The December 2004 PNEUMA INFORMER
In this issue
What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.orgNew Articles, Links, and other FeaturesNew Article from the PNEUMA REVIEW
New Guest Articles
- "Growing Deep, Growing Strong" by H. Murray Hohns. Why commitment to a local church is not just an option. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_0019.xml
- Find other articles, reviews, and editorials from the PNEUMA REVIEW on the PNEUMA REVIEW Articles index. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/articles_archive.jsp
New Download Resources
- Book Review: "Your Best Life Now A book by Joel Osteen, reviewed by H. Murray Hohns. Added December 18, 2004. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_guest0010.xml
- "Oxygen Masks" by Kevin M. Williams. A story of justice and judgment from the life of Jesus. Added November 24, 2004. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_guest0009.xml
- Find other articles, reviews, and sermons on the Guest Articles index. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/guest_articles.jsp
New In Depth Resources: Articles by Pentecostal/charismatic Scholars
- Download Resources Index: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/downloads.jsp
To save space and make downloading easier, most download resources are compressed into ZIP files. Latest versions of Mac and Windows operating systems have built-in unzipping tools, and older OS users can still download free utilities to do this (links are provided on the download resources page).
- The Temple, its Ministry and Services as they were at the Time of Jesus Christ by Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889). In Word 6.0/95 document format compressed for space.
- Sketches of Jewish Social Life Alfred Edersheim's classic work on cultural background in the time of Jesus. In Word 6.0/95 document format compressed for space.
- Find more great online articles http://www.pneumafoundation.org/web_article_archive.jsp
Also, be sure to check out the "What's New" section on the Pneuma Foundation homepage. New articles and other features are being added regularly.
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Reports from Around the World
Namibia: Lies of the Enemy
Under the cool shade of a tree the Gospel was presented to a small group of Hereros.
After the presentation of the Gospel, one man said, "What you are telling me makes sense. Everyone keeps telling us that we must do this or that to go to heaven. And once we get to heaven, we might not stay there."
"You're the first person to tell us what the Bible says and to let us see it for ourselves," he added. He told them that Jehovah's Witnesses where just there, but now they know the truth.
To adopt the Herero people for prayer or for more information, please visit http://www.forgottenpeoples.info
Source: Brigada Today 2004/10/29. www.brigada.org Used with permission
The nation with the most missionaries is - India!
The India Missions Association is a union of 197 Indian missions agencies. In its October 2004 publication, Indian missionary Sam George writes "Between 1977 and 2002, Indian Christians became the largest cross-cultural missionary force in the world." Following political unrest in 1977, many foreign missionaries were expelled from India. As a result, Indian Christians were forced to take responsibility for evangelizing their neighbors instead of leaving it to the foreigners. Today, there are over 44,000 full-time Indian missionaries working outside their own culture, organized in more than 500 missions agencies.
Expulsion of foreign missionaries "was the best thing which could have happened to India"
"The expulsion of foreign missionaries in 1977, now known as 'The Emergency', may have been the best thing which could have happened to take the Gospel to India," writes George. Their expulsion was in effect a blessing in disguise.
The repression and persecution of Christianity in China and India in recent years have dispersed the Christians throughout both nations. Both colonialism and globalization have spread Indians throughout the world; there are Indians in over 120 nations. George asks "Is it possible that in the next 20 years, India will have not only the largest number of domestic missionaries, but also the largest number of overseas missionaries in the world?"
(Use a fixed-width font such as Courier to view this table.)
Nation Native domestic Foreign missionaries Overseas missionaries
missionaries in the nation
England 2,498 1,681, from 54 nations, 10,604 in 198 nations,
in 171 mission agencies 183 mission agencies
USA 17,703 1,873, from 115 nations, 60,200 in 220 nations,
in 139 mission agencies 631 mission agencies
Korea 1,636 1,311 from 41 nations, 10,646 in 156 nations,
in 46 mission agencies 166 mission agencies
Brazil 3,985 3,100 from 41 nations, 4,754 in 100 nations,
in 205 mission agencies 132 mission agencies
India 44,000 6,000 in 184 mission 5,000 in over 40
In the early 1990's, South Korean Christians set the aim of sending out 10,000 missionaries by the year 2000. They almost reached their aim, and there are now nearly 11,000 South Korean overseas missionaries, making South Korea the second largest missionary nation in the world, following the USA. The Chinese underground house churches aim to send out 100,000 missionaries by the year 2010. India, like China, has one huge asset: people. "So, " concludes George, "would it be possible to send 100,000 Indian missionaries overseas in the next 20 years?"
Source: Sam George www.imaindia.org by way of Friday Fax 2004/43. Used with permission.
Other News and Headlines
for Current News and Links
- Canadian Supreme Court Backs Same-Sex Marriage (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- China: New crackdownA series of arrests and raids in recent months indicate that a new crackdown is underway against Christians, even as the government professed its willingness to liberalize its policies on religion. (CharismaNOW) http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10184
- Iraq: Two Churches Bombed (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/149/21.0.html
- "Winking at Corruption No More" Christians help lead a worldwide movement opposing graft. (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/011/25.66.html
- Worldwide Persecution Watch: Indonesia 12 churches in Rancaekek ordered to close their doors. (CharismaNOW) http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10104
Uzbekistan Police recently raided a church in the capital of Tashkent during Sunday worship, declaring the service an "illegal religious meeting" and demanding the pastor promise to stop all the church's activities. (CharismaNOW) http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10145
China arrests leader of unofficial church as part of new crackdown State security agents arrested a prominent member of the unofficial Chinese Protestant church as part of a renewed crackdown on religious activities outside Communist Party control, an overseas activist group reported Friday (Associated Press) http://asia.news.yahoo.com/041112/ap/d86a46vo4.html
India A Gospel for Asia pastor who was recently kidnapped has been released. Pastor Tulsiram, who leads a church in Chattisgarh, was freed on Oct. 6. A day earlier, Tulsiram and Vijay, another pastor from his church, were preparing to baptize new believers when they were beaten in front of their congregation and dragged away. (CharismaNOW) http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10141
- Youth Pastor Helps Rescue Texas Children Abandoned in Nigeria (CharismaNOW) http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9648
- China's Christians suffer for their faith (BBC News)
- USA: Immigrants find what they could not in China: Faith (Union Leader)
- Special Bulletin about Paul Cain by Rick Joyner, Mike Bickle, and Jack Deere from Morning Star Ministries
- Kosovo: Boot on the other foot Serbs now need protection from Albanians as churches and homes are being burned. Report from a KFOR military chaplain (Forum18). http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=449
Related story: Christians in Kosovo Face Challenges in Reaching Nation's Muslim Majority (CharismaNOW) http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10142
- State Department Adds Saudi Arabia to 'Worst of Worst' Persecutors List Eritrea and Vietnam also added as "countries of particular concern" after years of pressure. (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- Vietnam: New law takes effect House-church leaders are requesting urgent prayer for Christians in the communist nation as a new restrictive law on religion is due to take effect on Nov. 15. (CharismaNOW)
- Nigeria: "Mutual Mayhem: A plea for peace and truth in the madness of Nigeria." by Craig S. Keener (ChristianityTodayOnline)
More from Nigeria: Muslim militants have threatened to kill Christian nurses unless they stop conducting worship services at a hospital (CharismaNOW)
- USA: Episcopal Priests Repent of Druidism (ChristianityTodayOnline, Nov. 5)
Follow the development of this story: Episcopal Church Officially Promotes Idol Worship "Women's Eucharist" calls for worship of pagan deities specifically condemned in Scripture (Oct. 26, ChristianityTodayOnline). Guess what is no longer linked on the Episcopal Church USA's page for Women's Worship Resources? (Oct. 27, ChristianityTodayOnline). Episcopal Church's Office of Women's Ministries responds (Oct. 28, ChristianityTodayOnline). Episcopal Bishop Investigating Clergy on Charges of Paganism (Nov. 2, Religion News Service)
- Britain rejects ban on spanking children A total ban on parents "smacking" their children was rejected overwhelmingly by MPs (The Telegraph, London). See also the Associate Press story.
- USA: Pro-Family Groups Laud Landslide Victory for Traditional Marriage (CharismaNOW)
- Cambodia: Khmer Rouge embraces Jesus Pol Pot's ruthless killers are repenting their sins (The Observer, London)
- North Korea: Christians subject to biological tests Christians in North Korea have been subjected to biological warfare experiments and tortured, a U.S. government report says. (The Korea Herald)
- Religious freedom in India has improved according to: US report (The Hindu)
- Editorial: Confronting evil--and steering clear of it ourselves by Chi-Dooh Li (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- Worldwide Persecution Alerts: Iran: Authorities have refused to give any reason for the arrest and prolonged detention of an Assemblies of God lay pastor (CharismaNOW)
Iraq: Five Baghdad Churches Bombed (ChristianityTodayOnline)
Pakistan: Still no suspects in Institute of Peace and Justice case After 2 years, investigators have still found no murder suspects in the Christian welfare agency massacre (CharismaNOW).
Mexico: Seven Christian families forced to flee their homes by an angry mob (CharismaNOW).
- Nigeria: "Back to the Basics" by Obed Minchakpu in Jos. Christian-Muslim violence requires a "new" missions strategy: Forgiveness and love. (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- Pakistan: Parliament aims to stop abuse of blasphemy law Pakistan's national assembly has passed a bill aimed at reducing abuse of harsh blasphemy laws that have been the subject of fierce criticism from minorities and human rights groups (AFP)
- China's religion unit grants more freedom China plans to allow more autonomy for religious groups and curb arbitrary state interference in their activities, a Religious Affairs Bureau official said. (The Washington Times)
- China to Consider Resuming Human Rights Talks Colin Powell has said that China had agreed to discuss the American request for a new dialogue over the detention of Chinese citizens without due process and other human rights violations. The talks broke off earlier this year because of Chinese objections to American criticism of its practices (The New York Times)
- Religious rights group sues L.A. over Messianic Jews' banner City refused to permit the display of a banner with the phrase "Jews who believe in Jesus." (Associated Press) http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20041026-0631-ca-religionsuit.html
- Preachers sent to police custody A local court today sent five Christian preachers to police custody till November 4 for their alleged involvement in inciting communal feelings (The Hindu) www.hindu.com/2004/10/25/stories/2004102501831300.htm
- "Blockbuster" Church/State Case: U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Controversial Ten Commandments Display (Liberty Counsel)
- Editorial: When churches head left America's mainline Protestant churches are turning their political policymaking over to fringe leftists whose deepest instinct is to blame America and pummel Israel whenever possible (John Leo, U.S. News & World Report)
- A modern Molech? 'Back-Alley Abortions' in the 21st Century A British newspaper finds a late-term conspiracy between country's largest abortion provider and a Spanish clinic. (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- Veli-Matti Karkkainen back at Fuller Pentecostal/charismatic scholar Veli-Matti Karkkainen, a tenured professor of theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, says he is happy to be back home in California following a month-long exile to his native Finland. (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- Turkey's Christians Hope EU Entry Provides New Freedoms (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- Editorial: "We're Still Supporting Slavery" New efforts to stop U.S. troops from visiting prostitutes abroad are a good step, but let's not whitewash what's happening. (ChristianityTodayOnline)
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
Responses from Readers
I have grown to appreciate the Pneuma Foundation website more and more through the past several years. I am persuaded that what it offers is much more than just media materials, but an atmosphere for a community of believers as well. This was the reason I submitted several of my research papers, hoping that they will help the vision of the Pneuma Foundation.
Thank you for everything. Our daily prayers are with you all.
Greetings in the name of Jesus!
We carefully reviewed your statements of Mission, Purposes and Principles, and have found that we have much in common. What a blessing to find you and know others share these same concerns and urgency for sound biblical teaching.
Commenting on the Foundation's Extensive list of Pentecostal/charismatic Bible schools: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/links_schools.jsp
"Thank you for your help in letting the body of Christ know about what schools are available to them in their area."
May God keep blessing your ministry. You are making materials available to folks all around the world that can't be found anywhere else. Thanks so much.
Thanks for the kind offer of a complimentary issue. I am really blessed that you would send me one, though I will now have to beg my wife for money for a subscription [smile].
Well God bless you guys richly over there at the Pneuma Foundation.
"It's the Season for Gifts" by H. Murray Hohns
Scripture contains the Apostle Paul's exclamation, "Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift." This gift is the surpassing grace that God offers to you, to me and to all, the gift that God revealed in Jesus Christ 2000 years ago.
To be sure God's grace was here even before the beginning of the world began, yet Scripture tells us that grace and truth came by Jesus and that the law came by Moses. This law, too, was a gift. A gift that tells us the secrets of successful living; how we were designed to function best; how our actions and thoughts can unleash untold unimaginable blessings for us to enjoy all our days.
Stop and think of God's gifts to us: life, our families, our talents, grace, truth, hope, tomorrow, creation in all its splendor, a Savior and a Comforter to name a few. This indeed is the time of year to be jolly; to remember that all our years and all our fears were met in the little town of Bethlehem the night that Christ was born.
No wonder the world has set aside a season each year to celebrate our joy and our thanks for the love of God who rewards us for seeking his ways, who watches over our lives, who is ever calling us, who sends his sunshine and rain, his blessings on all of us whether we acknowledge him or not.
Can you imagine that we celebrate Christmas because God loves the ungodly? He does just that! This is the reason for this season, for Christmas trees, decorations, sleigh bells, colored lights, wonderful displays, carols and special songs, seasons greetings, getting in touch with so many dear ones, childhood dreams, Santa Claus and his reindeer, presents under the tree, feasts, cookies, fancy treats and scrumptious desserts. This is the season to share who God is and what He has given to each of us: His Love in Christ for us, the ungodly, who do not deserve such a gift! An Unspeakable Gift! How marvelous! How wonderful! Joy unfathomable and full of glory!
We, too, can be unspeakable gifts. Yes, we can. You can be the most wonderful gift anyone can receive, and you already know how to be that gift. Be marvelous and wonderful to those you love and know. Merry Christmas, this is the best time of the year!
H. Murray Hohns is a retired civil engineer and technical writer. He is an ordained Foursquare minister, an instructor at Pacific Rim Bible College in Hawaii, serves on his denomination's national financial council, and is a regular contributor to the PNEUMA REVIEW and PNEUMA INFORMER.
Resources You Can Use
Readers Unite: LogosWord Review
When the academic world today is often anti-Christian, an evangelical's views on what books to read can help steer learners clear of secular minefields.
The LogosWord Review (www.readersunite.com) has been created in the hopes of providing helpful evangelical guidance for Christian readers in their intellectual development, in any area of academic study, whether it's mathematics, medicine, music, meteorology... or whatever. Christian readers & thinkers are offered the chance to write engaging book reviews and come up with some commented book lists on their special subject areas, helping beginners, intermediates and their colleagues come to grips with their particular areas of expertise - and hopefully improving their knowledge of other disciplines too as they browse through the forum!
If you are interested, bookmark the archive and let others know about it (www.readersunite.com/tellfriend.htm) - and, of course, please contribute to it! Comments, suggestions and criticisms are also very welcome. With sufficient contributions, this site has the potential to become a valuable resource for the body of Christ. So if you've read a good book lately, please come along and share your thoughts. You do not have to submit a brand new book review or book list either; feel free to post ones you may have written earlier. We look forward to hearing from you. You can read about the ethos behind this project in more detail at www.readersunite.com/about.htm.
Thoughts to Ponder
"Our only task is to seek willingness. This radical willingness will, if we are faithful to it, shatter every idea we have about ourselves; about our inner growth and transformation; about living a Christian life; about contemplation and our relationship to the world; about God."
Source: Maggie Ross
"Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best."
Source: Henry Van Dyke
"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading , or do things worth writing [about]."
Source: Benjamin Franklin
""The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose."
Source: Rick Warren
"All that we do
Is touched with ocean, yet we remain
On the shore of what we know."
Source: Richard Wilbur
"A faith that does not drive me to the hurting and bleeding of humanity is a false faith."
Source: Richard Foster
"True godliness does not turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it."
Source: William Penn
Excerpts from the Winter 2005 issue of 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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From the article "The Johannine Anointing: Focusing on Truth" by Robert Graves
. . .
The distinctive marks of the Lukan anointing are the accompanying, mighty acts of God (such as, healings, exorcisms, evangelism). The Johannine anointing, on the other hand, is the chrisma (only John uses this word in its noun form). Its effect is more internal and thus hidden from the view of others. (It is not to be confused with Paul's unrelated term charisma.) It cannot be said that the Lukan anointing abides, and it cannot be said that all Christians have it, whereas the Johannine anointing (chrisma) is had by all Christians (1 John 2:20) and abides (1 John 2:27). The Johannine anointing teaches and lends assurance to the believer that he has the truth and should remain in Christ (1 John 2:27; cf. 2 Cor. 1:21-22); the Lukan anointing enables one to be a teacher and lead others to Christ or further in Christ. Whereas the Lukan anointing is evidenced by external, mighty deeds of God for the performance of God's will, the Johannine anointing is the quiet, inner witness of the Spirit, which certifies the truth of a teaching.
. . .
The Johannine Anointing for Today's Christian
In the first century, John was writing to Spirit-endowed believers (3:24; 4:13) who were being seduced by super-spiritualists, whom some have identified as Gnostics; however, John identifies them as antichrists (such a one denies the Anointed One, the Christos, 2:22). Inasmuch as the chrisma serves to certify the truth of "all things" (2:27), false statements to the contrary would be anti-chrisma, making John's "antichrist" identification both logical, rhetorically pleasing, and apropos. The common thread in the various branches of Gnosticism was and still is the Gnostic's claim to greater and higher knowledge, usually of an esoteric and thus unverifiable origin and nature. The Gnostics of John's day were denying the humanity and incarnation of Jesus. This eventually led to the denial of the efficacy of the atonement and the trinitarian concept of the godhead.3 The teachings of today's super-spiritualists eventually deny the sovereignty of God, the Lordship of Christ, and the servanthood of the believer. These historic, biblical doctrines are denied by many teachers today who place man at the center with God in orbit around him.
Unfortunately, Pentecostal/charismatics, more than other Christians, have gravitated toward these unscriptural teachings. Therefore, a reminder of the Johannine anointing from Pentecostal/charismatic leaders would be in order. John reminded his readers of the teachings they received in the beginning; these were the truths in which they should continue (1 John 2:24). In the beginning, they had received an anointing, but some were discarding it and opening themselves up to seducing teachers. They left their beginning and no longer relied upon the Teacher or Paraclete (John 14:26) who, in fact, gave them their beginning through the teachings of the apostles (1:1-5a; 4:5-6).
. . .
Read the rest of this article in the Winter 2005 issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW
Book Review: Gift and Giver by Craig S. Keener
Gift & Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today. Craig S. Keener. Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, 2001). 224 pages.
Craig Keener, a New Testament professor at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has already made a name for himself in the world of biblical studies. The present work on the Holy Spirit will undoubtedly introduce his name also to the field of pneumatology. Gift & Giver is a concise and well-written book on the Holy Spirit. Its outline may as well be called exemplary, its goal and informative value priceless. Published by an academic publishing house, the book speaks well to a much wider audience than the academic world. From the perspective of the latter, one could also entitle the book "Discerning the Holy Spirit." The framework of the book is formed by a discussion of the discernment and recognition of the Spirit and spiritual gifts. However, the decisive question for Keener is, "How do we discern the Spirit's work today?" It is this question of applicability to our lives today that elevates the book beyond many of its academic contemporaries.
Keener admits that much of the material of the book is based on his earlier work 3 Crucial Questions about the Holy Spirit. However, the reorganization of that material and the application of biblical principles to daily life through personal stories of the author make Gift & Giver a more accessible book for a wider Christian audience than its predecessor. The sharing of personal stories is no longer limited to authors of the charismatic and Pentecostal movements but has long found entrance into theology as a valuable tool of teaching, confirmation and illustration. Difficult biblical and theological issues are dealt with in a scholarly and pastorally sensitive manner that offers a refreshing perspective on the work of the Holy Spirit. Even if one disagrees with Keener's conclusions and personal insights at some points, the reader will remain challenged by the presentation of the biblical texts and their application to contemporary life.
The organization of the book is motivated by Keener's perspective on the need for revival and a fresh outpouring of God's Spirit today. The author's main concern is that many people are no longer able to discern and recognize the work of the Holy Spirit. In addition, a confusing array of different interpretations of the biblical texts that deal with the manifestations of the Spirit's work have left many Christians wondering about the correct understanding of the biblical truth. Keener suggests that the biblical text urges us to be more open to appropriate manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we should conform our experience to the witness of Scripture rather than Scripture to our own experience. Consequently, Keener urges his readers to discern the continuing presence of all spiritual gifts reported in biblical times in their own lives. For Keener, the Gift and the Giver have not changed, and the biblical witness offers all principles and examples necessary for the discernment of God's continuing work in our lives today.
In spite of the appeal to a wider audience, many Pentecostals will likely not agree with Keener's perspective on Spirit baptism and speaking in tongues. For example, he suggests that "tongues" in both Acts and 1 Corinthians refer only to genuine languages and that, consequently, any manifestation of tongues today should also be the same. It is Keener's personal experience which discredits the theological perspective held by many Pentecostals that tongues can also be spoken in a heavenly language. Here, Keener's principle of using personal testimony to verify and apply his interpretation of a biblical text is confronted with the reality that others have witnessed and described the language of tongues in equally credible terms and therefore hold different interpretations of the visible or audible manifestation of spiritual gifts.
Nevertheless, Keener's concern in this book is primarily pastoral rather than dogmatic. For him, the emphasis should be placed on the Giver not on the gift, and faith in the reality of a genuine gift does not mean that all manifestations of that gift are also genuine. In other words, Keener does not suggest that his interpretation should be accepted as normative. Instead, he directs the focus away from the diverging interpretations of Spirit baptism and its (sometimes excessive) manifestations toward a discernment of the Spirit's work as a whole and the purpose of spiritual gifts for evangelism, mission and unity. Keener wishes to provide resources for today's Christians who are often overwhelmed by a myriad of voices that take them into different directions. Gift & Giver urges all Christians to reexamine the biblical message of the Spirit's empowerment for the various tasks God has assigned us in the Church and in the world today. In that capacity, the book is a valuable contribution to a better understanding of the Holy Spirit for today.
Reviewed by Wolfgang Vondey
Read other book and periodical reviews in every issue of the Pneuma Review
- The staff of Northwestern Theological Seminary Pakistan has asked for prayer: "We have a target to enroll 2000 students for year 2005. Please pray for God to provide seminary branch teachers in order to open 400 branch seminaries throughout Pakistan. Please pray for our great vision of disciples that we will prepare for Christ. Pray for all finances and for God to touch all of the people which hear about the seminary and are admitted in our seminary. We are offering Free B.Th Degree."
- Pray for believers in Iran: Nine of 10 pastors and elders of the country's Assemblies of God (AG) Church who had been arrested were released Sunday, Sept. 12. Together with 70 other Christians, the leaders had gathered at the church's denominational center the prior Thursday, Sept. 9, in Karaj, 20 miles west of Tehran, when they were arrested, blindfolded, fingerprinted and interrogated by security officials, Compass Direct reported.
Later that evening, authorities released the 70 Christians. The leaders who were released serve in congregations located in Tehran, Urumiyeh, Rasht, Ahwaz, Boshahr and Karaj, Compass reported.
A tenth pastor, Hamid Pourmand, 47, has not returned to his home in Bandar-i Bushehr and is presumed to remain detained in the Karaj area, where he was initially arrested with the other AG leaders on Sept. 9.
"This is the biggest crisis for evangelical believers in the country since three Protestant pastors were murdered 10 years ago," a source told Compass.
News about the release of the pastors came just hours after Springfield, Mo.-based U.S. Assemblies of God World Missions urged its supporters to pray for the detained group.
As the world's only theocracy, Iran has strictly proscribed the activities of its Christian citizens, closing down their churches and arresting known converts to Christianity. Under Islamic law, apostates who leave Islam are subject to the death penalty.
Source: Charisma NOW Used with permission. http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9768
- A regular contributor to the PNEUMA REVIEW, Mike Knowles writes: "It was only this past April that Kelly went through 3 weeks in critical care. She's doing much better now -- just a couple of nasty scars, and a slight limp. Thank you for praying with us during that time.
"We do indeed have a major prayer request -- financial. We're in desperate straits. I am working, but in a job that ? doesn't pay enough.
"So we would really appreciate your prayers right now."
December 18 update: "Kelly and I just found out that our seasonal jobs will only be seasonal -- we haven't been hired permanently -- and our last day is Dec 20. So five days before Christmas, we are both unemployed again, with no income."
- Pray for believers in Vietnam: The Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship is urging Christians to pray for the protection of house churches, especially in light of Vietnam's new Ordinance on Religion, which was scheduled to become law on Nov. 15.
Source: Charisma NOW http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9706
- Alexandrina of Bulgaria, who is currently working on some translation projects for the Pneuma Foundation, has asked for prayer for her health, she has diabetes.
- Pastor Tulshi from Nepal asks for prayer: "We are pastors and evangelist committed to working in Nepal: for Evangelism (Outreach), discipleship (training), church planting and childcare. Please pray with us about these needs: 1.constructing a worship hall for believers
2. planting new churches in new tribes and more full time workers.
3. Financial supports for our Pastor and their children.
4. Financial supports for orphan children.
5. One computer and one camera for ministry work."
- Pray for believers in Belarus: Ongoing state obstruction of the worship services of the charismatic Full Gospel Association appears to make the concept of state registration under the repressive religion law meaningless. The deadline for the compulsory re-registration of all religious organisations is 17 November 2004. In Minsk for example, Forum 18 News Service has learnt that Pastor Andrei Sidor has been fined more than the average monthly salary for "violating regulations on holding religious events," by holding a service in his own home. Even though Pastor Sidor's congregation has state registration, the fine could still be upheld, as the authorities have not given him the approval from fire safety and sanitation officers that the religion law requires. Pastor Boris Chernoglaz of the Church of Jesus Christ told Forum
18 that "The authorities know that it is a serious trial for a church not to be able to gather together, that's why they do this." Many members of Belarus' religious minorities fear the consequences of the government implementing the repressive 2002 religion law.
Source: Forum 18 News Service. Read the full article: http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=445
- A ministry in Pakistan writes: "I am thankful for your prayers. We are doing evangelistic ministry in Pakistan, through a ministry named Christian Alliance Ministries. We are publishing books and evangelistic literature, and also have a website: www.geocities.com/caminpakistan/min.htm. Please pray that God would open a door for us."
- Pray for Christians in Nigeria: Police have arrested 10 Muslim militants for attacking a team of evangelists. According to police, the militants' action against the New Life for All gospel team on Nov. 23 provoked a violent clash with local Christians in Dutse, the capital of the state of Jigawa, located in the country's northern region, Compass Direct reported.
The incident reportedly resulted in two deaths and caused injuries to at least 20 people. Police said the 10 heavily armed extremists attacked the gospel team and members of the public during an open-air preaching event. Other Muslims reportedly joined in the fray, siding with the Christians against the extremist group. Police then arrived to restore order and arrested the militants.
"This attack [is the] second in a year in which Christians are being attacked without provocation," the Rev. Umaru Dutse of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) told Compass. "The attack by the Muslim fanatics took place as Christian evangelism groups went out on street evangelism."
New Life for All is an interdenominational gospel ministry launched in 1969 as a united effort of evangelical churches in northern Nigeria to preach the gospel in the area. According to CAN sources, members of the evangelistic team were among those injured in the attack.
In November 2003, Muslim extremists burned down 10 churches and destroyed more than 100 properties belonging to Christians in Kazaure town, located in Jigawa. A number of Christians were killed during the attacks.
"The attack on us is premeditated and [shows] continuous persecution of the Christian community here," Dutse said. "We have faced these attacks over the years, and the situation is becoming more difficult for us."
Source: Charisma NOW Used with permission. http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10239
- Pray for believers in India: Five Gospel for Asia (GfA) missionaries were recently abducted and falsely accused of robbery. On July 25, Lokesh, Yesuraj, Kumar, Anil and Ramesh were kidnapped by group of anti-Christians in the area of Karnataka.
The native evangelists were blamed for committing a robbery that took place in the community. Although they had received threats twice previously, the missionaries continued sharing their faith.
Ramesh managed to escape, but the other four missionaries were beaten and their Christian literature was torn up. "Kindly pray for these brothers," a GFA leader said, "that no harm will be done to them and that the authorities will come to know the truth."
Elsewhere, on July 17, a mob of 15 local Hindu farmers desecrated a Protestant church under construction in the tribal village of Rohiyal Talal, located in the northwest state of Gujarat, Compass Direct reported. The group demolished walls, iron gratings and windowpanes of the independent congregation.
No arrests have been made, but police officials have reportedly identified the assailants, some of whom are local leaders of the extremist Hindu organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Militants belonging to the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which lost ground in India's recent national elections, have distributed thousands of anti-Christian pamphlets accusing believers of forcibly converting impoverished Hindus to Christianity, Compass reported.
Source: Charisma NOW Used with permission. http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9735
- Pray for believers in Belarus: Minsk authorities have repeatedly refused to allow a 600-strong Protestant charismatic church to use a cowshed as a church, and the church is now banned from meeting for worship under Belarus' religion law, Forum 18 News Service has learned. The church bought the cowshed in the hope of rebuilding it, but the authorities have threatened to demolish the building and charge the church demolition costs, refused the church re-registration under burdensome new regulations, denied the church permission to rent anywhere for worship, and repeatedly sent police and OMON riot police to the church.
The church's pastor and administrator also face fines for leading unregistered worship. According to the authorities, the church is to blame for the problems. "This is all their fault," Aleksandr Kalinov of the State Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affairs told Forum 18.
Source: Forum 18 News Used with permission. http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=477
- Congratulations to John and Sandi Datema on the birth of their daughter Laci Rae Datema. She was born on Monday, November 15 and weighed 6lbs 15oz. John is family pastor at Woodview Christian Church in Wyoming, Michigan and is a friend to several of the Foundation volunteer staff.
- PNEUMA REVIEW contributing editor, Joe Joslin and his wife have returned safely with their newly adopted twin girls from Kazakhstan. You may still find their website journal of their journey here: www.joslintwins.com. Congratulations to the Joslins!
- Richard Twiss, a contributor to Pneuma Foundation publications, writes about the involvement his First Nations ministry had in bringing about historic reconciliation: "Lots of amazing things continue to bless our lives amidst the hectic schedules and pressing responsibilities. In [the October] issue of Charisma magazine is a great news report of some acreage being returned to the Wiyot Nation by the City of Eureka, California and the small role Wiconi International had in it. We held a Many Nations Celebration there in 2001 that the Tribal Chairwoman, Sharon Seidner credits as 'creating the atmosphere that made the deed-signing ceremony possible.'" Praise God for reconciliation. For more information about Many Nations One Voice conferences, visit www.wiconi.com