Thursday
Aug072014

Friends form bond through World Changers

Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

THE NAME “World Changers” probably brings to mind a bunch of teenagers painting and hammering. After all, World Changers – an initiative of LifeWay Christian Resources – is known for its construction projects. 

But for Hunter Douglas and his friends, men who volunteer together each year through World Changers, the experience is not as much about investing in houses as it is about investing in the lives of the teenage participants.

From left: Ron McMaster, Clifford Casey, Terry David “Turk” Cunningham and James “Jimmy” Red have been volunteering together through World Changers for many years.Douglas, a member of Life Line Baptist Church, Little Rock, said he has volunteered through World Changers with the same group of men for about 20 years. 

Douglas’ cohorts in missions are Terry David “Turk” Cunningham, member of Newark Southern Baptist Church, Newark; Ron McMaster, member of Brush Creek Baptist Church, Springdale; Clifford Casey, also a member of Brush Creek Baptist Church, and James “Jimmy” Red, member of First Baptist Church, Horn Lake, Miss.

Douglas explained that some combination of the five men had worked together at various Baptist missions events throughout the years. But he said it was when the West Memphis World Changers project was started in the 1990s that they really began to pull together as a group. Still, it was a gradual process.

“We did not consciously get together as a team suddenly,” said Douglas. “We found ourselves volunteering for the same jobs and gradually began to consciously go the same road.” 

Now, the friends try to volunteer together at two World Changers projects every year.

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Thursday
Aug072014

Central Baptist, Jonesboro, opens new Journey campus

JONESBORO – After meeting for more than three years on the campus of Arkansas State University (ASU), Central Baptist Church’s Journey campus has moved into a new facility on the northeast side of Jonesboro – in one of the most rapidly growing areas in the state of Arkansas.  

A launch event for the new campus was held July 20 with two services. Central Baptist is led by Archie Mason, senior pastor, who also serves as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

The Journey campus is one of three sites of Central Baptist: its main campus is located at 3707 Harrisburg Road, the Word campus is located at 416 Calion St. and the Journey campus is located at 1701 Disciple Drive. A fourth campus – called Refuge – is set to open in downtown Jonesboro in 2015.

“Our vision is to be one church in multiple locations,” said Dan Reeves, lead campus teaching pastor of Central’s Journey campus. “Our mission is to reach those the church has not yet reached and lead them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Reeves said the Journey campus has grown from 40 to more than 200 since opening in 2011.

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Thursday
Jul242014

Homebound woman reaches around world

 

Doris McCall sews dresses and shorts for teams to take on mission trips and donate to children. Photos by Jessica Vanderpool

Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

ARKADELPHIA – Doris McCall may be homebound, but her acts of service are reaching around the world.

McCall, who made a living as a seamstress for about 50 years, now makes dresses and shorts for teams to take on mission trips and donate to children.

McCall, who attends Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, when her health allows, has been homebound for several years due to a heart condition. In 2011, doctors gave her two years to live.

Now, three years later, McCall has regained her strength and is back to sewing for missions. She said that when she outlived the two years the doctors gave her, she knew God had restored her strength for a reason.

“And I said, ‘I am not going to be caught sitting at home, wringing my hands. I’m going to stay busy if it’s the Lord’s will,’” said McCall. “And the Lord has blessed me with this, so I hope I can continue to sing His praises and not sit and cry and be on a pity party – so that’s the main reason I do it.”

But even before falling ill, McCall was ministering through sewing – making clothing for mission teams and making items like wall hangings and baby blankets to give away.

She began sewing for missions when First Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, needed seamstresses for a project they had become involved in called Children Hemmed in Prayer. The project provides clothing for children worldwide.

When McCall told her friend, Susie Hargis, about her participation in the project, Hargis requested McCall make garments she could take with her on mission trips. McCall obliged, and since then, Hargis – a member of First Baptist Church, Monticello – has gone on multiple mission trips with First Baptist Church, McGehee, and has taken many of McCall’s garments with her.

Read the rest of the story in the 7-24 edition of the Arkansas Baptist News.

Thursday
Jul242014

Ark. to vote on alcohol, min. wage

Caleb Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas voters will not vote on legalizing marijuana in November after advocates failed to gather the necessary signatures to place measures regarding both medical and recreational uses of the plant on this year’s ballot.

Signatures are currently being counted to determine whether or not two other measures will be put to a vote, one regarding statewide alcohol sales and one concerning raising the Arkansas minimum wage.

Stephen Copley, president of Give Arkansas A Raise Now and representative of An Act to Increase The Arkansas Minimum Wage, said the 62,507 signatures necessary for the measure to be placed on the November ballot have been gathered and have been submitted to the office of Secretary of State Mark Martin for review and validation.

Copley’s measure would raise Arkansas’ minimum wage for the first time since 2006 from $6.25 to $7.50 per hour by 2015, to $8 per hour in 2016 and $8.50 per hour in 2017, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

While the national minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, companies who do not engage in interstate commerce and do not generate more than $500,000 per year in revenue, can choose to use the lower state minimum wage, according to the Arkansas Department of Labor.

The Democrat-Gazette reported representatives for The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment petition submitted 84,969 signatures for verification July 7, the final day signatures were accepted. The petition requires 78,133 signatures to be placed on the ballot. 

Larry Page, executive director of the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, said while Arkansas Baptists can now be sure they will not have to contend with issues regarding marijuana during this election cycle, he expects the issue of statewide alcohol sales to be included on the ballot.

“We will be holding strategy meetings with some of our leaders throughout the state to develop a game plan to counter the incredible push that will come to wet our entire state,” said Page.

He said reasons for fighting the measure are not simply faith-based,  but also practical.

“There are many legitimate and commonsense reasons to leave the law as it is. … If the statewide alcohol initiative is passed, local control will be taken away. The end result is that a few populous counties – counties that are already ‘wet’ – will decide the fate of rural and less populated counties that are ‘dry’ and want to remain dry,” said Page.

Of the 75 counties in Arkansas, 37 are considered dry counties, according to the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Some areas within Arkansas’ wet counties are also considered dry.

Secretary Martin’s office is now working to validate the signatures submitted for both The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment and An Act to Increase The Arkansas Minimum Wage. 

A 30-day period is provided to representatives of the petitions to gather any additional signatures needed to fill the requirement following validation. The deadline to certify petitions for the November ballot is Aug. 21.

Contact Caleb Yarbrough at caleb@arkansasbaptist.org.

Thursday
Jul242014

WC serves in Arkansas

SHARING JESUS and leaving an impact on local communities were  the aims of three World Changers projects held in Arkansas this summer – with more than 600 students from around the United States working in West Memphis and Fort Smith June 23-28 and in Little Rock July 7-12.

Students worked at a number of sites in each community and served in a variety of ways, including by painting houses, landscaping, putting siding on houses and constructing wheelchair ramps.

World Changers volunteers work on a Little Rock house July 8. Photo by Jessica VanderpoolIn its 23rd summer of operation, World Changers – an initiative of LifeWay Christian Resources – provides a way for volunteers to physically and spiritually minister to communities across the nation.

J.R. DeBusk, pastor of First Baptist Church, Heber Springs, was  project coordinator for the Little Rock project.

“Our objective is to use the various ministries that we are involved in – particularly in conjunction with the City of Little Rock in painting and repairing homes – in order to be able to minister, share Jesus, but just leave a very positive impact on the communities where we are serving,” DeBusk said. 

Claire Beauchamp, a 12-year-old participant from Texas who served at the Little Rock project, said it was her second time to take part in World Changers.

“It was just fun to see the reactions of the people who couldn’t do the house on their own. I also liked meeting new people and making friends,” she said. “I’ve learned that you really can make a difference just by speaking about the Bible or helping fix a house.”

Read the rest of the story in the 7-24 edition of the Arkansas Baptist News.