The December 2008 PNEUMA INFORMER
In this issue
"Faith, Hope and the Christ-child" by Elizabeth Kendal
While the incarnation and the cross are stumbling blocks and folly to many, to those with faith they confirm some of God's great truths:
1 God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8,9).
2 Something awesome and magnificent, like the Kingdom of God, can emanate from something small and insignificant, like a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31,32).
3 God chooses what is foolish, weak and despised in the world to shame that which is considered wise, strong and lofty, so that the one who boasts should boast only in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:18-31).
These are very important truths for anyone at any time. But to a humble believer facing overwhelming odds, they can be a lifeline to hope.
The decline of Islam from the late 17th Century until the 1970s, along with the rise of the 'Christian' West through the reformation, renaissance, industrial revolution and two world wars, followed by the failure of Communism in the 1980s, resulted in what many described as a 'new world order'. For a short stretch of time approximately from 1985 to 2005 global religious liberty and security generally improved despite escalating Islamic terrorism and the persistence of civil wars and dictatorships. Well those days have most certainly ended now, having amounted to little more than a small blip on the timeline of history. Reformed and revived, intolerant and imperialistic Islam is back and the West's (primarily America's) economic leverage, which has for a decade now been used to promote and even advance religious liberty around the world, has evaporated. Sweet dreams of worldwide harmonious interaction and co-operation are being replaced with nightmares of violent and repressive ethnic and religious nationalism, globalised terror, imperialistic jihad, insecurity, poverty, uncertainty and injustice with impunity.
But those with faith are not without hope. Salvation did not come by means of a muscle-bound, Greek-style, wresting warrior-god. Our deliverer did not arrive in a majestic Roman chariot with legions on fine horses behind him. Satan was not defeated by physical or military might. God, in all his perfection and wisdom, secured our salvation and revealed his glory to the heavens and the earth through Jesus Christ: a baby in a manger in a stable; a Jewish carpenter in Roman-occupied Judea; a homeless, wandering preacher; a naked, battered and bloodied crucified man. It is no wonder that the gospel has been described as a 'great mystery'. And in these dark days, we should know that more often than not, God's ongoing work of sanctification is equally mysterious.
This Christmas, as we remember and celebrate the Christ-child, let us pray that all Christians everywhere may be inspired and filled with hope. May we all - regardless of our circumstances - look to, trust in, and cling to God, whose ways are mysterious, hidden and higher than ours.
Elizabeth Kendal is the Principal Researcher and Writer for the World Evangelical Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and is the mother of four children. While she has degrees in Music and education, God gave her a painful passion for the persecuted Church and for religious liberty, and a calling to devote her life to helping keep the Church informed about what is going on in the world in terms of religious persecution and repression of religious freedom. She firmly believes that informed prayer has a strategic role to play in God's fulfilling his of promises, through the Church. All her work is posted under "Religious Liberty" on the website of the Australian Evangelical Alliance: http://www.ea.org.au
From the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Prayer List. "RLP 510 | Christmas 2008: Faith, Hope and the Christ-child." Used with permission.
The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty issues, and in particular to uphold the Church where it is suffering persecution.
Reports from Around the World
Special Report: Aldwin Ragoonath in India
Read this special report at PneumaReview.com: Ministry in India: 2008 Report
, Ph.D., is a trained homiletician with over twenty years of pastoral experience in the Caribbean and Canada. His ministry is devoted to helping pastors develop their preaching gift, teaching Pentecostal preaching courses and facilitating seminars around the world.
Source: Agape Teaching Ministry, December 2008 Newsletter. www.atmc.ca
Philippines: One woman's faithfulness
News and Headlines
Special Report from Dave and Debbie Johnson
Bad news and bailouts seem to be the order of the day. If the news media is reporting accurately, the economic future looks bleak, at least humanly speaking. As we all know, people have lost their jobs, and there is evidence that giving to missions may be down in some cases.
Want some good news?
Her name is Maricel Villar, a young lady now in her mid twenties, who lives in a town in our part of the Philippines. One day a few years ago, we came to her city for a Good News Rally, which was held outdoors at a location near her home. When Maricel's mother heard the meeting going on, she and her three children, including Maricel, decided to attend.
At the Rally, they heard about a Savior who changes people's lives, setting them free from the tyranny of sin, and giving them a peace, joy, and purpose in life that they had never known before. When they expressed an interest in following Jesus, they were given literature provided by Light-for-the-Lost, and the pastor of the local Assembly of God church, Reverend Palermo Molina, came to their home for follow up Bible Studies and invited them to church. Somewhere in the process, Jesus changed their lives.
About the same time Maricel became the chairperson of a local community youth organization. When people found out that she had become a born-again Christian and had left Roman Catholicism, they began to persecute her for not participating in the local Catholic traditions that were informally expected of someone in her position. But Maricel was determined to fulfill the non-religious obligations of her position and remain true to her new found faith. She cried out to the Lord for strength, and he heard her cry. Pastor Molina also gave her godly counsel and support.
By God's grace, Maricel stood firm in Christ and, in time, won the respect of the community. Today, she is married and has a fine son. She is an active member of Pastor Molina's church and is a faithful witness for Christ in the local government office where she is currently employed. Through your prayers and financial support, the seed of God's good news was sown in her heart through our evangelistic ministry. It was watered by a faithful, local Assemblies of God pastor, and God brought the increase. All glory to God!
Now that's good news!
Dave Johnson, M.Div., D.Miss. (Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines), is an Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines. Dave and his wife Debbie are involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission leadership.
for Current News and Links
- North Korea: Return to Isolation (WEA RLC). http://www.worldevangelicals.org/commissions/rlc/reports/articles.htm?id=2251
- Nigeria: Religious Violence Explodes December 3: "A Muslim pogrom against Christians erupted in Jos, central Nigeria, last weekend after reports that the Christian-dominated People's Democratic Party had won the council elections, defeating the Muslim, pro-Sharia All Nigeria Peoples Party. The Christian death toll is likely to be over 100. At least 16 churches have been burnt and four pastors are confirmed dead. Up to 400 Muslims died in clashes with police and security forces. Of the 500 Muslims arrested, most are outsiders who arrived days in advance, some wearing fake military uniforms" (WEA RLC). http://www.worldevangelicals.org/commissions/rlc/reports/articles.htm?id=2253 |
- "Violence Smothers Jos in Smoke" Eyewitness in Jos, Nigeria describes the crisis and the need for peace (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/decemberweb-only/149-32.0.html
- Swedish Pastor's Call for Unity Criticized Some observers say charismatic minister Ulf Ekman is opening the door too wide to Catholicism (CharismaNews). http://www.charismamag.com/cms/news/archives/112408.php
- Oral Roberts U. to Cut 100 Jobs Spokesman says the cuts are mainly to offset the school's $17 million deficit (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2008/11/oral_roberts_u.html
- India: Worst flooding in 50 years devastates the poor (Christian Aid). http://www.christianaid.org/needs/IndiaFloods2008.aspx
- Biblical Archaeology: Unearthing a Biblical Past (Ministry Today News). http://www.ministrytodaymag.com/ministry_report/2008-11-25/story1.htm
- USA: "Conservative Anglicans Launch 'Reformation'" The Common Cause Partnership, led by Bishop Robert Duncan, unveiled a provisional constitution on December 3 to form a conservative branch of the Anglican Church in North America.(CharismaNews). http://charismamag.com/cms/news/archives/120508.php |
- Conservative Anglicans Create Rival Church Top leader Duncan expects to see Episcopal Church 'displaced' (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/decemberweb-only/149-43.0.html
- J. Lee Grady gives us Charisma's Top Newsmakers of 2008 http://fireinmybones.com/index.php?col=121008%7ECharisma%E2%80%99s%20Top%20Newsmakers%20of%202008
- Christianity Today's Top News Stories of 2008 The events, people, and debates of the past year that Christianity Today's editors and writers believe have shaped, or will significantly shape, evangelical life, thought, or mission. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/special/toptennews2008.html
- Obituary: Dr. Gary B. McGee, longtime Assemblies of God educator, slipped from this life into the arms of his loving Savior shortly before noon on December 10, 2008. http://agts.edu/faculty/mcgee.html
- Richard Cizik Resigns from the National Association of Evangelicals Longtime lobbyist and media spokesman recently said 'I'm shifting' on gay unions (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/decemberweb-only/150-42.0.html
- Farmer Sees 'Revival' In South Africa Farmer-turned-evangelist Angus Buchan says he is seeing revival in South Africa, which has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world (CharismaNews). http://www.charismamag.com/cms/news/archives/121008.php
- Russia: Still no accountability Eight months after violent assault on a Pentecostal church in April 2008, no attackers have been convicted (Forum 18). http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1227
- California Shuts Down Abortion Clinics A network of abortion clinics in a Hispanic community have closed down and its owner could face nearly 20 years in prison (CharismaNews). http://charismamag.com/cms/news/archives/1208081.php
- Indonesia: "Cases of religious violence up" by Adianto P. Simamora (The Jakarta Post, 11 Dec 2008). On the eve of enactment of a repressive censorship law that threatens human rights, this report points out that many acts of religious violence are already being carried out by the state. Recommended by E.K. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/12/11/cases-religious-violence-report.html
- Russia: Chill begins to bite for Moscow Pentecostals State pressure increases to keep Protestants from public worship (Forum18). http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1232
- "Searching for the Star of Bethlehem" A new theory makes the news. But are 21st-century astronomers looking in the wrong place? (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/decemberweb-only/151-51.0.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
Thoughts to Ponder: Solitude and Quiet
"We Christians must simplify our lives or lose untold treasures on earth and in eternity. Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible. The need for solitude and quietness was never greater than it is today."
— A. W. Tozer
"Loneliness is inner emptiness, solitude is inner fulfillment."
"Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life."
— Henri Nouwen
"There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God."
— Brother Lawrence
"Jesus cannot teach us anything until we quiet all our intellectual questions and get alone with him."
— Oswald Chambers
Conversations with Readers
The mission of the Pneuma Foundation is: "To lead Pentecostal/charismatic believers to a greater understanding of God's Word and assisting church leaders in equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. We also long for greater dialogue between Evangelicals about doctrine, and by way of an open forum, to promote Biblically-centered theological discussion on the gifts of the Spirit."
Thank you for your commitment to the Pneuma Foundation vision and purpose. Through your faithfulness you provide excellent, significant and needed resources for both the academy and the church.
Responding to the September 2008 Pneuma Informer:
Thanks for keeping me posted. God bless.
— Pastor Jose in the Philippines
I liked Raul Mock's review of Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy.
The review appeared originally in the Fall 2008 issue of THE PNEUMA REVIEW and was featured in the October-Novemeber 2008 issue of the PNEUMA INFORMER. Read the review: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/pi.jsp?pi=/2008/pi_1011_2008.xml#N65788
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
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For a full index of the contents of all Pneuma Review issues, visit: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/pr_archive.jsp.
Book Review: Dangerous Surrender
From the Fall 2008 issue
Kay Warren, Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes To God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 255 pages, ISBN 0310258901.
Read the entire review at PneumaReview.com: Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes To God
John Lathrop, M.A. (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies (formerly the Christian Church of North America). John currently serves as a pastor at the Christian Pentecostal Church of Newton, Massachusetts.
Read more reviews and articles from the Fall 2008 issue of THE PNEUMA REVIEW www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jspArticle Excerpt: Transforming: The Church as Agent of Change in the Story of Zacchaeus
From the Fall 2008 issue
Transforming: The Church as Agent of Change in the Story of Zacchaeus
To read the article in its entirety, visit PneumaReview.com: Transforming: The Church as Agent of Change in the Story of Zacchaeus
James D. Hernando, earned a B. A. in Bible at Northeast Bible College, a M. Div. at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, a M. Phil. and Ph. D. in New Testament from Drew University. He also holds a BA and MS in Education from the SUNY at New Paltz. He is currently a Professor of New Testament and Chairman of the Bible and Theology Department at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Professor Hernando has written a commentary on 2 Corinthians (Zondervan, 1997) and most recently and a Dictionary of Hermeneutics (Gospel Publishing House, 2005). http://www.agts.edu/faculty/hernando.html
Footnotes appear with the full article in the Fall 2008 issue of THE PNEUMA REVIEW www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jspBook Review Excerpt: New Faces of Christianity and God's Continent
From the Fall 2008 issue
Philip Jenkins, The New Faces of Christianity: Reading the Bible in the Global South (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). x + 252 pages, ISBN 0195300653.
Philip Jenkins, God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). ix + 340 pages, ISBN 0195313956.
Read the full review at PneumaReview.com: The New Faces of Christianity: Reading the Bible in the Global South
Reviewed by Amos Yong
Amos Yong, is Research Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Doctor of Philosophy Program at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Yong has served as a pastor, educator, conference speaker, and is the author of numerous papers and books including The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Pentecostalism and the Possibility of Global Theology (Baker Academic, 2005), Theology and Down Syndrome: Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity (Baylor University Press, 2007), and Hospitality and the Other: Pentecost, Christian Practices, and the Neighbor (Orbis Books, 2008). He and his wife, Alma, currently reside with their three children in Chesapeake, Virginia. http://www.regent.edu/acad/schdiv/faculty_staff/yong.shtml
Read the rest of this review and many other articles in the Fall 2008 issue of THE PNEUMA REVIEW www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jsp
Resources You Can Use
Ministering to the Unemployed
Christian businessman Chuck Fridsma, an "outplacement" specialist, talks about his experience counseling those losing their jobs and about when he himself was fired.
Short Message Service: Free mass-SMS software program for non-profits
From the FrontlineSMS website: "A lack of communication can be a major barrier for grassroots non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in developing countries. FrontlineSMS is the first text messaging system created exclusively with this problem in mind.
"By leveraging basic tools already available to most NGOs - computers and mobile phones - FrontlineSMS enables instantaneous two-way communication on a large scale. It's easy to implement, simple to operate, and best of all, the software is free."
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMS for an introduction to this mobile phone text messaging communication technology.
Source: Web Evangelism Newsletter Oct-Nov 08
- Pakistan on a precipice, with the Church at risk. The security situation in Pakistan is deteriorating. Al-Qaeda-Taliban jihadists, having already captured most of the north-western tribal regions, are escalating their terror right in the heart of Peshawar, the capital city of North West Frontier Province. They are also ramping up their terror attacks in Pakistan's major cities, including Islamabad. Pakistan's Christians have seen their rights and security decline over nearly three decades of advancing Islamisation and escalating radicalisation. Pakistan's blasphemy law is one of the most insidious tools of religious persecution in the world today. An al-Qaeda-Taliban victory in Pakistan would be disastrous for global security and totally devastating for Pakistan's three million Christians (two percent of the population), some of whom are already suffering under Taliban rule in the north-west. Please pray for the Church in Pakistan.
Source: WEA Religious Liberty Commission - RLP 505 | Pakistan: On a precipice - Church at risk
- Please join with the volunteer staff of the Pneuma Foundation, praying that God will enable us to continue to carry out the mission He has entrusted us with. We currently are in need of financial resources, volunteers for website projects, appropriate articles for The Pneuma Review, and most of all your prayers that God will allow us to help equip others for effective ministry.
- Sudan: Hope Lingers but War Threatens. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ended the Sudan war between the Arab, Muslim North and the African, mainly Christian South. The CPA provides for elections in 2009 and a referendum on Southern separation in 2011. Southern leader Dr John Garang believed that if all opposition forces united, then the racist, Islamist, Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum could be toppled in the 2009 elections and ALL of Sudan would be liberated. When Dr Garang died mysteriously in 2005 his vision lost its momentum. Tensions have since escalated as Khartoum has flouted the CPA. However, Southern leaders are now working at building opposition unity ahead of the 2009 elections. The regime in Khartoum knows it cannot win against a united opposition and will doubtless seek to scuttle the elections, possibly through fomenting conflict. Please pray for Sudan's liberation.
Source: WEA Religious Liberty Commission - RLP 508 | Sudan: Hope Lingers but War Threatens
- Mike Knowles writes: "After more than a year and a half of waiting, Kelly and I have finally welcomed our 27-month-old foster son Kyle into our family - he has been officially adopted as of 3:30 pm on November 14, 2008 ... the answer to our prayers." Congratulations to Mike and Kelly. Mike has contributed numerous articles and reviews that have appeared in Pneuma Foundation publications.