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The March 2006 PNEUMA INFORMER

In this issue

Changes coming to the PNEUMA INFORMER
What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.org
New Articles, Links, and other Features
Articles from the PNEUMA REVIEW
New Featured Online Articles
New Guest Articles
New Links and Content Worth Noticing
Highlighting Some Great Content
Reports from Around the World
USA: How can congregational churches be revitalized?
India: Christians Face Immediate and Long Term Threat
Bulgaria: The Evangelical Church
Burma: In God's Heart
Helping with Reports
Other News and Headlines
Report the News
News Release: Internet Evangelism Day 2006
Articles from the Spring 2006 issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW
Book Review: The Rise of Evangelicalism
From "Rightly Understanding God's Word: The Reader's Social Location"
Prayer Requests
Support the Pneuma Foundation

Changes coming to the PNEUMA INFORMER

Distribution of the Pneuma Informer changing soon.

This is fourth notice that in the coming months the editorial committee is planning to change how this newsletter is being sent to all opt-in subscribers. The committee has decided to begin using GoogleGroups to distribute this newsletter, with the goal of alleviating some of the administrative duties that our volunteer staff is currently spending considerable time on.

In the February issue, we asked some questions that a number of readers have responded to. Here are those questions again:
1. Since all of our current subscribers have opted-in to the mailing list, are many going to object to being added to the GoogleGroups mailing list? Would you rather be added (no action required on your part) or invited again (you would have to accept the invitation)?
2. Should a contents summary or "In This Issue" brief still be sent to INFORMER subscribers? Still sending the summary would mean more work for our volunteer staff. Do you find it helpful?
3. What departments in the INFORMER do you find most helpful or informative? What would you miss if a feature no longer appeared?
4. Would you be willing to volunteer to help prepare the PNEUMA INFORMER if you could? We need help finding and formatting news items, resources for ministry, and mini-articles to appear in the newsletter.

Readers that responded to question #1 about GoogleGroups seem accepting of the Foundation using it as our distribution for the Informer. Past issues of the Informer will be available on the GoogleGroups page as well as on the Pneuma Foundation web site. Anyone can join and read the Pneuma Informer GoogleGroup. We have since learned that you may choose to receive an abridged email instead of the full Informer, which provides a simple answer to question #2 about the Brief being sent to subscribers.

We are still looking for more feedback, especially about what departments are meaningful to you or what new things you would like to see. We are also looking for more volunteers to help with the preparation of the Informer.

Thank you for your encouragement and support of this ministry!

- Raul Mock, Editor
March 29, 2006

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What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.org

New Articles, Links, and other FeaturesArticles from the PNEUMA REVIEW
  • Numerous articles are available on the The Pneuma Review On-line Article Index. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article_archive.jsp
  • "Fruitful Repentance" by Daniel A. Brown. Do you dread repentance? Do you really change when you repent? Pastor Brown challenges us to discard our folklore about repentance and learn what God says about it. From the Summer 2005 issue of the Pneuma Review. Online article added March 14, 2006. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=FruitfulRepentance.xml
New Featured Online ArticlesNew Guest Articles
  • Visit the Guest Articles index for more reviews, sermons, and articles by guest authors. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/guest_articles.jsp
  • "Islam and the birth of Christ" by Anthony McRoy. What do Muslims believe about the birth of Jesus, and how is it different from what Christians believe? Added March 16, 2006. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_0053.xml
New Links and Content Worth Noticing
  • The Pneuma Foundation is pleased to be constantly adding 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
  • Evidence for a Creator: "God by the Numbers" by Charles Edward White. Coincidence and random mutation are not the most likely explanations for some things (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/003/26.44.html
  • Persecution: "A History of (Suffering) Violence" by Will Reaves. Recent world events put "Blessed are the persecuted" to the test (CTLibrary). http://ctlibrary.com/33804
  • Christian History: "The Puritan Moses" by Collin Hansen. Believing he was on a mission from God, Oliver Cromwell became both military genius and lawgiver (Christian History & Biography, Winter 2006). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/2006/001/6.22.html
  • "Africa's Azusa Street" by Timothy C. Morgan. East Africa has experienced Pentecost continually for nearly 80 years (Christianity Today, April 2006). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/113/23.0.html
  • "Pentecostals: The Sequel" by Grant McClung. What will it take for this world phenomenon to stay vibrant for another 100 years? (Christianity Today cover story, April 2006) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/004/7.30.html
Highlighting Some Great Content
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Reports from Around the World

USA: How can congregational churches be revitalized?
The statistic is quoted often: 85 percent of churches in the United States have plateaued or declining attendance. That's approximately 340,000 churches in need of a turnaround. How can they do it? And what skills are required?
That's what magazine Leadership Journal wanted to know. So they invited pastors, lay leaders and church members that have witnessed a turnaround in attendance, finances, purpose, and/or spirit to participate in a survey.
This survey indicated five factors in successful turnarounds:
1. Distinguishing between obvious symptoms and underlying problems. The first step is helping the congregation admit there is a problem, and find the underlying (foundational) causes.
2. Paying careful attention to team building and timing, not just to vision. There is a tipping point when almost everyone in the congregation realizes that change is needed, but you can't rush this. Open and frequent communication, involving everyone, is a key factor.
3. Spiritual initiatives are vital, especially prayer, fasting, forgiveness and reconciliation.
4. God is at work, and it's important to help people recognize 'God's fingerprints' and join in what He is doing. In the survey, pastors reported God's fingerprints especially in the awakening of a congregation to the needs of the community. One respondent said lightning struck the building and burned half of it down. That, they took, as the hand of God.
5. Turnaround attempts work, often better than expected. Around 95 percent of church members reported that people were supportive and got on board.
Only 9 percent said they experienced a loss of members in the process. Most turnaround initiatives took effect almost immediately, with noticeable results in less than one year, according to 43 percent of pastors.
Source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2005/004/8.24.html by way of Joel News 538. Used with permission.

India: Christians Face Immediate and Long Term Threat
The way the Shabri Kumbh Mela organizers saturated Dangs with incitement to kill Christians indicates they intended it should culminate in a deadly pogrom against Dangi Christians. However, the Shabri Kumbh Mela ended without violence. Clearly, God intervened and preserved his children in answer to the prayers of many, and for this we thank and praise him. Nevertheless, Dangi Christians are facing a very insecure future in this toxic environment caused by the torrent of anti-Christian hate propaganda that was openly distributed. The Hindu nationalist Sangh Parivar are claiming success in Dangs, boasting 'great gains', i.e. many conversions. They envisage exporting their new conversion strategy right across the tribal belt of north India. This is extremely threatening. The Sanghs are trying to boost the numbers of Hindu nationalist voters and militants, with the overall aim of getting the Hindu nationalist BJP elected to power in the 2009 federal elections. Meanwhile, the militants will be used to crush the Sangh Parivar's greatest threat: Christians and the Christian missions whose health and education services bring liberation to enslaved, down-trodden tribals who have long been victims of Aryan Hindu racist persecution. Violence against Christians is escalating in frequency and intensity, particularly across the north India tribal belt. Please pray for God's intervention to protect and empower his Church, and to frustrate the plans of the wicked.
Source: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 367 - Wed 01 Mar 2006

Bulgaria: The Evangelical Church
Postmodernism has already penetrated Bulgaria and the Bulgarian church with full strength. Today, postmodern believers in a postcommunist world ask hard theological questions with doubts of every aspect of systematic theology from the creation metanarrative to the day of Christ's resurrection. These are the signs of an ever-changing identity, which unfortunately the Evangelical church in Bulgaria is not yet able to handle.
But in the midst of this postmodern invasion, multiple trends of restorationism and revival have begun taking place. Exploring and reclaiming protestant roots is in the focus of various religious groups and NGOs (non-government organizations), which are actively participating in the political, economical and social life of the country creating a new Christian antipode to the existing secular culture.
Source: Cup & Cross, Feb. 1, 2006 report. http://cupandcross.com/news/news.php?id=100

Burma: In God's Heart
When Adoniram Judson, America's first foreign missionary, arrived in Burma [today primarily known as Myanmar] in 1813 it was a hostile and totally unreached territory.
He was 24 and worked there for 38 years until his death at age 61.
Judson labored for six years without any fruit. When berated for his lack of results he replied, 'The prospects are as bright as the promise of God.' His first convert Maung Nau was baptized on 27 June 1819. Judson persevered, but with little progress and inconceivable, costly suffering. The first Karen [or Kayin] Judson led to the Lord in 1828 was Ko Tha Byu, a slave and hardened criminal. He became a mighty evangelist who ultimately led to Christ multitudes of Karen whom God had prepared to receive the gospel. But it was in 1831 that Judson noticed a distinct change come over the land.
He observed: "A spirit of inquiry is spreading everywhere, through the whole length and breadth of the land." The Holy Spirit moved in power and many thousands of Burmese from right across the nation sought and received salvation.
Less than 200 years later, Burma today has around four million Christians - 8.7 per cent of the population. And the prospects for Burma are still as bright as the promises of God.
Source: adapted from World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 368 - Wed 08 Mar 2006. See also prayer requests related to Burma in the prayer requests department below.

Helping with Reports
The PNEUMA INFORMER editor is looking for volunteers that could help gather and format reports for publication in this email newsletter. If you would be interested in helping with this, or if you have a one-time suggestion of an encouraging story or report of what God is doing in the world, please write to the INFORMER editor by using the email address found on the Contact Us page.

Other News and Headlines
Visit links.jsp for Current News and Links
  • Algeria: Muslims banned from learning about Christianity Harsh anti-evangelism law removes most religious freedoms for all non-Muslims (ArabicNews.com). http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/060321/2006032108.html
  • India: "Militants Besiege Mission in North India" by Manpreet Singh in Chandigarh, India. Hindu nationalists crack down on ministry to poor, sick (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/111/53.0.html
  • Afghanistan: "Christian convert faces execution in Afghanistan" (REUTERS). http://www.metimes.com/articles/normal.php?StoryID=20060319-072838-8361r
    See also: "Afghan Christian Could Get Death Sentence" Daniel Cooney (AP). http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-5697060,00.html [Editor's Note: See prayer requests below for a last minute update about this case]
  • "Revival Fire" Interview with charismatic Timothy Larsen about the recent revival at Asbury College and other spiritual outpourings in history (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/108/52.0.html
  • Creationism's Henry M. Morris, dead at 87 (Baptist Press News). http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=22739

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

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News Release: Internet Evangelism Day 2006

Churches Plan a Worldwide Internet Focus Day on the 7th of May

"I encourage all evangelical leaders to take advantage of this initiative and explore their options for using the Web to win as many as possible to Christ," says Pastor Ted Haggard of the US National Association of Evangelicals. Other Christian leaders also ask churches to use this new resource to learn more about the potential of the Web to communicate the Gospel. Building on the success of the first web awareness day held last year, a second annual Internet Evangelism Day is set for 7 May 2006.

It was initiated by the Internet Evangelism Coalition, an umbrella group of major organizations involved in web ministry.

The IE Day website contains many resources to help Christians understand and use the Internet to touch the world. It explains how to build a church website that can reach out into the community, or start an evangelistic blog. There is even a free evangelistic screensaver to download.

The site also offers materials for a church or Christian group to easily stage a "web awareness" focus program on 7 May (or at any time they choose). These include a PowerPoint presentation, video clips, music, drama skits, posters, handouts and many other ideas.

Churches who used these materials last year were excited. "People were challenged and inspired! As a result, we will review our church website, add evangelistic signature blocks to emails, and learn how to use Bulletin Boards and Chat Rooms for evangelism," said a church in Australia.

"I want to thank you for the free resources you have provided through your website. This is a huge help for small churches such as ours," claimed a church leader in California.

One surprising aspect that the IE Day team emphasize: web evangelism is for anyone, not just the technically gifted. "There are many ways to share your faith online, without any technical background at all," says IE Day Coordinator Tony Whittaker.

The Internet Evangelism Day website is at www.InternetEvangelismDay.com.
Short MP3 audio introduction to IE Day: www.InternetEvangelismDay.com/audio.

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Articles from the Spring 2006 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

Buy the PNEUMA REVIEW online at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000D8CY9
Write a review online for the PNEUMA REVIEW!



Book Review: The Rise of Evangelicalism

Mark A. Noll, The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of the Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys, A History of Evangelicalism, People, Movements and Ideas in the English-Speaking World I (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2003).

REad the review on PneumaReview.com: http://pneumareview.com/the-rise-of-evangelicalism-the-age-of-the-edwards-whitefield-and-the-wesleys/

Reviewed by John R. Belcher

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John R. Belcher MDiv, Ph.D., LCSW-C, has served as a pastor and a psychiatric social worker. He has been teaching at the University of Maryland for 18 years, he teaches part time at St. Mary's Seminary and University in the Ecumenical Institute of Theology, and he also practices part time as a pastoral counselor. John and his family fellowship at a local United Methodist Church.

Read other great articles and reviews in the full print version of the Spring 2006 issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jsp


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From "Rightly Understanding God's Word: The Reader's Social Location" by Craig S. Keener

Read the full articl on PneumaReview.com: http://pneumareview.com/rightly-understanding-gods-word-the-readers-social-location

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Craig S. Keener, Ph.D., is professor of New Testament at Eastern Seminary. He is the author of ten books, including Gift & Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today (Baker Academic, 2001), and is married to Dr. Medine Moussounga Keener.

Read the rest of this article in the Spring 2006 issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jsp


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Prayer Requests

  • Pastor Prasad in India writes, "Specific Prayer need of our church is buying land. From 13 years, I am doing ministry in this place and I have been winning souls for Christ but have no building. As so many are coming to the Lord we are not finding proper place for worship. Present worship place (rented building) we have to vacate by Dec 31st 2006. We are paying Rs.18000 rents every month.
    "So many Hindus are holding very big properties and lands in this area. Why don't we have proper place for worship. We are serving the living God and He is the creator of the universe. Please pray for the release of the finance to buy at least 2000sq yards land this year for the Sharon Worship Centre."
  • Pray for believers in Burma (Myanmar) : Today, after half a century of continual conflict and chaos, Burmese citizens live under one of the most brutally repressive regimes in the world. Whilst Burma's military junta is defined by a mix of Buddhist and Marxist thought, its real interest is power, not ideology. Meanwhile many of Burma's ethnic minorities have large Christian communities and are pro-democracy. The Karen, Burma's largest ethnic minority - around 20 per cent of the population - are 40 percent Christian. Christianity is dominant amongst the Kachin of the north and the Chin and Naga of the west, and is widespread amongst the Karenni and Karen of the war-wracked east. Burma's military dictatorship brutally and decisively crushes all dissent, but active insurgencies are continuing in the Shan, Karenni and Karen eastern states. Burma's army is infamous for its gross human rights abuses which include forced labor, rape, killings, beheadings, the mutilation of bodies and the use of terror squads. Burma's internal conflicts have created over a million IDPs (internally displaced people) forced to be constantly on the move through dense jungle, as well as more than a million refugees, mostly in camps in neighboring countries.
    In the mid-1960s, nearly all foreign missionaries were expelled and all private schools and hospitals, mostly run by Christian missions, were nationalized. Today, Burma's registered church has a limited religious freedom. The government imposes restrictions on witness, the building and repair of church property and the importation and distribution of Christian literature. The government monitors religious activity to ensure there is no talk of human rights or democracy. Christians are frequently discriminated against and persecuted 'in the public interest' because they mostly belong to the restive ethnic minorities.
    Buddhism is strongly entrenched and is used by the regime as a weapon against the ethnic minorities. The government is known to fund and arm Buddhist militias to burn the churches and violently persecute the Christians amongst the Karen [Kayin] and Karenni [Kayah] minorities. These attacks form what is really a government-sponsored religious offensive within a larger civil war.
    Please pray for God to protect and nurture Karenni and Karen believers, forced to live in constant fear and with abject poverty and hardship, as they face brutal offensives from Buddhist militias and the Burma army (Isaiah 40:11). Please pray for the Holy Spirit to fix the eyes of all Burma's repressed and suffering Christians firmly on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). 'Consider him [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart' (Hebrews 12:3). May Jesus be their strength, direction and hope.
    Source: adapted from World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 368 - Wed 08 Mar 2006.
  • Missionworker Edgar L. in Mindanao, Philippines writes that there is a tremendous need for Bibles among the tribal people God has called him to work among. Please pray that this need would be met by God's people sharing in the proclamation of God's Word. Reference Number: 101700442
  • Pray for Christians in Tajikistan: Tajikistan's parliament is to debate a proposed Law on Religion which, if passed, would be the most repressive of all the Central Asian religion laws. Read the full story from Forum 18: http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=749
  • Pray for Abdul Rahman and the seriously threatened Afghan Church. The Afghan government is desperate to appease its Western allies and wants the apostasy case (for converting to Christianity from Islam) against Abdul Rahman dropped. Under great pressure, the Courts have returned the case to the prosecutors with the request that Rahman be assessed for mental illness. On Friday 24 March local Muslim leaders warned they would incite people to kill Abdul Rahman themselves if he does not return to Islam, while Mujahadeen leaders from all over Afghanistan met in Kabul to work out a unified strategy should Abdul Rahman be released. Late Monday night (27th of March) Abdul Rahman was released from prison into the custody of his family. His whereabouts are unknown. In Mazar-i-Sharif, clerics and students protested the decision to release Rahman. They marched shouting "Death to Christians," "Death to America" and "Death to the convert Abdul Rahman." A Taliban council has issued a fatwa (religious decree) saying Abdul Rahman must be killed.
    There are believed to be some 10,000 Afghan Christians inside Afghanistan, many of whom are recent converts. Compass Direct reports that since Rahman's case became public, two other converts have been arrested, one other convert has been beaten and several more have been harassed and threatened. Rahman's trial is a revealing and defining moment for Afghanistan and for the rest of the Muslim world whose silence reveals volumes. In these days of Taliban resurgence, a cleric-led Muslim uprising against "Western interference" would have horrific consequences for the Afghan Church.
    Source: adapted from World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - RLP 371 March 2006 Update
  • Pastor Remegio, in the Philippines, "Please pray for our Summer Youth Camp meetings. Our goal for our young people is that we would challenge them to be involved in mission work and church planting work. Please pray for our financial budgets for this Camp meeting. We are asking God for $1400 to cover the expenses for more than 400 young people to be able to come to this event."
  • Pray for North Korea: On the 16th of February, North Korea celebrated 'Dear Leader' Kim Jong-Il's birthday. North Korea remains one of the world's most cruel, politically and religiously repressed states. The regime runs a vast network of concentration camps where whole families to three generations are incarcerated. Few survive the forced hard labor, experiments, beatings and starvation. Kim has surrounded himself with an enormous guard corps and military whose personal loyalty is bought through daily provision of food, heating and other luxuries and privileges. Whilst propaganda has traditionally maintained national loyalty, small degrees of openness are gradually rendering this less effective. This social situation is extremely delicate and dangerous. Please pray for openings and reforms so the Church may be freed and restored to bring healing to the people and the land, and for God to protect and sustain North Korea's incarcerated and underground Church, blessing and empowering her witness.
    Christian Solidarity Worldwide has a new website dedicated to mobilizing prayer for North Korea at http://www.prayfornorthkorea.org.
    Source: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 367 - Wed 01 Mar 2006
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