"The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe." (Proverbs 18:10)
Second Quarter 2004, Vol. 8 No. 2
- Feature: Why is Soldier Testimony Imperative?
- Feature: For Outreach, Multimedia Trumps Literature
- Analysis: Abu Ghraib Has Eternal Implications
- Analysis: Do We Witness to God or Allah?
- News: Chinese Christians Will Change the World
- News: Indian Election Stolen from Thought Police
- News: Gibson's Passion Movie Breaks Through In Mid-East
- Resource: The Next Christendom Forcasts from Trends
- Resource: News/Prayer Alerts on the 10/40 Window
- Opportunity: World Relief Ministry Redeems Image in Iraq
- Opportunity: Delegates for AMCF Conference Need Help
- Profile: Spiritual Landscape of Pakistan
Soldier Testimony Is Imperative for Three Reasonsby Dr. Bruce Sidebotham
Security is America's top export. Without it, nothing else from beef and technology to language and ideas goes anywhere.
Making the world safe for commerce and democracy uses over 360,000 (one in four) uniformed Americans in duty overseas. Most of these go to places where the gospel has either never gone before or where it has been misunderstood for centuries.
Training and equipping Christian service personnel for effective cross-cultural testimony is imperative for three overwhelming reasons.
Preserving God's Honor
- Preserving God's Honor
- Reaching All Nations
- Sharing God's Blessings
In the third of his ten command-ments God warns his people not to "take his name in vain" (Exodus 20:7). The word translated "vain" (shuv) designates something to be unsubstantial, unreal, or worthless. The verb translated "take" (nasa) means to lift, carry, take, or bear.1
As Floridians come from Florida, and Californians live in California, so Christians come from or live "in Christ." People who call themselves Christians "lift, carry, take, or bear" the name of Christ.
God cares about his reputation. The ancient Jews got dragged off to Babylon because they were embarrassing him. God warned, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations" (Ezekiel 36:22).
Not only do most Americans (including the leading Presidential candidates) claim to be Christians, but on their world renowned currency they claim to trust in God. Soldier behavior reflects not only on American society but also on the character of their God. Christians in the military must be prepared and supported to have a good testimony, because God will hold us accountable if they embarrass him.
Reaching All Nations
God does not say that every person on earth will get to heaven, but he does promise that heaven will hold worshipers from "every nation, tribe, people, and language" (Revelation 7:9).
As armies, world leaders, democracy and other political systems rise and fall, followers of Jesus Christ grow and spread throughout the world. That parts of the world least touched by the gospel are also the least secure is no coincidence. Loyalty to Jesus has always grown during and in spite of military conflict.
No ruler, historical event, or military conflict confounds God's plan to populate heaven with people from every tongue, tribe and nation. Christians in the military must be trained and equipped for witness so that they can be better used by God for his purposes.
- The first gentile Christian was a commander assigned to keep peace in the Middle East (Acts 10).
- Much of the Roman Empire, including Caesar's own household, heard about Jesus from soldiers as they PCS'd throughout the known world.
- Barbarians learned of Jesus when they conquered Rome.
- European tribes converted as Charlemagne established the medieval Holy Roman Empire.
- Scandinavian Viking invaders learned of Jesus from slaves and wives they captured when pillaging coastal Europe.
- Crusaders prevented Muslim conquest of continental Europe by taking the battle to them, and when good news of Jesus failed to touch Arabs, it went west with explorers and colonial imperialism.
- War with Japan in the Pacific introduced missionaries to primitive and sometimes cannibalistic tribes.
- War in Korea and Vietnam brought Christian relief and development groups that introduced Jesus there.
- As Communists tried to take over in Ethiopia, the number of Christians grew from 200,000 in 1960 to over 12 million today.2
- In Indonesia, after a failed Communist coups in 1965, over two million Muslims converted to following Jesus Christ.3
- Christians in Sudan, which is home to the present world's longest raging civil war, comprised less than 2% of the population in 1956 but embody 23% today.4
Sharing God's Blessings
The least secure part of the world is not only the least reached, it is also the most impoverished.
This is where nearly half the households have no electricity or telephones. It is where 700 million are malnourished, and 350 million children are homeless. It is where each year 22 million die from starvation, and 19 million die from being infested with parasites.5
Why does this part of the world suffer so severely? Is it from moral deficiency, bad choices, or original sin?
Jesus' disciples asked about a blind man, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2). Sure, suffering plagues human experience because of sin, but if sin and suffering corresponded directly, then everyone should be suffering according to the degree of their iniquity. Are we really better than they are?
Perhaps this is the wrong question. Maybe we should ask, not why some populations suffer, but rather why others don't.
About the blind man Jesus said, "This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day WE must do the work of him who sent me" (John 9:3-4). In other words, we can see in order to help those who can't. We receive grace and mercy to spread God's glory by sharing his blessings with others.
King David understood the principle that we are blessed to be a blessing. He prayed, "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations" (Psalm 67:1-2). Christians in the military must be ready and able to be a blessing because, if we are not faithful in blessing with our blessings, then even what we have "will be taken away" (Matthew 13:2; 25:29).
1. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Bible Inst., 1980.
2. Peter Hammond, Table Talk (Sep ‘03), Ligonier Ministries.
3. Avery Willis, Indonesian Revival, 1977.
4. Peter Hammond, Table Talk (Sep ‘03), Ligonier Ministries.
5. World Christian Encylopedia, Oxford University Press, 2001.
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Multimedia Trumps Literature as Outreach ToolThe US military is like the fish that swallowed Jonah. While in its belly, you've got no control over where you're going, but you can be sure that it's according to God's plan to reach modern "Ninevites."
Regarding that outreach, I want to suggest an alternative to Bible and tract distribution that's more appropriate for soldiers in sensitive situations – audiovisual materials (tapes/CDs, videos, & short wave radio receivers). Here's why.
Muslims regard the Bible to have been corrupted and they are forbidden to read it. In fact, they are forbidden even to have it in their midst. When in Indonesia, I gave a pocket New Testament to a barber. He read it secretly for several weeks. One day he came home from work to find all of his possessions thrown out into the street. He'd been kicked out of the place where he'd been renting a room, because the house cleaner found the New Testament under his pillow and reported it to the landlord.
Muslims feel threatened by the Bible in written form. Distributing it becomes a matter of life and death and could damage community relations or even cause an international incident. However, Muslims do not have the same community fear and hatred of multimedia.
Distributing literature to Muslims has drawbacks.
Multimedia materials have advantages over literature.
- It is easily identified and incriminating for both receivers and distributors.
- It is perceived to be inflammatory by the Muslim community.
- It could turn village leaders against U.S. soldiers and against the very U.S. presence which is creating freedom for people to hear and investigate the gospel.
- It could jeopardize testimony to fellow soldiers who may perceive risks to their own security.
The very best gift for facilitating access to the gospel without arousing undue suspicion would be a short wave radio. Here are some of the advantages.
- They are less easily recognized for what they are by opposition.
- They are more easily concealed by those who would treasure them.
- Most people in places like Iraq (over 50%) are illiterate anyway.
- Muslims do not have a strong tradition of opposing the gospel in audio or visual form.
- Middle Eastern culture is an audio culture. Note how the Qur'an is chanted from the minarets daily. Muslims go to the mosque to hear the Qur'an, not to read it. Most rarely read the Qur'an on their own. They listen to it read and expounded.
- Multimedia will be perceived to have more value in the eyes of the receiver.
In short, distributing literature to Muslims could do more long term harm than short term good. Places like Iraq are not America. We should treat these locations as the very different context that they are and adjust our outreach strategies accordingly, even if it means taking a little more trouble and expense.
- Radios are neutral. They can be used by both sides.
- Radios give access to Voice of America and the BBC as well as the gospel.
- Gospel broadcasting stays up to date and appropriate.
- Short wave radios rarely endanger the lives of their owners.
- By using head phones, no one can tell what the person is hearing.
- Many can listen to a radio at one time, so one radio can reach more people simultaneously than a Bible or tract.
Short/Medium Wave Broadcast Schedule time (UTC) Days Language kHz . . . FEBA: www.feba.org/uk 0400-0530 daily Arabic 15525 0500-0530 Fridays Sinhala 6125 0530-0630 Fridays Malayalam 6125 1903-1957 daily Arabic 9605 . . . TWR: www.gospelcom.net/twr/ 0300-0330 Mon-Fri Arabic 1233 2059-2200 Tuesdays Arabic 1233 2200-2300 Mon-Fri Arabic 1467 2100-2300 Sat-Sun Arabic 1467 2015-2030 Fridays Arabic 1395 2025-2044 Tuesdays Arabic 1233 2025-2215 Sat-Sun Arabic 1233 0300-0315 Sat-Sun Arabic 1233 0255-0300 daily Arabic 1233 0315-0330 Sundays Assyrian 1233 0315-0330 Saturdays Iraqi 1233 2015-2030 Wednesdays Sorani Kurd 1395 . . . IBRA: www.ibra.org 2000-2130 daily Arabic 1170 0500-0530 daily Arabic 9710 2100-2115 Wednesdays Arabic 1233 1900-2030 daily Arabic 1233 1130-1145 Fridays Arabic 15530 1200-1215 Mondays Arabic 15530
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Analysis:We've agonized and speculated about how prisoner treatment in Iraq affects world opinion and presidential politics, but most are ignoring how it affects God and spreading the gospel.
Abu Ghraib Has Eternal Consequences
by Dr. Bruce Sidebotham
Companies making everything from software to cars work hard to protect their brand names. Try turning a sizeable profit by altering the trademark on Timex watches to sell them as Rolex Oysters, and see what happens. Profitability rises or falls according to brand name reputation and recognition. God faces a similar dilemma.
The author of Proverbs tells us that the Lord's name, like a strong tower, provides protection to righteous people who identify with it (Proverbs 18:10). Before the watching eyes of men and angels, God guarantees the quality and durability of his products.
But what about imposters? God is highly concerned with quality control and product integrity. Moses writes, "The Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name" (Exodus 20:7).
Speaking about his generation's character, Jesus quoted a proverbial saying, "Wisdom is proved right by all her children" (Luke 7:35).
Soldiers liberating Iraq are "children" of a society which claims to trust in God and in which the vast majority define themselves as Christians. Separation of church and state does not absolve our society of responsibility to God for our behavior, character, and products.
For the most part, our soldiers are "good children" reflecting great credit upon the society which produced them. However, even Godly families produce problem children requiring serious discipline.
After the Israelites whom Moses led out of Egypt embarrassed God by making and worshiping a golden calf, Moses told the Levites who had rallied to him, "Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor." About 3,000 were slain, and Moses commended the Levites saying, "You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day" (Exodus 32:27-29). Not for killing their brethren were the Levites were blessed, but for defending God's honor with severe discipline.
Dwelling in a secular society in which the vast majority "claim" to shelter in the name of the Christian God is awesome in privilege and responsibility. What happens next for America's success in the Global War on Terrorism depends not on who gets elected or who gets court-martialed but on how God's honor gets vindicated and the gospel gets proclaimed.
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Analysis:In assessing whether Allah is God both linguistics and theology must be considered.
Do We Witness to "God" or "Allah?"
by John Marion
In short, one needs to ask why the Arabic word Allah is used for God in both the Bible and the Quran. Linguistically the word for God is Allah in the Arabic language, period.
Sometimes Muslims will impose the Arabic name for God into other languages. In North America this sometimes happens, but most of the time Muslims will use the English word God in conversation and outreach efforts to non-Muslims.
The crux of the matter is what definition one gives to the word God in any language. That is, what are the theological ideas that someone has when they refer to God?
The theology of the Arabic Christian who uses the word Allah is completely different from the theology of the Muslim who also uses the word Allah. The same can be said when the word God is used.
Certainly when my Arabic brothers and sisters refer to Allah they are referring to the God I believe in who is explained in the Bible. On the other hand, even when my Muslim friend uses the word God, he is not referring to Biblical theology.
So at times, depending on the linguistic and theological context, it could also be said that Christians worship Allah, whose son is Jesus, and Muslims worship God, whose prophet is Mohammed.
In terms of an evangelistic strategy, I have learned that it is wise to discuss the concept of God with the presupposition that we are talking about the one true God who created the heavens and the earth. It is probably better to do this than to try to convince a Muslim friend that they worship a different God.
Muslims often have a zeal for God, but without knowledge. It is wiser to educate the Muslim by turning on the light rather than pointing out errors.
Read more insights from John Marion at JesusLovesMuslims.com .
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News:Chinese Protestant churches have embarked on an ambitious project to take the gospel back to Jerusalem along the Silk Road, re-evangelizing the lands through which the gospel originally traveled on its first trip to the Far East.
Chinese Christians Will Change the World
Already thousands of Chinese work in the Middle East as engineers, technicians, and laborers. Promoters note that Muslims "are paranoid and on guard against Christianity coming from America," and speculate that "maybe the Chinese Christians will quietly slip in the back door."
Seminaries all over China are training missionaries specifically for the Muslim world. Chinese Christians aren't just learning Arabic and Farsi. They are also leaning how to witness in jail, how to break out of handcuffs, and how to maintain a persuasive testimony as a martyr. Leaders anticipate being able to send over 100,000 as missionaries into the Muslim world within the next generation.
How is this possible?
In his new book, Jesus in Beijing, David Aikman estimates that 80 million current Christians in China will grow to one third of the population within the next thirty years. That's 400 million Chinese Christians. And these are not soft, sheltered, comfortable, entertainment oriented consumers. These are persecution hardened zealots, who know how faith in Jesus survives where it is not wanted.
Aikman maintains, "China is in the process of becoming Christianized," and it's no coincidence that this is happening just as China is becoming a major global power.
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News:Christians in India hailed the victory of Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party in this May's elections as a triumph for religious freedom and a great answer to prayer and fasting.
India Election Stolen from Thought Police
Becomes Victory for Christian Ministry
The Congress Party led India to freedom from British colonial rule and ran the country for forty years. Eight years ago it was replaced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Vajpayee. The BJP is the party of the Hindu nationalist movement (Hindutva).
Under the BJP, India has endured its worst religious riots in decades. In 2002, Hindu mobs killed Christians and Muslims by the thousands.
Election results represent a rejection of the BJP agenda to advance Hinduism rather than Secularism as the ideological foundation for the Indian nation.
One hallmark of BJP rule has been the passage of anti-conversion laws by several state governments.
In 2002 the southern state of Tamil Nadu passed a law called the "Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act." It contained loose definitions and required all conversions to be registered with the state government. Improper registration could result in converts and missionaries being jailed as common criminals. Christians, who comprise six percent of Tamil Nadu, claimed the law was resulting in harassment and was restricting free exercise of their religion.
In their 2004 election platform the BJP declared its intent to establish anti-conversion laws for the whole nation. Within a week of the announcement of the general election results, Chief Minister for Tamil Nadu ordered that the anti-conversion law in her province be repealed.
Political and religious leaders will be demanding that other states (Orissa, Arunachal, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat) repeal similar legislation, and they will be appealing to the national government to enact laws guaranteeing the constitutional religious freedom of minorities nationwide.
These results also represent the voice of India's poor. At least 300 million live on less than a dollar a day and lack access to essentials as basic as potable water. Most of these belong to the Dalit Hindu caste. Once popularly known as untouchables for the repugnant degree of their squalor, many Dalits see conversion as a way to break the cycle of poverty and improve their lives.
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News:Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ is a blockbuster in the Arab world, reportedly touching Muslims with the story of Jesus' sacrifice. Since March, Mel Gibson's crucifixion epic has drawn large audiences in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and other Arab countries that have approved it for screening, the Associated Press reported.
The Passion of Christ Breaks Forth in the Middle East
Window International Network e-mail news
The film was approved by Egypt's censors with no changes and pirated DVDs of The Passion were distributed in Saudi Arabia, which has no movie theaters. The movie has also been welcomed by the Middle East's Christian communities.
"Not only does it portray the last hours of Christ's life in shocking reality, but also proclaims the heart of the gospel very clearly," said one missionary. Mission Insider reported, "Believers in Arab nations are encouraged about the prospect of thousands of Muslims being confronted with Christ's love through the film."
In Qatar, the first country in the Middle East to screen the film, a pastor said, "In two short hours [of watching the movie], more Qataris heard the gospel than I have been able to reach in nearly five years of living here. . . All of us watched the film in absolute amazement at what God had done. The Muslims sitting around us were being moved – gasping, crying and reacting with disgust to the brutality that Jesus faced."
In Kuwait, a Christian reported that "more Arab Muslims have been able to clearly hear and see the gospel in their own language than we would be able to reach in a lifetime of ministry in the Middle East."
"The film is so popular here that they have been canceling the other films to show The Passion in all the theaters at the cinema complex," the believer said.
In Cairo, Egypt, a Christian said more Muslims than Christian have paid to see the movie. "In fact, we are told that many veiled women are so affected by the movie that they come out of the theater in tears," the believer noted. Furthermore, The Passion is one of the most pirated movies ever to enter Egypt.
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Resource:The news of Christianity's coming demise has been greatly exaggerated. But don't take my word for it. You could hardly consider me to be objective. Take Philip Jenkins' word for it.
Penn State Professor Forcasts the Future of Christendom
Philip is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State University. He writes in a secular perspective for secular peers who are distinctly not apologists for historic Christianity. Other Oxford University Press titles by Jenkins include Pedophiles and Priests, Hidden Gospels, and Mystics and Messiahs. Whatever his personal beliefs, Jenkins' work is sufficiently candid and unflattering to be considered objective. That makes it an essential read for all triumphalist Christians (like myself) who want more trustworthy encouragement than what comes from their own cheering section.
When a cold front moves in, the weather man knows it will either rain or snow; so with similar studies of demography and trends, Jenkins describes the current situation and reveals where world religions are headed internally and with respect to one another. Against conventional wisdom, Philip's forecasts are astounding.
Already two-thirds of the world's Christians reside outside of North America and Europe (p. 37). By 2050, owing to differential birth rates and social trends, nine in ten of the world's Christians will most likely be non-Western.
Just as Christianity spread most widely in Europe after the Roman Empire's collapse, so too "it was precisely as Western Colonialism ended that Christianity began a period of explosive growth" (p. 56). It's not just like watching your children grow up. It's like having them vindicate you beyond your wildest dreams. The faith that missionaries planted was more than humble obedience to oppressive parents, otherwise it would have disappeared when the colonies matured and figuratively left home.
While American and European brethren would be proud to know that the emergent congregations "preserve the fundamental beliefs that would be recognizable from any stage of Christian development" (p. 133), the type of Christianity that is thriving is "very different from what many Europeans and North Americans consider mainstream" (p. 107). Fully one of every five churches worldwide is neither Protestant nor Catholic nor Anglican nor Orthodox, but entirely something else. The next Christendom is both recognizable and new, yet ancient as well.
Third-world Christians resonate with the supernatural. Leaders exude vision and charisma. They preach personal faith, communal orthodoxy, mysticism and puritanism. They find the Scriptures both authoritative and relevant. Prophecy and faith-healing occur commonly. In their everyday world of superstition, fatalism, witchcraft, divination, exile, persecution, and martyrdom, the second century apostolic age lives.
Third-world Christians, as were their counterparts in the first and second century, are mostly urban and are incredibly poor. They thrive in exploding urban centers which utterly lack the resources to meet basic human needs. Churches provide working alternatives for health, welfare, and education programs. Congregations substitute for family clans and provide refuge from incomprehensible social change. "Christianity is far more than an opium of the disinherited masses: it provides a very practical setting in which people can improve their daily lives" (pp. 75-76).
Contrary to conventional wisdom which pressures Western denominations to exit foreign mission fields, now is the time to get in on the ground floor of religious networks which will grow to dominate the economy of social services. It would be like investing venture capital at the start of a bull market. Jenkins notes, however, it's as if global Christianity is scientifically assigning its assets "to create the minimum possible correlation" between resources and needy communities. "The Devil himself could have scarcely planned it better" (p. 213).
Christianity is not the only faith benefitting from demographic trends. Of the 25 nations destined to be "most populous" in the year 2050, eight of them will be mostly Christian and nine of them will most be mostly Muslim. Three will be half and half. Jenkins notes that separation of church and state is wholly foreign thinking in Africa, and the politics of religion is alive and well in Latin America (pp. 153, 159). Emerging nations are developing powerful Christian and Muslim identities so that religion will be at the heart of future conflicts. "The most powerful international wild card will be that mysterious non-Western ideology called Christianity."
Historically, Christianity's center of gravity has always moved around from one civilization to another, settling for a time among Syrians, Armenians, Byzantines, Nestorians, Romans, and even Europeans. As that center left the Jews the Apostle Paul remarked, "Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25). Ironically, as Europe and North America become less Christian, Christianity grows among non-Americans and non-Europeans. It's not the "white man's religion" which non-Westerners resent as cultural imperialism but pornography, abortion, radical feminism, and homosexuality. Hope for spiritual awakening in North America and Europe lies not in the diminishing population of whites but in the booming population of immigrants.
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Resource:You can receive e-mail news updates and prayer alerts for events and issues in countries of the 10/40 window from the Window International Network.
News and Prayer Alerts for the 10/40 Window
Visit www.win1040.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Opportunity:Partnering with the Jordanian Evangelical Committee for Relief and Development (JERCaD), World Relief began helping rehabilitate schools in Kirkuk, Iraq, in June 2003. World Relief is also working with the Danish relief agency Mission East in constructing housing units in a village affected by state-sponsored genocide in the late 1980s.
World Relief Ministry in Iraq Redeems U.S. Image
Iraq's educational system has severe need after years of neglect and conflict. In Kirkuk, schools have been looted, vandalized and burned.
As early as 1970, mass killings and "Arabization" campaigns displaced tens of thousands of Kurdish, Turkmen and Assyrian families. They moved in to public buildings, tourist facilities, camps and shantytowns.
With this pilot project, World Relief hopes to secure funding for expanding shelter projects to benefit hundreds more families. Some 20 additional villages have been assessed to date. Initial plans envision assistance in the areas of road access, water and sanitation, school building and housing for village teachers.
World Relief is a Christian relief and development organization whose primary objective is to alleviate human suffering. It provides aid unconditionally to all races, creeds, and nationalities and does not use humanitarian aid as a means to further a political or religious standpoint. It believes it is imperative to reach out to all of the world's suffering as instructed in the Gospel.
Donations to World Relief's "Victims of War" fund help to meet the needs of hurting people in Iraq, Congo, Sudan, Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and war traumatized refugees in the United States.1-800-535-LIFE
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Opportunity:At the Association of Military Christian Fellowships (AMCF) World Conference to be held in South Korea this September, military Christians from around the world will review methods, determine future directions, and hone skills for ministry in the militaries of their respective countries. The conference will also help them to facilitate starting new Military Christian Fellowships in countries which do not yet have them, and it will facilitate ties between the military fellowships of various countries.
Delegates to World Conference for Christians in Militaries Need Help
The Association for Christian Conferences Teaching and Service (ACCTS) is rasing funds for scholarships to help military Christians from poor countries in the Western Hemisphere to attend the conference. An average scholarship runs about $3000, and many more are needed for people like the following to attend.
Major Leio Sungo of Angola will become his country's first chaplain when his seminary studies in Brazil are completed.
Reverend J- of Cuba feels God leading him to start a fellowship for military Christians in Cuba and become a military chaplain there someday. Although conditions in Cuba do not yet permit open military ministry all of that may rapidly change when Fidel Castro passes away.
Major Mars of Haiti has led his country's fellowship of military Christians through recent turbulent times. Participating in the World Conference will be a great encouragement to him.
You can help these delegates and others to attend this decade's AMCF World Conference.Contact . . .
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P A K I S T A N
Cultural and Spiritual Landscape
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Pakistan has no defining cultural heritage. It occupies the "no-mans-land" between ancient Persian and Indian Empires. It has been overrun by Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Greek, Scythian, Hun, Arab, Mongol, Persian, and British Empires. It holds over ninety distinct ethnic groups.
Over three quarters of these are Indo-Aryan:
. . . Punjabi-related tribes = 56%
. . . Sindhi = 12%
. . . mostly urban Urdu speaking Muslim immigrants from India = 8%
. . . northern tribes = 2%
. . . Sindh tribes = 1%
Under one quarter are Indo-Iranian:
. . . Pashtun = 13%
. . . Baluch = 4%
. . . Persian = 1%
The Dravidian Brahui comprise under 2%.1
The most important factor uniting this amorphous diversity against world powers and Shiite and Hindu neighbors is Sunni Islam.
Religion and Politics
Islam is Pakistan's official state religion. Section 20 of the Constitution orders that "Every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice, and propagate his religion." Section 31 orders the state to facilitate Muslims in living according to the dictates of the Quran, and Section 36 demands the state "safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities."2
Section 295 C of the penal code illuminates the nature of constitutional "rights and interests." It states, "Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), shall be punished with the death sentence ." 3 Accused violators of this "blasphemy law" who become trapped in a vicious legal struggle for their lives average 200 per year.4
Rivalry between traditionalists and modernists currently divides Pakistan. Prime Minister Musharaaf and his military backed Pakistan Muslim League-Quid-e-Azam (PML-Q) support the United States and its war on terrorism. His government sponsored Central Institute of Islamic Research promotes moderate application of the Quran and Muslim legal tradition through training teachers for government schools.
The Majlis Muttahida-e-Amal (MMA) is an alliance of six opposition anti-Western, pro-Taliban Muslim parties calling for puritanical reformation in order to obtain God's blessing and national prosperity. The cleric inspired popular movement to purify state-sponsored Islam and a government agenda to annex the majority Muslim Indian state of Kashmir make cracking down on extremist preaching, education, and financing difficult.
Together, in 2002, MMA fundamentalist parties held enough parliamentary seats to block Musharaaf's bid for constitutional modifications so that he could hold uncontested power until 2007. To stay in power Musharaaf must appease the MMA which is making the following demands.5
Religion and Social Services
- reform state policy on arts and entertainment.
- reform the national education system.
- reform the banking system.
- promote the shalwar kameez (traditional clothing), and require it in schools & colleges.
- make Friday a weekly public holiday.
- repeal the ordinance monitoring madrassas and pledge them government funding.
- submit all legislation to the Council of Islamic Ideology for review.
- surrender the right of presidential pardon for offenses involving rape, adultery,drinking alcohol, and gambling.
- establish a "department of vice and virtue" to enforce standards of decency.
Most Pakistanis are poor. Over sixty percent of adults are illiterate (mostly women), and over thirty percent of the people meagerly survive on under one dollar per day.6 Seventy percent of the houses are made from materials like sunbaked clay, cardboard, corrugated tin, and pieces of gunnysack.7 Social services are not publicly funded but left to Islamic charitable organizations called wakfs which conform to theological agendas.8
Religion and Minorities
Matters concerning non-Muslims fall under the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Christians, Hindus, scheduled castes, Sikhs, Buddhists, Bahais, Parsis (Zoastrians), Ahmadis, and tribal groups are constitutionally defined as minorities.
Ahmadis (also called Qadianis) belong to Ahmadiya. This Shia sect got started near Lahore in 1889. It has spread throughout Pakistan and sent missionaries around the world. In 2974, the Muslim World League declared it heretical. Pakistan's 3 billion Ahmadis are most numerous around Lahore and Kashmir.
Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists numbering close to 2 million remain strong in the province of Sindh despite the tendency since 1947 to migrate to India.
Several small tribes like the Gagre, Kohli, and Bhil (numbering just a few hundred thousand) continue practicing traditional ethnic religions.
The percent of atheists and those claiming to practice no particular religion is less than 0.1. Parsis and Bahais are also under 0.1 percent. Jews have a synagogue in Karachi.
Christians comprise 2.5 percent of the population. Over 80 percent of these are Punjabi peoples descended from illiterates who converted out of low caste Hinduism in the early 1900s. Nearly 30 percent of Christians are Roman Catholic. Nearly 50 percent are Protestant. The rest are in independent indigenous congregations.9
Religious Changes and Outreach
Average annual growth of Evangelical Christianity is approaching 7%.10 Each year over 12,000 leave Islam. Small indigenous churches are being established among Sindh, Pashtun, and Urdu peoples. Also converting to Christianity are people of Hindu scheduled casts in Sindh province and southern Punjab. Martyrs for faith in Jesus Christ average over 1000 per year.11
Over 60 Christian agencies from more than 20 countries are ministering in Pakistan. Radio broadcasts, Jesus Films, and audio Scriptures exist in many Pakistani languages.12
1. Patrick Johnstone, Operation World, 2001, p. 500.
2. World Christian Encyclopedia, Oxford Univ. Press, 2001, v. 2, p.573.
3. Asia Human Rights Commission, www.ahrchk.net/hrsolid/mainfile.php/1998vol08no06/1437
4. Ahad Ibrahim, "Misuse of Blasphemy Law," www.Dawn.com, 23 Jul 01.
5. "MMA proposes 17-point agenda to settle LFO issue" Pakistan Tribune. Islamabad, 31 May 2003, www.paktribune.com/news/index.php?id=27050
6. "Pakistan at a Glance," www.worldbank.org
7. World Christian Encyclopedia, v. 2, pp. 570-71.
8. Ibid., p. 571.
9. Ibid., pp. 571-72.
10. Johnstone, p. 501.
11. World Christian Encyclopedia, v. 2, pp. 573, 835.
12. Ibid. v. 2, pp. 573.
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The Reveille Shofar
Volume 8, Number 2 - Second Quarter 2004
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