Africa's AIDS Tragedy
Thank you for your special report on the devastation caused by AIDS in Africa ("A Continent in Crisis" by Adrienne S. Gaines, March). I just returned from a trip to Peitermaritzburg, South Africa, and personally witnessed what happens to children when their parents die of AIDS. They wander around in groups with very little clothing, no food and no shoes.
Children as young as 5 years old had little babies strapped to their backs. I saw the horror of this, knowing that God lives on the inside of each of those children asking to be unlocked from the prison of poverty and separatism.
--Veron E. Blue
San Antonio, Texas
* We are very blessed in the United States, and I don't believe that we are a selfish people as much as we are uninformed. Articles like the one on AIDS give us direction on how we can make a difference in the lives of others.
--name and city withheld
Reaching the Deaf
I am grateful for your article on churches and other ministries that are reaching out to the deaf community ("Welcome to Our Silent World" by Ken Walker, March). This report is the first piece of its type that I am aware of in a national magazine. I believe good things will come as a result of it.
--Gary Barrett Deaf Ministries
Thank you for the excellent report on ministry to the deaf. I especially appreciate your recognition of Lottie Riekehof, author of The Joy of Signing. I was in the Assemblies of God Home Missions department when Lottie was pioneering the ministry to the deaf in our denomination. It was obvious then that she was truly gifted in that area. Her labor of love in producing her books has contributed immeasurably in reaching the deaf in other denominations.
--Elva Johnson Hoover
My husband was born deaf. Five years ago he became a Christian. He had an operation, and for the first time in 41 years, he can hear. Many in the deaf world do not understand the hearing world, and vice versa. Hearing people often have a prejudice against the deaf. We need to have understanding.
An American Gospel?
* Thank you, J. Lee Grady, for your honesty in the column, "An Abnormal Gospel" (First Word, March). It was convicting, encouraging and refreshing to hear about your visit with the humble Christians in China.
The apostle Paul made it clear that extreme personal sacrifice is what marks a genuine apostle. The American church doesn't understand true leadership. We easily toss around titles and want to look like super-pastors, evangelists and apostles, but few of us live sacrificial lifestyles like Jesus and the original apostles did.
* At last! A recognition that many brands of Americanized Christianity do not equate with biblical Christianity. America has so much to offer the world if only it would cease from equating the American dream with the gospel and get its own house in order. The world is waiting for the church in the United States to ditch the American dream and run with God's dream.
* I love my pastor, my church and its people. But for some time I've been restless, especially when studying for the Sunday school class I teach. Thank you for showing me what's wrong. We are too blessed materially in the United States to be effective spiritually.
* I was broken by what J. Lee Grady wrote. I've been saying for a long time that America has gotten away from God and that we desperately need to return to "the old paths" (see Jer. 6:16). We are caught up in having the right car to drive, clothes to wear and the right hairstyle.
* Grady is not the only one sickened by what the church has become. Seeing ads in Charisma is enough to bring one to tears. I pray that readers will put the Voice of the Martyrs insert next to the ads to open their eyes to false charismatic teachers.
* I was considering not renewing my subscription because I am retired and questioned whether my budget would allow for it. However, after reading J. Lee Grady's column this month, I promptly sent in my renewal. Keep up the good work.
--Paul D. Bird
Huntington, West Virginia
* I cried as I read Grady's account of his visit to China. But I cried even more when I read all the slick ads in your magazine with arrogant men claiming the titles of apostle, prophet and evangelist, but possessing neither the anointing nor the humility intrinsic to the calling.
--Dennis J. Ignatius
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
* I love Charisma, but at times I get sick of the articles and advertisements that promote self-centered Christianity. Revivals taking place around the world have much to teach the American church. The church in the United States is stagnant in growth primarily because it has drifted to a compromised state of self-centeredness. It's more concerned with making the almighty dollar than it is with serving the almighty God. I applaud Grady's boldness to be honest with the public.
Cedar Hill, Texas
* I really have to wonder what these Chinese saints would say if they turned on the television and saw the phony fund raising I have seen on my local Christian network. We need to get rid of the glitz and jump into the Holy Spirit's river.
Battle Creek, Michigan
* We in the United States are so spoiled, and the gospel has become watered down. I truly envy our Christian brothers and sisters in China. They have God and God alone. We have so many distractions and false gods in our "religion."
Paradise Valley, Arizona
* As a subscriber to Charisma for more than 20 years, I was delighted to read Grady's column. Returning from a recent trip to Southeast Asia, I experienced the same depth of dismay and disillusionment that Grady did. May God deliver us from the cheap imitation that we've willingly embraced.
* We in the United States have settled for a market-driven and celebrity-centered perversion of the church and the gospel. I am greatly concerned that Grady's diagnosis of an "impotent and lethal" Christianity will bear itself out in the next decade with the weakest disciples and most carnal church in the history of this nation.
* I have been reading your new column, "Smoke Signals," by Richard Twiss. I have often prayed God would raise up Native American ministries. Without trying to diminish what other ministries have been planting for years, I believe it will take Native Christians to bring in this harvest.
I also see and hear a lot of Native ministries trying to mix the gospel message with Indian religion to reach the Native population. Most Native ceremonies and symbols are nothing more than witchcraft and are an affront to God. The gospel of Jesus Christ must never be compromised for the sake of reaching the lost, not even Native Americans.
John J. Franklin
* I once attended a local powwow, and when everyone started dancing in the circle, God stopped me from entering. I stood at the side and watched, and the Lord led me in silent prayer for these people.
When American Indians enter into the sweat lodge, they allow demons to enter and control their lives. Only belief in Jesus is going to change that or the understanding of what happens in the sweat lodges. Let us hear from Christian Native leaders because in them is the hope of reaching the people with the hope of life everlasting in Christ.
The Divorce Epidemic
* It's about time a Christian leader spoke out on the epidemic of divorce ("Don't Marriage Vows Matter Anymore?" by Jack Hayford, February). Divorce statistics among Christian leaders are a real indication that there's a cancer called selfishness in the body of Christ. How can leaders tell their flocks God is mighty enough to hold a family together when their own marriages are in shambles?
What's the deal with men of God marrying within days of divorce? Obviously, there was an adulterous relationship. I beg the pastors and other leaders to please set the example. Our children are suffering from broken homes. Our witness to a world looking for answers is damaged.
* I have seen many evangelical and charismatic men of God compromise themselves and the Word in the area of marital fidelity. I believe Christians value charisma over character and mistakenly allow their leaders to get away with unbiblical actions.
Syracuse, New York
* I've been wondering if anyone was ever going to speak out about the divorce epidemic. There are many who are saying, "If leaders can do this, so can I."
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
* I appreciate your article on divorce, but it didn't go far enough. You should have published the names of these fallen leaders. Paul told the Corinthians to remove a brother who sinned from the church, to shame him into repentance.
--Judith H. Garner
* I am a victim of the carnal thinking fed by "Christian leaders" who have divorced their wives to pursue other women. After 29 years of marriage, my husband--a spiritual leader in our church--decided he didn't want to be married anymore. I'm still cleaning up the pieces after two years.
--name and city withheld
The Truth About Brownsville
* It seems to me that your reporting on Brownsville ("Group Splits From Pensacola Revival," People & Events, March) could give some the impression that Brownsville Assembly of God church and Brownsville Revival School of Ministry are limping along after a crippling split. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Since that time I have chased hard after God, experiencing His glory in wonderful ways in many of the nation's leading revival centers. Yet, I have never seen God work more powerfully than what I have seen at Brownsville in the last couple of months. What God is doing at Brownsville is not about a denomination, it's about a fresh flow of the river of God.
Brownsville Revival School of Ministry
* What a shame to know that the same magazine that was full of praises for Brownsville and Kilpatrick has printed information that seems to lean toward one side over the other. Are you representing the Savior in the magazine and promoting the gospel, or are you spreading propaganda and tearing godly people down? I hope to see you do some soul-searching and fact-finding, and then print that.