William Bagsby

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Healing in Egypt begins with forgiveness

CAIRO (BP) -- A year after more than 85 churches and Christian institutions across Egypt were destroyed and burned, and three years after the country's longest serving president stepped down in the wake of nationwide protests, Christian workers there are finding an openness rarely experienced before. Some workers noted that forgiveness -- along with persistence in sharing the Gospel -- shown by local Christians toward Muslims has played a large role in the change.

Nigerian Christians find hope amid persecution

NIGERIA (BP) -- The Nigerian church leader was secretly housing new followers of Jesus, former Muslims. When the time came for his second child to be born, he left his house to carry his wife to a clinic.

‘The unofficial Olympic spectator sport’

SOCHI, Russia (BP) -- Scarves, lanyards, hats, backpacks and jackets display small metal tokens of past Olympics as well as newly acquired ones in a collectors' sport that visually represents the Olympic spirit.       "The unofficial Olympic spectator sport is pin trading," said Marc Hooks, co-director of the Engage Sochi

outreach at the Olympics. "People coming to the Olympics love to trade pins, so we've designed a pin that is fun to trade, that people like and that they want, but has elements that allow us to share the Gospel."

Olympics give men’s group ministry moment

SOCHI (BP) -- Trembling, a Russian teenager made his way down the aisle of a Russian Baptist Church to respond to the Gospel message proclaimed through the music of the Singing Men of Oklahoma and an invitation by Russian and American pastors.

American flag leads to biblical encounters during Olympics

SOCHI (BP) -- In the basement of a church hung a forgotten American flag, and when John Christensen laid eyes on it, he knew it was the flag he'd been praying for to take to the Sochi Olympics.

Winter Olympics outreach ready

SOCHI, Russia (BP) -- Will Baptists have a witness at the Winter Olympics in Russia? Will it be safe from terrorists? Will other issues arise? Marc Ira Hooks, one of International Mission Board's main strategists for the Sochi Olympics who was involved in outreach at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, spoke to such questions in an interview about this winter's Feb. 7-23 games. Hooks is the creator/co-director of Engage Sochi, the IMB's initiative focusing both on church planting in the Winter Olympics host city and on outreach to Olympic competitors and guests from throughout the world. Earl Gillespie* is the other co-director of the project for the Feb. 7-23 Olympics in addition to serving as the Sochi city strategist. Q: Where did you get the idea for Engage Sochi? Hooks: For whatever reason, maybe it was the time difference, it was late at night, we [Marc and his wife Kellye] were sitting on the bed and I just remember the guy pulling out the envelope and saying, "The next Olympics will be in Sochi, Russia." I remember looking at Kellye and saying, I don't know how, why or whatever, but we're going to be involved in that." Q: What did you learn from the Vancouver Olympics that applies to Sochi? Hooks: As we came away from Vancouver, we started saying, we as the IMB, our concentration, our focus is on church planting. And while mass seed sowing is good and should be done, there's more to reaching people with the Gospel than just giving them the Gospel and walking away. So, we wanted to create something that as people came into contact with the Gospel, that they were touched for a long period of time. Q: What is Engage Sochi? Hooks: We want something that is a multi-tiered approach and ... not just [during] the fortnight of Olympic competition in Sochi. We're talking about reaching the people of Sochi before, during and after the games. Q: What are the plans for following up with people who respond to the Gospel? Hooks: We want everybody that we come in to contact with to have the opportunity to continue the conversations that were started in Sochi. So, regardless of where that person is from, we want to connect them with a believer in their area who can make a relationship with that person and continue to speak with them about issues of faith. Q: What has gone on in Sochi in preparation for those coming? 

Mali Christians aid displaced countrymen

BAMAKO, Mali (BP) -- Throughout the conflict in Mali, Christians in the south have embraced their fleeing northern countrymen with compassion and helped provide basic necessities.       As their funds run dry, international Christian workers in Mali are coming together with Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist international relief and development organization, to continue to meet their needs.

Amid Mali’s upheaval, Christians stand firm

BAMAKO, Mali (BP) -- Most IMB missionaries assigned to the West African nation of Mali have left the country due to the continuing conflict between Islamist rebels and Malian military supported by French forces.