in this issue July/August 2000, Vol. 4 No. 4
- People Profile
- Agency Profile
- Resource Reviews
- News and Needs
- Web Site Review
Why Are They Poor?Jesus did not do miracles to prove who he was but because of who he was. Signs and wonders were not tools for showing off. They were tools of compassion.
Compassion Leverages Gospel's Power!
by Bruce T. Sidebotham
Reports of signs and wonders like visions, healings, and even resurrections occur today, especially in primitive poverty stricken parts of the world. The most important power for persuasion in these events lies not in the miraculous, but in the compassion that accompanies them when they are genuine.
It is no coincidence that most of the world's blind, lame, childless, motherless, and homeless to whom Jesus longs to show compassion live where the gospel is least proclaimed. These people are not suffering because they are sinners. We are sinners too. They are suffering so that we can continue the compassionate ministry of Jesus Christ (c.f. John 9:1-4) and bring the glory of God into places where it has never been before.
Today, while miracles sometimes happen, most of the church's ministry of compassion to the poor and downtrodden occurs through relief and development.
Relief and development are two different and complementary aspects of compassion ministry. They remind us of the saying, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat today. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat tomorrow too." Development is like teaching a man to fish. Relief is like giving fish away. Frequently, some circumstances are so dire that people must be given a few fish before they can learn to catch fish for themselves.
Jesus did a lot of relief ministry healing diseases and feeding weary crowds with loaves and fishes, but his long term strategy was towards developing a community of transformed sinners who would bring the gospel to the whole world.
Professor of Economics Walter E. Williams at George Mason University is an ardent critic of handouts. He writes, "A country's institutional infrastructure is critical to the well-being of its citizens. The most critical are protection of private property, enforcement of contracts and rule of law not IMF [International Monetary Fund] bailouts, foreign aid, and other handouts." (Gazette, 5 Apr 00)
Professor Williams understands that a people's well being rests more upon underlying social conditions which are driven by spiritual values than upon the particular physical resources that are available. Social systems that spring from lies result in poverty. Just as development complements relief ministry, so ministry to the spirit with the truth of the gospel complements development.
Darrow Miller, one time director of Food for the Hungry, advocates the Development Triangle in his book Discipling the Nations. The triangle shows Man, God, and Nature in balanced relationship. Man and God relate to one another in fellowship. God, as creator, owns nature, while man is entrusted by God to be nature's steward. These relationships give man innate value, important responsibility and internal motivation to work against evil in the world.
But belief systems which are contrary to the gospel, like animism and atheism, subvert the relationships of the development triangle.
In animism nature is God and God is nature. Man's only hope for fellowship with God is to be in fellowship with nature. Nature is the creator of man, and therefore man's master. Animism results in fatalism that destroys man's responsibility and motivation to work to better himself and his environment.
In atheism, Nature is all there is. Man himself is just a part of nature and God does not exist. Since man has no accountability outside of himself, atheism results in exploiting both nature and other people. The overriding motivational question in animism is, "Why work?" The motivational doubt in atheism is, "Why care?"
Of all religions, the gospel of knowing God in Jesus Christ offers the best foundation for relief and lasting development. Relief and development ministry without the gospel lacks the power of transformation. Gospel ministry without relief and development lacks the power of compassion. Jesus integrated both and so should we.
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Somali People Need the Unity and Peace of Christ
a Bethany World Prayer Center Prayer Profile
Ten million Somali live scattered across eight countries in the north-eastern portion of Africa, commonly called the "Horn of Africa," and in the Middle East. Many of the Somali are refugees. Nearly five million live in the Republic of Somalia. They are one of the most homogenous people groups in Africa, speaking a common language, adhering to a single faith, and sharing a cultural heritage.
The Somali first appeared in Africa around 1200 A.D., and began expanding westward and southward about 150 years later. They converted to Islam around 1550, under the influence of Arab traders who had settled along the coast of present-day Somalia.
Somalia has a tropical climate that varies little throughout the year. With an average rainfall of less than 11 inches, droughts are common. In the 1970s and 1980s, droughts in the northern region forced the Somali nomads to migrate farther south.
The name, Somali, is derived from the words, "so maal," which literally mean, "Go milk an animal for yourself!" To the Somali, this is actually a rough expression of hospitality. Their society is based on the nuclear family, which consists of a husband, wife, and children. The man is the head of his household. A typical family owns a herd of sheep or goats and a few burden camels. Some may also own a herd of breeding and milking camels. The more camels a man has, the greater his prestige. In the wetter regions, cattle are also raised.
The Somali consider themselves warriors. The men often leave the women in charge of the herds, so that they might train to become more effective fighters. They are a very individualistic people, sharply divided by clans. Fights often occur between the clans, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths.
There are four major Somali clan groups. The two largest are the Somaal and the Sab. The Somaal are primarily nomadic shepherds. The Sab usually settle in communities and live as farmers or craftsmen. The nomads live in portable huts made of wooden branches covered with skins and grass mats. They are easily collapsible so that they can be loaded on pack animals and moved along with the herds. The farmers live in permanent, round huts that are six to nine feet high. Their diet includes milk, camel and goat meat, rice, and other grains. Tea is also a favorite drink.
Having an abundant supply of food is a status symbol among the clans. Each family periodically holds banquets for their relatives and friends. A family's prestige is determined by the frequency of its feasts, the number of people invited, and the quality and quantity of food served.
Typically, the Somali wear brightly colored cloths draped over their bodies like togas. The men may also wear a kilt-like garment. In the cities and towns, some wear Western style clothing.
The Somali are Muslims. Sufism, a mystic branch of Islam, is important for many. Sufis often achieve "ecstasy" by chanting or taking narcotics. The standard Islamic prayers are usually observed; however, Somali women have never worn the required veils.
Villagers and urban settlers frequently turn to the wadaad, a religious expert, for blessings, charms, and advice in worldly matters. They believe that many spirits live in the world, and that evil spirits bring sickness by possessing their victims. Some cults have formed in an attempt to appease the evil spirits.
Less than twenty percent of Somalian children attend school, and only sixty percent of the adults are illiterate. This is not surprising since they did not have a written script until 1972. Although the Bible is available in Somali language, few can read it.
Eleven missions agencies are currently targeting this people group; however, there are still less than 3,000 known believers among them. Perhaps Christian teachers will be the key to reaching Somalia with the Gospel. Prayer Points:
- Ask the Lord to raise up Christian teachers who will work among the Somali and share Christ's love with them.
- Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to go and break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask God to grant favor and wisdom to the missions agencies that are targeting the Somali.
- Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among them.
- Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio and television to the Somali.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to them through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Somali.
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Compassion International Lets You Impact the World One Child at a TimeI was 10 years old at a boarding school in Malaysia when I first caught the dream of sponsoring a poor child. I put out a donation box in my boarding house, hoping that as a group the kids would give enough money to sponsor a child. I think I got a Malaysian dollar, a Canadian dollar and a couple of pieces of trash. It was a crushing blow.
by Lynn Sidebotham
Ten years later, when Bruce and I were first married, we began sponsoring a child through Compassion International. Sheila was a grade schooler in the Philippines. We have sponsored her all these years, up through a college degree. Now she is out of the Compassion program. She has written us regularly, prayed for us, and been so appreciative. In fact, upstairs in the mail basket is a letter from her, even though she is no longer required to keep in touch. Now we are sponsoring a boy from India named Chandran, who is about Joseph's age. Our boys were sobered to hear how Chandran helps to support his family.
Some of the child sponsoring agencies have gotten a bad rap, because of not delivering enough money into developmental programs. Compassion sets up small programs which work closely with local churches to provide school, nutrition, medical care, and vocational skills. Our sponsored children have written to us of our Christmas and birthday gifts used to buy a chicken (so she could eat the eggs) or a new school uniform. We have gotten regular letters telling about their education, home life, and spiritual training. The Compassion programs also tell the gospel consistently.
In fact, in Dec. 97, the Wall Street Journal's Smart Money magazine rated Compassion as one of the top ten "charities you can trust," with 83.4% of their money spent on development (rather than administration or fund-raising).
When I was 10, I was poor compared to middle class American children, but we had food, a good education, and all we really needed. The reason I knew, or cared, about children who had nothing is I saw them out on the streets begging or working. There are 600 million children living in poverty, and about 12 million under age 5 die every year. As we lavish time and money on our own kids' food, education and pleasures, it is a responsibility and a privilege to remember other children who are just as important to Jesus as ours are.
3955 Craigwood Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80933
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InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Urbana Missions Conference Will Challenge 20,000 Youth This Year27 to 31 December at Urbana 2000 . . .
- Grow in understanding God's purpose in your life and the world.
- Discover what God is doing globally.
- Study Scriptures, pray, and process in community.
- Talk with artists, environmentalists, medical, relief and development workers, church planters and other missionaries.
- Collect information and ideas from 350 missions, seminaries, and graduate school exhibits.
- Think about how you fit into God's plan for the nations.
- Welcome the new millennium and year in worship with over 19,000 others.
The Urbana series of conventions was begun by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in 1946 in Toronto. Now they are held every two to three years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The eighteen conventions held so far have been attended by nearly 200,000 people.
Urbana conferences strive to challenge young adults to participate in world evangelization. This year's general session speaker will be the senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church in Los Angeles, Ken Fong.
More than 240 mission agencies will be represented at the convention as well as over fifty seminaries and Christian colleges. Over 200 elective seminars will be offered. These seminars will provide a focused and intimate atmosphere where delegates can gain information and pose questions about a variety of vocational, ministerial, and lifestyle options.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
P.O. Box 7895
Madison, WI 53707-78795
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This Unique Course on the Bible, History, and Sociology Changes Lives"I took this course several years ago, and it changed my life," says the Reverend Lynn Ferris, Missions Pastor at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.
by Michael Boyland
A lot of students say that Perspectives on the World Christian Movement changed their lives. You could truthfully say that it has changed the world. It has given to over 40,000 Christians both a bigger vision of what God is doing and tools to implement the vision.
The World Christian Movement itself began on Pentecost with 120 men and women in an upper room in Jerusalem. It has grown over the centuries and across the continents until today some two billion people confess that Jesus is Lord. The story of this extraordinary growth is the subject of the course. But Perspectives is more than fascinating stories. It is practical.
Perspectives looks at the expansion of Christianity from four points of view: biblical, historical, cultural and strategic. Not the biblical basis for missions, but the missions foundation of the whole Bible, is the subject of the first section. God is a missionary God. The whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation reflects it.
The historical perspective shows that, when the Gospel seems to be at a standstill, God finds fresh ways to shine the light of Christ into the world. Generally these have come from the fringes of the Christian movement. Patrick evangelized Ireland in the extreme west of Europe, from whence Celtic mission bands took the gospel as far as Eastern Europe and perhaps even to North America. William Carey, acknowledged as the father of the Protestant missionary movement, was a member of a marginal group of Baptists in 1793, when he left England to take the gospel to India and thus to transform the life of the subcontinent of southern Asia.
The third perspective shows that culture has less of a constraining grip on Christianity than it has on any other religion. The good news of Jesus Christ can put on the flesh and blood of any culture, anywhere in the world, just as the Son of God put on flesh and blood to be our Savior.
The cultural perspective asks how people can follow Jesus Christ and still be true to the customs and language they grew up with. How can a Maasai in Kenya be a better Maasai because he or she follows Jesus? How can a Kazakh of Central Asia, steeped in centuries of Islam, follow Christ and still be a good Kazakh? How can we translate the Bible into another language, which is hard enough, and then translate the Christian life into another culture?
The strategic perspective asks the question, "What will it take to finish the task?" Our Lord Jesus Christ told us to make disciples of every nation, every people group on earth. How close are we to seeing a viable church among every people? How can we release the people power and resources to take the gospel to all the places that have never even heard of Jesus?
Perspectives on the World Christian Movement is generally offered as a series of three-hour classes for fifteen weeks, but three times a year at the US Center for World Mission in Pasadena there are opportunities to take it as an intensive course in three and a half weeks. Each class is given by a different lecturer. The expertise and experience of Bible teachers, church historians, anthropologists and linguists all contribute to an enriching course.
The textbook and study guide for the course were completely updated in 1998. The biblical section of the new reader puts emphasis on God's fulfilling his promise rather than God's giving a command to his church. The emphasis is on the glory of God, and our enjoyment of his plan, more than on the human decision to obey. Perspectives makes church members into disciples who are enthralled with what God is doing in the world.
Courses are offered all around the country. To find a meeting near you visit the web site at . . .
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Macedonian Project Offers Small Unit Missions Training and Overseas Short Term Missions TripsTraining
- 29-30 September, Los Angeles
- 27-28 October, Washington, D.C.
- 17-18 November, Dallas
- Roof of the World (20-31 August 2000) - Take a breathtaking visit to an exotic remote area.
- Enter the Dragon (02-17 December 2000) - Meet an oppressed people isolated in East Asia's mountains.
- Eurasian Excursians (Late 2000) - Take the gospel to a people looking for a message of hope.
- Amazon Dot Come (Spring 2001) - Reconnoiter Brazil focusing on prayer and the JESUS film.
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100 Lake Hart Drive, 4000
Orlando, FL 32832
toll free: 1-877-MAC-PROJ
web site: www.macproject.com
YWAM Publishes Invaluable Book for Peace KeepersIn the Great Commission Jesus commands us to disciple nations, not just individuals. Few in our Western individualistic context can recognize and implement these implications. This book, Discipling the Nations, by one- time president of Food for the Hungry, Darrow Miller, is a must read for all believers involved in nation building or peace keeping. In it Darrow argues convincingly that God's truth not only conquers sin and death, but also frees whole societies from deception and poverty.
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Prayer Guide Will Help You Understand Muslims During the Fasting Month of RamadanThe Naaman Initiative has put together a trifold prayer guide for the Muslim month of Ramadan from 27 November to 26 December of this year.
Military men and women in most Muslim countries are seen as threatening enforcers of state ideologies by the indigenous and frequently underground Christian ministries in those countries. As a result they are highly isolated from any Christian witness.
Sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Military Ministries (FCMM) the Naaman Initiative advocates ministry to men and women in the armed forces of Muslim nations. It promotes strategies, training, and prayer that are culturally appropriate and sensitive. Mobilizing prayer is Naaman Initiative's number one priority.
The prayer guide features a bullet of information and a prayer request for every day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. It is free to all military personnel and all ministries ministering to military.
- Orders for the prayer guide may be placed through Operation Reveille.
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Reliable Agencies Report Miracles"Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these." (John 14:12)
news and needs
Miracles are puzzling, especially to those of us who live in a culture permeated by materialism. However, many reputable ministries report that, in places where the gospel is being preached for the first time, miracles are happening almost routinely.
Turkish World Outreach reports that after the earthquake, a fifteen year old girl named Figen came to the counseling tent at the Botanik Tent Camp in Yaklova, Turkey to tell someone about the dream that she had every night for a year before the quake struck. It was about a man in shining clothes on a white horse, with eyes of fire and a sword of fire. He was coming down a staircase to rescue her from shadowy figures with bloodstained hands who were holding her and many others. This man warned her of the impending earthquake each night for a week before it happened. Figen said that this man now lived in her heart and she was willing to suffer for him.
Paul Eshleman, Director of the JESUS Film Project for Campus Crusade for Christ International, writes that an Indonesian girl, Novi, had been blinded at 18 months when her drunken father hurled a burning oil lamp at her and the hot oil went into her eyes. An aunt, who was a Christian, took her to hear the JESUS film. As the blind beggar called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Novi felt something on her neck, and fingers moving across her eyes. Suddenly, she could clearly see Jesus on the screen. Her clouded eyes had become clear and bright. Novi and her aunt then traveled for awhile with the JESUS film team to surrounding villages. People who had known Novi before were astounded.
A copyrighted Religion Today article by Crosswalk.com states that the gospel which was first brought among the Mao people in the Manipur state of eastern India in 1894 was mostly rejected. Manipur is now restricted from outside travelers, but a small number of Mao believers had been praying for revival with confession, fasting and prayer. Brent Knapton, from Window of Opportunity, felt led to take a team of evangelists and dental and medical missionaries there. The team's application was denied and Knapton was told it was impossible go there, but through a series of divinely orchestrated events the permits were granted. During the meetings, about 1,500 people professed faith in Christ, despite being told they must completely renounce their old religions and face persecution.
The Global Prayer Digest published by William Carey University reports that on the island of Madura in Indonesia Husein's wife, Fatima, became very ill with tuberculosis. When the illness reached a crisis, Husein turned to his Christian friend, Benny, for help. Benny and a young pastor prayed for Fatima. At the time they were praying, Fatima heard a knock on the door and said weakly, "Come in." She heard the knocking again, and asked, "Who is it?" A voice said, "I've come to heal you." Fatima struggled to open the door. A gentle breeze blew in on her, and she was completely healed! When Husein came home and heard the news, he gave his life to Christ.
The Asian Minorities Outreach which is based in Thailand translates an intriguing story about Thitpin, a Buddhist monk in Myanmar (Burma), who died and came back to life. In his spirit, during three days of being prepared for cremation, Thitpin had some powerful experiences of heaven and hell. Suddenly he was aware of the sound of crying, and woke up to hear his mother's voice. He was lying in a box in foul-smelling body fluids. They were just about to nail down the lid and cremate him! When last seen, this once highly respected Buddhist monk was preaching boldly about Christ in Myanmar where believers are severely persecuted.
In another correspondence from the JESUS Film Project, director Paul Eshleman reports that a little girl of the Malto tribe in India came back to life after the completion of burial preparations just before her actual burial. The Malto people, who worship many gods, had been especially resistant to the gospel, so they had been bypassed by a JESUS Project film team in the area. After telling the stunned crowd that God had sent her back for seven days to tell them about the true God, she sought out the film crew and told them her story. With extraordinary boldness she accompanied the team, showing the JESUS film to the now much more receptive Malto tribe for seven days. Then, for no apparent reason, she collapsed and died.
The news about these visions and miracles which have traceable dates, locations, and living eye witnesses, is relayed by leaders in non-profit organizations whose survival depends upon having good reputations. Given the remoteness of the regions involved, it could be argued that these stories are fabricated or exaggerated, but it could just as easily be argued that these events are just the tip of the iceberg.
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Prayer Team Reconnoiters North Koreafrom Pioneers Newsletter, Spring 2000
news and needs
I couldn't begin to describe my emotions as we stood at the border separating China from North Korea. The Korean side looked bleak, reflecting the despair of a country ravaged by hunger, poverty, and political oppression.
Thousands of gravestones dotted the hillsides on the other side of the small stream that separates the two countries. It all seemed so dead, so hopeless, so still. The three of us shut our eyes as if to protect ourselves from the reality of it all, and began to pray for North Korea's twenty-five million people. How could God work in this desolate place? Each of us, in turn, groped for words to express the burden on our hearts, pleading with God for people whose suffering we could not even begin to imagine.
Suddenly as we prayed, there was a sound like thunder. We looked up to see a great ball of fire rolling down the power lines toward the electric station on the North Korean side. As we watched, the ball hit the power station and there was a huge explosion. The village, which had seemed abandoned, came alive as people rushed out of homes and offices to survey the damage.
The four of us stood speechless on our side of the border. At last, someone broke the silence, "I guess you have to be careful when you start praying!"
No one knows how or when God is going to open North Korea to the gospel. But Pioneers missionaries are readying themselves for that day. By faith they are moving forward, learning the language, studying, and praying waiting for God to open a closed door.
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U.S. Ally in the Middle East Persecutes Coptic Christiansby Elizabeth Kendal, World Evangelical Fellowship Religious Liberty Commission
news and needs
to join WEF's Religious Liberty e-mail Conference contact MarkAlbrecht@xc.org
State-sanctioned violence is escalating against the Coptic people in Upper Egypt, and systematic discrimination against all Copts and Christians continues unabated. Father Metthias, a Coptic priest from the village of Ezbet el Akbat just 15 km from Cairo, believes that without serious and committed international advocacy, the future of the Copts in Egypt is gravely threatened.
Christians in Egypt face systematic discrimination in education and employment that generally forces them into extreme poverty. Persecution faced by Coptic Christians includes massacres and execution style murders with no protection from the government or police. Coptic Christians also suffer forced conversion to Islam, as well as the kidnap, rape and forced marriage of young Christian girls to Muslim men.
The persecution is both racial and religious. The Copts are the indigenous people of Egypt and this persecution is racial as much as anything. Christians are always living in fear. No help is coming from inside Egypt. Even the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights is being silenced.
In Al Kosheh, Upper Egypt, in August 1998, two Christian young men were murdered and their bodies dumped in the village. Witnesses, including Bishop Wissa, took the names of five young Muslim suspects to the police. Using Egypt's state of emergency laws, the Egyptian police systematically rounded up, detained and tortured over one thousands Copts on the pretense of "preventing sectarian strife."
A Christian man named Shayboub William Arsal was charged with the double murder. His "confession" and the testimonies of his two accusers were given under torture.
The internationally renowned Egyptian Organization of Human Rights (EOHR) immediately set up an investigation and spoke out against this police brutality. The government responded by arresting Abo-Saeda, the General Secretary of the EOHR. They charged him with accepting a bribe and disseminating false information that could harm the national interest. (The alleged bribe was a donation from a British human rights organization for the EOHR's Women's Legal Aid Project).
In the wake of this incident the Egyptian government passed a new law, Law No 153/1999, giving the government far-reaching controls over the activities of non-government organizations. These controls include the provision for criminal penalties. The government has sent a clear message to all Egypt that Copts can be abused and murdered with impunity. This message was the impetus behind the massacre of Christians in Al Kosheh during Ramadan in January 2000 that left 21 Christians dead, around 50 wounded and 104 Coptic homes and businesses destroyed at the hands of a rampaging Muslim mob in the presence of an indifferent police force.
Persecution increases when there is impunity. "Without advocacy from the international human rights community, I have grave doubts about the future of the Coptic people," says Father Metthias. "They are a peaceful people. They don't respond to violence. . . . Today Copts are leaving their land, their homes and their farms. They are evacuating their villages because they no longer feel safe. They are packing up and leaving for Cairo."
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Pioneers Shows Jesus Film in KosovoThe first Albanian language film shown at the cinema in Ferizaj, Kosovo was brought by a multi-national team desiring to establish a church. For three nights in a row the cinema, which had only recently been cleared of booby traps, was filled to capacity. Before the JESUS film showing, team members from Albania, Bosnia, and Macedonia shared songs and testimonies. Afterwards, a Balkan believer presented the gospel. Twelve hundred saw the film and received an Albanian language copy of the Gospel of John. About fifty expressed interest in further Bible study. Two Albanians from Albania have returned to Ferizaj for follow-up ministry.
news and needs
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www.missionfrontiers.org/2000/03/200003.htmMission Frontiers publishes online in order to keep us abreast of the latest in the campaign to reach the final frontiers of the world with the gospel.
Site Reveals State of World Evangelization
web site review
In this latest issue Barney Ford writes, "You cannot rightly begin with the question, 'Lord, what do You want me to do?' if you have not first pondered the question, 'Lord, what are You doing?'"
These pages are a capstone of twenty years of perspective on where Bible believers around the world stand with regard to the Biblical command to declare God''s glory to all the ethnic peoples of the world.
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The Reveille Shofar
Volume 4, Number 4 - July/August 2000
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