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Erich Bridges

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Retired missionary Glad Martin, Thailand prison ministry pioneer, dies

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Retired Southern Baptist missionary Gladys ("Glad") Martin, a farmer's daughter from Louisiana bayou country who helped lead thousands of prison inmates and students to Christ during more than 30 years in Thailand, died May 8 following a stroke. She was 81. Alongside Jack Martin, her husband and missionary partner, she pioneered ministry to Thai prisoners, perhaps the most hated and rejected members of society in the overwhelmingly Buddhist nation. The Martins' determination to give inmates hope -- and the message of a God of second chances -- eventually won the respect and cooperation of national prison authorities and the admiration of Thailand's royal family.

FIRST-PERSON: Those who weep

To comfort those in grief, Erich Bridges writes, "Words can wait. Tears come first. Then silence. Then listening -- if the grieving one wants to talk."

FIRST-PERSON: Then his mind began to cloud

Erich Bridges is stirred by the new style of witness by his pastor friend Tom, who has been diagnosed with dementia.

FIRST PERSON: Hawking, the cosmos & its Creator

Erich Bridges recounts that Stephen Hawking, an intellectual giant in the scientific world, plied his atheism toward ruling out the possibility of a Creator. Now, he is making a new discovery in the eternity he faces with all who preceded him in death, Bridges writes.

FIRST-PERSON: A Valentine for grieving husbands

Erich Bridges, after the shock of his wife's death just over a year ago, is learning to "weep with those who weep" -- "when the house grows quiet and friends go on with their lives."

FIRST-PERSON: Preppers, fear & faith

The "prepper" movement gets plenty of cultural fuel, from the fear of lone gunmen to North Korean nukes, Erich Bridges writes. Yet if there is any place that should be immune to fear, he notes, it is the heart of a believer.

Knowing somebody cares buoys Mission:Dignity retiree

His faith and knowing somebody cares has helped comfort retiree Robert Baker of Cobbs Creek, Va. Baker, 91, is among 1,800 retired ministers, workers and their widows assisted by the Mission:Dignity ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources.

FIRST-PERSON: Say a prayer for school bus drivers

Erich Bridges, a rookie school bus driver after 30-plus years in Baptist journalism, agonizes over the loss of six young lives in Chattanooga. "Like many people, I took school bus drivers for granted before becoming one," he writes. "Not anymore."

FIRST-PERSON: Refugees – retreat or welcome?

With millions of refugees across the world -- half of them from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan -- evangelicals face a choice: retreat or extend a welcome, missions columnist Erich Bridges writes. Churches, he notes, "have been the primary sponsors and welcomers of refugees to the U.S. since the aftermath of the Vietnam War. We still are -- for now."

FIRST-PERSON: The next great generation?

Erich Bridges doesn't buy negative stereotypes of Millennials as aimless addicts to technology unable to form lasting relationships. Bridges, a missions writer for 30-plus years, has met countless 20-somethings whose determination to serve God is inspiring. "And they represent millions more," he writes.