News Articles

BP Ledger, March 4 edition

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 contains items from:
Baptist Message (Louisiana)
Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)
The Alabama Baptist
Judson College
International Mission Board
James Dobson via Lovell-Fairchild Communications

Iles commit to missions; bound for East Africa
By Rachel Ortego/Baptist Message

DRY CREEK, La. (Baptist Message) — Curt Iles grew up in Dry Creek Baptist Church and like all good little boys he was enrolled in RA’s, (Royal Ambassadors), a missions discipleship program for young boys.

He was just supposed to learn about missions. Instead, he fell in love with missions with a passion that would eventually lead him and his wife to sell everything they own and commit to a two-year stint in Uganda.

“I have always loved missions and missionaries from being in RA and attending camp, but that was not the direction my career would take me,” said Iles, whose career started in education — he was a school teacher, coach and principal before serving for 20 years as manager of Dry Creek Baptist Camp. His wife Dede was a school teacher.

About 20 years ago, an article piqued the couple’s interest about the IMB (International Missions Board) Masters Program for people over 50 who want to be missionaries.

“The article stayed on our bulletin board for years while we were raising our sons, and my wife and I would always talk about how we would love to serve.”

In 2000 Iles and his son went on a senior class mission trip to Honduras, re-igniting Iles love for missions.

“We continued going to Asia and in 2006 my wife Dede and I went to Africa. We have an equal love for missions, have always worked with the IMB, and really believe in the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Offering,” Iles said.

When IMB established the “Embrace” challenge, designed for churches and associations to adopt one of the world’s 3,800 unreached and unengaged people groups, the Iles decided to go to Uganda as Masters missionaries.

Iles, author of eight novels of life in Louisiana — see the website www.creekbank.net — will be writing and telling stories to spread the word about needs in Uganda. His wife will help him with research about the native churches and people groups in Southern Sudan and the Democratic Congo.

“We sold everything — downsized,” Iles said. “It’s pretty radical but we feel we are following what Jesus wanted us to do.”

When asked, “Why go overseas?” Iles responds, “Many people need Jesus in Louisiana but there are no people here who have not had a chance to hear about Jesus and none that can say that they don’t know of Him. In Africa if you ask someone, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ they will respond, “No, he is not from this village.”

Iles said there are opportunities for people of all ages to do what they like to do through IMB programs.

“I get to write and backpack,” Iles said. “I am called to be writer, commanded by the Lord to go. … It’s going to be challenging learning Swahili at 56 years old, but I’m going to give it my best shot.”
OKC athlete wins gold
at Special Winter Olympics
By Chris Doyle/Baptist Messenger

OKLAHOMA CITY — Steve Lynn is an encourager. He gives support, and he serves however he can.

He was one of approximately 200 athletes, coaches and support staff from the United States who participated in the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea, Jan. 29-Feb. 5.

An Alpine skier, Lynn participated in downhill, slalom and Super G, and now he proudly wears a gold medal.

“It was fun meeting different people and seeing how they do things,” Lynn, a member of Oklahoma City, Quail Springs, said about his experience in South Korea. “We found out when we got there that they speak our language. Their school was teaching them English. We didn’t know that until we got there. They gave us yellow cards to learn their language, and then we found out we didn’t have to use them.”

Now 39, Lynn was adopted a little more than a month after he was born. Not much was known about his birth, including where he was born, which apparently was not in a hospital. His birth father is unknown, and only a few details are certain about his birth mother.

Joanne, his adopted mother, also did not know at the time of Steve’s adoption that there was a problem with his brain. She said his reading skills are very limited, almost at a kindergarten or first-grade level.

However, “the logic part of his brain is not damaged in any way,” said Joanne. Steve is able to drive. He works at Target as a cart attendant, and most significantly, he competes in sports.

For more than 20 years, he has participated in basketball, softball, soccer and, his favorite, skiing. At the Winter Games, Lynn competed against 43 other Alpine skiers.

About 2,400 athletes from 110 countries came together for the Special Olympic Games in PyeongChang and Gangneung, at the same sites where the 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be held.

“He loves to compete,” said Joanne. “He takes the challenge presented by athletes from other teams and countries and works toward a performance to be his very best in the sport in which he is competing.”

Last year, Lynn was one of a dozen Special Olympians chosen to participate during the NBA All-Star Weekend. Along with his favorite player, Kevin Durant, Lynn took part in the inaugural NBA Cares Special Olympics Unity Game that featured other current NBA stars as well as NBA legends who played with the Special Olympians.

Lynn does enjoy competing, but he also enjoys supporting his fellow athletes. The athletic veteran is always there to help others who are new to competing in Special Olympics.

“Some are afraid of the coaches, so I try to encourage them,” he said. “I tell them it’s OK, and just have fun. I tell them to do their best and don’t get upset on what place you get.”

He also is very supportive of his girlfriend, Amy, who participated in the Special Olympic Winter Games as well. Joanne said Amy often gets frustrated when she is competing.

“[Amy] told him that what she loved about him was that he was able to calm her down. He has such a sweet spirit, and he understands and knows just what to say,” said Joanne.

Many sports heroes can appear to be brash and temperamental while competing, or even make scenes away from the field of competition.

Steve Lynn is a sports hero, an Olympic gold medal winner, who not only succeeds, but also is aware of opportunities to encourage others.
Healthy balance vital for those in leadership roles
By Grace Thornton & Joseph Rhea/The Alabama Baptist

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist) — It was a sobering phone call for Dale Huff — a conversation with a pastor in his 50s “who normally could have another 20 years of ministry but is on disability right now,” Huff said. “His ministry’s cut short because of physical disability.”

It’s not always a pastor’s fault when this happens, but in many cases it can be helped, he said.

These issues also reach beyond the ministry and are concerns of anyone in high-stress and/or leadership positions. Many leaders would benefit more from losing 50 pounds than by getting a doctorate, said Huff, director of the office of LeaderCare and church administration of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. “We’re always scrambling for degrees to pack our resumé full, but when people see us, they get turned off because we’re 100 pounds overweight,” Huff said.

Being a pastor, he said, is often a sedentary lifestyle. “We’re not out building fences and doing physical labor,” Huff said.

So ministers have to work extra hard to stay healthy and keep a healthy balance in life, he said. Pastors might not be able to start running, but walking for 30 minutes four times a week is a good place to start, he said.

The physical stuff affects the spiritual, Huff explained. So does the emotional.

“We talk about the different aspects — spiritual, physical, mental, emotional — as if they’re separate components, but you can’t separate them from each other. They flow together,” he said. “It’s all bound up together within the skin.”

Huff said if he were a “Baptist bishop” and had the power, he’d make every minister get a “checkup from the neck up” from a trained Christian counselor.

Because of frequent criticism and disappointment, many pastors stay on “a slippery slope” and carry around low-grade depression, he said.

And, he explained, it’s possible for ministers to become so emotionally depressed that they fall into spiritual depression too.

“He should make sure that on a weekly and daily basis, he has some (time to) pull away,” he said. “He must strive to protect, and churches must insist on, taking a day off.”

Often churches don’t actively help their pastor take care of himself, Huff said. And even nice gestures from church members, like providing meals or fellowships, can hurt sometimes — “they can make it hard to help a pastor keep his weight down,” Huff said.

Most church members don’t understand the stress a person in leadership is under, Huff said. “They have no idea what it means to live in the ‘head shed,’ the amount of pressure and stress that comes with being in ultimate responsibility.”

For instance, a pastor may not be out building fences, but it’s been said that 20 minutes of public speaking is as exhausting as eight hours of physical labor, he said.

“Most preachers will say that we’re exhausted after preaching, worn flat out after that with our desire to bring some word from the Lord that has some kind of effect,” Huff said.

Pastors need rest. They need days in their pajamas. They need hobbies and they need friends, Huff said.

But oftentimes pastors think that taking time to care for themselves isn’t compatible with serving others — that self-care means “self-ish,” said Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, research director for the Duke University Clergy Health Initiative, according to Faith & Leadership.

“Clergy recognize the importance of caring for themselves, but doing so takes a back seat to fulfilling their vocational responsibilities, which are tantamount to caring for an entire community,” Proeschold-Bell said. “They feel they need permission to take the time to attend to their health.”

They should consider that permission granted, Huff said — it’s vital to their ministry.

For more information, contact Huff at [email protected] or 1-800-264-1225, ext. 263.
Judson College Welcomes New Faculty Member From Beijing
By Michael J. Brooks

MARION, Ala. (Judson College) — Judson College has had a number of unique professors and staff members over the years, but now the college can call her own one who protested against the Chinese government at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

“When the protest began I was teaching at Peking University,” said Dr. Kathy Chen. “To protect my students I became involved in the student movement. I left Tiananmen Square on June 3 to meet a group from the U.S. Lutheran Church who were visiting Beijing. When they arrived at my home that evening, the situation was very tense. Three hours after they left, the massacre started. I was dismayed by how the Chinese government handled dissent. With the help of the Lutheran Church, I resigned my job and came to America.”

Chen moved from Salt Lake City, Utah and began work this month as director of Judson’s distance learning program.

Chen was born in Beijing but grew up in Inner Mongolia with her family. Her father had earned a scholarship to the University of Chicago to study economics and later studied at MIT. The new communist government in China didn’t trust him, so he and his family were exiled to what Chen called the “Chinese Siberia.” “It was actually good to be in another country since many of the exiles were learned people,” she said. “It was a great place to be and to be stimulated intellectually.”

Chen earned two degrees at the Inner Mongolia Teachers University and taught language arts at Peking University. With the scholarship provided by the Lutheran Church, she immigrated to America in 1990 and studied at the California Lutheran University, earning a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with emphasis on educational technologies. Then she enrolled at Utah State University to earn her doctorate in instructional technology.

In addition to her work at the University of Arkansas-Ft. Smith, Chen has worked in IT at a number of businesses and industries in America.

When asked about moving to rural Alabama, Chen said she was impressed with such a “welcoming community.”

“I think it’s a privilege to work with young women and to help them grow,” she said. “Judson students can do whatever they want and modern technology can help them achieve their dreams.”

Chen said she grew up without religious training of any kind and that it’s a misnomer to believe that China is a religious nation. “People think Buddhism flourishes there, but it’s not true,” she said. “Communist China does not encourage religion. We were taught that religion is the opium of the mind. In the past the Chinese worshiped Mao [Zedong]. Now people worship money. It’s very sad.”

Chen became a Christian in 1991 and said she has a unique way of finding the right church when she takes new work.

“The Holy Spirit always moves me,” she said. “When the Holy Spirit touches my heart, I know I’m in the right place. I’m at the place God wants me!”

Chen said she wants the Judson distance learning program to stand out and to be the finest quality possible. She dreams of the program going international. “Technology has changed the way we teach and the way we learn,” she said, “and it can help us share ideas with people around the world and learn from them.”

SOUTH ASIA (IMB)–Brief items reported by South Asia News of the International Mission Board (http://www.go2southasia.org) on Feb. 28 include:

CHILD SLAVERY IN BANGLADESH. “As I sat in my bedroom, I could hear her crying all afternoon in the apartment just above me. K, a precious little 9-year-old girl just wanted to go home to her family. I had met her in the stairwell the previous day. My neighbor had hired her to be a house cleaner and nanny to her baby. At age 9, her childhood was determined to be over, and she was suddenly chosen to be the breadwinner for her poor village family. My neighbor finally sent K home after a week of tears. She said, ‘K was lazy; she will not do!’ K is no longer working, but her family is still hungry. Pray for the millions of little girls from poor villages in the country of Bangladesh, not only to be rescued from physical slavery where they are forced into manual labor or prostitution, but also to find spiritual freedom. Ask our heavenly Father to make a way for them and for their families. Pray that God’s hope will come to village girls and families of Bangladesh.”

HOLI IS COMING! Color, color, everywhere! Reds, yellows, blues, greens, and purples decorate the Hindus of South Asia as they celebrate Holi on March 27. In commemoration of the coming of spring and a farewell to winter, Hindus believe that one should celebrate joyfully with all of spring’s vibrant colors. In addition to throwing colored powders on each other, most Hindus will light bonfires to remember a much deeper spiritual significance of this holiday. These fires are lit in memory of the escape of a devoted follower of the god Vishnu, named Prahlad. When his demoness sister Holika carried him into the fire, only she was burned. He was saved because of his devotion to Vishnu. Pray for Hindus celebrating Holi to grasp that faith in Jesus Christ alone is the only way to gain true, eternal salvation.

SRI LANKAN MOOR. The Sri Lankan Moor make up approximately 8 percent of the population of Sri Lanka, which is roughly 2 million people. They are of Arab descent; therefore, they are all Muslim. Among these 2 million Muslims in Sri Lanka, a very small number are now believers. The Sri Lankan Moor is classified as an unreached people group (UPG), and without prayer for these people, it will remain that way. Currently there is not a team working among this people group. Thankfully, God desires to reach the nations and is capable of all things and capable of sending workers into the harvest. Please pray for a movement to be made among the Sri Lankan Moor and for existing believers to desire to reach out to their Muslim neighbors and friends and share the truth of Jesus. Pray they will not become discouraged by the task ahead, but encouraged and strengthened by God, who is capable of doing a mighty work on this island.
First novel from Dr. James Dobson — ‘Fatherless’ debuted Jan. 15

DALLAS (Lovell-Fairchild Communications) — James Dobson has launched his fiction career after writing more than 80 books — including the groundbreaking Dare to Discipline — and advocating for strong families as a counselor, broadcaster and advisor to U.S. presidents.

The novel, “Fatherless,” is described as a relentlessly-paced, faith-based, dystopian thriller from Dobson and Kurt Bruner set in the future but torn from today’s headlines. Well-drawn characters in multiple plot lines are slowly drawn into a national conspiracy with thousands of lives in the balance.

Dobson now is the founder and president of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, and he is the founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family.

Kurt Bruner is a pastor, family consultant to churches and author.

Dobson aims for Fatherless to be a novel that at once engages readers and leads them through disturbing trends. Multiple “tipping points” loom in America’s near future as demographic realities take their toll. With birth rates declining, seniors living longer and health care costs rising, a population-economic time bomb is ticking. The erosion of the value of life and families could easily lead to previously unthinkable choices.

Fatherless begins in 2042 when a long-predicted tipping point has arrived: For the first time the elderly outnumber the vigorous young, creating an untenable economic and moral situation. How will a debt-crippled nation pay for the health care needs of a growing number of seniors living longer? As laws change allowing the elderly to end their lives, they become viewed as financial liabilities, as do the disabled. Jaundiced eyes turn toward any couple with more than two children, making the problem worse. Caught in an intensifying battle between competing cultural agendas is reporter Julia Davidson — a journalist seeking to revive a flagging career; influential young Congressman Kevin Tolbert, a Christian facing his own dilemmas; and a supporting cast of characters who find themselves deep in an ominous conspiracy. In the dystopian tradition of 1984, Brave New World and The Hunger Games, Fatherless projects the headlines of today into the desperate choices of tomorrow.

For more information, visit FatherlessWorld.com.

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