Month: July 2003

SBTC churches driven to share Christ

PHOENIX, Arizona ? Seventeen hundred miles is a long way to drive to attend a party, but this was no ordinary party.

Pastor Paul Nachtigall and six members of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Pampa drove 850 miles each way to attend a block party in Mesa, Az., sponsored by Valley Southern Baptist Church.

“It’s something we can be involved with short-term,” he said. “The people that have been involved in the past have found that this is something we can do, and we’ve really enjoyed it.”

As mothers watched two girls from Pampa paint the faces of their children, Nachtigall watched the mothers. “You could tell that the mothers realized these girls really cared about them,” he said. “The people who came to the party knew that what we were doing was out of love.”

The block party was one of 62 ministry efforts connected to Crossover Arizona, a SBC evangelistic endeavor preceding the SBC annual meeting each year.

Crossover Arizona events, scheduled for June 11-22, involved 42 Arizona churches and approximately 3,000 Southern Baptist volunteers from across the country. Venues included school playgrounds, shopping malls, skate parks, city streets, and door steps. In addition to block parties, the volunteers prayer walked, conducted door-to-door spiritual opinion surveys, and ministered to hikers and bikers by passing out water near Camelback Mountain.

While many Crossover activities produced immediate results in the form of hundreds of new believers in Christ, volunteers hope follow-up efforts will bring many more to Christ. What cannot be measured, participants believe, is how the seeds planted at each event will impact the people of Arizona for years to come.

Pastor Kevin Herbert and members of Main Street Baptist Church in Grand Saline also traveled to Phoenix. The group assisted First Southern Baptist Church of Walton, near Yuma, to prepare for a post-convention block party and for Vacation Bible School, scheduled for June 23. “Our goal is to help them in anyway possible,” Herbert said.

Due to prior commitments, Nachtigall and the group from Pampa did not stay for the convention. Their sole purpose for driving to the Valley of the Sun was to minister at the block party.

“It was a long way to drive, but it was worth the trip,” he said. “On the drive home we were already discussing how we were going to get to Indianapolis next year.”

Lindsey Nimmons, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Trinity, signed up to participate in door-to-door evangelism and prayerwalking efforts but discovered God called him to Crossover Phoenix for another reason.

Preaching for 52 years, Nimmons, 70, worked with Power Road Baptist Church in Phoenix, training Vacation Bible School workers and preparing the church for its upcoming ministry event. In the evenings, the 70-year-old pastor traversed assigned communities looking for prospects for the church.

“I would come back very disappointed, because we didn’t see a single person,” he said. “It seemed to be very hot and most weren’t home from work yet.”

However, it wasn’t until later that the Texas Baptist discovered the reason God sent him to the desert. While sleeping in his motel room, someone vandalized Nimmons’ car shattering a window. The next morning, an area repairman named Charlie was called and Nimmons lead him to the Lord.

“He had to do my job in two days, two different times, because he didn’t have all the right stuff the first time,” recounted Nimmons, adding that he was able to talk to Charlie while he was working. “I said ‘I suppose you’re Catholic.’ He said ‘Yes.'”

Nimmons said Charlie was “stand-offish” at first, but he gave him a tract in Spanish and English.

“When he came the next morning I shared with him again. He said he wanted toknow about the church I was serving (t1:Street>Power Road), and I invited him to come see the Jesus film that was showing that night. He said, ‘I told you I was Catholic, but I don’t know what I am. I read the material, and I want to become a Christian. I want to start going to church.’ I said ‘Are your ready to give your life to Christ?’ and he said yes.”

As Charlie left, Nimmons said, “Look forward to seeing you

SBTC Executive Director challenges SBC

PHOENIX?”You may labor in obscurity until eternity reveals your work,” stated Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Director Jim Richards June 18 in his theme interpretation on “Kingdom Living Today.”

“The greatest in the kingdom may be an invalid in the sick room praying down heaven’s blessings,” he added, insisting that doing God’s will is the very definition of kingdom living.

SBC president Jack Graham praised Richards as “a kingdom man” whom he knows to be “a convictional and compassionate leader who provides assistance and encouragement to pastors and support to churches.” Noting SBTC’s leadership in sending 52 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to the SBC budget, Graham said Richards “has fully adopted and led us in the kingdom agenda of Southern Baptists in the great state of Texas.”

Richards first described the provisions of God in a time when international instability and economic uncertainty dominate headlines today. “Since September 11, 2001, America has not been the same. We have had the DC sniper, the Iraqi War and Laci Peterson tragedy. Pop culture has produced Fear Factor, American Idol and Bruce Almighty.”

He added, “Moral morass continues with unborn babies being killed, homosexuality being accepted and tolerance being mandated for all except evangelical Christianity.” He turned to Luke 9:23, 57-62 to offer Jesus’ approach to kingdom living in such circumstances.

Although Jesus repeatedly spoke of the kingdom, Richards observed a difference in the selected text. “Jesus addressed kingdom living at that moment,” he said, noting that it is “not for wimps, whiners or the wicked.” He explained, “In our soft, affluent, politically correct American culture, we do not like to hear about responsibilities, expectations or sacrifice. Everybody seems to be a victim.”

However, Jesus did not put up with that mindset, preferring to “address the realities of kingdom living with the three would-be disciples,” he said. “The insights he gave are relevant twenty centuries later because they are the Word of God.”

In the first example, Jesus addressed the problems in the heart of the man who “made a boast he was unable to keep,” Richards said. “Perhaps his expectations were of the millennial kingdom with Solomonic splendor,” he speculated.

Richards expressed gratitude for “a God who knows the end from the beginning,” refuting the theory of open theism that “tells us God does not know how the end will occur.” Drawing applause from the audience, Richards said, “There has never been a time that God hasn’t known what will happen in the next day.”

Elaborating, he added, “God has never had to go out on a stump and think about what’s going to take place. God knows the end from the beginning.”

He warned from the text of a tendency toward spiritual arrogance and sinful avarice. “Those who have a perverted view of the prayer of Jabez think God is obligated to bless them on every hand. What about the Sudanese Christians who are being martyred?” he asked as an example. “We don’t live in a time when God is obligated to answer our every whim. That makes God nothing more than a cosmic bellboy waiting to grant our every wish.”

Quoting 1 Peter 4:12, Richards said suffering and trials are to be expected. “God is not as concerned about our happiness as he is our holiness. It is not about our comfort, but about his cross.” By relying on the Holy Spirit and resting in God’s promises, Christians can overcome such secret attacks, he said.

Richards recounted when he and his wife were living in a house trailer with an income of $100 a week early in their marriage. When an elderly man brought them groceries he had purchased with his own food stamps, Richards experienced God’s provision. “If you are in the center of God’s will in kingdom living today the provisions of his providence come through.”

From Luke 9:59-60, Richards described “the preeminence of his person,” insisting that a Christian’s relationship with Jesus must be more important than any other. Richards warned of two potential struggles every Christian faces, being consumed by popular opinions or controlled by personal agendas.

“In all of our endeavors of kingdom living today, doing the right thing with our families, with our churches, building and working and putting all of our energy into all of these efforts, let us never forget the preeminence of his person, the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s all about the King.”

In Luke 9:61-62, Richards found the priority of God’s plan, noting Jesus’ use of an agrarian illustration

Texan leads students on mission

“As we have observed God’s working in this generation of students, we have clearly seen him stirring in their hearts for the nations and giving them a desire to join him on mission,” said Lance Shumake, the director of iWitness Ministries.

“The students in this generation continue to amaze me. Many of the students that have served with us overseas are so passionate about God’s purposes, and their desire to make him famous is so strong. They continually challenge me with their passion and zeal. They don’t show any desire to pursue the American dream, but instead, they continually demonstrate the desire to passionately pursue a life on mission with God ? no matter what it costs them.”

The purpose of iWitness Ministries, which is based in the Rockwall and was founded by JR Vassar, is to mobilize high school and college students to participate in short-term mission expeditions to facilitate their desire to make God known around the world. Vassar, who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1995 with a master of theology degree, is a teaching pastor at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall. Before establishing iWitness in 1998, Vassar, served as the minister to students at MacArthur Blvd. Baptist Church in Irving.

After serving for three years as the director of youth ministries for the Indiana Baptist Convention, Shumake joined the team in 2000. Shumake attended Dallas Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he received a master of divinity degree. Following graduation, Shumake served as a missionary in Indiana with the North American Missions Board.

“God called me to iWitness and now has given me the leadership role with this ministry,” Shumake said. “I feel like God has been preparing me for this all my life through the various experiences He has given me. iWitness and this vision consumes my thoughts and continues to drive my life as a minister. It has changed me as a husband and father, as well. I want my kids to grow up with a clear understanding of God’s global agenda and for them to have a heart for all people. I can’t wait for the day when my children will join me on their first mission trip.”

As a father, Shumake understands parents’ apprehension to send their children overseas in the mission field, but reassures them to put their trust in the Lord.

“Even though many parents today are afraid to allow their children to travel overseas, and I can understand their fear, I know that God is and will be faithful. I trust God with so much, why not trust him with my family?” Shumake relates.

The way iWitness Ministries works is when students sign up, they are placed on teams with other students from all over the country, with a large representation from Texas. From there, they are assigned team leaders with international experience, as well as the ability to spiritually guide and disciple students on the trip. All of the short-term mission teams receive intense training before they depart for the mission field and are required to attend the Mission Base Camp, where they concentrate on spiritual preparation through worship, prayer, team building, and project assignment training.

“We focus on taking students to places that would be considered the least reached or in some cases where those people have immigrated,” Shumake explained. “At iWitness, we also receive many opportunities to speak at student-focused events. We seek to take advantage of all opportunities to teach students about God’s global purposes and his desire for them to join his mission to raise up worshippers of him from all nations, tribes, and tongues.”

“Our teams usually are involved in work related to evangelism and church planting. However, our strategy is to find missionaries that have a clear vision and a strategy that can involve students, and we work alongside them in a way that assists their ongoing ministry. It is our goal that students return from the field with a clear picture of God’s global agenda and an understanding of their role in that plan. We want them to see missions as much more than a trip, but instead as a lifestyle.”

In addition to doubling the number of teams that will embark into the missions field over the summer, iWitness has teamed up with Mercy Me to create the Go Foundation, with the goal of “reaching more students on the field while getting mission organizations in front of students.” During a 52-city “Go Show” tour with Mercy Me and Audio Adrenaline, a challenge was extended to join God on mission by taking a mission trip in the next 18 months.

“At iWitness, we are facilitating the Go Foundation by sending out e-mails and letters to each per

Thumbs for July 7

Thumbs Up

• Thumbs up to Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa who authored the Texas Defense of Marriage Act and to other state legislators along with Governor Perry for their support of the bill. This is what happens when God’s people register to vote, learn how to vote, vote for candidates who share their values, and then encourage them to stand strong for those values. Keep it up, friends. I guarantee the other side will not give up.

• Thumbs up to Tom Eliff for leading Southern Baptists’ family emphasis this year. Although puzzling to outsiders who focused only on what they considered the repression of women in a quaint family structure, Pastor Eliff and other leaders showed us the wide range of blessings for our world that follow from strong, biblical families. It is a timely challenge and was well communicated in Phoenix.

• Thumbs up to six members of the US Supreme Court for their decision to uphold the constitutionality of internet filters for public libraries. What’s with Souter, Stevens, and Bader-Ginsburg? Do they not know any children? Have they never been on the Web? Freedom of speech is not absolute. Access to information does not mandate that public monies make everything available to everyone. A little common sense on the part of six justices stands in stark contrast to the three dissenters in this case.

A lion among Southern Baptists

An army of deer led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lions led by a deer. -Philip II of Macedon.

An army of lions led by a deer will never be an army of lions

-Napoleon Bonaparte

Leadership is everything. In sports, in business, in battle, in church, groups of competent people will mill around seeking someone who has a clue and who is willing to expend himself for the shared goals of the larger body. Without him they will languish. All of us have experienced the similar situation of a less gifted group brought together successfully by the right person at the right time.

Perhaps Southwestern Seminary has found its lion. Paige Patterson has shown so many characteristics of outstanding leadership throughout his ministry. You can read his resume and testimonials elsewhere in this issue of the TEXAN. Read those for yourself and you’ll get a picture of the best man for the job. Even those who disagree with him must acknowledge his gifts and character. Consider some further benefits that may accrue to Southwestern and to Texas as God blesses Dr. Patterson’s ministry here.

Texas is in sore need of a clear theological dialog. Academicians are the most fit and credible spokesmen for such a debate. Moderate schools at Baylor and Hardin-Simmons will, by definition, sound an uncertain note. Southwestern has not been adequately engaged in our theological debate for many years. Part of Dr. Patterson’s nature is to joyfully engage critical issues that bear on the health and mission of the churches. So-called “openness of God” theology has a firm hold among Texas moderates and is little-understood among Texas Southern Baptists. Amazingly, this assault on God’s nature has not been adequately exposed and refuted in our state. I predict that will change. We will welcome the help.

We also need an advocate and leader in cooperative missions. Dr. Patterson has led Southeastern Seminary to the forefront of North American missions with a church planting project in New Hampshire. Students from SEBTS have also leaped into some of the most dangerous international mission fields. This contagious spirit of missionary adventure has characterized Dr. Patterson’s ministry for decades. The influence of a revitalized Southwestern Seminary will help to counter the “Texas first and Texas only” mentality that has captured some of our Baptist brethren.

Then there is Southwestern itself. Well-funded and well-kept, the seminary is poised to become something more than it is. A theological school is not a monastery where the focus is inward and sterile. It is a laboratory for learning and doing kingdom business. It should also be a source of encouragement and role models for the region’s churches and pastors. A seminary should lead in the investigation, understanding, and implementation of God’s revelation of himself and his will. Southwestern today is a solid, stable theological school. Add to those foundational traits some energetic creativity, and you’ll have not only the largest of seminaries but also a world leader in theological education. As a Southwestern alumnus who lives in Texas, this is an exciting possibility to me.

Now friends, please read to the end before you write me. It’s a struggle to express excitement about the future without criticizing the past by comparison. When we praise someone, his peers may smart at what is not being said of themselves. I know these things and don’t need to be told of Southwestern’s past accomplishments or current strength. I believe those things already. Dr. Patterson was correct in pointing out the solid foundation Ken Hemphill laid for the future of Southwestern. As I said, the school is poised for the next step of ministry. Neither do the opening quotes imply that Southwestern’s current faculty is made up of deer as compared to lions. I don’t know most of these men and women. It is likely that Southwestern has a mix of both species. The point is and always was the leader. If you disagree with my point that Paige Patterson is the best leader that Southern Baptists have to offer Southwestern Seminary, we’ll just have to disagree. But don’t make this article about past leaders or a criticism of past glories. Those who focus on guarding the school’s legacy from its potential are missing the best. It’s about the future.

It is also true that no mere man is our savior. The true lion is the Lion of Judah.  Paige Patterson is a lion among men because he follows and gifted by the true Lion.  Give me a break with my metaphor, though.  Philip and Napoleon are demonstrably correct in noting that a gifted and bold leader will hearten any cause or body of men beyond their own talents.  At this time and for the future, Southwestern needs this. Texas needs this.