Month: December 2021

SBTC DR crews mobilizing to help Kentucky tornado survivors

Kentucky National Guard responds to tornado

PRINCETON, Ky.—Western Kentucky suffered the brunt of the EF3 tornado which pummeled four states Dec. 10, killing at least 88 people. Most victims were from the Bluegrass State, where 74 died, including eight workers at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield, a town of 10,000, CBS News reported.

The deadly tornado may have been the longest single-twister storm in U.S. history once the National Weather Service completes its analysis, the Independent reported on Yahoo News.

As soon as news of the devastation emerged, Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief crews went on “high alert” status, joining other Southern Baptist DR teams in preparing to be called out and assigned to specific areas.

Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts follow established procedures designed to maximize the use of resources and avoid duplication of efforts, Daniel White, SBTC DR associate, explained.

“We also have to be very concerned about logistics when deploying, making sure our teams have food, water, electricity, and places to sleep. We cannot send them to the field without adequate preparation,” White said.

Kentucky authorities are still doing search and rescue, White added. “We can’t go in while they are still looking for victims and survivors. There are areas where people are still unaccounted for.”

SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice confirmed that he and his staff have been in constant communication with national Southern Baptist DR and appropriate Baptist state DR heads, as is usual during disasters.

When the call-out came for SBTC DR, it was different than expected. Instead of the deployment of large numbers of recovery teams, White said that so far site command has asked for smaller groups to work in Western Kentucky after Christmas and after New Year’s Day.

Volunteers will include both recovery workers to help survivors sift through the damage to find belongings lost in the storm and chaplains to help them spiritually.

“Chaplains will help survivors process the trauma and minister to their emotional and spiritual needs, while sharing the hope of Christ,” White said.

SBTC DR is preparing to deploy two teams to the Princeton area in the coming weeks, White said.

Those who would like to donate to recovery efforts related to the tornado can do so through a link provided on the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention website.

Why do I experience the Christmas blues?

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. It’s supposed to be a time filled with joy and laughter. For believers, it’s supposed to be a reason to celebrate. So, why do I (and so many others) struggle with Christmas? Here are three reasons.

1. Selfishness: Sometimes when I experience the Christmas blues, it is a result of selfishness. When this is the case, I need to remember the gospel.

I need to remember that Christmas is not about me. My perspective is oftentimes radically self-centered and prideful. No wonder I’m frustrated. I’m making Christmas about me. But our celebration of the incarnation shouldn’t be about the stress of finding the perfect gift, or the annoyance of crowded shopping centers. Christmas is about Jesus! It’s about Christ entering the world, fulfilling the promise of God to redeem his people, and establishing God’s kingdom.

I need to remember that it is better to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 reminds us of Jesus’ own words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This reminds us of a concept our Lord and Savior lived out in his own self-giving. Christmas is his holiday, and it’s about generosity. It’s about giving gifts — not because we have to, but because we genuinely want to — because we’ve experienced the joy of receiving the greatest gift of all in him.

I need to remember that Christ is the best gift of all. God has come in the form of a baby. He has lived a sinless life, died a shameful and undeserved death, and paid a debt I could not have otherwise paid to our holy and perfect God. Because he was resurrected from the dead, the curse of sin has been put to death, and he has made a restored relationship with our heavenly Father possible. That’s the best gift ever! That’s a gift I couldn’t get for myself with all the gift cards in the world.

When we remember the good news of the gospel, it changes our perspective. Because we’ve experienced Christ’s love, we can extend grace to those who are experiencing joy and also to those who are experiencing grief. When we do, we experience the joy of sharing love. Why? Because there is joy in giving good gifts.

When we’re reminded of this truth, we can combat the selfishly judgmental thoughts we have running through our minds — the jealousy we feel when we think others are getting better than they deserve. When we think about what Christ has given to us, we can remember that a gift is just that — a gift — not something deserved but a grace that is freely given. It’s a gracious demonstration of love, not an obligation.

2. Frustration: A second reason I struggle with Christmas is tha I’m frustrated with a greedy and commercialized world. I desire to give my kids the good gifts they want without giving in to the greedy newer-bigger-better mentality that is rampant in the commercialized society all around us.

We’ve all been there, right? We’ve all asked our kids to make a list of what they want for Christmas. Then we’ve taken that list and compared it to the budget we have for gifts. Sometimes the budget can handle the expectations; sometimes it can’t. How do we balance the level of expectation with our ability to provide? How do we lead our families through the rough waters of entitlement?

We can only navigate those waters by reminding our kids that it is more blessed to give. We can teach them generosity by giving them practical demonstrations of how to be generous and why. Here are some key truths to model.

Generosity involves a sense of fairness. Be careful to hear what I am saying and what I’m not. I’m not saying absolute equality. I’m talking about the kind of self-giving that does it’s fair share to meet the needs of others. Parents, we need to be living in such a way that our kids see us being generous with our time, talents, and treasures in a way that meets a real need of those around us. We need to ask (and ask our kids), “Are we doing our fair share?”

Generosity can’t be commanded; it must be voluntary. According to 2 Corinthians 8, there is blessing associated with voluntary generosity. So our kids must want to. We need to show them that when they cheerfully give, the joy comes from seeking the well-being of another, not from what they can get out of it. Ultimately our generosity is motivated by how generous God is with us through Jesus. We need to ask (and ask our kids), “Do we want to give? Why or why not?”

Generosity remembers Jesus. Just as I need to remember Christ’s generosity when I’m selfish, my kids also need to remember Jesus when they are tempted by greed. Jesus loved us so much that he left the riches of heaven for us. His death shows us the lengths of his love and what generosity truly looks like. His resurrection removes the barrier of sin and death and provides the power through the Holy Spirit to be generous like He is generous. We need to ask (and ask our kids), “How have we remembered Christ’s gift to us today?”

3. Pain and grief: There have been times when my struggle with Christmas has not been merely a result of personal selfishness or worldly sin. Instead, my Christmas blues have been an experience of deep grief and pain due to the world’s brokenness, and I must remember love.

We need a place to process our losses in light of the hope we have in Christ. I’m thankful that the elders of my local church have begun to host an annual Blue Christmas service. This is a time when those who are hurting can come and lament. It’s a service to be quiet and still and to grieve each year’s losses and perhaps even prepare for the difficulties of a Christmas season without someone you love. The Blue Christmas service is for people who are grieving a death, who have spouses or family members overseas (in the military or on the mission field), or who have gone through a divorce. The service focuses on finding hope in the gospel and the presence of Christ even in the midst of loss.

Why have we found this to be valuable? Our society doesn’t really like grief and suffering, and we want to rush people through it. We’re pressured to not show weakness. Even the church can be seen as a place where you are told how to feel or what to do. In both church and society, people feel like they have to hide their pain to be strong.

The reality is that the opposite is true. It takes more strength to show your grief and pain and feel it than to run away from it. Our desire is to be a church that creates a space for people to grieve, to be a church that shows that suffering is real and people aren’t always happy. The Blue Christmas service says to our church community, “It’s okay to be broken,” and it says to the wider community around our church, “We are a place where it is okay to be where you are at any time”

When we are struggling with Christmas, we can help ourselves and others by remembering what Christmas is all about. By keeping our focus where it should be: on the incarnation and birth of the One who was prophesied, born of a virgin, and who lived and died to save us from sin. The good news of Immanuel confronts our selfish hearts. It’s the message that motivates generosity and care for those who are in brokenness and pain. Christ is the one who leads us to hope and peace even in the midst of the Christmas blues.

The post Why do I experience the Christmas blues? appeared first on ERLC.

Southern Baptists arriving to help in ‘mammoth’ tornado recovery

MAYFIELD, Ky. (BP) – Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams were working in the initial phases of rescue and recovery Tuesday (Dec. 14) in west and south-central Kentucky. Teams from Kentucky, North Carolina, Missouri, and Texas have responded to calls for help.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at least 100 Kentuckians are still missing as recovery efforts continue. The death toll for the storms that stretched across Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee early Saturday morning have left more than 70 dead.

Kentucky Baptist Glenn Hickey is the incident commander for the site in Mayfield. Hickey calls the destruction the worst tornado-related damage he’s ever seen. As he drove to the site on Saturday morning, he took note of damage stretching more than 150 miles between Bowling Green and Mayfield.

Hickey says disaster relief crews are providing chainsaw assistance as they help people get to their homes and remove trees from homes. “We have teams going out and tarping where there’s roof damage. Trying to protect whatever is left of homes if we can,” he said.

Hickey said for many in Mayfield, repair is not an option.

“Many houses will be condemned and will have to be completely rebuilt,” he said.

A Southern Baptist Send Relief tractor trailer made its way west Tuesday (Dec. 14) from Ashland, Ky., to Mayfield and to Mt. Juliet, Tenn., bringing enough roofing material for 480 homes, Kentucky Today reported.

Disaster Relief chaplains are also on the ground near the most gruesome sights where survivors’ loss is great.

Vande Slonecker is helping to lead the chaplain team as they assess the area and make their first contacts with residents.

“Right now people are having an adrenaline shock. It’s very hard for them to understand what they’re seeing,” she said. In the coming days, she says, adrenaline will wear off and shock will set in as residents will need help to process and comprehend the devastation.

“The reality will set in and the grief will come,” Slonecker said. “It’s our job to say, ‘Yes, you are going through a very rough time, but God is here and He sent us to be here with you, holding your hand, helping you through this the best we can.”

Slonecker is a veteran chaplain and caregiver, having worked disaster response in the Gulf Coast, along the east coast and in Kentucky. She said the devastation is massive because it is so widespread. So many people have lost everything and for those recovering, “the rebuilding process and what is ahead for this town is mammoth compared to some of the places I’ve been.”

Both Hickey and Slonecker agree the greatest way to help recovery efforts is through financial donations. Hickey says organizations like Baptist state conventions and Send Relief will know how to get the aid to the right place and “make sure every dollar given for relief reaches the destination.”


Lifeway India launches first-of-its-kind ‘Telugu Study Bible’

HYDERABAD, India (BP) – Tears fell and prayers rose as members of the Telugu Study Bible team saw their completed project for the first time Dec. 9.

The Telugu Study Bible was completely conceptualized, developed, translated, printed and distributed by local Indian pastors, theologians and ministry leaders working with Lifeway India.

A member of the Lifeway India team who worked on the Telugu Study Bible wept as he saw the finished project for the first time. Through national lockdowns and COVID-19 cases spreading throughout the country, contributors continued to work on the translation and study notes to provide a fully contextualized study Bible in Telugu, the fourth most common language in India and spoken by nearly 90 million people. Lifeway India photo

“While there are already Bibles that can be found in Telugu, up until now there hasn’t been a study Bible developed with this level of additional rich content,” said David Humphrey, director of sales and customer solutions at Lifeway Christian Resources. “This will be the first of its kind, and one that is very much needed and is responding to the needs of the church in India.”

Through national lockdowns and the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country and even among the team itself, contributors continued to work on the translation and study notes to provide a fully contextualized study Bible in Telugu, the fourth most common language in India, spoken by nearly 90 million people. In addition to notes and commentary, the Bible will feature QR codes that allow readers to access additional teachings and trainings digitally.

“Our Lifeway India team dealt with significant supply shortages, shipping delays and nationwide shutdowns due to COVID-19,” said Lifeway CEO Ben Mandrell. “But praise God, they were able to work through those challenges and release the Telugu Study Bible.

“Pastors and church leaders in India are hungry for the Word of God and for tools they can use to share the Gospel and make disciples in their own language. I’m honored that our team was able to create and publish this much-needed resource.”

Currently Lifeway resources are available in 160 countries and more than 60 languages through print, digital, licensing and training.

“It is our desire to develop trustworthy biblical resources in vernacular languages,” said Thomas*, strategist for Lifeway Global in the Southeast Asia region. “Our vision is to help the church increase Bible readership and the study of God’s Word. The anchor of each of our target languages is a study Bible. The Telugu Study Bible is the first and will serve as a template for the expansion of this strategy across the nation and region.”

At a pre-launch event, many of the pastors and ministry leaders responsible for the Telugu Study Bible gathered to see the finished results for the first time and share more about the project with other local church leaders. An additional, larger launch event is scheduled for Dec. 18.

One speaker at the pre-launch gathering said many Indian Christians raised in the urban context speak and think in English but can have difficulty proclaiming God’s Word in the Telugu language to others. “That is the value this will add to every preacher,” he said.

According to Thomas, “The Telugu Study Bible is the first step in a larger strategy to provide discipleship resources for the church in India.” He added that the priority over the next five years, following the successful launch of the Telugu Study Bible, is to develop vernacular Bibles in Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Mizo, Bengali and Odiya languages. The plan is to equip indigenous pastors and leaders by focusing on regions of India that are experiencing explosive church growth and have established partners.

Several media outlets were on hand to cover an early launch event for the Telugu Study Bible from Lifeway India. The first of its kind, the Telugu Study Bible is a resource that has been completely conceptualized, developed, translated, printed and distributed by local Indian pastors, theologians and ministry leaders working with Lifeway India. Lifeway India photo

“Getting more people to read and study God’s Word will protect the church from false teaching,” Thomas said. “Growth in the church is good, but it must be substantiated with growth in God’s Word and discipleship.”

For Thomas, he hopes the legacy of the Telugu Study Bible will cause people to “fall in love with the Word of God, as they see the care, thought and effort that was put into this resource and realize this is a Bible for them.”

He said he hopes all of the features cause many Telugu speakers to buy the Bible, “but more than anything, we hope that every word in this Bible draws readers into the heart of God. We hope that hundreds and thousands of homes in the region will have a copy of this Bible to treasure and love, and as they read it, they become stronger families and dynamic church communities. We believe we’ve produced a resource that by God’s grace, the church in the region will use for centuries.”

*Name shortened for security purposes.

SWBTS announces second $2 million endowed chair

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary now has a second $2 million endowed chair, President Adam W. Greenway announced today after receiving an anonymous $1 million gift to complete the funding of the Jack D. and Barbara Terry Chair of Religious Education.

While the Terry Chair is the second academic chair to be fully funded at the current funding level, it is the first fully funded chair of the Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries. In October, the seminary announced the establishment of the Charles F. Stanley Chair for the Advancement of Global Christianity, which will be in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.

“I am delighted that in the Lord’s providence we are now able to see the establishment of the second fully funded endowed chair at Southwestern Seminary at the $2 million funding level,” Greenway said. “I am further gratified that this particular chair honors one of Southwestern Seminary’s choice servants, Dr. Jack Terry, and his wife, Barbara, recognizing their decades of faithful service to our seminary. We are indebted to the anonymous donors who have made possible this gift that will ensure teaching in the fields of educational ministries at Southwestern Seminary in perpetuity.”

Established in 2007, the Terry Chair is named for Jack D. Terry Jr., former dean and long-time faculty member, and his wife of more than 60 years, Barbara. The School of Educational Ministries was named in his honor in 2009.

Terry, who describes the anonymous donors as “two of the dearest friends” of his and his wife’s, said the benefactors’ investment in Southwestern Seminary “is for the Gospel to be spread to the entire world.” He added the benefits of the chair will accrue “throughout all of our present age” but also through “the work that it does for the world through all of our ministers and missionaries, and the young people that it educates as we’re able to spread the Gospel throughout the entire world.”

When the chair was established by trustee action in 2007, the initial gift, then at the $1 million level of funding, was given by Carliss and Lois Phillips of Quitman, Texas. In 2019, SWBTS increased the amount of fully funded academic chairs to $2 million to ensure sufficient funding in perpetuity.

Terry, who was elected to the faculty in 1969, served as the dean of the then School of Religious Education from 1974 until 1995, when he was named vice president for institutional advancement under Kenneth S. Hemphill, Southwestern Seminary’s seventh president. With Terry’s support, the School of Religious Education was renamed the School of Educational Ministries in 1998. Upon his retirement as vice president in 2006, Terry was named vice president emeritus for institutional advancement. He currently serves as special assistant to the president and as a senior professor in the Terry School. A revised and expanded edition of Terry’s history of the School of Educational Ministries, Christian Education on the Plains of Texaswas released by Seminary Hill Press in October in conjunction with the centennial anniversary of the first school of religious education in the academic world.

Endowed chair funds are invested in accordance with seminary guidelines to produce investment returns which underwrite the salary of the chair occupant, a professor who is officially named to hold the chair by subsequent trustee action. Greenway intends to recommend a faculty member to occupy the Terry Chair at the spring meeting of the board of trustees, he said.

Sorrow, rescue and recovery in five states affected by severe storms

MAYFIELD, Ky. (BP) – Rescue efforts were underway Saturday as first responders, family members and neighbors worked to find missing people in five Mid-South states. The death toll topped more than 70 as tornadoes and hurricane-force, straight-line winds ripped across Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee during the early hours of the morning.

“This will probably be recorded as the most devastating night in the history of the Commonwealth,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.

Dozens of people lost their lives in a candle factory as they worked in Mayfield as the small west Kentucky town was ripped to shreds by a powerful tornado.

Warren County (Ky.) Coroner Kevin Kirby said they were working 11 storm-related deaths in the Bowling Green area.

Beshear said up to 70 people may have lost their lives across 10 counties affected by the storm system in Kentucky.

A direct hit to a nursing home in Craighead County, Arkansas, left at least one dead and several injured at Monette Manor, according to Marvin Day, county judge-executive. Another nursing home was caught up in the storms leaving another person dead, officials said.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is reporting at least three dead across Tennessee. Two people were killed in Lake County and one in Obion County.

Police reported at least one fatality in Edwardsville, Illinois, as a tornado hit an Amazon distribution site.

Bryant Wright, SEND Relief president, called on Southern Baptists to pray for those affected by the tragedy. “Let’s give generously to help these people recover, clean up and rebuild,” he added.

SEND Relief has set up a donation site for those wishing to make a monetary donation for relief.

Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, expressed concern for those affected by the storms. “Please join me in praying for those impacted and the many SBC DR volunteers who will be responding,” he posted on Twitter.

Wright asked for prayer for “the many SBC state Disaster teams who are mobilizing volunteers to go in and serve those who are hurting.”

Coy Webb, crisis relief director for SEND Relief, told Baptist Press he had been in contact with disaster relief directors in the states affected by the storms throughout the day Saturday. He said plans are being made to send DR workers to affected areas.

Webb said the best way for Southern Baptists to make an impact is through prayer and by giving financially.

Todd Gray, Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director-treasurer, knows the days of grief and recovery will be long, but said “we will pull together today and in the weeks ahead to serve our neighbors in the name of Jesus,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

Green Acres sets example for the next generation to prioritize partnership

Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, recently made a $100,000 donation to the International Mission Board. The church’s lead pastor, Michael Gossett, reached out to IMB President Paul Chitwood the first week after he assumed pastoral duties (Sept. 1, 2021) to let Chitwood know Green Acres wanted to continue in strong partnership with the IMB. The IMB communications team interviewed Gossett to learn why he prioritizes partnership with the IMB.

IMB: What prompted Green Acres to give $100,000 toward missions?

Gossett: We had a surplus from 2020 in our budget. It’s in the nature of the church to be generous; generosity is part of Green Acres’ DNA.

When we were thinking through, “What are we going to do with this surplus?” the first thing that we thought was, “We want to give it away. We want to do whatever we can to make the most impact, not just for our city, but we want to make sure that this goes around the world.”

I don’t know of any better organization that is getting it done other than the IMB. We already have a great partnership with the IMB. That partnership continues to expand and strengthen. Going forward, we don’t want to shy away from our partnership with the IMB; we don’t want to shy away from our emphasis for missions. We want to expand that, and we want to make sure that continues to strengthen and grow as God allows.

IMB: What leads your church to take missions so seriously?

Gossett: For every Christian, missions is the one thing that God told us to do. But for Green Acres specifically, we are a missions-minded church because we started as a church plant. Today, we’re celebrating crossing over 18,000 members. But we started May 1955 as a church plant right here in Tyler, Texas. God saw the future of what Green Acres was going to be. It’s in our DNA. Missions is what we want to be about.

We want to be about starting new works. We want to be part of a church planting movement and not just here in East Texas, but we want to be a part of a church planting movement to the ends of the earth. These strategic partnerships are important. They’re why we exist.


IMB: Why partner with the IMB through giving?

Gossett: We want to do our part in the Cooperative Program, and we want to do our part as a church to make sure that the greatest sending agency in this world, which is the IMB, continues strong.

We know that takes financial support, so we want to give financially. We also want to send our people and any other resource we have to make sure that it makes the largest impact possible.

The good thing about partnering with the IMB is that they already have people on the ground who know specifically what the needs are for that community. Rather than us reinventing the wheel and guessing where the need may be, we want to know exactly where the need is. That is why we give to the IMB. They’re on the ground. We want to strengthen that.

IMB: What is your goal for future partnership with the IMB?

Gossett: We are currently the sending church for several IMB missionaries. We continue to support them through prayer and finances, etc.

The question we’re asking going forward is, “Who are the next IMB missionaries about to be sent from our church?”

That’s what we want to be emphasizing. Yes, we want to continue to strengthen those who are already there. But simultaneously, we want to call out the called. We want to call out the ones who God has already set aside to be the next missionary to go to the ends of the earth. Our desire is to make sure that we are participating in that kingdom work, that we are a good partner in and sustaining but also sending, and to repeat this process over and over again.

IMB: How would you encourage others to become more involved with Southern Baptists’ mission to reach all nations with the gospel?

Gossett: As we strive to be good partners with the IMB, I just want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can that the next generation knows the importance of the IMB and the importance of the Cooperative Program in general. I want to be a part of leading the next generation to engage in local and international missions to make sure that we are passing the torch. I want to see the next generation continue the work so that the IMB continues to thrive and flourish in the days ahead.

Myriah Snyder is senior writer/editor for the IMB.

The post Green Acres sets example for the next generation to prioritize partnership appeared first on IMB.

SBTC pastors, officials among those selected for SBC Pastors’ Conference

SBC Pastors Conference

FARMERSVILLE—Twelve pastors have been announced as the preaching lineup for the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference scheduled to happen prior to the SBC annual meeting in Anaheim next summer.

The selected pastors are diverse – in ethnicity, experience, and church size. Matt Henslee, president of the Pastors’ Conference and the Executive Director/Associational Missionary for the Collin Baptist Association, said his team sorted through nearly 500 nominations and listened to hundreds of sermons before selecting the 12.

Henslee and his team released a song to announce the lineup set to the tune of the “12 Days of Christmas,” only, in this case, their song is called the “12 Days of Pastors.”

Those 12, he said, affirm the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy and “reflect the Southern Baptist Convention’s diversity in ministry contexts and backgrounds.”

“(The selection process) was a joy and affirmed our belief that God has blessed Southern Baptists with some amazing pastors,” Henslee said. “ … What you will see on the platform in Anaheim is what you see on any Sunday throughout the Southern Baptist Convention – pastors from all backgrounds in churches of every style and size, remaining faithful to preach the inerrant Word of God.”

Five of the pastors lead churches with an average attendance of less than 100, while two have congregations that number in the thousands. Several of the pastors who will preach represent church plants, replants, or revitalization churches.

Three of the pastors are from Southern Baptist of Texas Convention churches – Matt Carter of Sagemont Church in Houston; Marcus Hayes of Crossroads Baptist Church in The Woodlands; and Israel Villalobos, the Spanish service pastor at Plymouth Park Baptist Church in Irving. Additionally, Julio Arriola – who in November was named the first director of Send Network SBTC – will preach at the conference.

Other pastors selected are:

  • Mathew Mueller, pastor of Valley Life Church in Peoria, Ariz.;
  • Clay Smith, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.;
  • Al Jackson, who recently retired after serving 42 years as the pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.;
  • Mark Clifton, Senior Director of Replanting and Rural Strategy at the North American Mission Board and pastor of Linwood Baptist Church in Linwood, Kan.;
  • Daryl Jones, pastor of The Rock Fellowship in Miami Lakes, Fla.;
  • Omar Johnson, pastor of Temple Hills Baptist in Baltimore, Md.;
  • PJ Tibayan, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Bellflower, Calif.; and
  • Hanley Liu, English service pastor at First Chinese Baptist in Anaheim, Calif.

The 12 pastors will be joined by guest preachers Dr. Adam Greenway (president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Daniel Ritchie (an inspirational speaker and evangelist who was born without arms) and a worship team led by Matt Boswell (pastor of The Trails Church in Celina) and the SWBTS Cowden Hall Band.

The Pastors’ Conference is scheduled for June 12-13 and will precede the SBC Annual Meeting. Those who wish to donate to help cover the cost of the conference can do so here.

IMB, Send Relief calling for prayer for Indonesia

The IMB and Send Relief are calling on Southern Baptists to pray for Indonesia in the aftermath of Mount Semeru’s recent volcanic eruption.

Indonesia’s Mount Semeru erupted on Dec. 4. Initial reports show that the eruption has caused 34 deaths, 169 injuries, 17 missing people, 3,697 displaced. At least 5,205 people have been affected by the disaster.

Send Relief is partnering with local churches on the ground to respond to immediate needs. Within 30 minutes of the first eruption, Send Relief’s network of responders were activated.

After an initial assessment from national partners, the greatest needs are:

Clean water / water filters (due to ash contamination of regular water sources)
Hygiene and sanitation items

Send Relief is providing food, water, tarps, milk, noodles, rice, hygiene items, sanitation items, ash rakes and water filters, which are en route to the impacted areas.

Send Relief clay pot water filters from another area of Indonesia are being trucked to the affected communities, which will provide clean, safe, filtered water in the aftermath of the eruption.

At this time, no foreigners are allowed in the impacted area, so Send Relief is working with and through a local church already in the area.

To donate to Send Relief’s efforts, visit Send Relief’s International Crisis Response Fund.

The post IMB, Send Relief calling for prayer for Indonesia appeared first on IMB.

Comfort God’s people, cry out to the lost, Greenway implores SWBTS graduates

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – During the Dec. 3 commencement ceremony at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Texas Baptist College (TBC), President Adam W. Greenway challenged more than 300 graduates to speak a “word of comfort to Christ’s people” and “cry out” to the lost who need the Gospel.

The fall 2021 certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral graduates included men and women from Southwestern Seminary’s four graduate schools and TBC, who represent 33 states and 20 countries, including the United States. Three degrees were awarded posthumously to Alan Wayne Meadows, Michael Rodriguez, and Sterling Sellman, who died during the semester. Family representatives received the diplomas on their behalf.

In his commencement sermon, Greenway said through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord gives “a word of exhortation and a word of commission and challenge.” He then reminded them of the Fort Worth seminary they represent.

“To most people in the watching world, you are Southwestern Seminary to them,” Greenway said. “What they know and believe about the efficacy of Southwestern Seminary is what they will see and hear and observe in and through you. And so may I challenge you, my fellow Southwesterners, to speak two words as you go?”

Greenway encouraged the graduates to speak a word of “comfort to Christ’s people” as God told Isaiah to “comfort My people” in the midst of their experiences of adversity, brought on by “their own sin.”

“It’s interesting that the word is one of ‘comfort’,” Greenway observed of God’s command to the Old Testament prophet. “I think sometimes there’s a tendency for those of us in Christian ministry to think that the way that we really minister effectively is just to consistently and constantly beat the sheep.”

While noting that “prophetic biblical preaching is going to address sin,” Greenway said in a time when “believers are experiencing more pain, more hurt, more alienation, more frustration, more separation, more agony [and] more distress,” the “people of God” should be able to find “true comfort” in “the household of faith.”

“Should not we be the ones who are known as those who are able to comfort God’s people with a word from God?” Greenway asked. “I pray that the places where you will serve and the words that you will speak to those who are truly God’s people will be words of comfort, reminding them that no matter what they may be going through, God has not abandoned them.”

Greenway also challenged the graduates to “cry out to a watching world” as the remainder of the Isaiah 40 passage shows God is “the One who is worthy to be proclaimed and preached to all peoples everywhere.”

Gospel proclamation should occur “not with timidity, not with hesitancy, not stepping back, but crying out in a time where there are more concerted efforts and attempts to suppress the proclamation of the Gospel, not just in countries that we know around the world where the church is persecuted, but even right here in our own country,” Greenway said. “The pressure will be immense … ‘to go wobbly’,” referencing an expression associated with Margaret Thatcher, the late former prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Before awarding diplomas, which included 31 doctoral degrees, Greenway reminded the graduates, “Southwestern Seminary since its founding, has been unashamedly, unreservedly and unswervingly committed to the preaching of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere, and your calling and your task is to be one who is crying out, ‘Salvation is of the Lord.’”

In other SWBTS news, Greenway announced Monday (Dec. 6) the hiring of Micah Carter as assistant professor of theology at Texas Baptist College. Carter most recently served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Ripley, Miss.

The commencement ceremony can be viewed here.

For stories from specific graduates, go here.