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BP Ledger, May 1 edition

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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:

University of Mobile

World on Campus

Bluefield College

Campbellsville University

Charleston Southern University

Compass Direct News

'Pray Gulf Coast' Unites Individuals, Churches, Ministries

in Prayer for Community

MOBILE, Ala. (University of Mobile)--More than 40 churches and ministries and almost 500 individuals have united to pray daily for Mobile and Baldwin counties through Pray Gulf Coast, a 50-day prayer initiative launched by the University of Mobile Center for Leadership.

The initiative, which lasts from Easter to Pentecost, calls for residents of the areas to unite in daily prayer for specific needs in the churches, schools, businesses, families, government, and individuals of the community.

Baldwin County Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack said, "Pray Gulf Coast provides all of us who are Christians the opportunity to unite in prayer for our area. Every day, we are reminded of God's blessings through the beautiful Gulf Coast that He created. While we are blessed, we still face serious issues in our area. Through prayer, we have hope, encouragement, and guidance in dealing with these issues."

The Center for Leadership distributes daily prayer guides via email and a Facebook page. Participating churches have adopted their own day to pray, resulting in 50 days of perpetual prayer for Mobile and Baldwin counties.

Prayer topics include reductions in the divorce rate, crime rate, single parent families, and domestic violence, among others. Participants are praying for legislators, education officials, and law enforcement members by name, when possible.

Fred Wolfe, pastor of Luke 4:18 Fellowship in Mobile, Ala., said, "There is great power in united prayer. As I read the prayer request each day and join in praying with others all across the GulfCoast there is a confident assurance in my heart that God is moving and will answer our corporate prayer in a powerful way."


Continuing the call to do hard things

Hannah Taplin/World on Campus

PURCELLVILLE, Va. (World on Campus)--When they were just 19, twins Alex and Brett Harris released their bestselling book "Do Hard Things" four years ago. They encouraged teens to rebel against the low expectations of today's culture by stepping out of their comfort zones and taking on such challenges as fighting against abortion, learning an activity like public speaking, refusing to watch bad movies or simply performing unassigned household chores -- all for the glory of God.

The Harris twins, now seniors at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., are ready to carry that message into adulthood.

As he reflects on his time in school, Alex Harris has one main piece of advice for next year's freshmen -- beware the freedom that college offers and embrace the new responsibilities as challenges and opportunities to shine.

When Do Hard Things came out in 2008, the twins became mini-celebrities in the nationwide Christian homeschool community. But before that, they were just normal teenagers -- with a passion for great things. They first got the idea behind the book in 2005 when their dad set a huge stack of books on the kitchen counter and announced that he was putting them on an intense reading program for the summer.

With topics spanning history, philosophy, theology, science, business and journalism, the pile looked a bit intimidating. But as they read, they become more and more concerned about their generation and the misconceptions about the challenges teens were capable of taking on. In an effort to share their thoughts, the brothers started a blog, founded The Rebelution, a movement to encourage teens to disprove the world's low expectations for them, and later wrote Do Hard Things.


The book's publication brought opportunities for speaking engagements, traveling and more writing. And after all the attention the Harris brothers got while still teenagers, one of the best parts about college was being able to be a normal student, Alex Harris said. The twins came to Patrick Henry College with a desire to build relationships and earn respect based on their actual interaction with other students, and not on things others had heard or read about them.

"Thankfully, we were able to come in with a terrific group of classmates who embraced us as 'Alex and Brett, normal guys' and not 'Alex and Brett, authors and speakers' … so that was really good and healthy and what we wanted," Harris said.

Frank Guliuzza, a government professor at the college and pre-law adviser for Harris, said the brothers conducted themselves in a way that would never lead anyone to believe they once rode on private jets, spoke on tours with Chuck Norris or were involved in presidential politics.

"I think everyone was pretty amazed by how genuine they were in their willingness to blend in with other students," Guliuzza said.

Although Harris was an impressive student -- seemingly successful at anything he put his mind to -- he impressed Guliuzza most by the way he handled defeat. Guliuzza recalled one basketball game in which Harris and his team started ahead, but ended up losing by a huge margin. Harris didn't let it discourage him but continued to play with enthusiasm and energy, Guliuzza said, noting, "I got to see this guy when he was supremely successful I also got to see him when he and his team were anything but, and he seemed to carry himself the same way."

Graduating in May with a degree in government, Harris plans to attend law school in the fall. He was accepted at the nation's top three -- Harvard, Yale and Stanford -- and has chosen Harvard.

"aw intersects with numerous fields, including government," Harris said. "Legislation, regulation and judicial decisions are all about making and interpreting the law -- so there's a very strong connection."

While his plans are far from settled, Harris said he believes God is calling him to use his law degree to make a difference in the arenas of public policy and government. "That could include arguing cases in court as an appellate lawyer, ruling on cases as a judge, influencing the public policy conversation at a think tank, or running for political office-or more than one of those!" He still urges his generation, now young adults, to realize the importance of becoming involved politically by being engaged and informed.

Although the dismal job market and the rising cost of higher education has caused some to question the value of a college degree, Harris believes the investment was worth it, even for someone who already had accomplished more than the average teenager by the time he started submitting his college applications: " opportunity to grow, not just in knowledge, but in maturity and responsibility." College also gave Harris the opportunity to pursue his passion for politics. Unlike many students, who change their major multiple times, Harris planned to major in government from the beginning and stuck with it all the way through.

Harris encourages students considering college to embrace their responsibility, as well as their freedom. Next year's freshmen will discover they have a lot more freedom than they've ever had before, as well as a lot more responsibility, Harris said. Those who focus on the freedom will self-destruct, while those who focus on the responsibility will not only excel, but thrive, he said.


Even though Harris values the time he spent in college, he cautions others to think through their reasons for going before sending in their applications. Many teens feel pressured to go to college because it's the next step, Harris said. Even though a college degree can be important, going to college aimlessly just wastes time and money, he said: "If you decide to go to college, have a sense of direction, because that will really ground you and make your time more productive."

Reprinted by permission of World on Campus, a website of World magazine.


Campbellsville University partners with Kentucky Woman's Missionary Union to host Exalt 2012, a Christian weekend retreat for teen girls

By Christina L. Kern

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University)--Campbellsville University recently converged with the Kentucky Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) to host Exalt 2012, a Christian weekend retreat for teenage girls. Exalt is a described in the program as, "…a fun filled weekend that will challenge you to grow as a Christian."

Exalt is sponsored by WMU and made possible by Kentucky Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering for State Missions.

"I hope that through holding events at our Baptist colleges, that Kentucky WMU can affirm the importance of our Kentucky Baptist colleges and universities," Joy Bolton, executive director of Kentucky WMU, said. "We appreciate the Christian education that our schools provide and recognize the important role of our schools in training the leaders of the future, both for our communities and for our churches, including WMU.

"I also hope that by holding events on the campuses, that students who help us will see the work of WMU," Bolton said.

The theme "Blank Canvas" was chosen for Exalt 2012 because when a person comes to know Jesus, they become blank, clean and new in Him, according to WMU.

"Young women and their leaders from all across our state come together for a celebration, to make friends, renew acquaintances, study God's word, sing praises to His name and hear a gifted and challenging speaker," said WMU President Linda Cooper. "It was a great weekend and our prayer is that young girls' lives were truly changed."

The featured speaker over the weekend was Kristi McCartney, a native of Louisville. She used the scripture to show Exalt 2012 attendees how God gives Christians a new Heart, a new Identity and a new Mission (HIM).

Exalt 2012 worship over the weekend was led by Bo Warren, of Lexington. Warren travels all over the country leading worship and sharing the message of Jesus Christ. This was his third year leading worship at Exalt.

A total of 13 seminars focusing on missions and spreading the Gospel were offered at Exalt 2012 on the campus of Campbellsville University.

Exalt is held each year, rotating in different parts of the state. Bolton said, "For events for youth, we feel that it is an advantage for the college or university to host us as we are bringing potential students to the campus. It is our hope that some who attend the event will decide to attend college at the school."

Exalt 2012 was held in conjunction with a similar weekend event for teenage boys, "4-Go" at Campbellsville Baptist Church. The young men did construction work building a handicapped ramp for a home in the local Campbellsville community, and served at the local food pantry.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master's degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.


Christina L. Kern is an office assistant and Matthew Schmuck is a student news writer at Campbellsville University.


Bluefield College Dedicates Century-old Easley Quilt

BLUEFIELD, Va. (Bluefield College)--While the hand-made quilt was a necessary commodity for warmth in every remote house in Appalachia in the early 1900s, it also served a decorative piece or an expression of love or remembrance of a person, time or place.

Bluefield College dedicated a century-old Appalachian quilt during a ceremony on campus, Friday, April 20, that will hang as a decorative piece inside Easley Library and serve as an expression of love and remembrance of the late Eva Vest Easley, who donated the family throw to BC some 44 years ago.

Crafted in 1901 by Manerva Boyd Pack Easley, mother to Frank Smoot Easley, one of the founding fathers of Bluefield College, the quilt was a mainstay in the Easley family until 1968. At that time, Eva, one of many in the family who continued to support the college, donated the piece to the school.

"This quilt was made as an expression of love by Manerva for her son, Frank, and it was given to Bluefield College as an expression of love by Eva," said BC's Ruth Blankenship, vice president for advancement. "And today, all of you are here as an expression of your love for Eva to help us dedicate the quilt in her memory."

More than 50 friends and family members, from as far as North and South Carolina and as near as Bluefield, attended the dedication ceremony, which included a prayer of dedication by Rev. Michael E. Snider of Christ Episcopal Church and remarks by Blankenship and BC President David Olive.

"We're so thankful to those of you who have come to join us. This is a great day to see friends of Bluefield College celebrating the Easley legacy," said Dr. Olive. "This college would not be the same without the Easley family and without Eva Easley."

Since its founding in 1922, members of the Easley family have played significant roles in the development and growth of Bluefield College. In fact, a member of the Easley family has served on the school's Board of Trustees since its formation, including Eva's husband, trustee emeritus Tyler Easley, and their daughter, Becky Easley Beckett, who serves as a trustee today.

Before her death in August 2008, Eva had been a longtime member of the Board, where she served on a variety of committees to further campus facility improvements, fundraising, and student development. Her love for BC students was most evident in her contributions to the areas of athletics, fine arts, scholarships, and the missionary-in-residence program. As a result of her faithful service to the college, she was named an honorary alumna in 1988. She also received the school's Mildred Sullivan Award for service to the community in 1995.

"Eva was an amazing lady," said Blankenship. "She impacted so many lives and has been referred to as the 'hostess with the mostest' for the ways in which she entertained a parade of Baptist ministers, missionaries, and denominational leaders who visited Bluefield and Bluefield College."

Using gifts to BC in memory of Eva, the college constructed a display case to preserve and permanently exhibit the quilt inside Easley Library. The throw, said Beckett, who spoke on behalf of the family during the dedication ceremony, had survived more than a century "because of the strength of the Appalachian woman who created it." It will continue to survive, she added, and serve as a reminder of the legacy of love and support of the Easley family.


The quilt dedication was just one of many activities in Bluefield College's yearlong "Celebration of Appalachia" symposium, featuring lectures, concerts, exhibits, discussions, movies, theatre, tours and other educational and entertaining events designed to honor the Appalachian heritage.


Charleston Southern student

goes barefoot for slavery

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Charleston Southern University)--There's nothing ordinary about Quinn Franco's college experience at Charleston Southern University.

In the fall of 2010, Franco enrolled at CSU, declaring biochemistry as his major. Inspired by a chapel performance by the Annie Moses Band, Franco changed his major from biochemistry to music and worship leadership, a radical act of faith, especially since he had no prior music experience.

"It was kinda scary actually," he confessed. "I didn't even know what sharps and flats were."

In January, as he began adjusting to his new life in the classroom, Franco took another leap of faith after attending Passion 2012, the four-day Christian conference at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. He was one of 45,000 college students from across the country who attended the event that redefined modern-day slavery. Passion officials reported that there are 27 million slaves worldwide -- with sex trafficking and forced labor topping the list.

"It was so inspiring," Franco said. "I could feel the Holy Spirit moving there."

Before the conference, Franco said he was like the majority of the world, knowing slavery was alive but believing it lacked relevance in today's culture. "I was, admittedly, thinking if I didn't see it then I wouldn't have to deal with it."

Passion's presentation of modern slavery helped raise $3.3 million and lit a fire in Franco. With the images seared in his memory, the stories of slavery lingering in his mind, Franco knew he could not just walk away. When Franco returned to Charleston, he began praying daily, asking God for guidance.

"What if this were your brother or sister -- or your own child -- that was taken away from you?" he said. "Being sent to a camp to work, feeling completely hopeless. That's when it really hit home for me. All those things I take for granted."

Prayer led to action. He decided to go barefoot, adopting the Tom's Shoes campaign concept of "A Day Without Shoes." Franco said living barefoot is about awareness.

"I really don't think I am starting a movement," said Franco. "It was just me trying to sense a little bit of the pain they feel. can't afford shoes themselves, so I thought, maybe if I walk in their shoes — or not in their shoes -- for a day, I'd realize how painful it is for them."

Franco has walked across campus barefoot in the rain. He's stepped on trash and pebbles, stubbed his big toe on brick walkways and wiped his feet clean in the grass (he carries a pair of flip-flops in his bookbag to wear in the dining hall, where students are required to wear shoes for health and safety reasons).

"Every time my feet start to hurt, I am motivated to pray … to pray for the people who don't have shoes; all the people who go without," he said. "I felt that if I suffered with them, I'd feel more of their pain and more motivated to give whatever I have so that they can be blessed. It keeps me in constant awareness of it."

Franco lifts his left hand, revealing "gal 5:1" scrawled in black ink on the back of his hand. It's a reminder of the Bible verse Galatians 5:1: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, so don't take on the yoke of slavery."


He points to the index finger on his left hand where another verse is displayed in ink. This one is 1 John 3:17: "If someone has worldly possessions and sees his brother in need, but doesn't help, than how can he have the love of God in him."

Besides his feet, his hands and fingers, Franco shared his story on Facebook. Friends and classmates started sending back text messages and comments.

"This isn't about me, it's about them ," Franco replies. "It's not about the cause, it's about the effect. It was really unexpected because I wasn't doing it for anyone to see me doing it, but when they do I am able to tell them more about it."

Christian's 6-Year Sentence Upheld in Egypt

Copt wrongly convicted of 'blasphemy,' inciting sectarian strife, lawyer says

By Compass Direct News

ISTANBUL, April 27 (Compass Direct News)--A judge in Upper Egypt has upheld a six-year prison sentence for a Coptic Christian whose lawyer said he has been wrongly convicted of "blasphemy" against Islam and inciting sectarian strife.

The judge in Assuit, Egypt, on April 5 refused to strike down a Feb. 29 sentence delivered to Makarem Diab, 49, of the town of Abnoub in Assuit Province. The charges stem from an argument that Diab had in February with Abd Al Hameed, a fellow employee at Deer Al Gabrawy Prep School.

From the start, the charges against Diab were inflated, according to his lawyer, Ahmed Sayed Gebaly.

"I know Makarem well, because we grew up together, and I know he wouldn't do that," said Gebaly, a Muslim. "To be honest, he didn't do anything wrong. If he did, I will have told him."

Gebaly said he was surprised by how far Al Hameed took the accusations. "The whole thing was just an ordinary discussion," he said.

Al Hameed told Diab, an administration worker, that Jesus had sex with at least 10 women who were "Mehram" or forbidden to Him under Islamic law (though Islam appeared more than six centuries after Jesus), according to Gebaly. Mehram status refers to forbidden marriage or sexual relations, such as those between immediate family members.

Diab countered Al Hameed's claims -- for which there is no historical record -- by stating that Muhammad, the founder of the Islamic religion, had more than four wives -- a view commonly held by Islamic scholars, though disputes arise over whether he had more than four wives over the course of his life or at one time.

For reasons that are not publicly known, Al Hameed waited for 11 days to report his allegations against Diab to a misdemeanor court. Police arrested Diab and held him for four days before he was presented to a judge. On Feb. 29, in a 10-minute court hearing with no defense attorney present, the judge sentenced Diab to six years in prison for "insulting the prophet" and "provoking students."

Diab received an appeal hearing on March 16, but Al Hameed instigated a massive riot by a large throng of Muslim attorneys outside the courthouse, according to Gebaly. The lawyers became so enraged that they burst into the courtroom during the hearing and assaulted Diab's attorneys. They also blocked access to the courtroom.

The judge upheld the six-year sentence but immediately scheduled an appeal hearing. Gebaly said the judge upheld the sentence out of fear.

Gebaly was outside the courthouse getting legal papers for the case when the attack happened.

"Soon after that, I was called by these lawyers, and they told me that they were beaten up inside the court and in front of the judge, so I went back to sort out the problem, and I was shocked when the judge kept the six-year sentence," he said.


Most of the lawyers defending Diab were Muslims, he added.

Gebaly went to the next hearing on April 5; once again, the judge's ruling surprised him.

"We were expecting that he would be released with no charges, but the law was used in the wrong way, and now we are trying to appeal again, if his appeal gets accepted," Gebaly said.

Diab remained in Assuit General Prison awaiting appeal. Gebaly said that he is being treated as well as one can be while in prison.

The action against Diab is yet another example of how members of the Muslim majority in Egypt increasingly are using religious-based laws to persecute Christians or even Muslims who don't conform to a strict interpretation to Sunni Islam.

On April 4, a judge sentenced Gamal Abdou Massoud, 17, a Coptic Christian, to three years in prison for allegedly insulting Islam. Massoud denied the charges, but the court claimed that he posted cartoons on his Facebook account that mocked the Islamic religion and Muhammad. The court also claimed that he distributed the pictures to other students. His lawyers plan to appeal the sentence.

On March 3, a Cairo court dismissed a case against Naguib Sawaris, a Copt and telecommunications tycoon, who was accused of insulting Islam for placing a cartoon of Minnie Mouse in a veil on his Facebook site as a satirical comment on what Egypt would look like if Islamists gained political power in the country.

On Tuesday (April 24), a Cairo court upheld a conviction against actor Adel Imam for blaspheming Islam but later in the week struck down a separate conviction of the same charge. Imam, arguably the best-known actor in the Arabic-speaking world, ran afoul of a lawyer with connections to the Salafi movement for his satirical roles about extremism.

The sentence carries three months in jail and a fine or 1,000 Egyptian pounds (US$165). Imam's lawyers plan to appeal the decision.

Compass Direct News (www.compassdirect.org), based in Santa Ana, Calif., focused on Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Used by permission.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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