Prayer News | Where Christians Pray Through the News

Prayer List: Stampede Kills

A graduation celebration turned into a nightmare when a fight began and a tear gas canister exploded. 500 people were in the Venezuelan club in Caracas and 17 died during the ensuing stampede to escape. The Associated Press reports, “Family members wept and embraced one another after identifying the remains of their loved ones at a nearby hospital.”

Prayer List

* Pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort the families and friends of the deceased.
* Pray for physical healing for the five people injured in the incident.
* Pray for the teenagers detained for allegedly using tear gas in the club to repent of their sins.
* Pray for Christians to provide emotional support for the people impacted by the explosion and stampede.

Unreached People of the Day

Monday: Mwani in Mozambique
Tuesday: Bulang in China

Operation World Prayer Focus

Tuesday: Iceland
Wednesday: India: Andhra Pradesh

Birthday Prayer Lists

Have you prayed for the salvation of all your friends? Why not turn your Facebook friend list into a prayer list? It shouldn't take long to pray for each friend on their birthday.

Some Christians also pray for entertainers, politicians and media personalities on their birthday.

Religious News Websites

Baptist Press

  • Mohler elected VP of Evangelical Theological Society
    R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been elected as vice president of the Evangelical Theological Society.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 7:44pm -
  • IMB: Chitwood 'God's next leader' for entity
    The International Mission Board released the following report Thursday (Nov. 15) afternoon after Paul Chitwood's election as president of the International Mission Board.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 6:51pm -
  • 'WinTN' messages undergird Tennessee annual meeting
    Tennessee Baptists focused on winning their state for Jesus Christ while electing new officers by acclamation during their annual meeting.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 5:56pm -
  • Dilbeck installed as Okla. Baptist state exec.
    The 2018 annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) featured many highlights, including the installation of Hance Dilbeck as the ninth executive director-treasurer in the state convention's history.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 5:19pm -
  • California's Camp Fire: 'It never turned daylight'
    Disaster relief assessments begin with local pastors as the California Camp Fire continues its devastation. Southern Baptist chaplains, meanwhile, are serving with the American Red Cross in shelters for survivors.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 4:05pm -

Berean Research

  • Holding on.
    Discernment Ministry. What do you think of when you hear or read that term? Does your nose wrinkle a little? Does your upper lip curl in disgust? A lot of good, solid, caring, sheep-loving discerning writers are being told not to quit their day jobs due to the actions of a few. Whether those actions […]The post Holding on. appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 40 days ago 9 Oct 18, 2:21am -
  • Liberation-Not For Everybody
    Youth Testify, a new program launched by Advocates for Youth and the National Network of Abortion Funds is “helping young people advocate for their reproductive rights and reframe the narrative around abortion.” Reframe the narrative? According to Peter Jones, re-framing means that “not a word of warning will be given to young women about the death knell that will forever […]The post Liberation-Not For Everybody appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 46 days ago 2 Oct 18, 4:11pm -
  • “Gay Christian” Event Planned with Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church
    Mark Dever is the senior pastor of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., author, speaker and the president of 9Marks, a ministry that encourages pastors to go to the Bible for instruction on how to lead their churches. Even though Dever’s doctrinal teaching is said to be stellar, this popular pastor is among those […]The post “Gay Christian” Event Planned with Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 50 days ago 28 Sep 18, 3:08pm -
  • Andy Stanley: “Most Former Christians Still Have a Crush on Jesus”
    Megachurch leader Andy Stanley has made some interesting statements over the past few years. Most notably are his statements distancing himself from the authority of Scripture. Easy to mark and avoid a teacher like this, right? Actually, not so easy. Stanley’s many marketable brands include curricula for children, teens, adults, couples…and many well-meaning church staff […]The post Andy Stanley: “Most Former Christians Still Have a Crush on Jesus” appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 53 days ago 26 Sep 18, 10:36am -
  • Downplaying the Devil in NAR
    Should you pray for God’s protection from being deceived and then stop worrying about being deceived by the devil? Likewise, once you pray for protection should you then let your guard down, not worry about your need for protection, and embrace all–and I mean all–manifestations of the miraculous? Holly Pivec explains why putting aside spiritual discernment […]The post Downplaying the Devil in NAR appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 53 days ago 25 Sep 18, 4:14pm -

Christian Headlines

Christian Post

Christianity Today

  • Paradise Fire Burned Most Church Buildings, But ‘the Church Is Still Alive’
    California pastor opens up about the most difficult sermon of his career—and the prospects for resurrecting ministry from the ashes.The wildfire that left Paradise, California, in grim, dusty ruins this week destroyed more than half of about two dozen houses of worship in the town, along with thousands of homes and other structures.From safer ground in nearby Chico, pastors have worked to coordinate physical and spiritual relief for their now far-flung congregants. They’ve also been tasked with delivering updates on their church buildings, as Paradise residents hope for any indication that their homes, schools, or sanctuaries may have been spared from the worst.“Though the physical attributes of our earthly Paradise are destroyed, the spirit of Paradise has spread across the country and around the world, as people are moved to volunteer resources to help,” wrote leaders from Paradise Adventist Church, whose building was burned in the Camp Fire, the deadliest in California history.In the community of around 27,000 people, most congregations lost buildings, including Our Savior Lutheran Church (LCMS), Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA), Paradise Church of Christ, First Assembly of God, Craig Memorial Congregational Church, Paradise Foursquare, New Life Apostolic Church, Paradise Pentecostal Church of God, Community Church of the Brethren, and Hope Christian Church. A Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) meetinghouse and a Center for Spiritual Living were also destroyed.“Building was burnt down, but cross and rock still standing,” wrote Hope Christian’s lead pastor Stan Freitas. “The church is still alive.”Freitas and church members had constructed a new worship space just this year, building a tall wooden cross in front of the new structure. This week, he shared a picture of the hand-carved cross, ...Continue reading...
    - -
  • Live at the Intersection of Grace and Truth
    We don’t get to pick "either/or." It is a distinctly "both/and" proposition.We live in a day when the church’s influence in our culture and community is waning. In a moment like this, we have to ask ourselves, “How do we as Christ-followers live out our missional calling in a context that is becoming rapidly unchurched and progressively opposed to Christian values and beliefs?”Scripture gives us an abundance of answers and examples, but perhaps none so compelling as we find in John’s description of Jesus in John 1:14-17:And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.So, what do we take away from this portrait of Christ to apply in our own lives and missional efforts as we lead and disciple others?Invest Deeply and Relationally into Our CommunitiesFirst, we have to invest ourselves deeply and relationally into our communities.We cannot expect to stand on the outside isolated from the existence and experience of our neighbors and hope that others will listen and hear our message. The offer of reconciliation with God we long to share with others will only be effective when we commit to dwell among those we seek to engage. To live in their neighborhoods. To put our kids in their schools. To be invested in their youth programs. To be engaged in their local struggles. To volunteer on local commissions and be involved in community initiatives. Jesus left the comforts of Heaven to come ...Continue reading...
    - -
  • David Jang’s Christian University Charged in $35 Million Fraud Scheme
    Manhattan DA’s case involving the former heads of Newsweek and the Christian Post expands to include Olivet University.The case against the ex-publisher of the Christian Post and the affiliated Christian Media Corporation has expanded to an alleged $35 million money laundering scheme involving a California-based Bible college.The Manhattan District Attorney’s office on Thursday charged Olivet University with making up a fake accountant to make its financial standing look better than it actually was so it could obtain funding to support day-to-day operations. An indictment filed last month accused Christian Media Corporation and former Newsweek owner IBT Media of similar activity.The case naming Olivet—founded by controversial Korean pastor David Jang (not to be confused with Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois or Olivet College in Michigan) —brings about a dozen more charges against William C. Anderson, who led the Christian Post from 2010 until last summer, IBT CEO Etienne Uzac, and their companies. They were indicted by the DA on an initial $10 million fraud in October, as CT reported.Though all have denied the alleged wrongdoing and pled not guilty, the district attorney’s case legally brings together several entities suspected to be working together under the influence of Jang’s network, but have long denied any official or financial connection to one another.The defendants see the case as, essentially, a victimless crime, since the loans they allegedly obtained through fraudulent means have all been repaid.“Olivet University denies the charges announced [Thursday] by the District Attorney’s Office and will vigorously defend itself against these unsupported allegations — including the puzzling claim that lenders who have suffered no loss were somehow victimized,” Olivet spokesman ...Continue reading...
    - -
  • Preoccupied with Love: Lifting High Evangelism Again
    An interview with Sherry Harney.Ed: We are living in challenging times. The church’s influence is fading. We are struggling to find answers to hard questions. What’s your take on the health of the church, especially as it relates to our witness?Sherry: There is no question that the influence of culture continues to grow. There are battles being waged for the hearts, minds, and the very lives of people we encounter each day. God’s people need to be ready to face the battles that are raging in our culture and in the spiritual realms. Mere intellectual and human strategies will not lead to victory.In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the battles we face are not ultimately against flesh, blood, and people. The real battle is spiritual and God has given us armor as well as weapons. There are many ways the church can prepare to stand strong and walk in the love and power of Jesus. Here are some specific ways we can walk in the power and presence of Jesus as we fight spiritual battles:Put on the armor. Pray the words of Ephesians 6:10-18 daily or weekly. Ask the Spirit of God to protect you as you seek to show the love of Jesus and speak the truth of the gospel.Take the sword of the Spirit. Open God’s Word daily and fill your heart and mind with the truth. Love the Scriptures, know them, and follow what God teaches.Pray at all times. You can talk with God with your eyes closed and with your eyes open. Ask for God’s power to be unleashed in your life, through your church, and in their lives of those who are still not aware of God’s love and the grace of the Savior.Be authentic. The world is looking for people who are transparent, real, and authentic to the core. Show people that when Jesus enters a human heart and ...Continue reading...
    - -
  • Bulgaria Considers Controversial Restrictions on Church Activity
    New amendments could halt training, foreign funding, and missionary outreach by evangelicals. A controversial new law before the Bulgarian Parliament would keep Protestants and other minority faiths from freely worshiping, teaching, evangelizing, and tithing in the southeastern European nation.Today’s vote marks the legislature’s second hearing for amendments to Bulgaria’s religious denominations act, which were initially approved October 4.Over the past month, leaders from all faith groups in the former communist country have condemned the proposed additions, which prevent minority religions from offering clergy training, restrict worship services to designated sites, and place new regulations on international missionaries and giving.“Should the law pass, existing theological seminaries are at risk of shutting down, evangelical church pastors may no longer be able to conduct worship services, and the acceptance and use of donations will be subject to government approval and limitations,” stated the World Evangelical Alliance, which has joined with the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance to oppose the legislation.About 2,000 Christians gathered at the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, on Sunday to pray and protest against the proposed amendments, The Baptist Standard reported, and they have continued smaller demonstrations in hopes that the law will be rejected.Evangelical Protestants make up less than 1 percent of the population in Bulgaria, where about 85 percent of citizens consider themselves Eastern Orthodox and about 10 percent are Muslim. Because of their small size, Protestants—along with Catholics, Jews, and others—fail to meet the threshold for certain government recognition under the draft law, which legislators say is meant to protect against foreign threats but religious ...Continue reading...
    - -

Forum 18 News Service

  • Kyrgyzstan: "The attackers are in freedom"
    After an attack on a young Protestant leaving him seriously hospitalised, members of many religious communities have anonymously expressed concern at attacks and the impunity the authorities appear to give attackers. "Eldos is in hospital, and the attackers are in freedom", his lawyer commented.
    - -
  • Azerbaijan: Religious freedom survey, November 2018
    Azerbaijan restricts freedom of religion and belief, with interlinked freedoms of expression, association, and assembly. Forum 18's survey analyses violations including prisoners of conscience jailed and tortured for exercising freedom of religion and belief, strict state literature censorship, and regime claims of its "toleranceâ.
    - -
  • Donbas: Donetsk: Jehovah's Witnesses banned
    The Supreme Court of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic banned Jehovah's Witnesses on 26 September, a decision that cannot be challenged. Jehovah's Witness activity "in any form" would face criminal punishment, the General Prosecutor's Office announced. Convictions could lead to a maximum eight-year jail term.
    - -
  • Kazakhstan: Ever harsher jailings for religious talks
    In April 2017 Kazakhstan jailed Kuanysh Bashpayev for later banned Islamic talks. Now Galymzhan Abilkairov, one of two who posted some of the talks online before the ban, has been jailed for seven years, seven months. Dadash Mazhenov's verdict is due on 5 November.
    - -
  • Russia: Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses arrested, Muslims convicted
    A Krasnoyarsk court fined 24-year-old Andrei Rekst three months' average wages for studying theologian Said Nursi's writings with fellow Muslims. Another Krasnoyarsk Muslim awaits possible trial under house arrest, unable to attend mosque. Six prisoners of conscience are in labour camp for studying Nursi's works.
    - -

Get Religion

  • newHow do conservatives respond to archaeologists’ skepticism about Bible history?
    THE QUESTION:Many archaeologists have raised skeptical questions about the Bible’s historical accounts, especially in the Old Testament. How do conservatives respond?THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:A September headline in London’s tabloid Daily Express proclaimed a “Bible Bombshell,” with “stunning new evidence that could prove” Joshua’s invasion of the Holy Land following the Exodus from Egypt. However, in the article the archaeologists involved, David Ben-Shlomo of Israel’s Ariel University and Ralph Hawkins of Averett University in Virginia, gave only carefully framed suggestions.Their site has a stone enclosure for herded animals, and pottery indicating people lived outside the stone compound, presumably nomads living in long-vanished tents. The settlement dates from the early Iron Age, but testing of electrons in soil samples is needed to pinpoint whether it fits the Exodus chronology. And that wouldn’t prove these nomads were Israelites. (See below on Jericho.)People thrill when a discovery is proclaimed as proof of the Bible, but it takes years if not decades to establish such claims. There can also be sensationalism when skeptics known as “minimalists,” Israelis among them, announce findings said to undermine the Bible. As a journalist, The Guy recommends caution toward assertions from all sides.The pertinent archaeological maxim is “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” That is, a biblical event is not contradicted if archaeologists have not (or not yet) found corroboration from physical remains, non-biblical manuscripts, or inscriptions. There’s vast unexplored terrain in Israel, where only 50 of an estimated 6,000 sites have undergone thorough examination, with limited work at another 300. Surviving evidence from ancient times is necessarily spotty and interpretations can be subjective. Scholars usually end up with circumstantial plausibility, not absolute proof or disproof.Conservatives energetically answer the minimalists. Their magnum opus is “On the Reliability of the Old Testament” (Eerdmans) by Egyptologist K.A. Kitchen of the University of Liverpool. William Hallo of Yale University said that “after decades of ‘minimalism,’ it is refreshing to have this first systematic refutation” from “a leading authority” on the relevant history.
    - 4 hours ago 17 Nov 18, 7:33pm -
  • Why is Jordan Peterson everywhere, right now, with religious folks paying close attention?
    Jordan Peterson is a very hard man for journalists to quote.Some journalists have learned, the hard way, that he is also a very easy man to misquote.Readers and “Crossroads” listeners (click here to hear this week’s podcast): Perhaps you are among the millions of YouTube consumers who witnessed his famous “Gotcha” moment on Channel 4, during a somewhat tense interview by British journalist Cathy Newman.This was the viral clip that launched the University of Toronto psychologist even higher into the cyberspace elites. Read the following, from the Washington Times, but know that this is news media territory — on the issue of pro-trans speech codes. This was not an example of what this man is saying in the online lectures that have created a massive digital community: “Why should your right to freedom of speech trump a trans person’s right not to be offended?” the reporter asked at the 22-minute mark of a 30-minute interview. “Because in order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive. I mean, look at the conversation we’re having right now,” the psychologist answered. … “You’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth. Why should you have the right to do that? It’s been rather uncomfortable. … You’re doing what you should do, which is digging a bit to see what the hell is going on. And that is what you should do. But you’re exercising your freedom of speech to certainly risk offending me, and that’s fine. More power to you, as far as I’m concerned.” Ms. Newman paused, sighed and struggled to find a response until her guest interjected, “Ha. Gotcha.” “You have got me. You have got me. I’m trying to work that through my head. It took awhile. It took awhile. It took awhile,” she said with a repetitive concession.I will admit that there is a guilty-pleasure factor, when watching reporters try to grill this man.However, that’s not the point of this week’s podcast or my two recent “On Religion” columns on this topic for the Universal syndicate — “Jordan Peterson: The Devil's in the details of all those YouTube debates.” Click here to read Part II.It’s obvious why Peterson gets so much analog news ink — his digital ink numbers are simply astonishing.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 10:00pm -
  • Friday Five: Paradise lost, Pittsburgh rabbi, Vatican shock, Jim Acosta, porn and politics
    “We knew where we were all the time,” quipped Joe Glenn, a preacher who ended up on the missing persons list after a wildfire wiped out the California town of Paradise.Glenn and his wife, Pat, escaped the blaze “with the clothes on our back,” he told me in an interview for The Christian Chronicle.After learning they were “missing,” the couple alerted authorities to their whereabouts — a Motel 6 about 65 miles southwest of their charred home.“It is good to have a sense of humor ... when your world has literally burned up around you!" the minister told friends on Facebook.Amen!Now, let’s dive into the Friday Five:1. Religion story of the week: Often, this space reflects the week’s biggest or most important religion news. This week, I want to highlight an excellent piece of Godbeat journalism that you probably missed.Specifically, check out Pittsburgh Post-Gazette religion writer Peter Smith’s in-depth profile on “Jeffrey Myers: A face of tragedy, a voice for peace.”
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 6:00pm -
  • Saved in El Salvador: Lots of media are flocking to cover gang members-turn-evangelical story
    Certain places in the world have problems that seem to be intractable. South Sudan. North Korea. And El Salvador.The latter is the homicide capital of the world. Zillions of dollars have been poured into it. The U.S. government has declared war on its criminal elements. And nothing’s changed.One institution, however, is dealing with the gangs. I was fascinated to see Molly O’Toole’s piece in The New Republic on how evangelical churches have the only solution that’s working.Who would have thunk it? At a small jail outside San Salvador, Brother David Borja lifted his sunglasses to talk a guard into letting us inside. The cell, originally intended for temporary holding, smelled of sweat and urine. In the center was a roughly ten-by-ten-foot cage, and inside it, a tangle of limbs and hammocks. At the sight of Borja, a street preacher from the Baptist Biblical Tabernacle “Friends of Israel” church, bare-chested, tattooed young men began crawling down from the hammocks and pulling on T-shirts. As Borja started to pray, the men crossed themselves and bowed their heads. A few cried silently; others testified, “Truth.” … As the guard latched the thick steel behind us, we could still hear the men’s applause, and pleas for the pastor to pray for them to be saved.Prisons are obviously fertile missionary grounds here. Founded in 1977, the Baptist Biblical Tabernacle “Friends of Israel” church, known as “Taber,” is now believed to be El Salvador’s largest church. Taber claims a congregation of more than 40,000, with millions of converts and more than 500 churches across the country. The megachurch also owns a handful of TV and radio stations and newspapers, extending its reach. In 1950, El Salvador was around 99 percent Catholic, but Protestantism has shot up since the 1970s, with 40 percent of adults today identifying as Protestant. That makes Taber one of the most influential institutions in a country otherwise dominated by gangs.The switch-over of Latin and Central Americans from Catholicism to Protestantism is still one of the more under-covered stories of modern religion reporting. It is a fait accompli one never thought would happen as recently as the 1970s. Here we read about an evangelical church that's taken on the gangs that rule the country. According to experts, one of the gangs’ golden rules is that members can never leave with their lives. But in the past few years, there’s been a fascinating development: Gang bosses are increasingly granting those under their command desistance—a status change from “active” to “calmado,” meaning “calmed down”—if they convert to evangelicalism. At El Salvador’s San Francisco Gotera prison, about 1,000 ex-gang members have become evangelicals, nearly all of the overcrowded prison’s occupants. The phenomenon can also be seen outside, at smaller Pentecostal parishes such as Ebenezer, whose ministry to gang members, The Final Trumpet, is known for speaking in tongues. Newfound-religious who stray from the righteous path, however—whether by drinking, doing drugs, beating their wives or girlfriends, or not attending church—can face deadly consequences from their former compatriots. It’s an open, urgent question whether evangelical megachurches like Taber can use their influence to bring peace to El Salvador . . .Actually, according to the link provided in the above paragraph, Ebenezer is simply a Pentecostal church and is known for a lot more than tongues-speaking. I am guessing the reporter is not too familiar with the doctrines of these various congregations.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 2:00pm -
  • Homosexuality is 'amoral?' Dear newspaper, I don't think that word means what you think it does
    James A. Smith Sr., a Southern Baptist known to frequent this journalism-focused website, had a GetReligion-like response to a sentence he saw in a Louisville Courier-Journal story.To set the scene, the news article involves the Kentucky Baptist Convention — “the powerful Kentucky Baptist Convention,” as the Courier-Journal likes referring to it — disassociating itself from congregations dually aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.Yes, these cut ties resulted from a dispute between a Baptist convention upholding traditional doctrinal beliefs and one taking more progressive stands. That’s certainly newsworthy, particular in a state where the Southern Baptist-aligned Kentucky convention reportedly has over 2,400 affiliated churches with more than 750,000 members.But these type of reports in the Courier-Journal always seem to be slanted toward one side of the debate — the progressive one. (See past examples here and here.)In the case of the latest story, the language again seems overly loaded, depicting the Kentucky Baptist Convention as “booting” and “targeting” and “kicking out” churches as opposed to standing by its beliefs. And of course, the first quote comes from a critic of the decision: The Kentucky Baptist Convention on Tuesday cut ties with more than a dozen churches, including at least one in Louisville, for supporting a Baptist religious organization that earlier this year lifted a ban on hiring LGBTQ employees. The Louisville-based Kentucky Baptist Convention, which has long opposed same-sex marriage, ordaining gay ministers and believes homosexuality is sinful, voted to end its relationship with KBC-affiliated churches that also made financial contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship at its annual meeting in Pikeville, Kentucky. The KBC targeted several local churches, including the 1,600-member St. Matthews Baptist, where leaders called the decision ending a 90-year relationship "historic and disheartening."But I’ve seen worse, less balanced coverage of such decisions: To its credit, the Courier-Journal does quote a few supporters of the move, including the convention’s president:
    - 2 days ago 15 Nov 18, 10:57pm -

Mission Network News

  • Somalia sees bloodiest terror attack in country’s history (MNN) -- Over 300 people were killed in Somalia's bloodiest attackThe post Somalia sees bloodiest terror attack in country’s history appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 17 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • Emergency medical flight gets conjoined twin infants to life-saving surgery (MNN/MAF) -- Conjoined twins saved through ministry’s medical flightThe post Emergency medical flight gets conjoined twin infants to life-saving surgery appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 17 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • Christmas short-term mission opportunities!'l (MNN) -- Short-term mission trip opportunities this ChristmasThe post Christmas short-term mission opportunities! appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 17 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • The faces and stories behind World Food Day (MNN) -- On World Food Day, ministry spotlighting long-term solutionsThe post The faces and stories behind World Food Day appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 16 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • State elections draw near in India, spark anti-Christian sentiment (MNN) -- Christians are being watched closely The post State elections draw near in India, spark anti-Christian sentiment appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 16 Oct 17, 4:00am -

PE News

Persecution Blog

  • Missionary Pilot Shares The Rest of the Auca Martyrs' Story
    Growing up the home of missionary parents in Ecuador, Gene Jordan has always known the story of five men—Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian—who gave their lives in the jungle to reach an isolated Indian...      Related StoriesVOM Radio: "When We Say Yes to God"Nate Saint Memorial School: End of an Era"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese Prison 
    - 24 Jul 17, 4:06pm -
  • After Arrest, "I Was Terrified"
    “Dr. Andrew” is working to share the gospel in the Middle East, but he hasn’t always had a heart to share Christ’s love with Muslims. Growing up in a nominal Christian family, Andrew was harassed by Muslims his whole life....      Related Stories"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese PrisonPetr Jasek: God Opened the Prison DoorMiddle East Christians "Standing in the Fire" 
    - 27 Jun 17, 10:07pm -
  • Being a True Vessel for God's Use
    “Brother Matthew” is a pastor and church planter in South Asia, working among Muslims to share the gospel. After threats against his life and an attack on his brother, he was encouraged by family members to leave his country. He...      Related StoriesVOM Radio in Central Asia"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese PrisonAfter Arrest, "I Was Terrified" 
    - 7 Jun 17, 4:56pm -
  • VOM Radio in Central Asia
    "Tanya" is a Christian worker in Central Asia, living and ministering in a country where she must always be cautious about what she says openly and who she says it around. Listen to hear how Christians in the former Soviet...      Related StoriesBeing a True Vessel for God's Use"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese PrisonPetr Jasek: God Opened the Prison Door 
    - 9 May 17, 7:17pm -
  • Nate Saint Memorial School: End of an Era
    The end of an era comes next month. In August 1985, I clutched my mom’s hand and squeaked my rubber flip-flopped way down the gravel path from the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) “base” to the cinderblock Nate Saint Memorial school....      Related StoriesMissionary Pilot Shares The Rest of the Auca Martyrs' StoryVOM Radio: "When We Say Yes to God" 
    - 27 Apr 17, 8:14pm -

Religion News Service

  • newPhotos of the Week
    (RNS) — This week’s gallery includes Rohingya refugees not wanting to leave Bangladesh, remembering Kristallnacht 80 years later, and more.The post Photos of the Week appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 22 hours ago 17 Nov 18, 2:16am -
  • newBig changes ahead for Mormon missionaries, as “service missions” start in January
    The good news is that Mormon missions are expanding to include humanitarian service opportunities, shorter lengths of service, and less stressful living arrangements. The bad news is that it may be ghettoizing people with disabilities.The post Big changes ahead for Mormon missionaries, as “service missions” start in January appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 23 hours ago 17 Nov 18, 1:17am -
  • Rev. James Lawson, nonviolence advocate, recommended for Congressional Gold Medal
    WASHINGTON (RNS) — 'Nonviolence is the force that can save our nation from itself,' Lawson said at a congressional reception announcing plans to honor him.The post Rev. James Lawson, nonviolence advocate, recommended for Congressional Gold Medal appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 9:15pm -
  • Shrine to Vietnamese Lady of La Vang rises in Southern California
    GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (RNS) — The new statue will commemorate the Marian apparition at La Vang in the late 1700s, a centerpiece of Vietnamese Catholic faith.The post Shrine to Vietnamese Lady of La Vang rises in Southern California appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 8:40pm -
  • Pop heartthrob Zayn Malik says he’s no longer Muslim, leaving his Muslim fans divided
    (RNS) — Rarely vocal about his faith, the former One Direction singer now says he appreciates his religious upbringing but is no longer religious himself, beyond a 'spiritual belief' in a God.The post Pop heartthrob Zayn Malik says he’s no longer Muslim, leaving his Muslim fans divided appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 8:26pm -

Today's Creation Moment

    United Methodist News Service

    • Navy reserve chaplain decries church polarization
      The Council of Bishops' position on human sexuality, Texas pastor says, offers a way forward in our commitment to witness to God’s grace to all people everywhere.
      - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 4:38pm -
    • Computer center connects communities in central Nigeria
      In an area where electrical power is often limited and unreliable, a United Methodist computer center continues to fill a vital niche by keeping people connected while also connecting people from different faith communities.
      - 1 day ago 16 Nov 18, 2:17pm -
    • Commentary: Wisconsin pastor prepares for GC2019
      The Rev. Samuel J. Royappa prays that the February gathering will renew and resurrect The United Methodist Church.
      - 2 days ago 15 Nov 18, 6:17pm -
    • Seeing a Way Forward: Bishop Carter
      The president of the Council of Bishops shares some of the questions he’s been hearing about the special called General Conference taking place in February, 2019.
      - 2 days ago 15 Nov 18, 5:30pm -
    • Church helps remote villagers fight malaria
      Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda says United Methodists are committed to providing well-equipped medical buildings for rural people in eastern Congo.
      - 2 days ago 15 Nov 18, 4:02pm -

    World Magazine

    • newTrump visits scorched California
      President Donald Trump visited fire-ravaged Northern California Saturday, as the death toll from the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century rose to 71 and authorities attempted to locate more than 1,000 others. Trump was joined by California Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsome, both Democrats. Brown welcomed the Republican president’s visit, tweeting, “Now is a time to pull together for the people of California.”Trump earlier in the week blamed the disaster on forest mismanagement. “I think everybody’s seen the light and I don’t think we’ll have this again to this extent,” he said Saturday from Paradise, Calif., which was largely destroyed by what the president called “this monster.”Firefighters continued to battle the blaze Saturday, attempting to get ahead of strong winds and low humidity expected Saturday night. Rain is predicted for midweek, which should offer some relief. Officials said the fire, as of Saturday, was 50 percent contained. The devastating blaze started on Nov. 8 and has covered about 230 square miles and destroyed more than 9,800 homes.The president, who promised the state federal assistance, also visited an operations center and took a helicopter tour of the area. Later Saturday evening, he planned to travel south to Thousand Oaks, Calif., to meet with victims of the Nov. 7 shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill.Image: Category: DisastersArticle Title: Trump visits scorched CaliforniaKeywords: DisasterDisastersCaliforniaAuthor: Mickey McLean
      - 1 hour ago 17 Nov 18, 10:42pm -
    • newsk111818
      Image: Section: CartoonsDate to Publish: Saturday, November 17, 2018 - 14:40 to Monday, December 17, 2018 - 14:40
      - 4 hours ago 17 Nov 18, 7:40pm -
    • new‘Whatever is true …’
      In 2009, Maverick Books published John R. Erickson’s Story Craft: Reflections of Faith, Culture and Writing from the Author of Hank of the Cowdog. With permission from the publisher, we’re posting in our Saturday Series a chapter each month through January. Here’s a chapter titled “The Christian Writer,” which starts with a quotation from Philip Ryken’s Art for God’s Sake: “Christian art is redemptive, and this is its highest purpose.” —Marvin OlaskyThe Christian WriterLet us return to St. Paul’s “Great Commission” to artists and writers: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things … and put [them] into practice” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).Yes, that covers it pretty well. “Although this verse has wider implications for the whole Christian life,” notes Philip Graham Ryken, “at the very least it outlines a set of ethical and aesthetic norms for the artist and for art.” When a story resolves the conflict and drama of the plot, we want the reader to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and worthy of praise.But we should notice that the qualities listed by St. Paul are the finished products of a Christian life. He speaks as a man who has already been redeemed, and in his role as preacher, he is saying, “This is where you want to be at the end of your spiritual journey.”Preachers can tell us that, but storytellers must show it. You can’t begin a story with the ending. You can’t start a story with the finished product. You can’t reach a resolution without tension and conflict. To put it into Christian terms, you can’t have redemption without the Fall, or resurrection without the crucifixion. It’s bad theology and it’s worse storytelling, because it departs from the basic template of story structure: a story begins, moves, and resolves.If we view St. Paul’s life as a three-act screenplay, his letter to the Philippians would fall near the end of Act Three. To get the rest of his story, we must go back to Act One. There, we see a very gifted, literate, articulate Hellenized Jew named Saul. In Act Two, we find him watching as Stephen is stoned to death, and using his talents to “breathe out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1).Then he is blinded on the road to Damascus and hears the voice of Christ: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4) His life is changed and resolves into Act Three, where he offers sound advice in a letter to the Philippian church.A lot of Christian writers (me included) don’t like Act Two because that’s where we find an emphasis on fallen man and all the nastiness of the broken human soul: cruelty, adultery, and violence, the temptations, bad choices, and stupid mistakes. We know where we want to be and where we feel most comfortable (Act Three), and we’re prone to rush through the second act, covering our ears and holding our noses.There, safe on the other side, we tell the audience to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and worthy of praise. And it doesn’t work. We get a story that is sentimental and dull, with characters who speak in soft tones and smile all the time.We get a “good Christian story” that isn’t a good story.Dr. Thom Parham, an associate professor of theater, film and television at Azusa Pacific University, and a Christian, has written a blistering critique of movies made by Christian filmmakers. He lists fifteen films made between 1995 and 2004 and says, “Overall, these films are unwatchable. There are only a handful of good scenes among them. None had success with critics or at the box office. … Most films that successfully incorporate religious themes are made by nonreligious people.”Christian filmmakers, he says, are so intent on their message, they ignore storytelling and production values. Further, they “tend to see the world the way they want it to be. Ignoring life’s complexities, they paint a simplistic, unrealistic portrait of the world. … As long as people of faith are more concerned with messages than metaphors, they are doomed to make bad films.”Independent filmmaker Isaac Botkin agrees. “With few exceptions, films made by Christians are a frustrating mixture of ideological conformity and poor production quality.”We need both preachers and storytellers, but not in the same time and place.When novelists and screenwriters stop telling stories and “go to preachin’,” Christian literature shrinks down to one book, and we surrender our national culture to people who don’t read it. We need both preachers and storytellers, but not in the same time and place. If we have any hope of influencing popular culture, our stories must compete in a secular marketplace and win, and that means we have to master story craft and produce better stories than the competition.That won’t be an easy assignment. In the environment of modern popular culture—or “postmodern,” as some observers have described it—Christian writers operate at a disadvantage. We don’t feel comfortable in Act Two, yet Act Two is where popular culture lives and thrives.That’s where we find all the noise and action: loud parties, cheap sex, hard drinking, gruesome murders, bombs exploding, politicians cheating on their wives, athletes who fail as role models, television preachers who fleece their followers and bed their secretaries, and Hollywood stars who are proud to announce that they’ve produced babies out of wedlock.Popular culture loves Act Two! It’s a fool’s paradise, populated by adolescents of all ages, who are dedicated to their own pleasure and believe they will never die. This is the sphere of life that yields the gaudiest movies with retina-blasting special effects, the soapiest soap operas, and the most riveting hours of evening news, “all designed to bypass the mind and appeal directly to the senses and emotions.” And, unfortunately, this is where authors these days can make the most money writing books and screenplays.But secular writers have story-structural problems of their own. If Christian storytellers are hobbled by a tendency to look past Act Two, non-Christian writers have trouble getting out of Act Two. Their stories can’t find true resolution or redemption. The chords begun in Act One and Act Two never resolve, and Act Three becomes a hollow celebration of “our humanness.”Lonesome Dove and The Thorn Birds might serve as examples. Both were lavish, entertaining, and successful TV dramas that ended with the death of a main character, Gus McCall in Lonesome Dove and Father Ralph in The Thorn Birds. Death brought down the curtain, but the stories never resolved. They merely stopped.Of the two problems (our stories lack tension and drama, their stories can’t find redemption), ours may be the easier to remedy, because our Book gives us plenty of material that deals with Act Two, if we will take notice. The Act Two material begins in the third chapter of Genesis and goes through the entire Old Testament and into the New.We have mentioned the dramatic story of the Apostle Paul, but we find an even better example in the life of Christ. Every year at Easter, we relive the historical drama of an innocent man who was set up by politicians, betrayed by a friend, tried in a kangaroo court, abandoned by his comrades, tortured, mocked, and murdered in front of his own mother.His last words, “It is finished” (John 19:30) seem to be a statement of total humiliation and defeat, yet the whole point of the story is that it resolves in victory. “Christ is risen, alleluia!” That is the message at the end of the Easter service when the organ blasts out the postlude and the congregation places flowers on the bare wooden cross at the front of the church.If Christian writers have become squeamish about Act Two, we need to look closer at our own roots. Our message begins with the wonder of life in the garden, but then moves to betrayal and murder. The liturgy of the Easter season is not for sissies, as Mel Gibson made abundantly clear in his movie The Passion of the Christ.How do we show the fallen world without becoming a part of it?But how do we show the fallen world without becoming a part of it? How do we deal with explicit sex and violence, and language that is brutal, vulgar, and blasphemous?Some Christian writers would argue that art, even Christian art, must describe “reality as it is,” warts and all. But I wonder, what is so “real” about violent language and explicit sex? The fact is, most of what we call literature did not swim in those waters, and most of the great storytellers who ever lived never dreamed of taking the kind of liberties that modern writers seem to think is their birthright. We could fill an entire book with the names of authors who didn’t.Until a few decades ago, writers worked within the constraints of public taste as defined by the Judeo-Christian tradition. Even more radical (to modern ears), writers considered themselves part of the community that created those constraints. Did it limit their freedom of expression? Of course it did, but every craft imposes limits. Plumbers aren’t allowed to run sewer lines uphill. Roofers can’t invent new ways of laying down shingles. Diamond cutters are not free to express their whims in the shape of a gem.In most professions, freedom is limited by some concept of public good and that seems to be a missing element in a lot of modern writing. Does the open display of sex and violence improve the average citizen? If our books and movies teach first-graders to speak the language of thugs and half-wits (the ever-quotable C.S. Lewis called them “trousered apes”), will the community be better for it?Centuries of Christian tradition say no. Popular culture doesn’t seem to care or even ask the question.Today’s college students might be surprised that families of my generation used to attend movies on a regular basis, two or three times a week, and objectionable content was simply not an issue. Granted, some of those movies were sappy and sentimental, but others would have to rank among the best ever made. One-Eyed Jacks, On the Waterfront, High Noon, Casablanca, The African Queen, Singing in the Rain, Gone With the Wind, The Miracle Worker, and the Wallace Beery/Jackie Cooper version of Treasure Island come to mind.I own all of those movies on VCR or DVD and have watched them many times. I study them and never fail to learn something every time I view them. I had watched Casablanca three or four times before it occurred to me that Rick and Ilsa were carrying on a sexual affair. Their romance was handled with such a light touch that you could see it as sexual or not, and it didn’t affect the story either way.In Treasure Island Jim Hawkins befriends the pirate Long John Silver. As the story progresses, we begin to understand that Silver is a bad man. In a casual manner, he mentions that he murdered thirteen of his comrades in their sleep, using a hammer as his weapon. Silver reveals himself as a fallen man, but he does it without uttering a single expletive, and we don’t have to watch him bludgeon all thirteen of his victims. The screenwriter was kind enough to leave something to the imagination.But what about a movie such as Schindler’s List? It was a very ambitious film that attempted to capture the magnitude of the Nazi atrocities during World War II. It included scenes of appalling violence—and I don’t want to watch it again. The inclusion of graphic violence diminished the aesthetic value of the film and detracted from the story. The subject overwhelmed Stephen Spielberg’s attempts to describe it in a framed work of art. In my view, Schindler’s List might have succeeded as a documentary but not as a story.Some subjects simply cannot be approached in a direct manner. If we wish to view an eclipse of the sun, we must use indirect methods, either watching it through a shadow box or protecting our eyes with smoked glass (the kind welders use). Otherwise, the brilliance of the sun will cause permanent damage to the eye. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, “Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.”If we try to describe the horror in a direct manner, our stories fall apart under the stress.Perhaps the same principle applies to the kind of unfathomable evil that engulfed Nazi Germany. If we try to describe the horror in a direct manner, our stories fall apart under the stress.A story is not the same as a documentary. Nor does it give us the kind of experience we would get from a security camera at the local museum: a stream of unedited facts. A story can’t tell us everything about a subject, and the artistry comes in what we don’t show.One of the best movies I’ve seen on the Holocaust was a quiet little film made by Hallmark, Miss Rose White. It showed the impact of the Holocaust on one Jewish family living in Brooklyn. It had no war scenes, no blood, no brutal language, yet it was very effective in conveying the emotional impact of an unspeakable tragedy on the lives of five people—not through documentary scenes of brutality, but through great storytelling and great acting. That is artistry.When I hear novelists and filmmakers declare that they’re only describing the “world as it is,” I keep wondering, “Are they doing this for me or for themselves?” As a viewer and consumer of cultural products, I can’t escape the feeling that the vivid depiction of violence, sex, and brutality deadens part of my soul. It cheapens me and it cheapens the artist because, as Gene Edward Veith has pointed out, obscenity is more than a moral failure; it is an artistic failure as well.And that includes the use of brutal language. What is the magic in gutter language? It has only been in the last thirty years that novelists and screenwriters have turned the F-word into an all-purpose noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. How did Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare manage to record the human drama without it? How did poor mortals express their feelings of extreme anger and joy?They did it with skill and imagination. They did it with language that was rich in texture, tone, and nuance.There is no great magic in that word or any other expletive. In fact, their use is a symptom of intellectual sloth. Any writer who depends upon one expletive (or even three) to express the full range of human emotions is no better than a composer who uses one finger to peck out a tiresome little melody on the piano.Could the makers of The Godfather and The Shawshank Redemption, both excellent films, have told their stories without scatological language? Of course they could have! There is not one crime or emotion in those movies that hasn’t been recorded in the Old Testament, The Iliad, The Brothers Karamazov, or Shakespeare’s plays—without language that was corrosive, degrading, or offensive.Such language serves the writer, not the audience. It’s an adolescent indulgence that allows rebellious scribblers to stick a thumb into the eye of Christian (or Jewish or even Muslim) propriety.Christian writers can show the complexity of human experience without abusive language, explicit violence, or Peeping-Tom sex.My personal view is that Christian writers can show the complexity of human experience without abusive language, explicit violence, or Peeping-Tom sex. I don’t accept that “reality” must be bloody, bawdy, or blasphemous, lurid, lewd, rude, shocking, or ugly. Those qualities might describe a slice of reality, but hardly all of it. My library shelves are crammed with books by authors who walked through the second act of the human drama with their eyes wide open. They saw man in his fallen state but didn’t wallow in it.How much of the fallen world do we have to show? Marvin Olasky has suggested this interpretation of Philippians 4:8: “We should meditate on God’s excellencies and praise Him—and we should think about those even more lovingly in juxtaposition to the sin around us. In short, the heavens show the glory of God, the streets display the sinfulness of man, and we learn from both.”We must show enough of the fallen world to establish tension and conflict in our characters, enough to make redemption more than an abstract idea, and enough to create stories that are honest and beautiful. We can achieve that by viewing human experience through a Christian worldview, though we may have to build our own infrastructure (publishing companies, websites, film companies, and distributors) to get our stories to the people who need them.Francis Schaeffer, Nancy Pearcey, Gene Edward Veith Jr., Marvin Olasky, C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, and others have told us that the Christian worldview offers a broad, comprehensive, coherent vision of human experience on this earth: where we came from, why we’re here, and what we’re supposed to be doing. The Christian worldview reveals “truth about the whole of reality” (Pearcey) and offers a sensibility “that is so vast and comprehensive that it embraces the intellect and the heart, accounting for both objective truth and subjective experience” (Veith).Surely this gives us an advantage in seeking the truth that expresses itself in beauty. Secular humanism can’t explain where beauty comes from or why observers from fifteen different nations, all speaking different languages, can gaze at the same flower and perceive that it’s beautiful.The Christian worldview offers a simple explanation: Beauty is one of the Creator’s gifts to mankind, and we are hard-wired to recognize it. “Christians, unlike the secular culture, have a basis for affirming the personal and the beautiful—a personal God who created structures of beauty in the very texture of the universe. Christians, therefore, ought to cultivate what is aesthetically worthy” (Veith).We see the beauty of creation as it appears in shapes, forms, colors, relationships, and, yes, even in humor. Secular materialistic art sees only the random movement of electrons with man at the center—man who has appetites but no hope, purpose, or meaning. Uppercase Artists might argue that they’re describing some kind of objective truth, but what they’re seeing isn’t objective at all.They are seeing what their limited worldview allows them to see. Blindfolded, they’re feeling the elephant’s tail and calling it an elephant.In How Should We Then Live? Schaeffer talks about the British/French Concorde airliner. It was designed by engineers in the sixties, a time when “intellectualized art” was rebelling against order, form, structure, and traditional notions of beauty, yet many observers described the design of the Concorde as beautiful, even a work of art.When asked about this, Sir Archibald Russel, the British designer, replied, “When one designs an airplane, he must stay as close as possible to the laws of nature. … It so happens that our ideas of beauty are those of nature. Every shape and curve of the Concorde is arranged so it will conform with the natural flow as conditioned by the laws of nature.”If an Uppercase Artist designed an airplane, he would make it ugly and dysfunctional. He would design it to crash, not to fly, because crashing would satisfy his death-wish for the human race. But engineers, following mathematics and common sense, created a device that not only would fly, but also captured the beauty inherent within the laws of physics—the same beauty that was described by Einstein, Bohm, Feynman, and Dirac.What Sir Archibald called the “laws of nature,” we would call God’s design, and it would not be stretching things to say that the aesthetic qualities we recognize in the Concorde bear a strong resemblance to those mentioned by St. Paul in Philippians 4:8, confirming that “aesthetic principles, no less than scientific principles, are grounded in the created order and are a manifestation of God’s design.”The qualities Paul listed in the text from Philippians 4 (true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and worthy of praise) are not exclusively Christian concepts, for they arise from God and are available to all of humanity via creation in the image of God. In Paul’s day, they were understood by speakers of Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Aramaic; by Greeks, Romans, Jews, Africans, Asians, Egyptians, and Southern Europeans. Today, those words have been translated into more than two thousand languages. They are universal concepts and can be understood by Christians and non-Christians alike.Ultimately, Christian authors should measure their work against a set of aesthetic principles that apply to all writing. We don’t have a separate Christian category for Beauty, just as we don’t have a Christian Law of Gravity. When we aspire only to “Christian art,” we run the risk of aiming too low and limiting our audience. Our audience should be the same one Paul was going after: the world. And it can be, if our art seeks the beauty that is so apparent in God’s creation.When we aspire only to “Christian art,” we run the risk of aiming too low and limiting our audience.Writers sell their wares in a marketplace of ideas and entertainment, and it’s a huge market. We compete for consumer dollars and for bookstore shelf space against the best authors who ever lived—not just the best writers of the present day, not just the writers who call themselves Christians, but also Hemingway, Dickens, Tolstoy, Dante, Shakespeare, St. Augustine, and the unknown author of The Epic of Gilgamesh, written five thousand years ago in what is now Iraq.We are even competing against St. Paul himself. Among his other gifts, Paul was an extremely successful writer whose books, the Pauline Epistles, have remained bestsellers for almost two thousand years.The spiritual nourishment that arises from beautiful art is universal in its appeal. Though it might begin as “Christian art,” it has the potential of reverberating far beyond the confines of a church sanctuary. If that work is noble, true, right, just, pure, excellent, beautiful, and praiseworthy, it will be perceived as such in Chinese as well as in English, on Time’s Square as well as in the First Baptist Church in my hometown.The human spirit responds to beauty because God designed us to find nourishment in beauty. The goal of Christian writing should be to discover the beauty expressed in symmetry, structure, and coherence, and then to do a professional job of describing it in stories that are shaped by the most influential book ever written.If we describe it well, non-Christian readers will see that it’s beautiful. At some point, maybe they’ll ask where it came from … and we can tell them.From Story Craft: Reflections of Faith, Culture and Writing from the Author of Hank of the Cowdog by John R. Erickson. © 2009. Published by Maverick Books. Used with permission. All rights reserved.Image: Deck: The Apostle Paul’s guidance to the Christian storytellerCategory: BooksKeywords: BooksSaturday SeriesReligionChristianityMoviesArtSlug: BooksArticle Title: ‘Whatever is true …’Author: John R. EricksonDigital Branding: Saturday SeriesHide from Archive?: 1
      - 5 hours ago 17 Nov 18, 7:06pm -
    • newA Psalm for sorrows
      A Psalm for sorrowsgriefBibleFaith & InspirationFinding Biblical balm amid mass shootings and other tragediesGrief & SufferingJamie DeanAnother outbreak of mass shootings in recent days, including an attack on a bar in Southern California that ended with 13 dead last week, leaves communities across the country lamenting life in a broken and sinful world.How do we navigate it?For the Christian believer, an Old Testament book offers a needed liturgy for suffering: The Psalms give fertile ground for deep sighs and groans before the Maker of heaven and earth. Whether suffering is public, like the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead, or private, like the tragedies that unfold in homes across the country every day, the book of Psalms gives the Christian believer the room to grieve and the ground for hope.Eleven years ago, I spent a searing evening in a chapel at Virginia Tech University, where a gunman had cut down 32 people the morning before. A campus pastor faced a room of college students largely unaccustomed with death and wholly unacquainted with mass shootings. What does one say? He read Psalm 88:“My soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave. … You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep.”No trite explanation of evil. Even as an outsider, I found it a relief. Here, the psalmist acknowledges the depths of sin and sorrow, and doesn’t come to a neat conclusion. In other Psalms, the writer soars to heights of love and depths of peace—a hopeful part of life in a broken world. But the Psalms always give room to grieve and to groan.For that reason, theologian John Calvin called the Psalms an “anatomy of all parts of the soul.” He continued: “There is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn … all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.”The rest of the Bible fleshes out grief, and shows Jesus come in the flesh as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Jesus groaned and sighed over sin and brokenness before taking both on Himself to save others. Later, the Apostle Paul wrote that the creation itself groans under brokenness, and that believers “grown inwardly” as they wait for the resurrection to come. In the same chapter, Paul also says the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with “groanings too deep for words,” helping us and upholding us in our weakness.  What a comfort: Whatever the grief, we do not groan alone. And we do not groan as those who have no hope.Grief & SufferingWhirled Views
      - 7 hours ago 17 Nov 18, 4:47pm -
    • newStackOfBooks
      Asset:  iStock-984414446.jpg
      - 23 hours ago 17 Nov 18, 12:27am -

    World Watch Monitor

    • Sunni Arabs ‘helped drive out’ Mid-East Christians
      Amid the push by Iraqi government forces to retake Mosul from Islamic State (IS), some former inhabitants of Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains and northern Syria are refusing to go back because they believe their former Sunni Muslim neighbours were complicit in driving them out, says Middle East analyst and former journalist, Patrick Cockburn, in News Deeply. Christians returning to Nineveh believe Sunni Arab villagers were complicit in “taking their houses, killing and raping people,” he says.Cockburn adds that, in Syrian towns occupied by IS, Christians believe their Sunni Arab neighbours were similarly cooperating with IS and that returning Christians might drive Sunnis out in turn. There’s a “real, very high level of friction and hostility on the ground, which I think is going to be extraordinarily difficult to reverse”, he says.“A longer-term and very dangerous shift in both Iraq and Syria is that communities in general can’t live together any longer.”In November Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, a priest in the Assyrian Church of the East and head of CAPNI (Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq), said that defeating IS won’t guarantee Christians’ return. “What are the guarantees that it will not happen again?” he asked, noting that Iraqi Christians had been targeted not only since IS’s sudden appearance in 2014 but since the US-led invasion in 2003, after which he said the fabric of Iraq “was broken”.In the decades before IS, more than a million Christians left Iraq, which had turned increasingly hostile towards them, the minority population felt.
      - 13 Mar 17, 1:01pm -
    • ‘Freedom of religion or belief must be protected’
      Countries around the world are urged to act now to promote and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief by a UN expert.The Special Rapporteur, Ahmed Shaheed, made his appeal at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, as he set out his priorities for the mandate of freedom of religion or belief, which he took up last November.Mr. Shaheed expressed concern about a rise in the number of incidents of violence - for religiousreasons - by extremist groups, vigilante mobs and others.“State and non-State actors, alike, continue to impose restrictions, or limitations, and engage in targeted harassment, intimidation of, or discrimination against religious minorities, unrecognised religious communities and dissidents, who are often confronted with threats to their freedom, safety and security,” he said.“I am particularly alarmed by continuing reports of mass atrocities and violence that threaten the very existence of religious minority communities, including some groups that have existed for over two millennia.”Mr. Shaheed pointed to a number of mechanisms for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief that have already been developed, and for which consensus among states already exists. He said his agenda for the next three years would be focused on the implementation of these state obligations.The Special Rapporteur stressed that policies adopted to enhance the capacity of security forces to combat terrorism by limiting fundamental rights (such as freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly) often have dire consequences for the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief.He welcomed efforts to promote that right at national and international levels by governments, parliamentarians, national human rights institutions, human rights and faith-based organisations, and educational institutions.
      - 10 Mar 17, 6:39pm -
    • Iraq urged to allow UN investigation into genocide
      International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has called upon the Iraqi government to allow a UN investigation into the treatment of Yazidis by the so-called Islamic State (IS), reports Reuters.A year ago, the UK Parliament joined US Secretary of State John Kerry, the US House of Representatives, the EU Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in describing the actions of IS (or Da’esh) as genocide. In June last year, UN experts reported that IS militants seek to destroy the Yazidi group, whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions, through murder, sexual slavery, gang rape, torture and humiliation that amounts to genocide.Some religious leaders and other sources, including Vienna-based legal counsel Ewelina Ochab, believe that the campaign of genocide also extends to Christians. Prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were 1.4 million Christians in the country. Today there are thought to be fewer than 200,000. World Watch Monitor reported in May last year that Christianity “could disappear” from Iraq and Syria withinfive years, according to Catholic sources. Britain is drafting a UN Security Council resolution to establish an investigation, but Clooney said the Iraqi government needs to send a letter formally requesting the inquiry before the council can vote.Clooney, who represents Yazidi victims of IS, told reporters, “We do want to see an investigation take place with the cooperation of the Iraqi authorities, but ultimately if that support is not forthcoming in terms of real action, then the UN has to think of other ways in which to achieve accountability.”Since 2014, when IS took control of parts of Iraq, Yazidis and Christians have been under severe, and often violent, pressure with many Christians being given four options: to leave, convert to Islam, pay the jiyza (tax), or be killed. A report last October highlighted this accelerated targeting of “disproportionately suffering” Middle East Christians.
      - 10 Mar 17, 1:08pm -
    • Iranian mother and son Christian converts arrested
      An Iranian mother and son who converted to Christianity have been arrested in the north-western province of West Azerbaijan. Anousheh Reza-Bakhsh (known as Veronika) and her son Soheil (known as Augustine) were arrested on 20 February at their home in Urmia, the provincial capital. Mohabat News reports that it is the first known arrest of Christians in the city since 2008. Urmia, with nearly 700,000 inhabitants, is famous for housing the Cathedral of St. Mary the Mother of God, whose origin dates back to the 16th Century. Middle East Concern (MEC) reports that the mother and son, who had become Catholics, were baptised in Istanbul in August last year, after which they returned home and “continued to read and learn about the Christian faith”. Christian material was reportedly found at their home, as Augustine, reported to be a psychology student, had been “a keen follower of online Christian theological training programmes and Christian satellite TV channels”, according to MEC. There has been no further update on their whereabouts or safety, though they are believed to have been taken to an intelligence office of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. They are both reported to have health issues. Iran, which is no. 8 on the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian, continues to monitor and persecute Christians across the country. Often, detainees are subject to psychological and physical harm by the authorities. Iranian and European human rights and religious rights organisations have urged the international community to use new opportunities for trade with Iran since the nuclear agreement to hold the government there to account over its treatment of Christian converts.
      - 9 Mar 17, 3:23pm -
    • Pope: ‘Persecutors don’t care about denominations’
      Pope Francis has urged all Christians to pray for fellow believers who are persecuted for their faith, saying that “those who persecute them make no distinction between the religious communities to which they belong”.“How many people are being persecuted because of their faith, forced to abandon their homes, their places of worship, their lands, their loved ones!” Francis says in the video that shows three representatives of different denominations: Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox – standing as if in a police line-up accused of a crime. “They are persecuted and killed because they are Christians,” the Pope continues, adding, “I ask you, how many of you pray for persecuted Christians?”The one-minute video, which also includes images of broken religious statues and a burnt-out church, is the latest to be produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and contains his prayer intention for March: the support of persecuted Christians through prayers and material aid from all the Churches.Francis has spoken frequently about an “ecumenism of the blood” to emphasise that persecution is affecting many parts of the Church and should be met with ecumenical solidarity.
      - 8 Mar 17, 2:31pm -