The Bible Drill finals were May 15-16, after being moved because of the swine flu outbreak that caused the University Interscholastic League to cancel events, said BGCT Discipleship Specialist Dickie Dunn. Only one student was unable to attend because of the change in date. Full Story »

As a decorated Air Force pilot and a retired Mission Service Corps director, Col. Samuel Pepper Pearis IV’s work here is done. Full Story »

Congratulations. The Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger announces the birth of a child, the Texas Hunger Initiative.

Thanks to your generosity and faithfulness, the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger has continued to grow and now supports over a hundred Texas ministries that relieve hunger and build hope. The birth of the Texas Hunger Initiative begins a process to bless and multiply impact in hunger ministry. Tens of thousands of Texans are being fed. Jesus exclaims about His disciples, “You will do greater things than I do.” His hope is to see millions of Christ followers across all boundaries of time and place acting in love as He did.

Growing in strength, the Texas Hunger Initiative will begin to empower teams of state leaders, student workers and hunger advocates. The encouragement of HOPE 2010 is to feed hungry Texas and the Texas Hunger Initiative will help extend and connect ministries within and beyond the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger.

No one grows without a family. The Texas Hunger Initiative is hosted by the Baylor School of Social Work and joins with compassionate TBOWH ministries in every corner of Texas. Each of these names represents the face of generous grace to the hungry and lost. Pause to pray, or better yet, lend a hand in support to these ministries in your area – they are an alphabet of grace for Texas:

Abilene – Crescent Heights BC & Angel Food Ministries

Amarillo - CityChurch, Eastridge Community Outreach, Perkins Community Center Immanuel Baptist Kids Outreach, Freedom Baptist Church Palo Duro Cowboy Church

Austin – Austin Baptist Chapel; Baptist Community Center; First Baptist, Elgin; Hyde Park Baptist; First Baptist, Manor; First Baptist, Oak Hill; River Road Baptist; and Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz.

Brownwood – Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM) including wild game (white tail deer).

Conroe – Burning Hope Baptist Church S.O.U.L. soup kitchen and more.

Corpus Christi – Baptist Church Inner City Mission, and Parkdale Baptist Church Christian Care Center.

Dallas area – which in 2008 served over 140,000 people in need. Baptist Benevolent Ministries of Irving; Bible Way Baptist Church; Brother Bill’s Helping Hand; Breakfast with Jesus, Shekinah Tabernacle Baptist Church; Cornerstone Care Center; Exodus Ministries; First Laotian Baptist Church; Freeman Heights Baptist Church; Friendship House, Carrollton; Friendship House, Garland; Food Gap Refugee Ministry, Gaston Oaks Baptist Church; DBA Apartment Ministries; and Open Table Project Homeless Ministry.

Decatur - Wise, Jack, and Montague counties -Harvest Baptist Association funds six food ministries.

Del Rio – First Baptist Church’s Hunger Advocacy Ministry.

El Paso - Iglesia Bautista El Divino Salvador; Misión Palabras de Vida; First Baptist Church, Clint; Iglesia Bautista Peregrino; Templo Bautista Ft. Hancock; and Dell City Hispanic.  .

Ft Worth - Beautiful Feet Ministries, Bisbee Baptist Church, Broadway Baptist Church, Christian Community Assistance, Community Caring Center, Cornerstone Community Center, Eastside Ministries, G.R.A.C.E., Mission Arlington, N.E.E.D. East and West, N.I.C.A, Union Gospel Mission, West Aid, and Mercy Heart Family Relief Outreach.

Freeport Coastal – HOPE Clinic, River of Hope First Baptist, Safe Haven is a residential facility for homeless, pregnant teenagers.

Houston – Poverty Ministries Initiative of Union Baptist Association with several component ministries: Family Crisis Care Project; Food for Homebound Persons Project; Senior Adult Day Care Project; Ministries with Children Project; Language Skills Project; and Employment Support Project.

Lubbock – Red Cross, Women’s Protective Services, MH-MR, Managed Care, Adult Protective Services, Lubbock Independent School District, Exodus Prison Ministries, and churches across the Lubbock area.

Midland – Midland Baptist Crisis Center primarily serves low to mid income families whose income cannot keep pace with rising expenses and families who have never applied for food assistance and have lost jobs.

Mineral Wells – New Haven Ministries is the major provider of food for the needy in the county, serving over 600 families per month through Helping Hands food pantry.

Odessa – The Permian Basin Mission Center, 12,000 families a year.

San Antonio – Buena Voluntad Baptist Church; Christian Women’s Job Corps; MANNA, First Baptist Church; Harlandale Baptist Church; In His Hands Ministry, Mayfield Park Baptist Church; MCBC Food Pantry, Medical City Baptist Church; Amistad, First Mexican Baptist Church; St. Stephen Baptist Church; Lewis Angel Ministries, South San Filadelfia Baptist Church; Angel Food Ministry, University Park Baptist Church; Jireh Ministries, West Campus Baptist Church; Food Pantry, Redeeming Grace Baptist Church; and Resurrection Baptist Church, Lytle.

Waco – Operation Assist provides food and clothing for the needy of McLennan County, World Hunger Relief Community Gardens project – campus gardening projects to enhance students’ understanding of both good nutrition and gardening skills sufficient to provide their families with low-cost fresh vegetables.

Weatherford – Center of Hope in Weatherford serves the large population of poor people in Parker County.

We strive to make Jesus’ vision for compassion our vision. These ministries will flourish and new horizons of compassionate ministry will grow through caring partnerships and by using tools from the Texas Hunger Initiative. We are already on the way to developing habits of adventurous obedience. Follow Jesus, feed his sheep.

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The Email That Would Not Die.

Like a zombie from a late-night horror movie, misinformation about the state of U.S. immigration seems to have a life of its own.  Back in July 2008, the ISAAC Newsletter debunked an email called, “14 reasons”.  Ostensibly the email asserted “facts” about the costs of immigration and immigrants to the economy.  The problem with the email is that many of the assertions were false, had half-truths or were just made up.  The other day, I received an “updated version” of the email.  After careful review, the only things updated were some introductory paragraphs.  Alas, this email does not seem to die, so this month, we are reprinted our analysis of this email on the ISAAC Blog’s May 11, 2009 posting.  Please remember to keep separating the wheat from the chaff!

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Churches That Do It All

Each year, the coordinators of denominational hunger relief and development offerings/ministries meet in late spring to share ideas, strategies, and publications.

One of the topics for this year’s meeting during May 7-8 in New York City was “churches that do it all.”  The topic was meant to identify congregations which engage hunger ministry with such commitment and competence that they make a real and lasting difference in their communities and larger settings.

While I was in New York, I took the opportunity to visit one such congregation, East 7th Street Baptist Church in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  The church calls its community ministry “Graffiti” as a reminder of the ubiquitous spray-paint art which characterized this neighborhood twenty-five years ago.  Now the area is aptly described as a tale of two cities, where one of the largest public housing projects in the country stands alongside the gentrified residences of Wall Street executives.  Throughout the thirteen years Graffiti has received Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger funds, the ministry has served children whose families are on public assistance, the homeless, senior citizens with limited incomes, and youth who are looking for viable careers.

When I first visited Graffiti over ten years ago, the neighborhood was pervasively drug-infested and dangerous to walk through.  Because of the congregation’s continuing outreach to the community, many youth and young adults are leaving the drug economy and finding honest, self-sustaining employment.  The church itself has moved from a small, cramped storefront to a new building constructed on property formerly occupied by a synagogue.  In October, 2001 (just three weeks after 9/11), Pastor Taylor Field stood with me in a nearby vacant lot which had once stood in the shadow of the World Trade Center and pointed to a limestone marker with a Hebrew inscription taken from the facade of the synagogue.  When I entered East 7th Street Baptist Church last week, the limestone marker graced the new entry way, symbolizing the renaissance of this neighborhood wrought by the Spirit through the hands and hearts of one congregation.

As I shared Wednesday night dinner at the church with Taylor and others, I could not help but reflect on the diversity of those gathered around the tables in the fellowship hall.  There were blacks, whites, Asians, and Puerto Ricans.  There were able-bodied and disabled, young and old, educated and illiterate, addicted and recovering from addiction.  Taylor knew and greeted them all as our own conversation was constantly punctuated by good-natured side commentary with the other diners.  Two young women who were both graduates of Ivy League law schools and practicing attorneys in Manhattan waited tables.  After the meal–subsidized by the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger–we sang, shared concerns, and engaged in an ongoing study of the Psalter.  The conversation was spirited and existentially rooted.  No one seemed to be in a hurry to leave.  When the service was over, Taylor spent another twenty minutes in conversation with the two attorney-waiters planning a series of free legal seminars for the community.

This litany of activity on Wednesday night is only a small sampling of Graffiti’s ministries.  There are meals for the homeless in a nearby park on Saturdays, job training classes for youth, meals and snacks for children both after school and during the summer, a food pantry, and countless interns from all over the U.S. whose lives are transformed by the amazing grace of God at work in the disparate souls of East 7th Street Baptist Church.  Here is a church that does it all, truly a sight to behold and one made possible in no small measure by the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger.

Donate now!

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Prayer request for Rep. Kuempel and Family

Late on the night of Tuesday, May 12, Rep. Edmund Kuempel (R-Seguin) was found collapsed near an elevator just off the House floor after suffering an apparent heart attack. Rep. Kuempel was quickly and heroically attended to by House staff members, DPS officers and Rep. Zerwas and Rep. Shelton who are both medical doctors. At this time, Rep. Kuempel is continuing recovery in an Austin hospital where he recently had a pacemaker implanted.

Rep. Kuempel has been a member of the Texas House since 1983 and currently serves as chairman of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee. He has been an outspoken advocate for the expansion of gambling this session. Although we may not always agree, we appreciate the chairman, continue to pray for him, and ask for your prayers for Rep. Kuempel and his family. He is surely one of the most well liked members of the legislature. He has a great sense of humor that always eases tensions during a hearing. He has been gracious to gambling opponents and has ensured all sides of an issue had an equal opportunity to be heard. We wish him a full, speedy recovery. The Capitol is just not the same without him.

High Priority Bills

The following is a short list of bills that the CLC is strongly encouraging passage. At this point in the session many good bills have already “died” and have no hope for passage this session. Fortunately, many bills we opposed, including all major gambling expansion bills, have met the same fate. We will continue to work hard and watch for ways to amend good legislation to bills that are likely to pass and will be vigilant that no bad bills sneak through the same way.  This list is not exhaustive, many other bills we support deserve your attention, however at this point in the session these remain our highest priority and have a chance to pass and can be helped along in that process by constituent calls. 

Health Care:  SB 6 by Duncan is the Healthy Texas Plan. This bill provides small business owners and non-profits with access to quality, affordable health insurance through a public private partnership with the state. This bill has passed the Senate and was left pending in House Insurance on May 5.

Human Trafficking:   HB 4009 by Weber establishes a grant program, maintained by Health and Human Services Commission, for non-governmental organizations who provide direct services to victims of domestic trafficking. This bill passed the House unanimously on May 14.

Criminal Justice:   HB 498 by McClendon, also known as the Timothy Cole Innocence Commission, is named in memory of a young man falsely convicted of a rape and found innocent after his death in prison. The newly created Commission would investigate all post-conviction exonerations, including convictions vacated on a plea to time served.  Its charge would include determination of errors or defects in the criminal procedures and process that caused the wrongful convictions.  The Commission is to develop methods and procedures to prevent mistakes and report findings to the Governor. It was passed to its third reading in the House on May 14.

Children and Family:  HB 2962 by Coleman would expand healthcare eligibility for uninsured children in Texas. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a state subsidized health insurance product where eligible families pay based on their income.  This bill expands the CHIP program to allow a sliding scale buy-in program for families who earn from 200% to 300% of the federal poverty level and a full cost buy-in program from 300% to 400%. One important provision included in the bill requires the state to increase community outreach, promotion, and education of CHIP’s expanded eligibility. HB 2962 passed the House on May 14 and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.

Environment – HB 4261  by Rodriguez would establish a zero-interest consumer loan program for energy efficiency and renewable energy with stimulus funds (up to $50 million). While this program failed to pass as a stand alone bill, the provisions in this bill are expected to be added to another environment bill.  This program specifically includes houses of worship as qualified recipients. In addition, this bill would help create new energy efficiency and renewable energy jobs at all levels, while helping taxpayers benefit directly from the stimulus money.

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“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The serenity prayer is composed of wise words that challenge so many.  These are stressful days which provide unique challenges for men and women struggling with addictions.  The church can support, encourage and lead the way in changing part of the world beginning in your own neighborhood. Recovery Sunday is five months away but it’s time to begin to pray about making a stand in your community and congregation on October 18, 2009.  I encourage you to begin to accept the challenge to make a difference and pray for wisdom in the way to communicate Christ-like care and concern to your part of the world.  During the summer, we will be providing helps for your church in preparing for Recovery Sunday.

Do Something: Substance Abuse Ministry DVD

Introducing Do Something: A Substance Abuse Ministry DVD available through the Christian Life Commission. To order, contact Alicia Enriquez at 214.828.5192, or e-mail Alicia Enriquez. The cost is $2.

Pathways to PreventionWebsite

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