[ON MISSION] is a quarterly publication of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), representing the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB). The following data comes from both the spring and summer editions of this seasonal publication:
3 million adolescents in the U.S. ages 12 to 17 are reported to have had a major depressive episode in the past year.
19.5% females experience depression, compared to 5.8% of males.
6.3 million youth ages 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder, representing 25% of the adolescent population in 2015.
30.1% females have an anxiety disorder, while at 20.3%, males are more likely to deal with anxiety over depression.
After-school Satan club
A school district in Portland, Oregon, approved an after-school “Satan Club” at a local elementary school this past September. The Satanic Temple advocated for this club in response to a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Child Evangelism Fellowship could have access to school facilities to host their “Good News Club.” -Source: The Washington Post, An open letter from the Satanic Temple Los Angeles, August 1, 2016.
From global to local
In 2015 the United States was home to 46.6 million people who were born in other countries. More than 2 million of those immigrants were from China, and almost another 2 million from India – the two countries with the most unreached people groups.
Baptist students provide aid
About 450 students from collegiate ministries spent their 2016 Labor Day weekend serving those affected by the Louisiana flooding. Students pried up waterlogged wood flooring, tore out drywall and helped salvage homeowner’s precious mementos from the mold.
Source: Baptist Press, September 6, 2016
A recent Barna poll showed that the majority of American adults (66%) believe people can be physically healed by God, supernaturally. The study also showed millennials are the more skeptical of this belief than elders, and evangelicals are the most likely to believe in supernatural healing.
Source: Barna, September 29, 2016
Work place etiquette has undeniably taken an informal turn since millennials have entered the workforce. A new survey reported that two-thirds of millennials swear at work and 40% even prefer working in an environment where there is cussing. Furthermore, a third of those surveyed said the use of profanity strengthens the team.
Source: The Week, October 21, 2016
The Latino impact
The United States is now home to 55 million Hispanics – 17% of the nation’s population. Hispanics are projected to account for 52% of new homeowners by 2030. They have also contributed to 47% growth in small businesses between 2007 to 2012 – a rate 60 times higher than that of non-Latinos.
Source: TIME, September 26, 2016
According to the Census Bureau, Americans are on the move. About one in eight Americans move each year, and many end up living close to mom. The New York Times reported that 50% live within 18 miles of their mom. Only 5% live over 1,400 miles away.
Source: Facts & Trends, Summer 2016
Reasons they will come
In a survey by LifeWay Research of 2,000 Americans who do not attend church, several events were identified that may draw non-church attendees to participate in church-sponsored activities.
62% Meeting about neighborhood safety
51% Community service event
46% Sports or exercise program
45% Neighborhood get-together
35% Worship service
25% Recovery group
24% Seminar on a spiritual topic
Source: Christianity Today, September 2016
For over a decade, social media has played a vital role in North American culture. On average, U.S. adults spend about 10 hours and 39 minutes a day consuming social media. Percentage of U.S. Internet users who access social networks weekly.
70% Facebook (36% between the ages of 18-34)
32% Instagram (46% between the ages of 18-34)
30% Twitter (40% between the ages of 18-34)
25% Snapchat (53% between the ages of 18-34)
25% Pinterest (38% between the ages of 18-34)
Source: TIME, March 13, 2017, AdWeek.com, June 27, 2016
America’s aging pastors
In partnership with Pepperdine University, Barna recently released a new study on the ages of American pastors. The study found that the median age of pastors today is 54, while in 1992, the median age was only 44. The study also found the percentage of pastors who are 65 and older has tripled since 1992, while only one in seven pastors today is under 40.
Source: Barna.com, March 1, 2017
Around 40% of recent college grads are receiving help from their parents to pay for rent. On average, 22- to 24-year-olds receive about $3,000 a year from their parents to make ends meet.
Source: The New York Times, February 9, 2017
Losing the war on drugs
For the first time ever, 50,000 people died from overdose in one year in the U.S. Seventy-three percent of overdose deaths in 2015 were from prescription opioids and heroin, up from 57% in 2010.
Source: The Week, March 10, 2017 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
A new normal
Cohabitation before marriage is now what the majority agrees is the best indicator for whether a couple is ready to get married. Sixty-five percent agreed that cohabitation is a good idea, according to a recent survey by Barna. Seventy-two percent of millennials agreed with the statement, compared to only 36% of elders.
Source: Barna.com, June 24, 2016
What millennials want in a church
The Fuller Youth Institute has spent the last four years studying over 250 congregations of diverse sizes, ethnicities, denominations and geographic regions and found that one of the most compelling characteristics of a church for millennials is a church’s vision to be the best neighbors to their community.
Source: RelevantMagazine.com, November 16, 2016
Women in power
Although most American adults would say they are comfortable with a female CEO, evangelicals show the lowest level of acceptance. A recent Barna study showed the following results when they asked the question: Are you comfortable with a female CEO?
94% All adults
Source: Barna.com, March 8, 2017
The cost of parenting
On average, it will cost $233,610 for a middle-income family to raise a child born in 2015 through age 17. According to a new government report, at 29%, housing is the biggest cost for parents. Another major expense is childcare, which costs an average of $37,378 per child.
Source: The Week, January 2017
I had the opportunity to attend a mission trip with this prolific group in late January and early February of this year. Many were reached for the kingdom. The following article from PIMI president Elijah Morar, lists the accomplishments from a second 2017 mission trip just concluded. Elijah is the pastor / principal of the cited American Romanian School. Eastern Europe is a hotbed of evangelism and salvation experiences. Western Europe is dead and needs our prayers.
Blessings, Pastor Steve
Allow me to share with you just a short note about our last mission project. I will follow this with our PIMI letter, but this is just a short note to let you know the victory in Christ that we had in Romania in the past week.
Monday we visited the village of Batar.
We have seen in the clinic 103 people (recorded on forms) and we were able to lead to Christ at least 7 people that we are following up with in discipleship!
Tuesday we had our 4th of July Party at the American Romanian School and kindergarten. Absolutely awesome day, that gave me the opportunity to share (on Thursday) the Saving Gospel of Christ with the Mayor, Vice Mayor and their staff! (this is not Facebook material – please understand)
Wednesday we were in Dragesti where we have seen 51 people (recorded on forms) and we were able to lead to Christ at least 7 people.
Thursday we went to Pocola and we have seen 16 people and we lead to Christ 2 people…
Friday and the first part of the day Saturday we were in Susturogiu where we have seen 84 people combined and lead to Christ 7 people.
Sunday in Beius in Church we had 1 saved and in Cihei we had 1 saved that evening.
254 people seen in the clinic and 25 saved during the week! GLORY TO GOD!
One last thing: – only in eternity will we know the full impact of this mission project.
Please continue to pray for us!
thank you and God bless you!
The rabiis, or Orthodox Jews, wear their hair very short with a long, long strand near the ear. It would be interesting to find out why. They are probably trying to fulfill a law of theirs. On the way to our first stop, Pastor Grimes told us that it hardly ever rains at the Dead Sea.
Our first stop entailed a visit to an Israeli shrine in commemoration of the Jewish Holocaust. The question remains, was the Holocaust God’s push of the Jews into the Holy Land? First of all, we saw the Israeli military cemetery. We saw many stones representing the war in 1948, when 650,000 Jews had a six month war with the Arabs and lost 6,000 people. The Israeli national movement is called the Zionist Movement, named after Mount Zion, or Jerusalem. Other stones were from soldiers who died in 1967. (the Six Day War). Next, we proceeded to the Memorial to the Holocaust. One and one half million children were killed. Seventy two hundred (7,200) Jewish people escaped from Denmark to Sweden. We saw pictures of gas chambers in Poland. Death and Concentration Camps were all over Europe. The hair and gold teeth were extracted from the Jews and used in the war effort. The Holocaust is one reason the Jews go to Mount Masada and vow they will never surrender, but fight to the death, This entire Memorial is a good reminder of the wretchedness of the heart of man.
Next, we looked at the Dead Sea Scrolls. We saw part of the book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Aramaic. It was discovered Qumran in 1947, and it dates to about 100 B.C. It was made by the famous Essenes. Then we saw the Temple Scroll. The Temple Scroll is God teaching the Torah in the first person. We saw the Manuel of Discipline – the regulations of the Essenes. We saw the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness. The biggest blessing, however, was to see a scroll of Isaiah dated 100 B.C., and filled with the prophecies of Jesus Christ! (examples: Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, chapter 53, etc.) We saw the Nahum Commentary which identified the Essenes. We saw the scrolls of forty one of the Psalms, including the apocryphal One Hundred and Fifty First Psalm. We saw the jars which held the Dead Sea Scrolls. We looked at the old marriage contract, a divorce bill, business letters (selling dates and fruits), and a social letter. The Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-135 was the last revolt of the Jews against the Romans. This was mentioned in a social letter. Over seven hundred scrolls and parchments have been found around Qumran.
Now we proceeded to Hezekiah’s Tunnel. We entered the Hinnom Valley, filled with olive trees. Then we came to the Kidron Valley. Hezekiah’s Tunnel is almost one half a mile long, and is a tremendous engineering feat. There were many residences right outside the tunnel, where donkeys worked right at the tunnel site, and children rode the donkeys. The tunnel consisted of two parts: 1) The original Canaanite Shaft and 2) Hezekiah’s Tunnel into David’s city. We saw the entrance to Hezekiah’s Tunnel – dated 750 B.C. Then we saw where David found the shaft, near the tunnel, which he used to enter Jerusalem around 1000 B.C. We walked up Mount Ophel – David’s city was a steep hill which was surrounded by valleys, the Kidron and Tyropoeon Valleys. The shaft and the tunnel diverted water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam at the south end of David’s city. When David took Jerusalem, Joab went up the Canaanite Shaft in order to open the gate for David and his men. Because of what he did, Joab received one of David’s daughters in marriage.
We noticed that Muslims paint their doors in relation to their “status” in faith. A red door, for instance, means they went to Mecca. There is no end to the customs and oddities in this land.
From our location in Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the ancient walls of the city of David could be seen. We observed the Pool of Siloam, which was the water receiving area for David’s Jerusalem. Swimmers were seen who entered the Pool of Siloam, having gone through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Nearby, are the traditional sites of the tombs of both Jehosephat and Zedekiah. They are not one hundred per cent positive about the authenticity of these tombs. There is more certainty however, about the tomb of Absalom.
Today is Friday, the Muslim Holy Day, and the soldiers were equipped with sticks and riot gear.
Next, we saw Zedekiah’s Cave or Solomon’s Quarries, a mountain where rock and stone was cut out for the temple. It was a hollowed out mountain, a huge and vast cave opening into an amphitheater. It kept going down deeper and deeper. Ton upon ton of rocks were removed. The traditional site of Golgotha or Calvary was seen across the street from Zedekiah’s Cave. This was a Muslim area and we could not go there. We noticed military halftracks and troops in the area.
On the way to Bethlehem, we passed another of Herod’s fortresses in the distance. It was the Herodium, a man made mountain where Herod flashed signals from, way out in the desert. (Because of his paranoia over assasination attempts, King Herod slept in a different place every night). His tomb could be in this fortress which is noted for its flat top, looking like a volcanic mountain from a distance. We passed Rachel’s tomb in Bethlehem off the main street.
For lunch, we went into St. George’s Arab Restaurant in Bethlehem. An Arab waiter attempted to take away my salad while I was eating it. Pastor Grimes was seated next to me and quickly took the waiter to task, straightening out his decorum. We had lamb shiskabob, and it was good. Speaking of Arab and custom, I would like to mention that the Arab toilet we saw near Petra, was in a large room, and on the floor. I was totally mesmerized when I first saw it. One would perform their bodily functions before a crowd. Unbelievable.
We walked over to the Church of the Nativity after lunch. This is the traditional birth place of Jesus Christ. The church is built on a cave. The only entrance, the front door, was short so camels could not walk in. The cave was charcoal black, due to many people bringing in torches and candles. The 1)Greek Orthodox, 2)Armenian, 3)and Roman Catholic all control this church, each with their own section. A Greek Orthodox Priest, dressed in black, rang bells filled with smoky incense all over the church – making it “holy.” Many of us gagged and coughed because of the smoke. The church goes back to the 5th Century and is rugged looking, like a fortress. The church has the original Byzantine 5th Century floor, Muslim columns, and Crusader decorations on the walls. Another cave or manger was on the other side. After leaving the Greek Orthodox Church, we entered the Catholic section. This was a very ritualistic church.
Now we proceeded toward the shepherd’s fields. There was a natural cave in these fields, and there were many shepherd’s fields to be seen in the area. These fields were similar to, and may have actually been, the fields that Ruth worked in and Boaz owned. Beth-lehem means “house of bread.” There are wheat fields and shepherd’s fields all around the town, hence the name. From Bethlehem, we had a breath-taking view of the mountains of Moab, across the desert and the Dead Sea. Moab, we know, was where Ruth came from, and the country originated between Lot and one of his daughters.
We then saw a beautiful panoramic view of Jerusalem from the south. We could observe David’s city at Mount Ophel up the middle, the Mount of Olives was seen on the right, and Mount Zion was on the left. The valleys are as follows: the Kidron Valley bears off to the right, the Tyropoeon Valley goes to the left, and the Hinnom Valley can be found in the middle. We could oberve the ever present Dome of the Rock in the middle also, above the Hinnom Valley.
Next, we went through the Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem – also called Gehenna because it was a trash dump where “the fire never went out.” The word Gehenna, of course, refers to burning. The never ending burning of hell.
We went to a store in Jerusalem belonging to a gentleman named Was-Was. Along the way we smelled the aroma of many good Arabic foods. Haggling is common place in Jerusalem, as you can bargain with people. For a reasonable price, I bought two brass candlesticks for my wife, and an olive wood donkey to add to our collection of over twenty donkeys at home.
“Ye must be born again.” John 3:7
“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13
The new birth does not come through human descent (“not of blood”), nor does it come through human desire (“the will of the flesh”), nor does it come through human determination (“nor of the will of man”). The issue is, have you put your faith in Christ? Have you been born of God: have you been born from above? Apart from this you will never enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Believe on Christ now, tomorrow may be too late. -W. Ross Rainey
Children of men, attend to the word, so solemnly uttered by Jesus the Lord; And let not this message to you be in vain, “Ye must be born again.” -William T. Sleeper
Let us contrast the beautiful aforementioned summary of true salvation with that of Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church in California. The following quotation is taken from page 220 of the Purpose Driven Church: “Anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart.”
Sorry Rick, as it states prior to your man centered apostate statement, salvation does NOT come through human desire or determination. It comes from ABOVE, and you and I are not big enough to find keys to anyone’s heart. Do not be deceived- Salvation has everything to do with becoming born from above. It has NOTHING to do with finding keys to people’s hearts.
Are you a Berean or a Laodicean? Do you believe the Bible or Rick Warren? Rick Warren is a litmus test and a referendum of Biblical illiteracy. Unfortunately he is plum out of line with how one becomes saved – the most important issue that anyone will ever face this side of eternity. In the following video, John MacArthur succinctly and thoroughly exegetes the scriptures, comparing the impotence of Rick Warren’s “Gospel,” with the true and Biblical Gospel that saves. Warren totally ignores the doctrine of repentance, without which one cannot be saved. [Luke 13:3,5 “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”] In a mere three minutes, the following video beautifully summarizes what true salvation is, and what it is not:
Have you ever wondered what the phrase “born again” means? The Bible records that Jesus used the phrase in a conversation with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus approached Jesus at night. He was curious about Jesus and the kingdom of God.
Jesus told him: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus responded, “How can a man be born when he is old?” (John 3:4).
Nicodemus was a highly moral man who obeyed God’s law. He was a respected leader of the Jewish community. No doubt he was a fine man. Yet something was lacking. Like Nicodemus, many people today confuse religion with new birth in Christ. Phrases like “I pray regularly” or “I believe there is a God” often are confused with a real new-birth experience.
New birth begins with the Holy Spirit convicting a person that a person is a sinner. Because of sin, we are spiritually dead. For this reason, spiritual birth, as Jesus described it, is necessary. God loves us and gives us spiritual birth when we ask Him for it.
The Bible says all persons are sinners (see Romans 3:23). Jesus died on a cross and was raised from the dead to save sinners. To be born again means that a person admits to God that he or she is a sinner, repents of sin, believes in or trusts Christ, and confesses faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. Jesus told Nicodemus that everyone who believes in (places faith in) Christ would not perish (see John 3:16). Jesus is the only One who can save us (see John 14:6).
To believe in Jesus is to be born again. Confess your sins and ask Jesus right now to save you. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). After you have received Jesus Christ into your life, share your decision with another person, and following Christ’s example, ask for baptism by immersion in your local church as a public expression of your faith (see Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:6).
From Open Windows
A Guide For Personal Devotions
Fall 2016 Lifeway
The following pictures represent a ministry that lasted for eight decades and reached more people than any other ministry in the history of the Christian Church. Billy Franklin Graham was a fiery preacher during his younger years. Enjoy this walk down memory lane:
Romans 12:1 King James Version (KJV)
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Britain First faces down leftwing and Muslim extremists in Burton
Muslims attack Christians in UK streets “we’re taking over” “we hate you”
The Islamic infiltration of Europe is creating scenes like this everywhere. Praise the Lord for courageous organizations like Britain First and people like Jayda Fransen. These are great films for liberals and the uninformed who believe that President Donald Trump has a prejudiced and bigoted approach towards Radical Islam. Radical Islam has no desire to homogenize with people and respect the law of the land. They say England is now “our country,” and they desire to implement sharia law throughout. Note the continual use of the “F” Bomb by Radical Islamists, as well as their spitting and throwing eggs at Britain First demonstrators. The politicians in Britain have foolishly given their nation away to people who despise Britain and their laws. Will America follow suit?
Pray For Revival In America!
Pastors Conference In Satu Mare, Bethel Baptist Church
On the morning of February 6, 2017, we departed for our pastor’s conference at Satu Mare, fifteen miles from the Ukrainian border. It was held at Bethel Baptist Church, the flagship evangelistic church in Satu Mare. I preached at this church on September 15, 2005 and was blessed with a profession of faith during the service (refer to the category for Hungary/Romania 2005). Mehi, I was pleased to see, was still the pastor at Bethel Baptist Church twelve and one half years later. He looked aged and weathered since I last saw him. His twin daughters translated for us on our previous trip, and Mehi’s trademark is the twenty eight children he has adopted! Perhaps this has matured him as well as the pastorate!
Our pastor’s conference commenced after we arrived and settled in for an hour or so. Nine Romanian pastors came the first day, and twenty Romanian pastors came the second day, in some cases bringing their wives and/or families. When I say they are Romanian pastors, I use that term representing the main people group, because there were those present who had backgrounds from Russia, Belarus, the Ukraine, Hungary, etc., etc. Intermarriage among the Slavic and Eastern European Countries is not uncommon.
Bobby Herrell was assisted by Aaron Gowen, and they did the bulk of the teaching in the conference, as once again Elijah Morar did a great job translating English to Romanian. Especially noteworthy was the great chemistry between Bobby and Elijah, both teaching with unction from the Holy Spirit and enthusiasm. The curriculum of the conference was the Global Effect Ministry. This was great discipleship training and well received by all of the pastors from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Two questions especially challenged the students: 1)What am I asking them to do? 2)What do I want them to know?
From the North American standpoint, Cornerstone Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, led this mission trip. Their senior pastor is Bobby Herrell and their discipleship pastor is Aaron Gowen. They do a very unique work and I would ask that you pray for their ministry. They represent a thriving church in Texas, and a brief word about their overseas mission ventures: They currently go to Romania twice a year (every six months), and they work in India twice a year as well. That means their team is on mission every three months! What a great model for the Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8.
We later departed for Budapest in order to make our flight early in the morning. There was a lot of light snow and sleet throughout our trip. I was concerned about the possibility of “black ice,” but the Lord watched over us. We rested well that night, preparing for our thirty hour journey home. The mission trip could not have gone better, and we attribute that to the Lord’s blessings and to the prayers of the saints. We traveled home tired and spiritually fulfilled.
Revelation 22:20 King James Version (KJV)
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Saved, Secure, and Forever His, Pastor Steve