Today's BP Ledger includes items from:
Sagemont Church news release
Baptist Press overseas communications (obit of David Lam)
Oklahoma Baptist University
Charleston Southern University
United States Council on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)
Sagemont Church receives miracle offering
on 45th anniversary
HOUSTON, Texas - Sagemont Church celebrated its 45th Anniversary and the 45th anniversary of its Senior Pastor, Dr. John D. Morgan, on Sunday, June 5, 2011. The date also marked an important deadline in the construction of a new building on its main campus on the South Sam Houston Parkway near Interstate 45 South. The day's celebration included special morning worship services as well as an evening praise and baptism service outdoors at the church's 170-foot cross.
Sagemont Church has operated on a debt-free basis since 1975. The church firmly believes that God will provide money for what is needed and that money is better spent on ministry rather than debt payment. That has held true over the past 36 years as the church has built several multi-million dollar buildings while also giving millions of dollars to mission and relief efforts locally and around the world and maintaining a $10 million annual ministry budget.
The current building under construction is a new 115,000 square foot worship center and education facility that could be completed by December 2011. Prior to May 1, $26.9 million had been given by church members in the past five years. However, the construction schedule dictated the need for an additional $2.7 million to be on hand by June 5 in order to sign contracts to keep the project on schedule.
By Sunday morning, June 5, the church still needed $2,151,014 in order to keep construction moving without delay. Throughout the day, church members gave, and Pastor Morgan along with church administrator Jim Green announced at the evening service that not only did God provide enough to keep construction moving, but the receipts that week exceeded the goal of $3.2 million to finish the entire construction phase of the building. The total given that week was $3,422,438, with $3.3 million being given on June 5 alone. This was by far the largest single-day offering ever given at Sagemont Church, and is a true testament that God can and will provide.
Pastor Morgan said, "A church that loves God and loves people is promised by God that their needs will be met as long as their intent is to glorify God."
East Asian Worker known for innovative ideas dies
EAST ASIA (BP)--One of the early adopters of business as an outreach died June 2 after suffering complications from an illness while on vacation.
David Lam, 62, spent 19 years working with the Chinese in four different countries. Associates remember Lam as a pioneer in using business practices to reach out to the surrounding Asian community.
"He was using business (outreach) way before it was popular and the cool thing to do," an associate working in East Asia said about Lam. "David truly had a heart for the Chinese and found any way possible to share with them. You could see that by how integrated and involved he became with everything he did."
This love and determination for sharing the Gospel through practical application was something he learned as a child from a Southern Baptist worker in his home country, Malaysia. Lam was born October 4, 1948 to a Buddhist family. He didn't hear about Christ until he attended a children's Sunday school class. He went for the free cookies but came away with something better.
When Lam finished high school, the Sunday school teacher told him there was a scholarship waiting for him in the States at Shorter College, Rome, Ga. Little did he know that the Baptist worker paid for his tuition from her own meager retirement funds.
Education was important to Lam and he worked hard to excel. Through the years, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Shorter College; a PhD in pharmacology from the University of Alabama; a Masters of Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and received 20 hours of credit from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Gladstone, Mo.
Lam met his wife, Jessie, during his years of education and they married on December 28, 1978. The couple owned several business ventures and restaurants. Lam also taught at the university level before they began work with the Chinese on Oct. 13, 1992.
Long-time friend Mark Briggs joked and said Jessie always kept the details organized while Lam moved onto the next "big" idea. Briggs added that Lam had a way of getting everyone involved in his next project — whether it was Jessie or his friends.
"From the very beginning I knew there was something different about David, but it was hard to understand," Briggs remembered. "He could not sing, but led the music. Occasionally he preached, but could not preach. One thing was clear, though, he was brilliant! He could get everyone involved."
Briggs mentioned there were times his own business was blessed financially. When he was eyeing a new yacht to purchase, Lam always showed up with some new plan — an orphanage that needed building, a bridge, a school, fishponds, agriculture projects, a leper colony or scholarships for kids just like Lam.
Lam was always open to new — or even old — ideas in ways to share his love for the Lord and the Chinese. An associate working in Central Asia shared that Lam was the one who encouraged him when most were not interested in using medical clinics to reach out to villages.
"At the time, very few were interested in using medical," the worker shared. "David ventured out and made a special request for us. We have a lot of gratitude for David's vision and foresight. I know he influenced countless others."
Another friend working in East Asia said Lam impacted his life, as well. He acknowledged there were very few places in the world where he traveled that someone did not know Lam and the difference he made in their lives.
"His labor and his legacy continue through the lives of so many people, including myself," the friend said.
Lam's influence often began with his energy and enthusiasm. After coming up with an idea, which friends say were often "outside the box," he buckled down and gave it all he had. There was no job too menial or "beneath him" when it came to laboring in the fields.
Briggs also marveled at the number of people Lam influenced and touched throughout his lifetime. Friends said Lam's passion for sharing the Good News showed in the tears he shed for those he led to the Lord as well as those who turned away.
"God only knows how many people learned of Jesus' great saving power under David's leadership," Briggs said. "It has to be thousands on thousands and more. Praise Jesus for all He has done through David."
Lam is survived by his wife, Jessie, and two sisters.
A memorial service was held at Winford Funeral Home, Houston, Texas.
National Sports and Recreation Ministry Center
Bolsters Local Ministry Efforts
SHAWNEE, Okla. (Oklahoma Baptist University)--In a culture where relationships are built electronically and television is saturated with "reality" shows and sports coverage, churches face a growing challenge to offer relevant and attractive events.
But at Oklahoma Baptist University, Dr. Bill Buchanan sees the challenge as an opportunity. The longtime professor engaged a group of like-minded believers to form a national center to help Christian groups connect to their communities through sports and recreation.
The OBU National Sports and Recreation Ministry Center, led by Buchanan, was formed in 2010 to offer an array of resources and a clearinghouse for what is working in ministry efforts across the country.
"We are providing resources, training and networking to strengthen local ministry efforts," said Buchanan, associate professor of sports and recreation ministry at OBU. "Lives are changed through local activities where families are brought together, relationships are built, and the claims of Christ are shared."
NSRMC leaders want to be "iron sharpening iron," Buchanan explained. The center connects ministry personnel around the world who serve with local churches, schools and colleges, and community organizations. The network reflects the very mission of OBU to integrate faith in all areas of life and engage a diverse world.
In creating the center, sports and recreation ministry leaders worked with LifeWay Christian Resources staff to merge resources and establish a common vision. The NSRMC took over leadership for the annual Rec Lab conference, offered in Orlando, Fla., each January.
"Our 2011 Rec Lab was a great success," Buchanan said. "We had about 100 ministry leaders from around the country coming to share their insights, gain information on ways to strengthen their existing programs, and, most importantly, to be encouraged in their work.
"The concept of meeting people where they are at in life is not new," said Buchanan, who has worked in sports and recreation ministry for 25 years. "We have done that in ministry throughout our history. In today's culture we see people drawn to games, fitness, outdoor sports and athletic competition. That opens a door for relevant, engaging ministry because we are meeting people at their point of interest."
Along with hosting Rec Lab, the NSRMC will offer an annual facilities and programming seminar. The 2011 event will be Sept. 26-28 on the OBU campus in Shawnee, Okla.
The center's website, at NSRMC.org, includes a growing list of educational resources. Video files from the recent Rec Lab seminars are being added to the site. Ministry leaders are encouraged to submit their own reports on effective programs, using the site as a national database for successful programs.
"We are committed to using our gifts, experiences and abilities for consistent, Christ-centered ministry," Buchanan said. "LifeWay has helped coordinate the flow of information about what is working best right now in sports and recreation ministry. The NSRMC is continuing that tradition and as more ministry leaders participate in our effort, we will see effectiveness increase for everybody."
For more information about the center visit NSRMC.org or call (405) 878-2505.
Located in Shawnee, Okla., OBU offers 10 bachelor's degrees with 84 fields of study. The Christian liberal arts university has an overall enrollment of 1,777, with students from 38 states and 19 other countries. OBU has been rated as one of the top 10 comprehensive colleges in the West by U.S. News and World Report for 19 consecutive years and has been Oklahoma's highest rated comprehensive college in the U.S. News rankings for 17 consecutive years. For 2011, Forbes.com ranked OBU as the top university in Oklahoma.
Dockery writes January Bible Study commentary on Ecclesiastes
JACKSON, Tenn. (Union University)--Union University President David S. Dockery has written the study guide on the book of Ecclesiastes for the 2012 January Bible Study.
"The Pursuit: Chasing Answers to Life's Questions," published by LifeWay Christian Resources, is now available.
"In this study through Ecclesiastes, Dr. Dockery shows that true success and fulfillment comes only when we are pursuing God," said Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay. "Not only does Dr. Dockery teach the reader about finding satisfaction and significance in God, but also how to still live out an effective and meaningful ministry in the world. 'The Pursuit' is a great study for anyone searching for meaning in light of life's difficulties and disappointments."
The Ecclesiastes commentary is Dockery's second in the January Bible Study series. He wrote the study guide for Ephesians in 1996 and is the first person to do a commentary in the series on both an Old Testament and a New Testament book.
Dockery said that the meaning of Ecclesiastes, which proclaims that "everything is meaningless," has been an enigma for both Jewish and Christian interpreters through the years.
"By God's grace and with the help of God's Spirit, I have sought to find the meaning of Ecclesiastes within its canonical context, while also exploring the significance of the book for today," Dockery writes in the opening to the commentary. "I pray that many will find this work to be a helpful guide in their study of this profound section of Holy Scripture."
The 95-page commentary retails for $6.95 and is available for purchase from LifeWay.
Charleston Southern's Lake wins Coach of the Year
By John Strubel
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Charleston Southern University)--It's the first week of June, and Charleston Southern University Buccaneers head baseball coach Stuart Lake is sitting in an empty dugout. His surroundings are familiar, but the feeling is uncomfortable.
"Today is one of those bittersweet days because Regionals start," Lake confessed.
Not for Lake or the Buccaneers who were eliminated from the Big South Conference tournament after back-to-back losses the final week of May. A couple days later, with replays still bouncing around his head, he received a surprise phone call.
"I want you to be prepared that you're going to win the Coach of the Year award," assistant sports information director Ashley Bailey said in a phone call to Lake.
The first thing Lake did was call his staff.
"I realized at that moment that it's really the coaching staff of the year award," said Lake. "I really do feel that we won it. I never felt like I had won it."
When the realization set in, Lake thought about his college baseball coach Randy Mazey, who holds the honor of being the first coach in Buccaneers baseball history to win the Coach of the Year award. He did it in 1996, leading Charleston Southern University to its first Big South Conference championship. Four years later, in 2000, Bucs head coach Gary Murphy won the award.
Lake sent a text message to Mazey his former coach, who is now the associate head coach at Texas Christian University. "I have no question in my mind that I would not be sitting here if I had not played for him," said Lake of his former coach.
The Bucs won 16 games under Lake in 2009. The team steadied, winning 17 games last season. The Bucs were picked to finish eighth in the Big South in 2011. Lake's team finished third with a 28-28 record (15-12 in Big South Conference play), marking CSU's highest finish since 2002 and the first time in nine seasons the Bucs have recorded 28 wins and 15 conference wins.
"The biggest thing that has changed since I got here is the ownership of the program," said Lake. "When I first got here I felt like there were times that they could walk out of the gate after a game and not think about it until they walked back through the gate the next afternoon. I don't believe in that. I believe you have to be in full ownership, from your players to your managers to your coaches."
Lake's teams have painted their own dugouts, hung their own signs, groomed their own grass and emptied their own trash. Lake said the duties instill a sense of ownership in his players, one that says "this is mine."
"That is one thing that over the three years I've been here I am the proudest of," said Lake. "Seeing the players manage one another. We ask a lot of our players, and I don't mind that, because I know what life is going to be like for them when it's (college baseball) over."
The sprinklers are going off in perfect timing, watering the infield grass. A rosin bag sits in the helmet rack waiting to be placed into storage. A bat rack lies empty. An infield base is turned up against the wall below, and inspiration signs - Turn the Page, Accountable Urgency, Omaha 1277 -- of a season past linger on the fences and dugout walls.
"I am a big music fan and that's an old line from Bob Seger (Turn the Page)," he explained. "Our game, baseball, is more about how you handle failure than how you handle success. We fail so much in this game. It's an unbelievable percentage of how much we fail in this game."
Lake is right. Hall of Fame baseball players fail seven out of 10 times at the plate. It took Babe Ruth 1,330 strike outs to compile 714 home runs. Failure precedes success in the game of baseball.
Lake will lose 11 seniors and, maybe, a couple juniors to the professional draft this week. Those are losses you can count on. But what about the losses you don't see coming, like Will Bedenbaugh? Last December the Bucs sophomore was killed in a car accident just days before Christmas.
Lake's 2010 team didn't make the Big South Conference tournament. In fact, the season ended terribly. Everyone was disappointed. The day after the final game Lake called a team meeting in the bleachers.
"There are two words you are always going to hear in this program: you're accountable," Lake told his players. "No one else is accountable for your actions besides you."
Lake said there simply wasn't enough accountability. He created an accountability list for every player to sign. "The urgency came after we lost Will Bedenbaugh. We are not guaranteed anything. There must be an urgency."
Then, there are the large billboard signs Lake and his coaches put in each dugout. They read: Omaha 1277, followed by the Bible verse Galatians 6:9 which says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
"The very first day I was here I wanted them to know that the College World Series, Omaha, was a reality," said Lake. "I very easily did Mapquest - from our field to Rosenblatt Stadium is 1,277 miles."
Lake has one rule about the dugout signs: Don't put anything in front of it. No helmets, no gloves, jackets or cups. The CSU Bucs coach wants to make sure it is front and center at all times so his team can read it from the infield or outfield.
Do the players believe it?
"I feel they do," said Lake, "because there are so many times they use it back to me. We went through one of the hardest times a program can go through when we lost Will and the guys would use it. Sometimes a guy will send a text and Omaha 1277 will be at the end of the text."
The cracking sound of bat meeting ball echoes in the background. Lake is tutoring a high school athlete in the batting cage. The sound brings a smile to his face. He's already thinking about 2012.
"I've already set my schedule for next season," Lake says.
Another sign success is in Lake's future.
USCIRF Welcomes Sanctions for More Iranian Human Rights Abusers and Newly Created Iranian Dissident Awareness Program (IDAP)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (USCIRF)--On the two-year anniversary of the disputed June 9, 2009 elections in Iran, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the addition today of three Iranian government entities and one Iranian government official to a sanctions list for serious human rights abuses in Iran.
The original executive order President Barack Obama signed on September 29, 2010 named eight Iranian officials. Today's designation brings the total to eleven, eight of whom USCIRF identified as severe religious freedom abusers in May 2010.
"The Iranian government brutally quashed large demonstrations protesting the outcome of the June 2009 elections, and USCIRF welcomes the imposition of sanctions for human rights abuses on Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam, head of Iran's national police force. USCIRF identified Moghadam in May 2010 as being responsible for egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief in Iran and recommended such an action," said Leonard Leo, USCIRF chair.
As commander of the national police force, or Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), Moghadam has ordered attacks and crackdowns on a wide range of Iranian citizens, including protestors, students, reformists, dissidents, and minorities. Many dissidents and prisoners of conscience are serving long-term sentences in Iranian prisons on unsubstantiated charges resulting from the large-scale crackdown by Iranian authorities since the June 2009 elections.
"USCIRF urges the United States and international community to intensify further its demand that the Iranian government immediately release all prisoners of conscience," said Leo.
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Il) recently launched the Iranian Dissident Awareness Program (IDAP), a bipartisan, bicameral effort to raise awareness of and support for Iranian dissidents currently in prison in Iran, including religious minorities, women's rights activists, human rights defenders, among others. "This new program is an important resource to shine a light on Iran's appalling human rights and religious freedom record," said Leo.
Details about IDAP can be found through its website:
The President's September 2010 executive order complies with the mandate in PL. 111-195, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act that was signed into law on July 1, 2010. This law, which had broad and bipartisan support in Congress, highlights Iran's serious, systematic, and ongoing violations of human rights, including suppression of religious freedom. The law mandates that the President impose sanctions on individuals responsible for or complicit in human rights and religious freedom abuses. USCIRF worked with Congressional offices on the need to develop such sanctions.
Since 1999, USCIRF has recommended, and the State Department has designated, Iran as a "Country of Particular Concern," or CPC, due to its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.
USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives. USCIRF's principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net