|Today's From the States features items from:
Biblical Recorder (North Carolina)
Florida Baptist Children's Homes
Baptist & Reflector (Tennessee)
Page encourages evangelists to
embrace the call, seek vision
By Buddy Overman
SOPHIA, N.C. (Biblical Recorder) -- Although Frank Page is thankful for the gospel of second chances, he also believes that nations and individuals experience irrecoverable moments, or times when decisions lead to eternal consequences.
"I believe our nation is at that moment now. God help us," said Page, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. "I believe that men and women, boys and girls, come to irrecoverable moments. None of us can guarantee that we'll have another chance to get it right."
Page recently spoke during the annual North Carolina Vocational Evangelists Conference at Caraway Conference Center. The two-day conference featured plenary sessions and times of prayer and worship. In addition to Page, plenary speakers included Michael Sowers, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina senior consultant for Great Commission Partnerships; Alvin Reid, associate dean of proclamation studies and evangelism professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Alex McFarland, director of the Center for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University; and Albert Long, evangelist and motivational speaker.
Page encouraged attendees to be attentive to opportunities to witness to people, noting that no one is guaranteed to live another day and that all Christians should make every effort to share the gospel when the opportunity arises, whether from the pulpit or in everyday conversations.
"As an evangelist, as a pastor, as a preacher, as ministers of the gospel, it is incumbent upon us to preach the gospel and to share the gospel because none of us know when we are sharing with someone who desperately needs that word at that moment for that reason to make a decision at that time," he said.
Page said that vocational evangelists must recognize that their calling to share the gospel is a divine calling, and when life is difficult, only the true call of God will sustain and encourage them to remain in ministry. He reminded evangelists to be faithful to what God has called them to do because much is at stake.
"If God called you where you are, then you better rest in that. You better have clarity of call. You need to understand when God called you and what God called you to do," Page said. "The call must not go unheeded. We are in desperate days."
Reid also challenged evangelists to stay true to their calling and to be initiators of revival among God's people. Revival in its purest form always begins with God's people and not with the lost.
"Revival is something God does to the church that overflows in the harvest of souls. It is the people of God coming alive to God for the mission of God," he said. "You don't seek revival for what God will do; you seek revival for a fresh vision from God."
Instead of seeking a fresh vision from God, Reid said believers often desire a return to the norms and practices of previous decades. He encouraged the audience to seek a fresh vision from God that will impact lostness in this generation.
"Thank God for the past, remember the past and the work of God, but move forward," he said. "I believe Christianity is advancing a movement of God and not maintaining the institution of God."
A fresh vision from God does not involve changing the core message of Christianity. The great revivals of past generations share several common traits, the most important of which is a true understanding of the gospel.
"If you go back and read the sermons of the great awakenings they did not preach three steps to revival. They preached the gospel," Reid said. "Don't preach a cross-less gospel. Don't preach a gospel without substitutionary atonement. In the middle of our faith is a bloody cross and a beautiful glorious resurrection."
Reid said another characteristic common among the great revivals of the past is that young people were always the catalyst. Despite growing numbers of young people leaving the church in recent decades, Reid is encouraged by the hunger of today's younger generation for spiritual truth.
"If they are learning trigonometry in high school they can learn theology in church. They want it," he said.
Reid told the audience that the key to reaching the younger generation is to teach them the depths of God's Word, be honest and truthful with them, love them unconditionally and give them grace to live out their faith.
"When you are in churches be very careful not to just criticize teenagers but also encourage them," he said. "Young people need encouragement, they need a vision and they need permission to live for God."
This article appeared in the Biblical Recorder, newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Buddy Overman is in communications for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Family travels to Guatemala on
life-changing mission trip
By FBCH Staff
LAKELAND, Fla. (Florida Baptist Children's Homes) -- Amy Newsome had always dreamed of going on a family mission trip. She wasn't sure when it would happen or where they would go, but she knew this was something she wanted to do.
One day after church she was invited to pray about going with a mother-daughter team, organized by Julie Boyd of Florida Baptist Children's Homes. The international ministry of FBCH, Orphan's Heart, takes mission teams throughout the year to serve at the Children's Malnutrition Center in San Juan, Guatemala.
For Newsome, that meant her son and husband would not be able to go, and she was torn. God was opening a door for her family, but things would be a little different from what she had planned.
She continued to pray and God opened her mind to this opportunity. What if she were able to take her three daughters? What if she could involve her mom? What if her sisters were interested?
Newsome was concerned about the difficulties in coordinating a trip that involved three generations of family serving together. Issues such as finding childcare and taking time off for work were just some of the obstacles they faced. She even prepared herself for a "speech" to give one possibly reluctant family member. As soon as she called and said her first sentence about the trip, her sister enthusiastically replied, "I'm in." Her mother and sister also made arrangements to be able to attend.
Newsome said she believes sharing family history regarding how the trip came about is important so others, "can be encouraged that God is bigger than any barrier man can put in our way."
God kept removing obstacles and opening doors. Finally, their dream became a reality when last April the seven Newsomes, including one grandmother, three mothers, and three children, flew out with a team to the Malnutrition Center in Guatemala.
FBCH and Orphan's Heart mission work in Guatemala focuses on supporting the Children's Malnutrition Center in San Juan, which originally operated as a tuberculosis hospital. In the mid seventies the hospital focus shifted to meet the extensive needs of large numbers of children in the area suffering from malnutrition. Today mission volunteers help out by feeding, holding, bathing, and nurturing the children in the center, which range in age from newborn to age ten.
While there, Newsome and her family ministered to the children in various ways. They bathed them, brushed their hair, changed their diapers, fed them, held them, and loved them. They also ministered to older children in the center by reading Bible stories, teaching songs, making crafts and building a playground.
"We had a wonderful trip and saw God soften the hearts of all of us as we stepped out of our comfort zones," Newsome said.
Returning from the mission field with enthusiasm, Newsome said she and her family are able to tap quickly into their memories of the malnutrition center to bring a transforming perspective to their days.
"It was a reward this side of Heaven for me to see my children serve Jesus alongside their grandma and aunt and love on those precious Guatemalan children," Newsome said.
Her three daughters brought insights and perspectives of their own after reflecting on the trip.
Britnee Newsome, 10, said she saw the children eat pureed chicken fat, noting, "they loved it because it was all they had, and it was better than nothing. I adored going and helping these wonderful children, and I pray that I can go back another day and visit them."
Courtnee Newsome, 12, said God made her more aware of her surroundings and blessings through a changed heart.
"God gave me so much joy while I was serving Him in Guatemala. I had the best time of my life, and I would go back any minute," Courtnee said.
Ashlee Newsome, 14, recalled how the children ran to them with open arms each day, just to receive a loving touch.
"This touched my heart because it was a perfect demonstration of how we should run to our Heavenly Father, and when we do, we will be loved and God will provide for all of our needs," Ashlee said.
The faces of the children and the joy that shined through them has obviously stayed with the Newsomes. Family members continually reflect on how these helpless children welcomed them with open arms. Continued...