Month: February 2023

SBTC DR teams share gospel while helping Austin area residents following ice storms

TRAVIS COUNTY—Winter storms that pounded Texas in early 2023 wrought havoc in Austin, prompting Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief volunteers to deploy to the region during the first days of February. As of Feb. 22, volunteers remained on site.

Four SBTC DR chainsaw teams have rotated work, completing nearly 70 jobs in Pflugerville, Hutto, Round Rock, and Northwest Austin, said Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director.

“Teams from First Baptist Pflugerville deployed twice, with crews from First Baptist Bellville, Boyd Baptist Church of Bonham, and First Baptist Melissa joining them or arriving to serve separately,” Stice said. Each chainsaw team fields 5-10 volunteers.

Chaplains and assessors also deployed to the region, as have incident management personnel and feeding and shower/laundry crews.

A cooperative effort

SBTC DR teams were prepared to stand down on Feb. 17—until a request for assistance was relayed from the city of Austin to Austin Baptist Association Director of Missions David Smith, who, in turn, forwarded the request to Stice. Could volunteers remain in the area and continue their efforts in Northwest Austin? Stice—noting it had been some time since the city of Austin had requested Southern Baptist assistance—agreed immediately.

To meet ongoing needs, SBTC DR incident management team (IMT) leader Mark Robinson of Huntsville relieved task force member and IMT leader Mike Jansen. Assessors and an IMT volunteer from Oklahoma Baptist DR arrived on Feb. 20 to help as well.

“Having an IMT member from Oklahoma Baptist DR is a first for us,” Stice said. “We have deployed to Oklahoma, and they have helped us here in the past, but we are looking forward to working together on the management side.” Such teamwork illustrates the “cooperative nature of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief,” Stice added.

SBTC DR teams were first housed at First Baptist Pflugerville, then Crosswalk Church in Round Rock, before moving to Anderson Mill Baptist Church the week of Feb. 19. Stice said Crosswalk Church Pastor Steve Cochran and his church cooked for SBTC DR volunteers.

“We are grateful for all our churches, and First Baptist Pflugerville and Anderson Mill are faithful supporters of DR ministry. I love that we have been able also to connect with Crosswalk. [Cochran] said they were going to follow up with some of the survivors our chaplains have talked to.”

Ice slammed the Austin area, causing considerable damage to large tree limbs which cracked under the weight, posing danger to residents. SBTC DR crews specialize in make treacherous situations safe again. SBTC DR PHOTO

Broken refrigerator, broken heart

Among the survivors assisted by SBTC DR was Larry, an elderly military veteran whose refrigerator broke during the storm.

“We removed tree damage from his home,” Jansen said. Food provided by DR volunteers was the man’s first meal in two days, Jansen added. One day later, Larry accepted Christ as his Savior.

Finding Larry was a divine appointment, said Debby Nichols, SBTC DR chaplain from DeKalb. Nichols and fellow chaplain/assessor Linda Mitter of Rockwall had completed their assignments for the day and were driving around Round Rock neighborhoods to see if they had missed anything.

An enormous tree, split in half, caught their attention. “That tree was God’s sign to us,” Nichols said. “We found Larry’s house with branches above his front door.”

The ladies knocked, explained who they were, and told Larry they were there to see if he needed help.

“I am not worthy,” Larry replied. Nichols and Mitter visited with him and learned he had quit a college teaching job to care for his wife, who later died of cancer.

“He had been stuck,” Nichols said of Larry’s despair. SBTC DR volunteer Ted Boswell, a retired pastor who teaches Sunday school at First Baptist Pflugerville, connected Larry with a Veterans Affairs advocate in his class, who is helping him. They brought some groceries, too, but the biggest gift was the gospel.

An SBTC DR crew carefully uses a pole saw to remove dangerous limbs broken after the Austin ice storm. SBTC DR

Chainsaws and gospel conversations

Opportunities to share Christ abound in DR work.

Mike Phillips, a chainsaw team leader from Bellville, recalled his group’s encounter with Zheng, a Chinese migrant, at her multigenerational home in Round Rock. As the Bellville team finished its labors at a nearby house and climbed into their trucks on Wednesday, Feb. 8, Zheng approached them to ask if they would check her damaged trees.

“We just felt like we should,” Phillips said. “She asked us what we charged. We told her nothing, that we worked for the Lord.”

While nothing in Zheng’s front yard indicated the need for immediate removal of dangerous trees or limbs, her backyard told another story. After getting Zheng to sign the official work order, the men removed a large tree limb hanging by mere fibers above her young son’s play fort.

“If the wind had kicked up, that limb could have blown down and injured someone,” Phillips said.

Although fluent in English, Zheng didn’t appear to understand what “working for the Lord” meant, but team members talked with her that day and the following morning, when they returned to remove more debris. They gave her a Bible and a cross.

Zheng wept—tears of gratitude and possibly spiritual understanding, Phillips said. The team also shared the gospel with a Travis County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team member.

“We let him know why we were doing what we were doing,” Phillips said. “We planted a seed.”

DR teams are expected to be working in the Austin area for the next 7-10 days, possibly until March 3 or longer if unmet needs remain, Stice added. Those needing assistance can contact SBTC DR at 855-728-2374.


They shared tragedy and tears, but now they share a … perfectly bound love

When Patrick McGinty thinks of a role model and spiritual hero, John Powell comes to mind.

McGinty worked with Powell at Emmanuel Baptist Church, a plant of Northeast Houston Baptist Church in New Caney. “I remember thanking the Lord for the opportunity to have a front-row seat into the life of a man who was an incredible husband, father, friend, and pastor … the type I wanted to be,” McGinty said of Powell.

McGinty met Powell and his family in 2016, but they became close in 2018 when Patrick moved to the Houston area to serve on staff with John at Emmanuel. 

“John and I were the only two staff members, so we spent all day every day together. [The Powells] were my closest friends in Houston, and they welcomed me into the family. I was in their home all the time,” McGinty recalled. 

McGinty knew EBC was only for a short season, as he desired to work in the marketplace while serving in a local church. He moved to San Antonio and became a store director with HEB grocery, while helping lead the student ministry at his church. 

His closest friends, mentors, and pastors—including Powell—encouraged him to pursue full-time ministry. 

“My goal was to spend 30 years at HEB, retire as a senior executive, and pastor a church full-time in retirement,” McGinty recalled.

COVID hit, and McGinty, like most in the grocery business, worked 70-80 hours a week. Following the worst of the pandemic, he was spending time with the Lord and began to feel “released” from the corporate career path. To reach his goals at HEB, he would have to work a schedule incompatible with the type of husband and father he wanted to be. Little did he know what lay ahead, but he decided to take a step back at work in favor of ministry.

“I still think about it every day, praising the Lord for how He cared for us in that time.”

Greater love hath no man …

On Saturday, July 18, 2020, John Powell was traveling with friend Jeremy Blest on U.S. Highway 75 to pick up an old truck for a restoration project. While driving near Denton, they saw a distressed motorist whose vehicle was on fire. Stopping immediately, John and Jeremy rushed out of their pickup to assist. After pulling the motorists to safety, John spotted an oncoming 18-wheeler bearing down on Jeremy. Without hesitation, he pushed Jeremy out of the way, sacrificing himself.

He left behind his wife, Katherine, their four young kids aged 4-11, and his church.

Upon learning of the tragedy, Katherine turned to God. “I asked the Lord to come near, telling Him that I needed Him. That is exactly what He did,” she recalled.

The outpouring of love, support, and prayer from the global church, local church, and loved ones was overwhelming. “I still think about it every day, praising the Lord for how He cared for us in that time,” she said.

One example of the Lord’s provision was a gift to Pine Cove family camp in East Texas a few weeks after John’s death. The Lord used that week, specifically a talk on biblical hospitality, to give Katherine a clear vision of what was next. She sensed that the Lord might be calling her to College Station, home to Texas A&M University, to minister to college students. 

“I knew college students would bring life into our home and that it could be sweet for my kids to see students that age walking with Jesus. I wanted to be able to pour into them and share about walking with the Lord, especially through difficult times,” she said.

Over the next months, the Lord gave each of the kids a desire to move to College Station as well. “The Lord was very kind in that transition. It was a sweet season in many ways,” Katherine said. “The kids and I learned that we could live with the deep grief of missing John and the life we had in New Caney while at the same time experiencing joy in where the Lord brought us in College Station.”

One year later 

Meanwhile, McGinty was content both in his decision to leave the corporate world and in his singleness. He would tell younger guys he discipled, “The decision of who you marry is the most important decision you will ever make outside of a decision for Christ. I would rather be single than married to the wrong person.”

Katherine also felt content in her singleness and the circumstances in which the Lord had placed her and the kids. She thought a relationship sounded like a lot of work and exhausting. 

Unbeknownst to either, Patrick and Katherine thought of each other occasionally. When they did, each prayed for the other.  They were also the subjects of others’ prayers. 

One day Nathan Lino, then the NEHBC pastor, phoned McGinty, who never forgot Lino’s words: “I’m not telling you this is a word from God, but I’ve been praying about it for six months and I can’t help but wonder if God is going to call you to marry Katherine Powell.”

McGinty was speechless. He admitted to himself that he had developed feelings for Katherine. “I felt guilty for having the feelings, not because it was wrong but because John was one of my closest friends and a relatively short amount of time had elapsed since his death.” He had not shared his feelings with anyone. But that call from Lino, a longtime friend of the Powells, carried weight.

Patrick phoned his good friend Phillip Bethancourt, pastor of Central Church in College Station and another good friend of the Powells. Bethancourt said he had been praying about the matter himself for several months and encouraged McGinty to pursue Katherine if he was interested.

“My prayer during this time was, ‘Lord, my yes is on the table if this is what you’re calling me to.’ I’ll need a lot of grace, wisdom, and help, but I’m in.” 

McGinty “just happened” to be in College Station a few days later and saw Katherine at a back-to-school party. After the Bethancourts informed him that there was mutual interest on her end, McGinty phoned her for a date.

“One of the things I was able to share with them is that I’m not only excited to spend the rest of my life with their mom, but I’m also excited to spend the rest of my life with each of them.”

Love, trust, and the road ahead

“Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, was our first date, and it was about the most non-traditional first date you could imagine,” McGinty recalled. “It was basically a three-hour Saturday morning conversation that was very direct.”

Katherine was struck by McGinty’s respectfulness and sensitivity. “I saw the convictional leadership that I was used to. He did not approach our relationship casually. There was tremendous clarity from the beginning for both of us, and that clarity was pointing towards marriage.” 

McGinty began visiting College Station as often as possible to spend time with Katherine and the kids, soon moving there. On a Florida vacation with extended family in October 2021, he proposed. They were married that November.

Before he popped the question, McGinty took the kids aside and spoke to them privately, explaining how much he loved their mom and asking their permission and support to propose to her. “One of the things I was able to share with them is that I’m not only excited to spend the rest of my life with their mom, but I’m also excited to spend the rest of my life with each of them,” he said. 

Since their marriage, McGinty accepted the call to serve as college pastor at Central. The family has settled into this new season of life and ministry. 

To those who said of Patrick upon hearing of the wedding, “He’s going to have a lot to learn,” Katherine replied, “I think he has a lot to offer us.” 

The kids agreed. Gunner, the oldest, perhaps summed it up best in a conversation with his mom a few months into the marriage: “I’m not ready to call him Dad because I don’t want people to forget my dad, but he has earned the title. He deserves it.”

“The kids have seen Patrick’s mentality, and how he entered into this role. They already trusted him and loved him because they knew what John thought of him. And now they see Patrick day in and day out loving and serving us,” Katherine added.

And things are sweet as they prepare to celebrate their second Valentine’s Day as a couple and a family.

Let someone else’s best moment be yours

Acouple of months ago, I read a biography about Bo Jackson. Jackson was a professional football and baseball player in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Were it not for a devastating hip injury sustained during a football game in 1991, he easily could have been a hall of famer in both sports.

Near the back of the book I found a story, one that could have been easily overlooked, as incredibly noteworthy—especially for followers of Jesus. Jackson was playing baseball for the Chicago White Sox after being cut by the Kansas City Royals because of the hip injury. Nobody thought Bo could rehab his hip enough to even walk normally, much less resume playing a professional sport. Nevertheless, he homered in his first at-bat of the 1993 season with the Sox.

Between innings, the herculean slugger sent one of the team’s outfielders to ask for the ball back. The young fan who caught it—understanding the significance of the moment—gladly complied. Interviewed for the book three decades later, the fan said, “It was one of the best memories of my life, mainly because it meant so much to someone else.”

That quote swirled around in my mind for quite a while. It made me wonder, of all the “best moments” of my own life, how many had someone else as the central star?

“What can you do this year to impact the life of another?”

I hope nobody would consider me arrogant or selfish, but I must admit—it’s not hard for my mind to be occupied with my wants, my plans, my desired outcomes. This singularly focused mindset often clashes with my faith, as I’ve learned over the years that my plans or desired outcomes may not be God’s will for my life.

Scripture nudges us in the direction of others continually. Galatians 6:2 instructs us to, “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Philippians 2:3-4 commands us to consider others as greater, or more important, than ourselves. The next few verses raise the stakes, commanding us to “adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who … emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant.” 

Our country … our world … the church needs more of this servant-driven, others-first mentality. If we’re not careful, “discipleship” can become a word that describes personally growing as big and strong as possible, fueling our spiritual muscles with biblical knowledge (picture a 20-year-old flexing, glistening Arnold Schwarzenegger). We absolutely should be soaking in God’s Word, but a more complete picture of discipleship depicts us engaging the lives of others intimately, pointing others to the cross, and displaying a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of others (picture a kneeling Jesus wiping filth off the feet of His disciples).

What can you do this year to impact the life of another? What barriers do you need to overcome so that, by Dec. 31, 2023, you, too, will be able to testify that one of your best memories of the past year happened because it meant so much to someone else?

What a blessing it would be to be able to say, in the powerful name of Jesus, that you made that much of an impact on the life of someone else this year. That person may very well say it was the best year they’ve had in a long time.

And you may find yourself saying that, too.

Collin Baptist Association sells building to Cottonwood Creek Church

MCKINNEY—The Collin Baptist Association, an association of over 120 churches in Collin County, is pleased to announce the sale of its building to Cottonwood Creek Church. This God-sized opportunity will allow the association to further its mission of planting churches, strengthening existing churches, and encouraging pastors in their ministries.

The building has been a cornerstone of the community since 1959 until becoming the CBA headquarters in 1984. It has been the launching pad for many churches, the training ground for countless pastors, and the nexus between critical ministries in Collin County and beyond. The association is confident that its sale to Cottonwood Creek Church will continue to advance the kingdom.

“We are thrilled to be able to sell our building to Cottonwood Creek Church,” said Matt Henslee, CBA’s associational missionary. “Their passion for doing whatever it takes to reach people with the gospel and commitment to excellence and glorifying God in all they do makes this a no-brainer. We are confident this building will continue to be a beacon of hope and a center of gospel-centered ministry under their leadership. We are overjoyed that it’ll stay in the family of Collin Baptist Association.”

Cottonwood Creek Church is excited about the additional opportunities this building will bring to its mission and vision. Church leaders believe they can use it to reach even more people with the good news of Jesus.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to purchase this building and use it to further our mission of reaching people with the gospel,” said Scott Sanford, executive pastor for Cottonwood Creek Church. “We look forward to seeing all God does in and through this partnership.”

The Collin Baptist Association is committed to using the proceeds from the sale of the building to continue its mission of planting churches, strengthening existing churches, and encouraging pastors. It will now rent office space at 7300 TX-121, Suite #300, McKinney, TX 75070.

Why preach the book of Ruth?

I love when my children come home from school with art projects. It’s the season when gnomes and snowflakes find their way onto my refrigerator. Every holiday season brings new art projects, but the goal of each is the same: creative expression through glue, popsicle sticks, paint, and cotton balls.

That’s how individual books of the Bible work too. Different human authors, different writing styles, different themes—yet all working to paint unique pictures of God’s glory. Each book is a God-breathed work of art magnifying His greatness. This conviction is what stirs pastors to the good work of expositional preaching.

One divine art project worth preaching is the Old Testament historical narrative of Ruth. Why should pastors consider preaching through the book of Ruth?

It’s beautifully written and theologically robust

Ruth is a Holy Spirit-inspired work of art. It checks boxes that humanity is magnetically drawn toward: love, heartache, kindness, redemption. These themes are brought to life in a story that goes from emptiness to fullness because of the “I’m-sticking-with-you” loyalty of a daughter-in-law.

Seriously, stop now and read the book. Isn’t it well-written? I’d say beautifully written. Not only is it beautiful, but theologically robust. Two major theological realities wind through the narrative.

The first is redemption. The words redeem, redeemer, and redemption appear 23 times in the book. In one out of every four verses you will find yourself stepping through this thematic river. Of course, Boaz plays the kinsman-redeemer in the story. His work of redemption sums up two Old Testament practices: property redemption and levirate marriage—neither of which, surprisingly enough, were required by law. What kindness!

Even more significantly, Boaz serves as a type of Christ—one who would purchase sinners through self-sacrifice. The book ends with this aim as it connects the importance of this new family, Boaz and Ruth, with the Davidic line—the one by whom the Messiah would descend. If for nothing else, preach this book because it anticipates the Savior.

The second doctrine worth noting is providence. A church member gave me a miniature gavel recently, tongue-and-cheek, “to straighten up unruly deacons.” Judges use gavels. They’re declarative. They can be used to punctuate proclamations in the court. In some ways, the book of Ruth puts God on trial.

Ruth 1:20-21 says, “She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?’”

Providence answers the question, “Who oversees the universe?” Answer: God. Preaching through the book of Ruth will help your congregation see His providence is ultimately kind toward His people, even when it feels harsh. Naomi leaves for Moab full and comes home empty by her own testimony, but she wasn’t alone. She had Ruth. And by the end of the story, the women of Bethlehem proclaim that Ruth is better than seven sons (Ruth 4:15)! There is real pain and heartache in this story, but there is also real filling and redemption.

It’s relevant to our congregations

We are pastoring in a world of confusion. One area of life where this is evident is the confusion surrounding gender. The book of Ruth is an antidote for robust biblical masculinity and femininity. Study the character of Boaz and you will find a picture of the strength and biblical masculinity. He protects Ruth’s reputation from stain after the proposal on the threshing floor (Ruth 3:14) and protects her from possible threats in his fields (Ruth 2:8-9).

Then take Ruth. She is a Proverbs 31 woman. At risk to her own well-being, she leaves her people and her gods to cling to Naomi and Yahweh. She nurtured Naomi in her darkest hour. In the face of suffering and sacrifice, Ruth clings to Naomi to see her countenance transformed—from “I’m empty” to “I’m full.” And this is how the story ends:

“Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may His name be renowned in Israel’” (Ruth 4:14).

Pastor, Ruth is a work of art worth putting on the refrigerator door of your congregation’s hearts. Read it, study it, then preach it!

Asbury revival: ‘A beautiful experience of seeking God’

WILMORE, Ky. (BP)—They came from far and near, from mothers carrying their infant children to senior citizens — all flooding into chapel at Asbury University Monday, Feb. 13, as a revival hit its sixth consecutive day with no hint of slowing down.

A whiteboard just inside the front doors of the chapel speaks to the impact of more than 120 hours of preaching, singing, testimonies and confession of sin. The approximately 4-by-5 1/2-foot board was jam-packed with praises and prayer requests, evidencing how God had moved during this extended revival time. One said, “pray for my family in Ukraine.” Others wrote …

• Salvation for our nation.
• Revival in Kodak, Tenn.
• Revival at Bethel University.
• Restoring marriage and future twins.
• Teen suffering with addiction.
• Dad saved.
• Isaiah set free.

At the 10 a.m. chapel service, the 1,500-seat chapel was filled — many of those seats occupied by Asbury students. After a message from Romans 13, Asbury students left to attend classes, being reminded that the next preaching service would be at 2 p.m. Those seats they vacated did not remain empty for long as people continued to stream into Hughes Auditorium, singing hymns of faith led by a small team of Asbury music students.

That worship time found young and old lifting hands and bowing heads in praise. The altar was soon filled with people bowing in prayer, often with one or two people praying with them. On the altar were numerous prayer requests written on sticky notes.

One young man was spotted in the rear of the chapel, jumping with joy as he sang. A young woman near him did interpretive movement to the songs. In the balcony, an adult male studied his Bible during the singing.

The revival fire began at last Wednesday’s (Feb. 7) chapel service, and word of it spread quickly on sites such as Kentucky Today as well as social media. Among those drawn to the service on Monday included:

• Susan Carson with her three children — Emma, 11, Cooper, 8, and Caleb, 6. They drove Sunday night from Brunswick, Ga., because Susan wanted her children, whom she homeschools, to experience the revival. She is a member of First Baptist Church in Brunswick.

• Carly Cawthon is an Asbury student who was there in February 2020 when the school celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Asbury revival. “I remember how amazing and exciting that week was, and praying so hard for a revival to fall again. I wanted so badly to experience the wonder and awe of the Lord in that way.

Little did we know what would come in just a month’s time and how the world was about to change.

“The revival at Asbury happened unexpectedly, just as the Scriptures say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no heart has imagined what the Lord has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). The revival crept up like a thief in the night, and there was nothing special about this week, no one could have imagined Tuesday or even Wednesday morning what was about to transpire in Hughes Chapel. And no eye has seen, no ear has heard the end of this. Revival is an ongoing process and my prayer for both myself and for this world in desperate need for a Savior, that the Lord will continue unfolding this and change the course of 2023 as we know it, changing us and our lives to be kingdom oriented. He’s truly the reason for living, and we are living out a glimpse of what eternity will look like.

• Hannah Dennison, from Akron, Ohio, read about the revival on social media and came alone — “everyone thought I was crazy,” she said. She left at 4 a.m. Monday to make the five-hour drive. “This is incredible — kids my age are repenting and getting connected with God. It’s so beautiful. You can see God is evident as soon as you walk in, you can hear His presence.”

• Jennie Allen, author and speaker and founder of “If: Gathering,” a Christian conference that gathers and equips women to live out their purpose, traveled from Dallas to “see a movement of God and tell the stories.”

• Amanda Adkins is an ICU nurse in Lexington. A native of Pikeville, Ky., she is part of the worship team at her church. She said there are many Asbury students and alumni at her church, and that her pastor encouraged members to attend the revival. “I came yesterday – I didn’t want to leave,” which prompted her to return on Monday.

• Emma Sparks from Ashland, Ky., was with a group of Boyd County High School students who received permission from the principal (and their parents) to be there Monday. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing — we took two cars and drove two-and-a-half hours.” She was one of five high school senior girls on the trip, with the other being a college student who is an older sister to one of the girls.

“God is moving — if we can bring this back home, maybe it will spread across our country.” She said she encourages those in her hometown to “go and feel the Spirit for yourself.”

• Allison and Adleigh Edwards drove from Scottsville, Ky., because they “wanted to be a part of the Holy Spirit moving. We saw videos (of the revival) and just started bawling,” said Adleigh.

The 10 a.m. chapel session focused on the theme of “Love in Action.” Students and attendees are told “our ultimate allegiance is not to this world, but to God. Paul said visible love to the whole world is what we see here. Anything we put our allegiance in, unless it is to God first, is misplaced allegiance.”

Campus chaplain Greg Haseloff said the events at Asbury provide “such a beautiful experience of seeking God — it is holy ground. It will continue to be a place of worship and prayer.”

Louisiana pastor to nominate Barber for second term as SBC president

LAKE CHARLES, La. (BP)—Trinity Baptist Church pastor Steven James announced Monday (Feb. 13) his intent to re-nominate Texas pastor Bart Barber for SBC president at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans this June. Barber was elected to the position for the first time at last summer’s gathering in Anaheim.

James and Barber know one another well due to their time together on the board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“During our time together, I watched first-hand his genuine understanding of his role in that capacity,” James said in an email to Baptist Press. “I found him to be biblical in his approach to the responsibilities that were assigned to him, prayerful in the matters that were presented to him and forthright with the subjects that concerned him.”

Referring to Barber’s multiple media interviews including the one with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, James said Barber “has been true statesman in his evaluation of the condition of our Convention. When asked some very pointed questions He never compromised the Word of God or downplayed the problems that are confronting us as a Convention or a nation. At the same time, he expressed a very positive outlook about the future of the SBC.

“Having listened to Bart preach I know that he is conservative in his beliefs. Coupled with that he is consistent in his walk with the Lord. In addition to everything else over the past year, he has diligently and devotedly served us well as our president.”

In addition to chairing the Committee on Resolutions at the 2022 annual meeting, Barber served on the committee in 2021, preached at the SBC Pastors’ Conference in 2017, served as first vice president of the SBC from 2013-2014, served on the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention executive board from 2008-2014 (including serving as chairman and vice chairman), served as a trustee for Southwestern from 2009-2019 and served on the SBC Committee on Committees in 2008. He also previously taught as an adjunct professor at SWBTS from 2006-2009.

According to Annual Church Profile information, First Baptist Farmersville reported 14 baptisms in 2022 and averaged 320 in weekly worship. The church collected $1,014,990 total undesignated receipts, with $108,276 (10.67 percent) given through the Cooperative Program. The church also gave $64,713 to the 2021 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and a total of $191,952 to Great Commission causes.

Barber is a graduate of Baylor University and has both an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Southwestern. He and his wife, Tracy, have two teenage children.

Barber is the only announced candidate at this time. If elected, he would be ineligible to hold the office again from 2024-25 due to term limits outlined in Article V.2 of the SBC Constitution.

Revival fires stir again at Asbury

WILMORE, Ky. (BP)—Revival fires may be stirring again at a small college in rural Kentucky near Lexington. Services, filled with preaching, singing and personal testimonies, have been ongoing at Asbury University and Theological Seminary since Feb. 8.

A capacity crowd of 1,500 gather on Friday, Feb. 10, at Hughes Auditorium on the campus of Asbury University to join services that have been ongoing since Feb. 8. (photo submitted by Alex Griffith)

According to university accounts, a similar 144-hour revival broke out at the campus in 1970.

Alexandra Presta, a student at Asbury wrote in The Asbury Collegian, the campus newspaper, on Feb. 8, “Peers, professors, local church leaders and seminary students surround me— all of them praying, worshipping, and praising God together. Voices are ringing out. People are bowing at the altar, arms stretched wide.”

She wrote that in the midweek chapel service campus minister Zach Meerkreebs led an invitation for personal confession and testimonies.

“Wednesday chapel speaker Zach Meerkreebs admitted to those in attendance he didn’t know what the call of confession would look like, but this morning he spoke about seeing God not only as a Father but as a friend. Someone who won’t abandon you. Someone who will be there when you need to cry, mourn, rejoice, dance or anything in between,” she wrote in the Asbury Collegian.

Bill Elliff, founding pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas, attended a portion of the services on Feb. 10.

“Within the first hour, I had moved from a spectator to a humble participant,” he wrote in a blog on his website.

“There are wise leaders from the University who are helping shepherd the moment. I’m sure they have learned from the past movements how to steward this best,” he wrote.

Elliff has been a student of prayer and spiritual awakening and has written more than 50 books on the subjects.

“In some ways, it is a worship-based, Spirit-led, Scripture-fed prayer gathering. It is just what we should be doing all the time: waiting before God, worshiping Him, praying to Him, listening to Him, responding to Him, and being shepherded by wise leaders who see themselves merely as facilitators of God’s activity,” Elliff wrote.

Elliff said the 1,500-seat Hughes Auditorium was full on Friday night (Feb. 10). Reports indicated it was overflowing on Saturday night (Feb. 11).

Eric Allen, Kentucky Baptist Convention missions team leader, attended a portion of Saturday’s meeting and reported a similar experience.

“Sherry (Allen’s wife) and I had only been there a few minutes singing music when we were both moved emotionally and in tears because the presence of God was so real in that place. We could feel it,” he told Baptist Press.

“There was genuine praise and worship. Everything pointed to God and was very Christ-centered,” he said.

He said that while there was freedom in the meeting, there was also order.

Revival services at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky have been ongoing since Feb. 8. (photo submitted by Alex Griffith)

“One of the things I noticed was that there was spontaneity and order to what was happening. It wasn’t a stifling or restricting kind of order because there was also a freedom for people to testify, sing or pray and the freedom was never wild or without order,” he said.

Elliff made similar observations.

“It is not weird. Everything is extremely orderly but vibrant, spontaneous, and powerful,” he wrote.

Graci Bradley, an Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) student from Shelbyville, attended the Friday night service.

“Seeing people from every nation, tribe, and tongue, and from all different generations, was a glimpse of heaven. It was very encouraging to see that everyone was there for one common goal – to give God glory,” she told Baptist Press.

“He is worthy of it all, and in Him we are united,” she said.

Bradley, an active member of the Baptist Campus Ministry at EKU said in written comments, “What is happening at Asbury is something pleasing to God, as His children are uniting to sing His praise.”

That is a similar theme to the 1970 revival at Asbury, where 2,000 witness teams were sent to 130 colleges to share of their experience. On Saturday afternoon, campus ministers hosted a dinner for college campus student leaders to hear of how they might share in a similar event at their campus.

Kenny Rager, church evangelism strategist at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, attended the service on Saturday night.

“I was encouraged to see the staff shepherding the revival movement,” he told Baptist Press.   “They are keeping order, giving instructions, and announcements but still encouraging the freedom of the spirit,” he said.

Rager said there were many testimonies shared while he was there, but there were also sermons.

“I was very encouraged that the preaching of God’s Word is happening. Lots of expressive worship and testimonies but there was also good preaching of the Word by the staff,” he said.

Ella Blacey and Lauren Powell pray during a worship service at Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky., on Friday, Feb. 10. Revival services have been ongoing since Feb. 8. (photo submitted by Alex Griffith)

He says he understands some people might be skeptical of the events taking place at Asbury.

“I understand why people may be skeptical. I was a little, too. We have seen a lot of movements fizzle out or even drift into heresy,” he said.

“Honestly, time will tell if this bears lasting fruit. But I went. I felt the Lord’s presence. I saw people worship. I saw people praying. I heard the Word preached. I met new brothers and sisters in the Lord and I felt the Lord speak to me about some issues,” he told Baptist Press in written comments.

A hunger for God permeates the people we’ve talked to who have attended.

“People are hungry to see God at work, and I think that’s what draws the crowds. They want to see God do something great in our lives and in our midst,” Allen said.

Bradley added, “…it’s my hope and prayer that it doesn’t stop at Asbury, but that it extends all over – we are called to be sent.”

“I believe these meetings are being driven by a desire to see a fresh outpouring of the spirit,” Rager said. “So many people want to see their churches wake up. Programs, plans, and strategic places can never fill the void of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Elliff called on other believers to pray for what is happening at Asbury and to pray that God would bring it to their church, campus, and city.

“As I spoke to the hotel receptionist this morning, she told me they were sold out of rooms. ‘We were not prepared for revival,’ she said. May it not be true of us,” he wrote.

King David’s reign confirmed in text on ancient stone, scholars say

PARIS (BP)—New readings of text on the Moabite Stone studied for 150 years give new evidence that the stone includes an extra-biblical reference to King David, scholars have announced.

The latest reading reveals previously illegible characters to complete the phrase “the House of David” on the 31st line of the 34-line inscription written in the ninth century B.C., scholars assert in the current issue of the Biblical Archeology Review.

Southern Baptist archeologist and theologian Jim Parker affirms the latest interpretation of the stone that records the victorious battles of King Mesha, who ruled in the mid-ninth Century B.C. what is now known as Dhibon, Jordan.

“While there will likely be a peer review of the work that has been done with the scanning, etc., it does seem that things look favorable that this does make reference to ‘House of David,” Parker, executive director of the Michael and Sara Moskau Institute of Archaeology at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press.

“It does seem that the context around Line 31 of the Mesha Stone, in which this appears, was speaking about the lands and peoples that King Mesha of Moab had defeated. That would lead one to the understanding that David (meaning Judah if the 810 B.C. dating of Lemaire is accurate), was one of those groups.”

The stele appears to document Mesha’s battles recorded in 2 Kings 3, scholars André Lemaire and Jean-Philippe Delorme said in interpreting the line written in an ancient Hebrew script. The scholars were able to transcribe three previously illegible letters or characters in reaching their conclusion of “House of David.”

“The term ‘House of David,’” Parker said, “can be a reference to the kings who were of David’s lineage that followed each other over consecutive reigns. The kingdom that the ‘House of David’ reigned over was Judah, so basically these two terms, especially after the split at the time of Rehoboam, became synonymous with one another. ‘House of David’ also meant that this Judean kingdom was founded by David.”

At least three scholars, Israel Finkelstein, Nadav Na’aman and Thomas Römer, have interpreted line 31 of the text to refer instead to King Balak, the Moabite King who consulted the prophet Balaam in an attempt to curse the Israelites, as recorded in Numbers 22. Their findings were printed in Bible History Daily in 2019.

But the interpretation as King Balak is problematic, Parker said.

“Israel Finkelstein has put forth the idea that line 31 of the Mesha stele should be translated Balak, however, most scholars disagree,” said Parker, who is also an NOBTS professor of biblical interpretation and archaeology, and associate vice-president of operations.

“It does seem that the stele is explaining a historical event … sometime between 840-810 BC. Since Balak was at least 200 years before, if not longer than this time, it seems that a reference to him would be anachronistic,” Parker said. “Therefore, most scholars would not accept this view in light of what is believed to be the context of the stele.”

The stele, on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, was publicized in 1868 when Bedouin attempted to sell the stone to scholars, according to Bible History Daily. After negotiations failed, the 3-foot black basalt stone was broken into dozens of pieces and scattered among the Bedouin, east of the Jordan River and north of the Arnon River.

Scholars recovered enough of the fragments in the 1870s to reconstruct two-thirds of the original stone, according to Bible History Daily. But a paper imprint that had been taken of the intact inscription allowed scholars to fill in the blanks.

This article originally appeared in Baptist Press.

SBTC churches’ gift paves way for Mission:Dignity recipients in Texas to receive 13th check

DALLAS—Mission:Dignity recipients in Texas will receive an extra check — a 13th check — in 2023, thanks to efforts from churches affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

This marks the second consecutive year Mission:Dignity recipients in Texas will receive extra honoraria.

“The SBTC is honored to walk alongside those who have been faithful ministers of the gospel,” said Nathan Lorick, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “It is our joy to be able to give a 13th check to all those in Texas who have given so much of their lives for the sake of the gospel. We want each retired pastor and widow in Texas to know they are valued, and this is our way of saying thank you for their service to the Lord.”

In 2022, Mission:Dignity helped more than 2,800 individuals with extra money needed for housing, food and vital medications. It also ensures a well-deserved dignity, independence, and often, the ability to continue serving the Lord. This year, the 295 Texas recipients will receive the extra checks — each equal to a normal monthly honorarium. Texas is home to more Mission:Dignity recipients than any other state.

GuideStone President Hance Dilbeck expressed his personal thanks for the generosity of SBTC churches.

“We are truly thankful for the generosity of the people and churches in Texas,” Dilbeck said. “Providing financial relief and resilience to our pastors is the very heartbeat of GuideStone, and I am thankful Southern Baptists continue to catch that vision every day. We appreciate the diligent efforts of Nathan Lorick and the entire SBTC in these efforts.”

Mission:Dignity expressed its thankfulness for the efforts of SBTC churches.

“Retired ministers, denominational workers, and their widows who served well truly deserve a double honor,” Mission:Dignity Director Aaron Meraz said. “These churches and their members are ensuring that Mission:Dignity recipients across the Lone Star State know they are not forgotten and are well cared for and loved by their larger family of believers.”

For more information on Mission:Dignity, to give, to apply for assistance or to refer someone in need, visit