BP Ledger, Monday, March 30, 2015

EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today's BP Ledger contains items from:

Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma

WORLD News Service

Athletes in Action

Creek expected to draw thousands

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma) -- The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's (BGCO) annual Rewired Men's Conference is set for April 24-25 at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center near Davis, OK.

"An amazing lineup of speakers, activities and breakouts has been assembled for men of all ages and interest," said Keith Burkhart, BGCO family and men's ministry specialist.

According to Burkhart, in 2011 more than 3,000 men at Rewired watched Alex Kendrick's movie "Courageous." In a similar fashion, Kendrick's latest movie production "War Room," which does not debut until August, will be shown as a sneak preview at Rewired.

Another guest speaker will be Jeff Struecker, a decorated member of the U.S. most elite fighting corps who was featured in the national best-seller and major motion picture, "Black Hawk Down."

In addition to speakers and breakout sessions, the event will feature a full slate of activities for men, including archery, camping, fishing, crossfit, cowboy camp, ropes course, zip line, and more. Registration is required.

For more information about the event or to register, visit www.menrewired.com.

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Wenzhou pastor sentenced

to a year in prison

By June Cheng

ZHEJIANG, China (WORLD News Service) -- Hundreds of believers milled around outside a small Pingyang County courthouse March 24 awaiting the verdict in the case of Wenzhou pastor Huang Yizi, detained since last August for his opposition to the cross demolitions across Zhejiang province in eastern China.

At 8 p.m., Huang's lawyer, Zhang Kai, emerged to share the news with Christians who had traveled from all over region: The 40-year-old pastor of Fengwo Church was guilty of "gathering crowds to disturb social order" and sentenced to one year in prison. Zhang decried the entire trial process as "unlawful" and promised to appeal the decision.

Specifically, Zhang said, the government is punishing Huang for leading a group of church members in singing hymns and praying outside a local public security bureau on July 24. But Zhang believes the move was justified: Three nights earlier, about 100 police officers armed with electric batons beat dozens of Christians who set up guard around Salvation Church to keep authorities from dismantling the cross. Videos from that night show the peaceful crowd singing and praying before police beat churchgoers of all ages, hospitalizing about 10 people. One 78-year-old man sustained a fractured skull and bruised head, according to ChinaAid. That day, Huang and the group of Christians convened outside the government building to seek justice for the wrongs done against their fellow believers.

"Huang went to mobilize these Christians against the demolition, that is something that should be commended, because originally the July 21 demolition was an illegal action," Zhang said. "For a person to mobilize people against illegal conduct is appropriate and should be promoted in society rather than being seen as criminal."

But on the morning of Aug. 2, officials grabbed Huang from his home and placed him in detention. According to Huang's friend John Li (name changed to protect privacy), officials scoured Huang's records, finances, and personal life, looking for additional offenses to pin on him, but came up empty. They urged him to admit his crime of disturbing the peace, but he refused.

"Huang is an example of someone living out his faith and lifting up his voice," Li said. "There aren't many people like this."

Family and friends hired a team of lawyers, including Zhang, a well-known human rights lawyer in Beijing, to try to find justice in the Chinese courts. Once the government found out Zhang was on the case, officials agreed to release Huang after a month if the family fired the lawyer. But one month, then two months, went by, and Huang remained in detention. When Huang's friends questioned the police about the broken promise, officials assured them Huang would be out by Christmas.

In January, with Huang still in detention, Zhang filed lawsuits against the county government for violating Huang's rights and tricking him into dismissing his lawyers. The court immediately rejected the suit.

Zhang pointed out several other irregularities during Tuesday's trial. Even though as many as 1,000 people convened outside, authorities picked a small courthouse able to hold only 40 people and allowed just six of Huang's family and friends to sit in on the trial. That goes against the Chinese law allowing for open trials, Zhang said. The judge also refused to accept several pieces of key evidence and would not allow Zhang to discuss the illegality of the police's actions in beating churchgoers and demolishing the cross atop Salvation Church. Instead, he focused solely on Huang's hymn-singing outside the station.

Huang's wife did not attend the trial, as she had traveled to Beijing to petition higher officials, searching for any way to help her husband. Huang, the father of two, is slated to be released from prison Aug. 2, one year from the date he was detained.

Between March and December, authorities tore down more than 400 crosses from church buildings around Zhejiang, ostensibly as part of a project to remove illegal structures. Li said it was quite obvious it was never about buildings without permits. Authorities told some churches they could keep the extra portions of their churches intact as long as the cross came down.

Today, services continue in the cross-less church buildings in Wenzhou, although Li said government control has tightened. Authorities limit children's fellowships and pastoral trainings, while forcing some Three-Self churches to align more closely with the government. During Christmas, about 10 churches tried to put their crosses back up, but police arrived a day later to take each one back down. At one persistent church, police kept a 24-hour guard around the building to make sure the cross wouldn't reappear.

But Li sees the good that has come from the church demolitions: Some congregations had fallen away from orthodoxy and embraced the prosperity gospel while others had gotten too concerned with building massive, elegant churches.

"It let all the Wenzhou believers of different backgrounds walk together—both Three-Self and house churches," Li said. "After this, Wenzhou Christians don't care about creating great big monuments on earth, but they want to make a difference in the society."

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Oregon Tech coach to receive

Wooden 'Keys to Life' Award

XENIA, Ohio (Athletes in Action) -- With more than 1,000 wins during his tenure at Oregon Tech and more than 44 years devoted to a single university, coach Danny Miles is more than a coach; he is an established, loyal role model to the students and community of the Hustlin' Owls. At the 2015 Legends of the Hardwood Breakfast during the men's Final Four weekend, Miles will be awarded the Coach Wooden "Keys to Life" award.

Established in 1998, the award is given to a current or past player or coach at either the professional or college level who models the characteristics of UCLA men's basketball legend, coach John Wooden. Miles joins an elite group of basketball greats who have received the honor, including David Robinson and Mark Price.

Since his first season with Oregon Tech, Miles has not only coached the men's basketball team but also the school's baseball and football teams. While with the Hustlin' Owls, Miles' accomplishments have included:

* Three national championships

* Two-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Basketball Coach of the Year

* NAIA Champion of Character award recipient for all sports

* 2013 Guardians of the Game Pillar Award for Advocacy from the National Association of Basketball Coaches

* Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame nominee

In addition to his achievements as coach at Oregon Tech, Miles' impact has reached well beyond Klamath Falls, Ore. With his extensive knowledge of a variety of sports, he developed the Value Point System (VPS), a method helping coaches evaluate player effectiveness. Because of Miles' success as a coach and dedication to the sport, the VPS has been trusted and adopted by coaches across the nation and at various levels.

Athletes in Action will present Miles with the Coach Wooden "Keys to Life" award on April 4, in advance of the Men's NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis at the Indiana Convention Center.

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