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Friday, June 20, 2008

CBF Keynote Speaker: Jesus is our bridge to Eternal Life

Last year, Lauran Bethell received the Whitsitt Society's Courage Award. This year Bethell was the keynote speaker at the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

If you're not familiar with Bethell, here is her bio:
Lauran Bethell is an American Baptist Churches USA global ministry consultant based in Prague, Czech Republic, where she helps mentor and facilitate ministry among exploited and abused women and children around the world.

In the late 1980s in Thailand, she helped to launch the New Life Center, which ministered among victims of human trafficking. For 14 years, she directed the center, which gave shelter to as many as 200 women and children at a time. The center became internationally recognized, and in 1995, Bethell was honored by the prime minister of Thailand for her efforts with the center. The center now has two locations and continues to aid at-risk children and women, as well as former prostitutes.

In 2000, Bethell moved to Prague to begin working as a ministry consultant. She has directed two international conferences about ministry with women in prostitution. In 2005, she received the Baptist World Alliance’s Human Rights Award.
And the video of her keynote address:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Meeting in Memphis, Tenn., for the first time in its history, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship focused on the theme of “Embrace the World: Building Bridges” during the 18th annual General Assembly. Randy Hyde, chair of the Assembly steering committee and pastor of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., welcomed about 2,000 attendees to the first full day of events June 19.
“There is hope springing from the silt of these Delta lands, and people who call themselves ‘Baptists’ are a vital part of that hope,” Hyde said. “Sharing the gospel means breaking barriers, and here on the banks of this great river we have more than our share ... which is why we have built bridges.”
American Baptist human rights advocate Lauran Bethell, who serves in the Netherlands, talked about bridging gaps in relationships as Jesus did with the Samaritan woman at the well. She challenged the Assembly to not become imprisoned by fear of crossing the bridges of culture, morality and gender.

“There are many Christians and … churches who … suffer from the fear,” she said. “It’s a fear of falling and a fear of failing … [or] a fear of the unknown of the other side.”
Bethell spoke specifically about ministry among prostitution and human trafficking victims, asking Fellowship Baptists to pray for victims, learn more about the problem and cross a bridge.
“This is God’s moment. Let’s cross the bridge of fear … risk … devastation … pain,” she said.

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