Being a Neighbor

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by Steve Lemke

Editor’s note: The following blog post was written before the tragic shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge July 17, however, its message still rings true. Faced with a new round of grief, confusion, frustration and anger, thoughts of “being a neighbor” gather increased significance. It is with prayerful hope that the editorial team at Geaux Therefore publishes this post.

It has been a difficult few weeks with racially charged conflict in Baton Rouge after police shot Alton Sterling. Since the shooting there have been many demonstrations protesting the shooting, leading to the arrest of over 100 protesters, including a Black Lives Matter leader. Baton Rouge police officers have been criticized for wearing body armor as they shepherded the demonstrations, even as BRPD officers uncovered a plot to shoot members of their department. The community gathered at a memorial service for Sterling last week, yet the tensions remain strong.

Carol and I were helping Austin move to a new apartment in Baton Rouge on the evening on July 12. His new apartment is located about 15 blocks south of where Alton Sterling was shot and the fulcrum of the recent demonstrations. We unloaded his car with things moved from his old apartment, but in that process his car battery was drained. When he tried to start the car, it wouldn’t start. We tried to jump start the battery from Carol’s car, but we were unsuccessful. It was after 10 p.m. in a darkened apartment parking lot.

A black man approached us. We didn’t know him, and he didn’t know us. He was about the same size and somewhat similar in appearance to Alton Sterling. He offered to help us. Since we had been unsuccessful with our efforts, we took him up on his offer. He pulled his vehicle over and we tried to start it with our battery cables, but it still wouldn’t start. So he pulled out his own cables and hooked them up, and this time it did start Austin’s car. I offered to pay him for his gracious help, but he courteously refused. We thanked him – a stranger who helped people of another race whom he didn’t know — and we left to get another load from Austin’s old apartment.

Jesus told a story similar to that experience. There was a man on a journey who came upon a man of a different ethnicity who needed help – an ethnicity different from his, between which there had been significant ongoing conflict. He helped the man at some personal risk and cost. Other people of the hurt man’s own ethnicity had ignored his need, but this man helped him. Jesus asked which of these persons was a neighbor to the man in need. Someone rightly answered that it was the man who showed compassion on his neighbor, a man whom he didn’t even know (Luke 10:25-37).

If we are to get beyond this current crisis in our country– if we are to survive and thrive as a nation – we are going to have to learn to be better neighbors, particularly to those who may be different in some ways from us. We must show compassion and help those in need, even to those we may not know. Being better neighbors is the only path forward toward a brighter future for our nation. We will either languish without each other or go forward together. I believe God would have us to join hands and be the neighbors we should be.

Dr. Steve Lemke currently serves as Provost and Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Should Christian parents put children in public schools to be salt and light?

Lighthouse

By Marilyn Stewart

Curious George, America’s favorite mischievous monkey, gets curious about Ramadan and visits a mosque in the newly-released It’s Ramadan, Curious George. This summer, President Obama’s “directive” to public schools dismissed access to restrooms, locker rooms and showers based on biological sex, placing it instead on the more illusory ”gender identity” as the standard.

At every turn, it seems, children are the target audience of movements undermining Christian beliefs and values, often in the name of “tolerance.” Scenarios once thought outside the realm of possibility are fast becoming the norm.

So, what’s a Christian parent to do?

Chad Vegas, a pastor and respected school board member of the Kern High School District, Bakersfield, Calif., recently urged parents to retreat from public schools after his vote against LGBTQ regulations landed him in the national spotlight. In a letter to his church announcing his decision not to seek reelection, Vegas warned that the battle for local control over schools is lost and that the public school system intends indoctrination. Vegas now sees it was all inevitable:

…government education has been hijacked as a cause for the indoctrination of your children in nihilism, hedonism, and atheism… I was naive not to think this was the only direction government education could go. I am not calling Christian teachers to abandon their posts. By all means, please keep being a light in a dark place as long as you ethically can. I am encouraging you to find other means to educate your children. Please know that this is my advice and not God’s law, nor an official declaration of our church. We believe in Christian liberty. However, I can tell you after 12 years of sitting through meetings that public education means to indoctrinate your children in anti-Christian ideology.  [Click here to read more Exiting the Public Schools, by Rod Dreher.]

Should Christian parents abandon public schools? Or, should children stay in order to be “salt and light” to a dying culture?

It Depends

For Adam and Laura Harwood, decisions about school for their four children changed when Adam joined the NOBTS faculty three years ago and the family moved to New Orleans. At their previous home in Georgia, education was not a hard decision as the schools there reflected traditional values. Better still, those with whom they interacted at school often shared pews with them on Sunday morning.

In New Orleans, homeschooling seemed the right fit for the two youngest children, but was not an option for their son, Nathan, 15, who missed the classroom environment. Adam and Laura prayed for God’s guidance as they considered the challenges their son would face in a public charter school.

“Was he ready to face that conflicting worldview?” Laura Harwood said they wondered. “We felt like he was. And if he was, we wanted him to go in and stand strong.”

A sophomore, Nathan has only one Christian in his circle of school friends. More challenging still was a teacher who was antagonistic to the Christian faith and outspoken in her atheist views.

“But Nathan feels as if he is one of [the teacher’s] favorites,” Harwood said. “It hasn’t materialized as an issue.”

For daughter Anna Cate, a senior and dually enrolled in university classes, evolution and creationism clashed one day in history class. The discussion moved outside the classroom and became an opportunity for Anna Cate to sit down with another student over coffee and answer questions about her Christian beliefs. While Laura Harwood didn’t expect her daughter to be challenged so quickly after enrolling in a college credit course, she was pleased that her daughter was ready.

For parents facing a school choice dilemma, Harwood recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” and that parents must make decisions based on each child’s needs and maturity, the family’s situation, and the school options available.

“I would look for the evidence in the children’s lives, in the way they speak about God, in the way they treat other people,” Harwood advised. “I would look for that evidence, the fruit. Do they know what they believe, and why they believe it?”

Eye on the goal

When it comes to homeschooling, Michelle Woodward feels strongly. Being salt and light is something she and husband Greg Woodward are convinced their six children need to be, just not necessarily now.

“I’m not sure that my five, ten, twelve, or maybe even 15-year old child needs to be the tool of ministry,” Michelle Woodward said. “I am an adult. I’ve been a Christ-follower for years. It’s my job to lead others to Christ.”

A young teen, Woodward recognizes there were times she did not live a model Christian life.

“It was really hard for me as a teenager for me to be salt and light,” Woodward said. “So why would I expect that of my six-year-old? A six-year-old has no business in an ungodly situation, in a situation with an adult who is hard and fast in their non-Christian or ungodly opinions.”

Still, the Woodward family choose homeschooling not because public schools are growing antagonistic toward the Christian worldview, but on the basis of many factors, Woodward said. Though they once planned to enroll their children in a public middle school or high school, they are now “all-in” for homeschooling. And, being “salt and light” is a goal they work towards intentionally.

“We’ve given our children the freedom to think,” Woodward said. “I can’t tell you how many long nights of conversation and debate and even arguments have happened as they have hashed out the tenets of our faith.”

Through soccer, baseball, dance, and other activities, the family is invested in helping their kids see the world for what it is. While homeschooling is the right choice for her family, Woodward said friends she “loves and respects deeply” feel differently.

“We do things in the world. We don’t shelter our children,” Woodward said. “I feel we are transparent about the world, but in the context of home where questions can be discussed.”

An Unexpected Mission Field

NOBTS student and New Orleans church planter Ryan Melson, and wife Michelle, know that being salt and light is a daily imperative for believers regardless of the setting. But with a daughter two years from college, the public school system’s educational deficiencies prompted the Melson family to choose homeschool.

Ryan Melson said his first responsibility as a parent is to disciple his children and help them grow spiritually as they grow academically. Committed to making sure homeschool did not equal “huddled in the kitchen,” the family joined two homeschool groups, including a group that is non-Christian. One family in the group is Mormon; another is described by Melson as “almost pagan.”

Finding a non-Christian homeschool group came as a surprise. “I didn’t even know they existed,” Melson said. “That was a mission field we never even thought about.”

Through homeschool, Michelle Melson and the children have found opportunity to live faithful to the imperative to be salt and light in the world.

Melson sees God placed his family there. He said, “Who would reach them if our kids were in public school?”

Points to consider
  1. No one size fits all. Parents must make decisions regarding their children’s education based on the family situation, each child’s needs, and the atmosphere of the local school. Pray. Be alert. Be engaged. Be prepared to make changes as needed.
  2. Preparation is important. Disciple your children. Teach apologetically and take advantage of apologetic material that is easily accessible through NOBTS’s Defend the Faith conference in January 2017 and websites such as Stand to Reason and director Greg Koukl or Reasonable Faith with Dr. William Lane Craig.
  3. Use a Psalm 1 approach rather than a “thou shalt not” approach to Christian values. Humans flourish when they follow God’s principles. Under God’s law, a happy and fulfilled life is possible. The world offers pain and disappointment.

 

 

 

 

 

The Scoop – July 19

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Visit Israel in March

Visit Israel with the NOBTS Pilgrimage to Israel tour group March 9-18, 2017.  The nonrefundable $500 minimum deposit per person applies toward the total tour cost of $3,495, or $2095 for currently enrolled NOBTS students and faculty. The deposit is due upon enrollment. Click here to register and to learn more about the trip.

The $500 deposit required to guarantee a place on the tour. Second payment of $500 is due August 15; third payment of $500 due September 15; fourth payment of $595 is due November 15 (final payment for qualified NOBTS students), and the final payment of $1400 for non-students is due January 15. Use of credit cards: please note that an additional and nonrefundable 2.5% credit card transaction fee will be added to the amount charged for any payment toward the total tour cost.

To be assured of reservations, please complete and mail the registration form along with your deposit of $500 per person (make checks payable to NOBTS with a note that it is for the Israel Pilgrimage, March 2017) to: Israel Trip – Attn. Blanca Phillips New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 3939 Gentilly Blvd., Box 98, New Orleans, LA 70126.

Clinical Pastoral Education and Chaplaincy program

Applicants are being accepted for the Clinical Pastoral Education and chaplaincy program for 2016-17 at East Jefferson General Hospital.

The program currently offered is Level I/Level II Four-Unit Residency, with group and individual supervision. Tuition for resident program is $1,000.  Hospital-wide, clinical assignments available for all programs that include Woman and Child, Oncology, Skilled Nursing and Critical Care units.

For information, call 504-503-4830, e-mail gwhammond@ejgh.org or visit http://www.ejgh.org under the Patients and Visitors section. An application form is available at www.acpe.edu.

Lauren Frazier-McGuin, M.A., M.Div., is the director of the department of pastoral care and ACPE Supervisor, East Jefferson General Hospital.

Graduate Course Schedule Available Online

The 2016-17 Graduate Course Schedule is now available online at the NOBTS website. Click here to view.  Registration for the fall semester is now open.

Mission Opportunities

Bible Study and Music Leaders needed

Invest in the lives of teens looking for friendship and hope at the North Lake Youth Academy, a residential treatment facility for youth located on the North Lake Behavioral Health System campus, 23515 Hwy. 190, Mandeville. Men and women volunteers are needed to lead Bible studies and/or music with teen girls or teen boys. The opportunity to lead a full worship service is available. For information or to apply, call Brenda at 985.626.6330.

Two-year Haiti Mission Opportunity

But God Ministries (BGM) and Children of Christ Home (CCH) are seeking  qualified applicants to serve for 2 years in the CCH Orphanage in Haiti.

In the spring of 2012, BGM partnered with two churches in Pensacola, FL to build an orphanage on our property. First Baptist Church Pensacola and Hillcrest Baptist Church have built and are supporting an orphanage that can house up to 32 children. Children began moving into the orphanage August 25, 2013. The orphanage consists of 4 buildings: two dorms, one caretaker’s house, and one building containing a kitchen, bathrooms, and dining area and an apartment for 2 interns.

A position for 2 preferably Southern Baptist, twenty-something, single females desiring after graduation to serve while experiencing an entirely different culture… to come join in molding and shaping these young lives while experiencing being on a mission for God.

The opportunity would involve living in the orphanage with the children ,(there are 14 children as of April,2015). Responsibilities would include:

  • Learning basic Creole
  • Teaching basic English
  • Coordinating short term mission teams working with the children (as many as 30 to 40 a year)
  • Nurturing , playing with ,loving and discipling the children
  • Assisting the staff as needed in the day to day activities
  • Integrating with the BGM ministry staff

QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE PROGRAM — DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?

  • A sense of God’s leadership
  • Emotional, physical and spiritual health
  • 21-26 years old
  • An active member of a Southern Baptist church for the past two years
  • Single
  • Citizen or permanent resident of the United States
  • Completion of an accredited bachelor’s degree prior to orientation
  • Willingness to commit to a two-year assignment
  • Commitment to evangelism
  • A growing Christian faith
  • A willingness and ability to raise financial support

The next available opportunity for service is from late January 2017 –December 2018.

If interested contact:  Blake Benge, Coordinator of Missions and Ministry, First Baptist Church, Pensacola,  bbenge@fbcp.org.

Mission trip to Ecuador

Would you like to travel to Ecuador in October on a mission trip? The trip will occur during the fall break and you can earn credit for a provided class related to the trip.  In addition, NOBTS students can qualify for $700 as a stipend to help with the travel expense. Contact Dr. Bob Hall at bhall@nobts.edu to ask questions about the trip. Include a contact phone number with your email. Thanks.

NOBTS Info

hard rule

Need technical assistance? Contact the ITC today

Selfserve@nobts.edu – Email for technical questions/support requests with the Selfserve.nobts.edu site (Access to online registration, financial account, online transcript, etc.)
BlackboardHelpDesk@nobts.edu – Email for technical questions/support requests with the NOBTS Blackboard Learning Management System NOBTS.Blackboard.com.
ITCSupport@nobts.edu – Email for general technical questions/support requests.
504.816.8180 – Call for any technical questions/support requests.
www.NOBTS.edu/itc/ – General NOBTS technical help information is provided on this website.

SWAP Shop Hours, Call for Volunteers

The SWAP Shop (Surplus With a Purpose) exists to provide an economical means by which the seminary community may exchange or secure quality clothing or small household items for personal use. Contributions of new and gently-used clothes, furniture, books, household goods, gifts and toys are welcome. The SWAP Shop is a volunteer organization open five days a week, with hours based on the availability of volunteers.

For hours of operation, join the NOBTS Swap Shop Facebook page by clicking HERE. Times are listed and closures are also announced there. The Swap Shop is always looking for volunteers, especially for morning hours, Saturdays and evenings after 7 p.m. For more information, call Rhonda Smith at 504.481.3656.

Research Help Available

Starting to work on your semester papers? Search for full-text journal articles using the EBSCOHost database anywhere you have an Internet connection. Please come by the library with your student ID card for information and password codes.

Library Open to Serve You

Greetings from the John T. Christian Library! We hope you have a great semester and are looking forward to seeing you in the library. Our hours are Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and our Saturday hours are10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. We are closed on Sunday.

Borrowing from other Academic Libraries

Did you know that NOBTS graduate students can borrow items from other graduate academic libraries in the New Orleans area? Come by the circulation desk in the John T. Christian Library and register for a LaLinc card today.

Emergency Text Messaging Service

Sign up for the NOBTS Emergency Text Messaging Service today. Click HERE. Choose one or all of the groups to receive texts related to emergency situations that affect our NOBTS campuses and families. Main New Orleans Campus, New Orleans Campus Residents, Louisiana & Mississippi Extension Centers; Florida Extension Centers; and Georgia & Alabama Extension Centers.
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#PrayNOLA: Join us as we pray for the churches of New Orleans

PrayNOLAGK

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Join us in praying for the Southern Baptist churches and recent North American Mission Board (NAMB) church plants as they make Christ known in the Greater New Orleans area. Ministry opportunities abound in this great city, from community development to foster care to evangelism. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest, that He might send out more laborers.