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The Long Haul


I want to tell you a story about my friend Larry Venable. Larry has been pastor of Freeman Heights Baptist Church for 31 years. 31 years in the same church, coming to same office, ministering in the same community. This community, Central and West Garland has changed significantly through the years; it has become much more ethnically and socially diverse.

In fact, when Larry first arrived in 1983 this was already beginning to happen. Most guys in situations like his might just bide their time until they are able to find a new place of ministry – an easier spot to do the work, but not Larry. Larry has stuck it out through the...

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‘Tis the season—for refugees—to merely survive


For many in the United States, 'tis the season to cozy up by the fireplace with family and friends. 'Tis the season to sing merry Christmas tunes and to be grateful for freedom, relatives and Grandma's cooking.

But for Syrian refugees who have had to flee to safety in Lebanon, 'tis the season to fight brutal winter temperatures in their houses made of plywood, tarp or tents and hope they can find food to eat each day. 'Tis the season to survive.

A writer from Tearfund, a charity passionate about tackling poverty, recently recorded his eyewitness perspective of the situation in his blog:

We visited one extended
...

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African American Fellowship admires God as a God of justice


WACO—Though revenge seems sweet and payback fair, God commands His followers to let Him take control of the situation, Pastor John Ogletree from First Metropolitan Church in Houston told guests at the African American Fellowship of Texas worship rally on Nov. 16.

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Waco hosted the rally preceding the 2014 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting. Visitors engaged in worship facilitated by the Antioch choir and a sermon based off Romans 12:17-21.

"This message is to people who know something about being a victim," Ogletree told the audience. "As believers, we have to understand it's alright to be a...

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Dramatic presentations part of this year's annual meeting


"Theatre for the Mind and Spirit" is coming to the Texas Baptist annual meeting Monday, Nov. 17. This is how Bruce Kuhn describes his dramatic presentations. Kuhn will be part of the morning and evening worship services at the Waco Convention Center.

Bruce's presentations bring Scripture alive. The words are literally from the biblical text, but Bruce helps them breathe with human passion. Below are 2 seven-minute videos of Bruce presenting a portion of the Gospel of Luke and Tales of Tolstoy, and there are other videos listed on his website.

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A number of Texas Baptists saw Kuhn's presentations...

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Live the Difference: around the world


This year's Annual Meeting theme is "Live the Difference." We asked several individuals what it looks like to live the difference in their day-to-day lives. Here's what Sandra Wisdom-Martin, executive director of WMU of Texas, had to say:

What does it mean to Live the Difference? Authors Ben Connelly and Bob Roberts say. "If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, He calls you a missionary! You may never go halfway around the world, but because of God's work in you, you are on mission."*

For me, living the difference means being on mission day in and day out.

At WMU of Texas, our passion is also our purpose. We make...

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Texas Baptists prepare to Live the Difference


WACO – Texas Baptists' annual meeting November 16-18 in Waco will be an opportunity to see what it means to truly "Live the Difference." The meeting, to be held at the Waco Convention Center, is centered on the theme verse from 1 John 2:6 with a special emphasis on ministry opportunities through Advocacy/Care and Chaplaincy, including the Christian Life Commission.

"This is an exciting time for our convention as we pave the way for our future and focus on what it means for us to 'live the difference,'" said Executive Director David Hardage. "In this exciting age of diversity, I think it fitting to focus our attention on what it...

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Live the Difference: on social media


This year's Annual Meeting theme is "Live the Difference." We asked several individuals what it looks like to live the difference in their day-to-day lives. Here's what Katie Swafford, director of Counseling Services, had to say:

I'm browsing through Facebook this morning when I see the status update of a childhood friend. This friend is describing how she doesn't feel that people treat her as she deserves to be treated.

Makes a few comments about how she perceives herself to be a good person who is fun to be around, yet feels as if the world takes her for granted or just gives her an "ehh, maybe" rating. She proceeded to ask for...

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Ebola crisis leads to starvation; Texas Baptists send 570,000 meals in response


SPRINGFIELD, Missouri - Though media is flooded with news of the Ebola crisis, a calamity nearly as fatal—starvation—has risen in West African countries due to the virus. In response to this dire need, Dallas-based Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR), in partnership with Convoy of Hope in Springfield, Missouri, shipped 250,000 meals to Monrovia, Liberia on Thursday, Oct. 9, to help bring relief to the crisis.

When the container of food, holding 44,000 pounds of prepackaged meals, arrives to Monrovia in four to six weeks, Liberian Baptist churches will distribute the supplies to rural communities and to hospitals. An...

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Saying thanks to your pastor


Being a pastor can many times be a thankless job. One works seemingly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - going from meeting to counseling session to hospital visit. Not to mention the time needed to prepare for Sunday's sermon, Wednesday's Bible study, a luncheon for Senior Adults and a youth fellowship on Friday night.

Between all of the week's activities, there are also opinions from church members on everything from the color of the carpet in the sanctuary to the dessert served on Wednesday night.

Pastor's hear it all - but two words they may not hear very much are "Thank you." Think about it. When is the last time you stopped and...

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Understanding the city and the culture


Cities are known for their cultures and for their role of influence in societies. Also, there are other forces, which are constantly shaping the city and its cultures. But today, it is crucial for us to understand the city, the communities within the city and their cultures in order to collaborate in ministry and serve the different groups who live, work and visit the city.

I believe the basic elements of culture are languages, artifacts, practices, values, institutions and stories.

We all contribute towards the creation of culture, and culture re-creates the city and its inhabitants. This is why it is important to understand how the...

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Executive Board approves purchase of BUA property


DALLAS - During the September 29 business session of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board, it was unanimously approved for the convention to purchase 12.87 acres of land in San Antonio currently owned by the Baptist University of the Americas. The land will be purchased for $4.373 million, with an additional cash payment of $200,000 to pay off two bank loans held by the university.

“Thank you for walking alongside them [BUA] in this time of need," said Dr. David Hardage, executive director. “We will continue to pray for them and seek God to meet their needs. This is a great way to help one of our institutions...

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Internet Church and you


Live streaming, podcasting, providing worship services online…there are many different ways for churches today to offer online options for their congregations. What works for one church may not work for another, but there are a myriad of options available for churches interested in providing an online community, connections and resources to their members. Lake Pointe Church in Dallas is hosting the iMinistry Conference on October 14-16 and I will be attending this conference to learn more about options available for our Texas Baptist churches.

I visited with Nate Merrill, Internet campus pastor for Lake Pointe, last week; he...

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3 ways to guard from a major mess up in a missional lifestyle


Pet training, or "obedience school for dogs," is held in a very distracting place for your dog to walk. I am referring to the dog training class at PetSmart. In our class, the trainer is a young man who handled bomb dogs in the military. He attempts to help us train our new dog Marley. While, this is an excellent endeavor and he does a good job in teaching us to train Marley, every 7 minutes he also attempts to sell me a new PetSmart product. I guess we should have probably expected this. The problem is when the trainer tells us to walk Marley dog around the store, we are obviously walking around a pet store, which has two things...

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Texas Baptists promote educational initiatives for Sept. 18 giving day


DALLAS -Texas Baptists are taking part in North Texas Giving Day on Sept. 18 by highlighting two initiatives in the North Texas community. Funds given toward the Baptist General Convention of Texas will help build an outdoor classroom at Truett Elementary School in Dallas and a new Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) building at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton.

As stated on northtexasgivingday.org, "North Texas Giving Day is an online giving event that provides nonprofits opportunity to gain expose to—and start relationships with—new donors, and for people in North Texas to come together to raise as much money as possible...

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Tears, Courage and New Beginnings


Andrea Nedorostova was born and raised in the second biggest city of Czech Republic called Brno. Playing tennis competitively her whole life brought her to the United States when she received a scholarship to attend Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Upon graduation with a bachelor's degree in communication, she moved to Austin, TX to pursue a master's degree in journalism at The University of Texas at Austin.

When she visited West, she immediately felt like she belonged. West residents treated her like one of their own. Andrea was captivated by their kindness, and mainly, by the way they handled a difficult time in life....

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THE BIG DOG and 5 ways to effectively knock on doors


Clap, Clap, Clap, "This will make the dog leave us alone." This was trick the pastor of a church meeting in our building was telling me would help keep a very large, very scary, very loud dog from jumping all over us the minute we walked through the gate. At the moment we pensively walked through the gate I certainly hoped this trick, which he learned on the mission field would actually work. We lived through this one without a scratch, and a couple of thousands other doors as a major attempt to reachour neighbors with the gospel of Christ.

Some have said that knocking on doors is not the way you reach people for Christ anymore....

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Conference inspires ministry leaders to


More than 250 individuals from churches across the country "caught the boomer wave" at the second annual National Boomer Ministry Conference on Sept. 4-5 at First Baptist Church in Dallas.

Hosted by Texas Baptists Bible Study/ Discipleship Team, the conference shed light on the need for better ministry amongst the baby boomer generation.

Conference leaders pointed out baby boomers, born in the years 1946 to 1964, are now turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day, and will continue to for the next 18 years.

Keynote speaker Amy Hanson spoke on various subjects such as the changing landscape of adult ministry, how to begin a boomer...

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Lay down your burdens


This story is 3 of a 3-part series addressing the effects of sexual abuse and the power of healing through Jesus Christ.

Sexual abuse - An uncomfortable phrase for most of us and a horrific experience and reality for far too many. In Christian circles, these words are not talked about very much. Whether it is the fear of the unknown, shame, disgust, naiveté or something else, there seems to be a common theme of silence.

Yet when we see others struggle, we have a tendency to talk about that. Many who have been sexually abused find themselves dealing with issues involving drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, panic...

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Seeds of destruction: the city of West


Andrea Nedorostova was born and raised in the second biggest city of Czech Republic called Brno. Playing tennis competitively her whole life brought her to the United States when she received a scholarship to attend Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Upon graduation with a bachelor's degree in communication, she moved to Austin, TX to pursue a master's degree in journalism at The University of Texas at Austin.

When she visited West, she immediately felt like she belonged. West residents treated her like one of their own. Andrea was captivated by their kindness, and mainly, by the way they handled a difficult time in life....

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​Texas Baptists raise $182,000 for hunger through Mother’s Day Offering


DALLAS - Texas Baptists gave more than $182,000 to help end hunger and poverty through the Second Annual Mother's Day Hunger Offering. These gifts are used for hunger relief and anti-poverty programs both in Texas and abroad.

“As Texas Baptists we heed God's call to minister to those in need, in Texas and around the world," said Dr. David Hardage, executive director.

The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering strives to show the power of God's love to those in need. Ministries supported through the offering range from feeding programs in local churches to job training for single mothers and improved water and sanitation resources for...

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A fascinating day in the Quilombola village


On August 9, Linda Freeman (a member of First Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth) and Bertha Vaughn (a member of Bethany Baptist Church in Houston) joined seven other Texas Baptist church leaders through the African American Ministry. Each followed the call to serve eight days in Salvador, Bahia in Brazil. Here the team did door-to-door evangelism and held Bible studies for Quilombola villagers under a shade tree. Read Freeman's and Vaughn's testimony as they recall unforgettable experiences from the village visits.

Linda Freeman

BRAZIL - It was a fascinating day. We visited two of the Quilombola villages. In the last village we...

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TBMF celebrates 30 years of making a difference


DALLAS—The Texas Baptist Missions Foundation (TBMF) celebrated 30 years of giving toward missions and ministries with a luncheon held at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas.

In 1984, TBMF began as a two-year experiment to raise additional funds for new churches. Thirty years later, the Foundation has worked with over 33,000 different donors to support 250 mission projects all over Texas and around the world.

Outlining the beginnings of TBMF, Dr. Bill Pinson, former executive director for Texas Baptists, described the time when the need to raise more funds first became apparent and the vision began to focus on creating the...

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Construction nears completion for 16 Filipino pastors’ homes


ILOILO CITY, the Philippines – In January, Texas Baptist churches were asked to respond to a great need in the Philippines following damage cause by Typhoon Haiyan. A request was sent out from Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery for churches to help raise $80,000 for the rebuilding of 16 pastors' homes. Pledges filed in quickly, with the remaining eight being made during the February 25 executive board meeting.

This summer, Civil Engineer Fred Golveo was sent by the First Philippine Baptist Church in Missouri City to oversee the construction projects for the homes. Golveo and his wife spent three months overseeing the 16...

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A Church on Mission


A new neighborhood, a new school, and a new place without the foundation of family and a familiar community—all of us know how hard that would be for a young person. Yet one little girl's mother, Tasha, was praying and asking God to bring a church into her daughter's life, a church where she could find Christ and be a disciple in that faith.

Enter the Eastern Hills Baptist Church in Garland, a Texas Baptist church whose youth group and church body had recently been renewed in its commitment to reach the surrounding neighborhood for Christ. The youth group at Eastern Hills decided that one way they could reach their community...

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Attorney named CLC’s director of public policy


AUSTIN – Kathryn Freeman has been named director of public policy for Texas Baptists' Christian Life Commission (CLC).

The CLC helps Texas Baptists, churches, communities and government leaders give voice to critical issues in society from a Christian and biblical perspective. Freeman will lead the CLC's efforts related to government and legislation.

“I'm very encouraged that we will have Kathryn alongside Dr. Gus Reyes and Ferrell Foster as a strong presence in Austin at the legislative session this next spring," said David Hardage, executive director of Texas Baptists.

Freeman earned her bachelor's degree in English from...

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Victoria church embraces its Jerusalem


VICTORIA - Through discovering a community need and a partnership with the local food bank, Greater Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Victoria has begun a feeding program that is making an impact in both the city and the church.

"We believe that the church is not supposed to be an institution that caters to itself," said Montari Morrison, pastor of Greater Mount Calvary. "The church is always supposed to be a resource to the community. Our message is supposed to go outside of the walls and not only be a spiritual help but also a physical help."

Since April 2014, volunteers from Greater Mount Calvary, as well as neighboring churches...

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The Israel battlefield, from the eyes of a missionary


Lana Fashi Zayed is a missionary in Israel with the Arabic Church of Dallas as her sending church. She asks for prayer as she and her husband search for a vehicle and give birth to their firstborn this month. They will be visiting Texas next summer to share about living and ministering in Israel.

The church-based mission sending fund provided by gifts to the worldwide offering of BGCT provides matching funding to the Arabic Baptist Church to support Zayed's ministry. For information on how to support the fund please contact Ryan Jespersen at ryan.jespersen@texasbaptists.org or (214) 828-5278.

Oh July...it started quietly, but was...

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Quebec: Afraid to believe


Trying to communicate camp rules and activities to the French campers was challenging enough. Keeping the campers focused and interested during devotional time is a whole different ball game - especially when I'm trying to discuss a chapel message that was given in a language that I don't understand.

After starting the week off with uninterested campers begging to go play instead of talk about God, I couldn't help but be frustrated and growing impatient at my inability to reach my group of girls. I couldn't understand why my girls were so cold to Christ and why they didn't seem moved at all by the stories of his love and sacrifice...

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Embracing Central American families in Laredo


LAREDO - As River Ministry Coordinator Mario Garcia drives Central American families back and forth from the Greyhound bus station nearly every day, he cannot help but think of the paralyzed man Jesus healed in Mark 2.

"It's not that he needed to walk. It's that he needed salvation," he said. "The people I'm working with need Christ."

Garcia, director of missions for Laredo Baptist Association and River Ministry coordinator, is one of many Texas Baptists who have opted to embrace the families that have been seeking refuge from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba.

Maria*, from Honduras, told Garcia she fled her home after her...

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Because of where you have been


This story is 1 of a 3-part series addressing the effects of sexual abuse and the power of healing through Jesus Christ.

Tricia Martin* was a fun-loving preacher's kid in the 1970s who played outside constantly and never met a stranger. Though she was small for her age, she never felt inferior or out of place, that was just the way God made her. She grew up in a loving, Christ-centered home and knew she was accepted and valued.

When she was eight years old, Tricia was sexually abused by one of the men in her church, a man whom she knew and trusted. She did not understand the things she was asked to do, but it did not seem...

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Orlando: When the world comes to us


Central Florida is fortunate to be blessed with more than 50 million souls to minister to throughout the year.

Orlando has broken its record of people passing through the city with 59 million people, representing different cultures, ethnicities, languages and races. It is beautiful to imagine the hearts that could be touched, seeds that could be planted and souls that could be saved.

What is even better is the thought that one changed soul can change a nation or area. As we spread the gospel to one person, that one person can spread it in their home, and then “Bam!" From right here in America, we have reached China, North Korea or...

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Vancouver: A summer of sowing seeds ends


Here in Vancouver, we've been hanging out with some university students every Thursday this summer to play Ultimate Frisbee. They've let us join in supporting their team, even though not all of us play. They've let us come along to dinner with them after games. And now I can finally say that they let us share the gospel.

On a recent Thursday, I talked with three of the girls over dinner about what I believe and how Christianity differs from other religions. I shared with them the gospel and planted seeds of news they hadn't heard before. We're making the most of these relationships in our final days here by spending time with them...

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BSM nears $2 million goal for new facility


The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma has issued a $400,000 challenge grant to Texas Baptists to complete the funding for a new Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) building on the campus of the University of North Texas (UNT). The building, which will cost $2,000,000 to construct, will be built on the site of the old BSM building.

The Texas Baptist Missions Foundation has been coordinating the fundraising effort. "Added to what Texas Baptists have already given, we need only $100,000 to reach the goal so construction can begin," said Larry Thomas, vice president of the Foundation. "If we can get the additional money soon...

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Pastors rally in prayer at the border


MCALLEN-Over 50 Hispanic pastors, leaders and family members gathered in McAllen July 26, to pray over the current circumstances regarding the Central American families and unaccompanied minors crossing the border.

The prayer event served as the kickoff of "For His Children," an initiative of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Convoy of Hope, Buckner International and Somebody Cares International to help meet physical and spiritual needs of the minors and families."God's word affirms His people working, worshiping and praying in unity," said Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission. "This event...

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Following Christ involves welcoming children


Parents will do just about anything to help their children. In Central America, parents are trying to help their children in ways that may seem odd and downright unwise to those of us in the United States, but their circumstances are very different. Their children's lives are at stake.

Drugs, violence, and lawlessness threaten to engulf their children, so they do what must be heartbreakingly difficult -- they send them away on a long, perilous journey to a place that seems to offer hope for their children. Many of those children make it, and they cross the border into their place of deliverance -- the United States.

Children are...

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Texas Baptists offer aid for border crisis in Rio Grande Valley


MCALLEN-The border issue: some call it a crisis, some call it a disaster, but to many Texas Baptists, it is an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

All eyes turned to the doorway as Daniela Cruz* and her two daughters, Lorena* and Carmen*, stepped inside Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas. Volunteers with various religious backgrounds clapped and cheered as the girls entered.

It is a welcoming gesture, said Nadia Chapa, volunteer coordinator for Catholic Charities who is hosting the relief center in McAllen. It is how they greet each family who enters the facility, assuring them it is a safe place where...

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Sixty quilts handmade and delivered with love


VILLA FRANCA, Spain - Even when verbal communication seems impossible, there's one language that is spoken by all: love. It can be spoken through hugs, laughter and 60 quilts hand-made by Texas Baptist women.

The quilts were a part of Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) of Texas initiative "Covered with Love" in which they presented the request for 50 quilts for the Evangelical Baptist Retirement Home in Villa Franca, Spain.

Together women within WMU, Texas Baptist staff, and local Baptist churches, donated their time and their stitching skills to the cause. Within five months, they finished more quilts than needed and prayed over each...

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