Today's BP Ledger includes items from:
International Mission Board
LifeWay Christian Resources
University of Mobile
Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia
In Macedonia, she
found hope in Christ
PRILEP, Macedonia (IMB)--My soul is grieving deeply
And wants to say, "Goodbye."
It's shattered into tiny pieces
Only You can make it whole.
All that is left is my faith in You
And it gives me hope in myself.
Heal my heart
Because it is no longer mine.
Valentina Poposka wrote these words the night she gave her life to Jesus. Her life had been tragic -- puncutated with loss, suicidal thoughts, abandonment. She did not plan to give her life to Christ that July night. She was just walking home when Jackie Kirkpatrick, missionary in Prilep, Macedonia, invited her into a meeting where Macedonian young people and a team of volunteers First Baptist Church (FBC), Ruston, Louisiana were sharing what God had done in their lives.
"She was passing by when I went to close the door," Jackie said. "It was a rainy day and I was just looking up and down the street when I saw her. I knew her from English classes and invited her to come in and join us."
Chris Craig, pastor of FBC Ruston was sharing his testimony that night. His life before Christ had many similarities with Valentina and she related to his search for meaning. The previous seven years had been particularly difficult. Her husband left her, she considered taking her own life, she had even died once and been resuscitated. After the program, Valentina and Chris talked and prayed together. She accepted Christ right then, which is very unusual.
"We prepare our volunteers that it is rare to have an on-the-spot conversion in this part of the world," Jackie said. "This is the first time in 14 years I've ever seen this happen."
She had begun reading her bible in October of 2009 through English classes and Jackie believes that is what prepared her for what seemed to be a random encounter. Now she reads her Bible for hours every day, faithfully attends a discipleship class once a week and is seeking baptism.
"Valentina used to come across as hurt -- there was a sadness about her, an anger behind her eyes," Jackie said. "Now she has such joy that I feel the Lord's presence in her."
Valentina has processed the changes in her life through writing poetry. She has wondered aloud why the bad things in her life happened, but in Christ she has found the answer. "They are the things that led me to Him," she told Jackie.
Partnering for Christ
Valentina is just one changed life from the ministry of Jackie and her husband Kyle and a partnership they forged three years ago with FBC Ruston. This is the fourth team that came within that time frame. Their work has been varied, but this year they came during an annual festival in Prilep. The town of 75,000 was overrun as people from all over South Europe came to join the fun. Sunday night at the main-event concert, 200,000 people packed the streets.
Kyle and Jackie have formed a club called "Izgrev" (sunrise) through which they are reaching the people of Prilep with the Gospel. FBC printed coozies (insulated drink holders) with the club logo, filled them with water bottles and passed them out in the early evenings during the festival.
"I don't think anyone here had ever seen or even heard of coozies, so we had to explain what they were," Jackie said. "They were a great way to get our logo out there so people will begin learning who we are."
Along with the free water, several from the team performed short dramas in the town square and passed out fliers inviting people to come to nightly seminars where the Gospel was shared through word and song.
Kyle and Jackie are grateful for long partnerships like the one they have had with FBC Ruston, where seeds are faithfully planted. They trust that the harvest is only just beginning. Many more will soon be able to echo Valentina's words.
Now my heart
Sings for You,
Hoping in the future
Your victory is mine.
For more information on how you or your church can get involved in reaching Macedonian people for Christ, contact Kyle Kirkpatrick.
'Pit stop' leads
to changed lives
LISBON, Portugal (IMB)--When Andy and Michelle Milam moved to Lisbon, Portugal, they thought it was a mere pit stop on the way to their final place of ministry in Porto. They planned to learn Portuguese during their year-and-a-half of language school in the capital city, but God had bigger plans. After 17 months of living and learning, God began a church through Andy and Michelle just one month before the couple moved away.
In January of 2009, the Milam family relocated to Portugal and enrolled their kids in school. Their boys were soccer players and this became the family's link to their community. It was at the soccer field that the neighborhood fathers, and sometimes mothers, would meet and talk. They drank coffee, talked about life and work, and watched their kids practice "futebol." Andy would spend four nights a week at the field, meeting other dads and practicing language. After so many months of living the Gospel out before their neighbors, Andy and Michelle were eager to see God do something.
"We were desperate to be able to share with these people," Michelle said. "We'd been learning the language and it was still a struggle to share in Portuguese."
"We really wanted to be intentional about sharing our faith with our friends and neighbors before we moved," added Andy.
As the time of departure neared, Andy and Michelle sent out a prayer calendar and asked their friends and supporters to devote a week to specifically praying about this desire. Andy and Michelle believe this was pivotal to what happened next.
Andy had translated a tract into Portuguese that revolved around the World Cup theme and taken it to soccer practice. A man named Luis asked him what he had in his hand, and Andy shared it. The next week Luis' wife, Liliana, asked Andy where he went to church because she and her husband were interested in attending. The Milam's community didn't have a church, so Andy told her that he and Michelle would like to start a bible study in their home and Luis and Liliana committed to come.
Michelle had also developed a relationship with a single mom who lived in their building. Her son, Rodrigo, went to school and played soccer with the Milam's youngest son, Ethan. She, too, was interested in coming to the first Bible study.
On the first night, the Milam's prayed specifically for the needs of their three friends. They asked God to help Luis and Liliana find a job. The next week at Bible study Luis and Liliana had big smiles on their faces.
"Luis said, 'God is good—you prayed and He gave me a job'," Andy said. "Although we explained that God doesn't always do what we want, God was working in an amazing way during that time."
Luis, Liliana and Celia were all seeing God at work and by the third week of Bible study they accepted Christ as Savior. Knowing they had to leave, the Milams had invited new colleagues, Mike and Sarah Prewitt, to join them at Bible study. They continue to meet with these three today. Andy and Michelle are also traveling back to Lisbon periodically to encourage the group and help them reach their own people. At recent meetings, the trio of new believers continue to give praise to God and grow in their relationship with Him. Luis and Liliana are asking about baptism and their son, Tiago, has also become a believer.
It was very difficult at that time to leave Lisbon for the final destination of Porto, but since being in their new home, the Milams have been certain of God's leading.
"God has really confirmed, through conversations and relationships, that we're where we're supposed to be," Michelle said. "And we're meeting with a new believer who really wants to start group here."
But their time in Lisbon was pivotal. "We weren't even supposed to go there at first," Michelle said, "and when we went, we thought it was just for language. But God had greater purposes."
Looking back the Milam's realize that the key was incarnational witness.
"Day by day living is huge," Andy said, "By sharing in their daily routine, you earn a right to speak spiritual matters into their lives. You have to be there, spend time, listen to soccer stories. And then when they say, 'why are you here?' you have opportunity."
And why are they there?
"Our job is living daily—its people," Michelle said. "If you keep looking for that one big task you're "supposed" to do, you miss the little things in between. That's what we need to be doing wherever we are."
To find out more about how you can be involved in the Milam's ministry in Portugal, contact Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most Protestant pastors say
Bush is a Christian, Oprah is not
By Brooklyn Lowery
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (LifeWay)--Protestant pastors overwhelmingly believe that Oprah Winfrey isn't a Christian, but three-quarters of them say former president George W. Bush is.
Winfrey and Bush, along with Glenn Beck, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, comprised the list that LifeWay Research presented to Protestant pastors along with the question, "Which, if any, of the following people do you believe are Christians?"
The majority of Americans self-identify as Christian, and Protestant is the largest category of Christian denominations. With that in mind, LifeWay Research set out to examine the beliefs of pastors leading Protestant churches. The national telephone survey took place Oct. 7-14 and included 1,000 interviews.
Winfrey earned the lowest affirmative response, with only 19 percent of pastors saying they believe she is a Christian. The other television personality on the list, Beck, earned the second lowest affirmative response at 27 percent.
"Most Americans consider themselves Christian and, for many of them, the Oprahfication of American spirituality has been a good thing," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. "Yet, the overwhelming majority of Protestant pastors don't view Oprah as a Christian."
Among the politicians on the list, Bush earned the highest affirmative response, with three-quarters of pastors (75 percent) saying they believe he is a Christian. Palin earned the next highest response at 66 percent, and Obama received the lowest affirmative response with less than half of Protestant pastors (41 percent) saying they believe him to be a Christian.
Four percent of pastors say none of the listed prominent personalities are Christians, and 15 percent respond only with "Not sure."
"For many people, 'Christian' is a box they check on a demographic survey," Stetzer said. "Protestant pastors, however, often have a more detailed view -- many apply terms like 'born again,' 'evangelical' and 'a changed life' as synonyms for 'Christian.' Thus, their standard is often different than the prevailing view.
"Using their standard, the majority would not agree that President Obama is a Christian, though he is a mainline Protestant," Stetzer explained. "And it is likely that Glenn Beck's Mormonism, widely viewed by Protestants as a different religion rather than a different Christian denomination, probably caused many to indicate he is not a Christian."
Overall, more pastors believe the three politicians are Christians than believe the two television personalities are, though the characteristics of the pastors themselves do impact their responses.
Protestant pastors who self-identify as Democrats, politically liberal or very liberal, or mainline are more likely to indicate these prominent personalities are Christians. For example, 88 percent of those who self-identify as liberal or very liberal say Obama is a Christian compared to only 31 percent of those who say they are conservative and 12 percent of those who say they are very conservative.
The ages of the pastors also reveal differences. Older pastors are most likely to say Winfrey is a Christian, with 46 percent of pastors who are 55 and older responding affirmatively, compared to only 30 percent under the age of 55.
Pastors in the 55-64 age bracket are the most likely to say Obama is a Christian at 48 percent. Overall, 83 percent of pastors over the age of 55, compared to only 74 percent of those under 55, say Obama is a Christian.
"For many, 'Judge not' are the only words of Jesus they know," Stetzer said. "To those people, it may be inconceivable that Protestant pastors might consider some Christians and others not. Yet Jesus said much more about following Him. Protestant pastors have theological views and beliefs about what it means to be a Christian -- and those opinions influence many in America, so it's important to know what they believe."
Methodology: The LifeWay Research telephone survey was conducted among Protestant pastors Oct. 7-14, 2010. Churches were selected randomly and each interview was conducted with the church's senior pastor, minister or priest. Responses were weighted to reflect the geographic distribution of Protestant churches. The sample of 1,000 provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed ±3.2 percent for the total sample. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
'Do what you were created to do,'
Dove Award winner tells UMobile students
MOBILE, Ala. (University of Mobile)--"Your job needs to be a natural expression of who you are, but it doesn't need to be all that you are," said Jeff Jones, a Dove Award-winning drummer, entrepreneur and alumnus of the University of Mobile.
Speaking to University of Mobile juniors and seniors about the realities of life after graduation, Jones recounted his diverse experiences in the job market and advised students as they begin charting their career paths. The event, called "Life After Graduation," was presented by the Student Success Center of the University of Mobile.
Jones' own career as a professional drummer began at the University of Mobile, where contemporary Christian band Big Daddy Weave played their first show.
"Now, we spend between 120 and 130 nights a year on a tour bus," said Jones, who lives in Mobile.
"Work is not trading your time for a paycheck," he said. "Work at its best is our opportunity to work out our calling to the legacy we want to leave behind. It's about what you were created to do."
Students received a copy of Jones' book, "Drumming Up Business to the Beat of My Own Drum," and a linchpin to keep as a reminder that "you have to be different, set apart, and indispensable to compete" in the changing marketplace, said Jones.
"Playing drums is something I do, but it's not my calling. I'm here to be an encourager and a teacher. That's my calling and my job," Jones said.
For more information about Jeff Jones, visit www.jeffdrummer.com. For information about the University of Mobile, visit www.umobile.edu or call (251) 442-2222 or 800-WIN-RAMS.
'Gone for Good'
By Brandon Pickett
RUSTBURG, Va. (Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia)--What happens when a church decides to close its doors Sunday morning?
Only a few short months ago, Hyland Heights Baptist Church in Rustburg, VA, opened a brand new, and much needed, worship center to ease crowding for the more than 1,500 member congregation. But on Sunday, August 15th, they decided to close the doors of that new worship center and replace it with community service. Church members provided free services like oil changes and car washes as well as served free lunch to their community during the event entitled, "Gone for Good."
'We're doing what (Christ) called us to do … get out in the community and serve," Carl Weiser, pastor at Hyland Heights Baptist Church. "It makes (me) proud to see all these folks out here doing this, it gives (me) the sense that they want to serve the Lord."
The morning of serving outside the church walls provided church members opportunities to share the Gospel and visit with people who may not know Christ or have a church home.
One woman shared with Weiser that while she drives by the church building everyday, she did not know anything about it. After experiencing the acts of service and learning more about the church she promised to visit the church.
"We'll be there tonight," Weiser reminder her. Their regular weekly schedule would resume that evening with a special 6pm service.
Pete English knew the church would need a good location for the oil changes and offered the use of English's Auto Alignment. Even though the shop is far from the church, they still had an excellent turnout. The week leading up to the event customers continued to ask English about the sign and wanted to know if it was true.
Some 42 people were blessed by a free oil change at English's Auto Alignment during Gone for Good. While customers waited for their oil change church members shared the Gospel with them, prayed for them and gave them some lunch for the road.
This morning several regular customers came for an oil change and also heard the Gospel. "They are getting what they need because they are not in church this morning," English said.
Ray-Ray Martin, and Rodney Ward, both from Altavista, VA, agree that the free service they received was an unexpected blessing. They heard about the free oil change and in spite of thinking it was too good to be true they headed to the auto shop only to discover that there was not a catch, only a blessing awaiting them.
"My cousin told me about this … it's pretty nice, I didn't believe it at first 'till I came up here … it's nice," Martin said.
As David Cardwell enjoys his free lunch, he shares his appreciation to the volunteers who shared with him the love of Christ.
Cardwell admits that times have been tough for him, but being served a meal, "it's great. With things being as hard as they are and times being as difficult, I think it is great that people would take time to show love and affection for others."
As the morning draws to a close, Weiser hopes that, "we see people come to know the Lord, and that (church members who participated) say, 'I can do this in my community, my neighborhood, my workplace.'"
"This is great, something to be talked about for a long time," English said.
Copyright (c) 2010 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net