SBC DIGEST: Ridgecrest hiring; LifeWay movie making impact; GuideStone: good time to review portfolio

by LifeWay and GuideStone staff, posted Friday, January 24, 2020 (4 months ago)

Ridgecrest looks to fill 100-plus summer staff positions

By LifeWay Staff

RIDGECREST, N.C. -- For each of the past four years, Ridgecrest Conference Center has seen around 65,000 guests pour into its camp and retreat facilities nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Many of those guests choose to visit from May to August -- the conference center's busiest season. To accommodate this year's expected crowds, Ridgecrest is now looking to fill more than 100 summer staff positions.

"At Ridgecrest, we desire to see lives impacted for God's glory," said Chris Fenske, support staff coordinator. "We want to serve our guests with excellence, and we need help to do that well."

The conference center is looking to deepen its pool of summer staff candidates to help accomplish their mission of cultivating experiences, nurturing relationships, and impacting lives for God's glory.

After a successful 2019, Ridgecrest Conference Center is looking to hire more than 100 summer staff positions in 2020.
Ridgecrest Conference Center photo
"My personal relationship with Christ was impacted in a true and authentic way working at Ridgecrest," said Morgan Hays, who served as a summer staffer in 2017 and is returning again this year for a summer position.

"I made so many lifelong friends," she said, "I also picked up skills I'll hold going forward, not only as a believer, but also as a professional in the workplace."

Fenske encourages Christians who know of college-age young adults who are looking for a summer job opportunity to check out Ridgecrest by visiting RidgecrestConferenceCenter.com.

Ridgecrest is looking to expand its summer staff with young adults who have an authentic and growing relationship with Jesus. The conference center offers opportunities to learn and develop skills useful in future careers and everyday life.

Staffers will gain training and hands-on experiences, while learning about the responsibilities and rewards that come with a variety of work roles.

In addition to pay, staffers receive meals and shared, dorm-style housing, plus a chance to meet new friends and make connections. Their spiritual walk will be strengthened and challenged through small-group interaction and fellowship.

Summer staffers also attend weekly chapel services, participate in planned activities, serve together and have free time to enjoy God's creation. Start and end dates are flexible, and staffing opportunities range from 9-16 weeks.

"Ridgecrest's summer staff program is more than just a job," Fenske said, "It provides a transformational experience and imparts lessons that staffers will carry with them for years to come."

Current summer staff work areas include:

-- Recreation -- facilitate high ropes courses, climbing tower, zip line, team-building activities, laser tag, sports tournaments and more.

-- Kitchen -- learn all aspects of food preparation, including entrees, salads, bakery, clean-up, dishes and organization.

-- Food services -- cater events throughout campus and serve on the buffet lines in the dining room.

-- Outlets -- serve guests through the operation of an on-site coffee shop, ice cream shop and retail store.

-- Guest spaces -- provide a welcoming setting for guests while serving in housekeeping, custodial and laundry services.

-- AVCs -- assist with cleaning and set-up of classrooms and auditoriums to create a space that is both functional and inviting for guests.

For more information about Ridgecrest's summer staff opportunities, visit RidgecrestConferenceCenter.com.

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Humanitarian group celebrates impact made in theaters and jungles

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- From the bright lights of a New York City film festival to a river running through the jungles of Burma in Southeast Asia, Kevin Eubank and the Free Burma Rangers continue to change lives.

David Eubank, founder of the Free Burma Rangers, along with ethnic Kachin FBR leaders, document Burma Army activity across the valley floor to compile reports for human rights organizations and journalists. Photo by Chris Sinclair
 
The documentary named after the group, made in association with LifeWay Films and Deidox Films, won Best Feature Film at The Justice Film Festival in New York City in November 2019.

"Free Burma Rangers," which will show in select theaters across the U.S. as a Fathom Event on Feb. 24 and 25, 2020, follows the Eubank family, their work with the Free Burma Rangers, and the more than 1.5 million displaced individuals they have assisted around the world.

"We are equal parts thrilled and humbled to have Free Burma Rangers recognized in this way," said director Chris Sinclair. "It was a personal privilege to help capture the compelling story of the Eubank family and their bravery in going on rescue missions throughout the Middle East."

Sinclair said he was "glad those in attendance at the festival were just as moved by the raw compassion and lived-out love that is displayed in the movie."

LifeWay Film's Trent Myers said winning Best Feature Film at The Justice Film Festival "is an honor for our team and LifeWay as a whole. We believe it is a great indicator of the film's potential Kingdom impact."

Brent Gudgel, the director and producer of Free Burma Rangers said it was a timely recognition for the film. "In these dark times in the Middle East, the Eubanks model real compassion, which knows no limits or bounds, by helping whoever is hurting, no matter their culture, color or creed."

In 1993, after 10 years in the U.S. Special Forces, David Eubank answered a call from his father, serving on the mission field in Thailand, to help the people caught in the middle of a civil war.

After Eubank married, instead of a traditional honeymoon, he and his wife Karen went to Burma to help free the oppressed and rescue victims there.

As they went on relief missions into the height of conflict, more locals joined in. Eventually, indigenous leaders asked Eubank to train teams. In 1997, the Eubanks founded the Free Burma Rangers.

Today, David, Karen and their three children continue to provide humanitarian aid to some of the most difficult areas in the world. They've trained more than 4,500 members of the Free Burma Rangers.

In April, the group will receive the 2020 Foley Humanitarian Award at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. from the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.

This past December, the group graduated 141 new rangers at their training camp in the Karen State of Burma.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a member of Alto Baptist Church in Rayville, La., attended the graduation.

The congressman, who served as a First Lieutenant in the Army National Guard, encouraged the graduates with stories from U.S. history of individuals displaying bravery and standing for freedom.

After the graduation, four rangers -- one staff member and three new students -- were also baptized after professing faith in Christ.

One of those baptized, Ray Khin, came from an animist family, but said he knew in his heart he wanted to follow Jesus.

"To follow Jesus is free for everyone. You only have to believe," he said. "With animist beliefs, every time I have to go back to my home village and do something. I feel like when you believe in Jesus you are free. You can pray and worship Him anytime, anywhere."

In addition to baptizing the new Christians, the Free Burma Rangers held a memorial ceremony at the river for Zau Seng, a videographer of the group who was killed in November on a mission in Syria.

Seng, who also served as an assistant medic, was killed when the team's position was hit by a Turkish munition.

"We still mourn his loss but know he is in a better place with Jesus," David Eubank said.

In addition to their relief work, the Eubanks say their mission is to share the love of Jesus Christ and help free people from oppression.

"Everywhere, every person in the world has something good and wonderful we can love, learn from and build up," said Eubank. "When we stand together in Christ and love others, we form the antidote to evil. That is the story I want to be told."

It's because of that story that LifeWay Films wanted to get involved, said Myers.

"When we began the work of producing and distributing faith-inspired documentaries in 2016, it started with a mission to deliver stories with a real and raw message that ultimately would have an eternal impact. As we came across the Eubank family's story and began to understand the depth of their journey, we knew this was a film that could have a massive impact on the Kingdom," he said.

"The things they walked through as a family were unlike anything we had seen before. Dave and Karen Eubank are living testimonies of how Christ calls us to live in Matthew 16:24-26; to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him with complete faith and trust. We truly feel the message of this family's journey will influence the Christian walk of all those who experience the film."

Free Burma Rangers will release in theaters across the nation for a two-day Fathom Event on Feb. 24 and 25, 2020. To learn more about the film and view the official trailer, visit FBRmovie.com.

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Stock market highs a good time to take a look at portfolio

By Roy Hayhurst

DALLAS (BP) -- Markets continued their winning ways last week, closing at or near record highs. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above the 29,000 mark for the first time captured headlines, the broader S&P 500 Index also hit highs, buoyed by the promise of continued low interest rates courtesy of the Federal Reserve and the signing of the first phase of a trade deal between the United States and China.

While market highs are a good thing, stocks rallied last year based on several factors, the most prominent being the Federal Reserve rate cuts, said David Spika, chief strategic investment officer of GuideStone. To continue on an upward growth pattern will require a rebound in corporate earnings growth and an improved global economy leading into the November 2020 election cycle, Spika said. The likelihood of stronger earnings and economic growth is tempered by the age of the current economic cycle, which at 11 years is several years longer than the historical average.

"We had a tremendous year in the markets in 2019," Spika said. "It is very difficult to repeat those kinds of years. The market was propelled by the Fed rate cuts, and that is unlikely to be replicated in 2020. Virtually every asset class had strongly positive returns in 2019, which is not the norm; in 2018, for example, almost all asset classes had negative returns.

Retirement plan investors should use the start of the year as a time to look at their portfolios and ensure they are not overweight in certain categories and underweight in others, which could exacerbate the effects of a market decline. GuideStone participants can receive help with their long-term investment allocations by accessing the resources on the Retirement Planning and Guidance page (GuideStoneRetirement.org/InvestmentAdvice), which include GuideStone's Investment Recommendation tool.

Investors in GuideStone's MyDestination Funds do not have to make reallocations as those Funds rebalance as part of their structure, though an annual review to ensure an investor is allocated appropriately to meet his or her goals is always a wise use of time, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. The MyDestination Funds Target Date Funds provide a simpler approach to retirement planning. Investors simply choose the Fund that corresponds most closely to their retirement date. Each Target Date Fund is a "fund-of-funds" with a diversified asset allocation that's more aggressive when the investor is younger and gradually becomes more conservative as the investor approaches and moves through retirement.

"We never want to encourage anyone to try to time the market," Hawkins said. "Looking at your portfolio, ensuring that it is properly diversified given your time horizon and risk tolerance, and then — and only then — making strategic, focused changes, if needed, is a smart way to ensure you're prepared for an eventual downturn in the markets."

Spika noted that GuideStone's managers have taken some gains in the mutual funds following these powerful market advances, which is prudent to do given the age of the cycle. In addition, markets are probably overdue for a correction, given that the S&P 500 has gone more than 70 days without even a 1 percent decline, with the last "healthy correction" happening in December 2018. A healthy correction -- a decline in the 10 percent range -- generally occurs about once every year.

"Retirement plan investors, especially, need to stay focused on their long-term plan and asset allocation for their long-term retirement needs," Spika said. "Market fluctuations will occur, and we're likely overdue for one, but a long-term focus and a diversified investment approach has historically been rewarded by the markets."

Whether markets continue their climb through 2020 or volatility returns or the market declines, GuideStone experts recommend four basic principles for retirement plan investors:

1. Always focus on your long-term objectives, not your emotions. Specifically regarding retirement participants, these assets are to serve your needs for a long period of time. Make sure your objectives and actions are consistent with your time horizon.

2. Avoid making impulsive decisions. Making changes based on short-term market moves is almost a guarantee for failure as it promotes buying high and selling low. The performance of your account moving forward will be determined based on results of the financial markets in the future, not the past. Investors cannot sell yesterday's losses or buy yesterday's gains.

3. Don't count losses (or gains). Consistent contributions to a retirement plan afford investors a systematic way of taking advantage of investment opportunities as markets ebb and flow.

4. Maintain realistic expectations about market behavior. Financial markets in the short term tend to fluctuate in response to social, political and economic events. However, historically, the markets stabilize and return to profitability over the long term, focusing on the underlying fundamentals.

The MyDestination Funds ("Funds") attempt to achieve their objectives by investing in the GuideStone Select Funds and other investments. The Funds are managed to a retirement date ("target date") by adjusting the percentage of fixed income securities and equity securities to become more conservative each year until reaching the retirement year and then approximately 15 years thereafter. The target date in the name of the Funds is the approximate date when an investor plans to start withdrawing money. The expense ratio for the Funds includes the expenses of the underlying Select Funds. The principal risks of the Funds will change depending on the asset mix of the Select Funds in which they invest. You may directly invest in the Select Funds and other investments. The Funds' value will go up and down in response to changes in the share prices of the investments that they own. The amount invested in the Funds is not guaranteed to increase, is not guaranteed against loss, nor is the amount of the original investment guaranteed at the target date. It is possible to lose money by investing in the Funds.

You should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the GuideStone Funds before investing. For a copy of the prospectus with this and other information about the Funds, please download a prospectus at GuideStoneFunds.com/Funds or call 1-888-GS-FUNDS (1-888-473-8637). You should read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Aaron Earls is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources. Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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