The message coming out of China is not about the slowing economy, nor about the tensions in the South China Sea — it is “Jesus Saves”. It’s a theme echoed in Australia, where Chinese people are packing into our universities, tourism sites, property auctions and churches. In south Beijing on any Thursday night, a rock band leads 300 young worshippers at Zhushikou Protestant church, with lead singer Gao Liang, a convert of 3 years, prominently sporting a WWJD badge — What Would Jesus Do? A couple of kilometres away, another large and youthful congregation of about 600 was at mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where Catholic churches have stood since 1605, and which also maintains a daily Latin mass. Large screens communicate the service to the
Liu Qiaojing, a 35-year-old teacher worshipping with her husband, Sun Yanqing, and their two-year-old son Yibo, said ever more young people were joining the church: “They love the atmosphere, the feeling of love, the warm-hearted people.” Wang Libo, a 45-year-old businessman said: “Our broader society is in a quandary.” So the church is filling with those, especially in their 20s and 30s, “who come to seek truth and genuineness, to think, and to find belief”. An estimated 100 million people in China have already become Christians — more than the 84 million in the ruling Communist Party. As a result, more people worship in China on a typical Sunday than attend all the churches in Europe combined. So Easter Day was a very big event in China, even though the authorities haven’t declared it as a formal holiday.
Easter saw unprecedented numbers attending both officially recognised Protestant and Catholic churches as well as underground “house churches” — although there is also constant traffic between these strands of Christianity. In Australia, the Anglican Church, which has historically been viewed as largely an Anglo preserve, provides a particularly strong example of how rapidly Chinese people are changing core institutions, and how the latter are adapting. The Primate of the Australian church, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, said: “Over the past 15 years, we have ordained 17 people for Anglican ministry in Melbourne who are Chinese by birth or background. “We have experienced a very positive response to our ministry amongst people newly arrived from China.”
The archdiocese ran a ministry conference in 2014 on the theme of the church in the Asian century, “where we celebrated the freshness of approach that all of our Asian congregations, including Chinese, are bringing to the church”. Last year, the Anglican cathedral, St Paul’s, introduced a weekly service in Mandarin, led by two Chinese priests. The official prayer book used in Australian Anglican worship has been translated into Chinese. Andreas Loewe, the dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, said: “The face of Anglicanism in Melbourne is changing. In 10 years, the number of congregations in our diocese where a language other than English predominates has almost ¬doubled, from 23 to 40 today.
“If you walk through the cathedral on any given day, you will witness an incredible cultural diversity among the people visiting and praying here. Our Chinese ministry at the heart of Melbourne is a visible sign of our commitment to serving the people who live, work, and now worship in this great culturally diverse city.” Many Chinese worshippers in Australia became drawn to the church only after they arrived, having no previous religious adherence or knowledge at all. Back home, the Christian surge within China has happened even though Communist Party members — the national elite — remain banned from all religious adherence, and proselytising by religious groups is illegal except within officially prescribed religious venues, whether temples, churches or mosques.
RAISED BY HOMOSEXUAL PARENTS HE SHOCKED THEM BY BECOMING A PASTOR
When he was just two his parents divorced and both entered the homosexual lifestyle. His lesbian mum and her partner took him to homosexual pride parades, clubs, parties and campouts, while his father remained “closeted”
for several years. “Mum was a political activist,” says Caleb Kaltenbach. At homosexual pride parades, Caleb witnessed Christian demonstrators spray homosexual marchers with water and urine. When he asked his mum why they were doing this, she said: “Because Christians hate homosexuals.” As a result, Caleb wanted nothing to do with Christianity or God. In high school, a friend invited him to a Bible study and he accepted with ulterior motives. “I thought I could learn about Christianity, and dismantle their arguments,” he recalls.
He had attended a mainline denominational church with his father sporadically, but was bored by it and didn’t understand the liturgy. “They never discussed God, only social issues,” he notes. So when he grabbed a Bible off his dad’s shelf and went to the Bible study, he didn’t realize there was a difference between the Old and New Testaments. Confused when they asked him to read a verse from 1st Corinthians, he began reading from 1st Chronicles. “I was so embarrassed, but I wouldn’t let these Christians get me down,” Caleb says. He had lumped this group of believers in with the angry demonstrators he saw in the street. But something amazing happened when he began to read the Bible for himself. “I fell in love with Jesus,” he recalls. “I learned that Jesus is really not like the Christians I saw on the street corners.”
Later, he met a Christian friend at a restaurant and asked, “What do you have to do to be saved?” As his friend, Gregg, waxed on about the realities of Jesus and His divinity, something stirred within Caleb. “As Gregg was talking, it happened. I can’t explain it. Something just shifted inside me. I truly believed what he was saying. There was no way around it—in that moment I became a follower of Jesus.” Baptized “covertly” immediately after he was born again, his dad grounded him after absorbing the shocking news. His lesbian mum and her partner were horrified, and accused him of the ultimate betrayal –siding with bigots. The next week, Caleb attended a youth conference in Missouri. While there, he felt God’s call to become a pastor and confessed before everyone he wanted to be a preacher.
He attended Ozark Christian College and later, Talbot Seminary. In California, he served on the staff at Shepherd of the Hills Church for 11 years. After graduation, he accepted a call as senior pastor of a church in Dallas. Then something remarkable happened, both his parents independently made decisions to move to Dallas and began attending his church. “What was even more incredible was that as time went on some church members were nicer to my parents than I was,” he notes. As the church loved his parents without judgment, their hearts began to soften. After 3 years in Dallas, he felt called to move back to California to lead Discovery Church in Simi Valley. “Two weeks before we left Dallas, both of my parents gave their lives to the Lord!” “I was floored…how did this happen? To this day, I’m still not sure.”
In Caleb and his family’s remarkable journey of transformation, he has developed some unique perspectives as a result. “I believe any expression of sexuality outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful,” he says, “but I don’t believe God called me to make homosexual people straight.” While Caleb holds to traditional doctrinal views, his ministry style is open and accepting. “I completely concur that God designed sexuality to be between a man and a woman, but that’s not the first thing I talk about with homosexuals,” he continues. “I want to get to know them as a person, to build a friendship. I want to help them see Christ as their main identity. When they see Christ in that way, there is time for discussion of holy living.” He says, “We want our Church to be a place where you can belong before you believe.”
AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PAEDIATRICIANS SAYS GENDER IDEOLOGY HARMS CHILDREN
The American College of Paediatricians issued a position statement last month entitled “Gender Ideology Harms Children,” which will be followed by a peer-reviewed statement on the subject that’s expected to be released by summer, the college said. “The American College of Paediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex,” the statement stated. “Facts—not ideology—determine reality.” The statement— co-written by the President, Vice President and Paediatric Endocrinologist of the American College of Paediatricians and a Professor of psychiatry, cites eight reasons why “gender ideology” instead of treatment based on biological facts is harmful to children.
The first point is, “Human sexuality is a biological binary trait: ‘XY’ and ‘XX’ are genetic markers of health—not genetic markers of a disorder,” with the purpose of male and female being “the reproduction and flourishing of our species.” It notes “exceedingly rare exceptions of sexual differentiation,” which are disorders but do not represent a “third sex.” Secondly, “No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not a biological one.” The statement adds that self-awareness develops over time and can be “derailed” by the experiences and information a child receives from infancy onward. No matter what sex a person imagines themselves to be, they remain biologically either a male or a female.
The third point is that, “A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking” or the child could suffer from gender dysphoria—”an objective psychological problem… that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such.” Fourth, “Puberty is not a disease and puberty blocking hormones can be dangerous” by inhibiting growth and fertility, according to the position statement. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the statement says, “as many as 98 percent of gender confused boys and 88 percent of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.”
The 6th point is that “children who use puberty blockers will require cross-sex hormones in late adolescence. Cross-sex hormones are associated with health risks including high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke and cancer.” The 7th point states, “Rates of suicide are 20 times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery.” The 8th point calls chemical and surgical treatment of children based on “gender ideology” child abuse. “Endorsing gender discordance as normal will confuse children and parents, leading more children to present to ‘gender clinics’ where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs. This virtually ensures that they will ‘choose’ a lifetime use of toxic cross-sex hormones, and probable surgical mutilation of their healthy body parts as young adults.”
IRAN HAS FASTEST GROWING EVANGELICAL POPULATION IN THE WORLD
Iran is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians. Almost all of the Farsi-speaking churches have been closed and house churches are raided routinely, with their leaders and members arrested. Evangelism is against the law and may even be punished by death. But despite Iran’s best efforts to stifle believers, God is at work and the church in Iran is growing rapidly! Iran has the fastest-growing evangelical population in the world, according to Operation World. Iran’s hardline approach, and violence perpetrated in the name of Islam throughout the Middle East, has caused Muslims to search for truth elsewhere. But with such a crackdown by the government against Christian worship and witness, how is the Iranian Church growing so quickly? Despite the dangers, Iranian Christians are sharing their faith.
SAT-7’s broadcasts of Christian programs into Iranian homes have been one tool God is using. One Muslim woman found healing from one of SAT-7’s programs. “My husband and I are both from very religious families,” she wrote. “I was doing all the required activities until I was diagnosed with leukaemia. A Christian friend told me to repeat, ‘If God is for me, who can be against me?’ I didn’t really understand it but I kept repeating it because I thought I was going to die.” “One evening, I watched a film on SAT-7 called ‘God is Love,’ and there was a prayer at the end, which spoke to my heart. I knelt down and prayed the prayer. The leukaemia has gone and I feel very good now. Every day, SAT-7 receives reports from people telling them they have given their heart to Christ after watching a program on the television channel.
In addition to the programs, SAT-7 provides 24/7 support for viewers, who often have nowhere else to turn. Viewers want to know more about Jesus. Some want to pray with a Christian. Others want to share their testimony and have contact with fellow believers. SAT-7 is now using a new secure messaging app called Telegram and is posting program clips, the Bible and Christian books for people to watch and read. Every day, SAT-7 receives more than 2,000 messages from Iran on Telegram and there have been over 60,000 Bible views. “Anyone with a satellite dish can turn on SAT-7, hear the Word of God in their language and join a global fellowship of Christians within the privacy of their own homes.”
AMERICAN FOOTBALL SUPPORTS HOMOSEXUALS IN BULLYING CHRISTIANS
The National Football League (NFL) is coming against the state of Georgia for passing a bill that would protect Christians who do not support same-sex marriage. The NFL is joined by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NFL is threatening to move a potential Super Bowl from Georgia to another state if the bill is passed. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy and Atlanta Falcon’s owner Arthur Blank are trying to stop House Bill 757 that would protect Christians. The bill has passed both houses of the Georgia Legislature, but has not been signed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. Many Georgia businesses are against the bill including Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, Google, Home Depot, Porsche, and Wells Fargo.
“This is another example of the homosexual agenda being used against Christians,” states 4 Winds Christian Athletics president Steve McConkey. “The NFL and other sport associations, plus big business, are joining forces with the homosexual elite to penalize Christians if they do not support homosexuality. This is an attack on Christian freedom.” In 2003, Steve McConkey was the only sports minister publicly standing against the International Olympic Committee for allowing transgenders in the Olympics. He has publicly opposed the International Olympic Committee and other associations for their support of homosexuality. McConkey recently protested the IOC because they changed their transgender policies to allow men to compete as women with only a year of hormone therapy.
FLORIDA PASTORS LEGALLY PROTECTED WHEN REFUSING SAME SEX MARRIAGE REQUESTS
Pastors in Florida are now protected from potential lawsuits if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages. Gov. Rick Scott recently signed into law HB 43, known as the “Pastor Protection Act.” It protects clergy, churches, and religious organizations and their employees from civil action if they choose not to perform a wedding for homosexual couples. Rep. Scott Plakon, who sponsored HB 43, said most of the bill came from a similar Texas law. “The law provides that churches or religious organizations, related organizations, or certain individuals may not be required to solemnize any marriage or provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for related purposes if such action would violate sincerely held religious beliefs,” according to a news release from Liberty Counsel.
Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver recently spoke at a rally in Tallahassee in support of the bill. “I am pleased that the Pastor Protection Act is now law in Florida,” Staver said. “However, more protections are needed beyond just pastors and churches performing weddings. We should pass broad legislation that protects the religious freedom and conscience of all people who refuse to be conscripted into service of the so-called LGBT agenda,” he continued. “This assault on marriage is really an attempt to obliterate Judeo-Christian morality, to destroy marriage and family, and is an attack on God who created male and female,” Staver said. A similar law has been adopted in both Texas and Georgia.
MUSLIM SHOPKEEPER KILLED FOR POSTING A LOVE MESSAGE TO JESUS AND CHRISTIANS
Two weeks ago, Asad Shah, a Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow, posted the following message on Facebook: “Happy Easter, especially to my Beloved Christian Nation. Let’s follow in the footsteps of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get real success in both worlds.” The message followed a Christmas message to Christians when he published a similar posting that read: “Merry Christmas with love to my beloved Christian nation. Best wishes to all.” Those messages were met with hate over the Easter holidays when some fellow Muslims attacked Shah in his shop and murdered him because he expressed his appreciation and love of Christians. Said one acquaintance of Shah’s: “He was a warm and friendly man who always went out of his way to talk to you—he was more than just our local shopkeeper. He was a friend to many.”