November & December 2013
WHAT DOES LOVE SMELL LIKE?
GROWTH OF CHRISTIAN ORPHAN CARE
ave you ever smelled a familiar smell and been flooded with memories or emotions? I recently opened the spice cabinet in my kitchen and was flooded with memories of the pantry in my favorite aunt’s house in Irwinville, Georgia (I haven’t been there in over 30 years.) My father is retired from the United States Air Force. Before I was ever born, my dad, mom, and my older siblings were stationed in the Panama Canal Zone. When they came back to the US, they brought with them furniture made of mahogany that Ephesians 5:2 says: had been purchased in Panama. It gives my parent’s house a “Walk in love, as very distinct aroma. My children (now young adults), have Christ loved us and commented that they love the smell of Nana and Papa’s gave himself up for house. Having grown up on the Gulf Coast, there are beach us, a fragrant offersmells that make me feel comfortable and at home. Think about some of your favorite smells. Fresh baked ing and sacrifice to bread? Honeysuckle blossoms? Cupcakes or cookies in the God.” oven? Freshly mowed grass? Do you have any favorite holiday smells? Turkey and dressing? Spiced apple cider? When my wife bakes oatmeal cookies using my mother’s recipe every year at Christmastime, the smell of the cookies is almost as good as the taste of the cookies! When you think about your favorite smells, do you have any memories or emotions that go along with them? Scientists tell us that the “smell centers” in our brain are right next door to the brain’s limbic system where much of our memory and emotions are thought to be stored, so it makes sense that smells can trigger memories and even change our mood. The Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians that Jesus loved us so much that He became a “fragrant sacrifice” on our behalf. I have recently had the opportunity to visit some of our cottages on our campuses. When I am fortunate enough to get there close to meal time, I enjoy watching the children as they carry on their routine activities. They do homework or come in from playing outside. I am very aware of the aroma of a home cooked meal that fills the cottage. Sometimes it is a roast, sometimes spaghetti, or sometimes vegetable soup and cornbread. The children are not aware that the aroma of a home cooked meal prepared by their house parents is really the smell of love. They have no idea that their limbic system is storing up memories of the time they are with us that might be triggered for them years later when they smell a familiar smell. The aroma of good food is a treasure to be cherished. But, when that aroma also becomes a permanent reminder of a time when a child feels safe and loved, it becomes a lifelong treasure. Every day, our house parents and foster parents make meals to feed the children in our care. They make sure they are bathed and that the linens on their beds are clean. These everyday expressions of love are creating memories for children who need to feel safe and loved.
Wonderful Oatmeal Cookies Rod & Leslie Marshall
1 cup shortening 1 cup white sugar 1 cup brown sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 3 cups oatmeal ½ cup pecans 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon cloves ½ teaspoon nutmeg
Enjoy the smells of Fall crisp Fall mornings, holiday dinners, or warm soups on chilly evenings. When you give to the Children’s Homes, your support is used to make sure the kids in our care know what love smells like. It is our deepest hope that we will have the opportunity to tell them about Jesus, who made himself a “fragrant sacrifice” because He loves them so much. By the way, if you want to fill your house with a sweet holiday fragrance, try this recipe (to the left) for Christmas Oatmeal Cookies. Rod’s mom used to make these every year at Christmas, a tradition that has been carried on in the Marshall family. These cookies are more of a savory oatmeal cookie than a sweet oatmeal cookie, but they are great! Fresh out of the oven, they are unbelievably good! I hope you will try them and that you enjoy them as much as we do. Here are the directions: Cream shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Sift together flour, salt, soda and spices. Add sifted dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Add oatmeal and nuts (use hands or wooden spoon to mix it all together). Drop by teaspoons on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet promptly and cool. Store in an airtight container. Merry Christmas! Rod Marshall, President/CEO Email your questions and comments to email@example.com.
Alabama Baptist CHILDREN’S HOMES & Family Ministries
T H E
P O W E R
Rev. Steve Sellers has faithfully served the Children’s Homes for over 16 years. Steve is dearly loved by both our staff and by Alabama Baptist all across the state. Steve is a natural-born encourager who has recently been dealing with some health struggles. Many Alabama Baptists have been encouraged just by following Steve’s social media posts during his illness. Steve wanted to share some words about encouragement with you all. Please keep Steve and his family in your prayers. Rod Marshall by: Steve Sellers
et each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]” Philippians 2:4-5 AMP I am a testimony of how the Lord uses others to give a cup of cool water of encouragement during challenging times. My name is Steve Sellers and for the past 16 years I have had blessing and honor of serving my Lord through the ministry of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries. I am so grateful to be a part of this mission arm of the Baptist community, even more so today because of the overwhelming support from my co-laborers and from thousands of Alabama Baptists during my recent physical challenges. On July 31 my right kidney was removed because of a tumor, which later was determined to be Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Just to hear the word “cancer” can send all kinds of fear through you and your family as well. Then, to hear that because this cancer was found in an organ, it is considered Stage 4 Cancer. The doctors give you a survival rate and your
knees buckle and your family weeps. Now, let me share with you how the Lord uses the power of encouragement to not just bring comfort, but also strength during tough times. This ministry itself has rallied around my family through cards and visits. The cards would come at the right time and we could feel the grace of God lifting us up. Dr. Rick Lance, Executive Director of the State Board of Missions and the SBOM missionaries would send word, “Steve we are praying for you and your family.” Directors of Missions, pastors, and churches have mailed cards, and picked up the phone to give a word of encouragement. These many acts of God’s love are helping us during this journey. When you are facing difficult times, it is like running a race. Your body is telling you to just give up; you cannot finish. Then, another fellow runner comes up beside you, gives you a word of encouragement and runs with you. There are others cheering you on with words of encouragement along the sidelines. The clear results are that you find new strength and you cross the finish line. This is just what my fellow servants here at ABCH and other Alabama Baptists are doing for me during these days. I have served the Lord for over 35 years, over 16 of those here at ABCH. These have been the diamond years of ministry for me. One day when I cross the ultimate finish line, I will lay this diamond at the feet of Jesus. Meanwhile, we are running the race to exalt the Lord through this journey. The battle cry the Lord has given my family is, “Always Advancing in Christ and Never Retreating.” Please, continue to pray for me and my family. When you do, read Psalm 91 and pray that for us. Thank you ABCH family, and thank you Alabama Baptist friends for your ministry of encouragement.
by: Jonathan Goode There is an exciting trend taking place in the Church today. A growing number of Christian families have started serving children in America’s foster care system at rates not seen before. Christianity Today recently released an article highlighting this growth by referring to it as “the burgeoning Christian orphan care movement” in America. Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries (ABCH) has experienced this growth first hand. For the last few years our foster care ministry has grown about 20% each year. For those of you that don’t regularly keep up with ministry growth statistics, 20% is really big! As a part of my work in this field, I have had the privilege of forming strong relationships with great ministries serving children all over the country. Those relationships have led me to some conclusions about what is really driving this incredible growth that is underway. While there are surely other reasons Christ’s followers are serving hurting children, I believe three rise to the top as the most consistent answers I have heard in my conversations with ministry leaders most closely engaged in this movement. The first reason, and possibly the most obvious, has to do with the Bible. Christians believe that the Bible isn’t just a book, but a collection of books that makes up a completely perfect revelation of God and his character so that men and women can know and follow Him better. As that view of the Bible takes hold in the hearts of men and women trying to follow Jesus, their actions begin to change to be more in line with what the Bible instructs. That is why it only makes sense that Christ’s followers would do more of the things Jesus told them to do as they try to follow Him more closely. Since the Bible is filled with really clear directions to care for children who need people to care for them, many people are driven to serve fatherless children purely out of Biblical obedience. Isn’t it true that
many things in our faith that have become a part of who we are as men and women because they started as pure obedience? Caring for hurting children is no different in that regard. The second reason may be less obvious, but I believe it is really important, especially given the changes taking place in our society. Many Christians are tired of being type casted by the media and other cultural voices as always being against stuff. When discussed in public arenas, Christians are often branded with a variety of stereotypes, of which many are quite negative. We are regularly in the news for being opposed to this thing or that thing and many Christians are sick of it. Caring for children gives us a chance to say what we, as Christians, stand for. It gives us a chance to break the stereotypes of being judgmental and unforgiving and replacing them with being advocates for hurting children. We are for bringing hope to broken lives. We are for showing Jesus in ways that people can actually tangibly experience. Serving hurting children in this capacity gives many Christians a very meaningful way to show what they are for instead of what they are against. The third reason Christians serve hurting children is the one I personally relate to the most. When my own brokenness destroyed my relationship with God, He sent His son Jesus to be a sacrifice in order to restore that relationship. Not only was my ability to have a relationship with Him restored, He actually adopted me into His family! I am a part of God’s family now and I get to call him “daddy.” For a former spiritual orphan, like myself, that is a mind blowing! This picture of God challenges and encourages But when the fullness of time my service more than anything else. I don’t serve had come, God sent forth his because I’m just a nice guy. Sometimes, I’m really Son, born of woman, born under not that nice. I serve because God first served me the law, to redeem those who and I am so very grateful for that. If all God had were under the law, so that we done was forgiven me of my sins, He would still might receive adoption as sons. be remarkably graceful. He did more though. He And because you are sons, God adopted me into His family. He gave me the title has sent the Spirit of his Son of son and as a son I get to enjoy His kingdom for into our hearts, crying, “Abba! all of eternity. My overwhelming gratitude for that Father!” So you are no longer a makes me look for ways to serve hurting children slave, but a son, and if a son, today. I want hurting children to see the love of then an heir through God. their Heavenly Father. More than anything else, I (Galatians 4:4-7) believe this perspective is the driving force behind truly Christ-centered service to children in need. While I am convinced that these three reasons are the three main reasons many Christians serve hurting children, I know that they aren’t the only ones. Whatever the reason, the driving force has to be the same. Jesus Christ must be the source of everything we do in relation to serving hurting children. Caring for these kids with excellence and consistent compassion and love is very difficult if you try to do it alone. But through the power of the Holy Spirit we can do far more than we can even ever imagine. If God has called you to serve these hurting kids, He will also equip you to do it in a way that brings His name great honor. That is why it is so important to stay close to Him. Serving hurting children isn’t easy, but through Christ all things are really possible. Christians all over Alabama are seeing that and partnering with us to do it. Will you?
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Sunday, December 8th