SOUTHEAST ASIA (BP) -- Ever heard of Flat Stanley? How about Flat Lottie? With Flat Stanley, schoolchildren exchange paper cutouts or digital images of Stanley as a way of interacting with students in other locations, even other countries.
NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- Laurita Miller told the story of Lottie Moon's call to China by portraying the missions trailblazer in chapel at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
CENTRAL ASIA (BP) -- "Dad, I think we're being followed." Meleeka* drummed her fingers nervously on the car door. Her father kept on driving the familiar route to drop her off at English class, singing a praise song to Jesus as he drove.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (BP) -- Mary Harper's* eyes well with tears as she plucks rocks from the garden of her family's home near Springfield, Mo.The 42-year-old slowly makes her way down a row marked "Spinach," using her left hand to toss dozens of stones into a trailer made from the bed of an old pickup. Her right arm hangs at her side, emaciated, its fingers slightly contorted -- the first victim of a disease that will likely take her life. Three to five years, she said. That's the average doctors give most people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. She fights back tears as she recalls the moment that she and her husband, John*, broke the news to their daughters and turned their family's world upside down. "Mom, I don't want you to die," Mary remembers her older daughter, Lindsey*, now 15, crying in her arms. Her younger daughter, Jessica*, now 13, also was in tears. John wondered how he'd raise two girls without his best friend. It wasn't supposed to be like this. More than a year ago, the Harpers were living half a world away, sharing Jesus in a spiritually dark corner of Central Asia. They'd spent the past seven years there serving as Southern Baptist representatives. It was an epic journey the small-town couple never imagined they'd take; especially for John, a self-described "hillbilly" whose happy place is either perched in a deer stand or waist deep in a river holding a fishing rod. Called to missions at 15, John said he surrendered to just about every missions field on the planet, "bawling his eyes out" whenever a missionary spoke in church. He met Mary after high school and they started dating, until John's calling almost ended their relationship. "God told me to go, and you can either come with me or not," he remembers telling Mary one night. "And then I turned around to walk away because it didn't seem like she was responding." Irritated but otherwise unfazed by John's pig-headed ultimatum, Mary grabbed his arm, spun him around and revealed something she'd never told anyone -- at 16, God also had spoken to her about missions. Listening to a missionary from China preach in church one Sunday morning, Mary clearly felt the Lord asking if she would be willing to go overseas one day. She was. "I gave her a little bitty, thin gold ring with a little grain of sand in there for a diamond," John said. "I was poor. I ate all my money." He proposed at Lambert's restaurant in Sikeston, Mo., home of the famous "throwed rolls." (Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like; waiters literally throw hot yeast rolls at customers.) It wasn't the most romantic gesture, but Mary was too down-to-earth to care about such things -- she simply wanted to obey God and follow wherever He led her husband-to-be. John was prepared to go just about anywhere, except to work with Muslims. He'd heard missionaries speaking about Muslim work and could "summarize all of their testimonies like this: We served for 30 years in such-and-such country, we were about to retire, and the day before we got on the plane somebody finally gave their heart to Christ." Incredulous, he added, "Dude, I'm not working 30 years to see one person come to faith."
CENTRAL ASIA (BP) -- John Harper* had just blown it. The Missouri-born Southern Baptist missionary watched as a wave of anger washed over the face of his new friend, Rasheed,* whom he'd just told that Jesus wasn't a prophet (as the Quran describes), but God's Son -- a very offensive idea to most Muslims.
KATHMANDU, Nepal (BP) -- There is no word for abortion in the language of ethnic Tibetan people. The closest phrase is "throw-away baby."
KATHMANDU, Nepal (BP) -- Chiijik Lhomi has never been a big fan of Christians. Everyone in her community knows it. The 51-year-old woman -- who makes and sells rice beer -- once loved to poke fun at those who believe in Jesus.
As Christmas approaches, Erich Bridges asks readers if they have prepared a place this year in the "guest room" of their lives for Jesus, the promised Messiah. "Giving a quick nod toward the 'true meaning of Christmas' while gorging ourselves on holiday diversions doesn't even rise to the level of putting Jesus in the back room with the livestock, spiritually speaking," he writes.