Today's BP Ledger contains items from:
My Hope with Billy Graham
Arkansas Baptist News
Historic Church is open to New Ideas
By Elaine Helms
ROCHDALE, Mass. (My Hope with Billy Graham) -- More than 275 years ago, Greenville Baptist Church in Rochdale, Massachusetts was born. To celebrate their long history, they decided to learn about something new. They invited Bruce James, a team leader for evangelism at the Baptist Convention of New England, to share about an innovative evangelism strategy called My Hope America with Billy Graham. James said, "I can testify that the Spirit of the Lord was actively present as they embraced this incredible outreach. Two people were saved!"
James said he was impressed with the congenial atmosphere and members' openness to new ideas for doing evangelism in this nearly three century old church. After his experience there, he says he would strongly encourage pastors to show the video "Defining Moments" and offer an invitation to the lost. After the invitation, pastors can then ask, "How many would be willing to show a video like this in your home?"
Believing that most people who know Jesus want to share Jesus, James thinks that many will say "yes" to the invitation. Please pray as many churches in New England are preparing for My Hope America with Billy Graham.
To learn how our church can get involved, please visit www.MyHopeWithBillyGraham.org.
Elaine Helms is the prayer coordinator for My Hope America with Billy Graham and director of ChurchPrayerMinistries.org. She was the SBC prayer coordinator at NAMB 2000-2010, and author of Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know.
Condren in pursuit of Noah's Ark
By Caleb Yarbrough/Arkansas Baptist News
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Baptist News) -- Throughout recorded history, people from around the world have searched for evidence of Noah's Ark.
An Arkansas Baptist and a team of explorers think they just may have found it.
Holt Condren, a member of The Summit Church in North Little Rock - along with a team of scientists, archeologists, geologists, ground penetrating radar experts, equipment managers and Kurdish aides - are currently traversing Mount Ararat in far eastern Turkey on a three-week expedition in search of Noah's Ark.
This marks the fifth year Condren has been the Lead Mountaineer for the Ark Search LLC team. Based on the group's past findings, he is not only optimistic that the team has located the Ark, but hopes soon to prove it.
The beginning of a call
When Condren was 17 years old and living at the parsonage of First Baptist Church, White Hall, where his father was pastor at the time, he saw a TV documentary about explorers searching for Noah's Ark and was enthralled.
It was then Condren said he felt God calling him to join the search for the Ark.
"Even at 17 I felt something inside of me saying, 'You can do this,'" Condren exclaimed.
While he had grown up hunting, fishing and enjoying the forests of rural Arkansas, climbing a mountain halfway around the world was quite a different story. He brushed off the calling, thinking he was too young, idealistic and inexperienced to undergo such a massive endeavor.
Then, 20 years later at the age of 37, Condren saw the same documentary again and embraced his calling.
"I felt the same voice inside of me saying, 'Will you join me for this?'" he said.
Condren began trying to identify a way to make himself useful as a member of an Ark expedition team. He was not a scientist or an archeologist; but he was an experienced outdoorsman.
He took the skills he had honed through years living in rural Arkansas to the next level in an attempt to prepare himself to play a role on an Ark expedition team. He received training as a wilderness first responder, spent four weeks by himself in the wilderness of north central Arkansas and was trained as a mountaineer.
God eventually led him to join Ark Search LLC's inaugural search team in 2008. Condren said that through his search for the Ark, God taught him the importance of fully pursuing the Lord's will for his life.
"My life, my Ararat search, my entrepreneurial journey and other things that I have done in life are examples of the fact that God can take an ordinary guy who grew up in a small town, was the son of a pastor of a small church, had no money and can use you for extraordinary things. But you have got to be willing to walk this faith journey," said Condren.
"God designed you specifically for certain things, but people tend to live real conservative and they don't take chances and try to avoid things that will put them at risk or where they have to exercise faith. My ministry to men is just to encourage them to embrace this extraordinary life that God has called them to," he said.
'Surf the Woods'
Condren said his recently released book, "Surf the Woods," is an attempt to put into print his passion for pushing men to forget what he calls the "safe zone" and live the lives God has in store for them. (The book was reviewed in the May 30 edition of the Arkansas Baptist News and, the review can be read online at www.arkansasbaptist.org/reviews).
"In the book, I tell a lot of stories about my Ararat search and also some of my other adventures in the woods that draw men into the book. But then I bring key principles out of them," said Condren.
The search for Noah's Ark
There have been explorers searching for Noah's Ark for hundreds of years, with many claiming to have found it and others making up fantastic stories that have given fuel to countless detractors and skeptics.
In October 2009, a group called Noah's Ark Ministries International (NAMI) claimed to have found remains of what appeared to be Noah's Ark.
However, upon researching the evidence NAMI provided, Randall Price and Don Patton, two of the men who started the Ark Search LLC, found no evidence that the Ark had been found and released a report highlighting evidence that definitively disproved the group's claims.
While Condren's team is made up of Christians who believe in the historicity of Noah's Ark based on the biblical account, he said they are not happy with simply "finding" the Ark. If indeed the Ark is buried atop Mount Ararat, they believe they should be able to prove it using modern, peer reviewable science - leaving no room for doubt.
"Some of the team would say that we already have enough evidence to show that there is something organic and large there," said Condren. "Nothing wooden would be this high up above what is called "tree line," unless it were put there. Nothing can grow above 12,000 feet or so. The air is simply too thin," he said.
"So we've been accumulating evidence and mapping the structure and so forth, just trying to get enough evidence, but what we are still missing is a piece of it (the Ark). So we continue to go back, trying to get to it," he said.
A casual observer may wonder why the team doesn't use heavy equipment to excavate the dense and icy mountain soil. Condren said the answer is simple: Anything the team uses to dig has to be carried up the mountain by hand.
"We have to carry it on our backs. You can't take a helicopter up there and drop off all this (heavy equipment). You can't set off electronic charges and blow up pieces of the mountain because Turkey won't allow that. If you took a helicopter up there, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party or Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan) would shoot it out of the air," said Condren. "We use horses from 7,000 feet to 14,000 feet. And from 14,000 feet up to 17,000 feet, you carry it on your back. … It is just limiting to what you can do."
While the group's adventure may sound like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, Condren stressed that unlike in the movies, the danger involved in the team's search is very real.
The high elevations at which the team ascends provide extreme weather and difficult passage. However, the elements are only one of the obstacles the group faces.
Condren said the danger and extreme commitment necessary to search for Noah's Ark are symbols of the risks he pushes men to take in their everyday lives.
While not every man is called to climb a Turkish mountain in search of an ancient biblical artifact, Condren believes God has incredible plans for every man who chooses to follow Him.
For more information on "Surf the Woods" and TrailblazeNow, Condren's mens ministry, visit www.trailblazenow.org.
President of SBC Executive Committee receives CU Leadership Award
By Linda Waggener
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University) -- Dr. Frank S. Page, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, chapel guest speaker Sept. 25, was presented the Campbellsville University Leadership Award for his strong support of the Christian Higher education mission of Campbellsville University.
In presenting the award, John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, read a letter from Dr. Michael V. Carter stating in part: "we are very pleased to have you on the campus of Campbellsville University and appreciate your dedicated service to the Southern Baptist Convention and the Kingdom of God. I regret I am not able to be with you during your visit, but please know our heartfelt gratitude for your service and our prayers are with you. We are also pleased to present you this award - the prestigious Campbellsville University leadership award." CU board chair Dr. Joseph L. Owens and vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Frank D Cheatham, placed the Leadership Award on Page.
"I never dreamed of becoming president of the Southern Baptist Convention," Page said, "I was raised poor in Robbins, North Carolina, in a non-Christian home, but thanks to sweet neighbors who invited us to vacation bible school and Sunday School, this is where I am today." That's why I have a heart for evangelizing.
As a former pastor of first Baptist church of Taylors, page said he still considers himself more a pastor than president of the SBC.
"I went door-to-door and asked people in my neighborhood what they thought of our church? I discovered that we weren't relevant to our neighbors who said, 'that church is for rich white people'. So we started a Saturday morning single moms free oil change which quickly became popular among all cultural groups and provides an opportunity to share the gospel. I recommend sharing the gospel while meeting needs of people around you."
He said Southern Baptist churches are the "most ethnically diverse religious group on the face of the planet - with our fastest growth among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and other religious groups."
"Baptists are always involved in both struggles and opportunities," he said, "and I am cautiously optimistic about our future. I continuously work to bridge theological and methodological differences in our Convention, thereby bringing people together. We need each other and don't need to be disenfranchising each other. We as Southern Baptists have a great deal to offer the world in terms of our love, compassion, belief in the Bible and commitment to the Great Commission."
Dr. Page commended Campbellsville University for commitment to Christ-centered higher education, the Great Commission and a strong desire for transformation of people's lives in the name of Jesus Christ.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 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.
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