Sunday, August 04, 2013

The 3 - August 4, 2013

This week on "The 3", my week-in-review feature, I take a look at a conference held in Dallas this week that brought in church leaders, missionaries, and church planters to be motivated and mobilized in the work of evangelism.  Also, a well-known pastor returned to the pulpit for the first time in almost 4 months after his son's death.   And, the top story involves ongoing violence in the African nation of Nigeria, where churches were the targets in multiple bombings on Monday.

3 - SEND Conference motivates leaders to display Christ's love and truth

This past week, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas became a nexus of activity in the areas of evangelism and church planting as the 2nd Send North America Conference, sponsored by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, was held there.  According to the NAMB website, more than 4,200 church planters, pastors and church leaders attended.

The gathering was marked by masses of participants praying in response to speakers, hundreds of connections between churches and church planters, and individuals seizing their moments to penetrate lostness in North America. Many attendees expressed the belief they were witnessing momentum building toward a movement to reach the continent.

Speakers included Prestonwood Pastor Jack Graham, Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City, Daniel Akin, the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and evangelist Luis Palau.   Musical artists included Lecrae, Christy Nockels, and Brett Younker.

At the closing session, Aaron Coe, NAMB's Vice-President of Mobilization and Marketing, asked the question, ""How do we go from this moment to a movement?" He went on to say that, "It takes people. There are entire communities in the United States and Canada that have no churches. We've got a lot of work to do. As we leave this Send North America Conference, I hope you leave encouraged that Jesus is for you."

"Let's agree together as the people of God not to leave complacent or go back to the status quo, but to leave this place to make a difference in the world for the glory of God. Join me in not letting this be a forgotten moment."

NAMB President Kevin Ezell said he was "ecstatic about the turnout" for the event. "Not only the energy and electricity among the participants, but the passion and heart of pastors and planters -- it all exceeds our expectations. The ethnic diversity is fantastic. Obviously this confirms the launch of a new day. It is a new day and a new NAMB."

2 - Rick Warren returns to pulpit for the first time after son's death

Last weekend, Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” delivered his first sermon since the April 5 passing of his son Matthew, who struggled with mental illness. Pastor Warren’s wife Kay joined him in sharing a message titled “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through.” He had been away from the pulpit for 16 weeks, the longest absence he has experienced.

According to a press release, Warren shared the three things that gave he and Kay stability during their grief. First, life doesn’t make sense, but we can have peace because God is with us and loves us. Secondly, everything on earth is broken, but we can have joy because we know God has a greater plan. And third, we know that life is a battle, but we can have hope because we know there is more to the story.

Pastor Rick said that, “For 27 years I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my son’s mental illness…it didn’t make sense why this prayer wasn’t being answered...When you go through a difficult time, you automatically start to try and find an answer. But explanations never comfort. You don’t need explanations; you need the presence of God.”

Kay Warren also shared about her struggle with continuing to choose joy even in grief, a topic of which she wrote about in her book, “Choose Joy,” released in 2012. “What do you do when hope doesn’t turn out the way you think it will? You rebuild your hope,” she said.

Warren also pledged to remove the stigma of mental illness.  Over the next six weeks, Pastor Warren will continue the “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through” sermon series by focusing on the six stages of grief – shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification and service.

1 - Violence continues to occur in Nigeria

The stories emerging out of the African nation of Nigeria continue to be heart-wrenching, as Christians and others are being victimized by Muslim extremists, including those who are associated with the militant group Boko Haram.  

As reported on, Jerry Dysktra, media relations director for Open Doors USA, reports that recent violence took place on Monday..."in a Christian area of Kano city in Kano state. Among the bombing sites was the Christ Salvation Pentecostal Church where at least 12 people died, according to World Watch Monitor. The total could reach 50 victims. Please pray for an end to violence and that the Nigerian government will restore security.”

According to the Associated Press, since 2010 the Boko Haram network is responsible for the killings of more than 1,600 people, many of them Christians. Nigeria is ranked No. 13 on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.

Morning Star News reports that 45 people are dead so far in the multiple bombings in Kano.  The Rev. Ramsey Noah, chairman of the Kano state chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) reported that the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were planted near three churches, blasting two of them as well as nearby Christian-owned businesses on Monday night. The four devices were detonated minutes apart between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the Sabon Gari area of the city, sources said.

Christians were meeting at Christ Salvation Pentecostal Church when one explosion hit, and 39 bodies were recovered in the area, Christian leaders said. Christians were also meeting at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church as another bomb went off, and an explosion apparently targeting Peniel Baptist Church did not affect the structure, Noah said.

A spokesman for the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) in Kano, Capt. Ikedichi Iweh, said Boko Haram was suspected.

And, this week, according to the Washington Post, Islamic extremists killed eight people in an attack targeting teachers and Muslim clerics in northeast Nigeria, witnesses and the military said Thursday.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Sagir Musa also warned that the Boko Haram terrorist network plans more such killings and “massive attacks” aimed at the northeastern city where their extremist movement was born -Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.   A statement says that, “The Joint Task Force wishes to alert citizens ... of the impending plans by Boko Haram terrorists to carry out massive attacks and bombings in Maiduguri metropolis and other parts of Borno State any moment from now and during the Eid al-Fitr.” That celebration on Aug. 8 marks the end of the Ramadan fasting period.

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