Churches in the Pacific impacting the world
Vol. 45, No. 3
BAPTIST ‘Sinicization’ of Christianity China’s aim
in this issue Greeting and Usher ministry Tips on how to better train greeters and ushers. Page 3 Boko Haram Nearly 300 women and girls rescued. Page 5 SBC Annual Meeting See articles with further details about the upcoming meeting. Page 6
Tak and Lana Oue (back left and back right) celebrate their 46 years of missionary service in Japan following an IMB recognition service for new emeriti, May 2. “Joy and excitement fill our hearts as we now see the Japanese experiencing the joy of their salvation in Christ and becoming multiplying disciples, taking the gospel to their own people!” Lana said. Photo by Lexie Bennett/IMB
Nashville, Tenn.—Persecution of Christians and other religion groups in China has increased in scope, depth and intensity in the past year, according to the latest annual reports from religious persecution watch groups. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and the international non-profit China Aid Association USA both report high increases in abuses against Christians and other religious groups in the 12 months of 2014. Religious persecution in China rose more than 152 percent comprising six categories of persecution, China Aid reported in its 2014 Annual Report of Religious and Human Rights Persecution in China, The Year of “Persecution and Endurance.” The largest increase was noted in the number of persons sentenced for religious and human rights violations, which rose more than 10,516 percent, from 12 arrests in 2013, to 1,274 arrests in 2014. In other categories tracked by China Aid, the number of severe abuse cases rose nearly See CHINA...Page 4
Missionary retirees embark Seafarer’s Church on new phase of service baptizes many Richmond, Va.—Most of By Kate Gregory
Moving? See page 2 (0401)
the 56 missionaries the International Mission Board honored May 2 upon their retirement from fulltime overseas service to emeritus status in the U.S. didn’t start out as pastors or ministers on church staffs. Most were church members from diverse career fields who felt called to spread the Gospel around the world: an accounting clerk, advertising manager, attorney, beef producer, carpenters, critical care nurse, environmental control chemist, funeral home chaplain, house parents in a children’s home, insurance agents, librarian, maintenance workers, physician, psychologist, radio announcer, rehabilitation counselor, teachers, truck driver and social workers. IMB President David Platt told the new emeriti that retirement isn’t meant to mark the end of missions service but rather the beginning of a new phase of it in their home churches. “God, in His grace, has used the witness and testimony of these choice
servants in a powerful way across the globe,” Platt said Preparing the way of the emeriti. After 20 years of teach“Now, we eagerly anticiing music and theology in pate how Abidjan, Ivory God is going “We know that our Coast, Jerry and to continue mission does not Carol Robertson, to use them from Kentucky cease because of a for His purand Louisiana, poses as they change in position embarked on a or location.” transition new mission to back to life reach a people David Platt, in the United with a different International Mission States. We language than Board president know that what they had our mission learned. does not “Our greatest cease because of a change struggle became our greatin position or location.” est joy as we were able to translate and tell Bible stoGuiding churches ries to people who had Previously with the U.S. never heard about Jesus in Department of Agriculture, their own language,” Jack Hamptin* from Tennes- including a 125-year-old see became an agriculture village chief, Jerry recalled evangelist in West Africa. at the recognition service. “We found our rural Jerry said he felt led by background allowed us to God that he and Carol relate well to subsistence should walk, instead of farmers and Muslim herdsdrive, the five miles to the men in ways that opened chief’s village. The chief their ears to hear the Good later told them he had a News of Jesus,” said Jack of dream that one day two his and his wife Lynn’s* 25 people would come walking years of missionary service. into his village with a mes“Guiding volunteers sage from God for him. from various occupations At age 125, the chief to use their gifts and accepted Christ. He helped knowledge for God’s glory open the way for the Robamong unreached peoples ertsons to share 130 Bible ... led to some of our most See RETIREES...Page 5 rewarding experiences.”
Since January, The Crossroads Seafarer’s Church at Honolulu Harbor has baptized more than 50 who prayed to receive Christ,12 Filipino fishermen seafarers have recommitted their lives to Christ and two Filipino fishermen seafarers have been commissioned as spiritual leaders on their boats. The teams that have sponsored about 20 boats provide a meal and a Bible study is held afterwards. Churches have donated toiletry items, beanie hats, t-shirts, phone cards and pillows for the seafarers. Seafarer’s Ministry director, Chris Evans, said, “We pray for more sponsors as there are many more boats that need this care and service.” This recent photo shows Kim Noble, pastor of FBC Nanakuli, baptizing “Aga” in a donated “baptismal” that followed a Spirit-led Bible study and Communion. You can contact Dr Christopher Evans, NAMB/HPBC Church Planter “At the Crossroads” Seafarers’ Church, 808-772-1423.
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CHRISTOPHER MARTIN Editor FAITH McFATRIDGE Associate Editor The Hawaii Pacific Baptist is published bi-monthly by the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention. For general information, call (808) 946-9581. Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii, and additional mailing office. To subscribe: Send request to the Hawaii Pacific Baptist at the above address. Subscriptions for nonresident members of the HPBC are $12 annually. To register a change of address: Send the mailing label from page 1, along with your new address, to The Hawaii Pacific Baptist at the above address. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to HAWAII Pacific BAPTIST, 2042 Vancouver Dr., Honolulu, HI 96822-2491 To give news tips: Call the editor at (808) 9469581. To submit a letter: Letters on any subject will be considered for publication if sent to the above address, provided they do not make a personal attack on anyone. Letters are limited to 250 words and may be edited for length. Publishing services provided by Western Recorder Inc., Box 43969, Louisville, KY 40253.
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Cheerfully serving each Sunday By Faith McFatridge
I serve as chair of the Aloha Ushers and Greeters Committee at Olivet Baptist Church. Most of the people who serve as ushers and greeters each Sunday have been faithfully serving for many years and before I even became a member at Olivet. They do their jobs cheerfully and do it because they love the Lord. You can see this love on their faces and smiles as they greet people. Faith McFatridge There’s Roger and his crew who are out in the parking lot every Sunday greeting each car that comes through the parking lot. They direct visitors and members to parking spots. Yes, we have designated places for visitors! Each week, Roger puts the signs out and
cleans up any debris around the yard. There’s Nan, Rosa and Lori who station themselves by the door and greets everyone and directs visitors to the sanctuary. Because we have two doors (one goes to the fellowship hall and other directly to the sanctuary), it could be confusing if a guest didn’t know where to go. Sheldon, Art, Neal, Son Chai come every week and pass out bulletins and help seat our guests. These members and other faithful members feel it is important to greet members and visitors as they come to worship and praise God. Throughout the Bible, there are passages of people joyfully greeting visitors. Hebrews 13:2 says to show hospitality to strangers because you may be hosting angels. In Luke, Martha invites Jesus to her home. In Acts, Lydia invites Paul to stay with her and her family. Romans 12:13 says, “Share with the saints
in their needs; pursue hospitality.” Many articles have been written about greeting visitors and guests. There are books on the “how to” for greeters and ushers. Some even say a church should ask an outside observer to be a “Mystery” guest and critique their experience. There are forms for that, too. These articles also point to the fact that visitors make decisions within a few minutes whether to come back or not. Do we want visitors to our church? Do we want them to come back? Of course we do. In his article about the Greeter and usher ministry (see Page 3), Scott Vaughan concludes with, “Above all, it’s not about how much you love your church. “The guests only care about how much you love them. “In that, they will see how much you love your church and how much you love Jesus.” Faith McFatridge is the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention associate editor.
Fresh Ideas: End-of-School Party with purpose By Diana Davis
Pensacola, Fla.—Hundreds of children at a school near your church are ready to celebrate summer vacation. What an opportunity! Plan a gigantic End-of-School party with an outreach purpose. Invite the town with a huge outdoor sign. Create a Facebook invite, advertise in the local newspaper, and print invitations for kids and teachers in your church to distribute. Before the high school Diana Davis party, ask church members if they need to employ students for the summer, and make a “summer jobs” display with applications or contact info. Be creative with theme, snacks and decor. Make it as simple as “stop by for free ice
cream after school” or as elaborate as a fullout summer carnival with inflatable games and water activities. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be upbeat and fun. Schedule the party on the last day of school, and make it specific to high schoolers, middle schoolers or elementary kids. Recruit plenty of adult volunteers to assure that every child is welcome, safe and happy. Prepare a summer calendar of church activities for that age group. Include ongoing events such as Bible class, choir, drama team, Sunday worship service, church library hours, open gym times. List summer events, like Vacation Bible School, camp, all-church picnic, sports teams, family or youth mission trip, etc. Other activities might include a family skate night, Olympic celebration, art day, or other event. Add the church website and phone/email contact information, and print the calendar on brightly colored paper. Attach a magnet for
refrigerator hanging. Here’s the outreach element: Demonstrate Christian joy. Warmly invite those who don’t have a church to come back for Sunday worship and other church activities. Be certain each person receives a calendar. Pray. Watch for opportunities to share Christ. Train student leaders to intentionally include newcomers. When parents arrive to retrieve their child, personally invite them to church. As an alternative plan, your church could challenge parents of school-age children to host a party at their home for their child’s class or grade, and provide the calendars so they can invite those quests to summer church activities. Summertime’s coming, and it’s a great time to invite children to meet the Savior. Diana Davis is the author of “Fresh Ideas” and “Deacon Wives” and wife of North American Mission Board Vice President for the South Region Steve Davis.
Greeter and Usher Ministry By Scott Vaughan
Not surprising (to those who know me), one of my favorite classic television programs is The Addams Family based on the cartoons of Charles Addams. I like the Addams because they swim upstream from everyone else; more kooky than scary. Lurch, the butler, answers the door with the deep “You rang?” as if surprised and annoyed (at the same time) that someone is disrupting the family’s day. As the guest enters, Lurch removes a hat or coat—often without asking. He may or may not announce the guest, but often moans at words or actions he finds ridiculous. I’ve actually met church ushers and greeters that reminded me of Lurch. These good folks are often stationed by doorways, quietly, solemnly handing out worship bulletins without speaking a word. Then there’s the funeral parlor usher. Those who lean in close with a quiet seriousness. “May I help you?” with the same serene intensity as “Have you seen our cherry model?” Then there’s the pollinator—a term stolen from my best friend, Eddie. These well-meaning greeters flutter around like bees in spring; their greetings come and go so quickly we’re often left more confused than served. I once stepped into a hive of pollinators and was greeted eight times in 60 seconds. Then there are those greeters and ushers who resemble my uncle Ed and his friends at the bait shop. The bait shop was the place where Ed and his buddies gathered, found themselves in a circle, tuned out the world and discussed politics, sports, and fishing. I’ve been in many churches and found ushers circled up, folded bulletins in hand, having a serious conversation about the weather. The purpose of this paper is to highlight a few differences between usher and greeter ministries, identify how the two can work together, and to provide some guidelines for these very important ministries. Historically, ushers have been guardians of the door, whether that door was the church, court, or hall. Other definitions give a glimpse of other roles, including service to the presiding officer of the event; and helping maintain order by assisting attendees needing to find a seat. It’s easy to see how our modern-day church ushers still follow through on some of these historic assignments. To these, I add that the church usher is also responsible for the protection of a worshipful atmosphere. The ushers should be the first responders to anything that disturbs the spirit of worship by the congregation. What s missing from this job description is an intentional focus on the welcome and comfort of members and guests. Granted, you would think the guardian of the door would welcome people inside, but typically that welcome is more cursory while providing a worship bulletin or guide. Guests typically get “Good morning” when they should get “Hi, my name is _____. Welcome. Please let me know how we can serve you today.” I’m not suggesting that all ushers fail in this responsibility, but I do suggest that most do fail at it. That’s partly the fault of church leadership that has failed to provide adequate usher training or
recruiting against a required set of personality traits. To compensate for or complement the usher ministry, many churches have added a Greeter Ministry. While ushers protect the worship environment and assist the church with offering collection, greeters take the responsibility of greeting members and guests. The two ministries can co-exist nicely. In churches where ushers are predominately male, the Greeter Ministry provides an opportunity for women to be on the front lines of church image. And, I argue that women are better than men, generally, at greeting members and guests. Women generally make a better, immediate relational connection with families, especially women and children. The addition of a Greeter Ministry does not let ushers off the hook of being nice and friendly. The Greeter Ministry simply shifts the front-line responsibility away from the ushers, allowing the Usher Ministry to focus more on serving staff and maintaining the worship environment. When I lead training events for ushers and greeters, I always tell them to keep it real; just be yourself. Be nice, cordial, and introduce yourself. Always look for ways to help and serve. Don t appear desperate. I’ve seen churches so desperate for new blood that the greeters over-sell guests who appear at ministries. Most guests have already checked out what you believe theologically and know a bit about your history before joining you. When we are invited to eat dinner with someone, Vicki, my wife, always has advance notice on what to wear, what time to be there, and a little about the family. If one of the boys is invited to spend the night with a new friend, we check out that family in a way that would make the CIA proud. Your guests do the very same thing before coming to see you on a Sunday morning or at some other time. Greeters and Ushers don t need to spend a lot of interaction time promoting the church; they need to point out important things - like the bathrooms. I have always enjoyed taking school day field trips with my boys. Last week, I had opportunity to chaperone my thirdgrader s field trip to the South Carolina State Capitol Building and nearby Governor’s Mansion. After a hurried threehour tour of both facilities, the classes were preparing to leave the Governor s Mansion. The tour guide, a volunteer, apologized to me for the frenzied tour. We offer a more detailed tour for adults, she said. It s just so difficult to lead a tour for younger school children. I responded, Well, I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. These children didn’t care if they saw the State Capitol or the Governor s Mansion. This trip was all about being out of class and having a picnic, which is starting right now. This volunteer looked shocked. She had confused what she perceived as important to the guest (seeing the Governor s Mansion) with what was most important to the guest (the picnic). It s so very easy for those of us in usher, greeter and hospitality roles to confuse what we believe is important with what the guest knows to be important. It s understandable. Many ushers and greeters are either long-term church
members or deeply-entrenched members who understand and know the working of the church. These good people are so embedded in the church that they have an emotional investment in it, its property and its ministries. And, for some, that investment can be very, very personal. Along comes the guest who doesn’t care about the history of the church, who doesn’t care about the music, who doesn’t care about the new renovation or construction, who doesn’t care about the return of a very successful mission team - they just don t care. What they care about is - what time is this over, where is the bathroom, and what do you offer for me and my child? Do you see the possibility for gaps? Within the gap of expectation, there are issues for potential customer service, customer satisfaction and customer retention. Ushers and greeters, and those in hospitality ministry, must understand that every person - every member and every guest - is a customer of the church. I m defining customer as everyone just as Jesus defined our neighbor as everyone. That s who we are to serve. To that end, I have modified the customer service poster used by the L.L. Bean company. o A member or guest is the most important person ever at this church property - even when he is not present here. o A member or guest is not dependent on the church; the church is dependent on the member or guest. o A member or guest is not an interruption for the church staff or leadership
or hospitality ministry. The member or guest is the purpose for which staff, leaders and volunteers exist. She is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to serve her. o A member or guest is not someone to argue or match wits with. Nobody, in the long-term, ever won an argument with a customer. We must get to know our customers and the community that they live in. We must understand what they want and what they need from our churches, and we must be prepared to help them find it - even if it means creating, refining and defining ministry. That s how churches become successful; it s how the Kingdom is glorified and grown. We also need to understand that a satisfied customer is priceless. A satisfied customer, incidentally, is not necessarily a happy customer because an unhappy customer is satisfied if someone listens to her. Customers that are not satisfied become negative sales agents in the community, telling everyone about their bad experience at your church. We also need to understand that when comparing potential new customers with existing customers - it costs 5 times the money and energy to satisfy the new customer. Most churches can improve attendance and volunteerism by ensuring current customers are satisfied. A satisfied customer helps attract new customers at a reasonably less expense of time and energy. Get it? We also need to understand that 70 percent of those leaving today’s See USHER.. Page 12
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344 percent, rising from 16 in 2013 to 71 in 2014; religious persecution cases rose 300 percent, from 143 cases in 2013 to 572 cases in 2014; the number of individuals persecuted rose 141 percent from 7,424 to 17,884; the number detained rose more than 103 percent, from 1,470 to 2,994; and the number abused rose 384 percent, from 50 to 242. In addition to the numbers, the depth and intensity of persecution far exceeded that of 2013, and was also more widespread, China Aid reported. The government persecuted house churches as well as the government-sanctioned Three-Self churches. “The Chinese government’s persecution against the government-sanctioned Three-Self church reached a historic high not seen since the Cultural Revolution,” China Aid reported. “The persecution of the house church movement also intensified as both urban and rural house churches were thoroughly scrutinized, and in some cases forced to join the Three-Self church.” “Certain Christian sects throughout China were banned, such as ‘the Church of Almighty God,’ leading to the arrest and conviction of more than 1,000 religious adherents. The Chinese government
MARCH 2015 also made significant efforts to promote ‘the construction of Christianity with Chinese characteristics,’ or ‘sinicization,’” China Aid reported, “thus attempting to transform Christian theology into a doctrine that aligns with the core values of socialism and so-called Chinese characteristics.” USCIRF, in its 2015 Annual Report, said persecution targeted any religious belief or practice the Chinese government considered a threat to national security or social harmony. “Religious freedom conditions for Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims remain particularly acute, as the government broadened its efforts to discredit and imprison religious leaders, control the selection of clergy, ban certain religious gatherings, and control the distribution of religious literature by members of these groups,” USCIRF reported. “The government also detained over a thousand unregistered Protestants in the past year, closed ‘illegal’ meeting points, and prohibited public worship activities. Unregistered Catholic clergy remain in detention or disappeared.... The Chinese government also continues to harass, detain, intimidate, and disbar attorneys who defend members of vulnerable religious groups.” Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.
Church planter training
Nearly 300 women, girls rescued from Boko Haram Borneo, Nigeria—The Nigerian military rescued a second set of female captives April 29 from the Sambisa Forest stronghold of Boko Haram in northeastern Borno state, just one day after securing more than 200 girls and 93 women from the same area, the Associated Press reported. About 220 teenage Chibok school girls missing for more than a year are not believed to be among those secured, but the identities of all recovered are still being determined, Nigeria military officials said in news reports. Officials have not disclosed the number of women and girls included in the second set of captives freed, but those rescued have been evacuated to a safety zone for further screening, Col. Sani Usman told the AP. In a separate news report, the French news agency AFP (“Agence France-Presse”) numbered the two groups of freed women and girls at nearly 500. “Whoever they may be, the important thing is that Nigerians held captive under very severe and inhuman conditions have been freed by our gallant troops,” the AFP quoted defense spokesman Chris Olukolade. Those rescued are said to be traumatized and in need of intensive psychological treatment. Some have been so indoctrinated in Boko Haram ideology, that the females opened fire on soldiers trying to free them, and others may have become emotionally attached to militants they were forced to marry, the AP reported. In the latest rescue, several people were killed, including a Nigerian soldier and a woman. At least eight women were shot and four soldiers were seriously injured. The Nigerian
military will continue to “comprehensively” clean out the Sambisa Forest where Boko Haram is believed to maintain several camps, military officials said. “There is great hope for the recovery of more hostages of the terrorists,” the AFP quoted Olukolade. Boko Haram has suffered losses, but has also recaptured some towns in northeastern Nigeria since the nation’s presidential elections a month ago. Newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim who identifies as a Democrat, takes office May 29. Buhari has vowed to defeat Boko Haram and gain freedom for the 219 Chibok school girls still missing since the militants kidnapped nearly 300 students and destroyed their boarding school April 15, 2014. The kidnapping mobilized the international community in searching for the girls, and spread public interest under the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Most of the girls were never recovered; more than 70 managed to escape without military assistance. Since the beginning of 2014, Boko Haram has kidnapped at least 2,000 women and girls from their families, Amnesty International has estimated. Boko Haram had pledged to imprison some of them as sex slaves, and officials believe many of those captured may have been used as suicide bombers or human shields, according to news reports. Boko Haram militants are blamed for killing 15,000 or more Christians and moderate Muslims since 2009, and leaving more than 1.5 million homeless. Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The Church Planter/Team Builder Training was held at Puu Kahea Conference Center April 27-29. Sponsored by the Church Planting Team in Hawaii, 30 participants from 14 churches learned the steps to planting a church. Guest speakers included Mark Custalow, Chris Dowd, Jeff Mingee and HPBC Staff.
The Main Event: Pacquiao, Floyd boxing match Several churches took advance of the boxing match between Manny Paquiao and Floyd Mayweather by promoting it as an evangelistic event and highlighting Paquiao’s Christian faith. Pahala Baptist Church on the Big Island had “The Main Event” with invitations to watch the match. Hawaii Christian Baptist Church held a gathering at a church member’s home. Pastor Rudy Gomintong reported that there were 70 to 75 people at the event with Michael “Bong” Abagon preaching a message. Three young people prayed to receive Christ. In this photo, HCBC church members who had invited their relatives and friends to watch the fight are waiting for the fight to begin.
PEOPLE AND CHURCHES
Filipino church celebrates 18th anniversary Filipino International Baptist Church celebrated its 18th anniversary on April 26. They also changed its name to “Word of Truth”. The church meets at Ewa Beach Baptist Church at 2 pm on Sundays. Speakers included pastor of Word of Truth, Alberto Camacho and HPBC executive director Chris Martin.
Steve Reagan passes away in Honolulu
Imua Leadership Conference The Big Island Baptist Association hosted the “Imua” Leadership Conference on May 2 at Kona Baptist Church. About 115 participants from 14 Big Island churches heard a message from Chris Martin, HPBC executive director and several break-out sessions. According to Dean Stanley, moderator of the Big Island Baptist Association, the conference was a tremendous event. “The Lord really moved this Saturday.” He also said, “the heart for this conference was to strengthen churches, support pastors and start new works. “We believe as an association that the Gospel has called believers in Christ to train and equip the church to do the work of ministry. “This conference allowed us to fulfill that role of developing Christ-Centered leaders.”
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stories in three villages. The Robertsons served in Ivory Coast a total of 37 years. Walking in their shoes After being placed in Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home at age 12 to escape an alcoholic, abusive home environment, Ron Greenwich became a case worker and then spent 32 years in south Brazil with his wife, Alana, mentoring young people to become Christian leaders. “I never dreamed God would use those painful childhood experiences to lead me to help churches in Brazil open two orphanages, two community centers in poor neighborhoods and two drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers,” Ron said. Counseling alcoholic parents took on a deeper meaning for Ron, who knew what they were putting their families through, but he also knew by personal experience that Jesus’ restorative power knows no bounds. Serving 46 years Lana Oue was an expectant mother in her mid-20s when she and her husband Tak, who had been a pastor in Kentucky, sailed for two weeks to reach Japan in 1970. They served there for 46 years, the longest tenure of the group being recognized for having at least 15 years of service to qualify as emeriti. Lana repeatedly quoted Isaiah 26:3 during their sea journey to help calm her nerves and her stomach. The verse describes the peace of mind that Christ gives to those who trust in Him. “In the ensuing years, when facing
Honolulu – Steve Reagan, pastor of the Waipahu Community Christian Church, passed away March 29. A memorial service was held at the First Southern Baptist Church of Pearl Harbor on April 23. Steve W. Reagan was born on June 12, 1953 in Honolulu but grew up on Jacksonville, Florida. He enlisted in the United State Air Force shortly after graduating from high school. While he was stationed in Honolulu, he met and married Danielle Kalauawa in 1973. He served as a dedicated servant of the Lord for over thirty years and was serving as the pastor of the Waipahu Community Christian Church when he passed away. Reagan is survived by his wife, Danielle, children Sarah-Ann Reagan Ellis (Eric), S. “Loke” Reagan-Tavares (Roy), Jataime “Nani” Reagan-Rodriguez (Cal), Samantha L. Reagan, Shyanne L. Reagan, Duke H.P. Reagan and fifteen grandchildren. He is also survived by his mother Annie Reagan, brother Rod Reagan and sisters Cynthia Mooney and Ede Reagan.
Hawaii Christian purchases land on Kamaaha Loop Hawaii Christian Baptist Mission has purchased land on Kamaaha Loop in Kapolei on Oahu. The .4 acre property will be the site of the church and a business. Pastor Rudy Gomintong said that the church has now begun a fundraising campaign for the building. The church members had a prayer vigil with a potluck lunch on April 26 at the new site. The church had been meeting at Waikele Community Park’s recreation center which was too small for the growing church. In this photo is Pastor Rudy Gomintong and his wife, Lydia.
death, challenges, fears or disappointments, this verse brought me back to focus on Christ, which led to peace, joy and victory,” Lana said. The child she was carrying on their voyage to Japan now is a missionary there as well. Trusting in God’s plan Holden and Leanne Ohler* were empty nesters approaching theirs 50s when they decided to relocate from Georgia to South Asia in 1999. “We are so glad that God called us to international missions,” the Ohlers wrote of their 16 years of service, “and we thank Southern Baptists for their prayers and gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Please consider that you can also go and serve! If it’s God’s plan, it’s a good plan. Trust Him to work out the details. He did it for us!” IMB President David Platt also encouraged the service attendees to consider stepping into the shoes of the emeriti by sharing the Gospel with unreached people around the world. Basing his message on Hebrews 11:2912:3, Platt said heroes of faith revere God and point people to Him, continue to run the race of sharing the Gospel with those who haven’t heard it and rejoice in looking forward to spending eternity worshipping God with people from every nation, tribe and language. The missionaries honored at the recognition service held in conjunction with IMB’s Emeritus Recognition Conference, April 29-May 3, served a cumulative total of 1,550 years on the international mission field. *Name changed
Above: Jerry Robertson, who served in Ivory Coast for 37 years, leads a recessional at the conclusion of an IMB service honoring 56 new emeriti. Sharing a baseball anecdote during his sermon, IMB President David Platt told attendees to cheer for these missionaries returning home from the international missions field as loudly and exuberantly as they would their favorite sports team. Left: During a recognition service for missionary retirees who have obtained emeritus status by serving at least 15 years, IMB President David Platt talked about the mission of every Christian to see God’s glory declared among the nations. “There are people all over the world who still need the gospel,” Platt said. He encouraged service attendees to consider how they can declare God’s glory to those who don’t know about God’s saving grace. Photos by Thomas Graham/IMB
SBC Columbus: Praying for next Great Awakening By Shawn Hendricks
Columbus, Ohio—As this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting approaches, SBC President Ronnie Floyd urges fellow Baptists to gather June 16-17 in Columbus, Ohio, to cry out to God and expect great things to follow. This year’s annual meeting theme is “Great Awakening: Clear Agreement, Visible Union, Extraordinary Prayer,” based on Romans 13:11. Floyd hopes Southern Baptists of all ages and ethnicities will attend and “rise to this moment in our nation calling out to God for the next Great Awakening in our nation.” “We’ve got to understand that we need everybody,” Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, said. “I know historically and biblically there is no great movement of God that ever occurs that is not first preceded by the extraordinary prayer of God’s people.” Floyd pointed to the Tuesday (June 16) evening worship service, which he has described as having the potential to be an “epic night of prayer.” Floyd has called on 11 pastors, representing a variety of backgrounds and ages, to help lead the service, which also will feature music by the Cross Church band and choir. “It’s going to be a tremendous night,” he said. “It’s one that I would just pray to God that every Southern Baptist could participate in.” Amid the many challenges in the U.S.
and abroad, Floyd noted that God is using them “to create a desperation. This is a tremendous time. ... It’s a moment of great season. It’s a significant moment. And it’s a moment Southern Baptists cannot pass on.” He said he hopes the evening also will spark repentance and reconciliation. “We need to model before this country what it’s like for the men and women (of the SBC) to walk together in unity,” he said, “and that’s what I’m committed to leading us to do.” Crossover Columbus With more than 140 projects, activities and opportunities lined up, metro Columbus director of missions Rich Halcombe said Columbus will be ready for this year’s Crossover on Saturday, June 13— the annual evangelistic outreach by Southern Baptists in the host city of the SBC annual meeting. Seventy-three local Metro Columbus Baptist Association (MCBA) churches are involved in the effort and will be leading local outreach in their communities, Halcombe said in an April 22 BP article. “With the local church as the lead, follow-up is built into the designed system for Crossover Columbus,” said Halcombe, noting the city’s Linden neighborhood will be an area of focus during Crossover. The North American Mission Board and the MCBA are partnering together along with churches throughout the host city as well as volunteers from churches
SBC Pastors’ Conference to spotlight Christ, not fads By David Roach
Columbus, Ohio—Though this year’s Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference will feature a diverse array of speakers—in terms of both race and age—conference president William Rice hopes they won’t be the gathering’s focus. He hopes pastors will turn their attention to Jesus, setting the stage for the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting’s emphasis on prayer and awakening. Hence the theme of this year’s Pastors’ Conference: “He Must Increase.” “In ministry, we get distracted by so many things,” said Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla. “And some of those are good things,” like methodologies, leadership, strategies and worship styles. “... But at the end of the day, what we need most of all is this movement which focuses upon Christ—His glory, the mission to make Him known among the nations and in our own country.” The June 14-15 Pastors’ Conference will feature preaching, worship and prayer to undergird the ministry of pastors and their wives. Sessions at the Greater Columbus Convention Center will take place prior to the SBC’s annual meeting. “We really wanted to have guys who were strong preachers and teachers of the Word,” Rice said of the anticipated conference speakers. “My focus wasn’t the latest methodological fad or the latest
gimmick that somebody has, but guys that are going to preach from the Word.” Speakers for Sunday (June 14) at the Pastors’ Conference include Dean Fulks, pastor of LifePoint Church in Columbus, Ohio, and Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Monday (June 15) will feature messages from Vance Pittman, pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas; Paul David Tripp, executive director of the Association of Biblical Counselors’ Center for Pastoral Life and Care; and David Uth, pastor of First Baptist in Orlando, Fla. Afternoon speakers include Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist in Charlotte, N.C.; H.B. Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist in Jacksonville, Fla.; and Steve Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist in Cordova, Tenn. Evening speakers include J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Ill.; and David Platt, president of the SBC’s International Mission Board. The leadership team includes Jeremy Westbrook, pastor of Living Hope in Marysville, Ohio, as vice president and Drew Landry, pastor of Spotswood Baptist in Fredericksburg, Va., as treasurer. “Our prayer is that every single pastor (who attends) would really be strengthened and encouraged, and that God would speak to them,” Rice said. (BP)
throughout North America. Halcombe said Crossover could have a positive impact on the association, which has already grown with the addition of 63 new churches in the past decade. For information, visit www.namb.net/ crossover or www.crossovercolumbus.org. Proposals Messengers gathering at the Greater Columbus Convention Center will consider a variety of recommendations during the annual meeting. Among them: n a new name for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Prompted by its decision to relocate its primary campus to the Los Angeles area from the San Francisco area, the seminary has requested that its name be changed to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. n an amended North American Mission Board ministry statement to include planting churches overseas in cooperation with the International Mission Board. Messengers approved a similar amendment change to the IMB’s ministry statement in 2011 to allow it to assist with unreached people groups in the U.S. and Canada. The amended NAMB statement is expected to relate particularly to military chaplains stationed at bases overseas. n SBC bylaw amendments to allow for the potential use of electronic voting devices in the convention hall, after this year’s meeting in Columbus, and to establish a quorum for voting on all matters of SBC business as those present at the time of a ballot.
Other highlights n This year’s annual meeting will feature a “Sending Celebration,” a joint commissioning service Wednesday, June 17. The International Mission Board and North American Mission Board will celebrate commissioning overseas missionaries and North American church planters. Keynote speakers will include Floyd, IMB President David Platt and NAMB President Kevin Ezell, with Shane & Shane as the featured worship leaders. n During its Send North America luncheon, NAMB will highlight its partnership with Southern Baptists to push back lostness throughout North America. The event will be held Monday, June 15, at noon, in the convention center’s Battelle Grand Ballroom. Tickets are available at snaluncheon.com. n Ministers’ wives attending the SBC annual meeting will be able to attend a variety of women’s events based on the theme, “Radiant,” from Exodus 34, including a Ministers’ Wives Luncheon, Pastors’ Wives Conference and a Women’s Expo. Registration Register online at sbcannualmeeting. net under the Messengers tab. After completing online registration, each messenger will receive an eight-digit registration code to present at the annual meeting’s Express registration lane. There, the registration code can be entered into a computer and a nametag will be printed. (BP)
Why should Christians care about politics? By Rick Hardison
Whenever I hear a preacher start talking about politics, I get nervous. Really nervous. A flurry of concerns race to mind: “Just preach the gospel.” “Stay close to the text.” “Don’t assume Jesus was a Republican.” “I hope nonChristians aren’t turned off right now.” These fears emerge because some pastors blur the line between sound doctrine and political opinion, using the pulpit to promote a partisan agenda. They are cozy with some candidates and disrespectful of others. They have used their spiritual platforms to galvanize a certain demographic in support of their causes while at the same time alienating an even larger group. In response, the conventional wisdom for the preacher sometimes is “Don’t go there. Don’t touch anything political with a 10-foot pole.” This applies not just to pastors but also to how church members want to spend their energy. Many Christians seem content to disengage from the public square altogether, arguing that our time is better spent just trying to win people to Jesus. Conservatives are particularly worried, because anything that smells of political activism recalls the pitfalls of the social gospel to which they are committed never to return. And Christians want churches to grow. Spending any time in the divisive political arena does not seem to put you on the fast track to success.
The result of this disengagement often leads believers to take libertarian stances on some of the greatest moral issues of our day—arguing that, say, abortion, is a sin, but it’s not the government’s role to restrict it. The same could be said about gay marriage or prostitution. This youcan’t-legislate-morality approach seemingly gives the Christian the best of both worlds: he still gets to call sin “sin,” but he is off the hook from taking embarrassing cultural stands. But the Christian should avoid this pitfall. The very role of government is to reward good and punish evil (1 Peter 2:14), and the church is uniquely qualified to articulate what good and evil actually are. Jesus’ familiar call to be salt and light implies that the remnant has a preserving effect on the larger culture. While the primary purpose of the law in Scripture is to highlight our need for a Savior, a secondary function is to restrain evil. The law—whether in ancient Israel or 21st-century America—informs the conscience of the next generation. Those who preach the glories of a libertarian view on moral issues seem to quickly forget that sin hurts people. Love of neighbor demands that believers have a measure of political concern. This is not to say that the Christian goal is to enshrine all Christian ethics in a grand piece of righteous legislation. But if Christians are called to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Christians should also desire government to be influenced by a biblical worldview. (WR)
1995 bombing made them grapple with forgiveness By Bob Nigh
Oklahoma City—Although Oklahoma City police chaplains Jack and Phyllis Poe weren’t inside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building when a truck bomb exploded at 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, the aftereffects of the tragedy pushed them to grapple with forgiveness. “One of the things we really didn’t understand is, as caregivers, we want to make a difference, but we didn’t realize that you can give yourselves away. And, Phyllis and I gave ourselves away,” Poe said, reminiscing about the tragedy as its 20th anniversary approached. “The two weeks before it happened, we had (attended) seven funerals,” Phyllis recalled. “We were in the office and I started crying. I said, ‘God, please, no more funerals, we can’t do this, we’re too tired.’ So, we were spent before we ever got to the bombing.” On April 19, they were getting dressed to go to yet another funeral when the bomb went off. “Our house was 8.5 miles away,” Jack said. “I thought something in our house had exploded. Then I thought an airplane crash had caused that massive boom. “So, I went to the car and checked our (police) radio and finally someone said they thought it was the federal building downtown. “I left, and Phyllis said she would follow me later. I pulled in behind one of our (police) units and followed him downtown.” The Poes would spend the next 21 days at the bomb site. The first damage Jack saw was a Lincoln dealership about four blocks from the Murrah Building, “and the cars looked like they had been beaten with sledge hammers,” he said. “There was glass all over the place from the big plate glass showroom windows that had been blown out. “When I got to the Regency Towers Apartments, I parked my car and ran up the street. … (W)hen our police officers who had been in Vietnam smelled the ammonia, they knew exactly what happened and that it was a bomb. The sight of the building was devastating.” The police chief sent Poe to the initial command post, then to First United Methodist Church. “They said, ‘We have some bodies there and you are needed,’” Poe said. “… (One) of our veteran homicide detectives had gone in there and he had left, saying, ‘I can’t take this.’” At the church, the “lasting image in my mind is walking in there and seeing three adults and five children laid out in the vestibule,” Poe said. “The bodies eventually got moved to the back of the church, where they set up the temporary morgue before they sent them to the medical examiner’s office.” People also were crying about children. “Finally, an officer told me there was a day care in the federal building,” Poe said, “and that was what the people were crying about.” Poe next started searching for police officers who walked a beat in the area. “I was afraid we had lost some of them, especially one named Bob,” Poe said. “He was a big man, kind of a private, shy guy.
Jack Poe, at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, prays beside the memorial chair for Secret Service Agent Mickey Moroney who was killed in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Poe and his wife, Phyllis, Oklahoma City police chaplains, spent 21 days at the bomb site. (Photo by Bob Nigh)
“I finally found him about 10:30 a.m. and he grabbed me and gave me a big bear hug. “He said, ‘Chaplain, I have coffee in that building at 9 a.m. every morning, and I got up to go to work this morning, and the kids had the car last night and, like most kids do, they brought it home empty. I was filling the car up with gas this morning when the bomb went off.’ “I told him how happy I was that he wasn’t in the building at the time, and I turned to leave, but he grabbed me again and said, ‘That’s not all of the story.’ “He said, ‘I have two grandkids who stay in that nursery.’ “My knees almost buckled at that point after having seen those children at the church. But, he said, ‘They weren’t here this morning. They woke up sick, and their momma kept them at home.’” Poe then worked in the damaged federal building and checked on other people until concern broke out over the structure collapsing. “… (T)hey started having people run out,” he recounted. “I joined with our officers helping people get out, and I thought this might be it, and I prayed, ‘Lord, if this is it, please take care of Phyllis and the kids.’ … If the building had come down, there was no way I was going to make it out.” Phyllis, meanwhile, had been assigned to help coordinate the chaplain response to the tragedy. Setting up a “Chaplain’s Corner” in the parking garage of One Bell Central, she eventually compiled a list of 255 chaplains—including 27 military chaplains since Jack also was the National Guard’s state chaplain—who showed up to minister to the victims,
survivors and first responders. “Working for the state fair all those years really prepared me,” said Phyllis, who had managed the fair’s Chaplain’s Corner since 1990. The Poes worked tirelessly in the weeks, months and years after the bombing, pouring their hearts and souls into the lives of others. The smiles on their faces and the ubiquitous hugging, however, masked the struggle to forgive the perpetrators of the bombing, eventually leading to an unstable marriage. “I didn’t know where to put my anger,” Phyllis said. “I had a lot of anger. Anger that people were hurt; that people died. Anger that our lives were changed within seconds, because you’ll never be the same. “No matter where we go, what we do, we talk about the bombing. It comes up somehow. Before the bombing, after the bombing. It’s one of those markers in your life.” Phyllis’ parents had tended to be passive and hadn’t allowed anger to be showed at home, so Jack received the brunt of the anger. “I couldn’t take it out on anybody else. … It got to the point that we were fighting a lot. “Finally, we were going to a survivors’ meeting at the state capitol one night, and I didn’t want to go and said, ‘I just feel like the first person who asks me for another hug, I’d just as soon slap them.’ “I knew then I was in trouble, because I love people and I’m a hugger. Jack also struggled with forgiveness “because I didn’t like (convicted bomber Timothy) McVeigh and I didn’t like (co-conspirator Terry) Nichols.”
At a church service in Texas during a break in Nichols’ trial in 1999, the preacher was speaking on forgiveness. He mentioned the bombing and McVeigh and Nichols, “and he said if they had repented, God would forgive them. I got up and walked out,” Jack said. “I sat outside and my 15-year-old grandson came out and knew something was going on. He came out and just let me cry on his shoulder. “I finally had to come to the realization that forgiveness is not for McVeigh or Nichols, it’s for us. Booker T. Washington, I think it was, once said, ‘I’ll never permit a man to reduce me to hate, for the moment I hate him, I become his slave.’” Forgiveness “would allow me to minister to those who haven’t forgiven,” Jack said. “And I knew that if I didn’t let it go, it would continue to eat at me.” Things came to a head in 1999, and the Poes’ marriage was “saved” by Joe Williams, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s chaplaincy and community services specialist and a chaplain with the FBI, who arranged for the couple to attend a seminar in Florida. “Joe came to the house and had airplane tickets to Florida for us to go see Charles Figley,” Phyllis said of a leading specialist for emotionally traumatized people. “We thought we were going to a big conference on something called Compassion Fatigue. But, when we got there, the conference was just the two of us. “Joe, along with the Lord, saved our marriage by coming over and loving us.” (BP)
Grateful friends mark Blackaby’s 80th By Lee Weeks
Jonesboro, Ga.—How do you celebrate the life and ministry of an “ordinary” man used by God to launch church planting movements around the world, disciple Christian denominations, counsel internationally-renowned ministry leaders, mentor CEOs of billiondollar companies, and reform the culture of one of America’s most violent prisons? You do what that same ordinary man has done daily throughout his ministry— draw near to God through prayer and Bible study. Such was the emphasis during a twoday celebration of Henry Blackaby’s 80th birthday at First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Ga., as hundreds of people recommitted themselves to God’s call on their lives while also paying tribute to the author of the widely influential “Experiencing God—Knowing and Doing the Will of God.” Since its debut in 1990, the discipleship study has been translated into more than 45 languages and sold more than 7 million copies. And yet the miraculous multiplied effect of its influence
worldwide finds its roots in the early morning devotional time of an obscure Canadian Southern Baptist pastor whose own teenage daughter was battling cancer. “This is an ordinary person who rises early to meet an extraordinary God,” said Richard Blackaby, the eldest of five children, president of Blackaby Ministries International and coauthor of the revised edition of Experiencing God, released in 2007. Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, called Blackaby “a prophet of God” who has “taught millions and millions (of people) to say, ‘Speak Lord, Your servant is hearing.’ “And he’s taught us how to position ourselves where we can hear the call of God and experience the call of God on our lives.” Burl Cain, warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola for the past 20 years, credited Experiencing God with setting hundreds of death row inmates and “lifers” spiritually free. More than 2,000 inmates at the prison near Baton Rouge, La., have completed the 12-week study—helping spawn a 73
Henry Blackaby, author of “Experiencing God,” and his wife Marilynn enjoy a lighthearted moment during a two-day celebration of his 80th birthday at an Atlanta-area church where his son Mel is pastor. (Photo by Turner PhotoDesign)
“Experiencing God,” first published in 1990, opened doors for international ministry for Henry Blackaby. (Photo by Turner PhotoDesign)
percent decrease in prison violence. “Experiencing God changed the culture of the prison,” Cain said. Now, hundreds of inmates are part of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s extension program within the prison. Claude King, who coordinated the editing of Experiencing God for its publisher Lifeway Christian Resources, recounted that assimilating Blackaby’s pre-dawn devotional writings and teachings for publication revolutionized his biblical worldview. “I realized so much of what I said was man-centered rather than God-centered,” King said. Blackaby said he was never interested in simply writing another Bible study course. “I told Claude King, God’s people don’t need another course book,” he said during the April 17-18 gathering. “Is there another way we can write this so it won’t be just another course, but will become a deep experience with God just in the process of studying? “That’s the one comment I hear more than any other—‘This study became the deepest experience with God I’ve ever known.’ Please understand that’s what we prayed.” Johnny Hunt, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., said Blackaby is one of his heroes. “I am a byproduct of your life and your ministry,” Hunt said. “Thank you, Henry, for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed.” Hunt cited an Experiencing God principle he’s employed over the last 28 years at First Baptist Woodstock: “God is not our servant to bless our plans and desires. He is our Lord and we must adjust our lives to what He is doing and to His ways.” To that end, Hunt said the Atlanta-area church he leads had commissioned its 136th family to the international mission field and has started 120 new churches. “When you labor where God is already at work, He accomplishes His purposes through you,” Hunt said in citing another principle from Experiencing God.
Mel Blackaby, Henry and Marilynn’s third son and pastor of First Baptist of Jonesboro, said his parents’ track record in ministry reflects the biblical principles taught in Experiencing God. As in 1970, when Blackaby resigned as pastor of a large church in Downey, Calif., to become pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Over the next 12 years, the once-dying church grew from 10 members to a thriving congregation that launched 38 mission churches as well as the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary and College. In the early 1980s as a director of missions in Vancouver, British Columbia, Blackaby led an evangelistic initiative that resulted in 20,000 people professing faith in Christ during the World’s Fair. Before retiring at the age of 65 as director of the North America Mission Board’s Office of Prayer and Spiritual Awakening, Blackaby had also served as an adviser to the presidents of the International Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources. And over the last 15 years through Blackaby Ministries International, he has provided spiritual counsel to countless pastors, missionaries and corporate executives around the world as well as former President George W. Bush. “The most profound contribution of Henry Blackaby may not be what he has already written or spoken but what will be done in the future because of his life,” Richard Blackaby said. At the birthday celebration, Richard Blackaby announced the establishment of the Henry Blackaby Legacy Fund which has a goal of $2 million of which $250,000 has already been pledged. “His five children and 14 grandchildren will continue to serve the Lord and Blackaby Ministries International will continue to promote biblical teaching on the Christian life to churches around the world,” Richard Blackaby said. “God has mightily confirmed BMI’s global plans to sustain my dad’s legacy as we continue to challenge church and marketplace leaders in joining God where He is at work.” (BP)
Vietnam orphans make ‘miracle’ journey in 1975 By Gregory Tomlin
Garland, Texas—Pastor Nguyen Xuan Ha relayed the message to the children and workers of the Cam Ranh City Orphanage that the South Vietnamese army could not stop the communist juggernaut. The last Americans had been evacuated from Saigon, and North Vietnamese tanks had crashed the gates of the presidential palace. The iron curtain had descended over Vietnam. It was April 30, 1975. It was time to set sail. A once-sunken boat that Ha and some of the older orphan boys had patched hardly seemed seaworthy. They had been on the run since April 2. They fled south from Cam Ranh Bay to Phan Thiet, dodging firefights along the way. From Phan Thiet, they made their way to Saigon, and from Saigon to Rach Gia on the southern coast. “When I look back on my journey, it reminds me of the movie ‘The 10 Commandments’ when Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt,” said Thomas Ho, who was one of the oldest children in the orphanage, built in 1967 by American servicemen, Vietnamese Christians and Southern Baptist missionaries. “In the modern world, God is still in control. He still performs miracles around us every day,” Ho said. “In 1975, pastor Nguyen Xuan Ha led 69 orphans and more out of Vietnam to the U.S., the land of opportunity, safely. I believe God took great care of us.” Also on the 35-foot boat were 13 workers from the orphanage and 13 of their children.
Ho, now an air conditioning repairman and member of the Vietnamese Baptist Church of Garland, Texas, can close his eyes and smell the sea, hear the sound of children singing on the boat, and remember the prayers he and others prayed for deliverance. A journey begins Ho’s journey to America began with his arrival at the Cam Ranh City Orphanage after the death of his parents. His mother died when he was two months old. His father, who fought in the South Vietnamese army, was killed in 1967. Ho’s aunt was killed when their town was shelled in the middle of the night. He still remembers the sight. When an artillery shell landed near their shelter, Ho’s aunt told him to go next door while his uncle treated a cousin’s leg wound. His aunt pledged to follow but was cut down by an explosion. “I looked back and saw my aunt with her right hand holding her stomach. Every organ was exposed, but she still called out to me asking if I was safe. She died a few hours later,” Ho recounted. Ho made his way to Cam Ranh city, where he saw a bus full of orphan children handing out toys. He knew an orphanage would offer him clothes, food and an education, so he asked to be placed under the care of the new facility. At the orphanage, Ho met Southern Baptist missionaries Walter Routh Jr. and Jim and Margaret Gayle. Routh and the Gayles had seen the horrors of war. They did what they could to make life bearable
Nearly 70 orphans boarded a patched-up boat on the southern coast of Vietnam on April 30, 1975, to begin a journey to freedom that brought them to the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Cam Rahn Orphans)
for the children. “The earliest memory that I have of the orphanage is that the place was full of life, happiness, and everyone cared for each other,” Ho said. Twice a week, they’d receive gifts, toys, go on picnics, and play with U.S. Marines at a nearby base. Routh left Vietnam, but the Gayles stayed until they were furloughed in 1974. They planned to return, but the collapse of the South Vietnamese government removed that possibility. It also left the Gayles wondering what happened to the orphans. Rescue at sea Two days into the escape in 1975, the orphans’ boat ran out of fuel, leaving them adrift far off the coast of South Vietnam with no food and little water. And then, God provided an answer to their prayers. A Taiwanese freighter appeared on the horizon. Pastor Ha pleaded for help but the ship refused to tow the orphans’ boat. Everyone on board prayed again for deliverance. Ho, then a teenager, said the freighter slowly turned around. The ship’s sailors secured a tow line and the orphans were towed toward Singapore. Southern Baptist missionaries in Singapore worked with the U.S. State
Department to transfer the orphans to America. When their plane landed at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas a month later, missionary Jim Gayle was the first person to walk into the plane to greet them. “We were so happy. I thought I would never see him again after he left Vietnam,” Ho said. “But seeing him again, all my worry left.... I felt like I was witnessing a miracle.” The Cam Ranh orphans eventually were taken in by the Buckner Children’s Home in Dallas. After being assessed for their needs, the children were placed in adoptive homes. Today, they are doctors and businessmen, fathers and mothers— and U.S. citizens. But Vietnam still tugs at their hearts, Ho said. “I miss Vietnam. It’s the country of my birth and where I was raised. I do pray for both the people of Vietnam and the government,” he said. “In Vietnam today, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. There is no freedom of speech or religion.” Many of the Cam Ranh orphans returned to Vietnam in 2010 for the first time with Jim and Margaret Gayle. The group plans to return again later this year, but this time without Jim Gayle. After suffering through a long battle with cancer, Gayle died in 2014. (BP)
150 years after Appomattox: A redemptive surrender By Stephen Douglas Wilson
Paducah—Gen. Robert E. Lee arrived at the McLean House near Appomattox, Va., On April 9, 1865, to meet with Union commander Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Nearly surrounded and with an undernourished army, Lee sought generous surrender terms from the Union army leader whose wartime nickname was “Unconditional Surrender Grant.” Both men knew that what they decided on here would set the tone for the nation after the grueling four-year Civil War. The two men grew up in a United States that embraced a strong Christian worldview. General Lee was a practicing Christian for most of his life and was confirmed in his Episcopal faith. He carried around a worn-out prayer book during the Civil War that was only replaced when he could no longer read the small print. He had freed his own slaves long before the war, retaining one of his freed slaves as his paid servant and confidant. Lee’s personal compassion for others as both a private citizen and an army commander was legendary. In addition, he later confessed to other Southerners after the war that he had prayed for his enemies during the conflict. The faith of General Grant is harder to
discern. At West Point, a youthful Grant revealed to others that he disliked attending chapel services. He was not a regular churchgoer, but did so occasionally at the request of his devout wife. Grant never publicly made his faith convictions known, although the Methodist pastor of his wife said that Grant had confessed Christ before his death. Grant eventually confessed to resigning his military commission prior to the Civil War in part because of drinking too much. After returning to the Army, his wartime record never included incidents of alcohol impacting his military performance, although the pre-war charge of insobriety resurfaced among critics. His memoirs reveal his Christian worldview and desire to live a moral life. After the war when Grant was president, he signed the bill that made Christmas an official federal holiday. Lee, dressed in his best uniform, arrived at the McLean residence first and waited for Grant to arrive. In a previous correspondence, Grant magnanimously told Lee to pick the meeting place and that he would meet him there. Grant entered the house in a mud-spattered field uniform that revealed his haste to get there. The two men exchanged pleasantries and discussed their common
military service in the Mexican War. Surprisingly, Grant could not bear to bring up the subject of surrender. He later related he was genuinely saddened by the plight of his Confederate enemies. It was Lee who gently nudged the Union general into that discussion. In one of the most Christ-like moments in American history, Grant proposed a gentle settlement for his enemies of four years. Grant offered to parole Lee’s enlisted men only on their word not to take up arms against the United States again. Officers would sign a written parole vouching for their men. Enlisted men would give up arms, but officers could keep sidearms, horses and property. The Union commander said each man could return home without fear of being imprisoned or prosecuted. Lee convinced Grant to let enlisted men keep horses and mules they possessed to assist planting crops for that spring. Arrangements were made for the hungry Confederates to be fed from Union storehouses. Lee conveyed his gratitude by saying, “This will have a very happy effect among the men and do much toward reconciling the country.” They shook hands and left. Lee rode back to Confederate lines; when Grant emerged from the McLean residence, Union troops began cheering, but the
general rebuked them. “The Confederates are now our countrymen, and we do not want to exult over their downfall.” Three days later, Lee’s entire army formally surrendered without incident. Each army showed the proper respect to each other; there is no record of a single Union soldier cheering for their victory or jeering their Confederate counterparts. Within two-and-a-half months, all other Confederate armies would surrender in like fashion. The Civil War was over. For the rest of their lives, Lee and Grant possessed great respect for each other. Grant never spoke ill of Lee and later prevented authorities from charging Lee with treason as that would have violated spirit of the Appomattox peace. Lee long remembered Grant’s generosity. Years later when a faculty member at Washington College where Lee was president spoke ill of Grant, Lee interjected, “Sir, if you dare presume to speak anything disrespectful of General Grant in my presence again, either you or I will sever your connection with this university.” The spirit of Christ certainly had prevailed on that April day at Appomattox. It was on a Palm Sunday. As noted by an American historian, the men of both armies would all live to see Easter. (BP)
Map of religions reveals world of change ahead By Cathy Lynn Grossman
Muslims will overtake Christians by the end of this century. India, now mostly Hindu, will become the world’s largest Muslim country. The numbers of people with no religious identity will soar in the United States and Europe, but the unaffiliated will lose worldwide market share as Christians maintain a steady growth. All these changes are drawn from the Pew Research Center’s new projections, released April 2, that map global faith traditions and how they’re likely to shift by 2050. The report says nothing about the transcendent message of any religion. It makes no claims about believers’ level of devotion or practice. Instead, it’s a story of nitty-gritty statistics: Which group is having babies (lots of babies or just a few)? Which ones have many young people, and which are slowly graying out? Whose followers are on the move—from one nation to another, or switching religions? “Demographics are an underappreciated force that is shifting the contours of faith,” said Conrad Hackett, the Pew demographer who led the six-year study. Hackett analyzed projected changes for Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, folk religions, other minority religions and the unaffiliated. Those contours matter. The Pew Research Center doesn’t delve into political forecasting, but readers of the report’s projections from 2010 to 2050 might feel a thumb press down on many sore spots and raise questions beyond the scope of Pew’s data: n Will prejudice against Muslims rise as the percentage of people in Europe who are Muslim climbs to 10.2 percent, up from today’s 5.9 percent? “The projected growth rate is only about 1 percentage point a decade,” said Hackett. “But it’s a very visible change: More people wearing veils, more behaving in culturally distinct ways.” n Who will assume the minority voice in the U.S. public square as Muslims
outpace Jews as the country’s thirdlargest group, after Christians and the unaffiliated? n Will religious tensions flare as India becomes the world’s most populous Muslim nation, supplanting Indonesia? “The quality of interfaith relations in such a country (about to pass China as the world’s most populous) will be of global importance,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research. n How will more secular regions such as Europe and the U.S. relate to deeply religious regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, divided among Christians and Muslims? “The question is: ‘How will we understand each other?’” said Cooperman. “Sub-Saharan Africa is 12 percent of the world population now, and it will be 20 percent by 2050. That’s huge growth for people to get their heads around.” The report, sponsored by the PewTempleton Global Religious Futures project, offers many more head-spinning numbers and a religion-by-religion, region-by-region analysis of data from 198 countries and territories, representing nearly all the world’s population. Among the major findings: n “As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an
estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third of the Earth’s 6.9 billion people. Islam came in second, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent of the global population.” Four in 10 of all the world’s Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa by 2050. n While Christian numbers will continue to grow, Muslims, who are younger and have a higher birth rate, will outpace them. By 2050, “there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30 percent of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31 percent), possibly for the first time in history.” Barring unforeseen events—war, famine, disease, political upheaval and more— Muslim numbers will surpass Christians after 2070. n Worldwide, the unaffiliated will fall from 16 percent to 13 percent. Christians, Muslims and Hindus live in areas with “bulging youth populations,” high birthrates and falling levels of infant morality, the report said. Even the global tally for Jews is expected to rise, based on the high birthrate of Orthodox Jews in Israel. Meanwhile, the unaffiliated are “heavily concentrated in places with low fertility and aging populations, such as Europe, North America, China and Japan,” the report said. n Nearly two-thirds of all the unaffiliated worldwide live in China, the research found. “If Chinese authorities
allow greater freedom of religion, the share of unaffiliated in the world population could shrink even more dramatically than the report predicts,” said Ariela Keysar, associate director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, who consulted on the project. n While religious switching has a significant impact in North America and Europe, in many countries, changing one’s religion is difficult—if not illegal. There’s no data on religious switching among China’s 1.3 billion people, with nearly 50 percent of them in the unaffiliated ranks, for example. But in the 70 countries where survey data was available, the report found that Buddhists and Jews are the primary losers on the switch-in/switch-out balance sheet, Hackett said. “In the USA, there are famous converts like Richard Gere, but there’s a lot of disaffiliation among those who grew up Buddhist.” n In the U.S., Christians will decline, from more than three-quarters of the population (78.3 percent) in 2010 to twothirds (66.4 percent) in 2050. Religious “churn”—people leaving their childhood faith for a different faith or none at all—is the primary driver of change. n The Muslim share of the U.S. population is projected to climb to 2.1 percent, up from less than 1 percent today. Jews will fall from 1.8 percent to 1.4 percent. n In 2010, there were 159 countries with a Christian majority, but that will fall by eight countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. By 2050, Muslims will hold the majority in 51 countries, up by two from 2010, including Nigeria, which just elected a Muslim president, and the Republic of Macedonia. “In many ways the value of projects like this is not to say what the world will look like in 2050. The world could change,” said Cooperman. “But they tell us about the world today and the recent path. Peering into the future greatly illuminates what is happening today and its consequences.” (RNS)
Baltimore pastor addresses city’s brokenness Baltimore —Michael Crawford, pastor of Baltimore’s Freedom Church, recalled the day he understood why Baltimore was a tough environment for ministry. He was watching his 13-year-old son Ezra, who attends one of the best schools in the city, play soccer against a rival Baltimore inner-city school. Ezra’s school had 25 players. All of them had cleats. They all had uniforms. They all knew how to play soccer. The other team pulled in from the inner city, piled into two or three cars with their coaches. The mostly African American team had torn-up tennis shoes, mismatched shorts, jeans. No jerseys. Ezra’s school started “rolling up the score: 10-0; 12-0; 15-0; They’re all cheering,” Crawford recalled. The situation made him uncomfortable. “The [other kids] had their heads down. That’s not right.” he said as tears streamed down his face.
“You want to know why these kids are angry? You know why they want to shoot somebody? Why they want to hurt people? Because they look over there and say, ‘You all got cleats, you’ve got a beautiful building, you got uniforms, you know how to play this game, you are beating our butts—and you’re cheering.” He said, “They know in their heart of hearts that something is not right.” And yet, this is the everyday reality for those who live in this part of the city. Most of the residents in inner city Baltimore would leave the city as fast as they could, if given the opportunity. Crawford, who also serves as the church-planting team strategist for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, recalled the day he asked himself why they would leave. “That’s when it hit me in the face. That’s what you are seeing in these
riots,” he said. “And this is why I am hurt. Because of the complexity. Because of systemic injustice. Because some of the police have been used for decades to oppress black people.” But Crawford said he believes God has a plan. But it means churches can’t do church the way they have always done it, he noted. There are underlying deeper issues—poverty, injustices, racism—that must not be ignored. Crawford shared suggestions on how fellow believers can get involved in helping to heal the brokenness in Baltimore. Listen. Race relations require communication and relationships, Crawford said. African Americans need a safe place to sound off. “The reason we are stuck is because we can’t talk about it. We get offended and then we do not hear,” he said. “The real work is listening, getting offended, offering
forgiveness, and then reconciling together. That’s real!” Know what is really happening in the inner city schools. Instead of simply renovating a campus, people should help a school replace outdated textbooks. Understand the difficult circumstances students face every day —whether it be hunger, hard commutes to and from schools, or lack of sleep due to home environments. Provide healthy food sources. In addition to those who eel called to help start or support a new business, partnerships also can be established with local farmers to host farmers’ markets on the streets every weekend. Pray. But prayers need to be more than a post on Facebook. Coordinate prayer with small groups. Spend time with Jesus to hear what He would have His followers do to make a difference. (BP)
NFL’s first female official is graduate of Baptist university Mobile, Ala.—The NFL’s first full-time female game official, Sarah Thomas, is a former athlete of an Alabama Baptist university. Thomas, who played basketball at the University of Mobile from 1992-95, will be a line judge for the 2015 season. Based on performance, she will have the opportunity to move into other roles, including the highest position of referee. The NFL made the formal announcement April 8, capping days of speculation by sports media outlets. UMobile athletics officials said Thomas, a 1995 graduate, had always performed at the highest levels and
Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first full-time female game official, is a former University of Mobile athlete.
shown the determination to succeed at anything she undertook. “We are honored that one of our former athletes is achieving the highest level in her profession,” UMobile athletics director Joe Niland said. During Thomas’ three seasons with the Lady Rams, the team won 61 games, including two seasons with a 13-3 record in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. Thomas helped guide the 1992-93 team to a GCAC district championship and a berth in the NAIA National Championship tournament. She also was a two-time GCAC All-Academic selection. For her career, Thomas totaled 779 points, 411 rebounds, 108 assists and 192 steals, the latter stat ranking fifth alltime at UMobile.
Martha Gore-Algernon, an assistant women’s basketball coach during Thomas’ UMobile playing career, praised her former player’s work ethic. “I’m not surprised she’s made it this far,” Gore-Algernon said. “She didn’t set out to do this, but she just worked hard at it and they took notice of her. It couldn’t happen to a nicer person. She was a great player to coach.” Thomas became the first female to officiate college football games in 2007 and the first female to officiate a bowl game in 2009. Thomas decided to become an official in the 1990s after attending a coaching meeting with her brother. She became the first female to officiate a Division 1-A high school football game in Mississippi in 1996. (BP)
Floyd, 11 pastors to lead convention’s ‘Call to Prayer’ By Art Toalston
Columbus, Ohio—For an “epic night of prayer” during the Southern Baptist Convention, 11 pastors have been named by SBC President Ronnie Floyd to help lead the Tuesday evening session, June 16, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Floyd has titled the session, “A National Call for Prayer to All Southern Baptists for the Next Great Awakening and to Reach the World for Christ” on the opening night of the June 16-17 SBC annual meeting. “We will join together in the same room and around the world via technology for this one epic night of prayer,” Floyd wrote April 13 in his SBC column.
Two former SBC presidents, Jack Graham and James Merritt, will be among the evening’s leaders. Graham is senior pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church; Merritt is lead pastor of the Atlanta-area Cross Pointe Church. “It is time to call out to God for the next Great Awakening and to reach the world for Christ,” Floyd, pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, wrote. “On Tuesday night, June 16, we will give the entire evening session of the SBC Annual Meeting to this national prayer gathering. “We will gather to experience the presence of God based upon the Word of God. We will be challenged briefly by some of America’s great pastors, then launch into prayer sessions in response to
WMU focus on surrender, sacrifice, service Columbus, Ohio —Prior to the annual
meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, North American and international missionaries will share how God is at work around the world during the Woman’s Missionary Union Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, June 14–15. This year’s theme, “All for You,” focuses on surrender, sacrifice and service as a follower of Christ. “In following Jesus, we find the joy and purpose that makes life worth living,” Wanda S. Lee, executive director of national WMU, said. “Nothing shares the message of Jesus better than a life lived in total surrender to Him. When we surrender our all for Him, sacrificing our desires out of a heart of love, life takes on a new form -- one devoted to service to others.” This devotion to Christ and a passion for sharing Him with others will be a consistent theme of featured speakers, including Michael Coleman, a military chaplain with the North American Mission Board; Terry Dorsett, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England; Earl Hewitt, a doctor who serves in West Africa; David and Alicia who serve in Southeast Asia; and Bud Fray, a retired missionary who served in
Africa. Fray’s new book, “Both Feet In,” a story of God at work through His missionaries, will be the next emphasis book for WMU in 2015–2016. General sessions are on Sunday, June 14, at 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., and on Monday, June 15, at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Additional elements this year include: o A reception in honor of Debby Akerman as she completes her fifth year of service as president of national WMU. A new president will be elected during the business session on Monday. o Missions Monday, June 15, hands-on missions experiences for children in grades 1–6 onsite at the church from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Advance registration is required. o Continuing education units (CEUs) for healthcare professionals who attend designated conferences. o An opportunity to help missions efforts in the Columbus area by bringing travel-size hygiene items to donate. o Chick-fil-A lunch available to purchase for $5 onsite at the church on Monday. The WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting will be at First Baptist Church of Grove City. The church is a 15-minute drive from the Greater Columbus Convention Center. (BP)
God and His Word. We will also express our worship and praise to God together through music and singing.” Floyd also noted, “One of the unique moments of the evening will be when we embrace and celebrate our ethnic diversity, which may also involve moments of repentance and reconciliation. Each of us needs to be in this experience together, letting God do a powerful work in each of our lives and churches. Southern Baptists must lead the way in embracing and celebrating our ethnic diversity.” The overall theme for the two-day annual meeting in Columbus is “Great Awakening: Clear Agreement, Visible Union, Extraordinary Prayer.” In addition to Graham and Merritt, other leaders scheduled for the session
are Timmy Chavis, senior pastor of Bear Swamp Baptist Church in Pembroke, N.C., and chairman of the SBC Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council; Steve Gaines, senior pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church; David Galvan, lead pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista-Nueva Vida in Dallas; J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C.; Paul Kim, pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass.; Vance Pittman, senior pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas; Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Penscola, Fla.; Ken Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla.; and Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia and president of the National African American Fellowship. (BP)
Baptist Press launches app with SBC versatility Nashville —Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service, has officially launched a free app connecting to its daily content and to key entities across SBC life. The app is available in both Android and iPhone formats through Google Play and the Apple Store. Enter a search for “Baptist Press,” using quote marks, for best access to the app. The app replaces Baptist Press’ mobile site by which smartphone users accessed the news service prior to the redesign of its website last September. Art Toalston, now in his 24th year as editor of Baptist Press, said the app broadens BP’s media spectrum, including its www.BaptistPress.com website and the news service’s ongoing presence on Twitter and Facebook. “The app also will offer a versatile connection to all of Southern Baptist life, connecting to entity websites that are at the forefront of missions, evangelism, service, discipleship, stewardship and biblical theology,” Toalston said. “We are not through yet,” he added, noting that the app will remain under ongoing development. Key features of the app include:
n A “News” tab connecting to both BaptistPress.com and to BP en Español, the news service’s Spanish-language weekly edition. The SBC Annual Meeting site also will be displayed from May through July in conjunction with this year’s June 16-17 meeting in Columbus, Ohio. n A “Media” tab connecting to BP featured videos, photos and comics and to SBC.net, the convention’s website; SBCLIFE, the journal of the SBC Executive Committee; the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board’s news and feature sites; LifeWay Christian Resources’ Facts & Trends magazine; the online newsrooms of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and GuideStone Financial Resources; the six SBC seminary websites; and Woman’s Missionary Union. n An “Info” tab that connects to Baptist Press on Twitter and Facebook and to information about faith in Christ for salvation. n An “HCSB Bible” tab that offers full audio content of the Bible. The HCSB— Holman Christian Standard Bible—is the translation utilized in resources published by LifeWay. (BP)
AROUND THESE ISLANDS
Women’s Job Corps looking for ministry leader
Waianae Coast Christian Women’s Job Corps (WCCWJC) is looking for a ministry leader to assist in its WMU national program for disadvantaged women. We meet weekly at the Nanakuli Community Center, c/o Hale Ola Ho’opakolea, Inc., 89-137 Nanakuli Avenue, Waianae, HI 96792. For more information, please contact Shirley Kinoshita at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (808) 295-8899.
evangelical church leave because they are unsatisfied. They felt, in part, that the church offered nothing for them and they received very little attention from the church. They entered faceless, they remained faceless, and they left faceless. How does Jesus feel about that? Here are a few considerations for our usher, greeter and hospitality ministries: o Mix up the demographic of your greeters and ushers. Ensure your ushers reflect the community - or your potential market for growth - in both age and education. If you’re comfortable with women ushers - go for it. Ensure your greeters are predominately women because the woman, in the visiting family, will have the greatest impact on whether the family returns or not. o Greet everyone. Greeters, especially, fall into the trap of feeling they should only greet the guests. No. Greeters and ushers must greet everyone. Your primary goals are to make everyone feel welcome and communicate a desire to meet any and every need. I’ve experienced greeters who discerned a need to pray with a guest and greeters who helped newcomers find a restaurant for lunch after worship. o Get outside the doors. If not in the parking lots, greet people as they approach your buildings—rain or shine; even the heat. Your visible sacrifice of
Vacation Bible School reports Send your Vacation Bible School Reports to Clyde Kakiuchi, email@example.com or go to LifeWay Christian Resources ACP website and log in to post your results. VBS training was March 28 at Mililani Baptist Church. The team includes: Danny Catlin, VBS directors; Clyde Kakiuchi, Adults; Julie Catlin, Crafts, Desiree Borge, Music; Cristina Plemer, Bible Study, Tess Gante, Missions, and Teresa McCain, Preschool.
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calendar HPBC-sponsored events in bold JUNE 1-30 Crossover (Convention City)-SBC 11 King Kamehameha I Day 15-20 Youth Creative Arts Camp 16-17 Southern Baptist Convention 21 Baptist Men’s Emphasis 22-27 Children’s Creative Arts Camp cancelled 28 Mission: Dignity Sunday 28 Citizenship and Religious Liberty SundaY
JULY 3 Independence Day 19 Serving Your Community Sunday 24-25 Acteens Retreat AUGUST 1 Social Issues Sunday 8 Pinewood Derby, HPBC Chapel 9 Student Evangelism Day 17-18 Training for Churches Planting Churches 21 Statehood Day 23-29 Worship Music Week
prayer calendar JULY 2 Jerry Saludez - Waipio Comm., Oahu 2 Aisa Vaoga - Faleniu, Am. Samoa 6 Kiyo Itokazu - Retired, Oahu 8 Steve Irvin - Pali View, Oahu 13 Larry Kelley - Halawa Heights, Oahu 13 Nicole Marburger - Pukalani BC, Maui 14 Teresa Lathrop - HPBC, Oahu 14 Chang Kyoo Park - Hawaii Hope, Oahu 17 Glenn Harada - Retired, Oahu 19 Lena Viliamu - Retired, Oahu
25 Ken Lara - Waikoloa, Big Island 25 Jeanine Sowers - Central, Oahu 26 Pearl Maeda - Retired, Kauai 26 Leanne Teves - Chaplaincy, Oahu 26 Russell Uehara - Nuuanu, Oahu 28 David Pak - Bethel Korean, Oahu 29 Rob Gray - Makaha Valley, Oahu 29 Wendy Martin - HPBC, Maui 31 Edward Kim - Pearl Harbor Kor, Oahu 31 Mark Tagami - Kaumana Dr., Big Island
birthdays JUNE 1 Irene Honjo - Retired, Oahu 3 Frances Poppe - Marianas, Guam 5 Laura Newall - Pukalani, Maui 6 Anita Choy - Chinese Msn., Oahu 6 David McQuitty - HPBC, Oahu 6 Lilly Sumida - Waialae, Oahu 9 John Aoki - Retired, Oahu 9 Ray Viliamu - Retired, Oahu 10 Daniel Lee - New Covenant, Oahu 13 Chang Hee “Daniel” Nam - Saipan Good, Saipan 14 Lisa Hale - Eleele, Kauai 14 Doreen Yafuso - Aina Haina, Oahu 16 Sherri Armistead - Seoul Intl BC, Korea
16 June Kaneshiro - Pukalani, Maui 17 Mike Inouye - Kaunakakai, Molokai 17 Lani Sarmiento - Valley Isle, Maui 19 Becky Elliff - Makakilo, Oahu 20 Alethia Baker - Retired, Big Island 20 Brandy Kelley - Chaplaincy, Oahu 21 Vince Tabudlo - HPBC, Oahu 24 Carlye Lawrence - Intl Fellowship, Oahu 24 Carol Suesz - Waialae, Oahu 25 Gail Inamine - Kinoole, Big Island 28 Curtis Marshall - Hilo, Big Island 28 Kats Taura - Retired, Oahu 29 Stephen Kaneshiro - Valley Isle, Maui 29 Michael Wagner - Hawaii Bhansok, Oahu
comfort will speak volumes about the sacrifice your church is willing to make on behalf of others. o Stay on duty. greeters and ushers need to the first to arrive and the last to leave. So many greeters and ushers perform their duties until the service begins and then fade away. I promise that some of the greatest joy in greeting comes after the Holy Spirit has worked during a worship service. Be prepared to greet everyone as they leave. o Do not give anything to a child. There’s a temptation to give candy to children. I’ve seen well-meaning greeters give bite-size candies to small children. It seems innocent until you remember that we’re teaching children not to take candy from strangers. Being friendly is all you need to do. o Know all the answers or know where to find them. Greeters and ushers don’t need to know all the answers, but they do need to know how to find the answer. Responding with “I don t know” is poor service. The appropriate answer is I don t know, but let’s find the answer. It’s important for your ushers and greeters to know the church office hours, telephone number, website address, locations of First Aid and restrooms, staff members that are on call in case of emergency, and escape routes in case of fire or dangerous weather. o Ensure your welcome centers and usher stands are filled with energetic and friendly people, who are focused on nothing more than meeting the needs
JANUARY 2015 of people. Do not allow conversations among friends about politics or yesterday’s ballgame. That leaves guests on the outside of a conversation. o Push your ushers, who typically work the same doors and hallways, to speak to people by first name. Nothing makes a stronger impression than when someone speaks my name to me. o It’s important to recruit greeters rather than issue a call for volunteers. Regardless of the recruiting style you use, let me encourage you to have a screening process. Look for people who have the spiritual gifts of hospitality and encouragement. who are comfortable around people they don’t know, but know the limitations of body space. Keep in mind: These individuals are often the first representatives of your church that people will see. Above all, it s not about how much you love your church. The guests only care about how much you love them. In that, they will see how much you love your church and how much you love Jesus. © 2007, Scott Vaughan Communications, LLC. Used by Permission. Vaughan was a 20-year newspaper writer, editor and publisher before entering vocational ministry as a church communication strategist. He was marketing director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. In 2003, he created his own ministry, enabling him to serve a larger ecumenical community that reaches across the United States, and into Canada and Australia.