Today's BP Ledger contains items from:
Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute
Louisiana Baptist Message
East Texas Baptist University
A. Larry Ross Communications
New Aggregator Website on International Religious Persecution
WASHINGTON (Center for Religious Freedom) -- Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom has announced the launch of its new website PersecutionReport.org, linking to accounts of ongoing global religious persecution. The site, which is available without charge, is the first to aggregate the top stories of repression affecting diverse religious groups, and covering all parts of the world.
"We created the site to respond to increasing threats to religious freedom, including in the relatively free West," center director Nina Shea said. The site includes reports on the persecution of Christians, Jews, Tibetan Buddhists, Baha'is, Ahmadis as well as other groups and individuals.
"There are a number of fine organizations reporting on religious freedom and persecution," said Paul Marshall, center senior fellow, "but their work is spread over many mailing lists and many sites. Here we pull together the most important of these stories and make them accessible in one place."
PersecutionReport.org, drawing from a broad range of reliable sites, is updated frequently. It also offers an archive of reports that is searchable by key terms and by date.
The Center for Religious Freedom has defended against religious persecution since 1986. A division of the nonprofit Hudson Institute, it is based in Washington, D.C.
Eight Days of Hope lifts New Orleans after another hurricane
By Marilyn Stewart
NEW ORLEANS (Baptist Message) -- Overwhelmed by flooded homes and broken lives after Hurricane Isaac last fall, pastor Checkerz Williams of Celebration Church in metro New Orleans knelt in his gutted office and prayed, "Send us workers. Help us impact this community for Christ."
God answered by bringing Eight Days of Hope, a faith-based organization directed and co-founded by Stephen Tybor III of First Baptist Church in Tupelo, Miss., that mobilized 2,510 volunteers in March to provide 143,000 man-hours of labor for work valued at 4.1 million dollars.
Numerous first-time commitments of faith to Christ were recorded among homeowners and volunteers as the group prayed with homeowners and met nightly for worship.
"Our city will never be the same," Williams said. "I believe the people of our community are much more open to the Gospel as a result of what took place over the last eight days."
Four Louisiana Disaster Relief shower units - from Baton Rouge, Slidell and North Louisiana areas - joined the project. A Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief Feeding Unit has accompanied the organization on each of its 10 trips since the organization's founding in 2005.
The workforce was Eight Days of Hope's largest volunteer group yet and included participants from 43 states and four countries. According to the LaPlace Parish communications director's office, the group was more than double the total number of volunteers who have worked in the parish to date.
The Times-Picayune of New Orleans gave the project front-page coverage as lead story and quoted one homeowner who said: "I've never been so loved in all of my life."
Six days after Williams' prayer for help, Billy Puckett, New Orleans Baptist Association's volunteer coordinator, called and asked him to meet with Tybor. Matt Tipton, pastor of Hope Church in Metairie, had heard of Eight Days of Hope and had contacted Tybor, then Puckett.
When Tybor told Tipton a point person in the parish would be needed, Tipton's answer was, "I know just the man."
Williams became the liaison with parish administrators, securing the St. John the Baptist Parish Community Center in LaPlace as the group's headquarters for job allocation, feeding, and housing for women volunteers, and mobilizing Celebration Church members from three of its five campuses to do home assessments prior to the event.
A the initial meeting, Tybor had told Williams he anticipated bringing 1500 volunteers.
"I watched on Facebook and the numbers just kept going up," Williams said of the registration that began last November.
One homeowner came to faith in Christ during pre-event home assessments. Throughout the week, Williams received email updates of other commitments of faith, including that of a seventy-five year old man.
"People are drawn to His love," Tybor said. "We're here to show Jesus' love in action."
The organization's name draws on the biblical symbolism of the number eight, meaning "new beginnings." Led by an all-volunteer staff, the group works in areas devastated by natural disasters.
Tybor, a vice president and senior manager with the building materials supplier ProVia, co-founded Eight Days of Hope with his father Steve Tybor, Jr., after a trip to the Hurricane Katrina devastated Gulf Coast. Trip plans began with a handful of friends but grew quickly to 680 when Tybor advertised the first trip on American Family Radio, a Christian network.
"When God gets involved, I just step back," Tybor said. The non-profit formed soon afterwards and registration has grown with each trip.
Juliette Miller, 17, Beaverdam Baptist Church, Beaverdam, Va., a five-trip veteran, heard about Eight Days of Hope on the radio as a 12 year old. She told her parents, "We need to do this." Miller's family - parents and seven siblings, the youngest 2 years old - marked their third trip together.
"Jesus told us to bear one another's burdens," LeaAnna Miller, mother, said. "It's such an awesome thing for our kids to be a part of."
Juliette Miller said the homeowner, a single mom, told the group she duct-taped her severely disabled son to her back and walked out through the water to safety. Miller reported that the son, age 20, weighs 70 lbs. Volunteers re-plumbed the bathroom to make it handicap accessible.
Parish President Natalie Robottom greeted the group on their arrival and presented Tybor a "key to the city." The parish's Long-Term Recovery Group, a coalition of local churches and organizations working with FEMA and the United Way, presented Tybor's organization $155,000 for building materials.
Billboards at the community center displayed projects and allowed groups to pick up assignments quickly and follow-up another team's work. Tybor said parish administrators were "overwhelmed at how much we got done."
"We are so thankful for Eight Days of Hope," Williams said. "We now have the task of continuing the work of the Lord in the coming days.
ETBU Students Minister in
Texas, Illinois, and Tennessee
By Mike Midkiff
MARSHALL, Texas (East Texas Baptist University) -- Three groups of students from East Texas Baptist University made long trips to three areas of the United States to build, clean, teach and minister to others in the name of Jesus Christ. The groups traveled during spring break to the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, South Padre Island and East Saint Louis, Ill. A fourth group from ETBU did not travel as far; they went to Arlington to help with Mission Arlington.
Freshman Zach Whitlow set a goal for himself to go on a mission trip each year while at ETBU. "I saw a flier with information about the mission trip opportunities during Spring Break and preferred the trip to Tennessee because I saw it as a more of hands-on working opportunity," said the religion major from McKinney.
The ETBU Great Commission Center made the arrangements for students to work with "Of One Accord Ministry" located in Rogersville, Tennessee. Rogersville is located in the Appalachian Mountains and has a high level of poverty among area residents. "Of One Accord Ministry" provides services like a free medical clinic, thrift store, food pantry, home repair and community nutrition services.
"My favorite part of the week was delivering meals to senior adults," said freshman theater arts major Cassie Brown of Fort Worth. "These seniors are really lonely, and most of them have no family close by. I observed how the meal delivers' created a special bond with those they took meals to each day. At Christmas time, one driver and the cook, Kim, even gave up their Christmas day to cook dinner for the ones they serve."
Not only did the team from ETBU help serve meals, they cleaned and sorted items for the shelves of the thrift store, collected and distributed food for the food pantry operation, and sanded sheet rock in a large room for painting. The ETBU team was available during the week to assist the ministry in serving the people by doing whatever was asked of them.
"Being around the staff at 'Of One Accord' really was inspiring because they truly had hearts for the poor and needy," shared Whitlow. "On the trip God taught me that when Jesus died, he died for everybody, and all people matter to God because he sent his son to die for them. I need to view people in the same way that Jesus does."
Dr. Melody Maxwell, director of the ETBU Great Commission Center, who accompanied the group to Tennessee said, "It was a privilege for our team to serve alongside 'Of One Accord Ministry.' We were blessed to watch God work through us as we served in a variety of ministries among those who had physical and spiritual needs in Appalachia."
Jennifer Morris, a freshman religion major from Fort Worth, was impressed with how the staff of the ministry carried out the day- to-day operations, relying on God's provision. One of the staff leaders asked the ETBU team to pray for them because they had mistakenly missed an application date for a large financial grant. The staff member said he sent the application anyway even though it was 15 days past due.
"The next day he came up to us and told us that the grant application had been accepted. The way they handle and do things, you just knew that God was at work every day keeping their spirits and energy up," said Morris.
While the team of eight was serving in the East Tennessee mountains, another team of 21 members served on the coast of Texas, known as South Padre Island. ETBU has sent teams to Beach Reach for many years, with each team coming back experiencing how God can work through a simple act of giving free van rides and free pancakes for breakfast to college students on spring break.
"I personally wanted to go to South Padre Island because I felt a specific call to go and serve others who were spiritually in need," shared Candice Hamilton, a junior and secondary education major from McKinney. "I went on Beach Reach last year and was amazed by the amount of 'spring breakers' that were in need of the love of Christ without even knowing it."
How does one strike up a conversation with a college student more interested in where his or her next beer will come from or what party to attend?
Several opportunities to share the Gospel occurred when ETBU students would be approached on Coca Cola Beach asking if they wanted a "shot" or if they wanted to come to the club with them to party. When Beach Reach ministers responded that they didn't drink so they could drive vans and pick people up from clubs was seen as something cool to do. The answer more times than not welcomed the non-drinkers into the circle of conversation that started trust and camaraderie, even though they did not drink like the party-seeking spring breakers.
Macy Yglecias, a sophomore nursing major from Waco, said, "We didn't try to preach to the people that we talked to or condemn them. It was very important that our main focus was to show God's love without judgment."
Yglecias added, "Sometimes conversations were awkward and sometimes they were great. I learned that approaching someone with the Gospel isn't up to me to decide, it is completely left up to the Holy Spirit, and my only option is to obey."
"I was talking to a guy on the beach, and we were just having a normal conversation. I didn't even mention anything spiritual to him and as the conversation came to a close he looked at me and asked me to pray for him," said Jermaca Brown, a freshman kinesiology major from Fairfield. "God's love conquers all and takes away all nervousness. He gives you the words to speak when you think you have nothing to offer."
Friendship Baptist Church of Marshall was blessed by the addition of nine ETBU students and an employee of Sodexo, the food service provider for ETBU, who joined their annual mission trip to Illinois. For the past three years, Matthew Paul, pastor of Friendship, has led his church to work with the Christian Activity Center of East Saint Louis, Ill.
With the students coming alongside, allowed Friendship to increase an area of ministry that had been neglected due to the lack of people. "In the past, we have predominately done construction work at the Christian Activity Center. Our work with the children and staff had been limited. But this year, we were able to greatly expand our work with and ministry to children," said Paul.
The center sees about 200 children each day who come to have a safe place to hang out. The ETBU spring break missionaries played games with the children as well as tutored and helped the children with school homework during the week and worked with the construction project at the center.
The fourth group from ETBU serving was two members from the service organization Delta Pi Theta. Senior members of the sorority returned to Mission Arlington after going when they were freshman.
Senior Mia Moore, a religion major from Lufkin, said, "The seniors wanted to be an example to the pledges and members that they could do something like this in the future. Not every Delta Pi Theta service project has to be in Marshall or on campus."
While at Mission Arlington, the team spent five days mainly serving with their Rainbow Express. The Rainbow Express is Mission Arlington's version of a backyard bible club that goes out to more than 100 apartment complexes in the area.
Moore shared, "Through this experience, I learned that even though not as many people came as we expected, that God can still use your group. Mrs. Tillie Burgin, the director of Mission Arlington, encouraged us by saying 'it's not about quantity, but we have quality.' She helped me realized even though it was the just two of us; size does not matter to God."
Rick Warren to Launch "Daily Hope" National Program
LAKE FOREST, Calif. (A. Larry Ross Communications) -- Rick Warren, best-selling author of "The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For?" and founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., today announced the Easter Sunday launch of "Daily Hope with Rick Warren" circadian (M-F) national radio programming. This includes a 25-minute program and one-minute teaching spots, to begin Monday, April 1.
The half-hour daily program will feature a practical, applicable and meaningful message from Scripture by Warren, intended to encourage, equip and train people to fulfill God's purposes for their life. The daily 60-second teaching spots address timely issues and topics.
"For 32 years, I said 'no' to radio because I felt God called me to preach to my local congregation rather than compete with other local churches for a national audience," Warren said. "But one year ago, He began to put a burden on my heart and a passion for broadcast ministry, born from three deep convictions.
"First, in the wake of a weak economic recovery from recession, a high rate of joblessness, natural disasters, painful school shootings and gridlock among political leaders, America is discouraged," Warren said. "With the coarsening of our society, there is a clear loss of civility, and more than ever before, people need to hear a message of hope found in the Gospel.
"Secondly, I am deeply concerned about the erosion of our first right of religious liberty in America, which needs to be protected," Warren continued. "On every front - school campuses, businesses, hospitals and even churches - secularists in government are increasingly trying to limit, undermine and even outlaw historic protections of our religious freedoms, which will likely become the civil rights issue of the next decade.
"Thirdly, taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth is our greatest goal, including reaching the remaining 2,900 unengaged tribes and people groups who have yet to hear that message," Warren concluded. "The Daily Hope radio program can expose listeners to the potential of involving themselves or their church in the PEACE Plan to help accomplish our '20/20 Vision' to reach every last tribe with the Gospel and a church by the year 2020."
Daily Hope will initially launch in both local and major markets across America with plans to expand rapidly. It will also be carried across the country on Sirius XM Satellite Radio's Family Talk Channel.
Content will be customized from a vault of 32 years of archived sermons, with periodic live programs hosted by Warren. On Monday, April 1, the Daily Hope with Rick Warren website, http://www.RickWarren.org, will carry and stream the daily radio programming, as well as provide support tools, resources and links. Warren's Daily Hope e-mail devotional, which has 600,000 subscribers, will also be on the site.
Extending The PEACE PLAN
Warren explained that he has been leading Saddleback Church in incremental steps toward that objective for more than a decade. One preliminary goal was to send 20,000 members to each of the world's 196 nations on earth by the year 2010 to make disciples, as commanded in Scripture. In the process they have also planted churches, equipped leaders, assisted the poor, cared for the sick, and educated the next generation - something no other church has been able to accomplish.
This year, the church is establishing 12 Saddleback churches and "base camps," in major cities in regions of the world, from which they can send out teams to unengaged people groups. These include London, Berlin, Moscow, Amman, Freetown, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Tokyo, Manila, Hong Kong and Bangalore.
"I intend to go on the radio around the world and in those cities to be 'the air force,'" Warren explained. "We want to use radio to share a message of hope in these 12 cities, but I believe in order to do that, we need to first have a similar radio presence in the United States that will reach our own hurting nation."
Daily Hope Ministries provides hope in many forms, including a half-hour Bible teaching program, called "Daily Hope with Rick Warren," in whichPastor Warren will share a meaningful, practical and applicable message from Scripture to encourage, equip and train people to fulfill God's purposes for their lives. Additional information is available at the Daily Hope Ministries website http://www.RickWarren.org.
Founded in 1980 by Rick and Kay Warren, Saddleback Church is located in Orange County, Calif. With an average weekly attendance of 22,000, it is one of the five largest churches in America. For more information visit http://www.Saddleback.com.
Salem Launches New Digital Radio Service
CAMARILLO, Calif. (Salem Communications) -- The newly unveiled ChristianRadio.com brings radio users a complete digital listening experience that includes the nation's top Christian music and teaching talk stations from Salem Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: SALM), a leading U.S. radio broadcaster, Internet content provider and publisher targeting audiences interested in Christian and conservative opinion content.
ChristianRadio.com advances Salem's radio strategy to be available anytime, anywhere by offering live streams from more than 60 Christian music and talk radio stations. The new site also features on-demand programs from popular Christian ministries including Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, Truth for Life with Pastor Alistair Begg, Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah, A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, Grace to You with John MacArthur, Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, Walk in the Word with Dr. James MacDonald, Precepts for Life with Kay Arthur, Insight for Living with Chuck Swindoll, and many more.
ChristianRadio.com also offers several live streaming Spanish Christian Talk stations, filling a great need among the fastest growing Christian demographic in America.
"With the continued growth of desktop radio listening as well as the explosive growth, of mobile and tablet radio listening, Salem has launched ChristianRadio.com to provide Christian radio listeners a one-stop multi-device online destination to listen to all of their favorite Christian radio programs," said David Evans, Salem Communication's Division President of Interactive and Publishing.
"Christianradio.com is a joint effort of Salem's radio and new media divisions. Together we have built a content aggregator that gives our listeners, ministries and advertisers digital content delivery within an environment that is consistent with their values and ours," added Salem Radio Division President, Dave Santrella.
The new ChristianRadio.com is accessible online, via mobile devices and on select video game consoles.
Salem Communications Corporation is the largest commercial U.S. radio broadcasting company that provides programming targeted at audiences interested in Christian and conservative opinion content, as measured by the number of stations and audience coverage. Upon completion of all announced transactions, the company will own and/or operate a national portfolio of 99 radio stations in 38 markets, including 61 stations in 22 of the top 25 markets. Salem also programs the Family Talk Christian-themed talk format on SiriusXM Radio, channel 131. Salem also owns Salem Radio Network, a national radio network that syndicates talk, news and music programming to approximately 2,400 affiliated radio stations and Salem Media Representatives, a national media advertising sales firm with offices across the country. In addition to its radio broadcast business, Salem owns an Internet and a publishing division. Salem Web Network is a provider of online Christian and conservative-themed content.
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