Archive for August, 2009

Christmas missions opportunities

August 31, 2009

“And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10 & 11

Gifts are a major part of Christmas. But the greatest Christmas gift of all was the gift of a Savior. You can be part of sharing that gift through Go Now Christmas Missions. The list of opportunities for Christmas Break Missions is available at Below is a short description of the opportunities. Go to the web site to read more and to begin the application process.

Dream Harvesting – Be part of a cultural festival in the Middle East where you can meet follow college students and share your story of knowing Christ.

Go to the Mountains – Share the true Christmas story through English corners and parties with on a college campus in rural East Asia.

Living on the Other Side – There is enough food in the world to feel every9one, so why are people hungry? Come experience how you can be part of the solution at the World Relief Farm.

Operation Go Extreme Team – Hike into the mountains of Nicaragua where there is little access to the gospel to distribute copies of the Bible and show the Jesus film.

Orphan Boot Missions – Travel to Transniestria to place socks and boots on the feet of orphans and others in need.

UPG Village Prayer Walking Team – Be part of beginning a work among Unreached People Groups by hiking to and Prayer walk through 4-6 villages a day in Indochina.

Urban Outreach – Build relationships over coffee; distribute scripture and prayer walk in a Northern African mega city as you share the gift of salvation.

Application Deadline: Oct. 5, 2009
Interviews: Oct. 10, 2009
Questions: Call 888-288-1853 or email

kudzu Jesus

August 29, 2009


A “kudzu Jesus” has been spotted in North Carolina. Having grown up in Tennessee, I’m quite familiar with kudzu and trust me, there’s nothing holy about it. It made me think though…if we Christians were as adept at spreading our beliefs as this vine-weed is at spreading over everything that moves slower than 3 mph, the whole world would be Christ followers already.

Truett Seminary recognizes five honorary alumni

August 26, 2009

Truett Seminary will honored a variety of Baptists on Tuesday as honorary alumni, including BGCT President David Lowrie. Here’s the release from Baylor that landed in my inbox on Monday:

George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University will honor five people as honorary alumni during its fall convocation at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, at the seminary’s Paul W. Powell Chapel.

The honorary alumni are Mark Brister, founder of Mark Brister Ministries of Alvarado; the Rev. Dorisanne Cooper, pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco; Kathy Hillman, associate professor and director of Special Collections for Bayor’s Central Libraries; the Rev. David Lowrie, pastor of First Baptist Church in Canyon and president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; and Bernie Moraga, Hispanic Initiative and missional church specialist with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

BUA to hold Mary Hill Davis missions conference

August 26, 2009

Here’s the release from BUA. For more information, visit

A “merge-model” of Hispanic ministry, practical advice for short-term mission volunteers from a key Kenya Baptist leader, and riches of resources for churches doing cross-cultural ministry make up this year’s Mary Hill Davis Missions Conference at Baptist University of the Americas on Sept. 11-12.

The registration fee of $25 ($20 for members of BGCT churches) includes printed materials from the workshops and the Woman’s Missionary Union banquet on Friday evening. The conference, for anyone involved in planning mission work in their churches, ends Saturday at noon to be followed by a free admission,  community-wide missions fair.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to hone Baptists’ ‘mission-ability’ and honor the on-going leadership of WMU in carrying out the Great Commission,” BUA President Rene Maciel said. “We will be privileged to learn some Missions 101 from Nairobi pastor Elijah Wanje and are convinced that First Baptist Church Kaufmann can teach a lot of us about how to cross cultural barriers to become the unified church Christ prayed for.

Co-sponsors of the conference are Baptist General Convention of Texas, Texas WMU, Hispanic WMU, Texas Partnership Missions, San Antonio Baptist Association, Buckner International, Baptist Credit Union, and Anchored Love Ministries.

The Friday dinner will feature presentations by Texas WMU president Joy Fenner, Texas Hispanic WMU president Bea Mesquias, and WMU interim executive director Nelda Seal.

The conference runs from 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11 through noon, Saturday, Sept. 11.  The missions fair is noon- 5 p.m. Saturday.

Love in Action

August 25, 2009

Last week some of the staff at the Baptist General Convention of Texas touched the neighborhood where we work. The opportunity came to partner with Roseland Community Center to provide school supplies and backpacks. Under Gerald Davis’ leadership we  set up a great block party. What’s better on a hot summer day than hot dogs, hamburgers, and watermelon? Snow cones and popcorn only added to the fun. The bounce house was a huge hit.

What touched me most was seeing the faces of moms and children who received back packs, school supplies and hygiene kits. They were excited about a new school year and grateful to have some help. The word’s of Jesus came to mind, “When you do this for the least of these, you do it for me.”

Another gift given was the Texas Hope 2010 “What’s Missing?” CD.  Back packs and school supplies are good but the best gift of all is Jesus. I pray that our Roseland neighbors saw Jesus in us. We are praying that they will find hope in Him. 

What are you doing in your neighborhood to put God’s love into action? As we approach the Week of Prayer for Texas Missions and the Mary Hill Davis Offering, we’ll be giving to over 90 ministries that give hope to Texans in neighborhoods all over our state. Love is put into action when we do evangelism, minister to human need, encourage new believers, and start new churches.  Last Friday I saw Mary Hill Davis dollars put to good use.  Thanks, Texas Baptists for helping me love the Roseland community of Dallas.  I want to help you love your part of Texas.

Starting the school year right

August 25, 2009

rebaThanks to Texas Baptists, 1,000 students are ready and hopeful for their first day of school.

Working with Frito-Lay and a local cosmetics school, Texas Baptist Men and the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board staff provided lunch, backpacks, school supplies and gospel presentations for 1,000 students in a community near downtown Dallas.

The staff also distributed 600 hygiene kits filled with combs, deodorants, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Fifty students received free haircuts and 50 school uniforms were donated to J.W. Ray Elementary School.

This is the second year BGCT staff members have partnered with the Roseland Community Center to help students. BGCT Community Development Director Gerald Davis, who spearheaded the effort, said the projects provide an avenue for BGCT staff to work together on a practical Texas Hope 2010 project that involves praying for a neighborhood, caring for its members and sharing the gospel. 

“I think this effort demonstrates even from headquarters we are implementing and being a part of the 2010 initiative,” Davis said. “We are serious about spreading the gospel with every person in Texas. We are committed to not allowing a child go to bed without a meal.”

BGCT staff members have raised $20,000 to place multimedia gospel compact discs in every home within a mile radius of the Baptist Building. Roughly 1,000 of those CDs were distributed through the school supply giveaway. Staff members also gave away 200 flying discs with gospel presentations on them.

Through Texas Hope 2010, Texas Baptists are seeking to share the gospel with every Texan by Easter 2010. Part of that effort is placing Scripture in all 8.8 million Texas homes by Easter 2010. One of the tools Texas Baptists are using to do that is a multimedia CD that costs $1 a piece.

Davis said he hopes the event helps students discover the hope that Christ provides and starts their school year well.

“It’s a humbling experience to be part of what He is doing as He brings wholeness and wellness to our community,” Davis said.

Landmark human trafficking bill signed

August 24, 2009

signingAUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry signed into law Aug. 20 landmark legislation against human trafficking, a bill the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission helped navigate the lawmaking process.

The bill makes Texas the first state in the nation to provide assistance to domestic human trafficking victims, which account for 74 percent of the sex trade market. According to the U.S. State Department, nearly 20 percent of the nation’s human trafficking victims come through Texas, and Houston and El Paso recently were named major human trafficking hubs.

“Most people think human trafficking happens elsewhere in places like Thailand and Cambodia, but the reality is that it is happening in our own backyard,” said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, who authored the legislation that also was sponsored by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. “In fact, the vast majority of the victims identified within Texas are actually our own citizens.”

The bill establishes a statewide Human Trafficking Prevention Taskforce in the attorney general’s office, creates a human trafficking training component for law enforcement officers, starts a program to connect services to human trafficking victims and begins a grant from groups that provide assistance to domestic human trafficking victims.

“The taskforce created by this bill will focus state efforts on ending this criminal activity that primarily targets women and children,” Perry said. “Human trafficking is a serious problem, and this legislation sends a message to those who would profit from exploiting others in this fashion – Texas won’t stand for it.”

The CLC was one of a number of community and faith-based groups who backed the legislation. Human trafficking was one of the issues that was highlighted and discussed during the CLC Annual Conference this year.

“The bill signing today is sends an important message: ‘human beings are not for sale in Texas,’” said CLC Director Suzii Paynter. “Passage of this legislation is the result of the cooperative efforts of advocates, agencies and bipartisan leaders to improve prevention and prosecution of modern day slavery.

“We applaud the efforts of Attorney General Greg Abbott and his staff, who have provided a blueprint for action. The Christian Life Commission has worked to bring awareness and cooperation for this issue through legislative work and congregational education, including a presentation at the CLC Conference by Sen. Van De Putte, a major author of human trafficking legislation. Sadly, the job is not done. The taskforce created by this legislation will continue taking steps to end human trafficking in Texas.”

Want to do something about human trafficking? The CLC and BGCT Community Care Ministry also provide ministry opportunities to do something to combat human trafficking. You can purchase Good News Goods at to support missional businesses helping victims. You can contact Tomi Grover at for victim assistance ministry in Texas.

Grace Misunderstood

August 24, 2009

les misOn a recent business trip I took the opportunity to listen to my favorite musical, Les Miserables, while driving. It made the time go buy quickly and I’m sure people laughed as they drove by watching me sing. But, I didn’t care.

If you are unfamiliar with the story it takes place during the time leading up to the French Revolution. The lead character Jean Valjean, was imprisoned for stealing bread to feed his starving family. Valjean creates a new life for himself as a businessman after a priest takes him in, gives him food and shelter and eventually confirms Valjean’s story that the silver (which he stole) was a gift to him when confronted by inspector Javert. Javert is the lead policeman who tracks him down throughout the story and catches up with him only to either have him slip away or once, even let him go.

Valjean was given a second chance by the priest who granted grace for stealing silver from his family. The priest also told Valjean that he prayed for his soul. Valjean took this grace and changed his life for the better. He began doing things for people and for community and enabled other less fortunate people to better their situations.

As the French Revolution begins, Javert is captured by the rebellion as a spy and is handed over to Valjean to “do what he wants with him.” Javert immediately expects to be killed by his captor who has chased him for decades. Instead, Valjean lets him go free. Javert can’t understand or accept this as he spent his life assuming that his way of law was the way of God. To owe a debt he couldn’t repay to someone whom he considers beneath him tore at his character and he committed suicide.

Both were offered grace. Both reacted differently.

I am offered grace. How do I respond? How do I live it out? How do I share it?

You are offered grace. How do you respond? How do you live it? How do you share it?

Twenty-four-year-old youth minister dies of heat stroke

August 19, 2009

NathanSome knew Nathan Neel as the guy who always had a smile on his face and who gave great hugs. Others said he was the most authentic and loving friend they had ever known or that he was the guy who would always ask how you were and really want to know the true answer. For me, he was a constant encourager and a wonderful example of a godly man.

Nathan, a 24-year-old lifelong Lubbock resident, was just finding his niche in ministry when his life ended on Fri., Aug. 14. Nathan had just accepted a youth ministry position at New Home Baptist Church just south of Lubbock, but wanted to take a daytrip to visit one of his favorite locations, Palo Duro Canyon. He desired to spend some time alone with God before he became busy with his new job. While there, Nathan suffered a heat stroke that ended his life.

In 2004, Nathan’s life radically changed when he became a follower of Christ while at Paradigm, a college worship service at First Baptist Church in Lubbock. Since then, Nathan has passionately sought the Lord, being obedient to seek him first and love others as Christ loved him.

In January 2006, Nathan pursued his heart for ministry as he became the college ministry intern at Bacon Heights Baptist Church in Lubbock. Nathan poured his heart into the guys’ ministry, leading small group Bible studies to planning prayer events to discipling freshmen. Nathan always took the time to help people and make them feel loved.

I met Nathan when I transferred to Texas Tech University in fall 2006. At a time in my life when everything was new and I hadn’t made any friends yet, Nathan became a friendly face on campus and at Bacon Heights Baptist, always remembering  my name and encouraging  me to use my time at Tech to serve Christ and share Him with others.

Within the last year, Nathan again was a constant encourager to me as I served as a Go Now missionary in South Asia for 6 months. Every few weeks, I received an encouraging Facebook message reminding me that he was praying for me. That’s how Nathan was toward anyone he met. He loved and cared for each unconditionally and selflessly. He was a true disciple seeking to love people just like his Master.

For more information about Nathan Neel, click here.

A worship service to celebrate Nathan’s life will be held Thurs. Aug. 20 at 1 p.m. at Bacon Heights Baptist Church in Lubbock.

If only…

August 19, 2009

Last Thursday, I spent the afternoon hearing the amazing stories of Texas college students who served this year as Go Now missionaries in Texas, across America and around the world. This year, Go Now Missions commissioned 330 students to serve in 14 states and 33 countries.

As I listened to students share about seeing people’s lives changed, many mentioned that God used them in spite of their weaknesses and self-doubts.  Many times, others will hear their stories and think that they possess the “super human mission gene,” when in reality, they are just students who let the power of the Holy Spirit run through them.

Yes, they may have amazing stories of ways they shared the gospel, but none of that would have happened unless they completely surrendered their lives, realizing their weaknesses and allowing God to use his power through them.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, the apostle Paul said, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

As I heard the students’ stories, repeatedly they said, “If God used us in our weakness and doubt, then he can use anyone.”

So many times, we followers of Christ make excuses about sharing the gospel with people different from us or in a land that is unfamiliar to us. We have a list of “if only’s” that we speak instead of trusting our Heavenly Father who is capable of all things. I am guilty of this too.

So many times we say, “I would serve if only… if only I had money to pay for the trip… if only my parents were supportive… if only I knew how… if only I didn’t have to work… if only I had confidence… if only I could speak another language… if only I had been a Christian longer… if only… if only… if only.”

Acts 20:24 says, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

What is your “If only” right now? We all have them, but let’s be like the Go Now students who walked in God’s grace and allowed His power to change them and others in the process.