News Articles

BP Ledger, March 7 edition

EDITOR’S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each Monday 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:
International Mission Board
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Hardin-Simmons University

South Asia News Prayer Requests (International Mission Board), March 2011, http://www.go2southasia.org

BANGLADESH. “Desperation and hopelessness fill the hearts of so many in Bangladesh. The task at times seems so huge that it is easy to feel that our service is making no difference at all,” wrote an international worker. Please pray that God will give daily encouragement to the long-term workers in Bangladesh. Pray that He will give them rest when the world around them is restless. Pray that He will give peace while outside their walls others wail in anguish. Pray that He will give joy when it is possible to go an entire day and see no one else smile. Pray that He will be their light and that light will shine brightly through the darkness that covers this land. Pray that God will remind them that He so loved Bangladesh that He gave His only begotten Son. Pray for a multitude from Bangladesh to be at His feet one day.

BHUTAN. Christians in Bhutan meet in house churches, but there are no church buildings or Christian bookstores. Around two percent of the population of Bhutan is Christian. Pray that Christians in Bhutan will be able to worship and congregate freely, as the government is in the process of reforming some legislation. www.compassdirect.org; www.go2southasia.org

INDIA. A former attorney general of India, a former national supreme court judge, an historian, a Sanskrit scholar, and a novelist are among the alumni of Patna University, which was established in 1917 in Patna, Bihar. Today, students at Patna University are studying science, engineering, law, medicine and other subjects. These students soon will be the nation’s people of influence. Please pray that any Christian students on campus will be courageous and faithful in their witness for Christ. Pray that all the students at PatnaUniversity will have an opportunity to learn about Jesus and His righteousness and love. Pray that they will yield to His authority, accept His salvation, walk in His ways, and proclaim His truth in Bihar and throughout India.

MALDIVES. The biggest national industry in Maldives is tourism. Nearly 100 resort islands cater to about 600,000 mostly up market visitors annually. Pray travelers would be an influence for good, not evil. Pray that more believers will travel with a purpose to the islands and share the Good News.

NEPAL. An evangelistic outreach that started on Christmas Day reached 5 million people through television and other media. Hundreds of calls per day have come in, a total of over 32,000 to date.The ‘Power to Change Nepal’ website has logged 435,000 visits and churches report that new people are attending services. Great Commission Christians who partnered together say that the response from the mega-city campaign has continued above all expectations.They report, “The ads on the streets came down on January 24th but the response continues to pour in, reflecting an unusually high level of interest in this Hindu nation.” Praise the Lord for this great response. Pray that Nepali Christians and cross-cultural workers throughout Nepal would take this unprecedented opportunity to boldly share the Truth with those who are seeking.

PAKISTAN. When people around the world hear the name Pakistan, they may think of a land filled with terrorists and violent people. What they often don’t realize is that Pakistan is filled with many regular human beings who are fearful for the future of their country and their families. Minorities often suffer under unjust laws in which they can be wrongfully accused of religious blasphemy. Please pray for just and righteous leaders to be raised up in Pakistan. Pray for those people who have integrity to come under God’s powerful hand of protection. Pray that unjust laws will be repealed and replaced with laws that protect the basic rights and equalities of Pakistanis. Ask God to draw many to Himself in a place where people don’t know what love looks like.

SRI LANKA. January 2011 brought devastating floods that affected most of Sri Lanka’s eastern coast, as well as some central areas. In the eastern town of Batticaloa, an amazing 70 inches of rain fell over the course of a few days. With dams breaking and rivers well over their banks, there was nowhere for the massive amounts of water to go. All transportation was brought to a halt, and most families in the affected areas fled their flooded homes to makeshift camps in schools or other buildings. However, these makeshift camps also soon flooded. Just as many of the displaced were returning to their homes, the first week of February saw another round of heavy rains in already affected areas. As the floodwaters recede and people begin to put their lives and homes back together, pray that in their hopelessness they will turn to the one true God who has the power to hear and answer their prayers.

SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORA. Last month you prayed for South Asian families in a large suburb of a major city. Some children were hearing stories of Old Testament prophets told weekly by Janine*, a cross-cultural worker. Trey* and Janine* are also developing relationships with the children’s parents. By popular demand, the story times are now twice weekly! Some of the children have also been going to Sunday services with the Katzen* family. Please continue to pray for the three families who are being touched by this story time, asking that the Holy Spirit will open their ears to the Truth. Pray for a relationship of trust to develop between this “foreign” couple and the neighborhood parents. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide this couple, “that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19, HSCB). *pseudonym

SOUTH ASIAN HINDU FESTIVALS. The weekend of March 18-20, South Asian Hindus will celebrate Holi, one of their biggest and most anticipated festivals of the year. There are at least four popular mythologies behind this holiday, all dealing with the antics of various gods and the ultimate victory of good over evil. Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors due to the practice of celebrants throwing colored powders and water on each other. Pray for opportunities to share about Jesus, whether on the streets in the midst of the rainbow showers, or in the quiet of homes where families have gathered for their own celebrations. Pray that South Asians will hear the awesome news that Jesus Christ sealed the victory over evil for all time, for each one of them. Pray that many will trust Him as their source of salvation.

SOUTH ASIAN UNENGAGED PEOPLES. Can you imagine a life that revolves around washing and ironing clothes? That has been the life of millions of families all across India for centuries. These are the Dhobi people of India. The word Dhobi means washerman. Please pray for the Dhobi who live in Andhra Pradesh and speak Telugu. These families teach their children to do what they have done all of their lives: take care of the clothes of others. An iron is even part of a girl’s dowry when she is married to a Dhobi man. Along with their occupation in life, Hinduism is also passed down to each generation. Each family makes sure to teach their children the proper way to worship the various family gods. Pray that the Dhobi will come to know the true God who can make them clean and spotless before Himself.

SOUTH ASIAN UNENGAGED PEOPLES. In the Hindu religion, there is one group of people who are considered so low that they are not even born into a caste. These people are known as the “Untouchables” or Dalits. If an Untouchable desires food or drink in public, they are served with a plate and cup that are separate and won’t come into contact with any other dishes. In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the 900,000 plus Arundhatiyar people live with constant verbal and physical harassment. The few children who have the opportunity to attend school are often subjected to labor within the school. The Arundhatiyar people perform the jobs of their Untouchable status: cleaning public, open toilets and sewage drains; burying the dead; and sweeping the streets. Please pray for workers to be sent to tell these dear people the Good News that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and accepted by God through the blood of Jesus.

South Asia includes the seven countries of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Pakistan. If you would like more information on how you can pray for the peoples of South Asia, please write to [email protected]. Become a fan of South Asian peoples on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/pages/South-Asian-Peoples/386535135341.
Surrogate baby ring broken in Thailand
WASHINGTON, D.C. (ERLC)–Thai officials rescued 14 Vietnamese women from an illegal surrogate baby ring, the Agence France-Presse news service reported.

The women, including seven who were pregnant, apparently were trafficked into Thailand and had their passports confiscated. The surrogate baby company, known as Baby 101, took orders by e-mail from childless couples or through agents of those couples. In some cases, the male members of those couples would provide sperm for insemination.

The women were found in two houses in Bangkok, but police are investigating whether more women are being held in other locations.

A Thai official, Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, told AFP the business was “illegal and inhuman,” adding it appeared some of the women had been raped.

Nine people were charged, including a Taiwanese woman who reportedly oversaw the operation. She was charged with human trafficking.

“This is human trafficking in its most perverse and horrific form, sexual exploitation and rape. The mind boggles that something like this could happen,” Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said.

A company website said the cost to a couple for its service is $32,000 plus expenses, according to AFP Feb. 24.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.
Leukemia patient delivers healthy girl
WASHINGTON, D.C. (ERLC)–A British leukemia patient who refused to abort her unborn child or undergo chemotherapy while pregnant has a healthy, 9-month-old baby girl and is responding well to treatment.

Victoria Webster, 33, was diagnosed with leukemia, cancer of the blood, when she was 21 weeks pregnant, the Daily Mail reported. Doctors urged Webster to have an abortion so she could start chemotherapy, but she chose not to have the procedure. The treatment supposedly would have killed her unborn child if she had undergone chemotherapy while pregnant.

“To me, there was no decision to make,” Webster of Birmingham, England, said, according to the newspaper. “I had already bonded with my baby while she was growing inside me and as her mum, I had to protect her.

“Doctors kept telling me I should have a termination — but I had made up my mind, and my husband Martyn supported me.

“I’ll never regret keeping my little girl and delaying treatment,” she said. “I might have risked my life for her, but she was worth it.”

Although she did not undergo chemotherapy while pregnant, doctors placed her on leukapheresis, a safer treatment for the baby, the Daily Mail reported. Webster’s blood was drained from her body and “washed” before it was transferred back into her veins weekly in the last three months of her pregnancy.

Jessica was born in April. The Websters have a 4-year-old son, Lewis.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.
The Choice to Influence the World
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Ryan Blackwell Chapel Speaker, February 17, 2011
MILL VALLEY, Calif. (GGBTS)–“As I look around this room, I see seminary students,” said Ryan Blackwell, pastor of First Baptist Church of San Francisco and 2009 Golden Gate Seminary graduate. “I know you have made a choice, the choice to come to seminary, and this choice has the potential to influence the world.”

That choice is to follow God, Blackwell said to students, faculty and staff of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary at chapel on February 17, 2011. Referring to Daniel Chapter 6, Blackwell recounted the story of Daniel and King Darius. “In verse 10, Daniel faces a conflict between praying to God and loyalty to Darius. Daniel chooses personal abandonment, the willingness to give up personal safety and trust God completely.” Blackwell explained that Daniel’s choice was to continue to pray to God even though Darius had decreed that all should pray only to him.

“Obedience to God comes first,” Blackwell noted. “Those who have gone to the mission field, you know this first hand. God never calls us to safety. You must be willing to abandon your personal safety and your personal efforts.” Blackwell reminded his listeners that the Christian life is all about surrender. “It’s normal to feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, more than you can handle on your own. That’s when you surrender, abandon personal efforts, and trust God to take charge.”

Referring to Daniel’s experience in the lion’s den, Blackwell pointed out that we frequently put our trust in our family, in our church, but we must put our trust first and foremost in God. “What I love about this story is not that Daniel was rescued but that God was with him,” said Blackwell. “The times of greatest trust are when we step out and do something we can’t do on our own. When you trust God completely, God will take you places you would never go on your own.”

The decision Daniel made of personal abandonment, to trust God completely and abandon his own safety and hand his life to God, led Darius to worship God, which influenced the world at that time. “The story isn’t about Daniel,” Blackwell said, “it’s about God’s character, God’s purpose, and God’s plan. It’s about personal abandonment and trusting in God.”

Time after time, Daniel made the choice to follow God, to choose God. “Where does God want to take us? What does he want us to do with our lives?” asked Blackwell. “You have two choices: trust God and abandon yourself, or trust yourself and abandon God. Your ministry and eternal life will be determined by your choice.”

The 26-year-old Arkansas native concluded by saying, “The story of Daniel is not a children’s story. It is a story of radical abandonment. Leave this room and make an incredible impact on the world for Christ.”

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary is a Cooperative Program Ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and operates five, fully-accredited campuses in Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest, Arizona, and Colorado. For more information: www.ggbts.edu.
Gala debuts compositions and hearts for Christ
By Rebecca Carter
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS)–The eighth annual Gala Concert of Sacred Music provided Southwestern students and friends of the seminary with a stirring, musically gifted evening of familiar hymns as well as debut compositions by faculty. Steve Green, songwriter and recording artist, joined Southwestern’s Master Chorale, Southwestern Singers and selected members of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for the Feb. 24 event.

The packed auditorium warmly received debut performances by award winning composer and Southwestern professor William Mac Davis (orchestral piece Excursion) and music school dean Stephen Johnson (Peace Ascends). Paige Patterson, in his welcome address to the crowd near the beginning of the concert, shared his anticipation of the new chapel (Fall 2011) to welcome the Gala and the seminary’s graduation services in a larger facility.

Green performed modern renditions of Holy, Holy, Holy and It Is Well With My Soul as well as songs he had previously introduced during the week’s chapel services (What Wondrous Love is This and Zion). He also sang the hymn penned by reformer Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, after presenting the Gospel to the audience and directing them to focus their attention on Christ during his remarks.

Earlier in the week, Green shared with a large group of Southwestern music students in a Q & A session. He told students that as a Christian vocal performer, he must continually keep his motives in check.

“I want to sing very well,” Green said. “I study hard; I work hard. But my goal isn’t, at the end of the concert, for people to stand up and cheer for me. I want to do what I do with excellence but still point people in a genuine way towards the God and Creator of all, who alone deserves to be glorified.”

Green also shared with the students the humorous story of how he discovered his ability to sing in college. He knew so little about formal training, during his audition for the college choir he imitated Artemus Gordon, a character on a popular TV western who would sing operatic style to French ladies. Green also spoke during the session about having a heart for Christ and how he still seeks to glorify Him through music, even after he has left the charts.

During the Gala performance, David Thye, Robert L. Burton chair of conducting, followed Green’s Gospel presentation with a call for response, inviting the audience to come forward after the service to make professions of faith. He also shared the story of a Lutheran missionary, Benjamin Larson, who served the Haitian people and perished in the resulting earthquake early last year. Johnson wrote Peace Ascends, debuted that evening, to honor Larson’s service.
Rebecca Carter is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Hardin-Simmons National Champs Honored at Capitol by Governor, State Reps, and Senators
By Janlyn Thaxton

ABILENE, Texas (Hardin-Simmons Univ.)–Hardin-Simmons’ national champion women’s soccer team was honored at the Texas State Capitol yesterday in three separate ceremonies.

“It is a day that we will never forget,” says HSU head women’s soccer coach Marcus Wood.

HSU President Dr. Lanny Hall says, “We have been working with State Representative Susan King, State Senator Troy Fraser, and Governor Rick Perry’s staff to make it possible for our NCAA Division III National Champion Women’s Soccer Team to travel to Austin to be honored on the House and Senate Floors and in the Governor’s Office.”

“It was an amazing experience for our kids,” says Wood, who traveled with the team to the capitol.

The group met first with Governor Perry for a photo opportunity. Perry spent about 25 minutes with the team in the Governor’s Public Reception Room. Senator Fraser also stayed with the team while the Governor visited with them.

Perry asked each team member where they were from and had a candid conversation with the group, which also included several parents, coaches, Athletic Director John Neese, Sports Information Director Chad Grubbs, and Athletic Trainer Bert De La Garza.

The team received special escort to the House Chamber where Representative King recognized them and asked the House to approve a resolution honoring the team.

Soccer players Amy Kuykendall Waters, Katie Kuykendall, Megan Ryan, Rebecca Roth, Carlyn Powers, and Sarah Stansell were selected to go on to the House floor to receive the proclamation. Other team members were asked to stand and be recognized in the House Gallery.

HSU senior finance and accounting major from McAllen, Texas, says team members were told that only a few people outside of the members of the House are allowed on the Floor of the Chamber. “That was really cool to be one of the few,” she says. “You hear the names of the representatives, but it was awesome to get to see them.”

After special recognition in the House, the group was escorted to the Senate Chamber where six of the girls joined Senator Fraser on the Floor. Just as in the House, the Senate spent time honoring the team’s outstanding accomplishment by passing the Senate version of a resolution. Again, the team was asked to stand and be recognized.

Players also had the opportunity to witness a ceremony recognizing the 175th anniversary of Texas Independence Day while in the Senate Chamber each Senator read a portion of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

“We were truly blessed to be treated so kindly by our senator, representative, and governor. The girls are truly appreciative of all that has been done for them after their successful season,” says Coach Wood.

Stansill says, “One of the things that impressed me the most was that the governor and the legislators seemed to genuinely care about us. The governor joked with us and was very down-to-earth.”

Later, the Cowgirls met separately with Rep. King for photos and a chance for some Q-and-A. In an interview on KWKC talk radio this morning, King said she was impressed that the women on the soccer team are not only good athletes, but scholars as well. Stansill, who is on the HSU President’s List, serves as a good example. Students must carry a perfect 4.0 grade point average to be named to the list.

Wood says the team members are deeply appreciative to President Hall and his staff, and the staffs of the governor, Sen. Fraser, and Rep. King for making it such a special day for them.

HSU went 24-0-1 on the year and won the school’s first-ever NCAA Division III national championship title on Dec. 4 in San Antonio, with a 2-1 win over No. 1 Messiah.

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