Top stories

Rescuers scramble in Turkey, Syria after quake kills 4,000

ADANA, Turkey (AP) — Rescuers in Turkey and war-ravaged Syria searched through the frigid night into Tuesday, hoping to pull more survivors from the rubble after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 4,000 people and toppled thousands of buildings across a wide region. Authorities feared the death toll from Monday's pre-dawn earthquake and aftershocks would keep climbing as rescuers looked for survivors among tangles of metal and concrete spread across the region beset by Syria’s 12-year civil war and refugee crisis.
Revival continues in Georgia; 41 people surrender to Christ at outdoorsmen's event in Omega
OMEGA, Ga. – Forty-one people surrendered to Christ on Friday evening in a rural Georgia community, the latest to experience a revival movement that’s been sweeping across the Deep South state. This time it happened in a fellowship hall at Bethel Baptist Church in Omega where some 400 men had gathered for what was billed as a Beast Feast, a dinner that included a variety of wild game, including deer, hog and quail.
Pastors need friends to stand with them, Hammond tells associational missionaries
FORSYTH, Ga. – Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. is reminding associational missionaries of the need to stand with pastors who are facing the hardships that come with life in ministry. “These days are difficult,” Hammond told associational missionaries gathered at Maynard Baptist Church in Forsyth on Tuesday. “We need each other like never before.”
Blackshear First Baptist sees 19 salvations, 28 rededications at venison supper
BLACKSHEAR, Ga. – Spontaneous revivals that sparked salvation decisions across Georgia in 2022 have carried over into the new year with 19 people making professions of faith at a venison supper in Blackshear. Another 28 people recommitted their lives to Christ at the event, said Justin Gambrell, pastor at First Baptist Church in Blackshear.
Georgia BCMs to get new facilities on 5 university campuses
SUWANEE, Ga. – The Georgia Baptist Mission Board has entered into a “revolutionary” ground lease deal with private investors to construct new facilities for Baptist Collegiate Ministries at five state universities with the possibility of expanding to additional campuses in the future.
At Georgia Tech, Eric Swenson seeks to impact campus and world for Christ
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech is known for its elite Engineering College and continues to be one of the top public institutions in the nation. Based on information dated September 18, 2021, only 21% of applicants were admitted to Georgia Tech. Out of 40,852 who applied, only 8,719 were accepted. When leading academics become Christians their influence for good and God can be significant.
Baptist Life

A God story: Tabernacle Baptist Church in Macon interprets for first deaf worshipper

MACON, Ga. – Melissa Wells, a certified sign language interpreter, was expecting a Deaf co-worker to show up at Tabernacle Baptist Church on a recent Sunday morning, so she  was prepared to sign the songs and sermon.
WAKE FOREST, N.C.  —  In 2015, Devin Moncada and his wife Evan moved from Pineville, Louisiana, to Wake Forest, North Carolina, for Devin to finish his Advanced Master of Divinity degree. Shaped by professors, neighbors, and classmates, the Moncadas decided for Devin to continue his studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Old Testament while working on campus and pastoring locally. Committed to living on mission in all of life, Devin and Evan and their two kids have made their home a hub for discipling community. For the Moncadas, Great Commission community begins with everyday gospel intentionality.
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Dozens of pastors came together in late January for a two-day coaching session through the North American Mission Board’s  Leadership Institute. The twice-annual event provides in-person time for pastors and coaches who are participating in year-round cohorts with eight to twelve other pastors led by a more tenured pastor. “There aren’t a lot of places where pastors have people intentionally investing in them to help them think through how to be better shepherds and leaders,” said Jonathan Akin, who oversees the Institute.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The apologetic landscape has changed and defending Christian morals is one of the chief tasks today, Timothy Paul Jones, professor of apologetics and family ministry at SBTS, said in Southern’s annual Faculty Address. Previous generations asked, “Is Christianity true?” but a primary question being asked of the faith today is, “Is it good?”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The foundation for Southern Seminary’s curriculum by which it trains ministers may be boiled down to one truth, President Albert Mohler said Thursday in his annual spring convocation address: God has spoken. Speaking on Isaiah 40:1-5, Mohler said that the most important truth humans can know is that “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” The existence of the self-revealing God is the irreducible foundation for the entire Christian faith. Thus, those truths undergird every class and every program in Southern Seminary’s curriculum.
Georgia

Raffensperger touts bill protecting Georgia seniors from financial exploitation

ATLANTA – Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger urged the General Assembly Monday to pass legislation aimed at preventing the financial exploitation of Georgia seniors. Senate Bill 84, sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, would authorize financial advisors to delay transactions involving their elderly or disabled clients if they suspect fraud. Financial exploitation of seniors has been on the rise since the pandemic struck nearly three years ago, Raffensperger said Monday during a news conference at the state Capitol.

Georgia politicians condemn antisemitic flyers found in suburban Atlanta driveways

ATLANTA – Georgia political leaders including Gov. Brian Kemp Monday condemned a weekend outbreak of antisemitism in Atlanta’s northern suburbs. Residents of neighborhoods in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody awakened Sunday morning to find antisemitic flyers in their driveways. Kemp offered the aid of the state’s law enforcement resources to help the Sandy Springs and Dunwoody police departments investigate the incident if requested.

Bill: Cut college degree requirements for Georgia state jobs

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia Senate committee is advancing a bill that would instruct an agency to examine qualifications for state government jobs and not require a college degree unless truly necessary. The Senate Government Oversight Committee on Monday voted for Senate Bill 3, sending it to the full Senate for more debate. The bill calls for the state Department of Administrative Services to try to reduce training, experience and educational requirements for jobs and reduce jobs that require a four-year college degree.

Ex-Army sergeant sentenced to life in barracks slaying

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A former Army sergeant has been sentenced to life in federal prison for fatally slashing and stabbing a fellow soldier dozens of times in his barracks at a Georgia base. A U.S. District Court judge in Savannah sentenced Byron Booker, 29, on Thursday. Booker pleaded guilty last fall to a federal charge of premeditated murder of a member of the U.S. military in the killing of 21-year-old Army Spc. Austin Hawk at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Nation

Florida mass shooting suspect killed during police pursuit

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — A man suspected in a mass shooting in central Florida last month was fatally shot by a police officer following a long chase and a carjacking, authorities said. The car driven by Alex Greene, 21, eventually crashed into a business in Winter Haven. That's a short distance from Lakeland, where 11 people were injured in the Jan. 30 shooting, Lakeland Police Chief Sammy Taylor said. “We are very confident he was in fact involved; to what extent we don’t know yet,” Taylor said.

Crews release toxic chemicals from derailed tankers in Ohio

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — Crews released toxic chemicals into the air from five derailed tanker cars that were in danger of exploding Monday and began burning it after warning residents near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line to leave immediately or face the possibility of death. Flames and black smoke billowed high into the sky from the derailment site late in the afternoon, about an hour after authorities said the controlled release would begin.

Ohio authorities plan "controlled release" of toxic material from derailed train

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — Authorities in Ohio say they plan to release toxic chemicals from five cars of a derailed train in Ohio to reduce the threat of an explosion. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says a “controlled release” of vinyl chloride will take place on Monday at 3:30 p.m. Residents near the site have been ordered to evacuate. DeWine said residents who were ordered to evacuate need to leave the area because of the risk of death or serious injury. Officials believe most if not all have already have left.

Strongest earthquake in decades startles western New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A small earthquake rumbled through western New York early Monday, alarming people in a region unaccustomed to such shaking but apparently causing no significant damage. The U.S. Geological Survey preliminarily reported a 3.8 earthquake centered east of Buffalo in the suburb of West Seneca at about 6:15 a.m. Seismologist Yaareb Altaweel said it matched the intensity of the strongest earthquake the region has seen in 40 years of available records — a 3.8 quake that was recorded in November 1999.
World

Race to find survivors as quake aid pours into Turkey, Syria

NURDAG, Turkey (AP) — Search teams and emergency aid from around the world poured into Turkey and Syria on Tuesday as rescuers working in freezing temperatures dug — sometimes with their bare hands — through the remains of buildings flattened by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. The death toll soared above 5,000 and was still expected to rise. But with the damage spread over a wide area, the massive relief operation often struggled to reach devastated towns, and voices that had been crying out from the rubble fell silent.

Greece: 3 dead after boat with migrants hits rocks

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Three migrants died and 16 others were rescued off the Greek island of Lesbos on Tuesday after a dinghy transporting them from the nearby coast of Turkey hit rocks in high winds, authorities said. The coast guard said the three bodies were recovered off the eastern coast of the island, adding that a rescue effort involving two patrol boats, a helicopter and ground crews was underway to search for others possibly missing. None of the people on the dinghy had been given life jackets.

Russian shells spark hospital fire before expected assault

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian shelling hit more civilian targets in Ukraine, starting a fire at a town's hospital and damaging five apartment buildings, local officials said Tuesday, as Ukrainian authorities reported a Moscow troop buildup in eastern areas before what Kyiv suspected was an impending new offensive by Russia around the anniversary of its invasion. A hospital in the northeastern town of Vovchansk caught fire late Monday as a result of the shelling, regional Ukrainian emergency services reported.

Steady rains set off mudslides that kill at least 36 in Peru

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Landslides triggered by steady rains swept mud, water and rocks into several villages in southern Peru, killing at least 36 people, authorities said Monday. Wilson Gutierrez, a civil defense official in the Mariano Nicolás Valcárcel municipality in Camana province, told local radio RPP that 36 bodies had been recovered in a remote sector called Miski.
Perspectives
Effective leaders consistently prepare for the future, and that includes providing quality spaces for ministry. One Lifeway article highlights the importance of having a plan that renovates the space without wrecking your ministry. Is it possible to create more space and still have money for ministry? Can we find better ways to utilize the space we already have without spending excessive amounts of money (which can be about as hard to find as a dad serving in childcare on Sunday)?
On February 1st, new gambling legislation was introduced in the Georgia Senate. Senator Billy Hickman authored Senate Bill 57 to legalize sports betting and horse racing through the Georgia Lottery. This bill is not a constitutional amendment, but rather a legislative bill that will only require a majority vote in the Senate to pass.
My favorite major league baseball team since childhood has been the Cincinnati Reds. One reason is because Cincinnati is located along the same river I grew up near in Western Kentucky – the Ohio. Another reason is that they were a great team. In the 1970’s, the Big Red Machine won six division titles, four National League pennants and back-to back World Championships (1975-76). One of the key players in that run was Pete Rose, who once said, “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” And play he did.
My dad did the grocery shopping for our family. For him, it was a social thing. He loved running into friends and visiting in the aisles. He must have influenced me. I do most of our grocery shopping and still go inside the store. No outside pickup for me. I do some of my best ministry inside when I run into church members, prospective members, and other friends.
For more than eight years the Georgia General Assembly has been dealing with the issue of expanding gambling in Georgia. Every year the proposed legislation has failed to pass out of the House and the Senate. This year, it is once again being discussed at the Capitol. I expect to hear a familiar argument, “Just let the people decide.” However, the people in one way have already “decided.” We are also hearing that there will be an attempt to go through the Georgia Lottery to legalize sports gambling. This means legislation would only be required to have a majority vote in both chambers, rather than a two-thirds majority with a constitutional amendment.
Business

US adds a surprisingly strong 517,000 jobs despite Fed hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers added a robust 517,000 jobs in January, a surprisingly strong gain in the face of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive drive to slow growth and tame inflation with higher interest rates. The unemployment rate dipped to 3.4%, a new half-century low.

Federal Reserve lifts rate by quarter-point and signals more hikes ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve extended its fight against high inflation Wednesday by raising its key interest rate by a quarter-point, its eighth hike since March. And the Fed signaled that even though inflation is easing, it remains high enough to require further rate hikes. Though smaller than its previous hike — and even larger rate increases before that — the Fed's latest move will likely further raise the costs of many consumer and business loans.

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering its final 747 jumbo jet. Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA's space shuttles, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft. It revolutionized travel, connecting international cities that had never before had direct routes and helping democratize passenger flight.

Carrier Emirates test flies Boeing 777 on sustainable fuel

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Long-haul carrier Emirates successfully flew a Boeing 777 on a test flight Monday with one engine entirely powered by so-called sustainable aviation fuel. This comes as carriers worldwide try to lessen their carbon footprint. Flight No. EK2646 flew for just under an hour over the coastline of the United Arab Emirates, after taking off from Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel, and heading out into the Persian Gulf before circling back to land. The fuel powered one of the Boeings two General Electric Co. engines, with the other running on conventional jet fuel for safety.

US inflation and consumer spending cooled in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed's series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from a 5.5% year-over-year increase in November. It was the third straight drop.
Sports

Former Chelsea forward Atsu rescued after Turkey earthquake

Former Chelsea and Newcastle forward Christian Atsu was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building following the deadly earthquake that struck Turkey, the Ghana Football Association said in a Twitter post Tuesday. The Ghana international plays for Turkish club Hatayspor. A club spokesman on Monday told Turkish media that Atsu was thought to be in a building that was brought down by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks that struck southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria and has killed more than 5,000 people.

Nielsen lays out goal for Falcons defense: 'Let’s just stop people'

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — At the start of his first week at the Atlanta Falcons practice facility, new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen said he’s not willing to commit to a 4-3 or 3-4 as the base alignment of his multiple schemes. “Let’s just stop people,” Nielsen said Monday. Nielsen, the former co-defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, was hired by Atlanta on Jan. 27 to replace Dean Pees, who retired at 73.

Seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green retires after 12 seasons

PHOENIX (AP) — Seven-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green retired on Monday after 12 seasons in the NFL. The 34-year-old spent a decade with the Cincinnati Bengals before signing with the Arizona Cardinals for the last two seasons of his career. Selected by the Bengals with the No. 4 overall pick of the 2011 draft out of Georgia, Green was a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first seven seasons, topping 1,000 yards receiving six times.

Former Chelsea forward Atsu missing after Turkey earthquake

Former Chelsea and Newcastle forward Christian Atsu is missing and believed to be trapped under rubble following the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey on Monday and left more than 2,500 people dead. The Ghana international, who plays for Turkish club Hatayspor, is thought to be in a building that was destroyed, Hatayspor spokesman Mustafa Özat said, according to Turkish media.