The September 2007 PNEUMA INFORMER
In this issue
What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.orgNew Online ArticlesNew Links and Content Worth Noticing
Reports from Around the World
Malaysia marks 50 years, believers pray for unity
Malaysia has just marked its 50th anniversary with a prayer for unity among its races and religions. But the pomp and circumstance was shadowed by growing fears about eroding minority rights. According to Compass Direct News, the prime minister has declared the country an Islamic State. Open Doors USA's Jerry Dykstra says, "Some of his cabinet people and some of the officials say this is an Islamic state, and others contradict that. So we're getting mixed signals. The bottom line is that the country seems to be going on a slippery slope into Sharia law." These sentiments are alarming for Christians, many of whom are already marginalized. Dykstra notes, "We've been working in that country for quite a while, including a prayer and presence ministry and leadership training. There is a strong group of Christian believers, evangelical believers there. We don't want them to be any further marginalized than they already are, so we need to keep them in mind."
Source: Mission Network News, 7 September, 2007 Full story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/article/10331
Christian development group dedicated to growth of medical training programs
Advanced trauma care in West Africa could save thousands of lives, but training is scarce. International Aid's partnership in Ghana is focusing on training the doctors. Myles Fish says they'll more than triple the number of doctors they want to help over the next couple years. "There are a thousand doctors in West Africa. We would like to get at least half of them trained in these procedures. We would like to be able to hold 16 sessions, and there are four doctors per session that are trained. But we might be able to accelerate that." Fish says that as they provide the service, they're not only providing the medical training but spiritual training, too. "Some of the doctors are Christian; some of them do work in Christian facilities, so there's a direct connection there. It definitely builds the relationship so we can explain who we are and why we're doing what we're doing to the doctors while they're in the training. But also we then can stay in relationship with them when they get back to their home hospitals in the hope that we can have a greater evangelistic outreach in those facilities once they get back home."
Source: Mission Network News, 2 August, 2007 Full story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/article/10197
Cuba: Despite isolation, the church experiences revival
The Cuban people live in abject poverty, and the larger faith communities have faced intense opposition amidst claims of theoretical religious rights. At the same time, WorldServe's Cuba Director Darryl Wright says their team is reaping a harvest of revival amongst the evangelical church. "It began to accelerate into a house church movement. There were about 1100 churches and house churches in 1990, and today they're drawing close to 17,000 churches and house churches. That's revival." This year, WorldServe and the American Bible Society teamed up to deliver a landmark gift to the growing church. "It's not just the largest shipment of children's Bibles. It's the largest shipment of Bibles, period, in the history of Cuba--more than twice the previous largest shipment. Other groups have sent in large sums of Bibles, but 200,000 Bibles in one year is the largest shipment in the history of the island."
Source: Mission Network News, 7 August, 2007 Full story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/article/10210
Japan: Christians use English to reach youth
News and Headlines
The population of Japan is less than one-percent Christian. Few are interested in spiritual things. The government restricts access to schools, but Book of Hope International is doing something to reach out to youth. Book of Hope's Cina Silva says the youth have a strong desire to learn English. "Our book is actually a diglot, which means it's in two languages. The Scripture is in Japanese and English side-by-side. And we've also developed something unique in Japan--a textbook which teaches English using the Book of Hope. So we meet a need that they have, at the same time introducing them to the Gospel." Not being able to access schools, one church has started handing them out at train stations and youth hangouts, with an invitation to an event. Silva says it's having an impact. "Recently they had 150 students respond after they had given out the Book of Hope in one area. They came to a student concert, and six Japanese students gave their hearts to Christ."
Source: Mission Network News, 3 September, 2007 Full story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/article/10318
for Current News and Links
See other news to pray and praise God about in the Prayer Requests department below.
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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
They Love to Tell 'The Story'!
Special Report about reaching oral cultures with the story of Jesus
"Oh stories!" exclaims Ramesh Sapkota, leader from Nepal. "I eat stories, sleep stories, drink stories, tell stories. Not only me--it is like a communicable disease. Everyone can tell stories. Blessed be God!"
Sapkota has caught the virus, and his new-found passion for Bible stories, from Genesis through Revelation, is characteristic of an emerging harvest work force. It's a force that is energized and motivated by its love for the story of God in all its color, drama and depth. Along with this is the realization that in all kinds and cultures of people, this powerful story speaks for itself with the wisdom of the ages.
The thread, that runs through testimony after testimony from this cadre of workers using narrative portions of the Bible as its mainstay, is a thrilling sense of discovery. Non-literate believers who never imagined they could be teachers, leaders or trainers, are seeing that the story of God empowers them. Literate leaders are finding that when they tell pure stories of the Bible, without extra commentary, but with questions and discussion instead, their disciples are hearing and learning as never before.
"I want to translate this"
Sapkota was already a church planter and leader in his country when he made a fresh discovery of the scriptures. He'd been a believer in Jesus since age 13, but had only read one or two stories in the Old Testament for himself. "Most of the preaching I heard was from the New Testament," he explains. That left him confused about a lot of things. "Questions that people would ask, I wouldn't know how to answer."
Then he heard about the Amsterdam 2000 conference for evangelists. He didn't go, but he did request the materials from the event. By the time the package arrived at his door, he had forgotten about his order. "Who is sending me a Christmas gift?" he thought as he opened up a box of videos and materials.
Inserting the God's Story video, produced by Dorothy Miller, into his player, he watched the whole story of the Bible in 80 minutes, starting from creation and beautifully illustrated with still-life drawings. "I felt like I was watching a movie," said Sapkota. "The story was told in a way I could track it, in order chronologically. It talked to me in
the cultural way that I think--I loved it."
After seeing the video in English he said, "I want to translate this." Getting it into his own language of Nepali became his first project. Since then, he has overseen the translation of the God's Story video into 16 languages including all the languages of Tibet and Bhutan, and most of Nepal. "We have several languages to be done in a queue," he says.
Now Sapkota is teaching "Simply The Story" workshops, training church leaders, both literate and non-literate, to use the telling of Bible stories to start and lead churches and disciple believers. And the people he trains are having reactions similar to his own.
On the edge of their seats
An Hispanic pastor with influence over more than 1,000 other pastors called the God's Story office the day after a workshop. "As a pastor for 30 years, I knew something was missing," he said. "We Pentecostal and charismatic preachers have dramatized the stories of the Bible, adding what we thought would make the information more interesting. But you said to let the story speak. We have not been doing that." For four days he told complete Bible stories from the pulpit, in the morning and evening services. "The congregation loved it," he said. "They were on the edge of their seats with interest. Afterwards they said it was the best teaching they had ever heard."
"I am Jonah"
But Sapkota is teaching more than storytelling. In his seminars he demonstrates how to walk through a story, get to know its characters and see what they saw. People from oral cultures seem to be especially good at it, such as the 35 Masai and Komba pastors Sapkota taught in Kenya in 2006.
"One day, as we told the story of Jonah," tells Sapkota, "a man who had started 200 churches stood up and confessed, "I am Jonah. I have started churches, but never cared about the people." That began a wave of confession and repentance.
At a second workshop with Komba believers in August, 2007, the group was so deeply affected by the story of Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary that they called for a special meeting of the elders. They had been shocked by the disrespect of Martha's question to Jesus, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work?" Then these people, living in a remote and isolated area, realized that they had been asking the same question of God: "Don't you care about us?" They were ready to adjust their attitude.
That is what the God's Story Project is all about--giving people in oral communities, such as these, access to a significant number of the key events, characters and
encounters of the Scriptures, and the expertise to search them out and gain understanding.
Perhaps these are precisely the kind of workers needed to see a vivid, vital, obedient church emerge among peoples that have seemed distant and uninterested for so long.
Source: Great Commission Update 16 (August/September 2007). Used with permission.
Resources You Can Use
Christian Workers from the USA: Become aware of new IRS regulations
The IRS has just released a significant redesign of Form 990 - Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax. They are proposing that it take effect in the 2008 tax year. Part of this Form would be a new Schedule F - Statement of Activities Outside the United States. This would ask for specific disclosure of the countries where a nonprofit organization has activities. Organizations would be required to list the number of bank accounts and offices in those countries, the number of employees located in each country, the activities conducted in each country, and the total expenditures in each country. Disclosure of this sort of information could easily compromise the safety and security of missionaries working in some countries. Under this proposed form, what they do and where they work will have to be disclosed to the public. Because of the significant issues raised by this new form, a tax attorney in Dallas, TX, has created a special issue of his "Legal Memos" newsletter that he is making available free to anyone who would like a copy. It explains some of the major proposals in the new Form 990, the consequences of public disclosure of Schedule F, and what action you can take to help keep those disclosures private. To get a copy, just go to the Nonprofit and Church Law Ministries website at http://www.nonprofitchurchlaw.org to download a copy of the Special Issue: IRS Releases Major Redesign of Form 990.
Source: Brigada Today 2007/09/14
Ministry Resource: Reaching Single Adults
Book Review: Dennis Franck, Reaching Single Adults: An Essential Guide for Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007). Reviewed by Darrin Rodgers. http://ifphcseeninprint.wordpress.com/2007/05/24/reaching-single-adults
Over Ten Thousand churches have already joined social networking site MyChurch.org. "Pastors record and post their sermons for discussion. Electronic bulletins replace paper bulletins. And members post prayer requests and join conversations through blogs and profile comments."
Source: ChristianNewsWire http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/724444199.html
Free online courses from MIT
For those interested in self-directed education while on the field or in preparing to go overseas, there are a large number (1550!) of courses currently available online from MIT through their OCW (OpenCourseWare) program. Non-credit course offerings include extensive language and culture programs in Chinese, Japanese, German, and French, as well as offerings in the fields of business, linguistics, engineering, and many others. The courses are designed so that the needed materials (audio and text files) are downloaded for free and studied independently and in a self-paced fashion. Some courses have also been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese. No registration is required as the materials are intended for self-study.
Find details and a complete course list at: http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/index.htm
Source: Brigada Today 2007/08/10
Excerpts from the Fall 2007 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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Write a review online for the PNEUMA REVIEW!
For a full index of the contents of all Pneuma Review issues, visit: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/pr_archive.jsp.
Book Review: The Myth of a Christian Nation
Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 207 pages.
Read the entire review at PneumaReview.com: Gregory Boyd: The Myth of a Christian Nation
Tony Richie, D.Min, D.Th. (candidate), a bishop in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN), is pastor of New Harvest in Knoxville, TN and does adjunct teaching at Church of God Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN) and Church of God South American Seminary (Quito, Ecuador). He also serves the Society for Pentecostal Studies as liaison to the Interfaith Relations Committee of the National Council of Churches. His articles have appeared in numerous Christian academic journals.
Read more reviews and articles from the Fall 2007 issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jspBook Review: In Defense of the New Perspective on Paul
Don Garlington, In Defense of the New Perspective on Paul: Essays and Reviews (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2005), viii + 245 pages.
Read the full review at PneumaReview.com: In Defense of the New Perspective on Paul: Essays and Review, reviewed by Amos Yong
Amos Yong, is Associate Research Professor of Theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Yong has served as a pastor, educator, conference speaker, and is the author of numerous papers and books including The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Pentecostalism and the Possibility of Global Theology (Baker Academic, 2005), Theology and Down Syndrome: Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity (Baylor University Press, 2007), and Hospitality and the Other: Pentecost, Christian Practices, and the Neighbor (Orbis Books, 2008). He and his wife, Alma, currently reside with their three children in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Read more reviews and articles from the Fall 2007 issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jsp
X Youth Event: A Miracle in the Making
Special Report by Kathryn N. Donev
This is a special report from Cup & Cross Ministries www.cupandcross.com about a concert they held on July 28, 2007, along the shore of the Black Sea to reach out to young adults in Bulgaria.
As you walk in the garden area going to the Black Sea coastline to catch a glimpse of the sailboat exhibition, you begin to notice posters for an event. Before you are able to read any further you hear off in the distance what appears to be preparations for a concert. Your curiosity draws you closer and you inquire what will be taking place. The sound person tells you that at 7:00 o'clock sharp the Christian music group "Extremum" will be performing here at the open air sea garden auditorium..
It is only 30 minutes till 7:00 so you find a free seat on the bleacher in the back and watch as a large crowd gathers with standing room only. Then the concert begins strong. Before you realize, an hour has past and the call for intermission is given. Shortly you see something being thrown to the crowd. You run to the front and catch a small plastic bag the size of a business card. You open it and find inside a bracelet with the colors of the Bulgarian flag and the text "www.bibliata.com" embossed on the white silicone surface. Instead of returning to your seat you put on your bracelet, remain upfront and the band returns to perform another set of songs.
Twenty minutes until 9:00 pm, just as the sun is setting, a message is delivered which encourages freedom from sin and deliverance from drugs and alcohol. This message is one that you have never heard before and honestly do not think much of it at the moment. You are just interested in hearing more music. To conclude the band takes the stage for their final songs. After, the crowd cheers for more, the band comes back to perform two more songs. The lyrics proclaim "Just show me a moment in your presences" and the band has the crowd repeat after them. At 9:00 pm it's over and you are ready to go home.
As daylight fades, you find your way back through the garden to a nearby street where you catch a taxi. During the drive you revisit the delivered message of "being free". You are still a bit confused and want to know more. You look down to the bracelet you put on and before taking the elevator up to your apartment block you stop at the internet cafe and log on to the website address "Bibliata.com." As you surf the site you find that you can read the text of the Bible, listen to sermons about the Bible, and even download music from the concert you just attended. At this site's consortium is where you begin to have your questions answered.
Church ministry must reach beyond the church walls to the places where the oppressed, hopeless, alcoholics and addicted are found, whether that be on a street corner, a sandy beach or even the Internet highways. God's love has no limit and as His arms and legs neither should we, as we strive to share His love with those who so disparately need deliverance. The above account illustrates how the event, X at the Black Sea we held on July 28, 2007, may have influenced a single life, but in faith we believe that this event is only the beginning of a much larger ripple, the effects of which will be felt long after the band packed up, the sermon concluded and the sun set. A price cannot be put on this event for it was truly a priceless experience and one that occurred only by the grace of God.
Many obstacles had to be overcome and it is only a miracle that X at the Black Sea became a reality. When the mayor's offices denied a permit, when funds and means of transportation were limited, when it seemed impossible to acquire the needed equipment and when friends said it would not work, is when God receives the full glory. For it was not with the efforts of money or men that this event happened but by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. As long as you have the Holy Spirit all things are possible. Praise be to God for what He has done and for the miracles He has yet to perform!
- Indonesia: Terror Targets Papuan Church. Since granting Papua Special Autonomy in 2001, Indonesia has ramped up the repression and terrorization of the mostly Christian indigenous population. Some 5000 Javanese Muslims migrate to Papua weekly. Church leaders such as Rev Sofian Yoman are being increasingly intimidated. On Sunday 29 July, Indonesian security forces threatened him at gunpoint outside the Baptist Church service in Jayapura. On 2 September, Indonesian security agents distributed leaflets throughout Jayapura picturing and defaming him. Two young key members of the Maranatha Kingmi Protestant Church in Nabire were recently brutally murdered. Christian leaders in West Papua risk their lives to get news such as this to the outside world. Please pray for God's intervention to thwart the silencing of his people and the projected Papuan genocide.
Source: Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - RLP 446 | Indonesia: Papuan Genocide - Terror Targets Church
- Pray for Christians in Uzbekistan: As well as overtly cracking down on religious activity the authorities do not like, Uzbekistan's National Security Service (NSS) secret police has stepped up its covert surveillance of religious communities in recent years. Members of a variety of religious communities have told Forum 18 News Service of hidden microphones in places of worship, the presence of NSS agents during worship and the recruitment of spies within communities.
NSS agents "have a vehicle with tinted windows, and ten minutes before the end of the service they wind down the window enough to allow them to film everyone leaving," one Christian reported. "The NSS especially tries to recruit among the leaders, trying to find out how what's going on within each community, who is going where, how much money each gets, where the community gets its money from," another source told Forum 18. "As in Soviet times the secret police want to know," a third source told Forum 18, "not just to smash religious communities but simply to know." NSS press spokesperson Olimjan Turakulov refused to tell Forum 18 why the NSS spies on religious communities.
Source: Forum18 News Summary: Azerbaijan; Uzbekistan. http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1014
- Eritrea: Another believer tortured to death. Over 2000 Eritrean Protestant Christians are presently suffering cruel treatment for their faith under appalling conditions in Eritrean prisons. Recently 10 single Christian women who had been in prison for some 18 months were separated from other prisoners, ordered to recant their faith and were tortured when they refused.
On Wednesday 5 September, Nigsti Haile (33) was tortured to death. She is the fourth Christian to die from torture in custody. The government has also started interfering in and seizing control of Catholic and Orthodox ministries. Eritrea is one of the world's most violently repressive states and religious liberty continues to
deteriorate. Please pray that God will bring change to Eritrea.
Source: Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - RLP 445 | Eritrea: Another believer tortured to death
- New equipment needed. The Pneuma Foundation webteam is in need of new computer hardware to upgrade the web server. An efficient and powerful server can be built for $600. Please join the volunteer staff as we pray about this need.