Baptist Life

The news was so exciting that it was hard to keep it a secret. The chief officer of the Zambian women’s prison, a local believer, pulled the visiting International Mission Board missionaries into his office. He looked around conspiratorially, burst into a huge smile and said four women who attend their weekly Bible study would soon be released. They’d received a presidential pardon. 

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — “Fear not” is a frequent command in the Bible, but most pastors feel churchgoers aren’t getting the message. A Lifeway Research study finds almost 7 in 10 U.S. Protestant pastors believe there is a growing sense of fear within their congregations about the future of the nation and world. Additionally, more than 3 in 5 say their churches have a similar increasing dread specifically about the future of Christianity in the U.S. and around the world.

LAFAYETTE, Ga. — Life gets messy, even in small towns like LaFayette, population 7,500. Fires, medical emergencies, domestic disputes, vehicle crashes, illegal substances and more are attended to by radio-toting first responders who too often see gut-wrenching things most people are shielded from.

MOULTRIE, Ga. — Scott Sullivan challenged church leaders Saturday to develop strategies to grow strong disciples who can unleash the power of the gospel in their communities and around the world. “My opinion is that the greatest gospel force on the planet is not in the pulpits; it’s in the pews,” said Sullivan, the discipleship catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board who preached in the first of a series of SPARK conferences scheduled across the state over the next month.

VILLA RICA, Ga. — Georgia pastor Kevin Williams sees what he describes as a spiritual shift that is bringing the Bible back to the Bible Belt. “People are searching for truth,” he said Friday, a day after 220 students in Carroll County, Ga., surrendered their lives to Christ. “We’re living in a time that the Bible warns about, when people will be calling wrong right and right wrong. We’ve reached a point where people are saying enough is enough. It’s like a switch has flipped and things are going back the other direction.”

MILLEDGEVILLE, GA – Jeff Morgan became the interim pastor of Milledgeville’s First Baptist Church in July of last year. After 12 months of loving the people and faithfully preaching the Word the church’s pastor search committee recommended Morgan as the new senior pastor and the church voted to call him to that role on August 6, 2023.

ATLANTA — Austin Reaves is convinced that Georgia State University can play a key role in getting the gospel around the globe. Georgia State is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse campuses in the U.S. with students from 177 nations, and that, Reaves said, perfectly positions the school for worldwide evangelism.

FORSYTH, Ga. — A new nonprofit organization has been created to generate financial support for the Camp Kaleo Retreat Center, a site in rural Monroe County where children gather each summer to learn about Jesus. Friends of Kaleo will raise money for improvement projects and to help cover camp fees for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend, said Jim Strickland, president of the new organization.

CENTRALHATCHEE, Ga. — Mark Williams has a simple explanation for why 120 people have become followers of Christ in this small Georgia community over the past two months. “God has just been moving,” said Williams, pastor of First Baptist Church in Centralhatchee, population 400.

It was a fusion of the quality preaching and teaching of Spurgeon’s London Tabernacle, the evangelistic passion of a Moody crusade, and a rare conservative dose of the social gospel movement. It was the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia’s first megachurch.

SWAINSBORO, Ga. — Lured by a few simple handwritten signs and some orange traffic cones, long lines of people showed up for a drive-through prayer outreach in Swainsboro. And in yet another sign of spiritual revival in Georgia, some 30 people surrendered their lives to Christ.

CHATSWORTH, Ga. — As a school bus driver, Robert Richardson feels the weight of responsibility in hauling the most precious of all cargos — children. But, as a Baptist minister, he gladly shoulders that responsibility. With school districts across Georgia struggling to fill bus driver positions, church leaders have been stepping into the role, fitting bus routes into their daily ministry routines.

CARROLLTON, Ga. — Thousands of backpacks filled with classroom supplies have begun making their way into the hands of needy children in time for the start of school, courtesy of Mission Georgia, the wide-ranging outreach to the state’s most vulnerable residents.

MONROE, GA – Scores of people from 1025 Church and community gathered for the dedication of the church’s newest facility, which will be called the Murray Ministry Center. The freshly painted, sparkling white building, formerly occupied by Monroe’s First National Bank, was given to the church by Kenneth and Jean Murray. Their son, Kenneth Murray, Jr. is an active deacon at 1025 Church, drummer for the worship team, and Pastor Fountain’s prayer partner.

STATESBORO, Ga. — Cambodian Southern Baptist leaders believe their recent purchase of a 7-acre former wedding venue, to be used as a conference center, is a miracle given to them by God. They call it the Blessing Field, an obvious reference to the Killing Fields Cambodians endured during the 1970s as depicted in a 1984 major motion picture of the same name.

More than 1,000 children and teens spent time this summer at Georgia Baptist camps that mix outdoor fun with Bible teaching.  Camp Pinnacle in the mountains of north Georgia hosted 546 students of whom 10 came to faith in Christ. Camp Kaleo had 346 overnight campers and nearly 450 day campers of whom 39 made salvation decisions.

CORNELIA, Ga. — A spiritual movement that began in Georgia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is still going strong, showing up most recently in Habersham County where 39 people made salvation decisions last week in an evangelistic outreach. Tony Gray, associational missions strategist in the Habersham and Liberty Baptist associations, said a new church also could be planted as a result of the outreach, which, he said, shows the impact congregations have when they work together.

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. — This barrier island off Savannah’s coast is billed as the place where time stands still. It’s a place where families walk barefoot in the sand, where palm branches sway in ocean breezes,  where children delight in an abundance of seashells. David Laughner arrived here to serve as pastor of Chapel by the Sea Baptist Church more than 30 years ago and never left. He ministers in an ocean paradise.

BARRE, Vt. — Disaster relief volunteers from Georgia Baptist churches are continuing their work in in Vermont helping flood victims recover from what’s being described as that state’s worst natural disaster in nearly a century. “The jobs are massive, lots of debris and flood damage,” said Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter.

ATHENS, Ga. — Beech Haven Baptist Church, a beautiful white church with a towering steeple on Broad Street in Athens, has called a new pastor. The church affirmed the call of Dr. Rob Tims as senior pastor on June 25, 2023, and he will preach his first sermon as pastor on August 6. In a recent conversation with Dr. Tims, he gave every evidence of being an engaging, personable, and compassionate person with a great sense of God’s calling upon his life.

Hirohisa “Hiro” Hogaki, a two-time alumnus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, tragically drowned Monday, July 16, in his native Japan while rescuing two of his children from drowning. Hogaki earned his bachelor’s degree from what is now known as Texas Baptist College in 2010 and his Master of Arts in Theology from Southwestern Seminary in 2020.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Volunteers and Georgia Baptist Mission Board staff members gathered Monday at Lawrenceville First Baptist Church to fill backpacks with school supplies that will be distributed to local foster families. The initiative was organized through Mission Georgia, a Georgia Baptist outreach that provides gospel-centered care to the state's most vulnerable residents.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Amid the fun and games of Vacation Bible School, serious spiritual business has taken place at churches across Georgia over the past two months. “Thousands of kids have made salvation decisions,” said Jenni Carter, kids ministry consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. Churches of every size and in every region of the state reported not only the highest attendance in years at Vacation Bible School but also large numbers of children committing their lives to Christ.

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. — In north Georgia, people eagerly make their way into Blairsville’s First Baptist Church each Sunday. An excitement has taken hold here that causes people not to want to miss worship services. Attendance has surpassed pre-COVID numbers. More than 80 people have joined the church in the past year. And nearly 40 have been baptized. Not all churches are so fortunate, according to a Lifeway Research survey that quizzed churchgoers about the top reasons they skip church services.

ATLANTA — Leading campus ministry at Georgia State University for the past 40 years has been a joy to Teresa Royall, an energetic lady described by her students as a living example of what it means to give your all for the Lord. Royall has led co-eds on mission trips around the globe, giving them their first glimpses of life in Third World countries. She has counseled countless students, led a never-ending number of Bible studies, cooked meals, wiped tears, and slept on floors with never a complaint.

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