News from the Baptist Press

Formed in 1946 by the Southern Baptist Convention, and supported with Cooperative Program funds, Baptist Press (BP) is a daily (M-F) international news wire service. Operating from a central bureau in Nashville, Tenn., BP works with four partnering bureaus (Richmond, Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Washington, D.C.), as well as with a large network of contributing writers, photographers and editorial providers, to produce BP News.

Click on the title to view the full article at the Baptist Press website.


Friday, October 22, 2021 - 4:57pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is allowing the Texas law that bans most abortions to remain in place, but has agreed to hear arguments in the case in early November.

The justices said Friday they will decide whether the Justice Department and abortion providers can sue in federal court over a law that Justice Sonia Sotomayor said was “enacted in open disregard of the constitutional rights of women seeking abortion care in Texas.”

Answering that question will help determine whether the law should be blocked while legal challenges continue. The court is moving at an unusually fast pace that suggests it plans to make a decision quickly. Arguments are set for Nov. 1.

The court’s action leaves in place for the time being a law that clinics say has led to an 80 percent reduction in abortions in the nation’s second-largest state.

The justices said in their order that they were deferring action on a request from the Justice Department to put the law on hold. Sotomayor wrote that she would have blocked the law now.

“The promise of future adjudication offers cold comfort, however, for Texas women seeking abortion care, who are entitled to relief now,” Sotomayor wrote.

Sotomayor was the only justice to make her views clear, but it seems there were not five votes on the nine-member court to immediately block the law Friday. It takes just four justices to decide to hear a case.

The court first declined to block the law in September, in response to an emergency filing by the abortion providers. The vote was 5-4, with the three appointees of former President Donald Trump joining two other conservatives in the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts joined Sotomayor and the other two liberal justices in voting to keep the law on hold while the legal fight goes on in lower courts.

Now, though, the justices, in a rare move, have decided to weigh in before lower courts definitively decide the issues.

Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, said she was happy the law remains in effect. “This is a great development for the Pro-Life movement because the law will continue to save an estimated 100 babies per day, and because the justices will actually discuss whether these lawsuits are valid in the first place,” Schwartz said in a statement.

Chelsea Sobolik, director of public policy for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, “Every day that S.B. 8 is in effect, lives of precious pre-born babies will be saved. All lives in the womb deserve to be fully protected under this law.”

The law has been in effect since September, aside from a district court-ordered pause that lasted just 48 hours, and bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant.

That’s well before the Supreme Court’s major abortion decisions allow states to prohibit abortion, although the court has agreed to hear an appeal from Mississippi asking it to overrule those decisions, in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

But the Texas law was written to evade early federal court review by putting enforcement of it into the hands of private citizens, rather than state officials.

The focus of the high court arguments will not be on the abortion ban, but whether the Justice Department and the providers can sue and obtain a court order that effectively prevents the law from being enforced, the Supreme Court said in its brief order.

If the law stays in effect, “no decision of this Court is safe. States need not comply with, or even challenge, precedents with which they disagree. They may simply outlaw the exercise of whatever rights they disfavor,” the Biden administration wrote in a brief filed earlier in the day.

Other state-enforced bans on abortion before the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks, have been blocked by courts because they conflict with Supreme Court precedents.

“Texas should not obtain a different result simply by pairing its unconstitutional law with an unprecedented enforcement scheme designed to evade the traditional mechanisms for judicial review,” the administration wrote.

A day earlier, the state urged the court to leave the law in place, saying the federal government lacked the authority to file its lawsuit challenging the Texas ban.

The Justice Department filed suit over the law after the Supreme Court rejected the earlier effort by abortion providers to put the measure on hold temporarily.

In early October, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled for the administration, putting the law on hold and allowing abortions to resume.

Two days later, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the law back into effect.

The court already is hearing arguments on Dec. 1 in the Mississippi case in which that state is calling for the court to overrule the Roe and Casey decisions.

Friday, October 22, 2021 - 4:40pm

Allen, Texas (BP) – Texans will vote on their election day Tuesday, Nov.2, on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would forbid the government from limiting or prohibiting religious services.

The bill (TX HB1239, also called Proposition 3) comes in response to government limitations on religious worship services that were enacted in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. If passed, the amendment would add a clause to the state’s constitution prohibiting such government restrictions in the future.

Although the amendment has divided some religious groups in the state, it passed through both the Senate and the House of Representatives with unanimous support from Republican as well as a number of Democrats.

One of the original co-authors and supporters of the legislation is Republican representative Scott Sanford, who also serves as an executive pastor with Cottonwood Creek Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Allen, Texas.

Sanford said he feels churches were “unfairly singled out,” by local government officials and that was “not constitutional or the right thing to do.”

“We felt this needed to be addressed, and we think this bill is a biblical and constitution way to address it,” he said. “It’s very practical that ministries need to have the stable and legal environment in which to operate. Now from a church perspective, if there is a flare-up in the virus or if another pandemic or something else comes along, we have the assurance of knowing we’ll be able to continue on.”

He believes the majority of Southern Baptist churches were doing their best to be safe and sensitive during the COVID pandemic, which made the government restrictions all the more frustrating.

“We really want to be responsible citizens and we want to do what’s best for the community and be respectful of their governments’ advice,” Sanford said. “If you look at evidence at how churches did operate when they were allowed to, they were very conscious of safety, because we love our people and we want them to be safe.

“Churches also do a lot to lower the burden of local government such as help with people suffering from addition or various domestic issues, and if the government had to take on all that burden themselves, they’d be overwhelmed. We are necessary and essential as it relates to the community.”

Sanford expects the amendment will pass in November.

In response to those who may believe the amendment is too overreaching or will have unintended consequences, Sanford said it boils down to the necessity and importance of the Church in society.  

“It’s simply that the community is held together by a lot of different institutions and none are more critical than places of worship and the ministries they provide,” he said. “When you need us the most is sometimes when outsiders may think it would be a good time to close them.”

Friday, October 22, 2021 - 4:15pm

NASHVILLE (BP) — Often called the “father of contemporary Christian music,” Ralph Carmichael left his mark on the music industry in seven decades and at least as many genres. Carmichael died Wednesday (Oct. 20) at the age of 94.

Planning to become a pastor, Carmichael attended Southern California Bible College. But he pursued music instead and became head of the school’s music department. The innovative, contemporary arrangements he did with the school’s various music groups and ensembles won him notoriety, but churches often found them too worldly.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, Carmichael crossed easily between working with Gospel greats like George Beverly Shea and arranging for jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole. And all the while, he was composing music for TV shows, including “I Love Lucy” and “Bonanza,” films like the 1958 hit “The Blob” and many others.

In 1966, he founded Light Records to give voice to the growing Jesus Movement. Artists he signed, like Andrae Crouch and the Winans, soon became major players in a whole new kind of music.

“The rise of the Christian music industry is not that long of a story,” said Mike Harland, associate pastor of worship at First Baptist Church of Jackson, Miss. “Just 40 years ago, there really was no such thing as a genre of Christian music. It grew out of the Jesus Movement.

“Ralph Carmichael was one of those legitimate music industry executives that built the bridge between what was happening in the Jesus Music movement … to the church itself.”

Harland knows a thing or two about church music, having served for several years as the director of Lifeway Worship before returning to local church ministry. He first encountered Carmichael’s work singing in youth choir. 

“He was the father of the youth musical,” Harland said of Carmichael, whose work in musicals like “Tell It Like It Is” and “Young Messiah” was performed in churches far and wide. “When it came to the Baptist tradition, his name was on it.” 

Many more Christians were exposed to Carmichael’s work in film scores he wrote for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – 20 in all, including 1970’s “The Cross and the Switchblade.” And still others might remember singing his songs – like “The Savior Is Waiting” (which Harland called “a staple of Baptist hymnody”), “He’s Everything to Me,” “Reach Out to Jesus” (recorded by Elvis Presley) and “Love is Surrender” (recorded by the Carpenters).

Perhaps his best known, most enduring work was 1960’s “The Magic of Christmas,” an album of mostly sacred Christmas songs by Nat King Cole. Carmichael’s tender, lush arrangements can still be heard just about anywhere each Christmastime, and his and Cole’s version of “The Christmas Song” is considered a classic.

Harland said Carmichael was a well-respected musician who just happened to be a Christian, which lent legitimacy to a struggling new industry.

“His faith found its expression in his life,” he said. “And his life was a musician. …

“It would be very difficult to measure the impact Ralph Carmichael had on American music in general but particularly Christian music.”

Harlan likened it to the “coaching tree” concept in football, when people make connections based on coaches they’ve worked with or for. “If there were a musician tree, it goes back to Ralph Carmichael,” he said.

Friday, October 22, 2021 - 3:48pm

FAIRDALE, Ky. (KT) – Instead of waiting for the community to come to them, First Baptist Church Fairdale is meeting the community on their turf. It has become a model ministry that has flourished with connections being made, literally, on every corner.

“We serve the local schools, we feed the teams, we volunteer in the concession stands,” said Pastor Josh Greene. “We have a kitchen team that comes and cooks and a different team that works the food panty where we give out groceries.”

The idea behind Fairdale’s outreach into the community is showing the love of Jesus.

“If a community is a light sitting on a hill, it makes the community better,” Greene said. “If God revives this church, it will revive the community. That’s happening. Lone gone are the days where you just see growth and salvations by just people showing up and inviting people.”

FBC Fairdale is being in the community and meeting needs, including being involved in the local sports community. Greene is the chaplain for Fairdale High School football, basketball and soccer and other church members serve as chaplain for other sports. They feed the 70-member football team every week and interact with students of all backgrounds. They feed the soccer teams and the basketball teams.

“We have never done a mailout or something that tries to get people to come to church,” Greene said. “We just love and serve the community. We just do that, expecting nothing in return, because that’s how Christ was. The result is our church is getting so healthy, vibrant and alive.”

The church intentionally looks for ways to serve the community and that includes a food pantry that’s busting at the seams. They are constructing a standalone building that will run the entire food pantry. Based on Wednesdays, when 150 to 200 cars are on the parking lot, the need is there. They minister to approximately 800 people through the food pantry while partnering with Dare to Care.

Greene’s history with the church dates to 2003 when he became the youth pastor. He became the senior pastor in 2009 and the church has shown significant growth during his tenure. He was only 29 when he accepted the pastorate call.

“Our church is like a full revitalization,” he said. “We were so small and so dying 20 years ago. There was not a whole lot to work with. We didn’t have a kids ministry. Zero kids, zero babies. Two teenage girls in sixth grade were our youth ministry.”

Even though he was young when taking over as senior pastor, the senior adults were more than accepting of him. “The old people that stayed,” he said, “they’re my heroes. They just love me and my wife so well. You hear of so much clashing between church members who have been there 50 years and new young pastors. It’s a story we’ve heard 100 times. That has been the exact opposite of my story. I’m so grateful and humbled.”

Not only are they accepting, but Greene said he can count on them to do whatever he asks. Sometimes it might be to pray, sometimes it might be to serve. “If there is a need anywhere, they’re going to do it,” he said.

A church that works together, stays together, he said.  “If a church is healthy it will raise up leaders.”

Fairdale has 10 bi-vocational ministry staff and the giving has by members has been strong, Greene said.  Everybody is pulling in the same direction as they try to transform the Fairdale community with the love of Christ. It’s not only been good for the community but good for the church.

“Honestly we’re trying to do as much as we can,” Greene said. “We have everybody working and serving the community. We want to help people and get involved in their lives.”

Friday, October 22, 2021 - 3:37pm

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The boss of a notorious Haitian gang accused of kidnapping 17 members of a U.S.-based missionary group last weekend is warning that the hostages will be killed if his demands aren’t met.

“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” gang leader Wilson Joseph said in a video posted on social media Thursday.

Officials said early in the week that the 400 Mawozo gang was demanding $1 million for each of those kidnapped, although it wasn’t clear if that included the five children in the group, among them an 8-month-old. Sixteen Americans and one Canadian were abducted, along with their Haitian driver.

Joseph also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Haiti’s national police chief as he spoke in front of the open coffins that apparently held several members of his gang who were recently killed.

“You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood,” he said.

Later in the day, Henry’s office announced that Léon Charles had resigned as head of Haiti’s National Police and was replaced by Frantz Elbé. The newspaper Le Nouvelliste said Elbé was director of the police departments of the South East and Nippes and previously served as general security coordinator at the National Palace when Jocelerme Privert was provisional president.

“We would like for public peace to be restored, that we return to normal life and that we regain our way to democracy,” Henry said.

There was no immediate comment from Charles or Elbé.

The missionaries who were abducted Saturday during a visit to an orphanage are with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, which held a news conference before Joseph’s video was posted.

Weston Showalter, spokesman for the religious group, said the families of those kidnapped are from Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist communities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Ontario, Canada. He read a letter from the families, who weren’t identified by name, in which they said, “God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord’s command to love your enemies.”

The group invited people to join them in prayer for the kidnappers as well as those kidnapped and expressed gratitude for help from “people that are knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with” such situations.

“Pray for these families,” Showalter said. “They are in a difficult spot.”

The organization later issued a statement saying it would not comment on the video.

Friday, October 22, 2021 - 3:06pm

WASHINGTON (BP)—The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is again asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and overturn a lower court decision it and other organizations contend violates the First Amendment rights of public school teachers and coaches.

The ERLC and 13 other organizations, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), filed a friend-of-the-court brief Oct. 18 in support of a Washington state high school football coach who was suspended for kneeling and praying on the field after games. The brief urged the high court to accept the case and reverse the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that Joseph Kennedy’s act of praying – ultimately joined by some players — constituted a government establishment of religion.

In 2018, the Southern Baptist entity joined eight other groups in a brief that called for Supreme Court review and repudiation of the Ninth Circuit in the case, but the justices declined to grant the request at the time. The case returned to federal court and has now worked its way back through the judicial system.

Chelsea Sobolik, the ERLC’s director of public policy, urged the Supreme Court to grant the petition for a review in “this important case.”

“Everyone, and in this case Coach Kennedy, should have the ability to participate in the public square without being forced to check their religion at the door,” Sobolik said in written comments. “As Christians, our faith shapes the totality of how we live and structure our lives, and the government must allow people of faith to live out their convictions according to their religious beliefs.”

In their brief, the ERLC and its allies said the Ninth Circuit’s opinion “sets a precedent that strikes at teachers’ fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly.”

The Supreme Court “should take the opportunity to correct” the Ninth Circuit’s “wrong-headed view of the Establishment Clause,” according to the brief. The court of appeals mistakenly ruled “the Establishment Clause can excuse the Free Exercise Clause violation,” the brief said. The First Amendment prohibits a government establishment of religion and guarantees free exercise of religion.

According to the brief, it is obvious a public school teacher “wears two hats – that of a private citizen and that of a government worker. No one is confused by that. [A]ction taken by a teacher, even on school grounds and during school hours, that is personal in nature has the protection of the Free Exercise, Speech, and Assembly Clauses [of the First Amendment] and does not implicate the Establishment Clause.”

The fact some players from both teams, as well as other people, joined Kennedy on the field “does not alter the character of the coach’s private exercise of religion,” the brief said. “It is hard to fathom how this made it a school-sponsored event, rather than a private assembly of like-minded individuals.”

Beginning in 2008, Kennedy – an assistant coach with the Bremerton (Wash.) High School varsity team – would walk to the 50-yard line after each game, kneel and briefly pray, thanking God for the players. Players eventually began joining him, and Kennedy, who was also head coach of the junior varsity team, continued the practice for the next seven years. He also reportedly gave motivational speeches to players on both teams who gathered around him.

During the 2015 season, the school district superintendent sent a letter to Kennedy telling him to refrain from the post-game prayers and from religious expression in his motivational talks to players. The superintendent said Kennedy’s practices likely violated the Establishment Clause. After abiding by the mandate for a few weeks, Kennedy returned to his former practice of praying at midfield and was joined by others.

The school district placed Kennedy on administrative leave as a result. The athletic director recommended the school not rehire him in 2016, and Kennedy declined to apply for a coaching position when a new head coach was hired for the next season.

After a federal judge dismissed Kennedy’s lawsuit against the school district, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco declined to grant him a preliminary injunction. The judges ruled Kennedy knelt and prayed “as a public employee, not as a private citizen, and his speech therefore was constitutionally unprotected.”

When the Supreme Court refused to review the decision in 2019, Associate Justice Samuel Alito and three of his colleagues explained in an opinion that “unresolved factual questions” made a decision at that point “very difficult if not impossible.” Alito said, however, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling might call for the high court’s review in the future.

The federal court again ruled in favor of the school district in 2020, and a Ninth Circuit panel upheld the judgment in May. The Ninth Circuit rejected in July a request by Kennedy for a rehearing by the full court.

In addition to the ERLC and BGEA, other organizations signing onto the brief were the National Association of Evangelicals, Concerned Women for America, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Anglican Church in North America, National Legal Foundation, Samaritan’s Purse, Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, Pacific Justice Institute, International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers, Veterans in Defense of Liberty, Family Foundation and Illinois Family Institute.

The case is Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. Bremerton is across Puget Sound from Seattle.

Friday, October 22, 2021 - 2:45pm

“Since 2018, the Southern Baptist Convention has lost a series of high-profile leaders whose tenures ended due to controversy or misconduct,” began the recent RNS article, “Can anyone lead the Southern Baptist Convention forward?” by Bob Smietana. But maybe the author is looking for leaders in all the wrong places.

The vast majority of Southern Baptist pastors are in towns you’ve never heard of, pastoring churches you will never spot on Outreach’s Fastest-Growing Churches list. After all, Annual Church Profile data in 2020 revealed the Southern Baptist Convention had 47,592 churches with 4,439,797 in average attendance. In other words, the typical SBC church averages 92 people on Sunday mornings.

It was these leaders — the messengers from average, no-name churches — who, as the article put it, “wrestled control of the (sex abuse task force) investigation away from the Executive Committee in a vote from the meeting floor.”

So, “Can anyone lead the Southern Baptist Convention forward?” 

Yes. And they already are.

“They” are the guys totally content outside of the limelight who are leading the Southern Baptist Convention. “They” are not the presidents of our seminaries, but the pastors, Sunday school teachers and volunteer age-graded ministry directors who are leading the Southern Baptist Convention.

People like Mitch, a full-time employee of a telecommunications business, part-time rancher and small business owner in a no-name town who leads as a Sunday school teacher. People like Charlie, a retired teacher who leads as a children’s ministry director and heads up the church’s Vacation Bible School program. People like Cal, who leads as the longtime pastor of a small church in the middle of nowhere.

“They” are not the entity heads but are the 1,273 missionaries sent from the International Mission Board since 2018. A few we know, most we do not, but they are leading. “They” are largely not on trustee boards but lead within the 2,643 churches the North American Mission Board planted since 2018. Some in large cities, some in small. But they are all leading.

So, if you are asking who can lead the Southern Baptist Convention forward, look to who is already leading. The people who do not need segments on Fox News or even the occasional piece in a Baptist state newspaper are leading — right now.

You can find them on any given Sunday in America or launching a Bible study in their home in another country. And you will see them descend on Anaheim for the SBC Annual Convention in June, where, with paper ballots in hand, they will lead the Southern Baptist Convention forward. Just like they have done since 1845.

In other words, the SBC is not run by elites but, rather, by ordinary people who show up and lead. They unlock the doors on Sundays, brew the coffee, adjust the thermostat (much to the chagrin of Ms. Helen), teach a Sunday school lesson, rock a baby or preach a sermon. They go to the nations with the gospel or plant churches in hard-to-reach areas.

The true leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention are the ones leading their churches to give through the Cooperative Program to send missionaries and church planters and to train their future pastors (and more). The true leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention are reaching their communities, schools and neighbors for Jesus. The true leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention may not have a glossy business card with a fancy title or even have a title at all, but they are leading — now. 

Therefore, if you want to find the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, visit First Baptist Church of Anywhere and look around. While entity heads and trustees are important, the true leaders of the SBC are already leading — now, right before your eyes.

This article was originally published by Religion News Service.

Matt Henslee (@mhenslee) is the Associational Mission Strategist of Collin Baptist Association, president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference and hosts Not Another Baptist and Potluck Podcasts

Friday, October 22, 2021 - 2:37pm

ANDALUSIA, Ala. (BP) – When Brenda Gantt was a young bride, her husband’s job placed him on the lookout for an illegal moonshine liquor still in the backwoods of Linden, Ala., where he happened upon a small, isolated cabin. A lone elderly woman invited him and his partner in for lunch.

Lacy cornbread complemented an array of vegetables.

“She had a big platter of lacy cornbread. It’s like paper-thin. It spreads out to about 5-inches big. And it’s got holes all in it where she fried it in this pan. And he loved it,” Gantt said in an interview Friday (Oct. 22).

Gantt’s husband George stood over the elderly woman’s oven as she taught him how to make lacy cornbread, using a generations-old method. Smitten with the dish, he came home with the necessary stoneground cornmeal and insisted the young couple learn to make it that very night.

“I learned how to make lacy cornbread, and he learned how to love it,” Gantt told Baptist Press. “It’s extremely crunchy and you absolutely cannot eat (only) one of them.”

Lacy cornbread is among more than 100 recipes with color photos, homegrown stories, Gantt’s original artwork, grandmotherly advice and Scripture featured in Gantt’s debut book, “Brenda Gantt It’s Gonna Be Good, Y’all.”

The 74-year-old grandmother is a social media hit, her 2020 biscuit tutorial skyrocketing her to fame in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 8 million views to date. Her 2.7 million Facebook followers and 194,000 Instagram followers @CookingWithBrendaGantt crave her cooking tutorials, typically registering tens of thousands of views within hours.

Fans encouraged her to write down her recipes.

“The recipes in the book, they’re not fancy. They are just good ol’ Southern food like all of us like to eat,” she said, “like candied yams and dressing and dumplings and biscuits. Just kind of like soul food. Just good for ya.”

When she shops for groceries, she begins in the meat section, planning her menus around the cuts of meat offering the greatest bargain. Then, she adds whatever she has in the pantry or refrigerator, stretching leftovers into fresh new dishes.

“For Sunday lunch, I had roast beef and carrots and potatoes and onions that I cooked in the oven. And I cooked a big pot of butter beans and some cream-style corn. And I made deviled eggs too.”

There were leftovers.

“So the next day, I took all that juice – the roast – where it had cooked out and then I made a big (pot of) vegetable soup. I put the leftover corn and butter beans in it,” she said. “And then I just cut up a few potatoes and onions and put some tomatoes in it, and it made a delicious soup.”

Gantt calls it “being conservative.”

“I’ve been conservative all my life, and my husband was too, and I was raised that way and so was he,” she said. “As far as cooking, it means not to be wasteful in your kitchen. To cook what you think the family’s going to eat, and then, try to do something with those leftovers. You don’t want to throw them out.”

For Gantt, that often means inviting friends and family to the table, or taking plates of food to community members whose health confines them to home.

Hoffman Media took advance orders of the book and the first printing is already sold out. Gantt advises people to register on the waiting list for a reprint planned for the spring of 2022, depending on demand.

Scripture, included in the book, is a daily ingredient in Gantt’s life.

“In my opinion, the Bible’s got all the answers, and if we read it, we see what are the responsibilities of the children, we see the responsibilities of the father, the mother,” she said. “We see responsibilities of just us as individuals here in the United States.

“What are we supposed to be doing? The answers are there.”

Friday, October 22, 2021 - 1:03pm

Editor’s note: October is Cooperative Program Emphasis Month in the Southern Baptist Convention.

NASHVILLE (BP) – Peter Yanes began serving as the executive director of Asian American relations and mobilization for the Executive Committee in late 2019, but his Christian testimony showcases the impact of Southern Baptist missions in his life long before that.

Originally from Lingayen, Philippines, Yanes said he was always interested in religion as he grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family.

After serving as an altar boy at his local parish as a child, Yanes said his “constant desire for eternal truth” led him as an adult to study under Mormon missionaries who had come from the U.S.

But the yearlong study left him “with more questions than answers,” he said.

That all changed when he finally heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yanes said a friend of his named Ferdinand invited him to a Bible study through Grace Baptist Church in Lingayen. It was there that he heard the Gospel message for the first time and would later accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.

He was discipled for a full year by one of the pastors at Grace before surrendering to a call to full-time ministry and attending seminary. His decision was not well received by his family.

“Being a devout Roman Catholic family, changing religion is a disgrace to your family and dishonors the tenets of the Catholic faith,” Yanes said. “But I went to seminary in obedience to God without my family’s blessings and support, knowing that He had called me to full-time ministry.”

After finishing his seminary education, Yanes would eventually become the pastor of the Grace Baptist, the church where he was discipled.

Through his pastoral ministry there, all of his family members would eventually become Christians, and he was able to baptize and personally disciple many of them. Five of his immediate family members now serve in full-time ministry.

Even before Yanes ever set foot in Grace Baptist, the church reflected a legacy of the Cooperative Program and Southern Baptist missions that Yanes now carries on through his role with the Executive Committee.

Edward and Audrey Gordon were among the first Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) missionaries to arrive in the Province of Pangasinan in the Philippines in 1953.

They played a major part in planting a Baptist church in Pangasinan and many other churches throughout the Philippines.

A member of one of those churches was the Quiratman family, who were originally from Lingayen, Philippines.

The family’s oldest son, Ferdinand Quiratman, would return to his hometown of Lingayen to start a local church called Grace Baptist Church in 1972.

Ferdinand was the very one who later invited Yanes to a Bible study at Grace Baptist, where he would accept Christ and then begin a life of ministry all over the world.

“I’m forever grateful that the Lord has saved me and my entire family,” Yanes said. “I was privileged to serve Him from the Philippines to Philadelphia and now here in Nashville, serving alongside our Asian churches in advancing the Gospel to our community and beyond.”

Reflecting on his personal testimony, Yanes expressed his thankfulness for the impact of the Cooperative Program as it enabled the sending of the missionaries who would start the spiritual chain reaction leading to his conversion. He encouraged Southern Baptist churches to continue to support the CP and work together to impact the world with the Gospel.

“Many of us, directly and indirectly, have benefited from the Cooperative Program,” Yanes said. “If it worked then, it’s still working now and will always work as a way to come together for Great Commission cooperation to reach all nations for Jesus Christ. Together, we can do more than apart.”

Friday, October 22, 2021 - 9:01am

One of the real joys of serving as a former local church pastor and in this role until the end of October is the common unity we as Southern Baptists have together around Christ in sending more missionaries and planting more churches.

As my time at the Executive Committee comes to a close, I want us to remember that the Great Commission of Jesus Christ our Lord is a commission to His church. We are the church. We are called to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.

The local churches across America that cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention do so in order to send more missionaries and plant more gospel churches.

Missionaries are called from the churches and then sent by the churches to be missionaries. Through our cooperation together as SBC churches, the International Mission Board joins in this common purpose of making disciples and multiplying churches. The IMB serves Southern Baptists in carrying out the Great Commission and making disciples of all the nations.

The great Revelation 7:9 vision believes knowing and worshipping Jesus Christ as Lord will one day occur by people from every nation, tribe, people, and language.

Two Actions Needed Now

1. We need churches to adopt one of the 3,105 unengaged, unreached people groups, committing to pray for them daily. 

2. We need churches to call out missionaries from within their pews to take the gospel to the nations.

Churches are the key to planting gospel churches and to calling out and equipping church planters in America and throughout the world. The New Testament model is churches plant churches. SEND Network of the North American Mission Board helps your church have Kingdom impact. Reaching more people through church multiplication is biblical.

All across the SBC, churches are getting involved in church planting.  Churches are partnering with their state conventions to sponsor their first plant. Churches are beginning training residencies and internships. But, we need more churches and we need more church planters. We also need more churches to become sending churches.

In North America alone, we want to plant at least 600 churches each year.
This is possible, but two actions are necessary.

Two Actions Needed to Inspire Church Planting

(1) We need to pray for God to raise up no less that 600 new churches annually.

(2) We need more churches to invest in planting churches.

Churches are the key to sending missionaries and planting churches.  Thank you to all of our pastors leading their churches in this Gospel endeavor.

May we rise up together and do all we can to send more missionaries and plant more gospel churches.