Today's BP Ledger contains items from:
Kentucky Baptist Convention
World News Service (2 items)
4 Ky. Baptists to serve long-term after Sandy
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Kentucky Baptist Conmmunications) -- Two Kentucky Baptist couples have accepted long-term volunteer positions in New York to assist residents there who are still recovering from last year's Superstorm Sandy.
"These men and women have made a huge commitment to help the people of New York recover from this terrible disaster," said Coy Webb, director of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. "They are some of our best leaders and I know they will do an outstanding job."
Bill and Donna Johnson of Grayson have agreed to serve for two years as rebuild coordinators for the New York post-Sandy response. They will work with other disaster relief volunteers from across the country to help residents repair or completely rebuild their homes.
Ron and Greta Wilson of Bardstown have volunteered to serve one year as warehouse coordinators for the New York rebuilding effort. They will arrange housing, meals and provide other logistical support for volunteers as they come to serve in the rebuild effort.
The Johnsons are members of Liberty Baptist Church in Ashland. The Wilsons are members of Parkway Baptist Church in Bardstown.
Webb said Southern Baptist Disaster Relief estimates hundreds of homes need major repairs or a completely new structure before residents can move back in. Thousands of homes were damaged or affected by the "superstorm" last fall.
"It's very difficult for us, as Kentuckians, to fathom how great the need for help is because the population density is so different from even our most-urban areas here at home," Webb said. "There will be a lot of work for a lot of volunteers for a long time before New York is back on its feet."
Further information and volunteer registration is available at www.namb.net/sandy.
ABILENE, Texas (Hardin-Simmons University) -- Students enrolled in Hardin-Simmons University's May Term Leadership Studies workshop are getting their legs in shape for a bike ride across Texas later this month. Students will bike from El Paso to Texarkana, making stops along the way to talk with students about the importance of healthy living and exercise.
Colman Patterson, professor of business and leadership and director of the Leadership Studies Program, says, "The trip will give students first-hand experience with organization, communication, problem solving, teamwork, and leadership."
The Leadership Studies Program is uniquely devoted to the development of tomorrow's Christian leaders, Patterson says. As a multi-disciplinary minor, it includes students and faculty from all areas of campus. Patterson points out that the nine students in the Leadership Seminar class have eight different majors: finance, criminal justice, music, sport and rec management, psychology, Bible, biology, and communication.
While the students pursue a rigorous program of study rooted in leadership theory, organizational psychology, organizational sociology and administrative theory, Patterson looks for creative ways to development students' skills in communication, critical thinking, and ethical reasoning.
Patterson says learning occurs both in and out of the classroom as students participate in case studies, travel courses, a variety of special topic courses and outdoor adventure-education courses, like the bike ride. "These all help to complete the Leadership Studies experience," Patterson says.
The team will ride from El Paso to Texarkana in a team relay format with the ride kicking off May 12, with a drive to El Paso. They will then trek 854 miles, taking some 68 hours of riding time to complete the journey. They expect to arrive at their east Texas destination by May 23.
Rebekah Gilligan, a freshman from Burleson, Texas, and one of the trip planners, says, "We will be staying in churches most nights with the exceptions of our stops in Andrews, Graham, Scroggins, and McKinney. In Andrews, we will stay in the Casabella Bed & Breakfast, in Graham we will be at the Best Western, in Scroggins we will be staying at a state park, and in McKinney we will be staying at the Thorman's house, the home of one of our riders." All of these places donated rooms to us, so we won't have to pay for hotel expenses."
The students will also stay at a number of churches along the route. A large portion of the workshop is already underway as students have worked to secured lodging and bikes for the trip. They are continuing to work on funding for gasoline and food.
Throughout the school year, leadership students work with nonprofit organizations to implement and practice the concepts that they study in the classroom. As they create and perform service projects, their goal is to meet some real community needs.
Students are expected to maintain acceptable grade point averages in their college coursework and also be involved in organizations on campus, in their church, and in the community. "We are looking for people who want to make differences in their communities and in the lives of others," Patterson says. "Leadership and teamwork skills are developed as much through outside-of-class service learning and experiential learning activities as they are in the classroom."
Native adoption trend takes hold in Eastern Europe
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (World News Service) -- Every year since 1990, thousands of American families have adopted children from overseas—22,700 annually at the peak in 2005, according to State Department figures. Many of those were from Eastern Europe.
But the number of international adoptions to the U.S. has plummeted since then—down to 9,300 in 2011—as countries around the globe closed the door on international adoption altogether or stiffened requirements, producing years-long waits and miles of red tape. Some countries cancelled foreign adoptions because of the inconvenience of abiding by the Hague Convention, an agreement that requires member countries to screen adoption agencies and prevent child trafficking, according to The Washington Post.
With international aid cut off, many orphans around the globe have little hope of placement—but their chances are improving in Eastern Europe, where a wave of "indigenous" adoption is sweeping through countries like Romania and Ukraine as Christians and non-Christians alike open their homes.
In Romania, about 9,000 children annually become orphans, but both state law and prejudice against gypsies have traditionally hindered all kinds of adoption. But local families are rising to the challenge.
"We've been really encouraged by having more adoptive families come than we thought possible," said Christian Feavel, executive director of Romania Reborn. The organization has helped place more than 300 orphans in adoptive homes.
Similarly in Ukraine, "God is doing something special here," said Jon Bergeron of Hope for Orphans. "God is raising up local churches. We have the heads of many different churches speaking with one voice."
The interest in adoption has been spurred by revival in churches, Bergeron said, and orphanages themselves are working harder to publicize the plight of the children and how much harm they suffer in the institutions as a result of chronic neglect. "When kids grow up in orphanages, they don't develop as well," Bergeron said. "They have no social or relational skills."
Once adopted however, a child can receive the love and care he or she needs to develop. According to Bergeron, there are "amazing stories of kids in loving families who move on to do amazing things." And while adoption is about giving a better future to a child, it's also about saving souls, he added.
Encouraged by the upswing in adoptions, Both Bergeron and Feavel see a hopeful future for Eastern European orphans. In Kyiv, Ukraine, hundreds of pastors and Christian leaders from various denominations met in March for a conference on orphan care, according to CBN.com. Mingled in the crowd were about 160 families that have adopted or fostered Ukrainian children, including the first Ukrainian couple to adopt an HIV-positive child.
Ten years ago, Svetlana lived with a dark past in Ukraine. Her future husband, Evgeniy, was also Ukrainian—and a drug addict with HIV. But the couple became Christians, and soon they began to dream of a Ukraine without orphans.
After their marriage, Svetlana and Evgeniy became the first couple to adopt an HIV-positive child and they went on to adopt six more, all with HIV.
"If someone told me 10 years ago I would have this many children today and would be married to an HIV positive man, I would say that's humanly impossible," Svetlana said in a clip on CBN. "But God birthed in us something special."
"Ultimately, we believe the church is the answer," Feavel said. "It's where God can change hearts. It is a testimony of Christ's salvation for us that we can show to unbelievers and orphans."
"Fal$e Teacher$" rapper answers critics with "positive" theology
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (World News Service) -- Rapper Shai Linne, who found himself in the middle of an online firestorm in April for his song calling out prosperity gospel preachers, has responded to criticism from Paula White's son in an open letter and plans to continue the dialogue.
Linne's song "Fal$e Teacher$" from his new album, Lyrical Theology Part 1, named 12 prosperity gospel preachers from Joel Osteen to Paula White to T.D. Jakes, calling them the false teachers mentioned in Matthew 7:15.
While Linne said he knew the song would create controversy when he wrote it, he didn't have any idea how widespread the response would be. Following the song's release, he's received hate mail and comments on Twitter and Facebook questioning his motives, calling him "of the devil," and hoping he dies in poverty. But at the same time, he's also received encouragement from believers as far away as Africa, Asia, and South America.
One response came in the form of an open letter from Bradley Knight, the son of Paula White and the manager of her ministry. Posted on Wade-O Radio's website, Knight asked what justifications Linne had for calling his mother a false prophet and scolded Linne for not coming to White in private first. He asked "are you creating more embitterment, more division and misunderstanding based on faulty premises and biases that you display openly?"
Linne said he actually felt encouraged by the letter: "It moved the conversation from song to a medium that is more conducive for going in depth in the issue."
He goes on to explain that "the song was phase one. I did it because I wanted to use hip-hop for what hip-hop is good for: To shine light in a provocative manner. But hip-hop is limited in depth, particularly on issues like prosperity teaching, which has so many nuances."
Before writing his response, Linne reached out to his elders at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., on how he should respond and spent a few days in prayer. He went through the videos on White's website and pointed out the discrepancies between the Bible and what White preaches.
"As sincere as Paula White may be, she is extremely reckless in the many false things that she says God told her to tell her listeners," Linne writes, including links to YouTube videos of White telling audiences physical healing and financial abundance come with the atonement of Christ and asking audiences for money so that God will give back more money.
As for Knight's claim that he should have contacted White privately, he wrote, "The irony, of course, is that you made this claim in a letter that is open for the public to read without contacting me privately." He goes on to say that because White and other prosperity preachers spoke publicly to millions it deserved a public response.
Linne told me that he and Knight are now communicating in private and plan to continue their correspondence.
Lyrical Theology Part 1 was released April 9 and peaked at No. 7 on the iTunes Hip-hop/Rap chart. The album is packed with Reformed doctrine, with each song essentially serving as a mini-sermon set to a beat with an old-school rap style. With songs like "Hypostatic Union," "Regeneration," and "Election," the album delves deep into theological topics.
While for some it may seem strange to hear such deep topics in rap songs, Linne said rap is the perfect medium for theology.
"One of the things that make hip-hop ideal in conveying theology is its unique ability to convey large amounts of truth in a small amount of musical space," Linne said, comparing the wordiness of rap to other types of music that elongates words. "Also there is a proclamatory aspect—an urgency to it, and it lends itself toward theology by virtue of format."
While Linne grew up in the hip-hop culture in Philadelphia, he never planned on rapping himself, studying theater instead. But after he became a Christian in 1999, a friend brought him to a community of Christian hip-hop artists in the city, and he started rapping about theology.
Linne has not had any formal theological training aside from a pastoral internship at Capitol Hill Baptist, but he said he loves to read. His favorite writers includes "a lot of old dead guys" like John Owen, John Newton, and Thomas Watson. In his song "Take Up and Read" he plays with the names of books and authors he admires: "I'm Chosen by God just to put a little Sproul in this / And J.C. got me Ryle'd up about Holiness / The cross of Christ paid the price this tot was Owen / And The Glory of Christ is why I'm flowing."
Linne said that even though he expected a response to his song, it was still jarring to see so many people criticize him and his music. Linne was on the The Black Out Circuit tour when the song released, and he said that one day he just sat in his hotel as "the weight of it all hit me and I just cried out to God." He found encouragement in 2 Timothy 4:17-18, in which the Apostle Paul talks about how "the Lord stood by me and strengthened me."
Linne said one of his concerns is that he doesn't want to be known as the "false teacher guy" because the vast majority of his ministry and music deals with the cross, atonement, and God's glory.
"The goal of the album is to proclaim the Word of God to provoke study primarily for the edification and building up of the body of Christ," he said. "There are two aspects to theology: The positive to proclaim the truth about God, and the negative, to confront error concerning God."
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