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fellowship! C O O P E R AT I V E B A P T I S T F E L L O W S H I P


General Assembly Highlights Being the Presence of Christ

Center Brings Together Community, Volunteers

Georgia Children Step Up for Hunger Relief

Reflections from Fifth Annual current Retreat

College Student Teaches in Middle East


Offering for Global Missions Helps Connect Churches to Work in Arkansas In Arkansas and along the west bank of the Mississippi River, cotton was king. Today, other seeds are being planted and nurtured. Helena is the county seat of Phillips County, one of the poorest counties in Arkansas and a focal community of Partners in Hope, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s rural poverty initiative. Partners in Hope reflects the

Local volunteers saw wood for book/toy shelves for the “Stories on Wheels” lending library.

Field personnel photo

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June 24-26 • Birmingham, Ala.



Field personnel photo


Fellowship’s 20-year commitment to offer hope to people in and around some of the nation’s poorest counties, all located in rural areas. Helena is also “home” for CBF Global Missions field personnel Ben and Leonora Newell and their children. “Our basic approach has been to let the community determine what they think the priorities are and then, together, try to find resources to match the priorities,” Ben says. The Fellowship’s partnership philosophy is built around mutual respect and shared responsibility. Last summer, local residents and Fellowship volunteers embodied that philosophy as they resurrected the town’s burned-out community center. “There are more than 500 kids, age 15 and under, who live in the area around the community center, but the local government simply did not have the resources to cover the rebuilding cost, estimated at $212,000,” Ben says. Talking with local leaders, a plan came together. The city, county and state governments provided $65,000 in funds and appropriations. Thanks to local volunteers, Fellowship volunteers and a donated tool trailer, the finished project cost about $137,000 less than the original estimate. Another local project is a community garden called E.D.E.N. (Empowering Development through Education and Nutrition). E.D.E.N. was developed through a partnership of seven organizations including Heifer International, a Helena charter school, a local African-American youth leadership organization, local residents and Fellowship field personnel. Fellowship churches contributed start-up funds, and partner representatives care for and manage E.D.E.N. Children and youth grades 5-12 are intentionally included in the project, and during the school year come regularly to work in the garden. In addition to receiving some hands-on gardening experience, the students learn about the agricultural history of their community as well as crucial entrepreneurial skills. The flowers and vegetables produced are given to people in need. According to the Newells, organizations like CBF of North Carolina and CBF of Arkansas have been vital to the development of this ministry. “For example, at the CBF of North Carolina annual meeting in March 2003, an offering was taken specifically for the purchase of the trailer that houses the tools,” Ben explains. “Then they collected tools and toys and books to top it off. Their generous monetary contribution allowed us to buy even more books.” Now, thanks in part to these gifts, “Stories on Wheels” is being launched. Currently housed at the Community Center in Helena, this project will eventually go “on Wheels” loaning books, educational toys and sporting equipment to members of the community.

Children pause for opening prayer time at the community center in Helena, Ark.

Additionally, the “Tools Trailer” continues to be used as a way to help mobilize residents to share resources with other citizens and communities in the area. The tools will be used to repair and refurbish substandard housing, and in projects similar to the rebuilding of the community center. The Newells are planning for two weeks this summer where volunteers will be coming to Helena as a part of All Church Challenge 2004, scheduled for June 5-19. Newell said nearly 30 churches already have signed up and they are expecting as many as 300 volunteers to work alongside local churches in Helena. They will construct a small community center in West Helena, renovate homes, remodel a planned youth leadership and sports academy facility, build a Mississippi River-themed playground and help improve the community garden. Newell says volunteers will also participate in children's activities such as Vacation Bible Schools, sports camps, music camps, puppetry and the Stories on Wheels program, as well as person-to-person evangelism and prayer walking. f! Churches interested in participating in the All Church Challenge should contact the Newells at (870) 817-0248. For more on the Newell’s work and other Partners in Hope ministry sites, visit Their work is being highlighted this spring through the Fellowship’s Offering for Global Missions and its MissionConnect emphasis. For more on the Offering for Global Missions, go to GlobalMissions/OGM/MissionConnect.icm. For more information about Partners in Hope, contact Tom Prevost at (662) 871-2444,, or P.O. Box 415, Belden, MS 38826.

By contributing writer Craig Bird, San Antonio, Texas, and Lance Wallace, CBF Communications


General Assembly to Focus on Being the Presence of Christ J O I N W I T H O T H E R Fellowship Christians at the

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s 2004 General Assembly as participants celebrate the ministry opportunities of today, awaken to the challenges of tomorrow, and strive to be the presence of Christ together. Keynote speaker John Kinney, dean of the Virginia Union University theology school in Richmond, will open the Thursday evening session of the June 24-26 Assembly in Birmingham, Ala. Speaking on the Assembly’s theme of “Being the Presence of Christ: Today … Tomorrow … Together,” Kinney John Kinney will kick off the annual gathering that Kyle Matthews


invites participants to embark on a missional journey to hear, to think, to learn and to connect. Kinney’s career in theological training spans 20 years. He received a Ph.D. from Columbia University/Union Theological Seminary in 1979. He currently serves as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Beaverdam, Va. In addition to his pastoral duties, he serves as a consultant to the American Baptist Convention, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, and both the United States Navy and Army Chaplain Corps. Samford University and CBF Congregational Life, will sponsor a reception in the Resource Fair Thursday evening. Nashville singer-songwriter Kyle Matthews will be the featured artist during the Thursday evening session. Matthews has spent more than a decade of writing and performing Christian music. He has earned a Dove Award for traditional gospel recorded song of the year; Stellar Award for song of the year; and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ award for “Gospel Song of the Year.”

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Auxiliary Events FOLLOWING ARE SOME of the events taking place before and during the General Assembly:

for each additional person. Materials and lunch included. For more information, e-mail or to register, call (800) 491-0912.

“Companions in Christ Training Event” Wednesday, June 23, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Southside Baptist Church Training will equip leaders to introduce and lead small spiritual formation groups. Facilitators: Marjorie Thompson, Frank Granger. Cost is $100 for first person from a church, $85

Bountiful Feast: A Spiritual Formation Network Dinner Wednesday, June 23, 6 p.m., Sheraton Birmingham Hotel Tilden Edwards, founder and senior fellow of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, will provide the keynote address. In addition to Edward’s engaging message, the evening provides

an opportunity for community building through lively table conversation, inspiring music and great food. For more information, contact Toni Draper at (770) 220-1654 or Congregational Leadership Institute Thursday, June 24, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sheraton Hotel/Convention Center “The Missional Church In Context: God’s Journey for a Congregation Being Led by the Spirit” will be facilitated by

Craig Van Gelder, professor of congregational mission at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and author of The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the Spirit. Cost is $45 per person, $40 per person when three or more from one congregation, $40 per person for full-time students. Lunch is not included. For more information, contact Mary McCoy at (770) 220-1637 or

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The thought-provoking songs on Matthews’ albums demonstrate his commitment to in-depth Biblical teaching.

Assembly Highlights T H E G E N E R A L A S S E M B LY begins with workshops at

An additional ministry workshop time has been added for Saturday morning at 8:30. This brings the total number of workshop sessions to five — one on Thursday, two on Friday and two on Saturday. Workshop times have been shortened to one hour and five minutes. Worship Samplers, formerly known as simultaneous worships, will be offered as part of three workshop sessions — Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. During “A Celebration of Preaching,” proclaimers within the CBF family will be sharing thematic sermons during three of the workshop times on Thursday and Friday. A Bible study led by William Hull, Samford University

Offering Helps Partners in Hope Flourish with Growing Partnerships, Projects SINCE THE 2003 General

Assembly in Charlotte, N.C., raised more than $175,000 to fund Partners in Hope through a featured ministry offering, significant strides have been made building relationships with people in some of the nation’s poorest counties and partnering with them to break the cycle of poverty. Partners in Hope, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s rural poverty initiative, reflects the Fellowship’s 20-year commitment to join forces with people in 20 of the poorest counties in the nation, all located in rural areas. Tom


Prevost, national coordinator for Partners in Hope, reports that currently there are relationships or projects developing in 15 of the 20 counties, up from only nine last year. “We are seeing sustained growth in each of the major regions where we’ve been operating in the past several years,” Prevost says. “Also, we’ve gone from nothing in South Dakota, to contacts and projects in three of four counties in the state, with promising leads in the fourth.” Prevost reports that all regions are experiencing exciting developments including:

Lisa Jones photo


2 p.m., Thursday. The three main worship services are intentionally woven together through music, participation, scripture, thematic material based on 1 Corinthians 12:1226, and worship elements. This year’s Assembly will include the following highlights:

Denton Lotz will speak at the Fellowship Heritage Society Breakfast held Saturday from 7-8:15 a.m. (See article p.5.)

professor and former university provost, will be offered during four sessions of the ministry workshop times. New CBF Global Missions field personnel will be commissioned. Fellowship co-pastors will lead participants in a

• Appalachia (Kentucky) – approximately a dozen missions teams will visit Owsley and Powell counties. • Black Belt (Alabama) – more than 600 volunteers have participated during the year. • Mississippi River Delta – a community garden is revitalizing a downtown street in Arkansas, prison ministries in Louisiana are taking place, and a promising economic development project is in process in several Mississippi counties. • Rio Grande Valley – partnership with Buckner Baptist Benevolences is working in four Texas counties. “One of the most rewarding aspects of Partners in Hope in the past year has been the

evidence of one of our major objectives for the program,” Prevost says. “We’ve had numerous reports from individuals and churches that become involved in these volunteer missions projects in one of these counties and are so moved by the experience that they begin to get involved in poverty initiatives in their own communities. This is what makes Partners in Hope more of a movement.” At this year’s Assembly, an offering will be collected to benefit the Baptist World Alliance (for more information on BWA, see article, p. 5).

By contributing writer Bob Perkins Jr., Mechanicsburg, Pa.

A mass choir featuring a 200-voice choir and orchestra from churches in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia will perform Thursday evening, along with sketches led by the Dramatic Vagabonds of Birmingham, Ala. Video presentations of “Being the Presence of Christ” will be shown Saturday morning. A Resource Fair will feature The CBF Store and more than 90 exhibitors and booths. Individuals are invited to calendar their next CBF speaking engagement at the CBF Speakers Bureau booth. Field personnel staff

will be on hand to help individuals in selecting a speaker for their church. f! Pre-register online at or by calling (800) 352-8741. Pre-registration will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17. After this date you may register on-site at the Birmingham Convention Center beginning Thursday, June 24 at 9 a.m. Go to to make hotel reservations. Hotels are filling up quickly, but rooms are still available. All reservations must be in writing and submitted by fax or online to the Birmingham Convention Housing Bureau. Contact (770) 619-9671 for further information.

Fellowship Backing BWA with Words, Contributions COOPERATIVE BAPTIST

Fellowship support for the Baptist World Alliance is increasing vocally and financially. Significant increases in existing budget designations and dramatic first time gifts have marked the reactions of local churches, state and regional associations, and the national Cooperative Baptist Fellowship since the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee recommended in December that the Convention sever its relationship with BWA. Such action would cost BWA, an association of 211 Baptist conventions and unions with a reported membership of 110 million, a total of $425,000 in funding. BWA Executive Secretary Denton Lotz has accepted several preaching engagements at Fellowship churches in recent months, where he welcomed Fellowship Baptists into the BWA family and challenged them to engage fully with “your brothers and sisters around the world as if they were seated in the pew beside you.” He also will be at the General Assembly to bring

“official” greetings from the BWA to the CBF for the first time. Despite the Fellowship’s own budget constraints, the Assembly meeting will be asked to double budget support for BWA from $20,000 to $40,000 per year. Other CBF-affiliated groups taking action in support of BWA include the following: • Shades Crest Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala., approved a new budget allocation of 1 percent of its total contribution to BWA — an estimated $12,000 to $13,000. • Trinity Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas, in addition to its budget contribution of $2,000, set aside $10,000 of its $75,000 spring missions offering for the BWA. • Highland Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., “immediately voted a $1,000 contribution” according to Pastor Joe Phelps and is working on involving more churches. State and regional Fellowships, also facing tight operational budgets, are still


communion service on Saturday morning.

stepping up. The Louisiana, Northeast and North Central CBF groups each made $1,000 contributions, while CBF of North Carolina voted to give $2,000. Additionally, North Carolina has set a goal of recruiting 75 churches to give at least $1,000 in financial support of BWA. CBF of Missouri recently announced a joint effort with Central Baptist Seminary in Kansas City, Kan., and the Central Region of the American Baptist Convention to organize a group to attend the BWA Centenary Congress in Birmingham, England, in July 2005. First Baptist Church, Dalton, Ga., will send a group to the event. In addition to contributing to the general operating budget, Fellowship support also flows to BWA’s relief arm, Baptist World Aid. “We appreciate the gifts to Baptist World Aid (BWAid) from the CBF and its membership,” said Paul Montacute, BWAid director. “Individuals provide financial support, churches send us their hunger gifts, and CBF itself looks carefully at our projects to see the support

they can give. BWAid depends on the love and generosity of Baptists around the world to support our Baptist leaders in countries of need, as they seek to serve those in need in His name.” BWA will sponsor a breakfast Friday, June 25 at 7 a.m. Reservations are required. Cost is $15. For more information, contact Carolina Mangieri at (703) 790-8980, ext. 129 or carolina@ BWA representatives will also lead a workshop on Friday at 11 a.m. Denton Lotz will speak at the CBF Foundation’s Fellowship Heritage Society Breakfast held Saturday from 7-8:15 a.m. Reservations are required and must be made by noon Friday at the CBF exhibit. Cost is complimentary with reservations. For more information, contact Sunday Tyson at (770) 2201663 or styson@thefellow

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In celebrating the opening of the newly remodeled East Perry Library and Learning Center in Perry County, Ala., the people here are focused on the opportunities it will bring to the children and youth in the area. But they may not realize, leaders say, that the building is also a shining example of a community helping itself. Perry County was once a thriving agricultural region in the South. Today, it ranks among the poorest counties in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship started the Sowing Seeds of Hope program in 1999 to partner with people in rural areas of Alabama to bring holistic change. The program is now a component of Partners in Hope, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s nationwide rural poverty initiative. Mart Gray, AlabamaCBF coordinator, says the people in Perry County have exhibited a “can-do” attitude and are the reason there is a building to celebrate. Organized by one hard-working resident, Rozelle Morton, the work in Perry County is an example of a true partnership. In 2001, volunteers from the Archdiocese in Boston helped start the work, converting an old school building into a community center. About 30 students from nearby Judson College helped install drywall in the building. In 2002, volunteers from Monte Vista Baptist Church in Maryville, Tenn., did electrical wiring and construction on the center’s kitchen and bathroom facilities. But as Sue Wyatt, missions coordinator at Monte Vista remembers, one church member inspired others to become and stay involved. “Diane Shiver heard a presentation about Perry County and said she felt a sense of calling about the project,” Wyatt recalls. “She brought it to our missions council and said, ‘Somebody in Perry County must be praying about this because I can’t get it off my mind.’” Morton was that someone. When the group traveled to Alabama to meet him and realized the connection with Shiver’s statement, it was a significant moment for all involved. Morton says the same inspiration is felt by the people of Perry County. “The neat thing is we have had volunteers from all races come and help us with the building,” Morton says. “Many times, you don’t know a person’s name, but you get to know them by their work and by their faith. It really gives you hope that if we can put our differences aside and realize we C O O P E R AT I V E B A P T I S T F E L L O W S H I P

Photos courtesy Jeannette Jordan/Sowing Seeds of Hope


East Perry Center a Testimony to Community, Church Volunteers Working Together

Volunteers work alongside local residents of Perry County to renovate buildings such as the recently re-opened East Perry Library and Learning Center.

are all children of God, we can accomplish many things.” To establish the library, Shades Crest Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., donated nearly 2,500 books and First Baptist Church of Cullman, Ala., supplied four computers,

For more information about Sowing Seeds of Hope volunteer opportunities, contact Mary Carol Day at the Fellowship’s volunteer office in Raleigh, N.C., at (877) 856-9288 or or go to www.destination For more information about Sowing Seeds of Hope, contact John Martin at (334) 683-4666 or or go to the Sowing Seeds of Hope link at

General Assembly Workshops THE FOLLOWING WORKSHOPS related to Partners in Hope,

community development and poverty will be offered at CBF’s General Assembly June 24-26 in Birmingham, Ala. • “Partners in Hope: CBF's Rural Poverty Initiative.” Facilitator: Tom Prevost. A panel of Partners in Hope leadership team members will represent all of the regions that include the 20 focal counties. • “Transformational Development Work in God's World.” Facilitator: Ben Newell, CBF Global Missions field personnel and member of the Partners in Hope leadership team. • “Economic Equity and Social Justice in Indigenous Communities: Micro-enterprise Development and Capacity Building.” Facilitator: Terri Morgan, head of Partners for the Environment. • “An Invitation to Serve through CBF Volunteer Missions.” Facilitators: Tom Ogburn and Kezia Paul. Includes opportunities related to Partners in Hope. • “Poverty in America, 2004.” Facilitator: Pat Fulbright. This poverty simulation is a condensed version of Fulbright’s training experiences for churches. For General Assembly registration information, go to

By contributing writer Bob Perkins Jr., Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Anonymous Donor Gives $5 Million to Benefit CBF Global Missions C O O P E R AT I V E Baptist Fellowship

Coordinator Daniel Vestal announced the Fellowship has received a $5 million anonymous contribution to be used for a variety of designated projects in support of global missions. “This gift is a continuing confirmation of God’s provision for the ministry and mission of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,” Vestal said. “CBF is a renewal movement sustained by the prayers and support of Baptist Christians like this donor. We’re indeed grateful.” The gift will be used over the next three fiscal years, impacting a wide array of Global Missions ministries. The proposed plan for expenditure includes deploying nine new field personnel, helping 15 envoys, doubling the number of stipends for student summer/semester missions and helping 10 indigenous

missionaries. It also will fund field projects, wellness programs, purchase of vehicles, training, secure communications, emergency response, HIV/AIDS initiatives, microenterprise development grants for the poor, other community development projects, church planting in the United States, and Partners in Hope, the Fellowship’s rural poverty initiative, according to CBF Global Missions Co-coordinator Barbara Baldridge. The CBF Global Missions team has grown dramatically from 18 field personnel in 1992 to more than 150 today. CBF field personnel are living and ministering among the most neglected, which includes unevangelized people groups and marginalized people. Establishing an effective Christian witness among the world’s most neglected people is CBF’s No. 1

priority in global missions. “This very generous gift makes it possible for us to increase in a substantial way our efforts in ministry among those living with HIV/AIDS, those struggling to feed their families, those living without clean water, and those who have never had the opportunity to experience the gospel of Christ,” Baldridge said. “This comes at a time when many missionary sending organizations are having to make significant reductions in ministry and personnel.” It costs approximately $130,000 per year to support a career missionary family. The Fellowship anticipates commissioning up to 10 new field personnel during the 2004 General Assembly, June 2426, in Birmingham, Ala. f! By Lance Wallace, CBF Communications

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which are the cornerstones of the new learning center. Morton’s wife, Catherine, and daughter, Shelcia Ford, tutor children two to three days a week in the facility. The goal of the sessions is to develop future community leaders who will one day continue the community building program. The Mortons say their tutoring/computer sessions have grown from five to more than 25 this spring. But the education for the people continues beyond books and computers. “Having outside people from all over the country come in and help us build this center has opened the eyes of a lot of people in the community,” Morton says. f!



Children Step up for Hunger Relief to Benefit the Palaung of Thailand I T ’ S N O T E V E R Y D AY a child exclaims, “I’ve got enough money to buy two pigs!” But as children from Atlanta’s Wieuca Road Baptist Church prepared for a hunger walk up Kennesaw Mountain, their enthusiasm came across loud and clear. From CBF Global Missions field personnel and fellow church members Ellen and Rick Burnette, these firstthrough sixth-graders learned about the plight of the Palaung, an isolated people group in Northern Thailand. As the Burnettes educated the children about their ministry, they described good sources of food and income for the Palaung. Pigs are among the best animals the Palaung

Photos courtesy of Wieuca Road Baptist


can tend on their limited, rocky land. The average cost for the Burnettes’ project to produce and transport each pig, as well as to provide related training and technical assistance to farmers, is about $100. Ultimately, families who receive female breeding pigs will return two of the firstborn to either the project or to other farm families in their own communities. By asking church members to pledge money for each mile they completed on their hunger walk, these children were ready to make a difference. Fortified with the knowledge of their pig purchasing power, seven boys, eight girls, 16 adults and one dog hiked up the steep trail at Kennesaw

Mountain on a crisp, sunny day in late January 2004. They came back down with a sense of accomplishment, a greater awareness of world hunger, and the overwhelming satisfaction of having raised a total of $3, 320.50, which they gave to the Burnettes and dedicated to the Palaung during a morning worship service in February. Overall, the congregation raised more than $5,000 for the Burnettes' ministry projects among the Palaung through the hunger walk, a one-time aluminum can recycling project, an on-going newspaper recycling project and an annual Souper Bowl lunch. Bob Freeman, who directs the boys missions group at Wieuca, says that drawing a hands-on connection between the Burnettes’ ministry and the children’s missions projects provides an excellent opportunity to teach the boys how much they can do to make a difference. “By doing something – anything – it was my hope that they would be empowered and realize that, even at their age, they can be involved in More than 30 people and one dog make the walk up Kennesaw Mountain to raise funds to purchase pigs for the Palaung of Northern Thailand.

Curriculum Raises Awareness and Provides Education about CBF Global Missions AS LITTLE LEAGUE baseballs fly and schools enjoy a summer break, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is producing “Doing Missions in a World Without Borders,” missions education curriculum for your church’s use in the fall. According to CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal, “In today’s culture, most learning takes place through personal


involvement. But I believe there is still a need for Baptist folks to read material that stretches their mind, broadens their perspective and awakens their conscience.” Fellowship curriculum is agegraded, biblically-based, and specific to CBF Global Missions. It features • content that addresses current world needs,

• a format that offers options for use based on the church’s specific needs, • opportunities to experience missions through Global Missions field personnel stories and prayer requests, local missions project suggestions and other activities, and • a monthly churchwide guide that brings the church together for intergenerational mission

study and action. September is months away, but The CBF Store wants to process your order and be prepared to ship the fall materials in early July. Therefore, please take time now to review your curriculum needs for next year and place your order by calling (888) 801-4223.

To contribute to ministry among the Palaung, send your financial gift to CBF, P.O. Box 101699, Atlanta, GA 30392. Make your check payable to CBF and indicate Rural Development Project, fund No. 80052, Burnette Ministry. The Fellowship’s June 2004 missions education curriculum highlights work among the Palaung and other unevangelized people groups in Northern Thailand. The July curriculum is a Bible study on the early Christian church.

By contributing writer Tiffany Schmieder, Atlanta


missions,” he explains. When Freeman came up with the idea for a hunger walk, boys and girls alike quickly became enthusiastic about the project, and in just two weeks had acquired nearly $2,000 – enough to buy 20 pigs. Their experience so far has not dimmed the children’s enthusiasm for hands-on missions projects. In addition to the hunger walk, they have recently sponsored an aluminum can drive and helped to landscape and pick up the grounds of a Habitat for Humanity House. Fletcher Keel, age 11, spoke for many of the children when he said of the walk up Kennesaw Mountain, “This was fun … can we do it again next year?” f!

The Well Counseling Ministry Helps Nurture Healthy Relationships T H E W E L L , a counseling ministry

of Tennessee’s Ball Camp Baptist Church, demonstrates the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Missional Church Initiative by offering professional counseling services to the church’s members and to the surrounding Knoxville community. The Missional Church Initiative is the Fellowship’s strategy to help churches become more intentional about relevant ministry in their community, in their state and around the world. Missional churches seek to minister by being the presence of Christ, both in their local communities and in the global community of God’s world. “The church has recognized the need to provide solid mental and emotional wellness resources to the community,” says Bo Prosser, Fellowship coordinator for congregational life. “They have blessed their own associate pastor, Ron Schumann, to do that for the community.” Schumann is Ball Camp’s pastor of counseling and discipleship. He is licensed in Tennessee as a marital and family therapist and is a clinical member of the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy. The Well officially began in June 2003, but Schumann has provided professional counseling services through the church since 1995. “From its onset, The Well is a part of the Missional Church Initiative

The Fellowship Missional Church Initiative 9

because it has grown out of determining where God is at work and how we can participate,” Schumann says. “It is about building healthy relationships as children of God and with one another, as equal partners in God’s redemptive work.” In addition to professional counseling services, The Well offers marriage enrichment retreats and support and recovery groups for people experiencing grief, divorce and other difficult life situations. Specialized classes and workshops are taught on parenting, personal growth and lay-counselor training. “We do not exist for ourselves but for the community surrounding us,” Schumann says. “Our attempt is to bring restoration and wholeness by providing an abundant life direction to hurting individuals.” f! For more information about The Well counseling ministry, call (865) 693-1641 or go to For more information about the Missional Church Initiative, contact Bo Prosser at (770) 220-1631 or or Terry Hamrick at (770) 220-1615 or

By contributing writer Ashley Grizzle, Atlanta

to bring restoration and wholeness by providing “an…abundant life direction to hurting individuals …”

Stephanie Rogers (l-r), Emily Foles, Naomi Kling, Lewis Freeman and their canine friend Rio take a break from a hunger walk up a local mountain. w w w . t h e f e l l o w s h i p . i n f o J U N E / J U LY 2 0 0 4

EDITOR’S NOTE: Clarissa Strickland, CBF associate coordinator for leadership development, shares her insights from attending the February current retreat. F R O M Q U I E T, C O N T E M P L AT I V E , candlelit worship

services all the way to a rompin’ stompin’ Texas-style hoedown, complete with a mechanical bull and cowboy hats, this year’s current retreat offered varied experiences for attendees. The fifth annual gathering of young Baptists and those who work with them (the CBF-sponsored current network) attracted an attendance of slightly more than 100 people. Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas and her staff were hosts par excellence in providing space for the worship times and for the workClarissa Strickland shop opportunities. The chef at Wilshire presided over wonderful buffet meals including, of course, a Mexican-style buffet and a Texas-style barbecue. The retreat theme of “Enter and Receive” lent itself well to creative worship experiences for the group. David Burroughs, president of Passport, Inc., and Nicole Kenley, current steering committee member, worked to ensure that each worship session provided times of quiet contemplation, beautiful music and inspiring messages. Diana Garland, chair of the school of social work at Baylor University and head of the Center for Family and Community Ministries, and George Mason, pastor of Wilshire Baptist, delivered the

Photo courtesy of current


Reflections from the Fifth Annual current Retreat

Participants at the current retreat take part in a Texas-style hoedown, (l-r) Rachel Sciretti, Mike Sciretti, Kyle Damron and Tracie Gray.

messages in the evening times of worship. Workshop sessions offered a variety of learning experiences. These included sessions targeted to youth ministers, women, recent seminary grads, those who plan worship and those concerned about spirituality to sustain vocational ministry. The CBF Children’s Ministry Network, a part of current, had their own track of educational and networking opportunities, led by Garland and others. As is so often the case, perhaps the greatest benefits of the gathering were renewing old friendships and creating new ones as ministry and social experiences were shared. Perhaps being thrown ungracefully off a mechanical bull in the presence of one’s friends is a rare opportunity for bonding! f! For more information and photos, visit the current Web site at Use the envelope enclosed in this fellowship! issue to help fund leadership development initiatives by contributing to the Fellowship's general missions and ministries budget.

Class Notes: News from CBF Partner Schools Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. The Seminary has received $50,000 for The Franklin Owen Chair of Pastoral Studies from their host church, Calvary Baptist in Lexington, Ky. Owen was pastor at Calvary from 1954-1972. Current pastor Robert Baker is a trustee at BSK. Brandy Albritton, a recipient of a CBF leadership scholarship, will be working with HIV/AIDS victims at a children’s orphanage in Kenya this summer. Patsey Jacobs and


Pat Ham will go with members from Calvary Baptist in Lexington to Mission Arlington in Texas. Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. A prominent Virginia Baptist couple has made two $1 million gifts to the seminary. At a banquet celebrating the seminary’s 15th anniversary, BTSR President Tom Graves announced that Harwood and Louise Cochrane of Rockville, Va., had made a gift of $1.2 million in support of the

purchase and renovation of buildings on the seminary’s campus. Less than two weeks later, Graves announced a second $1 million commitment to the seminary from the couple for the seminary’s capital campaign. The seminary also announced a gift commitment of $1 million from Deborah Carlton Loftis, the seminary’s professor of church music. The majority of the gift will be added to two previously established endowment funds, The John F. Loftis Chair of Church History, established in memory of Loftis’ late husband, and The Carlton-Loftis Chair of Church Music. Additionally,

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Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Beverly Zink-Sawyer, associate professor of preaching and worship at Union Theological Seminary and the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va., delivered the 11th annual Clayborn Landers Preaching Lecture as part of the Pastor’s Day event at Central. Other speakers included Richard P. Olson, Robert and Mindy Fugarino, Mike Graves, Tarris D. Rosell, Jesse Brown and Katheryn Graham. Molly Marshall, professor of theology and spiritual formation at Central, has accepted an additional appointment as acting academic dean. James Hines resigned as academic dean effective May 15. Central also announced that David Gnirk has joined the staff as major gifts representative. McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University. McAfee is accepting applications for its new doctor of ministry degree program. The first three-week seminar of the doctoral program is scheduled for July 6-26. The program is led by faculty member Ron Johnson. For more information, call (678) 547-6474 or toll-free at (888) 471-9922, ext. 6474, or, go to McAfee has also formed a new Institute for Healthy Congregations, led by faculty member Larry McSwain, professor of ethics and leadership. Others who will serve the institute as consultants include Keithen Tucker, director of development for Baptists Today; James Bruner, vice president for religious life at Mercer; J. Truett Gannon, Watkins Christian Foundation Professor of Ministry Experience at McAfee; Roy Godwin, certified church consultant and coach; and Karen Massey, assistant professor of Christian education at McAfee. For more information, contact McSwain at (678) 547-6442 or Baptist Women in Ministry, a non-profit founded in Louisville, Ky., in 1983, has moved its offices from Central Baptist

Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kan., to McAfee’s Atlanta campus. “Moving to Atlanta allows us to better support our constituency, which is predominantly in the South and along the eastern seaboard,” says Karen Massey of McAfee, who is president of BWIM. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University. Todd Still has joined the Truett faculty as associate professor of Christian scriptures. The newest graduates of Truett’s doctor of ministry program are Vicki Vaughn, executive director of the Richard Jackson Center for Evangelism and Encouragement, Inc., and Ellis Orozco, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, McAllen, Texas. Margaret Mitchell of the University of Chicago Divinity School gave the inaugural lecture for the Huber and Minette Drumwright New Testament Colloquium on “Portraits of Paul and the Art of Pauline Interpretation.”

Spring Graduations of CBF Par tner Schools Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond Thomas Graves, president Graduation: May 29 Speaker: Sonja M. Phillips, co-pastor, Central Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla. Graduates: 35 Graduating class: 12th Baptist Studies Program Brite Divinity School Texas Christian University David Gouwens, dean Graduation: May 18 Speaker: D. Newell Williams, president, Brite Divinity School Graduates: 18 Graduating class: 7th Campbell University School of Divinity Michael Cogdill, dean Covenant/Hooding Service: May 9 Speaker: Michael Tutterow, pastor, Winter Park Baptist Church, Wilmington, N.C. Graduates: 38 Graduating class: 7th Baptist Studies Program Candler School of Theology Emory University David Key, director Graduation: May 10 Speaker: Russell E. Richey, dean, Candler

Graduates: 11 Graduating class: 14th Central Baptist Theological Seminary Jim McCrossen, interim president Graduation: May 15 Speaker: Richard Olson, visiting professor of pastoral care, Central Graduates: 27 Graduating class: 103rd Baptist House of Studies Duke University Divinity School Curtis Freeman, director Graduation: May 9 Graduates: 21 Graduating class: 16th M. Christopher White School of Divinity Gardner-Webb University Robert Canoy, acting dean Graduation: May 8 Graduates: 26 Graduating class: 10th Logsdon School of Theology Hardin-Simmons University Thomas V. Brisco, dean Graduation: May 8 Graduates: 7 Graduating class: 8th McAfee School of Theology Mercer University Alan Culpepper, dean Graduation: May 15 Speaker: Daniel Aleshire, executive director, Association of Theological Schools Graduates: 31 Graduating class: 6th George W. Truett Theological Seminary Baylor University Paul Powell, dean Graduation: May 15 Baccalaureate Speaker: Frank Pollard, distinguished visiting professor of preaching, Truett Graduates: 66 Graduating class: 8th Baccalaureate Service The Divinity School Wake Forest University Bill Leonard, dean Graduation: May 17 Baccalaureate Speaker: Stephen Boyd, Wake Forest religion faculty member Graduates: 15 Graduating class: 3rd Above figures are estimates and may not reflect actual totals at press time.

w w w . t h e f e l l o w s h i p . i n f o J U N E / J U LY 2 0 0 4


Fredericksburg Baptist Church presented a check for $250,000 to the seminary and announced that the church will provide BTSR with a total gift of $1 million to endow the Daniel O. Aleshire Chair of Practical Theology.


EDITOR’S NOTE: A member of CBF’s Coordinating Council shares her reflections about her son serving as one of two CBF Student.Go field personnel in the Middle East. The writer and the student cannot be identified for security concerns. J U S T A S M Y M O T H E R before me, I was called Mrs.

WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union). But what does a mother do when her own son says he wants to drop out of college and do missions for a year? Particularly if the almost-21-year-old wants to do missions in the Middle East! “I want to do something meaningful,” he explained. “I’m tired of floundering.” He began investigating overseas service options and prayed that something would be available. His first option through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Student.Go was in Toronto. I thought that would be a wonderful opportunity — safe, not too far from home – but he decided against it. “I really want to go to the Middle East,” he said. I went to the CBF General Assembly in Charlotte and someone from the Middle East told me, “I think we can use your son. Tell him to call me.” Two months later, our son was on his way to the Middle East to teach missionary children from a variety of organizations and do friendship evangelism among college young men. This was our son who had never been overseas and was hesitant to ride a rollercoaster! But it was also the same young man that has been involved in missions from an early age. He also loves the Lord and people. And for many years, he has had a special interest in the area where he is serving. God is surely in this. His church, family and friends helped him with the money for travel and living expenses. They also provided some supplies. Not knowing how progressive his new home would be, he asked me, “Should I take a mosquito net?” He’s living on the first floor of a nine-story apartment building and even has a dishwasher! Months have passed and he has One of CBF's Student.Go field personnel teaches at an international MK school and works with English-speaking youth at an international church. C O O P E R AT I V E B A P T I S T F E L L O W S H I P

learned the city bus system. He speaks the language almost as well as a national. He is eating and cooking a variety of foods. He is building relationships with dozens of nationals and plays soccer at least once a week. He says that hardly a day goes by that he is not invited to go somewhere for tea. He has completed the first semester of his assignment. Once, after the television aired a story about a terrorist incident in his country, I called him to see how he was. “Nothing’s happening here,” he replied. But even more important than his safety or his feeling at home is his opportunity to make a difference in Jesus’ name. While we visited him recently, one of his friends said to him, “I have met many Americans, but you’re different.” My son’s prayer is that they will see God in him and thirst for the same kind of relationship with Jesus Christ that he has. f! For more information about Student.Go, contact (877) 856-9288, or go to www.destination For more information about volunteer teaching opportunities, contact Mary Carol Day at the Fellowship's volunteer office in Raleigh, N.C., at (877) 856-9288 or go to www.destination

Field personnel photo


College Senior Spends Year Teaching in the Middle East


Reflections on Africa

13 Courtesy of Daniel Vestal

O N R E T U R N I N G F R O M A F R I C A after an intense and brief journey, my mind has been flooded with a myriad and mixture of images and impressions. Barbara Baldridge, Earlene Vestal and I visited with African Baptist leadership, CBF Global Missions field personnel and representatives from the Ecumenical Documentation and Information Center in South Africa (EDICISA). We were in four countries (Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe) in 10 days. The following are some of my reflections: Africa is a religious place. Everywhere one looks there is evidence of the spiritual, belief in the supernatural and religious practices that combine aspects of Christianity and traditional African religions. Superstition and a sense of the divine permeate the culture more than science and technology. Douglas Waruda, a professor at the University of Nairobi, said to me, “There is in the African spirit a spiritual vitality and a passion for God.” I found this to be true. The Christian church is exploding in Sub-Saharan Africa. No longer a province of European or American missionaries, the African church is rapidly developing its indigenous leadership, worship and theology. While in Ghana, I saw churches literally on every corner, most of which did not represent any of the mainline denominations. The majority of the population in Zimbabwe, as in many other nations, is identified as Christian. The charismatic/ Pentecostal movement is spreading like wildfire, creating new churches and new challenges. African theologians are appropriately contextualizing Christian doctrine from their experiences and interpreting Scripture from their perspectives. Their witness is most important and needs to be heard by the global church. Some would even say that the African church will be used of God to re-evangelize Europe and the postmodern west. Another impression from this brief journey is that Africa is changing. The traditional folkways and indigenous African religions are increasingly confronted with modernity and world concerns. Independence from colonial rule is relatively recent, and most African democracies are very young. Zimbabwe received its independence less than 25 years ago. Apartheid ended in South Africa less than 10 years ago. These young republics are learning the ways and tenets of democracy and good governance. But, they are also struggling with the very human problems of greed, corruption and violence. The morning we arrived in Nairobi, a fire destroyed much of the City Hall and firefighters

CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal and CBF Global Missions Co-coordinator Barbara Baldridge visit with All Africa Baptist Fellowship General Secretary Frank Adams (left) at the AABF office in Accra, Ghana.

were unable to put out the blaze because there was no water in the hydrant. The infrastructure of governance was simply not in place. Other realities are changing the face of Africa: drought and poverty, racial and ethnic conflict, foreign investment and disinvestment, unemployment and the regional wars that create a large number of refugees. However the greatest crisis facing Africa today is the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It is mind-boggling in scope and complexity and is causing unimaginable suffering. The overwhelming impression made on me during this trip is that Africa is suffering. The statistics of death and misery are staggering. In Zimbabwe alone, at least 25 percent of the population is infected. There are 3,800 funerals per month due to HIV/AIDS. One leader in the Methodist church told me that pastors spend most of their time conducting funerals (eight to 10 per week), and they themselves are like “dead men walking.” We went into the home of a couple who were living with the disease and listened to their distressing stories. We visited orphanages and saw the children of parents who had died of AIDS. We saw children who live on the streets and are parented by siblings because their parents have died of AIDS. We listened to the pain and anguish of institutional and congregational leaders, seminary professors and missionaries as they sought to convey the horror of this pandemic. While HIV/AIDS is a global challenge, it is particularly an African challenge. Africa is suffering. As with any journey, I returned home both weary and renewed. It was an exhausting but exciting trip. I returned with hope and spiritual energy. God is on a redemptive mission in this world, and we are invited to participate in that mission. Part of it is in Africa. f! By CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal w w w . t h e f e l l o w s h i p . i n f o J U N E / J U LY 2 0 0 4


Fellowship Roundup News from CBF’s states, regions and national offices


GEORGIA Chris and Erin Raffield were commissioned at CBF of Georgia’s spring General Assembly to serve a new church start in downtown Atlanta. Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church, Atlanta Baptist Association, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and CBF of Georgia are sponsors of the new Center City Church. Highland Hills Baptist Church, Macon, will host Companions in Christ and Church Leadership Training on Aug. 21. First Baptist Church, Marietta, will host Church Leadership Training on Sept. 11. The events are co-sponsored by CBF and CBF of Georgia. March Mission Madness, a CBF of Georgia missions weekend for youth, registered 723 youth and chaperones for two weekends of MMM 2004. Participants served 4,400 volunteer hours at 35 missions sites. First Baptist Church, Forsyth, hosted the event for southern and central Georgia, and First Baptist Church, Hartwell, hosted the north Georgia event. Scott Ford is MMM coordinator. MISSOURI WINDERMERE BAPTIST

Conference Center near Camdenton, Mo., will host PASSPORT Camps July 19-24 and July 26-31. The new PASSPORTkids! will be at Windermere July 21-24 and July 25-28 for 3rd-6th graders. For more information, contact PASSPORT at (800) 769-0210. The second annual CBF St. Louis Picnic summer gathering featuring CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal, games for children, food and entertainment is scheduled for Aug. 29 at Tilles Park in St. Louis County.



brated its 10th anniversary during its General Assembly at First Baptist Church of Greensboro in March. The event featured a message from Daniel Vestal as well as a comprehensive session on a new strategic plan. With more than 20 workshops, the Assembly covered an array of topics from Partners in Hope, the Fellowship’s rural poverty initiative, to church conflict.


Fellowship of South Carolina has established a formal partnership with the Union of Baptists (UBB) in Belgium. The partnership agreement was signed April 23 at the CBF of South Carolina General Assembly at Boulevard Baptist Church in Anderson. Earlier, the agreement had been signed at the UBB Annual meeting by Jack Couch, pastor of Clearview Baptist Church in Anderson, representing CBF of South Carolina, and Samuel Verhaeghe, president of the UBB. Ray Batson was long retired from the pastorate when Sarahann Callaway, now 17, first crossed his path as a third grader. But still the high school senior remembers all the kind, encouraging words he had for her as a child and teenager, and the pound cake that he and his wife, Nancy, baked and delivered to the Callaway house. For that kindness, Batson became Callaway’s “Favorite Baptist” and was the subject of an essay that won her a $1,000 college scholarship through CBF of South Carolina. Batson was a pastor at four South Carolina Baptist churches and served

Coming Attractions June 24-26 General Assembly 2004 Birmingham Convention Center, Alabama Information: For a complete schedule of events, go to Calendar.

as director of missions in two local associations before retiring in 1991. He had been a member at Fernwood, Callaway’s church, since 1962. “It was a great honor to know that she picked me from all the other Baptists she has known, but I felt unworthy,” Batson said. A Baptist Studies Program has been established at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C. It will be directed by Ginger Barfield and will offer classes in Baptist polity, history and worship in addition to the regular seminary curriculum. Barfield currently teaches New Testament and Greek at the seminary and will be the sole professor in the Baptist studies program initially. The first students will enter the program in the fall. CBF of South Carolina and seminary officials formally established the Baptist House in February.

TENNESSEE “ D I R E C T C O N N E C T : A Conference

About Reaching Young Adults” drew more than 20 clergy and lay leaders of young adult ministries to two sessions this spring at Central Baptist Church of Bearden in Knoxville and Brook Hollow Baptist Church in Nashville. Scott Lee, co-founder of Crosspaths Inc., facilitated the sessions designed

CBF Signs Ministry Partnerships T H E C O O P E R AT I V E Baptist

Fellowship recently entered into several new ministry partnerships that allow the organization to expand and multiply the effects of its resources. Here are summaries of three new agreements: All Africa Baptist Fellowship The partnership covenant between CBF Global Missions and AABF stipulates that the Fellowship will provide a $5,000 grant for three years to defer travel costs of visiting partners and potential partners, co-sponsor conferences and develop projects and materials related to peace-making,

holistic development and theological education. Among the Fellowship’s commitments in the partnership, CBF will provide prayer and volunteer support for AABF projects and connect AABF with U.S. churches seeking ways to minister with and learn from African churches. In turn, AABF committed to help the Fellowship with volunteer opportunities in agreed upon projects and facilitate volunteer involvement in Africa. AABF will also assist CBF Global Missions in prioritizing partnership requests in Africa, especially in locations where the Fellowship currently does not have personnel. AABF will also sponsor conferences on peace-making, holistic development and theological education within Africa. World Vision The Fellowship, World Vision Kenya and World Vision United States announced a ministry partnership to participate in the Hope Child Sponsorship Program addressing the needs of children and communities impacted by HIV/AIDS crisis. The partnership calls for the sponsorship of 350 children in the Soweto area of Nairobi, Kenya. This will add a new dimension and greater reach where CBF Global Missions field personnel Melody and Sam Harrell currently work. The Hope Child program allows a sponsor to connect with a child and support them for $30 a month. So far, First Baptist Church of Rome, Ga., a Fellowship-affiliated congregation, has sponsored 80 children, and College Park Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., has sponsored 12. To learn more about the CBF/World Vision Hope Child Sponsorship Program, contact John Thompson with World Vision at (336) 852-5376 or Be sure to mention you are connected with CBF.


to encourage and inform young adult ministries. The Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly was held at Trinity Baptist Church, Cordova, April 23-24. Keynote speaker Walter Shurden, executive director of the Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University, Macon, Ga., spoke Friday and Saturday, and attendees adopted a budget for 200405 of $324,500, an increase of 6.5 percent over the current year’s budget. Neverfail Community Church, Sparta, and Providence Baptist Church, Cookeville, received the Betty Galloway Advocacy for Women in Ministry Award. Emily Roberts was founding pastor of Neverfail and currently serves as co-pastor with her husband, Eliot. Providence recently called associate pastor Mellisa Roysdon to serve as co-pastor with Jim Rennell. TCBF Theological Scholarships were presented to Elizabeth E. Evans, a student at Duke Divinity School, and John Ryan Dix, currently a student at CarsonNewman College who will attend the Wake Forest Divinity School next year.

Vol. 14, No. 3 CBF COORDINATOR • Daniel Vestal EDITOR • Ben McDade MANAGING EDITOR • Lisa M. Jones

15 PHONE • (770) 220-1600 FAX • (770) 220-1685 E-MAIL • WEB SITE •

fellowship! is published bimonthly by The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Inc., 3001 Mercer University Dr., Atlanta, GA 30341-4115. Periodicals postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing offices. USPS #015-625 POSTMASTER:

Send address changes to “fellowship!” Newsletter, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, P.O. Box 450329, Atlanta, GA 31145-0329

Baptist Medical Dental Fellowship The Fellowship and BMDF recently renewed a partnership agreement that expands the existing agreement to include establishing medical/ dental clinics in Gambia, providing medical/dental care in impoverished rural counties in the United States and working together in the appointment of health care missionaries, among other projects. CBF and BMDF have already partnered on specific projects, such as the purchase and distribution of medicine and medical supplies in North Korea. The new partnership covenant between CBF and BMDF formalizes the connection with the aim of increasing involvement of Fellowship churches in medical/ dental missions opportunities. By Lance Wallace, CBF Communications w w w . t h e f e l l o w s h i p . i n f o J U N E / J U LY 2 0 0 4

P L AY I N G A N D P R AY I N G alongside Afghan refugee

families, 24 Baylor University students spent their spring break in the San Francisco Bay Area, celebrating Afghan Friendship Week with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions field personnel Lita and Rick Sample. The Samples coordinated the week’s activities with Paul McGovern, pastor of Crossroads Church in Fremont, Calif., to reach out to the Bay Area’s children, youth and adult Afghan refugees. The week was co-sponsored by Crossroads Church; Baylor University Baptist Student Ministries in Waco, Texas; and CBF. The week kicked off with a picnic at Centerville Park where Afghan families, Crossroads members and Baylor students spent time playing American games and eating American and Afghan food. “It was beautiful to see the looks of appreciation and enjoyment on the Afghan mothers' faces as they watched their kids having the time of their lives,” says April Aiken, an intern with Baylor’s Baptist Student Ministries. On Wednesday, the Samples and the Baylor students took the Afghan families to a family activity center housing multiple games and sports. Later, the group returned to the

Field personnel photo


Baylor Students, Afghan Refugees Build Friendships during Spring Break

Baylor University students spend time with Afghan refugees and build relationships during Afghan Friendship Week.

church where the Baylor students led a program for the children, a coffeehouse conversation for the youth and a craft project for the women. The Samples also arranged a sightseeing tour for the Baylor students and Afghan families. “We sat with the families on the bus and had wonderful conversations,” Aiken says. “As our Afghan friends took in the sights of San Francisco and ran on the beach with us, it was hard to imagine that a few months or years ago these families were in the midst of despair.” At the close of their week, five Afghan families invited the students, the Samples and the McGoverns to a traditional Afghan dinner in their homes. “As we ate and talked with the Afghan families Friday afternoon, I realized that I loved these people,” Aiken says. “Though they were Muslim, and I am Christian; though they live in Fremont, California, and I live in Waco, Texas, — I loved them.” Baylor University sophomore Jenny Gathright agrees: “What excited me the most about the time we were able to spend with them was being able to closely interact with people from another culture and getting to demonstrate Jesus’ love to them. It was so amazing to see how God could connect two groups of people who had very different religious backgrounds.” “It [was] a time that our Afghan friends felt totally accepted and loved by American Christians,” Lita says. “Even though they are surrounded by Americans in the Bay Area, most people look right through them ... almost as if they were invisible. This week, they felt more real and respected and cared for, even by strangers, whom they now call friends. “The Baylor students gave all of themselves to the Afghan families: they loved them, hugged on them, shared their stories with them, danced with them, and became dear friends with them,” Lita adds. “This is a great testament to Christ and what He has done in our lives ... and now what He has done in theirs.” f! By contributing writer Amy Walker, Atlanta 410P003

P. O. Box 450329 Atlanta, GA 31145-0329 Address Service Requested

2004 June/July  
2004 June/July  

2004 June/July