The October 2005 PNEUMA INFORMER
In this issue
What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.orgNew Articles, Links, and other FeaturesNew Featured Online Articles
Recently Added Links
- Numerous articles are available on the Online Articles index. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/web_article_archive.jsp
- Living for Jesus Today: "Ministry Gift Mixes" by Daniel Brown. An introduction to the gifts for service that God has given to every one of us. Added October 5, 2005. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_0031.xml
- Answers to Questions: "How Old Will I Be In Heaven?" by Daniel Brown. Foursquare Pastor Daniel Brown answers questions about the final reality. Added October 5, 2005. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_0030.xml
- For more great content: Articles from the Pneuma Review http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article_archive.jsp
Reports from Around the World
India: Mentoring Pays Dividends
Recent research reveals that new churches have been planted in almost 50% of the villages in Punjab, a state in northern India. That is an almost unbelievable development. An ever-increasing number of Christian leaders are joining REACH PUNJAB 2007, which aims to plant a new Christian church in every Punjabi village. Besides such reports, we regularly hear news from India such as this: in the past three months alone, 1,500 people in Uttar Pradesh State have been saved, and almost 300 new house churches planted. This month, 125 people from Chandoli Block have been baptised. The people are being discipled intensely, and we have been able to train 500-600 people to plant churches through intense prayer, constant training and long-term mentoring;
3,758 people have been trained as leaders in Uttar Pradesh
2,765 Muslims who now follow Jesus have been trained as leaders
In 2004, 1,997 people were trained for the harvest work in north-western India, making a total of 6,697. The number of people being trained each year grew by 43%
In central India, 8,748 men and 1,978 women were trained last year, making a total of 27,186. Annual increase: 65%
There is a church-planting initiative in around 50 of New Delhi's Colonies (neighborhoods). One network of 48 newly-planted churches totaling 600 baptized believers is led by 20 people, who are training another 30 new leaders.
Sanjeev was a young taxi driver before he joined Operation Agape, where he started as a chauffeur. Something in him began to burn as he listened to the conversations in his car. He started praying for the Farukkabad District in Uttar Pradesh and began training a few young men. Since then, over 30 house churches have been planted, and a network of 18 churches formed, united in the vision to plant new churches in all of the district's 2,000 villages.
Of the 10,000 women who attended training, many have become effective witnesses for Jesus and are directly involved in planting new churches in their surroundings. They were trained mainly by women trained by women to train other women.
In central India, 200 women are trained as church planters every month, as well as two church planting trainers.
"The key to this historic explosive growth, besides the simply-reproducible house churches," explains Dr. Alex Abraham, one of the human motors in the northern Indian church planting movement, "is the consistent mentoring. This mentoring model tries to follow Jesus' and Paul's training model:
Jesus selected 12 disciples from up to 7,000 people who followed him; He showed them a model of ministry, corrected them, prayed with them and held retreats with them, sent them out as practical training, and discussed successes and failures with them, spoke into their lives prophetically, commissioned them and sent them to multiply the process.
The apostles also trained their "Timothys" (2. Tim. 2:2) by working multiplicatively, thinking in terms of several generations of disciples, finally handing the baton on to them, to be passed on to others. Paul (1st generation) taught Timothy (2nd generation), who taught reliable men (3rd generation), who in turn taught others (4th generation). This is a basic Biblical principle, which you may see illustrated in a table, found online here: http://www.jesus.org.uk/dawn/2005/dawn25.html
"A healthy, obedient church is like a plant which grows and endlessly multiplies itself" (Dr. George Patterson).
Source: Agape Voice, Dr. Alex Abraham, June 2005, Adapted from FridayFax 2005/25. Used with permission.
USA: Dramatic drop in Kansas City crime attributed to prayer
Hephzibah Ministries in Kansas City, Missouri reports: "Recently, the Fox 4 News reporters came to the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOP-KC) to do a story for the evening news. The area that surrounds IHOP-KC is historically a very high crime zone with lots of fights, break-ins, purse snatchings and muggings. Local law enforcement officers say that in the past two years, since the House of Prayer has moved into the area, crime has steadily dropped to a very small fraction of what it was previously. Unbelievably, the police give the credit to the ministry of IHOP, in which prayer for our city has been going on night and day for two years straight at our current location and for over three years at our previous location."
"We have always believed that worship and prayer makes a dramatic difference in the 'spiritual atmosphere' of a geographic region. Something dynamic happens when people communicate with God and cry out for His presence that pushes back evil and darkness in a way that now even the secular law enforcement and media are noticing. We look forward with great excitement concerning how God will continue to answer our prayers in transforming our city."
Source: Hephzibah Ministries http://www.hephzibahministries.com/News/news.htm See also the Fox 4 News story http://www.wdaftv4.com/fullstory.asp?id=7742
Algeria: God and the Kabyls, just like Acts
"People meet daily in their houses for prayer. They tell of dreams and visions, and experience healing and deliverance. Ex-terrorists and spirit healers accept Jesus as their Lord. Churches are formed. This is not an excerpt from Acts, but is happening today among the Kabyls in North-east Algeria," writes Operation Mobilization's Debbie Meroff. "The Algerian population of around 35 million is composed mainly of two people groups: the Berbers, and the Muslim Arabs, who later conquered the land. After the French left in 1962, the new government tried to unite Algeria under one language, religion and culture. That was difficult, particularly for the Kabylian Berbers; they had Christian roots, and their protests were often answered with military force. This oppression had a side-effect: their anger towards anything Arabic prepared their way to Jesus.
New Christian churches are forming all over the Kablyian area. So far, they have been able to resist denominational influences and foreign leadership. Many people hear the gospel through Christian radio and television programmes, and up to 274 people contact the Christian staff each month. Christians hope to gather the scattered believers in new churches, and aim to plant churches in all of Algeria's 48 larger towns."
Unexpected openness among Chinese building workers
Outside the desert, Algeria seems to be one huge building site; new hotels, hospitals, offices and apartment blocks are being built everywhere, and Chinese building workers are always involved. There are over 70,000 Chinese building workers in Algeria, working 13 hours each day, 7 days a week, with 10 days vacation each year, for US$ 400 per month. The men live in overcrowded accommodation on the building sites, watched over by Communist bosses. After work, there was not much to do except smoke and sit around, until Chinese tourists brought large amounts of Christian literature to Algeria. Now, every building worker wants his own Chinese New Testament, and there is often a tumult when the few Bibles are handed out, and hundreds of copies of the Jesus Film are in circulation. A growing number of them are coming to faith in Christ. The Algerian government does not concern itself with these developments, as long as they are limited to the Chinese. The Communist bosses sometimes refuses access to the barracks, but the workers then just climb over the wall.
Source: OM News, www.ch.om.org Adapted from FridayFax 2005/39. Used with permission.
A story of transformation
Dr. John Chacha grew up in a poor family in Tanzania and Kenya. Today, he is a ministry partner with prophetic teacher Rick Joyner and lives in Virginia, USA. The following is an excerpt of his life story, told during the Levites' Camp in Switzerland in July 2005:
From failure to evangelist of his family
"As I was growing up, even the poor called us poor, and we often had nothing to eat. I was terrible at school; the teacher called me a failure and predicted that I would end up a thief. But someone told me about Jesus, and invited me to a Christian church, where I found the Lord. In my predominantly Islamic surroundings, people who came to Jesus often had to pay a very high price. One young man told his family that he had found Jesus; they laid him on the railway tracks so that a train ran over him, killing him. Following my conversion, then, I returned home with mixed feelings. I called my family together and told them that I had found Jesus. My father was very sad, telling me that I could not believe in Jesus and remain a member of the family. I should renounce Jesus, or he would kill me. I could not renounce, so he took a heavy rod to smash my skull. I let it happen - but every time the rod almost hit my head, it rebounded supernaturally. My father struck three times, three times the rod rebounded. Then he dropped it and started to cry. Nobody understood what had just happened. I had to leave my family, and spent the following three weeks reading the Bible day and night. My performance at school changed dramatically in the next three months, from one of the worst to best in class. Finally, my father summoned me. He kneeled next to his bed, saying 'Son, I want this Jesus who you have. Can you pray for me to received Jesus?' Today, my family loves Jesus; my mother is a pastor, as are some of my brothers."
"I began serving Jesus as a student. Once, I went with some other students to a predominantly Muslim island to preach. We set up our loudspeakers and told the people that we were there to tell them about Jesus. The Mullah immediately began heckling. 'We don't believe that Jesus was the Son of God, just a prophet. Get off our island, or we will kill you. You have a few minutes to pack up and leave.' So we packed up, because none of us wanted to die. But the Spirit of the Lord told me, 'Go back. If they cannot accept Jesus as the Son of God, I have another idea.' So we went back, set up the loudspeakers again, and started to sing. The people came, but with stones in their hands, just waiting to stone us. I told them, 'We are not here to tell you about Jesus the Son of God, but about Jesus, the doctor!' 'Jesus the doctor? OK, tell us about him,'
they said. I asked whether they had any sick. 'Bring me a sick person. We will pray for them in the name of Jesus. If they are healed, will you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, crucified, risen and sitting at the right hand of God?' "If your Jesus can do that, then he is not only the Son of God, he is God himself!' they replied. They brought someone, but it was a shock for me. I had been expecting someone with a headache or back pain, but they brought a blind woman.
My faith almost vanished. I prayed, 'God, please let the earth open up and swallow me.' The other students started to vanish in the crowd, because I had told them to make their escape. In this moment of my weakness, the Holy Spirit said to me, 'Son, I am strong enough to defend my own Word. You do not need to defend me. Your job is just to believe.' So I just prayed a very simple prayer:
"'God, open these blind eyes, so that these people recognize that Jesus is the Son of God.' The power of God came upon the woman, her eyes opened and she shouted 'I can see! I can see!' I started shouting, too! 'The Bible works! The Word of God is real!' The Mullah came to me, saying 'We give you our mosque. Please tell our people about Jesus, the Son of God!'"
Source: Dr. John Chacha, www.teamworkministries.com. Adapted from FridayFax 2005/37. Used with permission.
Helping with Reports
Other News and Headlines
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.
for Current News and Links
- Evidence for the Bible: "Raiders of the Lost Pool" New archaeological find bolsters the historicity of John's Gospel (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/010/35.26.html
- Obituary: Rosa Parks, 92, died Monday, October 24. Mrs. Parks is known as the "mother of the civil rights movement."
- Editorial: "To Pakistan, With Love" by J. Lee Grady. Christopher Alam, who was persecuted by Muslim radicals 30 years ago because of his Christian faith, is bringing disaster aid to victims of Pakistan's October 8 earthquake (CharismaOnline). http://www.charismanow.com/10-17-05/
Pastor Jefferson T. G. suggested this site: www.earthquakeinpakistan.com for up-to-date information about the devastating earthquake.
- Central American Disaster: Churches respond with help and prayer (Latin American Mission News Service). http://www.lam.org/view.html?id=283
- Editorial: "Silence on Suffering" by Gary A. Haugen. Where are the voices from the Christian community on cruel and degrading treatment of detainees? (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/142/12.0.html
- Venezuela: New Tribes Mission to be expelled After additional comments from Pat Robertson, President Chavez accuses "imperialist" mission agency of working for CIA (ChristianityTodayOnline). Thanks to Tim G. for suggesting this news story. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/141/53.0.html
- USA: Excorcism in New Orleans by Janet Yee (CBS5). Thanks to Chaplain Jim Linzey for telling us about his involvement. http://cbs5.com/topstories/local_story_259121855.html
- USA: Find Missing Persons Post and view photos of those missing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Thanks to Heather P. for suggesting this link. Pray for families to be reunited and for relief efforts to be completed swiftly. http://www.photofreeway.com/gulfcoast/
- Somalia: UN's WFP welcomes return of hijacked ship and release of food aid cargo The 100 day ordeal is now over for the crew of the hijacked ship carrying World Food Programme aid to tsunami victims (WFP). http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=321&k=1844
- Editorial: "The Miracle of India’s Untouchables" by J. Lee Grady (CharismaOnline). http://www.charismanow.com/10-04-05
- USA: Schwarzenegger vetoes gay marriage bill California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger followed through on his promise to veto a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, leaving the issue up to voters or judges who will likely face the volatile issue in the next year (Associated Press). http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050930/ap_on_re_us/gay_marriage_7
- Ireland: "Belfast Boils" Evangelicals condemn Protestant rioting (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/011/1.23.html
- Netherlands: Dutch Expand Euthanasia Rules (Associated Press). http://asia.news.yahoo.com/050930/ap/d8cu8d5g0.html
- Editorial: "Can We Defeat Poverty?" by Tony Carnes. Unless Africa tames corruption, new aid efforts will fail (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/010/19.38.html
- "The Daniel of Religious Rights" By Sheryl Henderson Blunt. Nina Shea is not someone to tangle with. And the persecuted are mighty glad (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/009/18.52.html
- Editorial: "What I Learned From King Tut" by David C. Stolinsky, M.D.
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
Storytelling to Get You Thinking
THE POWER OF STORY
Last weekend we went to a local festival run by our city council, which included a storytelling tent. The stories were gripping and memorable and I will probably be able to recount them in a year's time. Yet I'm afraid the content of last Sunday morning's sermon largely escapes me already. This, of course, is why Jesus used the mode of storytelling almost exclusively in evangelism when not speaking in the synagogue. Why don't we?
We are hard-wired to receive and understand messages transmitted within story, and remarkably can visualize an imaginary world almost as soon as we learn to speak. Usually only bookish well-educated people find it easy to receive, understand, and remember propositional abstract truths.
Storytelling is in fact quite a hobby, with regular club meetings. There are Christian clubs too, though consider whether you should stay in the ghetto! If you get the chance to learn storytelling, take it!
"Analytic, abstract thinking is ideal for reporting the regular, the expected, the normal, the ordinary, the unsurprising, the mundane, the things we often take so much for granted that we are hardly conscious that we know them at all. By contrast, narrative thinking, encapsulated in stories and storytelling, is ideally suited to discussing the exceptional," says storytelling expert Jerome Bruner.
Good story-telling links:
Story-telling from a Christian viewpoint:
Any testimony should use good storytelling/journalism techniques to make it both memorable and accessible:
Source: Web Evangelism Newsletter Sept (i) 05, www.web-evangelism.com Used with permission.
Resources You Can Use
Online Outreach to Children
Yippee Films offer a downloadable 5-minute animated cartoon called Monsters and Me, about overcoming fears with the help of Jesus. Hard copies can also be ordered, though quality of the download is good enough for a data projector.
ATSKIDS (part of American Tract Society) now offer an online game (Flash) for younger children: The Island of Know. http://www.atstracts.org/atskids
Suggested by Mike K.
Web evangelist Rusty Wright produces regular articles on life or current issues, in association with www.probe.org/ and many are available for syndication. A recent one covers stress:
Source: Web Evangelism Newsletter July (ii) 05. www.web-evangelism.com Used with permission.
Working in Sensitive Location?
Missions staff in sensitive countries can keep a running check that they are not being written about online by name, by subscribing to Google Alerts using their own name. Then they can ask for references to be deleted.
Source: Web Evangelism Newsletter Oct (i) 05. www.web-evangelism.com Used with permission.
Thoughts to Ponder
"The life, thoughts, deeds, aims, beliefs of Jesus have to be freshly expounded in every age, for all the depth of eternity lies in them, and they have to be seen into more profoundly every new era of the world's spiritual history."
Source: George MacDonald
"We cannot participate in God's work but then insist on doing it our own way. . . . We can't live a life more like Jesus by embracing a way of life less like Jesus."
Source: Eugene Peterson
"The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it."
Source: A. W. Tozer
"Since the gospel announces the sheer grace of God toward unworthy sinners, it can be commended to others only in a spirit of humility . . . It is all of grace. This forbids me from thinking of the gospel as my possession and of evangelism as a matter of demonstrating the superiority of my 'religion' over all others."
Source: Vinoth Ramachandra (Suggested by Richard T.)
"Giving Thanks Turns Tragedy to Triumph" by H. Murray Hohns
Most of us have heard the scripture that states "God so loved the world..." This means that God loves each of us. God loves you no matter where you are or what the circumstances of life that you may face.
I have a friend named Jack who is wheelchair bound. He broke his neck in a motorcycle accident twelve years ago, and will never walk or work again. I know a woman whose seven year old daughter was run over by a drunk driver. That little seven year old girl is now in her early thirties, and has been unable to function in any sense of that word for almost a quarter of a century. I know a chap who is dying with Aids and a man who has lost his leg to diabetes. I am in regular touch with an inmate at one of our correctional facilities. He became a Christian in prison several years ago; his wife and children need him at home, and he wants to be the man that God wants him to be, but his last petition for parole was turned down. I know a hundred and more other folks who have lived through similar tales of hurt, abuse, neglect, sickness, disappointment, betrayal, violation and every type of wound or horror that one can suffer.
If I had time to tell you the experiences of these several hundred, you would find that a common thread, a crimson thread, runs through all their stories. That thread is that they all cried out to God as they sought the answer to "Why me?" and for relief from what they faced. A few can tell of instant miraculous deliverance from their dilemmas, but the great majority will tell us that God turned their tragedy into triumph as day followed day.
Scripture tells us to give thanks in all circumstances of our lives; that we are to rejoice in all things for they are the will of God for your life. Does that mean that God wills we experience tragedy and overwhelming losses? No, that is not what is intended here. God so loves each of us that he allows us to choose our paths through life, to do what we want, and to pass on how our choices affect others.
God's intent, his hope, his only purpose is that we would diligently seek him in every circumstance of life - the good times and the terrible times too. Crying out to God turns moments of despair and regret into life-changing triumph. Only God can add up or total all our losses - our hurts, and end up with a plus. Only God can turn your mourning into dancing.
This is the time of the year when we pause and give thanks.
Thank you God for all I have experienced. Would You use all that I have lived through for my good?
H. Murray Hohns is a retired civil engineer and technical writer. He lives with his wife in Hawaii where he serves as an elder-at-large at Hawaii's largest congregation.
Excerpts from the PNEUMA REVIEW
The PNEUMA REVIEW is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders. For more information about the PNEUMA REVIEW, and to learn how to subscribe, please visit: Introducing the PNEUMA REVIEW. www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jsp
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In order to complete this issue of the INFORMER while it is still October, no excerpts from the journal will be included.
Special Report: Reflections on a Hurricane and Resulting Offerings
Guest Commentary by Doug Lucas of www.TeamExpansion.org
Maybe somebody living on Mars might have somehow escaped hearing about Katrina, but actually, I imagine Hurricane news would have traveled even there. Some of the best fund-raising for the hurricane has actually taken place at the hands of reporters for the major news networks, whose ratings probably skyrocket in times like these. Either way, viewers see the needs and are moved toward action, even before various aid organizations send appeals. Like many missions committees, the one I lead (at the local church I attend when I'm not traveling) stepped up to the plate, appealed for a matching gift grant from a great foundation, and 7 days later - bam - there was $70,000 ready to mobilize toward the two focal points we had chosen. And so, like many other participant/observers, I came away from the experience with a few conclusions:
- The book of James (James 4:2b in the New Testament) is right:
sometimes we don't see great offerings because we just don't ask.
(Where would all these people have sent their money if our missions committee hadn't given them the chance?)
- Donors are moved by matching gift requests. The one I approached is geared toward the fellowship of churches that I attend. But you can find tons of similar organizations online at Google.com. A simple search on the terms, "grantmaking foundations," yields half a million pages of results.
- Donors like it when they know their money will make it to the scene of the tragedy. We made arrangements so 100% of ours would make it to the field (literally zero overhead). A couple of our staff even accompanied the first wave of ministry implementation (paying their own way). Our response was incredible. Donors have heard about scams where previous collections have been misused and they're eager for a simple solution that bypasses a "big business" approach.
- Special offerings for tragedies don't have to negatively impact regular weekly tithes. We emailed our congregation's members in advance, to tell them a Hurricane relief offering would be collected at the close of the service. The regular offering was one of the best ever . . . and the hurricane relief offering was remarkable. The Lord and his people are very generous.
- Unchurched people want to give too. One of our church's members said she took the appeal to her business place. She intentionally approached non-Christians, several of whom were eager to take part.
They explained that they had wanted to help but didn't know whom to trust. This particular business owner came back with $1200 in 48 hours.
Another friend of a friend wrote a head coach of an NFL franchise; lo and behold, the coach immediately offered to give $10,000! If our friend hadn't approached him, would he have ever gotten around to making such a gift? No one knows.
- Donors like action. Our entire project, from beginning to implementation, required no more than 10 days. We didn't ask for pledges over time.
- At the same time, donors like to know long-term care will be granted. We assured donors of our regard for this by finding room in our budget for long-term hurricane relief funding as a part of the general missions budget, which is funded by regular Sunday offerings.
In this way, we hope our members will be further motivated to keep giving their missions dollars to the regular Sunday offering.
- Empower your missions committee chairman to *act*. Funny... in this particular case, I had been appointed chairman the very week of the hurricane. The chairman of our board and the chairman of the elders gave me a mandate to get the church involved in Katrina relief. I took that to be a clear assignment and proceeded to act pretty decisively, but all the while (daily, in fact), I sent out regular emails of the steps I was taking. These emails went to leadership in all cases, and in some cases, we sent those emails to the entire church membership. In this way, they could see that their agent was taking steps... quick steps. My theory on this was that they would be forgiving of me if I moved forward, forsaking regular monthly missions committee meetings in favor of an action orientation for the here and now. Everything I'm hearing, after the fact, says it was the right thing to do. Act -- but keep everyone informed. Don't wait for a committee meeting. Find out your mandate, then jump in and make it happen. (Example: I applied for the grant the very morning after being appointed, writing as if I represented the church.) Disclaimer: I also set up a meeting one week in the future where I told the committee members I would review the steps I had taken and, as a committee, we would be able to look at the entire project at the 7-day milestone. So they all knew that meeting was coming.
Bottom line: When tragedy strikes, my theory is -- people want leadership that takes quick and decisive action. During those first couple of weeks, they'll be *very* forgiving if someone acts without getting all the normal permissions and approvals, as long as everything is done with good integrity and good ethics, naturally. The key is to understand the mandate, the extent of the expectation to *deliver*, and the "reasonable checkpoints" with the right decision-makers. The corollary of my theory? In catastrophic situations, group members have little toleration for indecision, slow implementation, and wasted time.
(View the feeling toward FEMA and other gov't reps in New Orleans.)
Hurricane Katrina may well turn out to be one of the worst natural disasters to ever strike USA soil. But the response of kind-hearted people from all over the world is helping make a difference today... and it can do so in future catastrophes too.
Source: Brigada Today 2005/09/02
- Please pray for healing for Kevin Williams, who injured his shoulder earlier this year. "I've had a set back in my recovery which the doc believes is a ruptured rotator cuff." Kevin is a regular contributor to the PNEUMA REVIEW, author of the Messianic Foundations series.
- Pray for believers in Burma (Myanmar): Burma's military authorities have closed three Protestant Full Gospel churches in the capital Rangoon since early August, as well as a series of Protestant house churches elsewhere in the country, Burmese Protestants have told Forum 18 News Service. One Rangoon-based pastor told Forum 18 the Full Gospel churches were closed because they make too much noise during services, but the crackdown reaches much further. "Church leaders were called in by the military authorities and told to close their churches," another Protestant told Forum 18. The military authorities retain tight control over all religious activity. "If a church is not registered it is illegal," one Protestant leader reported after being warned by police intelligence not to hold unapproved worship services. "I was also warned that working with foreigners or inviting foreigners to preach in the church is likewise illegal." Over the past three years, Protestant congregations without their own place of worship have been prevented from building churches.
Source: Forum18 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=660 Used with permission.
- Pastor Saleem in Pakistan has asked us to join with him in prayer for the needs of the many workers that are reaching out to share God's love with those whom the world has forgotten. He writes: "We are working among the nations like Gypsies, kiln laborers and Hindu Tribes. We are working for the orphans and widows. Also, we preach the Word of God among the [poor] who live in tents and huts. They are kiln laborers and helplessly even they sell their organs. . . . Thousands of people have come to our Lord Jesus Christ."
- Pray for believers in Iraq: "Anglican leadership in Iraq feared dead." Many observers are deeply concerned that the Iraqi constitution will not guarantee religious freedom for Christians. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1801772,00.html
- Pray for believers in Uzbekistan: Members of the Full Gospel Church in Jizak, at an informal meal to celebrate the harvest festival last Tuesday (25 October), had their meal broken up the ordinary police, the National Security Service (NSS) secret police and officials from the Public Prosecutor's office, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. "I think the actions of the law enforcement officers in Jizak were a gross infringement of the law," Iskander Najafov, the church's lawyer, told Forum 18. "It turns out that believers are not even allowed to visit each other." Najafov believes that an anti-Christian campaign is underway, with less violence than in the past but using other methods to pressure churches and individual believers. Religious minorities face continuing official pressure, including the Subbotniki - a Christian movement founded in the eighteenth century who follow many Jewish laws and customs, who were forbidden from holding a religious ritual for one of the community's members who had just died.
Source: Forum18 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=678 Used with permission
- Pastor Nicodemus O. in Kenya has requested that we join his church in praying that God would provide a public address system. They also have a need for Swahili Bibles since most of the church does not understand English.
- Pray for believers in Cuba: Draconian new restrictions on "Home Religious Meetings"
Protestant house church leaders fear that sweeping new regulations restricting religious meetings in private homes, adopted in April 2005 but which were due to be implemented in September, could severely curtail their ability to meet for worship. Services that have not been authorized are banned, while those organizing approved services must submit the names of and signed approval from all owners of the house, days and times when services are held and the number of worshippers. The full name and place of residence of the pastor and details on their theological education must be given. No more than one church of any one denomination can exist within two kilometers (1.25 miles) of each other. Foreigners cannot attend house churches in mountainous areas, and require specific permission to attend churches elsewhere. Violations will lead to the church being closed and both the leader and the foreigner being fined 1,000 US dollars.
Source: Forum18 Full story at: http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=652 Used with permission.
- The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka reports that the 19th Amendment with its anti-conversion tenets was not taken up by the Sri Lankan Parliament as had been anticipated. The NCEASL writes: "Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray, since both the 19th Amendment and the anti-conversion bill may be taken up at a later date." The anti-conversion law would make it illegal for Christians to freely share the story of Jesus in Sri Lanka, and it could embolden extremist non-Christian groups to attack Christians.
Special thanks to Pastor Abraham E. in Colombo for keeping us current on the situation.
- Condolences to Mike Dies (Pneuma Review book and periodical review editor) and his family. His aunt Patty, who lived in Canada, passed away suddenly on October 7.