UK: Black churches thrive like never before

UK: Black churches thrive like never before

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UK: Black churches thrive like never before

Renewal Journal – a chronicle of renewal and revival:  www.renewaljournal.com
In the UK there has been a 5% national drop in church attendance, but a corresponding 18% increase in Black church membership.

According to the Evangelical Alliance’s Census, ‘Ethnicity and Regular Church Going’, this growth is reflected in Black church attendance being at least three times their proportion in the population. London is the best place to see this as 48% of all churchgoers are now Black, with the London Borough of Southwark having the largest concentration of African churches anywhere in the country. It has an estimated 240 Black Majority churches, with over 20,000 congregants.

What do we know about African churches, their Christianity and their rapid growth? Here are five things worth knowing:

1. African Christianity is active and engaged
African churches expect their members to become fully engaged and involved in the life and activities of the church. Their Christianity is part of everyday life, every aspect of it.

2. African Christians have a positive outlook on life
African church leaders are generally inspirational and often charismatic. Members are aspirational and have a positive outlook on life. They see prosperity as God’s blessing and find it empowering to pursue this.

3. African churches think big and stylish
African Christians think big. They love the term ‘my God is a big God’, which shows the limitless power of what God can do. Many of their churches started with a few members and in record time have grown into big churches. When African churches put on events and conferences, they are likely to be on a grand scale. When they buy warehouses, abandoned buildings, bingo halls, or former churches, they refurbish them to a high standard with a ‘wow’ factor.

4. Africans market and promote relentlessly on social media
African churches have a good grasp of modern communication and information technology. Typically, they are on all the leading social media platforms to grow their churches and attract young people to their services. Many are likely to have had an online experience before going through the doors.

5. ‘Reverse Mission’
Reverse Mission is a concept prevalent among many African Christians, who see their mission in Britain as a reversal of how the missionaries once brought Christianity to Africa. They now believe Britain needs re-evangelising and are committed to doing so.

Source: Roy Francis

Joel News # 1259, May 23, 2022

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How Ukraine became a missions hub for Russia

How Ukraine became a missions hub for Russia

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How Ukraine became a missions hub for Russia
Renewal Journal – a chronicle of renewal and revival:  www.renewaljournal.com

At the beginning of the last century, a young immigrant from Russia to the US named Ivan Voronaev found himself in the midst of a revival.

This revival had started in a little store-front church on a street named Azusa in Los Angeles, but quickly spread across the nation and also impacted New York where in 1917 Voronaev pastored a small Russian Baptist congregation. He encountered the work, power and leading of the Holy Spirit there, as described in the New Testament.

Photo: The Voronaev family

Several months later at a home prayer meeting, Voronaev received a prophetic message, “Voronaev, Voronaev, go to Russia!” This would not be an easy task. The tsar recently had been overthrown by the bolsheviks, and political, religious, and social turmoil had produced much suffering.

In 1920 Voronaev went to Ukraine with his message of revival and set up headquarters in the port city of Odessa. In a few years of preaching, teaching and mobilising, he saw over 17,000 people encountering the Holy Spirit and following Christ. They fanned out across the Soviet Union, preached the gospel, and established Pentecostal churches. In 1926, Voronaev organised the General-Ukrainian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, which provided fellowship for the growing number of churches. By 1928, the Union consisted of about 400 congregations with approximately 20,000 members.

Shortly after this revival, Voronaev and his wife Katherine were arrested by the communists and sent to the gulag where he died. His wife sat out her sentence of 25 years. Their story is shared in more detail on the website of the Assemblies of God.

Photo: Odessa before the Russian invasion

Meanwhile, Stalin uprooted millions of Ukrainians (as Putin is doing today), scattering them across the Soviet Union to Siberia and beyond to the Far East, unwittingly spreading the revival. Voronaev’s disciples became the foundation of the underground church of Russia. At the same time Stalin replaced the Ukrainians with millions of Russians, thus creating the problem we are facing today.

Ukraine has long been the spiritual center of Eastern Europe and beyond. Seven out of ten evangelical churches in Russia today have Ukrainian pastors. Ukrainian churches can be found all over the former Soviet Union; and all across Europe, the US and the world.

As the leadership of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church met this week in Kyiv representing 1800 congregations, their senior bishop, Mykhailo Panochko, shared the belief of state officials that the church was a key element in the healing of their nation. “Don’t miss your chance to be part of great things God is performing,“ he told them. “God’s plans are surely higher than ours!”

Sources: Jeff Fountain, AG News

Joel News # 1259, May 23, 2022

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Argentina: Faith flourishes behind bars

Argentina: Faith flourishes behind bars

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Argentina: The amazing transformation at Los Olmos prison
Prison Revival in Argentina

 

In Argentina between 2008 and 2019 the percentage of Evangelicals grew from 9% to 15.3%. This revival is most remarkable in the nation’s prisons.

The evangelical advance in Argentina occurred, as in most Latin American countries, in all sectors of society, but especially “in the most vulnerable, including prison inmates,” says researcher Verónica Giménez of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET). There are similar developments in Brazil, where the huge Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has 14.000 people working with prisoners.

As an example, 40% of the approximately 6,900 inmates in the province of Santa Fe live in evangelical wards, estimates Walter Gálvez, Undersecretary of Penitentiary Affairs, who is also a Pentecostal. The Puerta del Cielo (‘Heaven’s Door’) and Redil de Cristo (‘Christ’s Sheepfold’) congregations are among those that exert strong influence in Santa Fe’s prisons. They began to evangelise inmates in the late 1980s and today have more than 120 pastors working inside prisons.

From hired killer to pastor

Rosario, a city with 1.3 million inhabitants, has high levels of poverty and crime. Violence between gangs seeking to control territory and drug markets has helped to fill its jails. Eighty percent of crimes in Rosario are carried out by young hitmen who provide services to the drug gangs, whose bosses are imprisoned and maintain control of the criminal business from the jails.

Jorge Anguilante from Piñero prison was sentenced to 12 years for murder. He has been allowed to head home every weekend to minister in a small evangelical church he started in a garage in Argentina’s most violent city. As he leaves, the former criminal-turned-pastor greets the guards with a single word: “Blessings!” His violent life is behind him, the word of God made him “a new man.”

His story, of a convicted murderer embracing an evangelical faith behind bars, is common in the dungeons of Argentina’s Santa Fe province and its capital city, Rosario. Many began selling drugs as teenagers and were caught in a spiral of violence that sent some to their graves and others to overcrowded prisons divided between two forces: the evangelicals and the drug traffickers.

In a church service in prison pop-style hymns blared from loudspeakers while three TV cameras recorded the ceremony for other worshippers watching at home via a YouTube channel. “No one else is going to jail. Not your children, not your grandchildren,” the pastor shouted to the crowd. “Change is possible!”

Inmate Ruben Luna, who is serving a 14-year sentence for murder, embraces Sebastian Monje, who has been in prison for eight months for attempted murder and robbery, before being baptised inside an evangelical cellblock at the penitentiary in Pinero.

Each evangelical unit at Pinero is run by 10 prisoners who have about 15 assistants for the 190 inmates. They’re in charge of controlling everything and keeping the peace. “We don’t use knives, but the Bible to take over a cellblock,” says Pentecostal pastor Sergio Prada. Prisoners who want to be allowed in must comply with rules of conduct, including praying three times a day, giving up all addictions and fighting.

Oasis inside prison

For the past 20 years, Argentine prison authorities have encouraged, in one way or another, the creation of units effectively run by evangelical inmates, sometimes granting them some additional special privileges, such as more time in the open air. The wards are much like those in the rest of the prison: clean and painted in pastel colors, light blue or green. They have kitchens, televisions and audio equipment, here used for prayer services. But they are safer and quieter than the regular units. Violating rules that prohibit fighting, smoking, alcohol or drugs can get an inmate sent back to the regular prison.

“We brought peace to the prisons. There were never any disturbances inside the evangelical wards. And that’s better for the authorities,” said Rev. David Sensini of the Redil de Cristo church, one of Rosario’s largest Pentecostal churches. Access is controlled by both prison officials and ward leaders who function as pastors and are wary of gang attempts to infiltrate.

Source: Evangélico Digital

Joel News International, # 1248, February 22, 2022

Revival behind bars
How God’s grace transformed Los Olmos, Argentina’s largest maximum-security prison. This inspiring e-book describes in detail how the revival in Los Olmos prison started, which changes it brought, how inmate leadership emerged and how the prison church was organized. Specific attention is given to the role of the prayer watches and how the revival influenced other prisons across Argentina. Detailed growth statistics are included. | order here

See also

Prison Revival in Argentina

Argentina: The amazing transformation at Los Olmos prison

Christian missionary tortured in prison led 40 to Christ

Iran: How two women brought hope in Tehran’s brutal Evin Prison

Remember those in prison

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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House Church: The fastest-growing expression of church

House Church: The fastest-growing expression of church

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Joel News International, # 1231 | October 5, 2021
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“The church has to become small in order to grow big.”
– Wolfgang Simson

Global: The fastest-growing expression of church

German missiologist Wolfgang Simson published a global status report on house churches, in his observation “the fastest growing expression of Christ-followers on the planet.”

House churches like we read about in Acts have been present throughout church history, but these groups were often sidelined and even persecuted by the mainline church. However, since the early 20th century, we see a major comeback of house churches. First in China, where some researchers speak of 160-200 million members in more than 10 million house churches.

Since the 1990s house churches also experienced a rapid renaissance outside China. In particular Egypt and India have experienced the emergence of large house church networks, and became modern-day apostolic epicentres for this global phenomenon. The sum total of all current believers in house churches in India alone, about 80 million, already outnumbers the Lutheran Word Federation.

Simson estimates the number of house churches in mid‐2021 as follows:

1) 10 Million house churches in China.

2) Since 1996, about 2 million house churches have been planted in India, Egypt and the rest of the Middle East.

3) 3 Million house churches have reportedly been planted by various missions collectives like 24:14 and T4T.

4) 2 Million house churches are not on the official radar. This includes movements like Hoffnung Deutschland (founded by Marcus Rose, about 1,000 house churches) and 20,000 newly planted village house churches in Uganda – many meet under a tree for the lack of a hut large enough – as reported by Riccardo Meusel.

5) 1.5 Million ‘ halfway houses’ for church misfits in the USA. According to American sociologist Josh Packard, in his book Church Refugees, the US experiences a gigantic church exodus of so-called ‘doners’ – people who are done with church, but not with God, and organize themselves in ‘halfway houses’.

6) 1 Million ‘doner’ [done with church] house church groups outside the US in countries like Australia, the UK, South Africa, Korea, Singapore and Israel.

7) 1.7 Million house churches inside businesses and Insider Movements. Insider movements are house church movements that do not openly identify with Christianity but remain outwardly loyal and therefore hidden inside existing religions like Islam, Hinduism, Shintoism or Buddhism. Many see their religious environment as their cultural heritage within which they have become secret followers of Christ. This phenomenon also exists inside secular groups, clans or tribes. An additional form of this are ‘business churches’, house churches that function inside a business as their cover. Close observers speak of about 500,000 ‘business house churches in China and 200,000 outside China.

8) 400,000 Informal small groups in mainline churches like the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches that fulfill a role in ‘re-evangelisation’.

9) 1 Million house churches in 20,000 smaller house church networks and so-called ‘Apostolic Networks’.

Small expressions are booming. Picture: tiny houses in Almere, The Netherlands.

There are several significant contributors to the expansion of house churches:

1) Mission researcher Dr. Todd Johnson, in his ‘Status of Global Christianity 2021′, lists 113 million ‘unaffiliated’ or ‘Crypto-Christians’ who are following Christ outside the official church system, often in private, non-public gatherings in homes.

2) An Egyptian missiologist reported that during the Arab Spring at least four million Muslims in Egypt alone have turned away from Islam – many in search of God.

3) A growing number of young evangelists, like Torben Sondergaard (The Last Reformation) and Werner Nachtigall (Global Outreach Day) are intentionally connecting evangelism with the immediate planting of house churches.

4) Several megachurches in the US feel called by God to be instrumental in the planting of house churches. Mission strategist Curtis Sergeant has created a web-based ‘simple church saturation’ project planning to plant one simple church for every 5,000 people in the US and for every 50,000 people globally with material currently available in at least 37 languages.

5) During the COVID19 lock-downs many traditional church members have been forced to engage in ‘stay-at-home-church’, and a significant percentage will continue in this mode. They organised themselves into neighbourhood churches in homes, sometimes with online input. These numbers are not yet fully researched but may be very significant. One thing is evident: the post-corona church will not be exactly the same as pre-corona-church.

6) A large percentage of the children of church-goers have said their farewell to ‘mum’s-and-dad’s church’ and are in search mode for community, values and lifestyles that are radically different. Abraham Piper for example, the son of famous US‐theologian John Piper, runs a TikTok account with more than 1.1 million followers where he is trying to deconstruct fundamentalist evangelical church culture in search of a new and non-religious framework for life. It is to be seen what forms of following Christ will emerge from this very explosive and creative global people group.

Source: Wolfgang Simson

Editorial note: Wolfgang Simson did not research house church networks empirically or scientifically. Such a research is fairly difficult, if not impossible, with organic small groups that in many countries operate under the radar. He used ‘informed estimations’ of ‘trusted insiders’. Obviously data from church leaders who estimate the size of their own movements, and don’t keep records (although many of the Indian movements track conversions and groups), are less reliable and can only be indicative. In the past Simson has exaggerated numbers, and on various occasions was not willing to provide the contacts of those he claimed to have spoken to. So it was not possible for Joel News to check these claims as thoroughly as we would like to. On a general note we can say: house church movements are surely one of fastest-growing segments of the church, and the drivers that Simson suggests are valid, but the exact numbers are debatable.

Germany: The secret behind 1,000 new house churches

One of the networks, Hoffnung Deutschland (Hope Germany), planted an estimated 1,000 communities in 20 years, which for Europe is quite remarkable.

When Joel News asked Marcus Rose, Hoffnung Deutschland’s founder based in Berlin, about the number of house churches in his network, he responded: “We crossed the 500 sometime in 2017, after which we stopped counting.” What also stands out is that most people in these house churches are new Christians. On the question how this remarkable growth happened, Rose remarked drily: “There are many reasons. The one I usually give is that we just never stopped doing the small things.”

Photo: Marcus Rose

In a podcast on missions he elaborated on this: “I always wonder why people ask me: ‘What is the secret of the growth around you?’ And I would say: probably the most important thing is that I would never ask myself that question! I consider growth in an individual’s life the necessary foundation for growth as churches. In 1 John 2:12-14 the Christian work is described as newborn babies who are supposed to become fathers with children of their own. The way to get there is by overcoming the evil one, by being so strong in Christ, his Word and the Spirit, that the world stops being the place where you get your answers from.”

‘Church is the most progressive institution in a country, with the power to transform’

“It’s a continuous process to encourage people on that track and to do it together, to put in their time, giftings and financial resources. The most important part of leadership is just observing: what do people already get from God, and how can we connect people with a similar vision?”

In another podcast, Rose shares his own life story – how he grew up in communist East Germany, and at age 15 had a personal encounter with Christ. When the Wall fell in 1989, even though he was still a teenager he contacted schools to ask if they were interested to replace the lessons on communism in the curriculum with the teachings of Jesus. This opened many doors, and 30 house churches were established.

Later on, in Thailand, like Jonah on the run from his calling, Rose discovered church as “the most progressive institution in a country, with the power to transform, because it brought together prostitutes and millionaires as new people in Christ.”

‘There was no formula, I simply connected with people I met’

Around 2000 he moved back to Germany with the explicit instruction from God to not work in the Christian scene, but to work under the radar, connecting with non-Christians and discipling them in the way of Christ. This was a challenge as East Germany was culturally atheist, almost immune to the Gospel. In the first three months in Berlin God gave Rose a kick-start with a handful of young people getting baptised. “There was no formula. I simply connected with people I met, showed genuine interest, told them I had come to Berlin to plant a church, and if they were open to continue the relationship, I got their number and followed up.”

It quickly spread to several other cities in Germany. Rose communicated from the start that his vision was to see communities started in every region and subculture, and for God to raise up 10,000 missionaries out of Germany.

Image: A visualisation of apostolic hubs and the explosive growth potential of house churches in regions and subcultures

From 2010 onwards the network developed what Rose calls “an apostolic pattern” that started to catalyse things. “God instructed us to divide Germany into 90 minute regions. The idea was that a German could get in his car or step on a train on a Saturday, drive 90 minutes to a place, do outreach there, mentor people, organise something, pray for sick people, do sports, make it a family trip. This is something that people dare to do, that feels very natural.”

‘Continuously ask God what He wants you to do’

Rose also helped new Christians to focus on what he calls ‘the three steps of spiritual planning’, as explained in a third podcast:

1. Ask God: what are the qualities He wants to establish in your life, and through your life in the world around you?
2. If you have security about that, then ask God how many of your resources (time, money) you should invest in that.
3. Then ask Him in which specific projects you should invest yourself.

“This creates an atmosphere in which people continuously ask God what He wants them to do. Not what the church expects of them, or what others might want them to do, but what God says.”

New Christians with an apostolic gifting receive personal coaching to start similar processes themselves in other regions and countries. This is how the multiplication takes place. Rose’s vision for the next years is to start and support 100 apostolic teams, with every team being unique in giftings and reach. Each team could support 100 house churches, reaching people Rose or the apostolic workers could never reach themselves.

Source: Marcus Rose, Hoffnung Deutschland

Small is the new big… Do you long to be part of this global movement? Consider supporting Simple Church Europe, a project of Dutch charity Joel Ministries. We equip Christians to start missional simple church groups in Europe that multiply.

See also

House Church: the fastest growing expression of church

Grassroots movements with no church buildings explode

Dinner Churches

House Churches, by Ian Freestone

House Churches in China (Barbara Nield)

China: how a mother started a house church movement

Laos: a church for the So

https://renewaljournal.com/2014/04/28/twenty-first-century-revivals-transforming-revivals/

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Miraculous Movements

Miraculous Movements.

Amazing accounts of God changing people – personally and communally.

From Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale (2012).
From the INTRODUCTION – overview;
From CHAPTER 1 – a typical story.

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An excerpt from Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale

INTRODUCTION

Miraculous movements are sweeping through some parts of the Muslim world today. The Spirit of God is moving in a powerful way — indeed, in a way that we think is unprecedented — as hundreds of thousands of Muslims are turning their lives over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Former sheikhs and imams; men who bombed Christian churches and mercilessly persecuted the followers of Christ; ordinary men and women who have followed the teachings of Islam their entire lives — these and many others are finding the truth of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and the number increases every day.

Many of these Muslim people come to God’s Word by dramatic means, through dreams and visions, or as a result of seeing miracles, for men and women are being healed of physical disabilities and addictions, bands of hardened rebels are voluntarily laying down their arms, and thousands are seeing the power of God’s Spirit in their lives. You will read some of these stories in this book, and you will see that what God is doing among Muslims today is indeed unprecedented.

It is not easy to be a Muslim today. If Christians can begin to engage Muslims beyond the headlines of burkas and bombs, we will discover hundreds of millions of disheartened and discouraged people. Muslims’ lives are too often bounded by desolation and broken walls, but today many of them are desperate to discover people who love them, a God who loves them, and hope for the future.

We know this because we have observed up close thousands of new churches planted among Muslims; we have met these courageous people and heard their stories. You are about to meet some of them as well. Their lives will illustrate for you a marvellous picture of what transformation looks like among new Muslim-background Christ-followers. Reading their stories is a paradigm-altering experience, which is precisely what we Christians need in order to believe that this is possible and to make it happen.

When Jesus looked upon the lost people in first-century Palestine, “He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9: 36). And then He proclaimed something remarkable: these lost souls were a “plentiful harvest” that only lacked harvesters. Therefore, it is tragic when Christians look at Muslims, not with compassion, but with a default to fear, anger, and rejection.

If Christians were to be highly intentional about approaching Islam in a way that is inviting and attractive, without compromise, staying as consistently biblical as possible, here are some of the characteristics that we should expect to see:
* That approach would demonstrate the compassion and love that Jesus has for individual Muslims.
* It would be grounded in much prayer.
* It would depend on Muslims discovering God in the Bible and faithfully obeying His Word.
* It would be grounded in making disciples who make disciples, and churches that plant churches.
* It would be achieved by the efforts of very ordinary people participating in an extraordinary harvest.
* It would expect the miraculous favour of God to reproduce transformed people who are transforming whole societies.

And what would reproduction and transformation look like in Muslim countries? It would look like Muslim-background Christ-followers proving their discipleship by bearing much fruit. And when disciples multiply and obey, things change!

CityTeam and our partner organizations are seeing changes as increasing numbers of churches are being planted among Muslims in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, but our longest and deepest involvement with Islamic regions has been in Africa. Therefore, over the last seven years, for us and for a few hundred African ministries with whom we partner, the changes among African Muslim peoples has resulted in the following:
* more than six thousand new churches have been planted among Muslims in eighteen different countries;
* hundreds of former sheikhs and imams, now Christ-followers, are boldly leading great movements of Muslims out of Islam;
* forty-five different “unreached” Muslim-majority people groups, who a few years ago had no access to God’s Word, now have more than three thousand new churches among them;
* thousands of former Muslims are experiencing the loss of possessions, homes, and loved ones, but they are continuing to serve Jesus; * multiple Muslim communities, seeing the dramatic changes in nearby communities, are insisting that someone must bring these changes to their community also; and
* more than 350 different ministries are working together to achieve these outcomes.

DISCIPLE MAKING MOVEMENTS

Throughout this book, we will use the term “Disciple Making Movements” to describe what we see God doing to spread His gospel worldwide. In recent years, we have concluded that “disciple making” is a more accurate term than “church planting” to describe the core biblical principles at work in these rapidly multiplying movements. …

In a nutshell, Disciple Making Movements spread the gospel by making disciples who learn to obey the Word of God and quickly make other disciples, who then repeat the process. This results in many new churches being planted, frequently in regions that were previously very hostile to Christianity. All the principles that we are seeing at work are clearly outlined — indeed, commanded — in the pages of Scripture.

As we examine each of these principles, we will use terms that might not be familiar to the average reader, such as “Discovery Bible Study” or “person of peace.” … It is not our desire to create a new set of buzzwords and jargon to be bandied about in discussions of missiology, but merely to find easy ways to express important biblical concepts that are at the heart of what God is doing among Muslims today.

GOD’S STORY

This is God’s story, a testimony to the blessings that are “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3: 20), the movements of God’s Spirit that have made these first years of the twenty-first century “miraculous.” It is also the story of many brave men and women who, even this day, are taking God’s story to one more Muslim community, often at significant personal risk. And for those who have endured great suffering for the gospel, and especially for those who have given their lives in recent years for the sake of the gospel, this is also their story. It is our great privilege to share it with you.  

CHAPTER 1: UNPRECEDENTED!

You must come back to this area! A tidal wave has come! Muslims are coming to Christ in a flood. Come and help us. — plea from a former regional Muslim leader who had become a church planter

THE SHEIKH’S DREAM

Sheikh Hanif’s dream was very curious indeed, both over-whelming and hopeful.  It was not at all like the frightening and troubling nightmares that he had sometimes known. No, this was very different, and there was little time to reflect on this dream. It required immediate action because, according to the dream, something important would happen today, something that required him to be in place before first light.

Hanif was a seasoned Muslim leader. Like his father before him, he had studied the Qur’an for years. One of Hanif’s superiors had observed Hanif’s people skills, which had resulted in his being recruited to organize Muslim communities and launch new mosques. For eight years, he had done this with excellence. For his community, Hanif was the voice and character of Islam, a decent man who represented what it meant to be a good Muslim.

But there was one thing that no one else could ever know. Hanif’s commitment to Islam was genuine, but there was a deep void in his soul that Islam had never really satisfied. He longed for certainty regarding his status with God. He struggled to find answers or reasons for the violence inside his Islamic world. He grieved at the lack of compassion for suffering people. And he recognized that his religion did not allow him or the people he led to make choices for themselves, nor did it give them satisfying answers for the huge struggles of life. But this night, Hanif had awakened in the dark hours with a new hope burning inside: perhaps he was about to learn the answers to these questions!

It had been a dream like no other dream. In it, Hanif had encountered a very handsome and graceful man. The man addressed him by name, simply saying that he wanted Hanif to serve Him. But then came a warning: Hanif must learn to listen to Him, the man said. Surprised and shaken, Hanif asked, “Who are you?”

“I am Isa al Masih [the Qur’anic term for Jesus the Messiah],” the man answered, “and if you obey me, you will succeed in what you have longed for in your life.”

“What should I do?” Hanif asked.

Jesus showed him a tree standing alone atop a hill, a very busy road running beneath its branches. Hanif recognized the place, for it was well known to him and not too far from his home. Jesus then showed him the face of a man and said, “Go now, and wait under the tree by the road. Look for this man, for he is my servant. You will recognize him when you see him. Find him, for he will show you the true answers to all your questions about God.”

Hanif awoke from his dream, pondering his encounter with Jesus, still seeing the face of the man he was commanded to meet. He must not forget that face! In the press of crowds, he might only have a second to make the connection. Within an hour, the first glowing of the East African sky would begin, and the designated road would quickly fill with carts, livestock, and thousands of people with their loads, sometimes overflowing the road space beyond its shoulders and ditches. Finding the man in the midst of this chaos would be a genuine challenge.

Hanif dressed quickly and quietly, not bothering to pack food or water in his haste. He would have to try to outrun the sun to the exact place he was told to be so that he could be there to examine the face of every passing person. Hanif dared not tell his wife about this assignment. She might think that he was under a spell or becoming unstable. Or worse, she might even betray his intentions to the local Islamic council. And even if she was sympathetic, how could he explain that he was looking for a stranger who was being sent to answer all his important questions, deep questions that had tormented his soul?

How many years had he prayed daily, asking God seventeen times a day to show him the right way? But until this dream was given to him, he had feared that he would die without ever experiencing the right way of true peace and certainty. Of course, he had kept all the requirements of Islam — devotion to the Qur’an, leading the daily prayers — yet still he had no assurance of paradise, no enduring “salaam” (peace) inside. How many times over the years had he grieved when trusting Muslims asked him for help with the same issues he struggled with, or came asking how to find unity and love in broken families? How humiliating it was to give them the same answers of “more sharia” that had left him empty for years.

Hanif made his way to the appointed tree, sat down at its base, and waited. He waited and he watched; he sat and he scanned, searching every passing face. From time to time, a thrill would shoot up his spine: “That’s him! It’s . . . no . . . not him.” Time passed and people passed, and still Hanif waited.

In the late afternoon, several miles away, a man named Wafi was wondering if he would finally have a chance to get some sleep when he returned home the next morning. It had already been a full day, and there was still another hour of walking to get to the secluded place selected for this week’s all-night prayer meeting. Thankfully, the sunset winds so common in this part of Africa refreshed him and his companions. Today had been a good day, traveling on foot with the two promising young leaders whom he was currently mentoring, visiting new Christ followers in their homes. There was no better way of making disciples than this.

Wafi had developed an ability to find the people whom God had prepared and positioned to become bridges for bringing the good news of Jesus into a new town. For those who had the privilege of spending time with him, Wafi could always be counted on to model and mentor the disciplines of prayer, the processes for finding those “bridges” into a community, or the patience of overcoming trials. For Wafi, sharing, teaching, walking, praying, and enduring together were how Jesus discipled the Twelve, and it was the only way he knew to do the same.

Curiously, Wafi had recently had a strange dream, in which God had said to him, “I will give you a sheikh!” Wafi understood the dream to mean that God might have a plan to use him to disciple a shiekh who would perhaps become a bridge for taking the gospel to other Muslim leaders. But Wafi would have to wait to find out. That dream, however, was not in his mind as he and his two friends walked along the darkening road.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Hanif, still at his appointed place, was beginning to despair. He had not imagined that his dream-imparted task would take more than twelve hours of scanning innumerable faces, until the last light was growing dim in the western sky, matching his own fading hope. Then, in near darkness, there came a few more people on the now almost-empty road. He could barely discern three figures as the distance closed between them. And then, the one in the middle . . . yes! It was the face for which he waited!

It took a few minutes for the excited sheikh to convince Wafi that he meant him no harm, in spite of the intensity of his greeting. “My friend, understand! It is Isa al Masih himself that requires you to answer my questions tonight.” This seemed to Wafi like a heavy burden, to be met unexpectedly by a stranger and told, “You must answer all my questions . . . tonight!” But the man was unwilling to meet at a later date; he had waited all day — actually, many years — for answers to life-and-death questions, and he was not inclined to wait any longer. And Wafi could not pass up the chance to share the good news of Christ with this man who was so hungry to hear. (Strangely, it was not until much later that he made the connection between Hanif and his dream of God sending him an influential sheikh.)

Finally, Wafi suggested that they go quietly to Hanif’s house where they could have privacy to talk more in depth. There they found a stunned wife who understandably had more than a few concerns about what was happening in her family. But within days, she and her husband had both experienced what true freedom in Jesus Christ means, especially for those who had lived for so long with dark uncertainty and discouragement.

***

Since that time, Hanif has been well discipled in God’s Word, and in turn he has discipled two new leaders who are now planting churches in another area of his country. He has also felt the Lord calling him to an even more challenging Muslim area, where he has planted seven churches. And he loves to tell this story with much joy. The very good news is that every day, hundreds of stories like Hanif’s are happening throughout the Muslim world. Trousdale, Jerry. Miraculous Movements (pp. 13-23). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition Kindle edition

Added to BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

See also


The real enemy of Afghanistan

uganda
Sheikh sent to assassinate pastor, converted

Iran
Hope in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison

Egypt
Egypt opening to the Gospel amid persecution

Young man reading the Bible
Iraq: Muslim from Ninevah discovered the Bible’s magnetism

woman
Muslim Woman returns from the dead to tell about Jesus

Iran
Iran – fastest-growing evangelical population

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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Siberia: The light of Christ in the darkness of winter

“I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
– Isaiah 49:6

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Siberia: The light of Christ in the darkness of Winter

Elena is a field worker with Operation Mobilisation. In the year 2000 she moved to Arctic Russia to share the gospel with the Nenets people by translating the Bible in their language.

The Nenets are indigenous reindeer herders living in Northern Siberia, including the Yamal Peninsula. ‘Yamal’ means ‘The End of the Earth’. Out on the tundra, locals travel by snowmobile or reindeer sled. To reach particularly remote villages, it takes two to four hours by helicopter from Salekhard, the main city in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (district). The Yamal Peninsula is home to more reindeer than people and winter lasts nine months. “It’s very cold; minus 40°C can be pleasant for a walk if there is no wind,” Elena jokes.

The Nenets minority group has a population of around 45,000 people. Half of them live in Russian-speaking villages, while the other half are nomadic reindeer herders who live on the tundra and speak the Nenets language. Translating the Bible has been a complicated process, but today four books of the New Testament are in print, while others are in progress. OM East also published and illustrated two Bible storybooks.

‘Then I understood the meaning of light’

“I moved to Arctic Russia during December, the darkest month,” Elena recalled. “One day when I was testing translations, the electricity suddenly cut out. We sat without light all day. It was dark! Then I understood the meaning of light.” For Elena this experience of the Arctic winter darkness is a picture of life without Jesus Christ. Her desire is for the Nenets to know Jesus as the light of the world.

“I want every Nenets child to have a Bible,” she says. Over the past years she has distributed thousands of Bible storybooks. Wherever she came, the children took more interest in these Bible storybooks than in the chocolate she brought.

Their nomadic lifestyle makes it difficult for the reindeer herders to carry a collection of Christian literature. “They don’t have extra things – just the minimum,” Elena explains. “They have one pot, one kettle, and they don’t need a freezer!” However, they do have mobile phones. Her solution is to develop publications into applications so they can be stored on mobile phones, also allowing individuals to listen to the text. OM East plans to help provide these resources digitally.

The Warmest Tent on Earth – Pitching in the Siberian Arctic Winter
About 16 years ago, Elena met Neko, a Nenets woman who invited her to visit two family members on the tundra. Elena tested a translation by reading some Scripture verses to their hosts. They reacted strongly by walking out, leaving her alone in the tent. Jesus’ teaching had touched a nerve. But Neko changed, and the next time they met she had decided to be baptised and insisted on giving Elena a tithe to print Mark’s Gospel.

Elena prays for a revival among the Nenets. Today there are around 200 known Nenets believers, representing a small percentage of the population. The indigenous people group believes in numerous gods. For many, the reindeer are their life, their source of food, clothes, transport and shelter. Elena longs for the Nenets to acknowledge their Creator as their true provider and life-giver.

Prayer focus – Give praise to God who is light. Give thanks that He speaks through His Word. Pray the Nenets will put their trust in Jesus and receive His salvation. Pray for wisdom as Elena helps make God’s truth available. Pray that believers grow strong in their faith.

Source: OM, names changed to protect the work

Converted reindeer herders of the Nenets people in Siberia brave the cold to be baptised and commit themselves to Christ.

Watch the video

Source: Friedensstimme

Joel News International, April 13, 2021

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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China: how a mother started a house church movement

China: How a mother started a house church movement

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Renewal Journal – a chronicle of renewal and revival: www.renewaljournal.com

The Chinese Communist Party has long tried to eliminate or control the Church, but without success. Take Sister Hu’s amazing story, a mother who started a house church movement after Jesus healed her son.

When Sister Hu’s son fell seriously ill with kidney disease, she visited numerous temples to seek help from the gods, but he got worse. Then a Christian at the hospital told her that if she believed in Jesus her son could be healed. Her son fully recovered and Sister Hu committed to always serve God and share the gospel with as many people as she could.

Soon, a small group of believers emerged, and the fellowship quickly outgrew the building where it met. “Over time, the Holy Spirit revealed that we should focus on two things: evangelizing the lost and training leaders,” Sister Hu said. “We formed teams with five people in each, and we targeted 18 towns with the gospel. As we approached each town we prayed, and then we would look for the poorest household to share the good news of Jesus with.”

‘Many people believed and more churches were formed’

Each team was supported by an intercession and fasting chain, which operated around the clock, with believers rotating in two-hour shifts. “We fasted for seven days before a campaign, and to this day we still gather every morning at 4:30 a.m. for prayer, even in winter when it’s minus 30 degrees outside.”

The results were remarkable. “In the first 15 towns many people believed our message, and we formed new churches in each place. The final three towns were further away, so we had to cycle over long distances to reach them. Miraculously, in one town the officials let us use the municipal loudspeaker, to ensure that everyone could hear the message. Many people believed and more churches were formed.”

‘We have seen God perform many remarkable things’

“Our meetings were always crowded. Some people who came were demon possessed, but when we prayed they were completely delivered. Others were healed from deafness and other ailments. At first, we had many sisters but only one brother on our teams. We asked God to add 100 new brothers, and after the first evangelistic campaigns, we found that was exactly the number of men who had been converted. Later, we added mercy ministries to help the sick, elderly, and orphans.”

Over the years Sister Hu’s church has grown to 40,000 believers, and they have 1,000 evangelists and pastors. “We have seen God perform many remarkable things, which have helped spread his salvation message more widely,” she said. Some towns have been so thoroughly saturated with the gospel that now over 80 percent of the people are Christians.

“Jesus has been so good to us,” Sister Hu said. “He has been our best friend and He sticks closer than a brother. In recent years we have faced fresh challenges, as the government’s strict new religious policies have taken effect. We are under pressure to compromise, but we are determined to fully obey Jesus, regardless of the cost.”

Source: Asia Harvest

Joel News International: # 1199, January 19, 2021

Posts on Chinafrom Mission Blogs:
Asia’s Maturing Church (David Wang)
The Spirit told us what to do (Carl Lawrence)
Revival in China (Dennis Balcombe)
House Churches in China (Barbara Nield)
China – New Wave of Revival
Chinese turning to Christianity
Revival breaks out in China’s government approved churches

China: how a mother started a house church movement
China – Life-changing Miracle
China’s next generation: New China, New Church, New World
China: The cross on our shoulders and in our hearts
George Chen – In the Garden: 18 years in prison

See also:

House Church: the fastest growing expression of church

Grassroots movements with no church buildings explode

Dinner Churches

House Churches, by Ian Freestone

House Churches in China (Barbara Nield)

China: how a mother started a house church movement

Laos: a church for the So

 

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

BACK TO MAIN PAGE

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Hosanna – revival in Nepal

Hosanna – Revival in Nepal

Adapted from Chapter 9 of God’s Surprises by Geoff Waugh

 

Bob and Jill Densley, friends of mine, worked with the United Nations in Nepal and they loved to help pastors and leaders there. That’s how they met and supported the fiery young evangelist pastor Raju Sundas. We visited them many times in the 1990s and spoke at pastors and leaders meetings in Kathmandu, in West Nepal and in East Nepal, hosted by Raju. Some of those pastors walked for two or three days across the high ranges just to attend the meetings.

Their churches, led by Hosanna Church, are saturated in prayer. I prayed in their “Power House”, the upstairs prayer rooms of their church in Kathmandu. Those small upper rooms were open 24 hours a day and many people went there to fast and pray, sometimes for many days. Since then, Hosanna Church and its ministry has exploded and planted so many churches across Nepal, developed schools, vocational training, Bible Schools, and huge welfare ministries to the needy.

We saw God’s Spirit move beautifully and powerfully in those early meetings. Many were filled with the Spirit and healed. I heard a young man from one of their church bands praying eloquently in beautiful English – but he cannot speak English. They pray for one another with strong faith, expecting God to save, heal, deliver and anoint them.

The dedication of those Christians impressed me. Most of them had been imprisoned for their faith many times. One young pastor conducted a Christian wedding which infuriated relatives so they complained to the police and he spent a month in prison for disturbing the peace. Our host had been severely beaten while in prison.  Two young evangelists were shot to death when we were there. They had returned from Bible College in India and were accused of spying. God gives those Christians amazing peace and joy amid the persecution, just as in the Book of The Acts.

We were greatly blessed to see the zeal, faith and perseverance of Raju and his team as we shared ministry in Hosanna Church in Kathmandu as well as with them in conferences in West and East Nepal. Their faith opened the way for God to move in power among them all as He poured out his Spirit, especially on leaders, pastors and on their people.


Raju and team

Pastor Raju Sundras (Photo), our host for our visits, tells about our visit there at Easter 2000.

Greetings in the name of our Almighty God Jesus Christ from the land of Himalayas!  The Lord continues to do great things in this land, we have not much to do but to praise Him and thank Him for every good gift raining on us from Him and only Him.

It was a great blessing from the Lord to send us a team from Australia mid-April. The fellowship, the Word from God, the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ flourishing from our Australian brothers and sisters, the awesome presence of the Lord throughout the rushing schedule of conferences, trips, and visits, overwhelmingly expressed the great love of our Lord Jesus Christ towards this nation.  During the short stay of about two weeks with the team of eight people we had the privilege to see the ministry of the Holy Spirit through them in several occasions. …

Out of about 200 participants in the conference by the grace of God 100 of them were baptized in the Holy Spirit praising the Lord, singing, falling, crying, and many other actions as the Holy Spirit would prompt them to act.  About ten of them testified that they had never experienced such a presence of the power and love of God.  Some others testified being lifted to heavenly realms by the power of the Holy Spirit, being surrounded by the angels of the Lord in a great peace, joy, and love toward each other and being melted in the power of his presence.  Many re-committed their lives to the Lord for ministry by any means through his revelation.


Pastors and leaders conference

On the second day of the conference the trend continued as the people seemingly would fall down, repent, minister to each other in the love of Christ, enjoy the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, singing, prophesying, weeping, laughing, hugging, and all the beauty of the Holy Spirit was manifested throughout the congregation by his grace and love.  One woman of age 65 testified that she never had danced in her life in any occasion even in secret, but the Lord had told her that she should now dance to him and she was dancing praising him with all her strength.  For hours this outpouring continued and the pastors of the churches were one by one testifying that they had never experienced such a presence and power of God in their whole Christian life and ministry.

Pastors and leaders, West Nepal

Some 60 evangelists declared that they were renewed in their spirits by the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and they are now going to serve the Lord in the field wherever the Holy Spirit will lead them to be fully fledged in His service.  In the last day of the conference while praying together with the congregation and committing them in his hands, many prophesied that the Lord was assuring them of great changes in their ministry, life and the area.  While the power of God was at work in our midst three children of 6-7 years old fell down weeping, screaming and testifying about a huge hand coming on them and touching their stomachs and healing them instantly.  After the prayer all the participants got into the joy of the Holy Spirit and started dancing to the Lord, singing and praising Him for His goodness.

Before leaving Gochadda while we were having snacks in the pastor’s house a woman of high Brahmin caste came by the direction of the Lord to the place, claiming that she was prompted by a voice in her ear to go to the Christians and ask for prayer for healing of her chronic stomach pain and problems, and that is why she was there.  We prayed for her and she was instantly healed and we shared the Gospel, but she stopped us saying, “I need to accept Christ as my Saviour so don’t waste time!” She accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour being lifted in spirit, and even the body as she said she didn’t feel anymore burden in her body, and spirit, Hallelujah!


Roadside fellowship and ministry

We held another conference in Nazarene Church pastored by Rinzi Lama in Kathmandu.  Ten churches unitedly participated in the two days gathering where about 100 people participated.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit continued in this conference refreshing many in their spirits and bringing much re-commitment. We showed the Transformation video.  All committed themselves for constant prayer to bring transformation to their cities too by God’s power.


Geoff and the Himalaya mountains

by Geoff Waugh

Adapted from Chapter 9 of God’s Surprises

Revivals Index

Renewal Journal – main page

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GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN  REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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Christianity is Growing Faster than Ever

Christianity is Growing Faster than Ever

CHRISTIANITY IS GROWING FASTER THAN AT ANY TIME IN HISTORY – EXCEPT IN THE WEST


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