October 20, 2011 Print Edition

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Baptists in Iraqi’s Kurdistan mark historic milestone for Christians

DOHUK, KURDISTAN, Iraq (FBW)-Just as the sun was rising in the west Sept. 29, a new day dawned in Iraqi Kurdistan as Governor Tamar Ramadhan gave Baptists two acres of land worth $2 million for the Grace Baptist Cultural Center—a multi-phase project including a medical clinic, school, athletic facility, church building and seminary in the town of Simele.

Standing in for Ramadhan, Gurgis Shlaymun, the deputy governor of Kurdistan’s Regional Government in Dohuk, joined a team from Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pensacola, along with Iraqi, Jordanian and Brazilian Baptists and other evangelical Christians at an hour-long ceremony prior to cementing the top on an engraved, marble cornerstone marking the new property.

‘Imagine if I had mistreated him,’ Iraqi pastor says of Kurdistan governor

DOHUK, KURDISTAN, Iraq (FBW)-In a place once called “the land of rivers,” or Mesopotamia, in 1974 there was a young man who needed helpers in surveying sites for dams.

On a roadside in Simele, an ancient village near Dohuk—where the fertile land is fed from the Duhok River—the man, Farouk Hammo, saw two young men sitting by the side of the road and told them, “I need some helpers.”

“Here I am; I’ll work and my friend will do the work as well,” one of the young men told Hammo.

‘ReVision Florida’ campaign to emphasize ‘Revival, Renewal & Refocus’

ORLANDO (FBC)- “There is going to have to be a movement of God among us” to bring revival and renewal to Florida Baptists, observed Clayton Cloer, pastor of First Baptist Church of Central Florida in Orlando.

The Orlando pastor spoke Oct. 10 to a group of 22 fellow pastors and Florida Baptist Convention staff at the first of seven regional meetings Cloer is hosting to introduce and create awareness about “ReVision Florida,” a marketing emphasis designed to encourage revival, spiritual renewal and refocusing upon the Great Commission.

The “ReVision Florida” emphasis is one of 27 action plans recently approved by the State Board of Missions. The plans were in response to recommendations proposed by the “Imagine If. . . Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Taskforce” that were approved by the Florida Baptist State Convention last Nov. 8-9, 2010.

Crawford roasted, honored for 30 years as Westside pastor

GAINESVILLE (FBW)—For 30 years at Westside Baptist Church in Gainesville, Pastor Gary Crawford and the congregation have shared times of joy and grief, both of which were present Oct. 2 during a special banquet honoring the pastor for his anniversary.

Part-roast, part-tribute, the two-hour service featured church staff, former staff, friends, ministry colleagues and family taking playful jabs at some of Crawford’s idiosyncrasies and lavishing praise on his stewardship of congregation that has experienced significant growth in three decades.

GCR’s reach to be seen at state conventions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—The impact and impetus of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) will be addressed in half of the Baptist state convention annual meetings this fall.

Many of the proposals by special study committees call for restructuring state ministries in order to encourage church planting while some would free up a great portion of Cooperative Program receipts for ministry beyond the states.

Florida pastor struck by ‘historic’ nature of partnership in Iraqi’s Kurdistan

DOHUK, KURDISTAN, Iraq (FBW)—When a pastor from Baghdad told a team from Florida and others they would be taking part in “the most historic day in the history of the Christian church in Iraq,” Jim Locke, senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pensacola took note.

“I thought that was a pretty extreme statement,” Locke said.

Point of View: Mormonism, political endorsements and voting: A pastor’s thoughts

It’s the hot question. Is Mormonism a cult? The catalyst for this discussion is the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon. Governor Romney’s candidacy has put a lot of evangelicals in an awkward position. If he becomes the Republican nominee, or if they would otherwise support him as a candidate, can they still support him if they think he is a member of a cult?

Point of View: The grace of giving

My mind has tried to wrap itself around giving. Now that’s not abnormal. There is rarely a day of my life that I do not think about giving—personal or corporate. Here are some thoughts my mind has completed lately.

Point of View: Dave says

Dave Says is a column featuring the financial advice of nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey, the Dave Says column is filled with timely, relevant questions and answers taken from actual calls on Ramsey's radio program, The Dave Ramsey Show.

Point of View: Is Jesus the only way of salvation?

According to the 2008 Religious Landscape Report by the Pew Forum, 70 percent of Americans affirm the position that “many religions can lead to eternal life.” Shockingly, according to this survey of the religious beliefs of Americans, 57 percent of conservative evangelical Christians affirmed salvation outside of Christ. Although the Baptist Faith and Message states, “There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord,” in my experience an increasing number of Baptists deny that Jesus is the only way of salvation.

Point of View: The 0.2% Solution: Crunching the same-sex marriage

The pressure to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples keeps increasing. The impression is given that thousands upon thousands of gays and lesbians are unable to do the one thing they want to do more than anything else: That is, have a wedding.

Orlando pastor: Faith is giving, sacrificing, taking risks

WEST PALM BEACH (PBA)—In speaking to students at Palm Beach Atlantic University in a chapel service Oct. 12, David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando and president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, said he challenges his congregation to act on its faith, not just proclaim it.

“Faith is not what you say. If saying something is all that it is, it would have had impact,” Uth said.

Florida’s Frank Moreno named to SBC’s Hispanic Advisory Council

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—Members of a Hispanic Advisory Council have been named to work in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, North American Mission Board and other SBC entities toward “more fully integrating Hispanic Baptist churches into the total fabric of Southern Baptist life and ministry.”

The 18-member advisory council will be co-chaired by Daniel Sanchez and Bob Sena.

John 6:5-13, 35-40: October 30—Satisfaction found

I believe it was Dr. James Kennedy who recounted how he became involved in soul-winning. After being graduated from seminary and entering into a church as pastor, he invited a fellow minister to lead in an outreach program. He was thrilled as they visited in homes of the unsaved and watched as the guest preacher led people to the Lord. He immediately set up soul-winning classes and trained church members on how to make a soul-winning presentation. To his surprise, nothing happened. Then it dawned on him what made the difference. He, a seminary graduate and trained Christian worker, had no evangelistic fire until a fellow preacher took him into homes and demonstrated how to conduct a witnessing conversation. He started a new approach by pairing up interested outreach people with an experienced soul-winner. The simple, but effective lesson he learned was, evangelism is caught, not taught.

Exodus 3:1-6, 10-15; 4:10-12: November 6—Accept the call

Few, if any, leaders in world history have had the impact on Western civilization as Moses. He led an entire nation out of captivity, presided over the people as they embraced a written covenant making them a nation, and was the instrument through which God provided the Ten Commandments, moral mandates that still set the standard for society as we know it.

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