April 24, 2014
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JANUARY  10, 2014 ARCHIVED STORIES:

Aiming for 'the good of our city'
WICHITA, Kan. (BP) -- They say it on the Web and they aim to live it out, first in Wichita and ultimately throughout the world.

"The vision of City Life Church is to see the gospel transform everything -- ourselves, our church, our city and the world," the church's website states. It begins in Wichita, where more than 600,000 people live in the metro area. "We believe church-planting can reach the darkest corners of our city for Christ. City Life is committed to ... send out gospel-driven, city-focused people to declare and demonstrate the gospel to the people of our city."

At-risk children are a key part of that commitment, with at least 50 City Life members involved in various aspects of outreach to families in crisis; 15 families are either licensed for foster care or in the process of being licensed.

Whether bringing children from troubled families into their homes or mentoring broken families toward healing, church planter Casey Casamento (@ccasamento) acknowledged it's tough and often messy work.

Some parents want little to do with mentoring. Others struggle to make changes that will lead to their children's return.

"We care for their children, but we also share the love of Christ with their families and extended families," Casamento said. Referencing a 19-year-old man whose child was put into the care of a church family, Casamento said both the man and his mother now attend City Life Church.

"Ultimately, we do this for the sake of the Gospel," said Casamento, a Wichita native. "We exist to bring glory to God and for the good of our city."

Casamento started City Life Church in 2011 after 12 years in youth ministry, the last six in Wichita. His involvement in local community groups opened his eyes to the city's physical and spiritual needs.

"I didn't know what that burden meant back then, but I just knew that I had a huge burden for Wichita," Casamento said. "So when I felt led to plant a church, I knew that it was in this city."

Wichita, which has grown by nearly 12 percent since 2000, isn't hostile to the Gospel. But with more than half of the residents uninvolved in any religious group, Casamento sees a high level of spiritual apathy.

"We have to go to them and build relationships with people in the city," he said. "It takes time to reach someone for Christ. They need to trust you and see that you love them."

In planting the church, Casamento developed a core team with weekly vision meetings and Bible studies. City Life now averages between 400 and 500 in attendance and has baptized 100 in two years.

The church now meets in the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Wichita. Casamento believes the iconic location has been a draw for people who wouldn't normally attend church. But the church's main focus isn't where it meets but mobilizing members to become missionaries where they live.

"Our vision is for those in our church to understand that we have the Gospel and now we have a responsibility to carry that Gospel out into our city -- to exemplify the Gospel through good deeds, to be -- as it says in Matthew 6 – 'a city on the hill,'" Casamento said. "But it's also to communicate the Gospel, to know that God is leading us and calling us to present His good news to everyone."

That doesn't mean only Wichita, but also globally. Casamento's goal is to involve every church member in an international missions experience every three years. Last year City Life sent teams to China and Haiti.

Casamento returned from a vision trip last May to explore a partnership with the International Mission Board for an unreached people group in East Asia. North American Mission Board scholarship funds pay up to $1,500 for plane tickets for any Send North America Support Network planter and an additional leader to take such trips. Read More

Church planter wondered, 'Are we sunk?'
CINCINNATI (BP) -- Michael Clary had reached the end of his rope. The 35-year-old church planter had been in Cincinnati nearly 18 months. Other than the Baptist association's director of missions, he didn't know anyone when he arrived. After slowly and surely putting together a core team, an admittedly poor leadership choice threatened to tear it all apart. Read More
Exploited women find freedom from streets
HAMBURG, Germany (BP) -- Zeina* has been on the streets of Hamburg, Germany, for several years. She came from Africa by way of Spain, where her children live and depend on her income from prostitution for their schooling and livelihood. She longs for her children to have a better life than she has had and works hard to provide that for them. Read More
Pastor defends Obama comments
DALLAS (BP)-- Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress defended statements he made in his forthcoming book charging President Barack Obama's policies have "paved the way" for the coming usurpation of religious liberties and moral law by the Antichrist. Read More
Governor sued for same-sex Mo. tax order
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) -- Four Missouri taxpayers filed a lawsuit on Jan. 8 challenging Gov. Jay Nixon's executive order to permit some same-sex couples to file a Missouri combined income tax return as "husband" and "wife" for 2013 in spite of a 2004 state constitutional amendment which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Read More
Griffin, SWBTS's first black grad, dies at 90
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Marvin C. Griffin, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's first African American graduate, a longtime pastor and trailblazing civic leader, died Dec. 25 at age 90. Read More
Transgender restrooms may go to Calif. voters
SAN FRANCISCO (BP) -- Amid a revolution to obliterate gender distinctions in America, California voters in November could decide whether to repeal a transgender restrooms law allowing students to choose which restroom or locker room they'd like to use based on what gender they believe they are. Read More

First Person
Roger S. Oldham
CALL TO PRAYER: Pray for the pray-ers
For each "Elijah," God has reserved to Himself thousands of unnamed but faithful servants who have refused to bow their knees to the "Baals" of our modern era. In this week's CALL TO PRAYER, Roger S. Oldham asks us to pray in advance of a Jan. 13, Atlanta gathering of many of the faithful.
Kelly Boggs
FIRST-PERSON: Pedophilia, Italy ... & us?
In overturning the pedophilia conviction of a 60-year-old social worker, the Italian Supreme Court joins "a growing number who are more than willing to acquiesce to the prevailing winds of perversity in regard to adult depravity and child sexuality," Baptist Press columnist Kelly Boggs writes.
Fermín Whittaker
EDITORIAL: Dios Con Nosotros
La rapidez de cambios muchas veces nos sorprenden. He observado las reacciones de muchas personas al enfrentarse con los ajustes que vienen con los cambios. ...

 

   
   


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