Load Acrobat Version
The Reveille Shofar

in this issue November/December 2001, Vol. 5 No. 6

Despair Distinguishes Bin-Laden's Dogma from Christian Hope
by Dr. Rob Sheldon

Iwo Jima -vs- WTC As I was driving to my 20th reunion barbecue, I told my wife that we Wheaton students had been brain-washed to believe that we were the cream of America's Christians, the brightest of evangelicals, the chosen people who would change the world. And here we are, 20 years later. The world has changed, yet we were not a part of it. 9/11 came, we watched the world change, and we wept.

For you see, Islamic extremists aren't all that different from me, an average fundamentalist. They too have seen blatant godlessness and sexual decadence of "the Great Satan" spreading irresistibly throughout the world, and they have given their lives to stop it. How does my youthful idealism differ from theirs?

This summer my brother recommended I read a book about WWII entitled Flags of our Fathers. It tells the story of the 5 marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. One fact burned in my mind. The Japanese knew they were losing, and they were intent on making it cost the US as much as possible. So the Japanese burrowed into the little volcanic island, digging two miles of tunnels to connect their many bunkers. They calibrated their mortars for the elevation of each beach. Their 20,000 highly trained soldiers were dedicated to fighting to the death. They permitted 50,000 US Marines to fill the beaches until men and equipment were cheek-to-jowl, when they unleashed their withering fire. The inevitable victory took a month and cost 7,600 dead Marines, but it cost the Japanese all 20,000.

What! All that preparation, and fighting from highly fortified positions, and the Japanese lost three soldiers for every one U.S. marine. In contrast, the 183 Texans who face Santa Ana's 7000 strong army at the Alamo took out 1500 Mexicans (one to nine). They too were committed to the death, but they had less time for preparation, less defensible positions, and fewer armaments.

So why were the Japanese so ineffective? Part of the answer lies in the scene the Marines found in bunker after conquered bunker; piles of dead Japanese who saved their last grenade for themselves, mass suicides, everywhere, always. Conversely, these boys who fought in Iwo Jima wanted to go home. They fought carefully, not berzerkingly. They covered for their buddies. They cared about their friends. They were more effective than the Japanese who fought for their emperor and a glorious death.

Both the Japanese and German war machines were fueled by propaganda. Both believed they were a super-race, destined for victory. Both ridiculed the weak-willed, soft-hearted Americans who stood between them and world dominion. Such motivation worked marvelously as the Japanese rolled over Korea, Manchuria, Singapore and Corregidor. Self-assurance works great when one is winning. Like the opium the Taliban give their young recruits before a battle, it makes one brave by concealing all pain. But when one is losing and about to be captured by the despised scum-of-the-earth, then the sword of self-assurance shows its other edge. It becomes despair.

The U.S. soldiers could lose at Corregidor and win at Iwo Jima with exactly the same motivation because they did not believe that they had to win to secure their salvation. Their goals were not so lofty. Their hope which was quite ordinary was not so easily extinguished. They wanted to go home. They wanted to see their girlfriends again. They wanted to survive. They desired peace, but they knew the path led necessarily through this battle.

The crucial contrast that determined the outcome was hope versus despair. It was hope that strengthened Jim Bowie's leadership while he lay incapacitated on a hospital bed in the Alamo. It was hope that kept the Marines on the beaches of Iwo Jima. Many writers have said this before. My favorite, J. R. Tolkien in "The Lord of the Rings," wrote during the darkest hours of World War II of a final black battle in which all hope appears lost, until strangely the sun breaks through and the riders of Rohan enter unexpectedly. The hope that Tolkien conveyed made me cry then as I cry now. For hope is the sign and guarantee of the Spirit. Hope is the precursor of eventual victory, the harbinger of salvation.

Look of Despair Despair drove those maddened extremists to fiery suicide. Hope inspired Todd Beamer to recapture United flight 93. Despair leads Osama bin Laden to declare jihad on America. Hope fills C-17 transports with food for Afghan women and children. Despair stirs up rioting mobs in Pakistan. Hope brings tears to the eyes of Americans as they sing "God Bless America" over and over and over again. Despair burns in bin Laden's eyes as he brings the world to the brink of chaos. Hope steels Bush's determination to preserve order. Despair moves Muslims to exact the death penalty upon apostates. Hope helps Christians apply the Apostle Paul's teaching, "If the unbeliever leaves, let him do so" (1 Cor. 7:15).

Three great truths stand like mighty angels bestride the earth, "faith, hope, and charity." We know only too well the paradoxical conflict between truth and love. Self righteous condemnations and senseless accommodations spring from mosques and churches alike, but uniting these besieged fortresses is that forgotten virtue, hope. Hope is so ephemeral as to be almost invisible. "For why does one hope for what he sees" (Romans 8:24)?

What makes Christianity superior to Islam? Our hope lives in, by, with, and through Jesus Christ. We do not hope, like the Japanese or bin Laden, by following our leader to a glorious death; rather we hope by following our leader to a victorious and also eternal life.

Dr. Rob Sheldon is a Physics Professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville

Back to Top


What Is the Spiritual Landscape of Afghanistan?
People Profile

Situation Summary

After Cain slew his brother the Bible says he traveled east of Eden to the land of wandering where he built a city. Legend says that land was Afghanistan, and that city was Kabul.

Whether or not Cain really founded Kabul, the murderous spirit of Cain is surely alive and well in modern Afghanistan where Uzbek, Tajik, Pashtun, Hazara, and Turkmen tribes are at war with each other and the world.

Major Afghan Peoples

In the forward to a book by George Otis titled The Last of the Giants, David Aikman, once a correspondent for Time magazine, writes, "some of the world's most intractable problems may be due at least partly to spiritual forces behind the scenes rather than merely the obvious overt factors such as geography, history, and political conditions."

Politicians, economists, and sociologists blame Jihad against America on national policies, economic disparities, and social injustices. They advocate addressing terrorism by addressing these supposed root causes, but they are mistaken. Poor and oppressed populations rarely resort to terrorism. Oppressive systems like racism in America, colonialism in India, and even Communism in Eastern Europe inspired civil disobedience, but they never led to terrorism.

The terrorism spawned from Afghanistan has a spiritual cause and it requires a spiritual solution. National leaders are only partially correct. Our struggle is not against Islam. Our struggle is not against terrorists either. In this case, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against . . . the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12).

The murderous spirit of Cain has always riddled Islam. Muhammad himself killed off his opponents. Many who aspired to follow in his footsteps including the founder of the Shiite sect were assassinated. The very word "assassin" derives from the sect of Islam known for smoking hashish.

Islam is also riddled with the spirit of anti-Christ (1Jn. 2:22), which denies Jesus is God and oppresses all attempts to get people to follow him as Lord. In Afghanistan converts to Christ from Islam are killed and relief workers with copies of the Jesus video on their computers have been arrested.

Afghanistan is the largest country on earth which has never knowingly admitted Christian missionaries. It has over 48,000 mosques and not a single church. That may be changing.

The number of Afghans following Christ in refugee camps is steadily growing. Christian Aid Mission reports that Pashtun believer Nawas Khan met Christ among native Christians in Pakistan from where he had to flee again because of his dynamic witness. Many refugees have joined churches in India and Kyrgystan. Abdul Matin serves Christ among Afghan refugees in Hong Kong, where he came by way of Pakistan and China.

Of believers who've returned to Afghanistan, few have survived. Hussein Attish was killed by family members. Mohammad Anwar was also killed, but not before influencing his younger brother to follow Jesus.

An extraordinary reconstruction window of opportunity is opening. The refugees will be streaming back. Relief and development workers and aid programs will have un-precedented ministry freedom. The strategic highland between China, Pakistan, Persia, and the central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union will become a place of blessing instead of cursing.

Afghan Peoples

Status of Scriptures and JESUS film for Major Afghan Peoples
People Group Language/Dialects Population Scriptures JESUS Film
Pushtun (Pathan) Pashto, Paktu 11 million none audio, film & video
Tajik Dari 4.2 million Bible audio, film & video
Hazara Hazaragi 1.8 million Bible none
Uzbek Uzbeki 1.8 million Bible audio & video
Aimaq (Berberi)
Zohri, Taimuri, Firozhoi
Jamshidi, Taimani
1.5 million N.T. film & video
Persian Farsi 829,000 Bible film & video
Turkmen Turkoman 572,000 Bible audio, film & video
Baluch Balochi 285,000 portions film & video
Brahu Brahui 283,000 portions film & video
Pashayi (Pashai) Pashayi 159,000 none none
Hindi Hindi 115,000 Bible film & video
Punjab Punjabi, Lahnda 26,000 portions audio, film & video
over 40 minor tribes many languages 415,000 various stages various stages

Resouce Contact Information

Resource Contact Information
Resource Phone Number Web Site / Address
JESUS Film, Videos & audio tapes 1-800-560-8713 www.jesusfilm.com
Afghan Language Bible Studies, Articles,
& media presentations on the web
- www.AfghanBibles.com
Afghan Language Gospel Radio:
World by 2000 Database


Scriptures in Afghan languages:
International Bible Society
American Bible Society
Scripture Gift Mission


Christian Books in Afghan languages:
Multi-Language Media


Web Site for Afghan believers - http://afghan-believers.tripod.com
Detailed Info on Afghan languages - www.sil.org/ethnologue/countries/Afgh.html
secular directory on Afghanistan - www.afghanland.com
Prayer Journey Resources 1-512-419-7729 www.waymakers.org

Agency Contact Information

Agency Contact Information
Agency ministry Phone Number Web Site
Strategic Frontiers evangelism & church planting 1-719-527-9495 www.sfcos.org
Pioneers evangelism & church planting 1-800-755-7284 www.pioneers.org
Frontiers evangelism & church planting 1-800-GO-2-THEM www.frontiers.org
Christian Aid Mission supports indigenous workers 1-800-977-5650 www.ChristianAid.org
InterServe places relief & development workers 1-800-809-4440 www.InterServe.org
International Teams places relief & development workers 1-800-323-0428 www.ITeams.org
International Foundation of Hope relief & development 1-719-226-5110 www.IFHope.org
World Concern refugee relief 1-800-755-5022 www.WorldConcern.org

Spiritual Situation Summary Continued

Afghan Refugees Respond to Christian Love
from Christian Aid Mission's Insider Report for Oct. 23, 2001

Afghan Refugees It's almost unbelievable," said Daoud Abdullah, after he had fled from Afghanistan to escape the continual warfare there.

"All of our lives we have been told that Christians were our enemies," he continued. "But when we came out with nothing but what we could carry, these Christians were the only ones who helped us."

Abdullah was talking to a native missionary in the country to which he had gone with three other members of his family. The missionary serves with a ministry which assists Afghan refugees with financial help from Christian Aid Mission.

"At first I was puzzled why you would do this," Daoud said. "I thought you must have some hidden motive. But now I have learned it's because you believe that Jesus Christ gave his life for you, and that makes you want to give your life for others.

Your donation helps provide this free information to military Christians. "We have always believed that Jesus never died. According to the Koran, God would not allow evil men to kill his holy prophet, so Jesus was taken up to heaven and some other man was crucified instead. But now I have seen in the Book that God did allow Jesus to be crucified and then raised him from the dead. So now I can understand how someone who believes Jesus died for him would be willing to give his own life to help others who are in need."

Daoud Abdullah has also learned what true Christians are. Before he thought that all Europeans and Americans were Christians, just as Afghans and Arabs are Muslims. Now he understands it's not a matter of nationality, but of personal faith. Among the 3.5 million Afghans now living outside their country, he is typical of several thousand who have gained an entirely new perspective concerning Christ, the Bible and what it means to be a Christian.

"When we go back," he says, "we are going to make sure that Christians are welcome to live and worship inside Afghanistan."

Back to Top

Christian Aid Mission Assists Strategic Indigenous Ministries
Agency Profile

Founder, Bob Finley. It all began in 1945 when Torrey Johnson invited NCAA intercollegiate boxing champion Bob Finley to speak at a rally of Youth for Christ in Chicago Stadium. Finley's testimony was fresh, unique, and powerful. Recordings were broadcast coast to coast and invitations to speak poured in.

In 1948 Finley found himself in China. When the communists took over, Finley moved on to Korea. When the communists moved in there, Finley toured through Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines sharing at crusades and among university students.

Outreach in India Finley observed in his travels how the communists gained huge followings through the simple and sacrificial living of trained and dedicated national leaders. He saw that the native Christian leaders in these respective countries were better equipped for gospel ministry than the foreign missionaries. They already knew the language and culture, and they could not be expelled by a communist takeover.

In 1953 Bob Finley started International Students, Inc. to reach foreign students studying in the United States and Canada, and he started a division within ISI to assist ministries in poorer countries that would be started and run by students returning to those countries.

This division of ISI became Christian Aid Mission in 1972. Its staff scours the globe to find and assist strategic indigenous Christian ministries. Many of these ministries are in places that are inaccessible to American missionaries.

Today Christian Aid assists over 30,000 field workers in over 400 ministries worldwide. At least 5000 more workers and over 100 other agencies are waiting for help.

Christian Aid Mission
P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906
toll free: 1-800-977-5650
Internet: www.ChristianAid.org

Back to Top

"Perspectives on the World of Islam Course Opens this Spring in Three Locations

Indonesian Women on Idul Fitri "Perspectives on the World of Islam" is a new curriculum modeled on the world-renowned course, "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement." This course will help students gain an understanding of the following:

What was the historical setting for the birth and expansion of Islam? What factors allowed for its growth?

What does the Muslim holy book say about mankind's relationship with God and fellow man? What about sin, death, Jesus, the Trinity, the community, and conversion?

What is the world view of Islam? How will knowledge of this help us understand Muslims? What are the roles of women, the veil, and Jihad?

How can Christians relate the Gospel in a culturally sensitive way to Muslims near them and throughout the world? How can we begin reaching out to the Muslim world?


Emmanuel Church, 48th & Spruce in West Philly
on Thursday nights, 31 Jan to 09 May 2002
POC: Keith Swartley

Baltimore/Washington Area

Severna Park Evangelical Pres.
110 Ritchie Hwy., Pasadena, MD
on Wednesday nights 16 Jan to 24 Apr 2002
POC: Greg Mitchell

Truro Episcopal Church
10520 Main St., Fairfax, VA
on Thursday nights, 17 Jan to 25 Apr 2002
POC: Amy Krauss

For more information and/or to schedule a course visit . . .


Back to Top

Operation World CD-Rom Operation World is Available on CD-Rom
resource review

The Operation World CD-Rom (2001 Edition) is an incredible new tool for prayer and research. It contains the full text as well as all maps, charts, and tables from the new book. Illustrations on the CD-Rom are even better than ones in the book because they are in color. In addition, the CD-Rom contains the complete research database along with additional resources for every country.

This tool will make a great Christmas gift. It is available from Global Mapping International.

Internet: www.gmi.org
Telephone: 1-719-278-4328

Back to Top

Mass Conversions Out of Hinduism Occur in India
news and needs
by T. Lynn D. Sidebotham

Tens of thousands of Dalits converged on New Delhi on November 4th to reject their caste and Hinduism. Some observers expected a mass conversion to Christianity as well, involving millions of people. Fantastic e-mail speculations circulated widely. On June 29, 1000 Dalits did renounce Hinduism and become Christians.

Hindi Woman The caste system of Hinduism is an extremely complex form of racism. Though technically illegal, it is still widely practiced. Castes in India are of three main levels: 1) higher castes, 2) lower castes (called OBC or Other Backward Classes), 3) the Dalits who are also called untouchables or "broken" people. The Dalits are so low they are outside the strict caste system. They number 200 to 250 million and comprise about 1/6 of India.

Dalits suffer discrimination, are denied access to land, and are routinely abused. They may not touch anything that their "betters" use. Their "proper work" is removal of human and animal waste and other degrading jobs. Many of them are sold into "labor." They are often physically assaulted and sexually abused ("untouchability" does not include rape.) Although new laws have allowed some of them to be educated, these still cannot get good jobs.

Although illegal, this apartheid is worsening because a radical nationalistic form of Hinduism is growing in India. Consequently, many Dalits are deciding to reject Hinduism as happened on November 4th.

Pressure from radical Hindus caused the government to ban the "anti-caste" or "Quit Hinduism" rally just a few days before it occurred. Organizers maintained they had a right to profess whatever religion they wanted and held the rally anyway. Their slogan was, "All humanity is one! All are equal!" Originally observers thought a million people might demonstrate. Police barricaded roads and railroads into the city so that less than 100,000 were able to attend.

At the rally, Mr. Ram Raj, a major Dalit leader, publicly converted to Buddhism and became Mr. Udit Raj. He is not anti-Christian. He claims that Hinduism is the root of India's misery. He encouraged Christians to launch a simultaneous educational effort. He initially favored a plan for one million copies of the Gospel of John to be distributed at the rally.

However, at the rally no clear call to Christianity was issued, and gospels were not distributed. Indian Christians feared right-wing Hindus, and took a stance against proselytizing at the rally. According to Mr. Vishal Mangalwadi, "a historic opportunity to test India's commitment to religous liberty" was missed.

Christian leaders were invited to speak as guests to show solidarity. These promised at least 200 schools for educating Dalit children.

Despite the fact that the anticipated mass conversion did not materialize, the Dalit are very open to the Gospel. Pray for their salvation, and for Indian Christian leaders to have the courage to reach out. They have to be willing to face death from the extremists to do this, so it is not a small thing. Pray that the government will support freedom of religion and not pass anti-conversion legislation.

Back to Top

Modern Turkish Bible Translation Released
news and needs
from Compass Direct, by Barbara G. Baker

Turkish Bible Goes on Sale The first modern Turkish translation of the Bible was released in early October to the Turkish public. The new millennium edition represents the first complete Turkish language Bible translation since the 17th century.

The new edition's New Testament is a combined revision of two separate translations released in modern Turkish in 1986 and 1988. The Old Testament project, which took 12 years to complete, required the joint efforts of three Turkish translators. A number of Greek and Hebrew experts, theologians and textual stylists also provided expertise throughout the project.

The only previous Turkish Bible in use was a revision of a translation commissioned 335 years ago by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet IV. Although never printed in the Arabic script of Ottoman Turkish until the 1800s, the 1666 manuscript was transliterated into the Latin alphabet of modern Turkish in 1941, when it was first released by the Turkish Bible Society.

The majority of Turkey's 66 million citizens would find the old Turkish translation filled with obsolete and barely comprehensible Ottoman vocabulary, making it difficult to read.

Founded under Ottoman rule in 1865, the Turkish Bible Society now has five Bible shops in Turkey's major cities.

In addition to the Bible itself, the society prints Bible dictionaries, Scripture calendars and cards, a Children's Bible and other Scripture-based materials. It is currently involved in several other projects translating Scriptures into modern Syriac, Greek and Kurdish.

Back to Top

web site review
For Videos on Afghanistan visit:

Back to Top

The Reveille Shofar
Volume 5, Number 6 - November/December 2001