The Life of Jesus – Appendix 3: The Gospels

An Appendix from the new book (free PDF)

The Life of Jesus: History’s Great Love Story

Appendix 3: The Gospels

The Life of Jesus: History’s Great Love Story – PDF

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The Life of Jesus provides a brief overview of history’s great love story. It gives a summary of the birth and boyhood of Jesus and describes his ministry through three Passover Festivals.
The book includes a detailed chart of a chronology of Jesus’ life and ministry and examines why such a popular, loving, and compassionate young leader would encounter intense hostility and opposition causing his crucifixion.
The mystery and wonder deepen because his resurrection transformed his followers and millions of lives. We date our diaries and calendars from the time of his birth.

Contents

Preface
Introduction
1 Birth and Boyhood
2 Ministry Begins
3 First to Second Passover
4 Second to Third Passover
5 Passover to Pentecost
Conclusion
Appendix 1: Chronology Chart
Appendix 2: The Feast Days
Appendix 3: The Gospels  
Appendix 4: Alternate Chronology 
Appendix 5: The Shroud of Turin 
Appendix 6: Publications   


Model of Jerusalem in Jesus’ time

Appendix 3: The Gospels

The Gospels are not biography, although much of their good news is biographical. They tell the story of God’s love revealed perfectly in Jesus.

Matthew tells the love story

A despised, hated tax collector for Rome, Matthew admired Jesus and left his lucrative business to travel on foot with Jesus and the growing crowd of his followers. A staunch Jew, Matthew likely wrote his love story in Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Middle East at that time.

They copied their Scriptures (our Old Testament) in Hebrew scrolls, but from the time of the Jews return from captivity in Babylon, around 538 BC, they spoke Aramaic, a dialect of Hebrew, which spread through the Middle East. It became the native language of Palestine used by Jesus and his followers.[1] Matthew quotes liberally from the Hebrew Scriptures, showing that Jesus fulfilled their prophecies. Matthew’s story was reproduced in common Greek, used widely at that time following Alexander the Great’s conquests.

Matthew the evangelist wrote especially for Jews.  He begins his gospel presenting Jesus Christ as the son of David, the son of Abraham.  He ends his gospel with the Great Commission declaring that Jesus sends his followers into all nations.  In Jesus, God’s covenant embraces the whole world.

This radical evangelistic missionary gospel shocked traditional Jews.  Matthew insists that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, backing up his claims with many quotations from the Old Testament.  He argues that Jesus did not do away with the Scriptures, but fulfilled them.[2]  He emphasizes the missionary nature of Jesus’s ministry and of his church.

This gospel continually confronted the Jewish Christian community as well as other Jews.  Here is a persistent and urgent call to mission.  The good news is for all people, not only for Jews. Matthew begins his Gospel telling of the coming of Jesus the Messiah who proclaims God’s kingdom.  The figure of Jesus the Messiah is announced by John the Baptist, as prophesied.

The beginning of the ministry in Galilee shows Christ’s design for life in God’s kingdom, again fulfilling prophecy.  Chapters 5-7 gather the words of Jesus together in The Sermon on the Mount in which we are challenged to seek first the kingdom of God.  Here is the kingdom charter, the ethics of kingdom living.  The chapters that follow demonstrate God’s kingdom in the works of Jesus.

Matthew gathers the discourses of Jesus as teaching segments throughout his narrative.  He often uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” for kingdom of God in typical Jewish reverence for the word God.

Jesus’s ministry is summarised in Matthew 4:23 as teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness.  This statement introduces the words and works of Jesus in chapters 5-9.  Then in Matthew 9:35, the same statement is repeated.  Here it introduces the mission of Jesus’s followers.

The mission discourse, commencing from Matthew 9:35, tells of Jesus’s plan for the spread of God’s kingdom.  His disciples will continue his ministry.  They will proclaim the kingdom of God.

The chapters following the mission discourse show the radical nature of the mystery of God’s kingdom.  This mystery is revealed by Jesus to those committed to him, but concealed from others, as indicated in the parable discourses of chapter 13.

Matthew, the only gospel writer to use the word church, points out that Jesus’s church has his authority.[3] The church is the agent of God’s kingdom, and manifests the kingdom in the world.

Tensions with the keepers of Israel’s traditions reached flash point and boiled over into Jesus’s arrest and execution.  That is the volatile setting in which Jesus pressed his authority and invitation as the ministry ends.  The king is crowned with thorns and crucified.  Apparent defeat in death is then turned into the amazing victory of resurrection.  Christ the King reigns.  We all ultimately acknowledge his reign in the end.  In Jesus’s victory we see God’s kingdom fulfilled.

Mark tells the love story

Probably as a young man in Jerusalem he knew and hung around Jesus and his followers. His love story is a condensed version, the shortest account, and possibly the first cab off the rank. It’s likely that Matthew and Luke both used much of Mark’s story in their similar stories, now called the three Synoptic Gospels.

Mark may have been the young man he alone refers to who ran off leaving his linen sheet with the mob who grabbed him in Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested late at night. His family may have lived in a big house where many met to pray and it may have had the large upper room where Jesus ate the Passover. Mark, possibly known as John Mark, joined Paul and Mark’s cousin Barnabas and then joined Barnabas again on missionary journeys, and was with Paul in Rome. He travelled with Peter who called him ‘my son’ and most likely gave him most of the information he used in his Gospel. Jerome, a leader in the early church, told how Mark established the church in Alexandria in Egypt. [4]

Mark gives a vigorous, concise account of Jesus.  The narrative moves swiftly.  A brief prologue leads immediately into Jesus’s ministry as he appears proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom of God.  Kingdom life fills the pages.

Central to that drama is the cross.  Mark has been described as a passion narrative with an introduction.  Jesus is introduced as the Son of God in the first verse.  Chapters 1‑8 reveal the mystery of the Son of God seen in Jesus’s three year ministry, based in Galilee.

Then the drama shifts in chapter 8, with Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.  Jesus immediately predicts his death and prepares his disciples for it.  The Messiah must sacrifice his life.  The way of the Son of Man is the way of the cross.  Chapters 11‑16 describe that final week in Jerusalem.

Holy Week, the last week of the earthly life of Jesus, may be summarized this way as a general guide.  The different Gospels record different events, each one telling the Gospel, the good news, in their own way.  So this arrangement is just an estimate of the sequence of the momentous developments in Holy Week.

This summary of events in Holy Week follows the outline in Mark’s Gospel:

Palm Sunday  –  Day of Demonstration
Mark 11:1-11 (Zech 9:9)  –  Jesus enters Jerusalem

Monday  –  Day of Authority
Mark 11:12-19  –  fig tree rebuked, temple cleansed

Tuesday  –  Day of Conflict
Mark 11:20  –  13:36  –  debates with leaders

Wednesday  –  Day of Preparation
Mark 14:1-11  –  anointed at Bethany

Thursday  –  Day of Farewell
Mark 14:12-42  –  last supper

Good Friday  –  Day of Crucifixion
Mark 14:43 – 15:47  –  trials and death

Saturday  –  Day of Sabbath
Mark 15:46-47  –  tomb sealed

Easter Sunday  –  Day of Resurrection
Mark 16:1-18  –  resurrection appearances

These passages remind us of events from the most momentous week in all history, and indeed in all eternity.  The Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, took our sin upon himself, died in our place, and conquered death. He alone is the Saviour of the World.  All who believe in him, all who trust him, will not die but live for ever with him.

Luke tells the love story

Physician and historian, Luke gives us unique accounts of the earliest days in Jesus’ life. The only Gentile author in the Bible, he addressed his two books, Luke-Acts, to his Gentile friend Theophilus. He provides carefully researched historical insights into Jesus and his followers. He alone records Jesus’ famous and confronting parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.[5]

Dr Luke carefully researched the accounts of healing and miracles. He joined the teams on Paul’s second and third missionary journeys though Turkey (then called Asia or Asia Minor) and Greece, and on their fateful trip to Rome which included being shipwrecked on Malta. He carefully described those adventures in the ‘we passages’ in Acts. Paul valued him highly.[6]

Luke wrote with a different emphasis from the other writers of the New Testament who all grew up steeped in Israel’s traditions.  He writes especially for his community.

Luke the historian describes Jesus’s central place in human events.  Jesus is the Saviour of the whole world.  No one is excluded from God’s offer of salvation in Jesus.  The poor, despised and outcasts (such as Gentiles) are especially invited into the kingdom of God.  Luke gives a clear, ordered account of the spread of God’s kingdom in the ministry of Jesus (Luke’s Gospel) and in the early church (The Acts of the Apostles).

Luke the traveller makes “journey” a strong theme in both his books.  He tells of events along the way, on the road.  This especially applies to Jesus’s final journey to Jerusalem.  That last journey began after Peter’s declaration that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus explained that terms of his death and resurrection.

Luke the missionary, who often accompanied Paul, tells of the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, first in Jesus, then in his followers, and then in the church’s missionary expansion. Luke refers to the Holy Spirit often in both his gospel and The Acts of the Apostles.

Luke the doctor, emphasizes Jesus’s compassion and healing power for all who came to him.  His gospel abounds with stories of Jesus’s care for people.  He includes many accounts of Jesus’s compassion for the poor and for outcasts.

Luke the evangelist, tells of Jesus’s saving power and includes some of the most famous parables which summarise the good news of God’s kingdom.  Parables of the prodigal son, the lost coin, the good Samaritan, the rich man and Lazarus, and the rich fool are unique to Luke’s evangelism story.  So are the accounts of the Samaritan leper, the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’s feet, and Zacchaeus.  These were despised people who responded to Jesus.

If you have a Bible with section headings containing cross-references, as in the Good News Bible and New Revised Standard Version, you can easily locate the passages unique to Luke.  They have no cross-references.  Those passages give a feel for Luke’s emphasis in telling the good news about the kingdom of God.

John tells the love story

He may have been Jesus’ young cousin, a son with his older brother James of the successful fisherman Zebedee who employed others in his business in partnership with Simon and Andrew. John’s mother may have been a sister to Jesus’ mother Mary, identified by early church leaders as Salome. She wanted Jesus to allow her sons to sit beside him in his new kingdom. She was with John and with Mary at the crucifixion where Jesus committed his mother into John’s care. John writes about the disciple whom Jesus loved, usually identified as John himself, who reclined on Jesus’ chest at the last supper.[7]

John’s Gospel and his three letters emphasize God’s love revealed in Jesus. Famous verses like John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 describe that love:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” (1 John 3:16)

John was an eye-witness to the ministry of Jesus.  He belonged to the inner circle of disciples with his brother James and with Peter the natural leader.  John may have been the youngest of the disciples.

Throughout his Gospel, John emphasized that he recorded what he had seen and heard.  He states early in the Gospel that he, with others, witnessed the life of Jesus the Christ, the Logos, the living Word of God.

John describes how he was there at the crucifixion witnessing that stupendous, agonizing death. He emphasizes that he wrote so that his readers would believe in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God.

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31)

 [1] Matthew 1:21, The Passion Translation.

[2] Matthew 5:17.

[3] Matthew 16:18-19; 18:17-18.

[4] Mark 14:12-16, 50-52; Acts 1:12-14; 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:36-39; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Peter 5:13; and http://www.ldolphin.org/johnmark.html.

[5] Luke 1-2; 10:25-37; 15:11-32.

[6] Acts 16:10-17, & 20:5-21:18, & 27:1-28:16; Colossians 4;14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24.

[7] Matthew 20:20-21; 27:56; John 13:23; 19:25.

See also


Kingdom Life in the Gospels


The Life of Jesus

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The Life of Jesus

The Life of Jesus

History’s Great Love Story

The Life of Jesus: History’s Great Love Story – PDF

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Geoff Waugh founding editor of the Renewal Journal
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* The book is beautifully written and I have learned and understood a lot. I am recommending this book. ~ Kattie Mayson, Amazon 5-star
* I read your book last night. This is a great book. Thanks for writing this for all of us. ~ Nabeel Sharoon from Pakistan, now translating it into five languages: Urdu, Hindi, Pakistani Punjabi, Indian Punjabi, and Sindhi. This book will also be available in America from WestBow Press, a Christian arm of Harper and Zondervan, with this cover:

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The Life of Jesus provides a brief overview of history’s great love story. It gives a summary of the birth and boyhood of Jesus and describes his ministry through three Passover Festivals.
The book includes a detailed chart of a chronology of Jesus’ life and ministry and examines why such a popular, loving, and compassionate young leader would encounter intense hostility and opposition causing his crucifixion.
The mystery and wonder deepen because his resurrection transformed his followers and millions of lives. We date our diaries and calendars from the time of his birth.

Contents

Preface
Introduction
1 Birth and Boyhood
2 Ministry Begins
3 First to Second Passover
4 Second to Third Passover
5 Passover to Pentecost
Conclusion
Appendix 1: Chronology Chart
Appendix 2: The Feast Days
Appendix 3: The Gospels
Appendix 4: Alternate Chronology 
Appendix 5: The Shroud of Turin 
Appendix 6: Publications   

Model of Jerusalem in Jesus’ time

Preface

Why would such a good man who loved so profoundly and helped so many people be killed? Why did he provoke opposition?

If God walked among us in the person of his Son, why would people want to kill him? Why did so many vehemently oppose him?

That puzzled me as a boy. It still does.

The greatest love story the world has ever seen led to the excruciating death of crucifixion.

Many people have given their lives for other people as soldiers do in war. They die for others, defending home and country. But Jesus’ death was different. God’s Son chose to die for us because of his immense love for us. He took our place. His death gives us life. He is the perfect, sinless, eternal sacrifice for us. His blood cleanses us from all our sin as we trust in him. We are forgiven.

But why did so many good people, good religious people, hate him? That puzzled and fascinated me, so I explore that mystery in this book. I wanted to write a summary overview that people of all ages could read.

I always believed in Jesus. Even as a small boy I loved to hear and then read stories about him. He was so unique, so different. I believed his story as a boy and trusted in him. I still do and I hope you do too.

Jesus did what was good. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, set people free from addictions and evil, performed miracles, and even raised dead people. Huge crowds followed him and wanted him to be their king.

Now billions follow him, captivated by his love, the greatest love story of all. You can do that also. I invite you to simply pray something like this: Thank you Lord for all you’ve done. Forgive me for any wrong in my life. I trust in you and give my life to you.

Introduction

The year on our calendar or diary reminds us of when Jesus was born, approximately. We count the years from his arrival. So when you look at your diary or calendar you can be reminded again of Jesus.

They called him Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus) of Nazareth, the same name as Moses’ famous general who led God’s people into their Promised Land. Yeshua means God saves, or God is salvation.

That name comes to us in English through many translations from Yeshua or Y’shua in Hebrew and Aramaic, then translated into Iesous in Greek, then to IESVS in Latin and later as IESUS as printed in the first edition of the King James Bible in 1611. Later that century ‘J’ replaced the ‘I’ so the English name became Jesu (vocative) and Jesus (nominative) but eventually just Jesus in English. Other languages have translations such as Jesu, Yesu, and Isa.

English translations of the Bible used the name Jesus for Joshua/Jesus of Nazareth, and the name Joshua for others with that same name.[1]  So in English, the name Jesus became unique and sacred for Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. The angel Gabriel announced his name before his birth to both Mary his mother and to Joseph who married Mary.[2] Gabriel explained that Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus) had that name because he would save his people from their sins.

The great love story had begun. Jesus came to save us and give us eternal life.

His followers recorded that story of his life and his love in the good news of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The rest of the New Testament explores the mystery and wonder of that amazing life and love.

Scholars have a bewildering array of theories about the Bible and about who wrote what, and when, and where, and why. I’m content to run with traditional explanations that have been used throughout most of history.

Jesus’ unique and wonderful life, his brutal death for us, and his powerful resurrection, all reveal his and God’s eternal love for us all. You could pause and thank him right now even as you read this.

John’s Gospel emphasizes God’s eternal love revealed in Jesus. It includes the most famous passage in the Bible:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17, NKJV).

That love, powerfully shown on the cross, has transformed billions of lives, restoring believers to an intimate and eternal relationship with God and with others.

Three physical metaphors help me to be constantly aware of, and grateful for, God’s presence with us always:

(1) Light surrounds you. By it you can read this. The sun always shines, even when it’s hidden from us. Light shines around us though we may be unaware of it. God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. We can live in his light.

(2) Blood pumps through your body right now, cleansing and healing. We may be unaware of it until reactions like alarm alert us to our beating heart. Jesus’ blood cleanses from all sin, always. We can trust him for he is with us.

(3) We may breathe without being aware of it, or we can be aware and take deep breaths, as you may have done just now! Breath purifies our lungs and body. God is Spirit and like breath or fresh breeze, he can purify us.

May the light of God’s love breathe life in you right now.

We’ve been made in God’s image to have an eternal, loving relationship with him that even transcends death. We can know and experience God’s unconditional love no matter how far we stray from him. Those who stray most are often the most grateful for his forgiveness and love. We all stray in many ways and we all need forgiveness and we can and should be truly grateful.

God knows and loves us as we are. That makes praying or talking to him easy because he already knows our failures and struggles and welcomes us just as we are. The more honestly we come to him the more he can transform us.

If we have trouble believing we can at least say, “God if you’re there, help me.”

Some thoughts may get in the way when we pray or want to talk to God. Just give him those thoughts. He already knows all about it and loves us as we are.

If we reject God’s love and mercy by ignoring him and going our own way, we condemn ourselves to eternal darkness away from his light and love.

If we accept his love and forgiveness by believing in him, by trusting him, he gives us life, his eternal life. That makes us new. We are transformed.

Vast numbers of people worldwide of all faiths, and of none, have prayed the prayer in the popular hymn by Charlotte Elliot, ‘Just as I am’ which includes these adapted verses:

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Your blood was shed for me
And that You bid me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fighting and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

God welcomes us and we can all pray that prayer. A title for Jesus, as in that song, is the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away our sin.

The Life of Jesus is a vast topic with millions of books written about it. I hope my small contribution gives you a helpful overview. I quote from the New Revised Standard Version unless indicated otherwise, and include many footnotes that you can explore to discover more.

Best of all, of course, are the inspired Gospels now in over 700 different languages in Bible translations and a further 3,500 languages have Bible portions, especially the Gospels. Read and respond to those Gospels.

[1] Iesous (Yeshua) is translated as Joshua in these verses: Luke 3:29; Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8.

[2] Luke 1:31; Matthew 1:21.

Start of Chapter 1

It began at the beginning, this great love story, for “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”[1]

Why did he do that? For us.

He did it for you. He loved you so much he created you to know and enjoy him now as you read this, and forever. He offers you intimate, infinite love. He created you through the wondrous union of your parents’ ecstasy.

He made the earth for us to inhabit and care for and rule. He made the heavens (plural) for us to inherit, the physical firmament and also the realms of vast, eternal glory prepared especially for us.[2]

He created us free to accept or reject his astounding love. Sadly we went our own way. We all, like sheep, went astray. We all turned to our own way. So God laid on his Servant, his Son, all our iniquity.[3] God saves us through his Son in their great love for us all. You could pause and thank him now as you read this.

In the beginning, Adam and Eve enjoyed intimate, unashamed relationship with God and each other. Then, like us, they believed lies and went their own way, losing Paradise. But God still blessed and sustained them and their descendants who chose to love him and live for him. Sadly only a few did.

Noah and his family loved and obeyed God and he rescued them from the great flood. People ridiculed him for obeying God and building a huge boat on dry ground – not even in a dry dock. The rainbow became the sign of God’s covenant to Noah and his descendants including us.

Abram, a wealthy sheik from the wide fertile Tigris and Euphrates valleys in western Asia, north-west of the Arabian Peninsula (now Iraq), loved and obeyed God. Renamed Abraham (God’s friend) he journeyed to the Promised Land, now called Israel, from the name given to his grandson who wrestled with an angel or with the Lord.[4] Circumcision became the covenant sign for them and for their descendants through whom God would provide his salvation for us all.

Abraham and his descendants walked that verdant Promised Land, as did Jesus and his followers. So did our family for a month in December-January, 1981-82.[5]

[1] Genesis 1:1.

[2] John 14:1-6; 1 Corinthians 2:9.

[3] Isaiah 53:6. See Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the fourth Servant Song, along with Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-7.

[4] Genesis 17:5; 32:28; 35:9-10.

[5] See Exploring Israel in General Books and Biography on renewaljournal.com

 

        

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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

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3 Community,   4 Healing,  
5 Signs & Wonders,
  
6  Worship
7  Blessing,
   8  Awakening,  
9  Mission
,   10  Evangelism

11  Discipleship
,   12  Harvest,  
13  Ministry
,   14  Anointing,
15  Wineskins,   
16  Vision,  
17  Unity
,   18  Servant Leadership,  
19  Church
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Mexico: Thousands of migrants meet Jesus at the border

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
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Mexico: How thousands of migrants meet Jesus at the border

When Gustavo Banda opened his small church in a poor neighbourhood in Mexico, little did he know that it would become a refuge for tens of thousands of migrants on transit to the USA.  

Six miles west of Tijuana, and a short distance from the U.S.-Mexico border, lies one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods. There are no paved roads, no sewage system. The hillside is strewn with garbage and crime is rampant. “When we moved here there were only people with a lot of needs,” pastor Gustavo Banda recalled. In 2011, he and his wife, Zaida Guillén, moved to Cañón de Alacrán, or Scorpion’s Canyon, after hearing from the Lord in a dream. “It was a clear mandate from God to move here even though there was absolutely nothing in this place.”

The Mexican couple was touched by the overwhelming needs of the community. “Most folks here were poor subsistence farmers. God gave me a dream that I had to build a church. We worked for eight months, day and night. We knew God was going to do something special, but nobody had a clue about what was really going to happen.” That year, Templo Embajadores de Jesús, or Ambassadors of Jesus Church, was born. Banda held services on Sunday, then hit the rugged roads the rest of the week going house-to-house, ministering to physical and spiritual needs.

‘We knew God was going to do something special, but nobody had a clue about what was really going to happen’

In 2016, the church’s focus drastically changed when thousands of Haitians, escaping poverty and back-to-back natural disasters, began to carve a dangerous 7,000-mile path through Latin America to the U.S. Many landed on the church’s doorsteps, less than 30 minutes from the San Ysidro border. “Within months, 22,000 Haitians had arrived in the city of Tijuana.” The church became a place of refuge. “I did not know, nor did I ever imagine, that there would be so many people in the church.”

Since then, Banda provided a refuge to migrants from all parts of the world. “It started with migrants coming from Haiti, Africa, Pakistan, and the Middle East. Today, we mainly have people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and some from Mexico. We estimate about 35,000 people have come through the church. We feed them 3 times a day. We try to help them with all their needs. At nighttime, the entire church becomes one big giant dorm where everyone sets up their beds on the floor.”

Jaqueline Ortiz, 24, from Guatemala is here with her two girls. She said, “I’m so thankful to God because without the church, I don’t know where I would be. I don’t go hungry here, my daughters don’t go hungry, we have a warm place, we have a roof. All thanks to God and to the people that help us.” Most migrants stay here an average of six months before trying to legally cross the border.

‘We feed them, are family to them, baptise them, and send them on’

Church volunteers run a school for the children, oversee computer training and provide other skills that will help migrants prepare for their new life in America. Area churches and NGOs also pitch in with food and other essential supplies. “The most important thing we try to provide to the migrants is hope and to be a family to them,” Banda said. “We have only little time with them, so I want them to know as much as they can about Jesus, baptise them, and send them on.”

Banda once had a desire to be a missionary to Haiti, but Haiti came to him. And after Haiti came, all the other nations followed.

Source: George Thomas, CBN

Joel News International # 1242, January 14, 2022

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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Mexico: Thousands of migrants meet Jesus at the border

12 Spheres of Influence – National Prayer Strategy

Adapted from Prayer Strategy for the Spheres of Influence
The original 10 domains are now expanded to 12 spheres of influencehttps://prayerstrategy.org.

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You, or your group, could include these spheres in your prayers.

From the National Prayer Strategy:

The vision for the ten domains was revealed to Peter Kentley, the former CEO of Australian Marketplace Connections. Since 2009 we have received a number of confirmations to adopt and develop this vision in Australia, and to establish prayer (and mission) strategies for these domains.

The original ten domains were:

1. Trade and Finance (Business)
2. Government and the Military
3. Law and Justice
4. Religion and Philosophy
5. Creative Arts
6. Education
7. Charity and Not for Profit Welfare
8. Health and Science
9. Media and Entertainment
10. Sport and Recreation

These are now expanded to 12 spheres of influencehttps://prayerstrategy.org.

Introduction

During the 20th Century life became multi-faceted and overly busy with Marketplace spheres (or mountains or domains) of influence dominating and competing for the Families’ time, money, affections and ambitions, and drawing them away from the Church (the eternal family) and God our creator.

Every month we dedicate prayer for these 12 spheres (click on each):

To a great extent God is being largely relegated outside these spheres of our society. The cost of this relegation has been incredible: costs to society in the form of corporate ethical failures, physical and mental health burdens resulting from people failing to engage with Biblical solutions such as forgiveness, and the near-meltdown of the whole global financial system (the ‘GFC’ and potential ‘GFC2’) as a result of debt-driven artificial wealth creation that was not based on Godly values and principles.

Even the Church has been largely seduced into a Greek world view of the division of sacred and secular, creating a separation of Sunday from Monday. This resulted in the Church only accessing some 5% of its people’s waking time and Christian discipleship becoming emasculated (minimizing the impact of the Great Commission).

Yet the Marketplace is the place where Christians spend some 67% of their waking time Monday to Friday. It is in the workforce that the Christians’ attitudes and character are put to the reality test…

…and if the Christians’ Monday behaviour does not reflect their Sunday belief, why would anyone believe their belief?

From this we can conclude that the BIG answer for the Church impacting the world is not primarily in programs, as good as some of these may be. The answer is in the excellence of discipleship expressed into the world: i.e. into the workforce, into the marketplace, into the shopping centres, into the schools, into the hospitals, into the courts and onto the sports fields and so on. This is our original Commission from Jesus in Matt 22:37-40 and 28:17-20 and John 17:18.

Our Principles are God’s Principles;
‘… on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:19)

(Reviewed by Ps. Geoff Armitage)

At this time in history we are living under God’s grace, where good and evil can produce order or disorder (respectively), and according to our obedience or disobedience to God. In this reality two doctrines work in parallel: the free will of man and the sovereignty of God. While God calls all people to himself through His truth and kindness, not all will respond. God is not responsible for our sin and He will ultimately have the last say.

Ultimately, for the life we have been given we will all be held individually accountable (John 3:16-18). The time will certainly come when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth to rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over the whole earth from the city of Jerusalem (Micah 4:1-8).

Therefore, our faith is in Christ the Son of the Living God (John 3:18), and this is where we stand.

Our Mission is to pray and connect people who are passionate about participating in growing the governance of Christ in every sphere/mountain/domain of influence in our society and follow God’s command to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34-35).

We look to connect Christians, who are passionate about the Great Commandments (Matthew 22:34-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in everyday life. This connection is without regard for denominational affiliation.

Our ethos is vibrantly alive around nine magnificent truths:

  1. The Government rests on the shoulders of Jesus and his government and peace will never end – the Lord Almighty will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
  2. The offices of Jesus in Heaven and Earth are Prophet (Hebrews 1:1-2), Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and King (Revelation 19:16).
  3. The three institutions of God on earth are Family, Government and Church.
  4. Church and State have separate jurisdictions under Jesus. For the Church Jesus is the head and high priest. For the State Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
  5. Society operates through spheres/mountains/domains with a multitude of sub-spheres/mountains/domains.
  6. The foundations of the Kingdom of God are Justice and Righteousness (Psalm 89:14).
  7. The Power of God works through all spheres/mountains/domains.
  8. Jesus Christ will come again to rule and reign over the earth.
  9. Our connection with God is through humility, faith and obedience (Matthew 18:4, Hebrews 11:6).

We are implementing these truths through praying and encouraging many church and marketplace leaders who represent their spheres/mountains/domains of influence.

Adapted from Prayer Strategy for the Spheres of Influence

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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From Jim Elliot to Saint Patrick, and Gladys Aylward to Harriet Tubman, heroes of the faith can help inform our own Christian walk. We can see the bravery they displayed, their commitment to the Lord and His mission, and the incredible love that they showed to people all over the world. With these things in mind, we can help teach our kids and grandkids the eternal truths of God’s Word, and show them how a life lived in love of God and neighbor can truly change everything.

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     JIM ELLIOT 
See Jim Elliot’s commitment to the Gospel on display as he ultimately laid down his life trying to bring the Word of God to the Waodani in Ecuador.
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ST. PATRICK
From the bonds of slavery to a life lived in service to God, St. Patrick’s commitment to the Lord compelled him to return to Ireland to bring the Gospel to those who had enslaved him.
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As Martin Luther boldly stood for the true Gospel against the church that would like to see him silenced, he sparked the flame of the Reformation that would reverberate across world history.
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God lit a fire in John Wesley’s heart, and used him to spark a great revival in England.
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Though faced with incredible opposition, Adoniram and Ann Judson brought the Word of God to Burma.
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GEORGE MÜLLER
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Mary Slessor stepped into the danger of the jungle to bring the truth of the Gospel to a people who didn’t know God.
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