February 2012

Iranian pastor sentenced to death remains in prison

By Damaris Kremida, Compass Direct News

ISTANBUL (BP) – A pastor in Iran sentenced to death for refusing to recant his faith may have to wait another year in prison for a ruling on whether the sentence will be upheld, according to sources.

Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, sentenced to death after a court of appeals in Rasht, Iran, found him guilty of leaving Islam, has been in prison since October 2009, yet his lawyers said they were told to not expect any movement on his case for another year.

“The news we have about Yousef is not official, but that’s what the lawyers are saying,” a member of the Church of Iran who requested anonymity told Compass. “The lawyers speak to the judges’ secretaries and hear things. Rasht is not a big city, so it is easy to know what is happening.”


In American West, Cooperation is an absolute must

By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor

[img_assist|nid=7915|title=Gallup FBC|desc=Jay McCollum, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gallup, N.M., stands in front of the church building. The congregation gives 11.5 percent of undesignated receipts to missions through the Cooperative Program.|link=none|align=left|width=640|height=480]GALLUP, N.M. (BP) – In the heart of the American West, where 68 percent of the population claims no religious preference and the Gospel is little known, one church is making a difference with a disciple-making ministry that also reaches around the world through the Cooperative Program.

“Let’s look at reality,” said Jay McCollum, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gallup, N.M., since 1994. “The world has come to North America. It’s going to take our cooperative efforts – because of the amount of money it will take – to reach the people of America. 

“No one mega church can do this; it’s going to take multiple churches,” said McCollum, whose congregation gives 11.5 percent to support Southern Baptists mission work at the state level, across North America and around the world through the Cooperative Program. “The Cooperative Program has been the vehicle Southern Baptists have used to put the largest missionary force in the field in the history of Christianity .... Our cooperative efforts assist us not only in reaching people in our corner of the world but also to the vast people groups of the world.”


Komen reverses course, says Planned Parenthood still eligible

By Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON (BP) –Susan G. Komen for the Cure revised a policy Feb. 3 that it had recently used in deciding to stop funding for Planned Parenthood, leaving the impression it had reversed itself on future grants to the country’s No. 1 abortion provider.

The statement issued by the world’s leading breast cancer organization did not guarantee Planned Parenthood affiliates would continue to receive funds, however; only that they would remain eligible for such grants.

Komen’s action – after three days of a deluge of Planned Parenthood-fueled criticism – was received by many pro-life advocates as a distressing setback following so closely on the Jan. 31 report that the breast cancer charity would no longer give money to one of the abortion rights movement’s leading organizations.


Crosby to nominate Luter for SBC presidency in New Orleans

By Gary Meyers, Baptist Press

[img_assist|nid=7919|title=Fred Luter|desc=Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, announced to his church on Jan. 29 that he will allow his name to be placed in nomination for presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention at the SBC annual meeting this summer when it comes to New Orleans. David Crosby, pastor of First New Orleans, will nominate Luter.|link=none|align=right|width=425|height=640]NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, announced to his church Jan. 29 that he’s willing to be nominated for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention when the SBC annual meeting comes to New Orleans June 19-20.

Luter is to be nominated by David E. Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans.

“Fred has been among Southern Baptists for more than 25 years as a pastor. He has taken a church that was at death’s door to the largest worshipping congregation in the state of Louisiana among Southern Baptists,” Crosby said.


When revival comes home, whole families can change

By Keith Manuel, Evangelism Associate

Conviction wrought the heart of Mr. Miller about his lack of concern for spiritual things.

He had surrendered his life to the Lord years earlier but in recent years, there was no longing for the pleasures of God.

The year was 1857 and the Layman’s Prayer Revival was in full swing. With a heart renewed by the Lord, Miller (we are never told his first name) grew concerned about the spiritual condition of his family. He immediately left New York on a steamer bound for his home state of Massachusetts. Unable to sleep, he stayed awake all night praying for God to do a work in the heart of his elderly, infirmed father.


Komen ‘fumbles the ball’ as it reverses decision

By Kelly Boggs, Baptist Message Editor

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the well-known and respected breast cancer charity, has been the subject of a serious game of political football. In the end, abortion supporters applied intense pressure and scored a big victory for their cause and a small monetary win for Planned Parenthood.

News broke Jan. 31 that Komen was ceasing grants to Planned Parenthood designated for breast-health related services. The grants totaled approximately $680,000.

Komen officials insisted the decision to defund Planned Parenthood had to do with the fact the organization is currently under congressional investigation, and not with Planned Parenthood’s abortion services.


Share with your pastor your love for him

By Argile Smith, Louisiana College

The account of Paul’s journey to Thessalonica in Acts 17 warms and then breaks our hearts. A fountain of joy floods our hearts as we read about the church that Paul started there (17:1-5).

 As soon as he arrived in Thessalonica, he visited the synagogue and shared the gospel with everyone who would listen to him. Taking them to the Scriptures, he argued that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, the Messiah promised long ago.

Some of the residents of Thessalonica believed what Paul proclaimed, and they received Christ. Along with the Jewish people who listened to him at the synagogue, Paul shared the gospel with others in the city, and many of them gave their lives to Christ as well.


Questions we've pondered

By Archie England, Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at NOBTS

Question: Should Christians give their wealth to others who are less fortunate, especially in light of the financial needs of churches and ministry organizations these days?

Archie England responds, with Zechariah 7:14 as the scriptural basis: Zechariah and Haggai ministered to Jews returning from exile. The Persians had allowed them provisions and materials to rebuild their temple and to renew their lands. Hope exuded among the people because they anticipated renewed blessings from God. In fact, they had faithfully participated in 30-day fasts, twice a year, for 70 years. They had prayed for such renewal and restoration!

And, it had finally arrived – only Zechariah challenged them very differently from what they expected. The prophet informed Israel that God’s blessings have a purpose: helping others. Specifically, Zechariah gave that post-exilic community three guidelines to clarify (1) how to enjoy God’s blessings and (2) how to escape the same fate as their ancestors.


Aluminum tabs keep popping up for Emma

By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor

[img_assist|nid=7925|title=Emma Miller|desc=Emma Miller, 9 and a fourth-grader at Phoenix Magnet School in Pineville, packed 21 gallons of aluminum can tabs Jan. 18 to help the families of cancer patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.|link=none|align=left|width=480|height=640]PINEVILLE/BALL – Emma Miller was 6 years old when she started a mission project to help a teenage friend with cancer.

She’s now 9, and though her friend appears to be cancer-free, the project continues: Emma collects the tabs from aluminum cans and sends them to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

To date she’s gathered more than 275 pounds, or about 300,000 tabs, her parents figure.


Childrens Home develops Foster Care & Adoption Network

By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor

STATEWIDE – The Louisiana Baptist Childrens Home has found a new way to minister to hurting youngsters across the Pelican state, and also is in the initial stages of expanding globally.

With at least 4,500 children in the foster care system in Louisiana, and with just a few more than 2,200 homes certified as foster care providers, there is an urgent need for additional foster parents.

There also is a need for a support system for foster parents who deal daily with the effects of children who have been neglected or abused, or whose parents are too ill to care for them, or are in prison.