The November 2004 PNEUMA INFORMER
In this issue
What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.org
New Web Site: www.PneumaFoundation.ORGNew Articles, Links, and other FeaturesNew In Depth ArticleNew Guest Articles:
Have you been to the new site yet? www.pneumafoundation.org is now fully functional.
Please update any links you formally had pointing to the www.PneumaFoundation.com site.
Old pneumafoundation.com pages on the new site are all present, but have a new extension and have all been updated. Also, please be sure to refer to the Contact Us page ( http://www.pneumafoundation.org/contactus.jsp ) for the latest contact addresses.
New Download Resources
- "Leadership and Gardening" by Dan Reiland. There are important lessons to be learned about leadership in the garden. Added Nov. 4, 2004. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_guest0008.xml
- "Growing a Church or Impacting a Community?" by Dan Reiland. There is a difference between being focused on church growth and being dedicated to influencing society. Added Nov. 4, 2004. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_guest0007.xml
- Ministry and Money Part 1: Why People Give by Dan Reiland. "I hope to give some insight into the reasons people give and hopefully encourage you in this challenging area of leadership." Added Nov. 4, 2004. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_guest0006.xml
- "How to Encourage Yourself in the LORD" by Jeff Doles. Learn from bible character David how to be encouraged in God and overcome discouraging circumstances. Added Nov. 4, 2004 http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/articles/article_guest0005.pdf
- 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).
- Full version now available: Bible Interpretation Course Take a course on how to interpret the Bible by Professor Craig S. Keener. Professor Keener grants you permission to use this course to teach others and distribute his syllabus without cost. 165KB file.
- French version available: Interpretation Biblique French translation of Craig S. Keener's course on how to interpret the Bible. 182KB file.
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.
New features in the background
Although there is no way for someone visiting the www.PneumaFoundation.org site to know this, the entire site is now being developed and deployed through the use of an advanced system called CVS, concurrent version server. CVS allows the webmaster and assistants to always have the latest version of all of the files used by the web site as well as those pages and features still in development. Web development teammembers "checkout" the entire site to their own computers and then commit changes when they have made them. All of the teammembers load the latest onto their local machine when they connect to the server, always having the latest version. For backup purposes, the server keeps all versions. Our goal as the Pneuma Foundation web team is to make more resources available to our members and friends worldwide, and this new system helps us do that efficiently.
Thanks to Webmaster Dave Driggs for making this technology available and usable by the volunteer web team. He has already implemented other changes like this to bring our new web server to a greater level of expandability.
Stay informed of new features coming which make the www.pneumafoundation.org site more usable and interesting, and please pray for the web team to be able to implement these new features quickly. Telling others about the love, power, and forgiveness found only in Jesus Christ is an awesome privilege and responsibility, and we cannot do so without your support.
Tell us about your web site
Have a web site you would like linked to the Pneuma Foundation? Write Webmaster Dave Driggs with your suggestion. Or use the on-line form to submit your suggestion: links.jsp#link.
Come visit soon. Write to Member Services with any comments or questions you have about the web site or the PNEUMA INFORMER.
Reports from Around the World
United States: Evangelism most effective among children
The oft-quoted figure that 85% of people are converted in their teen years is no longer true, says the latest Barna report. While the majority of Christians make a commitment while in their youth, how they come to a place of trust in Jesus varies with their age at the time of their commitment. The report also states that the "weekend church service is no longer the primary mechanism for salvation decisions."
Source: The Barna Group, http://www.gospelcom.net/guide/rd?0410barna
Global Evangelism Forum, Thailand
Thirty years ago, American evangelist Billy Graham opened the conference on evangelism in Lausanne, Switzerland, welcoming thousands of Christian leaders from around the globe, summarizing the aim of the conference as "We want to find out how we can cooperate to fulfil the Great Commission as quickly and thoroughly as possible." Fifteen years later, the "Lausanne Movement", founded in 1974, held its second conference, this time in Manila. Another 15 years later, from 30th September to 5th October 2004, over 1,500 people from 127 nations and with 58 languages met in Thailand. The subject of the meeting was addressing the missionary challenges facing Christianity today.
The conference was organized by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and the Great Commission Round Table, and summarized the results of a year-long discussion process in which 4,000 Christian leaders from all over the globe participated. The 31 Issue Groups focused on such topics as globalisation, the persecuted church, holistic mission, reconciliation and mentoring future leaders. Lausanne representatives will work with Christian leaders over the next two years to help put the conclusions into practice in their denominations and ministries. Dr. Roger Parrott, Chairman of the 2004 conference, called on the participants to measure their missionary efforts against six benchmarks:
unshakeable trust, outward vision, constant preparation, quiet patience, sensitive navigation and complete effort.
The 'World Enquiry', a study led by Luis Bush, summarized hundreds of research projects to provide a statistical base for future strategic decisions. One of the clearest outcomes is that prayer must become a central focus of Christianity.
The church overlooks children
The conference also identified a widespread lack of spiritual mentors; current church leaders do not invest enough time mentoring the future leaders they should identify and train.
Another challenge lies in the fact that most of the world's population live in oral cultures, which learn mainly through stories, poems and proverbs. 70% of the unreached people groups cannot or do not want to read; this has significant implications for Christianity, because distributing Bibles is simply not enough in these cultures. The church also pays far too little attention to children: one third of the world's population is under 15 years old, but only 10% of missionary effort is aimed at children. One participant summarized the situation as follows: whether we hide them away in Sunday Schools, or ignore the millions of children who suffer in the sex industry, hunger, AIDS or under child labour, the church has failed. This was also the context of a miracle during the conference: one speaker shouted 'Jesus became angry' with his disciples for not allowing children to come to him (Mark 10:14). Just as he spoke the word 'angry', the electricity failed in the entire building, and the microphone with it, with a loud bang.
The new international Chairman of the Lausanne Movement, Rev. Doug Birdsall, who succeeds Paul Cedar, called on the participants to commit themselves to the Lausanne Movement's old vision: The Whole Church bringing the Whole Gospel to the Whole World.
Source: Friday Fax 2004 Issue 41. Used with permission. See also www.lausanne.org
United States: Missing Teen Found Alive by Parishioner Who Had Dreams of Her Location
A Redmond, Wash., teenager given her up for dead after she had been missing for eight days was found alive Sunday by a member of her church who said a vision led her to the girl. Laura Hatch, 17, was discovered at the bottom of a woodsy ravine after being trapped in a wrecked car without food or water, "The Seattle Times" reported.
Family and friends had been searching for her since she was last seen on Oct. 2. On Sunday night, more than 100 friends and acquaintances of Laura's from Creekside Covenant Church cheered and sang at a celebratory prayer service that had been scheduled as a vigil before she was found, the newspaper reported.
Church member Sha Nohr, whose daughter is friends with Laura, told the congregation how a vision led her to the lost teen. Nohr said her teenage daughter, distraught over her missing friend, showed Nohr a photo of Laura last Saturday and asked what they could do to find her. Nohr said she told her daughter all they could do was pray. That night, Nohr, who belongs to an online prayer group for women, said she had several vivid dreams of a wooded area.
On Sunday morning, Nohr asked her daughter to go along to look for Laura. At one spot, Nohr said she felt something draw her down a steep embankment. As her daughter waited up on the road, Nohr inched her way about 150 feet down through thick vegetation where she found Laura in her smashed car.
Laura was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for severe dehydration, a possible blood clot near her brain, broken ribs, a broken leg and facial injuries.
Loved ones called the ending a miracle and spent several hours at the prayer service giving thanks. After praying and celebrating, friends wrote messages to Laura and her family on colored strips of paper that were then linked into a prayer chain, the "Times" reported.
"God works in powerful ways," said Stacey Behee, a church member who organized the vigil-turned-celebration. She said the congregation held several prayer vigils last week for Laura. As the week wore on, they never lost hope, said Anji Smith, another church member. "People just kept believing," she said. "And it worked."
Source: Charisma NOW Used with permission. http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9903
Vietnam: God and the Montagnards
Other News and Headlines
"In our nation, we are worth less than animals. The men are murdered and the women raped," says an old Montagnard pastor. The international community ignores the situation. Montagnards are the inhabitants of central Vietnam's mountains, including the Jarai, Rhade, Koho, Mnong and Stieng tribes. According to mission agency Open Doors, they have suffered severe persecution for many years. During a peaceful demonstration around Easter 2004, Montagnards were brutally cut down by police wielding chains, nail-spiked clubs, knives, iron bars, electric stun guns and machetes. There are reports of up to 400 killed, which the Vietnamese government still tries to keep under wraps. Why? Half of the Montagnards are Christians. Missionaries took Christianity to Vietnam's mountainous regions in the 1920's. Following the Communist takeover from the North in 1975, the number of Christian Montagnards has grown rapidly, particularly in the past 20 years. That makes them a thorn in the government's flesh, which has been persecuting and repressing Christians for many years.
Christ said "Blessed are you if you are persecuted for my sake." The Montagnard's suffering is indescribable. On the other hand, there are very few other people groups in the world in which 50% consider themselves Christians.
Related story: Vietnamese clergy beaten for their faith
Source: Open Doors, www.offenegrenzen.de by way of Friday Fax 2004 Issue 44. Used with permission.
for Current News and Links
- 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)
- 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
"The Holidays are Here Again" by H. Murray Hohns
It is Christmas time again. Our squares, streets and many of our homes are filling with the trappings of the season. It is the time of the year when we Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, and virtually everyone--regardless of their faith--enjoys these holidays.
The Gospel of John tells us in one short sentence why Christmas is special. It says "the word became flesh and dwelt among us". The words that we speak, they define each us as a person. Our words, what we give and what we mean to those around us, are an expression of who we are. The word of God is what defines our creator. It is how God reveals himself to mankind. We know God through his word and his word--the Word--is the only word on earth under heaven that matters when all is said and done.
This word or person of God came to earth as a helpless baby, born to ordinary folks who nurtured and molded this child just like you and I were parented. He learned values from his mom and dad, family and community. This Word that dwelt among us spent 30 years learning and gaining understanding about his people before the anointing came and he began to speak. He understood his roots and who he was well before he began to teach and minister.
Think about this: God took on human flesh and came to dwell with us. The Word--altogether lovely, pure, majestic, royal, authoritative, incorruptible, reliable, loving, knowing and caring. Holy, high, lifted up and almighty beyond our ability to understand. One who is merciful, longsuffering, who fed the masses, healed the sick, forgave us and gave hope to hopeless. Who never sought riches or fame but challenged the thinking of his day with a concern for the downtrodden and lost of his day. The Word who ultimately gave his life for us and in that death provided an acceptable loving sacrifice sufficient to cover all our sin, and the sin of all of us wherever we may live.
This Word in thirty three short years infected and affected all that it touched. Once spoken this Word gathered steam and soon was touching lives across the world. I first heard this Word preached in 1961, and my life changed. Old things passed away and my life was filled with new ideas and concerns. I suddenly understood life, why we lived and how we should live. I instantly knew that God had created the heavens and the earth and all that lives and has lived.
Christmas celebrates the birth--the entry of this wonder working word into our world. The word that dwelt among us for a very short time 2000 years ago so that each year those of us who have listened to and heard that word pause and remember the day that our Savior was born. Christmas, a day of wonder and awe. The day Jesus came to earth, a day the angels sang. The best time of the year! Merry Christmas to all of you.
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
Online article: "Wind of Terror, Wind of Glory"
We cannot know God's majesty without his terrible holiness.
Both pain and sorrow are part of our human existence. Every person has known hurt and sadness, and often we search for a reason why. Are we being punished for some sin? Is God trying to teach us something or testing our faith?
In an article for CHRISTIANITY TODAY (October 2004, pages 90-92), Daniel Tomberlin looks at how we experience both God's holiness and his glory through our suffering.
Read the article online here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/010/19.90.html
ChristianBibleStudies.com also offers a downloadable study guide for sale here: http://shop.store.yahoo.com/biblestudies/figodinourpa.html
Source: Daniel Tomberlin is an ordained bishop in the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) and has served as a pastor for almost 25 years. He is also a missionary evangelist who ministers in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.
INTERNET: There's a Day on the way
"An incredible new technology enables the transmission of text on a worldwide basis. It rapidly reduces production and distribution costs and for the first time allows large numbers of people to access text and pictures in their own homes."
What is this referring to? You've guessed it. The invention of the printing press by Gutenberg. It transformed education, communication and evangelism. It has shaped the world culture we know today. The computer revolution and the Internet are also changing the way we communicate, for ever. This will impact Christian evangelism and discipleship in ways which are only just beginning. Just as the Roman road system in New Testament times enabled the rapid spread of the Gospel, so also the Internet is becoming an effective worldwide channel for evangelism.
But the sad thing is -- relatively few Christian groups are using the Web for real evangelism. There are 40,000+ English-language Christian websites, but the overwhelming majority are targeted entirely at Christians. There are over 150,000 church websites, but again, most are written largely for their own members.
Yet the opportunities are vast. There are nearly 100 million Internet users in China. 70 million are online in Japan. India will soon have 60 million, Middle East 17 million. Right across the West, the majority of households have access to the Web.
24 April 2005 -- a date for your church calendar
It seems that many Christians are unaware of this potential, or else are unsure how to use the Web for effective online evangelism. The Internet Evangelism Coalition, an umbrella grouping of ministries already involved in web evangelism, has therefore initiated a worldwide focus day for Christians. 24 April 2005 has been designated 'Internet Evangelism Day', to enable the Church to learn more.
Their hope is that churches will build a short web evangelism focus into their activities on or near 24 April. This might be a 15-minute slot within the morning service; or home-groups could set aside time within that week; or a one-off web evangelism seminar can be designed.
There will be ready-made materials for churches to download from the IE Day
- 5-minute video
- PowerPoint presentations
- discussion papers
- posters and flyers
- short drama
Other Christian groups, such as Bible colleges and mission agencies, can also build a program around IE Day
appropriate to their own needs.
The IE Day
site helps Christians to focus on these issues ...
Understanding the medium
We need to understand the nature of the Internet before we can do outreach online. TV is not just radio with pictures, but a different medium in its own right. Similarly, online evangelism is not just 'tracts on a monitor'. We must understand and use the unique attributes of the Internet:
The Bridge Strategy
- the user is in control.
- websites are 'non-linear' -- like a newspaper, the user picks and chooses according to preference. This contrasts with a 'linear' medium such as books or video, which have a consecutive narrative.
- web users can interact with others by posting comments or emailing others with similar interests. At last 'my opinion counts'. A good website can therefore build loyalty and belonging -- usually called 'a sense of community'.
No website has an automatic audience. The parallel is with a reference library. Who visits the Christian section of a library? Christians certainly. Seekers hopefully. Researchers sometimes. Most non-Christians: never in a lifetime.
The logic is simple. People online are searching for websites about felt needs or issues that interest them. Non-Christians hardly ever search for Christian sites. Therefore, to reach most non-Christians, we need webpages built around interests and needs that relate to them, written in a jargon-free non-religious style. This is the 'Bridge Strategy'. There are websites (though far too few) which use this approach. Look at hollywoodjesus.com (films), hobbitlore.com (Tolkien), tothenextlevel.org (sport), getrealdiet.com (weight loss), runningempty.org (life problems). 1 Cor. 9:19-23 is a clear mandate for this strategy.
Web evangelism works!
"I didn't think that organized religion was an important thing, I didn't think it was necessary, and I had no interest whatsoever," says Kristi, who was at school in Virginia USA. But during a visit to her best friend in university, she saw posters for EveryStudent.com, a student outreach website. "I was in the habit at the time of staying up late at night, talking to friends on Instant Messenger, and checking email, and so I just decided, 'Why not -- I might as well go to this site,' and I just read one article after another. I have no clue how long I must have spent the first time I was on the site -- an hour or more ... I was blown away that I could actually have a relationship with God. And so I remember sitting there in my desk chair at home, just praying -- and crying -- I was so happy."
Ministry teams who understand the Web are reaching millions. TruthMedia.com in Canada has a portfolio of world-class outreach sites, which last month drew in 650,000 visitors. These include IamNext.com for teens, PowertoChange.com and WomenTodayMagazine.com.
Over 2000 people professed a first-time commitment as a result of their visit during the month. A vital case-study on TruthMedia's two women's sites demonstrates how to do effective web evangelism: it compares their site written for Christians with Women Today Magazine which is designed for non-Christians: http://web-evangelism.com/case-study.php.
But web evangelism is not just the preserve of big teams. Individuals can create outreach sites, or learn how to do 'chat room' evangelism.
Church websites can be a vital part of a church's growth. "Nearly 100% of the people who visit Pinecrest Church these days come as a result of finding us on the website. It is by far our most effective 'advertising' to let people know we exist," says one pastor.
There are some key strategies that can transform a church website into an effective outreach tool.
What about the dangers?
The Web, as a medium, is neutral. Like other communication methods (TV, video, radio, books and magazines, telephone, even the postal service), it has no intrinsic moral attributes. The Internet can be used for good or bad. In a fallen world, where easy money can be made by exploiting people, we must expect that the Web will often be used for evil purposes.
It is certainly unfortunate that governments have not taken sufficient action to counter wrong uses of the Web. And because the Internet is like an instant worldwide library -- that gives access to anyone, anything, anywhere, in seconds -- the dangers and temptations are real.
There are ways to protect yourself and your family, using filtering products and accountability software. The IE Day site offers advice: http://InternetEvangelismDay.com/dangers.php
* * * * *
These are the issues that Internet Evangelism Day will share with Christians across the world. "Our hope is that web evangelism will make a quantum leap, as a result of this exposure. We'd love to see many churches using IE Day," says Day co-ordinator Tony Whittaker. "This focus day has no fund-raising element at all!"
Internet Evangelism Day 24 April 2005 www.InternetEvangelismDay.com
We include this endorsement from a friend of the Pneuma Foundation:
"The Asian Internet Bible Institute and Cybermissions.Org endorse Internet Evangelism Day as a wonderful way to raise consciousness about this exciting new form of evangelism that will transform the way in which we do missions."
- John Edmiston, AIBI/Cybermissions. [www.aibi.ph]
Thoughts to Ponder
"To excuse or ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it."
Source: Martin Luther King Jr.
"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."
Source: John Piper
"People with the strongest convictions are the most likely to support their worldview financially. People who attend large churches are disproportionately evangelical, conservative and feel as if their church is doing significant ministry, resulting in more generous giving."
Source: George Barna
"[T]he Catholic Church has chosen the poor, but the poor chose the Pentecostals."
Source: Andrew Chestnut
"As a foolish church presupposes his presence and action in its own existence, in its offices and sacraments, ordinations, consecrations, and absolutions, so a foolish theology presupposes the Holy Spirit.... Only where the Spirit is sighed, cried, and prayed for does he become present and newly active."
Source: Karl Barth
Excerpts from the Fall 2004 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 "Rightly Understanding God's Word: Bible Background." Part 1 of 2 by Craig S. Keener
Using Cultural Background
2. Determine How the Passage Relates to its Culture
We should know the culture and situation well enough to understand why the biblical writers addressed what they addressed the way they did. Once we understand the culture and situation, we need to understand what the writers say to the situation. In the passage you are studying, does the author agree with the views of his culture on this matter? For instance, when Jesus tells his disciples to offer private reproof before public rebuke (Matt 18:15-17), he is in agreement with the usual Jewish way of doing things in his day. In some other cases, biblical writers may adopt neutral aspects of the cultures they are addressing for the sake of being a relevant witness within those cultures, as Paul clearly explains that he does in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
Does a biblical writer disagree with some aspect of his culture? For instance, although the Israelites had some sacrifices the Canaanites had (like sin offerings), they did not have offerings to make it rain. Many pagans thought offerings to their gods could secure rain; but Israel's God promised to simply send rain if his people obeyed his covenant. Mesopotamian law required that any person who harbored an escaped slave should be executed; by contrast, God commanded Israelites to harbor escaped slaves (Deut 23:15).
Does the biblical writer modify a standard view of his culture, even while (often) communicating his message in culturally intelligible forms? This is one of the most frequent ways biblical writers related to their cultures. For instance, from Aristotle onward Greeks and Romans often emphasized that the male head of the household must rule his wife, children and slaves. But Paul, while taking over the topic, modifies the instructions: he tells a husband not how to rule his wife, but how to love her (Eph 5:25). The wife must submit, but as a form of Christian submission that all Christians must learn to practice (Eph 5:21-22). If we read this passage as if Paul were saying exactly the same thing as Aristotle, we would miss his point.
Likewise, God instructs the Israelites to build the tabernacle with a holy of holies, sanctuary and outer court just as in Egyptian temples, but this makes the contrast all the more striking: atop God's ark there is no image of the deity as in Egyptian temples. Sometimes biblical writers, for the sake of their witness, adopted aspects of their culture that were good or neutral; but this invites us to pay all the closer attention to where these writers contradict their culture.
. . .
Read the rest of this article in the Fall 2004 issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW
Periodical Review: "Emerging Values" by Brian D. McLaren
"Emerging Values: The next generation is redefining spiritual formation, community, and mission." Brian D. McLaren. Leadership (Summer 2003), pages 34-39.
What are the values of the thirty-somethings entering ministry today?
Brian McLaren says that there is a lot to be hopeful about in the emerging Christian leaders who grew up in a postmodern culture. "The way we traditionally expressed Christianity may be in trouble, but the future may hold new expressions of Christian faith every bit as effective, faithful, meaningful, and world-transforming as those we've known so far" (page 35).
McLaren's hopefulness regarding a postmodern expression of Christianity may be a significant reason why some consider him controversial, however this article has little if anything to concern readers. Rather, this is an appealing invitation to get to know people in the emergent church movement by introducing the values they embrace.
McLaren sees three rivers of thought and emphasis shaping the ministry of the next generation of spiritual leaders. The emerging emphasis on spiritual formation understands Christianity as a way of life, not as a perfect belief system. "Instead of 'If you were to die tonight, do you know for certain that you would spend eternity with God in heaven?' the new question seems to be, 'If you live for another thirty years, what kind of person will you become?'" (page 38). Longing for authentic community, emerging leaders believe the church is about relationships not numbers in attendance or conversions. "Throwing a small-groups program at this hunger for community is like feeding an elephant Cheerios, one by one. What's needed is a profound reorganization of our way of life, not a squeeze-another-hour-for-'community' into the week." (page 38). Leaders take less dominant roles where they serve as team leaders on a shared journey. Finally, the missional emphasis is an invitation to join in the journey. Instead of a rhetoric of exclusion if certain preconditions or statements of belief are not adhered to, "missional Christianity says, 'God is expressing his love to all outsiders through our acts of kindness and service. You're invited to leave your life of accumulation and competition and self-centeredness to join us in this mission of love, blessing, and peace. Want to join in the mission?'" (page 39).
If you want to learn about what emerging leaders are emphasizing and is influencing them, I do highly recommend this article. At the time of this writing, the entire article was available here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2003/003/3.34.html
Reviewed by Raul Mock
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- Pray for Christians in Pakistan: Two years after seven Christians were gunned down at the Karachi headquarters of a Christian welfare agency, local police investigators have failed to identify a single suspect.
Sept. 25 marked the second anniversary of the execution-style massacre of seven staff members shot to death in their downtown office of the Institute of Peace and Justice (IPJ), Compass Direct reported.
Of the two Christians who survived the attack, 26-year-old Robin Sharif remains partially paralyzed due to a gunshot wound to the head. The other, Robin Piranditta, has been in hiding and separated from his family since his release from police custody. The IPJ's longtime watchman was subjected to severe torture for 27 days while undergoing interrogation in connection with the shooting.
Three separate sources who have carefully studied the case told Compass that "mounting evidence" indicates that members of Pakistan's secret police were directly involved in the IPJ murders, Compass reported.
Christians constitute between two and three percent of Pakistan's 150 million people, 96 percent of whom are Muslim. A report released in September by the U.S. State Department on religious freedom in Pakistan said: "The lack of adequate government response contributes to an atmosphere of impunity for acts of violence and intimidation against religious minorities."
Source: CharismaNOW http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9924 Used with permission.
- Pray for believers in Uzbekistan: Two Christian students were expelled last month from a medical institute for being members of an "illegal" Protestant church. Aliya Sherimbetova and Shirin Artykbayeva are part of the Church of Christ in the town of Nukus, located in the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, Forum 18 News Service reported. Six other local Protestant students have been harassed in Nukus this year.
A Tashkent Medical Institute teacher reportedly raided the apartment of Sherimbetova, Artykbayeva and two other students in April, confiscating Christian literature and forcing them to move to communal lodgings where they could be more closely scrutinized. Sherimbetova is a second year student and Artykbayeva is in her third year of medical study.
Karakalpakstan is a region where it is almost impossible for Christian churches of any denomination to gain official registration, making it illegal for believers to meet for worship, Forum 18 reported. Uzbekistan's religion law bans unregistered religious activity.
Source: Forum 18 News Service by way of CharismaNOW http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9904 Used with permission.
- Pastor Abraham Emmanuel of Sri Lanka sent this report:
National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka - Situation Update
1st November 2004 - Independent church in Korakandamulla, Matugama attacked.
A group of masked men attacked an Independent church in Korakandamulla, close to Matugama in Kalutara District on the night of 1st November 2004. At about 3.15 a.m. the attackers had broken down the doors of the church and entered the living area of the Pastor's family. Fearing for his life, the Pastor had fled. The men had slapped his wife and cut off her hair with a sword in the presence of her children, an 8-year old boy and a girl of 3 years. Thereafter they had set fire to some of the furniture.
8th November 2004 - Protest in Matugama, Kalutara District
Subsequently a group of Buddhists carried out a protest in the Matugama town on the 8th November They had delivered a petition to the Divisional Secretary naming various Christian churches in the area. They had stated that the patience and tolerance of Buddhists regarding the activities of Christian fundamentalists was reaching an end and they had threatened that there was a possibility of violence similar to the riots of 1915 (which was against Muslims), unless immediate action was taken to put an end to the actions of the fundamentalists. The protestors had also distributed handbills calling upon Buddhists to rise up against the churches in the area.
Planned protest in Udugampola, Gampaha District - Sunday 14th November 2004.
Information has been received that a demonstration has been planned to protest against churches in the area in Udugampola town in Gampaha District on Sunday the 14th November 2004.
Please pray with us.
- Pray for believers in North Korea: A North Korean army general who become a Christian was, after he had begun to evangelize in his unit, shot dead by another senior army officer in 2003, Protestant sources have told Forum 18 News Service. Other known Christians are in some cases martyred by being shot, or are imprisoned. The sentence is dependent upon the situation. Forum 18 knows of the execution and torture of Christians continuing, but has not been able to establish if followers of other religions have suffered similarly. North Korean Protestants are said to be "very, very strong believers", resisting material inducements in prison to recant their faith, but when they stubbornly refuse to recant they are then shot. The state is said to be watching the increase in contacts between North Korea and the rest of the world "very carefully", and "false believers" may be used by the authorities to contact missionaries in humanitarian aid initiatives.
Source: Forum 18 News Service. Read the full article: http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=431
- Pray for belivers in Eritrea: Three prominent Protestant pastors detained for months have been transferred from a police station jail in the capital of Asmara to an unknown location. Haile Naizgi and Kiflu Gebremeske, leaders of the Full Gospel Church, have been imprisoned since May 23, and Tesfatsion Hagos, who leads Rema Evangelical Church, has been jailed since May 26, Compass Direct reported.
Police had previously allowed the pastors' families to bring them food and clothing while under detention, but face-to-face contact has been denied. No reason has been given for their imprisonment and the three have not been charged with any legal offense.
Meanwhile, pastor Mengse Tweldemedhane and popular Christian singer Yonas Haile managed to escape from the Sawa Military Center and flee together to Sudan in late June. Christian vocalist Helen Berhane, jailed since May 13, remains under severe confinement in a shipping container at the Mai Serwa military camp, located just north of Asmara.
Although the eastern African nation's constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all citizens, President Isaias Afewerki closed down the country's independent Protestant churches in May 2002, forbidding the 20,000 members of 12 banned denominations to worship even in their homes, Compass reported.
Source: CharismaNOW http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9687 Used with permission.
- PNEUMA REVIEW contributing editor, Joe Joslin told us that he and his wife would be leaving from Nov. 2 till Dec. 4 to complete their adoption of infant twin girls from Kazakhstan. They would appreciate prayer for their journey and that the legal adoption process would be completed quickly. "If you want to check our website while we're in Kazakhstan, it is www.joslintwins.com." On Nov. 13, Kim wrote: "We are still on schedule to arrive home on Dec. 4th. Things are going well. Today we visited the older kids orphanage. It was fun but sad too knowing that most of those kids will never be adopted because they are so old. They are between 7 and 18 years old. Three of the older girls (16) spoke English and translated for the younger ones. I could have brought a few of them home with me. Very sweet kids. At least I know my two girls will never have to go there. Many of the children there came from the babyhouse. How sad to live your whole life with no parents. I think we will try to sponsor one of the older children when we get home. You should have seen the looks on their faces as they got letters from their sponsor families. My heart broke for those who didn't. Out of about 450 children only 130 have sponsors. I brought a bunch of candy to share with everyone. It was a BIG hit."
- A Christian worker from India who had been jailed for seven months for his faith was released on November 1 because of advocacy efforts by a human-rights group.
Brian O'Connor was recently convicted of possession and sale of alcohol in the strictly Muslim kingdom. Without explanation, an Islamic court in Riyadh ignored the previous charge of spreading Christianity against him, Compass Direct reported. Instead, O'Connor was sentenced on Oct. 20 to three more months in jail, along with a punishment of 300 lashes, for the liquor accusations. He refused to accept the verdict, declaring to the court that he was not guilty of any crime.
International Christian Concern (ICC) was informed over the weekend that "O'Connor has been released by Saudi officials and will fly out to Bombay in just a few hours," Assist News Service reported. "Brian's release highlights the power of advocacy and we thank all the individuals that made calls on his behalf to the Saudi embassy and to members of Congress," Washington, D.C.-based ICC said.
O'Connor was reportedly tortured by Muslim leaders. He was then jailed on March 25, and was first brought to court on Sept. 15, and formally charged with spreading Christianity, and alcohol and pornography possession, Compass reported. Although O'Connor has denied the liquor and pornography charges, he has freely admitted worshiping with other Christians in his home.
The U.S. State Department listed Saudi Arabia as a "Country of Particular Concern" in its latest report on religious freedom.
Source: Charisma NOW http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10042
- Pakistan: growth under persecution -- 2,400 house churches planted
Persecution continues with threats like: "Those who do not know how to die, do not know how to live. We hereby inform all Christian teachers that they should stop preaching the false teachings of Christianity to Muslims. Throw all Muslims out of your Christian institutions and churches, and prepare for our attacks!" Pastor Asif, a church planter working with Swiss mission agency Kingdom Ministries, experienced first-hand that this was no empty threat; he was kidnapped on 16th May 2004. When his kidnappers tried to move him from one hiding place to another, a Police car followed them because they were driving too fast. In order to escape, his kidnappers threw him out of the car and ordered him to remain where he was until they returned. Asif managed to escape, and was nursed to health by friends. He had been beaten and tortured for 40 hours, and they had pierced his tongue. He has now returned to his family, in full health. Kingdom Ministries reports that the number of house churches planted in Pakistan since the year 2000 has now reached 2,400.
Source: Kingdom Ministries www.kministries.ch by way of Friday Fax 42. Used with permission.