July 22, 2014
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OCTOBER  17, 2013 ARCHIVED STORIES:

WHEELING, W.Va. (BP) -- Twenty-one years ago, Tom Rentfrow left a church in Heron, Va. -- the fastest-growing church in its association -- to begin a church in West Virginia.

He had heard God speak to him during a sermon on home missions and being willing to serve wherever God calls. Rentfrow was flabbergasted but was sure it was God leading, so he obeyed. He and his wife Helen and two other believers founded Abundant Life Baptist Church in the Wheeling-area community of Elm Grove.

The Rentfrows had been warned by family, friends and other pastors that most Elm Grove residents were Catholics and wouldn't be responsive to a Baptist church.

"They told us it was a lost cause," Helen Rentfrow said.

Indeed, the couple soon realized how difficult the situation was. In addition to the community's overwhelmingly Catholic majority, other professing Christians already were involved in their own churches.

The Rentfrows had doors slammed in their faces. But they persevered, building bridges to active and nominal Catholics -- and lasting friendships.

The most effective bridge has been Tom Rentfrow's involvement in the pro-life movement. Shortly after arriving in Wheeling, Rentfrow, now president of West Virginia for Life's local chapter, stood with the Catholic bishop in opposing abortion.

"He was genuinely a man of God who loved life and loved people. I was in his office praying with him. I heard his heart," Rentfrow said.

At the urging of a nun, Rentfrow led Abundant Life Baptist Church to become a Gabriel Project church supporting women in crisis pregnancy situations and those who choose life.

God blessed Abundant Life. They moved to nearby Triadelphia and now have a membership of more than 200 and a thriving school. The church supports four missionaries and gives more than 10 percent of its receipts through the Cooperative Program.

God then began to lead the Rentfrows and Abundant Life to plant a new church in an old Catholic parish in Wheeling in the heart of an aging Polish community.

In 2002, the Rentfrows were prayerwalking in South Wheeling when they discovered the former St. Ladislaus Catholic Church on the corner of 45th and Eoff, founded in 1902. They stepped out on faith to make an offer of $35,000 and were amazed when the diocese accepted it.

They had no funds for mortgage payments but trusted God. Supervisors of a local Head Start program asked Helen if she had any ideas where they could rent a facility. She suggested the St. Ladislaus parish, which suited Head Start's needs, and the rent provided the funds for the mortgage of the new plant, South Wheeling Chapel.

"It was like a miracle," Helen said.

God showed His hand repeatedly in the new outreach. The owner of property across the street, formerly the site of a convent, donated the land to the church. He was so impressed with his dealings with the Rentfrows that he went on to help the church get natural gas rights there for additional revenue. Read More

State judges, legislators weigh gay marriage
"At the end of all of this, though, will be a basic human longing to know whether marriage is rooted in something more permanent than court decrees or culture shifts."
-- Russell D. Moore
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Judges and legislators are preparing to determine the definition of legal marriage in a variety of states.
      Whether same-sex unions should be recognized as marriages soon will be weighed by government officials in New Jersey, New Mexico, Hawaii and Michigan. ... Read More
Her video high-fives special needs cheer team
NASHVILLE (BP) -- "When I was really little, doctors told my mom that I would be special needs," explains 14-year-old Savannah Grace, whose YouTube video has lots of people talking. "They said I would be autistic."
      Perhaps that's why this aspiring
pop star wanted to share the spotlight in a video with the Cheerville Raptors, a special needs squad from Tennessee. Read More
Prayer only hope for U.S., PrayerLink told
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Only prayer by God's people will heal His church from complacency and a mediocre Christianity that weakens overseas missions, former international missionary Gordon Fort told PrayerLink, a national network to mobilize Southern Baptists in prayer. Read More
Mohler recounts perseverance at SBTS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- In April 1995, he was completely spent.
      "I thought it was all over," R. Albert Mohler Jr. said. "I just thought I didn't have any more to give. I thought this was it."
      Two weeks earlier, the faculty of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Mohler had been president for less than two years, overwhelmingly supported a motion that rebuked him and repudiated his policies, with only two members voting for him and two voting in absentia. The days that followed weren't any easier. Read More

First Person
Raleigh Sadler
FIRST-PERSON: When dying is gain
North American Mission Board missionary Raleigh Sadler recounts the loss of a dear friend who "died well," and shares his own journey to where God leads.

 

   
   


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