Praise and Prayer

Praise: Southern Baptist Missionaries Baptize 500,000 in 2003-Southern Baptist missionaries witnessed a huge growth of evangelistic work in 2003, highlighted by more than 500,000 baptisms, trustees at the SBC's International Mission Board have learned. In spite of the excitement of this milestone, trustees also heard that more than 5,000 people groups still have little or no access to the gospel. In response, Southern Baptist missionaries and their overseas partners also opened work among 192 new people groups during 2003. Those new works included evangelistic encounters with 146 unreached people groups with a total population of more than 359 million. The year 2003 also saw overseas church membership jump 5%. Bible teaching enrollment also increased, and new believers in discipleship training grew by more than 40%.

Mission Network News

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Pray: Texas Pastor Issues Prayer Challenge-A Texas pastor is challenging his small congregation to intercede for U.S. troops in Iraq. Shortly after the start of the New Year, David Dodge, who leads the 50-member Christian Community Church in Kerrville, launched a "100 Soldier Challenge," encouraging members to pray daily for 100 days that God would protect the lives of at least 100 American soldiers in the war-torn nation. "We're asking God to spare a minimum of 100 soldiers which could impact at least 100 families, 100 marriages and 100 children," Dodge said. "We're asking God to bless them, and praying for their lives to be dedicated to the Lord." Dodge, 60, noted that the idea for the challenge comes from a daily habit of "anti-death prayers" that he has prayed since his 17-year-old son drowned in 1981. His petitions have included asking God to save 100 young people from hell and to prevent 100 suicides and 100 automobile accidents. "There's no way for me to know that God answered these prayers, but I'm not going to let up," explained Dodge.

Charisma News Service via MissionNet

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Praise: Grandmother's Preaching, Feeding Ministry Touches Hundreds-People have thrown bricks at Mina Paille to stop her from preaching, but the 80-year-old St. Louis woman has not stopped. She is the founder of the Love & Care Youth Center and Church which has become a safe haven for many of society's outcasts. With the help of volunteers, the grandmother of six runs the site for weekly Bible studies, chat sessions, prayer, church services and free groceries. Up to four days a week, the feisty woman ministers God's Word, often filling the modest sanctuary with the homeless and other needy people. "I didn't know love until I met God," she often relates to the congregation. Paille immigrated to the U.S. in 1964 and gave her life to the Lord. She established the center in 1981 together with her daughter, Martina Gray. "We were in a storefront back then," Gray recalls, adding that the center was originally next to a bar. "Mom would come home bloody, having been hit with bricks. Someone had even pulled a gun on her once." Yet none of it hindered Paille who "prayed the bar out of the neighborhood" and later occupied that space as well. Today the center feeds more than 200 people a month.

Religion Today/Charisma News Service via MissionNet

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Praise and Prayer: Parents Upset Over School Library Book Brought Home by First-Grader-When their first-grade daughter brought home a school library book promoting homosexuality, her Wilmington, N.C., parents, Michael and Tonya Hartsell, were flabbergasted. "My child is not old enough to understand something like that, especially when it is not in our beliefs," Michael said. The book, by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland, is a children's story about a prince whose true love turns out to be another prince. The publisher's Website lists the books as intended for readers age 6 and up. The librarian, Barbara Hawley, declined to say whether she knowingly selected a book on gay marriage. And the school principal, Elizabeth Miars, said "What might be inappropriate for one family, in another family is a totally acceptable thing." The Hartsells said they intend to file a complaint and are considering transferring their daughter.

From an Associated Press report

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