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BP Ledger, Feb. 13 edition

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today's BP Ledger includes items from:

William Carey University

(WNS) World News Service

Former IMB president to teach at WCU

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (William Carey University)--Dr. Jerry Rankin, former president of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention, will teach REL 310 Principles and Practice of Missions, at William Carey University during the Spring Trimester. The Tuesday evening credit class, which begins February 21 and ends May 1, will meet in Lawrence Hall, Room 101 from 6-9:45 p.m. Church leaders and members of any denomination will be allowed to take the course on a non-credit basis for a $50 fee with the approval of their pastor. A maximum of 20 slots are available at this rate. The textbooks "Empowering Kingdom Growth: To the Ends of the Earth, Churches fulfilling the Great Commission," and "Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today" will be used in the class.

Dr. Rankin will also lead an "Impact your World" non-credit interactive study course at WCU for pastors, church personnel, and laity sponsored by WCU's department of church relations and Baptist Student Union, which will meet on Wednesdays, 10-11:30 a.m. in the Kresge Room, February 29 - April 25. The course is $35, or $25 each if three or more persons register together. It is a non-credit course.

Rankin retired from IMB after a 17-year tenure. He and his wife Bobbye began their mission experience in Indonesia in 1970 and served overseas for more than 23 years before Rankin was elected the IMB's 10th president in 1993. Rankin travels the globe preaching, teaching, and encouraging others to answer God's call to missions.


A native of Tupelo, Rankin currently lives in Clinton. He earned a bachelor of arts degree and holds an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Mississippi College, a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an honorary doctor of missions degree from California Baptist University.

He has authored or co-authored several books, including "A Journey of Faith and Sacrifice: Retracing the Steps of Lottie Moon"; "Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God's Glory"; "Lives Given, Not Taken"; and "Empowering Kingdom Growth to the Ends of the Earth: Churches Fulfilling the Great Commission."

For more information about the Principles and Practice of Missions class, call 601-318-6115. Further information about the "Impact your World" course may be obtained by contacting Pam Shearer at 601-318-6107 or


Victory, On and Off the Field

By Susan Edgar/World News Service

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (World News Service)--Opening Day didn't look promising for the Palm Beach Atlantic University Sailfish baseball team when the South Florida skies opened up for a day-long soaking. The deluge further dampened an already somber mood in the training room, as the boys of summer faced the prospect of taking the field against top-ranked Lynn University without their coach. Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, who took the coaching job at the small Christian school about 90 minutes north of Miami in 2009, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer at the end of the 2011 season, and no one expected him to be strong enough to attend this year's Feb. 2 opener.


By evening, the clouds over Roger Dean Stadium, spring-training home of the St. Louis Cardinals, in Jupiter, Fla., gave way to cool, tropical breezes that quickly dried the meticulously manicured diamond. The Sailfish hung Carter's No. 8 jersey in the dugout as a reminder of their coach's determination and courage.

As the players warmed up, a golf cart pulled onto the field next to the right-field bullpen. The first player to notice Carter sitting on the back stopped stretching and ran toward his coach, with the rest of the team only a few steps behind. The golf cart quickly disappeared behind a curtain of orange and blue.

"It was a good surprise. It was definitely emotional," catcher Travis Murray said after giving Carter a hug. The coach sent Murray back to his warm up only after telling him he hadn't forgotten about the new catcher's gear they wanted to get this year.

As the rest of the team headed back to the field, Carter urged them to bring back a win. Before the first pitch, the 400 fans gathered for the game gave Carter a standing ovation.

"The whole evening was emotional and special," said Carter's daughter, Kimmy Bloemers, 31, who coaches the women's championship softball team at PBA. "We as a family are at home when we see the dirt, grass and lights. It's a very comfortable place."

It seemed almost providential that Carter, 57, came to Palm Beach Atlantic when he did, Bloemers said. The family always had a home in South Florida, where Carter's Major League team, the Montreal Expos, came for Spring Training. Bloemers and her husband, Kyle, went to work with the school's athletic program a few years earlier, she as coach and he as an assistant athletic director.


After his successful career in the majors, Carter travelled a lot as a broadcaster and baseball manager. When the school approached him about the coaching position, he grabbed the opportunity to invest in a Division II program at a Christian university and spend more quality time with his family.

"His daughter was there, so he had to follow in her footsteps," said Sandy, Carter's wife of 37 years. "It's so wonderful for him to be at home and at a Christian university."

Although Carter wanted to help improve the team, he had a higher purpose in mind.

"My primary goal is to help these young athletes become better Christians and prepare them for life, not just baseball," Carter said in 2009 when the school announced he would be joining the staff.

Many of PBA's ball players chose the school because they wanted to learn under the famous catcher.

"When I heard he was the coach here, I didn't believe it at first," Sailfish second baseman Michael Lyon said. "Some major league players don't care to give back to others like he has."

Murray, who plays Carter's old position, said the coach took him under his wing and taught him both the physical and mental aspects of the game.

"He's always positive, trying to motivate people to do their best and give 100 percent," Murray said, adding that Carter enjoyed telling the team stories from his past, including about the two-out, two-strike base hit that sparked the Mets' three-run rally in the bottom of the 10th inning in Game Six of the 1986 World Series. "But he's always quick to say he never would have made it as far if he didn't have Christ as his Savior. He's always giving glory to God."


Carter encouraged the players but also taught them to work hard, with determination, a lesson they would soon see him apply to his own life.

Last spring, Carter started having chronic headaches. One afternoon at the end of the season, he began to have trouble writing and speaking as he took inventory of team equipment in the school's gym. A battery of tests revealed four small tumors in his brain. The players, who had gone home for the summer, had no idea about the coach's diagnosis.

While Carter started treatment, school administrators searched for an associate coach to join the team. Kent Bottenfield, 43, Carter's friend and former teammate, saw the opportunity as a way to help both Carter and the team through a tough time. Bottenfield first got to know Carter through the Expos' team Bible study.

"Gary has such a passion to coach young men," said Bottenfield, who spent 16 years pitching in professional baseball and was the last starting pitcher to throw to Carter in a major-league game. "When somebody has accomplished all he has in baseball and received the attention he has as a Hall of Famer, it speaks volumes that he has handled it with such incredible grace, even when it interferes with his personal life."

Bottenfield, whose oldest child is 16, said working with college-aged players reminded him how invincible and exempt from tough times young people think they are. But Carter's illness has made suffering and perseverance real to them.

"I'm not saying they've accepted it, but we try to use the situation in a positive sense as much as you possibly can, and they've grown from it," Bottenfield said.


Carter only saw his team a couple of times before Opening Day. The first came at the start of the school year, when the team was conducting drills in the gym. The players gathered around their coach and laid hands on him in prayer, asking the Lord for healing. It was one of the few times the team was able to return some of the encouragement Carter poured into them.

"He's all about encouraging the guys," Bottenfield said. "That's got to be very difficult to do, but to me it's a sign of a man who is completely secure in his salvation and understanding there's something greater at work than himself."

Carter's focus on his team helped him gather the strength to make it to the first game of the season, after being too weak to leave home during the previous two weeks.

"We had just been praying so hard that he would be able to come tonight," Sandy Carter said. "He kept talking about his players. He puts his heart and soul into them."

And the Sailfish didn't disappoint, rewarding Carter with a 3-2 victory in the bottom of the ninth.

"We wanted to win for Skip," said Murray, who hit the game-winning RBI single. "It felt good."

Carter knows the feeling. In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, delivered during his induction in 2003, he recalled his final game as a Major League player in 1992.

"The Lord gave me a storybook ending of my career in front of over 40,000 fans," he said. "My last at-bat was a game-winning double, and after hobbling to second base, I left the game to a standing ovation. There is nothing like the roar of a crowd."


Although the fans gathered for last week's game weren't quite as numerous or nearly as loud as Carter used to hear, the Sailfish were thrilled to give their coach a small reminder of that storybook ending, pitcher Logan Thomas said.

"He's won all the accolades and he's still standing firm in what the Lord has given him: a secure hope in his future through Jesus Christ," Thomas said.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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