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SBC DIGEST: Surgeon Rebekah Naylor honored; Rainer podcast surpasses 1M; Digby to lead MBC ethics arm; New FCA leader named

Surgeon, former IMB medical missionary Naylor honored

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Former Southern Baptist medical missionary Rebekah A. Naylor is the recipient of the 2016 American College of Surgeons/Pfizer Surgical Humanitarian Award for her medical ministry to underserved populations.

The award recognizes Naylor’s accomplishments during 35 years of medical missionary work in Karnatake, India; her nearly 10 years on the faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas; her help in founding a free medical clinic for the underserved and uninsured in Fort Worth, Texas.

Currently serving as global health care consultant for Baptist Global Response (BGR), a Southern Baptist humanitarian group, Naylor mobilizes and trains health care personnel to serve worldwide, making frequent trips to India to serve at Bangalore Baptist Hospital (BBH).

During her rise from clinical surgeon to medical superintendent of the BBH in Karnatake, she helped double the number of patient care beds from 80 to 160, organized training programs in four allied health disciplines, and established accredited residency training programs for physicians, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) September bulletin reported.

The Rebekah Ann Naylor School of Nursing Naylor founded in Karnatake has trained more than 350 nurses, many of them from low income backgrounds and 129 of them currently employed at BBH, according to the ACS.

Naylor arrived in India in 1974 as a missionary with the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention. During her time in Karnatake, she helped plant 90 churches to serve the 53 million people there.

She returned to the U.S. in 2002 and joined the faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where she served as clinical associate professor of surgery until her retirement in 2010. She helped found the free medical service Mercy Clinic in 2011, and continues to chair the group’s board of directors.

The ACS will present the award Oct. 18 at the Clinical Congress 2016 in Washington.

Rainer leadership podcast surpasses 1M listeners

NASHVILLE (BP) — The “Rainer on Leadership” podcast is on pace to reach 1.2 million listeners this year, having reached a milestone in September when it surpassed 100,000 downloads per month.

LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer with Jonathan Howe, host of the podcast and operations director of ThomRainer.com, launched “Rainer on Leadership” in 2013. The podcast offers practical solutions for issues facing pastors and church leaders in the 21st century. Recent topics include dealing with staff conflict, multigenerational worship ministry, keys to a healthy church, and how to make guests feel welcome.

The twice-a-week podcast, which has seen 265 percent growth over the past two years, was started as a companion to Rainer’s blog at ThomRainer.com. “We wanted to give a pastoral wakeup call to churches in North America,” Rainer said. “You cannot deal with the issues until you understand the reality. We’re able to share things in a pastoral way that not only lays out the issues but also offers solutions.”

Rainer said he’s been surprised by the diversity of churches represented. “The blog and podcast are reaching about 265,000 churches in the U.S., and they range in geographic region, denomination and size.”

ThomRainer.com, launched in 2012, receives more than 8 million views per year. For each of the past five years, the blog has reached readers from every nation in the world. The blog, like the podcast, is a solution-based resource. The most popular topic has been church guests. The podcast and blog have covered everything from what not to say to first-time guests, how to do effective follow-up, and how to make a positive first impression.

“We want to be a sounding board for pastors. Much of our content comes from the feedback we receive from our listeners and readers,” Rainer said. “In many ways, both the podcast and blog have become a friend of pastors and church staff.”

Kenny Digby to lead Christian Action Commission

JACKSON, Miss. (BP) — Kenny L. Digby, missions director of the Alcorn Association of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, has been named the new executive director-treasurer of the Christian Action Commission (CAC), the Jackson-based agency of the Mississippi Baptist Convention (MBC) that addresses moral, social and ethical issues.

Digby expects to begin in his new post Nov. 1, succeeding Jimmy Porter who retired in April 2015 after 15 years in the post.

“Dr. Kenny Digby was chosen due to his deep love for Christ and His church. He has a dedicated discipline for study and memorization of the Scriptures,” said Rodney Anderson, CAC chairman and pastor of First Church in Mendenhall. “His astute understanding of ethical and moral issues is evident in his living and preaching. He will be at home in all of our churches, associations, and schools no matter the location or size. We know him to be a committed family man and defender of truth and morals.”

Jim Futral, executive director-treasurer of the MBC Board in Jackson, noted Digby’s experience beyond church walls.

“He has been involved in the world beyond the doors of the church,” Futral said. “Beyond experience, he brings a desire to help our churches as they struggle with issues and challenges in seeking to be Christian in an ever-increasing secular world.”

The 64-year-old Digby has been Alcorn Association’s missions director since 1998. He has 12 years of pastoral experience, another 12 years of experience as a fulltime evangelist, and since 1970 has served concurrently during his pastoral and evangelistic ministry with the Church for the Crisis radio and television ministry in Fulton.

Digby has been an adjunct professor at New Orleans Seminary/North Mississippi Extension since 2007, was director of the North Mississippi Extension for the seminary from 2013-14, served six years as a full-time professor of practical theology at the Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Texas, and has additional professorial experience.

Shane Williamson to lead Christian athletes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Board of Trustees of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) has named Shane Williamson as president and CEO effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Williamson, currently FCA executive director of field ministry, replaces FCA president and CEO Les Steckel, who will retire at the end of 2016 after 12 years of service.

“FCA conducted a comprehensive, national search for our new president, and the candidates we interviewed were tremendous leaders in their fields,” board chairman Bruce Graham said. “When it came down to it, we were thrilled to discover that the Lord led us to someone from our own FCA family — someone who understands the heart and soul of FCA.”

Graham described Steckel as “one of the most passionate leaders in FCA history,” and said Williamson “will carry out FCA’s strong vision to impact coaches and athletes for Christ and continue to take the ministry to new heights.”

Williamson, a member of the nondenominational Impact Church in Hartwell, Ga., has served FCA for 24 years and has held his current post since 2014. The Loris, S.C., native has worked as FCA’s vice president of field ministry for the Carolinas, multi-area director for Metro Atlanta and area director for Upstate South Carolina. Before Williamson’s employment with FCA, he was an FCA sponsor, a teacher and coach.

“I am honored and excited to serve alongside such wonderfully committed teammates, coaches, athletes, supporters and volunteers in leading the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as president,” Williamson said. “FCA is a ministry uniquely positioned, through the influence of coaches and athletes, to impact our world by promoting in sport the life-changing message of Christ. As a husband, father, coach and athlete, God has used FCA to grow and change my life, marriage and family in so many positive ways. I can only hope to lead in such a way that continues to give all who serve and support this ministry greater opportunities to invest in coaches, athletes and all whom they influence in the same way.”

    About the Author

  • LifeWay, MBC and BP Staff

    Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press general assignment reporter/editor; with reports from Carol Pipes, editor of Facts & Trends at LifeWay Christian Resources; William H. Perkins Jr., editor of The Baptist Record newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, and Christian Newswire.

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