‘Invest in the People First’: Extollo International - The Powerful Ministry That’s Rebuilding Lives in Haiti

Published on April 15, 2018

Disaster and economic hardship keep the country of Haiti at the bottom of countries in the West, yet hope still remains on the island nation.

It’s been more than eight years since Haiti was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

Despite billions of dollars in humanitarian aid that have poured into the country, corruption has meant that many of Haiti’s citizens to continue to live in deplorable conditions.

While organizations work to treat the consequences of extreme poverty, they haven’t provided solutions that reduce Haiti’s dependence on foreign aid.

Investing in People First

One man hopes to change that by building builders.

Sherman Balch, the founder of Extollo International, said, “It’s one of the most difficult, frustrating, rewarding things I’ve ever done. For me, because of my personality, the frustration is I want things to move faster. I love building, but we have to invest in the people first.”

Balch, a commercial contractor, first came to Haiti just months after the massive quake as part of a mission by Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Livermore, California.

He and his wife, Cheryl were struck by how poor construction standards contributed to so much of the devastation.

Cheryl Balch said, “My husband being a builder, we thought let’s go help rebuild. But then it became evident there were many Haitians that were not working, didn’t have hope in their daily lives. So let’s teach them how to build properly.”

Extollo’s Founder and its Director of Training are both active California General Contractors, each having built millions of square feet of commercial structures in compliance with some of the strictest building standards in the world.

Providing Hands-On Training

Extollo International has brought this high level of expertise into hands-on training programs, which also stress the importance of integrity, responsibility and other essential character traits.

Extollo, which means ‘raise up’ in Latin, began by using Haitians to help build several orphanages.

Balch said, “We have to build a construction industry and invest in the workers. We use the apprenticeship approach of ‘learning by doing’ and earning and learning at the same time.”

Extollo International is a faith-based humanitarian organization dedicated to serving people and communities.

Haitian Alto Jean Baptiste, who is participating in the program, says it changed his life.

The Life-Changing Gift of Marketable Skills

“I’d been looking for jobs but I didn’t have any skill. But I’d been looking for someone to teach me how to do things. And then I found Extollo,” said Baptiste.

As part of the orphanage construction crew, Baptiste learned basic masonry, carpentry, electrical and plumbing skills.

He is now using those skills to take care of his family and help others in the country rebuild.

The Balches are quick to add the program also features learning about God.

Learning Skills, and Learning About Jesus

In the education process, the Balches believe there is an opportunity to share the gospel and lead people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Extollo’s projects include several orphanages, a children’s academy that includes vocational training, and training adults in the building trade.

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The Real Meaning of Easter 2016 and Why the Holy Season is Important for Christians

Published on March 25, 2018

From the Easter bunny to pastel-colored candy, jelly beans and cream-filled chocolate eggs lining grocery store aisles, the day known “Easter Sunday” is easily one of society’s most commercialized holidays. And while there’s nothing wrong with family get-togethers, Easter egg hunts, and parades, it’s important to remember that the holiday has a far deeper, more significant meaning: It represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and his triumph over the grave.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is perhaps the single most important event to occur in the history of Christianity, for according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins.”

Thus, Christ’s Resurrection from the dead is central to the doctrine of Christianity, because without it, there is no hope of salvation, and no hope for eternal life in heaven.

Columnist Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry puts it this way: “For Christians, Easter commemorates the fact that, supernaturally, the resurrection of Jesus Christ changed something fundamental about the world and about humanity…In the end, the meaning of Easter is as simple as it seems: it says that life triumphs over death.”

What happened over Easter weekend?

The seven days before Easter Sunday are referred to as Holy Week, or the Passover season. Three significant events occurred in succession on Easter weekend: the trial of Jesus, then the death of Jesus, and finally the resurrection of Jesus. According the Gospels, Jesus was tried for treason on Good Friday by Pilate, the Roman governor, and then by Herod, King of Judea, and once again by Pilate. Though declared innocent by authorities, Christ was crucified brutally on a cross, a death that was usually reserved for only the most dangerous of criminals. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the skeptics and critics mocked him and said, “If you’re the Son of God, why don’t you just pull yourself down from that cross? Why don’t you just come down and show that you’re really God?” But Jesus had something more spectacular planned. He said, “I’m going to let you bury me for three days, then I’ll come back to life to prove that I am what I am.” After he died, the son of God was then laid in a sealed and guarded tomb. However, a story of great sorrow turned into one of joy for those who believe in Christ. The gospels describe two women bringing spices to the tomb early Easter morning to prepare Christ’s crucified body for burial. Amazingly, the  tomb was empty, guarded by two angels. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” they ask the women, “He is risen!”

Is Jesus Christ your Savior?

Because Christ has been resurrected and ascended into Heaven, Christians can say confidently along with the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians, “Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting?” “The Purpose Driven Life” author Rick Warren contends that Easter really boils down to only two issues: One, is Jesus who he says he is - the Son of God? And two, if he is who he says he is, when are you going to start following what he says to do with your life?” “Today, you sit in judgment of Jesus Christ,” he writes. “Just as Pilate asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?” you also must decide whether he was who he said or not. Are you willing to gamble your life that he was wrong?”

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Senior Adult Conversions on the Rise?

Published on January 27, 2018

When evangelist Phil Waldrep agreed to preach a revival at a nursing home, he didn’t expect a huge response. After all, he reasoned, aren’t most older people already Christians?

But of the 40-60 nursing home residents who attended the services, 21 made a profession of faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior, and about 10 were later baptized at a local church.
That experience two decades ago helped spur Waldrep to add senior adult events to his schedule. Today, he and fellow Southern Baptist evangelists say they are seeing a steady — and in some cases increasing — stream of people over 55 coming to know Christ.

“I am convinced now more than ever,” Waldrep told Baptist Press, that senior adults are “an unreached group we have that Southern Baptist churches need to focus on intentionally to share the Gospel with them.”

‘Never been a greater need’

Waldrep’s Celebrators Conferences for “mature believers,” as his website puts it, draw 6,000-9,000 older adults per event and have opened doors for him to preach for senior adult gatherings at First Baptist Church in Dallas, First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., and First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., among other congregations.

At those events and in regular church services, Waldrep said, “we have senior adults who, for the first time, come to know Christ.”

“Many of them are married to someone who is very active in church,” Waldrep said. “… Many of them tell us, ‘Everybody just assumed I was a Christian’” and “no one ever had an [evangelistic] conversation with me.”

Evangelist Eric Ramsey, a missions strategist who served eight years with the North American Mission Board, told BP “there has never been a greater need in world history for evangelism to senior adults. Right now in America, we have the largest population of senior adults in U.S. history. Globally, there’s the largest population of people over the age of 65 of any time in world history.”

In addition to the need for Gospel witness among the World War II Builder Generation, Baby Boomers are retiring, facing health challenges and looking for spiritual answers, said Ramsey, president of Arkansas-based Tom Cox World Ministries.

Baby Boomers present a unique evangelistic challenge, he noted, because unlike previous generations, many of them reject Judeo-Christian morality and don’t think of themselves as senior adults. Consequently, they may not be open to attend senior adult events at churches.

Still, Waldrep said many Boomers are open to the Gospel because they gained “a taste of materialism” in the post-World War II economic boom. And they now “realize materialism is not the answer” and are asking questions about spiritual matters.

Why has no one ever told us?

Kay Cox, who has ministered through traveling evangelism 40 years with her husband Tom, sees such spiritual openness in older senior adults too. She has noted a “quickening” of 85- to 95-year-olds being saved over the past seven or eight years, with salvations occurring on her mission trips to India, Peru, Russia and Uganda among other nations.
Cox, who continues international evangelism despite battling stage 4 cancer, told BP about leading a widower to Christ in Cuba in December and seeing many older adults come to Jesus through crusades and medical clinics abroad.

“One of the statements I’ve heard over and over and over again — and a lot of times from the senior adults — is ‘why has no one ever come to tell us this’” good news about Jesus, Cox said.

Before Tom Cox had to stop traveling for health reasons in 2014, he and Kay spent two years leading senior adult meetings in churches across America. The meetings equipped believers to share their faith and presented the Gospel to non-believers.

Other Southern Baptist evangelists who hold meetings and revival services specifically for older adults include Alabama-based preacher Bob Pitman, music evangelist Bob Smith and humorist Dennis Swanberg.

‘How old are you?’

Evangelism among senior adults has its challenges too.

Junior Hill, who has been a vocational evangelist 50 years, estimated less than 5 percent of first-time faith professions at meetings he leads are made by people 75 and older. He suggested two reasons more senior adults don’t confess Christ as their Lord and Savior.
“The most obvious reason is that they have resisted the Gospel so long and so often” that “their hearts become hardened,” Hill told BP.

Second, he said, “a lot of people who are that old probably have some feeling in their heart that it would be a little embarrassing at that age to acknowledge that they’ve never been saved.”

But Hill, like many of his evangelist colleagues, has seen God move among older adults.

At a 2016 worship service in Snellville, Ga., Hill was tempted not to preach an evangelistic sermon because everyone present appeared to be a church member. Yet he resisted the temptation and preached “like they were all lost.”

When Hill issued a public invitation to trust Christ, an older woman in the back of the church walked forward to the altar, stated she wanted to be saved and requested baptism.

As the pastor presented her to the congregation, he asked, “Ma’am, if you don’t mind, would you tell us, how old are you?” Hill recounted. “And she said, ‘98 years old’ … I think in all the years I’ve been preaching, that’s the oldest person I’ve seen make a commitment to the Lord.”

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - A Preacher of the Gospel

Published on January 14, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

Dr. King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, when he was twenty-five years old, in 1954. As a Christian minister, his main influence was Jesus Christ and the Gospel, which he would almost always quote in his meetings and speeches in public places. King’s faith was strongly based in Jesus’ commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself, loving God above all, and loving your enemies, praying for them and blessing them.

His non-violent thought was also based his Christian belief to turn the other cheek in the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus’ teaching of putting the sword back into its place (Matthew 26:52). In his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, King urged action consistent with what he describes as Jesus’ “extremist” love, and also quoted numerous other Christian pacifist authors, which was very usual for him. In another sermon, he stated:

“Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the Gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office. I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher. And what I’m doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man.”

In his speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”, he stated that he just wanted to do God’s will.

I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

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The Christian New Year Begins on January First According to the Gregorian Calendar

Published on December 31, 2017

On the old Roman calendar, March 15 was the day which began the new year. The March date had basically been considered the beginning of spring, a logical time to begin a new year. But for political and military reasons, January 1, 153 B.C. became the day to observe the beginning of the new year. From then on, the Roman year began on January first, and has continued until this day.

 

The Roman calendar, also called the Julian calendar, was widely used throughout western Europe, until it was revised by Aloysius Lilius, an Italian doctor, astronomer, philosopher and chronologist. The use of this reformed calendar was commanded by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and named after him, called the Gregorian calendar, the most widely used calendar in the world today. It wasn’t always so.

 

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’” (Leviticus 23:23-25)

 

The month of Tishri, which falls during the months of September and October on the Gregorian calendar, is also the first month on the Jewish civil calendar. Summer was over, the harvest had been gathered and the fall season had begun. This first day of Tishri was Israel’s New Year celebration, “a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.” Today it is called Rosh Hashanah.

 

Jewish tradition states that this is the birthday of Adam. Many Biblical scholars agree that this was also the actual birthday of Jesus Christ, the “last Adam.” One of the symbolic references to this day corresponds with the fact that when a king begins to reign he is announced with trumpets. On this day, Tishri 1, trumpets are blown all day long. It may have been so in Jerusalem many years ago, that on the first day of Tishri, trumpets were sounded to announce the New Year, but little did anyone know, except a few humble shepherds, that not far away in Bethlehem, the true King of kings was born.

 

Today, this custom of celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of the next is still called Gregorian New Year or Christian New Year. Obviously, several countries and people with other religions have their own celebrations and observances. Some have suggested that for Christians, this celebration should begin with what is called Advent.

 

Advent in the Christian church is the period immediately before Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western Christian year, and begins on the fourth Sunday before December 25, and ends on Christmas Eve. The word advent comes from the Latin, adventus, a translation from the Greek parousia, translated into the English words coming or presence, referring most often to the Second Coming of Christ. Today, the season of Advent serves as a reminder of both Old Testament Judeans waiting for the coming Messiah, and Christians waiting for the returning Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Traditionally, it is a season with a prayer emphasis: prayers of commitment, prayers of rededication, prayers of supplication, and intercessory prayers for salvations and deliverance.

 

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him! The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:22-26)

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Salvation Army Red Kettles

Published on December 3, 2017

Perhaps no other sound says Christmas more than the ring of a Salvation Army bell.

The red kettle has been an American icon for over 125 years. From Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, the ubiquitous buckets can be found outside thousands of storefronts in small towns and big cities across the country. They can even be found on your TV, appearing in dozens of movies.

Red kettles raise millions for Salvation Army programs that provide food, shelter, rehabilitation, disaster relief, and much more for people and families in crisis.

Indeed, red kettles are a Christmas force. But have you ever wondered who started the red kettle tradition, where, and why?

In December of 1891, Captain Joseph McFee of The Salvation Army in San Francisco, Calif., was stumped. He wanted to provide a Christmas dinner for 1,000 poor people, but had no way to pay for it.

Then, an idea. He thought back to when he was as a sailor in Liverpool, England, where on the docks of the city’s waterfront he remembered seeing a large pot into which charitable donations could be thrown.

The next day, McFee secured permission to place a brass urn at the Oakland ferry landing. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” Soon, he had all the money he needed to fund the Christmas dinner.

Two years later, McFee’s fundraising idea had expanded to 30 kettle locations on the West Coast. He’d grown the program with help from two young Salvation Army officers named William A. McIntyre and N.J. Lewis.

Soon after Christmas 1895, McIntyre and Lewis were transferred to the East Coast. They took with them the idea of a Christmas kettle.

McIntyre was stationed in Boston. During the 1897 Christmas season, he, his wife and sister set up three kettles in the heart of the city. Their effort, combined with others on the West Coast and elsewhere, resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the poor, nationwide.

Red kettles spread to the Big Apple, where the New York World newspaper hailed them as “the newest and most novel device for collecting money.” The newspaper also observed, “There is a man in charge to see that contributions are not stolen.”

In 1901, kettle donations in New York City funded a massive sit-down Christmas dinner at Madison Square Garden. The meal became a tradition for many years.

The rest, as they say, is history. Captain McFee’s idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but across the world. Although red kettles are not found in all of the 126 countries The Salvation Army serves in, they can still be found in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile, and many European countries.

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Study: Faith-Based Groups Doing Most of the ‘Heavy Lifting’ to Fight Homelessness

Published on November 5, 2017

Sixty percent of all emergency shelter beds, considered the “safety net of all safety nets,” in 11 cities are provided through faith-based organizations. And that is but one remarkable statistic, according to new social science research report released.

Before a crowd of over 100 people at the National Press Club, professor Byron Johnson, director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, together with co-author William Wubbenhorst, unveiled Assessing the Faith-based Response to Homelessness in America: Findings from Eleven Cities, which showcases the socio-economic impact of Christian and other faith-based groups in combating the nation’s homeless epidemic.

The study’s findings reveal that faith-based organizations lead the way in addressing key causes of homelessness and are pioneering creative, long-term solutions because they are most effective as they address the “whole” person. The scholars calculated that for every one dollar in government spending, taxpayers saved $9.42, a total of $119 million in the 11 cities surveyed, as a result of the vital work faith-based groups do.

Tonier Cain, who was featured in a panel discussion, believes “it’s almost impossible to even think that somebody can get healed and do better in their life without faith.”

Cain, who lives in Annapolis, Maryland, shared parts of her harrowing story of having lived on the streets for nearly 20 years. During that time, she was arrested 83 times, convicted 66 times, and is a survivor of sexual abuse. She now leads two nonprofit groups, including a global nonprofit organization that provides services for trauma survivors.

“I’ve been in over 30 programs. Traditional, secular programs. They didn’t help. It wasn’t until I was really able to embrace faith, my relationship with Jesus, that everything changed in my life,” she said.

Cain is the subject of the award-winning film “Healing Neen.”

The 11 cities that were surveyed included Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (Florida), Omaha, Phoenix, Portland, (Oregon), San Diego and Seattle.

Byron said that the study was done in order to bring attention “where it is not getting focus” and to “start a discussion.”

“This is a very preliminary study and we would like to do something that drills down much deeper in a lot of cities, do some systematic evaluation,” he said. “Why is it that the faith-based response is better in some cities than others and how can we improve it?”

During the panel discussion, rescue mission leaders who are on the front lines serving the most vulnerable frequently discussed the tension that sometimes occurs between government agencies willing to offer financial assistance to faith-based social service providers in exchange for the groups’ removal of all things faith-based, like Bibles. Put simply, the panelists concluded, faith-based organizations are without question the backbone of poverty relief and services to the homeless but are not willing to make such compromises.

Byron was asked why the government seems to view faith as something detrimental such that it insists that in order to receive financial backing, groups must essentially strip away the religious dimension from their operations.

“Things have changed in the country. I think most people would acknowledge that we have seen a lot of changes in the last 20 years. There’s plenty of people in the community who think their freedoms are under attack today and so there’s a sense in which people are even afraid to make a pro-family statement for fear that they might be called a bigot,” Byron explained.

But it is also a matter of to whom one speaks, he added.

“If you go to Houston and you talk to people who work in government and you ask them ‘Who is doing the heavy lifting?’ They’ll tell you ‘it’s the faith-based groups’ and they refer people [to them]. Why? Because they’ve been there for 60 years and they trust them. They’ve built these relationships but that doesn’t mean that there still isn’t tension.”

“And I think there are these misconceptions about the faith community, that they don’t play well with other groups. And I think our preliminary study shows that’s a myth. They are ready, but they are not going to give up their faith.”

Cain reiterated the short-sightedness of the idea that by spending more money on poverty programs, such problems will be solved.

“If you had given me money and given me a place without my faith, I would have used the money but it would have been for all the wrong things,” Cain stated.

But with faith in Jesus, she contended, “your mindset, your thinking changes.”

“And you start to want to do better, you strive to do better. Because now you have a purpose, you don’t just exist,” she said.

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500th Anniversary of the Reformation - Martin Luther

Published on October 14, 2017

Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 to February 18, 1546) was a German monk who began the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, becoming one of the most influential and controversial figures in Christian history. Luther called into question some of the basic tenets of Roman church, and his followers soon split to begin the Protestant tradition. His actions set in motion reform within the church. A prominent theologian, Luther’s desire for people to feel closer to God led him to translate the Bible into the language of the people, radically changing the relationship between church leaders and their followers.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, angry with Pope Leo X’s new round of indulgences to help build St. Peter’s Basilica, nailed a sheet of paper with his 95 Theses on the University of Wittenberg’s chapel door. Though Luther intended these to be discussion points, the 95 Theses laid out a devastating critique of the indulgences, good works (which sometimes involved monetary donations) that popes could grant to the people to cancel out penance for sins, as corrupting people’s faith. Luther also sent a copy to Archbishop Albert Albrecht of Mainz, calling on him to end the sale of indulgences. Aided by the printing press, copies of the 95 Theses spread throughout Germany within two weeks and throughout Europe within two months.

The Church eventually moved to stop the act of defiance. In March 1521, Luther was summoned before the Diet of Worms, a general assembly of secular authorities. Luther refused to recant his statements, demanding he be shown any scripture that would refute his position. Luther said in his defense:

“Unless I am refuted and convicted by testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear arguments (since I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils alone; it being evident that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am conquered by the Holy Scriptures quoted by me, and my conscience is bound in the word of God: I can not and will not recant any thing, since it is unsafe and dangerous to do any thing against the conscience.”

There was none. On May 8, 1521, the council released the Edict of Worms, banning Luther’s writings and declaring him a “convicted heretic.” This made him a condemned and wanted man. Friends helped him hide out at the Wartburg Castle. While in seclusion, he translated the New Testament into the German language, to give ordinary people the opportunity to read God’s word.

Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546 at the age of 62 during a trip to his hometown of Eisleben.

His last words found in a note he had written, simply said: “We are beggars: this is true.”

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Hundreds in Town Turn Out to Pray for Public School Bible Club

Published on September 16, 2017

In what some call the post-Christian era in America, it’s likely many kids will never darken the door of a church.  But they will go to school every day.  And that’s what’s great about student Bible clubs.  They’re right there ministering the Word of God in the place everyone’s going to anyway.

For the last dozen years, that’s what’s been happening every year for hundreds of students at the Redbank Valley High School in New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The town is so supportive of the student Bible club, more adults than students showed up for a recent gathering outside the school to pray for the Bible club and kids as the new school year begins.

You may think separation of church and state means you can’t start a Bible club in your school. Not so, says the Redbank Bible club president.

“To start one, it’s easy because they can’t tell you ‘no’ in a public school. It’s completely constitutional,” Peyton Kirkpatrick argued. “The people who are afraid will say ‘no’ until you prove them the facts, and show them that it is constitutional. They can’t tell you ‘no’ as a public school student.”

“Any school is able to have Bible club,” said Ethan Reichard, the club’s vice president. “And I think that it’s a good thing to be able to preach God’s Word to other students, because they may not have the ability to learn about God on their own.”

The club’s public relations officer, Colin Sheffer agreed, saying, “It is absolutely legal to have a Bible club in a public school.  First Amendment rights.”

The Redbank Bible club presents God’s eternal truths, but wraps them up in ways that are fun and fresh – so even those with little or no faith still have a blast at the meetings.

“Every school should have one,” Kirkpatrick advocated. “I mean, in a hurting dark world, the light: it shines brightly.”

This night when the young and old of New Bethlehem came to pray for their school and Bible club, a large contingent of kids and adults from the nearby Brookville School District was on hand.  They came to pray, but also get advice as they attempt to make their own informal Bible group into an official school club. Redbank’s success has touched them.

Claire Haines of the Brookville Area High School Bible Club, said of Redbank, “I actually came to one of their meetings once, and I was so moved by just one meeting, that it really, really boosted my want to have a Bible club.”

Leaders of the two clubs met around a couple of picnic tables by Redbank’s football field.

“I’m very excited to have this opportunity to kind of expand not only the public Bible club influence from here, but to a neighboring district,” Redbank’s Sheffer remarked. “I think it’s exciting for all of us to get to share expertise and knowledge, and really spread the ministry.”

The main message from these students is take a leap of faith and bless your own school with a Bible club.

“I think that not only would it be a good outlet for Christians and people of all religions, but I feel like it would promote more kindness in the school because of the Christian values,” Haines suggested. “So definitely. I feel that schools would definitely benefit.”

Reichard added, “If you are truly committed to God and you want to get His Word out there and you feel like called to that, then I think it’s a really good thing to do and pass it on to other students.”

These Bible club leaders pointed out starting up and running a student Bible club ironically makes you more than just a student. You become an active disciple of Christ.  And it’s perfectly legal right inside a public school.

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9/11 Remembrance - Returning to God

Published on September 10, 2017

Immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, prayer for our nation was heard everywhere. People from different faiths gathered in Yankee Stadium for the “Prayer for America” event. Members of Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol singing an impromptu “God Bless America.” Prayer gatherings were held in the Pentagon. On September 14, 2001, many religious leaders, including Billy Graham, were all invited to the National Cathedral to address our leaders and nation on a day set aside, called a “National Day of Prayer & Remembrance.”

In Dr. Graham’s remarks, he said: “We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious or political background may be. The Bible says that He is ‘the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.’”

Today, those times of prayer have almost totally faded into obscurity. Religious freedoms are coming under attack.

Franklin Graham described our nation this way:

“The Bible tells us that Christians should expect persecution. I don’t know if believers in our own country will ever experience the degree of persecution that is occurring in places such as Iran, but I do know that our religious freedoms are being seriously eroded. Christians are becoming the victims of our country’s growing intolerance and misguided zeal for pluralism. However, Christians who live boldly for Christ, even in the face of opposition, are a strong witness to a morally bankrupt society.”

Although the attacks of 911 were tremendous tragedies inflicted upon our nation — the Bible warns that a people that turns away from God carries more serious consequences (Isaiah 1:15-20).

May it be that we would be a nation that adheres to its declaration, “In God We Trust,” clinging to His promises of 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

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