The February 2003 Pneuma Informer
In this issue:
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Reports from Around the World
Ethiopia: Evangelical Unity Sparks Revival
Revival is sweeping Ethiopia as missionaries carry the gospel to a people devastated by drought, famine and war. Evangelical church leaders there report that the gospel has been preached to at least 1.2 million people in the last six years, resulting in 50,000 conversions and 500 new churches.
The move is primarily the work of national missionaries who have been trained and sent out through a partnership between the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia (ECFE)—which represents 97 percent of the Protestant churches in the country—and Accelerating International Mission Strategies (AIMS), a Virginia-based organization.
"It's been encouraging to see the Ethiopian leaders mobilizing their churches and owning the missionary task," says Dr. Howard Foltz, founder and president of AIMS.
ECFE, which was forged in 1974 when Ethiopia first came under communist rule, represents 17 different denominations. "It's the greatest unity I've seen anywhere in the world," Foltz said. "There's a price to pay for that unity, but they are paying it."
The foundation for the Ethiopian partnership was laid in 1989 when Calvary Temple in Denver opened its door to a congregation of Ethiopian believers who had come to the United States to escape persecution by the communist regime in their homeland.
When the socialist government of the country fell in 1991, Calvary Temple pastor Charles Blair was invited to Ethiopia to help local church leaders make the transition from underground cell groups to thriving, visible congregations.
Foltz accompanied Blair in 1996, helping to train Ethiopian church leaders, pastors and missionaries. Today the ongoing partnership continues to yield a harvest of new believers and church plants.
According to Pamella Foster, AIMS director of operations, the evangelical church in Ethiopia faces many challenges. In addition to persecution from Muslims, Ethiopia's Orthodox Church leaders have joined forces with the Islamic movement to persecute evangelical Christians. "Leaders from the evangelical church in Ethiopia believe they alone stand between their government and a total Islamic takeover," Foster reported.
In spite of these obstacles, more than 8,000 Muslims in one region alone have come to Christ in an 11-month period. "A Muslim man who converts to Christianity will have his wife taken from him and given to another Muslim man," Foster said. "In addition, he may be disinherited and even stoned."
National woes present yet another crisis for the Ethiopian church. The country has the third largest HIV-positive population in the world, with 1.2 million AIDS orphans.
During a recent AIMS training conference in Awasa, in southern Ethiopia, Christian leaders repented for the Ethiopian church's silence on the issue and vowed to take action. "The AIDS pandemic gives us an opportunity for a redemptive turnaround," Foltz said. "The compassion ministry [of the church] can be a way of reaching families and communities with the gospel."
Foster reported that in 2001 the alliance trained more than 100 top Ethiopian leaders, giving them tools to further mobilize Ethiopian churches. Said Foltz: "Our motto has always been: 'Don't just give a fish; don't just teach how to fish; but train teachers of fisherman.'"
Source: By Sandra Chambers, Charisma News Service 1/8/2003. Used with permission.
Israel: when a Palestinian kisses Israeli tanks
"Saed is a Palestinian, raised as a Muslim, and taught from early years to hate Jews," reports Avi Mizrachi of the DUGIT mission agency in Israel. "Years ago, he saw a Palestinian terrorist building a bomb. The bomb exploded prematurely, killing the terrorist. Saed was shocked, and thought 'God, there must be
something more to life than killing...'. In 1996, he came to believe in Christ through some American Christians. He shared his new-found faith with his neighbours and family, and the news spread quickly in the village. One day, Palestinian policemen came, and put him in jail in Schechem (Nablus). They
tortured him and threatened to kill him for believing in Jesus. For two years, he was in solitary confinement, and praying every day that Israeli troops would come to free him. In 2002, his prayers were answered. When the Israelis entered the prison, the Palestinian police fled. When Saed and the other prisoners were released, the Israeli commander was astonished to see Saed walk up to the tank and kiss it. He had probably never expected to see a Palestinian do that..." Today, Saed, married with eight children, is a member of a Christian church and sells soap.
Source: DUGIT, PO Box 1875, Silverdale, WA 98383, by way of Friday Fax 2003:3
When Muslims dream
A Californian magazine published the results of a survey of over 600 ex-Muslims who now follow Jesus. "Although dreams appear to play a minor role in the conversions of Westerners, over a quarter of those interviewed emphatically confirmed that dreams and visions played a vital role in their conversion, and helped them in difficult times."
"A follower of Jesus from Guinea tells of a person in white who appeared to him in a dream, calling him with outstretched arms. This sort of dream, in which Christ appears as a figure in white, is a frequent pattern in missionary work among Muslims," according to the report. A Muslim Malay saw her deceased Christian parents in a dream, celebrating in heaven. Jesus, in a white robe, told her "If you want to come to me, come!" She realized that she had been trying to reach God for all her life, without success, and that God had now himself taken the initiative to reach her through Jesus.
Some typical dreams: "Two angels in white clothes were standing on the summit of a mountain. Jesus was standing between the angels, and as I knelt, he laid his hands on my head..."
"I dreamt that I was sitting on a chair with my arms bound. Then a man came, who I recognised as Jesus, and touched the bonds, which fell away from me..."
"In my dream, Jesus told me to come to him and read the Bible. He would show me the way, the truth and the life..."
"I saw Christians waiting in a line leading towards heaven. I tried to join the line, but a very large being blocked my path. I started to cry, because the side I was standing on was truly awful, but the place where the others were standing was unbelievably beautiful..."
An ex-Muslim from the Middle East, who has become a Christian, told me that he was lying in bed with a severe headache. A white figure with a wonderful and peaceful face appeared and laid his hands on his head three times. The following morning, the headache had ceased.
A man from western Africa saw a religious Muslim in hell, and a poor Christian, who could not even give alms, in heaven. A voice explained that the decisive point was not the alms, but the faith in Jesus.
"A missionary working among the Tausugs, the Philippines' largest Muslim people group, reports that a number of faithful Muslims 'saw Jesus' in their dreams following last Ramadan. One man could hardly believe it when he dreamed of Jesus killing a huge dragon in a duel. The following day, he had the same dream again, and became open to hear the Gospel.
A member of the Yakan people in Basilan Province dreamed the Prophet Mohammed could not look Jesus in the eye. When he told his cousin, a Christian, of the dream, his cousin told him that the dream meant that Jesus is greater than Mohammed."
Source: www.IsaalMasih.net, by way of Friday Fax 2003:5. Used with permission.
Muslim Background Believer shares testimony in British National Paper
Quite remarkably, the London TIMES
newspaper carried a two-page spread in its daily supplement on 8 January: the testimony of Ahmer Khokhar, a British man of Pakistani birth. No doubt, the purpose was to demonstrate the issues involved in being a Christian within a Muslim situation. However, the entire story is an honest first-person feature with no signs of rewriting by the paper. As Ahmer is now a professional journalist, he knows how to write convincingly and with virtually no jargon words. Read (and maybe print out) this insightful testimony:
The article will not be archived here too long—check it now if you want to read it.
Incidentally, it is worth mentioning that the often-used term 'Muslim convert' is now seen as potentially patronizing and offensive. The best description of such brothers and sisters is now: Muslim Background Believer (MBB).
Source: Web Evangelism Bulletin Issue 64
Resources You Can Use
Christian young people have a wide range of helpful resources available to them. One of those resources aiming to equip the youth and those who lead them is Dare2Share. They write:
"Dare 2 Share Ministries exists to energize a generation to evangelize the world through motivating, training, and resourcing teens and youth leaders for effective outreach. We believe that today's teens can reach the world for Jesus Christ!"
On the lighter side:
Aboard The Ark
Ship of Fools, a British Christian satirical site ("the voice of Christian unrest"), is highly popular - and very accessible to non-Christians too. They plan an online fun interactive game called The Ark, starting Easter Sunday, 2003. Twelve people will take on the persona of a biblical character for 40 days and nights and compete in a light-hearted survivor-type game.
The characters (the great, the good and the not so good, a choice selection from the Old and New Testaments) will interact with each other on a daily basis in full public view in a 3D model of The Ark. Each character will be shown as a walking, talking cartoon animation. They will take care of the animals, tackle crises, cook lunch, keep The Ark afloat, and talk though some of the big questions of life. It promises to be fun.
Special thanks to Web Evangelism Bulletin for much of this resource information.
Thoughts to Ponder
According to the Barna Research Group, 86 percent of Americans believe in a prayer-answering God, yet only 58 percent set aside time to pray daily.
'Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.'
- Martin Luther King Jr.
'He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses much more, He who loses faith, loses all.'
- Eleanor Roosevelt
"God tries our faith so that we may try His faithfulness."
- Author Unknown
"The principal part of faith is patience."
- George MacDonald
Comments from Readers and Web Visitors
'Blessed be to the name of our almighty Father who has given you the wisdom to establish this page for the upliftment of his kingdom. May the LORD bless you all. Amen'
- HGV in UK
"I just clicked to your new website. Most impressive, along with John Ruthven and Harold Hunter you are gathering a Pentecostal bibliography together."
'I send my greetings to all there in Pneuma Foundation, I sincerely thank you for your valuable services.
Also, please accept our thanks for adding our site to the vast list of internet links.'
'Hi.I wanted to say thanks for your information about the December 2002 issue of the Pneuma Informer
I wanted also to ask your staff about something. In visiting various web sites and coming across different ministry sites, I saw one that offered some books written by somebody named John R. Rice.Apparently, this Rice individual had a 'fundamentalist,' Baptist background.Anyhow, he wrote some books that were very critical of the whole charismatic movement.
Now although I would classify myself as a Pentecostal rather than a charismatic—even though I know these are somewhat arbitrary terms and there is much in common between them—I sensed that the criticisms Rice had of the charismatic movement would also apply to the pentecostal movement.
The web site I found these books advertised at was called swordofthelord. Rice apparently wrote material in which he professed to have shown that there was no way the charismatic teachings could truly be Biblical. From what I gathered, this was not merely the outer extreme of the movement (something that many pentecostals as well as charismatics object to themselves). This material seemed to critique the central teachings of the movement itself (Spiritual gifts, modern-day miracles and healings, tongues, etc.)
I therefore wish to know if anyone has ever brought the writings of John R. Rice to your attention. If not, I think someone needs to get hold of them and evaluate them so that a satisfactory refutation of them will be available on your web site. If you are already aware of his objections to what we stand for, then has anyone written anything in your publications that refutes what he claimed?
I hope to receive a reply from someone with your organization soon. Thanks ahead of time and may God's best be yours.
'I love your commitment to the things of God. Blessings!'
'The Pneuma Foundation website looks great. Even though I have only seen a little of it so far, I will have to come back. There is a lot there.'
'You have a great looking website.'
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'Thank you for the additional information about Irving Hexham's paper on your 'In Depth' web page. I am familiar with his work but not this particular paper.'
By H. Murray Hohns
Read this devotional exhortation on the PneumaReview.com website: "A Keeper
" by H. Murray Hohns
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.
Excerpts from the Pneuma Review will be appearing in the next issue of this newsletter.
For more information about the Pneuma Review, and to learn how to subscribe, visit: /intro_pr.jsp
- Pray for Christian workers in Colombia: Human rights activists have urged a local church leader in Santander, the Cauca region of Colombia, to leave the area following an aborted attempt on his life. One of two men sent to kill Esnilder Popo in his church approached the minister at the end of the service and asked for help, Compass Direct reported.
The incident was the latest in a long series of attacks on clergy and churches which have seen more than 100 Protestant pastors and Catholic priests die violently in Colombia during the last decade, at the hands of armed groups involved in the country's long-running internal conflict, and drug traffickers.
The man visiting Popo told the pastor that he was frightened and had been on a mission to kill him. He then left the church abruptly, but returned a few days later when members of the Commission on Human Rights and Peace of the Evangelical Council of Colombia, known as CEDECOL, were meeting there to discuss the incident.
The man told members of the group he had been ordered to assassinate Popo in his pulpit at Santander's Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, but "I could not bring myself to do it."
Meanwhile, Jos' Juan Lozada Corteza, pastor of the Evangelical Christian Church of San Antonio, died Jan. 27, when uniformed men stopped the bus on which Lozada was traveling, singled him out from the rest of the passengers and shot him in the head at the side of the road, Compass said CEDECOL reported. A member of Lozada's church was also killed.
Source: Charisma News Service 2/10/2003. Used with permission.
- Pastor Ariel in the Philippines is need of reliable transportation for his family. They travel weekly feeding the poor; teaching, evangelizing and planting churches in the mountainous regions where needs are great. Pastor George Stahnke in Colorado Springs is trying to help raise funds to provide Pastor Ariel with a vehicle.
- The Presidential Prayer Team is seeking Christians in the United States to adopt members of the US military as individuals to pray for on a daily basis. This service to the military folks you know will be of great value to them and will comfort their families.It is without cost and those praying are given a printable certificate that allows them to be reminded daily to pray for the person they have "adopted."It is imperative that each member of the military is being prayed for, wherever they are stationed. The only way to pray for them is if they are registered first by friends or family, since it is not possible for the PPT to simply use military lists. When registering a service person, no confidential information is taken—just their name, branch, spouse name, and the number of children they have (if applicable). This helps those praying to be specific in their daily prayers for this person and their family. http://www.presidentialprayerteam.org/troopsadopt.htm
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 Member Services.