Tearing Down Strongholds — Even In Flight
by David Roach

Ed Stucky planned to read during a recent plane ride from Orlando, Florida, to Louisville, Kentucky.

But when fellow passengers began asking questions about the Bible, the Southern Seminary student from Townsend, Tennessee, found himself standing in the aisle and sharing the gospel with more than seventy people.

Stucky began the flight reading Bible commentaries in preparation for an upcoming sermon. However, when a fellow passenger remarked that she was taking a New Testament class in college, Stucky initiated a conversation that unfolded into an opportunity to tell half of the airplane about salvation in Christ.

Upon hearing about the young college student's study of the Bible, Stucky asked whether she had a personal interest in knowing the Scriptures.

"We talked a little about the Bible, and I [said] that I not only believed that the Bible was great literature but that it was the inerrant Word of God," Stucky said. "Everything in it was written for God to reveal Himself to us, and we should have more than just a casual interest in it because it holds answers to all of life's problems and questions."

As Stucky talked about the Bible, four additional people began listening to the conversation. Within minutes the crowd grew; when a man across the aisle asked if he could listen, Stucky's audience totaled eleven people.

When a passenger commented that he prayed regularly but did not have a clear picture of God's character, Stucky explained how God reveals Himself through the Bible.

"Everybody seemed to be really interested in what I was saying," Stucky recounted. "By the time I got done with [the subject of] God's revelation, there were three people standing in the aisle listening. I thought, This is too much. Now I've got fifteen people that I know are engaged in the conversation."

Within minutes, Stucky was forced to stand in the aisle due to the large number of people who wanted to hear his remarks. When a woman one row behind him asked, "Wasn't Jesus just a good teacher? Aren't there many ways to God?" Stucky began explaining that Jesus provides the only way of salvation.

"It was the perfect opportunity," Stucky said. "I said, 'Jesus said that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him.' So He couldn't have just been a good teacher."

Stucky continued, citing an argument from C.S. Lewis, "[Jesus] either had to be a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. And those are the only three options that work. He either had to be crazy and totally deceived and thought He was the Son of God. Or He had to be a liar, and He knew He wasn't the Son of God — He just mis-portrayed Himself. Or He had to be Lord. He can't be a combination of those things."

As Stucky spoke about Christ, other passengers began to listen and one asked what Stucky thought about Mel Gibson's Passion movie.

"I said, 'I haven't seen it myself,'" Stucky said. "I've heard a lot about it, and I think it reinforces the fact that America is searching for something real.

"When I think about the God of the universe coming to this world to die to pay for my sins, a death that I couldn't pay, it moves me because I have a relationship with God. We can't pay for the sins that we commit. We are all born sinful, yet God requires death for that sin. So to provide a way for us to have a relationship with Him, He sent His Son to die."

As Stucky finished explaining the gospel, the plane started its final descent into Louisville. Stucky took his seat and realized that more than seventy people had been listening to him.

He was surprised that he was able to stand and speak for so long without being told to stop.

"I attribute it to the grace of God, and I was amazed not only that I was allowed to stand up in the plane that long but also by the way God ordered the questions to facilitate the gospel presentation," Stucky said.

Baptist Press, May 4, 2004



Pro-Family Lobby Wins at U.N.

A United Nations committee refuses to declare homosexuality and abortion international human rights.

Family advocates are celebrating a major victory from a recent meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights: the defeat of a resolution declaring homosexuality and abortion international human rights.

Several nations lobbied for classifying "alternate lifestyles" and abortion as protected rights, but in the end morality prevailed.

"The overall impression was that the immoral agenda of the deviants was not a good thing for humanity and for human beings generally," said Dr. Farooq Hassan, a U.N. diplomat and former member of the commission. "I think President Bush's personal intervention in this matter has been a great help, and there's no doubt that the weight the United States has put behind this entire agenda (helped)."

Family New in Focus, April 29, 2004



Upbeat LMCO Projection Means More Missionaries
by Mark Kelly

An "extremely promising" outlook for the 2003 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering convinced trustees of the International Mission Board to send an additional 200 workers overseas this year.

During their April 26-28 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, board members also elected a new vice president for overseas operations, voted to consolidate eight of the board's regions of work into four, and appointed seventy-six new long-term missionaries for overseas service.

David Steverson, IMB vice president for finance, told the board that prospects for the 2003 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions looked "extremely promising."

With still more than a month to go before the books closed, the offering stood at almost $127 million — about $19 million ahead of the previous year's pace. Steverson said he believed the final total May 31 would exceed the base goal of $133 million.

Toward that end, the trustees adopted a recommendation from their finance committee to add $13 million to the 2004 budget, including an additional $5 million to send 200 long- and short-term missionaries who would not otherwise have been sent because of appointment restrictions imposed in 2003. Another $4 million in additional funds was allocated for capital expenditures such as missionary housing and vehicles.

The remaining $4 million was added to missionary support, a move made necessary because missionary attrition has been lower than expected this past year. It appears, Steverson said, that missionaries who were planning to retire, resign or complete terms decided to stay when they heard last year that new missionaries were being held up for lack of finances.

The trustees responded to the news with an enthusiastic round of applause and shouts of "Hallelujah!"

The IMB was forced to limit appointments and cut stateside staff in June 2003 because income from churches was not keeping pace with strong growth in the number of new missionaries coming forward for overseas service. Rankin had promised to loosen restrictions on appointments if Southern Baptists rose to the funding challenge.

Receipts for the offering appear to be running more than 18 percent ahead of the same period last year.



Religious Freedom Commission Showing Results

Religious liberty has gained a higher profile in the United States and other countries during the last five years even as global persecution persists, members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in presenting their fifth annual report May 12.

The USCIRF, a bipartisan panel of nine members, reported on its work during the last year and provided an analysis of the status of religious freedom in various countries. Members of the commission, which was established by a 1998 law as an independent body to advise the White House and Congress, can see results from their work, some said at a Washington news conference.

USCIRF commissioner Richard Land said he thinks "there's no question that this issue is far higher on our government's radar screen and the radar screen of other governments around the world because of the existence of this commission."

For one thing, the International Religious Freedom Act's requirement of the State Department to issue a yearly report on religious freedom has transformed some of the work of U.S. diplomats, said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

"What's been the result is there has been the development of a significant cadre of career diplomatic corps officers who have been sensitized and made aware of this issue and of the abuses that are taking place around the world in a way that was not prevalent prior to 1998," Land said. "They are listening to us, and they are listening more as they become more sensitized to the problem as a result of preparing these reports and having to interact with the people who have been victimized in the various countries where they serve."

Baptist Press, May 13, 2004

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