Today's BP Ledger contains items from:
Baptist Global Response
WORLD News Service
Areas in Philippines still damaged, but Baptists commit help
MANILA, Philippines (Baptist Global Response) -- Many people in the Philippines have yet to recover from Typhoon Haiyan. They find shelter wherever they can. Children go to school under trees or tarps, and the government has ordered 4,000 families in one area to move inland. Those people earn their living fishing, and they will have difficulty providing for their families in the future.
Months after the storm hit, Tennessee Baptists haven't forgotten Filipinos. They adopted a portion of northern Cebu and committed to helping residents reconstruct their homes and their lives. Volunteers from the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief recently visited the island to assess damage. Upon arrival, the team decided to focus on the Bogo municipality, which sustained enormous damage.
BGR Volunteer Coordinators Marvella Thompson and her husband, Glen, travelled with the team and said they assessed several schools.
"In many of the schools, the children are meeting under trees or some have tarps," Marvella said. "They are doubling up in the classrooms, but in the Philippine public school system there are generally 45 - 60 children in one classroom already."
Most of those schools were located off the main roadways, and Thompson said those institutions had heard the government wouldn't be able to look at them for three-to-four years.
In addition to inspecting schools, the team traveled to several areas, surveying damage and deciding what projects it should undertake in the future. Thompson said the storm damaged government buildings, concrete homes and churches as well as educational facilities. Residents needed a lot of assistance.
"We have been amazed at the stamina of the people and how much they are doing to clean up, but so many are living in tents or tarp covered shacks because they have no means to rebuild," she said.
After surveying damage and needs, the team developed several plans including the provision of a water pipeline for one school, the replacement of the posts and roof in an open-air building for another and the construction of six classrooms and a feeding center for a third school. Thompson said they also planned to help repair and rebuild damaged homes.
But, there was still a lot to do. She hoped churches could send volunteers with the experience needed to work alongside Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief workers and help it come through with its commitments. However, she encouraged everyone to help rebuild.
Thompson asked that people pray for:
-- God to send teams with demolition and/or construction expertise.
-- God to move in the hearts of the people, blessing them with the desire for Truth.
-- Volunteers to sense places in which He is already at work so they might join Him there. The need is so vast, BGR partners find it difficult to comprehend the devastation and know where to begin.
Click here to learn more about Typhoon Haiyan volunteer opportunities!
Carson-Newman students spend spring break ministering to others
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (Carson-Newman University) -- Some 170 Carson-Newman University volunteers spent their spring break in service projects from Tennessee to Guatemala. The outreach trips took place the week of March 16.
One of the site included Tennessee Baptist Children's Home in Chattanooga, where students helped with landscaping needs, and ministered to children at the facility.
"This week we've been working around the (Children's Home) campus doing service projects–moving brush, mulching and pulling weeds," shared Maranda Vandergriff, a Carson-Newman freshman from Powell, Tenn., majoring in graphic design. "In the afternoons, we've been having dinner with them (children). We help with homework and…hang out with the kids and spend time with them."
Vandergriff said the experience opened her eyes to the important role that the Chattanooga ministry plays.
"It is really amazing to see what the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home does," said Vandergriff. "Raising up these kids, not only taking them in and taking care of them, but also teaching them about Christianity and about God and raising them up in a Christian atmosphere and family."
Kathy Hall, a house parent at the children's home, shared how such volunteer groups contribute to the ministry.
"Groups like Carson-Newman are a terrific blessing to us," said Hall, who championed not only the team's children-focused activities, but also the manual labor they provided. "We're a campus of 75 acres with a lot of buildings, and a lot of things need to be done. They have been out there working their hearts out," explained Hall. "We don't have a big maintenance group anymore, so they have really filled in."
Associate Director of Campus Ministries Chad Morris said that such outreach trips play a meaningful role in students' growth.
"These trips are instrumental in the student's faith development," said Morris. "It becomes less of a one-time service project and more of a catalyst for a lifestyle of service." Morris says the connection that often happens can be life changing. "It is not just about going and serving someone in need," said Morris. "It affects those serving as well."
During the week, Carson-Newman volunteers comprised 11 teams that journeyed to six states and two international countries. Along with Chattanooga, service sites included a backpack youth ministry in Robbinsville, N.C.; youth and children's ministry in Manchester, Ky., and Greenville, S.C.; a collegiate ministry called Beach Reach in Panama City, Fla.; and inner-city homeless ministries in Knoxville and Philadelphia, Pa. International service sites included Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.
In May, Carson-Newman volunteers will take part in additional international ministry when a team travels to Haiti to assist with medical clinics in local villages.
Carson-Newman University is a private, Christian liberal arts institution. Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is located in Jefferson City, Tenn., among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The University has 2,045 students and offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees. The institution's website is cn.edu.
Federal court gives Kansas green light to defund Planned Parenthood
By Andrew Branch
DENVER (WORLD News Service) -- A federal appeals court ruled March 25 that Kansas can strip two Planned Parenthood centers of federal family planning money as the abortion provider's legal challenge progresses.
Kansas is among several conservative states that have sought to defund Planned Parenthood. At issue in the Kansas ruling was money distributed to states under Title X, a federally financed family planning program. It provides free or discounted birth control and health screenings to women with incomes up to 250 percent of the poverty level. Planned Parenthood receives about 25 percent of this funding nationwide.
U.S. District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten blocked enforcement of the state law in 2011, ruling that it unconstitutionally intended to punish Planned Parenthood for its abortion advocacy. He ordered Kansas to continue funding Planned Parenthood until the case was resolved. He also found the state law violated the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause, which says states can't impose additional requirements for federal programs.
A divided panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver overturned Marten's rulings, saying Kansas can halt the funding. Tuesday's decision is not a final ruling on the merits of the case itself, and the appeals court sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. Judge Carlos Lucero dissented, but the panel overruled him 2-1.
The panel rejected the notion that Planned Parenthood can challenge a law's constitutionality "solely on the ground that its passage was motivated by a desire to penalize Planned Parenthood's protected speech and association." The two centers denied Title X funds did not provide abortions on site, so the organization argued the law violated its free speech right to associate with abortion.
"We are pleased with today's ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals," the Kansas attorney general's office said in an emailed statement to the Associated Press. "We will continue to defend Kansas law in regards to any further challenges."
Kansas law rewrites the way the state distributes Title X funds so that, without naming Planned Parenthood, the abortion provider is essentially placed at the back of the funding line. At least 10 states in the past four years have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood, and Kansas' less explicit method is one of the first to hold its own in federal courts.
Arizona and Indiana laws, for example, explicitly barred Planned Parenthood from parts of Medicaid. The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 24 refused to hear Arizona's appeal after U.S. District Judge Neil Wake ruled the law violated federal rules by not allowing patients to choose their own medical providers.
To avoid that ruling against Medicaid discrimination, Texas has risked forfeiting its entire share of Medicaid's Women's Health Program to defund Planned Parenthood. Other states, like Ohio and North Carolina, have used methods similar to Kansas' through their budget-making powers.
Counting Medicaid reimbursements, Planned Parenthood received $542 million in taxpayer money in the fiscal year that ended in June 2012. The funds—a $180 million increase from two years prior—amount to 45 percent of the organization's budget, giving it financial stability to continue or expand abortion services through other funding sources. More than 330,000 abortions bring the organization $150 million a year.
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