Thursday
Dec112014

Sold Out student conference Feb. 21

RUSSELLVILLE – The Sold Out student conference is set for Feb. 21 at First Baptist Church, Russellville.
The theme of the conference, Why We Witness, is taken from Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”

“This will be our fourth year doing Sold Out,” said Kirby Vardeman, one of the organizers, who serves as pastor of LifeStone Church in Russellville. “Our prayer for this year is that we equip students to live and share their faith openly in their schools. We want to arm them with both the mandate from God and the tools they need to win their friends for Christ.”

Vardeman added, “In past years, we’ve done our best to show students the power of prayer and the freedom of God’s marvelous grace. As leaders, we’ve been privileged to see God’s Spirit move in these students. We are praying to see another great awakening in this generation!”

Teaching sessions during the day will be lead by Warren Gasaway, strategist for the evangelism and church health team at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Featured during the event will be the Off the Top improv and drama troupe of seventh through 12th grade students from Second Baptist Church, Conway. A concert by the band Summerhill will be held at 6 p.m. For more information, visit http://soldoutconference.com.

Conference schedule:
7:00 – Registration
9:30 – Welcome
10:00 – Main session
10:45 – Breakdown session
11:10 – Expressions of praise
11:40 – Individual session
12:00 – Lunch
1:00 – Individual sessions
1:30 – Main session
2:15 – Breakdown session
2:45 – Individual session
3:15 – Expression of praise
3:45 – Release
6:00 – Summerhill concert

Thursday
Dec112014

Ouachita honors Loyde Hudson for gift of “timeless masterpieces”

ARKADELPHIA – Donating several valuable works of art to Ouachita Baptist University, Loyde Hudson told students gathered for a Dec. 4 reception that he donated the pieces “because of you.”

“I wanted it to be where students could enjoy it,” Hudson explained. “I wanted it to be on the walls where they could see it. I wanted it to be among young liberal arts students.” He encouraged the students to “enjoy it like I’ve enjoyed it for 50 years.”

The collection, which features works by renowned 19th century American artist Thomas Moran and German-American artist Albert Bierstadt, is on display in the new Rosemary Gossett Adams Gallery on the Ouachita campus. In addition to Moran’s “Lookout Rock – Yosemite Valley” and two paintings by Bierstadt, the collection includes an etching by Moran’s son, Peter, and several pieces of sculpture by Chris Delabarto as well as other works.

Emphasizing that “these are top names in the field,” Hudson told the reception crowd, “I must give credit where credit is due.” He said his late wife, Arlene, collected the pieces over the years.

Scott Holsclaw, dean of Ouachita’s School of Fine Arts, noted that “this is an exciting time in the life of the newly named Rosemary Gossett Adams Department of Visual Arts” which will be officially dedicated Dec. 11.

“We are so thrilled at what these gifts will do for this department, what it will do to enhance the permanent collection we already have, what it will do to enrich the education of our students,” Holsclaw added.

“When you see a timeless piece of art like this one in front you, you realize people have enjoyed it for years,” he said as he stood beside the Thomas Moran painting. “Because it is so timeless, because it is a masterpiece, people will enjoy it for years to come. We thank you, Dr. Hudson, for your gift.”

Donnie Copeland, chair of the department of visual arts, described the works in the gallery as “a feast for our eyes.”

“Dr. Hudson, I just want to say thank you so much for your gift,” he noted. “You’ve given us an opportunity I never imagined I would have to hang such great artwork. These students have the opportunity to stand where Thomas Moran stood and painted his pieces or Albert Bierstadt or Chris Delabarto. That is something you just can’t really get from a book. Thank you so much for that opportunity.”

Citing Hudson’s work as a noted surgeon and pioneer in the development of artificial heart surgery, Ouachita President Rex Horne said he is “a man who is marked by great intellect, great curiosity and great generosity.”

Describing Hudson’s donation as both “expensive” and “priceless,” Horne said, “Not only is he giving us what he and his wife enjoyed for decades and decades, but he has given us friendship, he has given us a part of himself. For that we will always be indebted.”

Hudson, who holds degrees from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, has been an innovator in the field of thoracic surgery. His expertise was sought by hospitals and universities where he led medical school programs for heart surgery. He taught, conducted research and developed surgical facilities and programs for such institutions as UAMS, the University of Houston, the University of Michigan, St. Louis University and Temple University. He served as a founding member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

For more information about Ouachita’s Dr. Loyde Hudson Collection, contact Scott Holsclaw at holsclaws@obu.edu or 870-245-5561.

Wednesday
Dec102014

Fort Smith CWJC recognized for excellence 

Jessica Griggs
University of Alabama at Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – An explosion of spiritual growth has occurred at Fort Smith Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) in Fort Smith. The Lord has been opening doors right and left since the site started in 1999. Ministry has tripled. In addition to CWJC, it now includes Christian Men’s Job Corps (CMJC), as well as a satellite site in Charleston.

The appeal?

“We get comments all the time that there is nothing else like it,” said Valerie Fitch, executive director of Fort Smith CWJC. “Our site attracts people who will not enter the doors of a church. We meet people where they are and gain the opportunity to present the gospel.”

The year 2013 by the numbers: 168 participants, 42 mentor teams, 33 salvations, 22 baptisms and 29 graduates. Since the exponential growth, Fort Smith CWJC/CMJC has even relocated to a new home.

“The pace of the ministry is moving so quickly that we consistently outpace our grassroot level support,” stated Darin Swearingen, board chairman of both CWJC and CMJC in Fort Smith. “The positive development of the entire person is exciting to witness.”

A ministry of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), the purpose of CWJC/CMJC is to provide a Christian context in which women and men in need are equipped for life and employment – and in a missions context in which women mentor women and men mentor men. CWJC/CMJC offers life skills, job skills, mentoring and Bible study. 

Loucinda “Cinda” Onofre, once a self-proclaimed lost, self-destructive, alcoholic, is now on her way to promise and freedom, thanks in large part to Fort Smith CWJC.

Pregnant and separated from her husband, homeless and recently released from jail, Onofre wanted more out of life than merely to survive. She wanted to thrive. With hopes and dreams in her heart, she came to CWJC.

Today, Onofre is pursuing a degree in information technology security with a desire to combat Internet crime. She has two sons and is remarried. Fitch described Onofre’s mentor, Linda Payne, as “family.”  

However, Jesus is now the most important relationship in her life. Her “greatest hope,” Onofre said, “is that others will see my story . . . my journey . . . and know they, too, can overcome the afflictions of this world through our Savior Jesus Christ.”

To assist her in reaching her goals, Onofre was awarded $1,500 from the WMU Foundation through the Faye Dove Scholarship. This annual award benefits CWJC graduates who thirst for knowledge and skill development and exemplify excellence in their lives.

In addition, Fort Smith CWJC/CMJC was recognized as the outstanding site in 2014 and received a $1,000 grant from the WMU Foundation to assist with their goals. Fitch said the grant will be used for items such as Bible study materials, Bibles, notebooks, journals and office supplies and equipment.

Jessica Griggs is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Wednesday
Dec102014

Arkansas Baptist Builders build house for Arendalls

Arkansas Baptist Builders (ABB), a construction ministry of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, is in the process of building a house for Karla Arendall and her family. Arendall's husband, Jay, died earlier this year, and the family lost their house in the April tornado that hit the Vilonia area. This is the second house ABB has built for the Arendalls. The family also lost a house in a 2011 tornado, and ABB stepped in to help them at that time as well. Following is the article about the original building project that ran in the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN) on Sept. 22, 2011. An article describing the current building project can be found in the Dec. 11 issue of the ABN.

Family survives deadly tornado

VILONIA – For Jay and Karla Arendall, April 25 started out just like any other day. Both parents went to work as usual, and their children went to school.

The family, which attends Friendship Baptist Church, Conway, had just moved outside Vilonia into a home they built themselves.

But this was no ordinary day. By the end of this day, a tornado would destroy their home and change their lives forever.

After hearing tornado sirens in Conway, where both Jay and Karla worked, they decided to go home early to ride out any bad weather with their children.

Just after dinner, one of the couple’s adult children called to say a tornado was headed toward them.

So, Jay and Karla found safe places within the home for the children. When the couple went upstairs for a better look at the weather, they saw a dark wall cloud.

“I said, ‘Jay, that’s the tornado,’” said Karla.

Jay wasn’t so sure. But a few seconds later, they watched in horror as the storm began to uproot trees. And it was headed straight for them.

Jay and Karla ran for cover.

“I jumped on top of the girls,” said Karla. “By the time I got there, I started hearing the house come apart.”

Jay ran toward the boys’ safe place, making it to the bedroom before the storm hit the house.

Jay grabbed the mattress from the bed to throw over the boys, but it was sucked out of his hand.

“He was being hit by debris, and he just jumped in the closet on top of the boys,” said Karla.

As the tornado lifted the house from around them, the family prayed to God for protection.

Wind and rain whipped and pummeled Karla and the girls where they lay in what had been a space underneath the stairs.

A few minutes later, their daughter, Breigh, looked up to see her dad and brothers running toward the family’s vehicle, and after a moment’s hesitation, Karla and the girls followed.

“The house was basically in the front yard,” said Breigh.

As they surveyed the damage, the family began to praise God that they were alive.

Miraculously, the family sustained no major injuries. Only Jay, who had been pummeled with debris, was injured with a deep gash on his arm.

Four people were killed, and dozens of homes and businesses in and around Vilonia were damaged or destroyed in the tornado.

The deadly storm was part of the eighth deadliest outbreak of tornadoes on record, according to the National Weather Service.

The Arendalls are grateful to God for sparing their lives.

“God was just so good to us,” said Karla. “He has blessed us over and over and over again.”

Tuesday
Nov252014

Leroy French, 85, dies

Leroy French, 85, formerly of Fort Smith, died Nov. 22, in Burleson, Texas. He was born Sept. 17, 1929, in Okemah, Okla., to Tommy Otis and Julia Naomi (Blevins) French. He was a builder and an architect and built the Bible Chapel at Ouachita Baptist University. He attended Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia  and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He pastored numerous churches in Arkansas and was a member and associate pastor of Bluff Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Smith. He also made 13 mission trips to the Philippines and two to South Korea. He was preceded in death by a son. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Helen, one daughter, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, six sisters and a brother. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Nov. 26 at Bluff Avenue Baptist Church with burial at 2 p.m. at Bowers Cemetery in Eufaula, Okla.