EDITOR’S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.
Today’s BP Ledger includes items from:
The Christian Index
Compass Direct News
Florida Baptist Witness
Woodstock church celebrates Hunts’ 25 years at First Baptist
By J. Gerald Harris, Christian Index
HAMPTON, Ga. (BP)–The site: the Atlanta Motor Speedway – with a grandstand seating capacity of 125,000 and the home of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. That was the location for the first celebration Dec. 1 of Johnny (and Janet) Hunt’s 25th anniversary at the helm of First Baptist Church in Woodstock. The second celebration occurred at the Woodstock church the following Sunday, Dec. 4.
More than 250 guests, mostly pastors and church leaders from out-of-state, were given the privilege of riding the Speedway’s pace car that zoomed around the 1.54-mile track at speeds of up to 130 mph. A splendid buffet dinner followed with entertainment provided by a comedian from Branson, MO.
The Woodstock pastor stated, “This is just incredible and I am so thankful for the celebration in this venue, because Janet is in her element. She is so excited she will not be able to eat or sleep tonight. I think she took four different rides in that pace car.”
A small team of First Baptist laypeople who had the responsibility of planning the event wore black t-shirts with “Team Janet” imprinted on the back. The pastor continued, “I am so glad the church is catering to Janet’s delights today and giving her a little of the limelight, because my joy and passion is fulfilled every time I stand up to preach the Gospel.”
The Hunts’ impact upon Woodstock and beyond is almost unfathomable when one begins to measure the scope of their influence; and it is impossible to think of Johnny without thinking also of Janet. Both have affable and charismatic personalities and have endeared themselves to people just about everywhere.
Statistical information will not tell the whole story, but when Johnny Hunt became pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock in 1986 the church had 1,027 members. Today the church has 19,199 members.
Total giving in 1986 was $407,892 compared to total giving in 2011 of $20,252,992. Average attendance has increased from 275 to 6,270. Perhaps the most important statistic of all is that more than 13,300 persons have been baptized in the 25 years of Hunt’s pastorate at Woodstock.
Today the church is involved in a CARE ministry to the community, an extensive counseling ministry named HopeQuest, a job assistance program, a military support ministry, the City of Refuge for troubled and displaced pastors, a church planting ministry, and the Timothy/Barnabas ministry just to name a few.
The influence of Hunt upon young ministers is remarkable indeed. He has mentored hundreds, if not thousands of young preachers all over the world.
One of his mentees, John Welborn, pastor of Calvary Cross-link Baptist Church in Harrisburg, VA, commented at the 25 year anniversary, “Pastor Johnny is widely admired, but seldom duplicated. He has taught, modeled, and led me to constant dissatisfaction with the status quo in pursuit of excellence in ministry. He is a trailblazer and a risk-taker for the Gospel who infuses courage into young pastors like myself and others around the world. Johnny Hunt is my pastor, my hero and my mentor.
Trevor Barton, pastor of the Hawk Creek Baptist Church in London, KY, said, “Pastor Johnny was a hero of mine before I ever met him. And after having the opportunity to get to know him – he is even more of a hero.
“With some pastors, their ministry is their life, but with Pastor Johnny his life is his ministry.
“When Pastor Johnny says that he cares about the next generation of pastors, people take him seriously. He models a life of ministry and has leveraged his platform to impact a generation of younger preachers to be fully-devoted followers of Christ and faithful, passionate communicators of the Gospel.”
Praise and congratulations
Jeremy Morton, pastor of Crosspoint Church in Perry, testified, “Few people in the world challenge and inspire me to go the distance for Jesus like Pastor Johnny. On a deeply personal level, he’s spoken with authority and compassion into my life about remaining close and clean before the Lord.
“Pastor Johnny always reminds me to let the overflow of my devotional time totally guide my approach to the ministry. Traveling with him and just hanging out has been one of the greatest honors of my life.”
The Sunday morning service at First Baptist was devoted to celebrating God’s goodness in recognition of this quarter-century anniversary. Pastor friends presented congratulatory videos throughout the service and evangelist Junior Hill brought the morning message.
Hill described the Woodstock pastor for his likeability, his approachability and his stickability, saying “Once you become his friend he will stick to you like glue on a piece of paper.”
The church received an offering for five of Hunts’ priority ministries and each one was generously funded through the special gifts received.
Hunt, who served two terms as Southern Baptist Convention president, has an influence that has permeated Southern Baptist life and Christendom in a significant way.
Ronnie Floyd, pastor of the multi-campus ministry of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and chairman of the SBC Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, declared, “Johnny and I have both been at our respective churches for 25 years. We have walked much of this road together as colleagues and close friends.
“One of the greatest memories of our partnership in ministry is that we were able to champion together the Great Commission Resurgence. First Woodstock and the Southern Baptist Convention have been influenced by one of God’s special and favored men of God, Johnny Hunt.”
Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FL, stated, “Everyone who knows Johnny Hunt know that he has a passion for winning others to Christ. We have all watched as he has grown one of the most significant churches in the first half of the 21st century. Those who have sat under his ministry know his deep love for the Word of God and his commitment to pastoral ministry and missions.
“What I want everyone to know is how dedicated a personal friend he is. Solomon writes in Proverbs 17:17: ‘A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.’ My life has been blessed because God saw fit to send me a friend named Johnny.”
The Christian Index is newjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Death Toll Climbs in Islamist Attacks in Nigeria’s Northeast
Boko Haram extremists take credit for bloody assaults in three towns.
By Obed Minchakpu and Lekan Otufodunrin
GOMBE, Nigeria (Compass Direct News)–The number of Christians killed in an Islamic extremist attack here on Thursday (Jan. 5) has risen to nine, and over the weekend the same terrorist group killed at least 21 Christians in neighboring Adamawa state, sources said.
Members of the Boko Haram group that seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) on Nigeria emerged from a mosque near the Deeper Life Bible Church in the Boso area of Gombe, capital of Gombe state, at about 7:30 p.m. and shot Christians attending a weekly meeting known as “The Hour of Revival,” area sources said.
Silas Ugboeze, who was in coma for three days at the Federal Medical Centre in Gombe, died 20 minutes after Compass arrived on Saturday (Jan. 7), bringing the death toll to nine and the list of those wounded in the attack to 19.
Ugboeze’s son Gideon was also killed, and his 12-year-old daughter, Victoria Silas Ugboeze, was wounded in both breasts. She has thus far survived along with her brother Daniel, who was also shot.
Ugboeze’s widow was overcome with grief at the hospital, able to say only, “Lord, where are you? This burden is too much for me to bear.”
Of the nine killed, five died instantly and four died later at the hospital. About 45 people were present at the service when it was attacked, said the church’s 43-year-old pastor, Sunday Okoli.
The Gombe Deeper Life Bible Church, planted more than 20 year years ago, is adjacent to a mosque built less than two meters from its northern end, and it was from this mosque that the gunmen emerged to attack the church, said Okoli, based on reports he received from those present as he was away at a pastors’ conference in Lagos at the time.
His wife, Chinyere Okoli, said a bullet struck her head but left only a light wound with bruising.
“We had been in the church for about one hour and 30 minutes praying, when suddenly, we heard gunshots and bullets hitting us,” she said. “Oh my God, blood was flowing as our members were shot by the gunmen.”
She reported that the wife of church elder Chenma Ngwaba, Chilver Chenma, and their son, Chinedu Chenma, were both killed. Elder Ngwaba was leading the evening program, at which members customarily share spiritual and physical burdens for prayer purposes and testify to God’s work in their lives.
Others killed were Johnson Jauro, whose two sons were also wounded; Sule Baba Tanko; Godwin Odoh; Menshak Major; and a member of the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) serving in the church. His name was not immediately known, but leaders of the church were trying to establish his identity.
As Compass visited the emergency and orthopedic wards of the Federal Medical Centre in Gombe, the injured members of the church were in severe pain with varying degrees of injuries.
The attacks marked the second time in less than a month that the Deeper Life Bible Church in Gombe was mourning the killing of one of its members. On Dec. 11, Patrick Ugoji was shot dead by Muslim militants at a gas station, the NNPC Mega Station, while filling his car’s tank.
Many Christians were seen at motorparks boarding vehicles to leave town.
Boko Haram had published an ultimatum in a newspaper on Tuesday (Jan. 3) threatening violence if Christians did not leave predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria in three days. Since then, the group has reportedly claimed responsibility for killing at least 44 people in four states.
Christians in Adamawa state came under attack by Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language means “Western education is sacrilege,” over the weekend. On Friday night (Jan. 6), 11 people were killed and many others injured at the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) in the Nasarawa area of Yola, the state capital.
“There was blood all over the church hall – it was a very sorry sight,” Adamawa journalist Barnabas Manyan told Compass.
Pastor Alfred Anoris of the CAC described how the Islamists attacked the church.
“The gunmen numbering about six stormed the church, killing three people outside the gate, and eight people inside, including Associate Pastor Joshua Olaniyi, while the service was on,” he told newsmen. “The men were dressed in caftans but had their faces covered. They carried out the act with the precision and tact of professional killers. Many people were wounded and are in the hospital.”
Earlier on Friday, 12 persons were reportedly killed when armed men claimed by Boko Haram shot a gathering of Christian traders holding a prayer session before opening their shops in Mubi, Adamawa. The gunmen also shot at another group of Christians meeting at a town hall to arrange for the transportation of relatives slain the previous day, bringing the total of those killed in Mubi to 21.
Also on Saturday (Jan. 7), Boko Haram members reportedly killed two Christian students of the University of Maiduguri, in Maiduguri, Borno state.
The public relations officer of the State Police Command, Altine Daniel, confirmed the incidents and told newsmen that there was a bomb explosion at a Deeper Life Church in Mubi, but that no one was injured.
Ayo Oritsejafor, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said Christian leaders had decided to “work out means to defend ourselves against these senseless killings.”
“We have the legitimate right to defend ourselves,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes.”
Bluefield College Partners with Clinch Valley Medical Center to Provide Rural Health Care and Rural Health Care Education
BLUEFIELD, Va. (Bluefield College)–Bluefield College and Clinch Valley Medical Center are partnering to bring rural health care, health care education, and community revitalization to southwest Virginia, particularly the Town of Pocahontas.
On the site of the former Pocahontas High School — the hub of the rural community until closed in 2008 — leaders from the college and the hospital signed an agreement to create a health care clinic in the old high school that will not only improve access to medical care for local residents, but also provide hands-on experience for students in BC’s new nursing program.
“We appreciate everyone’s presence here today for this historic moment,” said BC president Dr. David Olive to a room full of interested local residents, Tazewell County administrators, BC and CVMC leaders, and members of the media. “We’re thankful to them for looking at the opportunity here in this community and the needs that exist and for their willingness to step forward and be good community partners by investing the personnel and resources necessary to make this clinic a reality.”
Thanks to the generosity of the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), Bluefield College gained access to use the former Pocahontas High School shortly after its closure to help launch its new football program. Determined to do more with the facility and to give back to the community, the college pledged to use the building for projects that would not only benefit BC, but also the residents of Pocahontas.
“This dream started several years ago,” said Dr. Olive about the vision to revive the Pocahontas community through new use of the old high school, “thanks to the foresight of Doyle Rasnick, Curtis Gillespie and other members of the Tazewell County IDA.”
The development of the rural health care clinic will begin first with renovations to convert the administrative section of the old high school into a clinic setting. At the same time, the hospital will begin recruiting and identifying a primary care physician to staff the clinic. The plan is to start providing care on a part-time basis by the summer of 2012 and full time, as demand necessitates, by the fall of that year.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with Bluefield College,” said David Darden, chief executive officer of Clinch Valley Medical Center, “to bring medical services to an area that has not had them and to provide better rural health care to the people of this community.”
While the principal purpose of the clinic will be to provide primary care, specialists from the hospital may offer services from time to time, Darden said. In addition to providing the space for the clinic, the college’s role will be to provide health care assistance through students in its new nursing program, set to launch in January 2012.
“As our new nursing program develops,” said Dr. Olive, “this clinic will become a site for clinical training, a place where our students can practice their skills.”
Bluefield College announced the creation of its new nursing program in the fall of 2010 to meet a critical need in southwest Virginia for baccalaureate nursing education. Soon after, the school developed partnerships with regional community colleges to make the program more accessible and hired Tazewell, Virginia, native Dr. Carolyn Keen Lewis, a nurse with more than 20 years of experience in health care, to direct the RN-to-BSN program. Currently under evaluation for accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the RN-to-BSN degree will be delivered through BC’s inSPIRE degree-completion program, a convenient, accelerated degree-completion program designed to allow a working adult with prior college credit the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree in as little as 13 months.
“It made a lot of sense to establish a presence here in Pocahontas to augment the clinical teaching program at Bluefield College, so that its nursing students can get the hands-on experience they need,” said Darden. “All the parties win. It’s just a win-win-win situation for the community, the hospital and the college.”
Longtime director of education at FBC JAX, Guinnell Freeman, dies
JACKSONVILLE (Florida Baptist Witness)–Guinell Freeman, retired director of education at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, died Dec. 19. She served First Baptist Church 45 years, retiring in June 1999.
Also in 1999, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, honored her as a “distinguished alumni.” She served as adjunct professor at her alma mater, and emphasized “using Sunday School effectively,” according to a 1999 SWBTS news release.
Mac Brunson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, said in a letter sent to Florida Baptist Witness and later posted to the church website that Freeman directed the largest Sunday School in the Southern Baptist Convention during the 1980’s “and trained two generations for Kingdom work.”
In 2005, she served on the Pastor Search Committee of First Baptist that brought Brunson to Jacksonville.
“We all knew her, loved her and respected her greatly,” Brunson wrote. “In the days to come she will be listed as one of the greatest Sunday School strategists in Southern Baptist life.”
Brunson said he recalled that upon meeting her on the pastor search committee, “she became an immediate friend, confidant and encourager.”
“”It is not hard to imagine the scene in heaven,” he continued. “Her beaming face, her infectious laughter, her attention focused solely on the Lord — all the while directing something and somebody!”
Freeman’s funeral will be held Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 11 a.m. in the Ruth Lindsay Auditorium of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville. Visitation will precede the funeral, beginning at 9 a.m. Pastor Brunson will officiate.