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

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Mexico: Thousands of migrants meet Jesus at the border

China: The cross on our shoulders and in our hearts

China: The cross on our shoulders and in our hearts

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“I am very happy that so many crosses have been torn down! The cross was never meant to be fixed to the roof of a building. Instead, the Lord Jesus called us to carry the cross on our shoulders and in our hearts.”

What is important to persecuted Christians in Asia may not be a priority to believers elsewhere, and vice versa. Priorities often appear to be polar opposites.

This is perhaps why for decades places like China have been experiencing the greatest revival in Christian history, while in much of the Western world the Church is struggling to stay afloat.

As an example, some Western Christian publications have run what they consider to be shocking stories of how the Chinese Communist Party has removed the crosses from thousands of church buildings throughout China in recent years.

Brother Yun, whose testimony you may have read in The Heavenly Man, was visiting Canada a few years ago when a group of pastors and mission leaders asked him to comment on the removal of crosses in China. Thinking he would express alarm at such a ghastly act, many in the room were totally shocked when Brother Yun replied:

“I am very happy that so many crosses have been torn down! The cross was never meant to be fixed to the roof of a building. Instead, the Lord Jesus called us to carry the cross on our shoulders and in our hearts. I completely agree with the government’s decision to pull down all the crosses!”

Yun’s response perfectly encapsulated the difference between biblical and institutional Christianity; between those who have experienced true revival and those who are focused on temporal rather than eternal things.

The strongman Chinese President Xi Jinping and the other leaders of China can never understand why the number of believers has increased by millions while they have been busy removing crosses from church buildings. The things from the Spirit can only be discerned through the Spirit.

During the Roman Empire, when one Christian was being martyred, his persecutors mockingly asked, “What is your Carpenter doing now?” Calmly, without a trace of fear on his face, the believer replied: “He is constructing a coffin for your empire.”

Source: Asia Harvest

Joel News International, # 1234, November 1, 2021

See Pastor George Chen’s moving labour camp story – In the Garden

Posts on China – from Mission Blogs:
Asia’s Maturing Church (David Wang)
The Spirit told us what to do (Carl Lawrence)
Revival in China (Dennis Balcombe)
House Churches in China (Barbara Nield)
China – New Wave of Revival
Chinese turning to Christianity
Revival breaks out in China’s government approved churches
China: how a mother started a house church movement
China – Life-changing Miracle
China’s next generation: New China, New Church, New World
China: The cross on our shoulders and in our hearts
George Chen – In the Garden: 18 years in prison

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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

House Church: The fastest-growing expression of church

House Church: The fastest-growing expression of church

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

Global: The fastest-growing expression of church

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

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

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

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

1) 10 Million house churches in China.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Wolfgang Simson

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

Germany: The secret behind 1,000 new house churches

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

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

Photo: Marcus Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Continuously ask God what He wants you to do’

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

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

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

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

Source: Marcus Rose, Hoffnung Deutschland

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

See also

House Church: the fastest growing expression of church

Grassroots movements with no church buildings explode

Dinner Churches

House Churches, by Ian Freestone

House Churches in China (Barbara Nield)

China: how a mother started a house church movement

Laos: a church for the So

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

Joel News – Inspiring stories on the advance of God’s Kingdom around the globe today, delivered once a week in your mailbox. We cover all continents and serve mission-minded Christians in over 100 nations.

https://www.joelnews.org

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GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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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

Pandemic brings churches back to life

Pandemic brings churches back to life

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Reports continue about churches coming to life during the coronavirus pandemic. New and revived forms of evangelism and welfare abound.

UK: Pandemic brings British churches back to life

Public attitudes to churches have changed for the better with faith groups winning praise for their response to the pandemic.

More than a third of non-Christians (34%) now agree that local churches are making a positive difference in their community – up from 20% three years ago. During this time the overall share of UK adults who think churches are helping their community has gone up from 35% to 42%, according to a study by Savanta ComRes.

The research, commissioned by YourNeighbour – a network of more than 1,000 churches across over 40 denominations – and the children’s charity World Vision, found people had clear ideas about how churches could help meet needs in their communities. They said churches could provide events for the elderly, homeless services, and collect and distribute food, clothes and toys.

The findings come as churches across the denominational divide have joined together to help people get through the pandemic by supporting the Give Hope campaign.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove praised the contribution of churches as the country battles Covid-19, saying: “The Church has been there for all of us – it’s been burying our dead, it’s been comforting the bereaved, it’s been feeding the poor and it’s been praying for the nation. And now the Church is determined to play a critical, central and important role in building back better and enabling us to come out of this pandemic and to be a stronger and more united nation.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also applauded the contribution of faith groups during the pandemic, saying: “It has been wonderful to see how churches have adapted to meet the needs of our communities, with countless examples of them stepping up. Now we have the vaccine, it’s a very powerful thing to see churches transforming into vaccine centres, congregations volunteering and leaders offering the hope we need.”

Source: David Williamson

UK: Stories of answered prayer spread hope during Covid-19

Stories of answered prayer are bringing hope to millions of people during the current lockdown.
The Answered Prayer Campaign was launched in the UK on 25 January and went viral in the first 24 hours, with posts containing the hashtags #answeredprayerchallenge and #makehopevisible reaching 1.3 million people. It is a joint initiative of Premier Christian Media and the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer. Founder Richard Gamble said they want to gather answered prayers from Christians across the world, “to demonstrate that Jesus is alive and relevant today as he ever was.”
Evangelical Alliance director Gavin Calver was one of the Christians who have shared their stories of answered prayer. He recalled one answered prayer as a child that would shape his faith for years to come.
“The prayer that was answered most powerfully that I can remember, was as a nine-year-old boy at Spring Harvest,” he said. At this Christian conference, after a teaching on prayer, “they said if there is anyone in your circle who wants to pray for healing, then do that. Immediately, my friend James ripped off his sock and said: ‘I want healing for my verruca to go.’ I remember thinking that I didn’t want to put my hand on his foot!”
“Nonetheless, we prayed and as a nine-year-old, believing that the Lord can do anything, I prayed that Jesus would take his verruca away. When I opened my eyes, I could not believe what I saw, as the verruca had disappeared. The faith that has grown from that encounter has led to me praying for all kinds of things, because I believe that God can change stuff.”
Source: Richard Gamble, Gavin Calver
Photo: The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer is a large-scale monument to prayer being built in Coleshill, near Birmingham.
May be an image of monument and outdoors

UK: 500 Churches welcome Hong Kong refugees

More than 500 churches in the United Kingdom have joined a nationwide initiative welcoming immigrants from Hong Kong.

The legal immigrants are fleeing a Chinese communist crackdown which has taken away the freedom of speech and religious liberties and has landed pro-democracy activists in prison. A website, UKHK.org, has been created to help the estimated 130,000 people expected to seek refuge in Britain this year.

Hundreds of churches signed up to be ‘Hong Kong Ready’ through the website which was launched after the UK government opened the door to Hong Kong holders of the British National Overseas (BNO) passport.

Source: Christian Today

  #1204, March 3, 2021

 

Only Frequent Church Attendees Avoided Mental Health Downturn in 2020

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

Coronavirus brings Unprecedented Openness to the Gospel

Pandemic brings churches back to life

EnCOURAGE: Love One Another


EnCOURAGE:  Love One Another

New in 2020

EnCOURAGE  –  Encouragement adds courage.

EnCOURAGE – PDF

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Previously published as The Leader’s Goldmine (now updated and expanded)

Hundreds of Ideas for Christian groups (2020).

Hundreds of ideas for Christian groups with a wealth of activities, studies, prayers and resources for groups of all ages. Contents are: Ideas for integrated Bible studies; Ideas for Bible studies and prayers; Ideas for church activities – devotional, educational, creative, serving, social, sporting; Ideas for all ages together; Ideas for building relationships.

This book offers a huge range of activities, arranged according to group activities. It provides a wide range of activities for many different kinds of groups. The first section, Ideas for Integrated Bible Studies, gives you four group studies on each of the themes or topics.

Contents:

How to use this book

Ideas for integrated Bibles studies
The Great Experiment
Prayer
Relationship
Good News
The Church
Mission
Finding New Life
Living New Life
Faith Alive
Great Chapters – Old Testament
Great Chapters – New Testament
Jesus

Ideas for Bible studies and prayers
Bible passages
Bible study methods
Bible reading and relationship building
Bible readings and prayers

Ideas for church activities
Program emphases: Devotional, Educational, Creative, Serving, Social, Sporting
Witness and Sharing Weekend
Survey Questionnaire
Commitment Indicator
Interests Indicator
Gifts Check List

Ideas for all ages together
Activities involving young children and others
Activities involving older children and others
Family and church family questionnaires
Useful teaching activities
ABC of resource ideas
Simulation activities. Simulation Game: Build my Church

Ideas for building relationships
Deep – ideas and attitudes
Deeper – ideals and values
Deepest – ideologies and commitments


What is your main love language?

This book is available in Paperback (print & colour) and as digital eBooks (Kindle and PDF).

See details, contents, photos, and reviews of renewal and revival books on Amazon 

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Coronavirus and Churches

Coronavirus and Churches

The pandemic coronavirus (COVID-19) now affects gatherings of people worldwide. Churches are adapting to this challenge.

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Christian doctor’s winning Covid treatment

Standing in Faith against Coronavirus

PROPHECY
PRAYER
DECLARATIONS
HEALING PRAYER
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Practical Ideas and Resources for Churches during COVID 19

PASTORAL AND CONNECTION CARE
COMMUNITY HELP
DISCIPLESHIP
EVANGELISM
PRAYER

Riverlife Baptist Church

Here is relevant information from Riverlife Baptist Church, one of the larger churches in Brisbane, Australia. You may be able to use or adapt this for your church congregation.

You have probably been following along with the developing news and growing concerns of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a church family, we do not want to partner with any fear but simply practice good hygiene and safety to minimize the risk to our community. Please read the following carefully.

Your Role:
As in any cold or flu season, I want to encourage you to stay home from Sunday gatherings or other church-related events throughout the week if you, your family members or roommates are experiencing any cold or flu symptoms (fever, persistent cough, headache, chills or unexplained rash). Please seek medical attention if you are experiencing these symptoms.

If you have recently travelled to any high-risk countries (China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong or Japan as currently identified by the World Health Organisation and Australian Government Department of Health), please follow the recommended guidelines here and stay home for a couple of Sundays (14 days).

If you are planning on attending regular activities, please ensure you wash your hands with soap, make use of hand sanitizer stations, cough into your sleeve, sneeze into a tissue and put any tissues or waste in the bins provided. Simple, but very helpful!

We post the sermon to our weekly messages podcast here and the video feed on our website here and encourage you to access the teaching from home if you are unable to join us in person. You might also like to take advantage of our Spotify playlists here for some worship playlists we have collated.

Our Role:
We are also taking extra precautions to keep our building sanitary for everyone who will worship with us in person this weekend and in the coming weeks and have also reviewed some of our ministry guidelines to include the following:

  • We are stocked up on hand soap and hand sanitizer (located at several stations).
  • We are sanitizing surfaces between gatherings (including Kids Check-in Kiosks).
  • Volunteers, as always, please follow cleanliness and safety procedures in our Children’s Ministry and be even more diligent during this time.
  • Our friendly Host Teams and Greeters will be welcoming you with a smile and a wave this week rather than a handshake.
  • Our Ministry Teams (both in service and at special events including Encounter) will adjust prayer ministry protocols to be mindful of personal space and close contact.

In faith, we continue to uphold those directly affected by this virus in prayer and ask that God would release wisdom to our leaders, strategies to our health professionals and healing to those experiencing symptoms.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at church@riverlifechurch.org.au.

Blessings,
John Robertson
Senior Pastor 

 

Advice from Queensland Baptists

Dear Pastors and Churches,

With the surge in the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID – 19) around the world, experts say that the likelihood of it spreading to Australia and within our communities is inevitable.

The World Health Organisation has now declared the outbreak of COVID – 19 to be a pandemic, and the Australia Government has been taking necessary steps to prepare for this, with the Department of Health providing regular updates in relation to planning for and responding to COVID – 19.

We need to be thinking about prevention and preparation strategies now that a pandemic has been announced.   So, what can we do as the QB Movement to be prepared to respond and keep our church community safe?

Firstly, and until further notice, churches and congregation members should continue to go about normal daily life, church, work or study as normal.  Church and congregation members should however already be promoting and following best personal hygiene practices.

Personal Hygiene

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses. This includes:
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet. Wash for at least 20 seconds and dry with paper towel or a hand dryer.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze – if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow. Dispose of tissues and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • If unwell, avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact).
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Prevention Ideas for Churches

  • Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol and have these available throughout the church.
  • Encourage people to wash their hands and post reminder signs throughout the church and amenity areas.  Useful posters can be found at
    www.health.gov.au – COVID – 19 Posters
  • Useful fact sheets can be downloaded from  www.health.gov.au – COVID – 19 – Find the Facts and translated versions are available from
    www.health.gov.au COVID – 19 – Translated Resources
  • Shaking hands is optional! Give permission for fist bumps or a hand wave to replace hugs and hand shaking.
  • Place boxes of tissues in easily accessible areas e.g. church reception/information tables.
  • Wipe down surfaces touched by churchgoers such as door handles and railings after each service.
  • Limit potluck meals and other nonessential large gatherings.
  • Consider hosting conference calls or video chats as alternatives for face-to-face meetings
  • Request that people displaying flu like symptoms stay at home and seek medical attention.
  • Review Communion practices/procedures to take precautions to limit the spread of infection via potential cross contamination

Preparation Ideas for Churches

  • Preview your church’s emergency response plans and communication plans in the context of a pandemic.
  • Church leaders should consider appointing a second in charge (2IC) who can run the church efficiently in his/her absence.
  • Remind your congregation that accurate information is essential, and that it is important to use trusted sources such as State and National Health Departments.
  • Churches should also prepare to support vulnerable people in their community especially the elderly and people with a disability.
  • Promote that all people should seek medical care if they require it.
  • Encourage church staff and congregation members to review their family emergency plans and take time to prepare now. For more information go to www.qld.gov.au – Emergency Plan
  • Create plans to enable church staff to work remotely/from home if that becomes a necessity. More information on this is available from www.fairwork.gov.au -COVOD – 19
  • Many affected countries have suspended their church services, and some bigger churches are streaming their Sunday services live. Facebook Live or using pre-recorded videos for sermons are effective options.

Other adaptions could include following the Jewish tradition of a treasury or offering box at the entrance, and communion available on designated tables.

 

How the Early Church handled epidemics

This free mini-eBook is available from Joel News:
https://www.joelnews.org/

A quote from that eBook:

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, wrote about the plague in the Roman Empire:
How suitable, how necessary it is that this pestilence, which seems horrible and deadly, searches out the justice of each and everyone and examines the minds of the human race;
whether the well care for the sick,
whether relatives dutifully love their kinsmen as they should,
whether masters show compassion for their ailing slaves,
whether physicians do not desert the afflicted.

Plagues in the Roman Empire, and currently in many countries, also became times of evangelism and revival.

See more information about revival such as the Moravian Revival among refugees which sparked the Evangelical Awakening in Europe and America.

    
Berthelsdorf Church, near Herrnhut in Germany, the home of the Moravian revival.
Link: Power from on High – the Moravian Revival

See also

Coronavirus brings Unprecedented Openness to the Gospel

Over 1 million respond to Good Friday service:
Good Friday 2021 broadcast reached over 200 million

Christian doctor’s winning Covid treatment

China: How Christians Respond the the Coronavirus Outbreak

Italy:_Light in a Doctor’s Darkest Night

Standing in Faith against Coronavirus

Pandemic brings churches back to life

Revival Blogs Links:

See also Revivals Index

See also Revival Blogs

See also Blogs Index 1: Revivals

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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Coronavirus and Churches:
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Christian doctor’s winning Covid treatment

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