Month: October 2021

Houston church plant seeing fruits of labor yield salvations, baptisms

HOUSTON — It doesn’t take God long to do his thing once we’ve done ours.

Cross Community Church—a plant of Northeast Houston Baptist Church—marked its one-month anniversary this past Sunday. Over the first four weeks of its existence, the church has baptized someone every weekend—a total of seven people, according to Pastor Del Traffanstedt. 

“It’s been a huge encouragement,” Traffanstedt said. “We’re just doing what the Bible says in Acts 2—sharing the gospel—and people are responding and getting baptized. I don’t mean this sarcastically, I just mean it truthfully—when we do what the Bible says, God gives what he promises to give.”

Cross Community held its first service on Sept. 12. Traffanstedt said he believes the church is seeing fruit from their already-achieved goal of reaching every home within a three-mile radius of the campus during what he called a six-week, door-to-door blitz. Every home within that radius has received either a gospel tract or a face-to-face conversation, with many of those interactions yielding gospel conversations.

Houston is one of the largest, most ethnically-diverse and fastest-growing cities in the nation, with a population of nearly 8 million. The area of influence around Cross Community is home to more than 100,000 people, and yet its church planting prospectus notes there are only a handful of SBC churches in the immediate area. 

“My heart kind of grew attached to this area years ago,” said Traffanstedt, a former NEHBC staff member who spent three months working in the area during Hurricane Harvey. “We just felt a strong calling from the Lord to plant here. Ultimately, God made it happen.”

Rosharon pastor The Mey dies of COVID-19

ROSHARONPastor The Mey, 76, of Rosharon, Texas died from COVID-19 complications on Wed., Sept. 15, 2021 at HCA Houston Healthcare Mainland hospital in Texas City. 

The was born Jan. 10, 1945 in Cambodia and was a longtime resident of Rosharon where he pastored the church he also planted, Rosharon Bible Baptist Church, for more than 30 years.

“Pastor The Mey was small in stature, quiet in manner, but a giant in the faith, particularly among those in the Cambodian community,” said Mitch Kolenovsky, SBTC field ministry representative for South Texas.

Kolenovsky added that the pastor had been a monk in Cambodia before his salvation, after which he moved to the US and Rosharon. The was also active in the Gulf Coast Baptist Association.

Chuck Beem, director of missions for the Gulf Coast association, told the TEXAN that The had escaped the infamous Cambodian Killing Fields during the reign of terror of the Khmer Rouge.

Beem also noted The’s commitment to evanglism: “Whenever The Mey shared his testimony, he made it clear that every bit of his salvation was accomplished by God. He loved his people, and he worked hard to share the gospel in Rosharon and in Cambodia. When he wasn’t able to go to Cambodia, he preached via cell phone. 

“We are sad to lose him, but we rejoice that he is home with Jesus,” Beem added of the pastor.

The was preceded in death by his wife Nen, his parents and three brothers. 

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Khim Lor; sons Reaksa Mey and wife Channa; Rokha Mey and wife Sothea; Thavith Mey and wife Sou; and Corinth Mey; seven grandchildren, plus many extended family members and friends.

A funeral service was held Sat., Sept. 25, at Rosharon Bible Baptist Church with interment following at Confederate Cemetery in Alvin.

EC calls meeting to consider attorney-client privilege, Guidepost contract

NASHVILLE (BP) — The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee is scheduled to hold a special session on Tuesday (Oct. 5) at 11:30 a.m. EDT, according to Roland Slade, EC chairman. The central issue of meeting is the finalization of an agreement with Guidepost Solutions and the matter of waiving of the EC’s attorney-client privilege as requested by messengers and the Sexual Abuse Task Force, appointed by SBC President Ed Litton.

At the SBC Annual Meeting in June, SBC messengers voted for the formation of the task force to oversee an investigation of the EC by a third party.

EC officers have been working with attorneys and EC senior staff to navigate the issue of waiving attorney-client privilege while still protecting the fiduciary responsibility entrusted to them.

Trustees voted on Sept. 21 to provide up to $1.6 million of Cooperative Funds for the third-party investigation.

In that meeting, a motion by EC trustee Jared Wellman to outright waive attorney client privilege failed by a vote of 50-22. A similar motion by Wellman was defeated 39-35 in the Sept. 28 special called meeting.

Since the meeting earlier this week, several state conventions and Southern Baptist pastors have called for the EC to waive attorney-client privilege and “follow the will of the messengers.”

Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC EC, released an open letter to Southern Baptists on Friday (Oct. 1). In it he said the debate has not been about conducting the review, but, instead the EC has been, “…trying to wrestle with accomplishing this process in the right way as they weigh their duty as trustees to conduct the business in a manner which does not bring harm to either the entity they serve or the SBC they serve.:

The Oct. 5 meeting will be held virtually. It will be streamed at

49 Christians killed, 27 kidnapped in central Nigeria

KADUNA, Nigeria (BP) – At least 49 people were killed and 27 others kidnapped in attacks on Christian communities in southern Kaduna, Nigeria, early this week, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported.

While Fulani militia are blamed for the Sept. 26-27 attacks, many Fulani herdsmen live peaceably alongside Christians and other Muslims and are not involved in the ongoing violence, said Khataza Gondwe, CSW advocacy director and team leader for Africa and the Middle East.

“It’s Fulani militia because they are an irregular, armed faction, trained, that are attacking in a very organized and orchestrated manner,” she said. “There’s a distinction between the Fulani settlers that the people have known for many years, and these people who are coming in to attack.

“That’s why we use that distinction, Fulani militia, so we identify them as the armed faction, as opposed to the rest of the Fulani people who are peaceably living side by side with them, in many instances, or just going about their ordinary business.”

In the deadliest among the latest attacks, militia killed 40 people and injured eight others in a “well-coordinated attack” on the Madamai and Abun communities Sept. 26 around 6 p.m. local time, a Catholic priest who witnessed the attack told authorities. A “significant number” of attackers first killed people known to coordinate security for the community and their families before murdering other victims and burning down 20 homes, CSW reported. Another Catholic priest, Cosmos Michael Magaji of St. Thomas Quasi Parish in Mallagum, listed the names of 33 Catholic victims murdered.

The next day, Sept. 27, militia killed at least one person, injured an untold number of people and kidnapped 27 others in the Gabachuwa community of the Kachia local government area. The murder victim and most of those abducted were members of the Evangelical Church Winning All, sources told CSW.

In a second Sept. 27 attack, militia killed eight people, injured six and burned several homes in an attack on Kacecere village in the Zangon Kataf local government area of southern Kaduna.

CSW founder and president Mervyn Thomas expressed heartbreak for residents of southern Kaduna who face “relentless violence on a near daily basis,” and joined community leaders in calling for increased security.

“The state and federal governments must do far more to protect all vulnerable communities in an unbiased manner and to combat the threats posed by Fulani militia and other armed non-state actors” Thomas said in a press release. “This is also not the first time allegations have been made of inadequate protection despite warnings of an impending attack. This is concerning, and must be investigated by the Nigerian government, and failing that, by the wider international community.”

Religion is not always the main driver of the attacks. Christians are targeted in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, including southern Kaduna, but Fulani militia attacks in northwest Nigeria, including northern Kaduna, also target Muslims, Gondwe said. Marauders in northern Kaduna are often referred to as bandits or violent gangs.

“The Fulani bandits, the ones who are attacking communities in the northwest … these bandits are attacking even Muslim communities,” she said. “The people they’re targeting primarily in the northwest are Hausa Muslims – now we’re talking about a different tribal group – who are indigenous to the area of Nigeria.” Hausa farming communities are primarily impacted in the northwest, while Christian family communities are targeted in the Middle Belt.

Fulani militia are driven by various motivations including a desire to gain control of the land for capital gain, but “religion is increasingly used as something that draws people to the group, whether people are manipulated through it or they feel it’s a religious duty, and then you have the ethnic part as well, the shared ethnicity with the attackers,” Gondwe said.

The predominantly Christian ethnic minority tribes in southern Kaduna have experienced “relentless attacks since 2011,” CSW said. The violence occurs despite the fact that 11 military installations are headquartered in southern Kaduna.

On Sept. 12, a pastor and at least 13 others were killed by Fulani militia in the Zangon Kataf local government area, the site of one of the Sept. 27 attacks.

As a people group, Fulani are the world’s largest nomadic group, numbering 20 million or more and mainly dispersed across western Africa. In addition to Nigeria, the largest Fulani populations are in Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal and Niger, with others living in the Central African Republic and Egypt, among other areas.

ERLC’s goal on abortion: Illegal but also ‘unnecessary and unthinkable’

NASHVILLE (BP) – The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is aiming for more than the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized abortion nationwide. It wants a post-Roe world in which abortion is “unnecessary and unthinkable.”

The ERLC has begun using that phrase – “unnecessary and unthinkable” – increasingly as the United States nears the 50th anniversary of the Roe decision in January 2023. That opinion invalidated all state bans of the procedure and established in this country one of the most permissive abortion regimes in the world.

Now the Supreme Court’s agreement to rule this term on a Mississippi law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy has given foes of Roe hope the justices will overturn or at least gut that decision. The ERLC has joined other pro-life organizations in a friend-of-the-court brief urging the high court not only to uphold the state ban but to reverse Roe and a 1992 opinion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that affirmed the 1973 ruling.

If Roe were to go, however, abortion would not be outlawed in the country, only returned to the jurisdiction of the states, where it rested before the 1973 ruling. The result would be a patchwork in which abortion would be prohibited in some states and legal in others. Were Roe to be reversed, 22 states currently have laws that could prohibit abortion, and 15 states and the District of Columbia have laws that would protect abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization.

“We need to make abortion illegal, but we need to make it unnecessary and unthinkable,” Elizabeth Graham told the ERLC’s trustees at their annual meeting Sept. 15. Graham is the commission’s vice president of operations and life initiatives.

For Graham and the ERLC, that means helping prepare churches for a post-Roe age.

“We want to equip the church to stand for life, serve vulnerable mothers and families in crisis, and project a clear witness to a watching world about the undeniable dignity and immeasurable worth of every human person,” Graham said Thursday (Sept. 30) in written comments for Baptist Press.

“While we are committed to ending abortion legally, we aren’t stopping there,” she said. “We want it to be both unnecessary and unthinkable. In other words, we want it to be unnecessary because mothers and families have access to the support they need from churches to know they can choose life. The systemic roots of why women choose abortion must be addressed in order to make abortion unnecessary.

“We want it to be unthinkable because we will have become a society where women no longer feel like they have to listen to the lies of the predatory abortion industry that tells them they must choose between their own future and their own child.”

The ERLC truly believes the day when abortion is “unnecessary and unthinkable,” Graham said, is “drawing nearer, and we want the church to be fully equipped and ready to serve mothers, fathers, preborn babies and children. In the coming months, we will be announcing exciting new events, resourcing tools, programming and assets that will help pastors and pro-life Christians prepare for this exciting future.”

In their research, Graham and her ERLC colleagues recognized a need to help prepare churches for a post-Roe world. In the various surveys studied, they said their findings included:

62 percent of women who have had an abortion said they are “religiously affiliated” (Guttmacher);
36 percent of women were attending a Christian church at least once a month when they had their first abortion (Lifeway Research/Care Net);
76 percent of women said the church had no influence on their decision to have an abortion (Lifeway/Care Net);
76 percent of women who were planning to abort said they would prefer to parent if they were in better circumstances on such matters as affordable housing, health care, job placement and paid family leave (Human Coalition).

Part of the ERLC’s effort to equip churches will be the Road to Roe50, a collaborative, pro-life effort for which the commission is playing a leading role. The Road to Roe50 initiative will include aged-based curriculum, a multi-stop tour in the fall of 2022, a Washington, D.C., event in January 2023 and a digital campaign to affirm the value of human life, as well as train and mobilize Christians to serve mothers, unborn children and families.

“The purpose of Roe50 is to inspire, educate and activate the church to support and defend the dignity of each human person,” Graham said at the ERLC trustees meeting.

Meanwhile, the ERLC intends to continue its attempts to advance the pro-life cause through such work as public policy advocacy at the federal and state level, as well as the Psalm 139 Project, its ministry to help provide ultrasound technology to pro-life pregnancy centers. The ERLC’s goal is to make 50 ultrasound machine placements from December 2020 to January 2023.

“The toll that abortion has taken on our society is undeniable both in terms of lives lost and the devaluing of the human person,” Graham told BP. “It has harmed women, preborn babies and created a culture of death. Over 60 million preborn lives have been lost since the disastrous landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a permanent fixture in American culture – creating a void that will never be filled in countless families and communities around the country.

“This reality is what drives our passion about the work we do.”