Posts Tagged ‘Baptists’
At this point in the life of this blog, hundreds of posts have appeared in this place. I hope some of them have warmed your heart, some have challenged your thinking and some simply have been informative about the Texas Baptist ministries.
But I’m struggling to remember one that was harder to write than the one I’m attempting now. For several members of our team, this is our last night in Peru. We are excited to return home, enthusiastic about seeing our families once again.
However, we’ve seen so many needs in this country that can be filled through the ministry of Villa Milagro if it only had the resources to do so. Orphans are in need. Children are wanting help. Schools are seeking clean water. Entire cities are thirsting for clean drinking water and enough food to feed their residents. Medical needs are consistent throughout rural areas.
In the last several days, Rex and I have tried to share some of these stories with you via video and words. We hope they have touched your heart like the people in them have touched ours.
Tonight, let me leave you with one last story of hope made possible by gifts through the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger.
Earlier today, Texas Baptists Advocacy/Care Center Director Suzii Paynter and Texas Baptist World Hunger Offering Specialist Joyce Gilbreath threw the switch that uncorked a new well at a small electricity-less school near Chiclayo. With that simple action, fresh, clean water spewed from a pipe. (click here to see photos from throughout the trip, including today)
With God’s provision, soon a pump will be placed on the well that will send clean water throughout the school and the community. The students and residents will grow stronger, healthier. The sandy terrain will turn green with lush vegetation that provides a bounty for all to eat.
Villa Milagro follow-up teams will meet additional needs in the school. And each time they do, they will share their faith with the students and faculty when the Lord prompts them to do so. People will come to know Him for the first time.
The land will be transformed in every way.
Today we visited several schools near Chiclayo where gifts through the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger helped Villa Milagro drill water wells. At each place, the school directors thanked Texas Baptists for their generosity and Villa Milagro for its work.
In at least one of the schools, the well helped the institution have functioning bathrooms, places where children could wash their hands and any source of clean drinkable water. One teacher pulled me into her classroom and explained how her students were healthier, stronger and more attentive in class since a well was installed in her school. The children were growing into their full potential.
The future is growing brighter for these students, and, in turn, for Peru.
Take 14-year-old Thalia. I met her and some teenage boys working in a school’s field. The farming made possible by the well gives students a place to learn how to farm, and the vegetables they produce provide food for the students.
While the boys remained quiet around the camera-carrying stranger who barely spoke their language, Thalia stepped forward. She didn’t speak much English, but didn’t seem to mind the language barrier. In fact, she seemed excited to challenge it, and her enthusiasm overcame it.
She spoke about the vegetables the students were raising. Then she showed me her classroom, encouraging me to examine it closely. She became more excited as she gave me a tour of where the students care for animals that also provide food for the school.
Here in this school, Thalia was learning practical and educational skills that will help her in the future. The clean drinking water provided a place where she could grow in strength and in knowledge. There she could learn. There she could dream. Any dream she’d like.
It’s places like those where anything is possible. I asked Thalia what she wanted to be when she was older. She told me she wanted to be a doctor.
A place like her school can help that dream take another step toward reality. It’s places like that school, that make Peru’s future bright.
And Texas Baptists had a small part in it. Wouldn’t you like to be part of making a difference like that? If so, consider giving to the hunger offering.
I’ve had this post bottled up for several days. It’s time that it’s written.
Nathan Porter, you are the most interesting man in the world.
I’m not sure how else I can describe you. You are a friend of the world, and it is your friend as well. You’ve never met a stranger and have yet to encounter someone who treats you like one. Your every word is fascinating, every story passionate.
I’m simply glad you’re on this trip. It’s been a pleasure spending this time with you.
Here’s proof that it’s dangerous to ever give me a microphone. More importantly, you can hear Carolyn Strickland’s heart for the hungry as she reflects on what she is seeing this week in Peru.
In today’s culture, shepherding a church or group of people behind a singular vision may be one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. In the hyper-individual U.S., members of what are commonly considered monolithic groups are exposing themselves to a variety of philosophies and groups who are trying to accomplish good goals. As people support these groups, they become passionate about them and their causes, and they bring them to the churches they are part of.
That creates a stream of people coming to the pastor’s office asking the church to support this cause or that cause, this organization or that. Add to it, the daily deluge of marketing materials that comes from practically any Christian group of any size, and a church quickly has a quagmire of needs to sort through.
During today’s travel day, I asked Van Christian, pastor of First Baptist Church in Comanche, how he decides what to advocate his church support. His congregation began giving to the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger before he became pastor, but he includes some thoughts about the hunger offering as well.
For me, there’s basically a three-fold test. The first thing is it can’t just be generically good. It has be something that is a mandate of Christ for us to do. The second test is it has to be a responsible use of the money. By that I mean, so many of the things you give to go to overhead … so not a lot of your money goes to what you intend. Thirdly, it has to be something that you’re being a good steward. You’re helping the people do the best ministry with your money. Something that’s really good that’s going help three people, isn’t something I’m going to lead out in.
That helps Van sort through a lot of the requests that come to his church. But not all of them. He explains another consideration: limited resources. Not every church has enough funds to make a significant impact for every cause. Some simply require more resources than a church has before a tangible result is seen. Spreading funds haphazardly thin limits a congregation’s impact.
You recognize the fact that you can’t do every good project. You look at what’s going to be the best investment of finite resources that you have.
Van says the last step may be the most important practically. A church must have a core member who is passionate enough to spearhead the effort. Without that, it will never gain traction within the congregation.
Any kind of offering like that is going to have to be important to someone in my church.
For First Baptist Church in Comanche, the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger meets all these requirements. It follows Christ’s mandate to feed the hungry. Ninety-two percent of offering gifts go directly to missions efforts, while the rest goes for promotion. It helps a multitude of people in need.
It truly has a worldwide impact. The money we send to the world hunger offering goes from Bownwood 30 miles from us to all the way around the world. And the amount of people it helps is probably incalculable, but is hundreds of thousands.
We can honestly know the money we have given was used in a positive to way to help people in the same manner that Christ commanded us to do.
Villa Milagro is a multi-faceted ministry that stretches across Peru. It seeks to meet human needs in an effort to open avenues through which the gospel can be shared with people looking for hope for today and eternity.
Yesterday, our team landed in Cajamarca, Peru, the base for Villa Milagro, and went to a government-run orphanage in town. Shortly after arriving at the orphanage, we were greeted by 52 smiling and energetic children. They ran circles around us, played basketball and clamored for candy, bandanas and balloon animals that team members brought to the orphanage or made there.
The young people were healthy and strong, vibrant and vivacious.
But that wasn’t always the case.
Children used to miss breakfast each day. They’d eat a bit of soup for lunch. And a little food for dinner. They would get to eat a small amount of meat twice a week. They were drinking contaminated water, which was continually keeping them ill.
Then people with Villa Milagro came to help. They drilled a water well — Villa Milagro’s water well drilling is partially supported by the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger — on the orphanage’s campus, which provided clean water for all the children.
With that taken care of, the orphanage began working with Villa Milagro to see if other needs could be met. Through God’s provision, the ministry supplemented the children’s meals, giving them breakfast, rounding out the others, giving the orphans a source of milk for the first time. Children began growing stronger and healthier.
But physical nutrition isn’t all the children needed. Villa Milagro brought in volunteer teams from the United States who showed the orphans that other people indeed cared about them. They provided balls and toys for the young people. Each year, they repaint the orphanage’s buildings.
As volunteers visit, they share about the love of Christ. A pair of orphanage house mothers have come to know Christ. Some of the children are going to a local Baptist church.
There are still many needs in the orphanage. The miner dorms where the children live need to be repaired. Each of the children need to feel the continuous love of someone who cares for them on a long-term basis. When children turn 18, they are given a blanket and escorted out of the gate to fend for themselves.
While respecting the goverment, Villa Milagro is doing everything it can to shower these children with the love of Christ. But they need additional help. Each of us can provide that help. How will you? Click the links above to learn more about Villa Milagro and the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger.
Where His love is shown, His love is known.
For the past year, we’ve shown described a multitude of ways gifts through the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger helps Texans have something to say grace over. This week, we hope to give you a glimpse into one of the many, many ways gifts through the offering impact people around the globe.
For the next several days, we’re spending time with some of the folks at Villa Milago, a Peru ministry run by Larry and Joy Johnson of San Angelo that is supported by the hunger offering.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas will now be known simply as Texas Baptists, its Executive Board voted Sept. 29.
Last November, the BGCT Future Focus Committee suggested the convention change its name, and messengers referred the decision to the Executive Board. After some study, the board voted to trademark the Baptist General Convention of Texas as Texas Baptists. The legal name will continue to be the Baptist General Convention of Texas, but the convention will be known as Texas Baptists.
BGCT Executive Director Randel Everett said the arrangement allows the convention to clearly communicate its identity and reflects how Texas Baptists think of themselves while valuing its history.
“The Baptist General Convention of Texas can be cumbersome to say and difficult to explain,” Everett said.
“This is primarily how we identify ourselves as a body of believers.”
In a busy day of business, the board also approved a $44.029 million 2010 proposed BGCT budget. Of that proposal, $37.615 million is budgeted to be given through the BGCT Cooperative Program. An additional $2.35 million is to come from investment income and $1.25 million is to be used from reserves, though BGCT Treasurer Jill Larsen hopes all those reserve funds will not be needed. Additional funds will come from other sources such as the Southern Baptist Convention North American Mission Board and revenue.
She described the economy as going through a “moose recovery” where it is slowly pulling out of the recession, but is going through peaks and valleys as it does that. Larsen said BGCT leaders sought to put together an attainable 2010 budget proposal as they planned.
“We went into this budget cycle looking for a realistic, conservative budget,” Larsen said.
In order to make the budget, the BGCT cut some of its giving toward its employees’ respective retirement accounts. Neither BGCT staff leaders or Executive Board members liked the action, but taking it meant avoiding eliminating staff positions and ministry funds.
“I want to commend them [for taking the action],” said Bruce Webb, pastor of First Baptist Church in The Woodlands. “But frankly, I’m a little embarrassed to be cutting their retirement.”
Ed Jackson, a member of First Baptist Church in Garland, reminded the board that the proposed budget is simply that. Congregations’ willingness to give determines whether the budget is fulfilled. The budget proposal next goes before messengers to the BGCT Annual Meeting Nov. 16-17.
“The churches have the final vote on this budget,” he said.
The BGCT Executive Board staff is running at 90 percent of the approved 2009 convention budget. Giving through the Cooperative Program is running at 88.89 percent of the budget.
Giving to the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions is running at 92.47 percent, and giving to the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger is running at a 113.75 percent clip. The hunger offering is an emphasis of Texas Hope 2010, a BGCT initiative encouraging Christians to pray for others, care for those in need and share the gospel with every Texan by Easter 2010.
In other matters, the board granted Lifeway Christian Resources a one-time exception to the convention’s policies regarding criteria about exhibiting at the BGCT Annual Meeting. Lifeway cannot sign a required document that affirms its support of the BGCT because its policy prohibits it from doing so with any organization.
Addressing the board, BGCT President David Lowrie said he has had several conversations with Lifeway leadership. Lifeway wants to exhibit during the annual meeting, but simply cannot sign the paperwork.
Lowrie indicated a one-time exception allows both parties more time to find an acceptable solution.
The board elected Debbie Ferrier, member of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, as its chairwoman. She is the first woman ever to lead the board.
The board elected Van Christian, pastor of First Baptist Church in Comanche, as its vice chairman.
Board members also approved a proposal that will be sent to annual meeting messengers that recommends a 12-person committee be formed to work with the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas in proposing a new unification agreement that outlines the relationship between the two groups in 2010.
“Our goal is to strengthen the unification agreement between convencion and BGCT,” said Hispanic Baptist Convention President Victor Rodriguez. “We truly believe our best years are ahead of us.”
The board addressed changes in the agreements between the convention and the Baptist Church Loan Corporation and the convention and Valley Baptist Health System.
Executive Board members declined a proposal to attempt holding its committee meetings electronically prior to a one-day board meeting in May. It would have been the first time that format would have been attempted.
In presenting the motion, BGCT Associate Executive Director Steve Vernon noted the move could save the convention roughly $20,000. Board members however believed such a format change would adversely affect the amount of input and interaction it would have in the decision-making process.