July 2014


Georgia: Well done, my good and faithful servant


These are the words we all long to hear. "You did well my Daughter, come rest with me for eternity to come." There will be a time that comes when we stand in front of our Maker, as He evaluates the life we've lived, and the work we've done for His kingdom. If there's one thing that should stir our affections and spur us on to good works, this should be it. It's Sunday afternoon, and I'm back in College Station, Texas, sitting at my favorite coffee shop, on my favorite couch at Sweet Eugene's, dwelling on my 6 1/2 weeks at The Living Vine in Savannah, GA. If there's one thing that rang true throughout my time there it was this...

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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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Oregon: What makes us different


For the last nine weeks, I've been living in the land of weird. I've seen a German Shepard in a stroller, a man wearing the same kilt every day, and piercings I didn't even think were possible. I'll be honest it took me a few days to adjust to this city that prides itself on being weird. But the more time I spent here, the more I understood that its uniqueness is why Portlanders love it so much.

We have been so blessed to be able to live in an apartment right in the heart of downtown that is big enough to host a lot of people. Nearly every night we have friends over to hang out, eat, or watch a movie. Many of these people would...

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How do I know I am called?


Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." And the LORD said to Samuel: "See I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle."  - 1 Samuel 3:10-11

Samuel grew up in the synagogue. He was under the charge of a priest named Eli who taught him the ways of God. When he first heard God's voice, he did not recognize the source of the summons. He thought it was Eli who called out to him. Eli, being wise, recognized the voice of God and pointed Samuel in that direction.

It is not surprising that Samuel heard God's call. His whole life had been a journey of serving God,...

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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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Georgia: Resting in his hands


It is hard to really describe what we do here at The Living Vine Christian Maternity Home. It is one of those things that you can't really understand it until you are actually doing it, living it. But I think this story really sums up exactly what is going on here.

Saturday, July 19th, was visitation day. The girls spent the morning doing their chores and then later in the afternoon, they were allowed to go out on visitation with family, if that was at all possible. We had one girl going on visitation, one girl who spent each day at the hospital with her baby in NICU, leaving three girls that we were going to get to take to the...

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Connecticut: The Story of Kenny


A few weeks ago I got to have a conversation with a good friend of ours named Kenny at the soup kitchen. Kenny is probably mid-60s, military veteran who grew up in Norwich, Connecticut. When we first met him he shared with us that there were two things that he did not discuss with people: religion and politics. A few days later, we got to hang and chat with Kenny a little bit more and we were just making simple casual conversation. He started to ask what we had been up to the day before, and let's just say that opened up a huge door.

Zach began to tell him that we were at our weekly Bible study and that we were studying the book of...

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Book Review: Experiencing God


The "Experiencing God" book is actually a 13-week study.  It's all about how to know and do God's will. It's Bible based, so there's a lot of opportunity for God to speak to someone to call them or affirm their calling. It's full of Biblical and historical examples of how men and women responded to the Lord's call upon their life and how He did amazing things through them. Besides the Bible, "Experiencing God" has been the way through which God has spoken to me the most.

Blackaby, Henry and Richard. Experiencing God: Day by Day...

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Alaska: Satisfying physical and spiritual hunger


It is hard to believe I have now been serving with Alaska Missions in the Last Frontier for almost two months. There have been many up and downs, but through it all The Lord had moved in miraculous ways. After spending a week serving in Kodiak, Alaska, our team took a ferry back to the mainland, eventually settling in Anchorage. This is where we have been serving for the last 6 weeks and will be until August.

We spend our mornings doing service projects in the community, which include light construction and a lot of cleaning. I would not typically choose painting a strangers office as my first thing to do in the morning, but the...

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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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I get nervous!


Everyone gets a little nervous when they sense God calling them to do something new. It's perfectly normal to feel inadequate. Plenty of men and women in the Bible felt the same way.

Philippians 2:13 is a great passage that provides all we need to know to step forward with courage. Here it is in The Amplified Bible translation:

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

Wow! What do I take away from this Scripture?

  1. It's not done in my strength,
  2. He works in me
...

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African American Fellowship hosts conference, elects officers


FORT WORTH -- Powerful worship, thought-provoking sermons, and enlightening workshops made this year's African American Fellowship Conference on July 8-10 one to be remembered.

Over 200 guests representing 35 churches received a challenge at each of the three worship services held at Great Commission Baptist Church in Fort Worth to be armed and ready for spiritual warfare. Even children were taught to be ready for battle through daily games and lessons at "Camp Battlefield."

At the Culp Banquet, Dr. Howard E. Anderson, pastor of The Exciting Singing Hills Baptist Church in Dallas, presented a sermon on Ephesians 6 about putting...

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Call to prayer: responding to the crisis


SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- As a former Texan, my heart goes to the border of Texas. As a born-again Christian, the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls me to compassionate action for those who are suffering right now as a result of the immigration crisis, especially the children.

Due to the gigantic nature of this entire issue, most of us become paralyzed or even intimidated by it. By no means do I imagine myself as an authority on this very complex issue, but as one American and Christian leader, I must respond.

As the medical community would sort through the issues as they treat multiple people in a triage unit, we may need to do the same...

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Colorado: Make the most of every opportunity


I am serving with church planters in Loveland, Colo., this summer. Recently, we had opportunities to put into practice Colossians 4:5, which says, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity."

Usually on Sundays, we get to church two hours early to unload the trailer and set up for worship services in a local elementary school. However, one particular Sunday when we arrived, the parking lot was filled with bicyclists, and we couldn't park in our usual area. We found out a major round-trip bike ride from Denver to Fort Collins was under way to benefit people with multiple sclerosis. In the course...

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Quebec: No language barrier for God


God has shown me recently just how far his love stretches to all people -- every language, every age and every race.

Unlike my previous weeks at Frontier Lodge, most recently I worked in the French camp instead of the English camp. I was informed of this exactly one day prior when the kids arrived, giving me plenty of time to fill my head with insecurities and reasons why this would go horribly wrong. I was so quick to forget God's promise, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

The week began with some obvious challenges such as many exchanges of blank, confused stares between the campers and me as we attempted...

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Excuses


I fear many young people who have been gifted and called into church ministry are simply excusing their calling by saying things like:

  1. "I feel unworthy." Some young people have the impression that ministers are super spiritual giants who have few if any failures in life. This simply is not the case. What did Abraham, David and Paul all have in common? They were murders. Trust me when I say that the feeling of being unworthy to serve in church ministry is the very feeling that makes you the most qualified. I'd be more concerned if you felt you were worthy of such a calling. Don't let your past failures, or even your current
...

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My loud mouth and God's appointments


Surely if you know me well, you have seen the openness in many of my responses that are without thought. From time to time my "loud mouth" has led me to conflict, but recently it opened a door for a friendship with a girl named Enus to continue to grow!

During a conversation, Enus mentioned how she was going to go shopping and immediately the words that came out of my mouth were, "Can we come with you?"

She smiled so big and replied, "Yes!"

So we spent our day shopping with our friend. We were able to shine the light of Christ to Enus outside of teaching English and talking about Isa. We have just loved her for being one of God's...

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African American Fellowship takes charge to be armed and ready


FORT WORTH -- Applause and "amens" resounded as African American Baptists were charged to be armed and ready during the 22nd annual James W. Culp, Sr. Banquet on July 8.

The African American Fellowship and Evangelism Conference welcomed guest speaker Dr. Howard E. Anderson, pastor of The Exciting Singing Hill Baptist Church in Dallas, as he challenged the audience to be ready for spiritual warfare.

"When you have an invisible enemy, you don't have time to get ready, you have to already be ready," he said. "When we put on the whole armor, we are ready for wherever he is."

Though struggles come and the devil tempts, there...

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Park Ministry in Alaska


The first day in the park we introduced the kids to the Bible. We told them that the Bible is God's word and that everything in it is true. Every child that stayed for story time was given a Bible that day. As soon as story time was over a group of them ran to the table and started reading Genesis 1. I was blown away!

One of the girls who was a part of that group has stood out since that very first day. We asked for a volunteer to pray and she basically prayed the sinner's prayer. She is always excited for story time and is so interested in what we are teaching. We have had a lot of conversations about things that she has read in...

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YEC students learn to get the Word out


BURLESON -- Over 1200 students lifted their hands and hearts in worship at this years' Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC) at Venue 510 in Burleson, Texas on June 27-28.

The theme, "Speak His Name," was evident as students heard Christian artist Propaganda rap, worship leaders Dara Maclean and For King and Country sing, and speaker Dave Edwards share a message, all about God's name.

"It's a call to evangelism," said Leighton Flowers, Texas Baptists' youth evangelism director, about the theme. "When we experience God at our events like Super Summer or YEC, whatever happens there doesn't stay there -- You take it back home and...

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Eyes opened, heart broken for refugees


I have been given the opportunity to serve this summer in Nashville, Tennessee for two months. I am interning at World Relief Nashville by helping resettle refugees. Before coming to Nashville, the word refugee was nothing more than a word because I never really knew what it means to be a refugee. I just used the word "refugee" to describe what I was going to be doing this summer.

After orientation, I learned that a refugee is someone that "flees their country and is unable to return due to a well-founded fear based on persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political...

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Being shaped to serve


What shape are you? Have you discovered your spiritual gifts, those special abilities that just come naturally to you? These gifts were given to you by the Holy Spirit to be used in building God’s kingdom. Do you think God might be calling you to preach? Ask your pastor or youth minister for an opportunity to speak. It may be at a nursing home or at a junior high youth gathering. However, as you practice the actions associated with preaching, you may find that they are like second nature to you. Your experiences will help you discover your spiritual gifts.

You are also blessed with a personality that will help you express all that...

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Hispanic Baptists focus on discipleship at Convencion 2014


MCALLEN -- Focused on being passionate disciples, the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas gathered in McAllen for their annual meeting from June 29-July 1. A total of 1,374 were registered in attendance, with 490 serving as messengers from Hispanic Baptist churches.

Families enjoyed the three-day event, with activities provide for children and a special track for youth and college students.

"During Convencion we were challenged to be passionate disciples, taking the great commission personally and be faithful to God's calling in our life," said Rolando Rodriguez, director of Texas Baptist Hispanic Ministries. "The...

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Greeter


I was saved when I was ten and called to the ministry at the age of fifteen. I remember being very confused about why God would call me to the ministry and I really didn't know what it meant to be "called" anyway. I didn't fully understand my calling until God clarified it when I was eighteen. Here is the story:

It was a typical day in a small Texas town as I began my shift at a local restaurant. I would like to think the establishment desperately needed me to be there that day, but the truth is I was just a greeter. Most people would look at the greeter as someone who was working towards becoming a waiter or waitress. Most people...

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WBU professor citizenship


PLAINVIEW -- For Wayland Baptist University professor Dr. Charles Huang, this July 4 holiday will be like none he has ever experienced before. Of course, having only been in the United States since 2007, Huang and his family haven't seen too many July 4 celebrations.

For the family, however, this will be their first Independence Day as United States Citizens.

Dr. Huang, assistant professor of exercise and sport science, took the oath of citizenship last Thursday, June 26, completing the process to become an official citizen of the United States. His wife, Yan Wang, took the oath a little more than a month before. Huang said the...

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Singing Women of Texas Celebrates 20 Years


DALLAS -- Blissful women's voices echoed across the walls of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas on June 28 as the Singing Women of Texas (SWOT) commemorated their 20th anniversary with a free concert.

Over 200 women from eight SWOT chapters across the state gathered together for a three-day event of fellowshipping and rehearsing together before Saturday night's concert where family members, friends and fans packed inside the church.

Uniformly dressed in black attire, the women performed 12 gospel ballads, a combination of songs chosen by the directors from each chapter.

An offering taken up during the service will...

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Hispanic Baptists seek ways to help border crisis


MCALLEN -- The crisis along the Texas/Mexico border regarding more then 47,000 unaccompanied children was on the hearts and minds of those attending Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas in McAllen this week.

"It is necessary for us to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis affecting tens of thousands finding themselves abandoned and in need of basic necessities," said Jesse Rincones, executive director of Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, during the Monday morning session. "We are here to express our commitment as Hispanic Baptists to provide assistance, awareness and prayer for those in need."

Hispanic Baptist President Bea...

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A particular calling


Everyone who feels called to ministry inevitably asks the question - what does being "called" mean? After all, we understand that every Christian is called to live their lives in the service of and as a witness to Christ. So how is a call to ministry different?

Listening to the Puritans can help us understand the distinction of a call to ministry. The Puritans separate calling into two categories. The first is "general calling" which is the call on all Christians to live as followers of Christ. The substance of the general calling is essentially the same for all believers. The second is "particular calling" in which God calls people...

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How I knew I was called


During a youth camp when I was in college, I went forward to pray for a young person. I heard God calling me through the preacher, and I experienced a burning in my heart while bursting into tears thanking God for His calling. When I was asked to preach and teach, God confirmed his calling through other people. Also, I saw people respond to the messages/lessons that I was led to share with them. The internal satisfaction I felt was also a testimony of this. I knew I was called as I saw God at work in my life, making things happen and opening a way for me to follow...

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