News Articles

Missionaries on front lines after Nairobi bomb disaster

NAIROBI, Kenya (BP)–Southern Baptist missionaries in Kenya are serving on the front lines of rescue efforts following a devastating explosion Aug. 7 that killed about 200 people in Nairobi and injured more than 5,000 others. The explosion, and a second explosion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were aimed at the U.S. embassies in each country.
The Kenya missionaries cut short a prayer retreat so they could minister to workers picking carefully through bomb-damaged buildings in search of survivors, said Bob Allen, one of 81 Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries assigned to the country.
Using Southern Baptist relief funds, the missionaries organized a feeding program for rescue workers, serving 60 meals twice a day at the Kenya Red Cross headquarters near the disaster site. Missionaries also joined search-and-rescue teams removing debris from the site.
Two Southern Baptist missionaries — Cindy Wilson and Nancy Calvert — also responded to a Red Cross request for nurses to monitor volunteers for exhaustion.
“Some of these people have been out there since Friday,” said Wilson. “We were asked to monitor volunteers for tiredness and energy levels.”
Despite their fatigue and danger from the unstable buildings, those volunteers feel compelled to keep working through the rubble, Wilson said.
“We had one volunteer who walked by, an American, and we told him to get something to drink and get off the site,” she said. “The next thing you know, he was back up there digging. He just felt compelled to help. He has such a servant heart.”
Missionary Dan Hylden went to the blast site with Wilson and Calvert as their bodyguard because they didn’t know what to expect.
“But they were in no danger, so I helped with the digging,” Hylden said. His face white with dust and fatigue, he told of pulling a body out of the rubble. “The noises have stopped, so they are being a little more aggressive in their demolition, but whenever they see a body part, we go in and pull out the debris by hand.”
One young gunner on a tank found the nurses tending to his spiritual as well as medical needs in the long hours of the night.
“We had a real good chance to share the provision of Christ, how it really had to be God to save him. He promised to visit me at the mission office,” Hylden said.
IMB missionaries also talked with William Larson, senior logistical officer for the International Red Cross, about helping replenish scarce medical supplies used by the Red Cross during the effort.
Long-term help also is in the works for the many Kenyans blinded or disfigured by broken glass and debris sent flying by the blast. Connie Burton, the IMB’s medical coordinator for the region, is part of a planning committee to get American retinal and plastic surgeons into Nairobi.
Burton also is looking into recruiting counselors to help Kenyans through their grieving process.
Allen said what Kenya needs most is prayer.
“You all can help us most by praying,” he said. “Pray for those injured to receive the treatment they need; pray for the families of the dead and injured, some of whom may have gotten news of family members when they saw them on television; pray for those investigating these disasters to have extraordinary wisdom and insight; pray that those who instigated and carried out these horrendous attacks would feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and that they would repent; pray that Christians will take advantage of every opportunity to share Christ during this time.”
Soderstrom is an International Mission Board journeyman correspondent based in the Ivory Coast.

Layman got his wish of leaving
this life from the mission field
By Amanda Phifer

SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (BP)–Carman Leroy Cox, a 15-year veteran of short-term mission trips, told his friends that he wanted to die on the mission field. The Baptist layman got his wish when he died of a heart attack July 10 while in Bucharest on a Romania mission trip. He was 75.
Cox, a member of First Baptist Church, Simpsonville, S.C., and his wife of 50 years, Mary Frances, were in Romania with a team of 19 volunteers. He preached his last sermon at a Baptist church in Cernavoda.
Said a church staff member of Cox’s home church, “The streets of heaven are more crowded because of Leroy’s life. And now he is face to face with the One whom he’s been telling so many people about.”
A Cox Memorial Mission Fund has been established to build a church for the Cernavoda congregation.
Cox was a Navy veteran and retired from General Telephone Company after more than 43 years. From 1984 until literally the day that he died, Cox served on about 20 volunteer mission trips throughout the world, ranging from two weeks to more than a year. While overseas, he taught English, preached, served on evangelism teams, built churches and worked with engineers. He and Mary Frances served in Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Romania on South Carolina Baptist partnership teams.
Cox was active in home missions as well. He was instrumental in planting and developing mission churches in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. He and his wife also helped in Baptist Student Union work in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois.

Broadman & Holman becoming
key player in publishing industry
By Terri Lackey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Broadman & Holman Publishers director Ken Stephens likes to borrow from a well-known political phrase when he explains the house’s new publishing direction.
“It’s the product, stupid,” Stephens said wryly during the recent annual Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) meeting in Dallas.
While Stephens’ message is short and brassy, the point is clear. If the product is not good, no one is going to buy it.
About five years ago, Broadman & Holman, (the trade publishing division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, began re-tooling its image. Figuring the best way to do that was to improve its external look for buyers, B&H gave priority to setting up glitzy booths at annual CBA meetings where publishers peddle wares to retailers.
“Our approach now is that (glitzy image) is nice, but at the end of the day, the product you produce is your report card,” said Stephens, a former Southern Baptist missionary who joined B&H in 1996 from a senior position with Nelson/Word Publishing Group, also of Nashville, Tenn.
Once upon a time, Broadman & Holman was known largely for publishing sermon outlines of highly regarded Southern Baptist pastors, according to Mark Lusk, director of marketing for B&H.
“We’ve improved significantly since Ken Stephens came on as publisher,” Lusk said. “He is taking us into areas we’ve never thought about pursuing. We are seen as the publisher to watch.”
New areas being explored by B&H include fiction — “a dozen or so will be released within the year” — and children’s books — “over 30 new children’s books will be coming out this fall,” Lusk said.
Additionally, Lusk said, Stephens has led B&H to “new conversion strategies” that include publishing paperbacks rather than more expensive hardbacks and moving into a line of gifts, such as pens, stationery and journals.
Broadman & Holman has not hit top, Lusk acknowledged, but it is spiraling upward.
“We are riding the bell curve up right now. Instead of selling dozens and dozens or hundreds and hundreds of books, we’re selling thousands and thousands.”
Stephens agreed.
“We have a terrific buzz going here at B&H. We are attracting the attention of authors, agents, retailers and publishers,” he said.
And if awards are symbols of success, B&H should begin polishing its trophy case.
In 20 years, B&H has claimed six Gold Medallion Book Awards — four in the past two years.
In 1997, six B&H books were selected as finalists in the Gold Medallion competition, and in 1998, three books were chosen. Both years, B&H picked up two first-place awards. The publisher also took home Gold Medallions in 1982 and 1992. The competition is sponsored by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association to recognize high-quality Christian books.
The wins are attracting attention, Stephens said. “Anybody who has eyes can see there is a big change going on at B&H.”
For example, three to five years ago, customers could have found B&H books only in Christian bookstores.
Today, readers who walk through the aisles at Sams, Wal-Mart and even Barnes & Noble, B.Dalton, Borders or Waldenbooks can find a B&H book. For religion books to find their way to secular shelves, they have to be good, according to George Greller, religion buyer at Barnes & Noble and B.Dalton.
“The authors have to be big names to sell in secular stores. And, we actually sold a novel B&H did called the ‘Murder on the Titanic,'” Greller said. “I think that benefited from the popularity of the movie.”
Even Baptist Book Stores, which are also owned by LifeWay, aren’t required to buy Broadman & Holman books, Lusk said.
“We pretty much pitch them like we pitch everybody else,” he said. “Baptist Book Stores used to have to take Broadman & Holman products, but now we are on the same playing field as Zondervan and Nelson. We present our wares, and if they like them, great, and if they don’t, they say, ‘No thank you.'”
Bill Nielsen, vice-president of merchandise and marketing for Family Christian Stores, said Broadman & Holman “has definitely raised both quality and relevance of their products for the general consumers.”
Nielsen, who buys books from B&H for Family book stores, said the publisher is currently among his top 15 vendors.
“Three years ago, they weren’t even in the top 25,” he said. “They’ve come a long way.”
B&H has the “right stuff” to become number one, Stephens said.
“It’s a team effort and we have some of the most talented and experienced employees in publishing now working at B&H. We’re not an up-and-comer; we’re a major player and having a lot of fun in the process.”

Broadman & Holman
secures ‘A-list’ authors
By Terri Lackey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–One of the enigmas of Christian publishing is that to attract first-rate authors, you have to have first-rate authors, an official at Broadman & Holman Publishers said.
“When you get what we consider ‘A authors’ or recognized authors to sign with you, that is a very strong sign you are seen as a happening, exciting, competent publisher,” said Mark Lusk, director of marketing for B&H, the trade publishing division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Lusk runs down a list of “A authors” B&H has signed within the last couple of years.
— William Bennett, former U.S. drug czar and education secretary, who provided remedial moral education through his book, “Our Sacred Honor,” co-published by Broadman & Holman and Simon and Schuster.
— Henry Blackaby, co-author of “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God,” who has co-written several other books for B&H, including “The Power of the Call” with Henry Brandt and “Fresh Encounter” with Claude King. Blackaby and his son, Richard, won a Gold Medallion Award for B&H in July for their devotional book, “Experiencing God Day-by-Day.” The awards are presented annually by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
— Bob Briner, an Emmy Award-winning producer, president of ProServ Television and a leading sports executive who has signed a multi-book deal about leadership principles that follow Jesus’ example. “About any publishing house in the country would like to have Bob Briner, but he chose to sign with us,” Lusk said.
— Mike Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor and now the governor of Arkansas, who has written two books for B&H, “Character IS the Issue: How People with Integrity Can Revolutionize America” and “Kids Who Kill: Confronting our Culture of Violence.”
— Mary Hunt, author of top B&H sellers,”The Financially Confident Woman” and “Tiptionary.” A third book, “Debt-Proof Your Kids,” is due out soon. Hunt has graced the cover of Today’s Christian Woman magazine and has been seen on national television shows such as Oprah Winfrey, Good Morning America and the Leeza Show. Articles about her have appeared in Family Circle, McCalls, Cosmopolitan and Business Week.
— Keith Miller, a speaker and author of several books, who wrote “The Secret Life of the Soul,” for Broadman & Holman. In it, Miller contends that inside a person’s life — underneath the constructed personality — is the human soul, which checks out reality and blows the whistle when we’re not real, when we’re not following our values.
Of all the authors B&H has signed, Mary Hunt likes to consider herself the publishing house’s number one cheerleader.
Hunt has dealings with secular publishing houses as well as Christian ones, she said, and she feels B&H offers her “the best of relationships.”
“I don’t mean so much of a social relationship, although that’s there. In three years I’ve been with B&H, I have developed a very, very strong relationship with that publisher that I value so highly.
“They really care about me personally, and they care about my business. They are so supportive.”
Hunt’s book, “The Financially Confident Woman,” claimed a Gold Medallion Award for B&H in 1997 from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
Since, she said, about five other Christian publishing houses have tried to lure her to publish with them.
“It’s very flattering. They call me on the QT; they take me out; they tell me they are much better than B&H and they can offer me more money. I tell them all the same thing.
“‘Don’t you understand, you have to think of me as married, and I don’t date around.'”

Layman’s fleet of 4 jets speeds
patients home to aid recovery
By Jason Skinner

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–The cardiologist looked down at his patient, keeping a close eye on the beeping of his heart monitor. The sound was coming from Paul Hunter, pastor of Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, Bessemer, Ala., who had suffered a heart attack 11 days earlier, and now was receiving the proper medical treatment he needed — while moving at more than 500 miles an hour.
Hunter was treated more than two years ago while aboard MedJet International, a corporation based in Birmingham, Ala., specializing in medical transport across the seas.
Hunter had been vacationing in London, England, when he suffered a heart problem. Doctors believed he needed only “complete rest,” but the pastor, realizing the need for tests and perhaps even surgery, knew he had to get home. Even the physicians there admitted MedJet was Hunter’s best opportunity for a full recovery.
“The general practitioner came and sat down on my bed and told me, ‘You know, they can do more for you on that jet than we can do in this hospital,'” Hunter said, adding the smoothness of the flight surprised him. “I thought we would flop and drop … but it never bobbled one time.”
Keeping patients stable and relocating them to proper care is the vision of Jeffrey Tolbert, president and CEO of MedJet International and a deacon at Birmingham’s Mountain Brook Baptist Church.
“Our mission is to transport patients to better health care than they are receiving,” said Tolbert, who founded the company in 1987. “That is our ministry.”
Since its inception, MedJet has helped more than 7,000 patients fly home to friends and family in more than 150 countries — coming from such remote areas as Kenya, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand and India. Tolbert, a pilot with 25 years experience, explained that it often takes more than just medicine and gauze to patch up a wound.
“We understand that the healing process works better in a hometown hospital, where patients are surrounded by loved ones,” Tolbert said.
He cited the recent situation with Bob Terry, editor of The Alabama Baptist, and his wife Eleanor. The couple had been seriously injured in a car wreck July 11 in Durban, South Africa. MedJet facilitated the Terrys’ 30-hour trip home to their son and daughter only a day before Eleanor Terry died from complications resulting from injuries she sustained in the crash.
“He (Bob Terry) couldn’t have gone through (Eleanor’s death) alone (in South Africa),” Tolbert said. “He needed to be with his family.”
Medjet currently operates four aircraft, each valued at more than $3 million. The jets are equipped — depending on the patient’s needs — with at least 25,000 liters of oxygen, two air compressors, three cardiac monitors, two defibrillators, dual suction pumps for surgery and more — basically, an airborne intensive care unit capable of handling any emergency that may arise on board.
In 11 years of operation, Tolbert said, less than a handful of patients have expired on MedJet.
While there is only one full-time physician on MedJet’s staff, the company contracts with doctors from various hospitals. These can include neurologists, cardiologists and other specialists, as well as various types of nurses, from respiratory to critical care.
“We try to match our medical team with the needs of the patient,” Tolbert explained.
MedJet offers a membership program — $150 annually for a single participant and $250 a year for families — which entitles them to free transport in the case of an emergency. Depending on the location and degree of injury, the average cost of the transport ranges in excess of $100,000.
While MedJet has flown members of England’s royal family, U.S. senators and has even had former President George Bush aboard the plane (for non-medical reasons), it has remained rather obscure in its own hometown.
“It’s a little company in Birmingham that nobody in the city has ever heard of,” Tolbert said.

Campus minister says ‘prayerwalking’
gives insights through intercession
By Chip Alford

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Shelia Gustafson wants Christian college students to put their feet into their prayer lives.
It may sound a little strange at first mention, but what the campus minister at Indiana University, Southeast, in New Albany, Ind., is talking about is “prayerwalking,” — claiming a specific area for Christ by literally walking around it and praying.
“Prayerwalking focuses intercessory prayer on the neighborhoods, homes, situations and people encountered while walking,” Gustafson explained, adding it works just as well on a college campus. She described it as “fellowship with God and another person. It gives you insight while on-site.”
Gustafson led an Aug. 9 seminar on prayerwalking during Student Week ’98 at Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center. She gave practical tips on how to carry it out and shared examples of its effectiveness in her own ministry.
Before going on a prayerwalk, Gustafson said believers must refresh themselves in God.
“Begin each prayerwalk with a time of worship,” she said. “Confess any sins in your life. Seek God for guidance. Get right with him and with others.”
Next, plan the prayerwalk. “It’s usually done in pairs,” Gustafson said, “so you have to decide who will go together in teams, where will the teams go and for how long.”
During the actual prayerwalk, she encouraged prayer teams to:
— Open their eyes and ask God to allow them to see what he wants them to see;
— Open their mouths and pray together in agreement;
— Pray Scripture that relates to the things they see or sense; and
— Pray with relevance.
“Pray with sensitivity to the people and places you are actually encountering,” she said. “Ask yourself, ‘What does God desire for them?'”
After the prayerwalk, Gustafson said teams should regroup for debriefing.
“Talk about what God revealed to you and discuss any possibilities for ministry. Record important matters for continued prayer and future praise.”
Gustafson knows firsthand the effectiveness of prayerwalking. While serving as a leader during a “beach reach” evangelistic effort this spring in Daytona Beach, Fla., she saw a biblical precedent inspire a group of students to do a little prayerwalking of their own.
“We all knew the story of how the people marched around Jericho seven times and then the walls fell down and the city was given to them, so we decided to have a Jericho walk of our own,” she said.
The students picked a block in Daytona with a bar on each corner and began to walk around it, two by two, in prayer. Their continuous circles around the block piqued the curiosity of a group of employees working outside one of the bars. As a result, a student shared his testimony. By the end of the night, three people had accepted Christ.
Back in Indiana, members of Gustafson’s Baptist Student Union began prayerwalking their campus a couple of years ago. In that time the group has grown from 25 to 80 members and seven people have accepted Christ.
“We didn’t do a lot of things differently; we just prayed,” she said. “And God wants to do the same thing on your campus, in your city, in your neighborhood.”
She challenged students to use the minutes they spend walking between classes praying for those areas of their campus.
“Or, if you’re a commuter, pray over the areas you pass on the way to school, but keep your eyes on the road,” she joked. “That is using your time wisely and God will honor that. He’ll give you insights. He’ll open your eyes to the world around you in a way you’ve never seen it before.”
Gustafson said prayerwalking has been a visible reminder to her of a comment once made to her by a supervisor: “Prayer isn’t preparation for God’s work; prayer IS God’s work.”
Student Week ’98 was sponsored by National Student Ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Undertake ‘spiritual maintenance’
for ministry of substance, prof says
By Chip Alford

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–When it comes to ministry, Allen Jackson believes there are two extremes — style and substance.
“They are really two ends of a continuum; our ministry usually falls somewhere in between,” Jackson, assistant professor of youth ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, told a group of student workers at Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center. He led the Aug. 9 seminar, “Style vs. Substance: The Integrity of Ministry,” during Student Week ’98.
Explaining the difference between the two, Jackson said: “Style is what we are tempted to do; it is a ministry of comparison.” The focus is on programs, activities and strategies — filling an ever-expanding calendar of events. “Substance is what we are called to do; it’s ministry of investment.” Here the focus is on reaching others for Christ and helping them mature in their faith — investing in their eternal future.
Jackson said those interested in moving toward the substance end of the ministry scale “must put away some time to do some spiritual maintenance. … Our pace is like no one else’s, so there are some things we have to pay attention to if we want to have a ministry that impacts lives.”
First, he said ministers must be willing to eliminate potentially negative influences in their lives. For him, that means an occasional fast from watching television.
“It’s very easy after a hectic day to come home and plop down in front of the TV. But try going seven days or two weeks without it; you’ll be amazed at how much time that frees up for you.”
He also encouraged ministers to work at finding peace in their current job, whatever the circumstances.
“Contentment in your present situation is the key to whatever is next. You have to learn to be happy where you are if you’re going to succeed in the next place. There will be difficult people and difficult circumstances wherever you go.”
Another important step for ministers in moving toward a ministry of substance is learning to take personal time away from work.
“Is your Sunday your day of worship?” Jackson asked the student workers. “If it is, it may not be your best Sabbath because it’s one of your busiest work days.”
He challenged ministers to find at least a half day a month and reserve it as a Sabbath.
“Take the Word of God, your journal, some praise music and get away from it all. When you do that, you’ll see what God intended a Sabbath to be.”
He also encouraged ministers to take their off day(s) during the week and spend time with their families.
“And that includes single ministers, too,” he said. “You need time with your (immediate) family, friends or just by yourself.”
Networking is another important factor in developing substance, Jackson said.
“It is a key to your staying in ministry,” he added, describing it as an important source of accountability and personal growth which can put ministers in touch with the gifts of peers which might be valuable to their own ministry.
While networking is vital, Jackson said it is also important for ministers to make friends outside of the ministry.
“Do you have any friends that you could spend an entire evening with without discussing student ministry?” he asked. “If not, make some.”
Among Jackson’s other tips for moving toward a ministry of substance were:
— Make physical fitness and nutrition a priority. “If you don’t, your ministry years will be cut short.”
— “Read, read, read.” Not just books on one’s own ministry field, but other spiritual disciplines, too.
— Commit to a life of personal prayer and Bible study. “When is the last time you studied the Scriptures when you weren’t preparing to teach it?” he asked.
— Find a spiritual mentor.
— Be a person of integrity in your relationships with family, friends, peers, churches and associations, your state convention and individual supporters.
“The stakes are very high in what we do,” Jackson said. “We need to do a gut check every now and then and make sure we are presenting ourselves as who we are. We can’t afford to be a fraud.”
Student Week was sponsored by National Student Ministry, part of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • Heidi Soderstrom