December 24, 2009 Print Edition

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Liberty Counsel files closing arguments in religious liberty case

PENSACOLA (FBW)—Is “God Bless America”—the unofficial anthem of the United States—illegal in the Santa Rosa County School District?

That’s the argument of lawyers seeking to intervene in a potential landmark religious liberty case concerning an ACLU-written “Consent Decree” sharply curtailing religious speech in the Pensacola-area school district.

God Bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her; Thru the night with a light from above.

Thousands walk & drive through re-creations of ancient Bethlehem

ORLANDO (FBW)—Several churches in Florida offered their communities a taste of first century Bethlehem this season. Visitors drove through or walked through scenes of Jesus’ life while guides shared the scenes’ meaning in the Gospel message.

For ten years Delaney Street Baptist Church has invited residents of its Orlando neighborhood to spend a December evening at the church. Over four nights Dec. 10-13, the cast of 100 recreates scenes from Jesus’ life while guides shepherd groups of ten through the L-shaped display area. They see Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth—the crowded inn and marketplace, and the stable. The tour culminates in Jerusalem at the sites of the Crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb and His resurrection.

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.

Former Planned Parenthood director talks about her change of heart

BRYAN, Texas (BP)—Abby Johnson had never felt so alone. Sitting in her Planned Parenthood office and weeping, Johnson, who was raised Southern Baptist, knew God had called her to leave her job as director of the women's health and abortion clinic and join forces with the Coalition for Life advocates just down the street.

The call was unmistakable. But the courage to take the step of faith to leave her job with no other prospects in sight-and invest herself in a movement that was diametrically opposed to the life she had lived the past eight years-was harder to muster.

The tsunami: Couple, left childless, befriend orphans

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dec. 26 marks the fifth anniversary since a series of devastating tsunamis hit the Indian Ocean in 2004. One of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history, the storm struck 11 countries and left more than 225,000 people dead. Southern Baptists gave more than $17 million in tsunami relief funds. The following article shares the journey of an Indian couple, Paramesvaran and Choodamani, in finding hope again, underscoring the help Southern Baptists were able to provide through International Mission Board representative Cole Elbridge* and Baptists’ giving through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

TAMIL NADU, India (BP)—“Daddy, what’s that?”

Paramesvaran looked toward the ocean. Curiosity turned to horror as a 30-foot wave bore down on him and 5-year-old son Kirubasan. He grabbed the boy and ran.

Baptist pioneer dies at 93

NEW ORLEANS (BP)—Helen Driscoll, one of the first female graduates of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as well as a trailblazing Christian educator, has died at 93.

Driscoll died Dec. 6 in Metarie, La., in the New Orleans area. In 1956, she and her husband, the late pastor Paul Driscoll, founded Mid-City Baptist School, now Crescent City Christian School in Metairie, which serves children from daycare through high school. Driscoll also authored two books and numerous Bible study materials.

Baptist state conventions remain pro-family, evangelistic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—Pro-family issues remain the most often cited concern in resolutions adopted at the 41 state Baptist convention meetings. Prayer for the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and concern for military forces followed as the next most often mentioned in resolutions voiced by messengers to the annual gatherings.

Messengers in Kentucky, South Carolina and Wyoming expressed concern over threats to the sanctity of human life appearing in proposed federal health care legislation. The Wyoming resolution encouraged other believers “to seriously consider the terrible impact” that government-funded abortion would have on the nation and resolve to “prayerfully prepare to actively respond, as God would desire and lead, to this national wanton disregard for innocent and defenseless human life.”

Hunt prostate surgery set for Jan. 7

WOODSTOCK, Ga. (BP)—Johnny Hunt will undergo surgery Jan. 7 to remove a cancerous prostate, according to a spokesman for the Atlanta-area church where Hunt serves as pastor.

Parents of preschoolers get their own SS class

BATON ROUGE, La. (BP)—One person saw the need and another person saw the opportunity, but it was the Sunday School teacher equipped with the right curriculum who brought the vision into focus.

Deleece Nichols, daycare director at Florida Boulevard Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La., noticed too many parents of her preschoolers were not attending Sunday School. She mentioned her observation to her pastor, Randy Johnson, who then asked his assistant Dottie Gore to pray about starting a class specifically for parents of preschoolers.

Small Canadian church produces feature film, ‘The Scarf’

MAPLE RIDGE, British Columbia (BP)—Many people who have seen “The Scarf,” a new feature-length film produced by a Canadian Baptist church, are giving it “two thumbs up.”

“This is really a tremendous piece of work,” said Alan Braun, pastor of Royal Heights Baptist Church in Delta, British Columbia. “They’ve done a super job, way beyond what I thought they would be able to do.”

The reaction is even more surprising when considering the fact that the church behind the film—The Connection, a Canadian National Baptist Convention church plant in metro Vancouver—has no more than 50 people in attendance on Sundays.

IMB reports 500,000 baptisms in ‘08

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)—”You could be killed for talking about Jesus around here.”

That’s what a Muslim named Bershi* told missionary Luke Jenkins* after Jenkins shared the Gospel with him.

Point of View: Global warming as religion—You had to see it coming

Religious freedom is one of the most difficult and vexing issues of our day—whether the subject is Muslim schoolgirls in France or Christian photographers in New Mexico.

And that’s before gov­ernment starts calling just about any sincerely held belief a “religion.”

Jacksonville chaplain baptizes two military personnel in Philippines

PHILIPPINES (FBW)—Lt. Col. Chaplain Steve Thompson, pastor of Crown Point Baptist Church in Jacksonville, recently reported what he says he believes are the first baptisms of U. S. military personnel in the Philippines in the seven years “we have trained and encouraged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to deal with their terrorist threats,” he said.

Deployed since Aug. 15, Thompson serves with the Air National Guard in the Asian nation.

Myanmar refugees find spiritual ally in cultural maze

JACKSONVILLE (FBC)—They escaped the jungles of Asian country once known as Burma a persecuted people, fearing death from a hostile and Buddhist dominated Myanmar government.

Exiled to refugee camps along the Thailand border, many waited for decades for God to deliver them.

Now living in low-income housing in the shadows of Jacksonville’s skyscrapers, the Karen people are coping with a new life in a foreign land unable to speak the language and ignorant of the culture.

Hilliard church builds house, helps dying father realize dream for his family

HILLIARD (FBW)—For River Road Baptist Church in Hilliard, the Christmas season of giving began six months ago when the congregation accepted the challenged to build a house for a family with a cancer-stricken father and autistic children.

The dedication of the home Dec. 19, however, was tinged with sadness. Less than 24 hours earlier George White, 45, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer Dec. 16, was memorialized less than five miles away.

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