Baptist Press Archive

Friday, December 20, 2013

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  • 'Journey to Bethlehem' becomes former skeptic's evangelism tool

    by Noah Wright/Illinois Baptist, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    CAROL STREAM, Ill. (BP) -- "It all started with a challenge," Katie Crichton said. "Let's make a typical church Christmas pageant into something that we can use to reach our community with the Gospel."

    Photo courtesy of Katie Crichton
    Crichton was an unlikely leader for her church's new outreach. Until a couple of years earlier, the suburban mom would have scoffed at the idea. She was not only a skeptic, she was an unbeliever -– and a rather vocal one.

    Photo by Jason Crichton
    Now, she was leading the effort to turn a Christmas pageant into an evangelism campaign. (To read an account of Chrichton's conversion story, click here.)

    Crichton first had the idea for an interactive evangelistic Christmas musical while talking with her pastor, Scott

    Photo by Jason Crichton
    Nichols. With the support of her congregation, Crossroads Community Church, she organized "Journey to Bethlehem" in 2011 and "Back to Bethlehem" in 2012, two opportunities for Crossroads members to reach out with the true meaning of Christmas to their neighbors in the western suburbs of Chicago.

    Playing a part

    For Crichton, the journey from skeptic to believer to active evangelist was long –- and, to her, unexpected.

    "I grew up in the church and my family was very active in serving," she said. "As I grew older I was fine doing things for the church. But when it came to talking about Jesus, I thought of it almost as a taboo. I didn't want to offend anyone or tell anyone that they were wrong. I would roll my eyes when anyone would talk about 'lost people' or 'getting saved.'

    "I even went to a Christian college, but all I did was play the part of a Christian," Crichton said, admitting, "I was your typical skeptic."

    That was her spiritual condition when she and her husband Jason first connected with Crossroads. Jason was initially more interested in exploring the Christian faith than Katie was, so they started attending a Bible study.

    "I was always asking really difficult questions," Chrichton says of her first months in the group.

    Nichols agreed. In his first meeting with the couple, Katie responded to a two-hour discussion of the Gospel saying, "Pastor Scott, I know where you are going on this and I am fine with Christianity. But, I simply cannot believe all this 'Jesus is the only way' stuff. I am just not ready."

    The couple persisted in attending the Bible study over the next year. And Nichols took the phone calls that resulted. "I would receive calls from the host couple asking how to handle all the questions, sometimes antagonistic, that Katie was asking."

    "I read a ton of books on Christianity," Crichton said, "but I kept thinking, 'I can't accept Jesus because if I do then I'll be telling everyone else that they are wrong and I'll be exclusive.'"

    "Then one Sunday morning," Nichols said, "Katie responded to the invitation and said to me, 'I am ready now!'"

    A natural director

    "God really used Crossroads to change my heart," Crichton said, "and I finally accepted Jesus as my Savior."

    She quickly jumped into serving with her new church family. Musically gifted and a natural leader, she proved to be a great asset. "Serving has always been easy for me," she said, "but sharing the Gospel with complete strangers goes against my nature; it's something that was completely out of my comfort zone."

    But when the challenge of creating a Gospel-centered Christmas program was given, Crichton soon had an idea –- and a mission.

    "That first year all we had was this great idea. We were so naïve about what we had to do or what it would take to pull off something like this," she said. "In the beginning stages we didn't know how we were going to afford everything.

    "In my small group, I happened to mention that we were starting to plan this event. I asked for prayer that God would provide for us all that we needed."

    A new couple attending the group that night directed Crichton to a source for production materials. "Amazingly, they gave us sets, props and costumes all for free. That's just an amazing example of how God provided for us," Crichton said.

    Actors, singers, a production team and a supportive church also can alongside the venture to reach lost people with the Gospel.

    It wasn't a typical Christmas program, worship and youth pastor Eric Marquez said. "One of the ways that we kept it intentionally focused on Gospel-sharing was by making the program interactive," he recounted. "We turned our gym into a Bethlehem marketplace. There were different booths with activities you could do, like making candles. The volunteers who were helping with those activities were talking about Christ, talking to [the visitors] about the reason for Christmas."

    "It was amazing," Crichton said, "to see where I was, totally against sharing the Gospel, and now watching this evangelistic event that God used me to help bring about. There were almost 500 people that first performance. That's 500 people who got to hear the Gospel being proclaimed. I felt like all that hard work had been worth it."

    People have come to Christ and to Crossroads because of the Journey to Bethlehem. "When I thanked Katie publicly the next Sunday morning," Nichols said, "I mentioned the delicious irony of her leading the largest outreach of the year at Crossroads. Read More

  • GuideStone injunction blocks abortion mandate

    by Roy Hayhurst, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- Federal District Judge Timothy DeGiusti issued a preliminary injunction Dec. 20 against the federal government's mandate that requires employers, including many religiously affiliated ones, to provide abortion-causing drugs and devices. Read More

  • Gift-wrapped cookies with eternal potential

    by Scott Barkley, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    McDONOUGH, Ga. (BP) -- Mike Warren is a quiet guy who goes to church, works hard for his family and seeks to live a Christian lifestyle. Spiritual discussions are a little different, though. Words have always gotten trapped in his throat when witnessing opportunities arose. Read More

  • Gay marriage now legal in 1/3 of states

    by Tom Strode, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    "We should steel our resolve to articulate a biblical vision of marriage."

    -- Russell D. Moore

    WASHINGTON (BP) -- Same-sex marriage has gained legal standing in more than one-third of America's 50 states. Read More

  • Obama, the Olympics, homosexuality & Saeed

    by Gregory Tomlin, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    NASHVILLE (BP) -- Two openly homosexual athletes have been named to the U.S. delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the White House said in a statement Dec. 17. Read More

  • Appalachian families receive 23,000 backpacks

    by Joe Conway, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    Photo by Amanda Blair/NAMB
    WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (BP) -- Thousands of children and families throughout Appalachia are having a brighter Christmas because of efforts by Southern Baptists in nearly a dozen states.

          "It's been fun watching God do God things" ... Read More

  • Pulpit perspective: Reach unreached together

    by Ryan Pack, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    Supporting Southern Baptist mission efforts is about working together, pastor Ryan Pack explains. "When it comes to worldwide evangelism, Southern Baptists get on the same page." Read More

  • FIRST PERSON: 'The value of one soul?'

    by Alex Garcia, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    Alex Garcia asks, "What is the value of one soul?" Garcia, a Southern Baptist missionary in London, shares how one life can make a difference for Christ. Read More

  • Moore: 'Duck Dynasty' suspension close-minded cultural 'intimidation'

    by Tom Strode, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    NASHVILLE (BP) -- The A&E network's suspension of "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson for comments regarding homosexuality constitutes a form of close-minded censorship that is unhelpful in a pluralistic society, lead Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore said. Read More

  • CHRISTMAS: Encouragement for the faithful

    by Greg Smith, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    Southwestern Seminary professor Greg Smith exhorts believers to anticipate Jesus' coming again with joy and courage this Christmas season. Read More

  • CHRISTMAS: A tale of two robes

    by Mike Glenn, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    Nashville-area pastor Mike Glenn recounts his "worst Christmas ever" -- a family Christmas story that taught him to give Jesus a gift He can use every day. Read More

  • CHRISTMAS: Embrace the threat

    by Michael Kelley, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    HomeLife magazine executive editor Michael Kelley explains why we should embrace the threat that Jesus poses to our lives rather than eliminating the threat by clinging to our vision of what our lives should be. Read More

  • CHRISTMAS: New wonder in the straw

    by Leona Bergstrom, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    Leona Bergstrom, ministry director, conveys how, in a moment of exasperation, she was drawn back to what really matters about Christmas. Read More

  • CALL TO PRAYER: The Hope of Christmas

    by Frank S. Page, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    In this Christmas season, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page encourages us to find a neighbor or friend in need and pray for them by name, placing them before a Savior who will hold them close to Himself. Read More

  • EDITORIAL: La navidad ha llegado, ¡bendito sea el Señor!

    by Octavio J. Esqueda, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    El nacimiento de Jesús cambió al mundo. La navidad es, sin duda alguna, el acontecimiento más importante en la historia de la humanidad y, por lo tanto, la mayor celebración de cada año. ... Read More

  • 'Viaje a Belén' se convierte en celo evangelizador para ex escéptica

    Por Noah Wright/Illinois Baptist, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    CAROL STREAM, Ill. (BP) -- "Todo comenzó con un reto," dijo Katie Crichton. "Convirtamos una típica presentación de Navidad de la iglesia en algo que podamos usar para alcanzar a nuestra comunidad con el evangelio."

    Crichton era una líder insólita para el nuevo proyecto de su iglesia. Hasta hace un par de años, se hubiera burlado de la idea. Ella no era solamente escéptica, era una incrédula -– y más bien muy elocuente.

    Foto de Jason Crichton
    Ahora, Crichton dirigía la iniciativa de transformar el concurso de Navidad en una campaña de evangelización.

    Crichton tuvo primero la idea de un musical cristiano interactivo cuando habló con su pastor, Scott Nichols. Con el apoyo de su congregación, Crossroads Community Church, organizó "Viaje a Belén" en 2011 y "Regreso a Belén" en 2012, dos oportunidades para que los miembros de Crossroads alcanzaran con el verdadero significado de la Navidad a sus vecinos en los suburbios del oeste de Chicago.

    Representar un papel

    Para Crichton, el viaje de escéptica a creyente y a evangelista activa fue largo – y, para ella, inesperado.

    "Crecí en la iglesia y mi familia servía muy activamente," dijo. "A medida que pasaban los años me hacía sentir bien hacer cosas para la iglesia. Pero cuando se trataba de hablar sobre Jesús, pensaba que era más como un tabú. No quería ofender a nadie o decirle a la gente que estaba equivocada. Prefería mirar hacia otro lado cuando alguien hablaba sobre 'la gente perdida' o 'salvarse.'

    "Inclusive fui a una universidad cristiana, pero todo lo que hice fue hacer el papel de una cristiana," dijo Crichton admitiendo: "Yo era la típica escéptica."

    Esa era su condición espiritual cuando ella y su esposo Jason primero se conectaron con Crossroads. Inicialmente Jason estaba más interesado en explorar la fe cristiana que Katie, así que empezaron a asistir a un estudio bíblico.

    "Yo siempre estaba haciendo preguntas realmente difíciles," dice Chrichton de sus primeros meses en el grupo.

    Nichols estuvo de acuerdo. En su primera reunión con la pareja, Katie respondió a una discusión de dos horas sobre el evangelio diciendo: "Pastor Scott, yo sé hacia dónde va con esto pero yo estoy bien con el cristianismo. Pero, simplemente no puedo creer toda esta cosa de 'Jesús es el único camino;' solamente no estoy lista." Read More

  • 'Resistentes' iglesias cubanas sorprenden a líder de IMB

    Por Will Stuart, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    Foto de Wilson Hunter/IMB
    LA HABANA, Cuba (BP) -- La reciente tormenta tomó a todos por sorpresa; volvió las calles de La Habana, Cuba, en ríos cuando levantó las tapas de las alcantarillas con agua que borboteaba de las tuberías de drenaje incapaces de contener la oleada que corría hacia el mar. En Vueltas, 290 kilómetros al este, los caminos rurales se volvieron papilla lo que los hizo imposibles de transitar desde los pueblos circundantes a la ciudad para la constitución de nueve nuevas iglesias. Read More

  • PRIMERA PERSONA: '¿El valor de un alma?'

    Por Alex García, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    LONDRES (BP) -- ¿Cuál es el valor de un alma?

          Londres es una ciudad de 8 millones de personas. ¿Qué diferencia puede hacer un alma en una ciudad de ese tamaño para la causa de Cristo? De acuerdo a la Biblia, un alma puede hacer una diferencia enorme. Read More

  • El mayor temor de Rick Warren: la desaprobación de Dios

    Por Erin Roach, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    NUEVA YORK (BP) -- En el programa "Piers Morgan Live" de CNN, el pastor Rick Warren dijo una frase que tuvo eco entre las personas que, como él, han intentado repetidamente de explicar porqué no cambian su postura sobre el matrimonio entre homosexuales. Read More

  • EDITORIAL: La navidad ha llegado, ¡bendito sea el Señor!

    Por Octavio J. Esqueda, posted Friday, December 20, 2013 (4 years ago)

    El nacimiento de Jesús cambió al mundo. La navidad es, sin duda alguna, el acontecimiento más importante en la historia de la humanidad y, por lo tanto, la mayor celebración de cada año. ... Read More