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How surrendering our identities to God helps our children do the same.
On this week’s episode of Adopting Hope, Sasha and Joyce welcome Dr. Russell Moore. Dr. Moore is the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.He and his wife, Maria, have five boys—two of whom joined their family through adoption. Dr. Moore also authored, among several other books, Adopted for Life The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches.
Listen in as Dr. Moore tells their story of adopting two boys from Russia. He shares many of the peaks and valleys his family has traveled, and speaks to some of the particular temptations and struggles adoptive parents may face. And he encourages parents who are in the throes of raising teenagers—particularly adopted teenagers wrestling with questions of identity.
Adopting Hope is a production of Christianity Today.
Produced by Mike Cosper, Joyce Koo Dalrymple, and Sasha Parker
Edited and mixed by Alex Carter
Theme song “We’ve Got This Hope” by Ellie Holcomb
Florida pilot program could become model for other states.
In his four decades as a minister, R. B. Holmes Jr. has never dealt with so much death.
More than 24,000 Floridians have died from COVID-19, including more than a few of the flock that Holmes shepherds at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee.
“No one is immune from this,” Holmes told CT. “The thief is winning. The virus is a thief.”
The black pastor is especially concerned that the coronavirus has disproportionately impacted his community and other communities of racial minorities around the state. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black people are 1.4 times more likely to become infected with COVID-19 and 2.8 times more likely to die from it than white people.
There are a number of possible reasons for this. The National Urban League points out that many minorities are more exposed to the virus because they work in fields that don't accommodate working from home. African Americans also tend to have more preexisting conditions—often poverty related—that put them at risk of COVID-19. On top of that, they are less likely to have health insurance.
Whatever the reason, Holmes said the crisis has created an emergency for black people, and African American community leaders, especially pastors, have to find a way to respond. After one too many funerals in 2020, he felt compelled to action.
“Why sit here as leaders and watch our people die and our families die?”
So Holmes organized the Statewide Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Task Force.
The group is partnering with hospitals and the state to better distribute vaccines—as they become available—through local churches ...
The struggles and joys experienced by believers in 11 nations on Open Doors’ Christian persecution watchlist.
More than 340 million Christians live in places with very high or extreme levels of persecution, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List.
Since these believers are our brothers and sisters in Christ, we thought it might be helpful to hear from the church and those close to them in 11 different countries on how God is working—and how you can pray for them.
Countries that have been ranked in World Watch List’s top 20 in its 2020 and 2021 lists are represented here. They appear in order of how they are ranked on the current list.
We praise God:
Submitted by Peter Lee, executive director, Cornerstone Ministries International
We praise God:
Property dispute between Orthodox church and government that sparked mass protests in the Balkans ends—for now—with a strengthening of religious rights for evangelicals and other faiths.
Europe’s second-newest nation made a second effort this week at greater religious freedom.
And evangelicals in Montenegro, the Balkan nation independent from Serbia since 2006, couldn’t be more pleased.
“This is a great blessing, we are out of the gray zone and drawn into legal existence,” said Sinisa Nadazdin, pastor of Gospel of Jesus Christ Church located in the capital city of Podgorica.
“We were permitted before, but now we know our rights and duties.”
Montenegrin evangelicals were pleased with the new law’s first iteration a year ago as well. But in between, the controversial text split Montenegro’s 75-percent Orthodox community, and nearly tore the nation apart.
Controversially passed last February by lawmakers aligned with the 30-year ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (which ran the regional government when the nation was part of Serbia), ethnic Serbian politicians stormed out of the session in protest.
At issue were not the general provisions of the law, which guaranteed the right to change religion, to establish religious schools above the elementary level, and to conscientiously object from military service.
Replacing a 1977 communist-era law, it also eased licensing procedures and permitted foreign-born leadership and international headquarters.
Rather, a clause in the religious freedom law required all religious communities to provide evidence of ownership for properties built prior to the 1918 integration of Montenegro into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
Critics interpreted it as a challenge to the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Failure to do so would transfer ownership of hundreds of ancient churches and monasteries to the state, to be regarded as part of Montenegro’s ...
Untangling the evangelical QAnon connection.
You see, in a stunning turn of events, Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the United States.
Well, for most people this was not surprising but simply the natural result of the November election. However, for those who bought into the conspiracy theories surrounding QAnon, this was not supposed to happen.
As a result, multiple news platforms are reporting that QAnon is beginning to fracture as many former influential figures are voicing their doubt or outright rejection of the movement. Typical of this broader dissatisfaction, one leader quoted in the BBC noted, "Today's inauguration makes no sense to the Christian patriots and we thought 'the plan' was the way we would take this country back."
While the potential demise of QAnon and other conspiracy theories should be relief to many, considerable work remains in addressing the destruction they’ve caused. Countless numbers were fooled, resulting in untold damage to relationships, institutions, and families. What now remains is significant amounts of anger, distrust, and shame.
And, many of these were Christians—evangelical ones at that.
As QAnon and other conspiracy theories begin to lose traction, pastors and church leaders face a decision. We can pretend that conspiracy theories were never really a threat to our congregation and simply move on unchanged. Or we can ridicule the foolishness of those in our congregations who were deceived by conspiracy, driving them out of the church and perhaps into the arms of whatever movement steps into the vacuum of QAnon.
Or, we can engage our people refocusing ...
Part 3 of Ed Stetzer's chapter from the recent release “Conversations on When Everything Is Missions”
How do justice and evangelism co-exist? How do we manage to accomplish both demonstration and proclamation without repeating the perilous mistakes of the missio Dei movement of the middle last century while also avoiding an extreme restrictivism that is all faith and no works (cf. James 2:14-26)?
I am what I call an integral prioritist. I believe in integral, holistic mission—both showing and sharing the love of Jesus. We need to be doing good deeds not only because God has commanded us to but also because part of the mission of the Church is to work for the betterment of our communities. Mission is not simply making disciples who affirm disembodied doctrines. Discipleship naturally produces a faith that is vibrant and active, that is rich in good works (1 Timothy 6:18). But how does justice not become the sole focus of the Church? I believe this lies in the prioritization of the unreached.
Jesus speaks frequently of reaching the lost, of proclaiming that the kingdom has come and that the good news of the kingdom is that He invites men and women to be born again into that kingdom (see for example Matthew 20:28; Mark 1:38; Luke 4:18-21, 43; 19:10; John 3:16; 10;10; 14:6). The greatest injustice ever committed was our sinful rebellion toward God and the greatest justice God has brought to the earth He has done in Christ at the cross, making the way for all to find saving faith in Him. The parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18 gives a clear reminder of God’s prioritized desire to see lost people found. That too, should be our prioritized desire. It is from this orientation that the Church then works toward justice as a means of demonstrating here and now our certain hope of the future reign of Christ. The justice ...
Seven months after hiring Loritts as executive pastor, the Summit Church has commissioned an independent review of how he handled voyeurism incidents at his former church.
The Summit Church has retained the services of an outside firm to perform an independent review of specific actions taken by Pastor Bryan Loritts in his handling of 2010 sexual misconduct allegations against his then-brother-in-law at a Memphis church Loritts pastored.
A statement released by the church acknowledged that an investigation conducted by the church prior to Loritts being hired as Summit’s executive pastor of teaching and development “should have followed better-advised protocols.”
The statement also said The Summit Church committed “to work with the (Southern Baptist Convention) Church Cares team to establish a protocol that will be helpful to other churches in similar circumstances.”
SBC President J. D. Greear is senior pastor at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, which hired Loritts in June 2020 after completing an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations at Fellowship Memphis Church.
At that time, Summit elders cleared Loritts of any wrongdoing in the case against his then-brother-in-law Rick Trotter. But in a statement on its website Wednesday, the church announced that it has hired Guidepost Solutions LLC to conduct a new investigation.
“The Summit Church did their own investigation into this matter before Bryan was hired in June, 2020, and the Elders were convinced that Bryan had not attempted in any way to cover up the incidents of abuse, to protect the abusers, or discourage victims from seeking justice for their abuses,” the statement reads.
“After talking with the Caring Well team and desiring to do everything possible to foster a culture in churches that are safe from abuse and safe for survivors, the Summit decided it would be helpful to ...
Advocates offer strategies to uphold the sanctity of the unborn even without the support of Congress and the White House.
Though reversing restrictions on abortion access was not among more than a dozen executive actions signed by President Joe Biden on his first day in office, it’s only a matter of time before the new administration follows through on its pro-choice platform.
While pro-life groups cheered efforts by the Trump administration to stand against abortion, the incoming president pledged to uphold abortion rights, and Biden is due to overturn the Mexico City policy—which bars the government from funding organizations outside the US that perform abortions—“in the coming days and weeks,” according to the White House press secretary.
What can Christians do to continue promoting the sanctity of the unborn while Biden is in office?
As groups opposed to abortion come together to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and National Sanctity of Human Life Day this weekend, under the new administration, “the bottom line is everything is different,” said Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for Susan B. Anthony List.
While measures like the Mexico City policy get reversed and reinstated every time a different party assumes the White House, advocates like Quigley consider Trump “the most pro-life president in history” for his efforts to expand typical anti-abortion policies. His administration went beyond the Mexico City policy to offer an additional $8.8 million for international health programs that do not promote abortion. It further restricted Title X funding, barring it not just from covering abortion itself but from going to any clinic that makes abortion referrals.
Similarly, Biden represents a particularly ardent stance in favor of abortion access, going beyond what we’ve ...
Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Receives $1 million Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Launch African American Church Evangelism Institute
Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded a $1 million grant to Wheaton College (Ill.) to establish a new African American Church Evangelism Institute as a program of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center.
The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other, and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.
Lilly Endowment is making nearly $93 million in grants through the initiative. The grants will support organizations as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.
Through this grant, the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center in partnership with influential African American pastors will help catalyze a movement of evangelism and mission in local communities through local African American churches across the country.
Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr., chair of the Oversight Team for this effort and Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Glenarden said, “I am excited about this opportunity to help African American churches across the country to become more evangelistic, have greater impact in their communities, and develop leaders who are more effective in their congregations and communities.”
These influential African American pastors created a vision to facilitate cohorts that will serve 150 African American churches over the next five years and beyond. The new institute will focus ...
Christians welcome the “solidarity” of controversial anti-American politician and militia leader in advance of expected visit by Pope Francis.
If Pope Francis can avoid the complications of COVID-19 travel and get to Iraq in March, he will hear a lot about stolen property. Muqtada al-Sadr, a leading Shiite politician fiercely opposed to the US military presence, has told Christians he will do something about it.
The issue is not new.
As Iraq’s pre-Gulf War Christian population of 1.25 million dwindled to about 250,000 today, opportunistic non-Christians laid claim to their unoccupied homes and lands. The city of Mosul, next to the traditionally Christian Nineveh Plains—where Pope Francis is scheduled to visit— located 220 miles north of Baghdad, provides telling examples of the problem.
In 2010, in the waning days of official US occupation, Ashur Eskrya’s father decided to sell his family home. Years of chaos had depleted the once 60,000-strong Christian population of Iraq’s second-largest city, representing 10 percent of its total. Property values were plummeting. Especially in hindsight, Eskrya felt fortunate to get 25 percent of its market value.
Four years later, his neighbor got nothing.
ISIS invaded Mosul, putting its Christian population to flight. In 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) surveyed 240 individuals displaced by the fighting throughout Iraq. Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) had their homes confiscated.
A 2014 study estimated that ISIS made more money from selling stolen real estate than it did from oil revenue.
After the liberation of Mosul, some Christians returned, including Eskrya’s neighbor. While 42 percent had lost their property documentation altogether, according to IOM, the neighbor was able to enter a lengthy legal process and eventually regain ownership of his home.
But uncomfortable with the security ...
for real people
in a real world
Jesus established the church to be a community of believers, a family, to encourage each other in unity and to project His love to the world. As a family, our goal is to love each other without conditions or expectations