The September 2002 Pneuma Informer
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Reports from Around the World
Traditional African American Churches Embrace "Neo-Pentecostalism"
Traditional black churches are being touched by the Spirit, but the move is not being welcomed in all parts of the African American Christian community where it has sparked concern that historic involvement in social issues is being lost.
Pentecostal historian Vinson Synan told The Baltimore Sun
that a third of mainline black Baptist and Methodist churches—comprising some 5 million people—are estimated to have embraced "neo-Pentecostalism," which the newspaper described as "a powerful mix of Spirit-filled worship and a philosophy of black empowerment."
Almost all African American megachurches—churches with more than 2,000 members—are part of the movement, epitomized by the national convention of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship that recently drew around 20,000 people to Baltimore.
While "the spiritual phenomenon...is reviving congregations and creating megachurches," it has also "prompted a debate about the nature and mission of the black church," the Sun
said. On one side are ministers who want to change social systems, and on the other, ministers who focus on transforming the person.
"My fear is that somebody will get the wrong message and see church as celebrating rather than serving," said Vernon Dobson, longtime pastor of Union Baptist Church in West Baltimore. "Never shout any higher than you can serve. Shout all you want. But let it be measured by your service."
Dobson added: "For all of our high-powered music and beautiful sanctuary, I wouldn't be surprised if I went away from here, and they got a little 'shake and bake' and wouldn't replace this other stuff. Because it's easier. 'Shake and bake' is much easier."
Dennis V. Proctor Sr., pastor of Pennsylvania African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church in West Baltimore, told the newspaper that some churches had held out against the rise of neo-Pentecostalism, trying to "maintain their old tradition of staunch, rigid spirituality," but they were "dying on the vine."
H. Walden Wilson II, pastor of 3,000-member Israel Baptist Church in East Baltimore, changed the church's worship style while maintaining traditional Baptist teaching. "Had I continued that old, conservative, traditional style of worship," he told the Sun
, "...we would have died in the wilderness."
Marion C. Bascom, retired pastor of Douglas Memorial Community Church and a leader in the civil rights movement, said he did not see the black church "as creatively vigorous in the continuing of the civil rights struggle." He added: "The churches that are not the most vigorous are those who are a happy crowd."
Proctor said that some civil rights-focused ministers were frustrated that "we are not making as many placards, we're not holding as many rallies. But on the other hand, we're having many more revivals and teaching sessions and seminars, trying to equip our people to be family, to have sanctity of family, have respect and reverence for the house of God and their people of God. And the balance is absolutely necessary."
For Frank M. Reid III, pastor of Baltimore's Bethel AME Episcopal Church, the black church "lost its balance" when social action became the emphasis. "Now, what the principles of this movement have done is to help us regain the balance between spirituality and social action."
Neo-Pentecostal churches run community development projects, housing and small business programs, and outreaches that offer alcohol and drug counseling and job training, the Sun
Source: Charisma News Service 8/26/2002. Used with permission.
Muslims Come to Christ Everyday Online
"'Achmed', an ex-Muslim and now Christian, meets Muslims from all over the world every day in Internet chatrooms," writes Mark Buchanan of Derek Prince Ministries. Achmed and his friends report that Muslims are very open to the Gospel, especially since the events of 11 September 2001. Achmed recently shared the Gospel with Muslims from Sweden, Kuwait and Canada in a chatroom; the man from Sweden decided to follow Jesus, and only a few days later, boarded a plane to visit Achmed and have fellowship with his new brother. Some 50 Muslims take part in the discussions every day, and have the opportunity to work through Derek Prince's Arabic Bible course. According to Buchanan, it can be realistically estimated that in future, up to 80 Muslims could get to know Jesus through these Internet forums each day.
Source: Web Evangelism Bulletin Issue 56 (Sept 02) www.web-evangelism.com. Find Derek Prince Ministries online at: www.derekprince.com
Liberia: fasting & prayer saves nation
A missions leader for a West African country embroiled in a civil war for more than 10 years says fasting and prayer has saved the nation. James Cuffee, director of the 2,000-member Christ Evangelical Fellowship Ministries in Liberia, told Christian Aid Mission (CAM) that his country was spared further devastation by a united prayer gathering earlier this year when all the churches closed their doors for three days of fasting and prayer.
On the first Sunday after the fast, 75,000 people gathered in a stadium of Monrovia—the capital—to pray, including President Charles Taylor, cabinet members and foreign diplomats.
"As we were praying, the presence of the Lord came down and filled the stadium," Cuffee told CAM. "It touched the president, and he fell flat on his face on the platform and started crying out to God in a prayer of confession for himself and the nation. All the ministers on the platform joined in with weeping."
At the close of his prayer, Taylor stood and said: "Today I am not the president of this nation. Jesus is the president. I've turned the country over to Jesus." Within days, soldiers were able to drive rebel forces, which had advanced to within 20 miles of Monrovia, back toward Guinea 200 miles to the north.
Source: Charisma News Service 8/28/2002. Used with permission.
Special Report on the European Pentecostal Theological Association
By Geir Lie
Read this article at PneumaReview.com: Highlights from European Pentecostal Theological Association 2002
Excerpts from the Summer 2002 (Vol 5, No 3) issue of the Pneuma Review
The Pneuma Review is a quarterly journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders.
From "Workmen or Captives? Avoiding the Snare of Subjectivity" by Dave Harvey
The full article is now available at PneumaReview.com: PneumaReview.com/workmen-or-captives-avoiding-the-snare-of-subjectivity.
From "The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel's Messiah"
Part 6: Matthew 5:21-7:29, by Kevin M. Williams
The full article is now available at PneumaReview.com: PneumaReview.com/secret-codes-in-matthew6-kwilliams.
- John M. in Pakistan (name not used for security reasons) has written to the Pneuma Foundation asking for prayer that God would open a way for him to attend Bible School in order to more effectively share the gospel. John desires to become a Bible teacher in the troubled nation of Pakistan. Let us pray for this brother's honorable desire.
- Mark, a friend of the ministry, has asked for prayer for healing of his hypertension and spinal scoliosis. He has also asked for prayer for relatives that need Jesus and need a revelation that breaks through their hard hearts.
- Isaiah in the Tamil, India area has said that although over 1 billion people live in India, you can still go for hundreds of miles and not encounter a church. He has urged believers to pray for India where laws may soon be passed that make it illegal to become a Christian if you were Hindu.
- Stefan in Sweden has asked for prayer about a family situation that needs God's miraculous intervention.
- Anand David in Tamil, India, has asked for continued prayer for outreach to the Narikoravas gypsies. These outreaches are evangelistic and also meet critical physical needs in Christian love. ananddavidonly [at] yahoo.com
- Gideon Agene is requesting prayer for effective evangelism and responsive hearts. Please pray for the Lord's provision of needed equipment such as sound equipment.
- Danny and Betty Bagyam have written to ask for prayer for the provision of a meeting place for their church in India. Although some funds have been collected for a building fund, the amount left seems unreachable, but they know that nothing is impossible for Jesus. Please pray for this need as well as the ongoing community outreach which includes a medical clinic and neighborhood Sunday schools.
- Allan Asang has written to ask for prayer for specific needs for the ministry he is a part of in the Philippines: 1. Bibles for the students in the Cebuano dialect. 2.financial support for the fulltime teachers and workers. 3. Assistance for the student's needs. 4. Business projects to allow the ministry to be self-supporting. 5. Trucks and motorcycles for mission work in the mountains.
- Dr.Christopher Nootalapati is appealing for believers to pray for Bibles to be provided for the Christians he ministers to in the East Godavari District of India. In July, at least 48 churches were planted, 600 people were baptized in water and the Holy Spirit, and new believers are hungry for the Bread of Life. Nothing has the power to change like the Word of God can, so please pray that this need would be met that all who desire to read the Scriptures for themselves can have that opportunity.
- Dave Johnson, Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines and a former contributing editor to the Pneuma Review, has written to tell us that the translation of the Full Life Study Bible into the Tagalog language has now been completed. We rejoice with him and his wife Deb, as well as the team they have worked with, that this effort is finished and soon Tagalog will have the benefit of Bible study and commentary from a classical Pentecostal perspective. The Johnsons have asked for prayer for the ongoing evangelistic outreach and Bible training they are a part of.
- Brother Jun Monzon has written to thank the intercessors at the Pneuma Foundation for praying about his father, Percival M. Monzon, who is recovering well after open heart surgery. "My father is now recovering progressively strong and in grateful attitude to the Lord and to many who graciously prayed. Praise God for His mercy and grace for He has once again spared my father for His purposes!"
Please send us your prayer requests and praise reports. We have a great God who always meets our needs.
If you would like more information about how you may help in meeting these needs, please send an E-mail to Member Services.