Month: January 2005

Missionaries with Texas ties spared injury in Asian tsunami

Missionaries with Texas ties escaped injury in the deadly tsunamis that hit South Asia.

Miles Seaborn, a retired Fort Worth pastor and former missionary in the Philippines for 10 years, said his daughter-in-law’s siblings serving in South Asiaescaped injuryin the Dec. 26 tsunami devastation there.

Seaborn’s son, Neal,aSouthern Baptist missionaryin the Philippines with his wife, Jana, told his parents by phone that Jana’s brother andsister and their families were in meetings far from the coasts when the devastation hit.

All four of the missionaries attended Southwestern Seminary and were members of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth when Miles Seaborn served there as pastor. The Philippine islands were spared damage from the tsunami.

Seaborn said many of the IMB missionaries in South Asia would be called upon to help with relief and rebuilding.

“The Southern Baptist missionaries will do a good job because they know the officials in their areas and they know the people and their needs as well as anyone,” Seaborn said.

Relief workers see God’s providence

When South Carolina disaster relief volunteers were forced to delay a trip to India last fall, they assumed God would work in spite of the change to an early January date. In light of the recent tsunami devastation, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that God knew best.

“We were supposed to have gone in October, but things didn’t work out,” recalled Judy Fulmer of Prosperity, S.C. After hearing about the massive tsunami devastation in South Asia, it all made sense. “We knew that when this happened. That’s why God changed our plans.” She and her husband, Eddie, a layman who serves on the disaster relief task force for South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC), will join three International Mission Board representatives and two SCBC staffers to assess how Southern Baptists can provide ongoing relief to the South Asia region.

Several years ago South Carolina Southern Baptists began exploring a partnership with an entire region of the world, moving beyond a more typical relationship with a particular country. Included among the 1.3 billion people of South Asia are India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, some of the areas hardest-hit by the Dec. 26 tsunami.

“This trip was planned for months,” explained Cliff Satterwhite, SCBC disaster relief director. “It’s ironic that my responsibility was to go to Bangladesh and people were flying in to talk about strategic planning for disasters. I always tell folks we have to be flexible, so now we’re going into Calcutta.”

The South Carolina assessment team will touch base with contacts that have been developed through 11 years of ministry by Southern Baptists in the region. “We’re trying to work through a process and be there for the long-term. The news media will leave in the next couple of weeks, but we’ll try to work with a couple of strong churches doing ministry now in the area.”

“God opened the door for us to be in South Asia anyway,” Satterwhite told Baptist Press, telling of 17 South Carolina teams traveling to the areas as a part of the three-year partnership launched in 2005.

Disaster relief volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention stand ready to be sent on medical and water purification assignments. “I’ve had unsolicited calls with five individuals who are packed and ready to go,” said Bill Davenport, SBTC consultant for disaster relief. “Their passports and shots are in order and they’re ready.” He’s contacting local Baptist associations to recruit additional volunteers who will join him and another SBTC staffer within the next few months. Efforts are underway by volunteers in Mississippi and Alabama as well.

State Baptist convention disaster relief directors work with the International Missio

Network of church planting veterans hopes to maximize SBTC efforts

Over the past six months, the SBTC church planting team has been diligently working to develop a statewide network of “church planting partners” to assist church planters with assessments, training, and coaching through the church planting process.

The network will function on three levels, said Terry Coy, SBTC senior church planting strategist. The first level is consultants, who generally spend half their time on church planting projects and strategies; the second is a network of planting partners?mostly experienced church planters?who will conduct assessments, train planters and serve as mentors and coaches; the third level includes associational and other partners who often have established church planting processes in place.

The network will also function according to a church plant’s regional location, affinity and ethnic language. Coy said, “The desire is to have as much localized and regionalized access to church planting as possible.”

Coy said the network’s goal is to connect, resource and train people to network with other church planters. The larger network, comprised of mini-networks, is designed to keep as much of the process as contextualized and local as possible. The SBTC church planting team will serve as connectors, resourcers and trainers helping the local networks and associations effectively plant and grow.

Church planting is a major part of the SBTC Missions Department, which receives nearly 40 percent of the SBTC budget. In its first six years, the SBTC has helped start more than 240 congregations.

Though planned for several years, the SBTC church planting network began functioning in earnest about six months ago. This year, several workshops and training programs are planned to expand the network and the SBTC church planting efforts, Coy said.

Such a workshop took place last year at First Baptist Church in Fairfield, led by Silvano Paiva, the SBTC’s Hispanic church planting consultant. The workshop drew 47 people from 17 Hispanic churches and included potential planters and key leaders?a success considering the workshop initially registered only 15 planters.

“We had participants from Northeast Texas, Austin, Galveston, the Rio Grande Valley, and even one person from Mexico,” Paiva said.

“Response to the workshop was outstanding,” Coy said. “Most left with a commitment to organizing or hosting similar workshops in their respective regions.”

One of the most exciting things to come from workshop was the “55-5=1” plan developed by Paiva. All who attended made a commitment to work toward growing their congregations to at least 55 adults in attendance. Once they reach 55, the church has a “calling out the called” service sending out five of their members to plant a new church.

Currently, Paiva along with other church planting consultants are working to coach regional leaders to create networks among other church planters.

“I am coaching regional leaders ? to plan local workshops related to church planting,” Paiva said. “If they are able to put together a group of 10 or more existing leaders and/or potential church planters, I go there and present the workshop.”

Coy and Paiva have worked recently to bring in new people to teach one or more of the workshop sessions from the existing pool of leaders. Less than a month after the Fairfield workshop, one of the SBTC’s newest planters, Jorge Cruz, organized a dinner for existing pastors and potential leaders at his home in Jacksonville that drew 18 people.

“As leaders such as Jorge Cruz emerge, we encourage them to get more training into becoming coaches of those with less experience in their region. I believe that God has people in each of the small churches that have a burden to reach people for Christ. Because they are members of a small, new church, the whole process is still fresh in their minds, so it is easier to reproduce,” Paiva said.

Many leaders are catching the church planting fever. Jose Vazquez, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Pflugerville, is ministering in a new church. Already, they have more than 150 in attendance.

Of the new church, Paiva said, “Once [Vazquez] heard of the 55-5=1 plan, he immediately said that he wanted his church to be the first one to take on th

Generation labels less predictible among young

Back in the 1940s, an average adult American male would live a shorter life than today’s man, would likely live his life in the same town and possibly hold the same job from his 20s until retirement.

There were two kinds of music, as Gary Smith noted when he addressed a breakout session at last fall’s SBTC Pastors’ Conference, secular and sacred. Multiple generations listened to the same music, wore many of the same clothing styles and viewed the world similarly.

Change was slow.

In the 1950s and ’60s demographers talked of the “generation gap.” Today, there isn’t a generation gap; there are multiple gaps. It’s possible in some households to see a 14-year-old “Millennial” occupying the same address as his 90-year-old “Builder” great-grandma.

Great-grandma remembers Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression. The 14-year-old, only age 5 at the time, barely remembers the Oklahoma City bombing.

Such is the world we live in.

Smith, pastor of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, a church that has continued to transition its ministry to fit its surroundings, said understanding generational differences and embracing some forms of change is necessary if most congregations will survive a culture that thrives on change.

Smith cited Christian pollster George Barna, who predicts 100,000 churches will close their doors by 2020 because their model of church is based in programs developed by and for the builder and boomer generations.

The key to biblical change, he said, is to grow a church that is “anchored to the Bible but geared to the times.” Smith also warned, however, that pastors and churches that try to be something they are not usually fail.

“You’d better decide who you are, because God has uniquely made you.”

Ed Stetzer, church planting strategist for the North American Mission Board, who spoke to a group of young church leaders at the SBTC annual meeting last fall, cites four generations in his book “Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age.”

?Builders were born before 1946. The older Builders have been labeled “The Greatest Generation” for their resolve and victory through the Depression and World War II. There are more than 50 million Builders in the U.S. and 8 million in Canada.

?Boomers were born in the two decades following World War II (1946-64). The largest population segment, 70 million live in the U.S and 8 million in Canada.

?Busters, later typed as Generation X by some, were born between 1960-1976. Stetzer dates them 1965-76, but among some demographers there is some overlap with the Boomers.

?Millennials were born from 1977-94 and total 70 million in the U.S. and 6 million in Canada.

“I’m not a big fan of demographic segmentation, but there may be some value in looking at the Builder and Boomer generations. However, among emerging postmodern generations, these models tend to lose their usefulness,” Stetzer writes in the book.

Among Busters, Millennials and the younger emerging group, spotting specific generational traits seems less predictable.

SBTC offering training for international missions

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the International Mission Board will host International Missions Training Institute (IMTI) Team Leader and Cross-Cultural Training sessions March 3-5 at College Hills Baptist Church in San Angelo.

The training includes two separate but complementary training seminars helpful for anyone interested in international missions work, said Tiffany Smith, SBTC missions mobilization associate.

The Team Leader session will be held March 3-4 and the Cross-Cultural Training will be March 4-5. Though participants may opt for only one session, both may be taken, Smith said.

The Team Leader training is 14 hours and offers practical help in recruiting prayer support, researching overseas project sites, building a missions team, financing the trip, training team members, securing proper travel and identification, and planning daily schedules.

The Cross-Cultural Training is 12 hours and covers the identification of worldviews, the biblical basis for missions, cross-cultural ministry, poverty issues, missiology, and engaging other cultures with the gospel.

“As we embrace God’s command to be a Acts 1:8 church, the IMTI training is indispensable,” Smith said. “The Team Leader training provides logistical instruction that covers everything from meeting expenses to preparing to return home.The Cross-Cultural training is more interactive and is invaluable for those who want to develop a deeper understanding of how to minister to people of different cultural backgrounds?whether they are next door or in a foreign land.”

For more information, contact Smith at the SBTC office, 817-552-2500 or

SBTC endows Hispanic PhD. scholarship at Southwestern

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has given $25,000 to endow the Rudy A. and Lucy L. Hernandez Scholarship for Hispanic PhD. students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The scholarship, part of the SBTC’s Hispanic Initiative and its Hispanic Education Superhighway to encourage theological education among Hispanic Baptists, marks a milestone for the Hispanic Initiative, launched in full last summer with the hiring of Mike Gonzales to the SBTC staff as the Hispanic Initiative director.

“We believe this scholarship could help cultivate future state executive directors, denominational leaders, seminary professors and missionaries from Hispanic ranks,” Gonzales said. “This is the first tangible step for the Hispanic Initiative in furthering theological education among Hispanic Baptists.”

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards said: “It is only appropriate that the SBTC scholarship for bilingual Hispanic PhD. students be named after Dr. and Mrs. Rudy Hernandez. Brother Rudy has been a powerful influence for evangelism and education. He has been a leader among all Southern Baptists, not just Hispanics. Being the first Hispanic president of a state convention in Texas shows the type of respect and admiration the people of God have for him. His legacy is a passion for souls that has been transferred to all of us who know him and love him.”

Hernandez is a San Antonio native and was the SBTC’s second president. He also served as SBC second vice president.

He began preaching at age 13, was licensed to preach at 15 and ordained at age 19. He was the first director of the SBTC’s Hispanic Initiative and served numerous Texas churches. Hernandez holds doctor of divinity degrees from Howard Payne University, where he earned his undergraduate degree, and Criswell College. He is also a Southwestern Seminary graduate.

The Hispanic Initiative also plans to partner with SBTC affiliates Criswell College and Jacksonville College in furthering theological education among Hispanics.

This century’s gold rush?

When California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 71, which provides $300 million per year over the next decade for embryonic stem cell research, they couldn’t have known all that they were doing. As usual with moral minefields, the proposal’s advocates promised something for nothing. Their hope that presently unseen cures might result from embryonic stem research became a promise. Their intention that California’s economy would flourish with new investment and discovery was compared with days when miners found gold nuggets on the ground. That was at least the picture painted when Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante called embryonic stem cell research “this century’s gold rush.”


Really? Three billion is a lot of money to recoup in the fruit of the hitherto unprofitable destruction of human life. That’s what it is, you know. A fertilized human egg, plus time, plus nurture equals you or me. If the embryo is not both human and alive, no one even imagines a benefit from pulling it apart. Let’s take Mr. Bustamante’s example apart instead.


America’s first gold rush took place in Georgia in the 1820s. At that time settlers of European descent and the Indian tribes there lived peaceably together. When gold was discovered in Cherokee County, that changed. Greedy newcomers who wanted the gold found the occupancy of the land’s legal owners inconvenient. The eventual solution to this problem was to march Georgia’s Cherokees across the South to modern-day Oklahoma. The Indians called the route “Trail of Tears” partly because about 4,000 people died as a result of this removal.


Our nation’s second gold rush was more lucrative, to some. When gold was discovered in California, a call went round the world in the late 1840s. People came from China, Mexico, Europe, and from North America’s east to search for gold and to start businesses of use to the newcomers. As more people came, gold was harder to find. “Foreigners” became inconvenient and the cry became “t1:State>California for the Americans.” As this implies, European, Mexican, and Chinese miners and businessmen were run out, sometimes violently. Again, “gold rush” meant one thing to the powerful and another to the relatively powerless.

It’s a little ironic that California’s first Hispanic lieutenant governor would sanguinely use a term that held more threat than promise to his own forebears. How easily he forgets the misery a majority may inflict on those less powerful or numerous than themselves. Is any human life less powerful than the unborn in our society?


Mr. Bustamante is not alone in his enthusiasm. Politicians in other states are rushing to compete for a supposed growth industry. Governors in Wisconsin and New Jersey are also working to apply state money to embryonic stem cell research. Our own Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has expressed the fear that Texas will not get in on the bonanza. Presumably, Mrs. Hutchison would favor applying Texas state funds to this research in the event she runs for, and is elected, governor one day. Some have also guessed that researchers will abandon Texas if public money and new stem cell lines are not readily available for embryonic stem cell research. All this activity on the part of state leaders is focused on embryonic stems cells because this is the type of stem cell research the federal government will not fund. This is the place where the competition between states ensues.


Maybe this is all true. There was gold in them hills, after all. Perhaps the destruction of human embryos will result in extended lives for some of the rest of us. Perhaps states that invest will get both a financial windfall and an influx of the nation’s best scientists. Do these things change the right and wrong of the whole matter?


To how many moral issues could we apply this same utilitarian thinking? Slavery benefited (for a time) some state and personal fortunes. Vivisection could have some imagined benefits to research and teaching. Clear-cutting our great forests could drive down the price of housing and make some people and states rich ? for a while. These ideas each present myriad moral objections and practical problems for every imagined benefit. Can we beat the law of unintended consequences this time, for the first time?


Frankly folks, this is why politicians; lieutenant governors, governors, and governors-in-waiting, need oversight by their constituents. They evidently are not temperamentally equipped to learn from past results or present morality.


A second moral shortcut involves cloning human embryos for the purpose of harvesting useful stem cells. Advocates are quick to point out that they do not favor reproductive cloning, which, if successful, would produce a genetic duplicate of an existing mature person. They favor therapeutic cloning only, which produces an embryo that is the genetic duplicate of an existing mature person for the purpose of pulling it to pieces for research.

Intentional evangelism: It still works to win souls

Evangelism seems to have fallen on hard times. Confrontational witnessing is almost taboo among those who used to espouse it the most. FAITH Sunday School gave a little shot in the arm to the effort, but in the main, Southern Baptists have slipped in their commitment to sharing Jesus with others.

A decade ago when I was a pastor we had a day on the denominational calendar called “Soul-winning Commitment Day.” As it was usually in January, I challenged the church to commit to witness and try to win someone to Jesus in the New Year. There were various methods I used to encourage the congregation to be soul-winners. One of my favorites was to fill the choir on that Sunday with people who had been won to Christ the previous year. As someone would sing the verses “Thank you for Giving to the Lord” (that dates me), the new convert choir would join in on the chorus. Eventually, the congregation would sing the chorus after someone in the choir gave testimony of how they were led to Christ. The whole service was a poignant reminder to everyone that a verbal witness for Jesus is necessary.

About two months ago, it was my privilege to preach a weekend revival at a South Texas church. The pastor had a burden to reach his town and took me with him on home visitation. During that time I had the joy of going through the plan of salvation with a young man who was shipping out to Iraq for military service. Ronnie prayed to receive Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. Some had watered, some had planted and God gave the increase. Intentional, confrontational evangelism still works.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has an evangelism department that can help you prepare to do outreach for Jesus. Current materials and personal assistance are available. Contact Don Cass, SBTC evangelism director, or Brad Bunting, SBTC evangelism associate, about having a church-wide or associational training event.

Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 is the SBTC Empower Evangelism Conference at First Baptist Church, Euless. This is more than a preach-a-thon. The conference is where you can hear from God as He speaks to you about personal soul-winning, church evangelism and holiness. I believe God wants to pour out a fresh anointing of His Spirit upon His churches in Texas. Join with me in prayer and attendance that this might be the time and place for it to start.

Your servant in Christ.