Argentina: Faith flourishes behind bars

Argentina: Faith flourishes behind bars

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Argentina: Faith flourishes behind bars

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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* This hands-on, easy-to-use guide is laid out perfectly to use as a creative tool for simple-to-understand Bible lessons with fun and enjoyable illustrations, pictures and models to colour and create. Our children are especially enjoying it with excitement while they learn more about the Bible through the stories, along with coloring, painting and creating with the fun-packed inspirational activities. ~ Beatrix Bloom.

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1 Revival,   2 Church Growth,
3 Community,   4 Healing,  
5 Signs & Wonders,
  
6  Worship
7  Blessing,
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9  Mission
,   10  Evangelism

11  Discipleship
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16  Vision,  
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GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 4: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS & VIDEOS)

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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.’
– Matthew 25:40
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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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https://renewaljournal.com/2021/10/03/miraculous-movements/


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.

RevelationMedia is committed to bringing you, your kids, and your grandkids quality Christian content for FREE. Over the course of 2021, we have been releasing episodes from the Torchlighters: Heroes of the Faith series weekly. All 20 episodes are now available to watch; simply click the link below the hero you’d like to know more about, and you can stream the episode instantly.

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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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WILLIAM TYNDALE
See how William Tyndale succeeded in his mission to bring the Scriptures to the common people despite a devastating shipwreck and church leaders that would have him killed.
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MARTIN LUTHER
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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ROBERT JERMAIN THOMAS
Take to the seas with Robert Thomas and see the lasting impact he had on the people of Korea. God used the Bibles he carried to bring the life-changing Gospel message.
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SAMUEL MORRIS
From the depths of the jungle to the American academy, Samuel Morris was an inspiration to all who met him. Because of his faithfulness, countless missionaries have gone on to spread the Gospel all over the world!
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WILLIAM BOOTH
See the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that transforms love of worldly vice into love of neighbor with William Booth, the leader and founder of the Salvation Army.
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ERIC LIDDELL
Eric Liddell was willing to give up fame and glory to serve the Lord and share the message of the Gospel.
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Through war-ridden lands, Gladys Aylward remained steadfast, trusting the Lord for deliverance.
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Pastor Richard Wurmbrand boldly preached the Gospel wherever he was—even in prison!
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PERPETUA
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AMY CARMICHAEL
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JOHN BUNYAN
John Bunyan was imprisoned for proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, and from his prison cell he wrote one of the most influential Christian books of all time.
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AUGUSTINE
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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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ADONIRAM AND ANN JUDSON
Though faced with incredible opposition, Adoniram and Ann Judson brought the Word of God to Burma.
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George Müller trusted the Lord for provision, and with God’s help, he opened homes for thousands of orphans.
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God used Harriet Tubman to free hundreds of other enslaved African Americans in what would come to be known as the Underground Railroad.
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MARY SLESSOR
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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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)

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BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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Trialblazing the online church

Trialblazing the online church

Leia Eisenhower

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Within a year, over 100,000 people followed her discipleship messages and more than 100 started following Christ. For many it became a stabilizing force during the pandemic.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Leia Eisenhower developed an Instagram and Telegram discipleship ministry, reaching over 100,000 people with the gospel.

Eisenhower (47) grew up in Brazil where her father served as a church planter. At the age of 14 God called her to ministry and for several years she served as a missionary with the Assemblies of God in Brazil, before moving to the USA where she joined the Civil Air Patrol as a lieutenant and became a U.S. Missions chaplain. In this role she oversees nine squadrons of over 2,400 people.

When in March 2020 the Civil Air Patrol had to shut down all facilities, Eisenhower began planning an online training based on a book she wrote in 2019 called ‘My Neighbors: The Theology of Relationships.’ The book uses the parable of the Good Samaritan to discuss relationships. She chose Instagram’s platform for its worldwide reach and accessibility of communication through direct messages.

“I started to record a Bible class in different languages, and every night I would get on Instagram and do a live midnight prayer. The discipleship part grew so fast that I had to delegate taks to other people,” she says. Within a year, over 100,000 people followed her discipleship messages and more than 100 started following Christ. For many it became a stabilizing force during the pandemic.

Eisenhower says the process of discipleship through her ministry comes first through direct messages on Instagram and then through an online Saturday morning class on emotional intelligence and counseling. Eisenhower then invites class participants to her Telegram group, where they receive a link to a YouTube course on discipleship. She assigned team members to take calls from people around the world who need prayer. They can be redirected to 18 countries through Instagram, WhatsApp and Telegram for prayer and discipleship.

As the community grows, Eisenhower hopes to make the structure of the online church official, with prayer teams and partners, members and donors. “I’m trying to get us fully recognized to be a church,” she says. “People will have more connection having the church in the palm of their hands.”

Source: Leia Eisenhower

Noel News International # 1220,   June 29, 2021

See also:

Coronavirus brings Unprecedented Openness to the Gospel

Pandemic brings churches back to life

PM speaks to church leaders

PM speaks to church leaders

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From Vision Christian Media

On Tuesday 20 April 2021, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave an address to Christian Leaders at the Australian Christian Churches conference on the Gold Coast. This is not the first time Mr Morrison has spoken about his faith, nor did he say anything particularly controversial, but that has not stopped a storm of news and social media coverage about the place of faith in politics.

PM speaks at ACC Conference

Following is a transcript of what he had to say (after his initial greetings):

“I do want to share something with you tonight, a few things that are on my heart. I need you help… Jenny sends her best by the way, thank you for your prayers for Jen, particularly most recently. She’s amazing. I’m just thrilled the rest of the country is getting to work out what I’ve known for a very, very long time. She’s a great blessing, you know, she’s got an amazing heart, the way she’s used the opportunity God has given us for such a time as this. The way that she has been able to reach out to people and just be a blessing to them and a comfort to them. Her heart is just as big as it comes and God is using her, I think, in great ways, in political ways. I didn’t come to talk about politics tonight … the opportunities that have come her way. Leila and Danny Abdallah, I don’t know if you know Leila and Danny? They lost their three children, when they were run over at Oatlands and Jenny has forged an amazing friendship with her and that family, and the other families that are affected, and that’s an amazing faith that forgives and they’ve been a blessing to this country.

But, I do need your help. My father-in-law was an amazing Christian. There wasn’t a day that went past when Roy wasn’t in complete wonder about how God saved him. He grew up in Bondi when it was a lot tougher than it was today, and he had a bit of a rough time growing up. He was a bit of a loner and God reached him through a great church where he was and he just lived the rest of his life saying “I can’t believe how great God is” and he would just give thanks every single day. And, when I was younger – because I started going out with Jenny when I was 16 – I would sit and we’d have discussions, Roy and I. Even back then I was interested in things political and so was Roy. We would talk about government and talk about all this and he’d get very frustrated with me because I wouldn’t answer all the questions. And I said, “you know Roy, you know, I can’t fix the world. I can’t save the world. We both believe in someone who can”. And that’s why I’ve come here for your help tonight because what you do, and what you bring to the life of faith of our country is what it needs, in my view.

Rabbi Jonathon Sacks, you may know of him, he was the chief rabbi in a synagogue in London. If you haven’t read any of Rabbi Sacks’ work, I strongly encourage you do. He wrote a book just before he died called Morality. Now, it wasn’t about what you might think or I think, most people who are outside of faith communities would think when you say “morality. And he said this about it, he said: “You lose your morality and you’re in danger of losing your freedom.” He said “Our rights used to be how we were protected from the state and now, it’s what we expect of it.” He said “What we once expected from family and community, now we can track this to the state and to the market.”

And he channelled someone else, famous economist Friedrich Hayek: “Freedom has never worked without deeply ingrained moral beliefs.” He was talking about community, and you can’t replace community with governments, with the market, with other institutions, you can’t. You can’t replace the family, you can’t replace marriage, you can’t replace the things that are so personal and ingrained and come out of us as individuals with systems of power or systems of capital. These are important things but they can’t replace community.

At every church people say to me, “what church do you go to?”… I say “Horizon Church, used to be known as Shirelive Church”. You know other churches, there are Baptist churches, there are Brethren churches, I’ve always been at a community church. That’s where I want to be, and a church that believes in community and creates community. And the essence of community is each individual understanding that they’re valued, that they’re unique. That they can respect one another. That they can contribute to one another.

We cannot allow what we feel entitled to be to be more important than what we’re responsible for. This is very important stuff that Rabbi Sacks is talking about, because he gets it, that the essence of morality is not what others would think it is, about sexuality and all of these issues. Of course, these things relate to it, but it’s about the dignity and value of each and every human being and the responsibilities that they have one to another. Now, you cancel out one human being and you cancel community because community is just human beings who God loves, and, and is intended to connect us one to another. Morality is about focusing not on ‘you’, but on the person next to you. It’s about focusing, for me, on you, not me. That is the essence of community. You can’t pass a law for it. You can’t create a building for it. It is essentially what springs from each and every one of us. Community. It’s born of what he likes to call a covenant and a covenant as we read, particularly in the Old Testament – he tends to read the Old Testament a bit more often than you! He seems to understand it a lot better than many…

But he speaks about this in a way, it’s not a transaction because in a covenant there are responsibilities. Not just obligations, but responsibilities. There is relationship in covenant, which is what God sought with Israel, in covenant, deep relationship, it’s personal. It goes beyond. There’s the giving of oneself the respect, the dignity, the caring together. The sharing of interests, the sharing of lives. The pledging of faithfulness and achieving together what cannot be achieved alone. A covenant, more than a transaction. Family and marriage, God has created in the same way, to reflect that covenant that we can have. And so I need you to keep building community in this country. I need you to keep doing the things that you do which allows Australians, right here, wherever you may be. Brad [Bonhomme] does amazing work up in Papua New Guinea. I know how much he loves going up there and I’m sure there are many other teams that have blessed our Pacific family. But it’s so important to continue to reach out and let each and every Australian know that they are important. That they are valued, that they are significant. Because we believe they are created in the image of God and that in understanding that, they can go on a journey that I’m very confident you can take them on. And I’m relying on you to do that because that’s not my job, that’s yours.

There are some threats to this that I want to share with you. There is a fashion these days to not think of Australians as individuals, there is particularly, I think, amongst our young people, and I worry about this. It’s called “identity politics”. People think of themselves by the things they can describe and connect them with others. These are important things. One’s ancestry. One’s gender, where one’s from. If you’re from The Shire, well, that’s great, starting ahead of everybody else. As they say, “prayer in The Shire is a local call”. It’s Cronulla for those of you not familiar with what I’m referring to. But there is a tendency for people not to see themselves and value themselves in their own right as individuals. And to see themselves only defined by some group and they get lost in that group and you know when you do that you lose your humanity. And you lose your connection, I think, one to each other and you’re defined by your group, not by, I think, I believe who God has created you to be. And to understand that. And that’s a big thing going on in our community, in our society and it’s corrosive, it’s absolutely corrosive and, I think it’s undermining community and, I think it’s undermining the self-worth that Australians can have because if youre only defined by what pack you’re in or what group you’re in or what group you’ve been in or what box you’re put in, how others have defined you or sought to define you either to enlist you to their cause or whatever that might be. Australians need to understand that they themselves individually and personally are unique and wonderful. Because, you know, if you look at each other not as individuals but as warring tribes, you know, it’s easy to start disrespecting each other. It’s easy to start not understanding the person across from you, and this is important for politics for us too, that there is a beating heart over there, there is a unique individual with a unique set of issues and challenges and opportunities and possibilities and all of these sorts of things. And when you stop seeing that and just see someone as, well, they’re of that view and that group.

That’s why people start writing stupid things on Facebook and the internet, being disrespectful to one another and we all know how that is corroding and desensitising our country and our society, not just here but all around the world. I think it’s an evil thing. I think it’s a very evil thing and we’ve got to pray about it, we’ve got to call it out and we’ve got to raise up our spiritual weapons against this because it’s going to take our young people. It’s going to take their courage. It’s going to take their hope. It’s going to steal their hope. We’ve got to pray about that, we’ve got to pray against that because it is such a corrosive thing that we’re seeing take place. Yeah sure, social media has its virtues and its values and enables us to connect with people in ways we’ve never had before, terrific, terrific. But those weapons can also be used by the evil one and we need to call it out.

So, this is the help I need from you. I need your help to keep doing what you’re doing. I need your help to remind Australians how precious they are and how unique they are.

Can I finish with four verses? I just wanted to share this with you in closing. Things that I have learned while I’ve been Prime Minister and, indeed, long before that.

[1] The first one is 1 Chronicles 13:3. It’s about David. It talks about how in the time of Saul they didn’t inquire of the Lord. And it’s important for us to inquire of the Lord. And this is how David established and set up when he became King. That all other kings, Saul had not done that and we know that over the course of Israel’s history that those who didn’t inquire of the Lord, those who neglected the Lord, those who put what the Lord had put in their heart to one side, then their kingdoms went where they went and the people followed them where they went. And we all remember what happened when that occurred and this is a constant reminder to me just in my own personal walk and I’m encouraged by the people I’ve mentioned already tonight and many more. That is something I seem to do and a lot of people outside this place you will understand what I’m talking about, it’s not a political thing. Faith is very much an ingrained part of my life and I just seek His wisdom in the same way you do each and every day and it’s important we do that.

[2] The second one, I like this one, it’s Psalm 23:5, where he talks about preparing the banquet for you in the presence of your enemies. We’ve got to sit down with them at that banquet. I sit down at that banquet every single day. But that’s where were called. He didn’t prepare a banquet for us in the presence of our greatest admirers and friends who would tell us wonderful and lovely things, as nice as that is. He said, “I have prepared this banquet for you in the presence of your enemies that I will be with you at that table”. It is a wonderful reminder to me each and every day.

[3] I was up in The Pilbara the other night, and Jenny, many many years ago got me this lovely little verse and she put it in a frame so I’d see it each morning, about being strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, from Joshua 1:9. There was a young fellow who was up there, he worked in the mines. And he just came up to me because people were just saying “G’day” and we were talking, just came up and said, “Joshua 1:9”. Now, I said I’ve got that one, I’ve got that one.

And when you read, as we all do, the thing that keeps coming back to me over and over and over again, any of us in leadership understand that, is yes, He’s prepared that banquet and yes we inquire of the Lord, but you must be strong. You must be courageous and you must not be discouraged. What I like about that verse is He knows that we’ll be discouraged. He knows that those who will seek to hold us back would have us feel discouraged, so He knows it’s going to happen. It’s no surprise to Him that we may feel like that so He simply says “don’t be”… Be strong, be courageous, do not be discouraged.

[4] And this came home to me, importantly, during the last election campaign, in fact, and I was up on the Central Coast, and I was up there with Jenny. It was a pretty tough week actually. The last couple of weeks of the campaign and I was at Ken Duncan’s Gallery. And I hadn’t, I didn’t know we were going to go to Ken Duncan’s Gallery, we were speaking at a rally that day and we had to go and hold somewhere as we often do before we go over to the next event. And, I must admit, I was saying to myself “Lord, where are you? Where are you? I’d like a reminder, if that’s okay”. And so I didn’t know I was supposed to be at Ken’s Gallery. Ken’s a great Christian guy as you all know. And I walked into his gallery and there right in front of me was the biggest picture of a soaring eagle that I could imagine. Of course, the verse hit me that soaring on the wings of an eagle, run and do not grow weary, walk do not grow faint. [Isaiah 40:31]  But the message I got that day was, “Scott, you’ve got to run to not grow weary. You’ve got to walk to not grow faint. You’ve got to spread your wings like an eagle to soar like an eagle”.

So, I hope those few things encourage you. They certainly encourage me and Jenny every day. We are very grateful for the amazing prayers and support that we get from Christians all around the country. It is an avalanche, the letters we get, the support we get, the books that are sent to me. I’ve got them all there, down in Canberra, it’s quite a library that’s building up. People send me verses, they tell me their stories, they share things with me. They share things with Jenny.

It’s a privilege, it is an absolute privilege. I’ve been in evacuation centres where people thought I was just giving someone a hug and I was praying. And putting my hands on people in various places, laying hands on them and praying in various situations. I was just in Kalbarri, where the cyclone just has gone through. In all these places, it’s been quite a time and God has, I believe, been using us to, in those moments, to be able to provide some relief and comfort and just some reassurance. And we’ll keep doing this for as long as that season is. That’s how we see it. We are called, all of us, for a time and for a season and God would have us use it wisely, and uh, for each day I get up and move ahead. There is just one little thing that’s in my head, ‘for such a time as this, for such a time as this’. God bless you, thank you very much.”

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

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April 2021

How the web changes the church

How the web changes the church

Online and participatory church

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A digital priesthood of all believers
 
The rise of the Internet is without doubt the most revolutionary development of the last 25 years. It has radically changed our lives and also influenced the way we think about the church.
 
The internet has given ordinary people (the ‘laity’) considerably more influence: everyone who wishes to do so has the opportunity online to nurture and shape their own spirituality, to become a creator or influencer, and to connect with others in communities and on platforms, completely outside the scope of their own church. To faith communities and church leaders, the internet provides an infrastructure and tools to make church fully interactive and participatory, and to extend its missionary reach far beyond the physical sphere of the church building.
 
This is revolutionary. For the church today, the internet can be what the printing press was for the church in the Reformation – a game changer. The internet helps us to see the church as a network, a movement and a co-creative project. It encourages us to embrace a ‘digital priesthood of all believers’.

The rise of the Internet is without doubt the most revolutionary development of the last 25 years. It has radically changed our lives. But has the internet also influenced the Church?

Recently Heidi Campbell, professor of digital religion at Texas A&M University, came up with a new book: ‘Digital Creatives and the Rethinking of Religious Authority’. It’s about how the rise of the internet is also changing the way we think about the church – the ecclesiology – and how missionary internet pioneers see and shape this.

I’ve known Heidi Campbell from the early years of the internet, so when she approached me in 2013 for an interview to give my perspective on this as a ‘religious digital creative’, it led to a contribution to the book. I’m making this available in a pdf.

The internet has given ordinary people (the ‘laity’) considerably more influence.

In other words: the internet has empowered people. It touches many areas of our lives, but I now limit myself to the impact on faith and the church:
  • Everyone who wishes to do so has the opportunity online to nurture and shape their own spirituality, to become a creator or influencer, and to connect with others in communities and on platforms, completely outside the scope of their own church.
  • To faith communities and church leaders, the internet provides an infrastructure and tools to make church fully interactive and participatory, and to extend its missionary reach far beyond the physical sphere of the church building.

This is fundamentally revolutionary. For the Church today, the Internet can be what the printing press was for the Church in the Reformation. A game-changer.

The internet encourages the church to function as a relational network. To start thinking decentrally (‘bottom-up’) about the church instead of centrally (‘top-down’), as polyculture instead of monoculture.
The internet helps us to see the church as a network, a decentralized movement and a co-creative project.
I have expressed this idea in my seminars on missionary innovation as follows:
“Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has done more for the mission of the Church than the entire Church growth movement put together. Because we are now rediscovering the power of decentralized movements”.
The simple church movement, which states that you can be the Body of Christ in all sorts of places, in all kinds of forms, in the middle of everyday life, and that these groups best develop ‘organically’, is an example of this.
At a time when I blogged a lot about ’emerging church’ (2002-2007) there was another digital pioneer, Tim Bednar, who published a paper with the somewhat provocative title ‘We Know More Than Our Pastors. Why Bloggers Are the Vanguard of the Participatory Church’. Although blogging has been partly overtaken by vlogs, podcasts and social media, I consider this work to be a classic if you want to understand how the internet influences ecclesiology. You can simply extend the lines of thought.
A generation that grew up with the internet makes different demands on the church.
Bednar expresses this as follows:
“We expect a co-creative church in which we can not only participate fully, but which we can help to shape in all aspects”.
Say a digital priesthood of all believers.
There’s still a lot to be said about this, but I promised to keep my mails short and concise. To deepen your understanding, I invite you to read the two publications I have linked to.
If you want to discuss in-depth what this means for your congregation or organization, book an innovation consultation.

See also:  The 10 Domains

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