Today's BP Ledger includes items from:
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
World News Service
Oklahoma Baptist University
Space Rock Named for HSU Prof; HSU Alum Given Right to Name His Discovery; India Student Honored for Discovery of Asteroid in HSU-based Program;
ABILENE, Texas (Hardin-Simmons University)--"Patrick Miller" is the new name for an asteroid orbiting in our solar system just beyond the planet Mars.
The Minor Planet Center officially named the asteroid in honor of the work done by Hardin-Simmons University associate professor of mathematics, Dr. Patrick Miller.
Miller is the founder of the International Asteroid Search Collaboration where students from around the world discover new asteroids. Some of the student asteroid discoveries are so close to Earth that they are considered as new threats to our planet.
Miller started the educational outreach program, based at the Holland School of Mathematics and Sciences on the HSU campus, in October 2006. Dr. Miller and undergraduate honors student Jeff Davis founded the program, starting with five schools from around the United States.
As the program has grown, now more than 300 schools and some 4,000 students participate in search campaigns each year representing more than 30 countries on five continents.
The program, provided at no cost to the participating schools, gives high school and college students the opportunity to help in an international search for near-Earth objects and discoveries of previously unknown asteroids in the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Over the Internet, the schools receive astronomical images taken only hours before at the Astronomical Research Institute (Westfield, IL), Institute for Astronomy (Pan-STARRS, University of Hawaii), and Xinglong Station (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing). Students then use a software package to assist in the discovery and measurement of the positions of asteroids and all other near-Earth objects.
Students have discovered more than 300 previously unknown asteroids, which eventually receive an official number as they are recorded by the International Asteroid Search Collaboration with the Minor Planet Center at Harvard University and the International Astronomical Union in Paris, France.
Also honored with an asteroid named for his work is Tomas Vorobjov, the IASC astronomer who handles all of the data reduction and discovery follow-ups for the outreach program. The asteroid is simply named "Vorobjov" and is located outside of the orbit of Mars. "Vorobjov," however, is almost twice as far from Earth as "Patrick Miller."
The Center also announced that recent HSU graduate and IASC cofounder Jeff Davis has been awarded the opportunity to name the asteroid he discovered in the spring of 2007. The asteroid was recently given a number and has been included in the world's official catalog of minor bodies in the solar system. Davis is now considering what name he will propose for his discovery.
In related news:
Atul Felix Payapilly, a student at Karunya University near Coimbatore, India, surprised his advisor with news that he and a friend, from a university in China, had jointly discovered an asteroid while participating in a program based in the United States.
Payapilly's advisor, Dr. Elijah Blessing, director of the School of Computer Science and Technology at Karunya University, handed a letter of congratulations from Hardin-Simmons University to Karunya's vice chancellor, Paul Appasamy. Appasamy's curiosity was piqued by the unusual congratulatory letter, which initiated a chain reaction for a celebration to honor Atul on campus at Karunya.
Founder of the International Asteroid Search Collaboration and HSU professor Dr. Patrick Miller explained to Appasamy in an email that Atul, and his friend Zhang from China, discovered the Main Belt asteroid during a 45-day campaign conducted by the International Astronomical Search Collaboration, centered at Hardin-Simmons University.
The discovery by Payapilly and Zhang will be on provisional status for several years as Main Belt asteroid 2010 RR52, as it is currently called, is fully tracked.
Miller says, "Over the coming three to six years, the progress of the asteroid is followed until its orbit is completely known. It is then the asteroid is assigned a number and placed in the world's official catalogue maintained by the Minor Planet Center and the International Astronomical Union.
"After it reaches numbered status," says Miller, "Atul and his friend will have a 10-year period of time to propose a name for the asteroid. All names are approved by an international committee of the IAU."
Atul was honored during a commemorative ceremony at his university with a gold medal and a certificate.
IASC asteroid search campaigns to start this fall semester will include 112 schools from 17 countries and 12 U.S. states.
Thirty Days of Prayer for the Persecuted During Ramadan
Open Doors USA Offers Prayer Calendar to Use to Pray for Christians in Muslim-Dominated Countries
SANTA ANA, Calif. (Christian Newswire)--With the start of the month-long Islamic fast called Ramadan beginning next Monday, Open Doors USA is launching a 30-day campaign urging Christians in the West to pray for persecuted believers in Muslim-dominated countries.
During August most Muslims will fast from dawn until dusk, seeking to shed their sins through acts of restraint. They believe this is a time of purification accomplished through good deeds and self control.
To help Christians pray for the persecuted, Open Doors USA is offering the Ramadan Prayer Calendar. The calendar has multiple prayer points designed to help Christians pray for persecuted Christians around the world during the 30 days.
"Ramadan is a time when Christians are especially isolated in some Muslim-dominated countries," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. "This is why it is so important for us to unite in prayer for persecuted Christians throughout the world. I urge you to use the Open Doors resources to pray for our brothers and sisters."
Eight of the top 10 countries on the Open Doors 2011 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians have Islamic governments, while 38 of the top 50 on the list are Muslim-dominated societies. Those eight countries include Iran (2), Afghanistan (3), Saudi Arabia (4), Somalia (5), Maldives (6), Yemen (7), Iraq (8) and Uzbekistan (9).
Approximately seven months ago, protests for reforms began in the country of Tunisia. Egypt, Libya and Syria soon followed. The movement is called "Arab Spring." Throughout these "Arab Spring" protests, some Christians in these countries have faced intensified persecution, especially in Egypt. The observance of Ramadan could increase pressure on believers.
Less than two weeks after the end of Ramadan, Sept. 11 will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Muslim terrorist attacks against America.
"It is vital that we pray for Christians and Muslims during this anniversary," says Michele Miller, Director of Open Doors USA Ministries. "Prayer has changed the hearts of millions, so it is also important to pray past the month of Ramadan."
During Ramadan Open Doors USA will be sending out daily emails with a story from a Muslim-dominated country, prayer requests and a call to action. For instance, this is from Day 19 on the Ramadan Prayer Calendar: "For Takoosh, whose husband was killed by the Iranian government, Jesus' command to love her enemies was impossible. Hatred filled her heart...and then she prayed. From the depths of her heart love poured out releasing forgiveness."
To sign up for these resources and for more information on the campaign, visit the Open Doors USA website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org or www.opendoorsusa.org/pray/Ramadan.
Indonesia: Troubling and Disappointing Verdict in Killing of Ahmadiyahs
WASHINGTON, D.C. (U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom)--The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today called the verdict in a February mob attack in Indonesia targeting Ahmadiyah Muslims "troubling and disappointing."
An Indonesian court sentenced the leader of the attack in Banten Province to 5 1/2 months in prison. Eleven others were convicted of lesser charges. Indonesian human rights groups called the sentence far too lenient and a blow to tolerance and religious freedom in Indonesia.
"This is a very troubling and disappointing verdict, and shows that Indonesia continues to struggle with extremism and intolerance in its midst, said Leonard Leo, USCIRF Chair. "The fact that extremist groups can use violence and intimidation with only limited consequences has created a culture of insecurity for religious minorities in Indonesia. "Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is finally saying the right things about societal violence and the need to prosecute those who undertake or incite violence, but as this verdict shows, there remains a distinct gap between rhetoric and practice."
In its 2011 Annual Report, USCIRF praised the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for taking positive steps to address terrorism and past sectarian violence, end a civil war in Aceh, and curtail terrorist networks, but noted that religious freedom has come under increasing strain in recent years. Religious minorities have experienced patterns of intimidation, discrimination, and societal violence often perpetuated by groups espousing intolerance and extremism under the banner of Islamic orthodoxy.
Extremist groups also instigated violence against religious minorities and new provincial bans on Ahmadiyah practice have been put in place in East and West Java and South Sumatra. During the past several years, nearly 40 places of worship belonging to religious minorities were closed, either forcibly by extremist groups or through the denial of building permits by government officials. Despite some strong public statements and arrests, the Indonesian government has been reactive to these developments and has not created an effective deterrent to the violence perpetuated by non-state actors against religious minorities. In addition, Indonesian government officials also continue to employ the "blasphemy law" (Article 156(a)) to harass and detain individuals considered religiously "deviant" and continue to allow the enforcement of local laws restricting the rights of women and some non-Muslims, particularly in Aceh. The activities of extremist groups are sometimes tolerated by segments of the Indonesian government, including the police.
"Indonesia is being held up a model for emerging democracies of the Middle East, but Indonesia's internal problems of impunity, intolerance, and extremism are threatening Indonesia's reputation for tolerance and democratic harmony," said Leo.
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.
Moscow Summit Finds Solutions for "Demographic Winter"
Pro-life advocates release demographic declaration
By McKinley Cobb
MOSCOW, Russia (World News Service)--"We hear a lot of rhetoric about overpopulation," said Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute. "But the real problem facing nations around the world is the decline of birthrates. The problem even has a name -- Demographic Winter."
Crouse was a featured speaker at the Moscow Demographic Summit held at the Russian State Social University on June 29-30. "In Russia the problem is particularly acute," said Crouse. "They are losing an estimated 700,000 people each year. This first demographic summit is important because revitalizing the family? is the key to reversing the disastrous consequences of the birth dearth around the world."
The Summit was put together by the World Congress of Families (WCF) to raise awareness about demographic winter. Other speakers included Anna Zaborska, member of the EU Parliament, WCF President Dr. Allan Carlson, and Ambassador Alan Keyes from the U.S.
The Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Duma both expressed their support for the Summit.
Yelena B. Mizulina, chairwoman of the Duma's Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs sent a letter of welcome to participants. The letter read, "The issues discussed at the Summit - consolidation of the family, raising moral standards, and studying all the factors contributing to a higher birth rate and lower mortality rate - are very important for our times and require close attention of society as a whole."
The Summit participants, who represented 65 countries, released a declaration calling on governments everywhere to adopt pro-family demographic policies. Translated from Russian, the Declaration read, "We express our deep concern about the dangers of the approaching worldwide depopulation…We call on the governments of all nations and on international institutions to develop immediately a pro-family demographic policy and to adopt a special international pro-family strategy and action plan aimed at…averting the menace of depopulation… We call on public associations, religious communities, entrepreneurs, media workers, and all people of good will to get involved in combating the…threats that destroy family and marriage."
Crouse said, "If the current toxic cultural values prevail in the? technologically advanced nations -- like the U.S. and Russia -- so that we? continue failing to reproduce in adequate numbers to replace ourselves, future generations will look back in condemnation for our failure to? consider the consequences of our selfishness."
Lady Tigers perform mission work in Nicaragua
By Richard RoBards
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (Campbellsville University)--Sometimes you don't know what blessings you have until you see the blessings that other people don't. For two CU student/athletes and a 2010 graduate, that was certainly the case during a six-week mission trip to Nicaragua.
Jordan Cornett, senior-to-be from Lexington, Ky.; Amaris Vest, sophomore-to-be from Muskegon, Mich.; and Kristi Ensminger, a 2010 graduate from Kingston Springs, Tenn.; have been participating in a faith-based mission through New Life Nicaragua.
Cornett's dad is a college minister at Lexington's Immanuel Baptist Church. He spent last December in the Capital City and got to know the missionaries there. The rest, well, is history. The three have paid their own air fare and lodging while on the trip. Vest departed for Atlanta from Grand Rapids, Mich. and Cornett and Ensminger to Atlanta from Cincinnati. When the three hooked up in the southern air hub they traveled the rest of the way together.
"Dad worked it out so Kristi and I could come," said Cornett through Facebook messaging. "Then I dragged Amaris along with us."
Cornett and Vest played softball together in the spring and Ensminger ended her Lady Tiger basketball career two seasons ago. It wasn't Cornett's and Ensminger's first mission rodeo. The two of them traveled to Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake of 2010 severly damaged the country and left nearly 1.8 million homeless. Vest, who has spent short periods of time in Mexico on missions, was taking part in her first long-term trip.
Ensminger, who got her undergraduate degree in psychology, is attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where she hopes to complete requirements for a Master of Arts in theological studies.
"This past semester I had a class on missions called 'Missiology'," said Ensminger. "I have definitely been able to apply some of those principles here. My eyes have been opened to a whole different side of missions than the experience I had in Haiti."
With that background, and armed with Cornett's public relations and Vest's Spanish and business administration workloads, the trio set up housekeeping in a guest house down the street from the Nicaraguan Christian Academy's summer camp and an orphanage. Monday through Friday they help teach English. The 14 orphans are too young to attend school, so there's a lot of one-on-one attention.
Ensminger, who was known as The Beast during her playing days, is nothing more than a ball of putty in the hands of those kids, according to Cornett and Vest.
The language barrier has mostly been bridged with the exception of a few occasions when differences in translation have led to some comic relief. Cornett and Vest forgot that the Nicaragua uses the metric system and when they went to get their hair clipped about an inch, the ensuing trim turned into nearly a handful of inches.
"Our hair is very short now," admits Cornett. "Amaris' is actually cute, but I have a slight mullet. My mom has already scheduled a hair appointment for me right when I get off the plane."
Ensminger wasn't shielded from the scourge of broken English. A cook by the name of Francis, was trying to tell her that she needed to exercise. It came out that she was fat."
"It was hilarious," said Cornett.
In addition to the academic work at the Academy, the women have also assisted missionary teams from various U.S. churches in remodeling and rebuilding homes and performing other construction projects. One such place, according to Vest, is Cristo Rey, a very poor barrio.
"We play with the children when we're not helping build homes - kicking soccer balls and playing other games."
Ensminger says that the biggest difference between Haiti and Nicaragua (the Nos. 1 and 2 poorest countries, respectively, in the western hemisphere) are the conditions.
"Our bodies and minds have had more time to refuel in a relaxing living environment than in the intensity of Haiti," said Ensminger. "It has been a great time for the three of us to get to know the Word (of God) and build community with each other."
All three are open to the possibility of serving missions in the future, so any experiences in long-term stays are beneficial.
"But ultimately," said Cornett, "we are just here to serve in whatever way we can ... knowing that whatever we can do in the short amount of time we're here allows the full-time missionaries to more effectively share Christ and continue to do the work they are doing."
Managua is a city of about 1.8 million people. But the three have kept pretty close to home. There's a McDonald's about 40 minutes away and it might as well be three days ride on a donkey's back since motorized transportation is scarce.
"Amaris and I have grown fond of a local dish called "plantain chips," said Cornett, "and Kristi's favorite is any kind of meat apparently.
"We haven't eaten anything too crazy, but Kristi did cook a spider in our noodles the other day and didn't mind telling us until we had all eaten."
They had an opportunity to eat a local delicacy (a certain body part of a once-proud bull), but decided against it after discussing it.
In their spare time the trio has been reading the Bible a lot, in-between card games and other readings.
It all has led to some intense discussions, according Cornett.
"We also wanted to memorize Romans 6 (Dead to sin, alive in Christ), so we made Amaris play the guitar and we wrote a little song to help us do it," said Cornett. "Actually, it isn't bad either!"
The child's play has them all wondering if they haven't regressed to the age of the orphans they sometimes keep.
"Every night has been like a middle school slumber party," offered Cornett.
The overall experience has been so good that the travelers are not looking forward to when they will have to leave their new friends.
"We have become very close to them ... especially the cooks, and will be very sad to leave them."
Notwithstanding the spiders and lizards that inhabit the guest house, the CU missionaries are conflicted about their return to normal life. Cornett says she wants to visit the first Taco Bell she sees and order a large Dr. Pepper. Ensminger wants some hot wings and Vest some of her momma's home cooking.
So, look out, U.S.A, the missionary team will return to the states on Sunday, July 31.
OBU Profile in Excellence: Alexanders Share Open Homes, Open Hearts
By Julie McGowan
EDITOR'S NOTE: Oklahoma Baptist University alums Charles and Betty Alexander are 2011 recipients of the OBU Alumni Association's Profile In Excellence Award. The award is given to a former student who has "demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation, or life service in such a way as to bring pride and honor to the University." Each year, 12 Profile In Excellence recipients are selected, and each is featured in an article in OBU Magazine.
SHAWNEE, Okla. (BP)--It just seemed like the right thing to do -- for Charles Alexander to follow his sister to Oklahoma Baptist University, and for Betty Nabors and her family to relocate from Addington, Okla., to Shawnee when it was time for her to attend college.
Betty's parents rented a two-story house across the street from the campus, and her parents rented out four upstairs bedrooms to eight OBU students. It only seemed right for Charles to try to convince his friend, Ken Roper, to not move into the house, but stay in the dorm. He crossed the street and knocked on the door. Betty answered.
Some seemingly innocuous decisions affect the rest of a person's life. In this case, the decision affected the lives of countless others on two continents.
A romance sparked among the young co-eds while they pursued their studies on Bison Hill. Charles had felt called to the pastoral ministry, and Betty had nurtured a talent in music through high school. Charles studied under several professors who made a big impression on the young man, including Dr. Forbes Yarbrough, Dr. James Timberlake, Dr. Opal Cole and Dr. Robert Laessig.
"Dr. Timberlake was particularly significant in arranging an opportunity during my freshman year to go before a small church south of Ada, Connerville Baptist Church in Johnston-Marshall Association," Charles said. "This resulted in a four-year relationship in which I was thrown in, sink or swim, to pastoral responsibility and the weekly labor of sermon preparation and delivery. The precious people there took me, and later my bride, under their wings and nourished us both materially and spiritually."
His bride was Betty, whom he married three years after their unexpected meeting. She recalled she was fascinated with the multi-talented Dr. Warren M. Angell and admired Uncle Jimmy Owens, but she found she also favored Dr. Yarbrough because she felt the need to be saturated in God's Word. She had dedicated her life to missions at age 12 after hearing Miss Lucy Smith from China give her testimony in Comanche, Okla.
"God's call to missions continued in my heart throughout our ministry in different church activities and as I attended Falls Creek Baptist Assembly every year and heard missionaries speak," Betty said. "It continued on through my college and seminary training and our pastorates as well."
Betty worked so Charles could graduate from OBU on time in 1954. She managed to complete three years on her own studies, too. When the couple learned they were expecting their first child, they moved to Texas so Charles could pursue his seminary studies.
Life seemed to change quickly in the ensuing five years. Charles worked as a clerk at the General Motors assembly plant and commuted back to Connerville on the weekends. Betty graduated from Texas Christian University and gave birth to their son, David. Charles accepted a role as a weekend pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church, also in Johnston-Marshall Association. Betty accepted a teaching position in Fort Worth, allowing Charles to focus on his seminary studies full time. Their daughter, Melanie, was born in 1960. Charles graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1963 and became the pastor of First Baptist Church in Washington, Okla.
"During our four years there, we enjoyed the experience of full-time dedication to ministry," Charles said. "The friendships developed there were phenomenal and still continue. It was during our final year in Washington that I felt the call that Betty had felt since her teen years, to foreign missions."
The couple was appointed by the International Mission Board (then the Foreign Mission Board) in 1966. Following a year of language school in Costa Rica, the family settled in Chile, where Charles began his ministry as a chaplain and Bible teacher at "Colegio Bautisa," the Baptist Academy in Temuco. Betty worked as a kindergarten teacher at the academy and as a pianist wherever she was needed.
"The most difficult aspect was the language," Betty said. "In Costa Rica, where we studied Spanish for a year, the conversation was slow and easy going. (Warm climate!) When we got to southern Chile, the speech was so fast I didn't know what hit me! (Cooler climate!)"
Meanwhile, the family grew: they all-but-literally adopted a young woman named Rosa Farfal, and her sister, Ida, who lost their parents in the 1960 earthquake and tidal wave in southern Chile. David graduated from OBU in 1979, Rosa in 1982, and Melanie in 1984.
The Alexanders' missions service in Chile was disrupted by political upheaval, so the mission board assigned them to Lima, Peru, in 1973, to a literature ministry. Charles ran a wholesale book deposit offering Christian literature to bookstores throughout the country and supervised three Baptist bookstores in Lima, Trujillo and Arequipa. He also served as interim pastor of First Baptist Church of Lima for several months. Charles was known by fellow missionaries for his "unbelievable grasp" of the Spanish language.
Whatever the task at hand, the Alexanders followed through with a cordial and willing spirit, including showing compassion to young people such as Patty Gloyd, who they adopted in Lima when she was 10 years old.
The couple returned to Chile, where they worked for the remainder of their service - 28 years in all. Charles was charged with the responsibility of Theological Education by Extension, and later as the district missionary of the South Association in Temuco. He was elected by the Chile Baptist Mission as administrator, so they returned to Santiago where he also served as interim pastor of Parque Apoquindo Baptist Church.
Betty took an interest in puppetry with her to Chile, which caught the eye of a mission board administrator. He put her in touch with John Magyar in Baptist communications in Cali, Colombia, and the end result was 26 programs for television using homemade puppets. The program, in Spanish, was titled "La Casita en el Arbol" (The Treehouse). The project took three years and 13 trips to Colombia to complete.
"When God is in something, He moves things along, and we had a fantastic team," Betty said. "He definitely led in every step of what we did. It is amazing what He does when He calls and one commits to what He wants done."
The Alexanders retired from the mission board in 1994 and settled in Benbrook, Texas, where Charles serves as a deacon at First Baptist Church and is active in the church's audio/visual department. Betty continues her commitment to the puppet ministry, making and providing puppets and materials for churches needing programs, music, Bibles and other resources to help them reach children on missions trips.
And true to the nature of their family - which reflects the hospitality instilled by the Nabors' boarding house for OBU students years before - the Alexanders have continued to unofficially adopt young people who they mentor in life: Victor Manterola from Santiago, Chile; Jorge and Sary Maldonado who live in Minnesota; and Marco Antonio Cuevas, a pianist from Temuco, Chile. Betty's mother, Tommie Nabors McGarr, a 1959 OBU graduate, lived with them until her death in January at age 99.
"Ever since Charles and I married and David was born three years later, we have had someone living with us in our home," Betty said. "God has truly blessed us in this dedication to young people who are starting out in life and need guidance. We have truly received far more than we have given from these precious young people."
Their compassion for people in need, and their commitment to the work God has called them, has given Charles and Betty Alexander a notable life of service touching lives on two continents and beyond.
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.
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