Amid incredible loss, you can still trust God to bring good out of every situation. I know because he did it for our family.
The start of the year 1999 crackled with excitement. God's blessings and promises to our family seemed so near, we could almost reach out and touch them. In 1998 we had traveled and ministered together in churches around the country--Harry and I preaching as a team and our three children, Harry III, Roman and Gabrielle, singing, laying hands on the sick, and ministering in the services. Many people told us we had the most unique ministry to families they had ever experienced.
Now we were entering a new year and a new level of ministry. Our travel calendar for 1999 was booked solid. We were scheduled to take God's message of love and hope to more people in more places than ever before. read more
If racial differences are not a stumbling block for you, great. But like me, you may be prejudiced and not know it.
Most prejudiced people see through a black or white glass. But I grew up judging through a multifaceted prism the many races, cultures and ethnic groups that surrounded me.
I was born in Puerto Rico to a Cuban family, which makes me "Hispanic"--the general descriptor for people from all Spanish-speaking countries, regardless of racial background or ethnicity. Growing up Cuban meant that I learned at an early age to be proud of who I am and where I came from. (I can trace my family history back through four generations in Cuba all the way to the Basque region of Spain.) It also meant that I inherited a good dose of prejudice--the sort of prejudice that becomes a way of thinking and clouds one's perception of life. read more
The phone call jarred me. A friend in her mid-40s, who had survived a bout with breast cancer and been cancer-free for three years, had just passed away. Suddenly, only a few weeks after learning that the cancer had returned, she was in eternity.
What if you knew you had only a short time to live? What legacy would you want to leave your family and friends? How would you want them to remember you? Would you have regrets?
Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (NKJV). We will be held accountable for what we do with our lives.
Argentine revival leader Claudio Freidzon says a three-year recession in his nation brought spiritual renewal
An Argentine revival leader whose church doubled in size after a financial collapse in his nation believes the American church could see revival in the midst of the current economic recession.
Claudio Freidzon, pastor of Rey de Reyes church in Buenos Aires, says a three-year recession in Argentina brought an unparalleled time of spiritual renewal as believers learned to trust God, not money.
He believes that despite the financial turmoil in the U.S.—or perhaps because of it—the American church has an opportunity to see a similar renewal. “We’ve seen here that after every crisis we have a great breakthrough in the spiritual realm,” Freidzon told Charisma.
During the Argentine recession from 1999 to 2002, the peso plummeted in value, resulting in runs on banks as anxious citizens tried to withdraw their money before the decline grew worse. When the government imposed stringent rules to save the banks in 2001, violent protests broke out in the streets.
Freidzon, who was a leader in a 1990s revival that saw thousands come to Christ at evangelistic events held across Argentina, said his church saw declines in church giving because of the crisis, but ramped up its outreach efforts nonetheless. Rey de Reyes offered medical and dental clinics throughout Buenos Aires, and assisted with job searches and construction projects, among other efforts.
Before the economic collapse, Freidzon’s church drew roughly 12,000 people each week. But today, he said, Rey de Reyes has more than 25,000 members and hosts seven worship services every Saturday and Sunday—“all of them packed.”
Now, seven years since the economy began to stabilize, Freidzon’s church is seeking to transfer its influence into politics. The church hopes to open a Christian university that will train youth for both secular and ministry work.
“I realize the importance of having born-again people in high levels,” Freidzon said. “I believe we are going to prepare the next Christian president of Argentina.”
He said the government used to block the church’s evangelism efforts, but as it began doing more to help the poor, relations improved.
He said lawmakers have pledged to help as plans for the university unfold, and the government has begun classifying their ministry work as being “of interest to the province,” a stamp of approval that gives the church broad access.
“That means that they open the province,” he said. “They say: ‘You are welcome. Do whatever you want. Preach wherever you want. Go to the schools, go to the jails, go to the streets.’ That is new for us.”
Argentina’s economy continues to struggle, with the global recession taking its toll and a severe drought worsening unemployment. But Freidzon is optimistic about his nation’s future. He said more and more government officials are contacting the church for prayer, adding that he has met Vice President Julio Cobos and is hopeful he will one day pray with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Freidzon said the 1990s revival that was marked by large-scale prayer meetings never completely ended. “In our church, 18 years since the Holy Spirit visited us, the people are still looking for more,” Freidzon said. “They are excited. ... Here, they are still hungry for more of God.”
—Richard Daiglein Buenos Aires, Argentina read more
I grew up in a home where my mother, father, grandmother and grandfather all loved and trusted in Christ as their Savior. I came to know Jesus for myself at church camp.
At 19 I married a man who was 32. My husband was very critical. Once he told me that he never could love me and said he had asked me to marry him only because he didn't think he would find anybody else.
My husband was full of pride and placed a lot of importance on making money and having a good reputation. Even though he wasn't really interested in Jesus and the Bible, he went to church. He said he wanted to be good and do good. read more
Throughout the history of India it was traditionally men who were concerned with improving the status of women. It was not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that a number of influential women reformers arose. The most notable of these was Pandita Ramabai.
Pandita was born in 1858 into an orthodox Hindu Brahmin family. This upper-caste sect mandated prepubertal marriage for girls and denied women educational opportunities. However, Pandita's father was a priest, scholar and social reformer who had a liberal, progressive view of the caste system. While traveling on endless pilgrimages throughout India he gave public lectures on the need of women for education. He provided Pandita an extensive formal education with a focus on Sanskrit.
Pandita soon became a famed lecturer who, like her father, championed women's rights. She had witnessed the suffering of child widows and the uneducated and wanted to help them. Oppressed women became her first call to service. read more
Having been raised by an alcoholic father and an enabling mother, I learned to see God as harsh, unbending and unaccepting of me. I believed that He would harm me at His whim and that He was never pleased with my efforts or gifts. I thought He was like my father.
As a 30-something mother of four, I was falling apart emotionally. I had seen numerous counselors and been on medication for clinical depression. But despite all my efforts, I could not find freedom or peace.
At my lowest point, a good Christian friend mailed me an awesome worship CD that was full of songs extolling God as the lover of our souls. Inspired by thoughts of His stubborn love for me, I was compelled to search the Scriptures to see what I could find about the true nature of God. read more
A few months ago I spent time with Heidi Baker, a missionary who has a large ministry based in Mozambique, Africa. She and her husband have founded many orphanages and planted thousands of churches.
She described the miracles she has witnessed of provision of food for the orphanages and of God's intervention on her behalf with the Muslim government of Mozambique. She also told me about the visitations and personal encounters with God she has experienced as a vital part of her spiritual walk. Though often the miraculous interventions she witnessed came in response to serious challenges or persecution, it was clear from her description that she lives a supernatural life.
According to the American Dictionary of the English Language, the word "supernatural" refers to things that are "beyond or exceeding the powers or laws of nature; miraculous." The supernatural realm is beyond what we see, and it is where we are all called to walk. But many of us have the idea that only a chosen few are called to live supernaturally. read more
Our pastor's son, Marty, was determined to stay in college. But the income from our small congregation made this an "iffy" situation--at least if it depended on help from his family.
My own daughter, Dana, was also in college, and the contrast between her circumstances and Marty's raised questions in my mind. My child had all the material goods that a freshman in college needs--a new car, clothes and an allowance.
Marty, on the other hand, struggled constantly with shabby clothes, a poor specimen of transportation that seemed to inhale the income from his part-time job, and little money for trips home and sundry other expenses. Why, I wondered? read more
In the 1930s, a young couple moved to Port Arthur, Texas, to work in the oil refinery. At that time, church attendance was not on their agenda at all.
But every morning before 9, a little lady, with her Bible tucked under her arm, passed in front of the family's apartment. It soon became a part of the mother's morning routine to watch for the woman to pass by.
One morning the lady stopped and knocked on the family's door. When the mother answered, the woman invited her to an old-fashioned tent revival in the area. The written invitation seemed to speak to the young mother all day from its resting place on the dresser. read more
I'm a big fan of schedules. I prefer the security of a solid plan and a definitive timeframe. I hate having to wait, and I hate having to rush.
However, being an obsessive planner can sometimes make living with God's timing a little difficult. We have all had that conversation with God when we say: "Hello! Your timing could use a little work." I have said this—more than once.
Six years ago my husband and I were expecting our first child. We were so excited. But our hopes ended in a miscarriage. read more
True Spiritual Authority operates in an environment of Godly wisdom that releases women to fulfill their callings in every area of life.
The old saying is true: "A woman's place is in the home." It's just not her only place.
Many women today bristle when they hear that old axiom. They get defensive when they hear the word "submission" or the term "spiritual authority." A big reason, no doubt, is that many women have experienced abuse in their homes--both emotionally and physically--under the banner of "submission." read more
We asked Christian leaders who visit Israel regularly to tell us their most memorable moments in the Holy Land.
Nearly everyone has a special place he would like to visit during his lifetime. For many people, that place is Israel.
The mere mention of the country’s name evokes a wide range of emotions, one of which is longing. For thousands of years, Israel has held great significance for people from all walks of life, and those who have a heart for the land yearn to see it.
Some save for years to make a trip to the Holy Land. Those who have been blessed to go generally agree that while they were there, the Bible came to life and the visit changed them at a deep level. Many have been overwhelmed when they “walked where Jesus walked.”
Charisma interviewed several prominent Christian leaders who often lead tour groups to Israel. The places that are most special to them range from the Sea of Galilee to the Western Wall, from Alon Moreh to Kfar Etzion, from the Temple Mount to the Garden of Gethsemane. Despite the wide range of favorite locations, the leaders all have one thing in common—they say their first visit had a tremendous impact on their lives.
Here are some of the places they named as their top pick:
For Billye Brim, who took her first trip to the Holy Land in 1983, Alon Moreh is not about the settlement, but rather about the tree on top of a mountain where scholars believe the Lord first appeared to Abraham when he arrived in the Promised Land (see Gen. 12:6-7).
“From this high vantage point one can see like Abram did, the Mounts of Blessing and Cursing, Shechem (Nablus), the Valley of Tirzah,” says Brim, who in 1986 studied Hebrew at Ulpan Akiva in Netanya, Israel—a school founded just after the War of Independence in 1948.
Brim, founder of Prayer Mountain in the Ozarks in Kirbyville, Missouri, also notes about Alon Moreh that “though Israel has prepared a lovely place to sit under the tree, we have never met another tour group there. And in this spot we have experienced the most awesome presence of God and experiences in prayer.”
The living remnant of the house of Israel
Integrity Music recording artist Paul Wilbur first visited Israel in 1983 and has been back more than 24 times. Tohim the “historicplaces are fascinating, and it is fun to ‘run where Jesus walked,’ stand in the first-century synagogue in Capernaum, take a boat ride on the Galilee.
“But,” he adds, “so many love the dead Jews of the Bible and completely ignore the living remnant of today.”
Wilbur explains: “When I connect with my brothers and sisters in Israel I feel as though I have connected with the heart of God. Jesus stated that He came to rescue the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and I believe His heart has not changed in 2,000 years.”
The more intense worship and the deeper fellowship of the people have had an eternal effect on his life. Says Wilbur: “The stones are old and significant, but the living stones are the dwelling place of the God of Israel. So when you go, be very certain to enjoy the history, but be more certain to touch the living stones that Yeshua gave His life to redeem!”
Melva Lea Beacham has traveled to and lived in Israel for nearly 40 years. Her first trip at Christmastime in 1969 was the first of at least a dozen, but she also had the pleasure of living there from 2005-2006.
Though she revels in many fond memories of riding the Number 8 bus every day, the one place that really captured her heart is Kfar Etzion, site of the massacre by Arab armed forces on May 13, 1948—the day before Israel became recognized as a nation.
“I take my tours there to see firsthand and have it wrench their hearts,” said Beacham, who served for four years as international director of development for Christian Friends of Israel in Jerusalem. “I want them to understand what the Jewish people have to experience every day to carve out their inheritance and their place in the world that God gave them. I want people to know and understand the resistance—demonic and from the nations—that these people face.”
In the countless trips John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, has taken since 1978, a particular place as well as a particular moment stands out for him. On his visit to the 187-foot long Western Wall during his first trip, Hagee had a God-encounter that not only changed his life but also launched a movement that continues to gain in prominence and influence more than 30 years later.
At the wall that day “God told me to do everything in my power to bring Christians and Jews together because they have far more in common than the things that we had allowed to separate us over the centuries,” Hagee says.
To Hagee’s left that day on the western flank of the Temple Mount was an Orthodox Jew rocking back and forth, kissing the Bible. “I realized we were spiritual brothers, but he was afraid of me, and I knew nothing about him,” Hagee says.
Less than three years later, Hagee held the first Night to Honor Israel, which eventually led to the formation in 2006 of Christians United for Israel, now the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States.
“Every visit to the Western Wall is the most enjoyable of the 10-day trip to Israel,” he says. “There is a spiritual force at the Western Wall for me like nowhere else on planet Earth. It is that spiritual experience I’ve never forgotten, and [that I ] enjoy every time I go back.”
The Temple Mount
Robert Stearns first traveled to Jerusalem in 1991 and has been back 18 times for the Feast of Tabernacles. All told, he has made more than 40 trips to Israel. He admits the Western Wall is his favorite place, but he also names The Temple Mount and Masada as must-see sites.
The Temple Mount, also known as Mount Moriah, contains the holiest site in Judaism. Hotly contested over the years and possibly one of the most recognizable sites because of the golden dome atop the Islamic shrine—the Dome of the Rock—Israel and the Palestinian authority both claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
Masada is the name for a site of ancient palaces in the southern district of the country. Some consider a hike up the Snake Path on the eastern side of the mountain part of the Masada experience, but a cable car is available. The remote location and arid environment has kept the site well-preserved for thousands of years.
“Jerusalem, more than a metaphor, is a literal place to which the nations of the earth are turning once again,” says Stearns, who claims, “It is a Biblical mandate for us as Christians to pray faithfully for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6) and for all of Israel (Rom. 9-11).”
Garden of Gethsemane
Joni Lamb, co-founder, vice president and executive producer of the Daystar Television Network—like other leaders Charisma interviewed—did not hesitate when asked to reveal her special spot, the Garden of Gethsemane. Although she will take only her fourth trip to the Holy Land later this year, the significance of the garden inspired her book, Surrender All.
Located at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the garden is where Lamb believes the ultimate surrender took place. “I think of the emotional anguish that Jesus felt,” Lamb says. “That place is very significant and very spiritual because of that surrender. It’s the place where He cried out [to the Father], ‘Not My will, but Your will be done.’”
She adds: “Had He not surrendered there, He would not have been able to walk to the cross. I’m sure it was tormenting with the drops of blood and the emotional anguish that He felt. That surrender changed the world.”
Sea of Galilee
No place in Israel means as much to Ben Kinchlow as the Sea of Galilee. “This was a vital place in Jesus’ ministry,” Kinchlow says. Of the nearly 30 miracles Jesus performed, roughly 20 were performed in this region and a dozen right on the shores.
“I can’t find a more unchanged place than the Sea of Galilee. Nothing has changed there,” says Kinchlow, who notes the area is mostly free of buildings and tourist attractions.
At nearly 700 feet below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth. Kinchlow, founder of Americans for Israel and the co-host of the Front Page Jerusalem radio show, who first went to Israel in the 1970s, recommends sitting on some of the rocks and hills.
“This is a place away from the tourist stuff,” Kinchlow claims. “This is such a place of solitude.”
Off the beaten path, Nimrod Fortress is a site Perry Stone visited for the first time on his most recent trip to Israel—even though he’s traveled to the country more than 30 times. He definitely plans to go to the site again.
Ruined by an earthquake in the 18th century, the fortress is situated in the northern Golan Heights on a ridge rising about 2,600 feet above sea level. This is the place where God made His covenant with Abraham.
“From up there you can see the opening of the Promised Land,” says Stone, excitement rising in his voice. “This is the view Abraham saw.”
Many tours don’t visit Golan Heights because of time constraints, but Stone said the trip is worth the time. His group spent more than two hours there.
“It’s worth sitting there and soaking it all in. It’s historical and the scenery is beautiful,” says Stone, a fourth generation minister, who directs one of America’s fastest-growing ministries, the Voice of Evangelism. “You’re going back in time with Abraham. This is where it all began. This is where the covenant was made.”
Jonathan Bernis, the executive director of Jewish Voice Ministries International and host of the weekly television program Jewish Voice Today, loves Jerusalem. He has visited 50 times since his first trip in 1984.
The epicenter of the Christian faith and site of “intense spiritual warfare,” Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. Considered the spiritual center of the Jews, the Old City, despite being less than .5 square miles, contains a number of significant Christian sites—the Temple Mount, Western Wall and Church of the Holy Sepuchre, to name a few.
“I feel a closeness to God there like no other place in the world,” says Bernis, the founding Rabbi of Shema Yisrael Messianic Congregation in Rochester, New York, where he served as senior Messianic rabbi from 1984-1993.
Although not an exhaustive list, these 10 sites are a great place to begin your first—or next—trip to Israel. You may find other places that touch your heart more, but according to those who have been, your life will never be the same after taking a trip to the one nation no Christian should neglect to visit.
Larry J. Leech II is a ghostwriter, freelance writer and editor based in Longwood, Florida.
Sara Trollinger has established a much-needed haven for Teenagers who are battered by life's storms. Published reports on the state of the American family often reveal problems due to parental neglect and teen-age rebellion. But House of Hope, an outreach to teens and their families based in Orlando, Florida, has become a national model for ministries seeking to bring about family recovery and reconciliation.
Sara Trollinger, founder and president of House of Hope, was a schoolteacher for 25 years. Because of her work with emotionally handicapped students, she sometimes conducted classes with troubled teen-agers who were behind bars. read more
During my daughter's sophomore year in college, we received a bill from a previous semester for $850. At the time, I didn't have the money to pay it.
One day when I was at my office, I asked God what I should do concerning the balance. He told me to call the school and ask to make payment arrangements.
When I contacted the school, a woman in the finance office told me they didn't accept payment arrangements, but she would see what could be done. Then she returned to the phone, bewildered, and said that someone (she didn't know who) had paid the balance! read more
In front of Michael Jackson's star on Hollywood Boulevard, evangelist Ray Comfort, host of Way of the Master, asks passers-by what happened to Jackson after his death. Their discourse may surprise you. Watch the video below.
In 1987, I had the privilege of interviewing author and former missionary Elisabeth Elliot. She is a fabulous writer, whose courageous example I really admire. At the time, she had just released a new book—an autobiography of missionary Amy Carmichael titled A Chance to Die.
Elisabeth had been greatly influenced by Amy's life, and I was drawn to her story. Actually, I considered both Elisabeth and Amy to be powerful models of sacrificial obedience and devotion to God, and I looked up to them.
Soon after I read the biography, I discovered Amy's books and poetry. I was completely captivated from the beginning. Her words were poignantly beautiful, her communication style seemed so pure. read more