Today's BP Ledger includes items from:
WMU (Woman's Missionary Union)
Northwest Baptist Witness
Missions education expands in West Africa through WMU
by Julie Walters
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WMU)--WMU leaders from six countries met in West Africa to begin or strengthen missions education and involvement in area churches.
The regional training took place in Burkina Faso where WMU work was launched in January 2010.
Beatrice Zoma, president of Burkina Faso WMU (translated as Union of Baptist Co-Laborers with Christ), invited leaders from Nigeria, Liberia, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso with the goal of starting age-level missions organizations in Burkina Faso patterned after Nigeria WMU, where they have Sunbeams for children through third grade and Girls in Action (GA) for young girls.
Kathy Shafto, IMB field personnel in Burkina Faso, said the conference was a great opportunity for women in the area to hear from other African leaders as well as Debby Akerman, president of national WMU.
"While there is a regional WMU conference in West Africa every two years, this was the first training in missions education for women in Burkina Faso," Shafto explained. "This is so new and exciting because most village churches don't even have Sunday School, so for us to start with missions will be new and different for Burkina Faso to think about."
Akerman of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was one of nine conference leaders who led participants in training related to strategic planning and beginning and growing Girls in Action.
"We planned for 40 participants, but the Lord brought 70," Akerman said with a smile. "It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with WMU leaders in West Africa and share about the importance of missions education and missions experiences for all ages, especially GA."
Akerman added that in the United States, we often think about helping the poor as part of our missions efforts, but many involved in WMU there are living in poverty themselves. Much of their focus in leading girls resides in mentoring, sexual purity, prayer and prayer walking, in addition to outreach.
"Henri Yé, president of Union of Baptist Churches in Burkina Faso, has challenged every church in Burkina Faso to adopt an unreached people group," Shafto said, "and he encourages the women to get involved in that. God is definitely working through these women."
According to Shafto, WMU programs are well-established in Liberia, Nigeria and Ghana with missions action projects and organized Bible studies on national and church levels. Children's missions programs are growing in Ghana, and Liberia WMU leaders are focused on strengthening their GA programs specifically. Several West African countries also have Lydias, which is similar to Acteens with a slightly different age group; consistent with how African culture views women, Lydias includes young women from age 16 until they are married.
One of the unique challenges in preparing for the training, held in early August, was ensuring effective communication.
"The illiteracy rate is very high," Akerman said, "so I knew the training must translate on many levels—culturally, linguistically, and incorporating oral learning styles. We built in lots of storying to relate and visuals for expressing concepts."
Shafto said, "Debby really took to heart how to connect with West African culture. She presented material in a way that the women could hear it first-hand, understand it, remember it, and go back home and effectively teach others."
Akerman encouraged the women in their missional leadership.
"Whether living in a mud hut or a penthouse, WMU leaders have a higher level of accountability," Akerman told them. "We've been given the privilege and responsibility to involve all ages in missions. There is great joy in that and great joy in the true sisterhood we share in Christ and in our missions purpose."
While in Africa, Akerman said the Lord's provision was evident and He provided additional opportunities.
"I was invited to lead training in strategic planning for Burkina Faso WMU, but the opportunity opened up for other groups to also write a mission statement, vision statement, core values and initiatives to give focus and energy to their missions efforts," Akerman related. "There were also one or two women there who were knowledgeable about grant writing and shared some avenues the West African WMU presidents could pursue to help fund their efforts."
Another opportunity the Lord provided was to meet with GA leaders in Ghana. Mona Hewitt, IMB field personnel in Ghana, asked Akerman if she would talk with "a few GA leaders" which turned out to be a gathering of more than 200 women.
Akerman presented an overview of the six areas of missions focus in WMU and encouraged them in leading GA; Zoma shared about the beginning stages of a local center for women by Burkina WMU and the importance of missions and reaching women outside of the church; and Terri Willis, director of national relations for the International Mission Board, talked about the importance of supporting and giving to missions.
Later that afternoon, Akerman and Willis met with a group of 43 girls where they explained missions involvement, made salvation bracelets, and related how they needed to share Christ with their friends like missionaries share Christ.
"As only the Lord could know," Akerman said, "we had 37 girls and six teenagers, and I had exactly 37 GA items and six Acteens items to give them. Amazing."
Akerman and Willis also had opportunities to visit with IMB missions personnel; make rounds with doctors at the Baptist Medical Center in Nalerigu, Ghana; worship with fellow believers in a small Fulani village in Ghana at a church begun by Akerman's longtime friends and retired IMB field personnel Paul and Faye Burkwall; and visit a nutrition center, orphanage, women's center and other Baptist efforts.
Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for Woman's Missionary Union.
Organ donor gave new life to pastor
By Sheila Allen
CORNELIUS, Ore. (Northwest Baptist Witness)--Tom Jacobsen thinks about things of the heart with an uncommon regularity. As a minister, he is in tune with the changes that often accompany the different directions people take after giving their lives to Jesus.
But Jacobsen also thinks about the physical heart more than most. As an adult, he had three heart attacks, two bypass surgeries, an implanted defibrillator and, finally, a heart transplant at 48 years old.
"None of the men in my family except my brother and I have lived beyond the age of 57 years old because of heart disease," said Jacobsen who was born in California in a Jewish home. "Due to the damage from the heart attack and cardiomyopathy, my heart muscle had deteriorated and was turning to jelly."
Jacobsen often sensed the hand of God at work during the medical challenges he faced. After he was alerted a heart matching his needs was available, many of the surgeons and other medical personnel prayed with him throughout his stay.
"I woke up after 14 ½ hours of surgery to hear my daughter whispering that I was going to be okay," said Jacobsen. "My new heart, which came from an 18-year-old donor with a gunshot wound, was beating well."
The donor, Aaron Iturra, was fatally shot by a fellow gang member in Eugene, Ore., while he slept in his bed, according to Jacobsen. Iturra was making great strides in turning his life around when it suddenly ended. He had previously made his family aware of the personal significance that organ donation meant to him after watching a Rescue 911 television program when Iturra was 15 years old.
"Four months after the transplant, I began experiencing rejection issues," said Jacobsen. "I was in and out of hospitals for the next two years and couldn't work. It was then that I received a letter and a photo from Aaron's mother and the rejection issues stopped. I feel like I had an emotional reconciliation that was resolved with the fact that someone else's life had to end for me to live."
Jacobsen began to throw himself back into life and eventually began to teach Bible lessons at various assisted living and nursing homes in the area as a volunteer ministry. The people that met at Vintage Suites in Forest Grove, Ore., began to include various family members of residents, and a small group formed out of that ministry, which eventually formed into Fellowship Community Church of Forest Grove where Jacobsen was pastor until 2010. He is now pastor of Grace Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.
It was at Vintage Suites that Jacobsen's heart began to beat again in a different manner.
"I met my future wife, Wanda, at the Bible study at Vintage Suites," Jacobsen said. We married 14 years ago after I thought I would never marry again. The second half of my life has been nothing but second chances. I have ministry and love again and I have 11 grandchildren who I would have never met if I hadn't been given this incredible gift of life."
There are over 112,000 people waiting on that gift of life, according to the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services. Furthermore, 18 people die each day waiting for an organ, but one organ donor can save up to eight lives.
People willing to donate should let their families know they would like to be organ donors, according to Jacobsen. Those organs can vary from a heart like Jacobsen received, to the lungs, liver, corneas or skin for burn victims, among many others. While drivers may sign up to be an organ donor at the Department of Motor Vehicles, authorities may not find that information in time if someone is involved in life-threatening situations such as a car accident.
"We are not going to use our organs in heaven, so why not give someone else that gift when we are exiting this earth," asked Jacobsen. "What a blessing you would be to someone in need if you gave this gift. I would like to encourage people to consider becoming organ and tissue donors. We need to be able to give things away and it is so neat to be able to do that."
Those interested in becoming an organ donor can find more information at organdonor.gov. Participants may register for donation for individual states at that website.
Sheila Allen is managing editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness, newsjournal of the Northwest Baptist Convention.
Bluefield College Winter Blast features outdoor adventure and faith commitments
BLUEFIELD, Va. (Bluefield College)--Three hundred thirty-three youth from 12 different churches across Virginia stormed the Bluefield College campus, January 14-16, for the school's three-day extreme winter worship adventure known as Winter Blast.
With skiing, sledding, tubing and other snow activities on the docket, the weekend was definitely one filled with outdoor adventure, but with equal emphasis on worship and Christian discourse the three-day retreat for youth also turned out to be a venture in spiritual growth.
"The energy around this time of praise, worship and fellowship was amazing," said BC president, Dr. David Olive. "I was thrilled to see so many young people from churches all across Virginia being touched in meaningful ways as they deepened their faith and experienced tremendous fun outdoors and on the BC campus."
In fact, some 72 teens made professions of faith during Winter Blast, recently dubbed the fastest growing youth retreat in the region. The commitments came during the evening sessions with worship leaders Eric Samuel Timm and Andy Kirk and after Christian music concerts with Seabird and B. Reith.
"Eric is a unique worship leader in that he reaches out to people for Christ through the arts," said Kris Hardy, coordinator of BC's Winter Blast. "He speaks and paints his message. As he speaks, he captivates the audience with live art creations."
Kirk, who serves as worship leader for the second-largest and most innovative church in America, LifeChurch.tv, joined Timm in leading the worship at Winter Blast. A writer, singer and musician, Kirk shared faith messages from his music CD, "Wake Up My Soul."
"Once again, a wonderful time for our youth," said Robbie Spiers, youth leader from Kilmarnock (VA) Baptist Church. "The event was super organized, and the worship and concerts were moving, inspirational, and relevant to our kids. Plus, the skiing was...all I can say is 'wow!' It's a great event for kids."
The Winter Blast schedule also included concerts with Seabird and B. Reith. Dozens of local Christian music fans joined the overnight guests for the evening concerts, bringing the Winter Blast crowd to nearly 400 each night. Seabird, an alternative Christian rock band, whose soul-searching music has been featured on television's "Grey's Anatomy," "Numb3rs," and "Ghost Whisperer," shared messages of hope in songs like "'Til We See the Shore" and "Rescue." B. Reith, a Christian rapper who speaks the relevant dialect of today's youth, used his music to address real issues faced by teens.
"My number one passion is to connect with people, to entertain them, to stir up emotion in them, and to challenge them by sharing life from a different perspective," said B. Reith. "There is something we're all yearning for. I'm just trying to help direct our attention to it, and music is the most powerful way I know how."
When not in worship, the Winter Blast guests took part in bonfires, pizza parties, inflatable games, and a unique dodgeball tournament. With more than 200 participants, the Winter Blast dodgeball adventure is the largest known dodgeball tournament in the two Virginias.
"Winter Blast is an awesome weekend with great worship, concerts, and a full day of skiing," said another youth leader. "Bluefield College does it right. Our students love this event."
Outside, the teens -- from Roanoke, Richmond, Mechanicsville, Arlington, Charlottesville, and Virginia Beach, Virginia -- took part in snowman-making competitions, sledding on BC's infamous Dome hill, and creating their own snow.
"This year, we really wanted to create a unique experience for all the participants," said Hardy. "So, anytime the kids were on campus the BC Ram was walking around with a hot chocolate backpack, serving hot chocolate to everyone. With our own snowmaking machine, we also made a pile of snow over three feet deep. Since most of the groups are from areas of Virginia that don't see a lot of snow, we wanted them to have lots of snow to play in."
The guests also spent a day skiing and tubing on the slopes at nearby Winterplace Ski Resort and its 28 trails, nine lifts, 90 acres of skiable terrain, and largest snowtubing park in the state of West Virginia. The entire weekend is one Hardy said requires lots of preparation and even more hands on deck.
"Forty-three people volunteered to help made this event a success," he said. "There is no way we could ever pull off Winter Blast without the volunteers who gave up their weekend and worked a total of 335 hours before and during the event."
Campbellsville University School of Nursing serves 2,125 in Haiti medical mission trip
By Christina L. Kern
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University)--Campbellsville University's School of Nursing's faculty, students and friends served 2,125 people in four days of clinics on a medical mission trip to Haiti over the university's Christmas break.
The team of 26 people served clinics which consisted of several stations, according to Hannah White, a nursing student from Hodgenville, Ky. She said stations included "prayer where we would pray for their specific needs and share the Gospel."
In triage the team took vitals like blood pressure, pulse, temperature, etc. and then the Haitians would meet with a doctor who would write a prescription if needed. The pharmacy was run by a Haitian pharmacist, but the team bought all the medicine.
After visiting the pharmacy, the team would give injections if the doctor said it was needed. The last station was gifts where the team gave away toothbrushes, shirts, food, toys and flip-flops.
While the clinic was going on, other team members worked with children's ministry. Sarah Fletcher, a biology major from Russell Springs, Ky., said, "The children were priceless, beautiful and just the sweetest children you could hope to meet."
While playing with the children, Fletcher said a child's eyes "lit up" when he put a Tootsie Roll in his mouth, something that is not a big deal to Americans.
In another clinic, Fletcher sat with a little girl while a translator asked the children in Creole: "Who do you love? Do you love Jesus?" Fletcher said the little girl in her lap "squished my face asking me if I loved Jesus and knew him. She has known me for a very short time but was concerned if I know God and who He is."
Fletcher said seeing the joy in the Haitian people with what little they have has "made me realize how much I have been given and how I should be more joyful every day."
White came to a similar conclusion when the team visited a poor community where people lived in huts and tents. When the team arrived, children came running and were so happy to see them. "They had nothing but were such happy people," White said.
This was White's second trip to Haiti and she said she realized "just how blessed I really am. It's almost embarrassing how much I have and how little these people have, and they are probably happier than I ever will be."
Also during their trip, the team fed over 500 Haitian children rice and beans during one day of clinical. Angie Atwood, instructor in nursing, said, "We merely donated our time, smiles and unconditional love -- exactly what those children requested from us."
Erin Martin, a December 2011 graduate of CU's School of Nursing from Campbellsville, Ky., has been to Haiti with the School of Nursing two years in a row. Last year she said she "fell in love with this little boy named Mackenzie." This year, she and her husband have begun the process of adopting Mackenzie.
Another Campbellsville University team of five students traveled to Arlington, Texas over Christmas break to serve in Mission Arlington's Christmas store helping needy families pick out Christmas gifts for children and sharing the Gospel with them.
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.
1933 HSU grad reaps three prestigious awards at 99
ABILENE, Texas (Hardin-Simmons University)--Hardin-Simmons University alumna Dr. Virginia Connally received the first Global Impact Award presented by Mission to Unreached Peoples, an evangelical mission-sending agency located in Plano, Texas. The award was conferred during M.U.P.'s inaugural Vision and Award banquet at Plano's Marriott Hotel Thursday, January 19, 2012.
The award is bestowed on a Christ-follower who has enhanced the spread of the Gospel, especially among people groups who have little or no access to it. Dr. Connally is known for her consistent lifetime support of mission efforts, missionaries and their children, and international students. In recent years she has embraced and supported cutting-edge technology and strategies. Her financial investments have greatly impacted global mission efforts.
According to Dr. Kent Parks, president and CEO of M.U.P., "Dr. Connally's global impact for missions has included many decades of prayer, encouragement, vision, and support. She and her late husband, Ed Connally, donated the full salary of missionaries for years beginning the in the 1950s. She has consistently championed missions."
M.U.P. inaugurated the Global Impact Award in celebration of its strategy to see thousands of church-planting movements among all 6,000+ remaining least-evangelized people groups worldwide.. The 30-year-old organization includes missionaries serving from Europe to Southeast Asia.
Well known as a pioneering physician and woman of faith, Dr. Connally was the first female physician in Abilene, opening her practice there in 1940. She was the first female president of the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society in 1948, chairman of staff at St. Ann Hospital in 1958, and chief of staff of Hendrick Memorial Hospital (now Hendrick Medical Center) in 1960.
Dr. Virginia Boyd Connally still keeps close ties with HSU, even though she graduated some 78 years ago with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
While on campus, she was a member of the Cowgirls, a high-stepping, rope-throwing, women's group who marched behind the Cowboy Band, which was dominated by only men in those days. Even though the Cowgirls disbanded in the 1970s, Connally, at the age of 99, still makes it a point to attend all of the meetings of the group now known as the Ex-Cowgirls Association.
Dr. Connally has made generous investments in Christian education, charitable work, and mission efforts. Among her many contributions is the Connally Missions Center at Hardin-Simmons University, to keep university students aware of a world needing the gospel.
"Even today, she continues her efforts," declares Dr. Parks, who with his wife, Erika, is a 20-year veteran of work among Unreached Peoples in Asia. "Virginia is a constant encourager and supporter."
Dr. Connally recently gave the first major donation to M.U.P.'s program for training missionaries to facilitate rapidly multiplying church planting movements. This initiative has already resulted in new churches in eight unreached people groups in eight different countries in the first year alone.
"Dr. Connally's continued unflagging devotion to the Lord's work is a model for many." Dr. Parks adds, "Mission to Unreached Peoples is pleased to award her with its first ever Global Impact Award in recognition of a significant life resulting in eternal blessings for hundreds of thousands of people."
Also this month, Connally received the Gold-Headed Cane Award from the Taylor-Jones-Haskell-Callahan Medical Society at the Abilene Civic Center.
The Gold-Headed Cane Award is the capstone award for Big Country area physicians. It is rarely presented, and only then to a physician who represents exemplary professional and personal achievements.
Later this year the Texas Medical Association will honor Connally with the Distinguished Service Award, an honor only three other women have earned.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net