After a disaster strikes, very few organizations have the vast resources and expertise to feed so many people as Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. They have received praise from countless victims and organizations, including The American Red Cross. After Katrina, they were the first to have hot food tents up and running, feeding tens of thousands three meals a day in many communities along the Gulf Coast.

Most state Baptist Conventions have their own disaster relief agencies that in many instances have the capacity to function independently without national denominational assistance. Here are a few facts that give a sense of their commitment and network for disaster relief:

Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained volunteers—including chaplains—and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

Below is a short report from ABC World News Tonight on the work Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is coordinating in Moore, Oklahoma. The community of Moore sustained severe damage as well as loss of life when an EF5 tornado with wind speeds over 200 mph touched down on May 20.

Ricky Staub and Anders Lindwall were on a steady path to success in the film industry. Ricky was working for a big producer and Anders was freelancing as a commercial director. Then, God called both of them to leave their jobs and start a company of their own — one focused on leveraging the process of filmmaking toward whole-life transformation for adults in recovery.

Creating a unique business model founded on a concept called “family ratios,” NFCo melds for-profit with non-profit to train, mentor, and employ adults in recovery, a group they felt was particularly marginalized and left with few opportunities. Founding a separate non-profit called Working Film Establishment to serve as “a training ground to prepare adults in recovery for thriving employment,” Ricky and Anders now use NFCo as a for-profit wing for employing newly trained workers to “create content as a means of restoration, dignity, and hope.” As the above video notes, “in 2014, NFCo plans to enter into production on their first feature film with an entire crew recovering from homelessness, addiction, or incarceration.”

The founders of NFCo have followed the call of God on their lives, and through their daily work are actively impacting culture, the arts, and the economy through community-building, one-on-one discipleship, and creative output. Though it can be tempting for us to take the work we have for granted, NFCo offers a clear example of how God uses entrepreneurship and business to lift people up, transform relationships, and contribute to the common good.

Ricky and Anders were kind enough to share more about their story with On Call in Culture and discuss the ways God continues to use NFCo to impact the lives of others. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
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Economics, Politics, and the Kingdom of God
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The journey we are on in life matters for the future we are building. It matters for the work God has called us to accomplish.

Cronyism: Companies like Amazon, Craigslist Use Government to Crush Competition
Rich Tucker, The Foundry

Cronyism comes in many forms, but it depends on companies using the power of the government to help them make money by blocking out competition.

State Department Splits with USCIRF on New Religious Freedom Violators
Melissa Steffan, Christianity Today

State Department’s 2012 International Religious Freedom Report highlights continued rise of anti-conversion laws as noteworthy, ‘worrying trend.’

Respecting, Not Worshipping, Free Markets
John Murdock, Values & Capitalism

One temptation for many religious types on the Right—accustomed to running in circles that confusingly mix and mingle strictly-business interests with the politics of piety—is to assume that capitalism can operate independent of higher values.

My persuasion can build a nationpink earth
Endless power
With our love we can devour
You’ll do anything for me

-Beyonce, “Run the World (Girls)”

That’s the apparent fantasy of Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. She recently hosted her annual fundraising luncheon, with guest speaker, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards. Schakowsky said, “humanity is at a crossroads on this small planet and that our survival as a species is dependent on women taking charge, taking the world in our own hands.”

Given the fact that we are killing baby girls at an alarming rate all over the world, I don’t think Schakowsky is going to get her wish. Elizabeth Scalia, in a piece at First Things, has a different view. She believes men are increasingly abdicating their traditional roles in our society:

If forensic psychologist and men’s rights activist Helen Smith is correct, Schakowsky and her friends may have their hands full of the world, and sooner than they think. In her upcoming book Men on Strike, Smith offers up statistics and her own research to suggest that men are consciously boycotting marriage, fatherhood, and the “American Dream” because they feel beaten down by politically correct preferences and practices—in school, in the workplace, and in society in general. If the women want the world and all the power, the thinking goes, they can have it; the men will simply retire to whatever man-caves they are permitted.

Women, hyper-focused on “having it all”, are the ones who are now commitment-phobic, Scalia states. Driven by a desire for power that they perceive only men to have, women have managed to leave men “behind and lonely”, fearful of being “devoured” by women who won’t tolerate anyone standing in their way. Gender politics, as Scalia points out, is very complex: we can’t figure out if women should run it all or be removed from the scene before they are even born.

Read “If Women Ran the World” at First Things.

There is no doubt that higher education is costly. Textbooks alone can run $1000 a semester for some undergraduates. Waiting tables and flipping burgers won’t cover those costs. With many parents just as strapped for cash as their children, how does one pay for a college diploma?

For some young women, the answer is to sell themselves. There are websites that offer “matching” services for “mutually beneficial relationships”; that is, a young woman signs up for a “sugar daddy”. He pays for college and she has her money problems solved. One website does offer helpful information, such as “keep your emotions in check” and “sugaring is not welfare”. All just business, plain and simple. Although young men sign up for this type of arrangement, the vast majority are young women. (more…)

Bruce Edward Walker recently wrote a commentary for The Tampa Tribune entitled, Shutting Down Corporate Speech in the Name of Social Justice. He says that:

Corporate boardrooms are being caught up in a new wave of religious fervor sparked by clergy and members of religious orders in search of social justice. Alas, this movement is only superficially about the spirit. In truth, corporate directors and company executives are facing a very worldly missionary effort by priests, pastors, nuns and laypersons armed with proxy shareholder resolutions that advance politically liberal dogmas, including attempts to undermine the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

Enlisting members of the religious community to this movement is simply disguising “leftist ideology in church vestments.”

The nuns and friars submitting the proxy resolutions are members of the New York City-based Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which, for the past 41 years, has established itself as “the pioneer coalition of active shareowners who view the management of their investments as a catalyst to promote justice and sustainability in the world.” The ICCR’s view of “justice and sustainability,” however, seems less grounded in Christian doctrine than talking points from MSNBC.

These resolutions, not surprisingly, list the amount of money spent by each company on “direct federal lobbying” using figures taken from Senate reports. What seems to upset the religious activists, or actually ICCR, is the lack of disclosure of “lobbying expenditures to influence legislation in states,” including “trade association payments” and “membership in tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council.” (more…)

mooreOne of the powerful scenes after Hurricane Katrina was church organizations cutting their way through the roads with chainsaws so they could set up hot meal tents the very next day. Church responders have transformed into “well oiled machines” and are being praised by The Red Cross and federal agencies.

Because of Katrina, and tornadoes like the ones that decimated parts of Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Joplin, Mo., churches in those communities can offer a level of expertise to the local houses of worship in Oklahoma. Christian organizations, who have already mobilized for Oklahoma, are vital not just in the initial response, but will remain a force in the community long after the news cameras and headlines vanish.

One of the most significant problems after Katrina was that some victims, because of the shock of having everything decimated that they physically own, often became paralyzed by inaction and fall into long-term dependency. Many church agencies are now highly trained to handle these situations and can come alongside victims to help them take the first initial steps important for putting their life back together.

It is becoming much harder to make the once valid criticism that evangelical churches in America do not focus enough of their efforts and attention to serving the poor and meeting physical needs. Natural disasters, many of which have hit some of the most religious regions of America, have mobilized armies of evangelical volunteers and workers who are transformed by the words of Christ who commanded us to simply “love each other.” (John 15:17)