Jim Burton, five years into an ALS diagnosis, may be an invalid, dependent on the care of others, but he has no intention of becoming invalid in terms of God's purpose for his life, which "doesn't stop with a catastrophic diagnosis or life-changing accident."
WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio (BP) -- When Dan Helms volunteered to help install a smoke alarm in a West Chester home, he thought it was weird. Never had the teenager helped someone without expecting something in return. Now that he has made a profession of faith in Christ and has been discipled by Lakota Hills Baptist Church, he considers serving others in the name of Jesus "the good life." "I really believe people who know Jesus, when they're given an opportunity to serve their community in an organized fashion, I think they just jump at it," said Travis Smalley, pastor Lakota Hills in West Chester Township, Ohio. "It's built within the DNA of our church; it's in everything that we do."
AUGUSTA, Maine (BP) -- When Jeremy Snowman first attended Kennebec Community Church (KCC), he entered the premises with deep apprehension. His boyfriend was already attending and felt comfortable there. Snowman wanted a church and was willing to risk rejection and judgment. His parents attended church when he was a child, but that ended around age 10. He had begun having feelings about being different from other children who tagged him as gay because of his feminine characteristics. In middle school and high school Snowman was the target of bullying, so he built an emotional shell for protection.
TIMNATH, Colo. (BP) -- Two months after settling about 900 miles north of their native Texas, Kelly and Brandi Parrish were sitting on the living room floor on Christmas Eve 2013 with their four children lighting Advent candles. They had come to plant a church. That night, the family asked God not to let them ever be alone again on Christmas Eve. Then they prayed that God would work in their lives over the next year.
ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- During Jacob Dahl's senior year at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., the civil engineering major had a "sitting-in-the-mud moment," much like the prodigal son. Though the Washington native grew up in church, he had somehow "missed the heart of the Gospel." "I came to the end of my rope in terms of morality and self-discovery," Dahl said. Dahl crawled out of the mud and into Resonate Church, a Southern Baptist campus church at WSU, where he professed faith in Christ and was baptized.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) -- While sitting with her daughter at a mall food court, Kim Carr noticed internationals in exotic clothing surrounded them. Carr asked her daughter, "When did they all get here? Where are they from? Who is reaching them?" Armed with the new sensitivity, and prompted by the Holy Spirit, Carr felt led to learn more. At a local fitness center she met with a former Southern Baptist missionary who had been praying less than 12 hours before for someone to help with international refugees.
WINDSOR, Ontario (BP) -- John D'Antonio's family knew that his four-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's Disease, would soon be over. Many of his Italian-Canadian family and friends had gathered in his Windsor hospital room to say goodbye to the 30-year-old father and husband. Just before John's diagnosis four years earlier, his family had moved next door to Garth and Patty Leno. Leno was the pastor of one of Windsor's largest churches, and John's mother, Italian immigrant Elena, was a faithful member. On this most difficult of days, the family called Leno.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (BP) -- When Camille Mumford started attending Bridge Church with her husband, she regularly sent pastor James Roberson quotes from New Age advocate Deepak Chopra. The Cleveland native wasn't too sure about what she was hearing from Roberson and she wasn't sure that anyone in the church's Bible study would understand her. But she continued to attend the small group, known as City Groups, and learned the importance of discovering community, particularly when living in a new city. Within three months, she volunteered to bring food. Three months later, she started participating. Today, she can't imagine living in New York City without her Bridge Church family.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (BP) -- Dorothy McDaniel knew all about Navy life. The hardships. The sacrifices. The loneliness. The pride a family has for their family member's service. So the day in 1967 a shiny black car pulled into her Norfolk driveway and two uniformed officers emerged, she knew. "Red is down," one of the officers said. Her husband, Navy Captain Eugene "Red" McDaniel, was beginning six years of imprisonment in North Vietnam as a POW -- and de facto chaplain at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" prison among American detainees.
MEMPHIS (BP) -- James H. Smith, former executive secretary of the Illinois Baptist State Association and later the fifth Southern Baptist Brotherhood Commission president, died Oct. 21 in Memphis. He was 95. Known for his vivacious disposition and preaching, Smith spent nearly 50 years in Southern Baptist leadership. At the time of his retirement in 1991 from the Brotherhood Commission where he served 12 years, the agency accounted for more than 530,000 men and boys involved in missions.