June 5, 2014 • ISSUE 31
‘TO THE LEAST OF THESE’ With thousands of children, many without parents, flooding the U.SMexican border, SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers help tend to the needs of youngsters during two-week ministry in Brownsville.
+HOUSTON PASSES NONDISCRIMINATION +ABEDINI THREATENED WITH MORE JAIL LAW; PASTORS VOW REFERENDUM DRIVE
TIME FOR WITNESSING, WIFE SAYS
Was the Conservative Resurgence a failure?
he recent report of the Pastors’ Task Force on Evangelistic Impact and Declining Baptisms will likely be a frequent discussion topic in the hall as the Southern Baptist Convention meets next week in Baltimore. The group was formed last year after 2012 data from SBC churches indicated a worse-thanaverage drop in the number of people our churches baptize. This is not a new discussion but one we’ve had with increasing gravity each year for decades. The problem is systemic and a reversal of this decline will touch everything we do in significant ways. Liberal Christians and other outsiders have responded with a measure of satisfaction, as though the SBC’s bluff talk through the past 30 years has turned around to embarrass us. During the Conservative Resurgence of 1979-1995 our leaders pointed out that denominations that abandoned biblical authority were in free fall, maybe not losing members to us but losing members still. This is undeniable, but the intent of that warning was to draw our own people to embrace the truth of God’s Word, not to dance on the graves of other denominations. It is observable that groups with convictions are more appealing than groups without them. Our numbers now are said to be declining in the same way the numbers of liberal, mainline churches did for a generation. It’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison; our decline means to us that fewer disciples are being made among our churches, not just that our auditoriums are empty. And yes, that is a big deal. But saying that our continued decline is a negative judgment of the Conservative Resurgence is to misunderstand the situation. A recent article by Molly Worthen, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, suggests that our rejection of “big tent” denominationalism ran off vast numbers of our people and actually accelerated the decline already underway. What was the primary goal of the resurgence? Our goal was not so much reversing downward trends as it was an emergency response to a critical situation. For decades, some of our employed SBC leaders, particularly those
teaching our pastors and missionaries, were working at cross purposes with pastors and leaders who were trying to encourage world evangelism. Some of these professors did not agree even with the proposition that men and women are lost and hopeless outside of Christ. Rather than a strategy to increase evangelistic effectiveness, I’d say the resurgence was a desperate response to ensure that we would even exist as a fellowship of churches in the decades to come. After the last of six conservative SBC seminary presidents was inaugurated in 1995, we had a chance to once again focus on our cooperative work of world evangelism. Did our period of reformation distract us? Absolutely, it distracted and weakened us for a time in the same way war weakens a nation. But would doing nothing have been worse, more destructive? Absolutely, our denomination would be weaker, smaller and less concerned about the lostness of our nation and world. Neither would we be unified by years of phony peace. Look at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship if you need a tiny snapshot. I’m saying the very fact that we are grieved about a lack of evangelistic fervor among our people rather than just about attendance or giving means that the resurgence gave the SBC more time than it would have otherwise had. With due respect to the statisticians among us, today’s problems are today’s and they are sufficient. Whether we were facing a 30-year decline or a one-year decline, the spiritual torpor of our churches is observable. We are not, in my own community, reaching our neighbors for Christ. No one has come up with better priorities than the five proposed by the Pastors’ Task Force: Fervent and effective prayer for spiritual awakening, pastors who prioritize personal evangelism, churches focused on multiplying disciples, reaching the next generation, and a celebration of new life in Christ. No demographic or cultural trend will excuse us from the hard work and radical reformation suggested by these priorities. Are we desperate enough to undertake the work? The Conservative Resurgence was the culmination of efforts throughout most of the 20th century to resist the skepticism toward the Scripture being modeled by our nation’s intellectual leaders. The effort was undertaken in the Southern Baptist Convention, but politely, in 1925 and in 1963. No one minded because few noticed; nothing changed. The resurgence was a grassroots effort in the 1980s that was impolite and irresistible because the situation had become unbearable to tens of thousands of Baptists willing to invest time and personal wealth in an effective response. People noticed and a lot of things changed for the better. Whether we are talking about fervent prayer for spiritual awakening or a priority on making disciples, it’s hard to imagine a true Great Commission resurgence rolling across our convention until pastors and lay leaders in thousands of our churches understand that the situation of our day is also unbearable.
Great Commission Advance to beckon Baptists to ‘do more’ SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page will issue a challenge to Southern Baptists at the SBC annual meeting to “do more” to reach the world with the gospel by going and giving more.
Iranian-American pastor threatened with more jail time
An open door to ministry
Iranian authorities are threatening to extend the prison sentence of jailed U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini because he leads people to faith in Christ everywhere he is detained, Abedini’s wife Naghmeh told Baptist Press.
NO TRESPASSING: UT law student pens book on sexual purity
Leah Holder believed her commitment to sexual purity was mainstream thinking. But a locker room discussion changed all that. Now she has a book to help young people think through the issues.
First Person: Interruptions God uses Transplanted Texan Sharon Yeats writes about the Lord beginning a new work in her heart through interruptions—even those with major health ramifications. But God’s timing is purposeful and perfect.
“Bothering times” for SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers helping migrant children at the border, but rewards come in smiles because of hot showers, full stomachs and mended wounds in Jesus’ name.
TEXAN Digital is e-published twice monthly by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, 4500 State Highway 360, Grapevine, TX 76099-1988. Jim Richards, Executive Director Gary Ledbetter, Editor Jerry Pierce, Managing Editor Sharayah Colter, Staff Writer Russell Lightner, Design & Layout Stephanie Barksdale, Subscriptions Contributing Writers Bonnie Pritchett, Sharon Yeats, Joni B. Hannigan, David Roach, Jane Rodgers To contact the TEXAN office, visit texanonline.net/contact or call toll free 877.953.7282 (SBTC)
Briefly /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// CP RECEIPTS TOP $125 MILLION Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee exceeded $125 million through the two-thirds mark of the SBC’s fiscal year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page. The $125.9 million received by the Executive Committee for the first eight months of the fiscal year, Oct. 1 through May 31, for distribution through the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget represents 98.63 percent of the $127.7 million year-to-date budgeted amount to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America. The year-to-date total represents money received by the Executive Committee by the close of the last business day of May and includes receipts from state conventions, churches and individuals for distribution, according to the 2013-14 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget. The total is $883,585.72 or 0.70
GREAT COMMISSION ADVANCE TO BECKON BAPTISTS TO ‘DO MORE’ SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page will issue a challenge to Southern Baptists at the SBC annual meeting to “do more” to reach the world with the gospel. Page will set forth his vision for Great Commission Advance, an initiative to increase missions involvement among individuals and churches, during his report to the convention on Tuesday afternoon, June 10, in Baltimore. C. Ashley Clayton, EC vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship, told SBC LIFE, journal of the Executive Committee, “In its most condensed and basic form, Great Commission Advance calls for Southern Baptists to simply ‘do more.’” Page will call on all Southern Baptists—individuals, families and churches—to sacrificially do more to advance the Great Commission “so that every person has the opportunity to hear the gospel,” Clayton said. 2 TEXANONLINE.NET JUNE 5, 2014
percent less than the $126.8 million received through the end of May 2013, and is 1.37 percent less than the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget goal for the current year. Designated giving of $148 million for the same year-to-date period is 7.34 percent, or $11.7 million, below the $159.8 million received at this point last year. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities. Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief (formerly the World Hunger Fund) and other special gifts. May’s CP allocation receipts for SBC Page told SBC LIFE that “doing more” in the area of personal stewardship is essential to missions involvement. He will urge Southern Baptists to commit to establishing a biblical standard of giving and generosity. Page also will encourage Southern Baptists to participate in missions at the local, state, national and international levels. For some, “doing more” may mean surrendering to God’s call to vocational ministry as a pastor, chaplain, church planter or international missionary, he said. In addition, Page will challenge churches to increase their level of support through the Cooperative Program for Southern Baptist missions and ministries. Southern Baptist missions and ministries at the state, national and international levels are fueled by the Cooperative Program. Ministries like disaster relief, international missions, church planting, collegiate ministry, theological education, care for neglected children and moral advocacy are supported by dollars contributed through the Coopera-
work totaled $16.7 million. Designated gifts received last month amounted to $17.3 million. The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ channel of giving through which a local church is able to contribute to the ministries of its state convention and to the missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention with a single contribution to its state convention. State conventions retain a portion of church contributions to the Cooperative Program to support work in their respective states and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. The percentage of distribution from the states is at the discretion of the messengers of each state convention through the adoption of the state convention’s annual budget. tive Program, he said. One of the primary objectives of Great Commission Advance is to address the decline in Cooperative Program giving over the past two decades, Clayton said. The International Mission Board has estimated that it needs 7,000 missionaries on the field to initially reach every known unengaged, unreached people group in the world, but it currently has less than 5,000. The North American Mission Board has committed to planting 15,000 churches in 10 years. Increased Cooperative Program dollars also would keep the costs of seminary training at a minimum, making theological education more accessible to all Southern Baptists. “We’re lowering [the Executive Committee’s] Cooperative Program allocation. So when you hear me beating the drum and asking for more, it’s to go to these other entities to do that which God has called them to do,” Page told the Executive Committee at its Feb. 17 meeting. —Rebecca Wolford/SBC LIFE
SEX-CHANGE SURGERY APPROVED FOR MEDICARE Taxpayer dollars could soon pay for sex reassignment surgeries for elderly or disabled Americans on Medicare thanks to a ruling May 30 within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency’s Departmental Appeals Board lifted a three-decade-old ban on using Medicare funds for transsexual surgeries. The decision means the appeals board considers the surgeries as a necessary and effective medical treatment for some individuals who do not identify with their biological sex. The appeals board noted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service did not try to challenge its decision, which is final unless appealed in federal court. The policy reversal came in response to a request from 74-year-old Army veteran Denee Mallon to have
Medicare pay for genital reconstruction. Mallon, from Albuquerque, N.M., was born a man but has been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria,” a state of distress about one’s biological gender. Medicare had denied Mallon’s request for surgery two years ago. The Boston-based organization Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and American Civil Liberties Union helped Mallon file his appeal last year. Gender reassignment surgeries vary by type and scope. For men, they can involve castration and genital reconstruction. For women, they can involve mastectomy and the implantation of a prosthetic. The cost of transsexual surgeries ranges from $7,000 to $50,000, according to the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, Calif. The ruling means individuals on Medicare who can provide documentation from doctors and mental health professionals stating that a surgical sex change is medically indicated for them can bill the government for the procedure. The government-run Medi-
care program provides healthcare for 49 million Americans. In explaining its decision, the appeals board said the ban on sex reassignment surgery had been based on medical evidence compiled in 1981 whereas new research showed the ban is “no longer reasonable.” Rather, it called the surgery “safe” and an “effective treatment option.” Transgender advocates said the Medicare decision could influence private insurance companies and state-run Medicaid programs to also cover transsexual procedures since they often look to federal government policy as a guideline. Although there are no reliable statistics to indicate how many people on Medicare could take advantage of the revised policy, demographer Gary Gates of The Williams Institute, an LGBT issues think tank in Los Angeles, has estimated 0.3 percent of the U.S. population identify as transgender. —Daniel James Devine/WORLD News Service
2ND VIEW: SBC ANNUAL MEETING APP AVAILABLE Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting can stay up to date with a smartphone app, which will include more than a dozen features, including schedules, maps, alerts, speakers, news feeds, the Book of Reports, the Daily Bulletin and much more. The free app is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry users and can be downloaded by searching for “SBC Annual Meetings” in the device’s app store. Once the app is downloaded, it will prompt users to install the information for the 2014 annual meeting. Developed by Core-Apps, the app will include: 4Push alerts that give users upto-date news, such as changes in the meeting schedule should the posted schedule change. 4The programs for the SBC Pastors’ Conference and the SBC annual meeting. 4An alphabetized list of Pastors’ Conference and SBC annual meeting
speakers, including their scheduled speaking times. 4A newsfeed of Baptist Press news stories and photos covering Crossover, the SBC annual meeting and related meetings that take place during the week. 4PDF versions of the Book of Reports, the Daily Bulletin and SBC LIFE. 4Scheduled times for seminary luncheons and other affinity groups meeting in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting. 4Twitter stream discussions about the SBC annual meeting. Use the hashtag #sbc14 to join the conversation. 4An interactive map of the exhibit hall and messenger-friendly local restaurants. 4A list of exhibitors, including contact information for each exhibitor and the exhibitor’s floor location. 4A list of Baltimore Baptist Association churches and church-type missions, with a map showing where each congregation is located.
—Briefly section compiled from Baptist Press and World News Service
4A “friends” icon where users can keep up to date with their friends and send them notes (users are required to fill out a brief profile). 4Downloadable copies of Meet Southern Baptists and The Southern Baptist Convention: A Closer Look, two brochures produced by the SBC Executive Committee for use in church member training classes. JUNE 5, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 3
Abedini threatened with more jail time for witnessing, wife says By David Roach | Baptist Press Iranian authorities are threatening to extend the prison sentence of jailed U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini because he leads people to faith in Christ everywhere he is detained, Abedini’s wife Naghmeh told Baptist Press. “I don’t see him [witnessing] as an act of defiance,” Naghmeh Abedini said. “Knowing Saeed’s heart as a pastor, he’s seeing people in such a dark place ... on death row for murders and rapes, and just seeing people who are in prison whose future is so dark. Knowing Saeed’s heart, I know that his heart was to give them the hope that he’s found in Christ that no one can take away, even in prison.” Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, was sentenced in early 2013 to eight years in prison for his involvement in Iran’s house church movement. Abedini used to live in Iran and was a leader of house churches before moving to America in 2005. He was arrested almost two years ago while on a trip to build an orphanage in the city of Rasht. Though the Iranian constitution officially recognizes Christianity as a minority religion, Christian converts from Islam have suffered brutal persecution at the hands of Muslim authorities. Naghmeh Abedini and the couple’s two young children live in Idaho. They have not been allowed to speak with Saeed since he was arrested but have communicated through his family in Iran, who are permitted to visit him in prison for 20 minutes weekly. The American Center for Law and Justice reported May 20 that Saeed had been returned to prison after spending two months in a hospital to receive treatment for injuries inflicted 4 TEXANONLINE.NET JUNE 5, 2014
by prison officials. He was severely beaten at the hospital before being returned to prison, ACLJ reported. Prison guards have told Abedini that they can and will increase his jail sentence unless he stops telling fellow prisoners about Jesus, Naghmeh told BP. She said some former Muslim prisoners who placed their faith in Christ through Saeed’s witness have already received extended sentences. Still, Saeed has said he feels compelled to keep sharing the gospel. “Because I want to serve God, I see all of these difficulties as golden opportunities and great doors to serve,” he wrote in a letter from prison last year. “There are empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water and we can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ.” Shortly after Abedini was sentenced, his wife began receiving calls from women in Iran who said their husbands shared a cell with Saeed and had become strangely calm, happy and joyful. Their husbands told the women it wasn’t safe to explain the reason for their transformation during family visits at the prison, but they recommended that their wives call Naghmeh. “Early on in his imprisonment I got to talk to some of these wives and lead them to Christ because of the change they’ve seen in their husbands,” Naghmeh said. “And I told them, ‘I think Saeed has given your husband all he has, and all he has is the hope he has found in Jesus Christ.’” One prisoner who began following Jesus told his wife, “I don’t feel like I’m in a prison anymore. I’ve been set free,” Naghmeh said. Saeed wants to be in America with
Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini
“I don’t see him [witnessing] as an act of defiance. Knowing Saeed’s heart as a pastor, he’s seeing people in such a dark place ... on death row for murders and rapes, and just seeing people who are in prison whose future is so dark. Knowing Saeed’s heart, I know that his heart was to give them the hope that he’s found in Christ that no one can take away, even in prison.” — NAGHMEH ABEDINI
his family and gets emotional when he sees pictures of his children’s birthday parties, Naghmeh said. But he wants to share Jesus more than he wants to be free. “He got saved from such a dark [past],” Naghmeh said of her husband, a former Muslim. “At his conversion Jesus saved him in such a radical way that he can’t deny Christ and he can’t stop sharing his faith. It’s in his DNA.” Saeed’s legal options in Iran have been exhausted and there will not be any more opportunities to appeal his conviction, Naghmeh said. But she senses that God will intervene supernaturally and bring about Saeed’s release. “When I pray, I do feel like it will be a miracle,” she said. “It will be a definite act of God to release him. [Iranian authorities] feel like Saeed has not learned his lesson. He continues to stand on his faith, which they wanted him to reject.” Naghmeh asked U.S. Christians not
only to pray for Saeed, but also to send their senators and congressmen brief messages requesting help for him and other persecuted Christians around the world. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas are among those who have told Naghmeh that such emails spur elected officials to action. Naghmeh has testified before Congress on her husband’s behalf, spoken at the United Nations and asked European nations to press for his release as a condition of trade agreements with Iran. She believes countries like Germany, with whom Iran wants to trade, stand the best chance of securing Saeed’s release. “Money talks more than religion” with Iran, Naghmeh said. “Iran is at a very desperate point. They’re not doing very well economically. ... This is the best time to discuss human rights issues in Saeed’s case and Christian persecution with them because they want to try to work with the West.” Naghmeh said 2 Corinthians 12:910 has become her favorite verse, a “jewel during this time” that reminds her of God’s purpose for allowing persecution. Trials “are great opportunities for us to die to our flesh and see the power of God shine through,” she said. “When a room is dark and there is a light in it, automatically people go to it, so we become witnesses for Christ.” Meanwhile another U.S. Christian, Kenneth Bae, remains imprisoned in North Korea. Bae has spent nearly two years in a labor camp and faces a 15-year sentence. He was arrested for “hostile acts” against the North Korean government while leading a tourist group, a business venture that “combined his entrepreneurial spirit with his personal convictions as a Christian,” according to freekennow. com. At the National Prayer Breakfast in February, President Obama called publicly for Iran to release Abedini and for North Korea to release Bae.
ERLC TO EXAMINE MARRIAGE, HOMOSEXUALITY
Registration opened June 1 for “The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage,” a national conference Oct. 27-29 sponsored by the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Russell D. Moore, as the Southern Baptist Convention’s lead ethicist, said the conference reflects “my primary mission [for] preparing the next generation of evangelical leaders to live in the culture as faithful Christians who are holding to the ancient truths of Christianity, including a bold presentation of the Christian sexual ethic.” That sexual ethic found in the Bible and taught by the church of Christ for nearly 2,000 years now stands increasingly in disfavor. Americans are more supportive of homosexual rights than ever. Samesex marriage is making rapid gains in federal courts and state legislatures as well as in public opinion. The movement for transgender rights continues to advance. The conference, to be held in Nashville, will bring together “leading thinkers and pastors on these issues to help equip a new generation to stand for marriage in tough times, to prepare us to be faithful people of the gospel—with a message of both truth and grace,” Moore said. According to the ERLC, the conference will address such questions as:
4How can the church minister ef-
fectively to those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender? 4How does a Christian with same-sex attraction live in sexual faithfulness? 4Why did God design marriage for the common good? 4How should a pastor counsel a same-sex couple who want to join his church? 4How has the divorce culture affected marriage in churches and communities? The national conference will follow an ERLC-sponsored, leadership summit in April on the gospel and human sexuality. Registration for the conference opened on the heels of more judicial victories for same-sex marriage. Federal judges legalized gay marriage in Oregon and Pennsylvania May 19 and 20, respectively. Both judges refused to block enforcement of their rulings. With the decisions, Oregon and Pennsylvania became the 18th and 19th states with legalized same-sex marriage in effect. Meanwhile, 15 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that provide explicit protections for transgender people. Registration for the national conference, which will be held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, is available online at erlc.com/conference/ registration. JUNE 5, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 5
AN OPEN DOOR TO MINISTRY ‘Bothering times’ for SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers helping children at the border, but rewards come in smiles because of hot showers, full stomachs and mended wounds. By Joni B. Hannigan BROWNSVILLE
When volunteers from Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief discovered they would be handing out blue medical scrubs for children to wear while their clothes were being washed, they were surprised but undaunted. The dire situation called for nothing less than that, and Southern Baptist yellow shirts are known for delivering more, not less. They were there in Brownsville the last two weeks of May, ministering to some of the tens of thousands of children, some as young as 3 years old, who are being sent from Central American countries on a long journey to cross the Rio Grande into the United States. Many of the children are without their parents or adult guardians. Once in the U.S., they surrender to Border Patrol agents who take them into custody and detain them in localized facilities meant for 24- to 48-hour stays. Trying to locate their relatives and get them healthcare screenings has backlogged the system and filled detention facilities beyond capacity. President Obama on June 2 described the border situation in a presidential memorandum as a “serious humanitarian issue.” In the last eight months, 47,000 children have been detained at the U.S.-Mexican border. 6 TEXANONLINE.NET JUNE 5, 2014
Betty Dufner, a member of Forest Branch Baptist Church in Livingston, helps a young boy roll up his pants to keep them from draping the ground. She is a DR “blue hat” leader and heads the childcare unit with her husband Joseph, pastor of Forest Branch.
Church in Brownsville in mid-May in this care ministry, providing 1,505 showers, washing 960 loads of laundry, and preparing and delivering approximately 22,500 meals. Craig Smith, worship and administration pastor at First Baptist Brownsville, where two SBTC DR feeding trailers were set up as kitchens to prepare meals, said the 250-member congregation has about 60-70 disaster relief trained volunteers of its own. Dogwood Hills Baptist Church in Woodville quickly deployed its water support trailer, which houses two massive water tanks, a water purification unit and a large generator, plus a laundry unit that has four washers and four dryers. Cedar Bayou and Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jasper deployed shower units for a total of nine showers, and an additional two washers and dryers. SBTC DR operated the shower and laundry units within the Brownsville U.S. Customs and Border Patrol detention center compound.
GOSPEL LOVE & IMPROVISATION When DR volunteers from the SBTC saw the wide range of kids—from toddlers to teens—and the short selection of sizes for scrubs, they improvised with duct tape, some children’s pajamas and a few odd size T-shirts. When the weary children finally got a chance for a hot shower, they hitched up their pants and rolled up their sleeves. Some smiled, likely for the first time in a good while. Jerry Bishop, a “white hat” leader of SBTC DR volunteers from Harmony Hill Baptist Church in Lufkin, said it took just a “little piece of duct tape” to hold the scrubs up on the little children that volunteers ministered to. The smiles reassured volunteers their expressions of love penetrated the children’s blank stares. Nearly 50 SBTC DR volunteers from churches including Cedar Bayou Baptist Church in Baytown and First Baptist Church in Burkeville, joined with First Baptist
A CRISIS UNFOLDS In a telephone press call outlining a governmentwide response, White House Director of Domestic Policy Cecilia Munoz underscored the need to “ramp up” efforts to care for what has been a 70 percent increase just since last year in the number of unaccompanied migrant children. Noting the children in many cases are young and have endured a “harrowing experience” traveling from Latin American countries alone, Munoz said, “This is creating an urgent humanitarian situation which the government is moving to quickly address.” Obama appointed the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Craig Fugate, to take charge, as the White House asked Congress for an extra $1.4 billion in federal funds to foot the bill. Mothers and children have also added to the border migration. At the Brownsville facility, agents distributed diapers and formula. They carefully led women and very small children to one large holding area, girls and women to another, and men and boys to still another. On an observation deck protected by bullet-proof glass, several agents worked to process files, while JUNE 5, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 7
In the photo at left, a young boy, wearing jeans obviously too large for him, holds his folded blue scrubs and towel en route to a hot shower. In the adjoining photo, he is pictured along with other children following his first shower in a long while.
watching monitors overhead and activity on the floor beneath them where several more agents interviewed people. One immigrant sat outside a holding room with a young, obviously ill boy, lying on a concrete bench beside him. The inhabitants were clearly visible inside each holding room from the observation deck—except those who stepped behind a small cinder block hygiene wall in the rear of each room. Many were wrapped in silver emergency blankets. In the holding room for men and boys, they were sitting and lying head to toe, with a fan standing in a partially opened doorway. Several small boys stood at the window of the holding room, faces pressed up against the glass, watching agents and others on the floor, glancing up at the observation deck. SBTC’S RAPID RESPONSE SBTC DR volunteers learned of the overcrowding in mid-May and just a day later had a team assembled and ready to go, Bishop said. He was told FEMA had requested the help and had the two disaster relief kitchens operated by First Baptist Brownsville onsite to begin producing meals May 15. “Before we got there border patrol was serving a dry bologna sandwich at 6 a.m. and at 6 p.m.,” Bishop said. “We started serving three meals a day.” Still, it was challenging, Bishop said, to serve with no utensils to comply with the rules. FEMA, using government contractors, set up a large tent just outside the compound and began serving 8 TEXANONLINE.NET JUNE 5, 2014
meals after breakfast on May 28 in relief of the Southern Baptist volunteers. They also took over shower and laundry operations May 31, said Bishop who rotated the leadership position with two other “white hats.” The shower and laundry ministry was a full circle operation with children showering while their clothes were being laundered. Joan Hogue, a DR volunteer from First Baptist Burkeville, hung towels to dry on a clothesline. A few of the children glanced over as they passed, clutching their bags to their chest with one hand and grabbing at their pants with another to prevent them from falling off. From inside the laundry trailer, Kathy Poplin, also from First Baptist Burkeville, took clothes from a washer and put them in the dryer. Children moved from the showers back inside a building where they sat in an air-conditioned hallway to comb their hair and rub lotion on their chapped skin. After showers they eagerly crunched down a piece of candy from their hygiene kit. “My heart goes out to these kids,” said Poplin, who was a teacher’s aide for 18 years. “Their lives are just torn apart.” Glancing down at her hands, Poplin reflected, “It’s like they’re being shoved out to have a better home. It’s so sad.” One day most of the children were crying before they went into the shower, but by the time they came out they were all smiling. “It was so great to see their faces,” she recalled. Betty Dufner and her husband Joe have seen a lot of
A group of children receive attention from SBTC DR volunteer Kathy Poplin and a U.S. Border Patrol agent. According to one DR leader, the Border Patrol appreciated the care and attention to detail offered by the Baptists. Private contractors began serving the children on May 28 after the government committed $1.3 billion toward the child refugee crisis.
children over the years, but have never had an assignment quite like this one. In charge of a disaster relief childcare unit, they are “blue hats” experienced in running emergency childcare for those age 7 and under. “This is different, very different,” Betty Dufner said. “We’ve never been to a place like this—but because we love kids, it’s a flexible thing we are doing.” Checking on her supply of brushes and combs, she made sure to sterilize each one, and to carefully pump mounds of lotion into each child’s hands. She squatted and then kneeled to roll up the pants of one 8-year-old Honduran boy—and then a 12-year-old sitting next to him. Both boys were unusually small. “Malnutrition,” a border agent whispered.
The teams worked long hours. In the first week it wasn’t unusual for them to stay on the job for 12 or more hours to see that all of the laundry was completed. What helped was that First Baptist Brownsville has two dormitories that can house up to 150 volunteers at a time, complete with showers. That’s where the DR volunteers stayed. “You’d like to stay until everybody has a shower and gets washed and clean clothes,” Joe Dufner, the pastor of Forest Branch Baptist Church in Livingston, said. Fugate, the FEMA director, in the June 2 media call, said that as soon as he learned of the dire conditions last month he reached out to volunteer and faith-based partners, such as SBTC DR, to develop a “sufficient and efficient” way to deal with the crisis until resources and facilities could be developed. The next step is for children to be placed into longer-term facilities, such as a care center operating at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio or Naval Base Ventura County in California, for 30-35 days, until parents or other adult sponsors are found, according to plans outlined in the call. Munoz said more than 90 percent of the minors are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and “it seems to be quite clear” they are fleeing from violence and fear and poor economic conditions in their own countries. And they wish to reunite with their parents, she said. That aside, migrant children remain in removal proceedings even after they have been reunited with a parent and there is an incorrect “perception” in Latin American countries that they might be able to stay. AGONY, HUGS & BIBLES In Brownsville, diaper boxes still lined the trash cans outside the holding rooms where Bishop said he was finally able to deliver 400 New Testaments to Border Patrol agents who gave them to the children. For him, talk in Washington, D.C. or in Austin doesn’t matter much when it comes to big-eyed girls with little protection. “Once you see those little ones who are here JUNE 5, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 9
“We didn’t get into the legal or political aspects. We are there to visit those in prison and to give food to the hungry as it tells us to in Scripture.” —CRAIG SMITH, WORSHIP AND ADMINISTRATION PASTOR AT FIRST BAPTIST BROWNSVILLE
without even their parents, 4-year-old little girls especially,” Bishop said, “no one here except them and no parents for them to go back to—it was some bothering times.” The first to respond, Bishop didn’t know the nature of the assignment until the children literally were walking towards the showers, he said. “I don’t know how you could send a child like that away, but they did. Someone. Somewhere.” Smith, the Brownsville worship pastor, said he experienced a couple of “heartbreaking” situations—like the sight of a woman with a 2-week-old infant in detention, and a brother and sister, ages 3 and 5, with no mom or brothers or sisters. “Just the hopelessness you would see in their eyes—very little expressions—just the thought of all that they had been through must have been agonizing for them,” Smith said. “I felt bad just giving them a burrito or a bologna sandwich,” Smith said. “They must not have had a meal for several days. It was heartbreaking to see those little bitty kids—mostly teenagers and several young moms—heartbreaking to see what they had to go through to get up to here.” Politics aside, Smith said while it’s true they have entered the country illegally, “they are men and women who have physical needs for shelter or food, but more importantly they have the need of the love of Christ.” “We didn’t get into the legal or political aspects,” Smith said. “We are there to visit those in prison and to give food to the hungry as it tells us to in Scripture.” For information on disaster relief ministry training, visit sbtexas.com/dr. Information on giving toward DR ministry is accessible here.
10 TEXANONLINE.NET JUNE 5, 2014
5A member of the SBTC’s DR team points a group of boys toward the shower unit provided by Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jasper. Weary children who had traveled thousands of miles with little if any hygiene care and some with obvious malnutrition emerged from the hot showers with smiles on their faces. PHOTOS BY JONI HANNIGAN
5Joseph Dufner (left), pastor of Forest Branch Baptist Church in Livingston, and Jimmy Poplin of First Baptist Burkeville, folded laundered towels and clothes for the thousands of mostly Central American refugee children who have crossed the U.S.-Mexican border without adult guardians.
Joan Hogue, a member of First Baptist Church Burkeville, hangs scrubs to dry outside the detention center in Brownsville. The blue scrubs provided temporary cover for children after they showered and while Southern Baptists laundered their clothes.
A clothesline across the Rio Grande By Joni B. Hannigan
The sun is high over the Rio Grande along the border in South Texas where daily nearly 1,000 illegal immigrants surrender to border agents or are arrested while attempting to flee. Paths snake through tall grass on the Texas side where children as young as 3 years old have been found with no adult supervision awaiting Border Patrol agents. Their journey is said to be at the hands of smugglers who are paid $3,000 or more to deliver the tiny ones across the border, where eventually they will unite with parents
or relatives who are in the United States. Some of them haven’t seen a familiar face for months and they are hungry and weary. They are unusually sober for children. Scared. Most all keep their underwear on when finally taking a private shower provided by disaster relief workers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Some of the children suffer from chicken pox, scabies or lice. They have come from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and other Latin American countries. Some have been exposed to human traffickers. All have experienced harsh conditions. Some die before they cross into the U.S., according to some news sources, and others are confused, afraid and resentful when they are
finally sent to a “behavioral treatment center” at Lackland Air Force base where an education and foster care center for minors has been set up to accommodate the children who are taken into custody at the border. Meanwhile, Texas Southern Baptists have stepped up to wash their clothes, provide warm showers, and feed them. No questions asked. Staring hard at a clothesline where towels hung by a relief worker flapped in the hot Texas breeze, one teen blinked hard as he flung his laundry bag of clothes over his shoulder. Perhaps he was thinking of the clothesline at his grandmother’s house in his homeland. To learn more about SBTC Disaster Relief volunteer opportunities, click here. JUNE 5, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 11
NO TRESPASSING: UT law student pens book on sexual purity By Bonnie Pritchett AUSTIN
In hindsight, Leah Holder admits she was somewhat naive. She believed her commitment to sexual purity was mainstream thinking. It just made sense. Why take the risk— in so many ways? But it was a locker room discussion among her fellow junior high school athletes that knocked the scales from her eyes. “They were trying to figure out who was still a virgin,” Holder said. “They picked me and another girl.” And that was at a private Christian school. Holder, 25, admits her upbringing and temperament steeled her resolve to remain sexually pure. But while the locker room experience revealed the extent of promiscuity among her peers (even in a Christian environment), college life opened her eyes to the harsh consequences of such choices: Sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, and poverty, especially among minority groups. Since high school she had shared her convictions about chastity with anyone willing to listen. As a young adult she determined the message needed to reach a wider audience and wrote “No Trespassing: I’m God’s Property.” “It’s very natural to desire relationships and desire marriage but not if it’s going to derail me from God’s purpose in my life,” Holder told the TEXAN in a phone interview from Austin where she attends the University of Texas School of Law. Falling prey to the culture’s siren 12 TEXANONLINE.NET JUNE 5, 2014
song crooning for intimate relationships, Holder admitted she panicked just weeks after her 25th birthday. With no significant man in her life, she believed her marrying days were drawing to a close. In retrospect she laughed at her momentary meltdown. But the experience drew into sharp focus the emotional struggle of girls and women seeking the love of a man. The desire is very real and sexual intimacy presents itself as the only means of securing a relationship. Still other girls and women seeing no need for the restrictions of sexual mores simply seek the pleasure of recreational sex. “They think God is trying to keep something from us. He doesn’t want us to enjoy sex, they think,” Holder said. Regardless of the motive for becoming sexual involved outside of marriage, Holder argues the consequences are the same. In her book and speaking engagements (Holder is in increasing demand), she does not belittle those who give in to the over-sexed culture. Instead she shows empathy. “Even though I’m a virgin it doesn’t mean I’ve been sexually pure,” she admitted. Guarding her thoughts and the desires they evoked required change. As a high school student God convicted her of her choice of music. Sexually charged lyrics “altered my mind and the way I viewed guys.” A change of music on her MP3 player made an almost immediate and dramatic difference.
Leah Holder, a student at the University of Texas law school and author of “No Trespassing: I’m God’s Property,” shares her story at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston. In addition to her law studies, Holder speaks to students and young adults about honoring Christ through sexual purity.
Though her father, Olus Holder, is executive pastor of Fallbrook Church in Houston, Holder credits their relationship and not his position as having a significant influence on her perspective about boys and dating in general. Her father guarded her relationships. In intermediate school she asked him if she could have a boyfriend. “I think he almost choked,” Holder said, laughing. But his pragmatic response stuck with her. Why, he asked, would she want to put the time and energy into a relationship that was not going to go far? So in high school she focused on grades, friends and athletics. And, following her passion, began her speaking career sharing her convictions about sexual purity. Holder said everyone can pursue sexual purity, and the failure to do so comes at a great cost to individual families and to society. Holder’s book is available for order online in print and Kindle editions. She may be contacted by church via her website, goinghigherministries.com.
Houston passes nondiscrimination law; pastors vow referendum drive By Bonnie Pritchett HOUSTON
After a two-week delay, the Houston City Council on May 28 approved the controversial nondiscrimination ordinance that broadens civil rights laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, with an influential pastors’ group vowing to work toward a city referendum on the issue. The measure passed, 11-6, despite the efforts of an ethnically diverse coalition of pastors who called the measure “deeply flawed” and a threat to religious liberty. Following the roll call vote after nine hours of proceedings, the council chambers erupted in cheers from spectators packing the room to speak overwhelmingly for the ordinance. Testifying before the City Council, proponents recounted stories of physical and verbal abuse and discrimination against those who identified as homosexual or transgender. Fewer than 20 of the 209 people addressing the council voiced their disapproval, although previous public hearings and rallies had drawn thousands who opposed the law, raising questions by some about the process inside the chamber. Both sides of the debate invoked God and the Bible to defend their cause. “I’m also here as a Houstonian who believes that Jesus Christ died and rose again,” John Gorczynski, president of the Texas Young Democrats, told the City Council. His organization fought for pas-
“It was one of the most flagrantly disrespectful actions taken by an elected body toward its own constituency I have witnessed in over 30 years of involvement.” —DAVE WELCH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE HOUSTON AREA PASTOR COUNCIL
sage of a similar ordinance in San Antonio last year. He said, “Hear me! There are Christians that love you. The opposition is loud. The hateful are loud. But I love you and so do others.” Gorczynski’s remark may have been in response to chants of “Just say, ‘No!’” filtering into the chamber from an impromptu opposition demonstration formed on the steps of City Hall. The divisive ordinance served to unite racially and politically divergent church leaders from the Baptist Ministers’ Association of Houston, Houston Area Pastor Council, Houston Ministers Against Crime, AME Ministers’ Alliance of Houston/Gulf Coast, Northeast Ministers’ Alliance, South Texas Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship, South Texas District Council of the Assemblies of God, and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Their four-week campaign against the ordinance ended in one final protest as coalition pastors walked out of the council chambers just before the public hearings began when lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender (LGBT) supporters of the ordinance were given what appeared to be preferential treatment on the speaker’s roster. Councilman Dwight Boykin had asked for similar consideration for coalition pastors Willie Davis and Max Miller but was rebuffed. “It was one of the most flagrantly disrespectful actions taken by an elected body toward its own constituency I have witnessed in over 30 years of involvement,” said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council and a coalition organizer. The nondiscrimination ordinance—called HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance) by supporters—duplicates existing federal and state law but adds sexual orientation and gender identity to a list of 13 other protected citizen classes. In an open letter to Mayor Annise Parker and the City Council, HAPC called the equivocation of sexual behavior and gender identity with the immutable characteristics of race, religion, sex and disability “patently offensive.” JUNE 5, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 13
Much of the opposition centered on the “public accommodation” provision of the law, which allows transgender individuals to use the public restrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify. Critics argued the provision disregards the privacy of men and women using those same facilities and could put women and children at risk of male sexual predators. The concern, voiced repeatedly in recent weeks, was dismissed during the public hearing as a fearmongering meme. Prior to the meeting, David Fleming, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church, told the TEXAN the public accommodations, although the most obvious red flag, is not the most egregious. Fleming, Welch, Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist Church and former Southern Baptist Convention president, Robert Sloan, president of Houston Baptist University, and coalition pastors said the ordinance, at its core, poses a threat to religious liberties. In a letter to the Greater Houston Partnership, an association of 2,000 Houston businesses, Sloan called the law ideological and divisive. The GHP endorsed the ordinance despite dissent in and out of its ranks. “The proposed ordinance’s political definition of gender identity is simply the statement, by fiat, of what we are required to believe about personhood,” Sloan wrote. The definition stands in stark contrast to traditionally held religious and philosophical understandings of personhood. He continued, “Ours is not an arbitrarily understood position, nor is it socio-politically neutral; and the proposed ordinance is not ideologically, or theologically, neutral. It attempts to coerce, by 14 TEXANONLINE.NET JUNE 5, 2014
legal definition, our adherence to beliefs and practices with which we profoundly disagree.” “Now you have a fundamental Constitutional issue,” Fleming said. “The real question is do people have real religious liberty or just churches?” Without invoking religion, Richard Thompson gave the council one of the most succinct dissents. He said, “If a law disallows disagreement, then the right of conscience, the most fundamental freedom, is deprived. Any law which elevates one side at the expense of the other is inherently unjust.” The ordinance excludes “religious organizations” from compliance with the law. But Sloan distrusts the government’s ability to define the term, pointing to the university’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act and its requirement that Christian schools abide by its birth control mandates. But several homosexual ministers testifying scoffed at such concerns, arguing Christians—even the “misguided” ones opposing the measure—should recognize the need to affirm the LGBT community. Others argued the law justly protects certain classes. Steve Wells, pastor of South Main Baptist Church, said that though he believed some of the behaviors protected by the ordinance were sinful, the law would not keep him from believing that. And all citizens, as creations of God, should be treated “equally and well,” he said. Numerous speakers cited “The Golden Rule” as central to the debate. Jonathan Saenz, an attorney and president of Texas Values, accused council members of ignoring the will of their constituents by voting for the ordinance. His organization facilitated a campaign
that forwarded 110,000 emails to the Houston City Council and the mayor opposing the ordinance. Steve Riggle, pastor of Grace Community Church, said May 26 that two councilmen told him constituency opposition to the ordinance was as high as 10-1. Councilman Michael Kubosh, who attended a rally at Grace Community Church hosted by Hispanic pastors, said calls and emails to his office were 7-1 against the law. Kubosh is an at-large council member. After hearing that influential community leaders were excluded from the drafting of the ordinance and opposition dismissed by proponents, Saenz filed a Texas Public Information Act request to review all correspondence related to the ordinance. In response to the vote, Willie Davis, pastor of MacGregor Palm Community Baptist Church, said, ““This ordinance was exposed to be nothing more than a political payoff to [Parker’s] national LGBT allies while completely ignoring and excluding legitimate community leaders in the discussions.” But Chris Banks, quoting an Irish philosopher, told council to ignore their constituents. Kubosh reminded Banks the City Council is a representative body and asked what he was to do with the 7,000 constituent calls and emails opposing the measure compared to about 1,000 in favor. Banks replied, “You weren’t elected to do what the public wants. The public elected you to vote your conscience.” Meanwhile, coalition leaders are preparing for a referendum petition drive, needing 17,000 voter signatures to put the ordinance on the ballot this fall.
SBTC Disaster Relief brings hope to panhandle By Jane Rodgers FRITCH
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief volunteers ministered to the victims of the May 11 wildfire that swept through a residential district near the Lake Meredith National Recreational Area in the Texas Panhandle.
“We are here to serve the Lord, whether it be talking to the victims or cleaning up the ashes of their homes.” “The fire destroyed 225 homes, 143 outbuildings and more than 100 vehicles,” reported Jim McBride in the Amarillo GlobeNews. SBTC DR efforts were coordinated with those of the Texas Baptist Men (TBM) and focused on four neighborhoods in the Double Diamond area, said Daniel White, SBTC “white hat” incident commander for the first two weeks of the combined SBTC/TBM DR effort. White hat responsibilities rotated to a TBM coordinator over the Memorial Day weekend. DR volunteers working out of the First Southern Baptist Church of Fritch included 25 SBTC men and women. Local helpers assisted the Baptist DR effort. SBTC workers included work crews, feeding teams, operations personnel, assessment specialists, clean up and recovery crews, incident commanders and chaplains, White said. Some SBTC volunteers like Jim and Carolyn Partlow of Nacogdoches, members of Lufkin’s Harmony Hill Baptist, arrived at the beginning of the DR effort and planned to stay as long as needed. SBTC personnel used the church kitchen and a feeding unit brought from Pampa, to provide meals for local volunteers and the more than 50 out-of-town workers staying at First Southern Baptist of Fritch, White said. Relief efforts aimed at clearing burned debris and ashes from properties. SBTC chaplains led some victims to Christ and saw others make reaffirmations of faith. Many of the homes destroyed were vacation or weekend homes. “About 40 percent of the homes belong to locals; 60 percent are vacation or summer rental properties,” said Monte Furrh of
SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers Monte Furrh and Mark Robinson remove a chimney that remained standing after a May 11 wildfire destroyed a home in the Double Diamond residential area near Lake Meredith National Recreation Area close to Fritch.
Bonham, leader of the SBTC’s DR team “C” of skid steer operators, ash-out workers, and chaplains including Tim White, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Lamesa. “We’ve been doing ash-out, clearing where the homes have burned and all that’s left lying on the slab are the roofs; all that’s left are the ashes of their belongings,” said Furrh, describing the effort. “The work is hard but it is good,” said Elmer Reedy of Kemp, a member of Furrh’s team. “We are here to serve the Lord, whether it be talking to the victims or cleaning up the ashes of their homes,” said Furrh, who added that he had met with homeowners personally and had even talked to others from Oklahoma over the phone. As of May 20, DR workers had received 91 requests for assistance; 26 work orders had been completed, with 65 to go, said Jim Richardson, SBTC director of disaster relief. JUNE 5, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 15
Interruptions God uses
he Lord is beginning a new work in my heart about how I view interruptions in my life. Little did I know when I bought a Bible study book by Priscilla Shirer—”Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted”— that I would be in the middle of a health interruption several months later, but God’s timing is always perfect. The book of Jonah, as Shirer recounts, is about a man whose life was interrupted by God. Jonah was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel. God would give him a word and then he would share it with the people. 2 Kings 14:25 tells us that King Jeroboam set the border of Israel according to the Word of the Lord that Jonah received. Jonah lived in a prosperous Israel. Because he foretold good things to the people, he was probably popular, highly respected and appreciated. Jonah’s interruption began in Jonah 1:1 when “the Word of the Lord” came to him: God was changing Jonah’s priorities and instructing him to go in an entirely different direction. He would be giving up his plans and the comfort of the familiar to go to Nineveh. We have the privilege of reading the entire book of Jonah at one time, so we see all the events laid out at once. But Jonah didn’t have that opportunity. If he could have read all four chapters, he would have seen that what he saw as a huge interruption in his life was really an invitation from God to make a huge difference in the lives of people in Nineveh. The Filipino people we have been ministering to had a huge interruption in their lives by Typhoon Yolanda. But as a result, they have experienced God’s love through the helping hands of Missouri Baptists. As we have shared with them, many of them have received Christ. The storm and the response of Southern Baptists from Missouri and other states have been God’s transformational instruments. When the strategy for the Missouri disaster relief project was initiated, we were planning to assemble and distribute water filtration systems to the people, but the freighter carrying the filtration parts went down in rough seas. 16 TEXANONLINE.NET JUNE 5, 2014
Obviously, when we heard the news of no water filtration, that was an interruption. However, we shifted to construction. After all, the first word on mission trips is “flexibility.” So, we began restoring their homes and painting the school. The result was, we had more direct contact with people and many have received Christ. I was excited about the plan to give the people clean water and disappointed when that plan was changed. However, God was more interested in them receiving Living Water. I don’t know where this medical interruption in my life will take me, but I want to view it not as an “interruption” but as “God’s intervention” in my life for his purposes. As Priscilla Shirer states in her study of Jonah, “When we sign up to follow Christ, we automatically signed up to be open to Divine Interventions—God interruptions. While His call might not always be convenient or easy, responding to it should not just be a duty but our joy.” Living a life devoted to Christ doesn’t mean we don’t have aspirations or that we shouldn’t make plans, but it does mean that we should be open for God to intervene. We should hold our dreams and plans in our hands and not in our hearts. We should be open to the Divine Interventions that come our way to mold us in his image. We can trust him to have the best plan for us.” —Sharon Yeats is the wife of John Yeats, former Texas pastor and executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Sharon wrote this column prior to surgery for stage 3 melanoma in early May.
2014 SBTC MISSION OPPORTUNITIES LONGVIEW JULY 12 MOBBERLY BAPTIST CHURCH
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