in this issue March/April 2001, Vol. 5 No. 2
- People Profile
- Agency Profile
- Resource Reviews
- News and Needs
- Web Site Review
Principle of Tolerable Risk Govern's Ministry OpportunitiesPeacekeeping missions and national interests are exposing U.S. military personnel to the neediest parts of the world, resulting in unprecedented cross-cultural ministry opportunities.
by Bruce Sidebotham
One study of warfare relates conflict intensity directly to risk and inversely to frequency. The higher the intensity of a conflict the greater its risk and lower its frequency. The lower the intensity of a conflict the lower its risk and higher its frequency. These relationships are most apparent when exaggerated. Thermonuclear war is extremely infrequent because its risks and intensity are so high. Terrorism on the other hand is fairly common because the risks and intensity are low.
These same relationships apply to cross-cultural ministry and will help us find an appropriate niche for personal involvement. Various kinds of cross-cultural ministry can be plotted on a scale of engagement intensity. People in direct face-to-face witnessing and discipling relationships with unreached people are in high intensity ministry with high risks. Those in service and support roles are involved less intensely, but no less significantly. For every person engaged in ministry at high risk levels, many more are needed to assume support and service roles at low risk levels.
A full time missionary may be called to cross-cultural ministry at high levels of intensity, but the number of places where he can work is limited because of high risks. A tentmaker has access to more locations, but he may need to be more cautious, especially if intense ministry could damage the reputation or investments of his employer. Both need many people committed to praying, encouraging, and helping them.
Tolerable levels of risk are different for each person and situation, but for every cross-cultural exposure something appropriate can be done.
Presence ministry is like the following parable.
This is what the Kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain, first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come. (Mark 4:26)
The Christian serviceman or servicewoman when sent among unreached peoples is like leaven in a lump of dough, a city on a hill, a light in a dark room, or a sprinkle of salt on a meal. If he or she is living in daily personal relationship with God, God will work through his or her nonverbal testimony. Jesus said, "The Spirit of Truth that is in you will testify, and God will prepare the harvest." (John 15:26) If the Spirit of Truth is in you, then he will testify.
In presence ministry the testimony is nonverbal, low intensity, and low risk. God will use every Christian man or woman serving among unreached peoples who is committed to him.
Prayer ministry though low risk and intensity is highly significant. God waits for us to pray before he acts. The overseas Christian sees situations around which he can mobilize the hand of God.
The most effective "on-site" prayers are corporate. Jesus said,
Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:19-20)
The ministry of "on-site" corporate prayer has spawned a prayer journey movement. Churches raise tens of thousands of dollars to send prayer teams into unreached areas. But Christian servicemen and women are being sent into these areas of the world with all expenses paid. Small groups can get together to pray for the unreached peoples among whom they are serving.
Friendship builds relationships that will destroy stereotypes and reduce suspicion. Successful friendship results in future openness, but not necessarily in presenting the gospel or converting the friend. It may make converted life easier for a relative of that person, or it may affect attitudes of important leaders, altering the course of history for a nation.
Consciously pursuing cross-cultural friendships entails some moderate risks.
Friendship with nationals can cause work environment friction or arouse suspicion during background checks for security clearances.
Building good cross-cultural relationships takes time, patience, discomfort, and sacrifice. Just as Jesus gave up the glories of heaven to become a man and bring us salvation, cross-cultural friendship entails some awkwardness and adjustment. For example, foreign clothing styles tend to be more modest, formal and uncomfortable than what most Americans prefer. Dressing to honor the culture (especially for women) helps to earn and maintain respect. Furthermore, few cultures value comfort and efficiency as highly as Americans. Building relationships cross-culturally may cost hours of boredom and discomfort by American standards.
Learning some of the local language not only helps one to be comfortable getting around, but it is the best and fastest way to facilitate friendships. It demonstrates good will and willingness to adjust and casts one in the door-opening role of a learner.
Finally, friendship is the primary means for affecting foreign military personnel who are sent to America by their governments to study at various service schools. Many of these students need help with transportation, housing, homework, shopping, language, meals, recreation, and cultural adjustment, and, most of all, they need friends.
Supporting others can be rewarding ministry with minimum risk. When working with others, however, one must also weigh the risks brought upon the other party by the partnership. In some countries, affiliation with foreigners is closely watched.
In many countries, postal and customs officials are corrupt and hostile to Christians. Ministries in these places need some things carried in by hand.
Christian shortwave radio and satellite TV ministries need information from target areas on things like signal strength as well as who, when, where and why people are listening in order to adjust their transmissions and programming.
Persecutors always strive for secrecy. Visible presence as a curious tourist or a military professional can be a deterrent. Also, advocacy groups need collaborating information from reliable on site sources.
Short Term Projects
Assisting relief and development not only leverages gospel ministry but supports national interests. Sometimes it can be orchestrated administratively as permissive TDY so that it doesn't count against accrued leave.
Connecting Bible correspondence students with study materials or linking pen-pals together takes energy and creativity of on site volunteers.
Encourage Local Missionaries
Missionaries in closed countries are stressed, deprived, misunderstood and under appreciated. Many are desperate for fellowship and encouragement.
Facilitate Military Christian Fellowships
In many countries, military Christian Fellowships like our own OCF and CMF struggle. In partnership with the Association of Christian Conferences Training and Services (ACCTS) you can help to encourage and establish them.
Direct ministry is high risk and out of bounds for most overseas personnel. Although service to God preempts all others, excellence and integrity in one's profession is part of that service. Scripture distribution in the Saudi Kingdom, for example, would almost certainly cause international embarrassment and damage national interests.
Wherever Christianity and the U.S. presence is already deeply resented, direct ministry involvement of military personnel will not only increase hostility, but it will also hinder the work that God is already doing through indigenous ministries. Direct ministry in hostile environments should only proceed under complete submission to local believers.
With so many low risk opportunities to choose from, activities should lean to the side of caution.
In the course of exploding stereotypes through friendship, questions about spiritual matters will inevitably arise. Furthermore, interest and respect for another religion will likely stimulate interest and respect for one's own. Personal testimonies will communicate the gospel non-confrontationally, but their power is limited in most of the non-Christian world where an American's commitment to Jesus is perceived to be like Green Bay's commitment to the Packers. The testimony of an outsider underscores Christianity's foreignness, but the testimony of an insider threateningly demonstrates its relevance.
Leading a Person to Christ
Like hatchling ducks need to bond with their duck mothers, new believers should bond with indigenous believers rather than with foreigners. Except in the most extreme circumstances, the privilege and responsibility of leading someone to Christ belongs to people of the same nationality. These will understand culturally obscure hidden motives, consequences and pitfalls. These will be able to mentor the new believer within the context of their own racial and cultural identity.
Deployed Christians should direct serious seekers to indigenous believers for conversion, follow-up, and fellowship. Developing and using these indigenous contacts should be the primary way of leading people in other cultures to Christ, remembering, however, that in some places insincere seekers will feign conversion in order to infiltrate and destroy a fellowship. The outsider must submit to the judgement and insight of those within the culture who have the most to gain or lose.
Praying with People
Praying with people about their needs in times of crisis communicates both love for God and love for them. Even rabidly anti-Christian people like to have all of the bases covered when they are in crisis. God can use your faith and his own answer to soften hearts towards him.
Videos and Music
Videos and CDs do not provoke as much hostility as tracts and Scriptures. These make excellent house gifts and farewell presents. One prominent missionary to Muslims whose life is sought in some Muslim countries has said, "If you preach to a Muslim he may kill you, but if you sing to him he will love you." Advertisers consider the billions promoting products with jingles and television to be well spent. This reality affirms the non-confrontational persuasive power of audio visual messages.
Seeker Bible Studies
In some less restrictive settings, seeker oriented Bible studies with national associates or friends and neighbors may be possible. New Tribes Mission offers an excellent curriculum based on Bible stories that has proven cross-cultural appeal. Others have developed curriculum for teaching English with the Bible. Dual language Bibles have strong appeal to those wanting to improve their English.
Bible and tract distribution is perhaps the riskiest and potentially most inflammatory of all direct ministry endeavors. Not only are the Scriptures powerful and threatening, but they are tangible enough to be incriminating. Although many governments prohibit and punish Bible distribution, no one has ever been prosecuted for losing his or her own personal devotional literature. I have lost many Bibles in Indonesian hotels, restaurants, and taxi cabs. However, credible loss of native language materials is limited.
Sometimes Bibles should not be given directly to people who ask for them. In these cases seekers should be directed to an indigenous ministry to obtain their Bibles. The native ministry can better ascertain request genuineness and provide long term follow up. The United Bible Societies has branch Bible societies in nearly every nation of the world where they legally print and distribute Scriptures in local languages.
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Civilizations Converge in the Balkans
Who sinned, the Balkan peoples or their ancestors, that the region is engulfed in bitter fighting?
If the Balkan peoples were suffering on account of national, ancestral, or even original sin, then we Americans should be similarly distressed over sins against Indians, Africans, unborn children, and God. Does American peace and prosperity mean that our sins aren't as bad?
Jesus said about the tragedy of a blind man, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." As the redemptive power of God was put on display in the life of a man born blind, so it is on display in the Balkans through Christian relief and development agencies. Jesus went on to say, "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me" (Jn 9:4-5). God's glory can be displayed through us as well, when we support his work in the Balkans with prayer and giving. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world." Isaiah wrote that our light would break forth like the dawn when we share our food with the hungry, provide shelter for the wanderer, and clothe the naked (Is 58:6-8).
Current conflicts and, hence, ministry opportunities on the Balkan Peninsula are driven by the clashing of three great civilizations.
In The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, Samuel P. Huntington says, "In the post-Cold War world, multiple communal conflicts have superceded the single superpower conflict. When these communal conflicts involve groups from different civilizations, they tend to expand and to escalate."
Nowhere is the reality of multiple communal conflict more volatile and pronounced than in former Yugoslavia, where Western Christian, Orthodox Christian, and Muslim civilizations converge; where cultural fault lines between Ottoman, Byzantine, and Holy Roman empires still endure.
No peacekeeping or ministry proceeds in the Balkans without encountering these civilizational affinities. Greece and Russia support the Serbs. Western Europeans support the Croats. Iran and Saudi Arabia send arms and finances to Bosnian and Albanian Muslims.
Stemming genocide here, as opposed to worse genocide elsewhere, interests the United States because America depends on Middle Eastern allies to contain Saddam Hussein.
Although Christianity flourished in spite of persecution in Romania and Bulgaria, the rest of the Balkan Peninsula has been a spiritual wasteland. Pioneers estimates fewer than fifty believers reside in the entire province of Montenegro. In Slovenia, evangelicals number less than one-fifth of one percent. Bosnia holds fewer than one thousand believers in a population over four million, and Serbia holds fewer than ten thousand among eight million. Evangelicals in Greece are fewer than two-tenths of one percent, and less than two percent of Greece's mainly Orthodox Christian population attends any church at all.
But the light is growing. Albania was once the darkest corner of Europe. As a self-professed atheistic state it brutally suppressed all religion. Ten years ago it had no churches and only six known believers. By 1999, Albania had 154 congregations and 7,500 believers. Though still less than one quarter percent of the population, that represents an annual growth rate of 100 percent!
Meanwhile, in Kosovo, among people of the same culture and language under Serbian domination, Christian growth was stagnant. Kosovar knowledge of Christianity came from stories of the Crusades and experience with Orthodox Serbs. When Kosovars fled Serbian atrocities, many discovered the difference between genuine faith and the cultural kind. They not only heard the gospel but they saw it in action through the ministry of relief agencies and Albanian congregations.
Today the demand from inside Kosovo for workers to disciple, shepherd, and train new believers in newly established congregations is overwhelming missionary sending agencies.
Resouce Contact Information
Resource Contact Information Resource Phone Number Web Site JESUS Video in Balkan Languages 1-800-560-8713 www.jesusfilm.org Balkan Language Scripture Audio Tapes 1-760-745-8105 www.gospelcom.net/asi Gospel Broadcasting in Balkan Languages 1-719-548-7490 www.wb2000.org Balkan Language Scriptures From:
International Bible Society
American Bible Society
Scripture Gift Mission
Christian Literature in Balkan Languages 1-717-738-0582 www.multilanguage.com Unreached Peoples
Ministry Tools and Information
1-303-730-4170 www.calebproject.org Video
"A Hope and a Future for Bosnia"
Agency Contact Information
Agency Contact Information Agency Location/s Phone Number Web Site Ambasadors for Christ Int'l Croatia, Kosovo, Romania 1-770-980-2020 www.afcinternational.org Campus Crusade for Christ Int'l Albania 1-407-826-2800 www.ccci.org Catholic Relief Servicies all Balkan countries 1-800-736-3467 www.catholicrelief.org CBI Albania, Slovenia 1-720-283-2000 www.cbi.org Christian Aid Mission Albania, Croatia, Macedonia 1-800-977-5650 www.christianaid.org Christian & Missionary Alliance Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia 1-719-599-5999 www.cmalliance.org Frontiers Albania, Kosovo 1-800-GO-2-THEM www.frontiers.org Greater Europe Mission all Balkan countries 1-800-GEM-4488 www.gemusa.org Horizons International Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia 1-303-442-3333 e-mail: email@example.com International Teams Albania 1-800-323-0428 www.iteams.org Mission Possible Albania, Bulgaria 1-800-729-2425 www.mp.org Mission to Unreached Peoples Albania, Kosovo 1-888-847-6950 www.mup.org New Beginnings Children's Home Albania 01252-333233 (UK) www.kingscare.org Operation Mobilization Bosnia, Macedonia 1-770-631-0432 www.usa.om.org Pioneers Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo 1-800-755-7284 www.pioneers.org SBC - IMB Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo 1-804-219-1000 www.imb.org SEE Teams Albania, Croatia 1-941-795-1314 www.seeteams.com TEAM Albania, Croatia 1-800-343-3144 www.teamworld.org Team Expansion Bosnia, Kosovo 1-502-297-0006 www.teamexpansion.org Trans World Radio Serbo-Croatian Broadcasts 1-800-456-7897 www.twr.org UFM International Bosnia 1-610-667-7660 www.ufm.org World Relief Refugee Resettlement 1-800-665-0235 www.wr.org World Vision Community Development 1-888-511-6565 www.wvi.org
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EPI Trains National PastorsJack and Carol Arnold, founders of EPI (Equipping Pastors International), were in the bush of Uganda. They had only been there for three days. They had just come through a grueling two-week schedule in Kenya, when Carol said to Jack "Is it time to go home yet?" But they were looking at sixteen more days and four more conferences to go.
They were in the "one-goat-village" of Amuria staying in a combination of hotel, restaurant, and brothel next door to the witch doctor. The two young women who ran the place each had an illegitimate baby, and these infants cried night and day because they were neglected. In the middle of one night the witch doctor knocked on their door thinking it was where the prostitute's sick child was living.
News and Needs EPI sends experienced pastors and educational resources all over the world to help the thousands of Christian leaders who are starving for theological training and practical insight on leading local churches.
Highlights from Jack and Carol's trip to Uganda include:
- An African school teacher declared that Jack and Carol's instruction had revolutionized his marriage.
- Four sharp Christian men asked Jack to mentor them through the Internet.
- Thirty men in prison responded to the call to receive Jesus as Lord.
- A pastor's wife remarked about Carol's teaching on the Creator's design for women, "I have been longing for this teaching all of my life."
- Pentecostals, Anglicans, and Presbyterians were all pleading with Jack and Carol to return to teach them more about the Bible.
Jack and Carol face many difficulties ministering among some of the most physically deprived people in the world, but they say, "The spiritual rewards for serving Christ where revival is taking place and God is on the lips of most of the people are worth all the hardships."
To learn more about training national Christian leaders or support the work of EPI contact
Dr. Jack Arnold
Equipping Pastors International
689 Kissimmee Place
Winter Springs, FL 32708
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GEO On Line Links Ministry Needs with Subject Matter ExpertsFrom medical to millwork, from nutrition to needlepoint, and from fertilizer to finance, your experience can help the poor and assist ministry efforts around the world.
Register with GEO Online to partner with those in overseas ministry who need your expertise.
GEO Online is a collection of online forums where people in ministry can get free practical help from hobbyists and skilled professionals as those who need help post their questions and those with expertise post their answers.
GEO online offers many additional features including private messaging, e-mail notifications of forum activity, and searchable archives.
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E-Mail Pen-Pals in TurkeyWould you like to become an e-mail pen-pal with a student from Turkey?
You can help a student improve his or her English while also building bridges to share the Gospel.
These students are interested in learning about Western culture. Your church or Bible study group might want to take this on as a ministry project.
To become involved e-mail Frank at
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Help Christian Aid Respond to Horror in the MoluccasThousands of Christians in the Molucca Islands around Ambon in Indonesia have been forced by Islamic militants to convert to Islam or have been given deadlines by which they must convert or be killed.
Responding to urgent pleas, Christian Aid has joined a campaign by International Christian Concern to raise $1.2 million and rescue Christians feared targeted for conversion or extermination.
The plan is to evacuate nearly 8000 individuals in almost 1500 families by boat to an area in a predominantly Christian region. Each family will be resettled on a small plot of land with a tent or simple dirt floored hut. Food will also be provided to each family for about six months until they can be self sufficient.
A gift of $34.74 will pay to evacuate one family from an at-risk village. $2,250 covers expenses for one boat load of evacuees. $500 will build a simple house for a family or purchase an acre of land. $90 will feed a family of five for one month.
Christian Aid Mission
web site: www.christianaid.org
P.O. Box 9037
Charlottesville, VA 22906
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A New Curriculum Teaches Youth About Christian Faith and SufferingThousands of Christians around the world are standing strong in their faith even in the face of persecution, torture, and death. Seeing their stories can empower young people to live more radical lives for God right here, right now.
Student Underground: An Event Curriculum on the Persecuted Church will open the eyes and hearts of high school students to the truth and mobilize them to pray for oppressed Christians around the globe.
Produced by Youth Specialties in partnership with Open Doors and Brother Andrew, Student Underground provides five easy-to-lead, flexible sessions, featuring the award winning sixty minute film, "Behind the Sun."
It will make an awesome overnight missions event, weekend retreat, or five-week youth group series.
For thirty years Youth Specialties has led in training, equipping, and encouraging youth workers in effective ministry.
Use this curriculum to take your teens on a global tour of maximum dedication and sacrifice. Order yours from
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Freely Subscribe to Mission Frontiers MagazineWomen in missions, ministry to native Americans, using shortwave radio, supporting native workers, short term trips, using dramatic arts, revival in India, and much more these are just some of the themes of recent Mission Frontiers magazine issues.
This, the U.S. Center for World Mission's bimonthly bulletin, will keep you abreast of spiritual trends around the world. Each issue is packed with stimulating and detailed articles written by today's international ministry leaders.
This periodical is on the cutting edge of what God is doing to complete world evangelization. Its circulation to over 150 countries exceeds 90,000.
The current issue and all of the back issues may be read on-line at:
Automatic e-mail subscription can be set up by sending an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org with "subscribe-brigada-pubs-missionfrontiers" in the body of the text.
Hard copies are free (suggested donation $5).
To subscribe contact:
1605 Elizabeth St.,
Pasadena, CA 91104
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Free Area Study Fact Sheets on the Balkans Are Available from Operation ReveilleNational media bombards us with the political, historical, social, and economic factors affecting Balkan countries, but what about the spiritual factors? What is God doing there and with what can it be supported?
OpRev's double sided Fact Sheet on the Balkans provides insight as well as contact information for resources and ministering agencies that no mature Christian serviceman or woman should be without.
Digital and hard copy versions of the fact sheet are free to military personnel and ministries to military.
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India Earthquake Spares Ministry TeamOf the tens of thousands of deaths resulting from the recent earthquake in India, only a handful of Christians are known to have perished.
news and needs
from the Brigada Mission Mobilizers Newsbrief e-mail Conference
An OM (Operation Mobilization) outreach team of twenty-nine people had been staying for a few days on a hotel's third story. After prayer on 26 January, they were planning their day's activities when they heard what they thought was a supersonic jet deafening their ears. At the same time, dust completely blinded them.
The earthquake lasted forty-two seconds, but for them it lasted about three minutes because the third floor was in the process of becoming the first floor as one floor after another settled into the lower floor's position. Finally enough dust settled for them to see light through a window.
God protected them so mightily that the window wasn't even broken, but the doors would not open so they had to break the window to exit at ground level.
After fifteen minutes the men went in two by two to gather up their belongings. No one in the lower stories was ever seen again.
In another incident, a hospital and a church had a common wall. When the earthquake came, the hospital totally collapsed killing 600 patients and staff. It sheared from the church wall which remained standing, and the people in the church were unharmed.
Brigada.org Mission Mobilizers Newsbrief is an electronic forum where Christians can exchange news having to do with world missions. It is edited by Lydia Reynolds and Nate Wilson. You may subscribe at:
World Relief, Operation Mobilization, and Indian church groups are cooperating to provide temporary shelter, trauma counseling, medicine, food, and water in the name of Jesus. You can help by donating to
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Wycliffe Dinner Theater Presents the Life Changing Story of a Modern MartyrThe Northwest (USA) regional office of Wycliffe Bible Translators is putting on dinner theater productions based on the life and death of Bible Translator Chet Bitterman. The production comes well-recommended by veteran actor, Dallas McKennon, of Walt Disney fame.
news and needs
The audience, seated at square tables, is surrounded by a Colombian village square scene, suggested through the use of beige drapes and arched window frames to represent adobe building fronts. They have entered the village square through a tile-roofed adobe arbor. Silk tropical plants and trees, along with street lighting and table lamps help to transport the guests to Bogotá.
The meal, an unusual, and yet delicious, ethnic experience, with the unique smells and taste of Colombian food, completes the atmosphere. At one end of the village square is a raised stage where the action takes place.
At a small sidewalk cafe in Bogotá, Colombia, Bernie May, who is visiting the city, has come to share dinner with some short-term missionaries. The conversation naturally turns to the tragic events of 1981.
Just before dawn, January 19, 1981, 29-year-old Chet Bitterman was kidnapped at gunpoint in Bogotá, Colombia, and held hostage for 48 days. Rebels demanded all Wycliffe Bible translators leave Colombia or Chet would be killed.
Abducted from his wife and two toddlers, Chet had recently come to Colombia and planned to live with the Carijona people to develop a written form for their language. He would then translate the Scriptures into that language.
Chet's death was not the last chapter in this story. As a result of his death public sentiment was turned 180 degrees toward the work of Wycliffe. At least one of the terrorists turned his life over to Christ.
Because of news coverage, a dramatic increase in applications to become Wycliffe missionaries occurred all through the 1980s.
Chet's is a valiant story of caring for his kidnappers, concern for his family and true faithfulness to his Lord that ended in martyrdom. As Bernie relates this story to his guests, the audience is transported back in time and witnesses the events as they took place and are challenged to become part of a cause worth living for and dying for.
For more information contact
Wycliffe's Northwest regional office
web site: www.wycliffe.org/events/Theater
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Japanese Pastor Traces Salvation to a Brief International FriendshipKazuto pastors a church on Okinawa in Japan. Because of his own experience, he is particularly impressed with the potential that U.S. servicemen have for friendship evangelistic ministry. Here is his testimony.
news and needs
"I had not met anybody who tried to share the good news with me until I met an American guy who came to Tokyo from the U.S. for only one month. I was twenty years old and was looking for someone who could teach me English when I met Lonny Beal.
Lonny was a member of Campus Crusade for Christ who had come to Japan for only one month. He became my friend and began helping me to learn English.
We did many things together like bowling, eating, and attending events. It was such an exciting time! I believe that many Japanese people are searching for this kind of international friendship.
One day he shared the gospel with me through the dual language Japanese/English version of the Four Spiritual Laws booklet. At first I just thought of it as more language study until Lonny tried telling me how much God loves me by showing me the diagram of Jesus on the cross and explaining it to me. He had spent much time with me, so that I had already seen the love of Jesus in his life.
I did not decide to accept Jesus at that time, but I started to study the Bible in English with one of the Campus Crusade for Christ staff after Lonnie returned to the States.
In the beginning I just wanted to study English through the Bible, but later, the words of God started to work in my heart, and I started understanding God's love which my American friend had tried to explain to me a year and a half earlier.
My English language improved a little by meeting my friend, but it is more important that I met Jesus through him even though he did not know any Japanese language. Now I am a pastor on Okinawa near Kadena Air Force Base.
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Turkish Protestant Church Granted Legal Status:Fourteen months after the Istanbul Protestant Church filed for legal status as a religious foundation, Turkey's highest court overruled all previous challenges, giving a green light to establishing the first legally recognized Turkish evangelical church.
Congregation Celebrates Christmas in New Building
news and needs
News story by Barbara G. Baker from Compass Direct
The December 7 ruling was greeted by the church's pastor as a landmark decision for the country's few thousand Turkish Protestant Christians.
"This begins a new step in Turkey," commented Carlos Madrigal, pastor of the 50-member congregation in Istanbul's Bostanci district. "This enables the Protestant church in Turkey to step out of the shadows."
Over the past decade, some twenty convert Christian congregations in Turkey have been allowed to register their places of worship as "houses of prayer." Nevertheless, they have been subjected to repeated police harassments over the past eighteen months, including disruption of their meetings, police detention of their members and interrogation of their pastors.
"This legal recognition should put a stop to that," the church's legal counsel Murat Cano told Compass Direct. "This is the Supreme Court's final ruling. It cannot be appealed again or abrogated, and it must be upheld."
The Bostanci congregation was able to dedicate and move into its newly renovated church building.
A formal dedication ceremony, which overflowed the facilities on the afternoon of December 3, was attended by Turkish Christians from all over the country. Special Christmas celebrations on December 24 drew 250 to the church. Sixty of them were visitors from the community, the pastor noted, including civic officials.
In addition to legal identity, foundation status gives a church the right to appoint official pastors and pay their salaries, legally collect tithes and offerings, provide education, produce its own publications and buy and build church buildings.
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Trans World Radio Partner Begins Broadcasting in SerbiaGospel proclamation on the Balkan peninsula has just leapt forward with the founding of IKONOS, Trans World Radio's ministry partner in Serbia.
news and needs
story from www.twr.org
IKONOS was officially registered to begin promoting Christianity in Serbia last July. Its board features four pastors, representing four different Serbian denominations, and a Christian publisher.
A program called "Messages of Reconciliation" (Porke Pomirenja) has been airing five times weekly since October. Another program called "Through the Bible" (TTB) will begin this Spring.
The TTB production team faces a challenge, because Serbian versions of the Old Testament are over seventy years old. Translations are so different from modern Serbian they must be retranslated for the TTB programs.
The TTB team leases renovated space in a downtown attic near several evangelical churches. Some equipment and office furniture is still needed.
Present programing uses exclusively local authors and music and encourages young people to compose their own.
Broadcasts also strive to be inter- denominational. IKONOS wants to develop relationships with local churches and educate the country to appreciate Christian broadcasting.
Future outreach programs are being considered that will include cooperation with secular stations and programming to reach refugees. In partnership with a radio ministry in Germany, IKONOS is hoping to produce twenty small Christian programs that will air on local stations in areas with refugees.
TWR and IKONOS desire prayer support as they complete their office and studio, hire staff, and strive to build good relationships with local churches. They also ask prayer for a deep spiritual understanding of what is happening in the Balkans as they seek to give wisdom, encouragement, and hope to its handful of believers.
For more information or to support TWR and IKONOS contact:
Trans World Radio
300 Gregson Drive. Box 8700
Cary, NC 27517
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Provides the Net's largest directory of overseas Christian Orphanages.
web site review
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The Reveille Shofar
Volume 5, Number 2 - March/April 2001
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