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Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow: 'Evangelism is the most talked about and least practiced discipline'

Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow speaks during last year's annual meeting at the Church on Main in Snellville, Ga. (Index/Henry Durand)
CONYERS, Ga. — Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow is hoping for a big turnout for a pair of evangelism conferences, the first of which begins on Sunday at First Baptist Church in Conyers. “The evangelism conferences help us to grow, to be equipped and to be inspired,” Saefkow said. “A big part of these conferences is to be inspired to go and tell others about Jesus.” Georgia Baptists are going into this year’s conferences with an obvious zeal for sharing the gospel. They’re reporting a 30% increase in baptisms over the past year and a more than 92% increase since 2020.
Donald Voyles stands in front of Mt. Tabor Community Baptist Church in Dallas, Ga., on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. (Index/Roger Alford)
Nation’s oldest church planter? Age no deterrent for 89-year-old Donald Voyles in starting one of Georgia’s newest congregations
DALLAS, Ga. — In a classy blue suit, striped tie, and starched white shirt, Donald Voyles has the look of a man who has just stepped out of the board room of a Fortune 500 company. He’s every whit the professional, from his freshly trimmed white hair to his newly polished back shoes. At 89, Voyles may not fit the stereotypical mold of the modern church planter, but the Adrian Rogers-look is paying dividends for a congregation birthed from a back-porch Bible study at his home in suburban Atlanta four years ago.
The sun rises over the Shorter University campus on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (Photo/Donald Dowless)
Sunrise over Shorter University
Shorter University President Donald Dowless captured the beauty of a late-winter sunrise  on Tuesday.  Shorter University, founded in 1873, is a Southern Baptist school in Rome, Ga.
The rendering of the proposed new worship center for Prince Avenue.
Prince Avenue Baptist Church’s growth calls for a new, larger worship center
BOGART, Ga., — When Josh Smith became pastor of Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Bogart six years ago after 11 years at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, he succeeded Pastor Bill Ricketts, who had served the church for 43 years. Ricketts had relocated the church from downtown Athens to Bogart, a growing community approximately seven miles west of Athens. The church was poised for growth, but it would take the right kind of pastor to lead the church to its greatest destiny.
Jimmy Blanton smiles during a celebration honoring his 25 years leading the Columbus Baptist Association. (Photo/CBA)
Jimmy Blanton to retire as Columbus Baptist Association missionary
COLUMBUS, Ga. – In January, Jimmy Blanton announced his retirement as the missionary of the Columbus Baptist Association by saying, “I realize that the association does not need a new mission, but it does need a new voice, a new vision, and a new missionary.”
A casket holding the remains of Army Reserve soldier Staff Sgt. William Jerome Rivers is carried from a church after a funeral service Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, in Carrollton, Ga. Rivers was one of three Georgia soldiers killed last month in drone attack in Jordan. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Fallen heroes: 2 more Georgia soldiers killed in Middle East laid to rest, remembered for courage, fierce determination
WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) — Two young citizen-soldiers who became close friends after enlisting in the Army Reserve were remembered at funerals in southeast Georgia on Saturday, nearly three weeks after they died in a drone attack while deployed to the Middle East.
Baptist Life

Aspiring teenage preacher who baptized baseball teammates in Georgia to play at The Citadel

Robbie Lane poses in a baseball uniform from The Citadel. The Georgia junior college shortstop has committed to play at the Division I school.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — An aspiring young preacher and baseball player who baptized most of his teammates at a Georgia junior college last fall has committed to play for The Citadel beginning next season. Robbie Lane, the starting shortstop at East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, Ga., described being recruited to play for the Division I school in Charleston as a dream come true.
Shorter University has a history of training quality pianists, and to continue this training, the music department has started the Piano Program Project. This project was started in 2019 as a three-phase project.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In his report to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committeeon Monday, Bart Barber outlined new efforts to implement what he believes messengers have called on SBC leadership to do as the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting approaches. Among the updates, the Southern Baptist Convention president announced efforts to implement a new resolutions process. He also noted he will announce members of the resolutions committee by the end of February.
CHULA, Mo. — Amanda Hicks knew there were bees inside the building that once housed Chula Baptist Church. Everyone in the small Missouri town knew that. The old church had been sitting empty for nearly five years, the last of four churches that once served the small community of Chula, Missouri. While it sat empty, bees had made a home inside it, but everyone thought the bees were hiding in the walls.
Leaving behind a legacy is something that all Christians should strive for during their lifetime. Specifically, the love we have should be so unrecognizable to the culture that we shine in the darkness. One couple’s legacy, William Everett and Teresa Bennett, does just that.
Georgia
In this image take from police body camera video provided by the Atlanta Police Department, Johnny Hollman Sr. speak with Officer Kiran Kimbrough on Aug. 10, 2023 in Atlanta. (Atlanta Police Department via AP, File)

Georgia drivers could refuse to sign traffic tickets and not be arrested under bill

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers are seeking to change state law to say that officers don't have to arrest people who refuse to sign traffic tickets after a church deacon died in August after initially refusing to sign a citation and struggling with an Atlanta police officer.

Jimmy Carter becomes first living ex-president with official White House Christmas ornament

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter has another distinction to his name. The 99-year-old is the first U.S. president to be honored with an official White House Christmas ornament while still living. The ornament was unveiled Wednesday and is the latest in an annual series that the nonprofit White House Historical Association began issuing in 1981, the year Carter left office.

Attorneys for Georgia slave descendants urge judge not to throw out their lawsuit over island zoning

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Attorneys suing a Georgia county over zoning changes that they say threaten one of the South's last Gullah-Geechee communities of Black slave descendants asked a judge Tuesday to let them correct technical problems with their civil complaint to avoid having it dismissed.

State representative Houston not running for reelection to Georgia House

ATLANTA – Longtime state Rep. Penny Houston announced Tuesday that she will not seek reelection this year. Houston, R-Nashville, has served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 26 years under seven House speakers. She told her House colleagues she wants to spend more time with her family.
Nation
This image from video provided by SpaceX via NASA TV shows Intuitive Machines' lunar lander separating from the rocket's upper stage and heading toward the moon, on Feb. 15, 2024. (SpaceX -NASA TV via AP)

Private US spacecraft enters orbit around the moon ahead of landing attempt

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A private U.S. lunar lander reached the moon and eased into a low orbit Wednesday, a day before it will attempt an even greater feat — landing on the gray, dusty surface. A smooth touchdown would put the U.S. back in business on the moon for the first time since NASA astronauts closed out the Apollo program in 1972. The company, if successful, also would become the first private outfit to ace a moon landing.

A pacemaker for the brain that helped a woman with crippling depression may soon be available to more

NEW YORK (AP) — Emily Hollenbeck lived with a deep, recurring depression she likened to a black hole, where gravity felt so strong and her limbs so heavy she could barely move. She knew the illness could kill her. Both of her parents had taken their lives.

To keep whales safe, Coast Guard launches boat alert system in Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) — Photographer Matt McDonald had lived on Puget Sound for years, but had never seen a whale, so he was elated when he spotted a giant marine mammal just off Seattle's waterfront one evening.

2 adults are charged with murder in the deadly shooting at Kansas City's Super Bowl celebration

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri prosecutors said Tuesday that two men have been charged with murder in last week’s shooting that killed one person and injured 22 others after the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade. Both adults are charged with second-degree murder and other charges. They have been hospitalized since the shooting, Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said during a news conference.
World
Indian farmers who have been protesting for a week to demand guaranteed crop prices wait to march to the capital near Shambhu border that divides northern Punjab and Haryana states, some 120 miles from New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

A young man dies as clashes erupt between police and protesting farmers in India

SHAMBHU, India (AP) — Clashes between farmers and police in India left one protester dead Wednesday as the farmers resumed their march to the capital after talks with the government failed to end an impasse over their demands for guaranteed crop prices. Indian farmers began their protest march last week but were stopped some 125 miles from New Delhi as police fired rounds of tear gas.

Alexei Navalny's mother files lawsuit with a Russian court demanding release of her son's body

The mother of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has filed a lawsuit at a court in the Arctic city of Salekhard contesting officials’ refusal to release her son’s body, Russia’s state news agency Tass reported Wednesday. A closed-door hearing has been scheduled for March 4, the report said, quoting court officials.

UK lawmakers seek reassurances about nuclear deterrent after reports of a failed missile test

LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers are seeking reassurances about the nation’s nuclear deterrent after reports that a test of the system failed dramatically last month when an unarmed missile crashed into the sea near the submarine from which it was launched.

Lawyers for the US to tell a British court why WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange should face spying charges

LONDON (AP) — Lawyers for the American government are to tell a London court on Wednesday why they think Julian Assange should face espionage charges in the United States, in response to a last-ditch bid by his defense to stop the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder.
Perspectives
​George Barnard Shaw said, “There are two sources of unhappiness in life. One is not getting what you want; the other is getting it.” America is obsessed with success. We work hard to get what we want. From the early days of our youth, competing is encouraged to reach number one, whether it’s winning the spelling bee or ranking at the top of our class. Setting our minds on a goal and pressing until we reach that goal makes us a success, we think. Success is a destination.
We are about to examine what James Montgomery Boice and many other Biblical scholars declare is “the most difficult portion of the entire Bible,” recorded in Romans 9:13 (quoting Malachi 1:2-3) where God emphatically says:  “I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau!”
My very first date with my husband was on Valentine’s Day in 1974. We were both in the 10th grade at the same high school. He was a basketball player and I was a cheerleader. I won’t say I fell in love with him on the first date, which by the way was at the circus, but I did enjoy his company and considered that there might be potential for a relationship there. He, on the other hand, told me he was going to marry me on our first date!
I began teaching a course on organizational leadership this past week at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. One of the goals of the course is to demonstrate how organizational leadership can promote human flourishing. What an encouraging possibility for those in leadership to think that they can contribute not only to the advancement of a mission, but also to the well-being of the people they lead.  
Just a couple of years ago a hearing was held in the Georgia Senate regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana. Though no vote was taken on the legislation, the most striking element of the hearing was the numerous negative comments from the Senate committee members and those who testified against the legislation. When the dangers of legalizing recreational marijuana were uncovered, it was obvious that no one wanted this legislation to be considered on a ballot as a constitutional amendment.
Business
The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, July 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Boeing ousts head of 737 jetliner program weeks after panel blowout on a flight over Oregon

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing said Wednesday that the head of its 737 jetliner program is leaving the company in an executive shake-up weeks after a door panel blew out on a flight over Oregon, renewing questions about safety at the company. Boeing announced that Ed Clark, who had been with the company for nearly 18 years and led the 737 program since early 2021, was leaving immediately.

Robots and happy workers: Productivity surge helps explain US economy's surprising resilience

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trying to keep up with customer demand, Batesville Tool & Die began seeking 70 people to hire last year. It wasn't easy. Attracting factory workers to a community of 7,300 in the Indiana countryside was a tough sell, especially having to compete with big-name manufacturers nearby like Honda and Cummins Engine.

Home Depot's strong fourth quarter overshadowed by weakening sales and expectations for 2024

Home Depot's sales continued to fade during the fourth quarter as the country's largest home improvement retailer feels the impact of high mortgage rates and inflation on its customers. While quarterly results topped Wall Street expectations, the company's sales expectations for this year weighed on shares early. Shares slipped more than 2% before the opening bell Tuesday. Rival Lowe’s, which reports fourth-quarter earnings next week, fell more than 2%.

Japan slips into a recession and loses its spot as the world's third-largest economy

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s economy is now the world’s fourth-largest after it contracted in the last quarter of 2023 and fell behind Germany. The government reported the economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.4% in October to December, according to Cabinet Office data on real GDP released Thursday, though it grew 1.9% for all of 2023. It contracted 2.9% in July-September. Two straight quarters of contraction are considered an indicator an economy is in a technical recession.

For many Americans, Valentine's Day is a last-minute affair

In a classic “Saturday Night Live” sketch, a young man hands his girlfriend a Valentine’s Day gift: a bear dressed in a bee costume that he picked up at the drugstore. “When did you get this?” she asks with a strained smile. “One minute ago,” he replies.
Sports
William Byron celebrates after winning the NASCAR Daytona 500, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

William Byron launches Hendrick Motorsports' 40th anniversary season with win in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The goal was obvious to William Byron: put the No. 24 Chevrolet in victory lane in the 2024 Daytona 500 to launch Hendrick Motorsports' 40th anniversary season. Mission accomplished, even if Byron had to complete an agonizing final lap under caution around Daytona International Speedway awaiting the winner to be declared.

Rain pushes Daytona 500 to Monday in first outright postponement since 2012

NASCAR has postponed the season-opening Daytona 500 until Monday because of two days of rain at Daytona International Speedway.

Georgia Tech finishes strong, knocks off Syracuse 65-60

ATLANTA (AP) — Kyle Sturdivant scored 17 points, Miles Kelly and Baye Ndongo both had double-doubles and Georgia Tech defeated Syracuse 65-60 on Saturday. Ndongo scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds; Kelly had 16 and 10. Tafare Gapare scored 10 for the Yellow Jackets (11-15, 4-11 ACC).

Clayton Jr., Haugh lead surging Florida to 88-82 victory over Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Walter Clayton Jr. scored 21 points, backup forward Thomas Haugh added 17 points and some key plays in the final two minutes, and Florida defeated Georgia 88-82 on Saturday. Haugh's driving layup with 1:47 remaining put the Gators ahead 83-77 then Noah Thomason hit a 3-pointer to get Georgia within 83-80. With 50 seconds left, Haugh grabbed the offensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer and drew a foul from Thomason.