Thoughts, insights and observations from the ABN staff


The more things change the more they stay the same

Here's one to be filed under the category: "The more things change the more they stay the same."

While doing some research, an Arkansas Baptist State Convention staff member found this little tidbit in the book, The Baptist Heritage by H. Leon McBeth, published in 1987 by Broadman and Holman:

"Proposed name change. SBC leaders have long struggled with the anomaly of a regional name with a national constitution. In 1903 the convention heard a proposal to change its name to "The Baptist Convention of the United States," but the next year a counterproposal suggested changing the constitution instead to conform to the facts. From the 1950s the name change has been raised at different times, and for a few years in the 1960s the issue occupied front-page space. Some argued that changing the name would aid Southern Baptist work nationwide; others countered that the SBC had established a doctinal identity that went beyond mere geography. After an intensive study in the early 1970s, the SBC voted to keep its present name. The issue was complicated by the fact that no acceptable alternative name could be found (emphasis added)."

Well, we will see if "Great Commission Baptists" passes the Southern Baptist mustard next week in New Orleans.

If not, we can truly say, "The more things change the more they stay the same."

Tim Yarbrough
Editor, Arkansas Baptist News 


Creole Bibles distributed at prison

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a blog from Jessica Vanderpool, assistant editor for the Arkansas Baptist News, who is traveling with a mission team in Haiti to report on the ongoing work.

Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

VanderpoolI don’t know how many times we packed and repacked the plastic bags of hygiene items we planned to take to the women’s prison. I don’t know how many times we tried to count the number of items we needed to buy for the bags versus the number of items we already had. It seemed like a losing battle. We needed this much soap but that much toothpaste, but we only had this many bags. But don’t forget to count the ones already packed. … It was endless.

In the end, we knew there were a certain number of inmates and guards we needed bags for - and we came up short. We were counting bags outside the prison with only minutes to spare before we entered - and we didn’t have enough. All we could do was shrug and assume there were fewer inmates than we had been told or that God would take care of it some other way.

Miraculously, they let us drive our car into the prison compound. We unloaded the items into the entry area of the prison.

Packing hygiene items.We had decided a couple days earlier that we also wanted to take Bibles in the Creole language into the prison, and after much work, Roody had gotten more than 200 Bibles.

We unloaded the bags and the Bibles, and before we knew it, inmates were filing through. One by one, they took a bag and a Bible and left with a “Thank you.” One by one, we had fewer and fewer bags. I was in charge of digging the bags out of the suitcase we’d brought them in and handing them to my teammate who in turn handed them to the inmates. I watched as the pile of bags got smaller and smaller. The inmates kept coming.

I prayed for the Lord to multiply our bags. I prayed for the inmates to stop coming. I had no idea what we would do if we didn’t have enough bags.

Twenty bags left and they still came. Fifteen bags left. Ten bags. The line stopped. I looked up and realized it was over. I looked back into the suitcase. Six bags left.

There were fewer inmates than we had been told. And we had just enough bags. God had taken care of our needs. After we cleaned up from the distribution, we met with the warden. She was a kind woman who appreciated our help.

We asked if the women had ever received a full version of the Bible. She said the women had received French Bibles before, but never Creole Bibles. She said some prisoners had asked for them.

We head home tomorrow (Friday) morning. It has been a good trip. God has answered prayers and opened doors in mighty ways. We thank you all for your prayers. Please continue to pray for the work yet to be done in this country.


A good morning in Haiti

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a blog from Jessica Vanderpool, assistant editor for the Arkansas Baptist News, who is traveling with a mission team in Haiti to report on the ongoing work.

Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

VanderpoolIt was a beautiful Haitian morning – just beginning to warm up as we headed out. Our team had been split into two groups. The first group went to train Haitian women to minister in prison while our group visited an orphanage and did evangelism.

We started down the main road in front of the compound as we set out for the orphanage, but after a few moments, we turned down a lane and ventured more into the countryside. The grass was green, the sky was blue and the mountains stood out in the distance. The road was really just a muddy suggestion filled with rocks and puddles.

We stopped to laugh and take pictures with several Haitians along the way. We had such a great time! One woman showed me her home, a humble, two-room (if you can call them rooms) structure. She said she had lived there all her life. Her husband, who was in his 70s, had gone to cut some grass for his animals.

Haitian woman shows off her home.When we arrived at the orphanage, we were able to talk to some school children who were in class. One of our members told the story of creation and shared with them about our witnessing bracelet. There was a time for questions and two of the older boys asked questions like “Where is God?” and “Do you love me like yourself?” We answered their questions and prayed with them, and several of the children said they accepted Christ.

On our way home, we stopped to talk with another family who was sitting outside their home. We asked if they were Christians, and they said they all were except one of them. We asked if she would like to accept Christ, and she did. We prayed with her as well.

We headed home under cloud cover and a sprinkle of rain, knowing it had been a good morning.


'For God so loved the world'

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a blog from Jessica Vanderpool, assistant editor for the Arkansas Baptist News, who is traveling with a mission team in Haiti to report on the ongoing work.

Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

VanderpoolWe have quoted the verse all our lives - “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16).

As Christians, we know God loves everyone, even those the world looks down on – He chose shepherds to be some of the first to see His Son on earth, He forgave a prostitute, He welcomed the children – but it is incredible to see that love in action in front of your very eyes.

I saw Monday how God has used our team of Arkansas Baptist women to fling open the doors so that some of the most despised of Haiti’s citizens can hear of His love.

We arrived at a government building Monday morning. The floors were dingy, the lighting was low. The building itself was not particularly impressive. That’s why it took us aback when Roody Joseph told us we were standing in what would be the Haitian equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C.

We spent a total of about four hours there getting approval to go into the prisons to distribute supplies. Much of that time on our part was spent waiting, but while we waited and even before, God was at work – and what He did was incredible. We later learned that the process we went through in four hours could have taken a couple months. To see the specifics of how God worked Monday was amazing. Suffice it to say it was nothing short of God’s all-powerful hand that influenced the hearts of men.

There are most likely about 250 women and 50 guards in the Haitian women’s prison. As a percentage of all humanity, they are basically nonexistent. Yet God looked down upon them and saw a group of despised women, and He flung open all the doors so five women from Arkansas could share His hope with them.

Now that is love.

Praying with a woman to accept Christ.


Visiting a Haitian church

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a blog from Jessica Vanderpool, assistant editor for the Arkansas Baptist News, who is traveling with a mission team in Haiti to report on the ongoing work.

Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

VanderpoolThere are certain things that are universal. A smile translates where words do not, music permeates all cultures, laughter travels beyond borders - and God is the same in all nations.

Today our team visited a Haitian church that meets in a community center – a center actually built by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention to house Kids Clubs. The center has a roof and walls on three sides, but it is open to the air on the fourth side. To the left of the structure, corn stalks blow in the breeze. To the right, mounds of sugarcane are piled high. Inside, the people sit on wooden benches, dressed in their hose and high heels, coats and ties, despite the weather.

During the service, they pray, give offerings and take communion, and they sing many songs – some I do not know and some I do.

There is something glorious about it - the sounds of song rising from the bellies of my fellow believers, and though I do not know the words they sing, I know the tune, and I begin to sing along with them – “This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made.” I was standing in a world so different from my own with people who spoke a completely different language and had such a different lifestyle, and yet we were worshiping the same God. It was an incredible thought.

I am grateful my team and I were able to be present for their worship service.

My teammate put it well when she said, “It was a service fit for a King.”

View a photo gallery Mission Haiti photos here.