As the 15th anniversary of Rwandan genocide comes to a close this week, a documentary showing how some Rwandans are forgiving the unforgivable is reaching audiences inthe U.S.
Narrated by actress Mia Farrow, As We Forgive debuts on PBS World Wednesdayand follows two women who are asked for forgiveness by the men who murdered their families during the genocide. The 100-day ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis left more than 800,000 Rwandans dead and hundreds of thousands widowed or orphaned. read more
Christian leaders in Bauchi state said religious violence here sparked by a row over a billiards table on Jan. 27 bore signs that Muslim extremists were prepared for a large-scale slaughter of Christians.
Initially authorities said only 18 people were killed after sectarian violence erupted in the areas of Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro, where there are large Christian populations in predominantly Muslim Bauchi state in northern Nigeria. Since then, estimates have ranged wildly from 25 to 96 people killed over a three-day period starting Jan. 27, with Christian leaders asserting that Muslim extremists used the billiards table incident as a pretext for unleashing attacks with a stockpile of weapons hidden in mosques. read more
Chalk one up for the Kingdom of Light. Former Porn Star Shelley Lubben is creating waves in the pornography industry with her new book “The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn.”
Now, Cambridge University has invited the born-again Lubben to debate pornography on its United Kingdom campus. Lubben starred in about 30 adult movies between 1993-94. During that time, she caught herpes and HPV before quietly leaving and entering recovery.
That’s where Lubben found Jesus Christ—and she’s not being quiet about harmful impacts of the porn industry anymore. Lubben now serves as executive director of the Pink Cross Foundation, working to save men and women that are trapped in porn. read more
A Pentecostal church in Southern California has taken to heart Jesus' commandment to go and make disciples.
The members of Love and Unity Church of God in Christ in Compton have visited every door in their city three times, and recently began working on the neighboring city of Carson. Last year, the 2,600-member congregation logged more than 5,300 decisions for Christ, which its director of evangelism said isn’t unusual. “We range between 4,000 and 7,000 decisions for Christ every year,” said elder Ray Branch, Love and Unity’s outreach coordinator.
A former street preacher himself, Love and Unity pastor Ron Hill staffs two full-time evangelism coordinators at his church. And though the congregation has grown, Hill said the door-to-door evangelism campaign is not simply a tool to gain new members. “The first reason we do this is for kingdom growth,” Hill said. “We take the position that one will plant, another will water and God will give the increase. We would like them to come to our church, but what’s most important is that they go to some church.”
In addition to evangelizing door-to-door, Love and Unity leads regular outreach events targeting children and the homeless, and it distributes roughly 10,000 tracts each month. Since January 2008, after the church had blanketed Compton three times, Love and Unity members began visiting every home in Carson, which is near the congregation’s new facility. Branch says they’ve knocked on several thousand doors so far, but they don’t rush their visits. “We can go out on one particular day and cover only six homes,” he said. “It’s predicated on the ministry that’s needed.”
Branch said recently a team prayed with a young man to accept Christ. When they called to make sure the teenager had gotten plugged into a church, his father answered and said his son had been shot two days before while riding his bicycle. “The father received comfort knowing his son had been prayed for and received Christ as Savior,” Branch said.
On another occasion, the team knocked on a door and no one answered. But Branch said he didn’t feel led to leave. “Finally, a woman came to the door and said: ‘I can’t believe you’re standing here. I was just about to take my life, but I heard a knock on the door.’”
Hill admits that motivating people to evangelize isn’t always easy. But he said soul-winning isn’t optional for Christians. “I feel that every born-again believer ought to be involved in personal evangelism,” he said. “I don’t see it as a calling. Once you get born again you’re called to evangelism.”
After several violent incidents impacting Christians and their property in February—a priest was murdered, several monasteries attacked and a demolition order issued for a five-story church property—Middle East Concern is reporting new incidents in March.
On March 4, a large mob attacked Christian homes and a church building in Souf, Helwan governorate in south Cairo. Several homes were damaged and the Church of St. Mina and St. George was set ablaze. The mob prevented the fire brigade attending the fire, and consequently the building was badly damaged.
An army unit was stationed nearby but initially declined to attend, and when they did respond they stopped when local Muslims assured them that all had become calm. A curfew was imposed on Christians in the surrounding area, affecting 12,000 people. Several church members were initially reported to be trapped within the church building. However, it subsequently became clear that they had escaped safely via the church's roof. read more
Christian leaders faulted Indonesian authorities for security breaches that allowed Islamic extremist mobs this week to attack a defendant convicted of defaming Islam, the judge that sentenced him, two churches and a Christian school.
The judge in Temanggung, Central Java on Tuesday (Feb. 8) sentenced Antonius Richmond Bawengan to five years in prison – the maximum allowed under Indonesia’s “blasphemy” law – for distributing pamphlets that allegedly disparaged the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia that Muslims face when praying, source said.
Not satisfied with the five-year sentence, Islamist mobs rushed toward the defendant and judge, who were whisked out of the courtroom. Crowds outside began to break windows and burn vehicles around the courthouse, also damaging the lobby, and before nightfall more than 1,000 Muslim extremists had damaged Sts. Peter and Paul Church and the Indonesia Pentecostal Church, as well as Shekinah Christian School. The school belongs to the Indonesia Bethel Church of Temanggung. read more
Commissioned 2 Love has been ordered to cease operations on the campus of Florida A&M University. Florida A&M officials revoked the Christian student group’s active status based on a finding that the club violated what the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) calls a “constitutionally problematic” rule that prohibits student groups from meeting, holding events, and hosting functions unless a university-appointed advisor is present at all times.
In a January e-mail to Commissioned 2 Love, the university advised the club that it had been deactivated for violating the university’s advisor policy and ordered that “no meetings, events, activities, or gatherings of any type take place prior to Fall 2011 semester certification period.” As a result, Commissioned 2 Love has ceased to exist in any meaningful way on campus. ADF officials sent the university a letter Tuesday urging them to reinstate a Christian student group they de-recognized in January. read more
New undercover footage was released on Tuesday showing a New York City Planned Parenthood clinic supervisor and medical practitioner aiding and abetting the sexual exploitation of minors, even giving the undercover "pimp" advice on how to pose as a legal guardian and get the taxpayer funded discount for his sex workers, some as young as 13 years old.
Local and national pro-life group leaders are outraged at the steady stream of recorded violations released over the past week as evidence of a system-wide crisis within Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Now, the Expose Planned Parenthood coalition is fighting back.
Lila Rose, president, Live Action, the group that’s recording the videos, says Planned Parenthood has shown, repeatedly, for the past three years of its investigation, that the group is willing to aid and abet the sexual exploitation of minors and young girls, even girls as young as 13 and here illegally, all under a sick code of “confidentiality.” read more
In line with Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, the search engine giant has partnered with Yad Vashem to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a new project that aims to preserve the world’s largest historical collection on the Holocaust.
Yad Vashem, a Jerusalem-based archive, is devoted to the documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust. With the Google partnership, its photo collection will be easier to search and encourage visitors to share personal stories and thoughts. Sharing is a key word in the Google partnership. By making the photos more accessible, Yad Vashem expects people around the world to contribute more stories behind the photos and add their knowledge to the site.
“We’re focused on finding new and innovative ways to make the enormous amount of data in our archives, accessible and searchable to a global audience,” says Avner Shalev, Chairman, Yad Vashem. “Google is an integral partner in our mission, as they help us to reach new audiences, including young people around the world, enabling them to be active in the discussion about the Holocaust.” read more
Sen. Church Grassley’s probe into high-profile television ministries may be over, but the ranking member of the Committee on Finance’s investigation has led to the formation of a new commission on accountability and policy issues for churches and other religious organizations.
Grassley reviewed the activities and practices of six media-based ministries—Joyce Meyer Ministries, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Creflo Dollar Ministries, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries, Benny Hinn Ministries, and Paula White Ministries—and found no wrongdoing.
One of the six ministries, Joyce Meyer Ministries, responded fully to Grassley’s inquiry and joined the ECFA in March 2009. Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church also provided complete answers to all questions. Four ministries either did not provide any information or provided incomplete information, according to the Senator’s office. read more
For years, Christian filmmakers claimed the potential of faith-based films was a well-kept secret in Hollywood. Well, the secret seems to be out, with an ever-widening array of faith-based film offerings from The Passion of the Christ to Fireproof. The latest comes this month with The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry, a story about a friendship between three boys and their 75-year neighbor, Jonathan Sperry, played by veteran actor and longtime Christian Gavin MacLeod. Check back to Charismamag.com for more about the film, which opens in theaters nationwide Sept. 18.
Christians in the western part of Guinea say they are being harassed by predominantly Muslim Indonesia
Despite the success of evangelism efforts in West Papua, the western part of the Island of Guinea, Christians there say they are struggling to survive in a climate of religious and political oppression.
Although they comprise a majority of the region’s 2.5 million people, Christians in West Papua say they are being persecuted by predominantly Muslim Indonesia, which took over in 1963.
“The missionaries should have prepared us for this,” said pastor Lipiyus Biniluk, president of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia, a network with 900,000 members. “They told to us to go to Bible school, but did not encourage us to get any vocational training.
“In consequence we are now completely in the hands of the Muslims. They control everything—our banks, our shopping malls, our hospitals. As Christians we are even afraid to go to the hospital when sick.”
Their fear is grounded in the fact that the Indonesian military killed thousands of civilians after West Papua was formally annexed to Indonesia in 1969.
Formerly a Dutch colony, West Papua was in the 1950s on the verge of becoming a sovereign state, like the other half of the island, known as Papua New Guinea. But it became embroiled in Cold War politics. Under intense international pressure, the Dutch agreed to transfer sovereignty to Indonesia in a deal brokered by the U.S.
The agreement stipulated that West Papuans would vote in a United Nations referendum to determine whether they wanted to remain with Indonesia or become an independent state. But rather than allowing each adult to vote, Indonesian officials chose 1,022 representatives, who voted unanimously to join Indonesia. Many observers still question the legitimacy of the referendum, saying the votes were obtained under duress.
West Papua is still home to some of the world’s most underdeveloped communities. German missionaries began reaching out to the cannibal tribes living in the coastal jungles in the mid-1800s. But as recently as World War II the outside world did not suspect the presence of humans in the inaccessible highlands, where Biniluk’s church was founded.
Wupu Game, a church leader from the Dani tribe now in his 60s, still remembers the day when missionaries first arrived in his community in 1955. “They came with salt,” Wupu recalls of his first contact with the outside world. As the son of an elder, Wupu got to taste this extreme rarity. He also watched as one of the missionaries was killed with a poisoned arrow.
But before long, Game’s parents and their whole tribe embraced the gospel. “What intrigued us was that Jesus had risen from the dead,” Game said. “My tribe used to live in a constant fear of death.
“Older people would hear a certain bird cry during the night and inevitably somebody died on the next day. We were traumatized. Mothers would cut off a finger for every child that died. And the medicine man tried all kind of witchcraft to make the dead come alive again.”
When the tribe decided to put their hope in Jesus, all amulets and other witchcraft devices were burned in big bonfires. Game recalled the relief they felt and how things became so very easy. Tasks that used to keep people busy for months took “no time at all” with the new tools the missionaries brought, such as knives, and axes.
Today life is not easy for the West Papuan Christians. Besides harassment by the Muslim regime, church leaders said another crisis is developing. Diseases such as malaria and HIV are spreading, as well as an “unknown epidemic disease that the government does not even bother to investigate,” Biniluk said.
“I am completely worn out by all the funerals I have been holding lately,” he said. “There is no information given about HIV, and our church members have no money to buy malaria medicine.”
In October, Biniluk joined a delegation of indigenous church leaders who flew to Jakarta, the capital, to plead with the Indonesian government to allow West Papua to implement the special autonomy that was formally granted in 2001. “So far it has been words only, in reality nothing has changed,” he explained.
Addressing the issue of autonomy could be dangerous in a country that does not even allow free press. “But we have to try,” Biniluk concluded, “or our people will not survive.”
Ministers involved in restoring the former pastor questioned whether he was ready to return to the pulpit.
Nov. 21, 2008 -- Prominent Christian leaders expressed concern in November over Ted Haggard’s appearance at an Illinois church, where he repeatedly apologized for the scandal that led to his dismissal from the Colorado megachurch he founded.
The leaders were involved in restoring Haggard after he left New Life Church in 2006 amid accusations that he solicited a male prostitute and purchased methamphetamines. Noting that Haggard had distanced himself from the restoration process, the leaders questioned whether his speaking at Open Bible Fellowship in Morrison, Ill., on Nov. 2 was premature. read more