ARITF leaders and state officials discuss reforms; BCM/D director fights for disabled abuse prevention; and Darryl Strawberry credits God for true power.
Southern Baptist leaders on national, state and local levels continue to implement reforms and develop strategies to eliminate sexual abuse from churches.
People from all across the country gathered last week in Atlanta to learn from one another and take notes on ideas.
After facing the implications of a very public report in 2022, Southern Baptist leaders say they want to stive to make churches safe places for children and families to hear the hope of Jesus Christ while caring for those harmed by sexual abuse.
For Tom Stolle, the executive director and chief financial officer for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D), advocating for protection of the vulnerable is deeply personal.
Stolle’s 21-year-old son Jimmy was born with severe autism.
In his early teen years, Jimmy began to spend time away from his parents at a long-term medical treatment facility. This caused Stolle to begin digging into the topic of safety and protection for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of rape and sexual assault against people with intellectual disabilities is more than seven times the rate against people without disabilities. For women with intellectual disabilities, the rate goes up 12 times.
Some of the work Stolle has led in the convention includes starting and assisting with several initiatives designed to help churches reach special needs individuals and their families.
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Darryl Strawberry had a lot of potential when the New York Mets made him the top draft pick in 1980. And by all accounts, he delivered.
A member of the Mets Hall of Fame, he rewarded that organization by winning 1983 Rookie of the Year honors, the National League home run title in 1988 and collecting seven All-Star appearances while in a Mets uniform and picking up one more as a Dodger.
Strawberry says those days were filled immorality but an interaction with Jesus in 1991 planted a seed in him that would produce fruit years later.
Now that he’s hung up his spikes, Strawberry credits discipleship in the local church and the strong influence of his wife, Tracy, for helping him overcome addiction and seeing the power of God in his life.
He spends a lot of time speaking to those struggling in life and athletes at every level.
Strawberry says his primary message is the Gospel of Christ.
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