ARCHBISHOPS SET ASIDE PENTECOST TO EVANGELISE ENGLAND
The Archbishop of Canterbury is heading the biggest evangelism project in the UK so far this millennium. Every cathedral, church and clergy in the land is being urged to share their faith and win new converts to Christianity. Cathedrals and churches are being urged to set aside the week before Pentecost as a week of prayer for evangelism. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, are calling cathedrals and other churches to participate in the event. The entire Church is being urged to pray throughout the week for “all Christians to deepen their relationship with Jesus” in order to have “confidence” to share the faith. The two Archbishops are currently writing to all 11,300 Church of England clergy inviting them to “engage” with the project.
They are being asked to organise round-the-clock prayer marathons, one-off events and other gatherings to help towards the evangelisation effort. Five or six cathedrals will hold “beacon” events with services and events led by both Archbishops and some bishops, evangelical worship leaders such as Matt Redman, Tim Hughes and Martin Smith and in collaboration with 24-7 Prayer. Project leader Emma Buchan said: “The hope is that in many places, Christians across denominations can pray together, as the unity of the Body of Christ is a powerful symbol to the world.” Existing research shows many clergy prioritise taking services, prayer, preaching and pastoral work over evangelisation.
Videos are also being made to help build “confidence in faith-sharing”. The new evangelisation initiative is the latest in nearly a century of outreach. The most controversial was the 1945 report, Towards the Conversion of England, which restated Reformation teaching on subjects such as the Day of Judgement. This led up to the foundation of the Eclectic Society by John Stott and then, later, the setting up of the Church of England Evangelical Council. More recently there was the Decade of Evangelism in the 1990s, mirrored by the Catholic Church’s Decade of Evangelisation. The plans are outlined in the General Synod report of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group, where the two Archbishops say: “Sharing Christ with others is a joyful, encouraging and empowering feature of being a Christian disciple.”
They set up the group in response to a call by the General Synod in November 2013. They say: “The group is seeking to be provocative, in order that effective evangelism may become a constant feature of ministry and mission across the dioceses and parishes of the Church of England.” The group includes Canon Mark Russell, chief executive of the Church Army, who is working on evangelisation of young people, whilst others will help with black and ethnic minority issues. Canon Russell says in the report that among questions that people taking part will be asked is: “What holds us back from sharing our faith?” People will also be asked to think of what they could do to enable those without faith “to come to faith in Jesus.”
As an example of the challenges ahead, at their first meeting, all members of the task group discovered they had become Christians in or before their mid-teens. “This realisation brought into sharp focus the challenge the Church faces in reaching younger people with the good news of the Gospel,” he says. “While we recognise that we should not be driven by fear or anxiety, the current and future health of the Church of England depends on a renewed sense of urgency to engage with children and young people.” Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes says in the introduction that evangelism is not a matter for politics, anxiety nor stress”. “Sharing the gift of Christ is an act of love. People who are in love share the news of their love without strain or force, though of course it can take courage to admit that one loves, and is loved.”
SAUDI ARABIA LAUNCHES HUGE MILITARY DRILL IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Saudi Arabia has never had difficulty flexing its muscles, whether economic, religious or military. But last month, the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” amassed 21 Arab and Muslim nations’ armed forces in an unprecedented show of military might. It was the “largest and most important” military drill in the history of the Middle East. The coalition brought together more than 350,000 troops, 20,000 tanks, 2,500 warplanes, and 450 helicopters for a month of military drills called “Northern Thunder”. Who participated? 10/40 Window nations in the Gulf and beyond: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Senegal, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Kuwait, the Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Chad, Tunisia, Comoro Islands, Djibouti, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey, Mauritania, and Mauritius.
All of these nations except for Bahrain are Sunni dominated. Who were they trying to impress? Iran. Syria. Russia. Iran and Syria are Shia dominated. Their objective was to prove and practice how they can defend themselves. The Northern Thunder is Saudi Arabia’s latest re-calibration of its alliances and re-evaluation of its collective strength. Saudi Arabia coordinated a coalition of 35 Arab and Muslim nations months ago to “push back and confront the terrorists and those who promote their violent ideologies.” Namely, Daesh and al Qaeda. Despite their claims of wanting to confront terrorism, additional factors remain in play. Specifically, the instability brewed by Iran, Syria and Russia.
After Iranian factions attacked the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran, many of the 10/40 Window nations severed diplomatic ties with Iran. The other coalition countries participated in the military exercise as a warning that the Gulf States’ were prepared to fight back. Saudi Arabia believes its eastern neighbour, Iraq, is now being controlled by Iran. The possibility of these rivals sharing a land border makes the al Saud family uncomfortable. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hossein Ansari said that Russian S-300 Air Defence Missiles were en-route to Tehran. Meanwhile, the nation to Saudi Arabia’s south, Yemen, remains unstable. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels continue to wage war against the Saudi-backed Yemen government. An Iranian military base in Yemen, as Saudi Arabia fears, would certainly heighten tensions.
And then there is Syria that lies to Saudi Arabia’s north, currently controlled by Daesh (ISIS), another enemy of Saudi Arabia. In fact, Daesh has attacked and threatened the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” with increasing frequency in recent years. Even during the Northern Thunder drills, Turkish soldiers lined up on the Syrian side of the border after Saudi Arabia armed Turkey with troops and fighter jets for a potential ground invasion. “They had dreamed of turning Syria into a Sunni nation, and if they give up now, Syria will end up being dominated by Iran and Hezbollah. It will be a result that is far worse than if they never tried to overthrow Assad in the first place,” according to experts. So, is Northern Thunder the most important military drill in the history of the Middle East? Probably. Pray for Saudi.
• that the Gospel spreads as Holy fire among the Northern Thunder participants.
• that evil not prevail and for the Church to grow in the Middle East
• for peace in the region and that the Northern Thunder soldiers come to the saving knowledge of Christ
CHRISTIAN LEADERS URGE PRAYER NOT FEAR IN RESPONSE TO TERRORIST ATTACK
When things such as the sickening terrorist attacks in Belgium last week happen, each of us react in some way. Our emotions influence our reactions to some degree or another, but the fact remains we can also choose how to confront the day’s headlines, or difficult events in our personal lives. We can turn the pages of the Bible and find numerous times when men and women—faced with bleak situations—stood on faith instead of crumbling in fear, and God was faithful… Moses, Joshua, Esther, Elijah, Elisha, the Apostles—just to name a few. With so much negativity coming from so many voices these days, coupled with recent tragic events, it would be easy to be overwhelmed with depression. But it’s important to stay encouraged, especially encouraged in the Word of God, and by His people.
Following the ISIS attacks in Belgium, many Christian leaders spoke out to warn, but also to encourage God’s people. Here are some of their words: From Evangelist Greg Laurie: “Pray for the Police and Military as they seek to protect the people. Pray for the families that have lost precious loved ones. Pray for the Churches and Believers in Belgium as they seek to minister to their country. Pray for those in leadership that they will take quick and decisive action against those that wish their people harm. We need to cry out for God’s help! “The Lord tells us, ‘Then call on Me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give Me glory.'(Ps.50:15)” “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) NASB
From Rick Joyner: “We can expect these attacks to increase. Nations have been made vulnerable by government policies that have failed to protect borders. It is likely we will soon be looking back and marvelling at how naďve we have been to allow this, but until there is change we must all learn to be vigilant, becoming watchmen for our cities and communities. “We also must resist reacting in fear, knowing that there is no safer place that we could ever be than in the will of God. Knowing how to recognize threats is important, but more important is keeping our eyes on the Lord, and not letting anything steal the peace we have by abiding in Him. It is as we abide in His peace that we can more easily be directed by Him.” Peace is not defined by our situations, but by the Author of life and the Giver of peace, Himself!
From Franklin Graham: “Pray for the victims and families of the terrorist attack. Islamists tell us we will see more of these attacks. We are in trouble— there is a world-wide void in leadership. Pray that God will give us a strong leaders in nations across the world.” Chuck Pierce encourages Believers to “Let your light shine” amid the chaos in the world. The world has witnessed dark events many times throughout history, but we have also seen the saving hand of the Lord. Scripture says: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) As Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
HINDU PRIEST DOUBTS EXISTENCE OF JESUS UNTIL HE SHOWS UP IN A POWERFUL WAY
If 330 million gods and goddesses couldn’t respond to his prayers, Kosh Dahal doubted whether one God like Jesus could do very much. Plus, the Nepalese was a Hindu priest from the highest caste in Nepal, and he didn’t want to submit to a belief system he perceived as having a lower status. “There was no caste higher than my caste,” he said in a YouTube video. “I didn’t want to mix with the people of the low castes.” So Dahal repeatedly dismissed a Christian evangelist who showed up day after day to share the gospel at his veterinary clinic in Kathmandu. Dahal, a Hindu priest and the son of a Hindu priest, told him to stop coming by, but the pesky evangelist kept showing up and talking about the “loving living only God Jesus.”
“He bothered me because I didn’t want to accept Jesus Christ. He kept coming and ministering the gospel. I kept rejecting him,” Dahal said. “One day I got challenged. I wanted to prove that Christianity is a fake religion. Jesus can’t do anything. I will ask your Jesus – 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening – if He is the real God, come on and touch me and change me for 30 days.” If Jesus didn’t respond in an undeniable way, Dahal said he would file a complaint with the police about the annoying evangelist. Nepal law prohibits proselytizing. “You will be in trouble.” he warned the evangelist. But the Christian didn’t back pedal and seemed to relish the wager.
Dahal who prayed with all sincerity warned Jesus that his time was running out. At the end of the third week, however, the power of the one true living God struck. “This power like a current of electricity came into me and began to run very fast,” Dahal remembered. “I was shocked. I was closing my eyes and opening my eyes, and I was very afraid. I kept saying, ‘Who is this? What’s happening to me? What’s inside of me running very fast?’” It was an experience he had never encountered in his 30 years of worshiping the Hindu pantheon of gods. “I was challenging Jesus,” he recounted. “Jesus sent the power. I began to say, ‘Wow. Jesus has the power,’” he said. “I believed that morning that Jesus Christ is real. He really is the God who has mighty power. He woke me up. I cried. I realized that Jesus Christ is real.”
Naturally, Dahal failed to disprove Jesus. What lay ahead of him was to honour his wager: he had promised the evangelist he would leave everything to follow Jesus. His wife Shobah saw a dramatic change in her husband and decided to follow Jesus too. She was eased to faith when she was miraculously healed in Jesus’ name of a uterine myoma, a benign growth that might have required a hysterectomy. The couple, with their three children, abandoned the Hindu priesthood and began evangelizing. They planted a church in Kathmandu. After some years, they left their jobs, properties and families and moved to the Philippines to study in seminary. While there, they planted five more churches. Since 2013, they have been ministering to Nepalese in Malaysia at Kairos Nepali Church.
U.S. EDUCATORS LEARNING HOW TO EXPRESS THEIR FAITH WITH BOLDNESS
A Christian education association is training Christian teachers how to live their faith and evangelize in public schools without violating the Constitution. The Christian Educators Association International is an organization that sees the nation’s public schools as “the largest single mission field in America,” reports the Washington Post. The association trains teachers how to be a light in schools without infringing on the Constitution’s ban on promoting any particular religion. “We’re not talking about proselytizing. That would be illegal,” Finn Laursen, the group’s executive director said. “But we’re saying you can do a lot of things… It’s a mission field that you fish in differently.” The association trains teachers to step out and share their faith boldly despite increased hostility towards teachers and faculty who profess a Christian faith.
Teachers can pray with colleagues during breaks, they can pray with a student at the student’s request after work hours, and they can also hold before and after school religious clubs for students. Educators, however, must be careful to stay within the bounds of the law and not proselytize at school. “They appear to be encouraging teachers to cross the line,” Daniel Mach of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said. The ACLU fought the Christian Educators Association in a 2009 court case over Florida teachers’ religious expression at school. “Decisions about the religious upbringing of children should be left in the hands of parents and families, not public school officials,” he said.
Charles C. Haynes, A First Amendment expert… says the association is not violating the law. Although many people believe that public schools should be religious free-zones, that is not the case, Haynes explained. “The First Amendment does not exclude religion from public schools,” he said. “”It gives us the ground rules for how religion comes into public schools.” The Constitution says that government cannot establish religion, but it also says that the government cannot inhibit religious freedom. Therefore it gives room for students and even teachers to express their faith in school. “The part that a teacher in public school can do is till the soil and plant the seed,” said Laursen.
The expression “Hell on earth” accurately describes life in South Sudan. Daily unbelievable atrocities are committed daily: gang rapes, dismemberments, babies and adults alike burned alive. Those heinous crimes are carried out both by South Sudanese forces and rebels alike. But human warfare’s ugly tentacles reach far beyond, resulting in unplanted fields, no crops, famine, drought, starvation, disease, and death. Death, the smell of it is everywhere. No village has been untouched, no family exempt. Mothers dash to get water, leaving children briefly untended. The vulnerable are attacked, raped, and murdered. Peace is elusive. Humanitarian access – food, soldiers, military aid – are all hindered from reaching their destinations by roadblocks and people in uniform.
An urgent plea comes from a leader’s email: “I think the next two weeks will determine the critical point in the peace process: either peace or war. Please continue to pray for peace and removal of all obstacles that hinder humanitarian assistance to those in need, both IDPs and the poor who have no or little money to buy food.” In an effort to reach a truce, in February, South Sudan President Kiir reappointed his rival, Riek Machar to the position he held until 2013 when Kiir dismissed him. The result was a three-year civil war crisis that led to escalating violence and widespread hunger. April is the deadline for leaders to honour the peace agreement, stop the war, and begin implementing a transitional government. If they don’t, donor countries are pulling out, leaving the country with higher inflation and possible mayhem.
Please pray for:
* Christian Believers in South Sudan to continue their 24-hour around the clock prayer for their country and for the growth of God’s Church in this new nation.
• God’s warring angels to thwart the efforts of those blocking humanitarian aid and to clear the pathway for assistance to reach the needy
• God to deliver the suffering South Sudanese as surely as He delivered the helpless Israelites as they crossed the Red Sea. Pray too for a permanent declaration of peace between South Sudan’s warring political leaders who continue to use people as fodder to gain political power