Monthly Archives: March 2012

Single moms and the local church

Published by:

By Jennifer Maggio
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside The Pew staff.

BATON ROUGE, La. — As her body crumbles to the floor, she can hardly believe what she is hearing. Her husband wants a divorce. No, not me. Not us. I’ve done everything right. I’ve tried. I really have.A million thoughts rush through her mind as

Jennifer Maggio

the reality that her world will no longer be the same comes crashing against her. She lies there, crying and helpless, wondering how she will survive financially, what her friends will thing, and how her children will survive without their father in their daily lives.

This is reality for more than 15 million women who find themselves parenting alone today in the United States. It is estimated that 1,000 teenagers become pregnant every day, while one in every two marriages will fail. Whether it be a 15-year-old pregnant teen, a 35-year-old divorcee, or a grandmother parenting her grandchildren alone, these women are desperate for connection. The statistics that surround the single parent home are staggering:

  • 78 percent of the U.S. current prison population was raised in a single parent home.
  • 71 percent of all high school dropouts came from single parent homes.
  • 1 in 3 single mothers live in poverty.
  • Children in single parent homes are five times more likely to commit suicide.
  • They are 32 times more likely to run away.
  • They are 10 more likely to use drugs or alcohol.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. By all accounts, today’s society is currently in the midst of a single parent crisis that affects our economy, abuse rates, crime, education, and our future generations. We know that we are under biblical mandate to serve the least of these, the forgotten, the broken, the marginalized. The questions is, “What are you, the church, doing about it?” For far too long, the church has ran from the single parent home. Recent studies suggest that 67 percent of single mothers in the United States do not actively attend church (“The Church and the Single Mom,” Carepoint). It is one of the fastest-growing sects of the population, and there are approximately 9 million unchurched single mothers in our communities across this nation.

The Life of a Single Mom Ministries was founded as a solution to this very concern. Less than 1 percent of the 300,000 evangelical Christian churches in the United States do nothing for single mothers, and the few that do struggle with how to run effective programs that go beyond a one-time-a-year Christmas or Thanksgiving event. TLSM is on a mission to change all that.  TLSM provides resource to equip pastors, leaders, and laypeople on how to launch effective single parent programs within their church. TLSM has helped more than 400 churches in the United States and served leadership in 19 countries. But the work is not done. Praise God for the cutting-edge churches across the country who has embraced this endeavor! Has yours?

Jennifer Maggio is critically acclaimed author and speaker who is also founder The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. TLSM was founded from Maggio’s own journey and resolve to not be just another statistic. Maggio has appeared on more than 100 radio and television shows and writes articles for dozens of magazines. Her products are endorsed by LifeWay Christian Stores, Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, and many more. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

Williams helps Beaumont flock realize its role

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: An upcoming gospel meeting has allowed us to reconnect with Robert Williams, pulpit minister of Eleventh Street church of Christ in Beaumont. In April 2009, Williams sat down with Tonya Whitaker to discuss his new church, and how important is it speak to believers and to nonbelievers.

BEAUMONT, Texas – Robert Williams has been preaching the Gospel since he was 19 years old.

After years of preaching at churches in Port Arthur, Williams has come full circle as senior minister and elder at Eleventh

Robert Williams, pulpit minister for Eleventh Street church of Christ in Beaumont.

Street church of Christ in Beaumont.

Although no two days are the same in his ministry tenure, the end result is the most gratifying.

“I am overjoyed when I am able to convince someone to give their life to the Lord,” the Port Arthur native said.

Prior to becoming a full-time minister, Williams worked for 24 years with Port Arthur ISD as a clerk and bus aide for the Hughen Center, which provides services to disabled adults and children.

The 80-member congregation is in the process of developing its outreach ministry, he said. There are four areas of concentration for the church: teaching ministry, youth ministry, member ministry and evangelist ministry.

“To be effective in ministry, congregations must be stronger in the word,” he said. “That is why we are implementing various ministries and Bible study opportunities.”

Williams, who’s family includes wife, Diana, and two stepchildren, said the greatest asset of taking on the role as minister full time is being able to meet the needs of the church members.

“Getting everyone to realize that they have a role to play in the Lord’s church is important,” he said. “There is a lot of work to be done. As a congregation, we are doing more than we used to.”

Church services times on Sunday are 9:30 a.m. for Sunday school, 10:30 morning worship; and 5 p.m. evening worship. Monday night at 6:30, a special class is held to allow church members and people from the community to ask for prayer and ask biblical questions. Wednesday night at 7 is Bible study.

The church is located at 3710 Eleventh St. in Beaumont. For more information, contact Williams at (409) 842-9228 or (409) 344-3154.

Fast forward to 2012: Gospel meeting scheduled for March 25-March 28

Eleventh Street church of Christ will host a gospel meeting with several guest speakers from Sunday, March 25 to Wednesday, March 28.

On March 25, Sunday school starts at 9:30 a.m. Afterward, at 10:30 a.m., Ricky Hadnot, of church of Christ of Hillister, Texas, will deliver the morning worship message. At noon, lunch will be served to guests. Afternoon worship will begin at 2 p.m. with LeVal Tukes of Westside church of Christ of Jasper as the slated speaker. A congregational and group singing will follow Tukes’ inspirational word.

Additional guest speakers include Ron Young of Lakeside Park church of Christ in Port Arthur on March 26; Cory Shaw of the church of Christ in Hankemer on March 27, and Carl Gains of Mills Street church of Christ in Lake Charles, La., on March 28. These nightly talks are slated to begin at 7 p.m.

Police detain Invisible Children co-founder

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By Mark Ellis
ASSIST News Service

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. The youthful co-founder of Invisible Children was detained by San Diego police after he was allegedly discovered undressed, running through traffic, and engaged in aberrant behavior.

Jason Russell, 33, was held in Pacific Beach by the San Diego Police Department on March 15, according to a report by NBC San Diego. Police initially responded to several calls at 11:30 a.m. about a man in various stages of undress, running through traffic and screaming.

A SDPD spokesperson described Russell as “in his underwear,” and that he exhibited strange, even bizarre behavior. He

Jason Russell

allegedly took off his underwear at one point, but it was back on by the time officers arrived.

“Due to the nature of the detention, he was not arrested,” Lt. Andra Brown said. “During the evaluation we learned we probably needed to take him to a medical facility because of statements he was saying.”

Russell created the 30-minute film “KONY 2012” featuring himself, his son, and a former child soldier from Uganda named

Jacob. Last week, the film went viral, with close to 100 million views on YouTube and Vimeo. The film targets Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, for crimes that have involved kidnapping children in Uganda, torturing them, and forcing them to fight in his army.

After the film’s rapid ascent in the media, Russell made numerous appearances on prominent TV programs, but he also had to respond to criticisms that the film was outdated, and also about his organization’s spending practices.

Russell is described on the Invisible Children website as a “grand storyteller and dreamer” who dreams of “redefining the concept of humanitarian work.” He is a father of two who wants to have nine more children with his wife, whom he calls his “best friend for over 23 years.”

Invisible Children’s CEO Ben Keesey released a statement March 16, saying: “Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday.”

“Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time,” according to the statement.

Security guards blocked the entrance to Invisible Children on March 16, according to the L.A. Times, who reported that workers inside were removing “KONY 2012” banners from the lobby. The phones were not being answered, but some talked on cell phones and were crying, the Times reported.

Praise His Name home of Christian programming 24/7

Published by:

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Keith Wilson and a group of believers in Wintersville, Ohio, decided six months ago to make a positive impact on the Internet. The end result of their collaboration – Praise His Name.

“The Internet is full of bad stuff, things we don’t want our children and grandchildren to hear,” said Wilson, who serves as chair of PHN. “This is a way to combat the bad stuff and place wholesome content that people can listen to anytime of the day.”

Founded in October 2011, PHN (www.praisehisname.net) is a Christian based website featuring music, comedy, devotionals,

Keith Wilson

meditations, scripture lessons, and sermons. The site boasts visitors from 45 states in the union, nine countries.

“In the beginning, viewers were concentrated in Northern Ohio and Chicago, and then it started to go everywhere – including California and Texas,” he said.

The PHN “Links” page includes church, organization, and indie Christian musicians and singers listings.

To hear sermons, viewers must clink on the churches’ websites on the “Links” page.

Wilson said a benefit of listening to music on PHN is that since the site is stockpiled with MP3s, listeners can hear the song from beginning to end. The user is to click on the “Praise His Name Media Player” to gain access to music selections. Featured artists include Beth Champion Mason, MARK 209, and The Chrisagis Brothers.

In addition, Wilson said, PHN is a good avenue for indie artists to gain exposure. An added bonus of the site is the PHN Music Video of Week.

“All music selections are originally written and performed by the artists,” he said.

Christian comedians and troupes such as Ken Davis, the Sheep Laughs Comedy Show, and Brother Billy Bob Bohannon also have a place on the PHN. The individuals place their unique take on the spiritual walk. Wilson said each submission for a Christian comedic appearance on PHN is carefully screened.

Furthermore, Christian movie happenings are provided via Christian Film News (www.christianfilmnews.com) and Christian news through Inside The Pew (www.insidethepew.net). These links are displayed in the news ticker on the front page.

“We are trying to get to the people who were not churchgoers without throwing it (Christianity) into their face. The intent is to preach to reached and unreached,” Wilson said.

As of press time, Wilson estimates the site averages 500 visitors per month. In addition, he said he is working on obtaining PHN’s 501 (c) 3 status.

“The site was created by tons of friends who were faithful like I am,” Wilson said. “We wanted a broad range of people to give us input as to what we want to hear. We are pleased with the progress, but we have a long way to go. There are many things that we want to do. Start small and slow and build into bigger and better things.”

New find of Wi-Fi transmitters – the homeless

Published by:

By Jeremy Reynalds
ASSIST News Service

By Jonathan Matheny
Joy Junction special projects coordinator

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) – What would you do for at least $20 a day?

Would you introduce yourself, hand someone a business card, and offer your services as a Wi-Fi hotspot?

This is exactly what has been going on at the South by Southwest technology conference in Austin.

PR Daily reported, “New York-based marketing firm BBH Labs equipped homeless people on the streets of Austin with devices that made them wireless hot spots. Internet seekers then paid what they wanted-in cash or via PayPal to access the Web. The homeless men and women kept all of the money.”

BBH Labs called “Homeless Hotspots” a modern version of the street newspapers homeless people often sell on the streets of big cities.

After scrolling through the BBH Labs website, we found a very well thought out program. The only amount of cash that exchanged hands was the $20 given to each “Hotspot Manager” per day. Everything beyond that, in collaboration with case managers from a local shelter, was returned to the hotspot manager as part of a program to help save for employment and housing needs.

When asking some Joy Junction residents about what they thought, we received a myriad of responses.

One individual’s eyes lit up. “You mean that I could keep as much as I make? I would do that, even if I didn’t get the cash right away.”

Another person said, “I would be afraid that it would sound like I am selling myself.”

Yet another commented, “Why would you WANT to do that? Could I get busted for panhandling? Could I do both?”

One person wanted to get involved immediately.

Though this program seems to have generated the wrath of some, we would be interested to see after further research, where BBH Labs take this idea.

We are both totally opposed to anything that would in any way exploit the homeless and add trials to their already difficult life and the multitude of problems they face. Our quick assessment of what this program was offering didn’t find any hint of exploitation.

Assuming that the reality of this human Wi-Fi vendor program is what we believe it to be, we’d even like to suggest that BBH Labs talks to us about joining with Joy Junction if they choose to do this venture again.

5 reasons your church should have an active single moms ministry

Published by:

By Jennifer Maggio
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of  the Inside The Pew staff.

BATON ROUGE, La. — With an estimated 15 million single mothers in the United States and numbers increasing daily, it is imperative that the local church have a thriving single mothers program. It is estimated that 67 percent of single mothers do not actively attend church.  As the church – the body of Christ – this should pain us. It should keep us up at night.

Jennifer Maggio

So, why should we formalize a single moms’ ministry within the walls of our church?

  1. The Bible tells us so. We have been commissioned with certain duties by the Lord. Psalms 146:9 informs us “He cares for the widows and orphans.” Luke 14:13 challenges us to “invite the poor.”  1 Timothy 5:3 advises us to “take care of the widow.” The widow, many times, is the single mom. The orphans are left by a single mom. The poor are often single moms.
  2. Single parents are one of the fastest-growing sects of our population. What better way for our local churches to grow than to connect with the 9 million unchurched single mothers in the country? This represents more than 20 million women and children and they are in our neighborhoods, grocery stores, and schools.
  3. Single moms need more than just a Christmas toy drive once per year for her children. They appreciate that sort of thing, but she desires sustained connection with the house of God. She longs to learn more about financial stewardship and parenting effectively. She needs long-term fellowship with other single mothers in similar seasons of life.
  4. A single moms’ ministry is NOT the same thing as a singles ministry. Singles ministries are co-ed environments. Many single mothers are recently divorced or vulnerable and need a private support group for women only. This allows the freedom to express concerns and hardships sans the added pressure of the opposite sex.
  5. And perhaps the most important point – single moms ministries DO NOT condone unwed pregnancy or divorce no more than addictions’ ministry condones drug use. We know God’s word calls us to live in sexual purity and that marriage was intended to last forever. However, we must address the needs of those within our community who are parenting alone.

Jennifer Maggio is critically acclaimed author and speaker who is also founder The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. TLSM was founded from Maggio’s own journey and resolve to not be just another statistic. Maggio has appeared on more than 100 radio and television shows and writes articles for dozens of magazines. Her products are endorsed by LifeWay Christian Stores, Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, and many more. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

 

 

Egyptian court sentences priest for excess church height

Published by:

By Jeremy Reynalds
ASSIST News Service

A court in Edfu has sentenced the Rev. Makarios Bolous, pastor of St. George’s Church in the village of Elmarinab, Edfu, in the Aswan province, to six months prison and a fine of 300 pounds for violations in the height of the church building.

According to a story by Mary Abdelmassih for the Assyrian International News agency (AINA), the court also ordered the removal of the excess height.

AINA said the church had received a license from the Governor of Aswan and was still under construction, but it was torched by a Muslim mob on Sept. 30 2011. Construction workers had started removing the excess height before the torching of the church.

“Since then no work has been done to it. We are not allowed to pray there or come near it by order of the authorities,” said Father Salib el-Deek of the Coptic Diocese of Edfu.

AINA said he added they had proof that the church applied several times to the police to remove the excess height, which it had started doing before the torching of the church, but were not granted permission. The police records were not allowed by the court as evidence.

AINA said the church lawyer also presented documents showing that Bolous is not the one who is responsible for the removal of the excess height, but the architect and the building contractor. However, AINA said, the court refused to take this into consideration and Bolous was convicted.

AINA reported that el-Deek also said that Bolous is not allowed to go inside the village by the village Muslims, and the government has done nothing about this.

AINA said Field Marshall Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, had given orders to the governor of Aswan to rebuild the church at the expense of the government.

“He even told this to Pope Shenouda personally and was mentioned in all papers,” AINA reported el-Deek said. “But the governor did nothing about it.”

AINA said the church will appeal the ruling.

For more information about AINA go to www.aina.org

Internet ministry launches outreach to bring hope to Japan

Published by:

By Michael Ireland
ASSIST News Service

An Internet evangelism effort to reach millions shaken and still hurting from the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident, has launched a series of seeker-friendly “stepping stone” web sites in Japan.

Internet ministry Jesus.net Japan is partnering with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse, Campus Crusade, and author Philip Yancey to help lead them to start a relationship with God and make a connection with local churches.

Jesus.net Japan is an extension of Jesus.net (www.jesus.net ), a global alliance of Internet ministries that operates Christian

Jesus.Net Japan's Hope for Living video plays during the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's "Celebration of Hope" event held recently in Tohoku, Japan.

evangelistic websites in more than 20 languages worldwide. Jesus.net recently was awarded the National Religious Broadcasters’ “Innovation Award” for its global, cutting-edge evangelism strategy.

The U.S. entity and English information source for the ministry is Jesus Net Japan (www.jesusnetjapan.org ).

In anticipation of the one-year anniversary of the disaster, Jesus.net Japan partnered with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for its “Celebration of Hope” event in Tohuku and will support Philip Yancey’s speaking tour in Northern Japan March 7-11. It also will be involved in four BGEA events in Japan in 2013. Other partners include Samaritan’s Purse (www.samaritanspurse.org  ), Campus Crusade for Christ (www.ccci.org  ) and CRASH Japan (www.crashjapan.com  ).

“The disasters last spring and the continuing economic upheaval here have people wondering what life is about more than ever before,” said Christian Zebley, former missionary to Japan and U.S. spokesperson for Jesus Net Japan. “The Japanese are a very private people and do not talk about religion easily. Many already use the Internet to answer questions or find information about topics considered too embarrassing to discuss in person.”

According to ABC News, 2 million people around the world “look for God each day” online, said Zebley. Searches are on topics about the supernatural or on the big questions about life and the future.

“We want to give people an opportunity to get answers and hope where they spend a lot of time – on the Internet – and connect them with other Japanese who have satisfied the longings of their hearts in Jesus,” he said.

Jesus.net Japan’s initial web site, Hope for Living (www.hopeforliving.net  ) introduces visitors to survivors of earlier quakes or other traumatic experiences. Their stories illustrate how they have been strengthened by faith in God, or how they got to know Jesus in the midst of their turmoil. The site also contains prayers and words of hope to encourage those who are afraid, tired, lonely or going through difficult times.

As the one-year anniversary of the quake approaches, Jesus.net Japan is planning more ways to reach out to the Japanese people, including a special series of Hope for Living stories from the stricken region, filmed with the help of Samaritan’s Purse.

Jesus.net Japan is a part of Jesus.net (www.Jesus.net ), a worldwide movement of more than 40 national and international ministries who partner together to create a network of online websites and tools to assist and support online searchers in their spiritual search.

Not rules … vision

Published by:

By Paul Hughes
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of  the Inside The Pew staff.

Now that’s a vision statement.

Life is not rules, but vision. Applications hereof abound.

Consider children.  The gradual trajectory of a child’s life is away from rules and toward vision. Imagine a graph with two lines: Parental rule is one line starting at the top and trending down.  Child responsibility is a line starting at the bottom and heading up.  Both lines start at the left, and move rightward, along the horizontal axis of age and maturity.

That top line heading down is essentially “rules” and the bottom line arrowing up is essentially “vision.” It’s the vision that a day will come, sooner not later, when these lines will cross and the child will be an adult, pursuing the vision … which of course has vastly, radically changed, and become his own, with major modifications.

The goal of the graph is to get their line zooming to God, and mine dragging the bottom for all eternity … perhaps with little blips when they call for advice.

It’s an imperfect picture, but there it is.  And it starts with rules.

It was the same of course with God’s children, Israel.  A constant battle based on law, with God’s kids blowing it every page and a half, on average.  The law was their tutor, their guide … all the way to Christ.

In the fullness of time as the fathers say, the rules gave way to the vision that had always been.  It didn’t supplant the law, though perhaps it superseded it — the way a child pedaling a bicycle or taking the wheel of the family car supersedes the very present hand, then voice, then simply the presence of the Father saying, Do it like this.

When we stopped being children, we put away childish things.

There is an apologetic application as well.  We should show forth a vision of the Kingdom of God encouraging men and women to give their lives to it.  Not because effective, but because it’s true and right.  We may give them rules, but we really must fight always to remember that the vision of it is the thing.

Whether this means they need to know their sinners before they can be saved, or whether a tract is useful, or if an argument should come Intelligent Design or Fyodor Dostoevsky.  Jesus seemed to know who needed to hear it this way or that way, and even who should not hear it at all!

I am here to say that overarching all this should be vision, not rules:

Repent (turn away and move forward, from a constant need for rules),

Friends (not servants, but sons, heirs, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ),

For the Kingdom of Heaven (the established, effective reign of God),

Is at hand (is visible and available, here and now, as we follow Him).

Now that’s a vision quest.

Paul Hughes is a writer in Southern California. He edited Think and Live for Apologetics.com, and wrote Tebow: Throwing Stones and Burning and Bleeding, among other books. Interact with him at PoetAndPriest.com, on Facebook, or via Twitter. Thanks very much.

 

It’s tourney time for Wesleyan, OLLU

Published by:

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

The Texas Wesleyan and Our Lady of the Lake men’s basketball teams are headed to Kansas City to vie for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics title.

The 75th annual Buffalo Funds NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship tournament is slated to take place in the historic Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City beginning at 8:30 a.m. CST on March 14 with a Louisiana showdown between Red River Athletic Conference champions and No. 12 LSU-Shreveport faces Xavier. The tournament concludes March 20 with the crowning of the national champion.

The No. 7 OLLU Saints, runners-up in the RRAC tournament, will run into tournament host, Baker (Kan.), on March 15 at 6:15 p.m. Meanwhile, the Texas Wesleyan Rams will take on No. 16 Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) University at 12:30 p.m. on March 14.

The field is comprised of 17 automatic berths, host berth Baker (Kan.) and 14 at-large selections, which were determined using the final Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released March 7.

The all-time record holder in championship wins (54), Oklahoma Baptist earned the No. 2 seed. The Bison have won two national championships (1966, 2010). They will take to the court on March 15 at 10:30 p.m. against Belhaven (Miss.). The Blazers were the runner-up in the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament and are making their third overall trip.

Overall, there are 15 schools that are making their 10th-or-higher appearance. In addition, Cumberlands (Ky.) (20 trips) joins Oklahoma Baptist and Georgetown as the three schools with 20-plus trips.

The OLLU women’s squad also made the tournament. The 32nd annual single-elimination dance will take place March 14 through March 20 at the Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, Ky. The Lady Saints will face top-seeded Oklahoma City University at 10:15 a.m. on March 14.

The first 30 matches from the city of fountains will be available via live video stream for $29.95 and any single day can be purchased for $9.95. Also, one can purchase the all-tournament package of all four basketball tournaments (Men and Women’s Division I and II) for $49.95. The National Championship final on March 20 will be televised live on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. CST.