Editorial

In the push to reach all Georgians with the gospel, the state’s pastors are thinking and working outside the box. Take David Wheeler for example. He’s using people’s fascination with old cars as a way to tell them about Jesus. Nearly 6 million people have tuned in to watch Wheeler and his family restore rusted clunkers on their YouTube program Revstoration. In his discussions about ball joints, brakes, and batteries, he weaves in the Bible.

For more than 250 years, Botsford Baptist Church has been shining the light of Christ in Georgia, establishing itself as a wonderful example of a congregation bent on reaching lost souls.

Rarely have Georgians witnessed such a move of God as they did in 2023. People were being saved in large numbers in evangelistic outreaches across the state, including last Thursday and Friday at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board's MOVE Conference where more than 350 students gave their hearts and lives to Christ. It's so awesome when God shows up and shows out.

Georgia Baptist Convention Vice President Stephen Dervan offered the sobering observation to the more than 100 pastors serving on the Executive Committee that they're "just one step away from stupid." Such frankness is both needed and appreciated.

The Christian Index owes you, our readers, a heartfelt word of thanks this Christmas. That's because you’ve given us the greatest gift a newspaper could ever hope for — your time. Nothing thrills us more than to peek at our analytics page and see Georgia Baptists from literally every city, town and community across the state reading the latest news.

In reflecting on the life of Rosalynn Carter, Americans should note her civility, a character trait that seems to be in short supply in today’s political world. She was a genuinely good woman, a wonderful example of a Christian lady, and a tireless humanitarian. Mrs. Carter didn’t tear others down. Instead, she built them up.

SUWANEE, Ga. — Georgia Baptists are a generous people, giving millions of dollars through their local churches each year to share the gospel around the world. During September, they’ll have the opportunity to focus their financial resources on their home state.

Hopefully, no one missed an amazing article in the Index not long ago about 220 students coming to know Christ on a single night in Carroll County. That article talked about a spiritual shift that is bringing the Bible back to the Bible Belt. “People are searching for truth,” said Kevin Williams, pastor of First Baptist Church of Villa Rica and one of the organizers Gridiron Day.

The Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s series of regional SPARK conferences have gotten off to a strong start, and, if your church hasn't yet gotten on board, it’s not too late. At the first of the regional conferences, Scott Sullivan, the Mission Board’s discipleship catalyst, challenged church leaders to develop strategies to grow strong disciples who can unleash the power of the gospel in their communities and around the world.

Recognizing that school districts are struggling to fill bus driver positions, Holly Creek Baptist Church in north Georgia stepped up to help, and, in so doing, opened the door to an outside-the-box ministry that’s paying huge spiritual dividends. Several Holly Creek folks have become bus drivers, fitting bus routes into their daily ministry routines.

Some of Georgia’s best and brightest students have been awarded scholarships to attend Brewton-Parker College, Shorter University and Truett McConnell University where they will receive educations that are second to none. Their academic achievements show their intellectual prowess. Their steadfast commitment to Christ testify to their spiritual strength. Those attributes, combined with other academic and extracurricular measures, earned them Student Achievement Award scholarships from the Georgia Baptist Education Commission.

The Christian Index is so excited to play a part in helping Georgia Baptist churches find pastors when their pulpits are vacated. We’ve heard heartwarming stories of how the Lord has matched pastors to churches via our classifieds section. An important part of that has been a classifieds newsletter we started about a year ago that lists churches looking for pastors or other staff members.

Camp ministries provide campers, and pastors, an important experience that can become a defining part of their Christian lives. The Georgia Baptist Mission Board operates Camp Pinnacle and Camp Kaleo, as well as hosting camps for youth at other locations. Last year alone, Camp Pinnacle in Clayton, Ga., hosted nearly 500 girls at missions camps on its scenic property in the north Georgia mountains. Hundreds more youth visited Camp Kaleo or participated in “Impact,” “SuperWow” and “Surge150” camps. Many of them were called to faith in Christ or to a life of ministerial service through those experiences.

Georgia Baptists pull together through Mission Georgia to share the gospel with some of the state's most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people. Fueled by the generous giving of Georgia Baptists, Mission Georgia provided nearly $392,000 in 2022 to ministries that provide direct care to children, mothers-to-be, victims of human trafficking and international refugees.

Georgia’s largest religious organization is still growing both numerically and ethnically. In November, 17 new congregations joined the Georgia Baptist Convention, which has some 1.4 million members in about 3,600 churches.

Walk through the doors of Beaverdam Baptist Church on Sunday mornings and you’ll feel the love. You can’t escape the smiles, the handshakes, the hugs. Pastor Chuck Cook says that’s why Beaverdam is going great guns right now. Since Cook became pastor less than three years ago, the 200-year-old church in rural Georgia, an hour northeast of Atlanta, has seen a resurgence in attendance, memberships, and baptisms. The sanctuary and parking lot have been filled with an average of about 130 people, forcing Beaverdam’s leadership to start a second Sunday morning service to better accommodate the crowds.

It’s great to see Georgia Baptist churches getting behind the Mission Georgia offering in a big way this year. And why not? The Mission Georgia offering provides churches a means to make a huge gospel impact in our state. With the pandemic subsiding and worship attendance on the rise, churches are poised to potentially top the $1.25 million given last year through the Mission Georgia  offering.

JJ Washington will serve the Southern Baptist Convention well as the new national director of personal evangelism at the North American Mission Board. A fiery preacher, Washington has led the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s state-level evangelism efforts for the past year. He absolutely shined in that role, especially in leading the annual evangelism conference that drew the largest crowd in years.

Tony Dickerson is an artist of sorts, painting vivid word pictures each time he steps into the pulpit at Pinehurst Baptist Church in Columbus. The Lord has equipped this godly man with the gift of oratory. His flawless diction and smooth cadence have made him one of the SBC’s top preachers. His kind spirit and loving heart have made him one of the SBC’s top pastors.

Community newspapers are dying at the rate of two per week in the U.S. Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications delivered that sobering news in a report this week. And it is indeed sobering because newspapers play such a crucial role in our culture, serving as mirrors of sorts that allow us to see ourselves – warts, blemishes and all.

From the uttermost parts of the world to right here at home, readers of The Christian Index see various headlines – some joyful and some horrific – posted daily on the newspaper’s website. In the past weeks, you've read of war and violence, famine and illness, and accidents and disasters. You've read of political division and strife.

An article in The Christian Index in mid-May pointed out that the first glimpse that many young mothers-to-be in Moultrie get of their babies is via an ultrasound machine at the Hope House Women's Clinic. They see the developing facial features, the tiny arms and legs, and they fall in love, tossing aside any notion of ending their pregnancies. So, when the ultrasound machine at the Moultrie pregnancy center stopped working, Pine Grove Baptist Church in Moultrie wasted no time in donating the money needed to purchase a new one.

It was heartening to hear the success of New Bethel Baptist Church’s ambitious undertaking to knock on every door within a 7-mile radius of their campus. The results have been nothing short of remarkable for the Carnesville church: More than 50 salvation decisions.

When Martha Day began volunteering at a pregnancy center, she came face to face with a need that needed to be met. Instead of waiting for someone else to step up, she did it herself. And, for that, Day deserves great thanks.

What Southern Baptist journalism has proven over the years is that our readers are hungry for news about their missionaries. They want to know details about where they’re serving, what’s it like there, and what kinds of difficulties they are encountering.

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