News Articles

BP Ledger, Feb. 14 edition

EDITOR’S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each Monday from various Southern Baptist-related entities. The items are published as received.

Today’s BP Ledger includes items from:
International Mission Board
Gospel Music Association
Campbellsville University

Inmates see Jesus through volunteers’ love
By Ivy O’Neill

Editor’s note: Southern Cross Project is a Chinese Bible distribution ministry located in three Asian cities. More than 50 volunteers from two countries and six states distributed more than 15,000 Bibles to Chinese tourists during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations. To find more stories like this one from the one-week emphasis, check out www.mreport.org.

The door creaks open revealing a dirty and dank walkway separating four jail cells. Dozens of men crowd into two on the left while a woman sits by herself on the right.

Mei Zhou,* a volunteer from Taiwan, stands in front of the cell with 20 men sitting on the floor. Her heart goes out to them. Not only are they squeezed together in one concrete box but they share one open toilet. Some are here for immigration violations while others are held for more serious violations. Zhou, however, doesn’t care why they landed in jail — she only wants to share God’s love. The men listen intently as she shares the story of Jesus.

“Does anyone want to accept Jesus?” she asks at the end of the story.

A young man in the back corner raises his hand and says, “I do.”

He walks to the front of the cell as the other men watch closely. Zhou reaches through the bars grasping his hand in hers and prays loud enough that her normally soft voice echoes throughout the concrete block room.

Tears roll down the prisoner’s face. Four other men watch and listen intently, tears trickling down their cheeks as well.

“My life is a messed up circle,” the prisoner says. “I can’t get out.”

Never deterred, Zhou replies, “I want to teach you a song. That way, when you are discouraged, or sad, you can sing it and have a reminder that Jesus is with you.”

Zhou first recites the words of the song to the young man “Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus, come in today, come in to stay, come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”

Then, she starts. The first line, she sings alone.

The other Southern Cross volunteers handing out food and water join Zhou. They slowly take the song from one voice to a rising chorus, filling the jail to the ceilings with sound. Prisoners from the neighboring cells peek out to see what’s happening. Without pausing, the team sings it through a second time.

As the song fades and a reverent silence falls on the dark and dank cells, the volunteers silently file out, respecting this “holy moment.”
Inmates smile and quietly thank the volunteers for coming.

“Thank you,” they say. “Thank you for coming and encouraging us. You are the only ones who come to see us. [Other religions] never come. But followers of Jesus come.

“We see Jesus in you.”

*Name changed
Beauty in Simplicity
By Caroline Anderson

Editor’s note: Southern Cross Project is a Chinese Bible distribution ministry located in three Asian cities. More than 50 volunteers from two countries and six states distributed more than 15,000 Bibles to Chinese tourists during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations. To find more stories like this one from the one-week emphasis, check out www.mreport.org.

The Chinese family didn’t take a Bible when they walked through the pavilion on their way to the dinner boat. But, they did end up in conversation with three Southern Cross volunteers from Church at Canyon Creek, Austin, Texas.

Austin Moon, Angie Moore and John Morris* stop prayer walking and chat with the family of nine waiting to board their boat. They notice the family didn’t take a Bible, so after saying “goodbye,” they pray. The three Texans spend the next 90 minutes praying this family will come back and take one.

After the dinner-cruise, the family returns for free Bibles. Morris smiles and hands the father and another family member Bibles.

“That was so cool!” Moon exclaims, rushing across the stairs and slapping Morris on the back in his excitement. “I was hoping he’d come to my side!”

Moon’s excitement is contagious as he tries to absorb everything going on around him. He doesn’t want to forget the scenes of a grandmother stumbling up the steps toward the Americans offering Bibles; a woman running full speed to accept the free gift they offer; a man asking if he can have Bibles for his family, so they can read what the Most High God says.

“There’s nothing quite like handing a Bible to men and women who come from a country where it is so hard to access a Bible,” Moon says. “This ministry is so beautiful in its simplicity.”

One group of volunteers pray while another team mans the distribution point, handing out Bibles. Some tourists grab the Bibles the first time they pass, but many men and women initially ignore the invitation for free Bibles. The prayer team asks God to change their heart and desire to read His Word.

“The best is the person who turns around and comes back for the Bible,” Moon says. “It’s exhilarating.”

Moon guesses that many people in America don’t think about how precious the Bible is. His own family has six different versions of the Bible.

Ministering with Southern Cross serves as refresher for him to get out of his comfort zone.

“I’m going to pitch this mission trip to as many people as I can when I get back,” Moon says. “It’s awesome to get to plant the seed, the Word of God, in someone’s heart.”

*Name changed
Recent happenings in gospel music

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–GMA COFOUNDER DIES — Gospel Music Association cofounder Don Butler died Feb. 3 at his home in Brentwood, Tenn. He was 80.

Born in Atlanta, Butler began his singing career in the 1950s and had stints with several groups including The Marksmen, The Revelaires, The Ambassadors, The Statesmen and The Sons of Song, according to an article in Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper.

He spent 45 years in gospel music and saw the industry from all sides as a performer, an executive and a producer.

Butler was one of three men who chartered the GMA in 1964, according to the article, and he served as the board’s executive director from 1976 to 1991. He also traveled extensively overseas to help raise awareness of the music he loved.

Butler is survived by his wife Peggy, three daughters, one son and seven grandchildren.

UPCOMING GMA AWARDS — The Gospel Music Association announced Feb. 3 that comedian Sherri Shepherd will host the 42nd annual GMA Dove Awards ceremony April 20. Shepherd is a Daytime Emmy-award winner and co-host of the popular ABC Television talk show “The View.”

“We could not be more thrilled than to announce Sherri as this year’s host of the Dove Awards,” GMA chairman Ed Leonard said in a news release. “Her talent and magnetic personality coupled with her love of music is a perfect fit for the show. With Sherri as host, we will have a blast at the Doves this year!”

Shepherd said, “Hosting the Dove Awards in Atlanta means a hot night of Godly music and comedy!”

The ceremony will be held in Atlanta’s famed Fox Theatre, and the recorded television broadcast will air Easter Sunday night, April 24, at 8 p.m. Eastern.

GMA HALL OF FAME INDUCTIONS — Four pioneering gospel music acts were inducted into the GMA Hall of Fame in a ceremony Jan. 24. The GMA Foundation inducted Johnny Cash, DeGarmo & Key, The Golden Gate Quartet and Bill “Hoss” Allen into the Hall of Fame.

Cash, legendary for his decades-long country music career, was recognized for his many popular gospel music recordings and his lifetime love for and support of the music. Cash was known for always performing at least one gospel song at each of his concerts, no matter the venue.

DeGarmo & Key, a band fronted by lifelong friends Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key, became popular in the 1980s for their fresh take on Christian music. The two grew up playing rock and roll, but after becoming Christians in high school, they used their skills to reach a new generation with songs about living the Christian life.

The Golden Gate Quartet, founded in Roanoke, Va., in 1934, is one of the most successful African-American groups of all time. Their impeccable harmony and riveting performances propelled them to considerable stardom during the 1940s. They were invited to sing at President Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1941, and their popularity grew during and after WWII, leading to their appearance in several Hollywood films, including alongside Danny Kaye in “A Song is Born” in 1948.

Bill “Hoss” Allen hosted “Early Morning Gospel Time with the Hossman” from 1975 to 1993 on Nashville’s WLAC AM radio station. The show was heard over a broad section of the U.S. and became very popular among gospel music fans, especially African-Americans. Allen had gained notoriety as a radio announcer and DJ in the R&B and blues genres in the ’50s and ’60s, and advertisers of all stripes used him for voiceover work throughout his career.
Campbellsville University values having ‘missionary kids’ as students
By Natasha Janes, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky.–Throughout the past, Campbellsville University has had students whose parents are doing mission work and they chose CU as their home, possibly their first time living in the United States.

Mission work and servant leadership are major components of a Christian’s walk with the Lord. Many families make a decision to go to other countries to be missionaries and when the time comes, a college age student must make the decision of where he or she wants to attend school.

Cole Torbert, a junior at CU, is one of the students on campus who comes from a missionary family. Torbert’s family served with the International Mission Board for five years in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and four years in Mexico City, Mexico.

Torbert said, “Campbellsville University has been the perfect place for me. The smaller campus and smaller classes have helped me readjust to life in the United States. CU has helped me grow spiritually, academically, and personally. I have met some of the best friends in the world here and have been permitted incredible opportunities.”

Ed Pavy, director of campus ministries at CU, said, “Having missionary kids at CU is a double benefit. They receive the benefit of continuing their education at a school which not only proclaims its commitment to Christ but lives up to that commitment. We receive the benefit of having students on campus who can aide us in developing and maintaining a broader world view. After all, Christ lived and died for the world and not just our part of it.”

Part of Campbellsville University’s mission statement is to “prepare students as Christian servant leaders for life-long learning, continued scholarship, and active participation in a diverse, global society.” This is something that could attract “missionary kids” to Campbellsville University.

Torbert said, “Because I lived out of the country, I was not able to explore and tour many schools, as many high school students are able to do today. However, after visiting only two colleges, I came to tour CU. The second I stepped foot on to campus, I knew I was where God wanted me to be.”

Matt and Jessica Egbert are students at Campbellsville University whose parents, Bill and Linda Egbert, are presently missionaries in Costa Rica.

Matt, a senior, said, “I believe CU provides a great atmosphere for missionary kids because the university is very international-friendly and missions-oriented. From the campus’ ethnic diversity to the numerous mission trips sent around the world, missionary kids feel right at home and can merge back into the American way of life with greater ease.”

Jessica, a freshman, said, “Campbellsville University is a wonderful school and everyone is very friendly and welcoming. I am having a great experience and meeting friends that will last a lifetime.”

Campbellsville University strives to be welcoming to all prospective students and works very hard to satisfy the needs of all the students. For this reason, students that come from a missionary background are welcomed and valued at CU.

Torbert agreed. He said, “Campbellsville University is definitely a place for missionary kids to find their calling in life as well.”

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with over 3,000 students offering 63 undergraduate programs, 17 master’s degrees and five postgraduate areas. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.

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