Archives For November 2013

Giving thanks in all things

Meredith Flynn —  November 28, 2013

cornucopiaFrom Baptist Press: This column is part of the call to prayer issued by Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, to pray for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world during 2013. Baptist Press is carrying columns during the year encouraging Southern Baptists to pray in specific areas and for specific needs in petitioning the Father for spiritual awakening.

By Frank Page

In the month of November, Americans traditionally set aside a day for Thanksgiving. Obviously, it is a time of food and fellowship and family time for millions and millions of Americans. That is as it ought to be. However, Scripture tells us that we need to give thanks at all times and in all seasons.

In the Scriptures, Philippians 4:6-7 gives us the following words: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

That passage is precious to me. It gives a guiding principle for life. It calms my spirit. It lets me know that in every circumstance I am to take my life’s needs to the Lord, with thanksgiving.

Many know this month marks the time of year when our oldest daughter died. Though it is now some years ago, the 27th of November will always be a day remembered in the Page household as a day when our lives changed forever. Our daughter took her life that day.

Yes, it changed our lives … and it has taught us many lessons.

One of those lessons is to take our life’s needs to the Lord. The amazing truth of God’s Scripture is that when we do that, a peace which truly does transcend human understanding guards our hearts and minds.

Humans cannot understand that in their carnal nature. However, in our spiritual nature, we understand that God gives supernatural ability to have peace in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances.

I pray that you will rejoice with me today for the many great things God has done. I pray that you will rejoice with me that God gives us a supernatural ability to handle life, even hard times in life, in a way that is not understandable by our world.

So, when I call for people to give thanks, we have much to be thankful for! We need the peace of God and we need the God of peace. Happy Thanksgiving!

Frank S. Page is president of the SBC Executive Committee.

Disaster Relief volunteer Dave Weger from Sullivan, Ill., clears debris from a backyard in Washington.

Disaster Relief volunteer Dave Weger from Sullivan, Ill., clears debris from a backyard in Washington.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

In Washington, Ill., Disaster Relief chaplains were struggling to know exactly how to minister to residents digging their homes out of the devastation left by an EF-4 tornado Nov. 17.

Until someone thought of Twinkies.

“By faith we sent a team of chaplains to walk the streets and try to engage people in conversations and prayer,” Illinois Disaster Relief coordinator Rex Alexander wrote in an e-mail update. “They quickly found that homeowners were not really in the mood to talk because they were busy with their work and very cold.”

But the chaplains broke the ice with a surprising treat, Alexander added.

“They first offered water and were usually turned down. Then they followed up with the question, ‘Would you like a Twinkie?’ Repeatedly the homeowners replied with, ‘Twinkies! You really have Twinkies!’”

Washington, which had been closed for security reasons, opened Nov. 23 to volunteer agencies like Disaster Relief. Braving daytime temperatures in the 20’s, chainsaw teams worked there and in East Peoria over the weekend. A childcare team also served at the Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) set up by the Red Cross. The volunteers minded kids while their parents signed up for recovery assistance.

A feeding team at Woodland Baptist in Peoria continued to prepare 1,700 meals a day for storm victims and responders.

Disaster Relief also staffed a table at the MARC, where they took orders for jobs over the next several days. The areas that sustained the heaviest damage were closed again Monday and Tuesday for debris removal.

Alexander said Disaster Relief is currently planning for an active response in the area through Dec. 7. If the work slows, teams could be told to stand down. “Right now, we still think there’s going to be quite a bit of work in Washington and even the outlying areas for the next two weeks,” he said.

Additional volunteers are welcome to join with the teams currently on the schedule. Contact Rex Alexander at (217) 391-3134 or RexAlexander@IBSA.org.

Disaster Relief volunteers and local churches also responded in other parts of the state affected by severe weather in mid-November. For more on the recovery efforts in Brookport and other areas, read the new issue of the Illinois Baptist, online here.

Other news:

Poll: Pastors favor immigration reform
A new poll finds 58% of Protestant pastors favor immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for people who currently are in the U.S. illegally, but far fewer – only 15% – say their churches are hurt by the current system. The LifeWay Research study also says 51% of pastors believe immigration reform will help their church, denomination or movement reach Hispanic Americans. Read more at LifeWayResearch.com.

Mind your manners when talking Calvinism, leaders on both sides say
Two Southern Baptist leaders on opposite sides of the Calvinism debate sat down this month to demonstrate good “table manners” to seminary students. Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler and Mississippi pastor Eric Hankins engaged in a public discussion on Calvinism before students and faculty, modeling how people who disagree on the topic can still work together.

“We have to learn the table manners of denominational life,” Mohler said. “There is a certain etiquette and kindness that is required, just like in the family reunion.” Read the full story from Towers, the news service of Southern Seminary.

Are we having the wrong conversation?
Caleb Kaltenbach, the California pastor who found Bibles labeled as fiction in Costco, tells his side of the story on Ed Stetzer’s blog. He writes that he wanted to start conversations about the Bible; read why he says most of the outraged posters missed the point.

Pen pals with C.S. Lewis
As a child, Kathy Keller exchanged letters with C.S. Lewis, who died 50 years ago this month. Christianity Today interviewed Keller, wife of Redeemer Presbyterian Church Pastor Tim Keller, about how she remembers the author.

HEARTLAND | Eric Reed

Yellow_shirts_blog

Disaster Relief volunteers got to work in southern Illinois just two days after a tornado hit the area Nov. 17.

It’s a clear day in Springfield. The storms have passed. But in the third floor conference room of the IBSA Building, the effects of the tornado-band that killed six people in Illinois are real and present in the minds of those at the table. By this time on Monday morning, IBSA’s Rex Alexander has been working since just after the first storms touched down on Sunday, gathering reports from the Illinois Disaster Relief field teams on the scene, taking calls from across the nation with offers of help, and readying the response of Southern Baptists in Illinois.

In the “situation room,” the leadership team shares news of churches and members affected by the tornadoes, discusses their emergency needs, and our actions. Illinois Baptists are already headed to hard-hit communities. In at least two churches, DR workers prepare meals – more than 2,000 a day. And chainsaw teams from 13 associations are on standby for their assignments.

The yellow shirts are on the move.

What many people don’t know is that Southern Baptists nationwide have 82,000 trained volunteers. Our state conventions and associations have 1,550 mobile units for every need that arises after disaster, from childcare to showers to mobile kitchens, and more. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is the third largest relief agency, after the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army. And a lot of people don’t know that.
But they do know in the northeast U.S., where our teams are present still in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and mission teams are planning return visits this summer.

And they know in New Orleans, where mission teams from churches and colleges and Campers on Mission are still helping devastated residents muck out, tear down, and rebuild eight years after Hurricane Katrina. A recent letter to the editor decried the fact that certain Catholic churches are still not repaired. The Catholics should ask the Baptists to help, the writer said, because Baptists could get the job done.

“You have changed the image of Southern Baptists in New Orleans,” SBC President and New Orleans pastor Fred Luter told Illinois Baptists during a visit here in April.

And they know in South Dakota and Colorado, where Illinois teams served last month. And they know in Moore, Oklahoma. National news anchor (and Methodist) Harry Smith said at the time of the tornado there, “…if you’re waiting for the government, you’re going to be in for an awful long wait. The Baptist men, they’re going to get it done tomorrow.”

And they know in Peoria, where spring floods drove hundreds from their homes, and Illinois Baptists were there mudding out, feeding hungry people, and sharing Christ.

And now they know in Washington and Brookport, and wherever help is needed.

The yellow shirts are on the move.

November 22, 1963

Meredith Flynn —  November 22, 2013
Not actual wardrobe (from http://www.wheaton.edu/wadecenter).

(Not actual wardrobe) http://www.wheaton.edu/wadecenter

C.S. Lewis also died 50 years ago today. Taking nothing from the other observations occurring now, let us remember the man who gave us “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” “The Screwtape Letters,” and “Mere Christianity.”

If you’re in the Wheaton, Illinois area, visit the Wade Center on the campus of Wheaton College. There you can see the actual “wardrobe.” (Actually, it’s said to be one of several owned by Lewis.) But don’t venture inside. You may never come back.

(Not actual lion)

(Not actual lion)

IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams visited Disaster Relief volunteers working today in storm-damaged areas of the state.

“Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers, including those here in Illinois, work very hard year-round to be prepared when disaster strikes,” Adams said. “It is their love for Jesus that compels them to stand ready like that, and it’s that same love that they deliver with every act and word of kindness as they serve victims and relief workers.”

Crews are meeting needs in Washington as they can, but access is limited to the areas that sustained the worst damage. Pekin and other communities in the Peoria area also have received Disaster Relief help since tornadoes and severe storms tore through the area Nov. 17. At Woodland Baptist in Peoria, volunteers are cooking several hundred meals a day for storm victims and responders.

The Disaster Relief team from Sullivan Southern Baptist Church, with Nate Adams (center).

The Disaster Relief team from Sullivan Southern Baptist Church, with Nate Adams (center).

Kitchen volunteers starting preparing meals Monday evening, working out of Woodland Baptist in Peoria. The church has graciously rearranged schedules and plans to accommodate the storm response teams.

Kitchen volunteers starting preparing meals Monday evening, working out of Woodland Baptist in Peoria. The church has graciously rearranged schedules and plans to accommodate the storm response teams, said IBSA’s Mark Emerson.

Adams visits with Linda Blough, a Disaster Relief volunteer from Dayton Avenue Baptist in Peoria.

Adams visits with Linda Blough, a Disaster Relief volunteer from Dayton Avenue Baptist in Peoria.

People in Washington, Ill., say two things when they talk about the tornado that stunned this city of 15,000 on Sunday: Pictures don’t accurately capture the destruction. And, this is the kind of thing that happens to other people. But on November 17, it happened here.

“You see it, and you think, ‘I’ve seen this on TV before.’ It’s always on TV. But this is real. This is us,” says Susan Schildt as she sat with a bowl of soup in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church in Washington. She and others working to salvage what they can came by today for lunch, prepared by church members and served buffet style. Pastor Joshua Monda publicized the free meal on Facebook.

The Schildts’ home is no longer liveable. Susan was at church Sunday morning, talking to her husband, Donald, on the phone, when the line suddenly went dead. He hunkered under an overturned couch while their son, Daniel, took cover in a walk-in closet. The family reunited soon after the storm.

“We’re alive; that’s all that matters,” she told a friend at lunch today. “It’s all stuff. I keep telling myself it’s just stuff.”

Phil Jones is another member of FBC that lost his home. He stands outside the, talking on his cell phone. He breaks away from his conversation long enough to say he’s doing OK, that he’s living on adrenaline right now. But as soon as that ends, he plans to crash, he says it with a smile.

Roland Manor Baptist Church across town is serving as an incident command center for Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief. Eight volunteers from Sullivan Southern Baptist Church and Westfield Association worked in Washington today, clearing debris and putting tarps on roofs. They’re working against the clock – rain is in the forecast for the next few days. Six more volunteers from Capital City and Sandy Creek Associations are at work in Pekin, 20 miles to the southwest, and another crew in Peoria is cooking meals for these volunteers and for other storm responders and victims.

Recovery work here in Washington is slow, as crews work to remove downed power lines and police keep the most damaged neighborhoods blocked off to everyone except residents. At the incident command center, Harold Booze and Bob Elmore are working to coordinate individual jobs for the volunteers that are here now, and another crew from Salem South Association arriving tonight.

At the other end of the state, Disaster Relief volunteers are working in and around Brookport, where a tornado Sunday killed three people and destroyed dozens of homes. First Baptist Church, Metropolis, is preparing 300 meals a day to be delivered by the Red Cross.

Volunteers from Kaskaskia Association also assisted homeowners in New Minden, Ill., seven miles north of Nashville.

To donate to Illinois Disaster Relief, go to www.IBSA.org.

A Disaster Relief volunteer in southern Illinois takes care of a felled tree in southern Illinois.

A Disaster Relief volunteer in southern Illinois takes care of a felled tree in southern Illinois.

Volunteers started serving  in and around Brookport, Ill., almost immediately after the Nov. 17 storms.

Volunteers started serving in and around Brookport, Ill., almost immediately after the Nov. 17 storms.

Schildts

Donald and Susan Schildt visit with Carole Vanderburg (right) over lunch at First Baptist Church in Washington. The Schildts’ home is uninhabitable after the storm.

Washington_store

A message of thanks on a store sign in Washington, Ill.

 

Volunteers get ready to serve lunch at FBC Washington.

Volunteers get ready to serve lunch at FBC Washington.

Whole neighborhoods in Washington are completely destroyed. Police have several streets blocked off to everyone except residents.

Whole neighborhoods in Washington are completely destroyed. Police have several streets blocked off to everyone except residents.

Ed_Dean

Ed Dean, a Diaster Relief volunteer from Sullivan, Ill., gathers debris from a backyard in Washington, Ill., on Nov. 20.

Damage_2Damage_3

This is only the second callout for Disaster Relief volunteer Johnna Howard.

This is only the second callout for Disaster Relief volunteer Johnna Howard.

Bob Elmore (left), who's helping coordinate DR efforts in Washington, meets on the job site with Bob Jackson from Sullivan.

Bob Elmore (left), who’s helping coordinate DR efforts in Washington, meets on the job site with Bob Jackson from Sullivan.

Washington, Ill., Nov. 20.

Washington, Ill., Nov. 20.

Washington, Ill. | Joshua Monda stood just outside his church Sunday morning, watching a powerful tornado churn on the horizon a half a mile away. He shot video with his cell phone before calling the few other church members standing outside to get inside. Sirens sound just as the video ends.

Twenty-four hours later, Monda stands in a WalMart parking lot in a part of Washington not blocked by police and first responders. Pastor Monda made it to First Baptist Church briefly that morning, but his office is on the move as he tries to meet immediate needs in the aftermath of an EF-4 tornado that flattened parts of Washington. Several other communities all over the state suffered fatalities and severe damage from tornadoes on November 17.

A chainsaw team from Sullivan Southern Baptist Church was in Washington two days after the storm, and others are on standby to help as needs become clear. Disaster Relief volunteers set up a feeding trailer at Woodland Baptist Church in Peoria, preparing more than 1,000 lunches and dinners for responders and residents in Washington.

Volunteers also moved quickly into several other communities affected by the swath of severe weather that wreaked havoc all over the Midwest, doing its worst in Illinois. Pekin and other Peoria-area communities reported damage, as did Diamond and Coal City, 100 miles to the northeast. In New Minden, seven miles north of Nashville, Ill., officials reported two storm-related deaths.

In extreme southern Illinois, First Baptist Church in Metropolis served as a Red Cross shelter for families who lost their homes in tiny Brookport, where an EF-3 tornado killed three people. Church members cooked 300 meals a day for victims and relief workers.

Chainsaw teams also began working in the Brookport and New Minden areas last week. “I am so grateful for our volunteers who have taken the time to prepare to respond during a disaster,” said Rex Alexander, IBSA’s Disaster Relief coordinator. “When a disaster strikes there are many people with good hearts that want to help. But we primarily rely on those who have been trained to help.”

For more tornado recovery news, follow IBSA at Facebook.com/IllinoisBaptist, and look for a full report in the November 25 Illinois Baptist, online Friday here.