Today's BP Ledger contains items from:
GO TELL Ministries
LifeWay Christian Resources
Baptist Foundation of Texas
Baptist College of Florida
600-plus turn to Christ during Rick Gage crusade
ANDERSON, S.C. (GO TELL Ministries) -- Stories of God's grace continue to surface well after the Tri-County GO TELL Crusade held in Anderson County, S.C.
Community obstacles were overcome as more than 30 churches in the county agreed to support the crusade, which brought evangelist Rick Gage from Atlanta and guest speakers and musicians.
The four-night crusade was held May 20-23 at Belton-Honea Path High School's football stadium, concluding with a Pizza Blast and Youth Night.
At 12 schools, ON TRACK assemblies were presented by Gage and his team to 6,000 students Monday through Wednesday on the dangers of sex, alcohol and drug abuse. Gage also brought with him a BMX bike team to entertain the students.
"We had an awesome event with more than 15,000 in total attendance and over 1,300 decisions with 618 of those for salvation. It was one of our greatest crusades ever! To God be the glory!" Gage said.
"I met one couple with a small child who had been separated and were on the verge of divorce; but as result of the crusade and the power of God, their marriage and family were brought back together," Gage added.
"This is a story that needs to be told. A great movement of God took place here in Anderson County," said Dennis Ashley, who co-chaired the crusade with Tom Langston. At Barker's Creek Baptist Church in Honea Path, Ashley said, "We have had 12 come forward for baptism."
Members from area churches comprised the 155-person Mass Choir. On the first night, more than 3,000 attended with many churches suspending their Sunday evening worship services to encourage their members to attend the crusade instead. On the last night, more than 6,000 attended - in spite of thunderstorms both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Prayer Committee Chairman Betty Mitchell said, "I don't think I've ever seen a movement of God quite so powerful. All I can say is God showed up and showed us His power! When His people come together in agreement and pray, He moves in a mighty way."
For instance, Mitchell said, "The weather was doubtful at times but would clear off when the crusade began. I know my preacher made a comment about it raining across the street but not at the crusade one night.
"People came, people shared their hearts; and God heard and answered all our prayers. I feel honored to have been a part of such a movement of God. To Him be all the glory. Great things He has done!"
Among Mitchell's Prayer Committee members was Evelyn Ashley, saying, "I was disappointed that we only got six cottage prayer meetings from our church but overwhelmed when 91 people agreed to pray every day." Ashley said daily and weekly prayer cells met, and now one daily and one weekly prayer group continue to meet.
On the Sunday morning following the crusade, she said her pastor asked those who had been involved in the crusade to share their experiences. "We had two hours of public testimony of experiences at the crusade," she said.
Then this past Sunday morning, Ashley said 10 people were baptized and at least five more will be baptized next Sunday morning. "People are continuing to visit every day. In the past, getting people to visit once a month was impossible," she added.
"Pray for the enthusiasm to continue and for follow-up of those who made decisions during the crusade," Ashley said. "Praise God for people like the Go Tell Team."
Ted Coody, senior pastor of Honea Path Pentecostal Holiness Church, said, "What thrilled me most about the Go Tell Crusade was to see the Body of Christ come together in unity - regardless of the wide range of denominational affiliations - out of mutual concern for lost souls and with great passion to reach them for Christ. The souls reached through this effort, I believe, are just the beginning of a greater harvest as we continue to advance His kingdom cause together!
By the second Sunday following the crusade, Rev. Coody said, "We had baptized 10 new believers - most of whom were brought to Christ through the Tri-County GO TELL Crusade effort! We are committed to disciple these who are a part of our congregation and will continue reaching out to win others to Him.
"I will never forget the excitement of seeing souls hungry for God falling on their faces on the wet field, following a thunderstorm prior to the service! What an awesome sight to witness the Holy Spirit, convicting and drawing souls to Christ for salvation or into a deeper walk of faith with Him! Praise God for great things He has done and greater things He will still do for those who believe on Him."
Helen Watson, a teacher at Honea Path Middle School, said, "There was something wonderful that happened at the crusade and then at my school a week following the crusade. These things were not just a blessing for the students but a blessing for me that has renewed my faith and has me walking a closer walk with the Lord."
One regarded a student for whom Watson had been burdened, and the other dealt with carnations.
Watson said this student "was so filled with anger that I wasn't able to get through to her." Attending the crusade on Monday night, Watson was struck by similarities between this student and the testimony of the crusade's guest speaker. Then she saw the student sitting alone.
Seeing her lift her hand to say she was not sure of her salvation, Watson said she struggled for several minutes, wondering if she should join the student. Although she had prayed for this student many times, Watson said she did not feel she had a strong relationship with her and did not want to make her feel uncomfortable.
Then Watson "felt something like a gentle push on my back. I even turned around to see if someone had touched me." Continuing to feel "a heaviness on my back, urging me to go forward," she concluded this pressure must be from the Lord. Watson decided she would do what He was commanding "though difficult for me."
Approaching the young lady, Watson said, "She was tearful and had her head bowed in prayer. I put my arm around her; and as she looked up at me, I asked her did she want to go forward to where others were praying. She took my hand; and we walked to the front with others, went to our knees and I began to pray for her. I saw a colleague and asked them to come lay hands on her as well. When we stood, I heard her telling me softly, 'Thank you'; and she walked away."
The next day at school, Watson said she learned from another colleague that this same young lady also had attended the crusade on Sunday night and had prayed.
During the week of the crusade and the week following, Watson continued to meet students in the halls who would say, "Ms. Watson, did you go to the crusade? I got saved. Ms. Watson, I went to the crusade at BHP and it was awesome."
Watson commented, "I couldn't help notice a glow on their faces." Feeling she needed to do something to help them celebrate, Watson said, "With separation of school and church, I wasn't sure what to do, so I prayed to the Lord that He would guide me."
The next week, she spent nearly $100 for 200 white carnations to give to students wanting to tell her of the changes in their lives. Watson said she wanted to tell them that white was for purity and a sign of starting over, that they had been forgiven of their sins and cleansed, that they were blemish free.
Watson also planned on telling them that, just like we ask the Lord for forgiveness, He also expects us to ask forgiveness of those we have hurt or wronged in some way. Also, she wanted to tell them they should be proud of what they experienced at the crusade and to share what had happened with their friends and family.
However, the carnations did not come Friday or Saturday - not until the following Tuesday from another country. By then, a company official told her the flowers would be "rotten" and she would be issued a refund.
When she opened the package, Watson said, "I saw the most beautiful white carnations that I have ever seen" with only a couple with a few brown spots. "They were in full bloom and as white as snow."
She spread the word by intercom that students would be welcome to stop by her room at certain times the next day to tell her about their crusade experience - though not mentioning the carnations.
"The next day, I had students lined up at my door. As students came in, I asked them what night they went to the crusade and what their experience was like. Some said they had been saved. They talked about how they cried and prayed with their family and friends. Some said they had been saved before, but they prayed and cried for strength to handle certain situations in their lives."
Playing "Amazing Grace" by Chris Tomlin on her computer, Watson and her friend hugged each student when giving them their white carnation. Then she saw the young lady with whom she had prayed at the crusade, being urged to enter her room to receive her carnation. While she did not share her story, she did receive a flower. As she left the room, Watson heard her softly and shyly say, "Thank you."
"Another student said she had been to the crusade but wanted to talk in private about another concern. She was fearful about leaving middle school and going to high school. We talked about her fears and about the power of prayer for strength."
Then a couple of young ladies asked if they could stay and listen to all of the words to "Amazing Grace." "They not only listened but sang along. One said it had been many years since she had heard the song. One of them became very tearful. I wondered what was going on in her mind as she listened to the song. I knew she had to have a heavy burden as she is a foster child."
That day Watson said she gave out 122 of the nearly 200 white carnations. Then on the last day of school, she had a few more students come by to tell her their stories. Also on the last day of school, she received another email from the florist, promising to give her a 50 percent discount on her next order. "The Lord is good, and I praise Him."
Chandra Bennett relays encouragement at Black Churck Week
By LifeWay Christian Resources Staff
RIDGECREST, N.C. (LifeWay Christian Resources) -- Burnout in ministry results from a limited or inadequate view of God and not drawing from His eternal, powerful resources, explained Chandra Bennett during a workshop at Black Church Week, July 23-27, 2012, at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center.
"Without God's strength, we cannot endure," she said.
Bennett, editorial project leader in leadership and adult publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources led a session titled "Encouraging the Encourager" designed not as a how-to, but as a hands-on session to guide participants to study Scriptures related to encouragement and spend time receiving refreshment themselves.
Maintaining a passion for ministry and avoiding burnout requires intentionality, Bennett said. She outlined from Scripture five habits Christians should not neglect as they seek to keep that passion:
1. The practice of solitude (Mark 1:35)
2. The experience of prayer (Luke 11:1)
3. Studying and applying Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
4. Abiding in God's unconditional love (John 13:34-35)
5. Maintaining supportive relationships (Prov. 27:6)
In an emotional group exercise, Bennett put the attendees in circles -- 10 people seated and an outer circle with someone standing behind each seated person.
Using Scripture passages on encouragement, exhortation and perseverance, Bennett instructed the outer circle to quietly whisper the Scriptures to the person seated before them, then reading it a second time, but inserting the person's name into the Scripture before rotating to the next person seated, until everyone had heard every Scripture.
By the end of the exercise, most in the room were moved emotionally by the personalized encouragement.
"As pastors and ministers, we pour ourselves out so much and don't often enough take our own medicine," said Alton McKinley, who serves on the pastoral staff of Mesquite Friendship Church in Mesquite, Texas. "As a result, we burn out, we get sick. This breakout session -- and this whole week -- was a tremendous reminder that everyone needs restoration and encouragement."
According to Bennett, "We need to give help, but need to be ready to receive it, too. We need to be about the business of encouraging one another in Christ Jesus as a way to keep our Kingdom focus."
Ralphette Davis said she came to Black Church Week this year specifically needing refreshment and encouragement.
"I've been coming to this conference for four years, and I can honestly say this was one of the most powerful and moving sessions I've attended," said Davis, who serves on the ministry staff at Concord Fellowship Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C. "This session with Chandra was exactly what I needed."
Lynn Craft to retire from
Baptist Foundation of Texas
DALLAS (Baptist Foundation of Texas) -- After 36 years as President and CEO of Baptist Foundation of Texas, Lynn Craft has announced that he is retiring, effective December 31, 2012.
Craft has been with the Foundation 44 years, joining the Foundation in 1968 which was under the leadership of James Cantrell, his mentor. He was named President in 1976. During his tenure, the Foundation's assets under management grew from $123 million, in 1976, to the current $1.5 billion. He was instrumental in the formation of the Foundation's subsidiary, Concord Trust Company, to enable the Foundation to serve Baptist and other charitable ministries throughout Texas and beyond.
Craft will continue in a consulting role, actively working with staff and Baptist institutions on real estate, oil and gas, and financing matters. The Foundation supports and manages endowments for over 200 Baptist institutions and churches in Texas and across the United States.
John Minton, chair of the Foundation's Board and an attorney from Tyler, Texas, noted that Craft and the Board have been discussing Craft's plans for several months. Minton stated that the Board supported Craft in his decision and is appreciative of the many contributions he had made to the mission of the Foundation. Minton stated that the Board would be working toward filling the position promptly with a leader with excellent credentials and experience.
BCF On Missions in Cuba
By BCF Staff
GRACEVILLE, Fla. (Baptist College of Florida) -- "Stay organized and on schedule. Set detailed goals before you go. Establish schedules and refuse to deviate from them. Do not accept delays, last-minute changes, and impromptu visits and invitations…" the Baptist College of Florida (BCF) student Rachel Butler read out-loud in a laughing manner from an internet blog titled "10 Ways to Ruin Short-Term Mission Trips" to the three other girls in the hotel room on Thursday night June 14th.
The girls laughed together at the irony of the situation because at that point, all of their plans had changed, the schedule was abolished, and the Cuba mission team had no idea whether or not they were going to travel to Cuba or have to turn around and head back to Graceville.
The Cuba mission team of 11, which included eight BCF students and one BCF professor, was supposed to leave Thursday morning from St. Petersburg, Florida. They showed up at the airport with plane tickets in their hands and bags behind them, but little did they know, God had different plans. Somehow, there was a miscommunication between the booking agent and the airline, and the Cuba team was not booked on the flight leaving that Thursday morning. However, the attitudes and the spirits of the team members remained joyful as they held on to the foundational truth that God was in control no matter the outcome.
"Give me faith to trust what You say, that You're good, and You're love is great," rang throughout the airport as the team gathered around and praised God through song in spite of the uncertainty. After all, the main prayer request of the team was to be used and be flexible. That prayer was certainly answered as the team became stretched through this circumstance of waiting hours in the airport. The question then became, would the team get a flight out the next day? Saturday? Sunday? Or no flight at all?
Finally, the booking agent was able to find the Cuba mission team a possible flight out of Miami on Sunday. Because of the rules for U.S. citizens traveling into Cuba, however, the team had to wait on the approval of the flight by the Cuban and U.S. governments. Whether or not the team would go to Cuba was still up in the air. The team had to wait on God.
The bulk of the team's extra or spare time was spent mastering Cuban hymns and planning VBS activities. According to several team members, there were special moments of bonding, worshiping through song, and unifying devotions at night. The group spent all day Friday eagerly waiting to find out God's plan for the team.
On Saturday morning, BCF Music and Worship Division Chair Bill Davis stepped out to take the phone call that would determine the team's future. He walked back in with an attempted frown on his face as he reported the news, "I'm sorry guys, but.... WE'RE GOING TO CUBA!" The group rejoiced and immediately prayed thanking God for His provision, goodness, and sovereignty. After lunch, the mission team was on their way to Miami.
As the plane lifted off the runway on Sunday, the team could do nothing but smile as what was long anticipated had finally become a reality. In 45 minutes, the mission team would be in a foreign land among foreign people in a foreign culture.
Classic American cars rigged with diesel engines cruised the streets as some of the team members breathed in the humid Caribbean air for the first time. The team was officially in Cuba. After a three hour bus ride out of Havana, the team arrived in Pedro Betancourt and was immediately greeted by the pastor's family and church members. The evening concluded with a relaxed church service in which the mission team led worship in Spanish.
Over the next three days, the team worked. Every morning the team worked on the pastor's house which included removing the roof of the house, stacking shingles, chipping stucco off of the walls on the inside and outside, and hauling all the debris to a tractor trailer. During the afternoons, the Cuba team conducted a VBS for approximately 150 kids in which Bible lessons were taught, songs were sung loudly, games were played, and love was shared. During the evening, the team held worship services which included worship music, preaching, testimonies, and special music. Unfortunately, the rain only allowed one VBS day and two worship services, but the Cuba mission team was already well aware of being flexible and how plans change.
Out of the closed doors and change in plans came new opportunities for the team. For instance, one afternoon in which the rain inhibited the VBS, the Cuban church's praise band and the musicians from the Cuba team were able to learn Spanish songs together. Davis gave the Cuban praise team some tips on leading worship.
"Going to Cuba has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. God used this opportunity to teach me so much," stated BCF student Rebeca Salmeron who acted as one of two translators for the trip. "I am always blessed by my brothers and sisters in Christ from Cuba."
By Friday around 6:00 p.m. the Cuba team was back in Miami after a tear-filled goodbye from the Cuban Christians from the church in Pedro Betancourt. "I'm not sure music is the universal language, but a smile, a kindness shown, a hug, a gift given in humility, well, those things translate really well," expressed Davis as he reflected on interactions of the trip.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net