SBC DIGEST: Astronaut on space station to be interviewed; WMU joins flood relief efforts

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, now aboard the International Space Station, is scheduled to be interviewed by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, during the Tuesday, Aug. 30, chapel service at 10 a.m.

The interview will be livestreamed at sbts.edu/live from the seminary's Alumni Memorial Chapel in Louisville, Ky.

Williams, who has previously spoken on campus about his explorations, and his Soyuz crewmates were launched on a 172-day mission to the International Space Station on March 18. On Aug. 24, he surpassed Scott Kelly's previous record of 521 days to become the American with the most cumulative days in space. The current mission is Williams' fourth spaceflight and third long-duration stay on the space station.

Williams was featured in the August issue of Southern Seminary's newsmagazine Towers (posted at www.sbts.edu/blogs) in which he talked about his spiritual devotion aboard the space station and other aspects of an astronaut's life.

"There certainly is an acute awareness and appreciation of God's creative and providential work given the literal 'worldview,' and that awareness does energize reading and prayer," Williams said of space travel. The impact that Williams' experiences in space have on his worldview will be discussed further in the Aug. 30 interview with Mohler.

WMU aiding flood-stricken La. congregation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) -- Woman's Missionary Union has joined Baptist relief efforts for flood survivors in south Louisiana.

The WMU Foundation has awarded a $6,000 grant from its HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow) Fund to First Baptist Church in Lafayette, which is assisting about 40 families in need after record rainfall and flooding earlier this month.

The foundation, which had established a relationship with First Baptist Lafayette prior to the flooding, reached out to its contact at the church, Andrea McKenzie, minister of missions and college students, to determine if a HEART Fund grant would help. At that point, the church had already conducted a needs assessment in the community and was helping about 40 families.

"Their neighborhoods had never flooded before, but now they [sustained] several inches of water in their homes," McKenzie reported. Their homes had not been listed as located in a flood zone, so the residents do not have flood insurance.

Church members and volunteers will use the HEART Fund grant to purchase items needed immediately, such as diapers and wipes, baby formula and food. The grant will also be used to purchase gift cards that families can use to buy necessities, and for cleanup and rebuilding efforts.

"Please pray for strength and health for our staff as we work overtime on disaster relief plus the regular weekly activities of getting back to our full fall schedule," McKenzie also told the WMU Foundation. Promotion Sunday was at hand; the preschool minister lost her home; and the Mother's Day Out director had undergone emergency surgery.

"Many of our volunteers have full-time jobs and are going to help others after work each evening. Pray for safety and continued strength for them," McKenzie wrote.

Judith Edwards, WMU Foundation board member, noted, "When we learn of disasters we sometimes feel all we can do is pray. By giving to the HEART Fund, even those of us who cannot physically help can still reach out to the hurting in Christ's name."

The WMU Foundation will be considering additional HEART Fund grants as relief and rebuilding efforts continue, David George, WMU Foundation president, said.

"There are immediate needs like food and shelter now, but there will be many additional needs in the days and weeks ahead," George said. "We will continue to help as people face the challenges of rebuilding and putting their lives back together."

The WMU Foundation is accepting donations to the HEART Fund for disaster relief victims online at wmufoundation.com or by mail to WMU Foundation HEART Fund, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL 35242.

Information also is available from Louisiana Baptist Convention about its relief efforts in conjunction with the North American Mission Board, as well as a link for providing financial assistance, at LouisianaBaptists.org/DisasterRelief.

Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston.
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