Manda Roten

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Elliotts had ‘a heart as big as whatever need was before them’

CARY, N.C. (BP)--Larry Elliott had a laugh so hearty it could fill the streets of Honduras or the villages of Iraq. When his wife, Jean, smiled, she could light up an entire nation. So said friends and family at a memorial service for the Elliotts in Cary, N.C.
      The Elliotts were killed March 15 in a drive-by shooting in Mosul, Iraq. Their coworkers Karen Watson and David McDonnall also died. McDonnall's wife, Carrie, survived the attack and is recovering in Texas. The five International Mission Board workers were researching locations for water purification projects in Iraq. Before working in Iraq, the Elliotts served for 26 years in Honduras.

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Lessons of love
Norma Martinez de Robbins, who came to Christ because of the witness of Larry and Jean Elliott in Honduras, says the couple became like parents to her. Photo by Mike Creswell

      "They loved the Gospel and the souls of lost men and women more than themselves," said Stephen Rummage, interim senior pastor at First Baptist Church. Co-workers, former volunteers, friends and family overflowed the church's sanctuary into the gym as they celebrated the Elliotts' lives March 25.
      The Elliotts' oldest son, Scott, read a version of the song "Thank You" by Christian recording artist Ray Boltz, changing some of the lyrics to honor his parents.

New IMB resources provide information on worldwide AIDS crisis

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Elijah's bedside
The frail frame of Elijah Chipeta lies helpless on a mat. Troy Lewis (center), an International Mission Board worker, and Samson Zulu, pastor of Bualeni Baptist Church, comfort him with prayer.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--More than 60 million people have been infected with the AIDS/HIV virus since the epidemic began two decades ago. In 2002 and 2003, it claimed an estimated 2.7 million to 3 million lives each year. In sub-Saharan Africa, the epidemic is killing more than 6,000 people every day.
      Southern Baptist missionary Troy Lewis says it breaks his heart.
      Lewis moved to Lusaka, Zambia, last year with his wife, Tracey, and their two young sons to work as an AIDS/HIV program developer.

Devastated Iranian city: Baptist team’s destination

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The former calm
The historic city of Bam, Iran, in less tragic days. An earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale devastated the city and surrounding region Dec. 26. Southern Baptist volunteers are headed to Bam to help meet the physical needs of the survivors.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)-Responding to an earthquake that killed thousands in the historic city of Bam, Iran, an initial team of Southern Baptist men is headed there to help meet physical needs.

The relief volunteers are no strangers to working in crisis situations. Most of them have served together in locations as distant as Venezuela and as close to home as Ground Zero in New York City.

Beth Moore: Pour out your life & believe God for the impossible

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Worth it
Lost souls are searching desperately for meaning and purpose in life -- and though reaching out to them is exhausting, being part of God's mission in the world is worth it, Beth Moore told employees of the International Mission Board Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Bangham
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Lost souls are searching desperately for meaning and purpose in life -- and though reaching out to them is exhausting, being part of God's mission in the world is worth it, Beth Moore told employees of the International Mission Board Oct. 23.
      Moore, a noted speaker and Bible study author, told the mission workers they are pouring out their lives for the most important cause in the world.
      "I cannot think of anybody doing anything on the face of this earth ... that matters more than what you pour your lifeblood into," she said. "We may be tired at times. It almost seems unbearable, but we have what the world is looking for.

Missionaries underscore gratitude for Lottie Moon Offering

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Workers' gratitude
"If, by chance, you are wondering if you have made a difference, let us assure you that you have," Sally Womble (above) and her husband Brad. The Wombles serve among the Songhai people of West Africa and were among 100 missionaries who wrote to thank Southern Baptists for their gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative Program.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--"It is customary to send a 'thank you' note to acknowledge receipt of a gift. But sometimes a gift is so generous that words do not seem sufficient to express appropriate gratitude," say Cal and Patty McIntire, career missionaries to the Lebou people of West Africa.
      More than 100 International Mission Board missionaries recently wrote to Southern Baptists, thanking them for their gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative Program.
      While the McIntires easily thanked Southern Baptists for the home they live in and the car they drive, they found it more difficult to express their gratitude at being able to share the Gospel with those who don't know the Good News.

‘Wish we had another lifetime’ to serve, missionary retirees say

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Catching up
After a Sunday service for emeritus missionaries, Ken and Pat Varner take a few minutes to catch up with their granddaughter, Grace. The Varners served 34 years in Taiwan. "The Taiwanese do have a zeal for worshiping the gods made by their hands, but without knowledge of the one true God," they wrote. "Our hearts still grieve in prayer for the many Taiwanese friends we left who have not yet accepted the wonderful salvation provided by the God who loves them." Photo by Sandy King
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--"It was as if they were waiting for us."
      That's how Southern Baptist missionaries Paul and Faye Burkwall felt about the Gospel-hungry people they served during their closing years in Africa.
      After working for 30 years in West Africa, the Burkwalls spent their last five years of service among northern Ghana's Fulani people. When they arrived, there were no believers. Today, God has raised more churches among the Fulani than the missionary couple ever could have imagined.
      "With millions of Fulani yet to be witnessed to, we only wish we had another lifetime of service to give," they said.

Pray, be ready to serve, Henry Blackaby challenges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--As the United States military and its coalition partners battle in Iraq, Henry Blackaby is calling American believers to pray for their country, walk closely with God, love their enemies and trust God's sovereignty.

Church stands by missionaries through interracial marriage

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When Christina Thompson and Charlie Walker planned to exchange vows at Robertsville Baptist Church in Oak Ridge, Tenn., it became a church-wide missions project. Christina is the daughter of Bill and Susan Thompson, International Mission Board missionaries to Taiwan.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (BP)--When members of Robertsville Baptist Church in Oak Ridge, Tenn., heard "their" missionaries were hurting, they rushed to embrace them.
      Bill Thompson and his wife, Susan -- International Mission Board missionaries to Taiwan -- were confronting an issue more and more missionary parents are facing: Their daughter, Christina, was marrying a man of another race.
      Though the Thompsons struggled with the idea at first, they did not doubt Charlie Walker, an African American, was God's choice for Christina.
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Taiwan tradition
At the reception the bride and groom visit each table to greet their wedding guests. Following Taiwanese tradition, friends and family toast them (with teacups filled with punch). Photo by Roy M. Burroughs
      The pain came from family and friends who opposed the marriage.
      Bill had told several pastors of his daughter's engagement before he called Michael Prince, pastor of Robertsville Baptist, but Prince was the first to congratulate him on his daughter's upcoming wedding.
      Prince quickly volunteered to help make the wedding a happy one, promoting the marriage of "their" missionary kid as part of the church's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. It was a natural role for him and the members of Robertsville Baptist. For them, supporting the Thompsons is just part of their job.

Yemen slayings have opened door for God’s love, surgeon says

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Judy Williams was working in the surgical area at the Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen when she heard that there had been gunshots.

Yemen worker recovering well, joking with wife, doctor says

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Don Caswell, the International Mission Board worker who survived the Dec. 30 shootings at the Baptist hospital in Jibla, Yemen, is resting with his family and expected to recover fully from his injuries, reported Judy Williams, his attending physician.