Month: September 2014

What did you learn at school today?

You should read this Christianity Today article by Tish Harrison Warren. Warren is an Anglican priest and formerly directed Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on the campus of Vanderbilt University. She describes herself as non-fundamentalist and clarifies by indicating that she is authentic and committed to justice. Even though she was a “winsome” evangelical, her chapter’s requirement that student leaders believe in the resurrection and a basic sexual morality put her crossways with Vandy’s administration. “Creedal discrimination,” she was told, “is still discrimination.” Rather than abandoning any recognizable Christian identity, IVCF, along with several other religious groups, lost recognition as a Vanderbilt student group. Recognized student groups have advantages in using campus facilities and can receive program money from student activity fees. Loss of status also makes participation in the life of the university very challenging.  

This article has more impact because it is from someone who considered herself more mainstream to the life of the university than conservative Christians might be. Any Christianity was too much, as it turned out.

This same thing has happened at the 23 campuses of California State University, with a combined population of 447,000 students. Religion News Service says that IVCF has been challenged on more than 40 campuses so far. Other confessional groups are also under pressure to conform to a secular version of their faith or face exclusion. Now we all understand something more about modern definitions of “university” and “free exchange of ideas.” “Persecution” is not too strong a word for this. It’s not the same as what others face in the Muslim world or other regions of anti-religious repression, but the difference is one of degree rather than type of treatment or intent.

Read the Sept 17 edition of the Texan DigitalWhile it is not illegal for Christians to be on a college campus or even to witness there, banning Christian student groups is a logical next step for an academic environment wholly sold out to moral relativism and liberalism. It is reasonable to expect that the effort to censor Christian viewpoints will expand on state school campuses.

So what do we do in a day when a college degree is a requirement for many jobs, assuming that the banning of the expression of Christian beliefs is an accelerating trend? Christian colleges may be a better answer, but there is shocking diversity even within that category of educational institution. Many barely remember why “Christian” or “Baptist” is part of their names. A few of our Baptist schools are serious about their Christian identity and about academic rigor but not all. This option requires discernment on the part of the prospective student and his parents.

I still think state schools are an option for Christian families but under certain conditions. Here is my advice, particularly related to casually Christian or state schools:

Check out the school—Who are the professors and administrators? What’s the school’s reputation? Have other Christian families had an acceptable experience at this school? Meet with administrators and department heads and ask hard questions about the experience of Christian students in the classes.

Check out the churches—Churches are more important than on-campus Christian organizations. The purpose of campus ministry is to win the lost; the purpose of churches is to make disciples. If there is not a good church near the campus, don’t send your kid there. Talk to the pastor and visit the collegiate group of the church before deciding.

Prepare your child—Begin to familiarize your child with the issues he’ll face in a faith-hostile classroom. Your child needs to have his own convictions about the Bible, God, Jesus and how Christians should live according to those convictions. He needs to understand his faith. Your church can be a resource for your family in that process, but the responsibility is yours. If your graduate is not mature enough to face challenges to his faith, he’s not ready for college. Get him a job at Chick-Fil-A while you finish discipling him, but don’t send him to university until you’re done.

The challenge to campus Christian groups and belief is only the next step in what higher education has been for a long time. Professors ridiculed my beliefs 40 years ago at the University of Arkansas. I might have learned something from those profs, but they were spiritual adversaries. Things are not better since you and I were in school.

The bottom line seems to be, and has been for a while, that higher education can be better than nothing but usually isn’t. Unless churches and families prepare their students well for the spiritual and moral challenges they’ll face after high school, we’ll all grieve at what happens next. It’s not rational to think collegiate life will do what we did not.        

Dooley excited about new beginnings at Sunnyvale FBC

When Adam Dooley’s 6-year-old son Carson completed his last round of treatment in February after a three-year battle with leukemia, their family sensed a longing for a fresh start, a new beginning.

Little did the Dooleys realize at the time that God was loosening the soil around the roots of their lives in order to transplant them nearly 600 miles from their home in Mobile, Ala., where Adam Dooley served as pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church, to Sunnyvale, Texas, where the congregation of Sunnyvale First Baptist Church called Dooley as their pastor June 29.

Naturally then, the title of his first sermon series at Sunnyvale First Baptist—New Beginnings—captured a theme for his family as well as the church.

“Our arrival here at Sunnyvale First Baptist today is much more than a new journey between a pastor and a congregation. It really feels like a new beginning; it feels like we have been given a new life.”

“Our arrival here at Sunnyvale First Baptist today is much more than a new journey between a pastor and a congregation,” Dooley told the congregation during his first sermon Aug 24. “It really feels like a new beginning; it feels like we have been given a new life.”

While it’s a new season for the Dooleys and the church, Dooley gives a great deal of credit to his predecessor, Charles Wilson, who served as pastor of Sunnyvale First Baptist for more than 25 years.

“The church I have inherited is, humanly speaking, in large part due to Charles Wilson,” Dooley told the TEXAN in an interview. “I’m really thankful for the years he invested here. You can walk around our buildings, and you can see his fingerprints everywhere. I want to honor him and what he did here and try to build on that in the future.”

Dooley also follows in the footsteps of Criswell College President Barry Creamer, who served as interim pastor at Sunnyvale First Baptist during the 13-month transition between Wilson and Dooley.

Read the Sept 17 edition of the Texan Digital“(Creamer), in my opinion, is the best interim pastor I’ve ever followed,” Dooley said. “I walk in, and he has the staff in great shape, the morale and direction of the church is in great shape; it’s been the smoothest transition that I’ve ever experienced at a church, and that’s in large part due to Barry.”

Creamer enjoyed his time at Sunnyvale and has great hopes for the church under Dooley’s leadership.

“Dr. Adam Dooley has a rock-solid commitment to studying and preaching Scripture, both of which he does with aplomb,” Creamer told the TEXAN.

“He has a vision for the church and the leadership to see it fulfilled. And, most importantly, the church loves him and will fit his leadership style and desire for evangelism and discipleship perfectly. I cannot imagine a church better positioned for growth and impact than Sunnyvale FBC with Pastor Adam Dooley.”

Recognizing the church’s conservative theology and commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, Creamer led the church to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and the church then decided to affiliate with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in July.

“I was thrilled to learn that the church had affiliated with (SBTC),” Dooley said. “I was thrilled that Barry led the church to do that, and that relationship is only going to grow with me here. I’m very anxious to get involved and have felt so welcomed by (SBTC Executive Director) Jim Richards and other pastors who are part of the convention.”

Dooley has a long history of denominational leadership during his previous pastorates in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. He served as first vice president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention from 2004-05, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Committees in 2004 and 2009, president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference in 2010, and president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention’s Pastors Conference in 2014.

Dooley earned his Bachelor of Arts in Ministry from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Ky., as well as a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. in preaching, evangelism and theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Prior to serving at Dauphin Way in Mobile, he pastored churches in Tennessee and Kentucky. He has also taught preaching and pastoral ministry at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga and Boyce College and Southern Seminary in Louisville.

As he starts his new beginning at Sunnyvale First Baptist, Dooley desires the church to be guided by the Great Commission—built on evangelism and discipleship.

“The community of Sunnyvale is one of the best-kept secrets of Dallas County. It has a very small community feel to it, and yet in the immediate surrounding area of Sunnyvale there are over 1 million people,” Dooley said.

“What excites me is renewing our passion to reach the lost. Sunnyvale First Baptist has a great history of that, and I’m anxious to refocus the church in that direction.

“Something I really want to emphasize is personal discipleship. I don’t mean a discipleship program, but I mean small groups of three to five men or three to five women who are meeting to memorize the Word, understand the Word, and be accountable to the Word and to one another.

“Christ did not tell us to make converts; our goal is to make disciples. I’m anxious to lead the church to fulfill that part of the Great Commission. Churches in general have stopped short of the Great Commission in that regard.”

With these goals in view, Dooley is enthusiastic about the days ahead.

“We have a church body that’s hungry to reach the lost and to impact its community. It’s a real joy to be here.”

Living with autism: Corsicana”s Grace Community meets special needs

Corsicana—Dealing with autism has been a daily challenge for Steve and Kim Hayes since the birth of the couple’s third son, Pierce, now 11. It’s a challenge that has also been embraced by Corsicana’s Grace Community, the steadily growing church of 250 that Hayes, a Criswell College graduate, has pastored for six years.

“Before Pierce turned 2, we started to have concerns about his development. He was late on just about everything: speaking, crawling, walking,” Steve Hayes recalled.  And yet, Pierce seemed happy.
“In many ways he was our easiest child,” Hayes said. “We didn’t know till later that this was mainly because he was in his own little world.”

A doctor in Lewisville delivered the diagnosis of autism when Pierce was 2.

“Socialization for autistic children does not happen naturally as it does with other kids,” Hayes said. “Developmentally, they fall behind because socialization pushes us to develop in a lot of ways. Pierce does not have that wiring.”

Steve and Kim researched options, finally settling on a behavioral modification program called Applied Behavioral Analysis offered at Plano’s Wayman Center.

“We wanted to be able to do a therapy we could track and monitor. It was a perfect fit for us,”  Hayes said.

It was also an expensive fit, at the time not covered by the family’s health insurance.

Read the Sept 17 edition of the Texan DigitalFriends, family and supporters provided funds to help Steve and Kim pay for the school for five years. One gentleman unexpectedly financed half a year of Pierce’s therapy.

“It was a blessing to have a network of people partner with us. It was humbling. But it made us think of countless families who don’t have that option,” Hayes said.

As a fifth grader in a Corsicana public school, Pierce has his own aide who stays with him all day. “Because we caught his condition early and got him into such intensive therapy, today his behavior is manageable,” Hayes said.

Pierce’s behavior is manageable but still unusual, presenting challenges in social settings, including church.

“Pierce has severe communication deficits, so he cannot sit and have a conversation with you. He has a vast vocabulary and he is very good with numbers and letters. He still does not talk much. He can only string together two- or three-word phrases,” said Hayes, describing his son’s behavior. 

“With a kid like Pierce, everywhere you go, you get used to being a spectacle because he will make crazy noises or engage in odd behaviors. You get looks and comments; it’s part of the deal.”

Attending church at all can be difficult for families with special needs members.

“Families of special-needs children often do not feel welcome at church. They feel like there’s nobody there who can help them with their child and going to church will be difficult, maybe even embarrassing and definitely disruptive.”

“Families of special-needs children often do not feel welcome at church. They feel like there’s nobody there who can help them with their child and going to church will be difficult, maybe even embarrassing and definitely disruptive,” Hayes said.

Hayes and Grace Community want to change that.

Ministry to families with special needs starts with transparency from the pulpit at Grace Community.

“I talk a whole lot about our situation with Pierce from the pulpit. I don’t hide it. I talk about how difficult it is and how enriching it can be to raise a kid like this,” said Hayes, who encouraged churches to find ways to acknowledge the issues of special needs.

At times, Hayes has been in the middle of a sermon when Pierce made a run for the stage, once joining the worship team. “I can play it off with a comment like, ‘Boy, you’ve really got to watch out for those pastor’s kids’ and people laugh. Our church has become very comfortable with it. But if I didn’t have that platform, it would be difficult,” admitted Hayes.

Autism will increasingly impact the church, he said.

In fact, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects one in 88 people, according to a 2012 study cited by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

In addition to transparency from the pulpit, a welcoming atmosphere makes families with special-needs children feel at home.

Active involvement in the lives of families with special needs is also a plus.

In the case of the Hayes family, a sympathetic elder noticed the difficulty Kim was having even getting to church with the family’s five kids in tow, including the “wild card,” Pierce. The elder set up a rotation of volunteers to sit with Pierce during services, giving Kim an opportunity to worship without distraction.

“We offered training where we introduced Pierce, who he is, what kinds of behaviors to expect and what to do,” said Hayes, affirming the importance of such preparation

Speech therapists, occupational therapists and special education teachers are good resources for teaching others how to deal with special-needs kids.

“Don’t be afraid to go there with a family. Don’t keep your distance,” Hayes urged.

Churches with more resources develop teams of people to assist with special-needs members, noted Hayes, who cited the Sunshine Pals program at Irving Bible Church, where adults volunteer as aides for special-needs children in Sunday School and other events to help them participate.

Grace Community has six families with special needs, ranging from severe to milder autism to cerebral palsy. Although isolation can be less disruptive, these children benefit from inclusion in typical activities. Grace is committed to socialization.

“The best thing for these kids is to socialize them, to put them in typical environments and to teach them how to appropriately respond in social environments. This can be very messy. It is easier to isolate them but better for them to socialize,” Hayes said.

Grace Community is also working with students from Navarro College to prepare a sensory room filled with kinesthetic items where special-needs kids can go when they are having a hard time functioning at a church event or service.

The room will include things like bowls of rice, favorites of Pierce, who loves to run his fingers through rice. Special hammock swings and small digital objects that make noises are among items which will be in the room. For the college students, the room is a class project; for Grace Community, it is another example of church and community cooperation to serve special needs.

Pierce’s situation and Grace Community’s openness to serving others with special needs have been noticed in the Corsicana community.

Asked by special education administrators to host a daylong in-service training for teachers, the church shared its large meeting room and AV capabilities. Hayes spoke as part of the program.
“It’s a good partnership,” Hayes said of the church’s relationship with Corsicana ISD where he and his wife led parent training classes. “It has helped our church achieve legitimacy within the community.”

“My own children have learned a level of compassion and tolerance from living with Pierce that they would not have otherwise,” Hayes said.

The same can be said of Grace Community Church of Corsicana.

“We must be ready to minister to an increasing segment of people who need their spiritual needs met but are torn by the idea of even being able to come to church,” Hayes said.

“In Scripture, God calls us a peculiar people, strangers and aliens in this world. Believers must develop sensitivity to others in this world dealing with a strangeness, oddity or differences. We are peculiar people called to minister to peculiar people. We are different and odd to the Lord but he still showers us with his grace.”

 


 

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Prayer for revival fuels annual meeting focus

Taking its theme from Isaiah 55:6, the 17th annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will emphasize the need for prayer and revival when it gathers on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth Nov. 10-11. The theme for this year’s annual meeting is “Seek the Lord While He May Be Found.”

“As the theme of the convention centers around seeking the Lord, special prayer times have been scheduled,” SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards said. “If ever there was a need for God’s people to seek his face, it is now.”

Read the Sept 17 edition of the Texan DigitalJimmy Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church in Forney, has focused his tenure as SBTC president on spiritual awakening.

“The Bible conference and convention will be a convocation on revival to help us meet any and all scriptural requirements for awakening and set the table for God to move among us,” Pritchard said. “I am praying that our time together will serve as a catalyst for awakening in our state.”

In an article for the September TEXAN print edition, Pritchard said, “My heart’s glow for awakening brightens as I survey the landscape of our convention leading up to our annual meeting. A growing number of God’s men have moved beyond lip service to lead the charge to cry out to God for spiritual awakening. Desperation that draws us to our knees in prayer provides the crucial cornerstone for a movement of God.”

Day of Prayer & Fasting
The Day of Prayer & Fasting for the SBTC Bible Conference and Annual Meeting is set for Sunday, Oct. 19, with an emphasis on spiritual awakening. Churches are asked to set aside this day to pray for events leading up to the annual meeting and for the annual meeting itself, that God would be honored in both.

The SBTC Minister/Church Relations department has created a website with resources for individuals and churches at sbtexas.com/prayer. Resources include “I Will Pray,” a simple, five-part prayer approach that has people pray for their home, church, pastor, lost friends and family, and nation.

According to the website, “Pastors may choose to have a prayer emphasis by using a similar approach each week. Focus the Sunday morning prayer time on one of the segments each week for five weeks.”

 


 

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Longtime SBC evangelist Freddie Gage dies

Longtime SBC evangelist Freddie Gage died on Friday, Sept. 12. He was 81.

Born and raised in Houston, Gage was a drug addict and gang leader before coming to Christ as a teenager in 1951. Many knew him by his nickname, “The Cat,” a nod to his pre-conversion days as a cat burglar.

Gage felt called to preach the gospel the same night he was saved, and spent more than 50 years dedicating his life to evangelism. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, he was widely known as a crusade evangelist. It is estimated that more than 1 million people professed faith in Christ as a result of Gage’s evangelistic efforts.

“We have seen few if any evangelists more passionate about reaching people for Christ than Freddie Gage,” longtime friend and pastor Jimmy Draper said.

“His persistence, determination, passion and energy have impacted the lives of over 50,000 churches and 70 denominations in his crusades. His effectiveness in preaching and rallying people around the cross has impacted millions, and his passing leaves a great vacuum in our lives.”

Gage’s health began to decline over the last few years, and although his crusades became less and less frequent, it did not deter him from personally sharing the gospel.

“One time we were in a restaurant and he asked a waitress, ‘Where do you go to church?’” recalls Craig Etheredge, pastor of First Baptist Church in Colleyville. “She said she hadn’t been to church in years. Freddy said with a smile, ‘You are just the person I’ve been looking for!’”
In addition to his crusades, Gage dedicated a large part of his ministry to ministering to those on the fringes of society. He urged local pastors to make an effort to reach those living on the streets or in prison and as a result saw significant numbers come to faith in Christ with dramatic stories of conversion.

“I have known of few men in my life more focused on leading people to the Savior than Freddie Gage,” former SBTC Evangelism Director Don Cass said. “No doubt the streets of Heaven are populated with people he personally led to the Master or who were saved in revivals and crusades Freddie preached.”

Over the course of his life and ministry Gage was known for telling audiences, “All my friends are dead.” He referred not only to the number of friends he lost to gang and drug violence but the spiritual death that existed apart from a relationship with Christ.

“Freddie Gage has been one of the most colorful characters in the ministry for all the years of my life,” Southwestern Seminary president Paige Patterson said. “When Freddie stepped on Heaven’s gold he was met not only by the Christ whose ambassador he faithfully was but also by a small army of individuals led to Christ by this remarkable evangelist.”

Gage is survived by his four sons, Daniel, Paul, Rick and Rodney, along with their wives and children.

Three-judge panel hears arguments related to HB2 lawsuit

Attorneys argued Sept. 12 before the U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit whether to fully implement a contested 2013 Texas law regulating abortion practices while a lawsuit against the legislation is on appeal. The decision of the three-judge panel will significantly impact the number of operating clinics statewide, reducing their number from about 20 to seven or eight if the judges rule to overturn a lower court’s injunction.

A ruling is expected in about a week according to pro-life advocates who have followed the saga of the hotly debated Texas House Bill 2 since its passage in June 2013. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asked for the emergency hearing after U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled Aug. 29 that two of the regulations in HB 2 created an “undue burden” for women seeking abortions, rendering the measures unconstitutional. Yeakel ordered an injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the provisions while the case, Whole Women’s Health vs. Leakey, is appealed.

Kyleen Wright, executive director of Texans for Life, and John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life attended the hearing in New Orleans and were encouraged by the judges’ responses to oral argument.

They would not speculate how the Court would rule on the emergency release from Yeakel’s current injunction prohibiting enforcement of the law, but they were optimistic Friday’s proceedings shed light on how the court will eventually rule on HB 2 when it hears the full case later this fall.

“It was a lively hearing that went longer than expected because of all the questions,” Seago told the TEXAN in a telephone interview.

Wright said Judge Jennifer W. Elrod “obviously did her homework,” asking detailed questions of the plaintiff’s attorneys regarding conflicting information presented in the current case and a similar case brought against HB 2 last year by Planned Parenthood.

At last year’s hearing, Elrod sat on the all-female, three-judge panel that unanimously ruled to overturn Yeakel’s injunction against two of the HB 2 provisions.

Plaintiffs in this case also joined last year’s suit. They represent Texas abortion clinic owners and doctors. Planned Parenthood chose not to join the current lawsuit, which claims HB 2 regulations requiring abortion clinic doctors receive admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and clinics upgrade their facilities to meet ambulatory service center (ASC) standards would ultimately restrict women’s constitutionally guaranteed access to abortion.

Seago said the questions and their tone revealed Elrod and Judge Stephen Higginson, a President Barack Obama appointee, had opposing views on the issue. The third judge, Jerry E. Smith asked the fewest questions, but previous rulings suggest he would uphold HB 2 on appeal.

Wright and Seago noted the judges questioned the plaintiff’s statistical information regarding clinic closures and their subsequent impact on women seeking abortions. In his ruling, they said Yeakel failed to prove the “large fraction test” requiring plaintiffs prove that a large percentage of women of child-bearing years would be unduly burdened by clinic closures.

Wright said the abortion clinic attorneys were hard-pressed to give specific numbers and, instead, relied on anecdotal information. In last year’s case Planned Parenthood attorneys claimed implementation of HB 2 would hinder 20,000 women from getting abortions.

But under questioning today from Elrod, that number was proven unreliable and based on presumptive information that has since be proven false.

“It was more rhetoric than accurate,” Seago said.

Although the impact of clinic closures were the salient point leading to arguments of “undue burden,” plaintiffs’ attorneys were elusive when asked how many abortion clinics will open in a post-HB 2 Texas.

Elrod pressed the issue because Whole Women’s Health, an abortion provider with clinics in major Texas cities, announced it would open a clinic in New Mexico just across the border from an El Paso clinic due to close if HB 2 is upheld.

The El Paso clinic and one in the Rio Grande Valley featured prominently in Yeakel’s Aug. 29 decision.

He concluded the State’s ASC regulation was unconstitutional on two fronts. The ASC requirements demanded clinics be built or remodeled to accommodate medical systems used in out-patient clinics. New abortion facilities included those regulations in their designs. But existing facilities said cost or structural issues proved overwhelming and chose to shutter their clinics.

Yeakel argued the ASC systems were not necessary when performing non-surgical, or medication-induced, abortions and were, therefore, arbitrary. But pro-life advocates argued abortion clinics that provide medication-induced abortions also provide surgical abortions, hence the need for the higher standards of practice as outlined in HB 2.

In ordering the injunction, Yeakel argued the ASC requirements and the admitting privileges mandate created an untenable combination for abortion clinics. He specifically cited the plight of two clinics, one in the Rio Grande Valley and one in El Paso.

The admitting privileges provision went into effect last year, requiring abortion clinic physicians receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic where they work. According to statistics cited in Yeakel’s ruling, almost half of the 40 Texas abortion clinics closed because their doctors could not get the admitting privileges.

Only the El Paso clinic remained open. But the Sept. 1 implementation of the ASC requirements would have forced the closing of that clinic, the lone Texas clinic west of the I-35 corridor.

If the regulation requiring clinics to meet ambulatory service center standards had gone into effect Sept. 1 the number of clinics would have dropped to seven or eight located only in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Ft. Worth according to plaintiff’s attorneys.

 “The court concludes the act’s ambulatory-surgical-center requirement, combined with the already in-effect admitting-privileges requirement, creates a brutally effective system of abortion regulation that reduces access to abortion clinics thereby creating a statewide burden for substantial numbers of Texas women,” Yeakel wrote in his decision.

When shaping missional kids, experience gives way to knowledge

The TEXAN recently caught up with IMB missions catalyst and Zambia missionary Lori McDaniel for insight into shaping mission-minded kids, how to help them develop a global perspective, and the common mistakes parents make in steering their children toward missions.

TEXAN: Tell our readers a little about your missions background.
MCDANIEL: It’s funny how people assume that because I’m so involved in global missions that I’ve always been that way. As mission catalyst with IMB, it does overflow out of my heart. But for most of my life, that was not the case. I grew up learning about missions, but to me it was always something other people did. I didn’t see myself as being a missionary. Even when my husband returned from a two-week trip to Ukraine and said he believed maybe God was calling our family to missions I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.  I’m not missionary material.” I resisted it for two years, until I also felt God leading us to live overseas.

It wasn’t long until we were boarding a plane with our preschoolers and moving to Africa. It was the hardest and the best thing, all at the same time. After living in Zambia for four years, we took the mission principles we learned, and returned to plant a church in the States that would have a missional DNA.

TEXAN: Your three children were young when you and your husband served as IMB missionaries to Africa. How did you invite your children to participate with you in missions on the field?
MCDANIEL: Our kids loved living in Africa. They didn’t just tag along; we did missions as a family. They sat listening as we told stories to our African friends. If we helped with hunger relief they carried their small bag of food to distribute. They walked dusty paths to visit the village chief, talked with people at the well drawing water, got their hands dirty packing mud between sticks to help build a mud church wall; whatever it was they were just part of it.

What “stuck” wasn’t something they could articulate. Living with different people, with a different language, and different religion gave them a global worldview. It became so much a part of who they are that my daughter is now studying to move overseas and engages different nationalities in her apartment; my son’s college roommate is Muslim; and my 15-year-old has more stamps in his passport than the typical teen.

TEXAN: How did you teach your children that missions wasn’t just for adults?
MCDANIEL: Being “on mission” is a way of life. Living on mission is caught more than taught, kind of like a little girl feeding her baby doll a bottle. She imitates her mom. Our kids wanted to imitate what we did, so we let them.  We had to remember, too, that just like the body of Christ our kids were each different. So their expression of living on mission would look different. One of our sons is a natural teacher and could share a Bible story with other kids without any help.  His little brother, at the age of four, wanted to teach, too, but didn’t have quite the oratory skills. So we would say a sentence, and then he would repeat it “teaching” the village kids. Our daughter wanted to participate but was more scared. However, we would find her eating an African meal with a few other girls, and they would share stories together and sing songs.

TEXAN: How can parents of young children set the stage for their kids to care about the world and have a heart for the nations?
MCDANIEL: Children make mental memories of people in their world and how to interact with them at a very young age. Our two oldest children were ages 5 and 3 when we moved to Africa. They had to learn a new culture. However, for our child that was born in Africa, different cultures were normal to him. 

I would say that creating awareness opportunities is a great start. Read about different peoples and different religions, or learn a different language. But don’t stop there. Experience gives life to knowledge. Intentionally make friends with people from other nations who live in your community. Invite them to your home. Living your own life as a mom or dad sets the stage for you children to have a heart for the nations.  I would also say, go on a short-term mission trip. Your kids will miss you of course, but they will also be very intrigued about the stories you have to tell. And you will be changed, which will spill over into your children.

TEXAN: For the parent of a teen who is inwardly-focused, how can the parent work with the child to broaden his perspective to love and serve others?
MCDANIEL: This is a harder question to answer. I’ve had three teens, and it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all. In a non-judgmental way, take your teenagers on a short-term mission trip in the States or somewhere else. Do it together. Let them see other teenagers in different life situations. I wouldn’t preach it, but let the experiences preach. Trust is huge in this situation. As parents we might want to say, “Don’t you appreciate what you have so much more now?”  Instead, trust that God will use the experience in time.  And if living life on mission is new to you as a parent, say it. Be honest with your teens about your own heart process and journey of God working in you. Let them see the change taking place by modeling it.

TEXAN: What are some practical tips for parents traveling overseas with children on a mission trip?
MCDANIEL: I’m all about kids traveling overseas. I’m also all about kids being very much a part of the training process. When we have kids at our church go overseas, they learn to present the story of creation to Christ just like adults. We practice eating some of the foods, learn about the culture, and learn to respect differences in the cultures. We even discuss culture shock and feelings they might experience once they arrive.

Our kids continue to travel overseas. When they were young, we had them take journals. Our 4- year-old took one too. We had them write what they did during the day, things they learned, or even draw a picture. Once we returned home, we would share these together as a family.

TEXAN: What are some common mistakes parents make in trying to steer their child toward missions?
MCDANIEL: First of all, the most common mistake parents make is not steering their children at all toward living on mission. I believe that discipleship should include learning to have a heart for what God has a heart for–the nations.

Another mistake is when parents themselves are not living on mission. Often we think of “missions” as a program to be taught or something we do for two weeks if we can afford it. Missions, then, becomes compartmentalized and irrelevant to daily life. God is on mission. He sent Jesus. Jesus sent the church. I am part of God’s mission. That is what parents should be teaching and modeling for their children.

TEXAN: What’s the first thing you’d tell a missions newbie about molding a missions-minded child?
MCDANIEL: Learn to tell the stories of the Bible to your children in such a way that they see the Bible as one narrative. This helps them to understand that there is a grand story, and it’s made up of smaller stories. All through the Bible, whether it’s Abraham becoming the father of many nations or David cutting off Goliath’s head so “all the nations will know there is a God,” all the stories fit together. Whether it’s Joseph whom God sent to help Egypt or Jesus whom God sent to redeem the world, God is a sending God. When they understand that they are part of God’s story, they begin to see themselves as being “sent.” They will begin to dream about what they will become when they grow up or where they might live. Paint pictures of how they could be a teacher who lives in China or a businessman who lives in India or an engineer who lives in Indonesia. Wherever they are as believers, and whatever job they have, they are sent too.  

TEXAN: What are your top five resources for parents wanting to raise missions-minded kids?
MCDANIEL: My number one resource is a world map! I know it’s basic, but we have all kinds. We put pins in them, draw on them, put stickers on them, play games and more. Christian “Heroes Then and Now” biographies or “Heroes for Young Readers” biographies–each of these tells the stories of missionaries that even I, as an adult, love. Our kids loved reading them.

My third favorite resource is Kids on Mission (kidsonmission.org). They do a great job highlighting missionaries and people groups around the world in a fun way that kids love and understand. Their material is easy to use at home or in church.  Also, “You Can Change the World” by Daphne Spraggett is a great book about different countries, peoples and how to pray for them. Weavefamily.org is a website to help parents integrate missions into your family.  One of my favorite new books is “Missional Mom” by Helen Lee. “Missional” is a word that gets tacked onto a lot of things. Helen Lee does a great job helping moms to be intentional about living on mission and helping their kids to do the same. 

Lori McDaniel serves as global mission catalyst for IMB. She and her husband, Mike, have three children: Jordan (21), Caleb (20), and Josh (15). In 2001, the McDaniels planted Grace Point Church in Bentonville, Ark., where Mike currently serves as pastor. Their church has been a part of planting churches in West Africa since 2006.

Leaders in Training: preteens serve inner-city San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO—The sullen teenager cracked a smile when an exuberant fifth grader handed him a nametag sporting a smiley face. At 14, he was too old for Kids Power Camp at San Antonio’s Riverside apartments, but he was tagging along with two friends, Theone (pronounced “the one”) and Angel, brothers who had recently started attending Genesis Baptist Church nearby.

The adult leader sent counselor-in-training Tommy to talk to the boys and begin building relationships. What happened as the week progressed is the stuff of miracles, which the adults and preteens involved in Hillcrest Baptist Church’s Leadership in Training (LIT) program are still processing.

In July, 89 preteens and adults from Cedar Hills’ Hillcrest, Retta Baptist Church of Burleson, First Baptist Church of Henderson and Great Hills Baptist Church of Austin trekked south to San Antonio to partner with Genesis Baptist to minister to the surrounding low-income community.

The kids were well-prepared to lead camps for children at six apartment complexes near Genesis, just minutes southeast of downtown. They had begun intensive training at Hillcrest in January.

“We teach them how to teach, how to evangelize, how to tell stories, how to explain the gospel, how to play and lead games, how to help children memorize scripture,” said Karen Kennemur, assistant professor of childhood education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Hillcrest missions trainer, describing the LIT program developed by Clinton May.

“LIT helps kids identify who they are in Christ, helping them discover spiritual gifts and talents, empowering and equipping them to share the gospel and to live out their faith,” said Keri Meek, Hillcrest children’s minister. 

Following a semester of training, LIT preteens go on a mission trip to practice what they have learned. Adults accompany the group at a nearly one-to-one ratio, but the kids do the work.

“It is the practicum for what they have learned all spring,” Meek said, adding that Hillcrest has offered LIT for four years.

The July trip was their first to San Antonio’s Genesis.

It all started in 2013 with a conversation at an SBTC Texas One Day event between Kennemur, a presenter, and Lorena Beltran, wife of Genesis pastor Edward Beltran, who attended Kennemur’s sessions.

“I mentioned that I take fifth and sixth graders on mission trips, and she told me about their inner-city church in San Antonio,” Kennemur recalled.

That initial chat led to further conversations. Soon Meek was involved and made plans to send the preteens to the Alamo City in 2014. 

On a Memorial Day 2014 preview trip, Meek identified several apartment complexes within walking distance of Genesis as targets for evangelism.

“We wanted to help the Beltrans reach their community,” Meek said. “That’s where their hearts were. They had been praying for years that God would help them reach the community he had placed them in.”

Meek and the Beltrans contacted apartment managers, asking permission to put on free kids’ programs including lunch for a week in July.

“It’s a win for the apartment because we are doing something with their kids. And it’s a win for the church as they connect with the community.  The ultimate win is to be able to share the gospel with these kids,” Meek said.

Contacts made, Meek found an area church willing to house the group in July.

Plans were made for ministry at five apartment sites; God had other ideas. After the first day of Kids Power Camp, teams were shifted, supplies shuffled and an additional site added.

“God always wanted that site,” Meek told the group. “I told them that sometimes what we have planned is not what God has planned.”

“Today I learned that change can be good,” an LIT sixth grade boy announced during the next evening’s sharing time. He had befriended a child at the new site.

Sixteen children came to camp at that site and several professed Christ, Meek said, adding that of the 250 children and adults crowding Genesis for Thursday night’s praise time, the newest housing complex was disproportionately represented.

The week’s schedule was rigorous for kids and adults alike. Mornings began with breakfast, worship and planning, including the packing of over 200 lunches daily for workers and kids at the sites.
“We coach the kids on testimonies and stories. We want them to be equipped before they go out,” Kennemur said.

Teams deployed to the sites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. where they led Vacation Bible School-type activities. Afternoons were spent doing service projects, fun activities or unwinding at the host church. Days ended with dinner, worship and sharing.

“At Kids Power Camp, our kids welcome the kids, register the kids, play icebreaker games and lead music. The kids do everything. The adults are there to talk to the parents,” Kennemur explained, adding that many parents stayed to observe each day in San Antonio.

“A bilingual dad was saved the first day of camp after talking to some of the LIT adults. He came back every day and served as translator,” Meek said.

“Some of the kids spoke Spanish only. We did not take a translator with us. God knew the need, and he sent somebody,” she added.

“Not only was he saved the first day, but he was learning Bible stories and verses all week. God was discipling him as he was helping. He is now connected to Genesis,” Kennemur said.

The Hillcrest LIT teams will never forget their San Antonio experience. Plans are underway for a repeat visit next summer.

“Typically we go to a new place of ministry each summer. However, our experience with Genesis was unique. We feel a heart connection with the pastor and the church members. We look forward to working together in the future,” Kennemur said.

As for the once-recalcitrant teen who accompanied Theone and Angel? He has found a relationship with Jesus Christ, the true One, thanks to the friendship developed with Tommy.

On Friday, as the Hillcrest vans pulled up to Genesis a final time with plans to clean the church, throngs of children, now new friends, ran to greet them. They will be back.

Reach Texas Offering sees record giving, increases goal to $1.3 million for next year

Southern Baptists have clearly communicated their commitment to missions and evangelism in the way they’ve expressed their values and prioritized their giving. The convention allocated $4.5 million of its operating budget to missions and evangelism for 2014—a higher percentage (35.7) than any other budget item.

Yet, Texas churches want to do more. They see the task of winning the lost to Christ as so important, that each year they dig a little deeper to give a little more through a state-wide missions offering. Fittingly, the offering is called the Reach Texas Offering. Its goal is just that: to reach Texas.

For the 2013-2014 year, the convention set a goal of $1.2 million. To date, giving has already exceeded that goal by more than a quarter of a million dollars. Terry Coy, director of missions for the SBTC, says receipts for the Reach Texas Offering have actually been increasing every year for the past four years and that this year’s offering has set a record as the highest in convention history.

Coy says for that, he gives a heartfelt “big thank you” to churches and their members.

“Churches have been generous and faithful to increase giving every year and to give every year,” he said.

The results of that giving are evident in recently produced Reach Texas videos that highlight some of the many missionaries, ministers and ministries made possible by the yearly offering.
(See the videos online or request a copy at sbtexas.com/reachtexas)

The goal for the 2014-2015 offering sets the bar even higher, at $1.3 million. Coy says the elevated goal is in keeping with the continued growth of the population Baptists are trying to reach.

“We’re not keeping up with population growth,” Coy said. “We need to focus on more evangelism and more church planting.”

Both evangelism and church planting are core elements of the Reach Texas Offering. One hundred percent of the money given to the Reach Texas Offering goes straight to evangelism training, disaster relief, church planting, missions mobilization and missions strategies.

This year, the offering is themed “Old New = Mission Field.” Texas is a conglomeration—a constantly melding mixture of the things that create stereotypes as old as the state itself and those that characterize the new face of the Lone Star State. At the intersection of old and new Texas, technology meets oil and gas. Urbanization meets ranching. Barbecue meets sushi.

“The state is changing, and it will continue to change and grow,” Coy said. “More people means a greater mission field.”

The arrival of the “new” Texas has brought with it an audience of people who have simply never heard Christ’s name and many who hail from nations without religious freedom. Both groups—those who don’t know Christ and those who don’t even know of him—need to hear. They need to be reached.

That happens through giving, going and praying.

Alongside the call to a giving thrust each year is the call to concerted prayer—prayer thanking God for drawing the nations to Texas and asking that he raise up bold and faithful witnesses who will share his love across the state. The SBTC has published a devotional guide that churches and individuals can use as a resource as they join the prayer and giving efforts. The devotional prayer guide, along with bulletin inserts, posters, video and offering envelopes, are available at sbtexas.com/reachtexas.

Cooperation is more than a dollar sign

Executive Director’s note: In place of my column I wanted you to hear from Josh Crutchfield. Over 10 years ago when he was a youth we attended the same church, he became my intern for a year during the time he studied at Criswell College. His heart for the gospel is revealed in this article. Josh Crutchfield is a two-time Criswell graduate who is working on his Ph.D. He is a pastor and serves on the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board. I’m so grateful for Josh, his wife, Jamie, and their children. The next generation is leading well.
-Jim Richards

By Joshua Crutchfield | Special to the TEXAN

It was 8 o’clock in the evening, and the sun had already set. We were exhausted from a long day of travel—two plane rides and a five-hour van ride. The crisp Caribbean air was now refreshing us as we traveled to Livingston, Guatemala, under cloak of darkness. It is not as if we were going into a hostile or dangerous place, but we couldn’t help but feel like special ops going into a region to carry out a mission. Of course, we did have a mission to carry out—bring the gospel to the Garifuna.

You may question what this story has to do with the Cooperative Program or cooperation altogether, and that would be a fair question, so let me elaborate. You see, I was leading college students from the church I pastor on their first-ever mission trip. Our goal was to bring the good news of Jesus to the Garifuna people in Livingston. However, we did not know of the existence of the Garifuna until a sister church in a different state invited us to cooperate with them in advancing the gospel to peoples who have never heard the good news. Andrew Hebert, pastor of Taylor Memorial Baptist Church in Hobbs, N.M., spoke with me about the opportunity to go into a region where no active Southern Baptist work exists and cooperate together to plant churches. As my team walked the streets of Livingston, there was not even an evangelical church to be found.

Still, you might say that this does not fully address the Cooperative Program, but it does. When Andrew contacted me about reaching a people I did not even know existed, he was not sharing something that was common knowledge or something he already knew—Andrew was working with the International Mission Board (IMB) in order to identify an unreached, unengaged people group. Upon identifying a people group (e.g. the Garifuna), the IMB worked with and trained the leaders of Taylor Memorial Baptist Church to go and engage the Garifuna with the gospel. That was funded and made possible through the Cooperative Program.

As exciting as it was for my students and me, and as wonderful as it is to see how God is using Taylor Memorial Baptist Church and Trenton FBC, none of this would be accomplished or experienced without cooperation. But now something must be addressed—cooperation is more than a dollar sign. It does involve dollar signs, but money is not the foundation of our cooperation. No, the foundation of cooperation is the Great Commission and the hope that all peoples will hear of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. This cooperation can take many forms but the foundation and goal remain the same.

This is the beauty of the Cooperative Program. It brings like-minded, like-faith people together for the purpose of making Jesus known. This kind of cooperation reveals to the world that our churches are more than simply autonomous churches seeking to build our own kingdoms but instead shows the world that regardless of our race, background, city, or state, we as God’s children have a common Savior and a common purpose. Cooperation proclaims the unifying work that God has accomplished in his church. Those who refuse to cooperate—be it through the funding of the Cooperative Program or simply working with other local churches—reveal the true nature of their hearts and serve as a poor representation of the gospel.

This trip served as an incredible teaching moment for my church family. We saw the fruits of the Cooperative Program through the identification of the Garifuna and through the resources, such as tracts written in Spanish and the 1 Cross app, provided by the SBTC. We saw churches come together by offering financial support—churches like Allen’s Point Baptist Church, pastored by Kevin Towery, and through our local association. And that is just the starting point.

As we continue our efforts to reach the Garifuna, we are building on the work of other churches, such as Taylor Memorial Baptist Church, which will soon be returning to Livingston in order to build on the work we have done. Cooperation is more than a dollar sign; it is the outcome of the work of Christ and the evidence of his indwelling Spirit, so that he may receive glory and that the lost might come to know the one who died for them.

—Joshua Crutchfield pastors First Baptist Church of Trenton.