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February 17, 1999 - Persecution causes amazing growth in Ethiopian church
The evangelical church in Ethiopia is among the fastest-growing in the world. Believers have doubled from 4 million to 8 million people since 1984, the international evangelization network AD 2000 and Beyond said. Evangelicals make up 14% of the population, up from less than 1% in 1960.
Persecution became a "prime contributor to an amazing spiritual breakthrough," an AD 2000 report says. Churches were shut and Christians were arrested, tortured, and sentenced to years in prison during the 16-year rule of Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. The church grew stronger and millions reportedly turned to Christ by the time he was ousted in 1990.
Christians went underground, meeting in cell groups and quietly evangelizing. Thousands of small group leaders taught believers how to study the Bible on their own and to evangelise. Believers learned to demonstrate the power and love of Christ, and to share the gospel with those who showed interest. The cells multiplied and between 2 million and 3 million people became Christians, Greg Groh of the Worldwide Leadership Council said.
Protestant church leaders formed a bond that is enabling them to evangelise the country together. Eleven denominations formed a coalition prior to the Marxist takeover in 1974. When persecution came, AD 2000 said, "trust between Christians increased; they learned to depend on each other for their very survival. Today they still trust each other and work together. They are prepared to reap an unprecedented harvest."
The Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia is pursuing a national outreach. It represents 97% of evangelical Christians and its 11 denominations have about 7.4 million people. Initiatives include evangelism and missions, leadership training, and ministries to youth, women, and families. "This is the right time for Ethiopia," General Secretary Assayehegn Berhe said. "Our country is ripe for this vision and strategy."
Indigenous missionaries are bringing the gospel to unreached tribal groups. The ECFE set a goal of sending missionaries to 40 people groups from 1996-98. In 1997, the group reported that about 18,000 people had become Christians and about 100 churches planted. They are attempting to reach 20 more tribal groups with the message of Christ.
Five witch doctors and their followers became Christians through the efforts of one missionary. The tribal group had been dominated by the witch doctors. When the missionary arrived, he walked through the territory's districts, praying aloud. One witch doctor sent for him after a woman claimed she was cured of an illness by the missionary's prayer.
"I could not heal, but you could," he told the missionary. He then brought a demon-possessed woman and asked him to pray for her. The man put his faith in Christ when the woman was delivered by the prayer, AD 2000 said. Four other witch doctors and about 500 followers became Christians and started five churches after similar displays of God's power, AD 2000 said.
There is a growing evangelical movement within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Five nominal Christians reportedly began experiencing a personal, vibrant relationship with Christ after studying the Bible together in 1990. They began a Bible study and asked the local Orthodox bishop if they could tell stories from the gospels before church services. Those who showed an interest in the stories were invited to attend the Bible study and began to experience a deeper relationship with Christ.
The group has more than 200,000 people meeting throughout the region. Orthodox hierarchy has refused the group permission to meet in churches or address congregations. The group does not want to leave the Orthodox Church but to bring reforms and help people move beyond nominalism and experience a vibrant relationship with Christ, AD 2000 said.
Ethiopia has a rich biblical heritage. It is mentioned in the Bible more than 60 times and was one of the first Christian nations. The rise of Islam in the 7th century led to conflicts with the Orthodox Church, and droughts and political repression in recent years have left people poor and desperate. Ethiopia is engaged in a border war with Eritrea. "It seems the nation has lost its sense of identity and purpose, leaving it divided on regional and ethnic lines," AD 2000 said. "Through all these difficulties, the church has continued to grow and flourish." http://www.ad2000.org/
Christian missionaries in the country are mobilizing to provide relief aid and spiritual comfort to victims and their families. Southern Baptist missionaries cut short a prayer retreat to assist rescuers. Eighty-one Southern Baptist Convention missionaries in Kenya helped search for victims, remove debris, and prepare meals for workers. Two SBC nurses helped treat volunteers suffering from exhaustion, the SBC International Mission Board said.
Salvation Army workers are distributing blankets and medical supplies. Missionaries from Charlotte, N.C.-based SIM International are working in hospitals and ministering to the grieving, Kenya director Sam Bruning said. Workers with African Inland Mission are helping transport bodies to victims' families in outlying villages for burial and Assemblies of God churches are helping transport clothing, water, food, and other supplies into the country. Brunswick, Ga.-based MAP International is sending $50,00 worth of medical relief.
Four members of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Canada died in the embassy blast, the Assemblies of God said. Others lived through the explosion. A woman from the church survived because she went to visit her husband, whose office was in a more secure part of the building. A SIM worker in a nearby building that was destroyed also survived. An American AG missionary had planned to go to the embassy to register that morning, but was fortuitously delayed, Deborah Sherman of the AG's Division of Foreign Missions told Religion Today.
The situation has created opportunities for sharing the Gospel. Christian Blind Mission International sent teams to hospitals to treat people with eye injuries, Mission Network News reported. "We sent our minibus down to the eye clinic at Kenyasa," Dr. David Yorston said. "We just trolled around looking through the wards trying to find patients with eye problems and put them in the minibus and brought them out to [his clinic] to relieve the congestion." Many people heard the message of Christ for the first time through the effort, he said. "There have been opportunities to share Christ with the Kenyans as they are searching for their family members and to share with them as they're lying in the hospital beds and to talk with family members who come to visit," SIM's Ruth Maxwell told MNN. "Also, churches were absolutely packed."
World Relief is providing food and medical aid to malnourished children and their mothers in northern and southern Sudan. In the south, the organisation is providing seeds and tools to help families grow food.
Open Doors With Brother Andrew has trained pastors in southern Sudan for several years, but had to cancel classes because students are too weak to participate. Pastors are arriving at seminars "in a state of malnutrition," said Terry Madison, U.S. president and CEO of Open Doors. "We can no longer continue with our projects without also addressing their physical needs."
Project Loving Kindness will provide $250,000 in aid to southern Sudan over the next three months. Eight relief flights will bring aid to 100,000 refugees who fled fighting in northern parts of southern Sudan, and additional flights will serve famine-stricken areas in the south's central region. "Although as a ministry we have never been involved in relief work, we realised that as Christians we could not just look on as our fellow brothers and sisters died on our hands," Madison said.
"Despite the suffering, the church in Sudan is alive", World Relief's Ahuma Adoadoadji said. The war, persecution, and drought has not deterred the church from bringing spiritual hope to the country. "You'd think that in the face of horrible persecution, war, and hunger, Christians would be turning their backs on their faith, but instead their numbers are going up," Adoadoaji said.
The church is growing at a phenomenal rate, Jacobson said. "Everywhere we went we heard report after report of major revivals." A spiritual awakening has occurred since 1990, when fighting between the north and south intensified. Entire villages in the south have converted to Christ since that time, World Relief's Laura White said. "With persecution and war and famine stepping up they are experiencing a revival. The only way to explain it is that they are seeing their need for God," she said.
People are learning to worship God in the midst of the suffering, a pastor told White. "They are lacking the basic necessities of life, but they know that God has not abandoned them. They know God is with them in this journey and one day at a time God will see them through. They have found Jesus Christ who comes to them in their nakedness and clothes them from within and gives them that peace and that zeal to continue to desire Him, even if they lack what others have," he said.
Pastors are committed to serving their people, White said. She interviewed several pastors when she visited the country with Calver in July. There are few church structures and Christians often meet under trees for worship and Bible study, she said. "I was incredibly humbled by the pastor's faith. Their dedication to their call and their people is incredible. They are willing to risk life and limb and all their creature comforts to serve their people."
[While 20 years ago only 5% of the population was Christian, today 20% have come to Christ. The number of Anglican congregations has grown from four to 80 since 1984.]
Rwandan prisoners confess atrocities.
Rwandan prison inmates are being liberated by Christ's message of repentance and reconciliation. Men motivated by hate murdered and terrorised others in the 1994 genocide. Now they are confessing their sins to God and to government authorities.
A Sunday service in Kigali Central Prison last December turned into a four-hour session of confession. About 1,000 people attended to pray and fast, African Enterprise said. After worship, prayer, and a short message "came a time of repentance that turned out to be longer than predicted" as men came forward all afternoon to confess their crimes, African Enterprise's Antoine Rutayisire said.
"I want to open up a sore inside me, would you give us time?" a prisoner said. "I want to confess before God and before all of you the sins I committed when I was still in darkness. A time like this gives me a chance to off-load all the burden of guilt I had on my heart, and I'm even prepared to confess before the judges because the Lord has emboldened me by his forgiveness."
Men confessed to heinous crimes and expressed sorrow for the pain they caused. "I kept my eyes to the ground as I was afraid to look into the faces of those people confessing their murders, rapes, and looting," Rutayisire said. "It was like a sacred, private moment when sinners were opening their hearts to their God. I felt as if I were listening to a conversation I shouldn't be listening to."
Astonished prison guards and officials watched in silence, he said. Guards summoned the prison director, his deputy, chief supervisor, and other officers to witness the event. "They came and stood first at the door, then tiptoed in as if not to disturb a sacred ceremony," Rutayisire said.
People were liberated from guilt they had carried since the crimes. Rutayisire reluctantly cut the service off at 4 p.m. after asking officials if he could hold similar services in the future. The service closed with a song "that was incredibly hearty, you could hear it from a distancethere was such a feeling of ease and freedom."
Kigali Central Prison had a reputation for housing some of Rwanda's toughest criminals. When a judicial body offered minimal sentences for those who would confess to crimes committed during the atrocities, few from Kigali came forward, Rutayisire said. Two weeks after the service, more than 1,000 prisoners agreed to confess to the chief prosecutor of Kigali City.
Rutayisire's prison ministry is unique in Rwanda, African Enterprise's John Beaver told Religion Today. Prisons are reluctant to let a speaker come in because it could cause disruptions. "Having large, powerful responses to the Lord's work can be potentially upsetting in a prison," he said. "But Antoine is blessed in this work. He has complete access to every prison. He can go places and do things that other organizations can't."
Rutayisire's message has impact because he is a Rwandan Tutsi who has suffered violence. Hutus reportedly murdered his father when he was 5 years old, and he survived an outbreak of violence against Tutsi students in elementary school. He lost his job teaching at a university when a government program barred Tutsis from holding high positions. "I was very angry because I had a long list of people I hated with cause. But it was during this time that I met the Lord," he said.
God helped him overcome many sins, but he could not face his anger, frustration, and bitterness, he said. Scriptures dealing with love and forgiveness for enemies challenged him. "God, do you really mean to tell me that I can love even the people who killed my father?" he asked. He made a list of the people he hated and asked God to help him forgive them. "When I finished that exercise, 20 years of hatred and bitterness had been wiped out in one day," he said.
Hutu militia came to his front gate at the height of the violence in April 1994. He said his first thoughts were to fight to protect his wife and children. "Something was telling me, 'Go out and die like a man'but I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Why don't you die like a Christian? You've been preaching that you can love your enemies. This is your opportunity.' " Moments later Rwanda Patriotic Front rebels drove the militia away. The family later escaped to a U.N. safety zone.
The Anglican minister also conducts peace and reconciliation seminars in the country. African Enterprise works with local churches and ministers to hold the seminars, which encourage people to talk about their pain and loss and to forgive those who caused it. "We have literally hundreds of testimonies from people who say they have left the seminars with a new spirit. Their hearts have been healed and they are ready to forgive," seminar leader Rhiannon Lloyd said.
Judith Mukamurara cooks dinner for the brother of the man who killed her mother. Neighbors savagely beat her mother to death, but her whole family has turned to Christ and forgiven them. "It is up to the government to punish people guilty of crime," Mukamurara said. "But to forgive those who hurt my family -- that is my business as a Christian and I have done it."
A generation is on the brink of calamity in southern Sudan. Ravaged by 15 years of war, persecution, and famine, the Christian and animist population knows only intense suffering. The African nation's young people have spent their time surviving, not preparing for the future.
Education and agricultural skills have deteriorated. Children are illiterate because many schools have been destroyed. Droughts have made much of the land useless for farming, and those able to farm have watched their crops be destroyed by soldiers.
"You've got practically an entire generation that knows only war and dependency," Jim Jacobson of Christian Freedom International told Religion Today. Reliance on international aid agencies for food and other assistance has created dependency.
CFI is attempting to help the Sudanese become self-reliant. Ministry workers make several trips a year to the country, bringing medicine, school supplies, agricultural tools, and Western experts who help plan possible agricultural and development projects. Such long-range plans can "help break the cycle of dependency and despondency," Jacobson said.
Christians are starting interdenominational schools under trees, in the bush, or in abandoned buildings "whenever the fighting lets up," Jacobson said. Volunteers teach reading, writing, mathematics, and the English language, and tell the children about Jesus Christ. CFI contributes books, paper, pencils, and clothes.
This war against Christians and animists has killed 1.9 million men, women, and children, the U.S. Committee for Refugees says. An additional 4.5 million people have been displaced by the fighting, the United Nations said. Tens of thousands of women and children have been captured, sold into slavery, and forced to convert to Islam. Islamic forces bomb humanitarian targets, including hospitals and feeding centers, Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon said in The New York Times.
Tens of thousands of Christians around the United States will pray and fast for three days this week, imploring God to send a spiritual revival.
They will gather in churches, community centres, and homes for a "virtual prayer meeting" linked by satellite television with Fasting & Prayer '98, a gathering Nov. 12-14 1998 at the Sheraton Astrodome Hotel in Houston. More than 4,000 sites will be linked to the Houston event, organizers told Religion Today. They hope that as many as 2 million people will tune into the gathering, which also can be viewed through the Internet.
Participants are asked to fast from 7 p.m. Thursday to 1 p.m. Saturday. They will pray, worship, and listen to speakers during much of that time. Topics include the 10 Commandments, prayer, forgiveness and reconciliation, addictions, stewardship, evangelism, racial reconciliation, unity in the church, the workplace, citizenship, sexual purity, teen violence, the role of youth in the church, breakdown of families, parenting responsibilities, pornography, and the Great Commission.
Some of the nation's most respected evangelicals are convening the gathering. They include Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, Bill McCartney of Promise Keepers, Paul Cedar of Mission America, pastor Wellington Boone, Bible teacher Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries, Franklin Graham of Samaritan's Purse, and CBN television broadcaster Pat Robertson. Campus Crusade and Mission America organized the event, which is in its fourth year; previous gatherings have been held in Orlando, Fla., Los Angeles, and other cities.
"When you spend time with God, something absolutely incredible happens," Bright told the Houston Chronicle. He said his life has changed since his first 40-day fast four years ago, and that his intimacy with God has deepened every year since. He has undertaken 40-day juice fasts every spring since then.
"No one can spend a protracted, extended period of two to three days, or 40 days (fasting and praying), without something wonderful happening. It's just like a human relationship. You spend time together, you talk to each other -- there's a bonding." Prayer while fasting helps overcome the "powerful attraction and the demand" of the ego, Bright says. "The old master ego that can destroy us - it's the key to all temptations."
Fasting with prayer is the best path to personal righteousness and global evangelism, says Bright, an evangelist for 47 years. He has spent thousands of hours in strategy and planning sessions with the leaders of Campus Crusade, the largest evangelical organization in the United States, with 19,000 staff members and 281,000 trained volunteers in 172 countries. But "you come to the conclusion that if the Great Commission is going to be fulfilled, it will be done God's way," he told the Chronicle. "Therefore it is more important that my heart is right with God than that I be a great evangelist or great strategist. The power and wisdom of man is so small compared to the incredible and awesome power of God."
Campus Crusade is in the middle of New Life 2000, a campaign it hopes will reach the world's 6 billion people by the start of 2001. Part of that campaign involves screenings of the Jesus film, which has been translated into 472 languages and shown to an estimated 1.6 billion people.
Spiriting Prayer Into School
Christian conservatives will continue to seek religious liberty legislation despite the House of Representatives' rejection of a constitutional amendment. "This is a benchmark and a launching pad" for other initiatives to protect religious expression in public places, the Christian Coalition's Randy Tate said. The amendment, which would have guaranteed a right to prayer in schools and on other public property, won a 224-203 vote but failed to capture the two-thirds majority needed. "We have long recognized that this is an uphill battle and requires perseverance," Tate said. "Passage of a constitutional amendment often requires four or five attempts, so we will continue our efforts." Conservatives welcomed the vote as ammunition against opponents in the fall elections.
President Clinton has asked two evangelical ministers to serve as personal spiritual advisers, (Tony Campolo and Gordon Macdonald) to meet and pray with him at least once a week. The White House reported that Clinton phoned the ministers and asked for their help on Labor Day, two days before Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr gave Congress his report on Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent cover-up efforts (Sept 1998).
Philadelphia Media Campaign
Christians who work in television and radio are launching an aggressive evangelistic campaign to reach millions of people in the Philadelphia area.
Forty professionals from almost every media outlet in Philadelphia, including NBC, ABC, CBS, and cable, are donating their time and expertise to produce and air top-quality Christian ads for television, radio, billboards, and the Internet.
The group, which calls itself Mission Media: Delaware Valley, is under the auspices of the Urban Family Council, an educational and research organization. A similar ad campaign already is occurring in Boise, Idaho, and organizers there have provided ideas and inspiration for the Delaware Valley outreach.
The television ad campaign includes four phases. The first is meant to show that "the church loves you," Jacobus said. It portrays the church as a relevant place to be, the cornerstone of society, the best place to raise children. The second phase shows that there is a God. It is "more intellectually aggressive," discussing evidences for the existence of God in the complexity and design of nature -- from the stars to DNA. The third and fourth phases discuss fulfilled biblical prophecies to show that Jesus is God and that the Bible was inspired by God.
It is not for a lack of strength or accuracy that the Christian faith "wanes" in the United States, Jacobus said. "The fault lies in our failure to communicate the essential evidence and implications of the gospel. The result is an entire generation of young people who fail to find the meaning of life."
The U.S. Congress has passed a bill requiring the president to take action against countries that persecute religious believers.
President Clinton is expected to sign the bill. It passed the Senate 98-0 on Oct. 10 and received unanimous approval from the House of Representatives the next day.
It requires the State Department to authorise a special ambassador to investigate religious rights abuses and submit an annual report to the president. It also requires establishment of a nine-member commission to ensure the integrity of the report. The commission will serve as "an independent source of fact-finding to guarantee that we are getting honest reports and not any fudging of the facts.
The act prescribes a list of measures ranging from a private or public dressing-down to prohibitions on U.S. aid or government contracts, news reports said. The range of options allows the president flexibility and corrects an oversight that doomed an earlier bill that called for across-the-board economic sanctions. The president has the authority not to take any action if he can show that it would be harmful to U.S. interests.
The bill's passage is the culmination of several years of work by religious-freedom advocates. The act incorporates portions of the NAE's 1996 Statement of Conscience calling on evangelicals to remember and help suffering Christians everywhere. Groups such as Christian Freedom International, International Christian Concern, Voice of the Martyrs, and Open Doors have worked to educate U.S. Christians about the plight of believers overseas. The New York Times columnist Abe Rosenthal and Hudson Institute fellow Michael Horowitz have kept the issue before the public and Congress.
Groups that supported the bill include the NAE, the Christian Coalition, U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference, the National Jewish Coalition, the Anti-Defamation League, the Christian Legal Society, the Traditional Values Coalition, the Episcopal Church, B'nai B'rith, Justice Fellowship, the American Jewish Committee, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the American Coptic Association, and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Christian Media Explosion
The Brazilians responded to the call and about 40 families have made missionary trips of at least one year to a European country, Marcos Barros of Go to the Nations told Religion Today. Barros, a Brazilian pastor, runs the Manchester, England-based organization that fosters relationships between Brazilian and European churches and facilitates missionary placement. There are 13 missionary families on the continent, six of them in Britain, he said.
The first 10 missionary families came to England in 1993 and new ones come every year, Barros said. About 32 churches in the UK have received or have asked for a missionary family to come to their church. All missionary families spend several months in England learning the English language and acclimatising to European culture. Many go on to other European nations within about a year's time. Some families don't stay in Europe; Go to the Nations has sent missionaries to Azerbaijan, Japan, and India, as well.
At the Christian Life Center in a five-week span 30 people were baptised. "In terms of the European church, that is a lot of conversions," Barros said. There are more evangelicals in Brazil than all of Europe combined, church analyst Patrick Johnstone said.
Attending a Brazilian church service is an eye-opening experience for many Europeans, Barros said. Recently he sponsored the third annual "revival tour" to Brazil with 21 European Christians. "The love of God expressed through the Brazilians touched and changed me," said Tracey Lawrence, a participant from the UK. "They accept and appreciate each other and just the way they relate, truly blessed me." Others said the experience fuelled their passion to see revival come to Europe. "God has opened my eyes and heart to the bigger picture -- His heart for the nations," Diana Allison said.
Go to the Nations also aims to promote unity among European churches. More than 100 churches from 20 European countries prayed for each other during a time of 40 days of prayer and fasting in 1997. More than 300 churches worldwide participated in a similar event later in the year, Barros said. Churches worldwide will participate in a 40 days prayer and fasting event that is focused on serving Sept. 30-Nov. 8. Church members will be encouraged to do acts of service for each other and for other churches in their community. (Credit: Religion Today).
About 1,000 churches participated in the All Tokyo Revival Mission Sept. 18-27. Charismatic, evangelical, and Pentecostal congregations worked together to plan the event. Almost 20,000 "prayer warriors" -- some from other countries -- logged hours of prayers in preparation. About 1,000 people conducted evangelism outreaches in the months before the crusade.
Workers delivered Christian literature to 3 million homes in Tokyo in preparation for the crusade. Well-known Japanese Christian writer Ayako Miura wrote the tract, called From Discouragement to Hope. Another 1 million tracts were distributed at street meetings in the city.
Many Japanese were drawn to the event through Christian music. When the Love of God Touches You, a song composed by a Japanese mission team, had a big impact. "When we play this song on the street, people stop and listen," Ariga said. Teams gave out 10,000 compact discs featuring the song, and about 350 people who received them came to the services.
The crusade drew more than 120,000 people to 24 meetings. About 56,000 non-Christians attended 10 evangelistic services at the Nihon Budokan, and almost 6,000 made first-time professions of faith in Jesus Christ, Ariga said. Two outreaches were held for women and children. About 60,000 Christians attended revival services intended to deepen their commitments to Christ and inspire them to spread their faith.
The number of responses is high for Japan. About 2.5% of the population is Christian and most churches average 30 members, Operation World says. There are 3,000 Protestant churches in Tokyo, a city of 30 million, and 7,700 Protestant churches in Japan. Some cities and towns do not have a Christian church.
It takes the "spiritual warfare" of prayer, fasting, and confession of sins to break that bondage, he said. About 19,000 people have been praying for Tokyo since 1992. More than 1 million hours of prayer have been offered on behalf of the city in five years. To prepare for this year's crusade, leaders asked the people to add 377,750 hours -- one for every square mile of the city. About 3,000 people took part in a 40-day fasting chain prior to the event.
Ariga and other leaders have visited other nations to confess Japan's sins against them. He has visited Australia, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan in the past two years to ask forgiveness for the country's brutal behavior in occupied territories. Christian leaders in each of those nations accepted his apology and pledged to mobilize people to pray 1 million hours for Japan.
Reconciliation among Christians "breaks the bondage and the power of darkness and makes it easier for people to receive the message of Christ," Ariga said. "We drew so many people -- more than expected -- from all over the island." Before the revival, seven of Ariga's eight relatives in Tokyo were not Christians. "Now I have eight relatives in Tokyo who are believers -- that is the result of prayer."
Nepal and Bhutan
The following report has been received from Dick Eastman: "Was It Fire From Heaven in Bhutan?" any corroboration or complementary reports are invited
"I recently returned from an amazing prayer journey...
I had been in Nepal with our South Asian leaders for strategic meetings in Kathmandu, and several members of our group were on our way by jeep to Darjeeling, India, for a conference on evangelizing the Himalayas. On our way to Darjeeling, we made a special prayer journey to Bhutan, a nation at the heart of the 10/40 window where Christian worshop and evangelism are illegal.
It was late at night when we arrived in the border town of Phuntsholing, but we felt compelled to "do battle" in the spiritual realm for the nation of Bhutan. That night and early the next morning, members of our team marched around a famous temple in Phuntsholing, praying that God would send the fire of His Spirit upon the land, to break the stronghold and open the way for the Gospel.
The next day, we continued on our journey to Darjeeling, unaware that something astonishing had happened in the heavenlies the very hour we had prayed. It was in India a few days later that an English newspaper headline flashed a startling report from Bhutan. On the very night we had prayed for God's fire to sweep across the nation, the 1200 year old Tiger's Lair monastery deep in Bhutan, a place considered to be the most venerated site for devout believers in all the region, had mysteriously burned to the ground!
The Tiger's Lair, located on a 25000 foot cliff, was steeped in centuries of the believers' reverence and tradition. Legend has it that an 8th century monk named Guru Rimpoche ahd ridden on the back of a tiger (some say a flying tiger) to a cave at the site of the future monastry, driving hosts of demons from the region as he advanced. The guru's triumphal entry is also said to mark the founding of the religion in Bhutan and bring it to all the Himalayas.
I have to believe that something supernatural happened in the heavenlies that night we prayed for the deliverence of Bhutan. In some unexplainable way we had entered into what I call a season of "prophetic intercession". Unknown to any of us at the time we were praying, we found ourselves proclaiming God's word & will for the nation of Bhutan.
When God commissioned the reluctant Jeremiah to be His prophet, He stretched out His hand and touched Jeremiah's mouth & said "Behold I have put my words in your mouth" (Jeremiah 1:9). Those words were to "root out.... pull down & destroy" (verse 10).
David revealed the same sense of prophetic expression in 2 Samual 23:2 when he said "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, & His word was on my tongue".
Fourteen years ago, a lone believer in Nepal named Solon entered into a season of "prophetic intercession" for his nation. Out of his prayer came a commission from God to fullfull the Great Commission.
Solon recruited a small team of like-minded crusaders and risked arrest for seven years as they boldly shared the Gospel, village to village. Today, EHC's workers have reached every home in Nepal's rugged 75 districts with the Gospel, resulting in over 200,000 people being enrolled in EHC's Bible correspondence course & leading to the formation of over 5800 Christ Group fellowships.
Clearly God is up to something remarkable in the 10/40 window. We must not stop praying & believing for a full miracle in Bhutan & the Himalayas. As this is being written, a consutation is being planned by EHC in the next 30 days for Bhutan Christian leaders. What has happened in Nepal could indeed happen throughout all the Himalayas. Let's believe together!
India - North
15,000 become Christians every day in India!
About 15,000 people are becoming Christians daily in the country of 900 million, Guine Anderson of the Hong Kong-based Sowers Ministry (see link #1 below) told Religion Today.
Indigenous evangelists are preaching in north India. More than 5,000 congregations have been started by workers from 25 denominations or missions agencies in the region since the 1970s, AD2000 and Beyond (see link #2 below) said. Central and northern India are Hindu and tribal strongholds and resistant to the gospel.
Prayer and a new missionary zeal are behind the success, Anderson said. Christians used to be reluctant to travel to the north because of its difficult terrain, climate, and hostile spiritual atmosphere. But the prayers of Christians worldwide have given the Indian church more boldness, he said. "Now, because the Spirit of God is moving, people are willing to sacrifice -- you have to be willing to sacrifice your very life -- and we are sending more native and local missionaries there."
Sowers Ministry has about 200 evangelists and church planters at work in northern India. Workers are trained at the ministrys Bible College and are sent in pairs to preach in villages that have never heard the message of Christ. At least 80 churches have been started through their efforts, Anderson said.
Workers can start a church with 40-60 believers within two months of their first visit to a village, Anderson said. Many Muslims and Hindus, discouraged from trying to gain salvation through good works and religious rituals, respond immediately to the message of grace preached by Christians, he said. "When they hear that Jesus sets you free and gives you eternal life, they respond very quickly."
Evangelists pray for the sick. "It has become a pattern and its just like Jesus did. He preached the word and healed people," Anderson said. "We always tell them that it is not us, but Jesus Christ who is the healer. We are just instruments."
Hundreds of people became Christians after a woman was cured of a stomach tumour. Evangelists from the Sowers ministry prayed for her after meeting her husband. "He said he had gone to the [Hindu] temples all his life and made all the pilgrimages, but still had no meaning in life and his wife was dying," Anderson said. The evangelists told the man that Jesus Christ would heal his wife and he invited them to his home to pray for her. That night in a dream he saw Jesus Christ touch his wifes stomach, and later told the workers. In the morning her stomach pains were gone and a visit to the doctor confirmed that the tumour had disappeared, Anderson said. More than 80 families from their village became Christians and have started a church as a result of her testimony.
The gospel came to India in AD 72 when the Apostle Thomas evangelised the southern portion of the country. More than 5,000 Christian ministers from around the world came to celebrate the anniversary of Thomas coming at a four-day crusade in Madras Jan. 22-26. They were from China, North Korea, the United States, Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Bahrain, Anderson said.
More than 80,000 people responded to Christs message at services preached by evangelist P.P. Job. "It was so awesome to see. They had such a hunger, and you could see it in their eyes, dripping with tears," said Anderson, who prayed for people to be healed of diseases and other physical and spiritual ailments.
Indian Christians are persecuted more than
ever for their faith. Hundreds of churches have been burned and several missionaries
killed by Hindu radicals in the past year. Nevertheless evangelists continue to preach in
dangerous areas. "Continue to pray for India and for many people to come to
Christ," Anderson said. "We very much want the prayers of the body of Christ.
That is the reason that so many are being saved."
India - Bihar State
Trans World Radio broadcasts Bible studies, health programs, children and youth programs and music programs in 41 languages to millions of listeners in India. Mail response averages 70,000 letters per month - each of which receives a handwritten reply.
India - Andhra Pradesh State
Evangelist Narayan Paul knows perseverance. For 11 years he preached to the Saura tribe in India's Andhra Pradesh State with no converts and more than a few stonings.
One night as he laid down to sleep in an open field, Paul wondered if he had heard God correctly when he left his job in 1970 to preach the gospel to the illiterate tribe, which practices spirit worship.
Today there are at least 4,000 Saura converts in 35 churches. It has been 17 years since the night Paul laid awake under the stars, thinking about giving up. "
Adult tribe members rejected Paul's message and often beat him and threw him out of their villages. Alcoholism was common among tribe members. "It was hard to minister to them because they were drunk a lot and most of them liked their life as it was," said Tobias, who met Paul when he visited ANM last year.
But children paid attention to Paul because of his kindly nature and broad, ready smile, she said. Paul realized the importance of the children when he noticed a cow pursue its wandering calf across a field. "The Lord revealed to Narayan the wisdom of teaching the Saura children" because eventually their parents will follow them, Tobias said. Many ministries in developing nations begin with children, who are more receptive to the gospel and share it with their parents, she said.
Paul performed songs and dances to help the children learn about Jesus. Most Sauras can't read or write, so Paul taught the children gospel stories through songs accompanied by pantomime, Tobias said. "His eyes dance with joy and the gospel is exciting and fresh when he presents it. He has kept it alive in his own spirit and it overflows to those around him."
One young man became a Christian through Paul's ministry in 1982. About 20 people followed the next year, and the first church was started. In the ensuing two years, 150 more were added, and the church has grown steadily since. Paul's songs "now ring through the hills as Jesus Christ is worshiped in more than 35 churches among the Sauras," ANM said.
Saura evangelists are reaching new villages with the gospel, said ANM's Doug Hsu, who visited Paul last year. "I met the nearly 100 men who have been trained as church elders -- men who, until very recently, were practicing witchcraft, worshiping animals, and staggering in drunkenness. These men currently shepherd over 4,000 Christians among the Saura, a number which continues to explode," Hsu said. The ministry plans to establish a medical clinic and a home for orphans.
Paul grew up in a Hindu family and trained to be a priest. He rose at 4 every morning to have a ceremonial bath, and spent hours studying and praying at the temple. Despite his religiosity, "I was full of carnality inside and I was miserable," he said. Hindu rites of cleansing didn't help and he eventually went away to school when a neighbor offered to pay his tuition to a Christian college. He heard an evangelist preach about sin and forgiveness and he prayed to become a Christian.
His devout Hindu mother ordered him to choose between Christ and the family. Searching the Bible for an answer, he found the passage, "Unless one is willing to leave father and motherhe is not worthy to be my disciple," and he left the next day for Calcutta to live with his brother. When he arrived, he found his brother near death from illness. Hindu prayers and ceremonies had not helped, but he recovered almost immediately after Paul asked God to heal him, ANM said. After hearing the story and visiting Paul in Calcutta, his mother became a Christian.
Thousands of Christians demonstrated to protest a law that imposes a death sentence on anyone convicted of insulting Islam or its prophet, Mohammed, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) news service said. The protests took place a few days after the Catholic bishop of Faisalabad, John Joseph, shot himself to protest the sentencing of a young Catholic man under the blasphemy law.
"Before the suicide there was absolutely no chance of repealing this law... but the Christian community is galvanized right now," Cris Toffolo, an Amnesty International Pakistani expert, said. The protests have also motivated human rights and religious organizations outside of the country. The World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ are calling for the laws' repeal in letters to the Pakistani government. They charge that the code abets religious persecution and discriminatory practices. "The law itself is discriminatory -- the way it is used," said once activist. "There's also the fact that [it is not possible] to get a fair trial in this climate of intolerance."
In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in their public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police apartments and a large orphanage.
About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government run program were in the orphanage. They related the following story in their own words:
"It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas.
We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger.
Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laidstrips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby's blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States. The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help.
All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat - he looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project.
As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger.
Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately -until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib
He made up his own ending to the story as he said, "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did.
"But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, "If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?" And Jesus told me, "If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me." "So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him - for always."
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.
The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him - FOR ALWAYS."
From: Diane E. Wigstone,
Revival breaks out in London
Kensington Temple is a historic Pentecostal church birthed out of the conversion of the Jeffrey brothers during the Welsh Revival. This church has come into revival.
On Easter Sunday, April 12, 1998, Dr. Michael Brown, President of Brownsville Revival School Ministry ministered to the leadership of the church (KT) concerning repentance and revival. In September 1998, fourteen of the church leaders of Kensington Temple flew to Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, to seek the face of God.
Evangelist Michael D. Evans from Fort Worth, Texas whose life and ministry was greatly impacted by the Brownsville Revival - was asked to come to London for a "special meeting". The church did not want to call it "revival" unless it truly was - so on Thursday, October 15 1998 the meetings began. There was virtually no advertisement of the meeting because of the leadership's desire for a pure move of God. Five hundred people were in attendance as evangelist Mike Evans preached on " Fire from the Grave."
Nightly hundreds literally ran to the altar with large numbers standing on the platform publicly confessing sins of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, drug addiction and other immorality.
A psychiatrist in one of the local hospitals, held out of hand which was covered with scars. She shared that she would wake up in the mornings with blood all over her sheets and that she wanted to be free from mutilating her own flesh. She testified later in the meeting of being gloriously delivered.
A woman who was planning to commit suicide that very night came to the revival and was saved and delivered. Two women came to the platform weeping uncontrollably and confessed they had been sleeping with married men.
Several pastors confessed to being bound by depression and were set free. Hundreds testified to being cleansed by the power of the Word of God in the Spirit - beeing set free from lukewarmeness and wanting more of Jesus.
More than 70 people with suicide thoughts testified to being set free. Hundreds of people confessed addiction to pornography. Large numbers of non-Christians came on the stage, some totally unchurched - confessing homosexuality, adultery and drug addiction.
According to Rev. Colin Dye, Senior Pastor of Kensington Temple, over the next 11 nights 6000 people responded to the compassionate yet uncompromising appeal of evangelist Mike Evans.
The last night of this series of revival meetings fell on the anniversary of the Welsh revival. The power of God shook Kensington Temple and a "Book of Acts" refreshing was manifested from the presence of the Lord.
News came that an American pastor stopped in the middle his message while commemorating the Welsh Revival and said: "God has just told me that there will be a mighty visitation at a church called Kensington Temple I have never heard of that church."
Kensington Temple intends to continue Revival Meetings with Mike Evans and to take it to the city through outreach teams. Hundreds of pastors from all over Great Britain and Europe (Norway, Finland, Sweden, Holland, etc) have attended the revival. Word is coming in that revival is breaking out in many of their churches. Thousands of believers, representing 110 nationalities have been impacted by the glory of God.
More info at: Touchdown - London
Credit: Church Growth Magazine
An overwhelming majority of the world's Anglican bishops have strongly reaffirmed traditional Christian sexual morality.
They declared Aug. 5 that homosexual practice is "incompatible with Scripture" and that the Bible teaches that sexual activity is prohibited except in marriage, the lifelong union of a man and a woman.
Homosexuals should not be ordained as priests, and homosexual unions should not be blessed, according to the bishops' declaration adopted by a vote of 526-70 by leaders of the 73-million-member Anglican Communion. The declaration was made during the three-week Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade gathering of Anglican leaders at the University of Kent and Canterbury Cathedral in the village of Canterbury, England, 58 miles southeast of London. The Lambeth Conference ends Aug. 9. The declaration is not binding on the various regions of the Anglican Communion, a confederation of 37 self-governing churches including the U.S. Episcopal Church, but it is likely to be influential and lend support to conservative bishops.
Traditionalist bishops said the vote signalled a return to biblical authority. The resolution was a "victory for the gospel" and will have "a strengthening effect on the faithful" in the United States, Bishop James Stanton of Dallas said. He was among American bishops who brought heresy charges two years ago against retired Bishop Walter Righter for ordaining a homosexual man as a deacon. A church court disturbed conservative Episcopalians by ruling that there is no core doctrine in the denomination that prohibits such ordinations.
The Lambeth resolution supports outreach to homosexuals. It states that "all baptised, believing, and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the body of Christ."
Liberal clerics from Western nations, including some leaders of the 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church, had lobbied for the ordination of homosexuals as priests and the blessing of homosexual couples. Some have ordained homosexuals in dioceses such as Newark, N.J., where John Spong is bishop, and some Episcopal priests have quietly blessed same-sex unions in recent years.
The resolution "sought to justify its prejudice by appeals to the authority of Holy Scripture," Spong told a group of homosexuals and their supporters after the vote. "That tactic was employed in the church's attempt to justify slavery, segregation, and apartheid. It failed then. It will surely fail on this issue." Earlier in the conference, Spong angered African bishops by saying they are "more limited in their experience" and susceptible to "superstition." Bishop Catherine Raskkom of New York said the resolution "is not acceptable to me and my colleagues."
Bishop Alexander Malik of Pakistan condemned the "perversity" of homosexuality and asked if liberal bishops would come to the next Lambeth Conference, in 10 years, demanding permission to bless relationships between Anglicans and their "pets, dogs, and cats." Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma of Nigeria approached English cleric Richard Kirker of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement outside the meeting and tried to exorcise "the demons of homosexuality" from him. Kirker held Chukwuma's hand but said later that the Nigerian's actions amounted to "spiritual bullying," The Washington Post reported.
The vote marked a shift in leadership of the Anglican Communion away from declining churches in the West toward the growing churches in Africa, Asia, and South America, traditionalists said. Bishops from those countries -- many from fast-growing churches founded by missionaries during colonial times -- have moved to the forefront of the fight for traditional morality, overshadowing liberal bishops from Europe and the United States, where church attendance and membership are falling.
New churches are opening weekly in Africa. There are an estimated 17 million Anglican Church members in Nigeria and 8 million in Uganda, compared with 2.4 million in the United States, the Anglican Communion said. The 26 million-member Church of England is the largest Anglican province, but attendance has been declining sharply.
Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, titular head of the Communion, said he stands "wholeheartedly with traditional Anglican orthodoxy, (and) see no room in the Holy Scripture or the entire Christian tradition for any sexual activity outside of matrimony." The Anglican Communion, which dates to the 16th century when King Henry VIII broke with Rome over the pope's refusal to grant him a divorce, is active in 165 countries.