The March-April 2009 PNEUMA INFORMER
In this issue
What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.org
Assistant Web Servants Needed
New Online Articles from THE PNEUMA REVIEW
Like to surf the web looking for good Christian sites? Ever wanted to learn how to write HTML code? Do you know how to type and would like to help make biblical teaching materials available to believers worldwide? Own a scanner?
Dave Driggs, Pneuma Foundation Webmaster, is looking for individuals who could take an active role in assisting with the operation of the PF site. He desires to focus on building a membership system and other features that have been desired for some time. Assistants need only have basic computer experience to be trained for the tasks they can help accomplish.
As is the case for all volunteers, any expenses incurred for voluntary service may be tax-deductible. For example, a portion of a monthly high-speed internet connection bill might be tax-deductible if used to support the Pneuma Foundation.
Please contact webservant Dave Driggs for more information.
New Links and Content Worth Noticing
- In Depth Book Review: Alexander Jensen, Theological Hermeneutics (London: SCM, 2007), ISBN 9780334029014. Reviewed by Fitzroy Willis. Added March 6, 2009. On the In Depth Resources page: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/in_depth.jsp
- The Pneuma Foundation is pleased to add content to our website as a resource to our members and friends around the world. We also add links to content that we are not able to republish ourselves, but may be of interest. Here are some examples of links added recently to "Links to Articles & Books" www.pneumafoundation.org/links_articles.jsp and from "Links to Study Resources" www.pneumafoundation.org/links_study.jsp
- The largest list of Pentecostal/charismatic Bible Schools available online anywhere. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/links_schools.jsp
Add your school: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/links.jsp#link
- Christian History: Philip Jenkins, Unenthusiastic About Enthusiasm: Modern suspicions about charismatic Christianity trace back to controversies over the French Prophets 300 years ago Tongues, the sick being healed, the dead raised to life, the soon coming apocalypse ... in 1709 (ChristianHistory.net). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/bytopic/movementsdenominationstraditions/unenthusiasticabout.html
- Christian History: Chris Armstrong, "Evangelicalism's Hidden Liturgical and Confessional Past" The emotional energy of Cane Ridge and other early frontier revivals arose from a strong emphasis on the Eucharist (ChristianHistory blog). http://blog.christianitytoday.com/history/2009/03/evangelicalisms_hidden_liturgi.html
- Added to the In Depth Resources index:
Craig Keener, "Women's Education and Public Speech in Antiquity" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (Dec 2007). http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3817/is_200712/ai_n29491782
Gene L. Green, "Lexical Pragmatics and Biblical Interpretation" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (Dec 2007). http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3817/is_200712/ai_n29491785
Book Review: Larry W. Hurtado, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006). Reviewed by Gordon D. Fee in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (Dec 2007). http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3817/is_200712/ai_n29491797
- Christian History: The Irish Apostle "Most people don't know St. Patrick had a vibrant charismatic faith that blazed across Ireland in the fifth century" (Charisma). http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/component/content/article/638-christian-history/16728-the-irish-apostle
- Jack Hayford, "Waltzing With the World?" Cultural transformation is about penetration of - not competition with - the surrounding culture (MinistryTodayOnline). http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/pastors-heart/13319-waltzing-with-the-world
- John Chasteen, "Models of Learning" To reach a new generation, we have to change the way we teach (MinistryTodayOnline). http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/hey-coach/18171-models-of-learning
- Anthony McRoy, "Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday?: The historical evidence contradicts this popular notion" (ChristianHistory.net). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/bytopic/holidays/easterborrowedholiday.html
- Dean Ohlman, "Bring Your Trash to Church" Dean spotlights the "good earthkeeping" of Boise Vineyard (Wonder of Creation blog). http://www.wonderofcreation.org/2009/04/06/%e2%80%9cbring-your-trash-to-church%e2%80%9d/
- Mike Yaconelli, "Run for Your Soul!: Why you may need to quit your job as a youth minister" (MinistryTodayOnline). http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-life/youth/18185-run-for-your-soul
- Ted Olsen, "Raised from the Dead: Church history books are full of resurrection stories. But Jesus is still different" (Christian History Blog). http://blog.christianitytoday.com/history/2009/04/raised_from_the_dead.html
- Church Leadership: James Cobble, Jr., "Why Church Secretaries Quit" (Your Church). http://www.christianitytoday.com/yc/2009/marapr/7.42.html
- Church Leadership: Eric Reed, "Opportunity's Hard Knocks: Now is the time to consider the vital role of pastoral ministry to families facing hard times" Practical ideas on how to minister to your congregation in difficult economic times (Leadership Journal). http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/thepastor/pastoralcare/opportunityshardknocks.html
Reports from Around the World
UK: Most want religion to play a significant role in public life
A majority of United Kingdom residents believe that: "Our laws should respect and be influenced by U.K. religious values".
Children's ministry gives sacrificially in Haiti
Haiti's situation continues to deteriorate. Even before it got hit with food price spikes and multiple hurricanes, more than half of its rural population was living on less than US$1 a day. When the storms hit and the price of food skyrocketed, the already-vulnerable people had nowhere to go. In some areas, multi-million dollar projects helped jump-start agricultural production, but for the vast majority of the isolated areas, people began to starve almost immediately.
Since then, a partner of Bethany Christian Services, God's Littlest Angels, reports an increase in abandoned children this month as starvation takes hold. Although the team is acting as the hands and feet of Christ in this region, increased costs have pushed their budget to a critical point. Even so, the team is reaching out to help the children in one hurricane ravaged area with food help. They are collecting seeds to give to families in the community of Baie d'Orange so that they can raise vegetables to help nourish and support their families.
Source: Adapted from Mission Network News, 13 March, 2009. Full story: http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12418
Russia: Governor orders church land grab
Apparently unaware that he was giving a public address, the governor of Kaluga Region has ordered that land legally owned by Word of Life Pentecostal Church be seized by "any" means, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. The order, made at a recent local government meeting broadcast live via the regional administration's website, has been captured and posted on the internet site YouTube by a church member. No official was prepared to comment to Forum 18. Word of Life has complained of frequent bureaucratic harassment ever since its land and building became an impediment to shopping mall construction plans in Kaluga. In Udmurtia, Philadelphia Pentecostal Church is the latest congregation to report similar bureaucratic obstruction, which state officials usually insist is lawful and routine. Such problems are usually encountered by Protestants, who are more likely to have unsecured worship premises.
Read the full story: http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1261
Source: F18News "Summary: Azerbaijan; Russia; Serbia; Uzbekistan", Feb. 26, 2009
India: Hope for slum dwellers
Mission India's Dave Stravers says Academy Award winning Slumdog Millionaire paints an accurate picture of Indian slums. "Kids don't go to school because they work, even from the age of six. They'll go out doing some job working in a factory or even scavenging on the street. Often there's not enough to eat and conditions are extremely crowded." Despite poor conditions, Mission India has ministered to many living in the slums, through Children's Bible Clubs and adult literacy programs. Stravers says the Holy Spirit is moving, and thousands are giving their lives to Christ. "We just received news that in the past six months, more than 30,000 children have come to Christ through our ministries to children in slums; and actually more than 30,000 of their parents have also come to Christ. These people are generally living without much hope, but when they receive the Gospel and the friendship of a local Christian, life can really dramatically change for them."
Source: Mission Network News, 5 March, 2009. Full story: http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12379
Turkey and Ethiopia: Broadcasts share the story of Jesus
A 31-year old man in Turkey wrote in to the IBRA (International Broadcasting Association) TV project:
"It has been 7 months since I saw your broadcasts for the first time and since then I can only say that my life have been constantly changing. When I was reading the Bible during the first few days, I was very glad as I had finally found what I had been searching for after many years. However, after I started sharing with others what I read and believed, everything really changed. People started to be really against me and this has continued. My family and work situation has also become harder, and I feel very alone, as I am sure you can all imagine. I would like to ask you to pray for me; that I will be able to make it through this situation and that God would grant me wisdom. I wish you God's peace."
And from a man that listened to the IBRA Oromo language broadcasts in Ethiopia:
"I live in an area where no one had preached the gospel. I was the first one in my area who received Jesus as my personal Savior. However, today there is only one student left in my entire school that hasn't accepted Jesus! I wanted to write this to you and describe how God has revealed himself to those living in this area due to your work."
IBRA was founded by Swedish Pentecostal Pastor Lewi Pethrus, and now reaches over 100 countries in 85 languages.
Source: IBRA News, March 2009 http://www.ibra.org
Eritrea: Martyrs of Jesus
Persecution persists in Eritrea, as three more believers are martyred. According to a recent International Christian Concern report, three believers on separate occasions were imprisoned and tortured. They were all given the option to deny Christ and receive medicine, or to suffer more torture and be killed. All three believers chose to die. One man had a wife and kids at home. Pray for his family and the many other victims of this persecution.
Source: Mission Network News, 9 March, 2009. Full story: http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12394
Burundi's Christian President Takes Message of Unity to UN
The president of Burundi, a Spirit-filled Christian, took his message of peace and unity to the United Nations on March 18, telling delegates how he led the nation to build free primary schools to promote equality in a country long divided by ethnic conflict.
Read the full story: http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/20094-burundis-christian-president-takes-message-of-unity-to-un
Source: CharismaNewsOnline, March 19, 2009.
Kazakhstan: church reaches out despite persecution
News and Headlines
While there's still a question about whether or not a restrictive religion law will go into effect in Kazakhstan, the evangelical church continues its work despite threats of persecution. "Judy" with The Mission Society says, "One of our churches we planted about 10 years ago has planted three churches themselves and also developed drug and alcohol rehabs centers." While the religion law hasn't been implemented yet, known evangelical believers are being oppressed. "We have many church members that are unable to get a job in the particular village that I work in because of a local village mayor. He's already said, 'If you're a member of the church, you will not be hired for any work in this village.'" Judy says this isn't having a negative effect on strong new Christians. "I was actually invited to a celebration tea," says Judy, "and I was quite confused about that. They said, 'Don't you understand? We have been Christians for five years, and we are so excited that God counts us worthy to be able to suffer for Him.'" Pray that the church in Kazakhstan would continue to grow.
Source: Mission Network News 12 March, 2009. Full story: http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12416
for Current News and Links
- USA: Pentecostalism Still Burns Annual report about church growth highlights two Pentecostal denominations as the only faith groups of traditional Christian orthodoxy that increased church membership (CharismaNews). http://charismamag.com/index.php/news/19052-pentecostalism-still-burns
- Uganda: Praying Against Child Sacrifice Ugandan Christians are participating in a 40-day prayer campaign to end child sacrifice, which has been on the rise in recent years (CharismaNews). http://charismamag.com/index.php/news/19914-praying-against-child-sacrifice
- Azerbaijan: More restrictions on religious freedom Will raids like the Cold War-era begin again? (MNN). http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12382
- China: Pastor still imprisoned House-church leader, Lou Yuanqi, remains imprisoned after court says there is insufficient evidence (CharismaNews). http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-news/65-news-main/18330-gods-best-will
- USA: Church Gunman Kills Pastor (CharismaNews). http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-news/65-news-main/18331-church-gunman-kills-pastor | Mission Network News reports that Churches worldwide are under attack (MNN). http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12423
- Todd Bentley Begins Restoration Process Rick Joyner announces that the fallen leader of the Lakeland Outpouring is beginning restoration with new wife (MorningStar Ministries). http://www.morningstarministries.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=1000045589 | J. Lee Grady responds: "The Tragic Scandal of Greasy Grace" http://charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones/20005-the-tragic-scandal-of-greasy-grace
- UK Deports Christians Under New Immigration Rules (CharismaNews). http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/20031-uk-deports-christians-under-new-immigration-rules
- "Charismatic Churches See Growth, Miracles in Ireland" (CharismaNews). http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/20075-charismatic-churches-see-growth-miracles-in-ireland
- Uzbekistan: "Your dead will not be buried" Secret police going from home to home warning that whoever accepts Christianity will be punished (Forum18). http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1268
- Evangelicals Applaud Obama for Sudan Envoy Appointment Evangelical leaders and human rights groups applauded President Barack Obama for naming an envoy for Sudan as the violence-wracked country faces a critical time in its history (ChristianPost.com). http://christianpost.com/Intl/Human_rights/2009/03/evangelicals-applaud-obama-for-sudan-envoy-appointment-19/index.html
- Eritrea: Three elderly believers released, persecution continues Imprisoned Christians continue to face miserable circumstances while they refuse to deny their faith (MNN). http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12473
- India: An atrocity every 20 minutes Every 20 minutes an "untouchable" Dalit in India suffers some kind of atrocity against them, but Christians are extending compassion and help. http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12476 | In a related story, "Some suggest that a Christian is brutally attacked by a Hindu extremist every other day. There doesn't appear to be an end to the violence. However, this violence isn't stopping the evangelical church from expanding their work" (MNN). http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12485
- "Worship Leader Draws Unlikely Audience" (CharismaNews). http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/18952-worship-leader-draws-unlikely-audience
- Cambodia: Khmer Rouge leader asks for forgiveness (CharismaNews). http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/20236-notorious-cambodian-killer-seeks-forgiveness
- Biblical Archaeology: "Proof found of Israelite exodus, entry to Canaan" (ICEJ News). http://www.icej.org/article/proof_found_of_israelite_exodus_entry_to_canaan
- USA: "Black, White Pentecostals Mark Historic Lynching With Unity Services" (CharismaNews). http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/20361-black-white-pentecostals-mark-historic-lynching-with-unity-celebration
- USA: "Pro-Family Leaders Say Hate Crimes Bill Threatens Religious Freedom" (CharismaNews). http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/20434-pro-family-leaders-say-hate-crimes-bill-threatens-religious-freedom
- Editorial: J. Lee Grady, "Rick Warren and the Hot Potato of the Decade: Many Christians misjudged the California pastor after his recent interview with CNN's Larry King" "It's time for American Christians to develop steel backbones, unwavering commitment to Scripture and tough skin to handle the brutal battle ahead." http://charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones/20368--rick-warren-and-the-hot-potato-of-the-decade | Elsewhere: Interview with Rick Warren (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/aprilweb-only/114-31.0.html
See other news to pray and praise God about in the Prayer Requests department below.
Report the News
We are looking for stories about what God is doing in the world, reports about the persecution of Christians, and information about significant trends and ministry opportunities. If you have a news item to report, please send an email to the PNEUMA INFORMER. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/contactus.jsp
Evangelicals: Good News People
By Joel Edwards
The word 'Evangelical' has a very bad press. So no wonder many evangelicals are desperately looking for alternatives. But after twenty years in evangelical leadership it seems to me that this is only half of the story. I am keen to write about an agenda for change in which evangelicals can recover the idea of evangelicalism as Good News.
I have discussed with over thirty senior church leaders across the world what they feel about an agenda which presents Christ credibly, rehabilitates evangelicalism as Good News and challenges evangelical witness to become a long term movement for spiritual and cultural change.
Opinions varied: Tony Campolo said the word was beyond redemption: he was substituting 'Red Letter Christians'. Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney, thought it provides a rallying point for 'a certain type of Christian' and Bishop Tom Wright said it was 'one of the greatest words in the world.'
Understandably for a lot of people, 'evangelical' is another name for a moral myopia which carps on about abortion and homosexuals and never talks about poverty or exclusion. 'Evangelical' has become an American export which makes God a Republican mascot. But if people are going to think differently about evangelicals, the only people who will be able to get them to change their minds will be evangelicals themselves!
I am not talking about a mindless and unquestioning veneration of the word 'evangelical'. There will be no shrines built to an adjective! But my contention is that we can recover the idea. At least two surveys in 2005 made it clear that most people are still opened to be convinced. Words can change their meaning. Once upon a time the word 'gay' meant 'happy'! The World Evangelical Alliance alone claims to represent 420 million evangelicals in over 130 nations. If all these people wanted it to happen then 'evangelical' could mean 'good news'. If we are to accomplish this there are some important challenges for all evangelicals-including those on the 'theological right' as much as those on the centre and left.
What we are about is a great deal more than a name. It's the Name. We must present Christ credibly. And in doing so we are faced with many serious challenges. There is a secular vendetta against the idea of God in the public square. In the constellation of gods Christ is now one among many. A credible response to our culture does not mean neutralising his Lordship. In a liberal democracy we should be free to say that 'Jesus Christ is Lord'. The claim that Jesus is God is the enduring strength of orthodox Christian faith. But his Lordship is not a truncheon with which to beat other people. Our task is not to pull down Mohammed, Krishna or Guru Nanak: it is to lift up Jesus.
A credible response should be prepared to undomesticate the Christ whom evangelicals have held captive by our myopic and fearful subcultures. I am not convinced that Jesus would be publicly identifiable with our moral agenda. I think He would be identified more quickly with Make Poverty History than any demonstration about sexual orientation. He belongs on the pavement but we have chained Him in our pulpits and locked Him in our pews.
Evangelicals are known to be activists, and with good reason. But there is no substitute for long term thinking. An evangelical agenda for change must develop a kind of biblical tenacity which is in for the long haul. Not even our passion for revival should detract us from our long term agenda for change. And we do this both by proclamation and by acts of kindness. The old dichotomy between words and works is dying. As Alistair McGrath told me, 'The social gospel got one thing right and everything else wrong.'
An evangelical church which takes its ministry of mercy seriously will have less concern about the idea of 'public benefit' central to our understanding of Christian citizenship is a radical commitment to serve other people not just to protect our own interests, power or influence.
So it turns out that an agenda for change begins-not in the world at large-but in our hearts and minds.
For further reading: Joel Edwards, An Agenda for Change: A Global Call for Spiritual and Social Transformation (Zondervan, 2008).
Joel Edwards is the International Director of the Micah Challenge.
Source: Verbum WEA Theological News On-Line Jan 2009. Used with permission.
Resources You Can Use
Biblical Response to Bribery
In her new book, Bribery: The Ethics of Giving and Receiving Gifts, veteran missionary to India Beth Johnson investigates what the Bible says about bribery to help mission workers do the right thing when confronted with corruption.
The U.S. outlet is Jade Books at this address: www.jadebooks.com.
For more information about the book and a short interview with the author, see this link: http://brotherhoodnews.com/2009/01/30/what-bible-says-about-bribes
Source: Brigada Today 2009/02/08
Protect Your Church from Crime and Violence
"Protect Your Church from Crime and Violence," is a no-cost download from ChurchSafety.com. "This resource is designed to help you assess the security of your church and learn how to prevent a crime or tragedy from occurring within your ministry." http://www.churchsafety.com/topics/emergencies/violence/protectingyourchurchfromcrimeviolence/
More about prevention and reaction:
Andrew G. Mills, "Shooter in the Church: A police officer's advice on how to prevent, and react to, a gunman at church" http://www.christianitytoday.com/yc/2009/marapr/shooterinchurch.html
"Drawing the Line on Danger" the cover story from the March/April 2009 issue of Your Church, which looks at how to assess and address potential threats. http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/Christianity-Today/_YC_MA09_digital/2009030201/
Free Evaluation Reports on Church Websites
Internet Evangelism Day offers an online self-assessment questionnaire, enabling churches to enhance their websites to reach out into the community. "Your church website is a 'shop window' for your community," says IE Day coordinator Tony Whittaker. Yet very few church websites are designed with these outsiders in mind. The questionnaire creates a free evaluation report to highlight areas of a site that can be developed.
Source: Web Evangelism Bulletin March 09 Reminder
Before you fire staff
Richard R. Hammar, "When Employees Violate Moral Standards: Protect your church from a discrimination liability." http://www.christianitytoday.com/yc/churchlawtaxupdate/feature_090320.html
Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske were tied down, tortured and killed April 18, 2007 in Malatya, Turkey, for their testimonies that Jesus Christ is Lord. Two young filmmakers from Texas set out to capture the surrounding events that continue to shake the foundation of a nation less than 0.1% Christian. The result is a full length documentary film, Malatya.
You can watch the trailer online: http://www.malatyafilm.com.
The film was internationally released around the 2-year anniversary date of the killings. Organizers are trying to mobilize churches and groups all over the world to show the film. Check the website for more information about how the airings are going.
Source: Brigada Today 2009/03/08
Excerpts from the PNEUMA REVIEW
THE PNEUMA REVIEW is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders. For more information about the PNEUMA REVIEW, and to learn how to subscribe, please visit: Introducing THE PNEUMA REVIEW. www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jsp
Buy THE PNEUMA REVIEW online at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000D8CY9
Write a review online for the PNEUMA REVIEW!
For a full index of the contents of all Pneuma Review issues, visit: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/pr_archive.jsp.
In order to complete this issue of the INFORMER while it is still April, no excerpts from the journal will be included.
NAIITS Symposium, June 4-6
"The North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Studies is hosting is fourth symposium this June 4-6 in Langley, British Columbia at Trinity Western University. This is a tremendous opportunity to learn from leading Native pastors, scholars and theologians about rethinking what missions, discipleship and pastoring means when it is informed by a native worldview orientation. This year there will be a special focus given to making space for the next generation of Indigenous leaders. Indigenous Church: Expressions of Community is the theme of this year's symposium. For more information visit www.wiconi.com and look on the home page for the NAIITS info."
Source: Smoke Signals from R. Twiss - "Cool Stuff"
- Iran: Church grows, crackdown continues. Believers in Iran need to be covered in your prayers. While God's family continues to grow in the oppressed nation, Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope says that government crackdown persists. "We continue to hear reports of government inquires and people being called in for questioning about alleged Christian activities." Spiritual hunger in Iran continues to cause many to turn away from Islam. Conversion is viewed as a serious offense, which could result in capital punishment. Many believers have taken to exercising their faith "underground" to avoid officials' prying eyes. "It shows that the government of Iran is still very vigilant and concerned." Words of Hope offers encouragement to Iranian believers through broadcasts in the Farsi language. Despite persecution, believers remain faithful. Pray for God's protection over Christians in Iran. "People there are courageous; they need wisdom, and they need God's protection so that they can continue to minister in Jesus' name both on the radio and in other ways."
Source: Mission Network News, 4 March, 2009. Full story: http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12377
- RK in Myanmar writes: "We need to give a training program in our country, Myanmar. We are very hungry for the word of God. Please pray for Myanmar."
- Somalia votes to implement Sharia law. Somalia's cabinet has voted to implement Sharia law throughout their country. At number five on the Open Doors World Watch List of the world's worst persecutors of Christians, Carl Moeller with Open Doors says this is an alarming development. "We're very concerned about the nature of the way that this Sharia law is being forced into Somalia as a wedge to get a peace deal and for the condition of the Christians there." The fighting reportedly led to an increase in hostility toward Christians. "Many people will remember the desperately chaotic situation in Somalia in 1993. The truth of the matter is - Somalia isn't any better today, and Christians continue to be the most vulnerable segment of that society." But there is a remnant church that needs your prayer. "We are providing, through means that I'm not at liberty to say, some material supplies and spiritual encouragement for those believers. Some of our people have been able to make contact and to continue to sustain that contact through the months of insurgency and the violence that has been there."
Related story: "Somalia, Kenya and the Dispersed Somalis"
When Ethiopian forces withdrew from Somalia in January 2009, an al-Qaeda-backed militia called al-Shabaab filled the vacuum. This Taliban-style group controls virtually all southern Somalia and is operating military camps where Muslims are trained for local, regional and international jihad. Lawlessness, war and repression has forced multitudes of southern Somalis to flee across the southern border into Kenya. Christians in Garissa in Muslim-dominated North Eastern Kenya are experiencing escalating persecution and the local Kenyan authorities are reluctant to act, preferring to appease the Muslims for the sake of 'peace'. But this emboldens the Muslims and endangers the Church. Please pray for God's intervention in Somalia; for justice in North Eastern Kenya; and for revival amongst the dispersed Somalis.
Source: Mission Network News, 12 March, 2009. Full story: http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12413 | WEA Religious Liberty Commission - RLP 521 "Somalia, Kenya and the Dispersed Somalis"
- "Praise God! I'm Pastor Paul of Healing Centre Church in Magamaga, Uganda. I'm requesting you stand with me in prayers believing God to provide us with Church land, money for building the church and PA system. ... Thank you and God bless you all." Reference Number: 90035705
- India: Hindutva's Christian 'Dhimmis'. Hindu nationalists in Orissa, north-east India, are humiliating Christians in the way Islamic states have historically subjugated their 'dhimmis' (Jews and Christians under Islamic rule). Whilst most Christians displaced by last year's pogrom are still too fearful to return to their homes, those who do are being forced to 'become Hindus' or pay a fee. Those who continue as Christians are then forced to wear humiliating clothing; dismount from bicycles and salute 'Hindu' tribals whenever and wherever they come across them; not use public facilities while Hindus are there; and not attend church under threat of sanctions (loss of water, firewood and the like). Some observers fear another attack is being planned. Others believe that Christian leaders are being targeted for elimination. Please pray for India, especially for the Church in Orissa.
Source: WEA Religious Liberty Commission - RLP 520 | India: Hindutva's Christian 'Dhimmis'
- Kevin Williams, a regular contributor to Pneuma Foundation publications, writes: "My wife and I went to see a neurosurgeon yesterday [March 30]. As many of you know, she has been in terrible pain since March 6.
"The appointment went as expected. Her mom and two sisters both suffered from and had surgery for a condition called spinal stenosis, and she is following in this time-honored family tradition. The vertebrae in her neck are degenerating at a much earlier age than usual, and it's having a deleterious effect on her as it puts constant pressure on the nerves in her spinal column. She's in constant pain, has flashes of vertigo, and sudden and surprising headaches (which last only a few moments). She cannot turn her head to the left or right, and wears a neck brace whenever she's up and about.
"We're setting up other doctor appointments for more serious pain management (other than the Vicodin and muscle relaxants she's been on) until we can have surgery scheduled for sometime in early June. Since her Mom and sibs all had this, she's got great emotional support behind her.
As the Lord puts it on your heart, please be in prayer for my wife. Surgery is always a scary thing even in the best of situations, and her mother had a particularly bad experience - she ended up paralyzed for three months. Thanks so much."
- Turkey: Ministry expresses dismay over "insulting Turkishness". The three-year-old case against two Turkish Christians accused of "insulting Turkishness" is moving forward. A 2008 penal code amendment changed the charge to "insulting the nation of Turkey." Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs explains, "For these Turkish believers to witness to other Muslims, to encourage them to change their faith, is seen as insulting their faith, which is so wrapped up in their identity that it becomes an offense to the very nation." Nettleton thinks the pair was set up. "It seems like people came and asked them questions while the police were videotaping what was going on. It seems very clear they were targeted." Believers who are sharing their faith are being extra careful now. The next hearing on the case is May 28. Pray. "It's such a stretch to think that two Christians talking about Jesus on the street could somehow insult the entire nation of Turkey. We need to pray for justice and pray that the truth will come out through this trial process."
Source: Mission Network News, 27 March 2009. Full story: http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12477
- Pneuma Foundation member, PW in Kenya, writes: "Thank you very much for your prayers for the orphan children and widows that we minister to."
- Muslim-background Christians tortured in Libya. Please pray for Muslim-background Christians in Libya. International Christian Concern has learned that Libyan intelligence officials have detained and tortured four Christians for converting from Islam. The Christians have been detained for several weeks in Tripoli, and security agents have barred the families from visiting them. Officials want these converts to reveal the names of others. You can help the detainees by contacting the Libyan Embassy, starting at: http://www.mnnonline.org/article/12407
Source: Mission Network News, 11 March, 2009
- Uzbekistan: Russian Orthodox priest joins police raid on Baptists. Police in Uzbekistan "decided to invite" a Russian Orthodox priest to take part in a raid on a group of Baptists, a police officer has told Forum 18 News Service. Father Igor Skorik of Almalyk's Assumption of the Mother of God Church pressured Baptists not to attend unregistered worship and to come to his church instead, church members told Forum 18. The use of a cleric of one religious community to pressure members of another in cooperation with the authorities is a disturbing new development. The raid on a private home was led by Major Urazali Kholbekov, from the Tashkent Regional Criminal Investigation and Counter-Terrorism Department, who apparently arranged for Fr Skorik to take part in the raid. Fr Igor claimed he did not violate the law by taking part. "I was not there to check up on the Baptists but to just advise them," he insisted. Local Baptists point out that the raid and Fr Skorik's participation violates both Uzbek law and international human rights law. Church members were arrested, and police claimed Baptists were "at risk of danger in the case of a terrorist act which could be carried out by people in their home".
Read the full article: http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1276
Source: Forum18, 31 March 2009
- Pastor David in Uganda writes: "Thank you for all you are doing in the kingdom of God. I have just come back from Kerebu district where we saw 742 souls turning to Jesus, praise God. I would like to say that the church is doing well and the joy of the Lord is with us. But our challenge is that we are still renting and our land lord has given us a warning that he wants his building, so we need your prayers. My prayer request is that we may buy the church land in Kaliro town that is a good location."
- The World Evangelical Alliance, in their Religious Liberty Commission postings for prayer, offered this written prayer:
LORD GOD, We lament and grieve that secular governments around the world are failing to tackle the difficult issues of religious totalitarianism and religious nationalism - a failure that enables these dangerous ideologies to advance unchallenged.
We also acknowledge that worldwide the Church generally is failing to speak up for religious liberty and for the victims of religious persecution - primarily for lack of courage and understanding; and failing to pray - primarily for lack of faith and brotherly love.
Regarding Indonesia and India, please pray that God:
* in his mercy will provide moderating forces to hold the balance of power in these democracies, so that Islamisation cannot freely advance in Indonesia and Hindutva cannot freely advance in India.
* will raise up voices in society, government, media and the Church to challenge religious totalitarianism, intolerance and hatred, and to support religious liberty, for the sake of the Church he loves and the nations he created.
"O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble." (Isaiah 33:2 ESV)
Source: WEA Religious Liberty Commission - RLP 523 | Indonesia & India: Critical Elections Need Prayer