the University of Oklahoma specializing in infectious diseases and tropical medicine. He then attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and while in Fort Worth, he met his future wife, Jan.

The vision clarified

While he was in a private practice in Medical City, Dallas, Denton Baptist Association contacted Bandy to serve as pastor. It was then God began to unveil the medicine and ministry vision. For 15 years, Christian Community Action Founder Tom Duffy and others had been praying for a doctor to begin a medical clinic for the poor. With the donation of a 2,500-square-foot building, he and a nurse and a physician’s assistant began seeing patients one afternoon a week.

It’s easy now for the Bandy’s to see the call of the Lord, but seven years ago it was a major decision the couple made to go to a church that had, in baseball terms, already struck out three times previously.

Without regret, Bandy honestly admits both ministries have been at various times personal struggles. “We’ve sacrificed time, talent, money, everything to see these go successfully. Jan has had to do double duty,” he said. “I believe I am a better man as a pastor of a small church and providing medical help for free, than I was as a private physician…and I think Jan would agree with that,” Bandy said,

Kirkland named SBTC Library Consultant

Euless, Texas ? The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention recently named Rita Kirkland, director of media services at First Baptist Church, Euless, as state church library consultant. Kirkland will help SBTC churches with current library needs or help in starting new library ministries.

Kirkland has been a librarian since 1966, serving as the director of the church library at First Baptist Euless since 1979. Although this is a new consulting position for the SBTC, Kirkland is no stranger to helping churches with library ministry problems. When she isn’t enforcing the Dewey Decimal System at her home church, she’s takes her expertise on the road as one of only four media consultants for Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Kirkland also speaks at conferences across the country in this capacity.

Before taking the position with the SBTC, Kirkland served the Baptist General Convention of Texas in library resources, a position she occupied since 1985.

Kirkland said she hopes to rid SBTC churches of the negative stigma attached to church libraries being musty-smelling converted closets containing a hodgepodge of unwanted books. The idea of an unused church library filled with books that nobody wants to read is a sore topic for Kirkland.

“We represent the Lord Jesus Christ,” she said. “We are not a ministry of castoffs and hand-me-downs.”

She believes that the church library should be considered a vital part of the ministry of the church. The books and resources in the library should show “that we reflect him in all that we do,” according to Kirkland.

Kirkland will seek to demonstrate to churches the vital ministry role the library can and should play in the local church.

“The library is an excellent form of evangelistic outreach to the church body and the community,” she said, adding that the library is the only organization that is capable of ministering to the entire church. From the preschoolers, who first learn about Jonah and the giant fish through popup books, to moms and dads who get advice on how to raise a child, the church library can touch the lives of all its members.

Kirkland has seen this impact the lives of many, including the unsaved. She tells the story of a woman ? a non-Christian ? who began attending First Euless. The woman wanted to find some Christian fiction to replace her Harlequin Romance novels. A transformation took place after Kirkland introduced her to wholesome books. The Holy Spirit used the words on the pages to introduce the woman to the Savior.

The Christian message can be found in almost every genre of Christian literature from inspiration, to books on parenting, to the growing field of Christian fiction, she said. There are books for almost any literary appetite on the Christian bookshelves today.

As an SBTC consultant, Kirkland will travel throughout the state helping churches establish library ministries and training those who will assist those ministries. She will work with individual churches as well as conducting conferences where other media ministers can network and attend specialized training.

Kirkland will immediately begin working toward her two main objectives for the church library ministries around the state: 1) For Texas to be the number one church library state, and 2) Helping church libraries become an evangelistic outreach tool to the local church and the community.

What can a local church do to help their library ministry succeed? Kirkland believes there are three key elements in creating a successful library ministry.

First, as with any organization, good communication is vital. Kirkland suggests the church staff communicate to the congregation what types of resources the local church library has to offer. Another suggestion is for a pastor to let the library staff know what topic he’ll be preaching about on Sunday mornings, so the library staff can display books and other resources pertaining to that topic.

Second, a church library must have a budget that reflects the size and people of the church. A church library must have the funds to keep the ministry current and relevant.

Third, a successful library must have a dedicated staff that sees the vision and understands how the library can benefit the church. There is no age requirement ? or restriction ? when it comes to who can serve in the church library. All it takes is individuals who care and want to make this ministry truly that?a ministry, she said.

What about the smaller church that can’t afford a large library?

“There’s no such thing as a small church,” Mrs. Kirkland said. She said every local church is in the business of serving God.

According to Kirkland, even if a church has just a few books that fit into a basket that are brought to the church each weekend, the library ministry can flourish.

Kirkland also believes a good library should be stocked with plenty of good books and other resources for the members. “The church library should be a place where a child can finish his homework,” she said. “We’re not in competition with the public libraries, but we would prefer to keep them out of the them

Missionary spirit of WMU continues

IRVING, Texas ? The story of Southern Baptist missions would not be complete without acknowledging the tireless work of Baptist women, particularly through the efforts of the Woman’s Missionary Union.

For over 150 years, Baptist women have helped define the Southern Baptist distinctive of carrying out the Great Commission task, shaping it into the cornerstone of the modern-day Southern Baptist Convention. Women like Mrs. W.B. Bagby, Miss Fannie Breedlove Davis of San Antonio and Mrs. T.P. Crawford stand beside B.H. Carroll and L. R. Scarborough as giants in the pages of Southern Baptist history.

The Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) was founded at a 1888 meeting of 32 women in Richmond, Va. The organization was formed for the purposes of collecting funds for the Foreign Mission Board and the Home Mission Board and promoting a “missionary spirit” within the convention. Its impact on the SBC is seen in many ways, including providing for a corporate means of tithing with the introduction of tithe envelopes in Baptist churches. WMU is also responsible for much of the convention’s missions education efforts through such programs as Mission Friends, Girls in Action, Acteens, and Youth on Mission.

Despite a rich history in missions and missions education, WMU enrollment has experienced a slow drop in numbers. In her book, A Century to Celebrate, former WMU President Catherine Allen states that WMU recorded peak enrollment of about 1.5 million members in 1964. In 2001, ACP reports indicate that WMU recorded 857,680 members nation-wide.

Overall circulation for the primary WMU magazines and periodicals have also dropped with 27,101 subscriptions to Dimension magazine reported in 1995 to 13,910 reported in 2002. Missions Mosaic dropped from 227,365 in 1995 to 202,657 in 2002. And an even bigger loss can be seen in the circulation for Discovery, which dropped from 179,721 in 1995 to 73,943 in 2002. Newer publications such as Nuestra Tarea and Missions MatchFile have seen an increase, demonstrating an attempt by WMU to adapt to societal changes.

WMU’s courtship with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), an alternative missions-sending organization, coincided with a drop in membership and circulation in the 1990s’.

In 1990, Larry Lewis of the Home Mission Board asked the WMU and other SBC agencies to refrain “from giving support, approval, promotion of and encouragement to alternate funding plans,” such as the giving plan of the CBF in order to save Southern Baptists’ historic Cooperative Program giving method. In James Hefley’s book The Conservative Resurgence, he records the response of the WMU board to the proposed giving plan of the CBF. The board issued a statement affirming the traditional giving method for missions through the Cooperative Program, yet also affirmed “the right of individuals, churches and state conventions to choose other plans for cooperative missions giving.” The action was endorsed by Helen Fling, Christine Gregory and Dorothy Sample (former WMU presidents) and Alma Hunt and Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler (both former WMU executive directors).

In an Oct. 6, 1992 article in the Indiana Baptist, Executive Director Dellanna O’Brien recognized that supporting the CBF by providing tailored missions education materials to the fellowship could alienate churches that relate to WMU. However, O’Brien emphasized that the WMU was committed to providing missions education support in every Southern Baptist church.

“Through the years we’ve been able to support missions in every Southern Baptist church the same way. Now we’re looking at how ? and if ? we can continue to serve all Southern Baptist churches,” said O’Brien at a missions festival at Ridgecrest in the summer of 1992.

Coping with losses in membership and readership, WMU launched a campaign to change its image seen in its 1997 annual report under the leadership of WMU Executive Director Dellanna O’ Brien. A pair of cat-eye glasses appeared on the cover of the report with the quote “If this is how you still see WMU try looking a little closer.” Currently, the WMU does not print CBF materials; however, a link to the CBF website is posted on WMU’s webpage.

In December 2001, SBC critics and WMU leadership of the 1990’s such as O’Brien helped found a new missions-sending organization called Global Women. The first annual meeting of the Mainstream Baptist Network in Feb. 2002, functioned as the debut for the group in which it identified itself as pro-feminist and anti-SBC. At the same meeting a booth for the Baptist Women in Ministry organization distributed information on “Mother God” worship. Working with other missions organization, the group currently supports one international missionary or “global associate.” According to the organization’s website, the group seeks “to unite women for action around common needs,” such as “malnutrition, illiteracy and polluted drinking water.”

Catherine Allen, former WMU president, serves as Global Women treasurer. Other WMU figures in attendance at the meeting were past WMU executive directors Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler and Alma Hunt. According to an article by Michael Clingenpeel posted on the website of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, other WMU leaders involved in Global Women include Dellana O’Brien, WMU executive director for 10 years, and Dorothy Sample, former national WMU president.

In December 2001 Wanda Lee issued a statement to distance WMU from the anti-SBC Global Women and past WMU leadership.

“Global Women has no affiliation with Woman’s Missionary Union, Auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention. While many of our former leaders are involved in the new organization, their participation is a personal decision and not one connected to national WMU,” Lee said. “While I was informed of their plans to launch Global Women two weeks prior to their formal announcement, the current leadership of Woman’s Missionary Union has not been involved in the planning nor the incorporation of this agency.”

Lee also noted that WMU would not be distracted by Global Women in pursuing its ministries and facilitating mission education.