Teachers need our prayers, support

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The buses are rolling and those new backpacks won’t be crisp and clean for long now that school is back in session.

With the start of a new school year comes a combination of excitement and nerves for both students and teachers. And in many cases the exhaustion has already set in for teachers — exhaustion from burnout, discouragement and endless frustrations.

Think about the school teachers who made a difference in your life. 

Also think about those who had lost their joy for teaching by the time you were in their class. How many opportunities to change the life of a child for the good did they miss? Did their lack of energy and enthusiasm for the role end up holding students back in life at some point down the road?

I’ve known several people who truly wanted to make a career out of teaching. They love kids, enjoy teaching and embrace the milestones that come with watching a child learn and grow.

But the overwhelming administrative requirements, overcrowded classrooms and the volume of difficult life issues impacting so many around them finally beat them down.

Making a difference

While the school boards and governmental leaders debate the structural and financial details of how to improve schools and teachers’ salaries, church groups and community members can continue helping in small ways such as sending notes, volunteering and donating. We all can help in a big way by praying for the teachers in the school near us by name.

It’s not hard to find out what a school district or individual school needs most. From there, follow the proper channels to help and encourage others to join the effort.

After all, teachers are molding the minds and lives of our children as much as anyone. 

Shouldn’t we want teachers at their best?

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Anyone else tempted to drive to the U.S.-Mexico border to find ways to help, assess the situation for yourself?

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Line of demarcation on the U.S.-Mexico border at San Ysidro, California. (Photo by Josh Denmark/www.cbp.gov)

I’m not properly equipped to outline a solution for the humanitarian crisis taking place at the U.S. border but I do know the situation pulls at all of our hearts no matter our stance on how best to deal with the overall issue of illegal immigration.

I’m confident none of us want anyone’s child to be afraid or lacking basic securities, care and love. It’s one thing to be in the dark about sufferings happening around us; it’s another to know about it and choose to sit back and do nothing.

After all with knowledge comes responsibility — but then there’s the problem of determining exactly what it means to be responsible.

Reconciling levels of responsibility

We know we should be the ones responsible to care for ourselves and our families which also means protecting them.

We know we are called to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength” and “love your neighbors as yourself.”

But how do we reconcile these specific responsibilities when it comes to the border crisis?

We may be able to help with immediate actions to alleviate some of the suffering but we can’t stop there.

Our country’s leaders must set aside their political agendas to find a workable solution. They’ve done it before and are more than capable of doing it now, but I do think they need to know we will not punish them for sitting across the table together to figure it out.

We also must remember to pray for all involved and find ways to help.

While U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities currently are not accepting any donations of supplies to help migrant families and children, we can look for other ways to assist current ministry efforts.

For instance, West Brownsville Baptist Church is one church ministering in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. The church recently began serving as an overflow respite center to shelter migrants and has lots of needs related to that role.

Purchase items from the church’s Amazon wishlist for Iglesia Bautista West Brownsville Respite Center here.

Other Baptist organizations accepting relief donations include:

San Diego Southern Baptist Association: Choose “Juvenal Gonzalez-Tijuana” fund (church planting catalyst missionary in Tijuana serving migrants) and give online at https://app.easytithe.com/App/Giving/sdsba.

Baptist Convention of New Mexico: Choose “Disaster Relief” fund and give online at https://bcnm.com/give/.

Southern Baptists of Texas Convention: Choose “Disaster Relief” fund and give online at https://www.shelbygiving.com/App/Giving/sbtc.

Arizona Southern Baptist Convention: Specify an amount, then choose “AZSBC Disaster Relief” to give online at https://azsbc.org/give/.

The Alabama Baptist staff will continue researching appropriate ways to contribute, send supplies and provide teams to help.

If you are interested in assisting the efforts or have information to share, then reach out to us at news@thealabamabaptist.org or by calling 1-800-803-5201, ext. 103.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Wisdom of an Innkeeper

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Artwork by Vicki Love (used with permission)

The First Christmas (another perspective)

The weary couple at the close of day
hoped this crowded Inn was their place to stay.
Compelled by the expectant couple’s plight,
the innkeeper found them a room that night.

He ushered them into his hectic hall
When he heard God’s voice so still and small,
“Don’t birth my son in the ruckus place
Of noise and drink and want disgrace.
Is this a place to begin a life
that will change the world of dark to light?”

So the keeper of the inn did say,
“There is no room for you to stay.”
He turned the worn out couple away.

Then stepping outside his lodging place,
He whispered to the groom in haste
“There is a place where you can stay —
out back in my livestock stable hay.
Though not as warm as sleeping here,
it is distant from this dwelling of leer.”

“This is no place to birth a king
whose life will make the angels sing
Of love and joy and grace to all —
Don’t start His life in this reckless mall.”

Stark words he spoke, were not his own.
Where had his compassion gone?
This kind innkeeper had been used
to protect God’s son by his refuse.

The groom in livid anger said,
“I’ll take my bride to this unkempt bed
to birth a child alone this day.
But you, dear sir, will be known for all days
as he who turned the King away.

In great dismay by what he heard
The innkeeper left without word.

That night a savior child was born
in the silence of a manger lorn
With sheep and mules and cattle there
to gaze upon the baby fair

The groom looked at his bride and child
in this quiet place of peace and mild.
He understood the inn keeper’s will.
That put them in a place so still
so they could hear the angels’ thrill
and see the star above the hill.

If they were in the noisy inn
the angels’ song could have never been
heard above the party crowd,
the star obscured by a smoky cloud.

Now they both knew the reason why
the innkeeper had passed them by
This tiny king in their arms this night
Will never be found in the noise and blight
And bustle of a world that reeks
of a self excess — where egos peak.

Instead He is found in a silent night
Where angels sing and stars are bright.

As you seek your Christmas this year
Look not in the hustle and bustle so near.
Consider the innkeeper’s faithful ear

To God’s whispered voice,
which always speaks,
but seldom shouts or competes
with all the glitter, glitz and haste.
Find this Christmas in a common place.

By Michael Alan Tate, Leadership & Life Journal (originally published in 2004, reprinted 2018, used with permission)

TAB News takes a look behind the picture-perfect family masks at Christmas

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TAB News co-hosts Jennifer Davis Rash (center) and Debbie Campbell (left) interview Tray Lovvorn from Undone Redone about dealing with the tough issues in relationships.

Tis the season for holiday movie-style family scenarios complete with snowy scenes, warm gingerbread baking in the oven and lots of smiles and laughter. But many families have learned to pretend and fake it through the family Christmas gatherings. The masks come out to hide the pain and broken parts of the relationships.
 
In the next TAB News, Tray Lovvorn of Undone Redone ministry explains how pain and frustration of this type can be magnified during the Christmas season because of all the expectations for picture perfect. He also shares tips for gaining the courage to tackle the issues head on, walk through what is necessary to repair the situation and discover there is peace on the other side.
The interview with Tray will be available on the upcoming TAB News podcast, which will be released Tuesday, Dec. 18, on iTunes, iHeartRadio, etc., and in the podcast section on www.thealabamabaptist.org.
—Jennifer Davis Rash
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Congratulations to new Alabama Baptist convention officers

Looking forward to partnering in ministry with the new Alabama Baptist State Convention officers, elected Nov. 14:

ABSC new officers 2018-19

 

President Tim Cox (center, being choked … ha!) — pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, Chelsea.

First Vice President Buddy Champion (left) — pastor of First Baptist Church, Trussville.

Second Vice President Morgan Bailey (right) — pastor of Canaan Baptist Church, Bessemer.

Dedicated group of pastors for sure — and lots of fun as well.

A note of congrats also goes out to John Thweatt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Pell City, who wrapped up his time as convention president Nov. 14. Prior to his final act as president, Thweatt shared with The Alabama Baptist some of what he learned during his time in the role.

Alabama Baptists have a lot of thriving, “incredible” ministries, and watching them at work was a good reminder to keep the Great Commission central and work together to accomplish it, he said.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

 

Hooyah says it all

I struggle to remember the various team names of my nephews and nieces, but I’m convinced I will never forget the Wild Boars youth soccer team from Thailand’s Chiang Rai province — a group of kids I had never heard of before June 23. I’m guessing you know them now too.

The latest extraordinary survival story truly captured the heart of a global audience. And the ability and willingness of a community to share the story through the news media and various social media outlets as it unfolded allowed all of us to be up close and personal with the situation.

Thai cave boys 

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Thai cave boys when they were discovered alive by two British divers July 1, 2018. (Screen grab from video shared with news media outlets)

Twelve boys and their coach — the Thai cave boys as they are known — became our nephews, our sons, our grandsons, our neighbor’s kids and our students. It didn’t matter how or why they were in that cave; all that mattered was that they all came out alive.

Rescuers, medical personnel, governmental leaders and other experts focused and showcased crisis management at its best. The odds were stacked against the operation and the loss of 38-year-old former Navy Seal diver Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan in the operation reminded a watching world just how impossible the mission seemed.

It’s no surprise the Thai Navy Seals posted on Facebook when it was all over: “We are not sure if this is a miracle, science, or what.”

World showed up

People from around the world showed up to give everything they had to pull the rescue mission off. A glimmer of hope remained despite the constant obstacles — more rain coming, oxygen levels dropping, boys can’t swim, navigating route out of cave treacherous even for experienced divers, etc., etc., etc.

But all involved were committed, invested and going to see the operation through until the end. They knew their individual assignments well and worked to deliver their best to the team and overall effort. Deep concern for the boys, fears of what could be, compassion for the families, sheer determination, a never-give-up attitude and a tightly clenched hold to pure hope unified the people and the effort. 

And while I am among the 1,727,707 people who have now visited the Thai Navy Seal Facebook page and add my own thumbs up to their Seals’ affirmative “#Hooyah” response to the mission, the effort also included an army of ordinary people who stepped up in the process.

Ordinary people, extraordinary effort

Media reports indicate individuals in the community found specific roles they could play to be productive and helpful. Some made sure access to food was easily available to the rescuers, strategists and media. Some used their own vehicles and gas to transport those leading the effort to where they needed to go in the area. Some even voluntarily cleaned the portable toilets — can you imagine the selfless nature of the sweet people who determined that is where they could best serve?

All of this certainly indicates a movie will be produced soon and the layers of story lines might prove difficult to narrow. I also sense a strong sermon series could be developed from what we all watched and felt for those nearly three weeks in late June and early July.

Two aspects I hope are included in whatever way this story becomes historically documented are:

—How the world came together and put aside differences to fight for, cheer on and pray for the boys, the rescuers, the families and the situation in general.

Media reports allowed all of us to remain front and center, be informed, know how to pray, understand the situation and determine what roles we could play. We focused on the situation and the overall goal — not worrying about which news media brought us the story or calling each other names, not pushing our own agendas in the midst of a crisis, not determining someone’s political alignment or faith background before stepping up to do the right thing, instead basically working together, showing compassion and understanding what really mattered in the moment.

—How the parents reached out to Coach Ake through the message they sent him in the cave. “Don’t blame yourself. … The mums and dads, none of them are angry at you,” the letter to the coach said. The parents said they were glad he was there, asked him to take care of their boys and made sure he knew they also were concerned about his safety.

What a showing of forgiveness and grace in the midst of what had to be many moments of fighting off their greatest fears.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Birthday boost

Happy Birthday, Belle!

Belle would have been 11 today so if you are part of Team Belle, or would like to be, the goal for today is to find 11 ways to make others smile … it might merely be smiling at them first. Belle always brought joy with her and never failed to leave enough behind to carry the rest of us for a while.

Let’s celebrate Belle with an extra outpouring of joy. The world could sure use a Belley boost — and we were trained by the best. #foreverauntjenjen #goteambelle