Month: October 2008

SBTC 6th in CP giving, 1st in percentage

NASHVILLE?The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention gave the sixth-largest sum to Southern Baptist Convention ministry through the SBC’s Cooperative Program missions funding channel, SBC Executive Committee statistics for fiscal year 2007-’08 show.

The Georgia Baptist Convention led with $20.3 million through CP for SBC work, followed by the Alabama Baptist Convention ($18.8 million), the Tennessee Baptist Convention ($15.6 million), the Florida Baptist Convention ($15.2 million), the South Carolina Baptist Convention ($14.2 million), and the SBTC ($13.6 million).

Rounding out the top 10 were the Baptist General Convention of Texas ($12.4 million), the Mississippi Baptist Convention ($11.8 million), the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma ($10.5 million), and the Baptist Convention of North Carolina ($10.3 million).

The SBTC gives the highest percentage among state conventions to SBC mission agencies, ministries and seminaries, passing on 54 percent of undesignated receipts through the CP channel to advance the gospel worldwide.

The Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia disburse 50 percent for SBC ministry, followed by Illinois, 43 percent, Alabama, 42.3 percent, and Arkansas, 41.97 percent.

Four state conventions offer churches out-of-state giving options to fund non-SBC ministries, such as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The District of Columbia convention splits its out-of-state budget between SBC and American Baptist Convention causes. North Carolina offers its churches four giving plans, two of which account for more than 80 percent of undesignated gifts sent to the state convention. Of those two, 34 percent was sent to Nashville for disbursement, according to the SBC Executive Committee. The Baptist General Association of Virginia also passes on funds to non-SBC work.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas lists a 21 percent budget for worldwide causes, “with each church selecting the recepient(s) of the worldwide portion.”

The SBTC will increase to 55 percent its budgeted amount for SBC causes and 45 percent for Texas ministry, if SBTC messengers adopt the budget as proposed next month in Houston.

Fireproof’ book discounts discontinued

LifeWay Christian Resources has rescinded a discount for churches purchasing “The Love Dare.”

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention was partnering with B&H Publishing to provide special bulk discounts on the “The Love Dare,” the 40-day experience on which the movie “Fireproof” is based.

SBTC Church Ministries Director Jim Wolfe said that if the rescinded offer causes difficulty for a church, “we would be happy to reimburse the church for the extra costs incurred.”

Wolfe may be contacted at the SBTC office toll-free at 877-953-7282 or by e-mail at jwolfe@sbtexas.com.

Wolfe said he hopes the book will assist churches and associations as they lead Christians to fulfill their calling beginning in their homes.

“The Love Dare” book is meant for small-group studies. The books retail for $14.99.

Presidential appointments announced

The following are SBTC presidential appointments. The annual meeting is Nov. 10-11 at Houston’s First Baptist Church.

REGISTRATION
Mark Palmer, chairman, Houston’s First Baptist Church
Abraham Barberi, Lazybrook Baptist Church, Houston
Jerry McCurdy, Shadycrest Baptist Church, Pearland
Jeremy Pruitt, Westway Baptist Church, Houston
Karen Treybig, Braeburn Valley Baptist Church, Houston

RESOLUTIONS
Malcolm Yarnell, chairman, Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth
Barry Creamer, First Baptist Church, Dallas
Jeremy Green, First Baptist Church, Joshua
Paul Garcia, Bobtown Road Baptist Church, Garland
Paul Kullman, Central Baptist Church, College Station
Ellen Cullins, Bay Area First Baptist Church, League City
Earl Duggins, Forest Home Baptist Church, Kilgore
Mike Simmons, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Cedar Hill

TELLERS
Lynn Snider, chairman, First Baptist Church, Rosehill
Sammy Lopez, Fellowship Church of Houston, Houston
Scott Moyer, First Baptist Church, Mauriceville
Jeff Robinson, Southside Baptist Church, Lufkin
Bruce Northam, Clay Road Baptist Church, Houston
Jack Groebner, Calvary Baptist Church, Texas City
David Taylor, Temple Baptist Church, Clute
Timothy Webb, Champion Fellowship, Brenham
James Clark, Park Place Baptist Church, Houston
Joseph Garcia, Primera Iglesia de Rosehill, Rosehill
Rick Rice, First Baptist Church, Premont
Paul Boughan, First Baptist Church, Spurger

OTHER APPOINTMENTS

Parliamentarians
Barry McCarty, professional parliamentarian
Terry Wright, pastor, First Baptist Church, Vidor

COMMITTEE ON COMMITTEES
(Appointed by the president)

Gerald Smith, chairman, Mansfield

Term expiring 2012
Gary Heatherly, First Baptist Church, Schertz
Mike Lawson, First Baptist Church, Sherman
David Brumbelow, Northside Baptist Church, Highlands

Mishkan journal features scholarly papers on gospel outreach to Jews

DALLAS?”In light of the tragic history of the Jewish-Christian relationship in Europe, many Christians have eschewed any evangelistic engagement with the Jewish people.”

That’s was the assessment of Jim Sibley, director of the Pasche Institute for Jewish Studies at Criswell College while awaiting publication of several papers presented at a recent meeting of scholars who argue in favor of taking the gospel to Jewish people.

The Pasche Institute operates as a ministry of the college, publishing the international journal Mishkan, which deals with issues related to the gospel and the Jewish people. In the October 2008 issue, abbreviated versions of some of the papers presented at the World Evangelical Alliance Theological Commission in August are offered, while calling attention to the historic “Berlin Declaration” that describes how the Christian community might express genuine love for the Jewish people, especially in Europe.

The need for repentance, the problem of sin, the solution to sin and the call for action are the four points emphasized in the 1,200-word document produced by scholars and representative of ministries that engage the Jewish community.

While respecting the views of others with sensitivity and humility, Sibley said the WEA group challenged Christians to share the gospel message of the Messiah.-

“It should not be done apologetically or half-heartedly,” he reminded.

The task force that drafted the document called for:
?respect for religious conviction and liberty that allows frank discussion of religious claims,
?repentance from all expressions of anti-Semitism and all other forms of genocide, prejudice and discrimination,
?recognition of the uniqueness of Christ as the crucified, resurrected and divine Messiah who alone can save from death and bring eternal life,
?reconciliation and unity among believers in Jesus, and
?renewed commitment to Jewish evangelism.

With upwards of 70,000 Jewish people living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 45,000 in the Houston area, as well as other cities in Texas, the Pasche Institute provides students with an opportunity to gain practical experience locally while enrolled at Criswell College as well as mission trips to New York City and Israel.

The recent addition of a Jewish studies minor as part of the B.A. in biblical studies has attracted more students to the curriculum designed to multiply and strengthen leaders for ministry to the Jewish people.

Visit pascheinstitute.org for more information on course offerings and a link to the Mishkan journal.

Marking 10 years of SBTC

It is hard to believe it has been 10 years. My hair was darker, my waist line was smaller and my energy level was higher in 1998. Those are the few negatives of the past 10 years. Almost everything else has been an awesome, God-sized blessing. Seeing a fellowship of churches expand to “Reach Texas” and “Touch the World” has been the joy of a lifetime. God brought it about.

I will not recount all of the growth congregationally or financially. You have heard the figures. It has been phenomenal. The power of the Holy Spirit in the churches and in our joint efforts has been evident. Someone said to evaluate your ministry you need to ask the “It’s a Wonderful Life” question: “What difference have you made and what would it be like if you had not made a contribution to life?”

I can tell you that Texas would be less evangelized today without the SBTC. Hundreds of pastors and churches would have been less encouraged and assisted in their ministries. Over 400 new church starts would not have had the support they enjoyed. The SBC would not have been able to educate some seminarians or send all of the missionaries they have. The list could go on showing the value of the SBTC. Whatever has been accomplished, we give God all the glory.

November 10 and 11 we will gather at Houston’s First Baptist Church to celebrate 10 years of ministry together. Throughout the TEXAN you will find the pre-convention activities that will interest you.

Also, you will find listed luncheons, dinners and other exciting events that take place during the two days of the convention. As usual we will be praying, singing, preaching, hearing testimonies and doing a little business on the side. Plan to be a part of this historic occasion.

POST-IKE HELP NEEDED
There is one burden that tempers my thrill of the annual meeting. The devastation of Ike has decimated a number of churches. There are pastors who lost their homes, church buildings, even their congregations. Others have suffered damage and will struggle through the on-coming months to recovery. Ike’s destruction rivals Katrina within the affected area.

I appeal to you to do several things:
?Please pray. God is able to sustain and strengthen those who have gone through this tragedy.
?Secondly, consider being an answer to your own prayer by giving. You can send a designated gift above your regular Cooperative Program gift. Just mark on your giving form “Disaster Relief.” We want to be able to do more in assisting people in need.

Finally, workers are in short supply. Volunteers are needed. It will be months before some semblance of normal is reached. If you are trained in DR or would like to be, please contact the SBTC office toll-free at 1-877-953-7282. Your efforts will bless the saints and help reach the lost.

See you in Houston.

Like the daisy? Love the roots

Two groups within the Southern Baptist Convention enjoy bulletproof status with every subgroup of our fellowship?disaster relief volunteers and foreign missionaries. That’s fine and God bless ’em. These are folks who show up while the larger number of us settle for clucking our tongues about the need for someone to go. We sometimes miss an important detail about these heroes: they don’t just magically appear at the right place at the right time.

In Texas, our minds are still focused on the devastation of the Gulf Coast, so let’s look at Southern Baptist disaster relief. DR has been the entrée for more than one Southern Baptist formerly clueless about what the denomination means. The guys and gals in the yellow shirts have a pretty elaborate system behind them?otherwise, no food, no trucks, and no idea of where to show up.

A typical DR deployment has many parts. Let’s take Ike as an example. When weather reports began to indicate that the hurricane was going to come ashore with substantial energy, disaster relief units went on alert. Who sends out the alert? The decision involves two major parties, the DR director for the state or states likely to be hit and the national response coordinator. Jim Richardson, a member of SBTC’s staff, serves as our state director. The national coordinator is Mickey Caison, who works for the North American Mission Board. Jim alerts the DR units in Texas and starts recruiting volunteers to mobilize. Mickey contacts directors in some states unlikely to be hit so they can get ready to ride to the rescue. NAMB personnel don’t mobilize every state and every sort of unit at the same time; they focus on units closer to the need and mobilize with a guess about the length of the mobilization and of immanent needs (maybe more hurricanes) in other places.

Do you start to see the picture? Denominationalism at four levels is already involved before Ike floods a single American home. NAMB oversees the big picture, the state convention leaders prepare for either a strike in their own state or mobilization in response to the need of others, local associations that have DR equipment respond to their state leaders, and churches (which may also have equipment) or individuals get ready to go.

It doesn’t end there, though. How does NAMB have the wherewithal to provide money, strategic oversight, or training for more local responders? Well, they have bookkeepers and secretaries and offices and building supervisors that enable them to plan and work. They have money through the SBC Cooperative Program and through the Annie Armstrong Offering. The SBC Executive Committee allocates the CP funds according to the denomination’s annual budget. NAMB leaders also provide evangelism resources for the relief workers so the impact of their ministries may last for eternity. Some NAMB workers will come in later when churches need to be rebuilt or replanted. Hunger relief workers will often get involved in places where families face long-term displacement. Many of the above leaders are trained at one of the six Southern Baptist seminaries.

On the state convention level, most of the above also applies although the focus is more, well, statewide. The state and national news apparatus keeps the event before the people. If you doubt that awareness is an issue, compare the thousands of volunteers that deployed for Katrina relief compared to the smaller number willing to deploy for Ike relief. The fact that Ike has been on fewer front pages than Katrina definitely had an impact. State church planting leaders work closely with associations and local churches in planning for response in that area. Evangelism workers train DR volunteers to share their faith as they serve food or remove fallen trees. A Minister/Church Relations ministry can provide help with emergency relief for pastors. Church Ministries workers provide help to get a recovering church going again with effective Bible study and discipleship. And of course, accountants and business managers at the state level ensure that the relief is disbursed appropriately, allowing the work to be sustainable.

Have you ever given a little kid a flower? Imagine the different response you might get if you pull the whole thing up?roots, dirt and all. Little kids don’t understand the marvelous connection between colorful petals and the nourishment that makes them possible. And while even grownups don’t necessarily want to put the whole ball of dirt on display, we honor its place if we ever want flowers again.

We’re not children. I don’t think we can claim to respect missionaries or DR volunteers if we don’t also respect the elaborate apparatus that makes these things possible. Do you love Southern Baptist missionaries? Then love the schools that taught them, the agency that advocates for religious freedom around the world, the people who wrote the Sunday School and VBS literature God used to lead them to Christ, the people who trained their teachers, and whole glorious root ball. So it is with disaster relief volunteers. SBC volunteers are the most numerous and well-equipped among religious bodies because our support structure is thorough, time-tested, and slow to swerve toward every passing fancy.

Think of the alternative for a moment. Without a national strategy, our missions and our DR work would look like a little kids’ soccer match?all the players stay in one clueless mob kicking furiously whether they see the ball or not. Imagine all our missionaries going to China because the Olympic coverage captured their imaginations. All our DR workers might go to Galveston in Ike response and find themselves shot out and out of place when Hurricane Zerubbabel hits North Carolina. Without state or associational or church leadership, volunteers have no money or equipment, and even a smaller degree of strategy. We’d be like some celebrity showing up with a bass boat to pull a couple of people out of their homes, pose for a photo and go home. No cup of cold water and no “in Jesus name.”

Most things are part of a system. Like a body the system has glorious parts and less glorious parts. But life is more challenging without some of the parts we can’t even pronounce. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12 the church is that way. The missionary efforts of groups of churches have some of those same characteristics. Woe on us all if we despise some parts of the system based on immature thinking. Love and nurture it all then. The icky structure that works best below ground level helps produce the loveliest aspects of our gospel work.

Young San Antonio church making eternal difference in inner-city neighborhood

SAN ANTONIO?Eighteen months ago, Edward Beltran had serious doubts about pastoral ministry. Apprehension underscored his desire to keep his secular job and to become a spiritual counselor to Hispanic people because, as Beltran puts it, “I want to serve my people.”

Today, having quit his job, Beltran serves the largely Hispanic neighborhoods of southeast San Antonio as pastor of Genesis Hot Wells Bible Baptist Church, which has grown from about 30 to almost 200 people, some of whom are former members of street gangs.

“Lives are being changed every day,” Beltran said. “People are coming to Christ, marriages are being restored, and one suicidal person no longer has such thoughts.”

Beginning with the founding of Genesis and the subsequentmerger a few months laterwith about 35 members fromHot Wells Baptist Church, Beltran has emphasized reaching others with the gospel of Jesus Christ, traditionally and creatively.

The church hosted Southern Baptist volunteers for the SBC’s Crossover evangelism outreach just prior to the 2007 SBC annual meeting, with church members and visiting Baptists canvassing the neighborhood with former SBC president Bobby Welch.

In July, the church kicked off its Vacation Bible School with a Saturday parade through the neighborhood. “I chose a parade because it attracts children,” Beltran said.

With about 50 church people, the parade included banners, balloons, clowns, candy, drums and popsicles. As the parade passed the second block, Beltran noticed on a porch four boys dressed in gang garb, displaying their colors. He approached the one who seemed to be the leader, whose street name is Sonny Boi, and asked him, “If you were to die tonight, do you know where your soul would spend eternity?”

Sonny Boi didn’t know.

“The Spirit of God gave me an opportunity to share the gospel” with Sonny Boi, Beltran said. “In front of the other boys, I led him to faith in Christ.” Then Beltran prayed for the three others: J, Pete and Kid.

On the very next block, “There was another young man sitting on the porch,” Beltran said. “So I posed the same question, and by the grace of God led him to confess Christ as Savior.”

At Beltran’s invitation, Sonny Boi and eight other gang members showed up at the church. “But he also brought his mother, grandmother,” said Beltran, who was “nervous because I didn’t know these people. I didn’t know their intent. I didn’t know what was in their pockets.”

“The Lord has never spoken to me in an audible voice,” Beltran noted. “But he told my heart, ‘If you want revival, this is how revival begins.’ So I prayed, and the Lord directed me to start preaching from John 14:1-6. I felt the presence of God so strong,” he said. “There in that fellowship hall they all confessed Christ as their Savior.”

The group also committed to attend church the next day and VBS on Monday.

The only two who came back for Sunday worship were Kid and J, or Julian, both of whom made public professions of their faith.

On the night Beltran was scheduled to baptize Julian and other former gang members, a girl named Diamond, also a gang member, showed up to see her brother Joe’s baptism. Beltran asked her about salvation, and she starting crying, indicating to him her need for salvation. Beltran shared the gospel using the Roman Road, and Diamond committed her life to Christ and was baptized that same night.

Before his baptism, Julian had told Beltran he would be “rolled out” of the gang for leaving it and accepting Christ.

Beltran explained to the TEXAN that prospects wanting to join the gang are “rolled in,” or are beaten and kicked by other gang members as a requisite initiation. And if a member wants to leave the gang, they’re “rolled out” in an identical ritual.

Joy pervaded the church when Julian went ahead with his baptism. “But the joy we experienced was short-lived,” said Beltran, adding that rumors began spreading in the neighborhood that Julian would not be rolled out of the gang, but would be “stabbed out.”

Beltran said that Julian was a general in the gang, and generals from other areas were coming to stab him for leaving the gang, so he sent Julian home with a church family for protection.

“This was one of the saddest times of my life,” Beltran said. “I went from a spiritual high to a dark valley. I was swimming in completely uncharted waters. This was wild.”

The church youth group gathered to pray and quote Scripture. They also agreed to fast and pray for Julian’s deliverance.

Julian showed up at the church the next day looking only slightly roughed-up, Beltran recalled. “They went easy on me,” Julian told Beltran. “There was only two of them, and it lasted maybe 20 or 30 seconds.”

Despite the risks, Julian and his cohorts continued to attend church and a few weeks later found themselves attending an SBTC summer youth camp, Alto Frio, where a call to surrender to full-time ministry was made. Julian was among five teenagers who answered the call.

Beltran started a Sunday school class where he now personally disciples the young men. However, he not only wants them to be spiritually prepared but academically also. That’s why he approached officials of the San Antonio Independent School District and inquired about GED classes for the many high school dropouts living near the church.

After Beltran had offered to do any and everything with regard to the classes, one school district official told him he had to do nothing but provide facilities for classes and recruit students. The first classes began Sept. 24.

The church’s unusual ministry in inner-city San Antonio caught the attention of Telecran, a French media concern. “Some people in San Antonio had told us about the great work PastorBeltran was doing in his church,” Nathalie Lefebvre, an interpreter on the crew, told the TEXAN.

She explained they were filming a documentary attempting to show the social role of American churches, and “howAmerican people live their faith differently than European people.”

Beltran takes his ministerial role seriously, saying: “I’m standing between the living and the dead on a daily basis. I am the presbyter, and this role is no joke. We have a burning desire to reach souls, and our prayer is that God will pour out his Spirit in this community.”

Outdoor expo draws men to Jacksonville church

JACKSONVILLE, Texas?Rising beacon-like above the grounds of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville was the ladder of a local fire truck, summoning the residents from the surrounding community to the church for its first Piney Woods Outdoor Expo.

The Oct. 4 event, held in cooperation with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, drew an estimated 5,000 people who came to look at a collection of antique and classic cars, the ladder truck, and trophy animals staged inside the church building. Children congregated among the five bounce houses, the concessions stand and a portable fish pond. Hank Hough of Kingdom Dog Ministries, gave several presentations throughout the day, sharing the gospel using his chocolate Labrador to draw parallels to Christian discipleship.

FBC Jacksonville’s fellowship hall transformed into a trophy hall with animals from all over the world on display, including a lion, donated by a local state senator, and four trophy deer. The expo?the product of months of planning and prayer?resulted in 291 professions of faith following gospel presentations, a youth event and a men’s evening barbecue dinner, said Vernon Lee, pastor of First Baptist Jacksonville.

FBC Jacksonville began planning the expo a year prior to the event as an evangelistic outreach to men in their community.

“I was talking to Dr. Jim Richards of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention about how to reach out to men when he mentioned these [outdoor expos] as an option.” Consequently, Lee and several of his church members visited an outdoor expo in Corpus Christi to see the ministry firsthand.

“I held what I called a lunch-and-launch after the Sunday service one day,” Lee explained. “We fed the church members and showed a video of the expo in Corpus Christi.” At the end of that lunch meeting, Lee asked those present to commit to a similar event in Jacksonville in a year. “Almost everyone present at that meeting committed to this project,” Lee said.

Lee contacted Joe Simmons and John McKay, SBTC evangelism consultants who have helped several churches host these expos before.

“When we joined the SBTC team, Don Cass, our boss, asked us to help bring evangelism back to Texas,” Simmons explained. “But we found that when we held the historic five-day evangelistic meetings people were not coming every night.”

Finding that troublesome that they could get people to attend meetings only about two days out of five, Simmons and McKay knew they needed another way.

“We were at an event with Jerry Falwell and I mentioned this problem. He told me that it was just the way the world was today and we needed to find a way to reach people in two or three days.”

Simmons and McKay encourage churches to host the expos as a way to attract lost men.

“These expos only run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,” Simmons explained. “It doesn’t interfere with anyone’s weekly schedule and it isn’t a huge commitment to ask of people.”

The weekend events are anchored by the expo.

“It is like the spokes of a wheel,” Lee said. “The woman’s dinner, the breakfast, the youth event and the men’s rib dinner all focus around the outdoor expo on Saturday.” FBC Jacksonville hosted several meals with evangelistic speakers starting on Friday night. “On Sunday night, we held our youth event at the local school,” Lee said. “All the meetings and the expo encourage everyone to come to the family celebration on Monday.”

“Planning and hosting any one of these events is a challenge,” Lee said. “But together it was a massive undertaking.”

After the lunch and launch last year, FBC Jacksonville started planning the expo.

“We gave everyone a role. I appointed members of the church as the head of a team for each section. They were responsible for that event of the celebration weekend,” Lee explained. As evidence of God’s hand at work, “There were 20 total teams and every leader turned out to be just the right one. People that I had no idea of their talents fit right into their roles,” he said.

The planning for the expo was not easy, but God showed his hand in many ways. When FBC Jacksonville had to set the date for the expo, the Jacksonville High School’s fall football schedule was not yet released. When the schedule was released, the only bye week of the entire season was Oct. 3, the weekend of the expo.

Lee attributed the expo’s success to the work of God and the dedication of church members.

“Our people took a new life in this event,” Lee said. “They took ownership of what they were involved with and told their friends and family about it.”

For example, “This man got up one morning to go to work on a Saturday. He normally goes to work in the afternoon on Saturday, but he wanted to come to our training meeting for the expo so he went in early. An hour after he left for work, his house caught fire. Fortunately, his wife was able to get their children out of the house safe, but they lost the entire house. My wife and I went over to be with the family, and as we were standing there looking at the smoldering ruins of their house, he said to me, ‘Pastor, I have something for you.’

“He went over to his truck and pulled out two checks from the visor. ‘These are for the outdoor expo.’ He was standing looking at his house, knowing that everything was gone and not knowing what insurance would cover and he gave me two checks for the event.”

“We were able to use this expo as a model to show local churches how to work together to reach their community,” Lee added.

Several churches helped FBC Jacksonville host the expo, with First Baptist Church of New Summerfield operating the very popular fish pond for the kids.

“They took that project entirely as their own and ran it so well,” Lee said.

By the end of the day, FBC Jacksonville had estimated 5,000 people had been on the church grounds.
“We had people parking way down the road and we were shuttling them up here from there.”

The event was free, and to encourage people in the community to register, FBC Jacksonville held several give-a-ways on Saturday afternoon.

“We had signs up that said, ‘Would you like to win this? Register at the welcome desk.'” Lee said. “Doing it that way really helped not overwhelm the people at the welcome desk and we got most people to register.” About 300 to 400 people stayed until 3 p.m. to participate in the drawing.

“We didn’t know it when we scheduled the expo, but the Jacksonville Music Festival and a local motorcycle rally were planned for the day of the expo,” Lee said. “But we still had all these people come to experience our outdoors expo.

The outdoor expos are becoming more popular in Texas, Simmons said.

“We have been doing them for about three years and have really been seeing results,” he noted.

Next year the SBTC is helping with similar events at churches in Lubbock, San Angelo and Odessa. Jim Day, assimilation pastor at Paul Ann Baptist Church in San Angelo, and Neil Grant, one of Paul Ann’s elders, attended FBC Jacksonville’s outdoors expo and came away impressed.

“Statistics prove that if you reach the men, you will reach the family,” Day said. “The family goes the way that the man does and if the man is reached, you reach his family.”

While Paul Ann Baptist Church has done other large events in the past, they have never done anything like an outdoors expo. “This is such a great vehicle to reach out to the community,” Grant said.

“An event like this begins in the heart of the pastor and takes off in the heart of the laymen,” Simmons explained.

FBC Jacksonville can attest to that. “This event brought the members of the church together,” Lee said, “People who normally didn’t interact with each other formed teams and worked together.”

For more information

SBTC-led kitchen feeds half-million meals on damaged Galveston Island

GALVESTON?By Oct. 10, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention feeding unit in Galveston?with help from six other state conventions?passed the half-million mark for meals prepared for the residents and workers on this island community. But the Southern Baptist volunteers here know they are feeding more than physical hunger as they pray with and witness to those seeking a hot lunch and dinner where few may be found.

The work has yielded spiritual fruit and perhaps an angelic visit. Heaven only knows.

John Davidson of Richmond, Va., began his post-Hurricane Ike service after a stint washing dishes in Beaumont on Sept. 26. He said he had many opportunities to pray with people coming to the Southern Baptist disaster relief feeding unit for food and clothes and other household items that had been donated by the community.

After two weeks on duty in the southeast Texas town, Davidson came to Galveston. The majority of Southern Baptist volunteers work the kitchen, cooking and packing the meals that will then be distributed throughout the community on Salvation Army canteens or Red Cross emergency relief vehicles (ERVs). A few SBC volunteers are able to help man the canteens or ERVs, giving them direct contact with the people they have come to assist.

ANGELS REJOICING?
The SBC volunteers prefer riding with the Salvation Army crews because there are no restrictions on witnessing and praying. Davidson said he traveled with such a unit that regularly set up shop in the parking lot of a closed grocery store. But on his first trip Davidson said he knew there was the potential for trouble in a neighborhood plagued by rival gangs.

He told of a young man who approached the canteen and asked if he could help. After witnessing to and praying with the man, he was allowed to help. Davidson said the man, who wanted nothing to do with the gangs that plagued his neighborhood, turned up each day as the canteen rolled into the lot. Finally, the man told Davidson, “I want to accept Christ.”

The next day, with a Salvation Army captain on hand, the small band of believers circled up to lead their new brother in prayer. Afterward, the captain suggested, “Let’s sing a song.”

Without a strong lead singer, Davidson joked that their rendition of “Amazing Grace” that began to rise up wasn’t as melodious as it could have been. But as they were closing out the final verse, the roar of an engine and the blare of a radio began to drown out their singing. The source of the interruption finally rounded the corner. Davidson recalled that a well-worn red pick up truck, occupied by “two crusty old men and the sound system cranked up,” sped into the parking lot where the impromptu worship service was taking place.

As the truck approached the group, the song from the radio became loud and clear. It was “I Saw the Light.” The truck never stopped. The driver just blew past the dumbfounded assembly, exiting the opposite side of the parking lot, music trailing off as the truck disappeared.

Recalling the moment, Davidson welled up and said, “Now the Bible tells us that the angels rejoice when someone becomes a Christian.”

Davidson said he couldn’t help but wonder who those men were and why they drove past the new Christian at that moment.

“When was the last time you saw two angels roaring around in a beat-up old pick-up truck?” he asked.

SERVING THE LABORERS
Another unit travels daily to a parking lot on the campus of the damaged and closed University of Texas Medical Center. There they have served about 1,500 meals a day to the crews working to gut, clean, and refurbish the hospital. With few restaurants open on the island and none within walking distance for the workers who have only a 30-minute lunch break, the canteens are a very welcome sight come noon.

The meal of ravioli, green beans, fruit cocktail, cookies and water is dished up in the Salvation Army canteen and passed out by disaster relief volunteer Trish Herndon of Wytheville, Va., and Salvation Army volunteer Casi Rodriquez of San Antonio, who stack them on a table for the hungry laborers who will soon arrive. As the meals are prepared, Salvation Army Captain Gabriel Elias and his wife, Candee, of San Antonio, check the amplifier, guitar and microphone they will use for worship.

Just after noon, the work crews, most of whom speak Spanish, begin trickling into the parking lot that, by now, has a second canteen set up. Within 10 minutes the lines stretch down the parking lot and around a corner. Many of those arriving for lunch wave and greet the feeding crews like old friends meeting each other on the street. They are grateful.

Once they receive the meals the laborers seek out shade and find a place on the curb beneath a row of oleanders and listen to the songs of praise by the Eliases. When a group of half a dozen men are asked in Spanish by Candee what the meals mean to them they readily speak up. One said most of the workers are “100 percent” dependent on the meals.

One gentleman lives in Houston but the others said most of them have been brought in by companies from across the southern United States and Mexico. They arrived on the island with little or no money and for many, the lunches and dinners cooked up in the SBTC kitchens are the only meals they have in a day.

When the crew was told that those who cook the meals prayed for those who received them, the man from Houston said, in English, “We keep them in our prayers too.”

“Thanks and greetings to them,” replied another man.

It is such moments that workers in the kitchen miss. They know the work they do is for the Lord and for his sheep, but they long for the opportunity to meet first-hand the people they are helping. The kitchen, made up of two SBTC kitchen crews, one from Friendly Baptist Church, Tyler, and one from the Salvation Army, sits on the tarmac of the Galveston Island airport surrounded by the torn and twisted remains of small private airplanes and the gutted remains of the hangar.

The kitchen is staffed by people from one coast to the other?Southern Baptists from Vermont, Washington, Oregon, Virginia, Maryland, states in between and even Canada. Most have just met as new crews switch out every week or two. Despite the fact that they do not yet know each other very well, a spirit of good humor and camaraderie pervades the kitchen.

Vicki Fisher, the “white hat” SBTC unit director, said the common bond of faith and a desire to serve those in need makes such a big endeavor work.

“What amazes me is the kitchen and everybody just comes in and everybody just meshes. It’s like
you’ve known each other for years.”

Volunteers wear pins on their hats and lanyards representing the places they have served and the people they have met. Swapping pins like tourists at Disney World is common, giving Southern Baptists a physical reminder of where God has taken them.

Fisher, who served in the SBTC kitchen that was deployed to Huntsville before Hurricane Ike made landfall, said she has seen God at work in the wake of the storm. Set up in an SBTC church parking lot, the unit was a major distribution point for the community. But one evening found the kitchen severely short staffed. She needed 22 volunteers to work the kitchen, but only six were available and Fisher was left wondering how the meals would be prepared the next day. Fisher said she did what she always does in such situations and gave the problem to God. The next morning 16 volunteers arrived to help.

For three days, she said, church members worked tirelessly to keep the kitchen and distribution site up and running. Cars filled with people from their community filed through the church parking lot, giving the church the opportunity to minister. That, Fisher said, is one of the main purposes of the SBTC kitchens. When the community

SBTC ANNUAL MEETING Convention marks 10 years at Houston’s FBC Nov. 9-11

HOUSTON?The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will mark 10 years of ministry during its Bible Conference and annual meeting Nov. 9-11 at Houston’s First Baptist Church with a celebration service on Nov. 10 and an International Mission Board commissioning service for newly appointed missionaries the following evening.

Special guests will include noted author and speaker Beth Moore (for the Women’s Luncheon Nov. 10), humorist and motivational speaker Charles Lowery (President’s Luncheon Nov. 11), and musical soloist Travis Cottrell.

This year’s theme?”Still Standing on the Word, Sending to the World”?reflects the SBTC’s historic beginning and its continuing mission in Texas and abroad as a Southern Baptist Convention partner.

“It was our stand on the infallible and inerrant Word of God that essentially birthed this convention,” Richards told the SBTC’s missions magazine, Crossroads. “And that same blessed book will be our road map as we continue sharing the gospel, planting churches and supporting missions at home and around the world.”

LEAD-UP EVENTS
Prior to the convening of the convention on Monday night, Nov. 10, the week’s events include the “Crossover Houston” evangelistic outreach, the SBTC Hispanic Rally, and the annual Bible Conference.

During the Nov. 8 Crossover Houston event, area churches will serve as launch points for training and neighborhood outreach. Ten Houston-area churches are involved, with six offering neighborhood block parties and two hosting harvest festivals in addition to neighborhood surveys.

Participating churches include: Antioch Community Church, 200 Almeda-Genoa Rd.; Asian American Church of Houston, 7887 Beechnut; Clay Road Baptist Church, 9151 Clay; Rose of Sharon, 1106 Valentine; Farrington Mission Center, 3625 Gager; FBC Galena Park, 206 Woolfe St., Galena Park; FBC Katy, 600 Pin Oak, Katy; Needham Road Baptist Church, 9268 SH 242, Conroe; FBC Rose Hill, 18214 FM 2920, Tomball; Northridge Baptist Church, 10681 FM 1484, Conroe.

Events will be held at or nearby participating churches. Block party activities will vary from event to event. Contact individual churches for more details.

Members of Southern Baptist churches who are interested in participating may register online at sbtexas.com, by e-mailing jdean@sbtexas.com, or by calling the SBTC evangelism office toll-free at 877-953-7282 (SBTC).

The SBTC Hispanic Rally begins at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, at First Baptist Church, Galena Park, 206 Woolfe St., 77547. For additional information, e-mail Mike Gonzales (mgonzales@sbtexas.com) or call him toll-free at 877-953-7282 (SBTC). The Bible Conference begins at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at Houston’s First Baptist Church, 7401 Katy Freeway.

The conference will include plenary worship services but will also include a noonday Women’s Luncheon Nov. 10 with noted speaker and author Beth Moore and a “Men’s Ministry Café” featuring four different speakers to choose from in four different lunch settings.

Cost for the Women’s Luncheon is $10 per person, with limited seating in the main room. For advance tickets, e-mail jvanhooser@sbtexas.com.

For a $5 lunch, men may choose from among John Bisagno speaking on “Leading the People,” John Morgan addressing “Reaching Today’s World,” Rodney Woo speaking on “It’s Now a Multi-Cultural World,” or David Fleming on “Temptations of Leaders.”

To reserve a seat at a men’s luncheon, e-mail tthomas@sbtexas.com.

The Bible Conference will feature Tim McKenzie of On Every Word Ministries, preaching on “God’s Creation in God’s Word”; evangelist Afshin Ziafat, a former Muslim who grew up in Houston; a testimony from Houston Astros’ All-Star first baseman Lance Berkman; and David Fleming, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston, preaching on “Next Level Leadership.”

The SBTC annual meeting will begin Monday evening at the church and will include a 10-year anniversary celebration with music, preaching and testimonies of the convention’s founding and subsequent growth to more than 2,100 congregations.

SBTC President Bob Pearle, pastor of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth, will deliver the president’s address on Monday evening. John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church, Euless, will preach the convention sermon Tuesday morning, with SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards reporting to the convention Tuesday afternoon. The convention will close with the IMB commissioning service Tuesday night.

Along with soloist Cottrell, the choirs and orchestras from Houston’s First Baptist Church, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston, Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth, and the New Beginnings Associational Ensemble will perform.

Additional musicians will include Philip Griffin, Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth; Ron Thiebaud, North Oaks Baptist Church, Spring; Michael Armstrong, FBC Humble; Jennifer Dean, FBC Euless; Dick Hill, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston; and Tiffany Rachel, Unity Spirit Baptist Church, Houston.