Monday, January 07, 2019

Baptist Temple Year in Review: 2018

Xavier, Nora, Jorge and Robert receive grant from Baptist
Health Foundation on behalf of Baptist Temple.

The dedication of the OLAYA LONG MISSION HOUSE, on our 107th anniversary (December 9), was the high point of a another victory-filled year of ministry. The journey began in the Summer of 2017 when the house to the east of our property line became available. We began to pray for vision and provision.

God gave us a vision to use the house as a residence for ministry interns so they could add practical experience in a multicultural, urban setting to their classroom learning. Over the last ten years, Baptist Temple has worked with over 20 interns. We have a strong commitment to train future generations of urban ministers.

Financial gifts, labor and other support from George and Olaya Long, Ed and Rose Flynn, Jean Williams, Buster Snellgrove, FBC Corsicana, FBC San Marcos, Woodland Baptist Church, Crosspointe, Inc., the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), and the members and friends of Baptist Temple made this ministry vision a reality.

The SOLAR PANELS on our roofs were completed in May. They belong to a venture capital firm who sells energy to CPS. In return, we receive 3 cents per kilowatt (over $600 on a good month). Our primary motivation is to help tilt the scale in favor of renewable energy and energy independence. Tending the planet was humanity's first job.

Another big event this year was the completion of the cell tower. This will improve technological access for our community and provide funds to support our expanding ministry.

This year we welcomed FUNERALCARING® USA to our family of churches and agencies serving our community. FuneralCaring® USA is the leader in affordable funeral services in San Antonio, helping folks celebrate the life and the memory of loved ones with a dignified funeral at a reasonable cost. They provide support to grieving families with high-quality, value-driven merchandise, superior service, and uplifting facilities.

Also, NEW TO THE BT CAMPUS this year are the Message Church (a CBF-related new church start that worships at 9 AM in the chapel), Club Lighthouse (a Christian performing arts ministry), and Nora Gonzales (Metrohealth Community Health Worker).

We created A NEW LIFE FOR THE LIBRARY by moving into the large hallway outside the classrooms on the second floor of building 4. Books that had not been checked out for decades were removed and children's books from Jubilee Academy were merged in. We hope that the increased visibility will increase the number of books checked out by the children and adults on the BT Campus.

Our deacons continue to grow in their ability to minister to our members. This year we ordained long-time member Melissa Baxter and selected Roger and Rosie Ramon and Armando and Rosalinda Acosta as yokefellows. A yokefellow goes through a period of training, prayer and reflection prior to ordination as a deacon.

Family Deaf Church, CBC Highland Park, a mission team from Baptist University of the Americas and Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry joined Baptist Temple in putting together another spectacular VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL. We had 102 students and 90 volunteers.


Our annual BACK 2 SCHOOL HEALTH FAIR immediately followed. Eighteen community organizations joined together to give out school supplies, hot dogs, information and more. Working with Metrohealth, the Moose Lodge and District 3, this year's event was the official Highland Park back to school event. Other family focused, community outreach events included the EASTER PARTY, the FALL FEST and the CHRISTMAS PARTY.

The GYM was humming all year as we hosted nine youth basketball teams and two adult recreational basketball groups. We hope to bring that level of activity to the FRITZ BUILDING, hosting classes everyday of the week. Robert Newman joined our pastoral staff as MINISTER OF ADULTS to help develop our weekday ministry and outreach efforts.

As the year came to an end, we were poised for our next major project. Grants of $7395 from the Baptist Health Foundation and $1000 from the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation have been added to the $5470 raised through our Mother's Day and Christmas offerings to fund phase one of our INCLUSIVE PLAYGROUND project. Our goal is to create a playground where all children can play together regardless of ability. Phase two will cost $80-100,000. We awaiting a decision on a $60,000 grant and will be applying for some other grants, as well as doing other fundraising events.

The new year will start with an EXPERIENCING GOD WEEKEND. We will be intentional about drawing closer to God and to each other as we prepare of a new decade of ministry to our community.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Let God's light shine through you

As Christmas approaches, the nights grow longer. Clouds often dim the little available daylight. This is a time when we celebrate light. We light advent candles in church and hang lights on our Christmas trees and houses and drive around to see our neighbors' decorations.

We love light. Flashlights, nightlights, porch lights, refrigerator lights; they make us feel safe. The first recorded word that God spoke was, “Let there be light!”

God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (I John 1:5)

Sometimes, however, the darkness is within us. Sorrow and despair cloud our minds and our hearts. Christmas isn't merry for some. They look around and see a hurting world.

During a time when half of Israel has taken into captivity and the remnant was oppressed by other nations and their own cruel leaders, the prophet Isaiah wrote of a future hope, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned...” (Isaiah 9:2)

Jesus is that promised light. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

The Gospel of John proclaims that the darkness cannot overcome the light. (John 1:5) Darkness is negative. It is the absence of light. It has no power of its own. All the darkness in the world can't put out a single candle. However, the smallest light shines brightest when it is darkest.

Light is greater than darkness and God’s good news is always greater than Satan’s bad news. Jesus' crucifixion could not extinguish the light, the cross would transform evil into good; a curse into a blessing.

The promised Savior had come to earth. He would love the world and bring his light to it. He would teach us his ways, and become the sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus told his followers, “You are the light of the world...” (Matthew 5:14)

The Bible says that Jesus' followers are “... a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light...” (1 Peter 2:9)

Darkness stunts growth and leads to death. Light, on the other hand, promotes growth. Bring the light wherever you go.

Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Healing our children

The Gospel of Luke tells us of a father who brought his son to Jesus' followers, seeking healing for his son's seizures. The disciples had failed and a mocking crowd had gathered when Jesus enters the scene. The father called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.” (Luke 9:38-40, NIV)

The Apostle Paul wrote that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12,NIV)

This boy and his father were battling forces beyond their control. People, often, find themselves in terrible plight due to the powers that make decisions that impact all of our lives.

These decisions include deed restrictions that insured some neighborhoods would remain “white.” Unrestricted neighborhoods would have smaller lots, poorly built homes, inferior roads, sewage and other municipal services. These deed restrictions were struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1948 (Shelley v. Kraemer) but the damage was done. When you realize that the majority of most American's wealth is invested in their homes, you can see the long-lasting implications of this policy.

Another such decision occurred when the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created in 1934 to encourage home ownership during the Great Depression by guaranteeing bank loans. They green lined (approved) mortgages for new construction in the suburbs and red lined (declined) mortgages in inner-city areas with high crime rates, poor housing stock, and poor infrastructure. Those who could, moved out. Only the poorest remained. A lower tax base impacted the quality of schools trapping families into generational poverty.

In 2012, Pew Research named San Antonio the most economically segregated city in America. The south side has high unemployment, low high school graduation, few job opportunities, lack of nearby fresh food markets and healthcare, large numbers of people receiving government assistance. has declared the south side a low opportunity area for children, increasing vulnerability to human trafficking and drug addiction. A child born and raised in 78210 has a life expectancy 20 years shorter than one born & raised in the north side.

Like Jesus' disciples, non-profits, government agencies and churches want to help but seem to fall short. Donor contributions and tax dollars fund programs that show promise but generational poverty continues.

It is possible to overcome these unseen forces. Two Baptist Temple youth, who grew up on the south side and graduated from south side high schools, each received full scholarships to private universities in San Antonio. The resources to succeed are available on the south side. The key is to encourage more kids to take advantage of them.

Jesus succeeded where the disciples failed. Later, he would tell them that “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:29, NIV)

Spiritual weapons are required to fight spiritual battles. Jesus did three things in this passage:
  1. He REBUKED the spirit. We need to speak out against injustices that bring harm to vulnerable people.
  2. He HEALED the boy. We need to bring healing to the people of our communities through mentoring relationships that minister to physical and spiritual needs.
  3. He RETURNED the boy to his father. We need to restore families, not replace them.

The crowd that had gathered to mock the disciples for their failure, now were amazed at God's greatness. The church is at its best when it brings healing to our fallen world.