Month: May 2017

2017 SBC: Exec. Comm., boards, commission, seminaries, committee nominees announced

NASHVILLE—Nominees to serve on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, the four denominational boards—International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, and GuideStone Financial Resources—the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the six seminaries, and the Committee on Order of Business have been selected by the 2017 SBC Committee on Nominations.

Nominees will serve if elected by the messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, June 13-14 in Phoenix.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (82 members): 27 nominations considered—16 new members, 11 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2021 replacing members ineligible for re-election are Bradley K. “Brad” Kolman, layperson and member of Calvary Baptist Church, Delta, Colo., replacing Michael W. “Mike” Routt, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Ann H. Watts, church accompanist, Heatherwood Baptist Church, Newnan, Ga., replacing Wayne Robertson, Valdosta, Ga.; Sharon K. Carty, layperson and member of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Carlinville, Ill., replacing Charles W. Boling, Marion, Ill.; Adron Robinson, pastor, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Country Club Hills, Ill., replacing Wilma J. Booth, Elgin, Ill.; and Mark R. Elliott, director of missions and member of LifeSpring Church, Bellevue, Neb., replacing Timothy A. “Tim” Ohls, Wichita, Kan.

Also nominated for terms to expire in 2021 are Jimmie Rose Strahan, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Cleveland, Miss., replacing William E. “Eddie” Kinchen, Jackson, Miss.; Monte L. Shinkle, pastor, Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Mo., replacing Jeff L. Paul, Kansas City, Mo.; Marcus D. Hayes, campus pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden, N.C., replacing Bryan “Scott” Davis, Concord, N.C.; Pamela H. “Pam” Reed, layperson and member of Calvary Church, Winston-Salem, N.C., replacing Jeffrey B. “Jeff” Watson, Clemmons, N.C.; and James E. “Jim” Collier, pastor, Kirby Woods Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn., replacing Danny S. Sinquefield, Bartlett, Tenn.

Nominated for term to expire in 2020 is Mark Stinson, pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Cambridge, Ohio, replacing Jeremy D. Westbrook, Marysville, Ohio, who resigned.

Nominated for term to expire in 2019 is Aaron D. Burgner, pastor, Summer Grove Baptist Church, Shreveport, La., replacing Eddie W. DeHondt, Shreveport, La., who resigned.

Nominated for second terms are Benjamin F. “Ben” Kelley Jr., Montgomery, Ala.; Timothy D. “Tim” Maynard, Jacksonville, Fla.; Frank Kovaleski, Carmel, Ind.; Michael E. “Mike” Pope, Somerset, Ky.; Mark H. Ballard, North Bennington, Vt.; Richard R. Wilburn, Tupper Lake, N.Y.; Michael L. “Mike” Scifres, Eufaula, Okla.; Tony L. Crisp, Riceville, Tenn.; Michael L. “Mike” Lawson, Sherman, Texas; Phillip Herring, Norfolk, Va., and Robert E. “Bob” Stennett, Scott Depot, W.Va.

Pending approval to a change in SBC Bylaw 18 to expand representation on the Executive Committee from four states and regions currently without representation, the following nominees will serve staggered initial terms from their respective areas:

Joshua D. Bonner, pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Rapid City, S.D., new member from the Dakotas, term to expire in 2020; Guy L. Fredrick, bivocational pastor, Mapledale Baptist Church, Sheboygan, Wis., new member from Minnesota-Wisconsin, term to expire in 2019; and, for terms to expire in 2018, Todd Stiles, lead pastor, First Family Church, Ankeny, Iowa, new member from Iowa; and D. Paul Jones, pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Billings, Mont., new member from Montana.

GUIDESTONE FINANCIAL RESOURCES (45 trustees): 10 nominations considered—seven new trustees, three renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2021 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election are Fred Lodge, pastor, First Baptist Church, Blairsville, Ga., replacing G. Bryant Wright Jr., Marietta, Ga.; David Cox Sr., layperson and member of Temple of Faith Church, Detroit, Mich., replacing James W. “Jim” Hixson, Lansing, Mich.; John P. Wenberg, layperson and member of Garden Baptist Church, Overland, Mo., replacing Gerald R. Davidson, Arnold, Mo.; B. Lee Black, retired president, New Mexico Baptist Foundation and member of Hoffmantown Baptist Church, Albuquerque, N.M., replacing Kirk R. Hudson, Albuquerque, N.M.; Gerald Saffo, pastor, United Faith Community Church, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, replacing Ronald E. “Ron” Brown, Newton Falls, Ohio; Brian D. King Sr., pastor, Ezekiel Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pa., replacing William R. “Bill” Dunning, Allison Park, Pa.; and David M. Hannah, layperson and member of Good Shepherd Baptist Church, Scott Depot, W.Va., replacing Shadd G. Kennedy, Cross Lanes, W.Va.

Nominated for second terms are C. Darren Gaddis, Ocala, Fla.; J. Wesley Noss, Frankfort, Ky., and Jack M. Stancil, Raleigh, N.C.

INTERNATIONAL MISSION BOARD (78 trustees): 20 nominations considered—10 new trustees, 10 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2021 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election are Joel A. Bundick, pastor, Community of Grace Church, Centennial, Colo., replacing Rick L. Lewis, Arvada, Colo.; Kirra Kelly, layperson and member of Family Church, West Palm Beach, Fla., replacing David F. Uth, Orlando, Fla.; Nathan H. Gunter, pastor, First Southern Baptist Church, Lansing, Kan., replacing Sandra E. “Sandie” Anderson, Manhattan, Kan.; Trent Snyder, associate pastor of missions and evangelism, Porter Memorial Baptist Church, Lexington, Ky., replacing Charlie W. Davis, Louisville, Ky.; Will Gatling, associate pastor of missions, Bay Leaf Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C., replacing Jeffrey A. “Jeff” Long, Gastonia, N.C.; Keith Evans, pastor, Pathway Church, Gresham, Ore., replacing Audrey L. Smith, Ione, Wash.; and Jim P. Crockett, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, Tenn., replacing Scott C. Harris, Brentwood, Tenn.

Nominated for terms to expire in 2019 are Brian Zunigha, director of discipleship, California Baptist University and member of Redeemer Baptist Church, Riverside, Calif., replacing Kristen K. White, Riverside, Calif., who resigned; Jordan Easley, pastor, Englewood Baptist Church, Jackson, Tenn., replacing H. Dean Haun, Morristown, Tenn., who resigned; Gary M. Mathena, resident adjunct professor, Liberty University and member of First Baptist Church, Roanoke, Va., replacing Kay Norred, Harrisonburg, Va., who resigned.

Nominated for second terms are J. Allen Hill, Clarkston, Ga.; Sheila K. Satterthwaite, Maryville, Ill.; E. Gibbie McMillan, Kentwood, La.; Karen A. Villalpando, Sterling Heights, Mich.; F. Matthew “Matt” Taylor, Lebanon, Mo.; D. Hance Dilbeck, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Nancy J. Patrick, Harrisburg, Pa.; David B. Miller, Waynesboro, Tenn.; Geronimo M. Disla, Grand Prairie, Texas, and Kenny R. “Ken” McLemore, Hampton, Va.

NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD (54 trustees): 14 nominations considered—10 new trustees, 4 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2021 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election include Brian Bowman, pastor, Valley Life Church, Phoenix, replacing William L. “Billy” Van Camp Jr., Queen Creek, Ariz.; Ron L. Crow, pastor, First Baptist Church, Diamond, Mo., replacing Brent L. Campbell, Troy, Mo.; Chelsi N. Hilmes, layperson and member of New City Church, Long Island City, N.Y., replacing Natalie White, Buffalo, N.Y.; Rick L. Frie, pastor, First Baptist Church, Jenks, Okla., replacing William “Blake” Gideon, Edmond, Okla.; Randy D. Bradley, director of missions and member of Locust Hill Baptist Church, Travelers Rest, S.C., replacing Cleatus J. Blackmon Jr., Greer, S.C.; Harry L. Smith, layperson and member of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn., replacing David D. Green, Greeneville, Tenn.; Kenneth W. Priest, director of convention strategies, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and member of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, replacing Heath C. Peloquin, Flower Mound, Texas; and Clark Reynolds, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, replacing Mark J. Dyer, Plano, Texas.

Nominated for a term to expire in 2020 is Roy Henry, pastor, Faith Baptist Church, Battle Creek, Mich., replacing David E. Washington Jr., Canton, Mich., who resigned.

Nominated for a term to expire in 2019 is Eric L. Brown, business administrator, Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Ark., replacing Jeff Crawford, Springdale, Ark., who resigned.

Nominated for second terms are William G. “Bill” Ingram, Aurora, Colo.; Daniel W. “Danny” deArmas, Orlando, Fla; Paula M. Cordray, Pittsburgh, Pa., and Betty Jo “BJ” Bateman, Greenville, S.C.

LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN RESOURCES (53 trustees): 12 nominations considered—five new trustees, seven renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2021 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election are Michelle D. Branch, layperson and member of Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, N.C., replacing David H. Horner, Raleigh, N.C.; Jennifer Landrith, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Cleveland, Tenn., replacing Joseph A. “Alan” Hayes, Mt. Juliet, Tenn.; Matthew E. “Matt” Crawford, pastor, First Baptist Church, Sebring, Fla., replacing James A. Wells, LaGrange, Fla., who resigned; Ron A. Edmondson, pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Lexington, Ky., replacing Timothy D. Turner, Lexington, Ky., who resigned; and Greg L. Kannady, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Kingfisher, Okla., replacing Christopher “Blake” Lindley, Norman, Okla., who declined to serve a second term.

Nominated for second terms are Charles E. Green, Grand Junction, Colo.; Paul R. Baxter, LaGrange, Ga.; Wayne C. Morgan, Covington, Ga.; D. Weldon Aultman, Indianola, Miss.; Darron L. Edwards, Sr., Kansas City, Mo.; Jerry C. White, Chesnee, S.C., and A. Kenneth Carlton Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.

SOUTHERN SEMINARY (43 trustees): 11 nominations considered—5 new trustees, 6 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2022 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election are Jeff D. Breeding, pastor, Midtown Baptist Church, Little Rock, Ark., replacing Schanon D. Caudle, Van Buren, Ark.; Bobby T. Hancock, layperson and member of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn., replacing J. Michael “Mike” King, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Sally M. Ramsay, layperson and member of Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, replacing Joseph M. “Mike” Mericle, Austin, Texas; Bryan T. Myers, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fairbanks, Alaska, replacing Pusey A. Losch, Richfield, Pa.; and H. B. Charles Jr., pastor, Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., replacing Randall B. “Randy” Kuhn, Panama City, Fla., who declined to serve a second term.

Nominated for second terms are Nick Floyd, Fayetteville, Ark.; Alfred M. “Merril” Smoak Jr., Livermore, Calif.; Elizabeth H. “Ellie” Coursey, Henderson, Ky.; Scott Pruitt, Broken Arrow, Okla.; Stanley L. Craig, Louisville, Ky., and Patricia A. Skelton, Shelbyville, Ky.

SOUTHWESTERN SEMINARY (40 trustees): Eight nominations considered—four new trustees, four renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2022 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election include Leon A. Stamm, layperson and member of Temple Baptist Church, Ruston, La., replacing Steven M. James, Lake Charles, La.; J. Kie Bowman, pastor, Hyde Park Baptist Church, Austin, Texas, replacing Lash T. Banks, Murphy, Texas; Charles W. Hott, layperson and member of Forestburg Baptist Church, Forestburg, Texas, replacing Gary W. Loveless, Houston, Texas; and John C. Horn, church planting team leader, State Convention of Baptists in Indiana and member of City View Church, Avon, Ind., replacing Kerry N. Jones, Muncie, Ind., who resigned.

Nominated for second terms are Jeff W. Crook, Flowery Branch, Ga.; N. Todd Houston, Southport, N.C.; Cornelious C. “Connie” Hancock, Springboro, Ohio, and Don Whorton, Dallas, Texas.

NEW ORLEANS SEMINARY (40 trustees): Seven nominations considered—one new trustee, six renominations.

Nominated for a term to expire in 2022 is Mark W. Warnock, pastor, Family Church, West Palm Beach, Fla., replacing George H. Kemp, Jacksonville, Fla., who resigned.

Nominated for second terms are Larry D. White, Conway, Ark.; Daniel Shieh, Washington, D.C.; R. Bryant Barnes Jr., Columbia, Miss.; David G. Brittain, Rio Rancho, N.M.; George B. Bannister Sr., Niles, Ohio, and Michael E. “Mike” Shaw, Pelham, Ala.

SOUTHEASTERN SEMINARY (30 trustees): Eight nominations considered—3 new trustees, 5 renominations.

Nominated for a term to expire in 2022 is Ryan A. Martin, missions pastor, University Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Ark., replacing R.E. Clark, Gravette, Ark., who resigned.

Nominated for a term to expire in 2020 is Howard Y. Li, pastor, Trust in God Baptist Church, New York, N.Y., replacing William Todd Jones, Silver Spring, Md., who resigned.

Nominated for a term to expire in 2019 is Sam F. Wheat, minister of education and outreach, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Ruston, La., replacing Richard G. Butterworth, Overgaard, Ariz., who resigned.

Nominated for second terms are Gregory T. Pouncey, Mobile, Ala.; Alan W. McAlister, Clovis, N.M.; Thomas S. Mach, Xenia, Ohio; Charles H. Cranford, Charlotte, N.C., and James R. Marston Jr., Lynchburg, Va.

MIDWESTERN SEMINARY (35 trustees): Nine nominations considered—four new trustees, five renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2022 are David C. Shanks, layperson and member of Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas, replacing K. Wayne Lee, Euless, Texas, who resigned; and Jacob McMillian, pastor, Journey Baptist Church, St. Joseph, Mo., replacing William H. “Hosea” Bilyeu, Springfield, Mo., who declined to serve a second term.

Nominated for a term to expire in 2021 is Chad McDonald, pastor, Lenexa Baptist Church, Lenexa, Kan., replacing Margaret N. Opara, Wichita, Kan., who resigned.

Nominated with a term to expire in 2020 is Clyde D. Meador, retired vice president, International Mission Board and member of Staples Mill Road Baptist Church, Glen Allen, Va., replacing William “Bill” Bowyer, Raleigh, N.C., who resigned.

Nominated for second terms are Ben O. Character, Oxford, Ala.; Brandon Shields, Indianapolis, Ind.; Randall H. Tompkins, Alexandria, La.; Larry W. Sheppard, Broken Arrow, Okla., and Bryan C. Pain, Duncan, Okla.

GATEWAY SEMINARY (39 trustees): Nine nominations considered—five new trustees, four renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2022 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election are Thomas M. “Tom” Toone, layperson and member of East Shore Baptist Church, Harrisburg, Pa., replacing Steven R. Sheldon, Peach Bottom, Pa.; Charles H. “Chuck” Morton, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Taylors, S.C., replacing Stuart L. Smith, Spartanburg, S.C.; Walter A. Price, retired pastor and member of Fellowship in the Pass Church, Beaumont, Calif., replacing Jeff Evans, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; and Kevin M. Carrothers, director of missions and member of First Baptist Church, Rochester, Ill., replacing D. Chet Cantrell, Fairview Heights, who declined to serve a second term.

Nominated for a term to expire in 2018 is R. Rex “Peck” Lindsay, retired executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists and member of Covenant Baptist Church, Topeka, Kan., replacing Cody Busby, Mulvane, Kan., who resigned.

Nominated for second terms are Ronnie H. Deal, Greenwood, Ark.; Roberto R. Santos, Taylor, Mich.; M. Dale Griffin, Shawnee, Okla., and Robert Evans, San Francisco, Calif.

ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION (34 trustees): Nine nominations considered—five new trustees, four renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2021 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election are A.B. Vines, pastor, New Seasons Church, Spring Valley, Calif., replacing Dennis M. Schmierer, Fresno, Calif.; Janeé England, retired secretary, South Reno Baptist Church, Reno, Nev., replacing James L. Reamer, North Las Vegas, Nev.; Tony L. Beam, vice president, North Greenville University and member of Northwood Baptist Church, Greer, S.C., replacing Lee Bright, Roebuck, S.C.; Jonathan R. Whitehead, layperson and member of Abundant Life Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit, Mo., replacing Reed E. Johnston III, Waynesboro, Va.; and Jimmy D. Patterson, pastor, First Baptist Church, Newnan, Ga., replacing Timothy D. Jones, Columbus, Ga., who declined to serve a second term.

Nominated for second terms are William R. “Bill” Morgan, Prattville, Ala.; B. Todd Howard, Pine Bluff, Ark.; Allen L. “Al” Simmons, Wheat Ridge, Colo., and Ron D. Harvey, Pompano Beach, Fla.

COMMITTEE ON ORDER OF BUSINESS (7 members): two nominations considered—2 new members.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2020 replacing members ineligible for re-election are Tony Munoz, pastor, Iglesia Bautista Latina, Effingham, Ill., replacing Andrew C. Hebert, Hobbs, N.M.; and Tim Moore, layperson and member of Northside Baptist Church, Elizabethtown, Ky., replacing Rod D. Martin, Niceville, Fla.

Nominated to serve as chairman of the Committee on Order of Business is Grant C. Ethridge, Hampton, Va.

REVIEW: “Everything, Everything” is a teen romance with too much adult content

Maddy is a smart and optimistic 18-year-old who loves everything that is great about the world—the oceans and mountains, the trees and grass.

Sadly, though, she has never experienced any of it.

She tells us she suffers from a rare disease that prevents her from going outside her own house. That means she wears only white T-shirts, eats only certain foods, and breaths only filtered air. An airlock—the type found on spaceships—greets visitors who enter the front door. If she leaves the house, we’re told, she will die.    

Maddy seems destined to live the rest of her life as a hermit, until a new family moves next door. The family just so happens to include a teenage boy, and that teenage boy just so happens to spot Maddy through a window. She sees him, too, and pretty soon, they’re texting. Then talking. Then falling in love. But can a relationship bloom if two people can’t even meet in person?  

It’s all part of Everything, Everything (PG-13), a romantic drama that opens in theaters this weekend. It is based on a young adult bestselling novel of the same name by Nicola Yoon and stars Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) as Maddy, Nick Robinson (Jurassic World) as her romantic interest Olly, and Anika Noni Rose (The Princess and the Frog) as Maddy’s mom, Pauline.

It is being marketed to teens and young adults with the catchy slogan “risk everything … for love.” No doubt, the film is cleaner than most romantic movies, although that’s not saying much by Hollywood standards.

Warning: minor spoilers

The Good

Olly truly cares about Maddy’s health and even orders her to go back inside when she exits the house during an emergency. Later in the film, when she wants to explore the world even more, he displays an extreme reluctance.

Any movie that contains lots of texting can grow tedious, but filmmakers solved this by having Maddy imagine what the digital conversation would be like if she and Olly were together. So when they’re texting, we’re seeing her daydream about the two of them on a date. It is a nice, creative touch. 

Maddy tells several lies to her mom, but she is caught each time. (Even animated films don’t always show the negative consequences of lying.)

Everything, Everything has a surprising ending that some will like and some will hate. I liked it.   

Finally, for the first half of the movie, the romance stays entertaining and puppy-love-sweet. Alas, though, the family-friendly romance doesn’t last …

The Bad

Everything, Everything is one of those “if only” films. As in, “if only that wasn’t in there.” In this instance, there are at least two big “if onlys.”

First, the puppy love soon turns adult-oriented, and they have sex (which is not surprising if you watched the trailer). Everything remains covered on-screen, but the passionate kissing and the flashes of skin will spoil the film for many viewers. (The Space Between Us, a teen romance that was released earlier this year and had similar themes, had the same problem.) The latest government data tells us that a majority of high school teens have not had sex. If only Hollywood would give us movies reflecting that demographic.

Second, Maddy wears several short skirts and very low-cut outfits, including one on a date and one while swimming (even though it is a one-piece). It distracts from the story.  

Additionally, a major turning point involves Maddy disobeying her mom. By then she is 18, meaning she is legally an adult, but teens watching it may not understand the distinction.

Content-wise, the rest of the movie is quite tame. They kiss several times. There are about three coarse words (OMG, s–t, he–). And we see some violence (Olly and another man punch one another in the face; Maddy and her mom watch the movie Moonstruck, where the actress Cher slaps a man).   

Spiritual Content

You’d think a movie that spotlights a young woman who wants to get out and enjoy creation would have something about God in it. Alas, it doesn’t, at least not directly.

The Worldview

Maddy displays a child-like joy and wonder of nature that all Christians should exhibit. Oh, sure, we get that way at the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, but Maddy gets that way around everything. That’s because she knows nothing about a warm spring breeze or a flower-covered field—things we witness regularly. It’s all new for her! The Psalmist tells us that “those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs” (Psalm 65:8). Sadly, though, too often we take those “signs” for granted.

It’s also worth considering a couple of questions that the movie raises: What is the meaning of life? And what does it mean to “be alive”? Is the answer to find love and pleasure, as the movie implies? Or is the answer to glorify God? The Bible is clear: Love and pleasure can be great things, but only by serving God will we find true joy (not to mention true love and pleasure).

Thumbs Up … Or Down?

Everything, Everything is funny and entertaining … even if it has a few big caveats. Thumbs up.

The Verdict: Family-Friendly?

Remove the sex scene and Maddy’s immodest choice of attire, and I could recommend this one for most ages. But that scene is quite steamy, and her clothes are quite distracting. If I had teenage boys watching it with me, I would have been very uncomfortable in the theater. It deserves its PG-13 rating. Everything, Everything comes so close to being family-friendly, but it simply isn’t.

Discussion Questions

1. What would you miss most if you had to live in a house without going outside?

2. Why don’t we have the same excitement about life and nature that Maddy has?

3. What did you think of the ending? What would you have done if you were Maddy?

4. What does it mean to “be alive” as Maddy asked?

5. Who loved Maddy more, her mom or Olly?

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars  

“Everything, Everything” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief sensuality.

“JESUS” film, at 1,500 languages, reaches millions

ORLANDO, Fla.  For one morning a week for quite some time, both women had been nothing but consistent.

Riah* had been faithfully working to help keep up the home of Yvonne Cantwell*, an IMB missionary in Southeast Asia. And Cantwell had been faithfully sharing the gospel and Bible stories with her as they built a relationship.

“She is from a UPG [unreached people group],” Cantwell said. “I speak her national language but not her heart language.”

Riah was “friendly and open, but she stayed loyal to the religion of her people,” Cantwell said.

Until one day, that is, when Riah came in talking about a radio program she had heard—one that talked about the lineage of Jesus—and Cantwell remembered she had the “JESUS” film app on her phone.

“While she was working, I searched the app and found they had short clips from the Jesus Film in so many languages—including Riah’s heart language,” Cantwell said. “That day before she went home, I showed her ‘The Beginning’ clip. When she first heard the words in her language, she laughed in surprise and said, ‘They are from my home island.’“

Riah was captivated with the story of creation and the fall, of Abraham and the sacrifice and the prophets telling of the coming Messiah, Cantwell said.

“She has not yet turned from darkness to light, but these JESUS film clips in her heart language, so easily shown to her on my phone, are helping her along this journey,” Cantwell said.

Riah’s story is one of countless thousands that the Jesus Film Project celebrated as it marked its 1,500th language translation in March, Josh Newell, the Jesus Film Project’s director of marketing and communications, told Baptist Press.

The latest translation—into Daasanach, a language spoken by an ethnic group inhabiting parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan—is part of the project’s initiative to reach the world’s remaining 865 language groups that have 50,000 or more speakers.

It’s a “big milestone,” Newell said—”a celebration of a partnership from Bible translators to church planters to individuals who use it throughout the world to reach people from far-flung corners to city high rises.”

Multiply those partnerships across 1,500 languages and 37 years, and “you just have to sit back and say, ‘God, You’re so amazing,’“ he said.

The Jesus film, based on the Gospel of Luke, was initiated by the late Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, who had a vision to show the film in every country. 

About 2,000 theaters in the United States first aired the movie in 1979, and it wasn’t long before the Jesus Film Project began to translate it into other languages.

Since then, the film has been used to make 7.5 billion gospel presentations in 230 countries, with more than 490 million people indicating a decision for Christ after viewing it.

It’s been retouched and repackaged a number of times along the way, Newell said.

“Even in the beginning stages of translating it into other languages, we realized that there were some pieces that were very western even though it was shot on site in Israel and with a large cast of Jewish actors,” he said.

So in the late 1990s, the Jesus Film Project began adapting it for different audiences, sometimes reshooting scenes or making adaptations such as adding in narration for children.

From a technological standpoint, the film has moved across mediums from a 16mm projector to VHS to DVD to downloadable content, Newell said. A miniature SD card the size of a postage stamp can hold the movie in 16 languages.

“The digital age allows us to shrink down our offerings into the size of your hand but also equips someone to share at the moment that the Holy Spirit prompts them,” he said. “It’s a great tool.”

That’s what happened with Cantwell—she had the clips right there in her hand in the moment the Holy Spirit prompted her, said Michael Logan*, an IMB media strategist who has worked with field teams’ communication needs for more than 25 years. 

It’s so much more than a piece of media, Logan said—it’s a “partnership where IMB teams and those in the Jesus Film Project share a common drive for reaching a lost world.”

It’s great for engaging people like Riah, Logan said, but there are also “few things in the world more beautiful” than seeing a local group watching it together, hearing the story of Jesus for the first time.

Jordan Frankle*, an IMB missionary in West Africa, said that’s her story.

“We showed the JESUS film recently in a village that has no electricity, so we used a generator in a field,” she said.

The group of about 50 sang for an hour and a half then started the movie.

“I was praying the whole time while we were watching it, just asking for seed to be sown and watered on the dry ground in the hearts of the people watching,” she said. “And even for the handful of believers who are there who are newly converted, I prayed that it strengthened and fortified their faith.”

Logan said this is a scene that has repeated itself countless times over the past three decades or so.

“The JESUS film continues to be a great evangelistic tool that missionaries use hand in hand with their personal testimony and sharing of the gospel,” he said. “This film acts as a wonderful bridge into spiritual conversations that have helped transform thousands of lives over the years.”

For more information on the “JESUS” film, visit

*Names changed

SBTC DR teams end response to East Texas tornadoes, move to Missouri

CANTON, Texas—SBTC disaster relief teams ended a nearly two-week deployment to East Texas Sat., May 13, where they assisted victims of four tornadoes that hit Van Zandt, Henderson and Rains counties in late April and early May. DR volunteers arrived in Canton on May 1.

SBTC DR efforts focused on the communities of Canton, Emory and Fruitvale, said SBTC white cap Mike Benton of Bishop, Texas.

More than 346 volunteer days were logged as some 25-35 DR personnel per day completed 79 work orders by tarping roofs, clearing debris and doing chainsaw work on damaged and downed trees, said Scottie Stice, SBTC director of disaster relief.  

SBTC chaplains and crews made dozens of spiritual contacts, resulting in nine professions of faith, Stice added.

“Many families were helped with the clearing of trees and debris. Canton has served as a great example of how SBTC disaster relief volunteers are able to minister to spiritual needs as well as meet physical needs,” Stice said.

Benton praised all volunteers, noting one group from Bellville, Texas, who were particularly skilled in climbing as high as 35 feet in the air to reach large broken limbs that could prove hazardous.

“They did a lot of good work. They cut limbs from trees and handled the ‘widow makers’ [dangerous limbs] that were our biggest concern,” Benton said, adding that crews used their training in rigging to prevent some limbs from dropping on houses.

Benton also lauded Canton’s Crossroads Church, which hosted SBTC volunteers. “They were very helpful and gracious. They fed us way too much food, some of the best food we’ve ever had on deployment,” Benton said with a chuckle.

While the SBTC’s participation in East Texas ended last weekend, a DR team was dispatched to Doniphan, Missouri, on Sun., May 14, to work with Missouri Disaster Relief in their response to the historic floods in their state, Stice said, adding that two additional crews will deploy to Missouri the week of May 22.

“When we finish in Missouri, we will focus on Arkansas,” Stice added, alluding to recent flooding in that state.

Small churches play big role in great commission

AUSTIN—The small church is just as qualified to reach the nations as larger churches are, according to Kyle Ray, a speaker at an April 28 workshop session at the 2017 SENT Conference at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin.

Like many other pastors across the state, Ray leads a small church. But despite averaging fewer than 75 people in attendance each Sunday, his congregation at Journey Baptist Church in Sulphur Springs has been active in taking the gospel to the nations, participating in more than 20 international mission trips within the last five years.

Ray encourages other small church pastors and leaders not to be held back in international missions because of fear or feelings of inferiority.

“The small church does present a unique set of circumstances when it comes to mission trips. There are all these reasons why we can’t go, but I believe that the small church is still God’s church,” he said. “So, as God has given the commission to his church, the small church has to realize that if they call themselves a church, that they too own the great commission the same as any other church in the world.”

In many respects, the supposed weaknesses of smaller churches—fewer people and resources—can be advantages in growing reliance on Christ to carry out the great commission calling, Ray said.

“The great commission is especially suited for the small church because the great commission presupposes utter dependency upon God.”

In preparing a small church to go overseas, Ray said two truths are important to remember. The first is to realize there is no other option, that every church is called to be part of reaching the nations.

“Understand that you own this responsibility. There are no excuses. God knows what you need to accomplish the mission, and he has given that to you in the Spirit and the Word. That is all you need. He will take care of the rest.”

The second key, Ray said, is to know and believe the truth that God wants his people, from churches of every size, to be part of his mission, not because of what they can offer, but because of his love for them.

“God has commissioned you for his mission, not because he needs you, but because he loves you,” he said. “Our weakness, our insignificance, brings glory to God when he uses us for his work.”

Embracing missions in modern culture a common theme at SENT conference

AUSTIN—As they seek to fulfill the great commission, local churches should be marked by the “mercy and good fruit” described in James 3:17, David Sweet told attendees at the Southern Baptists of Texas SENT Conference, hosted on April 27-28 at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin.

“Do you think that the receptivity of the gospel might improve if people in our culture had something that they admired about churches? Let’s let the gospel of the cross be the offense, not us,” said Sweet, who was one of the conference’s keynote speakers and associate pastor of Hays Hills Baptist Church in Buda.

By turning inward and focusing only on what’s going on inside the church’s walls, many congregations are missing out on opportunities to reap the “harvest of righteousness” talked about in James.

“Some churches have lost sight of the harvest, of being fruitful. … We have to show the power of God, not just tell it,” he said.

While social justice causes should not eclipse sharing the gospel, Sweet encouraged pastors to be creative and allow their church members to take leadership in engaging their communities through a wide variety of ministry opportunities.

“There are thousands of ways to demonstrate mercy and good fruit and righteousness. (God) has already prepared it, all you have to do is walk in it. Let your members go.”

Keynote speaker George Ross also urged attendees not to neglect holiness and good works.

The role of a believer today, he said, is to be an “everyday missionary in Babylon,” referring to Jeremiah 29, when the Israelites found themselves in Babylonian captivity, surrounded by all kinds of evil and wickedness.

“Jesus indeed will come and rule and reign one day. … You and I, in the meantime, have to be God’s people here on earth, living out and manifesting the kingdom of God here on earth,” Ross said.  “Wherever you find yourself, a sovereign God knows who you are and where you are, and he has called you to be on mission for his glory.”

Just as God commanded the Israelites to put down roots and “seek the prosperity” of Babylon, believers today ought to do the same wherever they are, no matter how dire circumstances feel, Ross said.

“The Israelites were called to do some good works in Babylon,” he said. “We can’t lose heart and grow weary in the day and time we live in. We are God’s people, called by God to be on mission, that we would be people of good works.”

Ross also encouraged Christians to remember that “the church is not on its death bed, and the message of the gospel can overcome post-Christian culture.”

But the cultural context in America, and around the globe, is changing, said Terry Coy, a speaker at one of the conference’s workshop sessions. The “good ‘ol days” of cultural Christianity and civil religion are no more, but like Ross, Coy said Christians should take courage and embrace ministry within the culture, rather than fleeing from it out of fear.

“The cultural map has changed, and the ministry map has changed,” Coy said. “These cultural storms can be unexpected; they can be devastating to the church, but they don’t have to be if we can learn to read the map correctly, if we draw up a flight plan to missionally deal with the storms.”

Christians standing out in society is nothing new, historically, Coy said, but as followers of Christ continue to be pushed to the margins of modern society, the church must learn to stand out for the right reasons.

“We have to rediscover what it is to be a peculiar people. We’re going to have to relearn, as we’re being more and more marginalized, what it means to be the church. … We need to be different. We need to draw the right kind of attention. We need to be a peculiar people. We need to learn what it means to speak truth, but in love and in grace.”

I am my husband”s safeguard

had noticed her looking at him, laughing a little too loud, practically swooning over the brilliance of his sermons and cleverness of his insights. But she was my good friend, and I didn’t consider it flirting, especially since my husband paid no attention to her whatsoever. She was just vivacious and outgoing.

My Bible study leader in our church (I’ll call her Ruth) was a trusted mentor and friend to me. She was the age of my own mom and had unusual spiritual maturity and discernment. So, I wasn’t surprised when she spoke very directly to me one day about my friend’s behavior. She had noticed and picked up on it instantly. I remember sitting at Ruth’s kitchen table with her eyes staring into mine, saying “Susie, you have to help your husband. You are his ‘safeguard’—your very presence can diffuse situations like this. Your relationship with him is God’s provision of protecting him from temptation. Don’t be foolish and ignore this, you need to bring it to his attention, talk with him about it and decide how you will handle it.”

“Husbands and wives are each other’s safeguards against the temptations of the enemy. Make no mistake about it—Satan is the prowling lion seeking to destroy testimonies and lives, especially of those in ministry.”

-Susie Hawkins

I thought about Ruth’s comments all day and have replayed that conversation in my mind hundreds of times since then. How wise and discerning she was, and I am forever grateful for her directness and exhortation to a young and sometimes naïve pastor’s wife. The word “safeguard” is defined as something that serves as a protection, defense or that ensures safety. Ruth was right on target, as usual.

Husbands and wives are each other’s safeguards against the temptations of the enemy. Make no mistake about it—Satan is the prowling lion seeking to destroy testimonies and lives, especially of those in ministry. Paul supports this concept in 1 Corinthians 7:1-6. Our bodies exclusively belong to one another, and our physical relationship is designed to bring us fulfillment within the boundaries of marriage. Guarding that is our charge, so that Satan will not have an opportunity to tempt us (verse 7). I took Ruth’s warning as a wakeup call to be more intentional in being my husband’s safeguard.

That evening, my husband came home from the office with a large box of homemade cookies, delivered by my friend to the church office that morning. (He had mentioned in his sermon on Sunday how much he loved chocolate chip cookies). Well, something happened to me when I saw that box. I was suddenly livid! I ripped the top off and said, “You want cookies? I’ll give you cookies!!” I proceeded to smash every cookie in that box with my fist until the entire box was tiny crumbs. My husband was staring at me, and when I finally stopped, we burst into hysterical laughter. I’m not sure if what I saw in his eyes was relief or fear! But it quickly led to a very honest talk about this situation and how we would handle these things in the future. I was ready to send her a note saying, “Hey, my kids and I loved the cookies! Oh, and by the way, YOU AIN’T WOMAN ENOUGH TO TAKE MY MAN!”

But I calmed down—and learned an invaluable lesson that day. I must be intentional in guarding and investing in my marriage. I am my husband’s safeguard against the schemes of the enemy, he is mine, and we will do everything within our power and God’s to protect our relationship and our testimony. I did learn one other thing—maybe I need to bake chocolate chip cookies a little more often! 


Susie Hawkins lives in Dallas with her husband OS Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources. She is the author of From One Ministry Wife to Another: Honest Conversations on Connections in Ministry. This article first appeared on the Flourish blog of the North American Mission Board.